Your REAL New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that blessed time of year again; the time of year that we set insurmountable goals for ourselves in hopes to better our minds, bodies, or relationships. If you’re the type that actually sets realistic goals that they can accomplish THROUGHOUT the year, then congratulations. You’re the very slim minority.

If you’re like me and set goals with the best intentions and then forget or fail halfway (or two months) into the year, then you’re like the rest of us. So hows about we nip this in the bud and set some realistic goals today? Find that humility, push away that perfectionist in you, and suck it up. You’re not perfect. In 2015, you still won’t be perfect. Embrace it, and just focus on getting better (or doing your best to get there!).

What your goals SHOULDN’T look like and WHAT you can change them to.. or in other words:

2015

Typical Goal #1

Lose weight.

Probably the number 1 goal that everyone writes down. This is unspecific and focused on the wrong thing! Don’t focus on “weight,” in fact, weigh yourself less. If you weigh yourself too often, you’ll just stress yourself out, get disappointed, and quit. If you focus on wanting to lose weight because you hate the way your body looks in the first place, then you’ll never lose it. I love the quote “you can’t heal a body you hate” even though I don’t know who said it. It’s true.

REAL Goal #1

Love your body.

This is an all encompassing goal. If you love your body, you’ll be careful about the ingredients and quality of the food you put into it. You’ll appreciate the food more. You’ll stress less about your appearance. And in doing so? You’ll probably lose weight.. but not that that matters because you love YOUR body! Be grateful you have tbe ability, drive, and knowledge to get healthier. Focus on HEALTH instead of WEIGHT. Focus on the ingredients, quality of your food instead of how much you’re eating. Don’t focus on “counting calories.” Focus on listening to your body when it’s full. Focus on eating slower.

Typical Goal #2

Go to the gym 32 times a week.

I exaggerate, yes. But I know we’ve all set that goal of going to the gym every day, or 6 times a week, or twice a day, etc. etc. etc. I know that when I set this goal, I never give myself a break. I stress, I give myself crazy anxiety in order to push myself to go to the gym every day even if I don’t want to or don’t like the class I’m going to. “You hate going to the gym? Go anyways. You made the goal, and you HAVE to stay in shape.” < that was your conscience speaking. You know what I say to that?

REAL Goal #2

Do what you want, when you want.

Drop that bad workout habit. Don’t go to the gym if you don’t like it, don’t run a million miles if you don’t like it, and DON’T go to that crazy intense cardio-weights-bend-over-backwards class IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT! What do you like? What makes you get up and get active without wanting to jump out a window? For me, it’s yoga and walking. For others, it’s lifting weights. Swimming, running, pilates, cycling, etc. are all awesome ways to get active. So try them out! Find something you love, and go! Don’t necessarily focus on how many times a week you’re going to go, just go. That being said, I think you should do SOMETHING active fairly often, because it’s just good for you! Makes ya happy, healthy, and glowy. (Seriously, my skin glows after I work out.) But at least now you won’t HATE doing it,  because it’s something you picked and something you like.

Typical Goal #3

Eat healthy.

What does that even mean? “Healthy” can mean so many different things for so many people. “Healthy” can mean low-fat, or low-carb, or low-calorie. It can mean still eating a standard American diet, but just eating smaller portions of it. It can mean ordering NutriSystem or eating Lean Pockets like it’s going out of style. As a nutritional therapist, you know what “healthy” means to me?

REAL Goal #3

Healthy means eating REAL, WHOLE food. Not processed. Not something that can sit on the store shelf for 5 years without spoiling. In our nutrition schooling, we learned to search for high quality foods because they pack the biggest punch when it comes to their nutrient value. This is important because nutrient-dense foods will satisfy you. You won’t be left with cravings or feeling like you’re completely depriving your body, either. And don’t eliminate an entire macronutrient group (carbs, fat, or protein)! Eat well-balanced meals that consist of about 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbohydrates. This is a very realistic, very doable goal, and a GREAT one to add to your list o’ resolutions.

Typical Goal #4

Don’t eat sugar.

Writing this one down year after year always makes me a little sad. Why? Because it’s giving up a lot. Admit it, you’re sad about it too. It means giving up dessert nights with friends, not having chocolate, or missing out on cookie and milk night. B-u-m-m-e-r. But hey, you wrote it down, so it has to be done! No sugar for you. Ever. At all. *One week goes by* aaaaaand you binge. Why did you binge? Because that goal is unrealistic!

REAL Goal #4

Eat REAL sugar sparingly.

I, personally, don’t think it’s realistic for everyone to give up sugar all the time. You miss making cookies with your family, you miss fun social outings, and you just miss it. That’s not healthy! You have to enjoy your life, right? And sometimes that means eating small amounts of natural sugar. Don’t worry. Instead, pick REAL sugar. Don’t use the crappy refined white cane sugar or refined brown sugar. Use raw, organic, unrefined honey. Use organic Grade B, pure maple syrup. Use coconut sugar. Use sucanat. Use molasses. Use LESS that you normally would, and don’t make desserts every day! Sugar is still a treat, all I’m saying is don’t rid yourself of this treat completely.

Typical Goal #5

Be perfect.

Again, I exaggerate. I only say this one because I’m guilt of it to. No, I don’t actually write those words down when I’m making my resolutions, but I do set an expectation in my head to never deviate from these goals and that if I do I’m a total no-good failure. (I’m kind of a jerk to myself. OR at least I was until I started with this NEW AND IMPROVED GOAL!).

REAL Goal #5

CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK, YO!

Baby steps forward are still forward steps. You don’t have to do everything at once and never falter. It’s okay to be human, I promise. All I ask is that you set a goal to be better and to TRY. Try replacing some of your food to organic or grass-fed. Try doing a workout you think you’ll enjoy. Try replacing those nasty white sugary desserts with good quality, real sugar desserts. Just try and love your body. TRY and love yourself for it!

-Little steps forward are still forward

And Happy New Year, to you, too.

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Eat grains, but only if you do THIS.


Let’s recall a moment in time that’s not so pretty. It’s when that painful, awkward bloating starts after you ate brown rice. Or wheat. Or quinoa. Or any form of grain, really. After the bloating, you start feeling gassy. Or nauseated. Or constipated (or just uncomfortable from reading all of those descriptive digestion terms). Regardless, you just KNOW you’re not going to digest that bowl of “whatever grain you ate” later. It’s embarrassing, and you decide to give up grains completely. You feel better when you’re off of them, anyways.

But do you have to give them up to feel better? What if there was another way? (Side note- writing that line made me think of that part in Finding Nemo when Shark Bait (Nemo) has to swim through the ring of fire, and the starfish is freaking out and saying “ISN’T THERE ANY OTHER WAY?!” which, for the record, is how I feel sometimes about giving up grains. SO that totally applies here).

Guess what. There is another way. *Mic drop*

*Mic pick-back-up* It’s called “properly preparing your grains,” or what we call, the traditional way. 

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Whole grains are tricky. They have a lot of incredible nutrients, but sometimes its hard for our body to break them down and digest them in order to actually USE those nutrients from the grains.

Whole grains have two things working against them; phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Phytic acid prevents your body from absorbing iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, and zinc in your GI tract. Sounds scary, right? Probably not great for you in the long run. Or in the short run. Enzyme inhibitors do exactly what they sound like they do; keep your body from absorbing useful enzymes found in grains. Can I get a YIKES up in here?

Those two reasons are why it’s extremely important to soak or ferment your grains. Traditional societies discovered that it neutralizes the phytates AND enzyme inhibitors. Problem solved. Now you can absorb all of the iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, and zinc that you want, and you’re enzymes won’t be inhibited by anything, and those lil’ enzymes are pretty happy about that.

