This Friday we are going to talk about artificial colors.
Artificial Colors - are used in processed foods to give a bright appearance to the food. This can help influence our perception on taste. Manufacturers use artificial colors because they are easier to manufacture and more consistent than natural colors. There is a link between artificial colors and ADD.
The most common artificial colors used contain benzidene which is a known human carcinogen. Many of these were also banned in other countries. Below are the most common used, but anything with a color and a number is artificial. These are clearly labeled on the ingredients list and found in so many items on store shelves like pickles, salad dressing, marshmallows, pie fillings, jelly, juices, vitamins, mouthwash etc.
Again, there are alternatives, you just need to know what not to have on the ingredient list and it's easy to find an alternative!
Natural colors are usually created using beets, spinach, carrots, saffron or turmeric. I have even boiled up cabbage and used the water for a purple color. These colors may not be as bright as the artificial colors but so much better for your health.
Source: The Pantry Principle, Mira Dessy
In my sunscreen post, I talked about sunscreens causing a deficiency in Vitamin D that can lead to diseases. So I wanted to talk about how important vitamin D is to us.
If you haven't heard already, Vitamin D is actually a hormone because it has binding proteins that carries it to target organ which in turn respond to it. But it is called a vitamin nonetheless. It is called the "sunshine vitamin" because that is our best source. There are food sources but they don't compare to the sun. Food sources include: salmon, sardines, mackerel, shrimp, cod, eggs and fortified foods. I wouldn't go with the fortified foods because they are usually highly processed.
We need to get unprotected sun for about 10-15 minutes per day between 10:00 and 2:00 pm during the months mid-March through mid -September (in NJ) to get the benefits. The average amount produced during this time is 15,000 - 20,000 IU's and because it is a natural source when you have had enough sun, the body starts to break down the precursor of vitamin D so you are no longer producing activated vitamin D. This benefit of does not happen when supplementing or using fortified foods. Isn't the body amazing?
A simple blood test from your doctor will tell you if you need to supplement. Conventional recommendations are to have levels between 35-50 ng/ml, but functional medicine says it should be higher - between 50 - 80 ng/ml. The average blood levels when tested are usually below 35 ng/ml.
So, to get back on topic, we are using sunscreen ALL the time and creating an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. This is not good because Vitamin D affects every cell of our body!
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms
What does Vitamin D do?
Have you had your Vitamin D levels tested lately?
The Vitamin D Solution, Michael F. Holick Ph.D,
This week I want to focus on additives. This one word encompasses both intentional and unintentional additives. I am only going to speak of the intentional additives, the unintentional is more disturbing.
Flavorings - these are used to boost the flavor of a product so our taste buds think it is a real food, when in reality it is not. These are usually made in a lab and many are linked to toxicity. A few to look for on your ingredients label:
Preservatives - usually used to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria, to keep food from decomposing or to stop the ripening process. Many increase allergy symptoms, asthma, eczema, migraines and can cause digestive distress. Some are even toxic! If you see abbreviated words like BHA, BHT, EDTA, TBHQ avoid them. The manufacturers are abbreviated them for a reason. Other preservatives to look out for: benzoates, proprionates, nitrates and sulfites.
Emulsifiers - these keep foods from separating, have anti-caking or anti-foaming properties. Some also control the rate of crystallization in a processed food. Some may not appear on the food label at all because it is considered an "incidental food additive" The emulsifiers are usually found in ice cream, yogurts, cakes, salad dressings, pre made cookies etc.
You want to look at your ingredients list for the above offenders, but don't worry, there are natural solutions to all of them and don't seem to carry the toxicity issues of their chemical counterparts.
This is our focus this week, go to your pantry and check your items. By now your pantry should be getting cleaner. The unfortunate thing is, even if you are buying better, cleaner products, some of these still tend to sneak in. Occasionally,when I review my products, I still find an item that slips by. It is something you need to be vigilant on because manufacturers are always making changes!
