Friday, June 29, 2012

How Eating Raw Triggers Detoxification

Cleaning is an every-day part of our lives. If we’re not cleaning the house, we’re doing laundry, cleaning the car, cleaning out the garage or attic, or clearing our desk of the never-ending piles of bills, junk mail, and coupons we accumulate. For the computer-savvy, cleaning is even an every day process in order to maintain an optimally-running, reliable and safe system. We even clean the outside of our bodies in some form or fashion on a daily basis, from showering to teeth brushing.

So, if cleaning is such a healthy part of our every day lives, logic would dictate we should do the same for the inside of our body as well, right??

Anterior view of the abdominal region. Skin is...
Anterior view of the abdominal region. Skin is translucent in order to see the lymphatic system (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Detoxification and tissue cleansing is the process of purging environmental and chemical toxins from your body. Such toxins can disrupt every system in your body. If our body is polluted with such toxins, its own detoxification system – namely the liver, lungs, skin, kidneys and lymphatic system – cannot work properly, and these unruly poisons set up shop in every cell of our body, and soon begin to wreak havoc with our physical, mental and emotional well-being. (For more on toxic load and and how to minimize its impact on your health, visit

These contaminants can create such problems as lethargy, foggy thinking, unhealthy skin, decreased vision, mood swings, and digestive disorders. However, by adopting a healthier and cleaner lifestyle, including eating healthy raw foods, our body can conduct its own ‘spring cleaning.’ And contrary to what most might think, raw foods are actually more easily digestible than cooked foods are.

Eating raw foods also enables the digestive system to ‘clean house’ and begin the process of purging the dangerous environmental and chemical toxins from the cells of the body, thereby restoring the systems to their optimal states. In addition, since raw foods are so nutrient-dense, they also simultaneously provide the body with much-needed and missed nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs in order to continually perform optimally on an ongoing basis.

Whether you choose to continue on a raw food diet long-term is up to you, but it's great for cleansing and purging toxins from your body on a short term basis as well.
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why Go Raw? (Or Why Your Body Is Overweight and Undernourished)

Because cooking takes so many nutrients and vitamins out of food, you automatically start feeding your body what it needs when you stop cooking food and start eating uncooked, nutrient-rich foods. A raw carrot has exponentially more nutrition than a cooked carrot.

Blood flow visualization
Blood flow visualization (Photo credit: Argonne National Laboratory)
Cooking also alters the chemistry of foods, often making them harder to digest. Why do we have so many digestive problems in this country? Because we’re putting foods into our bodies in a form that we weren’t designed to absorb. High-fiber, high-water-content fresh produce helps alleviate constipation of the bowels, cells and circulatory system. Obstructions are cleared and blood flow increases to each and every cell in the body. 

Enhanced blood flow is significant for two reasons: as mentioned above, blood delivers nutrients and oxygen to living cells, and carries away their toxic metabolites.

Obesity is endemic in this country. The diet industry is more profitable than the oil companies. Why? Because the way we eat and prepare our food practically guarantees that we’ll overeat. Psychologists tell us that we overeat because our souls are hungry. But in reality, our bodies are hungry, even though we may feel full. When you start giving your body the nutrients it craves, overeating will cease.

Eating raw foods is a boost to your metabolism as well. It takes a little more energy to digest raw foods, but it’s a healthy process. Rather than spending energy to rid itself of toxins produced by cooking food, the body uses its energy to feed every cell, sending vitamins, fluids, enzymes and oxygen to make your body the efficient machine it was intended to be.

You’ll naturally stop overeating, because your body and brain will no longer be starving for the nutrients they need. A starving brain will trigger the thoughts that make you overeat. The brain and the rest of your body don’t need nearly the quantities we Americans feed them - instead, they need quality. 

