Summer is coming! Are you stocked up on toxin-free sunscreen yet?

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toxin-free sunscreen

Ahhh, summer. Sometimes there is nothing better than being out in the bright, warm sun on a summer day. Especially after many months of the cold!

But here comes the controversial arguments: what sunscreen do you use? Do you even use sunscreen? Are you afraid of the sun (like we’ve been conditioned to for decades)?

Well, here is my take on this topic!

 We need sunlight for our health!

The sun helps us create vitamin D, can combat depression, helps to regulate our circadian rhythm, actually protects us against certain cancers, kills bad bacteria (and can help with eradicating internal pathogens!), lowers cholesterol (because it allows us to use it for hormone creation), lowers blood pressure, strengthens the immune system, and more. (source) What a list of benefits! No wonder why we’ve been taught to fear the sun- it is such a natural healer of many things! And you know how “health care” is truly all about keeping us sick.

Have you been told you have a vitamin D deficiency and are being told to take oral vitamin D? PLEASE read this article of mine about how to really raise vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is a hormone, not something we are meant to consume orally. We CANNOT bottle sunshine!

So what is Smart Sun exposure?

The sun is NOT our enemy. But we have to be smart about sun exposure. If you are going to be outside for 10 minutes, you’ll likely be OK to just soak in the rays for a bit. In fact, most people only really need about 10-15 minutes of direct exposure to make enough vitamin D for the day. You only need enough exposure to make your skin a little pink.  Your skin can only absorb so much at once, which is why people burn- that means you have gone over your limit! Some say the best time to get sun is between 10AM and 2PM. This is when UVB rays are more powerful so you wouldn’t need to sit out as long to get your appropriate shade of pink.

If you’re going to be out for HOURS at the beach, then you will definitely need some protection. There are so many options out there now for staying safe in the sun: clothes with SPF protection, hats, sunglasses, and of course, toxin free sunscreen.

My TOP choice for sunscreen is THE Sunscreen from Poofy Organics.  They offer a typical lotion type or even a stick for easy face application. Both have an SPF of 30.  Poofy also has tanning oil, after sun spray, hand sanitizer, and bug spray as well, which you can check out here!

Poofy’s sunscreen is free of: Para amino benzoic acid… Octyl salicyclate… Avobenzone… Oxybenzone… Cinoxate… Padimate O… Dioxybenzone… Phenylbenzimidazole… Homosalate… Sulisobenzone… Menthyl anthranilate… Trolamine salicyclate… Octocrylene.

Their ingredients include: Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Unrefined Shea Butter, Organic Beeswax, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Camellia Oil, Organic Cocoa Butter, NON-NANO, NON-Micronized Zinc Oxide, Organic Rosemary Extract.

The Environmental Working Group puts out a list each year that shows the best and worst sunscreens (it’s not out for this year yet, but both of Poofy’s sunscreen options have a nice low score of 1 on their chart!). You can sign up through their site to get an email once the 2017 list is up if you want to learn the rest of the best sunscreens to choose!

 

What is Biochemical Individuality?

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biochemical individuality

Biochemical Individuality

There is no denying that as humans, we are all connected in some way. At the same time though, we are all unique individuals! The old saying “what is good for the goose is good for the gander” is NOT true when it comes to healing illnesses. While we might all have similar deficiencies and and imbalances, there are so many other factors to consider while healing.

Biochemical individuality is essentially a concept that the nutritional and chemical makeup of a person is unique. Because of this, nutritional needs will vary from person to person. Dr. Roger Williams was the biochemist that pioneered this concept in the 1950s, when people were just starting to feel the damage done by poor nutritional advice, depleted soils, and pharmaceutical medications.

This issue is just getting worse as time goes on!

This issue has just become even more complicated as time has gone on- now we are dealing with an epigentics epidemic! The environment and the state of our food is in an even more terrifying state these days, and the need for individualized nutrition is even more dire.  People are in varying stages of the same illness (like adrenal fatigue for instance: one person can be dealing with overactive adrenals and another can be dealing with underactive). 10 people with the same exact diagnosis can be dealing with completely different symptoms, and they will all have different healing journeys.

So if someone is trying to tell you that we ALL need the same supplements in the same exact amounts at the same exact time- please reconsider this! This is NOT how people heal. This is another way of allopathic thinking, a one-size-fits-all approach.  Becoming your own best health advocate is the BEST way for you to heal. Instinct and intuition are invaluable as well, because you need to learn to listen to your body’s signs when you are trying to heal from illness.

Things that influence our health and individuality:

  • Diet
  • Stress
  • How we react to stress
  • Genetics
  • Job
  • Hobbies (because of exposure to chemicals or climates)
  • Environment (toxins, climate, stress, etc)
  • Past traumas
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Tobacco or alcohol use
  • Drug use (whether illicit or pharmaceutical)
  • Attitude
  • Sleep habits
  • Detoxification ability
  • Metablism
  • Temperament
  • Digestive status
  • And the list goes on!

I hope this post is helpful! I am seeing wayyyyy too many people getting injured from one-size-fits-all recommendations, especially since people are being told just to “push through the pain”!What works for me might not work for you, and vice versa. This is why there are SO many aspects and modalities for healing: nature has given us a wide array of choices!

There are dozens of generalized protocols out there that are all supposedly designed to be for the good of everyone, no matter what stage of health they are at. This is just not true. If you aren’t sure about what a doctor or practitioner is recommending you, please question them! We should all be aiming to help people heal on their own terms.

More Reading:

TEI labs on Individuality

Biochemical Individuality by Dr. Roger Williams, the original expert on this topic. Written in 1956!

