Today, we will take a trip to the basement (or wherever your laundry facilities are). I was recently at a home party where ladies were considering cleaning products and one casually commented that she never knew she should clean her washing machine. That puzzled me. I clean my shower, though it is the place everyone in my family goes to bathe. I clean the tub my son takes his whirlpool in. I clean the sink in which dirty dishes are washed. Would I not also clean the washing machine in which I wash dirty clothing? For me, looking into the wash tub and seeing a film of soap residue build up would encourage me to clean it out. But just in case you have never thought to clean your washing machine, today, I’m going to offer you an easy way to get it squeaky clean. You might enjoy the process so much you do it regularly.
The following instructions will allow you to kill mold, mildew, and keep odors at bay in your washer...using only natural ingredients. This process is safe for septic tanks and safe for all washer components are needed for this project. White vinegar and baking soda to the rescue! The vinegar will disinfect, helping kill mold and mildew. The acidity of the vinegar will help dissolve soap residue in the wash tub and can also be helpful in dissolving lime deposits in pipes (if you have hard water). The baking soda cleans soap scum and deodorizes if you have SWS (stinky washer syndrome). Set your washer to run on hot water with the largest load setting. Do not add clothes or detergent. Add 3-4 cups of white vinegar to the water and allow the machine to agitate for a minute to incorporate the vinegar. Add about 1⁄2 cup of baking soda. Allow the machine to run again to mix in the baking soda. Stop the washer at this point and allow the water to sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
While the hot water, vinegar, and baking soda are penetrating the grime and odors, use a clean cloth dipped in the vinegar water to wipe down your washer. Give attention to the top of the washer, the knobs, the top of the wash bin, and any bleach or fabric softener dispensers. (I had to bust out an old toothbrush to detail all the grime that was residing in my washer!) Allow the washing cycle to resume until the water begins draining. If your washer will allow it, turn the knob so the tub will drain while spinning, further cleaning out any gunk that has been loosened up and pushing the vinegar water through the holes in the wash bin. If your washer doesn’t allow this, start another hot wash cycle.
Two common household ingredients at this point and allow it to run through completely. The scum around the top of the wash bin wiped off very easily with a sponge at this point. (Remember, the water doesn’t reach this part, so it may need a little extra attention.) After cleaning it, my entire laundry room smells completely different! Fresh as a daisy...just the way I want my clean clothes to smell.
If your top load washer is susceptible to getting mold, mildew, or odors, keep the lid open after each use to allow drying. Clean your washer using this method every few months or as needed. Again, keep in mind these instructions are for a top loader washing machine only. If you have a front loader, you can find directions for cleaning it naturally here.
I’m still working on spring cleaning, though we are nearing the summer months. I still have a few rooms with windows begging to have grime washed off them. Maybe you are in the same place I am. If so, think about giving that washing machine a good ‘spring cleaning’. You can be confident your clothes will be sparkling clean if you do.
Summer is upon us, really. Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer, even though the calendar doesn’t officially declare it till June 21. I don’t know about you, but summer marks a new way of eating for our family.
In the heat, we love foods that are easy to prepare without the oven heating the house. We like to grill and we relish eating from the garden. Truly, some afternoons, I walk to the garden and look around to see what is ready to pick. That helps my menu plan.
Even though we haven’t hit July yet, watermelons are in the stores and so delicious. Not only that, they are exceptional, nutritionally. Watermelons have so much water content, they help us stay hydrated in the heat, whether we are exercising, working, or playing in the sun. It carries lots of nutrients; it’s reasonably priced in the summer.
Though I like organic, watermelon is one of those items that has a thick skin which we don’t consume. So, it NOT one of the ‘dirty dozen’, polluted with pesticides on the part we eat. If we eat the peelings, we need to eliminate any residual pesticide by purchasing organic. Watermelon, though is one item we can buy not organically and feel OK. It helps the purse strings and we can feel safe.
Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of watermelon can help decrease the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, and heart disease. Watermelon also promotes healthier complexions and hair, as well as increasing energy levels.
