Improving our health by going back to our roots

Perspective is everything.

There’s one mindset shift that isn’t talked about much but that I believe has immense potential to help people make long term lasting changes:

Changing the way you view yourself as a human and your relationship to your environment.

We live in modern times but we are still “animals”. Look in any biology book, we’re homo sapiens. We tend to differentiate ourselves, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are indeed… animals.
We have evolved on our planet for millions of years. Modern day humans… hundreds of thousands of years.

Now take a second to think of yourself from an evolutionary perspective and then… eating a twinkie. Are we built to eat a twinkie? Do our bodies, our biology, understand what that even is? When you think in evolutionary terms and what makes sense from that perspective, everything comes together. Does it make sense that I get my nutrition to fuel my body from a Twinkie made in a lab 2 years ago? Of course not.

We live in modern times and are constantly bombarded by a world we were not designed to live in. Our genes don’t adapt that fast and if we want good health we need to treat our bodies and our environment in a way they understand.

That’s why when I discovered the ancestral food movement (Paleo/Primal/Weston A. Price), I was instantly converted. Thinking about diet and lifestyle from a natural perspective instantly resonated with me. I grew up loving nature, leading backpacking trips, hiking whenever I could. I remember nights staring at the stars away from civilization and connecting with nature in a variety of ways… but somehow:

  • I never made the connection that food should come from nature
  • Or that exercise should be based on the natural movements of our ancestors
  • And even though I was resetting my circadian rhythm out there in the forest… I didn’t know it and went back to a world of bright lights and late nights

When it comes to health, I failed to connect the dots about how far removed we as modern humans are from our ancestral roots. I needed to think logically about our place on earth as humans, how we’ve evolved and what makes sense from an ancestral perspective.

Often times what is making us sick is simply a mismatch between our genetics and our modern world.

For me, changing my perspective to think ancestrally about my health decisions… was everything. I can’t emphasize enough how important this mindset shift is when it comes to connecting dots about your health.

Our bodies are put into a world they just simply can’t adapt fast enough to. We can certainly debate that we’ve adjusted to some degree to grains or dairy (which started becoming widely available about 10,000 years ago), but there’s just no rational biological argument that we are capable of adapting to the post industrial era of “food-like product” at the rate at which it’s being introduced.

Modern living is wreaking havoc on our health.

Sure, we’re not all going to go live off the grid and hunt and gather our own food. BUT, we can make choices that take into account what our bodies are biologically adapted to. We can choose real food. We can spend time in nature. We can reduce our toxins.

So let’s make that mindset shift. Let’s remember, that above all else, we’re animals. Just trying to adapt to the human zoo of modern living.

Let’s get back to the basics.

To optimal health!

FREE Mini-Course_The Paleo Mindset

 

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By |2018-02-05T00:37:00+00:00February 5th, 2018|Clean, Live, Nourish|1 Comment

My view of health in 1109 words

Navigating the world of health is hard. There’s no one perspective and you’ll find conflicting views on just about everything. So I thought I’d make it super easy for my readers, potential coaching clients and potential students of my courses to understand who I am and what I advocate for when it comes to health.

Here’s my view of health in 1109 words

I most resonate with the paleo movement, but I’m not perfectly paleo

I don’t care much for the “paleo diet”, there is no one paleo diet and we are all unique individuals with unique biology… I believe in a paleo template. Meaning, we root our ideas of what we should eat on ancestral principles and what makes sense from an evolutionary perspective… but aren’t bound by rigid rules. Just because it didn’t exist 10,000 years ago, doesn’t mean it can’t be a part of a healthful diet. We all need to figure out what works best for us.

The reason I am an advocate for the paleo movement is because it makes sense. Simple as that. If I owned a zoo, and had to decide what to feed the animals, I would figure out what their native diet was and try to replicate it. We are no different. In the grand scheme of things, the last 100 years of processed food, and even the last 10,000 years post agriculture is nothing but a tiny blip in human history. I believe we should live in a way that most syncs with our evolutionary history and what our bodies were built to thrive on. It just makes sense.

Of course, no one can quite agree on what that diet was. And that’s fine. It’s just a mindset. We’re learning more and more everyday. Most of those foods don’t even exist in the same form today. It’s simply a baseline to start from and a perspective to take when we make decisions about what we eat and how we live.

I think it’s more important what you take off your plate than put on it

I think the number one step for any diet is to remove the processed food that makes up 80% of your grocery store. That’s what’s weighing you down the most. If you remove processed food, all that’s left is real food. And sure, there’s a lot of debate on what real food is and a large spectrum on quality… but that’s what the next steps are for. Eliminate food-like product made in a lab before anything else. You don’t need to be fueled by chemical sludge.

I don’t like that the health movement is focused on losing weight. It should be focused on HEALTH

Which means not drinking processed chemicals in a can. Sure, it helps you lose weight, but are you gaining health… no. When you make health be about weight, that negates the importance of everything else. What about disease reduction? Feeling vibrant? Reducing the toxins in your life? Sleeping well? Reducing stress? You get the point.

It’s not about losing weight but about GAINING health. Period. Losing weight is a means of gaining health for many people, but the goal should still be HEALTH not weight loss.

