Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Should You Do a Cleanse?

The New Year is often a great time to undertake a good cleansing program - especially after all the rich and sugary foods of the holiday season. With so many cleansing diets and supplements out there, it is easy to wonder what all the fuss is about.  Does the body really need cleansing, and if so, why?  To clear up some of the confusion, here are a few FAQs about cleansing and detoxing to help you decide if it's right for you:

1. What does a detox cleanse do?
Organs of the digestive system
Organs of the digestive system (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Cleansing generally refers to the digestive tract, but the ultimate intention of a cleanse is to bring health to the whole body.
  • The digestive organs are responsible for filtering toxins and other harmful substances out of the bloodstream.  Giving these organs a rest helps them to heal and do their job more effectively.
  • By ceasing to take in chemicals or other toxins, the body has a chance to rid itself of them, and will do a better job of filtering once the cleanse is completed.
2. Which organs are involved in a detoxification, and why do they need it?
  • The primary organs involved in everyday body detoxification are the colon, liver, and kidneys, but many other organs, such as the skin, lungs, and more are also involved.  
  • In our modern age, these organs are faced with a daily onslaught of chemicals, from pesticides on food and clothing to industrial pollution and food additives (such as preservatives, colors, or artificial flavors).
  • Unfortunately, such foreign substances are often stored, usually in fatty tissue or in the liver, as the body does not know what to do with them.  A continual replenishment of the toxins from our daily exposure means that these organs never get any "down" time.
  • Some health experts believe that the toxins build up in the system, causing a wide range of unpleasant but vague symptoms.  Still others note the "mucoid plaque" build-up in the intestines, claiming its presence as a cause for all sorts of disease.
Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe
Healthy foods can help the body detox. (Photo credit: epSos.de)
3. How does a detox diet or cleanse work?
  • A cleanse gives the body a chance to release these toxins. It frees up the colon, liver and kidneys from the daily assault of toxins ingested with foods and alcohol.  Cleanses usually result in some weight loss, so the toxins stored in the fatty tissue are flushed from the body.
  • Fasting is a usually component of all cleansing, whether it is targeted toward the kidneys, colon, or liver.
4. Are supplements used when doing a cleanse?
  • Sometimes, supplements are used to augment the cleanse.  Psyllium husks and bentonite clay are popular detoxification supplements that act as bulk laxatives, and are said to bind to poisons in the body as they move along the digestive tract.  
  • Some people take probiotics while undergoing a cleanse, in order to re-populate the colon with friendly, helpful bacteria that may be lacking due to toxic build-up, or previous use of antibiotics.
  •  Supplements aren't always necessary during a cleanse, but can often be helpful.
In summary, doing a cleanse can be one way to detoxify your body of accumulated toxins.  Those who undergo cleanses claim they have renewed energy and focus, and feel healthier, so it may be something that you want to try this year.

Our favorite cleanse program doesn't involve any supplements or weird juice diets - it focuses on feeding your body whole, natural, clean foods that give it the tools to detoxify gently and safely. Check out The Total Wellness Cleanse for more information.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Five Eco-Crafts For the Kids

Christmas may be over (already!), but Christmas break is not. If the cold winter is keeping you all cooped up inside, why not occupy busy little minds and hands with a few fun crafts projects? Savvy parents know you can turn just about anything into a craft project.  With a little paint, paper towel tubes can become swords or caterpillars.  Shoeboxes can become dollhouses or a little red fire engine.  Why not use everyday throwaway items and turn rainy or snowy afternoons into crafty afternoons?  Here are five eco-crafts the kids can have some fun with during the winter break:  

#1.  Jazzed up origami.  Origami, the Japanese art of folding paper, teaches children to have patience and follow directions, and they can make some pretty amazing projects.  A collection of old magazines or used Christmas wrapping paper can become a star mobile or a lantern or mobile they can hang in their bedroom. You can find lots of fun books full of origami projects online or at your local library. This was one of my favorite hobbies as a kid!

Milk carton
Milk carton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#2.  A milk carton birdhouse.  You’ll need a clean and dry cardboard milk carton, white glue, tempera or other non-toxic paint, twine, and scissors. 

Glue the top of the carton shut.  Paint carton with paint and let dry.  Cut a 2-inch hole about 4 inches up from the bottom of the container.  This is the bird’s entryway. 

Poke a hole through the top of the feeder, string a piece of twine through the hole and hang your feeder on a tree. Place a bit of birdseed inside container to attract birds.

#3.  Use old socks to make neck warmers.  Fill a ski sock or other large sock with buckwheat and dried lavender.  Sew up the end of the sock and you have a neck warmer.  Pop it in the microwave to heat the buckwheat to soothe sore neck muscles and enjoy the aromatherapy.  Pop the sock into the freezer and place on your neck to use during warm days or to place on injuries to reduce swelling.

#4.  Collect small metal items - cans, bottle caps, bobby pins, buttons, and square spice or other food containers and have your children make their own robots!  You can also use mismatched silverware for their arms.  Plastic lids work well for heads.  You’ll need a good craft glue that can bind metal to metal and plastic to metal.  Old screws, bolts, electrical wire and nuts will add to your child’s imagination.

