Sunday, August 26, 2018

Natural Beauty Starts With Natural Foods

The saying You Are What You Eat has some traction. The foods you eat fuel your body and nourish your organs. When you make healthy choices, your results are more often than not a healthy and energized body. Genetics do play a role in our health, nutrition can help us fight our "inheritance" as long as we can!

Natural Beauty Starts From ...


 Skip or limit your consumption of refined sugars, fried foods, and alcohol. Instead, get your daily calories from whole foods following some of the guidelines below.


Hydration is important for keeping skin cells healthy, lubricating joints, and promoting healthy digestion. Most people are familiar with the target for hydration: 8 glasses (8 ounce) of water a day. This number is just a target. The Mayo Clinic has a great resource for hydration which will help you decide what you need based on your activity level and climate in which you live. A good rule of thumb to use to know if you are hydrated is to look at your urine. Clear urine is a common sign of hydration.

Brassica Vegetables

You may wonder what vegetables fall into this category of plants from the mustard family. They are  cruciferous vegetables including: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, collards, turnip/turnip greens, and bok choy. These vegetables help detoxify the body and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. More resources can be found here.

Read my recipe for Cauliflower Steak (pictured to the right).


Turmeric can help fight UV rays and is an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. I love adding turmeric to rice. My recipe can be found here.
Cocoa is an anti-oxidant that promotes circulation which brings nutrients to the skin.

Omega-3 Rich Foods

Salmon and avocado provide generous amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids to nourish the skin and make it supple

Green Tea

Drinking green tea provides the body with an anti-oxidant to protect it from UV damage and protect collagen. If you are a coffee drinker, consider swapping your last cup of coffee for green tea each day to begin to integrate tea into your daily routine. 

Dark Red and Purple Fruits/Vegetables

These fruits provide anthocyanins which fight UV rays, support skin elasticity, and provent collagen breakdown.  Foods high in anthocyanins include: black raspberries, black currants, blueberries, blackberries, red cabbage, black plumbs, red radish, and red raspberries.

Read more at Delicious Living Building natural beauty from the inside out.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Chemical Free and Clean Nail Salons

A Manicure or Pedicure is a Decadent Treat!

Many people enjoy getting pampered with a manicure or pedicure.  The opportunity to have one's arms and hands or legs and feet massaged draws some people into a salon. Others enjoy being pampered as it is difficult to properly cut their own nails, cuticles, and remove calluses on their own.

I am in no way advocating that you forgo your manicure or pedicure. I want you make informed choices as you pamper yourself so that you leave relaxed AND healthy. For whatever reason you enter a nail salon, you need to be aware of some risks you may be taking.

Enjoy the Process

Look for salons that embrace innovative brands that are natural and not chemical based. When you transition from chemical based nail polishes to natural ones, it is suggested that you let your nails "rest" for a week or two to be ready for the change. Communicate your needs with the esthetician and relax!

Take Care of Your Nails At Home

Many estheticians recommend massaging oil (neem, coconut, jojoba or even olive) into the nail and cuticle regularly.This simple treatment at home will help maintain the work done by the professionals!

Dermatologists recommend applying lotion to the nails after a pedicure as the treatments can be drying.

Eat a nail boosting diet. The proper amount of iron and protein will keep your nails strong. Having enough zinc in your diet will keep away the lines and white spots that may form on a nail when there is a deficiency.  Eating a diet that includes good fats and adequate hydration will ensure that your nails do not split or peel

Be Aware of Potential Dangers


Chemical based nail salons use caustic chemicals that have been documented to cause medical problems for some workers. Some salons are well-ventilated and the chemicals are not in high concentration in the establishments. If you enter the salon and are greeted by a strong chemical smell, you know the salon is not well-ventilated and you will be inhaling chemicals for the duration of your relaxing treatment.


Bring your own nail polish. Do not use the polish the salon has available as the brush MAY have been used on a previous client(s).