I am not a low carb fanatic and don’t resonate as much with that facet of the paleo movement

I absolutely believe a low carb, or even ketogenic diet is the right choice for many people. But it’s not the right choice for everybody. For some, it can have negative implications for health, particularly in regards to hormones. That being said, I don’t advocate a diet with a carb count resembling the Standard American Diet to anyone. I’m simply suggesting that super low-carb diets aren’t for everyone and paleo doesn’t need to be synonymous with low carb. We should all be low carb relative to the obscene carb heavy diets of most of our peers, but some safe starches can absolutely be a healthy and daily part of your diet… if that’s right for your goals.

Toxins are so much more important than most people think

We are surrounded by thousands and thousands of chemicals all day everyday, most of which aren’t regulated and we know very little about. And some of these chemicals… we do know a lot about and it’s not pretty. Sure, they won’t kill us in small quantities, which is why they are “generally regarded as safe”… but the synergistic accumulation of this stuff should be worrisome and is not properly understood by science. We can’t avoid it all, we live in the modern world. But we can make choices to reduce our toxic burden and I think doing this is just as important as what you eat.

You be you and don’t worry about the others

We all have our own pace and our own journeys. Some of us need to be strict, some of us don’t. Some of us switch over to healthy living like it’s no big deal and for some it’s a major emotional adjustment. It’s ok, take your own pace. Progress not perfection. Tomorrow is always a new day.

You may have resistance from the outside world. I say screw em, you’re ahead of the game on your health and you should be proud of that.

Counting macros, keto, crossfit, etc.… start with the basics first

There are a lot of paths to take in the paleo sphere. I’m not crazy on any of these things and you don’t have to be either. OR YOU CAN BE. That’s what’s so great. We are all on our health journeys and can resonate with what we resonate with and make our own choices.

If your main goal is to get lean or be a more optimal athlete, I’m probably not the right person for you. The lifestyle I recommend can naturally make people more lean and fit, but it’s not my focus.

My focus is on helping people GAIN health

I’m all about whole health now and in the future. I know what it feels like to be sick and I also know the power of food and lifestyle to assist the healing journey. That’s why I focus on:

  • getting people on real food
  • giving people a mindset shift on what it means to be healthy
  • pushing the importance of whole health (there’s more to health than food and exercise)
  • getting past misconceptions and misinformation
  • helping people reduce their risk of disease or manage existing disease
  • helping people live optimal lives

When it comes to healthcare, you want to utilize functional medicine

When it comes to healthcare and seeing a professional to deal with your health issues, you want to find someone who looks at health from a root cause perspective not a pill for every ill mentality. Functional medicine strives to reduce disease by finding the root cause rather than simply suppressing symptoms which is the mainstream medical model. To truly heal, you need to be viewed as a whole, unique individual.

And so much more… Of course! But we have to stop somewhere

Does this resonate with you?

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By |2018-01-21T18:28:23+00:00December 27th, 2017|Clean, Live, Nourish|3 Comments

Is the paleo lifestyle right for you?

Is the Paleo Diet right for you_

Want to take your health into your own hands? Tired of diets? Ready to join a lifestyle? The paleo lifestyle is not about dieting, it’s about lifestyling… it’s not about losing weight, it’s about GAINING health.

Take the questionnaire to see if the paleo lifestyle is right for you! Click below for the PDF version or stay on this page for text only. Enjoy!

Is the Paleo Lifestyle Right For You?

DO YOU THINK REAL FOOD IS HEALTHIER THAN PROCESSED FOOD?

Most food isn’t food, it’s “food-like product.” It’s usually high in sugar, inflammatory, nutrient void, linked to poor health consequences and contains preservatives, flavorings, texture enhancers, flavor enhancers and more.

DO YOU WANT TO LOOK AND FEEL HEALTHIER AND MAYBE EVEN LOSE SOME WEIGHT?

Eating real food provides your body with the nutrients it needs to feel optimal. In addition, reducing processed food and eating simple, real food, can help lower your insulin and balance your hormones, helping you lose weight.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS?

In the paleo diet, it’s not just “you are what you eat,” it’s “you are what your food eats.” Animals that are raised in their natural habitats eating their natural foods are less inflammatory and have higher nutrient density.

DO YOU WANT TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF DISEASE?

By removing processed food, added sugars, vegetable oils and focusing on high quality nutrient dense food, you reduce inflammation, improve your immune system, ensure adequate nutrition, give your body what it needs to repair itself, improve gut health and sleep better.

DO YOU WANT TO BE LESS INFLAMED?

Inflammation is thought to be at the heart of cardiovascular illness among other health problems. You don’t want to inflamed and the average diet is full of inflammatory foods.

DO YOU THINK YOU’LL FEEL BETTER WITHOUT ADDED SUGARS IN YOUR DIET?

Sugar leads to insulin resistance, weight gain, increased inflammation, and a whole host of deleterious health consequences.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO STOP DIETING AND START LIFESTYLING?

Diets are about losing weight, but it should be about GAINING health. It’s about making changes for optimal health over the course your life, not just temporary weight loss.

ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR PESTICIDE EXPOSURE?

Approximately 3000 toxins, by law, are excluded from certified organic products. Regulators do not have sufficient comprehensive research regarding consumption of multiple types of pesticides and their impact on human health over the long term.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO IMPROVE YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM?

Want to get sick less? By eating a nutrient dense diet, getting plenty of sunshine and vitamin d and reducing exposure to toxins that burden your body…

you improve your immune system!

DO YOU THINK FAT TASTES GOOD?

The paleo diet doesn’t fear fat. High quality fat is full of necessary nutrients and are essential for brain health.