A glue gun. Picture by Luke Surl I hearby rele...
A glue gun. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#5.  Old jeans also make a variety of fun projects including a book bag or a notebook cover.  Adults can do the large sewing jobs or for smaller projects, children can sew by hand.  A notebook cover needs to be measured for size, making sure to leave enough overlap that the cover can be closed, cut and hemmed on all sides.  A button fastener can be attached to keep the cover closed. 

Book bags can be made by cutting the seat of the jeans off mid-thigh, cutting through the place where the legs join and then sewing front and back together.  A handle can be created to carry the bag or a zipper can be sewn in the waistband. 

There are literally a thousand craft options to make good use of things you  have lying around the house, or were planning to throw away.  These are just a few ideas to get you started.  Get creative, and have some fun with it!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Finding Eco-Friendly Christmas Decoration Ideas

Decorations can cause a lot of waste during the holiday season every year. Although many of us have decorations that we re-use every year, many stores are now stocking cheap, plastic decorations that wear out quickly and don't do anything to help the environment. Why not think about what kind of eco-friendly decorations you could use instead?

Natural Christmas Wreath
Natural Christmas Wreath (Photo credit: **Mary**)
Decorate With Nature

If you're in the market for new eco-friendly decorations then one of the best places to find them is outdoors. There are plenty natural items that you can use to decorate your home. And once Christmas is over, you can leave them to biodegrade naturally.

1. Pinecones: You'll often find these on the ground during the winter, so gather some for free - and without harming any trees in the process - and glue them to wreaths or other Christmas decorations.

2. Leaves: What better way to make your home look like Christmas than by using a variety of winter leaves? Ivy is just perfect for decorations: combine it with twigs and holly and you can create the perfect, homemade wreath.

3. Berries and Nuts: We all associate nuts and berries with Christmas, and thankfully nature provides them for free. If you can, gather some acorns and holly berries to add to your decorations this year.

One of the best things about using natural, eco friendly decorations is that it encourages you to get outside and experience the real beauty of winter. Not only this, but you can turn it into a project for the whole family to enjoy together.

Recycled Paper

If you and your kids like to make your own Christmas decorations, then using recycled paper can be a great way to go about it. Paper chains are a simple way to decorate the home, or you can use old paper scraps or even old cards or gift wrap to create snowflakes and more!

Christmas Tree & Lights

Christmas decoration at the Christmas Market i...
Christmas decoration at the Christmas Market in Aachen, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Choosing trees that can be planted outside after Christmas is the most eco-friendly choice, and LED lights are the most energy saving way to light them. For ornaments, try making your own from recycled materials (old CDs, cardboard, fabrics and more), or even pretty food items like brightly colored dried peppers, popcorn, or cranberries, and add some organic, fair trade candy, too!

The key to using eco friendly Christmas decorations is to use natural, biodegradable materials wherever possible. When you do buy decorations, make sure that they are good quality and will be reused for years to come. And, if you have old decorations you no longer want, try donating them to ensure they still get some use instead of going into a landfill.

Have a wonderful, healthy, happy, and green Christmas!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Green Christmas Presents Also Mean Green Gift Wrapping & Cards

Green Christmas presents aren't just about what you choose to give as a gift - it's also important to think about wrapping paper and even the greetings cards you're sending out. Christmas cards are a fantastic way to get in touch with people who you may not have spoken to for a while, and are perfect for sending good wishes to family and friends. However, the numbers quickly add up, and most of us will end up using huge amounts of card for these yearly greetings. There are ways in which you can minimize the environmental impact of the cards you send, and the gifts you wrap.

Make Your Own Cards

If you're really feeling creative then why not try making your own cards from recycled materials? You can use parts of old greetings cards, or scraps of card, to put together cards that are personal and fun. This is an especially good idea if you've got kids who enjoy arts and crafts!

You can also go digital and design your own cards on the computer. This can be another fun project for you or the kids and is an easy way to send out cards without wasting any paper at all! Save the paper cards for only your closest friends and family and you'll be helping to save a lot of trees this Christmas.

Wrapping Gifts

Traditional Japanese wrapping cloth,furoshiki,...
Traditional Japanese wrapping cloth. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A lot of gift wrap is difficult to recycle, especially since it gets torn up and thrown out with other trash! Try not to add to this waste by using recycled materials to wrap your green Christmas presents, such as old newspapers, magazines, old brown paper bags, pretty reusable cloth, or wrapping that you've saved from previous years. Most people won't mind you wrapping in this way - in fact, you can usually make it look unique and creative with a little effort! If you still want to buy wrapping paper, many stores now sell recycled wrapping options.

After Christmas

Once Christmas is over you'll likely be left with a huge number of Christmas cards that no longer have any use. It's important that you recycle cards as much as possible - whether this means re-using them for your kids' craft projects, or dropping them off at local stores who include a Christmas card recycling point.

Although these are easier to recycle, you should also try to save as many envelopes as you can when receiving cards. When it comes time to send cards again, you can reuse the better quality envelopes by using special “reuse labels” to cover up old details. This is a habit you can continue throughout the year, too!

