30
Mar

Reduce BPA and DEHP Exposure by Eliminating Plastic Food Packaging

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

A new study has been released by Enviromental Health Perspectives that addresses ways to reduce exposure to BPA and DEHP (bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) by changing our dietary shopping practices. Essentially it evaluated exposure contribution by food packaging (canned foods and foods wrapped in plastic) and tested urine levels of BPA and DEHP metabolites before, during, and after “fresh foods” interventions. There were 20 participants in five families who were studied and they were self reported consumers of canned and plastic packaged foods.

The concern with canned food is the BPA lining used by nearly all canned good manufacturing companies. DEHP is a plastic softener that can be found in plastic that wraps food for protection. These chemicals are known to disrupt hormonal systems in the body leading to developmental and reproductive issues, obesity, and even cancers. And aren’t we fortunate that they both make an appearance in a wide variety of food packaging materials? Ugh…

So did the BPA and DEHP metabolite levels in the study participants decrease when they stopped using canned and plastic wrapped foods and switched to fresh foods? The results of study were quite telling. The levels were greatly reduced and would indicate that food packaging is a front runner in exposing us to these chemicals nasties. You are what you eat right? The intervention reduced concentrations of BPA by 66% and DEHP metabolites by 53-56%. Wow!

What we need to extract from this study is that food packaging is a major source of exposure to BPA and DEHP. Also, we CAN do something about it by making dietary adjustments and changing our food selections.

What Can You Do Personally?

  • Opt for frozen, dried, jarred, or fresh foods instead of canned foods and beverages. If you do need to buy canned then buy Eden Foods brand, the only known brand to not use BPA. Campbell soup claims to be eliminating it soon as well.
  • Buy loose fruits and veggies, not those wrapped in plastic. Bring your own cloth produce bags to carry them.
  • Instead of buying bags of trail mix, beans, grains, rice, etc buy these loose and in bulk. Cloth bags or glass jars can be used to hold them.
  • If you do buy food wrapped in plastic, like that yummy Smoked Gouda from Whole Foods, unwrap it and store in a glass refrigerator dish instead.
  • Buy more fresh foods from the farmer’s market and less processed foods that need extra packaging.
  • If you use baby bottles opt for BPA free ones or even better, glass baby bottles.
  • Avoid bottled water, even the large 5 gallon containers. Filter your own tap water and fill reusable bottles.
  • Sippy cups should be BPA free, like this EIO Glass Sippy Cup we used.

This recent study is a boon for parents because it provides data that shows us we DO in fact have some power here. We can significantly reduce exposure to some of these chemical in ourselves and in our kids by simply being diligent and shopping smarter.

 

29
Mar

The pH Miracle

by Tiffany in Book Reviews, Health & Healing

pH Miracle for healthMy “healthy diet” ideas are spread out among numerous ideologies and theories. I cherry pick things that I like and that work for me and drop the things that I don’t like. I like the WAPF ideas of a nourishing diet for the most part but I do not like their obsession with meat. Same thing for primal eaters but I do like the primal practice of minimizing grains. I prefer a vegetarian diet but not so much the fact that LOTS of vegetarians could actually be called grainarians. Living off pasta, bread, and rice is not healthy in my opinion.

I ended up deciding that for me the best diet is a nourished vegetarian diet with little in the way of grains and lots in the way of raw foods and greens (ala Crazy, Sexy, Diet). The chief way I choose to eat lots of greens is via green smoothies. I drink 2 quarts per day, minimum, loaded with things like spinach, collard greens, turnip or beet greens, parsley, mustard greens, wheatgrass, or wild greens like dandelion. Greens have a lot of the nutrients that WAPF enthusiasts claim they need meat for but when you drink 3-4 cups of greens in one sitting you are getting tons of those nutrients. You are also ingesting ALKALINE foods.

When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 I moved from Ohio to Arizona so I could go to one of the best doctors in the country. His treatment is a mix of conventional and non-conventional and he encourages diet and other alternatives as methods of cure as well. One of the first things he told me was to stop to eating meat and dairy. The reason? They encourage acidity in the body and cancer cells LOVE acid environments. Meat and dairy would in fact contribute to an environment that makes cancer very happy. Later on a I read several books that backed him up and one of those is The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health.

It is a very eye opening book and shows with perfect clarity why a diet based upon acid foods like meat and dairy are NOT a good idea. Of course this is not to say that you cannot ever eat these things but the typical person is not striking a balance between acidic and alkaline foods. The book goes into the exact things that happen when our body is too acidic… it is like giving your cells and acid bath and giving a place for things like Candida (yeast) a place to thrive.