Be sure to check back for the rest of this series and how eating raw naturally detoxifies your body, as well as some tasty raw food recipes!
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Monday, June 25, 2012

Why The Raw Food Diet Isn’t Really A Diet

I've been wanting to do a raw food series for a while. Eating raw can really be a great way to cleanse and detoxify your body in a way that is gentle and healthy, and it can even become a way of life if desired (which you may once you feel how good it makes you feel). I can't think of a better time to try going raw than in the summer - after all, who wants to slave over a hot stove when it's 90+ degree outside anyway? So that's why I'm doing a 2-week series on raw foodism, from benefits, to detoxification uses, to recipes - starting with today's post on why raw foodism is more a way of life than it is a diet, even though it can be used for "dieting" purposes (i.e. losing weight).

Our busy lives can sometimes make it difficult to stick to our dieting plans when we’re trying to lose weight. We’re either keeping track of our fat intake, our sugar intake, our carbohydrate intake, or our caloric intake. With all that counting, it’s no wonder most of us become discouraged and ‘fall off the dieting wagon.’ Add to that the surplus of convenient diet foods that are out there that are chock-full of preservatives and additives that we choose when we’re tired from a busy day and don’t have the energy or time to prepare a nutritious meal, and we’re headed down a wrong-way street trying to navigate our way through our weight-loss journey.

English: A close up of a fresh raw food dish
English: A close up of a fresh raw food dish (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Enter the raw foods lifestyle. Not only are raw foods full of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals our bodies need to perform optimally, they provide enzymes for proper digestion, and will also result in the purging of toxins and the cleansing of your body systems. 

The best part? You can eat as many fruits and vegetables as you like…and you will lose weight.

In addition, the natural high fiber content of most raw foods will help you feel fuller, thereby reducing your food intake. They’ll assist in turning up the thermostat in your body, helping to melt away that excess fat and nourishing your body’s cells to continue with the fat-burning process. 

Most raw foods are naturally low in calories, and obviously much lower in calories, fats, sugars, and carbohydrates than the dieting convenience foods we’d been reaching for in the past. Add the extra bonus of increased energy, regulated blood sugar and blood pressure levels, sharper vision and improved mental functionality, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t become a ‘raw foodie’ sooner! 

And, once you reach your weight loss goals, you’ll realize how healthy you’ve become in the process, and how good you feel, and the raw food lifestyle may just become a way of life.
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Video - How To Make Your Own Natural Perfume

Here is a short video of an actual class on making your own natural perfumes. This class gives a basic though somewhat technical overview of the different types of scent you will need to make your own perfume, and an understanding of top, middle, and base notes, and how to combine them into the proper balance. So check this out, and try making your own perfume - feel free to share your own recipes below! Making Natural Perfumes
Join Dorene Petersen, President of Australasian College of Health Sciences, as she introduces the easy and fun methods to create your own natural perfumes with essential oils. A free download of the class brochure is available at www.apothecary-shopp...

Essential Oils For Making Perfumes:
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Smell Good & Feel Good With Natural Essential Oils

If you want to use perfume without all the harmful chemicals we discussed on Monday, making your own is a great way to smell great, and also reap the benefits of various essential oils. Essential oils have been used for centuries to remedy a variety of ailments both physical and emotional.  Some, like peppermint oil are great for digestion while others like grapefruit are known for their fat burning properties.  However, the most common use for essential oils is to help induce a state of relaxation or calming, which is great when it comes to perfume - not only can you smell good, but your perfume may even help you relieve stress! 

Here are 4 essential calming oils and how to use them.

Essential Oils Box
Essential Oils Box (Photo credit: luxomedia)
Rose Oil

Rose oil has several uses including being used as an antidepressant, anti-wrinkle, to treat chronic bronchitis and asthma and to help improve sexual potency.  It’s also used to induce calming and relaxation.  And is said to be able to heal emotions and trauma by bringing warmth to the heart and soul.