You can also recycle or reuse holiday gift wrap. When unwrapping gifts, try to do it carefully rather than tearing it open and you can save it and use it again. This is the perfect way to turn the presents you receive into more green Christmas presents next year!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Green Gift Ideas for Everyone This Christmas

Gifts are a huge part of Christmas and, as such, coming up with green gift ideas can have a huge impact on your carbon emissions every year. You really aren't limited in this area: there are literally hundreds of possible eco-friendly gifts you could choose for family and friends this year.

Here are a few quick green gift ideas to get you started:

Fair Trade
Fair Trade (Photo credit: flydown)
* When you buy wooden gifts, ensure that the wood is taken from a sustainable source,
* Gifts made from recycled waste materials (such as recycled metals or plastic) are a good choice,
* When buying beauty products, opt for organic products wherever you can,
* Buy gifts that encourage people to grow food, such as a starter kit for kitchen herbs,
* Instead of cut flowers, choose potted flowers and plants.

Fair Trade Gifts

Buying fair trade is an ethical choice for Christmas gifts, and any other products you may usually buy. The fair trade system ensures that the producers of the products, all around the world, are treated fairly in their prices and business practices. Although fair trade gifts are not the same as eco-friendly gifts, they are a great way to ensure you're doing something good with your money. Make sure you look for the fair trade logo when buying your presents.

Baked Gifts

If you're short on cash or ideas, then why not bake some gifts for Christmas this year? If you choose organic, local ingredients then your cooking will not only be more eco-friendly, it'll also be healthier for anyone who eats it. What's more, this is a fantastic personalized Christmas gift choice!

English: Burger Trailer The East of England Sh...
Shopping locally helps the environment and the community. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Local Gifts

Whether you're buying food or other products, buying items that were produced locally can help to reduce their environmental impact. Not only this, but you'll be doing your part to help out businesses and individuals in your community.

The Gift Of Time

Not all the gifts you can give have to be physical products. Why not give someone your time? Perhaps you know someone who needs help redecorating their home, or clearing out the weeds in their garden this winter?

You can also buy loved ones activities such as a day out, pampering in a day spa, a meal in a restaurant and much more. These green gift ideas don't need wrapping, but they provide a fun experience the recipient will never forget!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Video: Making Stress Your Friend

Here is another awesome TED talk (I could watch these things all day!) - this one is about an important topic for most Americans - one that can seriously impact our health and well-being. This time of year, with holiday shopping, travel, and other preparations looming, stress often takes center stage in our lives.

But this doesn't have to be as bad as it sounds. As this video explains, the way we view stress actually is what makes it so unhealthy!

Check it out to learn how and why, and what you can do to make those inevitable moments of stress much less costly to your health and your peace of mind:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Why Some Stress Is Good for You

It seems like we hear the phrase “stressed out” more and more every day.  With all the new technologies we have, we are constantly bombarded with stressors that basically overload our systems.  And around the holidays is often the worst in terms of stress! With not enough relaxation, this kind of lifestyle can lead to high blood pressure and a whole slew of other health problems. 

Space-filling model of the cortisol molecule, ...
Space-filling model of the cortisol molecule, a steroid hormone that controls the body's response to stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It may seem difficult to believe when we're completely bombarded with stressors, but the stress reaction originally came about as a beneficial response.  Early man developed what we call the “flight or fight” instinct in response to stressors.  If a person is faced with a stressor, they produce a hormone called adrenaline which helps them either run away from danger or fight back against an attack.  For longer term stressors, our body produces a hormone called cortisol, which acts the same but lasts much longer. 

You've probably hear a lot about how bad stress is for your health, but even in today's busy world, stress is still a beneficial and sometimes vital part of our lives.  Imagine you’re walking down the street and a car comes barreling towards you.  Immediately your body triggers a stress response, releases adrenaline, and leaves you pumped and ready to jump out of the way of the car.  If not for stress, our reactions would remain slow and we sometimes wouldn’t be able to get out of dangerous situations fast enough.

While too much stress can keep you from accomplishing your goals, small amounts of stress help us accomplish what we need to.  Just take the example of the average college student.  They may have all semester to get a paper done, but they’re often just finishing up the night before. Then the stress response takes over at the last minute.  At this point the body produces cortisol, which helps the student handle the stressful situation and get the paper done.  If not for this kind of stress, we might not get much done.  Let’s face it, stress is one of the greatest motivators there is. 

Spc. Kay Izumihara, an Occupational therapist ...
Spc. Kay Izumihara, an Occupational therapist with the JTF-GTMO combat stress team. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The real difference between good stress, also called eustress, and "bad" stress, is what we do with the stressors we face.  If you’re stressed about a looming deadline, try to put a positive spin on it.  Think “this is making me energized to get my work done well” rather than worrying that it’s just too soon and you just can’t get it done.  Let stress motivate you, not worry you - it is much healthier to think of it this way.

Because of our busy, hectic lives, it’s almost inevitable that we’ll eventually let the stress get to us.  While cortisol release is good in the short term, in the long term, it causes serious health problems.  When you feel you’re starting to stress out, it’s important to take steps to relive the stress instead of just stewing.  By relaxing ourselves, we stop releasing cortisol and produce calming hormones.  Try Yoga, meditation, or aerobic exercise.  This will help you relieve the stress instead of letting it worry you.