One cup of diced watermelon (152 grams) contains 43 calories, 0 grams of fat, 2 grams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrate (including 9 grams of sugar and 1 gram of fiber) and 1 gram of fiber. One cup of watermelon will provide 17% of vitamin A, 21% of vitamin C, 2% of iron and 1% of calcium needs for the day.
Watermelon also contains thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, choline, lycopene and betaine. According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, watermelon contains more lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable.
Asthma prevention: The risks for developing asthma are lower in people who consume a high amount of certain nutrients. One of these nutrients is vitamin C, found in abundance in watermelon.
Blood pressure: A study published by the American Journal of Hypertension found that watermelon “reduced ankle blood pressure, brachial blood pressure and carotid wave reflection in obese middle-aged adults with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension”. The study also showed that watermelon consumption improved arterial function.
Cancer: An excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin C, as well as others, watermelon can help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. Lycopene intake, for example, has been linked to a decreased risk of prostate cancer prevention in several studies.
Digestion and regularity: Watermelon, because of its water and fiber content, helps to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
Hydration: Made up of 92% water and full of important electrolytes, watermelons are a great snack to have on hand during the hot summer months to prevent dehydration.
Inflammation: Choline is a very important and versatile nutrient that aids in sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, assists in the transmission of nerve impulses, and helps in the absorption of fat. Choline can also alleviate chronic inflammation.
Muscle soreness: Watermelon and its juice have been shown to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time following exercise in athletes. Researchers believe this is likely do to the amino acid L-citrulline that watermelon contains.
Skin: Watermelon is fantastic for your skin because it contains vitamin A, a nutrient required for sebum production that keeps hair moisturized. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair.
So after you have worked, played, or bathed in the sunshine, refresh yourself with a slice of watermelon. It will do your body good.
Sourced from Natural Cures Not Medicine.
Several months ago, I found a recipe for a tropical fruit salad. I was so impressed with the results, I shared it with a friend who lives in Mexico half of the year, reminding her that mangos and jicama (another ingredient in the salad) are easily available in Mexico. She replied that mangoes ripen in May and are as prevalent there as zucchini in the summer in Iowa. I wonder if they arrive in grocery sacks on porch steps in an effort to ‘give’ a good gift?
When I visited our friends who manage Puente de Amistad (where our mission team is going in a few weeks), we stopped at a food cart. The owner peeled the mango, cut it up, and sprinkled lime juice and chili pepper on it. We consumed it as a sticky and delectable treat as we visited the outdoor vendors. I was sold. What a wonderful combination: sweet, sour, heat. Delicious and nutritious. Who could complain about something with that combination?
At any rate, the season is upon us and mango prices should be seasonably low any week now. So I wanted to know what beside the amazing taste is so wonderful about this fruit. I am frankly, amazed, at what God packs into fruits and vegetables for the benefit of every cell in our body. Look at this list and buy some mangoes. And, after the benefits, I’ll give you my salad recipe.
One cup of mangoes (225 gms contain) contains the following percentages that apply to daily value. 105 calories, 76 percent vitamin C (antioxidant and immune booster), 25 percent vitamin A (antioxidant and vision),11 percent vitamin B6, plus other B vitamins (hormone production in brain and heart disease prevention), 9 percent healthy probiotic fiber, 9 percent copper (copper is a co-factor for many vital enzymes plus production of red blood cells), 7 percent potassium (to balance out our high sodium intake), 4 percent magnesium
1. Fights cancer-Antioxidants like quercetin, isoquercitrin, astragalin, fisetin, gallic acid and methylgallat present in mango protect the body against colon, breast, leukemia and prostate cancers.
2. Keeps cholesterol in check-Mango has high level of vitamin C, pectin and fibers that help to lower serum cholesterol levels. Fresh mango is a rich source of potassium, which is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps to control heart rate and blood pressure.
3. Skin cleanser-Mangoes help you unclog your pores and add freshness to the face. Mangoes are applicable to any skin type. They help clear clogged pores that cause acne. Just slice a mango into thin pieces and keep them on your face for 10 to 15 minutes and then take bath or wash your face and see the results.