Spa Tubs, Sponges, and Nail Files

Make sure the spa tub in which you will soak your feet is clean. If the water is filtered properly you will NOT notice any debris. If you do, ask for a clean tub with fresh water.
Make sure the salon uses a fresh nail file and a clean sponge for your treatment. This will ensure there is no cross-contamination with previous clients.

Jessica Rubino's article for Delicious Living: Nontoxic solutions for healthy nails

Oral Care is Total Body Care

Oral hygiene is something our parents taught as as children. Many of our parents instructed us on the technique we should use to brush our teeth and how long we should brush our teeth. Some of my friends had parents who set timers so they did not rush through the process. The importance of flossing was stressed to remove food from between teeth in an effort to avoid cavities.

Oral Care and Total Body Care

As we became adults we learned that oral care is much more important than having teeth that LOOK GOOD. Oral care is a large component to complete care of one's body. According to Jessica Rubino in her article for Delicious Living Magazine, "science shows there is a connection between periodontal disease (which can stem from severe gum-tissue inflammation caused by bacterial buildup) and cardiovascular disease". Now we KNOW we need to keep our smile looking good to keep our body feeling good.

The Oral Health Nevada infographic above charts the health risks associated with improper oral care.

According to the American Dental Association, medications can affect oral care. Some medications cause dry mouth, some can cause abnormal bleeding, while others alter taste buds while you are taking them.

Oral Care Ingredients

If it is important that we care for our teeth to protect our overall health, shouldn't it be important to consider WHAT we are using to care for our teeth. Many people pick a toothpaste and mouthwash for the flavor it provides. Some people are sold on the "whitens teeth" message on the packaging. Some people go for terms such as "fights bacteria" or "freshens breath".

What is important for consumers to consider is WHAT is in the product to back up the package claims. Consumers need to look for NATURAL INGREDIENTS rather than rely on caustic synthetics. Manufacturers that use natural products such as xylitol, neem, sea salt, peppermint and even cocoa are favored in lieu of triclosan, alcohol, artificial colors and fragrance and other potentially harmful ingredients found in conventional oral care products.

The Environmental Working Group created a Cosmetic Database to analyze products available in the marketplace. Check out their site for product reviews for oral care products and other personal care items.

Personal Preference

I recently switched to natural oral care products and have loved the feeling of clean teeth without the chemical taste in my mouth. The products are out there. Next time you need to purchase oral care products, give a natural product a chance!

If you wish to read the full article: Bruch up on healthy oral care.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Sunscreen Selections

Sunscreen is a summer staple. For people who live in a temperate climate, it is a regular purchase as sunscreen shields the skin from harmful UV rays. Studies have shown that regular application of sunscreen prevents premature signs of aging (wrinkles and fine lines) as well as reduces the rick of developing skin cancer.

Studies have shown the benefits of using sunscreen outweigh the negatives of not applying the product. With so many sunscreens to pick from, how do you know what one will provide you with the best protection? Many researchers agree, a lotion is better than a spray as the spray can accidentally be inhaled or ingested.

What to look for in a sunscreen


Oxybenzone is considered the most troubling chemical additive in sunscreens. It is known to cause skin irritation in some people but, the biggest concern is that it is known as a hormone disruptor. Oxybenzone is easily absorbed in the skin and can even be passed from mother to child through breastfeeding.  When you are applying sunscreen to prevent one problem, you do not need to apply sunscreen and invite in a different problem. There is a push for all sunscreens to be oxybenzone free by 2020.


A high SPF value does not mean you can apply less and stay in the sun longer. That myth needs to be debunked. What one needs to look for is a BROAD SPECTRUM SPF that shields the skin from UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen needs to be applied thoroughly and often.

Minerals: Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide

Minerals do not break down in the sun so they provide the skin with greater protection than many chemicals alone can and with a less worry. According to the Environmental Working Group, zinc oxide is an ideal choice for sun protection as it is stable in sunlight and can provide greater protection from UVA rays than titanium oxide or any other sunscreen chemical approved for use in the U.S..Today, sunscreen makers use zinc oxide nanoparticles to formulate lotions with less white tint. Look for products that have at least 15-20% mineral content.

