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Health and Healing the Way Nature Intended
Updated: 6 days 16 hours ago

The Many Health Benefits of Emu Oil Explained

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 10:03

Isn’t it funny how, with all our advanced technology and industry, we are still “discovering” what native peoples have known for centuries? Emu oil is another one of those amazing resources that Mother Nature gave us long ago, but took us hundreds of years to notice.

The Aborigines have been using Emu oil for over 4,000 years. The Emu, that weird looking bird that’s related to the ostrich, has been a natural source they treasured since time began. They used it for healthy dietary fat, medicine, and lubricants.

Unlike any other bird, the Emu stores nutrient-rich fat to help it survive long bouts without eating or drinking—they can go for 54 days without consuming anything! That’s some good, healthy fat! What can it do for us? Tons! There are many health benefits of emu oil. 

It’s full of poly and monounsaturated fats, essential fatty acids 3, 7, 6, and 9, eicosanoids, carotenoids, flavones, vitamin D3, vitamin K2 ( as MK-4) and vitamin E, which combined do remarkable things for both the skin and the body.

My family and I take it internally as part of our healthy diet,  and we also use it topically when needed. Depending on your needs, you may want to do both on a regular basis. Let’s look first at ways Emu oil can improve your health from the inside out.

Health Benefits of Emu Oil

Improves Gastrointestinal Health

Emu oil does much more than providing relief to those with gastrointestinal issues. It delivers actual healing. All different types of gastrointestinal issues can be treated and healed with Emu oil, including Chron’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, and even intestinal damage done by chemotherapy. All the anti-inflammatory properties of this oil soothe the system, giving relief from pain and discomfort while stimulating the healing of the GI tract.

Lowers Cholesterol and Improves Heart Health

The combinations of healthy fatty acids found in Emu oil prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Already have plague in there? Well, most of us do, unfortunately, because of our Western diet. Emu oil is also able to get rid of the plaque build-up already in our arteries. Linoleic and arachidonic acids, both found in Emu oil, help prevent blood clots, and therefore heart attacks. Neither of these acids can be created by our bodies, but are so important to our health. Emu oil has been found more effective in lowering cholesterol and triglycerides than olive oil, which is often touted as the best oil to use for those purposes.

Arthritis and Joint Pain

Chronic inflammation is something many people live with. It causes a great deal of additional stress on the systems of the body, leading to many serious health issues. Emu oil has been medically proven to reduce various forms of inflammation when used topically and taken internally. It contains large amounts of linoleic and oleic acids which reduce inflammation. Due to its transdermal properties, it is able to sink deep into the skin to relieve inflammation on site. Sufferers of arthritis and other joint pain can find great relief by applying emu oil directly onto their joints. Once you reduce the amount of inflammation in the joints, the pain is naturally lessened. What’s more, Emu oil also contains eicosanoids, which trigger the body’s hormones to increase blood flow to that area.

Muscle Pain

Just as Emu oil works to reduce inflammation and pain in joints, it also works on muscles. It’s great to put onto sprains or strains to speed healing and reduce pain. I always keep it around to put on sore muscles when I’ve overdone a workout or done a lot of yard work that caused sore, tight muscles. Some massage therapists use it for this reason. If you’re lucky, you can get your significant other to massage the oil into your overworked muscles for you. If you have chronic pain throughout your body, you can take Emu oil internally also, just like it’s recommended for arthritis.

If the thought of drinking Emu oil makes you gag a little (or a lot), don’t worry. I use a brand that offers the same excellent Emu oil in a capsule too. I get mine here.

Now let’s look at some ways we can use Emu Oil to improve our skin.

Heals Wounds and Burns

Emu oil has been used in several burn victim research studies and has been found extremely beneficial to both reduce pain and inflammation and to heal damaged skin. This transdermal oil contains terpenes, which are highly antiseptic and provide relief from chronic pain throughout the body when taken internally. The powerful antioxidants, healthy fats, minerals and anti-inflammatory compounds found in Emu oil heal skin more quickly than commercial products, whether used on burns, wounds or bruises. It also works great on sunburns.

Reduces Stretch Marks and Scars

The anti-inflammatory properties combined with the fatty acids and antioxidant compounds found in Emu oil greatly reduce stretch marks and scars. Emu oil is transdermal, meaning it’s deeply absorbed into the skin. This allows the oil to reach the source of the scars to make them all but invisible. Research shows that applying Emu oil several times daily to skin early in the healing process (and pregnancy) greatly reduces scars and stretch marks.

Moisturizes Skin & Erases Wrinkles

Emu oil may be the closest we can get to the Fountain of Youth. It moisturizes skin without clogging pores. Its fatty acids and antioxidant compounds make it tremendously effective at reducing the lines, age spots and wrinkles we experience as our skin matures. As we age, our skin tends to dry out, but in studies, Emu oil applied topically plumped the skin up and increased moisture retention by three times more than other anti-aging commercial products. I include Emu Oil in my Beautifying Bedtime Serum recipe!

Treats Dandruff and Healthy Hair Growth

The amazing moisturizing properties of Emu oil makes it the perfect remedy for dandruff, which is basically dry, itchy scalp. It also revitalizes hair follicles and replenishes the hair’s natural oils stripped out by harsh, commercial shampoos and conditioners. It even stops hair loss and reverses it. In clinical trials, Emu oil was found much more successful at improving hair growth than the top two commercial products (Rogaine and Propecia). It does this by nourishing the scalp and hair follicles. If you have fine hair, you can still moisturize by using Emu oil because it isn’t heavy, so it won’t weigh your hair down. It improves the elasticity of your hair too, so you don’t have to worry about breakage and split ends.

Relieves Psoriasis and Eczema

Skin irritations, whether they flair up occasionally or are chronic, are…well…irritating! Emu oil soothes and heals skin conditions such as rosacea, dermatitis, shingles, eczema, and psoriasis. It does this by providing moisture and macro-nutrients deep into the skin. Because most skin conditions stem from inflammation, obviously, Emu oil can radically improve them.

Even if you have sensitive skin, you may be able to use this fabulous stuff. Most people tolerate it better than many other natural resources because it comes from animal fat rather than a plant source.

You should be sure you are getting your emu oil from a credible source, that is pure and has the most health benefits intact. After much research, I decided on this brand and have been SO happy with the results! They also have capsules available. Such an easy way to experience the health benefits of emu oil!

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Surprising Foods That Improve Skin Health

Mon, 06/12/2017 - 10:03

You know that following a proper diet can enhance your health. But, did you know that eating the right foods can give you flawless and beautiful skin? We all turn to expensive products to get the perfect skin and end up spending a ton! These products consist of chemicals and unnatural ingredients that might later end up damaging your skin. There are potential skin care products on your shelf at home that you might not even be aware of. So ditch the toxic skincare products and pay attention to what you put into your body and discover the foods that improve skin health

Before we get started, if you are not aware of the toxins in your skincare products, I invite you to join my online Safe Skincare Facebook Group.

Surprising Foods That Improve Skin Health 

As much as we try to avoid it, our skin is damaged due to various factors. Wrinkles, blemishes, pimples, redness, etc. are just a few of the many issues we face on a regular basis. Why not give only the best to your skin? Maintaining a proper system with the right diet and proper hydration can result in improving the quality of your skin significantly. When you cleanse your body from within, it acts as a detox regime to drive away toxins. These foods clean your system and improve your skin’s health significantly!

Sunflower Seeds

Acne is a common concern for most people. Sunflower seeds are known to be rich in vitamin E and can keep your skin pimple-free. Doesn’t that sound amazing? According to a study, sunflower seeds fulfill the requirement of vitamin E that is needed to tackle inflammation. As a result, you will notice that there is visibly less acne.

Bell Peppers

It is quite obvious that veggies have a good impact on your skin. Red and yellow peppers have immense health benefits, one of which is making your skin look younger. Their antioxidant properties help in reducing fine lines near the eyes, popularly termed as “crow’s feet.” Peppers are also good to have during the hot months as they have cooling properties that decrease the sensitivity of the skin to the sun rays.

Green Tea

Green tea is not only a refreshing beverage but also an excellent skin toner. It has proved to have health benefits that work to improve your skin quality. Regular consumption of green tea can make your skin smooth and supple. It also reduces redness of the skin. The tea has the goodness of antioxidants that boost blood flow and oxygen to the skin, which in turn result in a glowing and clear complexion.

Walnuts

Have you ever wondered why people who eat fish have such amazing skin? Well, all credit goes to the omega-3 essential fatty acids that are present in them. You can get similar results with walnuts. They contain a significant quantity of omega-3 fatty acids that can give you the skin you have always dreamt of. Having walnuts every day can improve your skin’s elasticity and texture. Within a short while, you will have blissfully smooth skin.

A proper diet is an ultimate secret to a glowing and younger looking skin. Many factors in the environment can damage the skin. But, with care, you can create a barrier to protect your skin from these harmful effects. The golden rule to keep your skin fresh is to stay hydrated as lack of water leads to various skin issues. Incorporate these foods that improve skin health into your diet and reap their powerful health benefits. You will fall in love with your skin all over again!

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Author Bio: Vineetha Reddy

Being a regular practitioner and adviser of everything related to nutrition, fitness, health, and wellness, I also have begun to write and contribute to this knowledge ecosystem on sites like LifeHacker.co.in, StyleCraze.com and ElephantJournal.com. I strongly believe that the ingredients you find in your pantry provide the best benefits for good health. Follow me for my best ideas and solutions: Twitter

 

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What Is the Ketogenic Diet? + 5 Benefits It Can Bring into Your Life

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 10:03

 

This is a guest post by Louise Hendon, co-host of The Keto Summit.

By now, you’ve probably heard of the ketogenic diet.

But, if you’re like most people, you’re already finding it hard enough to keep track of all the different types of diets out there: Paleo, vegetarian, raw food, Mediterranean…

So, Do You Really Need Another Diet?

Although the ketogenic diet may be the new kid on the block, it’s definitely here to stay. This diet has some serious health benefits beyond just weight loss.