Sally Fallon explains it well in her book Nourishing Traditions (which you need to buy right now), but she says that the process of soaking, sour-leavening, and sprouting (which we will cover in another post) is like a pre-digestion step, so it makes it easier for your body to break down grains. Your body can get the nourishment it needs and deserves. Hallelujah. But really, buy this book.

food bible

Cultures have been soaking and fermenting their grains for centuries. It’s easy, painless, and makes it a whole lot easier for you to digest those grains! For some reason, for the last hundred years or so, this process was lost to us more “industrialized” folk. Among the huge explosion of inventions and machines and food additives and the overall process of trying to make food a science experiment, the traditional ways of preparing food was lost… which is why we are bringin’ it back! Fermenting and soaking is SO in right now. It’s like, vintage.

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH GRAINS

“But Christine, I don’t want to. It’s an extra step. It’s time-consuming. It takes up too much brain power. I’m lazy. Meh meh meh.”  <—- Trust me when I say I’ve been there. I’ve used every excuse in the book! I thought it would be better for me to just give grains up completely. I did for over a year. Want to know what I discovered about myself? When I wasn’t getting in enough carbs from vegetables (since I was off grains and also dairy… yup, I was paleo), I was craving a whole lot of SUGAR. Our bodies need carbs. They are an important macronutrient, just like proteins and fats. They are what your brain runs off of, for crying out loud.

Without adequate carb intake, I was constantly craving simple carbs in the form of fruit or just plain sugars all. the. time. Then, as I added back in raw dairy and properly prepared grains, my sugar cravings disappeared. Since then I was sold. (Granted, I also did a lot of work on healing my gut, controlling my candida overgrowth, and balancing my hormones- a process I will discuss in another post).

But that is why I am full-on Weston A Price diet now. I eat grains, but I don’t eat a ton of them daily and I always properly prepare them.

*This is important. I’m not saying that everyone should dive into eating properly prepared grains right now. Any grains probably aren’t great for those who 1)have a leaky gut or 2) suffer from an autoimmune disease or major hormone imbalance. Address those first, and then add grains back in! AND for those of you who are eating a plentiful amount of NOT properly prepared grains (yes, you) then you neeeeeed to do this. Please.

Here’s how you soak ’em.

For whole grains and dry legumes, soak them at least overnight, but anywhere from 8-24 hours is great. All you need to do is soak them in an acidic medium. Soak them in water with added lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.

I usually just put enough warm or room temperature, filtered water to cover the grains, and then add 1 teaspoon of acidic medium for every cup of grains I’m soaking. Cover and let it sit on the counter.

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Brown Rice Soaking in Water with Apple Cider Vinegar

For wheat flours, soak them anywhere from 8-24 hours in an acidic medium. You can soak them in water with lemon or apple cider vinegar like the whole grains, OR you can use more of a dairy medium (which is what I prefer for my flours). You can use something like whey, kefir, or buttermilk. Just add enough of the acidic liquid until the flour forms a sticky dough consistency. Cover and let it sit on the counter.

Brown Rice Flour Soaking in Whey

Brown Rice Flour Soaking in Whey

And that’s it! That’s how you soak grains. When you are cooking with soaked grains or flours, you’ll have to mess around a bit with the recipes you use… most likely the recipes don’t call for pre-soaked grains or flour, so reduce the liquids in the recipe a tiny bit. Soaking doesn’t change it too much though.

If you want to get really crazy, you can do sourdough. I go on and off sourdough, but I’m currently on and loving it. (Just wait for my sourdough kamut pancake recipe, you guys. So. Good).

For sourdough, you need to first obtain a starter. You can buy them at any health food store (Cultures for Health is a good brand) or you can find someone that already has one. When you have the starter, you just add unbleached, organic white flour to it. The amount varies… but my rule of thumb is that you just add the same about of flour for how much starter you have. If you have 1/4 C of starter, add 1/4 C of flour. Then, add half as much water as you did flour. So, 1/8 C water (2 TBS) if you added 1/4 C flour.

Herby, my sourdough starter. Look at those bubbles! Active lil' tyke.

Herby, my sourdough starter. Look at those bubbles! Active lil’ tyke.

I feed mine every morning and every night. When you use sourdough in a recipe, be sure not to use all of it… you’ll need a little bit to use again as your starter. When you aren’t feeding or baking with it, put in the fridge. Leave it in the fridge for up to a week and feed it again… but if you still don’t want to use it, put it back in the fridge and feed it for another week.

Sourdough maintenance, done.

If you’re a newbie, I recommend just soaking your grains at first. That’s where I started! You can advance whenever you’re ready.🙂

And sprouting? We’ll talk about that soon, too.

Comment with questions, comments, or general words of wisdom.

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How to be “Healthy-ish” at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is coming quickly upon us which means one thing: food. A lot. of. food. Obviously there are other things that are WAY more important than food on Thanksgiving… like pilgrims (who celebrated with food), Native Americans (who shared the food with the pilgrims), cornucopia (filled with food), and family (who you eat the food with). Right? So much more to this holiday than food. (Oh, wait. Is there?)

With food comes two reactions, and I know you’re going to fall in one category or the other. Either you’re psyched out of your mind to indulge in an exorbitant amount of rolls and pie and everything-else-on-the-table, stuffing yourself to no end and excusing yourself because it’s a holiday.

OR you give yourself an anxiety attack when you think about how much food you’ll have to refuse because it has too many calories, too much sugar, too much this, too much that, and you won’t be able to burn everything off since most gyms are closed that day. 

You know what I think? Both of those categories are a no-go. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who have already surpassed both mentalities. How can you do that? Incorporate these simple steps. 

How to make Thanksgiving (and any time you eat) work for you

 

1. Use REAL ingredients to substitute the super refined, processed, instant dishes

Using real ingredients pertains to ALL meals, not just Thanksgiving. Stop counting calories, stop stressing about burning more off at the gym. Keep yourself healthy by working out, listen to your body when you’re full, and fill yourself with nutrient dense foods; you will be in better shape than you ever were when you were counting calories.

Real ingredients at Thanksgiving, though, feels like more fun than normal cooking since it’s dishes I don’t normally make throughout the year. I’m super jazzed about my Thanksgiving this year because we, as a family, have planned out several dishes that are all REAL FOOD dishes. Creamed corn with real, raw cream and delicious non-gmo corn. Pie made with tons of lard and fresh filling. A REAL HERITAGE TURKEY. I can hardly contain myself. I love having an awesome Weston A Price family, y’all.

Eating with real ingredients means you’re eating more like a pilgrim would have! And that’s pretty cool.

Swapping out real ingredients for the processed, refined ones doesn’t mean your Thanksgiving is going to taste bad. It’s actually quite the opposite. Your foods will be more filling, more rich, and better for you. You’ll feel less stress knowing you’re eating real ingredients (but you shouldn’t stress out anyways if you can’t control it, right? Remember the steps!!).

Will it be more expensive? Yes. More time-consuming? More like more time to spend with family! More preparation? Not if you check out the following recipes we found for you!Besides, we’re including a selection of our favorite real ingredient Thanksgiving recipes to get you started. Now you have no excuse.

Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes

For turkey: find out where in your state they are selling free-range, organic turkeys. Mary’s is a great brand and they sell them all over! I’m sure you could find a good Turkey at Whole Foods or Sprouts, too.

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Ever tried a homemade cranberry sauce? Give this one from Nearly Natural Momma a shot! At the very least, try to find an organic store-bought one.

