Monday, May 22, 2017

17 Amazing Uses for Epsom Salt… Some You Won’t Believe

Epsom salt, which is not really a salt at all but a mineral compound comprised of magnesium and sulfate, gets its named from a saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England.

Epsom salt has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for a number of ailments, and also has many beauty, gardening and household uses.
Both magnesium and sulfate are readily absorbed into the skin, which makes their health benefits readily accessible. Over 325 enzymes in the body are regulated by magnesium, which also helps reduce inflammation, alleviates hardening of the arteries and improves muscle and nerve function. Sulfates improve the rate at which nutrients are absorbed and help to flush out toxins. Here are 17 of our favorite uses for this versatile compound – we hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
1. Soothe sore muscles
An Epsom salt bath is a great way to soothe sore muscles, cramps, bruises and joint pain. Because of this, it is a great after-workout soak. In addition, soaking in an Epsom salt bath is a wonderful way to relax and relieve stress. Add 2 cups of salts to a warm bath. Mix the salt in so it dissolves in the water. Soak for 10-15 minutes for best results.
2. Exfoliate skin
As we shed our skin naturally, the buildup of dead skin cells clogs pores and can cause blemishes. Exfoliation is necessary to keep skin healthy, glowing and vibrant. The best way to exfoliate with Epsom salts is to massage handfuls all over the body in the shower or bath. Your skin will feel soft and fresh with this homemade spa treatment.
3. Homemade hand wash
Mix ½ cup of baby oil with ½ cup of water, and add ¼ cup of Epsom salts and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Set this homemade mixture next to your sink for a nice bathroom hand wash.
4. Treat insect bites and poison ivy
A compress made with Epsom salts is a great way to treat mosquito bites, bee stings and poison ivy. Mix 2 tablespoons of salts with 1 cup of warm water. Soak a clean cloth in the mixture and hold on affected area to remove pain, burning and itching.
5. Clean your face
Your face need to be cleaned and exfoliated just like the rest of your body. Put a teaspoon of Epsom salts in your hand and mix with a little warm water. Scrub your face with the mixture then rinse clean. This facial cleaner not only exfoliates and rejuvenates but also helps remove blackheads and prevent acne.
6. Remove splinters
Splinters can be tricky and painful to remove. Skip the needles and soak your splintered skin in an Epsom salt bath. The salts will draw the splinter out and leave the area clean.
7. Lip balm
Dry, flakey, cracking lips are not only unsightly but also painful. Heal this uncomfortable condition with a homemade Epsom salt lip balm. Mix equal parts organic coconut oil and Epsom salts. Apply to lips generously to exfoliate and moisturize.
8. Tile cleaner
Bathroom and kitchen tile grime can be difficult to clean. Powerful tile cleaners are not only expensive, but also often contain harmful chemicals. Make your own hard-working natural Epsom salt tile scrub. Mix equal parts liquid dish soap with epsom salts. Scrub onto tiles with a sponge and rinse clean with water.
9. Insect killer
Mix ¼ cup of Epsom salts with 2 cups of water and place in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture around your home and garden to safely deter insects without the use of chemical insecticides.
10. Relieve constipation
Epsom salts are a great way to relieve constipation. Mix 2 teaspoons of Epsom salts in a glass of water. Drink entire cup for best results. If the taste is not appealing to you, try mixing with fresh juice instead.
11. Fertilize your lawn and plants
Epsom salts make a wonderful fertilizer for your lawn and potted plants. For greener grass, mix 1 cup of the salts for every gallon of water and spray over lawn area. To fertilize potted plants, simply sprinkle Epsom salts around the base of the plants once every week. This method of fertilizing also works great for tomatoes and other veggies.
12. Draw out toxins and reduce swelling
An Epsom salt bath is a wonderful way to draw toxins out of your body. Soaking in a bath for 10-15 minutes is also a great way to reduce swelling. Mix 1-2 cups of Epsom salts in a warm bath and mix to dissolve in water.
13. Boost your laundry
Epsom salts combined with a little essential oil makes a perfect fabric softener for your laundry. In addition, the salts will help remove detergent buildup from your washer. Mix 4 cups epsom salts with 20 drops of your favorite essential oil. Add ¼ cup to each load of laundry.

14. Kill foot fungus and remove odor Soaking your feet in Epsom salts not only reduces swelling and draws out toxins, but also zaps odors and foot fungus. Add ¼ cup to a large container of warm water. Soak feet for 10-15 minutes.
15. Sunburn treatment
Soaking in an Epsom salt bath is a great way to soothe skin irritated by sunburn. Mix 1 cup of salts in warm bath water. Mix to combine and soak in the bath for 10-15 minutes.
Epsom salt16. Hair conditioner
Epsom salts make a great deep conditioner to add volume and remove grease from your hair. Combine equal parts of organic hair conditioner and Epsom salts and apply liberally to hair. Let sit for 20 minutes, then rinse clean.
17. Soften your hands
You know that soaking your feet in epsom salts is healthy, but what about your hands? Soaking your hands is a great way to soothe rough skin, calm aching finger joints, remove nail polish and remove any dirt from under your nails. Add 1/4 cup of Epsom salts to a large bowl of warm water. Soak hands in mixture for 5-10 minutes.

