Sunday, July 11, 2010

Links of the Week

Here are some health-related links that I came across this week:

Another McNeil Product Recall from July 8, 2010 for Benadryl, Tylenol, and Motrin.  This is the third recall from this company for various reasons since January of this year.  We will no longer be buying these brands in our house.

Why You Don't Want to Buy Organic Eggs at the Grocery Store – Part 1 by Dr. Joseph Mercola - June 9, 2010

Why You Don't Want to Buy Organic Eggs at the Grocery Store - Part 2 by Dr. Joseph Mercola - June 10, 2010

More doctors coming out against the 2010 Dietary Guidelines - June 28, 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010

How To Make Raw Almond Milk

Step 1Soak your almonds for at least 24 hours prior to making your milk. 


For a nutritional boost, use sprouted almonds.

Step 2:  Rinse your almonds and then put them in the blender with filtered water.  For every cup of almonds, add three cups of water. 


Step 3:  Put a large piece of cheesecloth over a bowl and secure with a rubber band.  Slowly pour your almond milk into the bowl to filter the chunks of almonds.


Step 4:  Squeeze the milk from the cheesecloth and set aside your almond leftovers.


Step 5:  If you want to do another filtering, a coffee liner in your funnel works well (but takes a while to filter).


Step 6:  If you're lazy like me, and don't mind a few small chunks, just ladle the milk directly into your containers.


Step 7:  Make sure to add a pinch of salt to each container before you seal them up, which will help to preserve the milk (mine lasted 4-5 days).  You can taste it when it starts to go sour. 

Chill the milk in your fridge before serving.

One pound of raw almonds yielded this much milk and almond pulp:


In the future, I will not make quite as much, because it is hard to use up so much milk before it spoils.

I used my pulp to make two batches of homemade granola bars.


If you're planning to drink the almond milk as a milk substitute, you may want to flavor it with some vanilla or warm it up with some honey.  It has a very bland, nutty taste without any extra flavoring.

You can also add a liquid calcium supplement and probiotic powder to make it a more nutritious milk substitute for people with milk allergies.

My boys and I enjoyed the milk in a smoothie.  Yum!


Enjoy!

-Jessica

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Links of the Week

I have a habit of saving interesting links I find in my favorites with the intention of sharing the information here at some point, but what ends up happening is that the links begin to pile up and then I do a mass delete before I get the chance to use them.

What I'd like to start doing is sharing any interesting health-related links that I come across once a week here for you guys.  These are from the last several months, so forgive me if you've already read a lot of these.

PARENTS OF SMALL CHILDREN - PLEASE READ THIS ONE: Lead Found in Children’s Foods and Baby Foods from the Environmental Law Foundation - June 10, 2010 and the list of tainted and safe products.

Food Cravings: What They Really Mean from Naturopathyworks

The Toxic Truth Of Sunscreen (check out the photo slide show) from the Huffington Post - May 27, 2010

What Happens To Your Body Within An Hour Of Drinking A Coke from the Nutrition Research Center

Thursday, June 24, 2010

If you want to get sick and gain weight...

...follow the 2010 USDA Food Pyramid Guidelines.

Here is a great article about the proposed changes, written by Sally Fallon Morell, President of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Some highlights of the article (emphasis mine):
“Basic biochemistry shows that the human body has a very high requirement for saturated fats in all cell membranes; if we do not eat saturated fats, the body will simply make them from carbohydrates, but excess carbohydrate increases blood levels of triglyceride and small, dense LDL, and compromises blood vessel function,” says Fallon Morell. “Moreover, high-carbohydrate diets do not satisfy the appetite as well as diets rich in traditional fats, leading to higher caloric intakes and often to bingeing and splurging on empty foods, resulting in rapid weight gain and chronic disease.”

The proposed guidelines will perpetuate existing nutrient deficiencies present in all American population groups, including deficiencies in vitamins A and D found in animal fats, vitamins B12 and B6 found in animal foods, as well as minerals like calcium and phosphorus, which require vitamins A and D for assimilation. Moreover, low intakes of vitamin K2, are associated with increased risk of heart disease and cancer. The main sources of vitamin K2 available to Americans are egg yolks and full-fat cheese. Incredibly, the Guidelines single out cheese as an unhealthy food!

The Guidelines lump trans fats together with saturated fats—calling them Solid Fats—thereby hiding the difference between unhealthy industrial trans fats and healthy traditional saturated fats. Trans fats contribute to inflammation, depress the immune system, interfere with hormone production, and set up pathological conditions leading to cancer and heart disease, whereas saturated fats fight inflammation, support the immune system, support hormone production and protect against cancer and heart disease.
Her version of the food pyramid looks like this:
Every day, eat high quality, whole foods to provide an abundance of nutrients, chosen from each of the following four groups:

1.Animal foods: meat and organ meats, poultry, and eggs from pastured animals; fish and shellfish; whole raw cheese, milk and other dairy products from pastured animals; and broth made from animal bones.

2.Grains, legumes and nuts: whole-grain baked goods, breakfast porridges, whole grain rice; beans and lentils; peanuts, cashews and nuts, properly prepared to improve digestibility.