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Try Megan’s Green bean casserole idea: organic blanched green beans mixed with Against All Grain’s homemade cream of mushroom soup (one of her FAVE soups!). She cooks the green beans and then makes the soup, mixes them together, and then tops it with slivered almonds and organic parmesan cheese and bakes it all together. Here’s a picture of the Mushroom Soup she’s talking about:

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Mashed Potatoes: this one’s a no brainer. Just make mashed potatoes like you normally would, but use organic potatoes, Redmond’s RealSalt, good quality cream or raw milk, and butter. Plus more butter. And maybe add extra butter. Garlic powder, other spices optional. But don’t forget the butter.

Rolls: Nourished Kitchen is one of our very favorite bloggers. Her recipes and her cookbook are full of wonderful traditional recipes. Here’s a link to her Einkorn Dinner Rolls:

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Sweet Potato Casserole: Here’s what Megan made last year. She said it was a huge hit; she even left off the marshmallows! Try it, love it.

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Can’t forget the Pumpkin Pie: We are big Mommypotamus fans. Here’s a link to her Pumpkin Pie recipe!

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***IF YOU DON’T HAVE CONTROL OVER YOUR MEAL (or you’re in denial about the amount of control that you do, in fact, actually have*** then it will be that much more important for you to just follow-through on the rest of the steps. You can do it. It’s not hard, and it will make your Thanksgiving that much more enjoyable. You won’t be bloated after, you won’t have terrible digestion, and you’ll have more leftovers. I ask, is there anything better than leftover Thanksgiving leftovers? Absolutely not. Heed these words of wisdom.

2. Everything in moderation

We hear this phrase all.the.time. It’s obviously a lot easier said than done, but all I ask is that you try to be more aware of what you’re eating, how fast you’re eating, and how much you’re eating. Being aware will greatly help your effort in eating everything in moderation. Have one serving this year instead of returning for seconds or thirds, maybe just have a couple bites of dessert.

Another way to eat in moderation is to eat s-l-o-w-l-y. Put your fork down in between bites. Chew your food more than once before swallowing (or else obviously you’d choke). In fact, healthy digestion is partly started by how well you chew your food in the very beginning. Try chewing your food for 20-30 seconds before you swallow. Taste it! Enjoy it!

If you are aware of how you eat if you try to eat at a decent pace, you will give yourself time for your body to actually realize that it is feeling satiated. Then you can avoid that terribly uncomfortable feeling “eating everything but the kitchen sink” post-thanksgiving meal.

3. Appreciation

How often do we get together as a family and as friends to enjoy good food? Not as often as we should. Appreciate the chance you have to slow-down for a day. Appreciate the company, and appreciate the holiday as you eat great food and play football and freeze a little bit (depending on location, of course. I will freeze, you may not). Thank the pilgrims and Squanto and Abraham Lincoln for making this holiday a holiday. And read about the history of Thanksgiving here.

4. Relaxation

Chill out. Don’t go crazy because it’s a holiday and eat everything in sight, but don’t refuse everything either (especially if you want some!). Being in a relaxed, parasympathetic state is KEY for good digestion. So calm down!

Stressing out about food is way worse anyways. I tell that a lot to my clients. Control what you can (ingredients/food wise), but control your mindset if you can’t control the food- just relax. The last thing you need is excess cortisol production in your body from stressing yourself out, k? You don’t eat like this everyday,  so just eat slowly, appreciatively, smartly, and calmly. You’ll get through it and you won’t mess up your elimination diet/detox/”insert gut healing diet here” too badly. It’s Thanksgiving, for Pete’s sake. You can cut yourself some slack, I’m just saying don’t get binge crazy. I trust you.

So there you have it, friends. Enjoy this Thanksgiving. Do what you can to make your meal with real, nutritious ingredients, but even if you can’t control that, control HOW you partake of this fantastic holiday meal. Don’t stress, slow down, and appreciate what’s around you.

Happy Thanksgiving,

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Boost Your Immunity Naturally During Cold & Flu Season

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There’s really no easier way to boost your immunity than through the foods you eat. I mean, you gotta eat those three squares anyway, right? Every year when “the season is upon us” and it seems like my life is–of course–more hectic than ever, I make sure to include an abundance of certain foods in my diet so that my immunity stays strong. Here are my top 9 foods and whole-food supplements for warding off those pesky viruses during this cold and flu season!

1. High-Vitamin Fermented Cod Liver Oil: Did you know that doctors used to have their patients take cod liver oil when they came down with an illness? It was a cure-all for everything from rickets to the Cod Liver Oil Ad 1950ssniffles (and still is today)! I’ve learned everything I know about the powerful effects of high-vitamin cod liver oil from the Weston A. Price Foundation’s work on fat-soluble vitamins. Even Dr. Chris Kresser states,

“If there’s only one superfood/supplement you take through the winter, this should be it. It’s rich with fat-soluble vitamins that regulate and support the immune system, and fatty acids like EPA and DHA that reduce inflammation. It also seems to have some kind of synergistic quality above and beyond the individual nutrients it contains that powerfully boosts immunity. I rarely get colds and flus when I’m taking [it].” 

(Read his full article here).

Brand recommendation: There’s only one brand that I recommend, and that is Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil Blend. They prepare it in a traditional manner and do not use heat extraction so that the vitamins and fatty acids remain intact. The vitamin content is unparalleled when compared to store-bought brands, so search for it online at www.GreenPasture.org (I’m not affiliated, I just love the stuff).

Side note: Most people prefer the Cinnamon Tingle flavor, and most children like the Chocolate Cream flavor. I keep mine in the refrigerator so that it solidifies and is easy to take.

Dosage recommendation: The Weston A. Price Foundation recommends a daily dose of 1-1.5 teaspoons per day for adults, and 1/2 teaspoon per day for children between 3 months and 12 years. (1)

2. Garlic: Garlic is one of the most powerful immune-boosting foods, and it’s extremely easy to add into your daily diet (Italian, anyone?). This superfood is not only effective against viruses, but also against bacteria and fungal infections! The potent sulfur compounds in garlic may be one of the most effective remedies to decrease inflammation and boost immunity. In fact, according to Natural News, “researchers have found garlic to be more powerful at destroying pathogenic bacteria than the popular antibiotics penicillin and tetracycline.” (2) How amazing is that?! Be sure to crush the garlic cloves and leave them to rest for about 10 minutes before consuming; this will help to activate the compounds beforehand!

3. Fresh vegetable juice: It’s difficult to consume pounds upon pounds of vegetables, but you can very easily juice them and get a lot of the antioxidant effects that those fresh fruits and vegetables provide! Give yourself a vitamin boost during cold and flu season by juicing at home. You’ll want to opt for organic produce to avoid pesticides and other chemicals, and choose recipes that have a higher ratio of vegetables to fruits so that you avoid an unnecessary insulin spike. You can even include turmeric–an anti-inflammatory root, which is covered below! Here is one of my favorite go-to recipes when I feel like I’m coming down with something:

Cold & Flu Fighting Juice
Author: Megan
Prep time: 5 mins
Total time: 5 mins
Serves: 1 large glass
Give your immune system a boost by making this anti-inflammatory and vitamin-rich juice at home!
Ingredients
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 2 carrots
  • Handful of spinach
  • Handful of parsley
  • 1″ of peeled ginger root
  • 1″ of peeled turmeric
  • 1 lemon, peeled
  • 1 lime, peeled
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Instructions
  1. Prepare and juice the above ingredients. If you can muster it, add a pinch of cayenne pepper to your juice before you drink it to help thin any mucous that may be developing. Bottoms up!

4. Turmeric: Turmeric is just as well-known for its anti-inflammatory effects in the natural healthTurmeric Tea WellnessMama community as it is for its delightful curry taste in culinary circles. Many studies have shown that the active compound in turmeric, curcumin, is just as powerful as hydrocortisone and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications without the unnecessary side effects (decreased zinc, ulcerations of stomach lining, intestinal bleeding). My favorite way to consume turmeric is by making the ancient beverage, “golden milk.” It is a warm, soothing, and delicious drink with powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Here is a link to a great recipe from Wellness Mama for Turmeric Tea.