45 Things To Do With Baking Soda

Oftentimes, the simplest things in life can be the most powerful. One example of this is baking soda. We don’t think much of that little box that sits in the pantry, but the stuff inside is potent and very versatile.
Baking soda is scientifically known as sodium bicarbonate. In nature, it is found as the mineral nahcolite, which exists in its pure form in the Green River Basin in Colorado.The main benefit of baking soda is that it neutralizes pH and helps keep things from becoming overly alkaline or overly acidic. This makes it great for a wide array of applications.
The following are 45 things you can do with baking soda… 45 of the many! Whenever you can, go with aluminum-free baking soda, especially when taking it internally.
1. Keep your fridge fresh. Put an open box of baking soda in your fridge to absorb moisture and odors. Replace the box with a new one every month.
2. Revolutionize your laundry. Add half a cup of baking soda to each load of laundry, along with a natural detergent, to enjoy the cleanest clothing and sheets ever.
3. Make a multipurpose floor cleaner. Mix half a cup of baking soda into a bucket of warm water, and use the mixture to mop your floors. You can also remove scuff marks from tile and laminate floors by putting a bit of baking soda on a damp sponge and gently scrubbing. Rinse floors by mopping with pure water when you’re done.
4. Put out a small fire. When you’re cooking, keep a box of baking soda close at hand. If a small fire erupts, get to a safe distance, and throw cups full of baking soda near the base of the fire. Of course, if the fire is too large or gets out of control, leave the house and call the fire department.
5. Clean the bathrooms. There’s no need for harsh tub and toilet bowl cleaners when you have baking soda. Mix baking soda, coarsely ground salt and natural liquid dish soap into a paste. Apply to tubs, sinks and toilets, let it sit a while, and scrub before rinsing.
6. Clean your dishwasher. To keep your dishwasher clean and smelling fresh, run a load of baking soda through it from time to time.
7. Keep your kitchen free of that garbage scent. Simply pour about a quarter of a cup of baking soda into the bottom of your garbage can to keep those smells from taking over.
8. Get cloth diapers extra clean. To clean cloth baby diapers, soak them in a mixture of about a quarter cup of baking soda to a quart of water before throwing them in the wash.
9. Keep germs off of your sponges. Soak sponges and cleaning rags in a mixture of about one quart of water and three to five tablespoons of baking soda for a couple of hours to get them nice and clean.
10. Deodorize carpets. Sprinkle some baking soda onto your carpets and rugs before vacuuming to get rid of funky smells.
11. Deodorize pet areas. You can sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of litter boxes, underneath the litter, to keep the smell from getting too nasty. You can also deodorize pet beds and areas by sprinkling a bit of baking soda onto them before vacuuming.
12. Clean up grease stains. If you have a grease stain on cement floors or your driveway, pour baking soda over the top before scrubbing. The baking soda will help soak up the grease.
13. Deodorize yourself. Instead of deodorant, rub a little bit of baking soda under your arms. Don’t use too much, to avoid powder on your shirt. Alternately, mix a sprinkle of baking soda with a little bit of coconut oil, and rub under your arms. This should keep you smelling fresh all day.
14. Amplify your shampoo. When you squeeze your favorite natural shampoo into your palm, add about half a teaspoon of baking soda to the mix. This will help remove residue and leave your hair feeling ultra-clean.
15. Degrease your hair between shampoos. No time to shower? Sprinkle a bit of baking soda into your hand and work through your hair, being careful not to get too much on your scalp. This will absorb oil and moisture, and keep your hair looking cleaner until your next shampoo.

16. Replace your mouthwash. Mix a teaspoon of baking soda into a cup of water, and use as a mouthwash to neutralize odors.
17. Whiten teeth. Make a paste using baking soda and water, and use it to brush your teeth. Afterwards, brush with a natural toothpaste, and rinse well. Note: Don’t do this for more than a week, and wait a few months between treatments, so that you don’t wear down your tooth enamel.
18. Clean your brushes and combs. This includes toothbrushes, hair combs and hair brushes. Simply soak overnight in a mixture of half baking soda, half water, and rinse thoroughly in the morning.
19. Remove fingernail stains. Mix equal parts baking soda and peroxide in a small bowl, and gently scrub your nails with the mixture using an old toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly. Over time, this should remove staining.
20. Soothe insect bites. Mix baking soda and water to make a paste, and apply to insect bites to reduce the itching and irritation.
21. Pack in a camping backpack. A baking soda and water paste can also help to soothe the sting of poison ivy, so make sure you bring a box next time you go camping or hiking.
22. Get rid of a splinter. Soak the affected area in a bowl of water with one tablespoon of baking soda. Doing this for a few days, twice a day, will help the splinter to naturally come out on its own, according to Dr. Axe.
23. Exfoliate your skin. Who needs expensive scrubs? Mix a bit of baking soda and water in your palms, and gently scrub your face using a circular motion. Rinse thoroughly. You can also put baking soda on a washcloth in the shower to exfoliate your entire body before you soap up.
24. Diffuse an acne flare up. Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply a bit directly to acne. This will help reduce redness and may help it to clear up faster, because the baking soda aids in drawing out bacteria and dirt.
25. Reduce bloating after meals. Combine half a cup of water, the juice of one fresh lemon and one teaspoon of baking soda in a cup. Stir, wait for fizz to subside a little and drink after a big meal to help relieve bloating and gas.
26. Relieve acid reflux. To help soothe the burn of acid reflux, add a quarter teaspoon of baking soda and two tablespoons of raw, organic apple cider vinegar into a glass of water and drink after meals.
27. Tone down gout pain. To help neutralize uric acid buildup, combine two tablespoons of freshly-squeezed lemon juice and a teaspoon of baking soda, and drink. 
28. Make a great foot soak. Relieve swollen, aching feet by mixing three or four teaspoons of baking soda into a tub of warm water. Soak and relax!
29. Soften your hands. Add a teaspoon or two of baking soda to a container of natural liquid hand soap, and use occasionally to exfoliate and soften the skin on your hands.