In all honesty the diet at the back of the book is quite radical and there is NO way I could live on it long term. Cold cucumber, avocado soup in the morning doesn’t sound yummy. But thanks to pioneers in the raw foods movement I can drink my green smoothies in addition to other greens and veggies throughout the day and strike a good balance. Or so I hope. ;)

This book inspired me to get some pH testing strips to test my pH daily to see how I am doing. I also got some  pH booster drops to add to my water. Eventually though that became cost prohibitive and I got an Alkamate, portable alkazing water bottle instead. LOVE it! One of the first reviews on that page was from someone who claimed they were to acidic and were getting hives. Ironically I get hives when I stop drinking my smoothies and let my diet get out of whack. I have never been able to explain way they come on but perhaps it too has to do with my pH. After filtering my tap I now add the pH drops and some lemon for the ultimate alkaline water. I have already seen a difference, especially in my skin. This month my period crept up on me and caught me by surprise. My skin usually gets oily and a just a bit blotchy a couple days before that time of month but this go round… nada. If the outside cells of my skin react this way to a more alkaline environment I can only assume the inside cells are swimming around in joy.

Do you know what your pH is?

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

16 Comments on The pH Miracle

28
Mar

Easter Basket Gift Ideas

by Tiffany in Green Holidays

Easter products are hard to miss when you stop by the store these days. From plastic grass to cream filled chocolate eggs, the stuff is everywhere. But if you eschew all that plastic crap and you don’t particularly want your kids to have all that processed sugar what do you? Well, to start you need to pass by those prepackaged Easter baskets and make your own. It’s easy!

Here are some ideas on what you can add to make your child’s Easter basket natural, eco friendly, and most important… fun and memorable.

The Stuffing:

Shredded paper – A few weeks before Easter have your kids do some watercolor painting each day. What kids wouldn’t want to paint everyday? Use some of their creations to shred and line their easter baskets with. They will be colorful and planet friendly.

Real Grass – Growing your own grass is not hard. Find a container that will just fit inside your Easter baskets and line it with a few inches of soil and a generous sprinkling of grass seeds. Just keep the conatiners under a sunny window and water daily. Once you have a few inches of grass you can tuck them inside the baskets and fill with treasures.

The Sweet Stuff :

Dried Fruit – Raisins, dates, apples slices, peaches, apricots, cherries, blueberries, and strawberries are some kid favorites.

Lara Bars – We love Key Lime Pie.

Raw Vegan Chocolate Brownie Bites – They are quite yummy!

Organic Fruit Strips – You can make your own in a dehydrator or buy some from Archer Farms.

Chocolate covered nuts.

Trader Joe’s Yogurt Star Cookies – My kids like these and they remind me of Circus Cookies but without many of the unsavory ingredients. These are actually colored with blueberry powder.

Non Food Treats and Treasures:

Art Supplies – Beeswax crayons or Eco Stars, natural paints, a crayon roll, or other groovy supplies for budding artists and crafters.

Homemade play dough

Seed packets

Small games or puzzles (like the ones from Haba)

Paper Dolls – I like these dolls from Eeboo and these paper bunnies as well.

Clothing – For little girls now may be time to sew up a cute pillowcase dress for spring/summer. Boys (and girls too) might enjoy a cape.

Tegu Blocks – In the the groovy new pastels colors. My kids LOVE these.

Books – Some good books for spring include The Daring Book for Girls and The Dangreous book for Boys. Also Anna Banana: 101 Jump Rope Rhymes.

Gift passes to local play museums, amusement parks, movie theaters, or other fun places your kids like to go. This year we got indoor waterpark day passes for each of our kidlets. ;)

The possibilities are endless. What will go in your child’s Easter basket this year?

22
Mar

Buckwheat Pillows

by Tiffany in A Green Home

Conventional pillows are often filled with a poly fill made from plastic. Couple that with the fact that they can be doused in chemicals to make them flame retardant and you may have a reason why you have trouble sleeping, have allergies, or have headaches, among other potential issues. Mainstream pillows can also be filled with noxious materials including; a).polystyrene (styrofoam) b). polyurethane foam (petroleum-base poly-fill) and c). polyethylene terephthalate (PET): which is used to make plastic drinking bottles. Some pillow makers brag about how their pillow is filled with recycled plastic water bottles but that thought does not appeal to me at all. Sweet dreams should not involve breathing a chemical soup each night.