Most people think fat tastes good. How could you not? You won’t feel deprived without low calorie low fat garbage!

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SLEEP BETTER AND STRESS LESS?

You’d be surprised how much food influences stress and sleep. Numerous studies show the connection between sugar and other processed foods and mood, stress and sleep!

WOULD YOU LIKE TO LIVE A CLEANER LIFE?

The toxins in our environment and products are just as important as our food. The paleo lifestyle is all about living in a way our bodies understand, a world with minimal chemical exposure.

CAN YOU DITCH THE INFLAMMATORY GRAINS?

Grains contain anti-nutrients like gluten, phytates, lectins and more. These can bind to nutrients, cause inflammation and lead to intestinal permeability.

DO YOU THINK THERE’S VALUE IN GETTING MORE VITAMINS, MINERALS, PHYTONUTRIENTS AND ANTIOXIDANTS IN YOUR DIET?

Your body is built to receive a wide variety of nutrition of real foods. Everything in the paleo diet is a real food.

COULD YOU BENEFIT FROM BALANCED HORMONES?

Removing processed food, eating nutrient dense food and removing toxin exposure helps your body balance hormones. Our modern world is full of hormone disrupting chemicals. The paleo lifesyle moves beyond food to reduce toxin exposures.

DOES THE CHRONIC LONG TERM EXPOSURE TO TOXINS CONCERN YOU?

It should. Regulation of chemicals is inadequate and we have no idea the harm that is being caused to human health.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO EXERCISE SMARTER NOT MORE?

Did you know exercising more isn’t always better? By exercising like our primal relatives, we make full body movements, have occasional high intensity workouts and do plenty of everyday movements like walking. No chronic cardio here.

ARE YOU READY TO TAKE BACK YOUR HEALTH AND JOIN THE PALEO LIFESTYLE?

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By |2018-01-26T16:07:39+00:00November 13th, 2017|Clean, Live, Nourish|6 Comments

Is it all just chemical phobia?

chemical phobia

Many call it chemical phobia. I call it common sense. Here’s why:

We don’t understand the true impact of the thousands of regulated and unregulated chemicals we are exposed to every single day, day after day, year after year. There are no studies showing the synergistic effects of ALL toxins on a chronic basis. And there never will be (because it’s impossible).

Here’s what we DO know:

  • Science has proven many of these chemicals to have harmful effects on the body. Hormone disruption, reproductive issues, birth defects, developmental disorders, neurological disorders, cancer, asthma, the list goes on.
  • Regulations are loose and many chemicals commonly used have little to no studies to prove their safety.
  • Chemicals that are deemed safe are not studied in a way that takes into account the thousands of OTHER chemicals we are also exposed to, nor the interactions some of these chemicals may have with each other.
  • Most chronic diseases are rising and the collective health of the western world is declining. This is multifactorial of course, but without a healthy population, every aspect of our modern lives should remain under scrutiny.
  • It’s impossible to know how much of our declining health can be attributed to the toxins we surround ourselves with vs other lifestyle and diet factors.
  • Many studies that do exist are done on animals. What happens in animals can’t always be extrapolated to humans. This is one reason why some concern for toxins is downplayed.
  • Chemicals are getting into our streams, rivers, lakes and oceans and affecting all walks of life, not just humans.

We don’t know the impact this is having on health. Period.

This is why I strongly believe in the precautionary principle. Why risk the health of me, my family and my future great grandkids (yes, your actions impact generations to come through cellular changes)?

Some of this is outside of our control. I don’t control what the factory down the road spews. But so much of it IS in our control. There are safer, more natural alternatives to almost all household and beauty care products, along with many environmental toxins we surround ourselves with.

So what’s the point?

That we should care. That demand influences supply. That we as consumers have power to influence positive change.

It’s not chemical phobia. It’s common sense.

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By |2018-01-26T16:09:13+00:00October 15th, 2017|Clean|10 Comments

Inflammation: The sneaky cause of pain and illness

inflammation cause of pain and illness
The following is a guest blog post written by Kim Maravich, RN. Kim is the author of the book titled “360 Health: Your Guide to Cancer Prevention, Healing Foods, & Total Body Wellness” available on Amazon. You can follow her at www.kimmaravich.com

What do think of when you hear the word “inflammation?” Maybe you think of red and swollen joints. Or, perhaps, the pain and fiery irritation from an injury come to mind. Maybe you remember a time of illness and think of fever, chills, and aches.

Undoubtedly, all of the above are forms of inflammation. However, inflammation can also be a sneaky invader, harming us unawares.

By definition, inflammation is the body’s natural response to protect itself against harm. Acute inflammation occurs immediately following an injury or accompanies an illness or infection like pneumonia or the flu.

Chronic inflammation, however, is often a low-grade, continuous burden in our bodies and is typically a response to an unwanted or undesirable substance. It’s so problematic because it is insidious, and we often may not know exactly what is causing it.

Symptoms of Inflammation

The symptoms of chronic inflammation can also vary from person to person which is why it’s so darn sneaky and hard to “diagnose.” People may just feel a little “off” or chalk up their pain to aging.

Symptoms can range from achy joints, to skin issues like rashes and eczema, digestive problems, fatigue, excess weight or a “spare tire,” periodontal disease, brain fog, puffy face or eyes, and even depression or anxiety.

Unfortunately, if left unchecked, this constant barrage of irritation can also lead to conditions like atherosclerosis, lung disease, high blood pressure, or joint immobility. The list goes on and on.