It’s often blended with other calming oils to produce an all encompassing calming effect and blends well with Patchouli, Cedarwood Oil, Bergamot, Sandalwood, Chamomile, and Ylang-Ylang.   You can place it in a lotion and apply directly to your skin. You can place rose oil in massage oils or bath products.  You can also place in a diffuser and enjoy the scent in a room that you find calming.  Say your bathroom, bedroom or study.

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil may be the most common essential oil using for relaxation.  You can find it in the grocery store isles in lotions, bath gels, shampoo and even candles.  Lavender is everywhere.  In addition to being wonderful for relaxing and calming, lavender oil can be uses as an analgesic, diuretic, styptic, rheumatism, muscle pain, depression, headaches, hypertension, insomnia, stress and skin diseases.
Like Rose Oil, you can combine it in a number of personal care products including perfume, put a few drops in your bathtub, or place it in a diffuser and enjoy it throughout your home.

Jasmine Oil

Jasmine has a most recognizable fragrance and is commonly used as an aphrodisiac, to treat headaches, for fatigue, to soothe coughs, to improve and tone skin and to calm menstrual issues.  Jasmine is also tremendous oil for calming. 

While jasmine oil is more expensive than just about any other essential oil, it is very powerful oil.  To use you can blend into personal care products like bath gels, massage oils and lotions or you can place a few drops of jasmine oil in a vaporizer and let it permeate your home.

Jasmine oil blends well with Bergamot, Rose, Sandalwood and Citrus oils.

English: Glass vial containing Roman Chamomile...
English: Glass vial containing Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) Essential Oil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Chamomile Oil

Chamomile oil, both Roman and German, are wonderful for their calming and relaxing properties.  They also help with treating PMS and other menstrual and menopausal problems and to heal and regenerate tissue. 

Many practitioners recommend using Chamomile to treat irritable children and colicky infants.  To use, blend in massage oil, place a few drops in the bath, blend into lotions and creams and place a few drops in a vaporizer or diffuser.

To create a powerful relaxing effect you can blend Chamomile with jasmine, lavender or rose oil. 

Essential oils have many wonderful properties. By combining a few of these, you can create your own signature scent which leaves you feeling happy, calm and peaceful - and without putting a whole bunch of nasty chemicals on your skin. You can also use them in diffusers in your home, to make your whole house smell and feel good. Try making a few of your own signature scents using these calming oils, and feel free to share your favorite recipe below!

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Is Your Perfume Toxic? Avoid These Common Chemicals

You may not realize that perfumes and colognes contain many chemicals, some of which may affect your health. Those who have chemical sensitivities and/or allergies often find that perfume will bring on symptoms - which can range from mild allergic symptoms such as congestion or sneezing, to more serious symptoms such as wheezing, rash, or difficulty breathing. Following is a list of some of the common chemicals found in perfumes and the health concerns linked to them.

Shelves of perfumes: a closed cabinet, to keep...
Shelves of perfumes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Benzaldehyde is used in many cleaning products and cosmetics such as deodorant, lotion, shaving cream, and shampoo.  It is said to depress the central nervous system and cause irritation in the respiratory and digestive tracts. Some studies suggest it may even cause kidney damage.

* Acetone, the chemical found in nail polish remover, is also in many perfumes. The US Environmental Agency (EPA) lists acetone as a hazardous waste(!). Breathing acetone can have a profound effect on the nervous system, causing dizziness, sleepiness, slurred speech, and possibly even coma in extreme cases.

* Benzyl alcohol is found in perfume, air freshener, deodorant, and fabric softener (to name a few). It can affect the respiratory tract and the central nervous system, causing headache, nausea, and respiratory irritation and even failure.

* Methylene chloride is a perfume ingredient that was banned by the FDA in the late 80s, but some claim the law is impossible to enforce. The problem with this chemical is that it is stored in body fat (many chemicals are fat soluble) where it is metabolized by the body into carbon monoxide. This can lead to symptoms of oxygen deprivation, such as headache, fatigue, and tingling in the extremities.