30. Take a luxurious bath. If your skin is feeling particularly oily, or if you’ve been exercising heavily, add about half a cup of baking soda to a warm bath, along with a few drops of your favorite essential oils, and soak. The baking soda will take care of that oil and sweat.
31. Scrub pots and pans. Add a sprinkle of baking soda to a damp sponge before scrubbing your pots and pans. It will help remove any char that may have accumulated, and get your cookware extra clean.
32. Banish drain odors. Got smelly drains? Baking soda to the rescue. Pour about half a cup of baking soda down the drain while water is running, or add some while you run your garbage disposal. Problem solved!
33. Polish the silver. Mix about three tablespoons of baking soda to one tablespoon of water, dip a clean cloth in the mixture, and use to polish silver plates, flatware, and vases. Rinse and dry when you are finished polishing.
34. Get scuff marks off of walls. Sprinkle some baking soda onto a clean, damp rag, and you’ll be able to get most anything off of your walls with a bit of elbow grease. Wipe the wall with a clean cloth or sponge when you are finished.
35. Get the dirt off of produce. When washing your fruits and vegetables, sprinkle a bit of baking soda onto a clean, wet washcloth, rub gently, then rinse thoroughly.
36. Keep ants out of your home. Sprinkle a bit of baking soda along the doors of your home, and any crevices that may be letting in ants. This helps to keep these critters at bay. Baking soda can help to repel cockroaches, as well.37. Polish your faucets. Add some baking soda to a damp sponge and use to polish your bathroom and kitchen faucets. Buff dry with a washcloth or clean rag, and enjoy the shine.
38. Clean your microwave. To get the grease and grime out of your microwave, simply wipe it down, inside and out, with a damp cloth sprinkled with baking soda.
39. Clean your coffee maker. Add a teaspoon of baking soda to a full pot of water, and run through your coffee maker to clean it. Follow up with a full pot of pure water to rinse.i
40. Get the smell out of your mugs. Do you have coffee mugs or teacups that have built up a bit of an odor from repeated use? Mix a quarter cup of baking soda with about a quart of warm water, and pour into affected cups and mugs. Soak overnight before washing and the smell should be gone. 41. Melt driveway ice. Out of road salt? Sprinkle some baking soda on your doorstep or walkway to melt the slippery stuff.
42. Clean your car. Instead of the wide array of chemical-laden car cleaning products, you can clean your car with baking soda instead. Mix about a quarter cup into about a quart of warm water, dip in a cleaning rag, and use to clean the interior of your car.
43. Rev up your metabolism. Add half a teaspoon of baking soda to a daily cup of organic green tea to help keep your body alkaline and encourage your body’s fat-burning processes.
44. Make a great pre-workout drink. Heat seven cups of coconut water in a pot over low heat. Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda into the coconut water. Add 1/2 teaspoon natural sea salt, 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, and 1/4 cup raw honey. Pour into a large jar and shake well. Drink before a workout to give you energy and help keep lactic acid at bay. You can store this mixture for a week in the fridge.
45. Recover after a workout. For a twist on the above-listed workout drink, simply mix together 4 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, and 1 tablespoon of fresh lime or lemon juice. This beverage can help to fight fatigue and help you recover faster.
Are there any other things you use baking soda for? Please let us know!
— Tanya Rakhmilevich

Never Eat These 11 Dry Cereals — Here’s Why

Like many people in the Baby Bust generation, I grew up on dry, boxed cereal. Sure, my mom would make bacon and eggs, waffles or even homemade donuts on weekends or other special occasions, but for the most part, we ate a vast array of sugar-coated and very tasty cereal with brightly colored boxes and even some cool toys.

Cereal was the very first processed food that was designed to make eating easier — not necessarily healthier. After all, cereal requires no preparation or cooking. Cereal made it possible for moms to feed her family and get ready for work herself. But at what cost?
Cereal has been referred to as the biggest success story of the modern food industry. Well-known author and speaker Michael Pollan says this, ” Breakfast cereals in many ways are the archetypal processed food product of modern capitalist food economics.”

Cereal advertising at its best (WORST)

Catchy, fun and oh so alluring, food manufacturers have never skimped on their budget when it comes to cereal ads. As a kid, I can remember choosing my weekly cereal solely on the advertisements.
Millions of dollars are spent annually on advertisements that not only aggressively target children but also convince adults that dry cereals are a healthy and economical food choice. There are contests, online games, celebrity endorsements and catchy jingles to draw us in. Of course, none of us have time, as the advertisers would like us to think, to prepare real food for our family. Why would we if there is a packaged wonder like dry cereal that can provide all of the nutrients we need to get our day started? If only this were true.
New York University (NYU) nutrition professor Marion Nestle summarizes the problem with so many of today’s boxed breakfast cereals: “Cereal companies have spent fortunes on convincing parents that a kid’s breakfast means cereal, and that sugary cereals are fun, benign, and all kids will eat… No public health agency has anywhere near the education budget equivalent to that spent on a single cereal. Kids should not be eating sugar for breakfast. They should be eating real food.”