4. Alkalizes the body-According to natural health school.com, mango is rich in tartaric acid, malic acid and traces of citric acid that primarily help in maintaining the alkali reserve of the body.
5. Weight loss-Mango has a lot of vitamins and nutrients that help the body feel fuller. Also, the fibrous fruit boosts the digestive function of the body by burning additional calories, helping in weight loss.
6. Regulates diabetes-Not only the fruit but the leaves of mangoes are healthy too. For people suffering from diabetes, just boil 5-6 mango leaves in a vessel, soak it through night and drink the filtered decoction in the morning. This is helps in regulating your insulin levels.
Mango has a low glycemic index (41-60) so going a little overboard will not increase your sugar levels.
7. Aphrodisiac-Mango has aphrodisiac qualities and is also called the ‘love fruit’. Mangoes increase the virility in men. Vitamin E, which is abundantly present in mangoes, helps to regulate sex hormones and boosts sex drive.
8. Eye care-Did you know that mango is rich in vitamin A? One cup of sliced mangoes equals 25% intake of your daily need of vitamin A. Mangoes help in promoting good eye sight, fights dry eyes and also prevent night blindness.
9. Helps in digestion-Mango contains enzymes that help in breaking down protein. The fibrous nature of mango helps in digestion and elimination. It is is rich in pre-biotic dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.
10. Heat stroke-When the sun is bogging you down this summer, just chop of a mango in a juicer; add a little water and a tbsp of sugar free or honey. This juice will instantly cool you down and prevent heat stroke.
11. Strengthens your immune-The deadly combination of vitamin C, vitamin A and 25 different kinds of carotenoids keep your immune system healthy.
12. Body scrub-Make a paste of mashed mango, honey and milk and use as a body scrub, you will feel that your skin is tender and smooth.
13. Aids concentration and memory-Studying for exams? This fruit is rich in glutamine acid– an important protein for concentration and memory. Feed mangoes to children who find it difficult to concentrate on studies.
14. High iron for women-Mango is rich in iron, hence it is a great natural solution for people suffering from anemia. Menopausal and pregnant women can indulge in mangoes as this will increase their iron levels and calcium at the same time.
15. Reduces Kidney Stones-In Chinese medicine, mangoes are considered sweet and sour with a cooling energy also capable of reducing the risk of kidney stone formation.
16. Perfect Snack-Instead of snacking on unhealthy chips and cookies, why not feast on slices of mangoes instead. They are perhaps one of the tastiest dehydrated fruits of all. Here’s the great fruit salad recipe I mentioned earlier:
-4 cups of jicama, peeled and cubed
-2 cups of mango, peeled, cubed
-2 oranges, peeled, sectioned, and cut into bite sized pieces
-Juice of 2 limes
-½ cup sweetener (I use coconut crystals, but sugar or granulated stevia works)
-¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
In a sauce pan, combine, bring to a boil till sweetener is dissolved.
Pour the syrup over the cut up fruit/vegetable. Serve.
One issue with mango is knowing how to cut them. There are a couple of easy and successful ways. I prefer to peel it with a potato peeler and then slice it. Others prefer to cut away the seed and then score the fruit and remove it from the skin. Whichever you choose, here is the real key to cutting it:
Put the fruit on the narrow side. You will see a ridge. Placing your knife to the side of the ridge, cut straight down. Repeat on the other side. If you meet resistance, move the knife further to the outside of the fruit. I always go back and ‘harvest’ the edges of the pit. Not a bit of the deliciousness goes to waste.
Isn’t God amazing to supply so many nutrients and benefits from one little fruit? I’m in awe of my creator!
In past articles, I have referenced a term commonly discovered in articles about food: glycemic index. However, it is a term that may be new to you or whose implications might not be obvious. Today, we will take a look at what it is and give some examples of how it affects your daily life.
Glycemic index is a measurement carried out on carbohydrate-containing foods and their impact on our blood sugar. GI is a relatively new way of analyzing foods. Previously, most meal plans designed to improve blood sugar analyzed the total amount of carbohydrates (including sugars and starches) in the foods themselves. GI goes beyond this approach, looking at the impact of foods on our actual blood sugar. In other words, instead of counting the total amount of carbohydrates in foods in their unconsumed state, GI measures the actual impact of these foods on our blood sugar.