While you can’t stop all the stress, you can live a better life by dealing with stress in a healthy manner. For more on this, be sure to check back Thursday for a fascinating video on how the way you view stress impacts your health!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, December 5, 2013

How Aromatherapy Can Improve Concentration & Mental Clarity

By now, most of us have probably heard about the benefits of aromatherapy for relaxation.  It seems like there are hundreds of scents you can choose from if you want to unwind at the end of a long day.  Aromatherapy works quickly and effectively because, unlike other senses, scent is connected directly to your brain.  Since you already know aromatherapy works great to relax, why not try it when you need to concentrate?  Aromatherapy can be used to turn your brain back on, perk you up, and sharpen your thought process.  Imagine the work you can get done with that extra invigorating boost!

When it comes to concentration, there are many scents to choose from.  There are minty, fruity, and fresh smells that can help.  This means that you’ll be sure to find one you actually think smells good.  Here are just some of the options available:

* Lemon
* Mango- this can also help to improve concentration by easing symptoms of depression.
* Pine- this helps to increase energy levels as well as concentration.
* Apple- this can also give you an extra energy boost.
* Rosemary-this scent promotes relaxation and alertness at the same time.
* Peppermint- this has always been recommended to improve alertness for long study sessions
* Eucalyptus- this is similar to peppermint, and can be used to provide a slightly different scent.

If you want to use aromatherapy to help you concentrate, there are several options for helping the scent reach your nose.

Aromatic candle
Aromatic candle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Aromatherapy candles.  These are an easy and simple way to help spread your favorite invigorating scents throughout the house.  They are slightly less concentrated, but they still get the job done.  Just buy the scents you want and light them whenever you’re studying or just need a mental boost.  Just remember that candle smoke pollutes your indoor air so make sure you have a filter in your vents, and use candles with natural ingredients such as soy and essential oils instead of paraffin wax and synthetic fragrances if possible. 

* Humidifier.  Simply find the oil form of the fragrance you want, put a few drops in your room humidifier and let it work.  As the water gets put into the air, the oil gets taken with.  When the droplets evaporate, the room is filled with your favorite refreshing sent.  They also make devices now that use water to disperse scent and clean your air at the same time.

* Rub on oil.  Instead of using the oil in your humidifier, just rub it onto your chest or under your nose.  It works like VapoRub by sending invigorating vapors right up to your nose.  Just be careful, many essential oils are quite strong and may irritate the skin, so you’ll want to mix a few drops with a mild, gentle carrier oil such as light sesame or almond oil.

If you want to study, concentrate more on work, or just feel energized and alert at the end of a long day, try one of these fantastic aromatherapy scents, and see how much more focused you feel!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

5 Healthy Uses for Peppermint Oil

One happy side effect of the high cost of today's medical system is that it’s becoming more common for people to skip potentially dangerous prescription and over the counter drugs for natural alternatives that work with your body to help it heal.  The great thing about many of these natural products is that they can be beneficial for more than one problem.  A great example is peppermint oil.  It has been used to help with many different health issues. Plus, nothing says holidays like the scent of peppermint - bringing back memories of candy canes, minty hot cocoa, and more! Get in the spirit of the holiday season, and stay healthy this winter, with these 5 helpful tips for using peppermint oil.  (Remember, as with any essential oil, if you’re applying the oil directly, it’s best to dilute it in a neutral carrier oil before you apply.)* 

Mentha x piperita: Flowers and leaves.
Mentha x piperita: Flowers and leaves. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1. Digestive aid
The most common use of peppermint oil is aiding in digestion.  It helps promote the production of digestive juices, so you can use it on a regular basis to help your body - and it can especially be useful during the holiday season of overeating!  It also can be used to offer relief from digestive problems such as heartburn, nausea, gas, cramps, and even a spastic colon.  You can use peppermint oil when you experience symptoms, but it can also be used to prevent symptoms if you have a chronic condition like irritable bowel syndrome. 

2. Cold and flu 
Peppermint oil has several properties that can help with your cold and flu symptoms, along with other illnesses.  Peppermint oil is an expectorant, helping break up chest congestion. Rub some on your chest before bedtime to help relieve coughs, instead of over-the-counter creams containing harsh chemical ingredients. It has also been used to reduce fever, soothe scratchy throats and, get rid of headaches.  It’s a great natural alternative to over-the-counter medications that may contain alcohol or other unwanted ingredients.

3. Mental capabilities
Rubbing a dab of peppermint oil on your temples can help wake you up and improve your concentration and memory.  This is great when studying for or taking tests, or any other time you need to be alert and mentally clear.  It’s a great way to give brain a little boost without having to rely on coffee.  This can also be beneficial to help you feel better when you feel faint or dizzy.

4. Asthma
Peppermint oil contains menthol.  This is the substance used in many conventional medications that can help clear up any breathing difficulties.  The vapors produced from peppermint oil can clear out a stuffy nose, help with coughing, and even help stop an asthma attack (although you shouldn’t stop conventional treatment). Dab some under your nose to help with nasal congestion, or add a drop or two to a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam. 

Peppermint tea
Fresh peppermint tea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
5. Heart Problems
Peppermint oil has been used to help reduce heart palpitations.  It is also used to make the heart beat better and improve circulation throughout the body.  This can help ease several problems related with circulation difficulties.  Peppermint oil keeps your blood pumping strong. 