3.Fruits and Vegetables: preferably fresh or frozen, preferably locally grown, either raw, cooked or in soups and stews, and also as lacto-fermented condiments.

4.Fats and Oils: unrefined saturated and monounsaturated fats including butter, lard, tallow and other animal fats; palm oil and coconut oil; olive oil; cod liver oil for vitamins A and D.
Here is another interesting article about the new guidelines, written by Robert K. Su, MD, which also supports the idea that a diet high in carbohydrates is a recipe for disease and obesity, and that a diet rich in whole foods and animal fat is much healthier.

I went to mypyramid.gov and took their MyPyramid Plan (2005 Guidelines) and for a woman my age and size, and with my activity level, they are recommending the following food plan:

  • 7 ounces of grains
  • 3 cups vegetables
  • 2 cups fruit
  • 3 cups milk
  • 6 ounces meat and beans
I should also aim for this each week:
  • 3 cups dark green veggies (are they joking??)
  • 2 cups orange veggies
  • 3 cups dry beans and peas
  • 6 cups starchy veggies
  • 7 cups other veggies
And only 6 teaspoons of oil per day. 

Yikes!  If I ate like that I can't even imagine how horrible I would feel.  My day looked like this today:
  • Breakfast:  2 pastured eggs fried in butter, 1/2 cup soaked oatmeal with raw milk and honey, and some blueberries
  • Snack:  apple
  • Lunch:  pastured round steak (fried in olive oil and then baked in tomato/basil sauce), quinoa noodles (in the same tomato sauce) and salad with olive oil dressing
  • Snack:  homemade whole wheat pretzels (made with coconut oil)
  • Dinner: pastured beef liver (fried in nitrate-free bacon grease - I was a bad girl), peas, rhubarb, and watermelon
  • Drinks throughout the day: tea, raw milk and water
I'm not going to add up the amount of fat that I ate, because as you can see, it's a lot.  But, I am a mother providing breast milk for two toddlers, who is of childbearing age, and I need healthy fat to support healthy babies.  None of the fat I eat is hydrogenated or unhealthy, and I eat whatever I want without any fear of gaining weight.  I also have a BMI of 19 (in March at least) and I haven't been sick in ages.

The government would like people to think that eating a diet like my family's will make us obese, with heart disease.

For Gabe and David, young boys with brains and bodies still developing, they recommend the following diet:
  • 3 ounces grains
  • 1 cup vegetables
  • 1 cup fruit
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 ounces meat and beans
  • only 3 teaspoons of oil per day
I don't even know what to say.  In my opinion, children this age need higher amounts of fat in order to develop properly.  I can't imagine feeding this to my kids each day.  That is the amount of fruits and veggies they usually get per meal.

With a healthcare crisis in our country, I cannot believe that our government could be so blind to common sense nutrition. 

Here is how we can stay healthy - Eat whole foods.  Eat food that God put on this earth for us to consume, not things created by man in a laboratory somewhere.  Cook our food at home.  Eat organic.  Avoid processed carbohydrates and sugar.

It's really pretty simple.

-Jessica

Friday, June 18, 2010

Homemade Soft Tacos

We love Mexican food in our house.  But most of the ingredients you find in the grocery store are full of artificial preservatives and other additives. 

For example, an Old El Paso flour burrito contains the following ingredients:  Enriched Flour Bleached (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid) Water, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Soybean, Cottonseed) With Mono- and Diglycerides, Glycerin, Corn Syrup Solids, Salt, Baking Powder (Baking Soda, Corn Starch, Sodium Aluminum Sulfate, Calcium Sulfate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Potassium Sorbate and Calcium Propionate (Preservatives), Monoglycerides, Fumaric Acid, L-cysteine Hydrochloride.

Yuck!

What if you go to Taco Bell?  Their flour tortillas contain the following ingredients:  Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Contains One Or More Of The Following: Cottonseed Oil, Soybean Oil), with Mono- and Diglycerides, Sugar, Contains Less Than 2% Of The Following: Salt, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Fumaric Acid, Calcium Propionate and Potassium Sorbate (used as preservatives), Dough Conditioners (DATEM, Mono and Diglycerides, Enzymes).

All of that for a tortilla??

Then there are the taco seasonings and sauces.  Old El Paso Taco Seasoning contains: Maltodextrin, Salt, Chili Pepper, Onion Powder, Spice, Monosodium Glutamate, Modified Corn Starch, Yellow Corn Flour, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil With Bht Added to Protect Flavor, Silicon Dioxide Added As Anti-caking Agent, Natural Flavor. 

Nothing like a healthy dose of MSG and trans fat for dinner!

Tacos are really easy to make on your own and can be really nutritious.  Here is how our family likes to eat them.



Tortillas
Organic Whole Wheat Flour
Water

Add water to the flour until you reach a dough-like texture.  You don't want it sticky.  Roll dough onto a flour surface into desired shape.

Cook on the stove on medium-to-high heat approximately 3 minutes on each side.