Autoimmune conditions are also thought to be caused, in part, by excessive and chronic inflammation. When the body senses that toxins are present, it tries to eliminate or wall them off by forming inflammation around them. But sometimes problems with the immune system cause it to mistake the body’s own healthy cells as invaders and then repeatedly attacks them.

Cancer is another disease that is associated with chronic inflammation. Over time, this inflammatory response can lead to DNA damage at the cellular level. Once DNA is altered, the cells are no longer “normal” and can mutate into tumor cells. This is scary, to say the least!

If you’re wondering how much inflammation you have in your body, your doctor can order a C-reactive protein (CRP) test. This is a blood marker for inflammation and potential disease.

Causes of Chronic Inflammation

As we mentioned earlier, our bodies identify and attack unwanted “toxins” and foreign substances. So what are these toxins, and how do we avoid them?

Some toxins come from our environment. When we are exposed to pollutants in our water (like chlorine and fluoride) and in the air we breathe, our bodies become inflamed. Our beauty products and household cleaning supplies often contain dangerous levels of toxins like fragrances, phthalates, parabens, antibacterials and triclosans to name a few. Sometimes environmental toxins surround us whether we know it or not. One example is radon, a colorless and odorless gas.

Toxins can also invade our bodies through the food we eat. We may be ingesting antibiotics and hormones when we eat conventional meats and dairy. When the animals are given these substances, we too get them when we consume animal products.

Refined vegetable oils are also a culprit in inflammation. Oils like corn, soybean, sunflower, and cottonseed are damaged in processing and oxidized. These are Omega 6 fatty acids and are associated with inflammatory diseases (versus Omega 3s which are anti-inflammatory).

Other inflammatory foods often enter the average American’s diet. Fried foods, because they are heated in damaged oils, contain potentially carcinogenic compounds. Trans fats fall into this same category of damaged fats/oils.

Refined and heavily processed foods like most cookies, crackers, and boxed snacks are also inflammatory. They may contain damaged vegetable oils, and more significantly, they are high in carbohydrates and simple sugars.

Sugar, in general, is VERY inflammatory and should be limited or avoided as much as possible. Sugar leads to increased blood sugars and insulin, taxing our bodies and leading to stored body fat.

Too much alcohol is not good for many of our organs and is associated with diseases like cancer. Red wine may be beneficial and anti-inflammatory in small doses, but overconsumption of alcohol is detrimental to health.

Genetically modified (GMO) foods should also be avoided. The four most common GMO crops are corn, soy, canola, and cotton. But GMOs are making their way into other crops like potatoes, tomatoes, sugar, rice, and conventional dairy and meat (since the animals are given GMO feeds).

Healing Chronic Inflammation

Fear not. There are ways to reduce the overall inflammation in our bodies. Sometimes making just a few changes can go very far in turning around one’s health and unpleasant symptoms.

Environment: First of all, we can avoid as many environmental toxins as possible. You can make your own cleaning products using water and vinegar and some good-smelling essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus. Alternatively, you can look for organic cleaning products.

Likewise, organic beauty products may be a good choice. There are companies that pride themselves on providing non-toxic makeup products. Also, look for lotions and sunscreens without toxic ingredients. Another simple, effective ingredient is baking soda. Baking soda can be used as a toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, and even to clean the house. Talk about a multi-faceted and cheap solution!

anti-inflammatory food

Diet: As far our diets go, if we follow a diet similar to what our ancestors ate, much of the inflammatory foods will be removed. The Paleo diet is a good approach. Following this way of eating, one would aim to cut out most refined and simple sugars. Most, if not all, grains are eliminated. This is important since grains can be inflammatory, elevate insulin, and even cause digestive issues. They also contain anti-nutrients like lectins, phytates, and sometimes gluten which can lead to a leaky gut, and, you guessed it … more inflammation!

Conventional meats and dairy are also out. The focus would be more on grass-fed beef, organic chicken, pastured pork, and wild caught fish. For some, all dairy is eliminated. However, some Paleo followers allow for ghee (clarified butter), butter, full-fat yogurt, kefir, and cheese … all of the organic and grass-fed variety. If someone tolerates dairy and seems to be asymptomatic consuming it, these high-quality versions may be fine. However, in general, dairy is quite inflammatory for many.

When we focus more on eating an array of fruits and vegetables, healing fats (like avocado, olive oil, or coconut oil), and nourishing meats and organ meats (from grass-fed and/or organically raised animals), our bodies get a break from toxic foods and can have a chance to heal. Another nourishing and healing superfood is bone broth. Consuming a cup or two of bone broth each day can heal the digestive tract, reverse a leaky gut, and help stop inflammation. Drinking lots of purified water also helps to flush out toxins. Aim to hydrate each day with at least 8-10 cups of water.

Lifestyle: Daily exercise, meditation, prayer, good sleep, and stress relief are essential to reducing inflammation. These things will reduce blood pressure, help regulate blood sugar, and release feel-good chemicals that help calm the body and lower CRP. Getting adequate sunlight and spending time outdoors also lowers inflammation by raising vitamin D levels.

Supplementation: There are some key supplements that have anti-inflammatory effects. Including the following into your regimen may be beneficial. Omega 3s (in the form of fish oil, krill oil, or cod liver oil), turmeric curcumin, evening primrose (GLA), vitamin C, vitamin D3, magnesium, vitamin K2, and coenzyme Q10 are a few known anti-inflammatory supplements.