5. Natural sources of Vitamin D: What exactly is Vitamin D? Well, I can tell you what it isn’t. It isn’t a vitamin. In fact, it’s a potent maintenance and repair steroid hormone. Mounting evidence suggests that Vitamin D helps to fight disease and boosts overall health, so it is highly suggested to keep your levels up year-round. The best way of obtaining Vitamin D is by going outside during the summer time, and in fact, hospitals in the 1920’s-1930’s would wheel their patients outside, which seemed to help their conditions!

Since most people in North America aren’t able to obtain enough D during the winter months, you’ll have to get it through supplements or food sources. I always prefer to get vitamins through my food instead of supplements, and Vitamin D is no exception. Vitamin D has to be synergistically in balance with fat-soluble Vitamins A and K2, so by opting for food sources of Vitamin D instead of taking a supplement, you’ll be adhering to the proper ratios (isn’t nature smart!?).

You’ll get about 800IUs of natural Vitamin D3 through cod liver oil (depending on dosage, see #1 above), but if your doctor or Naturopath recommends boosting your Vitamin D during the less-sunshine-filled winter months, I’ve got just the ticket!

*Side note: Keep in mind that you can overdose on Vitamin D (it’s difficult, but it can be done). Have your practitioner test your 25-hydroxy Vitamin D levels (aim to be in the 50-70 ng/ml range) and keep an eye on your serum calcium levels, as they can be an indicator of an overdose.

Here are some wonderful sources of Vitamin D:

  • Raw milk. Not store-bought milk with synthetic Vitamin D2 (which can be toxic to your system and is not the same as D3) added. Quality is key here, so read our post on Raw Milk Myth Busting!
  • Salmon roe, or caviar. Fish eggs are very high in vitamin D3, and if you haven’t ever acquired a taste for this delightfully salty and delicious hors d’oeuvres, now is a great time to do so. You can put on your monocle, dress in a tuxedo, and be fancy while you eat it.
  • Lard. (Say what?!) That’s right. Lard. L-A-R-D. If that word, or saturated fat, scares you, please Lard Photorevisit this post, and keep in mind that lard is actually a traditional cooking fat with less saturated fat than your standard coconut oil. Also keep in mind that it can have about 500IUs of Vitamin D3 per teaspoon! The key here is getting lard from a pastured pig that gets plenty of sunshine and a high-quality diet. Their skin acts much like ours in the sunshine, and their fatty tissue stores D3–so cook away with it!
  • Oily fish like sardines or wild-caught salmon: You can obtain 600-700IUs of Vitamin D with only 3-4 ounces of oily fish such as these. Just remember that quality counts!

6. Sweetbreads: I’m sorry for misleading you. I’m not advising that you go buy pastries to boost your immune system…in fact, sweetbreads aren’t what they sound like. BUT they are an immune-building powerhouse and a traditional food that has been consumed for centuries.

So what are sweetbreads? They are considered to be a gourmet food, like most other offal (did I scare you off yet? Offal is considered to be the “nasty bits” of an animal–glands, organs, etc. Okay, NOW are you scared off?! Don’t be. I promise it’s good). These “breads” can come from either the thymus or the pancreas of a young animal, and the thymus sweetbreads will be my focus for this particular topic. The thymus gland is where your white blood cells (T Cells) mature. They then migrate to other parts of your lymphatic system where they are active in immune responses.

By eating glands like this, you are able to boost your own thymus gland’s capabilities and give it the nutrients it needs to carry out extensive tasks, like staving off a cold or flu virus. If you’re concerned about the taste, don’t be. Sweetbreads are actually known as one of the best ways to consume glands because the “bread” is very firm, but tender inside, and has a crisp outside. The glands are soaked and blanched before preparing, which really helps to cut down on any “offal-ey” taste, and most versions are breaded and fried afterward. You can find sweetbreads at most specialty stores or farmers markets, but look for sweetbreads that come from a clean animal (grass-fed, free-range, organic) to ensure that you’re getting the best quality available.

7. Probiotics: If you haven’t learned from us that gut health is everything, you’re about to. Gut. health. is. everything. It’s especially important when it comes to your immune health. In fact, if you take apart the word “probiotic,” you’ll see that “Pro” = “for” and “biota” = “life.” So it’s safe to assume that probiotics are extremely important to the “life” of your gut (and I will also literally be taking them FOR LIFE). On another note, wouldn’t antibiotics translate to “against” “life”? But I digress.

There are a few brands that I recommend, one of which is BioKult. It’s what’s known as a “full spectrum” probiotic, which can help to implant new bacteria and aid in overhauling existing bad bacteria.

Tip: You’ll want to make sure that you feed your probiotics! Don’t spend $5o on a probiotic without ensuring that it grows and flourishes in your gut. Consume plenty of fermented foods like kombucha, traditional sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and kefir, as well as prebiotic foods like fruits and vegetables. Doing this will make that $50 go much, much further!

8. Bone broth: During cold and flu season I always have a) a pot of this on the stove or b) 5-10 mason jars of the stuff in my ‘fridge. As you may have noticed, some foods are even more powerful than certain prescriptions, so don’t doubt what broth can do for you! For a detailed post on traditional bone broth and a delicious recipe, see our post here.

9. Shiitake mushrooms: Very few foods on the planet can call themselves a nutritional powerhouse. Shiitake mushrooms are one of those foods. Not only are they anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, but the compounds within them can even cause apoptosis (cell death) of cancer cells (3). This wondrous food is just growing in nature. Shiitake mushrooms are not formulated in a lab and comprised of a single molecule like most pharmaceuticals out there. Instead, they are comprised of thousands of compounds, some of which have not even begun to be studied. So do yourself a favor and sauté up some of these delicious (and medicinal) mushrooms! For more info on the medicinal powerhouse that is mushrooms, check out this TedTalk:

 

 

 

 

So there you have it, folks.  Those are 9 of my top immune-boosting, cold-and-flu-fighting foods that will aid in keeping you healthy this winter. Make sure to get enough sleep, do restorative exercises like yoga or qigong, keep refined sugars and carbohydrates out of your diet, and drink plenty of water as well.

Do you have any powerful immune-boosting foods or supplements to add to this list? Let us know in the comments section!

In good health,

Blog Signature

 

 

 

 

Since we are not licensed medical professionals, we advise that you listen to and heed the advice of your doctor. You can take a look at our full disclaimer here.

Resources:

1) Cod Liver Oil Basics & Recommendations, The Weston A. Price Foundation

2) The Immune Boosting Power of Garlic, Natural News

3) Inhibition of growth and induction of apoptosis in human cancer cell lines by an ethyl acetate fraction from shiitake mushrooms, PubMed

 

Moisturizing & Plumping DIY Lip Balm

Welcome to this month’s Toxin-Free Tuesday article!

Ahh, it’s that time of year again! I have finally used my entire stash of homemade lip balm and I’m looking for that one fleeting tube that just HAS to be somewhere. Know the feeling? It just happens to be in the knick of time, too, because…

winter_is_coming_game_of_thrones-1366x768-1So that your lips don’t look like THAT guy’s, go ahead and make this amazing, moisturizing, supplifyin’, and PLUMPING lip balm recipe. Sans chemicals and rancid oils, of course.