Some recipes call for baking powder, but I have made them both ways and don't see any difference when I use it.  If you're going to use baking powder, make sure it's non-GMO and aluminum-free.



Taco Seasoning
Paprika
Garlic Salt
Minced Onion
Salt
Pepper

Mix together for desired taste.  I use A LOT of paprika.  If you like it a little spicier, add some crushed red pepper to the mix. 

Meat
Pastured ground meat of any kind.  We used ground turkey tonight, but prefer beef.  Brown it and then sprinkle with your taco seasoning.  Add about 1/2 cup water and a tablespoon of raw honey to the bottom of the pan and let it all simmer for a few minutes.



Toppings
Add whatever raw, chopped veggies you have in the fridge.  We like to use carrots, celery, tomatoes, and greens and stir them directly into the meat mixture.

Tonight's other toppings were raw milk cheddar cheese, sour cream and salsa.

It's a quick, easy dinner that you can get your kids to eat, even when it's full of healthy vegetables.

Enjoy!

-Jessica

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Plastic-Free Life

I've been slowly trying to reduce the amount of plastic in our home over the past few years. It all began during the great BPA (Bisphenol A) scare of 2008, when I decided to replace all of my plastic bottles with glass ones and started storing my food in glass instead of Tupperware.

Lately I have been inspired by several other bloggers to make more drastic changes to our lifestyle. Blessed at O Blessed Day linked to an interesting documentary called Addicted to Plastic, which pretty much sealed the deal for me. I had heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but after seeing pictures of the wildlife affected by our plastic pollution and hearing more about the health effects of these plastics to human beings, I'd had enough.

Just yesterday I came across another wonderful blog, Fake Plastic Fish, that gives many helpful tips for decreasing your dependance on plastic. Because that is the hardest part about all of this - our society is dependent on it. Plastic has revolutionized the ways in which we prepare and store our food, dress ourselves, drive our cars, clean up - every aspect of our lives involves plastics in some form. Thinking about trying to live plastic-free is depressing and overwhelming, because you realize just how impossible it is to do.

With that said, my goal is not to live completely plastic-free, because I know that there is value to it in some parts of my life. I can't imagine a hospital stay without the use of plastics. My goal, however, is to limit my amount of waste from "unneccessary" plastics.

What is the impact of plastic on our health?

Let's start with the manufacturing process, which pollutes the environment with toxic chemicals. Fossil fuels are used to make plastic, and we are all aware of the price our environment is paying for our addiction to fossil fuels. All we have to do is take a look at what is happening in the Gulf Coast right now.

And there is the disposal of these products. Recycling plastics is difficult, because one plastic bottle often contains many different types. When it isn't cost effective, those items are thrown into landfills. In 2007, only 6.8% of total plastics were recycled.

The average American produces about 63 pounds of plastic packaging per year, making it 16% of the solid waste in this country. These items take centuries to biodegrade and are filling our landfills at an unsustainable rate.

Littering is also a problem. 60-80% of the litter comes from plastic, which is then consumed by wildlife. This is the wildlife we often eat. Those polyethylene microbeads in our cosmetics are plastic and they are washed away into our waste water, eventually finding their way into our rivers, streams, and oceans. Fish consume the polluted water and then traces of plastic end up on our table when we want seafood.

Just being around it can be toxic to our systems. If we can smell it, we are breathing it in. It we can taste it, we are ingesting it. Heating our foods in plastic and even storing it there in many cases, causes it to leach into the food we eat.

Scientists now believe that plastics, like Bisphenol A, can disrupt our hormone levels.

When there is all of this evidence against it's use, why would we want to continue to damage our bodies and the earth?

My Plan

I went around my house from room to room and wrote down everything I use on a daily basis that contains plastic. I'm sure I forgot many things as I did this exercise, but most of the obvious ones were found. From there I made a list of items that are plastic and need to be changed, items that I have changed already, and an action plan.

I only included disposable items at this point. I realize that most of the furniture and electronics in our home contain some type of plastic, but I am not concerned with them for this exercise.

Bathroom

Plastic

Toothbrush
Hair brush
Lotion
Hair pins
Contact solution
Contacts
Contact case
Mouthwash
Sunscreen
Razors
Toilet paper (for husband)
Shampoo (for husband)
Q-Tips
Toothpaste
Floss
Children's bath soap

Changes Already Made

Bar soap
Baking soda (instead of children's toothpaste)
No make-up
No shaving cream
Family cloth
No Hair-care products
Mama cloth
No shampoo
No deodorant
Cloth shower curtain

Action Plan

1 - The easiest and most obvious change I would like to make is to stop wearing my contact lenses. I have been wanting to stop using them for quite a while, because I don't like rubbing chemicals into my eyeball, but I haven't taken the plunge yet.

2 - I would like to stop using the children's bath soap and have them use my bar soap instead.

3 - A better option for disposable razors and toothbrushes. Possibly reusable bases with only disposable heads?