With the summer in full swing, you are going out in the sun and having fun. But because of some bad media attention, we are afraid to leave our house without sunscreen on. This sets us up for Vitamin D deficiency which in turn, can set us up for disease states which include cancer. The very reason the media has warned us to stay away from the sun!
Before the 80s, you never heard anything about the harmful effects of the sun. I grew up without wearing sunscreen, in fact I can't count the amount of times my shoulders were burned. Ouch! Now burning skin is not good, but getting 15 minutes a day without sunscreen is beneficial!
Some myths surrounding the sun:
So my questions is: Is it the sun that is causing our problems or the sunscreens?
Before sunscreen use, we had very little skin cancers because people were working outside and building up a tan (not burning). Starting in the 1950s, the first sunscreens only protected against UVB rays setting us up 30-40 years later for skin cancer. Now (beginning in the 1990s), there is broad spectrum sunscreens that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
I am not against wearing sunscreens, in fact, you SHOULD wear a broad specturm, after you get your 15 minutes or so of Vitamin D. That said, not all sunscreens are not created equal!
Let's take a look at what is in your typical sunscreen:
If you look at the ingredients in typical sunscreens you will see a host of ingredients you can't even say never mind what they mean! I have talked about the skin absorbing what we put on it, right? So why wouldn't it absorb the chemicals in sunscreen?
What you can do:
As with any other label, read the ingredients. Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide should be the main ingredient. Look for sunscreens with minimal other ingredients and make sure you know what these ingredients are or at least can pronounce them! Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) puts out a list every year that can help you in your search.
A few brands that I like:
California Baby, Badger, 100percent pure, Jason. These can be purchased in most health food stores.
And a more recent discovery, scratch momma. She has a website where she sells products made from scratch, but you can also purchase the products. I purchased her homemade sunscreen made with only a few ingredients and I love it! I'm not sure how water resistant it is, but it should be fine.
Just a quick note on the above products. These are products that I have used and have not reacted to, they also pass my "screening" as cleaner products. There may be others on the market that I have not used that are just as good (clean). I tend to stick with products when I like them, but I do not have any affiliations with any of these companies, I am here to raise awareness. You can take this information and start looking at labels. Do your research and find the best products for you.
Sources: The Vitamin D solution, Michael F Holick; Cosmeticinfo.org
A few weeks ago, I did a blog post about making your own deodorant. I wanted to show you just how easy it is to make it. So, with my son's help, here is the video.
We are going to continue detoxing our pantry. Last week we tackled trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. This week it's Monosodium glutamate (MSG), we are only doing one because there are many places it hides.
What is MSG?
MSG is a sodium salt that is used as a flavor enhancer. It is a stimulant that stimulates both the taste buds and the brain. In fact, according to Russell Blaylock it excites neurons and causes them to rapidly fire until they become exhausted and eventually die. If that is not bad enough, it also promotes inflammation on the liver. Typically is was found in Chinese food but because of sensitivities most Chinese restaurants no longer use it.
Side effects of MSG:
Headaches, flushing, sweating, numbness, tingling, burning in the face or neck, heart palpitations, chest pains, nausea and weakness.
I had a very scary experience as an early teenager. My sister had just eaten a can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup (loaded with MSG), her throat started to close and she couldn't breathe. I am so glad that my mother was there because she gave her Benadryl and she was able to breathe. I would've have frozen and not known what to do..I panic in these kinds of situations. Now that I think about it, it was probably scarier for her!
Where is MSG found?
Salad dressing, sauces, flavored potato chips, seasoning mixes, soups, gravy mixes, frozen foods, low fat foods and other processed foods.
This is an ingredient where you need to check your ingredients list.
Ingredients that ALWAYS contain MSG:
Soy protein anything
Ingredients that FREQUENTLY contain MSG or free glutamic acid:
Citric acid, citrate
Barley malt, malt extract
Anything that contains enzymes
Anything fermented (excluding traditional fermentation)
Anything protein fortified
This is why we are only tackling one ingredient this week. It "hides" in many places. If you can't look at ALL the above ingredients in your pantry, at least look at where it is always hidden.