Whole Food Nutrition: The Missing Link in Vitamin Therapy: The Difference Between Nutrients WITHIN Foods vs. Isolated Vitamins & how they affect your health by Dr. Vic Shayne

The Ultimate Colon Health Guide

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colon health

When you hear the word “detox” you tend to just think of the liver. In reality, most major organs of the body deal with detox in some way or another. The colon is no exception, and it plays one of the most important roles in keeping the body healthy.  If our colons aren’t working effectively, we cannot be healthy. Dr. Bernard Jensen was the one that said, “it is the bowel that invariably has to be cared for first before any effective healing can take place.” (source)

If you’ve been one of the millions of people that grew up eating a Standard American Diet, your colon is likely not in a happy state. Most processed foods are not able to be properly digested (let alone utilized in any way), and sometimes this can lead to a build up in the colon. Processed foods take a LOT more stomach acid and bile to break down, and after years on this terrible diet we can pretty much run out of both of these things. So even when we start eating cleaner, it can be hard for the body to digest and utilize the new, incoming foods. Especially if the colon is still filled with gunk!

The Purpose of the Colon

The whole digestive tract plays a big role in detoxification. The colon’s specific jobs include collecting and eliminating toxins from the body. However, if it the colon becomes even slightly sluggish it cannot perform its job properly. There are so many things that can mess with the function of the colon: poor diet, stress, overuse of laxatives, drugs,  lack of exercise. The less you “go” normally, the worse the colon gets.

When illness begins, we start to accumulate waste and even undigested food in the colon. This starts to harden and it becomes a breeding ground for pathogens, and a hoarding place for heavy metals.  Because of this, any nutrients that are supposed to be absorbed in the colon are unable to do so. Instead, toxins that can’t make their way completely out of the bowel are reabsorbed and recirculated through the body. This leads to an incredible amount of symptoms: chronic pain, headaches, sore throats, swelling, fatigue, brain fog, bad breath, strong body odor, a coating on the tongue, acne, and so much more.

The “Ideal Poo”

How do we know if our colons are healthy? Ideally, we should be going at least 2-3 times a day (usually with one awesome one right when we wake up as we detox a lot overnight). Stool should be formed, smooth, a medium brown color, and should take very little effort to eliminate.  There should be very little smell and no undigested food visible. You can see a chart on this site here that  shows what the ideal poo should look like.

Healing the Colon

So let’s start talking about healing the colon! We’ll talk about common issues, as well as common remedies to help heal the colon or just support general colon health.

Constipation

In 2016, people spent over ONE BILLION DOLLARS on laxatives. (source) This is such a huge issue! People are not only becoming dependent on these things, they are NOT addressing the root causes of this issue.

Constipation is one of the biggest signs that your colon needs some heavy help. Constipation can occur for so many reasons: lack of bile flow (and thus a lack of stomach acid), eating a poor diet, dehydration, and more. The main signs of constipation include: feeling sluggish, having acne, anxiety (because toxins are recirculating), a feeling that you still have to “go” even after you’ve gone, and dealing with what essentially are rabbit poops.

Some of the BEST ways to heal constipation include:
  • Aloe vera
  • Magnesium/sodium/potassium (usually there is an imbalance between these 3 minerals)
  • Use something like a Squatty Potty
  • Dandelion root tea
  • Use HTMA to fix mineral imbalances and heal your metabolism.
  • Castor oil packs over the colon area
  • Read more here!

Loose stools/Diarrhea

Many people tend to alternate between constipation and diarrhea, but dealing with chronic loose stools can be extremely frustrating.

Main causes of chronic diarrhea :
  • Lymph congestion ( body tries to flush things out as quickly as possible)
  • Not enough bile to buffer stomach acid creates irritation in the intestines. This can increase intestinal mucus in an effort to protect the lining of the intestines. This increase of mucus alone can increase loose stools. This also effects how you absorb certain nutrients and can mess with the process of toxin removal
  • Pathogen infestation
  • The body is overloaded with toxins and trying to get them out as quickly as possible
Solving this issue:
  • Homeopathy can be one option for healing this symptoms quickly
  • Start healing the gut! Eliminate process foods, try an elimination diet to see what your main triggers are)
  • If you are using supplements, consider stopping them for a time and reintroducing one by one to find the culprit
  • If you are any medications, check the side effects
  • Try to test for pathogens to see exactly what you are dealing with
  • Figure out if you are focusing too much on stomach acid and not enough on bile. Take a break on things like ACV, HCl, and lemon and try a digestive bitters supplement or try some dandelion tea.
  • Make use of activated charcoal or bentonite clay to stop the loose stools.
  • Assess your fiber intake. Are you getting too much or too little?
  • Start focusing on your lymph system more to take the strain off of it

The Role of Minerals in Colon Health

Magnesium, potassium and sodium are huge players in keeping you regular. Getting an HTMA to determine an imbalance in these 3 minerals can help determine what minerals you need to focus specifically on.  Slow oxidizers tend to be more on the constipated side, while fast oxidizers might be more prone to loose stools. (source)

Fiber

Fiber is a well-known but overlooked nutrient needed for proper colon functioning. Most people know that fiber helps to keep us regular, but in the natural health world we know a bit more. Fiber helps balance blood sugar, aids in weight loss, and it helps to lower high cholesterol levels. It also might reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. Apparently our ancestors ate close to 100 grams a day of fiber, whereas the standard American *maybe* gets about 15-20 grams. (source).

Fiber and Bile are basically a tag-team when it comes to detoxification. They both help with binding or flushing out a lot of the gunk that our bodies are trying to eliminate. Focusing on more fiber and increasing bile flow can truly help with healing your colon and making it more efficient as they both work to clean off the old gunk that can build up.