4 - Homemade lotion

Nursery

Plastic

Diaper cream
Swim Diapers
TOYS

Changes Already Made

Cloth Diapers
Cloth Wipes
Cloth Training Pants
Re-Usable Diaper Pail Liner

Action Plan

1 - Diaper Cream Alternative

2 - Reusable Swim Diaper

3 - No more plastic toys unless they are bought second-hand.

Cleaning

Plastic

Dish Soap
Dishwasher Soap
Vinegar
Dish Scrubbers
Diaper Detergent
Vacuum Bags
Trash Bags

Changes Already Made

Baking Soda
No cleaners
Homemade laundry detergent (all ingredients come without plastic packaging)
No paper towels
No paper napkins

Action Plan

1 - I have had bad luck finding a homemade detergent that works on my cloth diapers. I will continue to experiment.

2 - I read that baking soda works well as a dish detergent, so I will try that. I have yet to find a homemade recipe that works well in the dishwasher.

3 - Switch to vinegar that comes in glass bottles that can be reused and recycled.

4 - No more plastic dish scrubbers. Use rags.

5 - Look into alternatives for trash bags.

Clothing

Plastic

Bras
All clothing items containing synthetic materials
Socks/undies that come in plastic packaging
Pantyhose
Shoes
Plastic Hangers

Changes Already Made

All second-hand clothing for me and the boys
No jewelry containing plastic

Action Plan

1 - No more buying new items made from synthetic materials, especially pantyhose. I can only buy these items second-hand.

2 - No more plastic hangers.

3 - Look into more environmentally-friendly shoe options.

Kitchen

Plastic

Sandwich Bags
Medicine Bottles
Condiments
Yogurt
Produce Bags
Beverage bottles
Bread Bags
Cheese
Spices
Oil
Hummus
Fish
Frozen vegetables
Sugar
Bacon
Straws
Chips
Raisins
Bulk Food Packaging
Coffee
Sippy Cups
Bottle nipples
Breast Pump Parts
Children's utensils

Changes Already Made

Cloth Grocery Shopping Bags
Milk (comes in glass container from local farm)
Glass baby bottles
Meat (packaged at butcher in paper)
Eggs (come from farmer in cardboard)
More homemade foods
Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System
Reusable Glass Water Bottles

Action Plan

1 - Limit the number of foods on the list that are packaged in plastic.

2 - Start making my own condiments from fresh ingredients that are not packaged in plastic.

3 - Make reusable sandwich bags

4 - Purchase glass straws

5 - Next time we need new sippy cups, buy a glass or stainless steel alternative.

6 - No more plastic produce bags at the grocery store. Bring my own or go without them.

7 - Go to a different bulk food store where the food is not already packaged in plastic.

Purse/Junk Drawer

Plastic

Pens
Tape
Highlighters
Lighters
Batteries
Chapstick
Bank Card
Stickers

Changes Already Made

No credit cards

Action Plan

1 - No more pens. Pencils instead.

2 - Rechargeable batteries.

3 - Paper tape.

4 - Matches instead of lighters.

5 - No more stickers for the boys. We can draw on the chore charts instead.

Entertainment

Plastic

Movies
CDs
Video Games
Photo Prints
Home decor
Ammunition

Changes Already Made

We have been buying a lot of items second-hand, but when we do this it is usually online. The shipping process creates more plastic waste.

Action Plan

1 - Use the library more for books, movies, and music.

2 - No more photo prints to be put in albums. We can save them to disk and print only what we want to frame.

Health/Cost Benefits

Many of these items will cost a lot upfront, like the glass straws, swim diapers, and rechargeable batteries, but in the long run they will save me money. The savings will be significant if I no longer have to buy sandwich bags, trash bags, disposable swim diapers, dish detergent, contacts, etc.

Not buying and eating the processed and packaged foods is better for my health. By buying my ingredients in bulk, storing them in glass, and making all of my food from scratch, I will be heathier and have more money to spend on more important things. Extra money means less stress, which is always good for your health :)

Limiting plastics is going to be a lifestyle change, which is close to where we have been headed on our journey, but just gets us there a little faster. One day, when we eventually build our home, we have decided to do it out of recycled building materials and with as little plastic as possible. 

As sad as it is, our community does not have a recycling program.  In order to recycle you have to drive all of your waste downtown and unload it yourself.  Adam and I did this for a long time, but stopped when David was born.  We are now working to pick this practice back up, and are looking at purchasing a pick-up truck, organizing collection in our neighborhood and driving everyone's stuff there ourselves on Saturdays.  We are just waiting for the Lord to provide us with the funds to purchase the truck, if that is what He wants us to do.

This decision means no more convenient, single-serve items.  There will be no more impulse buying.  It will require more work and more planning on our part, but I feel that our family's health and our responsibility to the planet and God are what is most important!

Join me!

-Jessica

Sources:


http://discovermagazine.com/2009/oct/21-numbers-plastics-manufacturing-recycling-death-landfill

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Call To Action

This is a post I wrote for my other private blog, but decided I wanted to share it here too. The intention of this blog is to help people achieve physical, mental and spiritual health and the title of it is based on scripture (1 Corinthians 6:19). If you're a follower of this blog, you obviously care about your health and try to take good care of your body. But the way we take care of the earth directly impacts our health. That is why I wanted to share this with you.