Final Thoughts

Chronic inflammation is something we all need to look out for. If we’re experiencing any unexplained aches, pains, or fatigue, our body may be telling us it’s in distress. When inflammation goes on without efforts to stop it, we can become sick or diseased.

Through thoughtful and diligent food choices, lifestyle decisions, and self-care, we can reverse inflammation and feel much better in our own skin.

This was a guest post written by Kim Maravich, RN. Kim is the author of the book titled “360 Health: Your Guide to Cancer Prevention, Healing Foods, & Total Body Wellness” available on Amazon. You can follow her at www.kimmaravich.com

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By |2017-12-19T17:05:31+00:00September 17th, 2017|Clean, Nourish|6 Comments

Natural cleaning products for healthier living

The following is a guest post from Emily at Crunchy Mama Science. Emily Brown is a Medical Laboratory Scientist gone crunchy stay at home mama who blogs over at Crunchy Mama Science about simple, healthy living with a side of the science behind natural living! For Ten Easy Steps Toward Natural Non-Toxic Living and a free worksheet, visit www.crunchymamascience.com!

Using natural cleaning products for healthier living

My Natural Cleaning Routine and Why I Have One

Why Natural Cleaning?

Natural cleaning is one of the simplest, most inexpensive ways to begin a transition into natural, healthy living. Not only does it remove some of the harshest chemicals in your home, it is incredibly cost effective, and very easy to start. It was one of the first natural changes I made in my life.

Why would we want to avoid harsh cleaners?

Chemicals in cleaning supplies may contribute to asthma, allergies, rashes, birth defects, reproductive problems, cancer, and of course burns and poisoning (1).

Some of these toxic chemicals include:

• Formaldehyde—known carcinogen, respiratory irritant
• 1,4 dioxane—probable human carcinogen
• Diethylene glycol monomethyl ether—implicated in fertility problems and possible harm to fetus

According to the EWG website, “The known dangerous ingredients are also at times able to vaporize into the air, react with other chemicals, and create even more dangerous and unknown chemicals” (1).

These are just a short few examples of the toxic chemicals that are lurking in your cleaning products (for an extensive list, see this website).

How To DIY

But, the good news is that it is simpler, safer, and cheaper to just make cleaning products right at home! My cleaning arsenal is very simple.

The Players:

• Baking Soda: Baking soda is an abrasive base, which makes it an excellent choice to work in conjunction with soaps as you scrub hard messes.
• Castile soap: Castile soap is a saponified, vegetable based soap that is multi useful especially when it works together with baking soda. You can buy it unscented or scented with essential oils.
• Essential Oils*: Many essential oils are naturally microbial and function as anti-septics as well as offering a cover smell for vinegar.

*As with any essential oil, educate yourself. Do your research on the company you have chosen; call them and ask questions, research their farms, distillation processes, GC/MS reports, organic practices, and other data. Essential oils are powerful and must be treated as such. Please, keep them in a locked cabinet far away from children.

• White Vinegar: An excellent, natural, mild acid that works well for disinfecting.
• Hydrogen peroxide: For serious clean ups and biohazards, vinegar may not quite cut it and a hydrogen peroxide disinfectant boost is a good choice.
• Natural Dish Soap: An optional alternative for castile soap that won’t leave a film.

All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe
I fill up a big spray bottle with half white vinegar, half boiled or distilled water, a few squirts of natural dish soap, and 40+ drops of essential oil (usually cinnamon or lemon). You can also use castile soap here if you don’t have hard water.

My Cleaning Routine
I use my all-purpose cleaner and a damp rag for most of my home cleaning, including the kitchen, bathroom, and all other rooms in the house.

I use baking soda for tough messes and cleanups. I sprinkle it on the area followed by castile soap, then I use a sponge to scrub it; it works well for shower scum and the toilet bowl. For the carpet, I mix baking soda with essential oils and sprinkle it on the floor, let it sit for a few minutes, and vacuum it up.

DIY cleaning is just about as simple and cost effective as can be. It’s one of the easiest and most effective changes to make toward getting toxins out of your home, and I recommend beginners start here. I don’t have to worry about my daughter being in the room when I’m cleaning, in fact she can help. When I was pregnant I didn’t have to worry about toxic chemicals in my home.

It’s much simpler too. Gone are the days when you need a cabinet full of different cleaning products for each appliance and room. The ingredients to make these products are cheap, and can easily be purchased in bulk.

Pro tips:

Don’t mix baking soda and vinegar. Although nothing bad will happen, we have to remember that baking soda is a base and vinegar is an acid. Base + Acid = Salt and Water. Water won’t give you a good clean! Keep baking soda with castile soap and vinegar with oils and water.

Castile soap may leave a film behind when combined with hard water, as it reacts with the minerals. If you find this happening, you can cut it afterwards with your all-purpose vinegar spray.

Do you make your own cleaning products? Share your recipes below!

References
1. http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/cleaners_and_health#.WYiUsMeGPD4

 

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By |2017-12-19T17:08:44+00:00September 1st, 2017|Clean|3 Comments

You don’t need a diet… you need a lifestyle

Ditch the diets and join a lifestyleIt’s pretty simple.
“Diets” are about losing weight, not gaining health.

What most people need is not a diet… but a lifestyle.

