Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tips To Get Started With Detoxification

Detoxing can be a real challenge. However, it can also be extremely rewarding. Detoxing can help you achieve several health and lifestyle goals. In order to achieve those goals it’s important to start your detox plan off right.

Cover of "Detox (Natural Care Handbook)"Cover of Detox (Natural Care Handbook)Tip #1 Set a detox goal. Why do you want to detox? Do you want to cleanse your system? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to stop your addiction to sugar and/or processed foods? Choose your goal first, your reason or purpose for detoxing. If you don’t have a goal it’ll not only be difficult to choose a detox plan, it’ll be difficult to stick to it.

#2 Choose the right plan. Now that you have a goal for detoxing, choose a plan that supports that goal. Consider your lifestyle. Also consider the time you have to detox and take the potential side effects into consideration.

For example, most detox plans will have some side effects. You may feel tired or irritable. You may also experience headaches and have some digestive issues. This is your body purging the toxins. You may also experience some withdrawal symptoms if you have a diet that is high in sugar and caffeine. If you plan accordingly, you can experience these side effects during low stress times – like the weekend.

Choosing the right plan also requires you to be honest and realistic. Juicing or eating only vegetables may be more realistic than a program that has you drink only detox tea for three days.

#3 Prepare yourself. The potential side effects have already been mentioned. Managing these side effects can be challenging. However, if you prepare for them this short period will be easier.

You might rent movies or grab a couple of books and plan to simply rest during the challenging part of your detox. You’ll also want to make sure you have all the supplies you need. For example, if you’re juicing then you’ll need juice recipes, a juicer or blender, and tons of produce. (See our previous article on juice detoxing here.)

#4 Consider other methods of detoxing. Epsom salt baths, saunas, and even massage can help you detox your body’s tissues. They can also be relaxing and help you transition through the challenging part of your detox plan.

HealthHealth (Photo credit: 401K)#5 Reward yourself. Celebrate success. In addition to taking great care of yourself during the detox, plan to reward yourself once you’ve completed it. Now, that probably doesn’t mean binging on junk food! However, you might do something nice for yourself. Take a new fitness class. Take a day and spend it doing something you love.

Once you’ve completed your detox program set another goal to continue improving your health. For example, if you detoxed to purge the junk food habit, you might choose a new fitness program to begin. You might also take a healthy cooking class or begin eating healthier. Your health is important. Detoxing is a great way to move forward toward good health. Choose the right program for you. Be smart and safe when you detox and treat your body well.  

For a comprehensive, gentle, and natural detox program that we recommend, click the banner below. You'll also get a FREE Report on The Toxic Side of Food.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Why Detox? What Are The Benefits?

Considering detoxing? If you want to improve your health, it may be a great place to start. But before you choose a detox plan, make sure you understand the risks and benefits of detoxing. Have a goal for your plan and choose your detox program accordingly.

Top Three Detox Benefits

There are many benefits from detoxing. It doesn’t matter what type of plan you use, the benefits are all basically the same. They’re consistent and powerful. When you detox you will likely:

weight loss tracker week 2weight loss tracker week 2 (Photo credit: The Shed1)1. Lose Weight

One of the primary reasons many people detox is to lose weight. Detox diets are often very restrictive and weight loss is a natural result. For example, the Master Cleanse diet that many celebrities rave about is extremely limiting. You’re essentially drinking water, lemon and some spices for several days. Of course you’re going to lose weight. You’re consuming very few calories (and this process is fairly hard on your body).

However, once you stop detoxing, you’ll gain the weight back. That being said, many chemicals and toxins are stored in your fat cells. When you cleanse and detox, your fat cells are better able to metabolize. You will likely find it easier to burn fat and lose weight - even on a more normal diet - once you’ve detoxified your body.

2. Have More Energy

Most people who go on a detox diet or program find that they have much more energy both during and after the detox. Chemicals and toxins stored in your body affect your energy levels. They slow down your metabolism. They can interfere with sleep. Toxins can also stress your immune system making it work extra hard to fight germs and infections. Detoxing removes these chemicals from your body. Thus your body is better able to function. You’ll feel more energetic, sleep better and even have more mental clarity - see next benefit.