What cereal really is

In reality, cereal is merely a smart packaging of some really cheap commodities like sugar and corn mixed with some even cheaper additives like artificial flavors and colors. Don’t be fooled! These highly processed food fakes have no real nutrients. Most are even sprayed with vitamins and minerals, and sometimes fortified with protein.
You may be familiar with attractive claims on cereal boxes stating such as “All Natural,” “Low Fat,” “Essential Vitamins,” “Good Source of Vitamin A” and more. Even these so-called “healthy” cereals are loaded with synthetic and even toxic additives that make them no more fit for a dog’s bowl than your breakfast table.

GMOs are a real threat

Dry cereal likely contains GMOs and unhealthy additives
Dry cereal likely contains GMOs and unhealthy additives.
Not only are boxed cereals loaded with unhealthy additives, they are often made from genetically modified (GMO) ingredients. According to Consumer Reports, “There is global scientific agreement that genetic engineering has the potential to introduce allergens and toxins in food crops, to change the nutritional value, and to create other unintended changes that may affect human health.”
According to the USDA, the following represents a total percentage of genetically modified cotton, soybean, sugar beet, canola and corn crops grown in the U.S.
  • Cotton (for cottonseed oil): 94 percent
  • Soybeans: 93 percent
  • Sugar Beets: 90 percent
  • Canola: 88 percent
  • Corn: 88 percent
What’s worse, some food manufacturers even acknowledge that they use genetically modified ingredients.

General Mills

General Mills makes this claim on their website: “Because U.S. farmers use GM seed to grow certain crops, 70 percent of foods on U.S. grocery store shelves likely contain GMO ingredients. As a result, if an American food or beverage product lists corn, soy, canola, cottonseed or beet sugar as an ingredient, and if it’s not organic, it likely contains GMOs.”
Note: As of February 2015,  General Mills has spent over $3.6 million to fight GMO labeling initiatives in the U.S.


In February of 2015, representatives from Quaker representatives sent this email to Food Babe regarding GMO’s:
“We do not require or exclude the use of these ingredients, so we don’t require our suppliers to provide this information. As a result, we cannot give you a definitive yes or no answer. That said, we’re glad for the chance to provide some clarification about genetically modified ingredients. When it comes to safety, the FDA has determined that foods developed through this process are no different than foods developed by traditional plant breeding. And in fact they conclude that these Genetically Modified foods don’t differ from other foods in any meaningful way. Finally, all of our products (worldwide) comply with all applicable food laws and labeling requirements.
Note: As of February 2015, Quaker’s parent company, Pepsico, has spent over $8.8 million to fight GMO labeling initiatives in the U.S.


Kellogg’s representatives also sent an email to Food Babe regarding their use of GMO’s.
“Since the majority of our ingredients come from U.S. farms and GM crops have been grown in the U.S. for the past 20 years, our foods likely include ingredients derived from GM crops in the same proportion that they occur in the U.S. food supply.”
Note: As of February 2015, Kellogg’s had spent over $1.8 million to battle GMO labeling initiatives in the U.S.
Noticing a trend? Here are some top dry cereals to avoid:

Honey Smacks

This sickeningly sweet concoction leads the EWG’s list of “10 Worst Children’s Cereals” based on sugar content alone. This cereal is comprised of a whopping 56 percent sugar by weight.
This means that one cup of Smacks actually has more sugar than a Twinkie. On this statistic, Dr. Andrew Weil, a health expert, comments, “The fact that a children’s breakfast cereal is 56 percent sugar by weight — and many others are not far behind — should cause national outrage.”
Honey Smacks also contain trans fats in the form of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated soybean oil. This is listed in the ingredients, but not calculated into the fat percentage on the nutrition label.
A few years ago, the FDA decided that trans fat content only needs to be listed if the food contains 0.5 grams or more per serving. If trans fats are included, but in less than this concentration, it can be listed as zero percent. This is absolutely egregious because, as we all know, servings add up.
Another ingredient featured in Honey Smacks is BHT or butylated hydroxytoluene. Used as a preservative, BHT is also used in jet fuel, petroleum products, rubber and embalming fluid. It also shares chemical properties with toluene, a highly toxic solvent that has been linked to neurological problems when inhaled.
If this weren’t enough, Honey Smacks have less than one gram of fiber.

Froot Loops

Fruit Loops cereal contains 41.1 percent sugar by weight.
Fruit Loops cereal contains 41.1 percent sugar by weight.
The very first ingredient on the nutrition label on a box of Froot Loops is sugar. In fact, this cereal weighs in at 41.4 percent sugar by weight. Froot Loops also contains trans fat and BHT. It does have several “natural fruit flavors,” but there is absolutely no real fruit.
Froot Loops is, in fact, a rainbow of artificial colorings: red 40, blue 1 and 2, and yellow 6, to be specific. Artificial colorings have been linked to hyperactivity in children by multiple studies. They are potential triggers of mild to severe allergic reactions, especially in those sensitive to aspirin.
Additionally, blue 2 has been linked to cancer in lab rats in some experiments. Red 40 is under investigation by some researchers as a possible carcinogen. Yellow 6 has been linked by some studies to cancer of the adrenals and kidneys, and also to digestive issues.
One other potentially harmful — and untested — component of Froot Loops: GMO corn. As 85 percent of the corn and soy grown in the United States today is genetically modified, products containing non-organic corn are very often made of GMO varieties.