Pillows made with pure and natural materials will have a remarkable impact on your sleep environment and your ability to get a good night’s rest. Some of the favorites are wool, natural latex, organic cotton, and the type highlighted in this post… Buckwheat Pillows.

Buckwheat pillows are often times filled with certified organic buckwheat hulls and wrapped in organic cotton. They are comfortable and supportive while being safe for you to sleep on. Sleeping on the hulls can help relieve muscle tension but it can take some time getting used to as well. Since hulls are irregularly shaped, air circulates around them and dust mites and microbes have a hard time taking root. No need for those antimicrobial sprays. To clean, remove the hulls from the pillow and rinse in a tub of cool water. Lay out to dry. Machine wash the empty case in hot water twice a month.

Most of them have a life span of 5-10 years and you can even order replacement buckwheat hulls on the Internet. Here are some links for helping to find the perfect buckwheat pillow:

Makura Miracle Natural Buckwheat Pillow – Traditional Size – An authentic Japanese buckwheat pillow. Hulls are locally grown and harvested, and they have been cleaned using a triple cleaning process to remove dust, buckwheat flour, and debris. 100% organic, grown totally without pesticides or herbicides and are considered hypo-allergenic. Absolutely-no additives. 100% unbleached cotton fabric for the pillow case, and luxury 3 layered quilted cotton pillow cover for comfortable texture, very durable yet very smooth to sleep on. Also, this pillow includes a zipper to allow you the option of removing hulls and adjusting the pillow to fit your exact needs. Cost: $49.99

Organic Buckwheat Pillow – Queen Size Filled with 100% US Grown Organic Buckwheat Hulls and 100% Natural Unbleached Cotton. Will conform and adjust perfectly to your head, neck, and spine. It will NOT collapse like foam. The buckwheat hulls allow air to circulate throughout the pillow. Cooling it off quickly. The Buckwheat pillow is a natural alternative to anyone with foam and feather allergies. Cost: $62.97

You might also try making your own pillow… just add buckwheat!

Organic Buckwheat Hulls 5 lbs – 100% Organic, US Grown Hulls. Triple cleaned and roasted. Excellent for Pillows and Crafts. Cost: $29.99

What are you sleeping on?

Recommended: Get Your Dream On Without Toxins |  Natural Pillow Types and Comparison

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

7 Comments on Buckwheat Pillows

21
Mar

Squid Balm Vegan Skincare

by Tiffany in Beauty

I recently got to test out some Squid Balm products that were graciously sent to me. Most times I refuse any sort of product in the beauty and/or skincare realm. I get dozens of requests each week and I always have to politely explain that I can’t test them if I won’t use them. ;) Soap and shampoo bars are just my thing though. I was also very interested in trying a lotion bar since I have heard good things about them. Plus my skin has been drier since I started spending so much time in the pool. I wanted to try a moisturizer.

Anyway, I have been washing my hair 2-3 times a week using the shampoo bar. It foams up nice and it does the job well. After washing I have also been using the Squid Silk Solid Conditioner Bar in Wild Blueberry. I LOVE it!

Anyone who uses shampoo bars knows that they leave your hair drier and less shiny than chemical laden shampoos. This conditioner helps to remedy that. You rub it between wet hands and then rub it on the surface of your hair or your skin if you want. The smell is divine as well. Shampoo and conditioner using natural ingredients and they come in bar form. What else could I ask for?

The lotion bar has a really heavenly, albeit not overpowering scent called coconut peach. I am not a fan of scents in general but both scented products I got were a-okay for my delicate olfactory system. Anyway when you rub the lotion bar on initially it feels kind of sticky and that bothers me a bit. After 2-3 minutes or so the stickiness is gone and it feels nice and refreshing. The small tin it comes in is nice for throwing in your purse or gym bag too. Few people could carry around a bottle of lotion but this little tin would be no issue at all and it will last quite awhile.

In addition to being vegan, Squid Balm products are also nut-free, paraben-free, preservative-free, and phthalate-free. Handcrafted by moms as well.

In the end I would happily keep ordering all these products but especially the shampoo bar and conditioner bar because those are two things I cannot find locally.  The only real criticism I have is that their web site was a bit hard to navigate with all the product descriptions sort of running together and the order buttons being nowhere near the photos of the item. Plus I didn’t see any “coconut peach” scented shampoo bars. ;)

Squid Balm get a big thumbs up from me.