How to Get More Fiber:

*Medium Apple with skin- 5 grams
*Medium Banana- 4 grams
*2 medium dried figs- 3.7 grams
*1 cup of raspberries- 6.4 grams
*Oatmeal, 1 cup- 12 grams
*1 cup of black beans- 14 grams
*1 cup garbanzo beans- 6 grams
*1/4 cup pumpkin seeds- 4 grams
*1 avocado- 12 grams
*A cup of cooked carrots- 5 grams
*1 medium sweet potato- 5 grams
*Or use a supplement like psyllium husk. Food is always better, but psyllium can be a huge helper as well. There are 2 main colon cleanses that involve psyllium: one uses bentonite clay and the other blackstrap molasses. They are BOTH very effective, but you have to see what works best for your body.

My new favorite way to use psyllium for effective colon cleansing includes this recipe, taken once or twice a day: 4-6 ounces of plain, organic kefir, 1 Tablespoon of psyllium husks, and 1-2 Teaspoons of blackstrap molasses. This mix can be very helpful for getting things moving!

Bile

Stool is supposed to be brown because of the pigment of bile. If your stool is not brown, then you are likely having a pretty big bile flow issue. Most of my readers already know about my love of bile boosting, but you can read more here if you aren’t aware yet!

Causes of poor bile flow: hiatal hernia, slow oxidation, overload of toxins (starts to use up the bile more), lack of good fats in the diet (because they stimulate bile flow), eating too many processed foods at any point in your life

Best Bile Builders:
  • Dandelion root
  • Sunflower lecithin
  • Digestive Bitters
  • Beets
  • Taurine
  • Read more here!

Replenishing Good Bacteria

Gut bacteria is crucial for many reasons: creating certain vitamins, keeping harmful pathogens under control, and plays a role in keeping many illnesses at bay, especially colon cancer.  We’re supposed to be able to synthesize vitamin K and some B vitamins from our good bacteria as well! We have about 100 trillion bacteria cells in the body, which is more than our human cells! Bacteria are truly crucial for our survival and well-being.

Probiotics are usually a first choice for people to go to, but fermented foods are honestly more effective (as well as cheaper!). Some people cannot tolerate many ferments at first, so starting on low doses of probiotics might be the best way to start replenishing good bacteria. You can check out my top probiotics recommendations here, and my post on easy fermented foods to start out with here!

Pathogens

in a perfect world where our minerals were balanced, we would NOT be able to harbor these gross pests like parasites, yeast, bacteria, and viruses.  Bioavailable copper is the MOST critical nutrient for keeping these nasty things at bay.  Keeping the colon happy is also key for preventing the making of a perfect habitat for these creatures.

Ideally, we want to focus on getting bile flow going to start flushing pathogens out (and fiber as well can help with this as they are a tag team, like I mentioned above). You should make sure that you are eliminating efficiently before attempting and parasite detox herbs or supplements otherwise you will be dealing with terrible die-off symptoms. Many pathogens make toxins as they are dying off that can get recirculated if you aren’t keeping your colon moving.

You can read my massive parasite post here to learn symptoms of parasites (most people have them!), what kind of parasites humans deal with, and a full list of ideas on how to treat this issue.

Top Tips for Pathogen Removal:
  • Balancing copper
  • Boost bile flow
  • Focus on fiber
  • BioRay products! I’m in love with BioRay Liver Life, and they have a few choices for getting rid of parasites too: Artesemia and Clove, and Microbe Slayer
  • Bentonite clay
  • Castor oil packs

Hydration

I think at this point most of us know that staying hydrated is a HUGE part of being healthy. If you were like me at any point in your life, you likely NEVER drank water for the most part. I used to drink nothing but coffee and soda for a few years- my poor body! Once I got into natural health, I started drinking massive amounts of water but I soon realized that even this isn’t the ideal for staying hydrated. Most water lacks minerals, and depending on what kind of water you use, you might even be leaching minerals from your body.

So we need to stay hydrated but plain water isn’t the best answer- what do we do then? Go for herbal infusions, coconut water, adding a pinch of unrefined salt to each glass of water that you do drink, or even concoctions like  cranberry water (1/4 cup unsweetened cranberry juice to a quart of water). These will all help to hydrate you as well as provide nutrients! It’s a win-win. On a typical day, I have 2-3 quarts of various liquids, but I never drink plain water: I have my cran-water, an herbal infusion, a quart of dandelion decoctions, and/or coconut water.

Clean water is absolutely essential to have too, especially since we need it to make our herbal infusions or decoctions. My top water filter choices are Tap Master Jr. or Berkey! You can also find local spring water to buy. Check out my other options here in my post on how to get clean water.

Colonics/Enemas

This topic can be a bit controversial, but I still will mention it. I know plenty of people that benefit from enemas or colonics, but I can completely understand how many people draw the line at things like this. I myself have considered colonics, and I have done enemas before but to me they seem somewhat invasive and something in my gut just tells me there has to be better ways to heal. So while these 2 things can be helpful (especially for those that are very toxic), I do not think they are absolutely essential for healing. I find that both methods can be a bit harsh on mineral balance, especially if one is unaware of the possibility of that issue.

*You can read this massive post on enemas from Dr. Wilson, but the essentials are these: enemas clean pretty much only 6-8 inches of the colon and rectum, you hold a certain amount of liquid for about 20 minutes and then expel it. Coffee enemas are the most popular for detox as they can help stimulate glutathione production in the liver. Some people do several of these a day or a few a week, depending on how they feel. Like I mentioned, one can become easily depleted of minerals this way so listening to your body is essential.

*Colonics (or colon hydrotherapy) are a bit more effective at cleaning the colon out as it reaches further. There are a few different varieties of colon hydrotherapy, but a friend who has been doing them for years says that the Gravity Method is the best (and after some reading I would definitely agree!). You can read a bit more on colonic hydrotherapy here.

Herbs and Supplements for Colon Health

Amalaki: AKA Indian gooseberry. This helps a lot with restoring the health of the intestinal skin and can help reverse chronic loose stools. Amalaki also helps with mucus membranes in the body, collagen and elastin production, and artery health. You’ll find amalaki in the formula Triphala which is an amazing Ayuverdic remedy for colon health.