In addition to peppermint oil, you may also find some benefit from peppermint tea.  You can even put a few drops of peppermint oil in water for a different, but effective peppermint drink.  If you’re applying the oil directly, it’s best to dilute it in a carrier oil, such as almond oil, before you apply. 

Peppermint oil and tea are wonderful natural cure-alls that are great to have around the house.*

* Information provided is for informational/educational purposes only, and should not be acted upon without first consulting a qualified health professional.

Buy Peppermint Oil: 
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Your Gifts Make a Difference This Holiday Season

When the holidays come around it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  You want to show your appreciation to your clients and business associates, but the commercialism and potential for waste can leave you with a sense of guilt.  There’s a solution!  You can give gifts that make a difference in the world. 

Giving gifts that make a difference is a great way to not only feel good about what you’re giving, but also to spread awareness for your cause and potentially earn more respect in the eyes of your associates and clients. 

Here are just a few ideas on how to make a difference with holiday gifts - keep these in mind for Black Friday tomorrow, and the rest of your holiday shopping this year!

WFTO Fair Trade Organization Mark
WFTO Fair Trade Organization Mark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Give Fair Trade Gifts

Fair trade is a global initiative that works to ensure all people, artisans, farmers and locally-owned businesses around the world are treated fairly. That means pricing and production are fair as well as environmentally sustainable.  Fair trade products are labeled by the Fair Trade organization and can include items like:

* Coffee
* Chocolate
* Wine
* Artwork
* Textiles and things made from textiles including bags, blankets and so on

Give Recycled Gifts

No, we don’t mean re-gifting!  Recycled gifts are gifts made from recycled materials.  Some examples include:

* Desk accessories
* Bags, totes and portfolios
* Artwork

Give Environmentally-Conscious Gifts

Many products are now created with the environment in mind, for example solar lights, bags and accessories.  Plants are also a great environmentally-conscious gift to give, or shares in a farm or CSA program.

Christmas gifts.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Give Gifts that Give Back

If you have a charity that you strongly believe in or a cause you promote, sometimes giving a gift that supports that cause or charity is a great way to share your passion.  Additionally, if your client or business associate is passionate about something, then contributing to that charity or participating in the cause may also be a great way to give a gift that makes a difference.

Giving a gift that makes a difference is a little more complicated than simply ordering a bunch of pens from the local marketing business.  However, you’ll feel good about your efforts and you’ll make a great impression.  Spend a little time, thought, and effort this holiday season and find a gift that makes everyone feel good! 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

5 Tips For An Eco-Concious Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of the most celebrated holidays in the United States.  Food, family and fun - it doesn’t get much better than that!  Well, actually it can get better than that.  You can have that same food, family and fun while also having a positive, or at least a neutral, effect on the environment.  Here are five tips to have an eco-conscious Thanksgiving:

English: Oven roasted turkey, common fare for ...
Oven roasted turkey is common fare for Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#1.  If turkey is on your menu, and for many families it’s just not Thanksgiving without a turkey, then consider buying a free-range, organic turkey.  These healthy birds are better for the environment because raising them doesn’t put harmful pesticides into the environment.  And they don’t contain any added hormones or other items which can be bad for the environment and your health.

#2.  Buy whole foods.  This means you buy foods that aren’t prepared already and sitting in a box or package at the store.  This is an environmentally-conscious way to celebrate because you’re not putting all the packaging into landfills. 

Additionally, processed foods are less healthy for you, contribute to emissions, and take tremendous energy to make.  If you buy organic, whole foods then you’re also ensuring that no harmful chemicals were used to grow your food.  If you buy locally grown foods then you’re also contributing to your local economy.  And the food didn’t have to travel thousands of miles, and use natural resources, to get to your table. It's a win-win all around!

#3.  Use your own dishes.  When serving a large group of people it’s tempting to use paper or disposable dishware.  Even serving dishes are sometimes easier if they’re made from aluminum or plastic.  However, this material goes right into landfills.  Instead, use your own dishes and recruit everyone to help clean up. With many helping hands, it'll be done in a jiffy.

English: Photo showing some of the aspects of ...
Thanksgiving day dinner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#4.  Stay within 100 miles from home.  Many people travel great distances to be with family on this holiday.  However, that mass travel is harmful on the environment, contributing to global emissions.  If you can stay closer to home then you’re saving natural resources.  One solution, if everyone is spread out, is to create a new tradition – perhaps get together with friends nearby or volunteer to help others on this special day. Family is important, but so is taking care of the planet so that your descendants can enjoy it as well!

#5.  Decorate naturally.  Autumn is a beautiful time of the year and nature provides some amazing decorations.  Pine cones, leaves, dried flowers and vines make wonderful holiday decorations.  Skip the paper and plastic ones and enjoy what nature provides.

Being eco-conscious on Thanksgiving is as easy as following the basic principles of reduce, reuse and recycle.  Stay close to home, take advantage of your local resources and shop for whole, organic, and locally grown foods.  Happy Thanksgiving!!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Think Zinc: Why Your Body Needs It for Good Health

The body is a complex machine that needs lots of different nutrients to perform its daily functions. One of those nutrients is zinc. You may only think of it in relation to keeping you from getting sunburned, but it serves an even greater purpose than that.