Let me know how you are doing detoxing your pantry.
Source: Pantry Principle, Mira Dessey
On Facebook I am hosting an event called Detox Friday. Last week we jumped right in and only ate fresh foods for one day, eliminating any processed foods. For some, this was the first detox they had ever done, but they got through it.
This week, I thought since it is the Fourth of July everyone would be barbequing, having fun and not really into giving up foods. So, we are doing a pantry detox!
There are a few things that all of us should be avoiding, but just don't know we should. So go through your pantry and look at the ingredients list. If the following ingredients are there, you should consider finding an alternative product.
So, if you have a product for instance ketchup. Most conventional ketchup contains HFCS. Next time you go shopping, look for a ketchup that does not contain HFCS, maybe cane sugar.
Since it is a holiday weekend, I didn't want to overwhelm you, so two items this week to look for. Then next week when you go food shopping look for similar items without these two ingredients in them. Next week we will look at a few other items to detox our pantry!
If you haven't already joined us, please join the event so you don't miss a single thing! Below is the link to the event.
Please let me know how you make out detoxing your pantry!
My opinion is you should! Why? Because it is so easy and there are many harmful ingredients in the commercial brands. Some of the natural ones also have questionable ingredients and don't always work.
It has been years since I used commercial deodorants. Mainly because of the aluminum, pthalates and parabens in them. But there are plenty of other ingredients to worry about. Studies have indicated that the skin absorbs everything we put on it, so why wouldn't it absorb the ingredients in deodorants? Below are some of the harmful ingredients in commercial deodorants:
Underneath your skin in your armpit area are clusters of lymph nodes which is an essential part of our immune system. Some ingredients like aluminum have come under fire for being a risk factor for breast cancer and alzheimers, although the breast cancer risk is non-conclusive, I err on the side of caution..
So, it's been about ten years (at least) that I have been using natural deodorants. There are so many to choose from, and this is where you can really see bioindividuality clearly. What works for my husband, does not work for me! And I have an added issue, some really irritate!
After settling on one that I like and have been using for years even recommending it to people they go and change the ingredients, adding propylene glycol (a preservative, but an endocrine disruptor). Why, I have no idea, there was no issues with preservation. I am down to my last one with original ingredients and have about three others different deodorants in my drawer that I have tried and work decently in cold weather, but not in the summer. In the winter, I was even able to get away with just using coconut oil.
I started to try different deodorants, yet again, when my sister inspired me by making her own. She claimed it was really easy and for a busy mother of five, so say it is easy, it has to be! She made me some and it worked better than most store bought but unfortunately my underarms were irritated, too much baking soda for my underarms. Easy fix, less baking soda. My son is now using the deodorant with no problems!
I checked online for some recipes, it seems that common ingredients are:
Baking Soda or diatomaceous earth (food grade)
Beeswax or Canuba wax
So knowing that coconut oil works ok in the winter, I was definitely using that. I bought shea butter, arrowroot powder and lemon essential oil and I already had the (non aluminum) baking soda, peppermint and tea tree essential oils. The picture up top is the final product :)
Some people like stick deodorants in which case you would add one of the waxes or the bentonite clay, but I don't care. This is more like a lotion. I use a spoon to take a little out and keep the deodorant clean. And guess what? It works and it only took about 5 minutes to make! I may have to add a little more baking soda for hubby but this one is great and it smells awesome too!
So take a look at recipes online, (they are abundant) and get creative in the kitchen.
Source for ingredient list: www.mightynest.com
This is an update to my first post from August of 2012
Most people do not drink enough water but believe that they are. Somewhere along the line we have lost our roots. We have forgotten that we are born from water and need to replenish our supply every day.