Lower glycemic index diets have had remarkable success in combating diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiac issues, metabolic syndrome, stroke, and a vast array of other plagues our culture faces.
Food is categorized into low, medium and high glycemic index. It is a measurement of how the carbohydrate affects the blood sugar in one’s system, compared to white sugar or white bread. It is a complicated, scientific analysis, which removes the insoluble fiber and just looks at the metabolic action within the blood system.
The form or preparation of the food makes a difference in the glycemic index. Legumes, for example that require a long cooking time, are more stable because of the fiber in them, decreasing the spikes in blood sugar. However, legumes that are ground into flour have a higher glycemic index because the grinding reduces the fiber and escalates the ‘burn’ time of the carbohydrate in it.
It may not surprise us then to discover foods that are high in fiber and low in stored carbohydrate are low glycemic index. Vegetables like asparagus, cabbages, green beans are lower than root crops, which have more stored energy. Carrots, beets, onions, parsnips and vegetables that grow under ground contain more sugar in them. Consequently, they are categorized as medium glycemic index. Fruits often fall into this same category. High glycemic index loads come from potatoes. We might think of high glycemic load foods as ‘starchy’. The ratio of fiber to sugar is much lower, escalating the amount of time the blood sugar is high.
Why is this important? We know insulin is released when there is a rush in blood sugar. It is the transportation system and encourages the body to burn and store energy. If we are sedentary, there is more storage than burn. Too much storage creates a new organ in the body, fat. Fat has a mind of its own, acting as an organ.
Perhaps you have heard celebrities recommend a dietary system in which the foods are a ‘low glycemic index’ to encourage your body to burn fat. They are really saying the food has a low glycemic index so your blood sugar doesn’t spike, but stays steady, keeping your body calm, avoiding the sugar highs and lows that come with high carbohydrate, low fiber foods.
You have heard the phrase, ‘I need a pick me up.’ Often that individual is headed to the vending machine for pop and cookies or the coffee bar for a latte or coffee with cream and lots of sugar. It is true. Those foods pick up the blood sugar and create a ‘rush’ in the system. Unfortunately, it is followed by a low: fatigue and lack of energy. So, the cycle to consume more sugar (another cookie, a larger pop) continues and the body struggles to keep up. It is a crisis for the body and hard for it to manage these stressors over time. After enough crisis, the body begins to fail and diseases arrive.
Next time you need a pick me up, select a food that has a lower glycemic index: a piece of fruit or a vegetable with a protein to level out that blood sugar. It will avoid some of the diseases we want to eliminate from our lives. And, if you consistently make those choices, you might even lose some unwanted inches.
This has been a week of many colors at our house. We are still recuperating from our Easter in the hospital with our son. My husband and I have agreed we are past the age of all-nighters. We do it because there isn’t an opportunity for sleep in the emergency room when our son has to seek medical treatment, but on a voluntary basis, we will not choose lack of sleep. It takes us far too long to recuperate…
Our daughter who is getting married was home for a few days so we could navigate some of the ‘next layer of decisions’ for the wedding: food options, decorating and space issues at the venue. It requires my focus as I try to absorb her desire and assist her in executing her dreams. Since she is a minimalist, it means cutting away the fluff and getting just the bones of planning.
And, this week, we purged our kitchen: nada left in it. We brought all new kitchen cabinetry into the house, resting in bedrooms, dining rooms, and various odd places to acclimate the wood to our environment. Chaos is a close adjective for describing our house. The new cupboards are now hanging on the wall. The sink is in, but nothing is connected nor can it be till the countertops arrive and who knows when that will be.
There is more, but you get the idea. Do you ever have things that seem to pile up and overwhelm you? There are probably natural enough solutions to stress: playing in the rain with your children; a walk around the block; a good cup of coffee; a chat with a friend.