Why should we be thinking about zinc? It is an important mineral in the body. Each day, the body performs thousands of reactions that can happen in the blink of an eye. From the foods we eat, the body filters out what it needs and directs it to the right places for use. What we don’t need is eliminated as waste. Each day the process begins again.

The Importance of Zinc

English: Zinc
Zinc supplements. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the body, zinc is responsible for helping with hundreds of reactions in a variety of cells. For one, it plays a very important role in immune function. Zinc is instrumental in stimulating the formation of T-lymphocytes or helper T-cells. These are the white blood cells that rush to the sight of an invading infection to stop the onslaught on the body. It plays a role in wound healing as well.

Zinc stimulates enzyme activity. Enzymes are catalysts for hundreds of reactions, from secreting hormones from glands to stimulating the creation of reproductive cells.

It supports normal growth and development throughout your life. In the womb, it helps to ensure that the neurological systems develop as they should during each trimester of pregnancy. After birth it still functions to support brain development.

Basically the body couldn’t do without zinc and yet, many people are deficient in this mineral. It may not be noticed at first, but over time it can show up in decreased immunity or greater susceptibility to colds and other illnesses. You often see people taking Echinacea and zinc as natural remedies to fight these conditions.

Foodstuff containing zinc
Foods containing zinc. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Foods that Contain Zinc

The best way to get zinc into your system is through your food. This is always a preferable choice to supplements as it is the natural form of the mineral, and is more easily absorbed and utilized by the body. Check your diet. If you are not eating any of these foods, you could be zinc-deficient.

* Oysters
* Wheat germ
* Bran
* Cheese
* Beef
* Lamb
* Other dairy products
* Walnuts

The highest concentrations of zinc come from beef. Eating a few servings a week can boost your zinc levels. On a daily note, try adding nuts or cheese to your dishes. Wheat germ can be added to cereals and yogurt without changing the taste much. If that doesn’t do it, try fortified cereals that contain added zinc.

The average person over the age of fourteen needs eight to eleven milligrams a day. Children need between two and five milligrams depending on age, and pregnant women need eleven or more milligrams.

Zinc is an important mineral used in every cell in the body. Make sure you are getting enough to keep your body healthy and free of illness this winter.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How Stress Affects your Immune System

This time of year is when colds and flu start to run rampant. The decreasing daylight and Vitamin D levels, plus being stuck inside where germs can accumulate and circulate, make fall and winter the hardest seasons on your immune system. But there are things you can do to help keep your immune function high this winter. Eating right, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and taking supplements when needed can all help you stay healthy this winter. But one of the most detrimental things for your immune system is also one of the things we often ignore or don't think about when trying remedies to boost immunity.

Have you ever noticed that you tend to get sick more often when you’re stressed out?  Scientists have noticed this connection for a long time, but until recently they couldn’t explain it.  While a big project at work or the loss of a loved one isn’t going to give you the flu, it can decrease the functioning of your immune system and make you more susceptible to colds, the flu and other infections. 

It may surprise you, but very short term stress actually boosts the immune system.  Increased immune functioning is associated with the “fight or flight” response related to short term stress you know will end.  This is because our body is still trying to adapt to beat the stressor.  The problem with this is that a majority of our stress is continual over a long period of time - and this is where things get dicey and a number of health problems can result.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.
Regions of the brain affected by stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Long term stress is what actually decreases our immune functioning.  The worst kind of stress is not only long-term, but stress we think we can’t control or see an end to.  For example, while meeting a deadline at work may cause a decrease in our immune functioning; it’s probably not as bad as stress caused by a debilitating accident.  When we think the stressor is beyond our control and may never stop, our body feels it can’t cope with the stress and it begins to take its toll.  This kind of stress causes a drop in almost all immune functioning. 

For regular, long term stressors, the decrease in immune functioning becomes greater with time.  This means even if you feel you are in a position of control, long-term stress such as a job with high levels of responsibility and not enough help, can build up and gradually decrease your disease-fighting abilities.

Another important factor to consider when looking at the immune system and stress is that the decrease in immune system functioning is greater for people who are elderly or already sick.  This is likely why older people who are severely injured or have recently lost a loved one are much more likely to die within a year than those who haven’t had these circumstances. 

You may think, “Well, I’ll drop my stress level and I’ll be fine”.  However, studies have show that traumatic events can stick with us and affect our immune system long after the stressor is gone.  If a person was in an accident, was attacked, or experienced a traumatic loss, they can show decreased immunity even years later.  The best way to increase immunity in this case is to undergo treatment for the trauma. 

In addition to causing a decrease in immune system functioning, stress can also make you more susceptible to other long term diseases, such as cardiovascular disease.  If you want to maintain a healthy body, you should include activities and a proper diet that promote a less stressful lifestyle.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Using Natural Autumn Scents to Reduce Stress

Stress seems to be an all too common theme in today’s households - there’s simply no way to completely avoid it. After a busy summer, you may be looking forward to a chance to slow down and recuperate a bit. Tapping into your sense of smell using natural ingredients instead of bringing chemicals into your home is a great way to reduce stress.