Apple Jacks

Sugar, not apples, is the first ingredient in Apple Jacks, followed by corn flour (most probably GMO), wheat flour (possibly GMO), oat flour, more sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup, then salt.
While apple juice and dried apples are included, the pesticides that non-organic apples introduce in the mix could outweigh the health benefits of the fruit. Apple Jacks contains 42.9 percent sugar by weight, less than one gram of fiber, and nearly 130 grams of sodium per serving. Apple Jacks also contain BHT, blue 1 and red 40.

Golden Crisps

Coming in at second place on the EWG’s “10 Worst Children’s Cereals List,” Golden Crisp is 51.9 percent sugar by weight. It also contains trans fat (even if the label says zero), caramel color and almost no fiber.

French Toast Crunch

You are far better off to have a piece of real French toast drizzled with organic maple syrup than you are to have a bowl of this sugary mess. This cereal gets 40 percent of its calories from sugar and contains processed corn syrup, refined syrup plus flavor and color additives.

Reese’s Puffs

Right away, you should know that this is not going to go well — this cereal is named after a candy that is packed with sugar and useless calories. This cereal is just a slight improvement over the peanut butter cup. However, it contains yellow 5 and 6. In addition, 33 percent of all calories in this cereal come from sugar.

Lucky Charms

Lucky Charms cereal contains sugar, modified corn starch, corn syrup and more.
Lucky Charms cereal contains sugar, modified corn starch, corn syrup and more.
These so-called magically delicious charms are not so lucky after all. Lucky Charms may have whole grains as the first ingredient, but this is quickly followed by marshmallows (a.k.a. sugar), modified corn starch, corn syrup, dextrose, gelatin, artificial dyes and flavors. Just one cup of these unlucky charms will provide the American Heart Association’s daily added sugar limit for one day. As you can see, it has next to no nutritional goodness.

Rice Krispies

Rice Krispies made the list because they are often seen as a “healthier” option due to the significantly lower sugar content. While it is true that Rice Krispies won’t spike blood sugar like many other cereals, it is anything but healthy. It contains trans fats, BHT, soy ingredients, possible GMO grains and absolutely no fiber.

Raisin Bran

Yes, Raisin Bran may be the best of the worst but that is not really saying much. It contains 18 grams of sugar and 46 grams of carbohydrates. In total, 38 percent of all calories in this cereal come from sugar.

JIF Peanut Butter Cereal

Kellogg’s is responsible for this fake peanut butter breakfast catastrophe. With 40 percent of all calories coming from sugar, this cereal also contains hydrogenated vegetable oil.

Corn Pops

Corn Pops cereal contains dangerous hydrogenated oils.
Corn Pops cereal contains dangerous hydrogenated oils.
A Kellogg’s favorite, Corn Pops don’t have any fat and less than 10 grams for sugar, but they contain very dangerous hydrogenated oils. These are known to cause elevated bad cholesterol, strokes and even heart attacks. To give the pops their lovely golden shade, Annatto is used. Although this is considered a natural dye, studies have shown that this dye can cause just as many allergic reactions as synthetic dyes.

If you must have cereal, try these

If it is completely necessary that you consume dry cereal, here are some brands that are not made with GMOs. They are also generally free of pesticides and healthier than other boxed offerings:
  • Go Raw
  • Kais Foods
  • Laughing Giraffe
  • Lydia’s Organic
  • Ambrosial Granola
  • Nature’s Path Organics

The best option

Of course, the best possible option for all meals is to eat real, whole and organic food. Although it may take a few minutes to prepare, real food is loaded with nutrients that your body needs to thrive. It is worth it every time!
— Susan Patterson

Try These Turmeric Ice Cubes For Better Skin

For those who suffer from acne, you have likely tried just about everything. Unfortunately, many over-the-counter medications and creams dry out your skin, without combatting the root cause of your acne. When turmeric is applied to problematic areas, however, it can help destroy the bacteria that cause inflammation. 

For many, acne results from overactive sebaceous glands. A key sign that this is the case will be oily skin, which can be remedied by turmeric. Within a 2012 study, published in the Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, turmeric reduced sebum secretion. Although benefits were experienced after four weeks, the amount of sebum was reduced by nearly 25 percent after three months.

Slows aging

We all age, that much is certain. And although the aging process is dependent on genetics, our environment also plays a key role. From smoking to pollution, poor nutrition to sun exposure, there are plenty of extrinsic factors. This, of course, leads to age spots, wrinkles and changes in pigmentation.
To combat these effects, a diet rich in antioxidants is highly recommended. Helping to reduce oxidative stress, the curcuminoids in turmeric can reduce the effects of free radicals. Within one study, published in Immunity & Ageing, researchers concluded that turmeric may be a key ingredient to reduce the effects of aging.

Prevents skin cancer

Turmeric ice cubes may help prevent skin cancer.
Turmeric ice cubes may help prevent skin cancer. 

Curcumin, one of the three curcuminoids in turmeric, has been shown to possess powerful anti-cancer benefits. In fact, it may destroy tumor cells, while allowing normal cells to thrive. At this time, this is something that traditional chemotherapy cannot do. 
When aiming to combat various types of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma and melanoma, curcumin extract therapy has been shown to be effective — without the risk of significant adverse effects. At this time, skin squamous cell carcinoma is the most common cancer in the United States.

It’s believed that there’s a correlation between tanning booths, sun-damaged skin and increasing rates of skin cancer. As stated in one study, topical application of curcumin was as effective as oral administration. When using a mouse cancer model, topical curcumin suppressed tumor growth.