Here’s why…

Metabolic Flexibility.

Metabolic flexibility is your body’s way of being able to switch back and forth between using carbs or fat for energy. It’s what all healthy human bodies should be able to do.

But if you’re overweight, insulin-resistant, or just unhealthy, it’s likely that you burn carbs well for energy but not fat. And that’s a problem because it makes you hungrier, more tired, and less able to lose weight.

A keto diet is all about making sure your body is burning fat instead of sugar or other carbohydrates. This powerful fat-burning mode is called ketosis, and it’s what makes the ketogenic diet so special.

We’ve put together a handy guide to the ketogenic diet below – what you can eat, the health benefits you’ll get, how to tell if keto is right for you, plus tips and recipes so you can get started today.

What Is The Ketogenic Diet?

So, first things first, here’s what you can expect to eat on a keto diet:

The basic principles: a moderate amount of protein, lots of fats, and very few carbohydrates.

  • That means lots of non-starchy vegetables, meats, organ meats, seafood, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, avocados, olives, as well as healthy fats like ghee and coconut oil.
  • And don’t worry, fellow caffeine addicts, coffee is allowed!

A “Paleo-Keto” approach combines two fantastic diets for maximum effect:

  • No processed products, no soy, ideally no dairy, and no artificial sweeteners (except a little bit of stevia occasionally).
  • Basically, just think of keto like a lower carb version of Paleo, and you’re on your way.

Worried about remembering all this? Print out this handy infographic and stick it on your fridge, problem solved! 

5 Health Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet

Now that you basically know what a keto diet is, here are five ways it can make you healthier:

  1. It can help you lose weight – a study found participants on the keto diet lost weight with no significant side effects.
  2. It can curb hunger and decrease cravings by affecting the hormones which influence appetite.
  3. It may help stabilize your mood as researchers found a ketogenic diet could act as an antidepressant in animals: making it good for your mind and your body.
  4. It can stabilize blood sugar levels, so you don’t have to live with sugar highs and crashes throughout the day.
  5. It can help you gain energy and get rid of brain fog so you feel more focused, motivated, and vibrant. Helping you be the best version of yourself!

Bonus benefits: It could potentially help prevent cancer and protect you against Alzheimer’s disease as well.

IMPORTANT: Is Keto Right for You or Not?

Despite these great benefits, there are a few situations when keto may NOT be a great fit for you:

  • If you have an autoimmune condition you’ll want to get that checked out first, as it can prevent you from getting all the benefits of keto.
  • You’re just looking for a quick fix rather than learning about how to take lifelong care of your body with a healthy lifestyle.
  • Be careful if you’re nursing or are taking insulin for diabetes as eating a ketogenic diet can lower your blood sugar levels, which means you’ll need to adjust the amount of insulin you take.
  • If you’re an athlete in a very “sprint”-based sport, like CrossFit, Soccer, or power-lifting, then keto might not lead to the best performance results for your sport.

Most other people will be able to follow a keto diet without problems, although it’s always worth getting your doctor’s advice before starting any new diet.

How to Get Started on a Keto Diet

Even if keto is right for you, we all know the hardest part of any new health plan is getting started! 

Here are 5 easy tips to help:

  1. Pick a stress-free week to start your diet, make sure you’re not traveling and don’t plan any meals in restaurants.
  2. Clear out all non-keto junk food in your house – it can’t tempt you if it’s not there!
  3. Plan your meals for the week and fill up your pantry with the things you need, so you don’t end up starving and being confused about what to eat. 
  4. Eat unlimited protein/fat but under 25g of carbohydrates per day at least to begin with. Once you’re comfortable you can play with the ratios more.
  5. Recognize that the first few weeks will be tough. If you’ve been eating a pretty high carbohydrate diet for awhile, then that initial switch will be hard. Many people will get flu-like symptoms at first. Try to eat enough food, drink plenty of water, and take in sufficient salts.

And here are 3 great recipes to start with:

I hope this post has piqued your interest in keto and the amazing benefits it can bring into your life.  And regardless of whether you try keto or not, make sure that you eat a nutrient-dense, real food diet and avoid too much unnecessary high-carb foods (even if it’s Paleo).

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9 Amazing Wheatgrass Juice Benefits

Mon, 05/29/2017 - 10:03

Wheatgrass has a long history as being considered a fundamental health food, as it has been consumed as a boon for health and vitality for the past 5,000 years. It was first eaten way back in ancient Egypt. So yes, a long, long time ago.

Today, we recognize its superlative properties more scientifically. We know for a fact that wheatgrass is generally your best source for living chlorophyll, which is suspected of being able to reduce the probability of certain types of cancer. It also contains the vast majority of the vitamins and minerals that people need. Most notably, it contains vitamin B12, which isn’t really easy to get naturally.

It’s often sold as either a powder you can mix with water, or you can buy it in premade juice form. Neither of those methods is optimal since they can also contain synthetic ingredients and sugars that can negate much of the health benefits.

Instead, by getting hold of actual live wheat grass along with the use of a suitable masticating juicer, is easily your best solution, so you know you’re getting all the best nutrients.

But, why bother buying wheatgrass and a juicer in the first place? Well, there are plenty of reasons (this site even lists down 50 of them) though we will focus on nine of the more important benefits here below:

9 Wheatgrass Juice Benefits

Weight Loss

In the U.S. and in many parts of the world, most people are either overweight or even obese. So in all likelihood, you’ll need to lose weight and wheatgrass can help. That’s because it has selenium that you need to keep your thyroid gland healthy. Since your thyroid gland is one of the parts your body uses to manage your weight, you’ll want to keep it in top shape with a glass of wheatgrass in the morning.

Wheatgrass is also so full of nutrients that you don’t get deficiencies that can lead to food cravings. So a glass of the juice in the morning can actually keep you from eating too much for the rest of the day.

Better Digestion

If you’re often going through indigestion or heartburn, then this juice may just be the ticket. It has fiber and B-complex vitamins, and these nutrients improve how the muscles in your digestive system work. You have riboflavin that maintains the lining of your digestive tract, as well as thiamine that assists in the conversion of carbs into energy.

Fights Ulcerative Colitis

Many people have long believed that wheatgrass is great for a wide variety of GI issues, and a study has already indicated that it can help treat ulcerative colitis (inflammation of the colon).

Better Circulation

When you drink wheatgrass juice just before working out, it will boost the oxygen levels in the blood. This means that your muscles will get more of the oxygen they need as you exert a lot of effort in your workout.

Improved Immune System

This boosts your immune system because it increases the red blood cells in your body. RBCs fight against infections, blood parasites, and harmful bacteria.

Boost Oral Health

The natural antimicrobial properties of wheatgrass are due to the chlorophyll. It’s powerful enough that it can help with Candida albicans (the yeast that causes oral thrush).

Revitalized Liver

Wheatgrass restores and detoxifies the liver. A recent study in 2014 showed that it can even help protect your liver when you drink alcohol.

Minimize Chemo Side Effects

A study involving 60 women undergoing chemo for breast cancer found that the wheatgrass lessened some of the harmful side effects of the chemotherapy. The wheatgrass didn’t affect the effectiveness of the treatment either.

Better Mood

The juice contains both magnesium and vitamin K, which helps you better deal with stress. It also provides iron, and iron deficiency can lead to overall fatigue that makes you feel lethargic. As a busy Mom, this is one of my favorite wheatgrass juice benefits! 

How to Juice Wheatgrass

So now let’s explain the steps you need to take so that you can prepare your wheatgrass juice properly:

1. Get a masticating juicer. There are several types of juicers, and you need to make sure that you get a masticating version. What you must avoid is a centrifugal juicer, which just won’t work on wheatgrass very well at all.

It’s also best if you get an electric juicer rather than a manual version that requires too much work on your end. With an electric juicer, you can juice the wheatgrass more efficiently, and you can also use the juicer for other vegetables too.

2. Get some wheatgrass. You can buy wheatgrass from a health food store or you can grow your own. If it comes from your own garden, use a clean pair of scissors to cut the grass about half an inch from the ground. This is best about a week after sowing the wheat grains, when the blades of grass are about 8 inches long.

Wash the wheatgrass under running water with the grass in a strainer. This will remove any dirt and insects. Then chop the grass into small pieces so they’re easier to grind and the juice is easier to get. Collect about half a cup of the wheat grass, if you’re preparing two servings.

3. Feed the wheatgrass into the juicer. You’ll need to do this slowly, feeding just a small amount at a time. This keeps from cramming the juicer which makes it difficult to get the juice. You need space in the juicer for the juice to collect, and you also need space for the pulp.

4. Pour the juice into a glass. You may also want to mix it first with other veggie juices or even with a smoothie. That’s the beauty of having your own juicer at home—you’re free to experiment to find the best taste for you. You will want to drink it right away so you get the most wheatgrass juice benefits from fresh juice!

5. Clean up the juicer. You’ll need to get rid of the wheatgrass in the juicer so that you can use it right away for the next time.

That’s all there is to eat. A bit of effort on your part along with a juicer investment and you can enjoy what’s considered as one of the healthiest juices you’ll ever drink. In today’s world when you need health and energy to work and healthcare costs can lead to financial ruin, a glass of wheatgrass a day seems like such a small thing. Yet the benefits can be huge, as we’ve already noted.

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Joana is the editor in chief over at TheJuiceChief.com. She’s a prolific blogger with a bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition and is deeply passionate about organic juicing, nutrition and fitness. She also loves helping others succeed with their health goals.

 

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Are Energy Drinks Healthy? What’s the Alternative?

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 10:03

 

We all get clobbered by the 3 o’clock slump sometimes. During those times, it seems the fastest, easiest way to pump up the ole’ energy is to suck down an energy drink. After all, they have vitamins and amino acids, so they’re healthy, right? Are energy drinks healthy? 

As the energy drink market continues to explode more each year, the medical research on them also increases. These sugary drinks have become ubiquitous in our culture, even for children and teens. As each new medical study is completed, we have more and more evidence that energy drinks are not healthy. In fact, they can ruin our health, especially when we drink them frequently and over a long period of time.