Here are some ideas for relaxing and cleaning using cucumbers. Maybe some of them will work for you. I haven’t used all of them but maybe I’ll try. Let me know how they work for you.
1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.
2.For a pick me up in the afternoon... Put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours. Slice some and put in your water bottle.
3. If you rub a cucumber slice along your bathroom mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.
4. Place a few slices of cucumber in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.
5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemical in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!!
6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!
7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries by European trappers, traders and explorers for quick meals to thwart off starvation.
8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don’t have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.
9. Out of WD-40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!
10. Stressed out and don’t have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber will react with the boiling water and released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown to reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.
11. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don’t have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the photochemical will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.
12. Looking for a ‘green’ way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but it won’t leave streaks and won’t harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean.
Cucumbers might be the new ‘Calgon, take me away.’ Give it a try and see if you can implement some of these ideas for calm and rest. I plan to try.
An alarming article crossed my desk last week. So disturbing, I couldn’t shake the facts nor could I stop being grateful my children are no longer young…still we hope there will some day be grandchildren in our lives, so it is important for us to pay attention to current research.
What, you ask could cause such consternation? It’s called precocious puberty. You may have also seen some of the statistics. Precocious puberty is premature development in children. It has risen with child hood obesity.
Childhood obesity has tripled since 1980; children between 2 and 5 who are now considered obese have multiplied in the last 30 years. Seventeen per cent of all children are now obese.
One point eight billion dollars are spent marketing to children, primarily junk and processed food. An increased consumption of sugar, hormone-mimicking chemicals, obesity and precocious puberty all lead to increases in cancer rates.
In the book GRAIN BRAIN, nutritionist and neurologist author, Dr. David Perlmutter discusses the effects fat has on our body. It acts as an organ, producing estrogen, increasing leptin and insulin and urging the body to store even more fat. Unfortunately, increases of diabetes, cardiac issues, asthma, fatty liver disease and musculoskeletal, GERD increase with age for those suffering from childhood obesity.
Low vitamin D level is a contributing factor in childhood obesity and individuals who struggle with obesity have higher requirements for vitamin D to live healthier lives.
Perhaps you have heard of the word phthalates, chemical components in many plastics, household cleaning products, personal care items, and even every day items, like shower curtains. They are suspected of metabolic changes in bodies, disrupting the normal way a body works, and leading to obesity.
Parabens, a classification of chemicals with estrogen-like qualities are found in many personal cleaning and care products. It is also present in puberty and breast cancer. This means there is likely a link to parabens and ill health.
Finally, inactivity, is one of the hallmarks of childhood obesity. Likely you have read the articles of memory lane, where in years gone by children rode bikes, played outside all day, and came home only when Mom’s whistle blew for dinner. Today, our children seem to be more entertained with video games than dodge ball. It’s a cycle hard to break.
So, what can we do?
Do what you can. Take it one step at a time. Protect your children in every way you can. And, play a little dodge ball with a foam ball!
In the world of fruits and vegetables, what we think is a fruit sometimes is not. Take tomatoes as an example. Technically, they are a fruit, yet most of us consider it a vegetable. Maybe, because it is grown in our vegetable gardens, we lump it in that category. Rhubarb also is like that. Rhubarb in my mind is a fruit, perhaps because it frequently pairs with strawberries or as a pie. But technically, it is a vegetable. As I was examining my garden last weekend, I noticed the rhubarb is ALMOST ready for harvest. Curious girl that I am, I decided to research on the plant so I could share information like nutrition with you – that’s when I was surprised to discover it’s a vegetable.
As a young farm girl, my siblings and I would beg to pull a stalk of rhubarb and chew on it. Sprinkling it with salt either made it more palatable or increased the pucker power. I’m not certain which but we thought it was a delightful early summer treat.
Rhubarb will be available at some of the early farmer’s market. The harvest should be finished by mid-June. It isn’t that it cannot be picked or used after that time, but recommendations are to discontinue harvest through the summer so it can save strength for the next year.
Most of us know not to eat the leaves of the rhubarb. They are toxic, high in oxalic acid. The stem, which is edible, should be removed from the leaf as soon as it is picked to maintain optimum nutrition.