Aloe Vera is one of my top choices for those dealing with gut inflammation. It helps with healing and sealing the gut lining, soothing inflammation internally, aiding in bile flow, and supporting proper detoxification. Look for aloe with NO preservatives, like George’s Aloe. (not recommend while pregnant or nursing!)

Activated Charcoal is amazing for mopping up toxins in the GI tract.  This is especially helpful during yeast or parasite die-off as it can quickly trap toxins and bring them to the colon for removal. I’ve personally felt this quickness! Charcoal is a must-have in your natural medicine cabinet for detox reactions, food poisoning, and stomach bugs. It is also great for whitening teeth, and for mold detox.

Activated charcoal is best taken away from food, prescriptions, and supplements as it can interfere with their absorption. Make sure you stay hydrated while using it as well so you can ensure to flush out those toxins that you’ve trapped! Powder is the best as it will be the fastest to be absorbed, but capsules are great to keep around for travel or eating out.

Other great herbs: Slippery elm, marshmallow root, and licorice root (usually used together for maximum effectiveness).

Want to read more about colon health:

Here is a 131 page PDF by Dr Bernard Jensen

This book is more about general digestive healing, as well as the link between lymph and digestion but I highly recommend it: Eat Wheat by Dr. John Douillard

 



 

Coping with the Stress of Healing a Chronic Illness

chronic illness

Healing can be Hard!

While healing form a chronic illness is possible, it is not always easy. It takes time, patience, commitment and support. You need to be completely dedicated to regaining your health back (which is usually the case with most people!). Adrenal fatigue is a huge sign that our body gives us to just slow down, take a step back, and reevaluate your lifestyle.

But there are lots of stressors that can impede healing:

  • The need to work full time
  • Having young children
  • Family and friends that are not supportive of your health journey
  • Environmental issues like severe weather, heavy metals in the environment, mold in the home
  • Financial difficulties

How to deal with the stress of healing:

Find a support system

If you are trying to heal naturally from anything, you can meet a lot of resistance from friends and family that just don’t understand natural health. Many people just do not understand things unless they go through something like adrenal fatigue themselves. So find your own tribe! Whether it is just a handful of friends that you have in your life, or your spouse/partner (who is hopefully supportive of you!) or a Facebook group (like Mineral Mavens!), or even an old friend that you can call on the phone every so often- it is crucial to be able to reach out to someone and just talk.

Learn how to manage stress

Sometimes we can’t change our situations, but we can change how we reach to things to an extent. There are MANY ways to help yourself cope with stress. If you are dealing with adrenal exhaustion, a good adaptogenic herb can help depending on the state of your adrenals as well as your symptoms. But doing things like finding a hobby to do each day can help so much. Experiencing pure happiness everyday, even for a short amount of time can truly change your attitude.

So read a book, start a blog, go for a walk, talk to friends, look into EFT/Tapping, Buteyko breathing, yoga, meditate, practice gratitude, whatever helps you disconnect from your stress for a few minutes!

Cut out toxic people from your life

This can be a very hard one, especially if the toxic people in your life are family members. I have had to do this myself, and it definitely wasn’t easy but it was a HUGE relief to not have to deal with energy vampires. There are so many people out there that can mess with your good energy and make healing harder on you. These are the people that ONLY complain about things when you speak to them, or they are always criticizing you for various reasons, or they are constantly asking for favors but never actually want to spend time with you.

So many people that end up in adrenal fatigue are givers because they allow others to take, take, take until they just have nothing left! This is a cycle that needs to stop. Obviously it is good to help others out when they need it, but there is a difference between that and selfish, greedy people that are taking advantage of you. So whether you need to completely cut out off all contact with someone or just reduce the amount of time you see them until you heal, take into consideration that doing this is NOT selfish on your side of things.

Remind yourself that this is temporary!

This is an especially important one to remember. It takes years, decades, or generations to build up these chronic illnesses. Throw in years of the SAD lifestyle, chronic stress, heavy metals, birth control pills, vaccines, etc and it is no wonder why so many people are dealing with adrenal exhaustion these days. It will take time for you to fully heal! The general rule of thumb is one month of healing for every year you have been sick. Just stay strong! You can allow yourself some time to experience the frustration, anger, and sadness but remember to pick yourself back up and keep on pushing!

What helps you cope with the stress of healing? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

chronic illness

 

How to Find the Best Breastfeeding support

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Breastfeeding support

I am Passionate about Breastfeeding Support

Breastfeeding is a hot topic in the parenting world, and with good reason. It is a very important topic! However, with the ridiculousness of the “mommy wars”, it is almost offensive for some people to be very pro-breastfeeding. I just wish we could get past this nonsense and realize that breastfeeding is not really about parents and our differences. It is just doing the best for our children!

For several generations now, breastfeeding has fallen out of favor. Formula feeding used to only be used for emergency purposes, but once some people realized how profitable formula sales could be it seems that profits once again won out over the health of our children. Thus began the choice between breast and formula. Because of this, there is such a huge gap in education and support about breastfeeding.

As well as breastfeeding falling out of favor, and other huge issue is that women are being shamed because of breastfeeding in public! People think they are being attention seekers or even indecent because of how much we have sexualized breasts in our society. Feeding a child is the primary purpose for breasts, and we really need to start teaching people this.

Thankfully, “Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location.” (source) Please read this link to learn the laws of your state so you know that you are protected- but don’t ever feel obligated to educate someone that is being rude and ignorant to you!