One of the major issues with energy drinks is the concoction of ingredients. If you’ve ever looked at a label on one, you’ll see a list of ingredients as long as your arm. When these are combined, they accentuate the overall effects of the energy “high” received. Popular stimulant ingredients in energy drinks include caffeine, guarana, taurine, vitamin B and ginseng. That’s a lot of stimulation!

Because not everyone responds to individual ingredients or the combination of them in the same way, drinking even one energy drink can cause major short-term health issues. Let’s take a closer look at some of the commonly reported health issues associated with energy drinks.

Lets find out the truth: Are Energy Drinks Healthy?

Increased Blood Pressure

Energy drinks raise blood pressure as they stimulate the nervous system and brain functions. They also increase stress hormones, such as cortisol, released in the body as the body reads the heightened stimulation as a need to deal with a stressful or dangerous situation. In one study at the Mayo Clinic, just one 240 mg energy drink caused a 74% increase of norepinephrine levels in the body of young, healthy individuals. Norepinephrine is both a stress hormone and a neurotransmitter, which also increases heart rate.

Dehydration

Most Westerns are already habitually dehydrated, which causes a large amount of health issues. The introduction of caffeine and guarana in energy drinks increases dehydration because caffeine is a diuretic.

Toxic Liver

Energy drinks are loaded with additives and manufactured chemicals which make our poor liver have to work even harder than it already does. The liver processes and removes the toxins we ingest, breath and absorbs from our environment. Not only do we add to the liver’s workload when we drink energy drinks, but we also overload it. It takes approximately 12 hours for the liver to deal with the caffeine and other chemicals found in these drinks. During that time, it can’t work to eliminate other toxic chemicals that the body has taken in that day. An overloaded, overworked liver makes us more susceptible to illness and disease.

Weight Gain

The sheer amount of sugar and calories in energy drinks alone can cause significant weight gain. Some popular energy drinks contain 600 calories per can, most of which are “empty calories,” ones that don’t serve any nutritional purpose. Empty calories don’t fill you up or give your body the nutrition it needs, so people who consume them also eat their normal diets in addition to those extra calories per day. It’s not hard to see how quickly this could cause a weight problem.

Headaches and Migraines

Several common ingredients found in energy drinks are well-known for their tendency to prompt or intensify headaches and migraines, including artificial colors and sweeteners, sugar, caffeine and the like.

Sleep Issues and Insomnia

It’s not surprising that too much caffeine makes it hard to get a good night’s sleep. But few people know that studies prove that caffeine can also cause disrupted sleep and daytime sleepiness. Can you say vicious cycle?

Caffeine Overdose

Many people drink caffeine every day without having a large, negative impact. However, each person’s body reacts differently to the stimulant and the common side effects of large doses can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening. There is a great deal more caffeine in energy drinks than in a cup of coffee or green tea. On the average, 200+ mg of caffeine can be found in energy drinks. Studies show that most people begin to have negative reactions to caffeine at the 400 mg level, so those who ingest 2 or more energy drinks a day very well may suffer from the following:

  • Increased heart rate and palpitations
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness that can increase to anxiety and panic attacks
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Dehydration and frequent urination
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Allergic reactions including vomiting, rashes, difficulty breathing, tight feeling in the chest and swelling of the face or mouth

Anxiety and Depression

We all know what a caffeine and sugar crash feels like. When the stimulate effect of an energy drink wears off, individuals feel worse than they did to begin with. Along with the lowered energy, it’s common to also experience melancholy, depression and/or anxiety during this crash. Those with depression or anxiety problems or other mental health issues are impacted even more by this crash.

Diabetes

Would it surprise you to know that some energy drinks have as many as 20 or more teaspoons of sugar in them? It’s true. These high sugar levels cause blood glucose levels to rise and fall quickly. In other words, they cause frequent energy spikes and crashes. Over a period of time when consumed consistently, these spikes and crashes can cause hypoglycemia and eventually diabetes.

Irregular Heartbeat and Palpitations

The combination of stimulants found in energy drinks causes the heart to become stressed as it works harder to increase physical readiness. These stimulants can cause irregular heartbeats and abnormal heart rhythms even in healthy adults, though those with heart conditions are especially at risk. Teens also experience palpitations and irregular heartbeat when consuming these drinks, according to a John Hopkins survey.

Allergic Reaction to Artificial Chemicals

Our bodies have become more and more sensitive to the many artificial chemicals we ingest as they become more prevalent in our diet. Energy drinks are typically full of artificial chemicals, including colors, flavors, sweeteners, and stimulants. There are currently over 90 known side effects from artificial chemical sensitivity, including migraines, rashes, difficulty breathing, hyperactivity, and anxiety.

Clearly the answer to “Are energy drinks healthy?” is a resounding NO! In clinical trials, it’s been shown that no one should be using these drinks as a way to fight daytime sleepiness—even healthy people. What’s even scarier is the number of children and teens who use these drinks on a daily basis to improve their mental and physical attentiveness.  We’d be wise to encourage everyone to get the rest they need and use natural food sources to improve their energy levels instead.

In our house we focus on getting good quality sleep instead of medicating with energy drinks. On the rare occasion (kids up all night, date night with some wine, or just plain not getting sleep) we do have a few tricks up our sleeves. I love me a good cup of mushroom coffee, and my husband prefers to drink his pre-workout Paleo drink.

If you want a pick me up, with some health promoting ingredients, then check out my husband’s favorite drink HERE. They were awesome enough to give us a coupon code too. If you place an order and use coupon code REALFOOD10 at checkout, you get 10% off your order!

Here is a little more info on this Paleo Energizing Superfood . Nice ingredient list. My hubby loves the stuff!

  • Ingredients: This product features four different blends that work together to provide the most complete pre-workout supplement available.
  • Energy and Strength Blend
    Yerba Mate Extract, Guarana, Tongkat Ali Root, Rhodiola, Schizandra Berry, Asian Ginseng, Ginko Biloba
  • Metabolism Stimulation Blend
    Raspberry, Lemon, Matcha Green Tea, Yohimbe Bark
  • Vascularity and Anti-Inflammation Blend
    Beetroot, Turmeric, Ginger, Devils Claw, Cinnamon
  • Superfood Blend
    Goji Berry, Blueberry, Acai, Maca Root, Bee Pollen, Royal Jelly
  • Other Ingredients
    Stevia Leaf, Natural Vanilla Extract

So, what do you say, are you going to kick the energy drinks to the curb? If you still need a little pick me up, opt for something that actually provides your body with fuel and healthy ingredients! 

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The Amazing Health Benefits of Ashitaba

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 10:03

 

I first heard of  the health benefits of Ashitaba when I was listening to a podcast on my morning run. The podcast was all about the healthiest foods on the planet and the expert being interviewed was raving about Ashitaba, claiming it was the healthiest food he consumed daily. I was so intrigued that I stopped and googled it right on my running trail. Then, I ordered the powder from Amazon and continued on my run. Gotta love the convenience of smartphones!

Of course, I needed to do some more research….

For over 2,000 years, Ashitaba has been used in the East as a way to live longer and healthier. The plant is native to the volcanic island Hachijo, off of Japan, but can be grown by those in the West with a green thumb. The plant has been a part of the island dweller’s diets for centuries, which accounts for them boasting the longest life spans in the world. Ashitaba has a huge number of health benefits that are simply amazing, by anyone’s standards. If you are looking for a way to slow down the aging process (and who isn’t?) and keep your common chronic diseases at bay, you are going to want to know about this tasty plant! Let’s talk about the health benefits of Ashitaba.

Health Benefits of Ashitaba

Ashitaba is a treasure trove of dietary health, including 13 minerals, 11 vitamins, carotene, saponins, proteins, fiber, germanium, glycosides, chlorophyll, enzymes, coumarins, and a rare type of flavonoid called chalcones. Due to its mixture of amazing properties, it’s been studied at length. Ashitaba has been found to aid in the relief of a huge variety of illnesses and diseases, including:

* Prevents cancer

* Decreases symptoms of inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis and rheumatoid

* Reduces symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome

* Decreases symptoms of GI disorders, such as gastrointestinal reflux and gastritis

* Increases brain function, including concentration, attention span, and memory

* Accelerates wound healing

* Balances PH levels

* Decreases bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol

* Prevents diabetes and sustains healthy blood sugar levels

* Detoxifies the body

* Anti-bacterial properties

* Strengthens immune system

The Many Health Benefits of Ashitaba Nerve Growth Factor

The most amazing health benefit of Ashitaba has to be the fact that consuming it “turns back on” nerve growth factor in your brain. Nerve growth factor is a protein present from conception to develop your brain to increase cognitive function, such as nerve signaling, motor function, social communication, memory, etc. It is vital to sustaining a strong link between our neurons and our brains. But once we hit our 30s, the amount of nerve growth factor is depleted in brain tissue.

Scientific studies prove that consuming Ashitaba causes new brain cells to grow and develop to increase our brain functioning well into late life. This plant essentially removes the worry of decreasing memory, reaction time, intelligence and general brain function as we age. I told you it was fabulous! It can also be used to regenerate brain cell growth in those who have sustained brain injuries so they can regain their former brain function. Ashitaba can also reduce the severity of the symptoms of degenerative brain diseases, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia. It’s so powerful that studies show it can improve cognitive function within only a few days.

Adaptogen

Ashitaba is an adaptogenic plant, which means it protects every cell in our bodies from evasive stresses of modern life. Ashitaba supports the endocrine system. This is where our bodies determine if a stressor is a threat. It then helps us deal with physical and emotional stressors within our environment. Chronic stress is one of the most serious issues, and it negatively impacts our health in many different ways. Stress comes in many forms including overwork, sleep deprivation, chemical toxins, depression and anxiety, illness and drugs. All different types of stress we encounter break down our body and cause aging. But the powerful compounds found in Ashitaba, we can minimize its effects and help us live longer happier lives. Many people now believe that Ashitaba is more effective than any other adaptogenic plant, such as ginseng and elderberry.