Frankly, I was amazed at the nutritional benefits of rhubarb. Take a look at them: Rhubarb is one of the least calorie vegetables. 100 g fresh petioles provide just 21 calories. Nonetheless, it contains some vital phyto-nutrients such as dietary fiber, poly-phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Further, its petioles contain no saturated fats or cholesterol.
If you have rhubarb at home, pick it by pulling and slightly twisting at the base of the stalk. Cut the leaf and discard it in a compost bin. Wash the stems and store in a refrigerator, in a plastic bag. I put a paper towel in the bag to maintain the moisture without disintegrating.
Rhubarb can be frozen successfully. Freezing will rupture the cell structure, so once it is defrosted, it would be wise to allow it to drain before using it in a recipe.
Remember eating seasonally accomplishes several goals. It is most economical to purchase foods in season. Buy a little extra if your budget allows it. Cut, blanch, freeze or preserve for later use. Seasonal eating allows us the thrill of whatever is in season. The ebb and flow of produce gives us new fruits and vegetables each week or month. Enjoying what is available today is part of the joy of the season.
The spiritual lesson is being content and grateful in whatever the season holds. Today, that’s rhubarb and maybe even asparagus. Strawberries are next. I’m looking forward to that, too.
Last fall, I was in the shower one day, trying to scrub something off my foot. It wouldn’t come off and I wondered what I’d gotten into. I stepped out of the shower thinking I’d have to use some baking soda on my feet to remove the stain, when I realized it was a tan line from my garden sandals. My feet were striped like a zebra. It was a little embarrassing but since I don’t go anywhere that people would notice my feet, I didn’t worry one bit about it.
I have a confession to make, though. I rarely use sunscreen. Somehow, in my mind, rubbing chemicals whose names I can hardly pronounce all over just seemed to make my skin crawl. It seemed unnatural and wrong. So, I ignored all the recommendations and just did my own thing. Sorry, but that’s the truth. I would gradually increase my exposure to the sun so I didn’t burn. I liked the Vitamin D my skin absorbed when I was out in the sun virtually unprotected. And, I didn’t worry about getting burned, usually. Pink a little early in the season, but rarely burned.
Then, I ran across some interesting research and realized my natural inclination was not so wrong. What we eat directly affects how our bodies absorb the sunshine; if or how we burn; and altering our diet can improve our overall good health. I bet that surprised you!
Even if you are fair skinned or blonde, food can help. I have a red head. My mom was a red head. Her dad and her paternal grandmother were red heads. (I have a bias toward red hair) They have unique, sometimes more sensitive skin and health issues. But diet makes a huge difference for even red heads. And the best part of the dietary changes: fat is a key issue. I’ll bet THAT surprised you, too. Good fat. Saturated and medium chain fats. So, now that you know the keys I’m going to share with you, let’s just get down to the facts.
First, there are 2 classifications of fats: Omega 3 and Omega 6. Omega 6 fats come from vegetable oils. We have LOTS of them in the American diet. Just read the label of any processed or pre packaged food (like salad dressing or any kind of chips) and you will find an abundance of canola, soy, cottonseed, corn, peanut oils. The Center for Disease Center has this to say about Omega 6 oils:
“… the amount of linoleic acid in the diet as well as the balance between Omega-6 and Omega-3 determine the susceptibility of the skin to damage from UV rays. This is a very straightforward explanation for the beautiful skin of people eating traditional fats like butter and coconut oil. It’s also a straightforward explanation for the poor skin and sharply rising melanoma incidence of Western nations. Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer.”
Omega 3 fats are the ones we find in saturated fats, in salmon, meat, etc. They are the building blocks the body uses to create new skin cells. If the diet is low or void of Omega 3 fats, the body uses what it has (Omega 6) and makes new cells that are more prone to cancer. Bad.