Wait. You didn’t know that your favorite lip balm from the corner store most likely has all the junk that you’re keeping out of your diet? Well, *bombshell*…it does. And honestly, the thin skin on your lips is a VERY vulnerable place to be putting things like propylparaben (a known endocrine disruptor that can cause reproductive toxicity, and is in most commercial lip products). (1)

However, that’s not all. Many commercial lip balms contain camphor, menthol, or salicylic acid (which is actually a drying acne treatment). These ingredients slough off the dead, chapped skin, but wind up irritating your lips in the long run. That will just keep you coming back for more and more.

Instead of overpaying for a balm this winter that doesn’t actually get to the root of the issue, try this recipe! You’ll most likely already own the bulk of these ingredients, and it takes me about 20 minutes to melt everything together. As a bonus, I usually only have to do this once a year and I’m all set (unless my friends or husband steals them, which is usually the case😉 ).

For our male readers: Yes, you read that right. My husband steals this stuff all the time during the winter and when he works outside during the warmer months. Just omit the optional color and you’re all set!

Lip Balm Image

DIY Moisturizing & Plumping Lip Balm
Recipe Type: Non-Toxic Beauty DIY
Author: Megan
Prep time: 20 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 8-10 Tubes
An easy DIY recipe for homemade lip balm to keep your lips moisturized and plumped all winter long!
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons of organic unrefined virgin coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of unfiltered extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Vitamin E oil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons of beeswax, grated
  • 2 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 8-10 lip balm tubes (available at most health food stores, or available online)
  • Optional: Cranberry powder or beetroot powder for a natural pink or red hue. Depending on desired color, use 1/4 teaspoon and keep adding powder until you reach the desired color.
Instructions
  1. Add coconut oil, olive oil, and Vitamin E to a double boiler.
  2. Once melted, add the grated beeswax and stir until it melts and incorporates into the mixture.
  3. Then, add the peppermint essential oil and the color (if you’re choosing to use it).
  4. Make sure that the tubes have been twisted all the way down and are ready to be filled, then start transferring the mixture to your tubes by either using a glass measuring cup (with a spout), or a funnel.
  5. Leave the tubes upright until the mixture has reached room temperature and is solid.
  6. Go kiss someone!

Resources:

(1) http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product/495994/Blistex_Silk_%26_Shine_Lip_Protectant%2C_SPF_15_%282013_formulation%29/

 

If you enjoyed this, check out the rest of our Non-Toxic Tuesday articles!

Hormone Problems? The Common Culprit Hiding in Your Bathroom

Your Guide To Henna: a Non-Toxic Hair Dye Alternative!

How Safe Is Your Toothpaste?

Raw Milk Myth Busting

I won’t lie to you, this post made me nervous. You may be surprised to learn that raw milk is a pretty controversial topic. Or, maybe you already knew that. For all I know you’ve been in multiple heated arguments standing up for or against raw milk. Which side of the ring am I on, you ask? The side of the ring that makes most sense to me from the research I’ve done and the experiences I’ve had. I am 100% “pro“ raw milk. I honestly can’t get enough of the stuff, and (after some coercing and ONE taste test) neither can my husband. We love it.

To me now, drinking raw milk is totally normal. Has been for years. But for this post, I want to take you back to the day when I was against it. It wasn’t THAT long ago, so remembering my fears surrounding it wasn’t that difficult. My fears mostly stemmed from what I thought I knew about raw milk, which to be honest wasn’t a lot. After research and actually trying it, I learned that there were a lot of myths surrounding the topic. Today I shall bust those myths.

I <3 raw milk!

I❤ raw milk! (And Megan and I love kissing traditional beverages..)

MYTH #1- Raw milk is dangerous.

This is by far the biggest concern surrounding raw milk.
“Isn’t it dangerous to drink milk that hasn’t been pasteurized?”
“Couldn’t it kill you??”
“ARE YOU INSANE??”
-typical responses from people that find out about my love of raw milk.
It cracks me up! I’m like, “Woah guys, time out. Let’s talk about this for a second before drawing crazy conclusions, yeah?”

Bottom line: raw milk is not always dangerous… IF the milk comes from healthy cows. That’s the whole point! Pasteurization was an idea back in the 1920’s when people were getting sick from milk because the milk came from confined, disease-ridden cows. Did it help? Yes. Was that the best solution? Absolutely not. It was easier, faster, and made the dairy industries more money, so naturally that’s the method that stuck around.

When you drink milk that comes from a healthy, pastured cow (diet consists predominately of food and grass the cows can forage), then the milk that comes from that cow is healthy. I would never under any circumstance drink raw milk that came from a confined, grain-fed cow that has been pumped full of antibiotics and hormones. That stuff could kill ya. Why? Because milk that comes from a sickly cow is going to be full of whatever that cow is full of: bacteria, antibiotics, pus, etc. THAT’S why they need to pasteurize milk from those cows. The reality is that if the milk is in need of pasteurization because of the diseased state of the cow, it shouldn’t be consumed anyways.

Another question I hear a lot: can you get sick from drinking raw milk? Answer: you have about the same odds as getting sick from any other food item as you do getting sick from raw milk. You can get sick from just about any food product. You can get sick from SPINACH, folks. I don’t want to mislead anyone by saying that raw milk won’t make you sick. It could. But pasteurized milk can make you sick, too. Bad fish can make you sick. Canned soup can make you sick.

Bottom line: raw milk is not as dangerous if it comes from a healthy source. Cows that graze on grass and breathe fresh air produce healthy, delicious milk. They are not sick and don’t need antibiotics. They aren’t under pressure by the dairy industry and its’ stockholders to produce an excess amount of milk quickly, so they do not need extra hormones. They do not need their milk to be pasteurized.

MYTH #2- Pasteurization is harmless.

What is pasteurization? It’s a process that slows down the microbial growth in food. It doesn’t necessarily kill all of the pathogens in milk, but it is meant to reduce the number of pathogens so that it is less likely to make people sick. This is all done through a rapid heating process.

Pasteurization is not harmless though, that’s for sure. It reduces the bad stuff in already compromised milk, yes, but it also greatly reduces (if not completely destroys) all of the good stuff, too. Raw milk has so much goodness in it! Goodness in the form of enzymes, good gut-healing probiotics, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, minerals. Let’s look at a few of the incredible nutrients that make up raw milk.

Mmmmmm.....

Mmmmmm…..

Lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria- these guys are the bomb. Probiotics help balance gut flora to aid with digestion and immune function. This good bacteria help you assimilate nutrients from food. Probiotics are important, and are (more importantly) abundant in raw milk.

Vitamins and minerals- did you know raw milk has EVERY SINGLE vitamin in it? Both water and fat soluble. Don’t believe me? Check it out!

Lactase- Raw milk actually has lactase IN it. Lactase is the enzyme needed to digest lactose, the milk sugar. A lot of people make too little or don’t make any of this enzyme and are diagnosed as “lactose intolerant.” The cool part? Most lactose intolerant people can actually tolerate raw milk since it already has this enzyme intact!

And that’s just to name a few. Raw milk is incredibly good for you. This powerpoint is incredibly detailed, if you would like to glance at it and learn more about it and its’ health benefits.

MYTH #3- I’m lactose or casein intolerant; I can’t drink milk at all.

I touched on this a tiny bit with Myth #2. Someone is diagnosed with lactose intolerance if they do not produce enough  of the enzyme”lactase” to digest “lactose,” a milk sugar. Since raw milk has the enzyme lactase intact (pasteurization reduces/destroys this enzyme), lactose can be broken down in your digestive system even if you don’t produce enough lactase. I know several people that are “lactose intolerant” that can drink raw milk without a problem. Pretty cool, huh? That’s not to say that this is the case for everyone, just the majority.