Antioxidants

When our cells become oxidized, our bodies start breaking down, causing common signs of aging. The powerful antioxidants in Ashitaba reduce the amount of oxidation that occurs, keeping us more youthful in body and mind. In scientific studies, Ashitaba was found to be more powerful than any other herb tested.

Germanium

Ashitaba is one of the few natural sources of mineral germanium, which speeds healing in the body and protects it from the aging process due to free radicals. It also improves the immune system and is being used to aid the prevention and treatment of cancer. Further benefits include purifying the blood and improving the oxygen supply in the body, which increases the health of vital organs and gives us more energy. And if that weren’t enough, it also detoxes the body, helping it shed toxic radiation and heavy metals.

What’s not to love about Ashitaba? It’s an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, anti-microbial, anti-tumorigenic and a detoxifier.

Now, I know your next question: How can I add this fantastic plant into my diet so I can get the health benefits of Ashitaba? That’s easy. It’s delicious, so you can cook it or eat it raw if you want to eat the plant. It tastes a bit like celery, but more bitter. You can find the seeds online if you want to grow your own on your patio. It’s great chopped up and put on a salad. You can also get it powdered to add to your breakfast smoothie or in pill form. I prefer the powder because I can just add it to smoothies! You can even get it as a tea, so there are lots of ways to add it (or sneak it in) to your daily nutritional arsenal.

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How To Find the Right Himalayan Salt Lamp

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 10:03

I first learned about Himalayan salt lamps when I noticed a giant one in the lobby of the hospital that I was working in. Very progressive, well played! There were actually little info cards in front of the lamp. I grabbed a card and took it home, did some research, and immediately ordered three of them. Now, we have several of them throughout our house! My kids have small salt lamps as their night lights too!

Himalayan Salt Lamps have become all the rage, as news of their health benefits spread to mainstream Western society. This is a good thing, but it also means that there are so many companies manufacturing these lamps, it can make your head spin. You have choices of size, color, brightness and cost, and if you don’t do your research, you could end up with a fake or one that’s ineffective for your planned usage. Luckily, you’ve found the post that will explain just how to find a real Himalayan salt lamp for your home.

Why Use a Himalayan Salt Lamp?

In recent years, modern man has discovered the truth that the Eastern world has known for thousands of years—Himalayan salt has many health benefits. Salt naturally neutralizes positive ions in our air, so they are negatively charged instead. Positive ions are known to lower mood, concentration, and immunity. It continues to be more important to deflect positive ions as we all have more technology in our homes. Electronic devices such as TV’s, computers, cell phones and tablets emit positive ions, so we are more exposed to them than ever before.

Scientific studies show that adding real Himalayan salt lamps to our environment can:

✔ Ionize the air in the room

✔ Balance artificial frequencies and electromagnetic wavelengths from electronic devices

✔ Produce full rainbow spectrum light waves

These three changes in our environment offer health benefits such as:

✔ Decrease in respiratory problems (including colds, allergies, and asthma)

✔ Decrease in skin condition symptoms

✔ Increase in mood and general well-being

✔ Decrease in symptoms of stress-related disorders

✔ Fewer headaches and migraines

✔ Increase in energy

✔ Better sleep

How to Find a Real Himalayan Salt Lamp

As mentioned earlier, there are now many manufacturers of Himalayan salt lamps—or what they are claiming is the real deal. It’s easy to be tricked into buying a fake if you don’t know what to look for. If you are shopping for a lamp, determine yours is real by paying careful attention to the following things. Or if you already have one, but aren’t getting the physical and mental benefits from it that you’d expected, you can use this list to determine if you have the real McCoy.

Not too bright: Because the light from the bulb needs to penetrate a dense piece of salt crystal that is full of minerals, you should expect the lamp to provide a muted glow of light. If it’s fairly small, but lights up the whole room or is very bright, it’s probably not a real Himalayan salt lamp. You want to look for a light that is soothing and subdued, not something you could read by.

From Pakistan: Real Himalayan pink salt is only found in the mines of Khewra, Pakistan in the Western part of the Himalayan Mountains. If the salt from the lamp came from any other location, it’s not real. However, you may see a lamp’s origin from another country—because it was assembled there. Always verify where the salt came from; it doesn’t matter where it was assembled. If you can’t authenticate that the salt came from Pakistan, keep shopping. HERE is the kind we buy.

Fragile: Himalayan salt is fragile, so it’s easily chipped or damaged, which can be an issue during shipping. Now, I’m not recommending you bang one around in the store before you buy it, but you should feel the texture and look at other ones from the same company. Each salt crystal should be unique in shape based on how it looked when it was chipped away in the mine. It should have rough and smooth places and sweat. Salt naturally attracts moisture, so you should expect the lamp to do this when it’s turned on if you live in a damp or humid climate. It’s a good thing…really.

The manufacturer has a sweet return policy: Obviously, if you order your lamp from an online manufacturer, you want to ensure they offer a generous return policy on their lamps since they can easily be broken during shipping. You may also want to note how the product will be shipped. Does the company say they take extra caution with packaging so that there’s less chance of damage in route? Always a good thing to know.

Glows correct color: The minerals in Himalayan pink salt naturally emit a beautiful pink or orange-ish glow when lit from behind. There are white Himalayan salt crystals, but they are rare and quite expensive. Look for a lamp that produces a soft pinkish or orange light when it’s lit to certify you are buying the real thing.

One final thing to think about before you buy a Himalayan salt lamp is where you are going to put it. These lamps come in different sizes, so if you have a large room where you want to use it, you will need a big lamp or maybe even two. I recommend having them in each room of the house to get the most benefit. If the lamp is too small to ionize all of the air in the room, you won’t see as big of a difference in the way you feel. So before you buy, decide which lamp will go in what room.

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Top Health Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 10:03

You’re eating your veggies, but are you eating the right ones? Huh? Bet you didn’t know that all veg isn’t created equal. Medical studies continue to prove that cruciferous vegetables give you more benefits for your buck than any other. Today I want to talk about the health benefits of cruciferous vegetables

I’m not talking about fancy, hard-to-find, expensive vegetables. I’m talking about veggies that are readily available, delicious and easy to use in a variety of ways.

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Radish
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnip
  • Arugula
  • Bok choy

See what I mean? Adding more cruciferous vegetables to our daily nutrition routine is easy and appetizing. But, why should we add more of these into our diet?

Top Health Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables

Sulforaphane. This plant chemical occurs naturally in cruciferous vegetables and has been studied since 1992 by top medical researchers. It provides the remedy for an unbelievable number of diseases and chronic health issues.

I’m not going to go into all of the specifics about how Sulforaphane works, but I encourage you to watch this video to learn the details. It’s fascinating!

Instead, I want to focus on what these tasty gems can do for our health. Of course, besides Sulforaphane, cruciferous vegetables are also chock-full of vitamins and minerals that provide protection to all of our bodily systems.

Protects Cardiovascular System

Cardiovascular health is one of the main concerns in the West, so wouldn’t it be great to know you were protecting your family’s hearts? Serve up more broccoli. Issues such as heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease are all in some part caused by inflammation of the artery walls. Sulforaphane reduces this inflammation and protects against these major health concerns, as well as obesity. Recent research shows Sulforaphane may protect arteries by boosting the natural defense mechanisms of our bodies.

Improves Depression and Anxiety

Sulforaphane has also been found to produce anti-depressant and anti-anxiety chemicals in the body. Believe it or not, inflammation in the body has been linked to depression and anxiety. For example, feeding broccoli sprouts to mice has proven highly effective in reducing anxiety and depression behaviors. Research in this field continues, and scientists are hopeful that phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables will continue to provide the benefits to those who suffer from these pervasive disorders.

Boosts Brain Function

The Sulforaphane found in cruciferous vegetables, along with high values of vitamin K and choline, enhances cognitive function. Of course, higher brain function benefits our daily lives, but Sulforaphane may also prevent common aging diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Cognitive functions, such as memory and mental stamina, have been improved in clinical trials, along with relief from mental exhaustion. Studies suggest that the high amount of antioxidants found in cruciferous vegetables improves tissue detoxification and function while choline encourages new brain cell growth.

Treats Diabetes and Insulin Resistance

Due to its ability to lower oxidation and inflammation in the body, Sulforaphane is an essential addition to everyone’s diet. It’s especially important for those with diabetes or insulin resistance, or those who have a high disposition for developing these chronic illnesses. Sulforaphane creates protective enzymes in the body that reduce the amount of cell damage caused by diabetes. It also prevents blood vessel damage, which is the cause of heart disease in so many diabetics.

Encourages Detoxification

With the pervasiveness of toxins in our environment, it’s vital to our health to find ways to continuously detoxify our bodies. Sulforaphane has been proven to increase the body’s elimination of toxins such as air pollution, arsenic, and pesticides. Various phytonutrients found in cruciferous vegetables improve the body’s entire detoxification process, which improves our overall health and well-being. Keeping our bodies free of toxins means better circulation, digestion, immunity, energy levels and metabolism.

Pain Relief

In research studies, participants with chronic pain, such as those suffering from fibromyalgia, found a diet high in cruciferous vegetables reduced their pain sensitivity. Other studies show promising findings with pain-blocking abilities of Sulforaphane.

Anti-Cancer

Thanks to a lot of powerful antioxidants and the anti-inflammatory properties of Sulforaphane, more attention is being given to the addition of cruciferous vegetables in cancer patients’ diets. Sulforaphane is somehow able to regulate various cell processes and select malignant cells to transform. The compounds in Cruciferous Vegetables, such as broccoli, seem to perform a complex series of epigenetics which even prevents cancerous cells from forming. Other studies found these vegetables have the ability to prevent the development of tumors and to reduce the size of tumors by up to 75 percent. Sulforaphane has been studied for the prevention and treatment of stomach, bladder, breast, prostate, lung, colon, and skin cancers.