What Should I Purchase?

The Environmental Working Group created a guide that you can find here. The beach and sport sunscreens listed meet the EWG's strict standard for Ingredient hazard and product efficacy:
  • Health Hazards
  • UVA Protection
  • UVB Protection
  • Balance of UVA/UVB Protection
  • Sunscreen Stability

Want more information?

Read Jessica Rubio's Article Not all mineral sunscreens are created equal at Delicious Living.
Read the Environmental Working Group's Guide to Sunscreens (Updated 2018).

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Natural First Aid

Before the plethora of stores on each and every corner and the online shopping, people found ways to take care of simple first aid needs at home. Yes, this may have been a generation or two ago, but the stories of our grandparents can teach us something. Some "home remedies" are tried-and-true and work very well. Below is a list of home remedies from Jessica Rubino at Delicious Living.

We need to take care of our bodies. why not use natural ingredients? Some of these you can keep on hand, others you need to purchase rather than chemical based products.


Aloe is great for healing burns. If you can keep a small plant on hand in your garden, in a container, or on a shelf, you could break off a portion and put it on a small burn.


This homeopathic remedy is known to ease bruises, reduce swelling and speed recovery. Research is inconclusive, but some studies show promise for bruise and muscle relief


Calendula, nicknamed the “mother of the skin", has been used since the 12th century for its range of healing benefits, including antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Lotions, oils and ointments using calendula alleviate chafing, blisters, bites and burns. A beautiful calendula flower is pictured below. If you can, try to plant some on your yard or in a container garden!

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is not just for cooking; it makes a great salve. You can rub coconut oil on your skin while in the shower to get a deep tissue massage without the oily skin residue.  To make a salve that lessens and lightens scars, mix a bit of lemon juice into coconut oil.

Eucalyptus Oil

Why not have on hand a toxin free bug repellent? Research shows that lemon eucalyptus oil is as effective against mosquitos as low concentrations of DEET. The Environmental Working Group recommends products with a concentration of 30 to 40 percent eucalyptus oil to protect for long periods of time (but don’t use on children younger than 3 because they might get it in their noses, where it could be toxic at high doses).

Manuka Honey

Thanks to the New Zealand manuka bush pictured below (and the bees that pollinate it), dark manuka honey is considerably more potent and therapeutic than the honey sitting in your pantry. It exhibits well-researched antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to heal wounds, subdue irritation and even regenerate skin cells.

Lavendar Essential Oil

Lavender oil is a multi-tasker with its soothing, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that work on everything from scrapes and burns to bites. Lavender is a favorite first-aid ingredient because while it heals it can also reduce scarring from burns. Dilute it in a carrier oil before applying to skin.


This herb (which, fun fact, flavored beer in pre-hops days) shows promise in fending off bacterial infection. Try using a moxa stick (a cigar-like stick packed with mugwort) for bites and stings. You’ll also find mugwort in salves. The mugwort plant, an Irish wildflower, is pictured below.


The neen tree, pictured below, is native to India. Locals gave it the title “village pharmacy” as it has been touted for its range of beauty uses and beyond for more than 5,000 years. Its versatility holds true for modern applications, too. Why add it to your first-aid kit? Thanks to antihistamine and antibacterial qualities, neem combats irritation and even infection from cuts and scrapes.

Cognitive Function ... It's Up To You

Medicine is helping people live longer. We need to find ways to ensure we have QUALITY of life as the LONGEVITY increases. Memory and cognition are important to me as cognitive troubles run in my family.  According to the Alzheimer's Association, "someone in the world develops dementia every 3 seconds". They estimate 75 million people will develop dementia by 2030. 

According to Delicious Living Magazine, food affects our bodies on a MOLECULAR LEVEL. This means that there is a possibility that we can harness the power of food to help us cognitively. 