This is also the same with those who experience a casein intolerance. There are certain bacterias in raw milk that make enzymes whose job it is to break down the casein molecule in milk. Pasteurization kills these helpful bacteria. So people who have a milk allergy because of casein can most likely consume raw milk without a hitch! You have to admit it’s pretty cool that raw milk has bacteria and enzymes to “keep itself in check,” if you will. If your body doesn’t make enough lactase to break-down lactose, raw milk has got you covered. Casein intolerance? Raw milk already has enzymes to break-down the casein for you. It’s like it was designed only to benefit us.

Again, not everyone who can’t tolerate pasteurized milk can tolerate raw milk… but the majority can. A small study done in Michigan in 2007 showed that more than 81% of those professionally diagnosed with lactose intolerance can drink raw milk without any symptoms. Read the study here.

MYTH #4- Raw milk is whole milk, and whole milk will make me fat.

If you believe this, then you need to read this blog post, this book, and this book. Then come talk to me after class. (Reality check: fat is GOOD for you! This includes fat that comes from good, healthy whole raw milk).

Guess what I was drinking while I wrote this post? Seriously, do you want some?

Guess what I was drinking while I wrote this post? Seriously, do you want some?

 

Truly, I love raw milk. That is one of the first changes I made when I transitioned my diet towards real, traditional foods. I remember how satisfied I felt after drinking it! I could feel how nourishing it was. Not to mention the fact that it tastes like straight cream from HEAVEN after drinking 1% for the 20 previous years of my life.

The facts are there, the research is there. Sick cows make sick milk that needs pasteurization, but that milk will not nourish you. Raw milk from healthy cows is what will.

Dr. Mercola has some great guidelines for you to use to make sure that you are getting raw milk from a reliable source:

-Make sure the milk has a low pathogenic bacteria count. The farmer should be open with the testing they do and the results of the tests.

-Make sure the milk is coming from cows that are raised naturally and are not given antibiotics or growth hormones

-Make the sure the cows are grass-fed!

 

I urge you to taste the difference.  Read all about raw milk at http://www.realmilk.com.

AND

Find a raw milk source here.

 

 

In good health,

 

Blog Signature

 

 

 

 

Read our Disclaimer.

References:

Fallon, Sally, Mary G. Enig, Kim Murray, and Marion Dearth. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and theDiet Dictocrats. Washington, DC: NewTrends Pub., 2001. Print.

“Home: THE FACTS ABOUT REAL RAW MILK – A Campaign for Real Milk.” A Campaign for Real Milk. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2014.

“What’s in Raw Milk?” Raw Milk. What’s In It? N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2014.

“Raw Milk Sales on the Rise — No Illness Seen.” Mercola.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2014.

 

How Safe Is Your Toothpaste?

Toothpaste Toxic ArtIf you’re surprised to see the words “safe” and “toothpaste” in the same sentence–don’t do a double take because you DID read that correctly. Unfortunately, there are some sketchy ingredients in your everyday toothpaste that can cause havoc like triclosan and fluoride (plus many more), but not to worry. There are also plenty of alternatives that do a great– if not better– job.

Just take Colgate Dual Action Optic White toothpaste as an example. The Environmental Working Group gave it a high score of 6 due to the “multiple additive exposure sources [and] contamination concerns.” Some of the more moderate concerns involving this particular toothpaste? Cancer and organ system toxicity both made the list. And keep in mind this is a product that most people use twice a day IN THEIR MOUTH.

Gross.

Fluoride, Iodine Uptake, & Thyroid Disorders

Now let’s move onto fluoride and why it should also be a concern. I stopped using fluoridated toothpaste several years ago when I stumbled upon research showing that fluoride actually inhibits the absorption of iodine. Iodine is a necessary mineral in the production of thyroid hormone, so for myself it was an absolute must to cut it out completely. Fluoride, whether it is in toothpaste or tap water, can actually build up in your bodily tissues. Every cell within you has thyroid hormone receptors, so if you have a build-up of fluoride in your system it can really cause a cascade of issues involving your endocrine system.

For more on why fluoride is toxic and not the tooth-strengthening “nutrient” we’ve always been told, read this wonderful article of Dr. Mercola’s here.

Our Top Picks for Toothpaste Alternatives:

There are some GREAT alternatives to common toothpaste. Alternatives that keep your teeth strong, white, and your gums healthy. Here are a few of my personal favorites:

IMG_011211. Homemade Remineralizing & Whitening Toothpaste from WeedEmAndReap.com. I absolutely LOVE this homemade version and everything it does for my gums and teeth. If you’re worried about the cost of buying all of the ingredients, I understand. However, you won’t have to buy toothpaste for years afterward (I didn’t have to), and most of the ingredients can be used for other homemade non-toxic items! Find the recipe (and her awesome blog) here.

EP_Spearmint_NEW-400x4002. Redmond’s Earthpaste. Christine introduced this to me during one of our nutrition conferences and I fell.in.love. I could not believe how clean my mouth felt after using it! There are 5 flavors to choose from: Spearmint, Cinnamon, Lemon Twist, Peppermint, and Wintergreen. The ingredients include Redmond Clay, Redmond Real Salt, and Essential Oils. That’s it. And it works beautifully! Take that, Colgate.

toothpowder_47112bdf-925e-4c9f-a784-0ddf0adaca27_1024x10243. Lastly, try foregoing a “paste,” and experimenting with a tooth powder. Primal Life Organics has a great tooth powder–find it on their website here. One of their newer versions even includes activated charcoal for extra whitening power. Their tooth powders include a blend of three earthen clays, baking soda, and essential oils.

As I mentioned above, activated charcoal can whiten your teeth (and pretty dramatically I might add!). I get asked about this A LOT, so I wanted to go ahead and address it here for future reference.

Activated charcoal is a very porous substance, meaning that it absorbs certain compounds. Those compounds can include the tannins that embed in your teeth, which can turn them a yellow or brown hue. Traditionally, activated charcoal is used in instances of food poisoning because it can absorb the toxins within the digestive tract and help to excrete them without further absorption. When it comes to your pearly whites this type of charcoal can be used to absorb those tannin-causing stains that we all get from dark beverages, and gently remove them.

Charcoal before and afterThe first time I used activated charcoal on my teeth I saw dramatic results after only three minutes of brushing! I have never had results like this with anything I’ve ever tried, whether it was whitening trays, strips, toothpastes, etc.!

Now, I’ll warn you: The process of brushing your teeth with activated charcoal can be quite messy. My favorite way of using it is to do the following:

  1. Break open activated charcoal capsules (available at any health food store) into a small glass jar.
  2. Wet toothbrush.
  3. Dip toothbrush into the activated charcoal and gently brush for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Rinse thoroughly, and brush as normal.

charcoal brushing

Sarah at the Healthy Home Economist uses her activated charcoal in the shower to avoid a mess at the sink, which is another great option!

 

Thanks for reading another installment of Toxin-Free Tuesdays! If you try any of these toothpaste alternatives, let us know in the comments below!

In good health,

Blog Signature

 

 

 

Disclaimer

References:

Triclosan in toothpaste: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/08/27/triclosan-toothpaste.aspx

Fluoride: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/01/20/fluoride-denialism.aspx

 

 

Your Guide To Henna: a Non-Toxic Hair Dye Alternative!

Henna post header

Welcome to the first installment of “Toxin-Free Tuesdays” here at the blog!

If you read our post last week on hormone issues, you have an idea of why you may want to eliminate excess toxins out of your life. “Toxin-Free Tuesdays,” or TFT for short, will consist of different ways to slowly switch out conventional products in lieu of homemade or alternative ones. Whether it’s for beauty, household, or cleaning, check here on Tuesdays to get new ideas and information!

First up, we’re going to talk about a wonderful (and time-tested) hair color alternative. Since most conventional hair dyes can potentially contain heavy metals, formaldehyde, and other toxic ingredients (resource)–none of which have ANYTHING to do with coloring your hair– I decided to make a big switch and give henna a shot.