How to make your own turmeric ice cubes

Whether you’d like to soothe acne or reduce the appearance of puffy eyes, these ice cubes will be your secret weapon. Although I certainly recommend consuming turmeric on a daily basis, to heal from the inside out, you can also target skin conditions externally.

Turmeric Ice Cubes Ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp turmeric root (fresh if you can get it — if not, use powder)
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced
  • 1 cup aloe vera gel (real gel or juice)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced


1. Blend all ingredients, then pour into a large ice cube tray.
2. Place in freezer for three to four hours, until frozen.
3. Place turmeric ice cubes inside a cheesecloth and massage over problematic areas.
Use these turmeric ice cubes as needed. Make sure to also try experimenting with a range of new turmeric recipes, including:
Regardless of your age, it’s never too early to start treating your skin. After all, we’re aging every day. If you invite turmeric into your day-to-day routine, you can begin to see dramatic differences in terms of pain levels, your mood, digestion and overall well-being.
Remember, “medicine” does not just come in capsule form — and turmeric is a perfect example. With its vast history and place in modern medicine, there’s no denying its power. After all, health is wealth, so start investing in your spice cupboard, stocking up on this golden treatment today.
— Krista Hillis

Monday, April 17, 2017

11 Reasons To Eat Cherries


In the 1600s settlers brought cherry trees to America, and for good reason. Cherries, bright red, juicy and delicious, are so much more than just a sweet treat. It turns out, they’re packed full of beneficial nutrients and may even prevent certain diseases. Here’s why you should include cherries in your diet — every day!

1. Fights damaging free radicals

The dark red color of cherries comes from their high concentration of anthocyanins, which are antioxidants. Both sweet and tart cherries supply these beneficial antioxidants, although tart cherries contain more. Antioxidants help prevent cellular damage — the road to cancer, aging and many diseases. That means by eating antioxidant-rich foods like cherries you can replace free radicals in the body before they damage cells. In fact, even the antioxidants found in cherry juice and dried cherries, sweetened and unsweetened, are similar to fresh cherries. While frozen and canned cherries are somewhat lower in antioxidants, they’re still significant, suggests the American Institute for Cancer Research.

2. Helps relieve osteoarthritis

Cherries For Arthritis Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, occurs when the cartilage between the bones and the joint wears down. Without the protective cushion of cartilage, bones rub together. The pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis can be debilitating, with many reaching for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) for relief. Unfortunately, for those who need pain relief often, NSAIDS can wreak havoc on the body. Side effects can include gastrointestinal problems, high blood pressure and kidney problems. That’s a high price to pay, particularly if you can find similar pain relief in drinking cherry juice.
A study on osteoarthritis assessed the value of tart cherry juice in treating pain and other features of knee osteoarthritis. Researchers evaluated 58 non-diabetic patients with osteoarthritis who drank two eight-ounce bottles of tart cherry juice daily for six weeks. Tart cherry juice provided symptom relief for patients with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis.

3. Promotes heart health

Cherries might actually be better than drugs for cardiovascular benefits, according to animal studies from the University of Michigan. Apparently, tart cherries can reduce the risk of stroke. Drugs called PPAR agonists, which help regulate fat and glucose, were considered promising for patients with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors that link to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. But, studies have shown that long-term use of PPAR drugs can also increase the risk of stroke. Research now suggests that tart cherries provide similar cardiovascular benefits as the prescribed medications. In addition, tart cherries also reduce the risk of stroke, even when taken with other drugs.

4. Reduces muscle pain

Cherries For Muscle Pain
Drinking tart cherry juice may have a significant impact on reducing muscle damage and pain during strenuous exercise. Endurance athletes often use NSAIDs during competition to prevent or reduce pain. But we now know how dangerous NSAIDS can be for some people.
So, the Oregon Health & Science University’s department of medicine studied the effects of tart cherries on athletes for pain management. Marathon runners drank tart cherry juice or a placebo drink twice daily for seven days before their race. While both groups experienced pain, those who drank the cherry juice had significantly less post-run muscle pain.  

5. Reduces cancer-causing carcinogens

Substances in tart cherries can reduce the formation of carcinogens that develop from the charring of meat, like hamburgers. But carcinogens in any form has the potential to cause cancer. Carcinogen exposure can come through inhalation, ingestion or absorption. Carcinogens affect DNA, causing dangerous changes at the cellular level. These changes can lead to abnormal cell growth with the potential to metastasize or spread to other parts of the body.
Interestingly, researchers at Michigan State University decided to add tart cherries to ground beef patties. Adding cherries to hamburger meat not only retards spoilage but also reduces the formation of suspected cancer-causing compounds. These compounds are known as HAAs (heterocyclic aromatic amines). Researchers found that burgers containing 15 percent fat and 11.5 percent tart cherries had “significantly” fewer HAAs when pan fried. Meanwhile, cherry burgers have become increasingly popular on school lunch menus in 16 states throughout the U.S.

6. Helps you sleep better

Cherries For Better Sleep
If trying to drift off to sleep seems like a nightmare, then cherries could be the answer. Tart cherry juice contains high levels of phytochemicals, including melatonin. Researchers at Northumbria University in the UK collected 20 volunteers for a sleep study. Some consumed tart cherry juice concentrate, while others consumed a placebo, for seven days. The study found that those who consumed cherry juice showed total melatonin content significantly elevated.
Melatonin is a hormone created by the pineal gland. It helps control sleep and wake cycles. Drinking cherry juice leads to significantly more time spent in bed, total sleep time and sleep efficiency. The study suggests that tart cherry juice can improve sleeping patterns and help people improve disruptive sleep patterns.