Losing weight is a poor motivator because it’s superficial and assumes that there are no other reasons why one would “diet.” It’s easy to give up when motivations are superficial, more than two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese after all… it’s normal (NIH obesity stats).

When you’re eating healthy and making lifestyle changes in order to gain health, everything changes.

Suddenly that candy bar is not just that thing you can’t eat because it makes you fat. It’s an item that is full of processed chemicals and high sugar that are not contributing to your optimal health.

They are making you sick.

Whether you feel it or not, by providing your body with something that doesn’t nourish, you’re negatively influencing your health. The sugar and random artificial ingredients in that candy bar aren’t directly or immediately causing diabetes or a host of other preventable chronic diseases. But over time, the cumulative result of making the “it’s ok” choice day after day might. It’s like the analogy of the frog in the water: put a frog into boiling water and it immediately jumps out, however, slowly turn up the heat and eventually the frog will die. Slowly by slowly we are making ourselves sick. (Just to be clear, I’m not saying a candy bar here or there is going to kill you).

You want to put things into your body that bring wellness, reduce disease risk, and make you feel vibrant. Luckily, losing weight is a much appreciated byproduct. When you change your line of thinking towards wellness, your motivations change. It’s easier to be motivated by the whole picture than simply a part.

Dieting misses the mark entirely.

You can “diet” by taking weight loss pills, eating processed NutriSystem or Slim Fast meals every day. While those diets may help you lose weight, they are deleterious to your overall health.

Moving beyond food, lifestyle changes encompass so much more.

While you should nourish yourself with nutrient dense food, optimal health also requires sleeping well, living purposefully, exercising the right way, and minimizing exposure to toxins through air, water, beauty and everyday products in the home. That’s where the lifestyle comes in.

When the focus is on gaining health, it includes more than just food and that’s when true health arises. It’s amazing what diet and lifestyle changes can do to heal (and lose weight… we all know that’s a happily accepted perk!).

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By |2017-12-19T17:10:05+00:00June 26th, 2017|Clean, Live, Nourish|1 Comment

3 clean living apps to reduce toxins in your household and beauty products

I find eating clean and avoiding food based toxins to be pretty straightforward. In general, if it’s packaged or there are ingredients you can’t pronounce, it’s probably not healthy. There are exceptions to the rule, but in general, it’s simple enough.

Eat real food.

Shopping for household, cleaning and beauty products is much less straightforward. Herbs and essential oils are generally a safe and clean addition to a product but if their scientific names are used, they aren’t easy to pronounce and aren’t easily deciphered from their synthetic counterparts.

It can be very difficult to understand what the ingredients mean.

In America and in other western countries (but less so), there’s a mentality of something is safe until proven unsafe. However, the approach should be to assume something is unsafe unless proven safe. The FDA rules for labeling and use of chemicals makes it very clear that anything can be used UNTIL it’s proven unsafe. To me this is even more reason to live a clean, toxin-free life. Personally, I’d rather be safe than sorry, even if 90% of this stuff ends up being perfectly fine.

Luckily, there are a few apps that can help you make your shopping decisions. These apps offer the ability to look up how toxic a product or its ingredients are. All of the apps utilize published scientific literature to supplement incomplete data available from companies and the government.

They should be used a guide and not an end all be all, but they can help put you in the right direction. You may get different ratings for the same products with different apps. This is why I typically recommend cross referencing an item if you have any concerns. They also have different algorithms for their decisions and don’t always look at the same factors.

There are a few key flaws to be aware of:

  • Some products are not listed, or sometimes only a few versions of a brand are listed.
  • Brands that fully disclose ingredients are compared with brands that are not disclosing all of their ingredients. The FDA leaves it up to companies to ensure they are properly labeling. In addition, some compounds have more data available than others. An item may score really well because it has no known toxic compounds.. when in reality, it may have one… research simply hasn’t proven it yet.
  • Scores are based on ingredients being present but there’s a difference between an ingredient being 1st on a list and last on a list in terms of their quantity in a product. Quantity matters. In addition, sometimes 2 ingredients will formulate synergistic toxicity where they are more harmful in the presence of each other.
  • Finally, a few of the apps evaluate food products. For instance, Good Guide evaluates food products based on a nutritional evaluation of a product’s ingredients. I haven’t extensively explored this portion of their app, but from what I have explored they base this on government guidelines and I wouldn’t suggest using this feature. For instance, I saw a perfect score for a processed box of Chex cereal and decided to stop looking. Just focus on beauty and household products!

The 3 main apps are Good Guide, EWG Healthy Living and Think Dirty.


Good Guide

Good guide has rated over 75,000 household, food, and beauty products. These products are ranked by health, environmental, and social factors. You can search by product name or scan the UPC code for an instant look.

They rank health, environment, and social separately which is unique. This is where good guide excels. For instance, palm oil is generally safe but perhaps that palm oil is contributing to deforestation in Indonesia, if so, I’d like to know. I find social and environmental factors equally as important in my decision making process.


EWG Healthy Living App (previously Skin Deep)

The EWG Healthy Living app from the Environmental Working Group rates over 120,000 food and personal care products. You can search by ingredient, brand, product name or simply scan the barcode on your phone.

EWG also lists a data availability rating so you can tell if their ratings are based on a lot of sound scientific research or perhaps just one or two studies.

You may be familiar with EWG from their EWG Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists. EWG is a reputable organization that is leading in their industry.