Now if you go off and google “coloring your hair with henna,” you’ll probably run into thousands of horror stories. THAT stuff is not true henna. In order to find a good henna (sans chemicals) that won’t have you adding to those message boards and freaking out, you will most definitely want to buy yours from a reputable source. I decided to get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs because I have purchased several things from them before and I’ve never been disappointed. They have truly superior products, their henna has only a few real ingredients, and two other bloggers (Real Food Liz & Crunchy Betty) also used their henna with fantastic results. Since I’ve only used one brand, I can only vouch for that one, but I’m sure there are other great lines out there!

Before you get started, here are a few points on henna:

  • True, plain henna will dye your hair red. Since I’m naturally a brunette, I went with a mixture of dark brown henna and medium brown henna, which is not actually henna since there are no red undertones. Non-“red” hennas are actually a mixture of neutral henna (indigo) and some other herbs to help deposit color.
  • You can expect to feel as if you have deep conditioned your hair after processing it with henna. Mine felt like silky smooth butter, and I even noticed that my ends appeared to be in better shape after the treatment. If you don’t want to deposit any color, you could get a neutral henna and use it as a deep conditioning treatment. Note: I’ve even heard that regular henna use can encourage hair growth!
  • This is a stinky process. I recommend either doing it outside, in a room with an open window, or at the very least turn on your bathroom vent. You’ll thank me later. I have a TON of hair, and after finally applying all of it, henna was all that I could smell for several hours. If you’ve ever smelled chlorella, the scent of henna will be very familiar!

Henna materialsThe supplies you will need before getting started:

  • Enough henna to cover all of your hair. My colorist used to use two bowls of color on my hair, which would be about 8 oz. of henna.
  • Hot water (I used a tea kettle)
  • Plastic or wooden spoon
  • Large plastic or glass bowl for mixing
  • 1 egg, 2-4 Tbsp. olive oil, or 2-4 Tbsp. plain yogurt (for dry hair) OR 2 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar to help gray hair absorb the color (optional, but recommended)
  • Plastic or rubber gloves
  • Tissues
  • Extra oil or cream (can be omitted if already using olive oil)
  • Tint brush or a large (1 1/2″ paint brush)
  • Hair clips or pins
  • Plastic cling wrap or shower cap
  • Protective cape or old towel
  • Paint tarp or drop cloth (optional, but I highly recommend it)

Directions:

  1. Pour the desired amount of henna (remember that 4 oz. = one “bowl” in a salon) into your glass or plastic bowl. Gradually add the boiling water and thoroughly mix until you have a creamy consistency (a thick paste). Remember that you can always add more water if you need to!
  2. Add the rest of your optional ingredients (egg/oil/yogurt/apple cider vinegar), and stir again. Note: If using an egg, you’ll want to temper it into the mixture so that you don’t end up with scrambled egg mush. Second note: yes, I learned this the hard way.
  3. Rub oil around your hairline, on your neck, and on your ears. This will help prevent any staining on your skin
  4. Place the tarp or drop cloth down where you’ll be applying your henna.
  5. Put your gloves and your cape or towel on and get to work! Use the clips or pins to separate your hair into manageable sections (about 1 inch). Coat your hair, beginning at the scalp, and “paint” the paste from root to tip. Continue applying until the hair is thickly coated. Once you are finished, wrap your hair in plastic wrap or a shower cap.
  6. You’ll leave the mixture on for a specific length of time, according to the color you used: darker colors will be left on for 60-75 minutes without heat, and 45 minutes with heat (heat lamp, hair dryer, or thermal heat cap). Lighter colors should be left on for 45-60 minutes without heat, or 30 minutes with heat (these are the times recommended by Mountain Rose Herbs).
  7. Rinse your hair well with hot water, then with cool, and shampoo & condition as needed.

Henna can be re-applied every 4-6 weeks and will last up to 4 months. It acts like a demi-permanent color or color glaze because all of the color will just gradually fade over time.

Special Notes from Mountain Rose Herbs: “Not for use on bleached or white hair. Always perform a test strand first, especially if you have 10% gray hair. Henna can be used on permed hair after several washings, but should not be used before a perm. Henna does not lighten hair.” Their henna comes with great instructions, most of which is in this post. If you order from them, you’ll get the pamphlet and they are also extremely helpful over the phone as well if you have any questions!

Henna Results

My henna results. The henna gave me an all-over dark brown color and added a LOT of softness and shine!

Overall, I have REALLY enjoyed my experience with henna and I don’t plan on going back to conventional dyes any time soon. It can be a messy process, but once you have completed your first go-around it’s much easier after that. If you have ever colored your hair yourself before, you will be pleasantly surprised that it’s not much different (and henna didn’t stain my shower the way conventional dye did)!

Have you colored your hair with henna before? Do you know someone that has, but you’re too chicken (like I was for so long!)?! Let us know in the comments!

 

 

In good health,

Blog Signature

 

 

 

https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/henna/profile

Real Food Liz henna link: http://realfoodliz.com/i-fought-the-henna-and-we-both-won/

Primal Palate at-home henna tutorial: http://www.primalpalate.com/paleo-blog/henna-at-home-tutorial/

A Non-Toxic Hair Dye Alternative: Your Guide To Henna!

Henna post header

Welcome to the first installment of “Toxin-Free Tuesdays” here at the blog!

If you read our post last week on hormone issues, you have an idea of why you may want to eliminate excess toxins out of your life. “Toxin-Free Tuesdays,” or TFT for short, will consist of different ways to slowly switch out conventional products in lieu of homemade or alternative ones. Whether it’s for beauty, household, or cleaning, check here on Tuesdays to get new ideas and information!

First up, we’re going to talk about a wonderful (and time-tested) hair color alternative. Since most conventional hair dyes can potentially contain heavy metals, formaldehyde, and other toxic ingredients (resource)–none of which have ANYTHING to do with coloring your hair– I decided to make a big switch and give henna a shot.

Now if you go off and google “coloring your hair with henna,” you’ll probably run into thousands of horror stories. THAT stuff is not true henna. In order to find a good henna (sans chemicals) that won’t have you adding to those message boards and freaking out, you will most definitely want to buy yours from a reputable source. I decided to get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs because I have purchased several things from them before and I’ve never been disappointed. They have truly superior products, their henna has only a few real ingredients, and two other bloggers (Real Food Liz & Crunchy Betty) also used their henna with fantastic results. Since I’ve only used one brand, I can only vouch for that one, but I’m sure there are other great lines out there!

Before you get started, here are a few points on henna:

  • True, plain henna will dye your hair red. Since I’m naturally a brunette, I went with a mixture of dark brown henna and medium brown henna, which is not actually henna since there are no red undertones. Non-“red” hennas are actually a mixture of neutral henna (indigo) and some other herbs to help deposit color.
  • You can expect to feel as if you have deep conditioned your hair after processing it with henna. Mine felt like silky smooth butter, and I even noticed that my ends appeared to be in better shape after the treatment. If you don’t want to deposit any color, you could get a neutral henna and use it as a deep conditioning treatment. Note: I’ve even heard that regular henna use can encourage hair growth!
  • This is a stinky process. I recommend either doing it outside, in a room with an open window, or at the very least turn on your bathroom vent. You’ll thank me later. I have a TON of hair, and after finally applying all of it, henna was all that I could smell for several hours. If you’ve ever smelled chlorella, the scent of henna will be very familiar!