Because of all of this drama and chaos, I just wanted to make a post that explores the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child, as well as where to look for support if you need it should you encounter issues while breastfeeding.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

The American Academy of Pediatrics  recommends breastfeeding for at least 12 months but the World Health Organization recommends nursing for up to 2 years or more, depending on the preference of the mother and baby. (source)

Benefits of breastfeeding for baby:
  • Lowers risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  • Helps baby sleep better
  • Reduces risk of both types of diabetes
  • Lowers the risk of sickness and infections (plus if they do catch something, breastmilk will change depending on their needs)
  • Can help prevent obesity (which we know is a huge issue these days)
  • Lowers risk of childhood leukemia
  • Lowers stress levels in the “fourth trimester” period as baby adjusts to the outside world
Benefits of breastfeeding for mothers:
  • Can help with balancing hormones and weight more quickly after birth
  • Reduces risk of type II diabetes
  • Helps reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancers (source)
  • Can lower the risk of heart attack and strokes (source)
  • Can help lower stress levels and prevent PPD (source)
  • Speeds healing in the immediate postpartum period because breastfeeding stimulates uterine contractions, which helps prevent postpartum hemorrhage (source)
  • Also, “the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) is a well-documented contraceptive method, with 98 to 99 percent prevention of pregnancy in the first six months. The natural child-spacing achieved through LAM ensures the optimal survival of each child, and the physical recovery of the mother between pregnancies. In contrast, the bottle-feeding mother needs to start contraception within six weeks of the birth (Kennedy 1989)” (source) (also, I’m not saying to not use birth control methods in the postpartum period {hopefully NOT hormonal birth control though!}, but this is a natural thing that usually happens to help prevent pregnancies being too close together. Definitely interesting to read about.)
Benefits of breastfeeding for society (source):
  • Better for the environment because there is less waste from bottles and formula cans
  • Helps save lives: Even just 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding can save the lives of about 1000 infants
  • Saves money: The USA alone could save about $2.2 BILLION a year in medical expenses because breastfed infants need less sick care visits, prescriptions, and hospital visits. Families can save several thousand dollars a year by choosing to breastfeed as well.
  • Working moms tend to miss less work if they breastfeed because their children require less sick days

 

Common Breastfeeding Issues and How to Resolve Them

Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world- but it doesn’t mean it is easy! I personally had no one in my life that I knew that breastfed, so there was a lot of trial and error involved. But because I was determined, I figured it all out. What helps the most is knowing that there are people out there willing to help you! There are also so many resources that can help you though the most common issues. I found this website to be the most comprehensive!

Low Milk Supply

More often than not, there really is not a problem with low milk supply. It is hard to gauge how much milk you are making, and pumping is NOT an accurate measurement to know how much milk you are making unfortunately. Because it is hard to tell how much you are truly making, it is easy to think that you are not making enough. But there are many ways to fix this issue, depending on the cause.

What Helps to Fix a Low Milk Supply:

  • Fix your latch- make sure baby is latching correctly. Try different positions if needed. Depending on your breast size and comfort level, there may be a better hold for you. For example, the football hold can be very helpful for women with larger breasts, and it can be easier for baby to nurse more efficiently.
  • Check for tongue or lip ties!
  • Go for a lactation tea or tincture, or nettle infusions.
  • Make sure you are eating enough and staying hydrated. Check out my post for easy snack ideas that you can make in a pinch when you are lacking time or energy. Fat bombs are always easy to make ahead of time. Coconut water and herbal infusions help immensely with hydration.
  • Check out the top galactagogues here!
  • It’s all about supply and demand- the more you nurse, the more milk you’ll make. So go with cluster feeding if your baby wants it!
Mastitis:

Mastisis is a breast infection that is usually caused by too much pressure on the milk ducts (like with a bra or sleeping on your breast, which is what I ended up doing on accident which led to mastitis! Learn from my mistake- don’t let that happen!), not draining your breasts well enough (which could be from poor latch or oversupply), or even an open wound on your nipple.

Typical signs of mastitis include: sore breast, red breast (sometimes it will even get hot), nipple discharge (usually looks like pus), enlarged lymph nodes, and eventually it will lead to a fever or flu-like symptoms if not treated quickly.

Mastitis remedies:

  • Keep nursing! Try to drain your breasts as well as you can (and yes, this is still safe for baby! Your baby is going to be better at clearing this than a pump anyway.) Also, try “dangle feeding”, which will use gravity to help unclog the duct.
  • Avoid hot showers as the hot water can stimulate more milk production (but warm water is ok)
  • Use a booby tube! Yes, silly name, I know. But I bought a pair of these as a part of my preparation for breastfeeding and they were invaluable the first few months. You can either freeze them or heat them up, whatever helps you the most.
  • Massage the breast that is infected. I used a drop of lavender essential oil mixed with coconut oil when I had mastitis. This helped so much with the swelling and pain. I just cleaned it off before my next nursing session.
  • Use anti-inflammatory foods like garlic, ginger, pineapple or pineapple juice,  or you can even make a comfrey/calendula compress (read more here!)
Thrush:

Thrush is extremely common these days among women and nursing babies, especially since it can get passed back and forth very easily. Mostly thrush tends to happen when both mom and baby are dealing with imbalanced gut flora, and they have an excess of yeast. This is also extremely linked with copper dysregulation, as copper imbalances are very common during pregnancy and the postpartum period plus copper is essential for controlling pathogens.

In the meantime, the most helpful remedies for helping oral thrush include coconut oil (both topically on mama’s nipples and in baby’s mouth, and mom can ingest a few tablespoons a day) and gentian violet.

Read more about thrush here.

My top tips for successful breastfeeding:

  • Nourish yourself! Breastfeeding takes more calories than pregnancy does. You can read my top tips for nourishing yourself while pregnany and nursing here. The basics involve lots of whole foods, herbal infusions like nettles and red raspberry leaf, lots of rest, and learning stress management techniques.
  • Make sure you get rest whenever you can!
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it!
  • Skip the bras. Go with camis if you need some sort of support. Bras clog up the lymph system, and can put pressure on milk ducts which can lead to clogged ducts. Let those girls breath!
  • Breathe! You got this, mama.
  • SAVE THIS LINK! They truly have SO many ideas on there for dozens of issues that may arise while breastfeeding.  They talk about tandem nursing, nursing while pregnant, helpful nursing positions
  • Also, Check out Dr. Jack Newman! He is a breastfeeding expert and has great information.