7. Improves eyesight

Most people know that carrots are good for the eyes thanks to beta-carotene. Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A, which is an important nutrient for eye health. But did you know that cherries also contain beta-carotene? While there’s less beta-carotene in cherries than carrots, there’s 19 times more beta-carotene in cherries than blueberries. That’s pretty remarkable, and a sound argument why a varied whole food diet is so important for overall health.

8. Protects against gout

Gout, a form of inflammatory arthritis, is triggered by a crystallization of uric acid within the joints, causes excruciating pain and swelling. A study published in a journal of the American College of Rheumatology followed participants with gout for one year. Researchers documented 1,247 gout attacks from males, averaging 54 years of age. Ninety-two percent experienced gout at the joint at the base of the big toe. Thirty-five percent ate fresh cherries and two percent drank a cherry extract. Additionally, five percent consumed both fresh cherry fruit and cherry extract. The study found that those who consumed cherries reduced gout attacks by 35 percent. In fact, when combined with a uric-acid reducing drug, gout attacks reduced by a whopping 75 percent.

9. Promotes weight loss

Cherries For Weight Loss
Cherries may reduce triglycerides, fat mass and abdominal fat, suggests a study published in the Journal of Medical Food. Apparently, rats fed a high-fat diet mixed with tart cherry powder gained less weight than rats who didn’t receive cherries. In addition, the animals showed less inflammation, which has been linked to heart disease and diabetes. By consuming tart cherry juice, you reduce inflammation and lipids in the blood (which otherwise lead to heart conditions and weight gain).

10. Reduces inflammation

Inflammation is the root cause of many diseases, including obesity, peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, thyroid issues and cancer. And cherries are one of the top anti-inflammatory foods. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition assessed 10 healthy women ages 22 to 40. After fasting overnight, the women ate two servings of sweet cherries. Blood and urine samples were taken before and after the cherries were consumed. The study found that cherries decreased inflammation, inhibited inflammatory pathways and lowered plasma urate.

11. High in potassium

Potassium plays a key role in providing minerals for bodily organs such as the heart, kidneys, brain and muscular tissues. Also known as an electrolyte, potassium helps to maintain a healthy balance of fluids in the body. Deficiency, while not uncommon, is often misdiagnosed. Symptoms may include muscle weakness, fatigue, constipation and faintness. But just one cup of cherries can fulfill nine percent of your recommended daily requirement of potassium. Potassium reduces your risk of stroke, improves hypertension and high blood pressure, reduces muscle cramping and improves muscle strength.
Cherries offer so many health benefits. In addition to the many reasons above, cherries are a high-fiber food and an excellent source of vitamin C. Sweet cherries also have a lower glycemic index of 22, and one cup contains only 87 calories. So the next time you’re hankering for a snack, grab a bowl of cherries!
— Katherine Marko

Epsom Salts will Reduce Inflammation, Energize Plants and More

epsom salt

Epsom salt may seem like an unlikely go-to home remedy, however, the more I learn about it, the more I want to keep it around—in my kitchen, bathroom and even my garden shed.

My first experience with Epsom salt was as a kid was when I sprained my ankle. My mom made me soak my foot in a warm bucket of water with the salt mixed in. She said it would reduce the swelling and help with mobility. Sure enough, it made my sore ankle feel much better, and I continued the ritual twice a day until my ankle was fully healed.
I now know why this healing mixture was so effective. Epsom salt is actually not salt at all, but rather a mineral compound that is made from magnesium and sulfate. Both of these compounds are readily absorbed by the skin, which means they are accessible to the over 300 enzymes that are regulated by magnesium. This helps alleviate hardening of the arteries and improves muscle and nerve function. In addition to working overtime to reduce inflammation, here are 4 other ways I have found to put Epsom salt to work for me:
Plant Fertilizer
I am an avid gardener, so any natural way I can make my harvest more plentiful is exciting to me. Recently, I found that Epsom salt makes a wonderful fertilizer, not only for grass but also for potted plants and veggies. I simply sprinkle a little salt around the base of each plant once a week and water, and my plants look amazing. To make your grass greener, mix one cup of salt for every gallon of water and use a sprayer to cover your lawn. Repeat this once every two weeks throughout the growing season.
Dry Lip Conditioner
Living out west, my lips take a beating. To keep them looking and feeling their best, try a homemade Epsom salt lip exfoliator. Mix equal amounts of organic coconut oil and Epsom salts together. Spread over your lips and rub gently in a circular motion. Rinse with water and apply a thin layer of coconut oil when finished. Not only will this help to remove dry skin, but it will also protect your lips from damage caused by sun and wind.
epsom saltSunburned Skin
After a recent trip to sunny Florida, I found that Epsom salt came in very handy to soothe sore, sunburned skin. Simply mix 1 cup of salt in warm bath water and soak for about 15 minutes. Not only does the salt help reduce inflammation, but it also gently exfoliates skin and reduces peeling.
Poison Ivy
It is undoubtable that someone in my family has an up-close and personal encounter every year with poison ivy. Epsom salt is a great way to reduce the swelling and itch of this irritating condition and is also wonderful for mosquito bites and bee stings. Mix 2 tablespoons of salt with 1 cup of warm water. Soak a clean cloth in the mixture and hold on the affected area to remove pain, burning and itching.
Not only is Epsom salt a great alternative to a number of chemical-based products, but it is also inexpensive—that makes it extra great to me. Now, go out and get some and let us know what you use it for!
-Susan Patterson

Do This With Your Toes For Better Sleep

Stick your toes out to sleep better
When I think of toes and sleep, all I can focus on is the fact that they need to be covered by my blanket. I can’t sleep otherwise — or could I?
Perhaps it’s all built up in my head.  After years of covering my “little piggies,” I think that it’s become a habit that’s comforting. But am I sabotaging a good night’s rest? Are you quick to hide your feet under the covers as well? If so, you may want to support their midnight escape.