3. Experience Mental Clarity

Many toxins create a foggy mind. Artificial sweeteners and sugar both tend to affect your thinking processes. When you detox, you cut sugar and artificial sweeteners from your diet. You’ll feel as if a fog has lifted. Or as one woman said when talking about her own detox plan, “It was like someone put glasses on me and suddenly I could see everything clearly.”

A good, healthy detox program.
Other common benefits include:
* Improved complexion
* Better breath
* Improved digestion and regularity
* Stronger immune system – fewer colds and illnesses
* Improved sense of well-being
* Better sleep
* Better stress management

Now it’s important to note that while there are many powerful benefits, you may also experience some less pleasant effects during the process. There are many side effects that you’ll likely experience in the first few days. Most are mild, and include headaches, stomach aches, mood swings and irritability and insomnia. Plan your detox during a time when these side effects won’t have a significant impact.

For example, you might start a detox plan on a Thursday. The withdrawal symptoms and detox side effects will occur over the weekend. By Monday you’ll likely be feeling much better and more energetic.

Consult with your alternative healthcare provider to see if detoxing is right for you. If you’re pregnant or struggling with an existing health condition detoxing isn’t a good idea. However, if you’re relatively healthy and your doctor gives the go ahead, detoxing can lead you to improved health.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Video - Ecological Issues Explained (For Kids)

Here is a short video detailing some of the issues facing our planet today, but explained in a clear way to help kids understand their own impact and what they can do to help. Share this with them, or just watch it yourself for a quick reminder of some discussion points you can talk about with your kids.

Eco Kids - The Earth Needs Your Help
The Earth Needs YOUR Help, the first part of the Eco Kids series, discusses some the biggest problems facing the environment today and how it is being abused. Well learn the role of the greenhouse effect, carbon emissions, air pollution and how the b...

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kid's Eco-Friendly Project: PicoTurbine Savonius Windmill Kit

Hand-on teaching is the best way to explain science principles to children. If you are a home schooling parent or if you have a child that is interested in learning more about renewable energy and wind power, the PicoTurbine Savonius Windmill Kit is a fantastic teaching tool. The windmill can be built by kids as young as 10, but I would recommend it to kids older than that with a better understanding of certain science principles.

The windmill, once assembled, is a fully functioning small windmill. It uses high quality materials to allow it to withstand the elements. It includes everything your kids will need to build a vertical windmill, from recycled blades, s-foils to copper coils and five, ceramic grade magnets. Once assembled and stationed outside, it shows students how windmills can harness wind energy and turn it into electricity. At a wind speed of 12 mph you can produce approximately 3.0V/50mA.

Overall, I think that this kit will add to students' knowledge of how wind power works, how to convert it into electricity, alternative energy resources, aerodynamics and other scientific principles. I am sure any student interested in science will appreciate this fun kit as a present.

Where to buy:
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Monday, February 20, 2012

How to Teach Your Kids to be Eco-Conscious

Teaching children to be eco-conscious is important. It helps them develop an appreciation for the planet they live on, and when children are eco-conscious, they grow up to become responsible adults. The good news is that teaching your kids to be eco-conscious is fun!

Seven Tips On Teaching Your Kids to Be Eco-Conscious

Colorful Recycling Containers for TrashColorful Recycling Containers for Trash (Photo credit: Be a good role model. This is perhaps the easiest way to teach your children about the impact of their actions on the environment. Children pay attention to what you do. If you recycle, reuse and pay attention to how you consume, your children will grow up with that example.

#2 Discuss often. Look for learning moments to discuss why you are eco-conscious. For example, when you’re shopping you might choose to purchase an item at a flea market. Explain to your child why you’re buying used instead of new.

#3 Help them explore nature. Nature is what you’re trying to preserve and protect. If your child doesn’t get out and enjoy nature, they won’t have an appreciation for the earth. Take nature hikes. Enjoy the beach. Head to the mountains or take bike rides. Just get some fresh air and sunshine - it's good for their health, and yours too!