* Limonene is found in a lot of cleaning products as well as perfumes. It is considered carcinogenic, and is a skin and eye irritant. Inhaling the vapor of limonene is considered dangerous.

* Ethanol is also found in perfumes, as well as a host of other products. In fact, ethanol is in so many products that it's hard to believe it's on the EPA's hazardous waste list - from colognes to makeup, facial cleansers, toilet bowl and shower cleaners, and more. Whether ingested or inhaled, ethanol can cause blurred vision, drowsiness, and disorders of the central nervous system.

These are only a few of the toxic chemicals found in perfumes. If you are concerned about the possible health effects of perfume but still want to apply some sort of scent, consider making your own scented spritzer or oil, or buy a commercially-prepared, non-toxic scent - several companies now make non-toxic perfumes. (For help finding non-toxic beauty products, visit

To make your own scent, mix a few drops of the essential oil of your choice with an ounce of rubbing alcohol and 2 ounces of water. Put in a small spray bottle and use as a spray-on scent. You can also blend essential oils into a neutral carrier oil such as sesame oil that can be rubbed on the skin.

Natural Perfumes & Information On Making Your Own:
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Friday, June 15, 2012

Video - Natural Mosquito Repellent Options

Here's a great short video covering a wide variety of natural methods for repelling and controlling mosquitoes in  your garden, and on your family!  From sprays that you apply to your skin, to natural products you can use in your garden, or even plants you can grow that help repel mosquitoes from the area. You don't need to spray yourself or your environment with harmful chemicals to get rid of mosquitoes - there are lots of natural options out there - and this video shows you quite a few good ones to try. (Links to a few of these can be found below the video.)

John Dromgoole mosquitoes: Central Texas Gardener
Repel mosquitoes in the garden or on you with John Dromgooles tips for natural control. Along with organic products, he shows how to make your own topical mosquito repellent. Then, ornament the garden or patio with mosquito-repellent plants like scen...

Natural Mosquito Repellents: 
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Do You Have West Nile? Identifying West Nile Virus Symptoms

You may have heard a lot about the West Nile virus a few years back. It is still around, but what do you really know about it? Here are some facts to clear up the picture a bit, and help you identify symptoms you might expect if you've been exposed.

What Is the West Nile Virus?

NIAID-west-Nile (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. These mosquitoes carry the virus. At first, this condition was linked to people who had traveled abroad and were exposed in other countries but since we first heard about it, cases of the West Nile virus have been reported across the entire United States.

The mosquitoes pick up the virus from biting infected bird species. Once the virus is in their bodies, they can infect humans. The condition cannot be passed directly from animal to human without this intermediary host. And, it can’t be passed from one person to another just by hugging, kissing or any other physical contact.

Your risk increases greatly in certain situations. Exposure is greater in spring and summer months when mosquitoes flourish. Also, traveling abroad to humid climates or places where cases have been reported ups your risk. The greatest risk factor is simply being outdoors at these times - but don't worry, there are plenty of ways to lessen your risk - see Monday's post for a few preventative measures.

Symptoms of the West Nile Virus

Thankfully, the potential for fatalities from West Nile is low. The risk of serious complication increases with age and a compromised immune system. Usually, those who have contracted the West Nile virus can recover on their own given time.

How will you know that you have been exposed? Well, any mosquito bite can potentially be from an infected mosquito. If there are recent reports of cases in your area, that risk just went up.

Here are some common symptoms that you may encounter:

* Fever
* Headaches
* Body aches
* Fatigue

English: The proboscis of an Aedes albopictus ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
These also sound like garden variety symptoms that can occur with the flu. Only a doctor can correctly diagnose you as having come in contact with an infected mosquito. Some people who are exposed are asymptomatic. They can become infected and the virus runs its course without any significant change to their health.

In a few cases other symptoms can present themselves. They include skin rashes, eye pain and even swollen lymph glands. Again, these symptoms usually pass without anything more occurring.