The connection between temperature and sleepi

Being an avid outdoorswoman, I have been on a lot of camping trips. For some, I’ve had to hike several miles and canoe several more just to reach my site. If there’s one thing that I learned growing up, when you’re camping, you always bring extra socks and a warm hat. Why, you ask? Well, these are said to be two areas where your body rapidly loses heat. Scientists have since debunked the idea that you lose the most body heat through your head. But they have also verified that even a small amount lost through your face, hands or feet affects your core temperature. Meaning, our feet and toes can help us regulate the temperature of our internal body.
For those who struggle to fall asleep, and stay asleep for that matter, they’re often given tips about their environment — more specifically, room temperature. This is based on how your body changes temperature as you sleep and its effect on sleep quality.
Our bodies are highly efficient when it comes to internal temperature regulation, based on thermoregulation. This process helps us achieve homeostasis — or internal balance. When aiming to maintain an optimal internal temperature, our heart plays a major role, but so do our feet.

If you’re too warm, you can’t sleep properly

If you're too warm it can impact your sleep quality
Since your feet (and hands) are at your body’s extremities, they can release excessive heat. With the large surface area of feet, specialized blood vessels and lack of hair, they essentially alter the amount of blood flow. If you are too hot, these specialized blood vessels open up, allowing your feet to release heat, cooling down your body. Similarly, when your body temperature is normal, these blood vessels close.
Basically, if our body’s remain too warm, our brain does not effectively make the “switch” from being awake to being asleep. This results in crummy sleep and morning-after side effects. For those who do not achieve a good night’s rest as often as you’d like, you can relate to the range of mood-altering, cognitive effects you experience the next day. No, thank you!

Stick your toes outside of the blanket

Have you ever woken up and one leg has escaped the blanket? Were you tossing and turning, or were your trapped feet trying to escape the covers?
Of course, your feet do not have a “mind of their own.” But maybe they helped your brain out, ensuring that your body maintained an optimal temperature. As discussed, this connection comes down to the critical connection between temperature and sleep — more specifically, cool temperatures and optimal sleep.
As we fall into a deep slumber, our bodies often produce a fair amount of heat. Add your pajamas and comforter into the mix, and your body quickly becomes a little too hot for its own liking. Unconsciously, your feet then sneak outside the covers, allowing for heat to escape, increasing relaxation. Makes sense, right?
This is especially true when your room is warmer, particularly during the summer months. Based on a 24-hour period, during your normal circadian rhythm, sleep occurs when your core temperature drops by two to three degrees. This is why sleep experts often recommend a warm bath before bed, resulting in a slight temperature drop as you get out of the tub.

Optimal temperature is important for normal sleep

What’s really interesting is how modern sleep environments may affect sleep quality. In comparison to groups living in more natural environments, we do not experience the same daily cycle of temperature change. This was examined in a ground-breaking study, showcasing the importance of optimal temperatures for normal sleep.
This study, published in Current Biology, found that all humans appear to express core human sleep patterns. While studying groups of people from the Hadza of Tanzania, the San of Namibia, and the Tsimane of Bolivia, researchers found that although we share similar sleeping patterns, insomnia was rare among these groups.
In comparison, approximately 20 percent of Americans suffer from insomnia, so what’s going on here? Some believe that stress is what keeps so many of us up, which isn’t a far stretch. But researchers also believe that sleep temperature plays a vital role. More importantly, falling environmental temperature is integral to sleep.
Our modern lifestyles allow us to set the thermostat, maintaining a constant temperature. Even if that temperature is set below normal daytime levels, as recommended, a declining ambient temperature may be needed to achieve more consistent sleep-wake cycles. As the researchers stated, we may be disrupting ancient patterns, in relation to both light and temperature.

It’s not just our bodies that need to stay cool

A cooling pillow mat can help you sleep better
In order to achieve restorative sleep, our core temperature needs to be optimally controlled. And our brains also need to remain fairly cool. Those who suffer from insomnia, for instance, often experience increased metabolism in the brain’s frontal cortex.
Within one study, as reported by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, researchers found that a cooling cap helped those with insomnia. This study focused on the benefits of a process known as “cerebral hypothermia” and its effect on sleep quality. Researchers found that when wearing a cooling cap, subjects with insomnia slept nearly as well as healthy individuals without insomnia.
If you do struggle to fall asleep, you can source cooling pillow mats that help some individuals fall asleep. You can also try valerian root. It’s a popular alternative sleep remedy. If you lay awake worrying, start to practice effective stress management techniques during the day, including meditation.
The takeaway: Please do not underestimate the importance of quality sleep. From memory consolidation to tissue repair, this period is critical for our health. If you often awake in a sweat, start sleeping with your feet outside the covers — see if it helps! Remember, optimal sleep equals optimal health. After all, as the great Dalai Lama once said, “Sleep is the best meditation.”
— Krista Hillis