Earth Day 2007 at City College San DiegoImage via Wikipedia#4 Take field trips. Some recycling centers, landfills and water treatment plants offer tours. Check out your local facilities. What educational experiences are available? If they don’t commonly offer tours, consider visiting them on Earth Day. Show your children what happens to our trash and waste water. Help them learn the cycle of consumption. It’ll help them appreciate what they use.

#5 Garden. Gardening is a wonderful way to appreciate and experience the earth. If you don’t have space outside you can create a windowsill herb garden. Use recycled, reused and organic material to create your garden. For example, tin cans to plant your herb seeds in. Compost to fertilize the soil. Rainwater to water the plants. (Visit our Sustainable Gardening blog for more tips on gardening sustainably, even in a small space.)

#6 Make it a game. Show your children how much water or electricity you use each month. Make it a game to lower your consumption. Turn off the lights when they’re not in use. Use water sparingly. Turn off all appliances. See how much you can reduce your electric, gas or water bill during the month. Then reward children for their efforts.

#7 Volunteer. Become active in outdoor clean ups. If your community has a “clean up the park” day, sign the family up. Volunteer at your recycling center. Or assist the recycling program at community events. For example, many running events have recycling volunteers to make sure all those paper cups from the aid stations end up in the recycling bin rather than the street or the garbage. Show your children that the Earth is important and enlist their help in keeping it clean.

Happy Children Playing KidsHappy Children Playing Kids (Photo credit: most importantly, follow through on your words. If you tell your children that being environmentally conscious is important to you then follow it up with rules. Limit television viewing time. Ask them to turn off the lights. Make sure they don’t take forty-minute showers. Create a recycling center in your home. When it comes to teaching children, follow through is important, and learning these things early will benefit both them and the planet in the long run.
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Friday, February 17, 2012

Coping With Chickenpox Naturally: How to Ease the Itch

I know we've been focusing on vaccines this week, but in case you've decided to go the natural route, and let your child's immune system do its job on the chickenpox, here are some tips for keeping your sanity, and keeping your child as comfortable as possible, throughout the process.

Česky: Puchýř neštovic - časné stádium English...Image via WikipediaOne of the oldest recorded childhood diseases is chickenpox. Just about every kid is exposed to it at one time or another. Here are some ways to control one of the most unbearable of its symptoms – itching.

Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It usually occurs in children. You may notice an itchy red rash that occurs all over the body and the face. These bumps are usually spread over the body through scratching of the rash and then touching unaffected areas.

If you look closely, the red bumps resemble pimples. They are filled with clear fluid that turns cloudy. When they eventually pop, they crust and produce scabs as they dry out.

Symptoms of Chickenpox

Those with chickenpox notice the rash and itching more than anything else. But, there are other symptoms that children may feel such as fever, sore throat, headache or abdominal pain before the rash shows up. In rare cases, chickenpox can lead to serious bacterial or viral infections that affect the brain, joints and bones.

Chickenpox is highly contagious. Parents usually expose other children if one child has it so that they will all suffer together and then it’s over. If your child has it, don’t let them go to school as they can pass the virus to others until the bumps pop and scab over. This can take about a week.

Stopping the Itch

Chickenpox can be both itchy and painful. Chickenpox can become that much more unbearable when the itching begins. Scratching seems to bring some relief but then the pain starts from all that rubbing and scratching. Kids and parents are miserable as they endure the five or seven days it takes for the condition to run its course. Here are some ideas to stem that itch and keep your child cool and comfortable.

chickenpoxchickenpox (Photo credit: hopeandmegan)* Use calamine lotion – This works for other itchy rashes like poison ivy by drying out the skin. Rubbing your child down with it can provide temporary relief from pain and itch.

* Take antihistamines – The itching is a result of the body’s reaction to the disease. It releases histamine which leads to the itching. Over-the-counter medications can block the release of histamine so you feel less itchy over time.