I want to speak to the Christians out there - everyone who claims they are a follower of Jesus Christ and lives according to the Gospel. I want to talk to you about the environment.


There are several camps of Christians when it comes to this topic. Some think environmentalist is for the Hippies, and since we have moral differences with their movement, we dismiss the information they are giving us. We call the green movement “liberal, Hippy stuff” and feel like there is no place for it in our religious lives.

Other Christians think the destruction of the earth is imminent and since God is in control, nothing we do matters. By that same thinking, if we were diagnosed with a terminal illness and knew our death was imminent, would we just wildly abuse our bodies? I would hope that we wouldn’t, because our quality of life here on earth and in eternity depends on the way we choose to respect our bodies and God’s word.

How is the earth any different? Just as He gave us our bodies as a gift - as a temple that should be kept holy and clean - He gave us this earth as a gift. In Genesis 1:28 it says, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

And what instructions does God give those who rule over other living things? In Proverbs 8:15 we are told that rulers should be wise and just. Since you and I are responsible to taking care of this earth, we had better be making wise decisions. That is what God has asked us to do.

God gave us this earth as a gift to enjoy while we are here in this life, but He still owns it. Psalm 24 tells us that the earth is the Lord’s and we are just borrowing it. Who would ever want to intentionally disrespect something that belongs to God, which He gave us to cherish? We don’t do it to the other gifts He has given us – our children, our spouses, etc.

Right now there is a patch of garbage in the Pacific Ocean the size of the state of Texas. Our water supply is full of toxins like mercury and rocket fuel. We dump toxic waste into the oceans and eat contaminated fish. We treat animals with zero respect, like they are inanimate objects designed to make us profit and feed us as cheaply as possible. And as if it isn’t bad enough that we are destroying our own earth and everything that lives on it, we are now polluting the heavens with space trash. There are no limits to our filth.

I met my breaking point yesterday. I broke down after seeing the pictures of the Gulf Coast from the recent oil spill and hearing the reactions in the media. I could not control the tears and the pain. I cried out to God to forgive me for the role I have played in this.

Everyone wants to pass the buck and play the victim. The Democrats blame the Republicans, the Republicans blame the Democrats, the people blame the government, government blames big business, and big business blames a few workers…

STOP IT. STOP ACTING LIKE FOOLS. GROW UP AND TAKE SOME ACCOUNTABLITY FOR YOUR LIFESTYLE CHOICES.

WE are the problem. You and I and every single one of us who continues this lifestyle of waste and excess is the problem. Every time we consume this unnecessary pop culture trash that society tells us we need, we contribute to it, because the manufacture, packaging, distribution, marketing, sale and disposal of every single good we buy uses up fossil fuels, pollutes everything around us and eventually clutters our landfills. Every unnecessary shopping spree that serves no other purpose than to fill an empty void in our lives that we should instead fill with Jesus contributes to the problem. Every time our gluttony causes us to indulge in foods we don’t need, we are contributing to the problem. Every time we decide that our comfort is more important than preserving the gift God has given us, we sin. And God will make us accountable for this one day. We must repent and change our ways.

These things that make us so modern, like all of the technology, and the things that entertain us – we tend to only think of the moral implications, like the amount of time wasted doing them when we could be serving the Lord, or the way they allow sin to fill our minds and hearts, but there are also environmental impacts that are just as displeasing to the Lord.

I have been studying character qualities lately and what we as Christians tend to forget is that the bad decisions we make concerning the environment are just as important as the other moral decisions we make that chisel away at our character. Sin is sin is sin is sin in God's eyes.

God wants us to show contentment.

Is my happiness dependent on buying more things? Does that expensive gas, guzzling car bring me closer to God? Does that large home and all the energy it takes to maintain it glorify Him? Or do those things glorify man?

God wants us to be dependable.

Dependability is “fulfilling what I consented to do, even if it means unexpected sacrifice.” Am I willing to sacrifice my comfort so that God can depend on me to make wise decisions with the earth? Can my children depend on me to do my part in leaving them a healthy earth, where they can breathe clean air, and have a safe food supply and drinking water?

God wants us to be diligent.

Our lives should not be about instant gratification and convenience. Slothfulness is evil. We live in a single serve society where everything has to be easy, quick, and painless – and all of those items that help us reach that convenience are hurting this earth. Am I willing to make tough choices, sacrifice and work harder to help the environment?

God wants us to show endurance.

Endurance is the inward strength to withstand stress to accomplish God’s best. Am I willing to endure some hardship in order to turn around the mess we have gotten ourselves into?

God wants us to show generosity.

Generosity is “realizing that all I have belongs to God and using it for His purposes.” If we have excess, are we willing to give it to someone else so it doesn’t go to waste? Are we willing to let others have or borrow our things so they don’t have to continue to waste?

God wants us to be gentle.

Are we willing to stop supporting the abuse and mistreatment of the animals we consume?

God wants us to be grateful.

How can we be telling Him how grateful we are for this gift He has given us in one breath and then turn around and spit on it with our actions?