Where to Find Support if needed:

  • The absolute best resource is to find a qualified IBCLC (note: this is different than a LC). IBCLC’s are going to be the best bet at getting to the bottom of latch issues, including diagnosing a tongue tie, or even trickier a posterior tongue tie which can often only be felt and not seen, and are usually brushed off by doctors.
  • Ask friends and family for help or advice, even if they have not breastfed before. Likely they will be very willing to help you out if you are in need!
  • Reach out to your local La Leche League. This is where I ended up asking for help when I needed it, and they were prompt, kind, and extremely helpful.
  • Sometimes your OB/GYN or child’s pediatrician will be able to offer some advice, or at least point you in the right direction
  • Be willing or prepared to seek out second, or third, or fourth opinions because it’s impossible for any one person to be an expert on everything.  If one person’s suggestions aren’t working or they don’t resonate with you, just move on to the next person.

And finally..if you absolutely can’t breastfeed:

  • Donor milk can be a great alternative to formula if a woman is truly struggling with low supply! There are a couple main groups on Facebook called Human Milk for Human Babies and Eats on Feet to help find more info.
  • Sammy’s Milk is a toddler formula that is made from free range goat milk (the closest thing to human milk out there). This formula uses fish oil, molasses, methylated B vitamins, and is non-gmo. This is best for those looking to transition their toddler from breastfeeding to a bottle.
  • Make your own formula: You can look into buying kits for this, or you can use recipes like this one or this one so you can pick and choose the quality of food items that you wish to use.
  • How to find the best organic commercial formula

 

More Reading and Sources:

Why baby formula has no place in a sustainable future

We’re Not breastfeeding long enough and it is costing us

 

Note: I am not a doctor or an IBCLC, so I encourage you to find the best support from a qualified professional you can if you encounter breastfeeding issues. Find as much information you can (hopefully before your baby is born) and make decisions that work best for you and your family! Finding a pediatrician that is open to discussing your parenting decisions (instead of giving you a “my way or the highway” mentality) can be priceless as well so you have someone to depend on.


Ghee: The BEST fat for Fat Burning!

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Ghee: The Best Fat for Fat Burning!

What in the world is GHEE?

Admittedly when I first heard of ghee, I wasn’t impressed. I didn’t understand why it was so different from regular butter, and at first I wasn’t really crazy about the taste. But the more I learned, the more I realized how amazing this food is!

Ghee is clarified butter, which is made with a process that slowly uses heat to remove moisture, milk solids, lactose, casein and milk solids and all impurities from butter.  Apparently in India, ghee has always been viewed as a sacred, nourishing, and healing food.

Ghee also is one of the best oils for high temperature cooking as its flash point is 485ºF! It’s also shelf stable and doesn’t require refrigeration.  Ghee is free of lactose, whey, casein, gluten, salt, trans fatty acids, GMOs, and bovine hormones (when coming from a good source!).

According to Ancient Organics:

“Ghee is comprised of full spectrum short, medium and long chain fatty acids, both unsaturated and saturated. Ghee contains Omega 3 and Omega 9 essential fatty acids along with vitamins A, D, E and K. Ghee made from organic butter of pastured cows is one of the highest natural sources of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid). 9 phenolic anti-oxidants, as well as numerous other minerals are present in ghee.

Ghee is known as a substance that gives longevity, its elemental qualities balance the aging characteristics by enriching the living body.

Ghee has been used for centuries as a digestive and elimination aid, for energy, sexual vitality, skin and eye health, as a lubricant for the joints and for alkalizing the blood.

The Best Benefits of Ghee:

  • Heals the gut
  • Soothes internal inflammation
  • Helps Weight Loss
  • Helps reduce oxidative stress in the body
  • Boosts energy and vitality
  • One of the highest natural sources of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)
  • Promotes skin and eye health and supports alkalizing blood
  • Provides vitamins A, D, E and K2, as well as Omega 3s and 9s
  • Provides butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that helps with detoxification, insulin levels, and especially colon health (it helps convert fiber into more butyric acid which helps with further detoxification- something that many of us need a lot of assistance with!)

 

What you can use Ghee for:
  • Cooking veggies or eggs in a skillet
  • Bulletproof coffee or tea (instead of Butter- I do this, and wow what a boost of energy I get!)
  • Put on homemade popcorn
  • Add some to your smoothies
  • Plop some on your steamed veggies or chickpeas with it before eating
  • Use it in Pumpkin Bread, how delicious would that be?!
  • Check out these other recipe ideas!

Where to Find Ghee:

  • Most health food stores tend to carry ghee at this point. I’ve even found the Organic Valley brand at Target!
  • Perfect Supplements now has Ancient Organics ghee in 3 different sizes. This is one of the BEST ghees out there! Use my code SASSY for 10% your total order on Perfect’s site too!
  • Make your own! Dr. Axe has a recipe here.

 

Sources:

Perfect Supplements

Ancient Organics

Dr. Axe

 

Have we created Allopathic Natural Health?

allopathic ntural health

I came across the term “allopathic herbalism” a few weeks ago, where an herbalist mentioned that even modern herbalists are treating symptoms instead of trying to heal the whole person.

That phrase REALLY got me thinking: What in the world have we done with natural health??

Most natural health practitioners are using allopathic thinking when they treat people. They are STILL just treating symptoms! Instead of synthetic drugs though, they use synthetic nutrients or herbs just for symptoms. They aren’t usually looking at the body as a whole, nor do they ever use whole foods in their natural form to create a balanced way for a person to heal.  Deficiencies and imbalances never deal with just one nutrient, one organ, or one symptom. And when it comes to fixing deficiencies, more is NOT always better.