If you do notice that your symptoms are accompanied by worsening symptoms and additional ones like partial paralysis, confusion and stiff neck, see your doctor right away. You could fall into the less than one percent of people who develop neurological complications. An infection in the brain can lead to encephalitis, meningitis or meningoencephalitis.

West Nile virus is contracted from infected mosquitoes that pass the virus from birds to humans. It is not usually fatal and can be treated with over-the-counter medications for the symptoms - or just with rest, time, and plenty of fluids.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

West Nile Virus: How to Stay Safe in the Woods This Summer

You know what they say about an ounce of prevention! Rather than taking the approach of mainstream medicine to simply alleviating symptoms, true health comes from preventing the illness in the first place. West Nile is a great example of an illness that is definitely preventable, without resorting to drugs or chemicals. This week we are sharing a couple of articles on the topic so you can read up on this virus, and some ways to prevent it and keep your family healthy this summer.

This is an Aedes albopictus female mosquito ob...
Under experimental conditions the Aedes albopictus mosquito, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, has been found to be a vector of West Nile virus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The West Nile virus is passed from animal to people through mosquitoes. Cases have been reported all across the United States. Summer is a time for camping, hiking and having fun outdoors - but with that comes some risks to be aware of. It has been a while since we first began hearing about the West Nile virus. The initial panic surrounding the condition is mostly over by now, but the exposure threat is still there.

Here are a few facts about the condition. Firstly, the West Nile virus is not passed from human to human or human to animal directly. So, if a person has been diagnosed with it, they can’t affect you unless you are bitten by the same mosquito that bit them.

Also, the condition is not normally fatal. You will feel bad much like you have the flu in some cases, but the symptoms can be treated. Some people might not know that they even had this virus to begin with.

In rare cases, exposure can lead to more serious symptoms. Older people or those who are immune-compromised are at risk for complications if bitten by an infected mosquito.

Protecting Yourself

Whether your risk is great or small, it doesn’t hurt to protect yourself by taking a few preventative measures.

* Wear long pants and/or socks in the woods – Light-colored breathable fabrics can keep you cool in the warm months. When hiking, camping or bike riding they can also cover any exposed skin to reduce the number of places that a mosquito has to feed on you. They will hit your clothing first, giving you time to swat them before they bite you. (Do keep in mind that for some reason, mosquitoes are attracted to the color white, so you may want to avoid this one and stick with pastels.)

* Wear mosquito repellent – There are several different kinds on the market. This includes wet sprays, dry sprays and even insect repellent lotions. Whatever fits the bill for your activity, use it. Be sure to choose natural products with natural ingredients to avoid putting harmful chemicals on your skin (or breathing them in if you use a spray) - see below for a few suggestions. Don’t forget to reapply as needed for the time you will be spending outdoors.

* Avoid standing water – Whether around your home or in the woods, stagnant water can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Try to wait until it is drier instead of hiking or exploring the woods after a heavy rain.

* Use mosquito netting for kids – If you live near or in the woods, mosquito netting over playpens can protect kids from exposure when outdoors. Netted tents or gazebos can protect everyone who is spending time outdoors.

West Nile virus is not usually fatal but you can become sick if bitten by an infected mosquito. To enjoy your time outdoors this summer, take a few preventative measures like those above to stay safe. (Think you might be infected? Check back for Wednesday's post on how to identify symptoms of the virus.)

Natural Mosquito Repellents: 
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Friday, June 8, 2012

Superfoods for Relief from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The main indications of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are overall general physical and mental weariness. There are many different causes of tiredness. Just because you’re frequently tired doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got CFS. The condition must persist for more than six consecutive months and include other symptoms such as memory loss, sore throat, headaches and muscle/joint pain without swelling or redness.

Though there are several potential causes for CFS, the main reason for all fatigue is most likely to be poor nutrition. Other causes could be faulty digestion, food allergies, obesity, sleep problems, tension or depression. Smoking, alcohol and drugs are also contributing factors.