Nutrition Affects Cognitive Function

Fruits and Vegetables
400 grams (2-3 cups) of fruits and vegetables a day is a target 

Omega 3s
Support healthy brain function
Some sources include: 
Salmon, herring, halibut, oysters, and fresh tuna
Milk, soy milk, and yogurt 
Flaxseed pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts
Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower

My recipe for Simple Scrumptious Smoothis Bowl provides Fruits and Omega3s:

Lifestyle Affects Cognitive Function

Physical Activity
Physically we can help our cognitive function through 30 minutes of exercise and by reducing stress in our lives. Exercise helps all of our organs to work efficiently.

Mental Stimulation
We can challenge our mind through learning new information. There are many platforms for this:
  • Take a class in-person or online just for fun. Canvas has many enrichment classes from which people can choose. 
  • Learn a new language
  • Read a book
  • Complete crossword puzzles/sudoku

What to Avoid

  • Trans Fats
  • Excess white sugar
  • Refined foods
  • Household chemicals (BPA and dioxin)
  • Heavy metals
  • Phthalates (binding agents to make plastics flexible) Phthlates can be found in household items, personal care products, fragrance, and food. More information on Phthalates can be found in this article by The Guardian.  
  • Organophosphate metabolites (pesticides) One way to avoid these is to purchase produce following the Environmental Working Group Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 List

Friday, August 3, 2018

The Buzz About Bees ... Bee Better Certification Coming Soon

Bees are important for the environment. I read an article once that said that bees are responsible for about every third bite of food we take! Unfortunately, the bee population is in decline. People need to be aware of the importance of bees in our food chain. WE NEED BEES!

Bees Provide People With MORE Than Honey
Bees are hard workers. For many of our favorite crops to develop, they need bees to help in the germination process. If we did not have bees, we would not have apples, melons, squash, almonds, or broccoli.

Protect The Bees, Plant Pollinator Friendly Plants
Over the past several years, large numbers of hives have diminished. Honey bees provide a key service to our agricultural production. You can help the honey bees through careful planting in your garden.

  • Spring flowers that bees are drawn to include: crocus, hyacinth, borage, calendula, and wild lilac. 
  • Summer flowers that bees feast on include: cosmos, echinacea, snapdragons foxglove, and hosta. 
  • Late summer and early fall flowers that bees like include: zinnias, sedum, asters, witch hazel, and goldenrod. 
Purchase Products Labeled Bee Better Certified
Be an informed consumer and look for the new labeling "BEE BETTER CERTIFIED" that will be available soon. The new label will help guide you in choosing ethical, environmentally-sound products: a certification for foods produced on bee-friendly farms. "The pillars of the program are: dedicating a minimum 5 percent of land to providing habitat—meaning abundant sources of pollen and nectar, such as hedgerows or flowering cover crops; providing nesting sites for pollinators in the form of (depending on the pollinator species) plants with pity-stems, undisturbed ground and plants butterflies can lay eggs in; and eliminating or minimizing the use of chemical pesticides" (Cernansky, Delicious Living).

Yes, You Can Make A Difference
Plant flowers that attract bees, purchase products labeled BEE BETTER CERTIFIED, and avoid using neonicotinoids in your gardening.

For more information, read the Delicious Living's Article "Be Better Certified" Could Help With Pollinator-Friendly Choices and the BBC Article Would We Starve Without Bees.

Yoga for Digestion and Detox

Many people take supplements or go on a cleanse to aid in digestion or to detox. A regular yoga practice can help the body digest better and to detoxify. Add in a nutrition component and the process can be natural.

A yoga practice that involves twists, forward folds, and side stretches stokes the digestive fire. Yoga Journal has an online sequence that you can follow if you are looking for a set series to help you get started.

A rule of thumb when eating that will help your digestion is to fill your belly 1/3 with food, 1/3 with water, and 1/3 leave empty. Adding prebiotic fiber like that found in Gutzy is helpful to maintain your digestive flora. Gutzy is an on-the-go pack that you can take in your car and eat after a class if you feel you need to refuel.