* Oatmeal baths – This is an old but a good remedy for chickenpox itch. Fill a tub with cool, but not cold water. Hot water can increase the pain and itch. Fill the tub with baking soda and oatmeal. If you have it, use pre-packaged colloidal oatmeal remedies. Allow your child to soak for about 15 minutes until they feel better.

* Use socks on the hands – It will be hard to keep kids from scratching when they itch. Placing mittens or socks on the hands prevents damage from being done to the skin that will hurt later on.

Although chickenpox is no fun, getting through it is just a part of childhood for many. (I remember my own experience as unpleasant, but not terrible. I got out of chores for a few days, and read several great books, while coating myself in baking soda and water paste to calm the itch.) Hopefully these tips will help you and your child come through it with as little discomfort as possible. And if the rash continues to worsen after the first few days, or continues longer than 7 days, be sure to consult your doctor.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Chickenpox Vaccine: Is It Necessary?

Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It mostly occurs in children but can affect adults who have never experienced it as a child.

Child with chickenpoxImage via WikipediaChickenpox is one of the oldest recorded childhood conditions. It can begin with a fever but it always ends up with contagious red bumpy rashes that spread from head to toe. Everyone knows that look.

For about a week, your child is covered in blister-like bumps that are red, itchy and painful. It can be a parent’s worst nightmare, especially if they have more than one child.

About ten or so years ago, doctors introduced a new vaccine for chickenpox – the varicella vaccine. Parents have had conflicting views of this development and are puzzled by what to do about it. Should they give it to their kids or allow nature to take its course?

Both Sides of the Argument

For hundreds or thousands of years, children have lived through chickenpox. When the body encounters childhood diseases like chickenpox or mumps and measles, it builds up immunity. Antibodies are produced as a result of the body fighting the invading antigen. A high level of these antibodies in the body (titer) can ward off future incidents of the condition from occurring.

In the past, if one child was exposed to the virus, parents would expose all of their children. This was done for two reasons. One, it almost guaranteed that the healthy child would contract the disease in childhood. Secondly, if all of the children had it at the same time then only one week of work was lost.

Nowadays, there are vaccines available that had not been invented all those years ago. Children can avoid the pain of many conditions with a vaccination. Parents are opting for this method to keep their children healthier than previous generations.

Here’s the rub, though. Because the vaccine is new, there is a lack of data as to its efficacy. No one is sure how long the immunity will last.

Vaccine-in-legImage via WikipediaThe problem here is shingles. It is an adult form of chickenpox that is quite painful. It can also cause serious problems in those who have never had chickenpox before or in people who have had it but not maintained a high enough titer over the years.

Children not exposed to chickenpox as children have a greater incidence of contracting shingles as adults. For non-immune adults, the varicella vaccine can help lower their risk of catching chickenpox, especially in geriatric people where it can be life threatening.

So, is the vaccine necessary? Many healthcare facilities require it for employees. Parents have a choice when it comes to their children. For them the question is which is better: natural immunity through exposure or vaccination? The jury is still out on this one. However, as you probably know if you've been reading this blog, I am of the opinion that the natural way is almost always best. Our bodies really do know what they're doing - if we let them do it.

Some Info About Vaccines:

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Immunizations - Reactions and Responses

In today's world, many see immunizations as just a part of life. They made the difference between life and death for so many children in the world. But, reactions during the process are not uncommon. This makes sense, as a vaccination artificially stimulates an immune response in the body. And we see more vaccinations becoming available all the time - many of which may not be as "proven safe" as you might think....

The following is the author's description of t...Image via WikipediaImmunizations are typically given to protect the health of a child. Starting at birth, kids are vaccinated against certain common illnesses that at one time caused fatalities. In many cases, a dead inactivated form of the virus in question is given to the child so that the body can create antibodies to it.

There are no cures for viruses. We just have to treat the symptoms. Vaccinations can reduce the incidence of these diseases ever occurring in the first place, but are they really all they're cracked up to be?