Clearly, one way we can reduce our chances of developing some of the most common and deadly diseases is to eat more cruciferous vegetables. Bon Appétit!

If you do not like eating cruciferous vegetables, they even have supplements that you can take which contain the powerful health benefits that these vegetables contain. I actually take this one daily just to be safe. 

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Weird, Healthy Skin Care Remedies That Work

Sun, 04/23/2017 - 10:03

Weird, Healthy Skin Care Remedies That Work

We’re all looking for healthy ways to improve our skin’s appearance, whether it’s treating acne, reducing unsightly stretch marks, or preventing premature aging. There are a lot of ancient practices that are just now getting the recognition they deserve here in the West. But, who has time to research each of them to see what’s best for your skin type and issue?

I’ve put together a list of healthy skin care remedies that have been gaining popularity, but that sound… well, weird. I’ve separated the wheat from the chaff to bring you the top weird healthy skin care remedies that actually work, all in one post.

Root vegetable sponges (Konjac sponges)

Rub a tuber all over your face? I know. Strange, right? But, the Japanese have been using Konjac potatoes as part of their beauty regime for a century. These sponges are made from the vegetable fibers, and then various types of clay or bamboo charcoal are added to them. They are gentle exfoliators that massage away dead skin cells, impurities, and toxins that build up and dull your skin.

Konjac nourishes your skin naturally with lipids, fatty acids, vitamin A, B, C, D and E, magnesium, zinc, iron, proteins, and copper. Konjac sponges also inhibit bacteria on the skin, which causes acne and breakouts. They leave your skin looking and feeling smoother, softer, clearer, and younger.

Clay masks

I know what you’re thinking, but there are some darn good reasons why I want you to consider putting mud on your face. Well, actually, clay. There are loads of clay masks on the market today. I personally have 4 different masks in my bathroom that I use and switch up as my skin needs. Here are the masks and why I use them:

  • Charcoal Balancing Mask: to purify my skin and treat any blemishes. It also helps detox the skin. Activated charcoal minimizes the appearance of pores, giving skin a smooth, refined appearance while salicylic acid stimulates exfoliation.
  • Plumping Mask: instantly gives skin a firm, toned look and more youthful appearance. Plumping peony root helps restore skin’s elasticity, while konjac root smooths the appearance of fine lines.
  • Brightening Mask: to lighten any discolorations in the skin (this one works so well!!!) Reduces the appearance of dark spots.
  • Seaweed Mask: this one works on many different levels. It detoxes, cleanses, lightens, and makes your skin SUPER soft! The guy who formulated it has quite a story behind it!

You can also simply mix Bentonite clay with water. Bentonite clay was formed from volcanic ash, so it’s full of minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and sodium. It naturally detoxifies skin, which is important because our skin is our largest organ, and it absorbs a lot of toxins just from daily living. Plus, those toxins and impurities make our skin age at a much faster rate. ‘Nuff said!

When you mix water with Bentonite clay, it creates a negative charge, which is just one of the ways this clay detoxes your skin. There are many reasons to use Bentonite clay masks, including:

  • Evens out skin tone
  • Regenerates skin tissue
  • Reduces appearance of scars
  • Exfoliates
  • Softens skin (due to its high silica content)
  • Reduces abundance of oil that causes breakouts
  • Unclogs and shrinks pores
  • Detoxifies
  • Safe for all skin types
Essential oils

Now, you know I love me some essential oils. I use them for everything, from getting rid of headaches to cleaning to improving my complexion. Essential oils are kind of like apps—if you need something, there’s an essential oil for it. There isn’t just one essential oil for all skin issues, and there’s too much to go into great detail here, so I will give you a list of my favorite oils for the skin! Click on each oil to learn more about them.

Oil cleansing

Put oil on my face to clean it? Are you crazy? Even though my skin is prone to breakouts, using the oil cleansing method is one of the best things I’ve ever done for my skin. Putting oil on your face does not make it greasier! It doesn’t cause zits, blackheads, or breakouts. This is because you use a blend of oils to nourish the skin, instead of using harsh chemicals to strip it of its natural oils.

To find out what’s best for your skin type, you’ll need to do a bit of research and experimenting, but it’s worth the trial and error phase. Most people use a blend of Carrot Seed and at least one other organic, cold-pressed vegetable, seed or nut oil, like sunflower, safflower or olive oil. These oils are full of nutrients, vitamins, and fatty acids that rejuvenate skin. The castor oil is cut with the other oils because it’s too powerful to use alone. It’s a natural astringent that pulls out the toxins and impurities in the skin, while the other oils used in the blend help regulate the amount of oil the skin produces. Cool, huh?

Argan oil

Argan oil has been used for centuries in Morocco as a beauty treatment. It’s full of antioxidants, fatty acids and Vitamin E, which make it the perfect oil to put on your face. The benefits of this oil are remarkable:

  • Treats skin condition flare-ups, such as eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea
  • Moisturizes without that greasy feeling
  • Prevents premature aging
  • Inhibits acne
  • Increases skin elasticity
  • Reduces fine lines and wrinkles, even around the eyes
  • Tones skin naturally, without drying it out
  • Good for all skin types
Skin brushing

I look forward to this remedy every morning. It feels great and does wonders for my skin. It naturally exfoliates and cleanses my skin pores. It’s just what it sounds like: you use a dry, long-handled brush to brush your skin. I also have a smaller brush for my face. Most people, like me, do it before showering. It makes your skin soft and smooth, plus there are other benefits:

  • Improves lymph flow
  • Increases circulation
  • Energizes you
  • Reduces cellulite

This ancient practice gets rid of old skin cells and encourages blood flow, making my skin glow with a healthy radiance. What’s not to love?

Infrared light bulbs

I’ve talked about my infrared sauna and its benefits before, but many people don’t have the space to get one. If that’s you, a lamp with an infrared light bulb offers many magnificent benefits for your whole body, including your skin. It increases blood flow and circulation, so it purifies your skin, evens out skin tone, and reduces the signs of aging. It also increases the amount of collagen your body produces and eliminates toxins from your pores. Using an infrared light bulb improves your skin’s elasticity and makes it look smoother, softer, and younger! It also:

  • Speeds wound healing
  • Repairs sun damage
  • Fades scars and stretch marks
  • Treats skin conditions, such as rosacea, psoriasis, eczema
  • Increases skin moisture

Let’s hear it for weird, healthy skincare practices! I hope you’ll try all of these to improve the look and feel of your skin. It won’t just look better, but it will also be healthier, which is even more important.

If you want to join my Safe Skincare Facebook Group, you will learn more daily. Join HERE

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Gluten Free Protein Pancakes

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 10:04

When I became a Mom I was also assigned the superpower of hiding food in food. What do I mean by that? I disguise healthy superfoods and added protein in my kids favorite foods. I do wild and crazy things like hiding liver in meatballs, hiding bone broth in macaroni and cheese, and cauliflower in pizza crust. Of course I had to make up some pancake concoction filled with goodness. Enter: Protein Pancakes! These super easy to make, they freeze well, and they are gooood!

Gluten Free Protein Pancakes

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups gluten free oats — like these
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds — where to find
  • 1 cup vanilla protein powder — we use this kind (it tastes good in pancakes)
  • 1/4 cup collagen powder — where to find (use coupon code REALFOOD at checkout for 10% off your entire order!)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder (aluminum free)
  • pinch salt
  • 4 pastured eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup water

Directions: 

  • Add in wet ingredients and blend until combined

  • Pour 1/4 cup batter onto a hot skillet and allow to cook until bubbles form on the top

  • Flip the pancake and cook the other side
  • Serve with lots of butter and maple syrup! Yum!
  • Makes approximately 20 protein pancakes
  • They also freeze well

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Is Toothpaste Safe? Plus, a Homemade Toothpaste Recipe

Sat, 04/08/2017 - 10:03

Have you checked the label on your toothpaste lately? Sure, they advertise that it will fight germs for up to 12 hours, helping to fight plaque and tartar and prevent gingivitis, while also whitening your teeth and giving you minty fresh breath. But, there is something they are NOT telling you about that pretty blue and white swirl on your toothbrush.

Many of the ingredients in that little innocuous tube are more harmful than you know. Let’s take a gander, shall we?

Toothpaste ingredients typically consist of:

1. Mild Abrasives (to remove debris and residual surface stains)

Examples include:

  • Calcium carbonate: a form of calcium, can cause skin irritation
  • Dehydrated silica gels: the stuff found in those little packets in your shoe box
  • Hydrated aluminum oxides: contains aluminum, a known neurotoxin
  • Magnesium carbonate: a form of magnesium
  • Phosphate salts: phosphate salts can irritate the digestive tract and cause stomach upset, diarrhea, constipation, and other problems

2. Fluoride (to strengthen tooth enamel and remineralize tooth decay)

This one is a hot topic of controversy! We personally believe that fluoride is harmful and filter it out of our water using this filter. I have read up on fluoride extensively and when I came across an article explaining it as having adverse effects on children’s neurodevelopment, I decided that we do not need fluoride anywhere in our house or personal care products.

3. Humectants (to prevent water loss in the toothpaste)

Examples include:

  • Glycerol: when taken by mouth, glycerol can cause side effects including headaches, dizziness, bloating, nausea, vomiting, thirst, and diarrhea
  • Propylene glycol: (aka antifreeze) propylene glycol has caused skin and mucous membrane irritation when given orally. It has induced skin sensitization reactions in several individuals and when taken orally, it can also induce skin rashes. By the oral route or by injection, propylene glycol has resulted in severe effects on the CNS and metabolic disruptions. (source)
  • Sorbitol: a sugar alcohol

4. Flavoring Agents, such as saccharin and other sweeteners to provide taste. Saccharin has been linked to bladder cancer in rat studies.

5. Thickening Agents or Binders (to stabilize the toothpaste formula) — these are generally benign, but I listed them anyway.

Examples include:

  • Mineral colloids
  • Natural gums: depends on which gum is used
  • Seaweed colloids
  • Synthetic cellulose: this is wood pulp that is processed, dried, and then bleached. Yum!