Think Dirty App

The Think Dirty app is another way to learn about toxic ingredients in your cosmetics and personal care products. You simply scan a UPC much like the other apps.

They base their rankings of a given product on the potential health impacts of the published ingredients. Ingredients are evaluated for carcinogenicity, development and reproductive toxicity, and allergenicity and immunotoxicity.

There are a few flaws to this app to be aware of. One downside is the way they rate allergenicity. What is an allergy to one person may be perfectly fine for another person. They also rate against companies due to potential impurities, even though some companies may have received a certificate proving their ingredients are not contaminated.


Conclusion

I think all of the apps do a good a job in aiding consumers to make smart choices and buy safer products. Their differences are minor, so to some it may simply be a matter of preference. The main thing I want to make sure you take from this is that you need to draw your own conclusions. These apps are a tool and a resource to guide you, but don’t take the information as fact. There are many flaws in the process.

I’m strongly committed to buying products that are clean and free of toxic ingredients. I’m also committed to buying products that are created in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

I think you should be too.

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By |2018-01-25T18:00:42+00:00July 10th, 2017|Clean|3 Comments

Can we be too clean?

Please note: This is just my opinion, please make your own conclusions. I’m not responsible for any dirt you eat as a result of this.

Modern sanitation has been the impetus for ridding the world of major diseases and bacterial infections. It is LIFE SAVING, there’s no denying that.

But can we be TOO CLEAN?

Many people believe that your environment needs to be as clean and sanitary as possible. But did you know that children kept in ultra clean environments have higher rates of respiratory conditions such as asthma and hay fever? You’ve probably heard that having a dog or being around farm animals reduces risk of childhood illnesses. That’s because having access to beneficial bacteria is good for you and having the occasional access to mild viruses helps build your immune system.

Our water is sterilized, food sanitized, we wash our hands constantly and we don’t have access to some of the ways humans traditionally acquired beneficial bacteria (being outside). I’ve had food poisoning in the developing world far too many times and very much understand the necessity for clean water and food. Let’s not change that. Work with patients? Hanging out at an airport? Visiting the restroom? By all means, wash your hands. It’s the incessant hand washing that I believe could be doing more harm than good (especially considering many people use hand sanitizer with triclosan… but that’s another story). When I go to playdates I often see moms washing their children’s hands every other minute (or at least it seems that way)… it’s like the second they touch something they must have acquired a deadly disease and must be sanitized.

Let them build their immune system, let them get exposed to the world.

According to Jack Gilbert, author of ‘Dirt Is Good’: Why Kids Need Exposure To Germs:

“In the past, we would have eaten a lot more fermented foods, which contain bacteria. We would have allowed our children to be exposed to animals and plants and soil on a much more regular basis. Now we live indoors. We sterilize our surfaces. Their immune systems then become hyper-sensitized. You have these little soldier cells in your body called neutrophils, and when they spend too long going around looking for something to do, they become grumpy and pro-inflammatory. And so when they finally see something that’s foreign, like a piece of pollen, they become explosively inflammatory. They go crazy. That’s what triggers asthma and eczema and often times, food allergies.”

We’re built to be exposed to bacteria all day everyday, and much of that bacteria is beneficial. The gut microbiome is essential to the immune system and does a lot of the work to keep your body healthy and distinguish between friend and foe. By sterilizing everything and having no exposure to natural soil, we are sterilizing ourselves in unnatural ways. We’re meant to get exposure to pathogens at an early age to build our immune system in ways that help us for the rest of our lives. Without these natural exposures, the immune system never learns how to respond to its environment and can eventually overreact to non-threatening stimuli and to our own bodies.

Ask your grandparents if they remember a time where allergies, asthma, and autoimmune disease was commonplace.

Not to say that this is the only cause of modern ailments; these are multi-factorial problems. But science certainly shows there is a relationship between the bacteria we are exposed to and our susceptibility to certain diseases.

The conflict between cleanliness and exposure can be difficult. You want to be exposed to good bacteria in your environment, especially dirt. You also DON’T want to be exposed to bacteria and viruses that can cause major illness, which in rare cases, can come from dirt. It’s a balance between doing what is genuinely protecting yourself and being unnecessarily clean. Ever hear the story about doctors who would go from the morgue to deliver babies because they didn’t understand germ theory?

It’s a balancing act.

We have to live with the downside of our modern living. We’re too clean and our bodies don’t understand how to work in our ultra clean environment. BUT, no one wants a horrible flesh eating parasite either.

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By |2018-01-25T18:01:14+00:00July 16th, 2017|Clean|4 Comments

Why you should never use products with “fragrance”

fragrance is toxicThe Short Answer:

There’s no regulation on the term “fragrance,” and it usually includes volatile organic chemicals (VOC’s), phthalates, and formaldehyde, all of which are linked directly to deleterious health outcomes.

Stay away from this stuff!

The Long Answer:

According to the FDA, specific ingredients in “fragrance” and “flavor”, although complex mixtures of many different natural and synthetic chemicals, do not need to be listed because they are considered “trade secrets.” The law does not require FDA approval before they go on the market. “Companies and individuals who manufacture or market cosmetics have a legal responsibility for ensuring that their products are safe and properly labeled.” Companies certainly aren’t creating large scale double blind studies on the safety of their products…

Essentially, they can put whatever they want in these products and they aren’t being regulated.

The ubiquitous “fragrance” can literally contain anything, many of the common ingredients are known and validated by science to cause health problems.