English: Green, yellow and red bell peppers fr...
English: Green, yellow and red bell peppers from the capsicum annuum plant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The main symptoms of CFS are physical and mental fatigue. It can be so severe that people are unable to participate fully in normal, everyday activities. Even getting plenty of rest doesn’t seem to make any difference for most sufferers. While some drugs are now available for this condition, most have harmful side effects, and are simply not a viable option for long-term use - at least if you want a long and healthy life. But, with basic lifestyle changes and a diet rich in whole food nutrients, almost anyone can help prevent or even reverse these symptoms.

The first step would be to switch to a more wholesome diet that consists mainly of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, red and green bell peppers, cabbage, and spinach are all full of vitamin C, which helps promote a healthy immune system. Zinc does the same. Red meat, fortified whole grain cereals, peanuts and whole-milk dairy products are all good food sources of zinc.

Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
And, for protein, focus on fish high in omega-3 oils and lean poultry, since they are loaded with essential fatty acids (EFAs) which help improve circulation and oxygen uptake with proper red blood cell flexibility and function. It’s imperative to get EFAs from your dietary choices, as the body cannot manufacture them. EFA deficiencies are linked to diminished mental capacities and immune function.

Other things that will help include decreasing stress and getting plenty of good quality rest and regular moderate exercise. Drink lots of pure, clean water, and avoid sweets, caffeine, sodas, processed and salty foods. Set obtainable goals and think positively. 

Hopefully with these tips, you'll soon see an improvement in symptoms. But hang in there - it could take several  months for these lifestyle changes to take effect. Remember if you've been feeding your body junk and processed foods for years, it's going to take some time to get back to a healthy norm. (A gentle detox diet, like the Total Wellness Cleanse, can be a great place to start, and get you back on track to health.)

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Say Goodbye to Stress With These Superfoods

Life has a way of getting the best of us some days. Whether it’s working too many hours, shuffling your kids all over town for their activities, taking care of your household, or dealing with personal or family matters, stress can take its toll on you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. But there are simple steps you can take to combat stress, starting with the foods you eat.

Beets and asparagus on a plate.
Beets and asparagus on a plate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Avoiding caffeine and alcohol is a good start when life’s particularly stressful. Stimulants and depressants like these can both zap your energy and rob you of the fuel you need to successfully cope with tension. Sugary foods should also be avoided as well, as they cause your blood sugar levels to spike then dip rapidly, which can in turn make your energy levels spike and dip at the same rate.

However, there are a number of superfoods that can provide you with the energy and nutrition your body needs to keep stress in check.

Asparagus, which is high in folic acid, can help level out your moods. Folic acid and vitamin B are key players in producing serotonin, a chemical that gets you into a good mood.

And though we may hear negative things regarding red meat, it’s actually a wise dinner option for a stressed-out family. Beef’s high levels of iron, zinc and B vitamins not only help get you into a good mood, but help you stay there as well. Your local butcher can help you select lean cuts for the healthiest options

Almonds are also an awesome choice when it comes to arming yourself against stress. They’re high in magnesium, zinc, as well as vitamins B2, C, and E and unsaturated fats, all which are great warriors against free radicals, which have been shown to cause cancers and heart disease. Many other nuts, such as walnuts, cashews, and Brazil nuts are also very helpful, and provide your brain with much needed Omega-3 fatty acids, which help calm stress and have other positive effects as well.

And here's my favorite - sushi! If you like sushi, it's a great stress-relieving food. Fresh fish, along with nutrient-packed Nori (seaweed), provide lots of Omega-3's, vitamins, and other minerals. When combined with the fresh and spicy flavors of wasabi, soy sauce, and other fresh vegetables, sushi provides a fun, tasty departure from that "same old" food, and can leave you feeling refreshed, energized, and relaxed.