6. Detergents (to create foaming action)

Examples include:

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate: EWG Rating. Dr. Mercola really goes into detail about this one HERE
  • Sodium N-Lauryl sarcosinate: EWG Rating. It may enhance the penetration of other ingredients through the skin

So, there you have it. A general breakdown of what might be in the toothpaste you are buying at the store. Even some of the “natural” toothpastes contain these, so always check your labels. OR, make your own homemade toothpaste! Making your own homemade toothpaste is not only easy (and fun!), but it is also cost effective. Many of these ingredients you will already have in your cupboard and this batch will last you a while!

If you do not want to make your own, HERE is my absolute favorite healthy toothpaste! 

Peppermint Homemade Toothpaste Recipe Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil — where to find
  • 1/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp magnesium and calcium powder
  • 1 tsp non-GMO xylitol — where to find
  • 10 -15 drops peppermint essential oil — we use this kind, because it’s therapeutic grade
  • 10 drops Thieves or Spearmint essential oils (optional) — you can find Thieves here and Spearmint here
  • Toothpaste Tube — we use these because they are easy to fill and BPA free
Directions:
  • If your coconut oil is in a solid state, melt it into liquid
  • In a small bowl combine all ingredients
  • Add peppermint to your preference. Some like it REALLY minty! Add Thieves if you want to give your paste a boost
  • Put into an empty toothpaste tube
  • Use as needed to brush your teeth and have minty fresh breath!
How to Get Started with Essential Oils

Well, what do you think? Will YOU make your own homemade toothpaste? Let me know in the comments below!

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Top 10 Lactogenic Foods

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 10:04

Most nursing mothers worry at some point if they are producing enough breast milk for their growing baby. I know it’s worried me. So while breastfeeding is finally back on the rise in the U.S., some mothers give up because they fear they are starving their bundle of joy. In fact, low breast milk supply is one of the biggest reasons mothers give for stopping the practice.

There are so many variables with lactation, but one way we can all easily keep our milk production at a comfortable level – for both baby and mommy – is to eat lactogenic foods, foods that naturally increase breast milk.

Top 10 Lactogenic Foods to Increase Breast Milk   Fennel (seeds)

These tiny, but mighty, seeds have been used to improve lactation for centuries. Both the seeds and the plants have plenty of tryptophan, one of the 10 essential amino acids our bodies need, and that increases milk production. Fennel is very versatile and easy to add to lots of different recipes. You can enjoy it cooked or raw. It has a wonderful licorice taste that adds a lot of flavor to any meal. You can also drink fennel tea, which is a delicious way to make sure you are staying hydrated while nursing. I use them in my Lactogenic Cookie Dough Bites recipe.

Brewer’s yeast

Brewer’s yeast is packed full of vitamins, especially B vitamins, along with phytoestrogen, polysaccharides, chromium, and protein—all of which are important to lactation. If a mom isn’t getting all of the nutrients she needs while breastfeeding, Brewer’s yeast can supply not only a boost to milk production but can also help you feel more energetic and emotionally balanced. Not sure what to do with Brewer’s yeast? How about making a Lactogenic Smoothie? Simply delicious!

Moringa


It’s not surprising to see this plant-based supplement on the top 10 list! Moringa is a powerhouse of nutrients, including protein, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Clinical studies have found a significant increase in milk production in nursing women who included Moringa in their diet…in just four days! By day seven of ingesting Moringa, women in the study had actually doubled the amount of breast milk they produced. This complete food offers a lot of great benefits for mommy too. Breastfeeding takes a lot out of your body and including this lactogenic food in your diet boosts your health and helps you feel amazing. Learn more about its awesomeness here.

Barley

Barley has been known as a lactogenic food since the time of the ancient Greeks, some 2,000 years ago. It offers polysaccharides, a natural form of long-chain sugar which stimulates prolactin secretion, which increases breast milk. Prolactin is the chief hormone involved in milk production. Along with polysaccharides, barley supplies tryptophan, which also increases milk supply. Tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin, which is our feel-good neurotransmitter, so having plenty of barley in your diet will keep you feeling great during this wonderful, but busy, time!

Almonds

These tasty treasures are filled with all types of goodness that make them a shoo-in for the top 10 lactogenic foods list, including protein, calcium, healthy fats, and tryptophan. Many nursing moms say that drinking almond milk also increases lactation. Almonds are also high in calcium. In some studies, calcium has increased breast milk production after menstruation begins again after giving birth.

Dark, leafy greens

Of course, leafy greens should be a large part of everyone’s diet, but they are especially helpful for nursing mothers. Water retention may suppress milk production, so foods that are natural diuretics are considered lactogenic. Leafy greens can help reduce the swelling that occurs during pregnancy. Some offer the added benefit of tryptophan, such as watercress and spinach. Others to include in your lactogenic diet are dandelion leaves, kale, lettuce, rocket, seaweed, spinach, watercress.

Oats

Oats are one of the most commonly recommended lactogenic foods. That’s because they are comprised of three major lactogenic substances. They contain both tryptophan and polysaccharides. They also have saponins—a substance that is a precursor for making hormones in the body. Since lactation is a hormone-based event, this is especially important. Oats are also easy to add to a lot of different recipes. You might enjoy my Lactogenic Baked Oatmeal to make sure you have time to eat a healthy breakfast.

Apricots

Apricots are loaded with tryptophan and are easy to add to your diet. You can slice them to add to cereal, eat them dried, and they are wonderfully flavorful in chicken dishes. Looking for an easy, delicious apricots recipe? Try my Chocolate Apricots.

Dates

These Mediterranean delights might not be something you keep in the house until December, but as a nursing mom, you should keep a stash in your pantry.  Dates have plenty of tryptophan, so they will definitely help with breast milk production. They are also a wonderful way to “eat sweet” without eating junky desserts. Want help with that? Check out my famous (in my household, anyway) Healthy, Chocolate Covered Amazeballs.

Legumes

Not only are legumes full of fiber and protein, both of which are important to nursing moms, but they also have essential fatty acids in the form of Omega 3. One of the main reasons why women breastfeed is to make sure their babies receive the nutrients they need for growth and brain development. Essential fatty acids are vital to providing this. Because our bodies can’t manufacture these, we must get them in our foods. Ensuring baby gets what they need means mom must get plenty essential fatty acids in her diet. One delicious way to do that is by eating a nice variety of legumes, including lentils, peas, mung beans, chickpeas and black, kidney, lima, and string beans.

Oh and one more resource that I want to give you is my FAVORITE book all about breastfeeding and lactogenic foods: Mother Food. I have read is several times and reference it often! I have breastfed for a total of 6 years and counting, so this book has been a tremendous help to me. Every breastfeeding Mama should have a copy!

I also invite you to check out my Motherhood Page for more information about pregnancy and breastfeeding.

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Why Rebounding is Good for You

Sun, 03/26/2017 - 10:04

Rebounding exercise is becoming all the rage these days in the fitness world. It has been linked to a variety of health benefits, and is even backed by NASA! Astronauts used rebounding as a way to help rebuild bone mineralization and reverse osteoporosis. You can read the full study done in 1980 in the Journal of Applied Physiology here.

”Rebound exercise is the most efficient, effective form of exercise yet devised by man.” Source

NASA said, “…for similar levels of heart rate and oxygen consumption, the magnitude of the biomechanical stimuli is greater with jumping on a trampoline than with running, a finding that might help identify acceleration parameters needed for the design of remedial procedures to avert deconditioning in persons exposed to weightlessness.” Source

What is Rebounding?

You know those mini trampolines people bounce on? That’s rebounding. It was widely popular back in the 1980s and is making its comeback today.

While most types of exercises focus on one particular area of the body, rebounding works on every cell of the body in a special way and creates an increased G-force resistance, which strengthens your whole musculoskeletal system: bones, muscles, connective tissues, and organs.

When you’re jumping up and down, several things happen:

  • Your body accelerates as you bounce upward
  • A pause of weightlessness at the top
  • An increase in G-force as your body decelerates
  • Then you make contact with the rebounder

It is a very low impact exercise that is much easier on your joints and muscles than the solid ground. It also doesn’t wear you out as fast and helps to suppress harmful oxidative and adrenal stress.

The Health Benefits of Rebounding

There are many healthy effects rebounding exercise has on the body. Here are some reasons you should consider adding a rebounder to your workout routine:

Improves and detoxes your lymphatic system.

Your body flushes out all the toxins it accumulates, like poisons, cancerous cells, infectious viruses and heavy metals, through the lymph system. Your lymph nodes are small glands that filter out fluid that circulates through the lymphatic system. Rebounding exercise helps this system function better by moving the body that keeps the flow moving efficiently and effectively. The glands are stimulated by the jumping and gets rid of more toxins. 

Improves the endocrine and immune systems.

A healthy endocrine system relies on the body detoxing harmful toxins and chemicals. As we know that rebounding assists in improving detoxification, it also improves the endocrine system and keep hormones in balance. As for the immune system, it strengthens because the bouncing supports tissue repair and many immune cells grow in size and are able to fight off more bacteria, infections, viruses and even cancer cells. The more active these cells are, the better!

Supports the cardiovascular system.

As you jump, you are helping the circulation of the body and preventing from blood to pool, or gather, in the veins causing blood clots. This also helps lower blood pressure. As for the heart, you improve its tone and muscle quality by increasing the coordination of the fibers as it pumps blood out of the heart during each beat.

Helps with balance, posture, coordination and reaction time.

Through using your ocular nerves and inner ear canal, rebounding helps with eye/hand coordination because the body must react to each bounce and won’t always be prepared for certain directions. This strengthens your balance, posture, coordination and reaction time. If you’re a kinesthetic learner, someone who learns by moving and doing, then rebounding will improve your learning ability.

Tones your muscles and increase bone density.

As you bounce up and down, you are strengthening a variety of muscles throughout your body, such as your legs, arms, abdomen and hips. You are also stimulating every cell through the increased G-force from the jumping and assisting in increasing bone density and mass.