Side Effects Of Immunizations

Whenever you take your child to get an immunization, they make you aware of the risks and potential reactions your child might have. Most are mild and related to the process.

* Headaches – Your child may develop a headache from certain vaccinations. For a baby this may be characterized by high-pitched crying.

* Injection site reaction – There can also be a localized reaction on the skin at the point of injection. This can include swelling, redness, rash and pain. A soothing bath or cool compress may stop the swelling.

* Fever – A child may also experience fever from one or more of their vaccinations. A cool bath can make them feel better when they are hot. Cool compresses on their forehead may help break the fever as well. In general it is best to let a fever run its course, as long as it's not too high, as this is the body's natural way of fighting off infection.

* Diarrhea – If this occurs, try giving your child more fluids. Babies that breastfeed often will feed more after reactions to immunizations. If they are not breastfed and can’t keep down formula, try Pedialyte to replenish fluid levels in the body. Sometimes, plain water in the bottle can work to introduce more fluids back into the body. Let your doctor know if your baby starts to get dehydrated.

If there is a reaction to the immunization it will occur usually within one to three days after the injection. In babies, fussy crying that can’t be soothed is a sign. Call your doctor and let them know what is going on.

Child receiving polio vaccine.Image via WikipediaImmediate serious side effects to vaccinations are not all that common, but some may have possible negative effects, long-term.  Our bodies are designed to fight off infection, so the best method of keeping your child healthy is to build up his or her immune system naturally. Unfortunately this can mean some sleepless nights while they are fighting off illnesses from time to time. But it may be worth it, to build a strong immune system that will serve your child for life, the natural way.

I'm not saying all vaccinations are bad, but certainly the mainstream media view that they are all good, is NOT the case.

And in case you weren't aware, there has been a growing trend of late of lawmakers granting immunity to vaccine manufacturers. What does this mean? It means that the makers of vaccines are immune to lawsuits caused by their products! This sounds pretty scary to me.... If there's no consequence if a vaccine proves dangerous, what incentive does the manufacturer have to run long-term (and expensive) studies to be sure a vaccine is safe?  (See December 2011 issue of Alternatives, by Dr. David Williams.)

Yes, vaccines can save lives (and have, for many years), but just be aware of the potential side effects and possible long-term health problems that may result - while some vaccines have been around for many years and are well tested, many of the newer ones have not. I simply urge you to use discretion and don't jump on the bandwagon for every vaccine that comes along. (And see below for some educational resources on this topic.)

Vaccination Resources:

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Video - How to Make Tissue Paper Flowers

This is a great way to re-use tissue papers - I know when I get gifts, there's always tissue paper in the bag, and I hate to throw it away, so I end up with lots of balls of different colored tissue paper sitting around. Smooth them out flat, and use this crafty technique to create beautiful multi-colored flowers for decorating your eco-friendly party, or attaching to a gift, or make a bouquet of different colors and put them in a nice vase for a party favor or room decor! Use your creativity and you'll come up with other great ideas for using these, and create something beautiful out of paper that would otherwise be thrown away.

How To Make Tissue Paper Crafts : How To Make A Tissue Paper Flower
How to make a flower out of tissue paper, step-by-step instructions; learn this and more in this free arts and crafts video series taught by an expert Courtney Hester. Expert: Courtney Hester Bio: Courtney Hester has a degree in elementary education....

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How to Have a Green Valentine’s Day Party

This Valentine's Day, why not have a green party? Valentine's Day can be such a wasteful holiday, with all the mass-produced paper cards, cheap teddy bears, unhealthy chocolates, cut flowers, and all kinds of trinkets. Counteract the mass-produced junk with your own "green" Valentine's Day. Here are some ideas.

Delicate paper flowers in a vase. One pink, on...Image via Wikipedia1. Instead of cut flowers, make paper roses and flowers. Use scrap paper. Used tissue paper, colorful magazine and catalogue pictures (why not flower pictures?), and other scrap paper can be made into flowers. You can give these homemade flowers as favors and use them as centerpieces and decorations. (Check back Friday for a how-to video!)