God wants us to show initiative.

People are waiting to be required to make change. Why does it take something like a tax credit to motivate us to make some effort?

God wants orderliness from us.

Can we take care of our things instead of letting them fall apart and end up cluttering a landfill?

God wants us to show patience.

Can we save up and wait to purchase something of quality instead of buying cheap things now that are bad for the earth and just end up broken?

God wants us to be resourceful.

Is having this season’s fashion important when you know you can’t wear it next year and it will end up being tossed? Does God really care how stylish your shoes are? How could your resources be used for His glory instead of the glory of man?

This list could go on and on….

God wants us to be Responsible.


God wants us to show Self Control.


God wants us to be Thrifty.


God wants us to be Virtuous.


God wants us to make Wise decisions.

But most importantly, God wants us to love. Matthew 22:39 tells us to “love thy neighbor as thy self.” It is one of the two commands that Jesus gave us. The way we treat the world around us is directly linked to the way we treat our neighbors and the way we treat God. If I'm one of those people who doesn’t care about how I am harming the environment because I won’t be around when the next generations have to clean up our mess, that speaks volumes about how much I obey Jesus' command and love my neighbors. If this world is all about me and my comfort, success, and pleasure at any cost, that clarifies where God lies in my list of priorities.

There are people who won’t do it for themselves. They won’t do it for others. They won’t even do it for their children. They don’t care about the animals. You can’t even get them to buy into it when they realize that it will save them money. If for no other reason people, do it for God. He does care!

Nonbelievers are watching us and our hypocrisy. What message are we sending them when we preach how important these qualities are and then we don’t personify them in our real lives? How can we ever expect our children to become men and women of character if we aren’t modeling good behavior? How will we ever witness effectively?

My life needs to change and I made a commitment to God last night to do something about it.  I have some big projects in mind to help my community that I will be sharing with you soon.  Please join me.  Once we know that what we are doing isn't pleasing to God, we cannot continue to do it.  We must repent and make changes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just For Fun

"Let food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be food."
-Hippocrates


Friday, May 21, 2010

Homemade Tea

Non-organic tea can be really dangerous.  Most of the popular non-organic teas that we drink here in America were treated with a number of chemical pesticides and fungicides prior to being harvested.  The leaves are rarely washed before they are dried, so essentially we are steeping a flavored toxin tea when all we wanted was a hot, healthy beverage.

On top of the chemicals, many brands, like Celestial Seasonings, add "natural flavorings" to their tea blends.  These flavorings, created in a laboratory, could mean just about anything and are far from natural.

Organic tea can be expensive, so one option is to grow and make your own tea.  It's actually very simple.

Here are some instructions for making mint tea.  I love mint tea and use to help with a stomach ache, because mint is nature's anti-nausea medicine.

Step One:  Cut your mint.  With mint it is best to harvest your leaves between 9 AM and 12 PM, because this is before the heat from the sun has had a chance to dissipate all of the oils in the leaves.



Step Two:  Remove the leaves from the stems and give them a really good rinsing.  Make sure to compost your stems.



Step Three:  Dry your leaves.  You can do this many different ways.  Some people like to hang their herbs upside down (stems and all) to dry outside, but this takes 2-3 weeks.  If you live in a warmer climate where the temperature will stay over 100 degrees for as long as it takes the leaves to dry, you can do this outside by placing your leaves on something like a window screen to dry.  I prefer to use a food dehydrator.  It takes very little time, uses little energy, and ensures that my leaves get completely dry and will not end up molding.





Step Four:  Once your leaves are dry and crispy, you can crush them.  Just make sure you don't make the flakes too small or you will have a lot of floaties in your tea.



Step Five:  Steep your tea.





Step Six:  Enjoy!




Make sure you store your dried herbs in an air-tight container.  Your herbs also retain better flavor if you wait to crush them before storing, so only crush what you need for one cup of tea at a time.  Always check your leaves for signs of molding before using them, and discard them if they are turning brown.  If you keep them in a dry, cool place away from sunlight, they should last for up to a year in storage.

If you aren't harvesting a large amount of herbs and you just want enough tea for one cup, you can skip the drying and just pull a few leaves from your plant.  Boil the leaves in some water and you will have delicious, healthy, organic tea.

-Jessica

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Toxic Bodies: Follow-Up

I just wanted to share a few follow-up links that I have come across since writing my last post, Toxic Bodies

First, one commenter, Lembit, shared a link to an iPhone app called the Chemical Maze, that will list the preservatives and additives in your food and cosmetics.

Next, a Facebook friend of mine linked a NY Times Op-Ed today that related to the post.  You can read it here.  The article gave a stat that I was looking for when writing my post, but couldn't find.  Here it is:

“Only a few hundred of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States have been tested for safety,” the report says. It adds: “Many known or suspected carcinogens are completely unregulated.”
That's scary stuff.

Finally, that article linked some great resources for finding out about the chemicals in your environment.  The first is the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database.  I mentioned it last year - it's a wonderful resource that I always use when researching new cosmetics I would like to try.