How to Start Rebounding Exercise

If you’re new to the rebounding exercise or suffer from adrenal fatigue or any other illness, you’ll want to take it slow. Try starting with very short intervals – jump for 2-5 minutes a day two or three times per day. Then work your way up to three or four 15-minute intervals so eventually you’re bouncing up to 45 to 60 minutes per day. Whew! That’s quite the workout!

If you’re not comfortable with letting yourself leave the trampoline, you can start out by just bending your knees and moving your body up and down without your feet leaving the rebounder.

Be sure not to wear too restrictive or tight clothing because you want to let your body move around to help your lymphatic system circulate and flush out the toxins. And it would be wise not to rebound right after you eat.

But most importantly, have fun with rebounding and enjoy trying out this new exercise. Your body will thank you! Go grab yourself a rebounder today, your lymphatic system will thank you!

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Soothing DIY Postpartum Padsicles

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 10:03

Have you given birth lately?

If you have, then you are pretty aware of the pain “down there”. Luckily, over time the memory of the pain associated with birth fades — that’s probably one of the reasons why we continue to have babies, am I right?!

Luckily I was told by a friend to stick some maxi pads into the freezer for postpartum pain relief. Well, I took that advice and hacked it a little bit to make it even better: postpartum padsicles!

I wish I had known this trick with my first two births! Back then I was given witch hazel pads to help relieve inflammation, and told to take my NSAIDS around the clock. Well if you like taking synthetic medications, that’s all well and good. I don’t.

So I combined the anti-inflammatory witch hazel, with the frozen pads, and added a special bonus: ClaraDerm Spray. If you have not heard of ClaraDerm Spray, then you need to go and get some right now. It will quickly become your BFF. I brought 2 bottles of it along to the hospital in my suitcase, because, you know, birth = crotch pain and ClaraDerm Spray = relief.

ClaraDerm Spray is a soothing blend of Lavender, Frankincense, and other essential oils. It is expertly formulated to relieve occasional skin irritations. And oh baby, it sure does!

You get a cooling, soothing, magical maxi pad when these padsicles are all said and done. 

Postpartum Padsicles Supplies:
  • 1 box of Chlorine Free Maxi Pads* — where to find
  • 1 bottle of witch hazel — where to find
  • ClaraDerm Spray — I get this through Young Living, you can learn more HERE

*Note: I HIGHLY recommend that you do not buy the maxi pads from the store shelves, unless they carry chlorine free. The standard maxi pads are filled with chemicals and fragrance and you do not need that toxic burden on your body, especially on a highly vascular region that is trying to heal! 

Directions:
  • Pour witch hazel directly onto the pad until it is about half soaked, don’t overdo it or the padsicle will be rock hard!

  • Place pad into freezer

  • Make a few at a time so you always have some on hand
  • When ready to use, spray the ClaraDerm spray directly onto the pad, or onto your vaginal area (I do both!)

  • Place the padsicle into your undies, like you would when using a maxi pad for other purposes
  • Finally, sit back and enjoy relief from your padsicles!

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Real Food Vanilla Custard Cups

Sun, 03/05/2017 - 11:03

I grew up loving the rich buttery custard that my grandma used to make. I remember how great it smelled when you dug your spoon into that first bite. Rich and buttery, so smooth. Then sometimes we would pour fresh raw cream over the top to cool it a bit. Now THAT was amazing to say the least!  

I want to carry on the memories of these old recipes in our kitchen for my own children, so I have been recreating some of the old recipes from my childhood! It started with my Grandma’s German Potato Dumplings, and naturally progressed to her desserts. I inherited my Grandmas sweet tooth so we definitely have a lot of recipes to pull from in that category.

Pudding is something that my grandpa believed could cure all ailments. Every time I had a complaint, he would find some pudding, somehow. Here is my Homemade Pudding recipe, it’s very reminiscent of this Homemade Vanilla Custard.

Real Food Vanilla Custard Cups Ingredients:
  • 2 cups whole milk (I use raw milk fresh from the farm)
  • 1 cup cream (I use raw cream too, it’s amazing!)
  • 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 2 whole pastured eggs
  • 2 pastured egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp real vanilla — where to find
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 325°F
  • Take out a 9×13 glass baking dish and place 6 ramekins inside of it

  • In a large saucepan, stir together the milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla

  • Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to prevent the milk from scalding
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs (look at those beautiful orange pastured yolks!)

  • Pour the milk mixture into the eggs, whisking continuously to prevent the eggs from cooking

  • Pour mixture into ramekins

  • Boil some water in a tea kettle and pour into glass baking dish so it comes up the sides of the ramekins. Be careful that it does not pour into the custard

  • Carefully put glass dish and ramekins into the oven and bake for an hour, they will be starting to set, but still jiggly

  • Remove from oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack

  • Once they are cooled, place into the fridge and allow them to chill overnight for the best creamy thick texture
  • Makes 6 Real Food Vanilla Custard cups,  they last about 3 days in the fridge

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DIY Scented Homemade Crayons

Sun, 02/26/2017 - 11:03

Remember melting down crayons as a kid?

We melted crayons between layers of wax paper. That was fun and pretty, but after it was all said and done, all we had was a melted crayon design. Being a kid, I quickly got bored with that one. Then, I discovered that I could melt my broken crayons in molds and re-use them! Plus, you could make them swirly colors! Awesome! 

This may or may not have lead to me breaking many of my crayons on purpose, just to be able to use them to make new homemade crayons!

Now, as a homeschooling mom, I decided this would be something fun to whip up in our kitchen classroom. We also decided that it would be REALLY fun to make them scented crayons! Remember the scented markers? Yeah, kind of like those, but waaaaaay better for little sniffers. The essential oils are actually good to be smelling! No chemicals, just sensory bliss for kids and moms alike. Bonus: we use therapeutic grade essential oils, so they have added benefits.

Here are some examples of therapeutic uses to boost well-being and make using these crayons a multisensory experience:

  • Peace and Calming Essential Oil: Creates a relaxing environment that’s especially great for homes with children
  • Lavender Essential Oil: Lavender is relaxing and balancing
  • Joy Essential Oil: Creates a warm, comforting environment that supports emotional balance
  • Lemon Essential Oil: Lemon is uplifting and creates an energized atmosphere
  • Make it fun: add lemon or orange to the yellow/orange colors, add lavender to the pink/purple crayons, etc

…just to name a few, but you can certainly experiment with any of the amazing oils you want! This is the really fun part! 

Scented Homemade Crayons

What you need:

  • Old broken crayons
  • Silicon molds — like these
  • Essential oils — we only use l these because they are the highest quality

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 250°F.
  • Peel any remaining labels off of your crayons.
  • Sort the crayons into colors that work well together. We like green-yellow, pink-purple, red-orange, but you can do what every combination that you like.
  • Place the crayon pieces into the silicon molds.

  • Bake at 250°F for 15-20 minutes, until crayons are fully melted.

  • Remove from the oven and add the oils to the crayons, about 3-5 drops per crayon.

  • Allow them to cool and harden completely before removing them from the molds.

  • Color and create masterpieces!
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Why the Instant Pot is Great for Dads

Sun, 02/19/2017 - 11:03

Hey guys, you are in for a treat this week! I was gifted an Instant Pot for my birthday this year and my husband immediately took to it. It’s totally a gadgety guy kitchen tool! The hubs loves it so much that I convinced him to write about it so I could share his tips with you! Take it away, Luke….

3 Reasons Why the Instant Pot is Great for Dads

Living with Real Food RN is truly epic for meal time. I’m blessed to have countless healthy, delicious meals prepared for my kids and I. However, when it is my turn to make the occasional meal, there tends to be lots of feedback from the kids.

“Ew, Daddy is cooking? Gross!!”

Not to fear kids! Daddy’s got the Instant Pot!

The Instant Pot has turned my meals from awful to awesome with relative ease.

Frozen Roast to Delicious Meal in 45 Minutes

I certainly don’t have the time, skill, or patience to plan hours in advance to make a good, nutritious home cooked meal. With the pressure cooker, you can take a rock hard roast out of the freezer and have a ready-to-eat meal in literally 1/7 the time of conventional slow cookers or without the attention required by grilling or baking.

Nutrition

Pressure cooking preserves the vitamins and minerals because of the reduced cooking time. Grilling, which has long been one of my specialties, quickly eats up nutrients in foods and also can lead to the development of heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons — which is fancy talk for “if you char your food, it is much more carcinogenic!”

Soups, stews, or roasts were never something I’d consider making before. Just last week I threw a football-sized frozen chicken in at 1:00pm and by 5:00pm I had chicken soup. Of course, I added a few more ingredients. Plus, when you make it using the whole chicken, it’s loaded with healthy bone broth!

It’s Idiot Proof

When you get the Instant Pot, there is a 20-page manual that, unlike like other manuals, is one you’re going to need to read. All the pre-programed settings allow a one button push to cook. It took me about a half an hour of reading to get a feel for how it works. The only other downside I can think of is you need to depressurize the pot to check on the food but unlike baking and grilling, it’s very unlikely that you’ll burn your meal.

Score some points with the wife and give the Instant Pot a try. Heck, you might even enjoy cooking now and again.

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The Top 3 Carrier Oils

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 11:03

DIY skin care is really hot right now, and I want to make sure my tribe knows exactly what they are doing, which includes what the top carrier oils are and how they can be used. Carrier oils are a vital building block of using essential oils to create your own lovely skin care.

What are Carrier Oils?

Carrier oils are made primarily from nut or seed oils which have their own naturally (awesome) skin benefits. They are amazing emollients and give the skin a glowing radiance, so they are perfect for making your own skin care products. Some also have other great qualities, like being anti-inflammatory, so they work naturally to improve skin conditions such as acne and eczema. Theses top carrier oils don’t evaporate so they continue to moisturize your skin long after they are applied.