2. If you do want fresh flowers at your party, consider getting cut flowers from a local florist. Or use live flowers in pots. These also would make good favors in addition to decorations.

3. Send electronic Valentine cards and invitations to your party, or make your own from recycled paper.

4. Chocolate is traditional Valentine's fare, but instead of getting mass-produced "chocolate flavored" candies at the store, think of "greener" chocolates. Make your own chocolate fudge using fair trade cocoa and sugar, for instance. Or buy organic chocolates. Another option is to find a local chocolate maker and buy from them.

5. Make your party glow with natural, red soy candles.

6. If you must have confetti or glitters for the tables, use a hole-punch (you can get heart-shaped ones, too) to cut out colorful scrap paper into decorative shapes. Used wrapping paper, old Christmas cards, and magazines are good choices.

7. Serve organic, locally-grown foods and hand-make as much of the food as possible. You can make many dishes ahead and freeze them to make it easier. The point is avoiding pre-packaged, mass-produced foods.

8. Use washable tableware on a washable tablecloth.

9. Rather than serving beverages in individual cans and bottles, serve from a punch bowl or other large container. Use washable cups.

Valentine's day countdownValentine's day countdown (Photo credit: Julie K in Taiwan)10. Cloth napkins are another green touch for your party. You can easily make your own or buy them for very little - and they should last a long time - saving you another type of "green" as well!

11. Encourage your guests to carpool to your party to save fuel.

12. Have recycling bins handy for recyclable items. Guests should be able to easily tell what the bins are for and be able to get to them without difficulty.

By following these simple tips, you can have an eco-friendly Valentine's Day party that will be fun for all, and that you and your guests can feel good about too!  (And of course you can apply many of these tips to other holiday parties as well.)
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Monday, February 6, 2012

Healthy & Holistic Valentine’s Day Ideas

The term "holistic" (or "wholistic") refers to the integrated interaction between the functioning parts of a whole. Valentine's Day is a wonderful time to embrace this concept - heart, mind, and body. Here are some ideas for a holistic Valentine's Day - one that's healthy for you AND the planet!

1. Go to a natural holistic spa for a treatment, or buy such a treatment for your significant other. You could also go to a holistic spa together. At a holistic spa, you will receive a massage of some sort - some spas offer Swedish massages or other specialties. Some spas offer beauty treatments and other pampering, romantic treatments.

This image was selected as a picture of the we...Image via Wikipedia2. Organic chocolate is holistic and appropriate for this romantic holiday. Consider raw chocolate "nibs" or prepared organic chocolates.

3. Prepare a romantic meal for two with local, organic food. A holistic philosophy embraces humanity's connection to nature, and organic food, with its respect for natural methods and the environment, supports that idea.

4. Candles help set the mood on Valentine's Day, whether it's for a special meal or just time together. In keeping with the holistic theme, use soy candles that are more environmentally responsible and non-toxic.

5. Natural essential oils can help set the mood with pure scents that don't bring toxins into your home. Use these instead of artificially-scented candles or other synthetic smells.

6. Roses may be traditional gifts, but cut roses are rather wasteful. Give a live rose bush instead - the miniature, potted roses look very pretty and can be kept in a container or planted in the garden in the spring. Edible bouquets made of healthy fruit are another holistic option. And many people would like to receive a live plant as a gift - consider an indoor plant that will enhance air quality, or a tree seedling that can be planted in the spring.

7. Peaceful, romantic music is part of a holistic Valentine's celebration. Look for music that really sets the mood and encourages a natural, peaceful atmosphere.

8. Give your significant other some homemade beauty aids, like a salt scrub or flax seed hair gel (mix 1 tablespoon flax seeds with 1 cup water, microwave for 2 minutes, steep for at least an hour, then strain).

Anthropomorphic Valentine, circa 1950–1960Image via Wikipedia9. Speaking of homemade, make your own Valentine's treats that are healthy and holistic. Dip strawberries in organic chocolate, make homemade fudge with organic cocoa and natural sugar, or bake a special cake or cookies with whole, organic ingredients. Make your own pink icing with natural ingredients (cream cheese, egg whites, whipped cream, pureed strawberries, etc.) to make it more festive AND healthy.