The other link is to HealthyStuff.org, a site that ranks popular household items for children and pets based on their toxicity. 

-Jessica

Monday, May 3, 2010

Toxic Bodies

There are more chemicals in existance than I could ever count.  They are found in literally everything we use on a day-to-day basis.  But, the scary fact is that most of these chemicals have never been tested on human beings.  The companies that manufacture these items tell us that their products are safe for us in tiny amounts, but they have no proof to either support or oppose their claims.  They also can't tell us about potential long-term damages, because the products haven't been around long enough to know.

It seems like we hear studies coming out in the news every other day about recalls due to toxic chemicals or that suddenly a certain ingredient has been found to cause cancer or infertility.  Remember what happened with DDT?

The problem is that while we may think that a little bit of a chemical sprayed on our apple or a tiny amount of a toxin in our laundry detergent isn't going to hurt anything, we are forgetting that we are constantly absorbing these chemicals into our bodies in one way or another all day long - without a break.  What about the cumulative effects?

Think about your average day and look at just a small amount of your chemical exposure -

We wake up and brush our teeth in fluoride-filled water with chemical toothpastes and wash our faces with soaps full of parabens and sulfates.  We shower in a tub cleaned with bleach, using chemically treated water and rub more chemicals into our skin and scalp through washing, shampooing, shaving, and conditioning.  We then do our hair with more chemicals, inhale the fumes from hairspray, apply aluminum-filled deodorant, put on make-up, lotion ourselves with some more chemicals, spray ourselves and our lungs with some perfume and head to the kitchen for breakfast.

We then sip on our coffee (that is usually mixed with chemicals), made from tap water that is full of toxins and in a liner with paper that has been bleached.  If we drink decaf, it is usually made by taking the regular coffee bean and mixing it with a chemical solvent.  We cook our antibiotic-filled eggs on non-stick cookware or sprayed with a no-stick spray that puts more chemicals into our food.  The rest of our meal is a mixture of pesticides, herbicides, food dyes, additives, preservatives and whatever drugs were given to the animal we are consuming.  We often eat on plastic plates with plastic utensils and cups, which also put toxins into our meal.

After we are done, we wash our dishes with some more chemicals and we wipe the surfaces in the kitchen with toxic cleaners.  We may have some scented candles or fragrance plug-ins somewhere in the kitchen that we are also breathing in.

Time to head to work.  We step out of the house and onto our chemically treated lawns and driveways, buckle up into our cars full of plastic, and start breathing in the lovely fumes from all of the cars on the road.

Once at work, the smell of the industrial cleaners enters our noses and starts giving us a headache.  We go about our day, eating more toxic food and drinking more unhealthy drinks.  Throughout the day we wash our hands with more chemicals - we may even decide to coat our skin in antibacterial lotions

After work, we stop at the salon to get a quick manicure.  We breathe in more fumes while we coat our nails with chemicals.  Once they are dry, we head back to the car and decide to run through the drive-through for some dinner.  The food has all been stored in plastic, heated in plastic, and served in more plastic. 

Back at home, we decide to relax on our flame-retardant couch after dinner.  Our windows are shut, since the air-conditioning is on, so all of the fumes from the paint, fabric, carpet, plastic toys, mattresses, cleaners, lamps, candles, blinds, etc. are just circulating throughout the house.

Before bed we brush with our chemical cocktail one more time and wash our faces "clean" again.  We may take some medicine before we sleep for 8 hours on a chemically-treated pillow that was washed in detergent.
This doesn't even begin to describe our chemical exposure in a normal day.  Every new environment we enter, every surface we touch, everything we rub on our skin, every medicine we take, every food we eat - it all contains chemicals that our governmental agencies tell us are safe in small doses.  But what about the cumulative effect of all of this chemical exposure?

That may be fine for you as an adult, and you may be healthy as a horse, for now.  But what about a small child or even worse, a baby?  Not only are their little bodies less able to handle a toxic overload, which can impact their development and some theorize could be causing the increase in things like ADD, ADHD, Autism, food allergies, etc., but their environments seem to be even more toxic.

Most babies spend 24 hours a day in a chemical-filled diaper, with chemical filled creams on their skin, sucking plastic pacifiers, drinking out of plastic bottles, sucking on plastic toys, and eating from plastic spoons.  And whether you formula feed or breast feed, you are still exposing them to toxins, because most mother's milk that is tested contains high levels of chemicals and toxins, like Bisphenol A.

You may be thinking, well this is insane.  You're just an alarmist (and believe me, I'm used to being told that).  You're probably thinking that this is just the way our modern society is and if it wasn't safe, the government would be doing something about it, right?  Well, what can they do?  Our economy is based on the production and consumption of these things.  What would happen if they no longer exist?

Experts agree that something has to happen.  I recently watched a documentary called The Disappearing Male, which showed how fertility is on the rise.  The sperm count of the average man is decreasing significantly and even the size of the average male baby's testicles is decreasing.  This is due to the mother's exposure to plastics while the baby is in the womb and throughout childhood, which effect the endocrine system and reproductive growth.  This problem has been observed in animals, specifically a group of alligators in a polluted area of Florida.  You can watch the documentary here.