One more part to the equation is inflammation. Foods that are inflammatory can create the climate for cancers to grow. Grains, if not prepared properly can be inflammatory. So, if you are consuming grains, be sure they are appropriately prepared to give your body the nutrients rather than extracting nutrients from your body. There are some inflammatory foods, too: SUGAR is the worst in its many forms: corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, honey, etc.; even the sugar substitutes; nightshade: potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant. If you have issues with arthritis, MS, fibromyalgia, or other diseases that are inflammatory in nature, avoid these. Be sure your diet is full of antioxidants which help reduce inflammation. Vitamin C is a great antioxidant. A diet rich in vegetables will have sufficient antioxidants.
Gradually expose yourself to the sun. Don’t sit outside for 6 hours the first time it’s warm enough. Spend fifteen or twenty minutes in the sun the first day; add 5-15 minutes a day. Wear appropriate protective clothing as you increase your exposure. Be smart about it.
Optimize your Vitamin D. You can get vitamin D from being in the sun. In fact, lots of people run short of vitamin D in our climate in the winter and many doctors recommend supplementing diet with it. This is a logical step in protecting the skin and many other parts of the body. Melanin, the dark pigment that we get when we tan, is produced to shield the skin from further UV exposure by providing a type of barrier. This is why dark skinned people need more sun that those with fair skin to get the same amount of Vitamin D. When the body has enough Vitamin D, it will start producing Melanin to keep from getting too much. There is evidence that optimizing Vitamin D levels through sun exposure and even through supplementation will help the body produce melanin faster and retain it longer.
Research has shown that taking 5,000 to 10,000 IU of Vitamin D for several months can have a sunburn preventing effect and can improve the ability to tan. If you are unsure if your diet holds everything it needs, there is always supplementation.
Here are some suggestions for general good health, and skin protection, specifically:
• Vitamin D3 (I take about 5,000 IU/day)- Emerging evidence shows that optimizing blood levels of Vitamin D can have a protective effect against sunburn and skin cancer.
• Vitamin C (I take about 2,000 mg/day)- A potent anti-inflammatory, and it is good for the immune system too.
• 1/4 cup coconut oil- the Medium Chain Fatty Acids and saturated fat are easily utilized by the body for new skin formation and are protective against burning.
• Fermented Cod Liver Oil/High Vitamin Butter Oil Blend (also great for remineralizing teeth)-Probably the most important supplement for sun protection.
• Astaxanthin- A highly potent antioxidant which research says it acts as an internal sunscreen. It’s also supposedly an anti-aging supplement.
I am not opposed to the use of sunscreen. It is especially important if you have opportunity to vacation in spots south of us where the sun is hotter and brighter and more direct. Just be wise about your diet; apply sunscreen when and where you need it and enjoy the rays.
There are many natural ways to avoid sunburn with or without the sunscreen. Be wise in the choices you make and remember to live in the Son.
Last week, I reminded you to eat your vegetables.
No one gives the scientific evidence better than Dr. Joe Mercola. He is an amazing doctor who researches nutrition and applies it in his practice. I admire and respect his opinion and hope you can glean valuable information from this article. Notice his comment about where 70% of his calories originate. Now you know why I like the guy so much!Happy eating, and don't be afraid to put a pat of butter on those veggies: especially if they are dark green or dark yellow. You need the fat to get the vitamin A into the cells...now, Dr. Mercola: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/04/14/eating-fruits-vegetables.aspx
Last week, I encountered an interesting article about a family that abandoned sugar for an entire year, intentionally. They allowed one dessert per month. If someone in the family had a birthday, the celebrant chose the selected dessert. The wife and mother recounted how shocked they were at the number of foods containing any kind of sweetener and how they adapted to avoiding sweeteners, including honey, maltodextrins, and sugar alcohols. Their experiment started when the mom read one in seven people in America have metabolic syndrome; one in three is obese; diabetes is on the rise; and the common contributor to each of these maladies is sugar. So, the great experiment began. You can read the details on Everyday Health, but I’ll just give you a summary of how they adapted, after I describe a little of metabolic syndrome.