Apple pie
Apple pie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
How often does a certain smell bring back fond memories of a place or time; the smell of warm baked cookies or a scent that reminds you of a loving home? The science of using scents to promote good health is called aromatherapy and it’s a much safer option than using caffeine or drugs. Here are some autumn scents to you reduce stress.

Cinnamon – With the temperatures dropping, you may think more about baking. One scent that is often used in fall baking is cinnamon. The smell of a fresh baked apple pie does more than get your mouth watering. Cinnamon has been proven in scientific studies to improve attention and memory.

Peppermint – Along with cinnamon, peppermint is another aroma that has been proven to increase alertness. It helps maintain mental performance when doing the same activity for a long period of time. Peppermint has also been shown to reduce road rage and therefore may be good to keep in your vehicle if you travel a lot.

English: Two types of vanilla extract
Vanilla extract (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Vanilla – Another baking scent that is believed to relieve stress is vanilla. Pour a little vanilla extract into a small pan filled with water. Place it on the stove and allow it to simmer for a while. The scent of vanilla will spread throughout the home leaving everyone a little less stressed. Keep an eye on the water level to ensure it doesn’t go dry.

Lavender – One of the most often used scents in aromatherapy, particularly to handle stress, is lavender. This is due to the relaxing properties in the essential oil. Lavender can be used as an additive to bathwater, used dry in bowls on end tables and even spritzed on sheets for a restful night’s sleep.

Sandalwood – Sandalwood oil has a long history of being used as a traditional medicine. Its sweet, rich woody smell is known for reducing stress and soothing the mind and body. While sandalwood can be found in many products such as cosmetics and perfumes, a few drops of this great smelling essential oil can instill a sense of peace like nothing else.

One of the great things about these scents is you can create your own massage oil. Simply add a drop or two of the essential oil into non-scented carrying oil such as almond oil. Gently shake the bottle to blend and then set it aside in a cool, dark place until you’re ready for a massage. What could be better than a soothing scent and a nice massage?

And of course, as we discussed Tuesday, the smell of fresh air in the fall is not only healthy, but is also a great stress reliever!  Get outside and smell the lovely autumn leaves, the scent of the rain, and the health-giving freshness of the fall air.

It is amazing how scents can affect us. When you’re feeling stressed and need to relax, consider using one of these common natural scents during the fall or any time of the year.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why You Need Fresh Air Daily

In today's technological world, most people spend a lot of time indoors every day - especially during the colder months. Kids spend at least six hours a day in school. Many adults spend at least eight hours inside of the buildings where they work. We spend all night in our homes: eating, playing, and sleeping. When do we take the time to enjoy the “great outdoors”? Fresh air is highly underrated - and highly important for your health. Getting out of doors on a regular basis can improve one’s health and sense of well-being.

The air that we breathe on the inside is not as fresh as we need it to be. Dust is a fact of every day life. It collects on every surface. As we try to get rid of it, the dust swirls around us and makes its way into our respiratory system via nose and mouth. In your homes, if you cook and occasionally burn a meal or two, those fumes get inhaled also. We need a break from the indoor air. Companies try to sell us products to clean our home or office air, but really there is just no substitute for fresh air.

Especially oxygen
Get fresh air even in winter! (Photo credit: tonynetone)
Fresh air cleans our lungs. Especially when it's cold outside, we may cough a bit at first as our lungs are getting rid of the impurities and toxins that we suck up on a weekly basis. But, after a while we’ll begin to breathe deeper and deeper which brings more oxygen to our cells, which helps them cleanse and detoxify. The increased oxygen also brings with it increased energy to do the things we need to do. More oxygen brings greater clarity to the brain, which needs twenty percent of our body’s oxygen to function. We can think better than we could before.

Exercises performed outdoors in fresh air offer increased aerobic benefits. More clean air in, helps improve our breathing technique. Better technique increases stamina. More oxygen to the muscles reduces that lactic acid build-up in the muscles which leads to cramping.

Fresh air cannot be found everywhere outdoors. In large cities where factories operate day and night, spewing smoke and particles into the air, fresh, clean air is at a premium. For these people, getting out of the city and into nature as often as possible will bring their bodies the detoxifying and energizing benefits of fresh air.

The Fresh Air Fund
The Fresh Air Fund (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A program called The Fresh Air Fund was started in 1877 by a non-profit organization. Their goal was to introduce disadvantaged children living in the inner cities to the “great outdoors”. The program was started in New York to benefit the city’s youth. A man, by the name of Reverend Parsons asked his parishioners to volunteer to host inner city youth for a time away in the country. They agreed and The Fresh Air Fund was born. The program still flourishes today, offering a choice of five camps in upstate New York for the city’s children to enjoy time away and learn about country life. Look for a program like this in your area if you live in a large city, and get your kids involved.

Fresh air produces a healthy mind and body, cleaner lungs, and a calmer constitution when we actively breathe it. Getting outdoors should not be a chore, but a privilege. Enjoy the earth and get your dose of fresh air today!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Making Homemade Spa Treatments with Citrus Fruit

Citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit, offer a number of benefits for the skin.  The alpha hydroxyl acids naturally exfoliate our skin and citrus has astringent, antiseptic and detoxifying effects on the skin.  Additionally citrus scents can be relaxing and refreshing, leaving you feeling quite pampered.  Here are three homemade spa treatments with citrus fruit that you can do at home.