Water is one of the most important nutrients in our body, and, so often forgotten. Our body is about 75% water and our brain 85%. EVERY cell in our body needs water, we won’t survive without it. So why don’t we drink enough? A common misbelief is that if we drink something we are hydrating. Usually the fluids that are covered in this thinking are coffee, soda, tea, sports drinks etc. These do not hydrate the body! In fact, most contain caffeine which actually stimulates you to release fluids from your body. They also contain sugar…not a great combination.
How we lose fluids daily: breathing, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, sweat, urine and feces. This creates a cycle of dehydration, if you are not replenishing. When you become dehydrated your body fluids become concentrated and water is taken out of your cells and they shrink. This concentration of fluids can lead to high blood pressure, increased cholesterol, strokes, edema and many other health conditions.
The functions of water: one of the most important functions is to clear toxic wastes from the body. If you are not drinking enough water, the toxins accumulate and can cause inflammation which in turn can cause a disease state. Water is a source of energy, it generates electrical energy inside your cells and helps to either heat or cool your body, it helps prevent DNA damage, it helps to break down food because it is a major solvent in the body, it helps reduce fatigue, it even helps to combat cancer by bringing oxygen into your body. There are so many other beneficial tasks that water does; we should be drinking a minimum of 8-10 cups of water (64-80 oz). That is just to replace what you have lost through your daily metabolic activities like breathing and clearing out cellular debris. If you are outside sweating, you need to be drinking more! In fact, half your body weight is what you are striving for EVERY DAY!
How to tell if are dehydrated: Most people believe that dry mouth is a good indicator of dehydration. The fact is that this is one of the last indicators of dehydration and this perception decreases as we age. By this time body fluids are already becoming concentrated and energy production decreases. A better indicator is the color of your urine. A well hydrated person has colorless urine.
Other indications of dehydration: fatigue, irritable, anxious, depressed, not sleeping well, cravings, these signs can be masked by the use of medications.
If you have children, please keep in mind that because of their rapid growth and cell division they are using up a great deal of water and are naturally dehydrated. They need special attention and you need to ensure that they are drinking enough water to meet their needs. Some signs that your child is not getting enough water: difficulty learning, less alert, decreased attention span and asthma and allergies increase.
How do we get enough water?
If your water intake is not sufficient, the body will reuse as much water as possible. The water is reclaimed in the large intestine and motility of the feces becomes slower and you become constipated. Water is lubricating and when you add fiber; increases motility.
The best way to combat dehydration is to avoid beverages that dehydrate (mentioned above) and make sure that you drink half your body weight in water each day.
Source: You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty! Water for Health, for Healing, for Life; F. Batmanghelidj MD
I recently came down with a cold which reminded of all of the changes I have made throughout my life. Let me explain, I grew up in a household where my mother was a nurse. So anytime any one of us (myself or my siblings) would get sick there was always a pill to take. This is what she knew, this was her training, she felt like she was doing something; there is nothing wrong with that. And as a mother myself, when my kids get sick I feel that I need to do something, but is medication the answer?
Until my twenties, medications is what I grew up with, it's what I knew. When I became pregnant with my first, there was this whole list of medications and over the counter products that I could not take because it "may" hurt the baby. This made me begin to do some research, why would something I have taken my entire life hurt the baby? I did not like what I found and turned to homeopathy and herbal medicines not only are they safer options, but these were the original "medicines" used.
I loved homeopathy, it was so nice not to worry about side effects when my son was teething, had a fever or cold, or got into the cabinet where they were kept. Something was still nagging at me in the back of my mind..is this the BEST option? Yes it is safe but do I really need to take anything in order to be doing something? My gut was telling me no, so I listened.
I have found the best way to recover from an illness (cold, fever, flu) is to support your body's healing efforts.
What do I mean support my body's healing efforts? How do I do this?
So through my life, I have run the gammit of how I weathered a cold but now my choice will always be to support my immune system because it really does know what it is doing!