Some of the most offensive ingredients, VOC’s, phthalates and formaldehyde are known to aggravate asthma, cause hormonal and reproductive issues, birth defects, developmental disorders, and have been linked to neurological damage and even cancer.

Many air fresheners, an everyday product that contains “fragrance”, contain phthalates and according to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC, an international environmental advocacy group), “phthalates are hazardous chemicals known to cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems. NRDC’s independent testing of 14 common air fresheners, none of which listed phthalates as an ingredient, uncovered these chemicals in 86 percent (12 of 14) of the products tested, including those advertised as ‘all natural’ or ‘unscented.'”

SC Johnson, makers of Glade and other household products, now list their fragrance ingredients on their website. They are doing it in an aim to be more transparent. Previously, the ingredients for their products only included “fragrance” or “fragrance oil” (the products still only contain those words but they’ve expanded what you can find online).

When you click Fragrance Oil to delve deeper and see what that entails… these are the real ingredients in “fragrance”

(e)-1-(2,6,6-trimethyl-1-cyclohexen-1-yl)-2-buten-1-one; [(3,7-dimethyl-6-octenyl)oxy]acetaldehyde; [1-methyl-2-[(4,4,5-trimethyl-3-bicyclo[3.1.0]hexanyl)methyl]cyclopropyl]methanol; 1-(2,6,6-trimethylcyclohex-3-en-1-yl)2-buten-1-one; 2,4-dimethyl-3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde; 2,6,10-trimethylundec-9-enal; 2,6-dimethyl-7-octen-2-ol; 2-phenoxyethyl isobutyrate; 2-t-butylcyclohexyl acetate; 3.alpha.,4,5,6,7,7.alpha.-hexahydro-4,7-methano-1h-indenyl propionate; 3-hexenol; 3-methyl-2-butenyl acetate; 4,4.alpha.,5,9.beta.-tetrahydroindeno(1,2-d)-1,3-dioxin; 4-methylanisole; 5-methyl-2-(2-methylpropyl)-1,3-dioxane; amyl cinnamal; benzaldehyde; benzyl acetate; benzyl butyrate; butyl ester of pvm/ma copolymer; cyclamen aldehyde; decanal; dimethyl heptenal; dipropylene glycol; ethyl 2-methyl-1,3-dioxolane-2-acetate; ethyl 2-methylbutyrate; ethyl 2-methylvalerate; ethyl butyrate; ethyl isovalerate; ethyl linalool; ethyl methylphenylglycidate; ethyl salicylate; ethyl trimethylcyclopentene butenol; ethyl vanillin; gamma-decalactone; gamma-nonalactone; gamma-undecalactone; geranyl acetate; hexenyl acetate; hexyl 2-methylbutyrate; hexyl acetate; hexyl butyrate; hexyl propionate; indole; isoamyl acetate; isoamyl allylglycolate; isobutenyl methyltetrahydropyran; isobutyl methyl tetrahydropyranol; isopropylphenylbutanal; lauraldehyde; linalool; methyl anthranilate; methyl benzodioxepinone; methyl Ionones; methyl n-methylanthranilate; nona-2,6-dien-1-ol; nonadienal; phenethyl alcohol; ppg-2 methyl ether acetate; terpineol; trans-hex-2-en-1-ol; undecylenal

I won’t lie and pretend I know what any of that is or whether any one item is definitively bad. But I have no doubt in my mind that this is not something I desire to breathe.

Candles are another everyday product that almost always contains “fragrance”. In a 2009 study by South Carolina State University “The paraffin candles we tested released unwanted chemicals into the air. For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma,”

Scented candles and incense could be linked to increased risk of cancer according to a 2001 EPA study

It gets better.

In a 2014 Scientific American Study, “The first study to explore the relationship between phthalates during pregnancy and future childhood asthma reveals a strong link between the two”.

According to the daily mail in 2005, “Chemical sprays, plug-ins and gels for home perfuming are hugely popular but investigators warn that they can include an array of hazardous substances which may cause lung damage and tumours, interfere with our hormones and cause such lifelong problems as asthma. Last month, a study involving Public Health England’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, warned that plug-in air fresheners produce ‘considerable’ levels of formaldehyde: described by the US government’s National Toxicology Program as a known ‘human carcinogen’. It is most closely linked with cancers of the nose and throat and at the very least, it can also cause sore throats, coughs, scratchy eyes and nosebleeds. It is not the only chemical to fear in air fresheners. Other basic ingredients include petroleum products and such chemicals as p-dichlorobenzene, which hardly bring to mind summer meadows, vanilla pods and sultry spices.”

I hesitate to use the word “toxic” because it conjures up an image of woo woo anti-science chemical-phobio. I find that image grossly unfair, giving it’s the very same science showing how bad this stuff is. But I’ll say it here:

THIS STUFF IS TOXIC!

Now, what is a person to do? Forever live in a scentless world? Luckily there are safer options.

To help rid smells, if weather cooperates, you can open a window… that’s the best method. In addition to opening the window, houseplants help to clean air in the home.

To cover smells and create a scent, the next best option is to use a diluted essential oil (not all are the same so do make sure the mixture you use is indeed considered safe), a soy/food based candle, or dried flowers. Not potpourri you find at the store… that likely has added “fragrance”.. and you all know what that means.

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By |2017-08-10T23:26:11+00:00June 20th, 2017|Clean|1 Comment

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