This image shows a whole and a cut lemon. It i...
Lemons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Relaxing Citrus Spa Bath

Grab two oranges and two lemons, dim the lights and if you choose, light a few beeswax or soy candles - it’s time to pamper yourself.  Slice the oranges and lemons into ¼ inch or smaller thick slices.  Run a warm bath and drop the slices into it just before you settle in for a refreshing and cleansing soak.

Citrus Mask

Combine one medium-sized papaya, the juice from one lemon, and a teaspoon of honey in a blender on low speed until you have a smooth cream or paste.  Transfer to a small container.  Wash your face and dry it.  Apply the mask, leave on for thirty minutes and rinse clean.  The natural fruit acids will exfoliate your skin and leave your face feeling smooth and radiant.

Milk Cleanser and Lemon Toner

In a small bowl, combine one teaspoon of powdered milk and one teaspoon of water, then mix until you have a smooth paste.  Apply to your face and neck.  Apply the mixture to your face in small massaging circles.  Rinse, dry and squeeze one small lemon into a clean container.  Apply lemon juice to a cotton ball and apply to your clean skin.  The lemon juice serves as the perfect toner to your clean, non-oily milk cleanser. 

Citrus/Almond Scrub

Scrubs are a great way to exfoliate dead skin from your face, elbows, knees and other rough areas of your skin.  The lemon juice and zest in this recipe adds a nice invigorating scent and helps exfoliate. 

You’ll need:
* 3 almonds
* The zest from 1 lemon
* 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
* 1 teaspoon honey

Return to Beauty the vook
Beauty mask ingredients (Photo credit: Vook tv)

Grab a clean coffee grinder or food processor and grind up your three almonds.  Zest a lemon and add that to the food processor or coffee grinder. Pour ground mixture into a small bowl and add lemon juice and honey.  Mix until combined and you have a lemony, yet coarse cream.  Apply the mixture to your clean and dry face, massaging in a circular motion to lift and remove dirt and dead skin.  Rinse clean with warm water.

Citrus is often used to lighten hair during the summer by taking advantage of a chemical reaction with the sun that lightens the hair.  It’s also used to exfoliate rough elbows and knees by simply halving a lemon and rubbing on the rough spots. 

Citrus, in short, offers a number of beauty benefits naturally.  It invigorates with its natural and appealing aroma and enhances any home beauty regimen. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Naturally Gentle Cures for Skin Problems

Every year, millions of dollars are spent trying to cure skin conditions like acne, eczema, and rosacea.  For many people, these conditions are simply embarrassing and often temporary, but they can also be painful, and for some never go away.

While doctors may treat your condition with pills and creams, they are often very expensive and even more often, they do little to help your issues - and sometimes their chemical ingredients can even irritate the skin and make things worse.  Before you try another expensive treatment, why not try treating your skin problems naturally. 

Acne vulgaris
Acne vulgaris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
While you may be skeptical, some of these treatments have been used for hundreds of years and cost a lot less than prescriptions.

There are many myths about skin issues involving food that just aren’t true.  Eating chocolate or other oily foods isn’t going to give you a breakout, but that doesn’t mean that diet isn’t a factor in the health of your skin.  We are what we eat, so if you want to look good, you have to eat right with a diet rich in nutrients, many of which can be found in fruits and vegetables.

One of the best natural cures doesn’t require you eating anything, or applying anything to your skin at all.  In fact, you may need to do the opposite.  Many skin problems like acne are actually allergic reactions to foods or skin creams.  You just need to figure out what you’re allergic to and avoid it and you’ll likely see your skin issues clear up quickly.

To determine if you have an allergy, you’ll need to keep a food and skin journal.  Record everything you eat, everything you put on your skin, and your skin symptoms.  After a few weeks you can review it.  You may notice that a specific food or product is triggering your symptoms.  While it might be hard to cut out a food, if it's something you're sensitive or allergic to, your body and your skin will thank you.

English: Food types likely to cause allergic r...
Food types likely to cause allergic reactions in adults. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
To keep skin healthy, it needs to be cleansed twice a day.  Using natural cleansers can help keep your pores clear without irritating them with harsh chemicals.  Many products claim to be natural, but really only contain a few natural ingredients.  You can look for certification seals on products, check the ingredients carefully, or simply use products you make yourself. (For guidance on purchasing natural skin care products, visit http://www.thenaturalproductdirectory.com/.)

For a great at-home blemish mask, try mixing a tablespoon of flour, ¼ teaspoon of orange peel powder, 1 tablespoon beaten yogurt, and 1 teaspoon of olive oil.  Apply and dry, just like a regular mask, then rinse with hot then cold water.  Other natural things shown to cut down on skin problems include tomatoes, watermelon juice, cucumber, and mint juice.

You may also find a detox diet beneficial for clearing up acne, eczema, and other skin issues.  Toxic chemicals from our food and other things we’re exposed to can build up in our system.  Your skin problems could simply be a reaction to these chemicals in your system.  To rid yourself of them, you can try a quick detox or simply switch to a diet with cleansing herbs and less processed food, such as the Total Wellness Cleanse.

Enhanced by Zemanta