Why We Use Carrier Oils

People who use essential oils to create their own skin care (fun!) use them to make essential oils safe to put on their skin. Essential oils are highly concentrated and some of them can burn or aggravate it. To make it possible to add essential oils into your DIY body care products, you need to dilute them with these top carrier oils. Essential oils also evaporate quickly, but by diluting them in carrier oil, they retain their pleasing scent and their beneficial properties.

Some of these top carrier oils will sound familiar. You may have seen them in commercial lotions and other body care items you’ve purchased. But when you make your own skin care products, you don’t get all the other harsh, toxic chemicals that manufactures also add in—you just get the good, healthy stuff!

Important tip: Some of these top carrier oils are more costly than others, so that might be a factor in which ones you use. However, it’s important to buy the best quality that you can afford. For example, no matter the type of carrier oil, you always want to purchase only cold-pressed, unrefined ones that are totally pure—have no other ingredients like additives in them. It’s perfectly fine to choose a different one than what I recommend if the cost is prohibitive. The main thing is you use the purest oil on the market. After all, one of the main reasons you are using a carrier oil in the first place is to replace the dangerous, chemical-filled skin care products found on the shelves at cosmetic counters in malls everywhere.

The Top 3 Carrier Oils

Each oil has its own properties which make it good for different uses and skin types. Let’s take a look at my top carrier oils individually.

Grapeseed Oil

Even if you have oily skin, you need to moisturize to keep it from prematurely aging, and grapeseed oil is a wonderful one to use! Even though it’s oil, it doesn’t build up more oil on your skin but rather balances out your skin’s oil production. It’s also great for acne-prone skin because it contains polyphenols, which are anti-inflammatory antioxidants that keep you from breaking out.

Besides that, it contains the flavonoids oligomeric proanthocyanidins or OPC, which removes free radicals to keep your skin looking young. Another way grapeseed oil keeps skin looking young is by naturally restoring collagen, which is what gives our skin elasticity. It’s packed with beta carotene and vitamins C, D and E, as well as a variety of essential fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, which is why it’s become so popular in anti-wrinkle and scar-reducing products.

This oil is lightweight and can be used in just about any type of skin care product, including lip balms. It leaves your hair nice and shiny too, so it’s the perfect carrier oil to use in homemade shampoo. Note that this oil has a relatively short shelf life, but since it’s great for so many different products, that shouldn’t be a problem. 

Fractionated Coconut Oil

Now, this isn’t the stuff you use in the kitchen that solidifies. To create the carrier oil, coconut oil is fractured—the molecules are broken down and the long-chain triglycerides removed. This process makes it stay in liquid form no matter the temperature where it’s stored. This fracturing also improves the natural benefits found in coconut oil—the capric and caprylic acids are intensified, which gives it even more antibacterial and disinfecting power, even more moisturizing abilities, and a longer shelf life.

It contains Vitamins A, C, and E, which, along with the extra punch of medium-chain fatty acids, improves collagen production, keeping skin looking young. It’s also full of lauric acid which is vital for a healthy immune system. It’s a lightweight oil that moisturizes without leaving you feeling all greased up, and it won’t clog pores, which is an important point for those whose skin is prone to breakouts.

Fractionated coconut oil penetrates the skin deeply, which means it will carry essential oils along for the ride. This oil is a good choice if you are looking to gain the natural healing properties of the essential oils you add to it. One final note: even though this is coconut oil, it won’t have the strong yummy smell that you would expect. It has no scent, so you don’t need to worry about it overpowering the essential oils you add to it.

Jojoba Oil

This carrier oil is actually a wax that has a high melting point. This makes it extremely versatile! It is also the closest carrier oil to our natural skin sebum, the waxy oil that our skin glands create to protect our skin. It’s great for any skin type, and like grapeseed oil, it has anti-inflammatory properties that make it a fabulous choice for those with acne. And also like grapeseed oil, it stabilizes the amount of oil your skin glands produce, so it’s the perfect complement for oily skin.

Oh, and don’t forget your scalp! If you suffer from itchy, flaky scalp or the reverse, an oily scalp, this is the carrier oil you’ll want to use for your homemade conditioners and shampoos. It’s also great to make your own shaving cream, face cleanser, and moisturizer. It’s loaded with lots of vitamins and minerals that make skin and hair healthy and radiant, including Vitamin E and B-complex, chromium, copper, zinc and iodine. It has a long shelf life, so you don’t have to worry about how quickly you use it up.

No matter what your top carrier oil is, you can feel great about replacing your toxic skin care with healthy homemade alternatives! You can get started by checking out all my DIY body care recipes here.

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Why MSG is Bad and Why We Crave It

Sun, 01/29/2017 - 11:03

The debate about MSG can be confusing, at best, because those who have yet to be afflicted by the sensitivity it can cause, claim there’s nothing wrong with it. Add to the mix that it’s cheap, it’s in a huge number of the foods Americans eat, it tastes good, and it’s easy to see no harm in it if you’ve never had the migraines or hives or upset stomach that MSG can cause.

But scientific tests have proven that MSG is dangerous to us, even if we don’t react negatively to it immediately.

Is it all in one’s head that they are sensitive to MSG? Surely something that tastes so good couldn’t be the cause!

However, in double-blind studies, MSG has proven to cause such negative reactions as:

  • Muscle tightness
  • Weakness of the arms or legs
  • Upset stomach
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Flushing
  • Burning sensations in the mouth, head and neck
  • Headaches
  • Hives or other allergic-type reactions
Why Do We Crave MSG?

But what is the problem with eating MSG for those of us who don’t suffer from these symptoms when eating the flavor-enhancing additive? Surely it’s fine for us to eat, right?

The problem with this thinking is that MSG has been found to build up in the system so that eventually we will have these symptoms when we eat MSG…it’s just a matter of time. This happens because MSG overstimulates our nervous system, causing an inflammation response that gets more intense each time we ingest the additive until we begin to see outward symptoms such as those listed above.

And if you think that is bad, here’s worse news: MSG is chemically designed to make us crave it. And, it increases our appetite, so we can eat a bunch of fast food, but don’t feel satisfied. And what do we tend to want when we are hungry again? More fast food, which continues the hunger cycle.

Want more bad news? Probably not, but hey, it’s my job to let you know this kind of stuff!  Extensive studies on MGS have found that this overstimulation of the nervous system can actually cause brain damage and nervous conditions, as well as hormonal fluctuations. This overstimulation is especially damaging to children’s brains since they are still developing. In fact, high intake of MSG in early life can cause addiction risk, behavioral issues, lack of emotional control, and learning difficulties. Scary when you think of all of the junk food children in the country ingest every day!

One important thing I want to point out is that while MSG is a manufactured form of glutamates, naturally-occurring glutamates found in food like tomatoes, Chinese cabbage and meats are not dangerous–only the processed-free glutamic acids that make up MSG are. So you can feel good about eating healthy, real foods full of glutamates. You can learn more about why our bodies need glutamates in my post about Umami.

Okay, I’ve convinced you that you don’t want to eat MSG. But how do you avoid it? That’s tricky, because the FDA claims that MSG is safe enough to be on the market and that food manufacturers can claim their food is MSG-free as long as they don’t include it as a flavor enhancer. However, they don’t have to list it if it is a processing agent, which is very common in processed foods. See how sneaky that is? MSG is commonly found in prepared foods, but is often called something like these code names:

  • Spices
  • Flavorings
  • Yeast extract
  • Hydrolyzed soy protein

Clearly, we can’t trust the food labels. The best way to avoid eating and feeding your kids MSG accidentally is by preparing your own real foods at home. That way, you know exactly what goes into it. You’ll find tons of great-tasting, easy recipes on this site! Check our my Recipe Page for some great meal ideas!

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What is Umami Flavor?

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 11:03

Move over sweet and salty, there’s a new kid in town. Okay, it’s not really new, but that sounded dramatic. You may not have heard of umami, but it is actually one of the tastes that our tongues recognize, along with bitter, sour, sweet and salty. We love umami, which is a Japanese word meaning “savory,” even if we don’t know what it’s called. It is the oomph of flavor that comes from foods packed with protein.

What is Umami?

Umami flavor was identified by a Japanese chemist in the early part of the twentieth century, and we now know that although it hasn’t always had a name, it has been a favorite since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans.

A naturally occurring amino acid, glutamate, gives us umami flavor, which scientists now believe we love so much because of our primal instinct that tells us what is healthy to eat. Because the taste of umami signals a high protein food source, we are metabolically attuned to enjoy it, just as we are sweet-tasting foods because they indicate a food source high in calories. Glutamate also regulates our feeling of being comfortably fed or satisfied after we have eaten enough, which is an important part of losing weight or maintaining a healthy one.

Other Reasons Why Our Bodies Need Glutamate:
  • It energizes our digestion, including the stomach, small intestine, and liver.
  • It is also an excitatory neurotransmitter (stimulates the brain), which plays a crucial role in learning and memory.
  • It is used by our body to produce GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter (calms and balances the brain).

The foods with the most umami flavor are ones that have broken complete proteins down into “free” amino acids, including glutamates. The methods that create “free” amino acids include aging, toasting, braising, stewing, fermenting and roasting. Obviously, I want lots of this yummy, healthy stuff in my food, so I eat a selection of these foods frequently:

  • Pork, beef, lamb, turkey, and chicken
  • Shellfish, especially oysters
  • Darker-fleshed fin fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
  • Ocean vegetables, especially kombu seaweed
  • Cheese, such as Parmesan or Roquefort
  • Green tea
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Soybeans
  • Legumes
  • Pickled vegetables and fruits

To make sure I get my full daily dose of glutamates, I also drink this mushroom coffee (no, seriously, it’s delicious!), take mushroom supplements and add mushroom broth to our homemade stews and soups by cooking down mushrooms and freezing the broth in ice cube trays. Then, whenever I want to add umami flavor to a menu, I just pop one into the pot. I also add umami by opening the mushroom supplement capsules and sprinkling it over our food. Want to see foods your kids don’t like disappear? Just sprinkle some of this on top of those green veggies. Since the flavor is so fabulous, they will eat it up and ask for more. Instead of “a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down,” try ground mushrooms!

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