Try some of these foods today, and say sayonara to your stress - naturally!
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Monday, June 4, 2012

Got Insomnia? Try These Foods That Help You Sleep

This week was one of my most miserable in a while - mainly because for some reason I found myself suddenly unable to sleep more than 4 or 5 hours per night, and not very deeply at that. Due to lack of rest, I then came down with the worst cold I've had in years (and still couldn't sleep). I refuse to take sleep medications - in general they are very unhealthy - although I did resort to NyQuil a few nights, which helped only moderately. Thankfully I seem to have returned to normal sleep patterns by now, and my cold is quickly on the way out.

Mmmmm... Tryptophan!
Mmmmm... Tryptophan! (Photo credit: The Rocketeer)
I can personally attest that people with insomnia will try most anything to get to sleep.  The endless tossing and turning can be agonizing, but many sleep aid drugs are highly addictive, and may have other negative side effects. There are some natural supplements that can be helpful, but next time you just can’t seem to sleep, why not try opening the refrigerator for relief first instead of the medicine cabinet.

While we tend to overlook it, we all know that food can make us sleepy.  After eating a big turkey dinner, it’s hard to do anything but lie down and take a nap.  This is because of a chemical you’ve probably heard a lot about in recent years: tryptophan.  So what exactly is tryptophan?  It actually allows your body to produce an amino acid called L-Tryptophan.  This amino acid is essential in the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin.  These help slow down the nerve traffic in your brain, relax you, and allow you to think less and sleep more. 

While you’ve already felt the relaxing powers turkey has, you probably aren’t too happy about the prospect of eating turkey before bed every single night.  Well, the good news is that turkey isn’t the only source of tryptophan.  This chemical is found in dairy products, soy, meat (especially poultry), nuts, fish, beans, eggs, hummus and most other high-protein foods.  Eating a small amount of these foods shortly before bed time can help you sleep soundly.

The problem with many of the foods that contain tryptophan is that they also contain an amino acid called tyrosine.  This produces chemicals that perk you up and make you more energized.  Eaten alone, these acids will counteract each other produce no significant effects in either direction.  The key to getting rest is to eat other foods that will allow you to utilize the tryptophan and not the tyrosine.  Excellent foods for accomplishing this effect are carbohydrates.  They encourage your body to produce insulin which “ties up” the tyrosine and allows the tryptophan to reach the brain without competition.  Just be sure to avoid large amounts of carbs and simple sugars.  This can lead to the production of too much insulin; causing you to wake up not long after you’ve fallen asleep.

English: A Sleeping moon in a cap.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Another way to get the full benefit of tryptophan is to eat foods that will increase your brain’s absorption of this amino acid.  The best way to do this is with calcium.  And we already learned that dairy products are a great source of tryptophan.  This is why our mothers often gave us a warm glass of milk at night to help us rest; because it works.

So, if you just can’t seem to settle down and get to sleep, try a late night meal containing nature’s sleeping pill: tryptophan.  Just remember not too eat too much at night or you’ll likely wake up a few hours later.  The most effective plan is to have a moderately sized dinner and a small snack containing protein and complex carbs an hour or two before bed.  If you eat the right foods at bedtime, you’ll bed drifting off to dreamland in no time - without having to resort to harmful drugs.

And if stress is what's keeping you awake, be sure to check back Wednesday for some superfoods that help reduce stress!

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Video - Eco-Friendly Craft Project - Cereal Box Picture Frames

Here is a fun little craft project for a rainy summer day when the kids are home from school. This one's also good for you scrap-bookers and other crafty types! Turn old cereal boxes and used wrapping paper or old newspapers into unique works of art, and then put pictures in them. It's pretty simple, and you or your kids can embellish the frames with all kinds of neat objects - feathers, leaves, dried flowers, or ribbons and charms as shown in the video.  Get out all your old pictures you've been meaning to frame someday, and have some fun with this one....

Cereal Box Picture Frames: Eco-Friendly Crafts I love eco-friendly crafts where I get to upcycle things that would normally go in the trash. Here I transform old cereal boxes into beautiful picture frames.

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