I see it on so many natural health blogs too:

Dealing with anxiety? Take zinc. Have depression? Use magnesium. Adrenal fatigue? Here’s some ashwagandha. People are still “popping and praying” with natural remedies. This can be just as detrimental as pharmaceuticals! We are not just symptoms: we are all individuals, and this is why biochemical individuality is the best approach to health.

There are SO many variables when it comes to biochemical individuality: diet, stress levels, environment, thought patterns, activity levels, childhood trauma, genes, etc. You can have 5 different people dealing with the same symptoms but have 5 different root causes for each of them.

There is no problem with using certain nutrients or herbs for symptom relief while you are healing, we have to distinguish what is a crutch, and what is actually going to help us fully heal.  We also have to take into account that nutrients in isolation can create a huge chain reaction with creating other deficiencies and imbalances. Not convinced about that? Read my Nutrient Interaction post!

While it is great that more and more people are turning to natural health, I wish more people would take a step back and realize something:  All nutrients, foods, herbs, and spices have more than one function!

 

Nutrients also have many co-factors that are required for proper functioning, which synthetic nutrients won’t have in a proper balance (most will just have 100% daily value of each nutrient, something you’ll never find in nature).

Food isn’t important just for vitamins and minerals. There are SO many other components to food that you will never find in synthetic supplements: phytochemicals, fiber, fat, protein, carbs, bioflavonoids, carotenoids, plant pigments, amino acids, fatty acids, isothicyanates. indoles, coumarins, antioxidants, enzymes, and more! Some of these components (like bioflavoinoids) used to be considered vitamins all on their own because of their importance to our health.

Many of these components have been studied in their roles to help to protect against cancer and other serious illnesses. However, most of these studies show that they work best when in a WHOLE FOOD and not as an isolated substance, and especially not in very high doses.

The Tricks to Getting the most of your diet:

Healing the gut and liver, as well as having a varied diet is the key to getting the most out of your food. You HAVE to eat anyway- why not tailor it to your needs? As your gut heals, your tolerance for more foods will increase as well!

My ultimate goal is to help people realize that there are better ways to heal. We have individualized testing to help determine your personal deficiencies! You don’t have to guess. You don’t have to “pop and pray” when it comes to supplements (and some go upwards of 30-50 supplements a day!).

Gut Healing for Kids

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gut healing for kids

Gut Healing for Kids

Leaky gut is becoming extremely common, even in children these days. The last few generations have been building up many deficiencies, toxicities, and imbalances which can be passed on to children unfortunately. So, many kids need just as much help with healing the gut as adults do. For the most part, they can do most of what adults can. But let’s outline the basics of gut healing for kids. You can check out my post on healing leaky gut for adults here!

Stomach Acid Support

Stomach acid is absolutely crucial for digesting food and utilizing nutrients. Common symptoms of low stomach acid include belching after eating, constipation, undigested food in stools, and food allergies.  Since obviously most kids would run away if you tried to give them a glass of diluted apple cider vinegar, there are a few other ways to help with balancing stomach acid that are a bit more palatable.

*Switchel is my top choice for kids as there are so many ways to make it so you can find what your child likes best. I always reference this article from Wellness Mama for those that are very new to Switchel because she outlines all of the main variations on the recipe.

*Cranberry “Pink Lemonade” is my other favorite choice for kids to help out a bit with stomach acid support and well as some lymph and liver support.

I usually make a quart at a time: ¼ cup of cranberry juice (unsweetened) and the juice of 1-2 lemons (depending on their size) and fill up with water, and add a sweetener of your choice to taste (organic maple syrup or raw honey both work well).

The amount per day for both the Switchel and Pink lemonade will depend on the age and size of your child, but usually a cup a day is fine.

Healing the Gut Lining

Leaky gut tends to include issues like inflammation in the gut lining. Some need to address this first before adding in stomach acid support, but most kids do well with focusing on both at once.

Collagen and Gelatin: Collagen is super easy to add to smoothies, drinks, or even things like applesauce and rice to help your child some gut healing amino acids. Gelatin is great for making delicious gummy treats, which obviously most kids enjoy!

Aloe Vera: George’s Aloe has a recommendation for kids 1+ on their label. Aloe is very soothing to the digestive tract, and helps immensely with soothing internal inflammation.

Bone Broth: This might be a bit hard to get kids to have just as a drink like most of us would but using it in soups and stews helps just as much.

Replenishing Bacteria

Gut bacteria is crucial for many reasons: creating certain vitamins, keeping harmful pathogens under control, and plays a role in keeping many illnesses at bay, especially colon cancer.

This is why probiotics are essential to overall healing. One dose of antibiotics can alter your gut flora forever, and many of us have been put on antibiotics nearly every year of our childhood. Unfortunately, this is an issue we can pass along to our children so it is imperative to address this issue at a young age.

You can go with supplements or fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, kimchi, or pickles. For most people, supplements are the easier option but fermented foods offer a lot more effectiveness and they are much cheaper. Some are very sensitive to fermented foods at first as their gut gets replenished too so probiotic supplements might be a bit milder.

My favorite choices for probiotics for kids include Garden of life and Renew Life. BioRay also has their FOCUS and SHINE tinctures (which I talk about below) that help with replenishing gut bacteria.

Check out my post on easy fermented food ideas here!

Healing the Liver

The liver also plays a role in digestion: we need healthy livers to utilize fats correctly and to absorb many nutrients, especially the fat soluble ones like A, D, and E. My favorite liver support for kids include the BioRay tictures. They is a whole line of BioRay kids products, which you can read all about here.

The best BioRay tinctures for liver and gut healing are CALM, SHINE and FOCUS. Kids can even use the BioRay Liver Life, just in smaller doses (as instructed on the bottle!). The kids formulas are just flavored, which helps a bit more with compliance from picky kids.