10. Purchase Valentine's cards made from recycled paper, or make your own. Get creative and use scrap paper, or make your own paper from old newspapers that have been shredded, soaked, and blended into pulp.

11. Have an eco-friendly Valentine's Day party - check back Wednesday for some great ideas on this!
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Friday, February 3, 2012

Video - Immune-Boosting Foods

Keeping your immune system strong and healthy throughout the year is the best way to keep from getting sick, even when those around you are full of the sniffles and sneezes. We talk a lot here about ways to get healthy and how eating good, clean, fresh organic foods can really help keep your body healthy and toxin-free. But what should you eat, and what should you avoid?

Here are some suggestions from a holistic nutritionist for a few specific ways to get your body in balance and create a strong immune system this winter:

What to eat to fight a COLD and FLU
Holistic Nutritionist Wencke Von Mulhenberg talks with our host Peter Bedard about how to build your immune system and fight a cold or flu using food.

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For more information on holistic wellness, visit

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Superfoods for Fighting the Flu

Breakouts of the flu are responsible for millions of lost hours at both work and home each year, not to mention many miserable days trying to recover. If you’re wondering what you can do to naturally boost your immunity and prepare your body’s defenses, study the foods you’re eating, look at your family’s meals, and make the changes needed to ensure everyone is eating a well-balanced diet abundant in nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables (preferably organic), low-fat proteins, and complex carbohydrates.

Ambersweet oranges, a new cold-resistant orang...Image via WikipediaBlack currants are even richer in vitamin C than oranges, containing approximately three times the recommended daily intake for adults. It’s imperative that you get plenty of vitamin C since it helps prevent infections and helps keep the immune system healthy.

Pork has high levels of zinc and selenium, both of which help keep your immune system strong. It’s also one of the best sources of B vitamins and contains only a little more total fat than beef. So be sure to include a few pork entrees in your menu planning (but watch the source - commercially farmed pigs can be raised in really disgusting environments - and what they eat, you eat! For best health, choose free-range, naturally raised pork).

Mix up your morning breakfast with a glass of grapefruit juice instead of orange juice for a vitamin C-rich drink that's both sweet and tart. However, you should check with your doctor if you're on certain medications for blood pressure, AIDS, anxiety, or hay fever, as mixing grapefruit juice with certain drugs can lead to dangerous toxicity.

Brussel sprouts are a great vegetable source of vitamin C, are high in fiber and contain lots of folate as well. They improve anticarcinogenic glucosinolates, which have important cancer-fighting properties. They’re a great addition in a stew to provide lots of flu-busting nutrients.

Yogurt that includes live cultures has a positive effect on your GI tract, and as a result, helps the body purge the germs more quickly and effectively and fight the flu. You want your yogurt to contain the active culture L. acidophilus, which is also helpful in fighting off yeast infections.

English: Different potato varieties. – The pot...Image via WikipediaPotatoes are one of the most affordable sources of vitamin C, and nicely complement any entrée with their high levels of potassium and fiber. The skin contains the most fiber and the flesh just under the skin contains the most vitamin C. Fresh potatoes are the best source of vitamin C. Be careful of how you choose to prepare them, as soaking them in water robs them of their germ-busting vitamin C.

Whole wheat pasta is also rich in niacin, fiber, and iron. Its complex carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet that will keep your immune system strong. Simply substitute recipes calling for traditional pasta with the whole wheat variety instead for a delicious and nutritious twist on your favorite pasta dishes.

But remember, an ounce prevention is worth a pound of cure! The best way to "fight" the flu this year is not to get it at all. Be sure to eat plenty of the foods above to build up a strong and healthy immune system, take some good immune-boosting supplements such as Vitamins C and D, get regular exercise and sleep, and above all, wash your hands a lot! (Recent studies have shown frequent hand-washing to be as effective as a flu shot!)

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