Metabolism is the biochemical process our body uses to break down the ingredients we feed it and reformulate it so the body can use it. The process is miraculous, requiring the many organs of our body to digest, absorb, process, eliminate, and fortify. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that can increase the possibility of heart disease (twice the rate of heart disease) or diabetes (5 times the rate of diabetes). These are the risk factors:
• A large waistline. This also is called abdominal obesity or "having an apple shape."
Excess fat in the stomach area is a greater risk factor for heart disease than excess fat in other parts of the body, such as on the hips. (waistlines over 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women)
• A high triglyceride level (or you're on medicine to treat high triglycerides).
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood. (150)
• A low HDL cholesterol level (or you're on medicine to treat low HDL cholesterol). HDL sometimes is called "good" cholesterol. This is because it helps remove cholesterol from your arteries. A low HDL cholesterol level raises your risk for heart disease.
• High blood pressure (or you're on medicine to treat high blood pressure). Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage your heart and lead to plaque buildup. (135/85)
• High fasting blood sugar (or you're on medicine to treat high blood sugar). Mildly high blood sugar may be an early sign of diabetes.
If you have more than one or two of these symptoms, what can you do? Doctors recommend weight loss, exercise, diet change, and less alcohol consumption.
There are as many diets in the world as there are books in the library and no one person can tell you how to lose weight if that is a concern. Maybe taking a look at the amount of sugar (or sugar substitutes) is the answer for you. Exercise can be as simple as playing: in the garden, in the pool, running a race. Rather than think of exercise as something that has to be done, find a hobby or something you like to do that moves that bod. This is a real struggle in the winter if what you love to do involves being outside but the brutality of the 4-5 months of winter don’t cooperate. I have to find alternatives in the winter because gardening in a snow bank has not been very successful for me. Walking, lifting weights or yoga/pilates are the things I float between in those months.
Dietary changes need to be intentional and the best time to make big changes comes with the season of fresh fruits and vegetables. You have heard me say it before, and I’ll repeat it again and again: Eat the rainbow. Challenge yourself to incorporate color, texture, sweet and sour at each meal. You will find meals more enjoyable with all those elements: satisfying to the eye and palate.
Back to the family who abandoned sugar for a year: the mother claims their palates actually changed. They began to enjoy the rare sugar-filled ‘treats’ less. By the end of the year, she could hardly eat the banana cream pie her husband had requested for his birthday. Her head hurt and she had to lie down. Her interesting question at the end of the experiment was whether sugar had caused the fatigue, suppressed their immune systems, made them feel ‘under the weather’. She now had plenty of energy; was ill less; and never worried she wouldn’t feel her best.
Our health issues have evolved because of the food choices we make. Our family eats as much fresh, organic produce as our budget allows. We eat as many colors at a meal as I can find in the refrigerator. We find our taste buds don’t care for the extra sweet foods once normal on our plates. It was a gradual change. We haven’t arrived, but we are always working toward eating healthy.
One plug for your local gardener: join a CSA, garden in containers or create a square foot garden in the corner of your yard to produce your own vegetables. Eat clean and fresh and avoid the plague of sugar.I challenge you today to read every label to educate yourself on how much sugar, corn syrup, maltodextrin, honey, molasses, sorghum, or other sweetener is in what you eat. I have a long ways to go (I still love chocolate, though I prefer the high cacao and hardly eat the milk chocolate). It will do your body good!
Post script: Each week, I ask the Lord to give me an idea on which to write. Sometimes, I get several notions and have an entire month’s worth of material in the back of my brain. Other weeks, I have to really listen to hear His voice. This week was one of the latter. I struggled. I had saved the article about the family just last week and it was the only idea I had on my plate. But, the article was brief and I wasn’t sure I could make an entire column from it. After having squeezed the article for all I could get from it, I heard a piece on Good Morning America the very morning I was to send the completed article off. It seems Katie Courac is narrating a film called ‘Fed Up’ on the plague of sugar. You can watch a clip at here. The entire film will be released on May 9 and deals with the epidemic of sugar in the Standard American Diet (often referenced as SAD). Go watch the clip and see what you can do. Money speaks volumes to the companies who produce food with added sugar. Not buying their product tells them you revolt and it is the only way to change what is available on shelves.