Now you can find their AMAZING BioRay Kids line on Perfect Supplements, and save 10% with my code SASSY at checkout.

 

In addition to the tips above, mineral balancing is also crucial for gut healing. Many minerals are essential for creating stomach acid, controlling pathogens, and creating digestive enzymes. Our biggest goal is aid in gut healing and start introducing nutrient dense foods to help the body utilize nutrients better.

My Favorite Probiotics

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probiotics

Probiotics for Replenishing Gut Bacteria

Gut bacteria is crucial for many reasons: creating certain vitamins, keeping harmful pathogens under control, and plays a role in keeping many illnesses at bay, especially colon cancer.  We have about 100 trillion bacteria cells in the body, which is more than our human cells! Bacteria are truly crucial for our survival and well-being.

This is why probiotics are essential to overall healing. One dose of antibiotics can alter your gut flora forever, and many of us have been put on antibiotics nearly every year of our childhood.

When it comes to getting more bang for your buck, fermenting is the way to go! You can read a bit more about fermenting here, and some easy starter recipes. But many people cannot tolerate ferments when they first start their journey to gut healing, and some are working on making baby steps to make their owns foods (which is great! It makes the transition to natural healing much easier). So for those that don’t want to go the fermented food route at first have the choice to pick among some amazing probiotics.

My Favorite Probiotics

It’s best to switch your probiotics around every few months so you are exposed to the different sorts of bacteria strains that they offer. These brands are some of my favorites because I’ve either tried them myself, or I’ve had clients do well with them.

Garden of Life: Overall, Garden of Life has pretty good options for supplements. Their probiotics are among the best I’ve used, especially this one that is 100 Billion CFU. Vitamin Shoppe and Amazon are pretty comparable with prices for Garden of Life, but I’ve found that some specialty stores can charge $20 more! So just watch out for the prices. They also have many kids options like this powder that can be used for kids as young as 3 months old.

Prescript Assist: This one is a soil-based probiotic that has amazing reviews for most of the people that use it. They are pretty strong and effective, and they’ve even had clinical studies done on them.

Renew Life: Renew Life is one of the most common probiotics you’ll find. I’ve seen them at Vitamin Shoppe, Whole Foods, and even Target. They have many different CFU levels, and even specific formulas for kids, women’s urinary health, adults 50+, and those that need extra colon care. Check them out here!

BioRay Belly Mend: This is a tincture from BioRay that was formulated to help the gut/brain connection as well as heal some of the most common digestive issues that people face. It is gluten, soy and dairy free as well as vegan and non-gmo.

Other favorites of mine include Catie’s Whole Food Flora, Just Thrive, and GHC’s Latero-Flora. You can read a bit more about these here, and if you order from Perfect Supplements you can use the code SASSY at checkout for 10% off!

There are lots of great probiotics out there, but these are the main ones that I’ve tried or researched. What is your favorite probiotic?

Herbal Bitters: An Essential tool for Gut Healing!

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Bitter herbs are an incredibly powerful tool for fixing digestion. Digestion starts in the mouth, and herbal bitters help kick start this process. The “bitter” taste hits our taste buds and starts to stimulate the production of gastric juices.

Herbal bitters help to:

  • Regulate stomach acid
  • Balance blood sugar levels
  • Boost bile flow for fat absorption and detoxification (bile is a basically a natural laxative- and poor bile is a huge cause of constipation)
  • Aid liver function
  • Boost the immune system
  • Increase nutrient assimilation
  • And they can even help with stress and anxiety
  • Encourage digestive enzyme production (which is why I recommend them over most regular enzyme supplements)
  • Calm down heartburn, gas, and bloating

My Favorite Bitter Herbs

Dandelion Root

Most people already know how much I love dandelion root. One of the reasons why it is so helpful is because of its role as a bitter herb. Dandelion helps stimulate bile flow in the liver, which is an important factor for people trying to regain their health and detox effectively. One source that it actually quadruples bile flow!

My favorite ways to use dandelion include tea or a decoction. You can get the recipes here, or check out these photos so you can Pin them for later!

Gaia Herbs “Sweetish” Bitters

Gaia Herbs “Sweetish” Bitters are great! This blend includes Anise Seed, Cardamom, Fennel, Gentian, Ginger Root, Milk Thistle, Turmeric, and more. You just put 60 drops in a little bit of liquid about 15 minutes before each meal to help with digestion. So easy! I usually recommend to start with just a few drops at first just to work up to the full dose because increasing bile flow can start to initiate some detox.

Herb Pharm Better Bitters

Herb Pharm is another one of my favorite herbal companies. They offer several herbal bitter options: liquids(like the Gaia herbs formula above) or they even have sprays. The sprays are even easier (and great for on-the-go use!) as all you do is spray it 4 times in your mouth about 10 minutes before a meal. The sprays are STRONG tasting but it is kind of the point when it comes to bitters. We want to taste the bitter flavor as much as we can to help stimulate the gut.

The Herb Pharm bitters have a few flavors to choose from. I went with the Classic and Bittersweet sprays, and honestly there is not much of a difference in taste. They are both pretty strong tasting, but both effective!

My current assortment of bitters!

Note for Nursing Mamas: Most of these bitters aren’t good while nursing (which stinks because we need that bile support postpartum!). I have found 3 options that are OK while nursing.  This lactation formula has bitters in it, so it can help with milk supply as well.   And this one is good while pregnant so I would think it is OK while nursing.

Dandelion tea is also ok while pregnant and nursing, I just wouldn’t overdo it. Maybe 1 cup a day would be good just for a bit of support. Obviously eating or drinking things like beets, artichokes, Apple cider vinegar, lemon water,  and healthy fats help with bile as well as those are definitely safe during these times where we need lots of nourishment.