Henna materialsThe supplies you will need before getting started:

  • Enough henna to cover all of your hair. My colorist used to use two bowls of color on my hair, which would be about 8 oz. of henna.
  • Hot water (I used a tea kettle)
  • Plastic or wooden spoon
  • Large plastic or glass bowl for mixing
  • 1 egg, 2-4 Tbsp. olive oil, or 2-4 Tbsp. plain yogurt (for dry hair) OR 2 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar to help gray hair absorb the color (optional, but recommended)
  • Plastic or rubber gloves
  • Tissues
  • Extra oil or cream (can be omitted if already using olive oil)
  • Tint brush or a large (1 1/2″ paint brush)
  • Hair clips or pins
  • Plastic cling wrap or shower cap
  • Protective cape or old towel
  • Paint tarp or drop cloth (optional, but I highly recommend it)

Directions:

  1. Pour the desired amount of henna (remember that 4 oz. = one “bowl” in a salon) into your glass or plastic bowl. Gradually add the boiling water and thoroughly mix until you have a creamy consistency (a thick paste). Remember that you can always add more water if you need to!
  2. Add the rest of your optional ingredients (egg/oil/yogurt/apple cider vinegar), and stir again. Note: If using an egg, you’ll want to temper it into the mixture so that you don’t end up with scrambled egg mush. Second note: yes, I learned this the hard way.
  3. Rub oil around your hairline, on your neck, and on your ears. This will help prevent any staining on your skin
  4. Place the tarp or drop cloth down where you’ll be applying your henna.
  5. Put your gloves and your cape or towel on and get to work! Use the clips or pins to separate your hair into manageable sections (about 1 inch). Coat your hair, beginning at the scalp, and “paint” the paste from root to tip. Continue applying until the hair is thickly coated. Once you are finished, wrap your hair in plastic wrap or a shower cap.
  6. You’ll leave the mixture on for a specific length of time, according to the color you used: darker colors will be left on for 60-75 minutes without heat, and 45 minutes with heat (heat lamp, hair dryer, or thermal heat cap). Lighter colors should be left on for 45-60 minutes without heat, or 30 minutes with heat (these are the times recommended by Mountain Rose Herbs).
  7. Rinse your hair well with hot water, then with cool, and shampoo & condition as needed.

Henna can be re-applied every 4-6 weeks and will last up to 4 months. It acts like a demi-permanent color or color glaze because all of the color will just gradually fade over time.

Special Notes from Mountain Rose Herbs: “Not for use on bleached or white hair. Always perform a test strand first, especially if you have 10% gray hair. Henna can be used on permed hair after several washings, but should not be used before a perm. Henna does not lighten hair.” Their henna comes with great instructions, most of which is in this post. If you order from them, you’ll get the pamphlet and they are also extremely helpful over the phone as well if you have any questions!

Henna Results

My henna results. The henna gave me an all-over dark brown color and added a LOT of softness and shine!

Overall, I have REALLY enjoyed my experience with henna and I don’t plan on going back to conventional dyes any time soon. It can be a messy process, but once you have completed your first go-around it’s much easier after that. If you have ever colored your hair yourself before, you will be pleasantly surprised that it’s not much different (and henna didn’t stain my shower the way conventional dye did)!

Have you colored your hair with henna before? Do you know someone that has, but you’re too chicken (like I was for so long!)?! Let us know in the comments!

 

 

In good health,

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https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/henna/profile

Real Food Liz henna link: http://realfoodliz.com/i-fought-the-henna-and-we-both-won/

Primal Palate at-home henna tutorial: http://www.primalpalate.com/paleo-blog/henna-at-home-tutorial/

Hormone Problems? The Common Culprit Lurking in Your Bathroom.

Hormone Problem? Toxins Post

What does commercial hair color and your favorite lip stick have to do with heavy metal toxicity, miscarriage, or even bladder cancer? Actually, a lot more than you would think.

You see, I have some personal experience in this department. About a year ago, I found out that I was pregnant. It was unexpected, but my husband and I were completely thrilled. When I miscarried two weeks later, I was devastated to say the least. Deep down, I knew there had to be a reason. I went on a quest to see if there was anything lurking in my body that could have caused my hormonal imbalances and plummeting progesterone. If nothing else, I figured that after some research I would at least be more knowledgeable and able to help others with their hormonal issues– even if I didn’t find out the root to my problem.

I went to a functional medicine doctor for testing and he immediately wanted to see if I had heavy metal toxicity. As it turns out, a LOT of people are just walking around with heavy metals, completely unbeknownst to them. Up until a year ago I was one of those people! I found out that I was OFF. THE. CHARTS. for lead. Keep in mind that I was high in lead after the miscarriage, which is a very detoxifying process in itself. There is no telling which metals and the amounts of them that could have been in my body beforehand.

Now why is heavy metal toxicity such a big deal? Well, those heavy metals can actually “coat” your cells and keep them from sending/receiving messages throughout your body. This can serve as a major endocrine (hormone) disruptor, and as a result, your hormones can become completely unbalanced. Some heavy metals, like lead, can even displace minerals in your bones and store there, slowly leaching into your system over time (resource).

One cause of miscarriages could possibly be due to heavy metal toxicity. According to this article from the CDC, lead toxicity in pregnant women can also put them at risk to the following:

  • Cause your baby to be born too early or too small.
  • Hurt your baby’s brain, kidneys, and nervous system.
  • Cause your child to have learning or behavior problems.

When I found out that I tested high for it, I became really concerned. I kept asking myself, “where on earth have I come in contact with lead??” Well, after a little research I found PLENTY of answers to that question.

Lip stick, hair dye, and other cosmetics oftentimes test positive for lead and other metals. In fact, the FDA has not even set a limit for lead in cosmetics. However, when it comes to hair dyes, heavy metal toxicity is the least of your worries. According to The Environmental Working Group, permanent hair dyes do not just pose a risk for heavy metals–there are direct correlations to bladder cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphona (resource):

…women who used permanent hair dyes at least once a month experienced a 2.1-fold risk of bladder cancer relative to non-users… We estimate that 19% of bladder cancers in women in Los Angeles County, California, may be attributed to permanent hair-dye use. (Gago-Dominguez et al. 2001)

The use of hair color products appears to increase the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphona… If these results represent a causal association, use of hair coloring products would account for 35% of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cases in exposed women and 20% in all women. (Zahm et al. 1992)

Even if you are not pregnant or you are not planning to become pregnant, it can NEVER hurt to develop your own toxin-free beauty regimen. Toxins are all around us and a major portion of our daily lives. Your skin absorbs everything you put on it, so my rule for cosmetics is: if you can’t EAT it, you shouldn’t be using it.

So what’s a makeup-wearing, hair-dying, girly-girl to do when she finds out that her beauty faves have dangerous hidden ingredients? She looks for natural alternatives (yes hippies like to look nice, too)! There are SO many toxin-free alternatives to the commercial stuff, so we’ve decided to introduce “Toxin-Free Tuesdays” here at the blog. This way, we can inform our lovely readers about many of the  hidden ingredients that we’re all exposed to, and then introduce you to new products. If you just make swaps when you run out of something, then over time you will have completely overhauled your beauty essentials!

If you’re curious about your current cosmetics I highly recommend looking on the Environmental Working Group’s website at www.ewg.org. They have a “Skin Deep” section (and an app!) that can give you more information on the most common beauty products. If you download the app, you can even scan barcodes and get more information about that brand & product on the spot.

Be looking out for our first installment of “Toxin-Free Tuesdays” THIS Tuesday, where we’ll be introducing you to a natural hair-dye alternative!

 

Always with love,

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Resources:

Hair dyes linked to bladder cancer & non-hodgkins lymphoma: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/2010/08/25/products-that-have-been-fully-assessed/

Lead toxicity & miscarriage: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips/pregnant.htm

Lead in hair dyes & other chemicals lurking in beauty products: http://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2014/01/chemicals-should-disappear-cosmetics