We tell pregnant women to limit their exposure to chemicals, because we know that these toxins can cause birth defects.  We tell them not to clean with chemical cleaners, breathe in paint fumes, eat fish that contain high levels of mercury, take certain medications, etc.  We know that it is dangerous for a fetus to be exposed to those toxins, but why would it be any different for an infant who is rolling around on a surface that was cleaned with bleach or playing in a house that is being painted?  Couldn't the fish with high levels of mercury be affecting a school-aged child that has a compromised immune system?  And what about adults - couldn't some of us be susceptible to damage too?

There just isn't enough testing done to know for sure.  Why risk it?

It's time for us to change our environments - to protect our children from the toxins we surround ourselves with daily.  Of course, we can't change all of our chemical exposure, but we can take steps to significantly decrease the amount.  It as simple as:

  • reading and learning about the ingredients in something before you use it
  • choosing organic foods
  • buying paraben and sulfate free cosmetics or seeing if we can do without them
  • slowly getting rid of the plastics in our homes and trying to purchase items made out of natural materials instead
  • choosing not to treat your lawn with chemicals
  • getting rid of all of your scented candles and plug-ins
  • switching to a free and clear detergent or making your own
  • installing a reverse osmosis system for your drinking water
  • buying unbleached paper products or switching to cloth instead
  • using glass bottles instead of plastic
  • using cloth bags instead of plastic ones when shopping
  • getting rid of your plastic food storage system and replacing it with glass
  • opening your windows to let fresh air in the house
  • buying more house plants to help filter the air
  • washing your hands with natural soaps instead of using hand sanitizer
  • limiting the amount of medicine you take and trying natural medicine instead
  • cleaning with vinegar and baking soda instead of harsh chemicals
  • making your own food from scratch instead of consuming processed items
  • cloth diapering/using mama cloth
  • using natural pesticides/herbicides in the garden
  • driving less
  • and so much more!  I haven't even scratched the surface!!
Just by doing one new thing or getting rid of one new thing each week, you can start to decrease the number of chemicals and toxins that you and your children are exposed to on a daily basis.  Remember that many of the popular chemicals that we use are fairly new and we may just now be starting to see the long-term effects of their usage.  Our children deserve the best chance at a healthy life that we can give them!

-Jessica

Friday, April 30, 2010

Homemade Soaked Granola Bars

Granola bars are considered a healthy snack by many people - they usually contain oats, nuts, dried fruits and other things that are good for you.  But most of the processed bars also contain a lot of things that are very bad for you.

Let's look at Nature Valley's 100% Natural Chewy Trail Mix - Fruit & Nut bars. 

Ingredients:  whole grain oats, high maltose corn syrup, rice flour, raisins, almonds, honey, sugar, roasted peanuts, fructose, sunflower seeds, canola oil, cranberries, maltodextrin, soy lecithin, salt, malt extract, baking soda, natural flavor, and mixed tocopherols.
That's EIGHT different sugars in one little granola bar.  Yikes!

What about something that is considered a little more healthy - Kashi's TLC Chewy Granola Bars Honey Almond Flax?

Ingredients:  rolled grain blend (hard red wheat, oats, rye, triticale, barley), roasted salted whole almonds, brown rice syrup, soy protein isolate, soy grits, evaporated cane juice crystals, chicory root fiber, whole flax seeds, evaporated cane juice syrup, rice starch, corn flour, honey, expeller pressed canola oil, vegetable glycerin, oat fiber, natural flavors, evaporated salt, Kashi seven whole grains sesame flour (whole: oats, hard red wheat, rye, brown rice, triticale, barley, buckwheat, sesame seeds), molasses, soy lecithin, peanut flour, whey protein isolate.

Only FIVE sugars in this one.

But the sugars aren't the only unhealthy thing about these "healthy" snacks.  They both use genetically modified ingredients, canola oil (at least Kashi's is expeller pressed), and those mysterious "natural flavors" that could include just about anything.

Your best bet is to make your own granola bars.  I found a wonderful recipe here that I decided to modify using soaked grains and nuts.  Remember that it is always important to soak your grains, nuts, legumes and beans before consuming them!

Here is how I made my chewy granola bars.  To make my recipe you will need a dehydrator.  I will also warn you that I didn't measure anything - you can't really mess this up, so just use as much as you want of each ingredient.

Step 1:  Soak some organic oats, raw almonds, and raw sunflower seeds for 12-24 hours.  The longer you soak, the better.

Step 2:  Drain and rinse your ingredients and then dehydrate them for a while.  I did it until the oats were half dry.



Step 3:  Pulse your almonds in the food processor.



Step 4:  Toss your oats, almonds, and seeds into a large mixing bowl.  Add your dried fruit - I used raisins and chopped dried figs.  Add your sweetener - I used raw, local honey



Add your fat - I used coconut oil so that my dairy-allergic son can eat them, but butter would also taste great.  Add anything else you want - I used cinnamon and flax meal. 



Step 5:  Mix.  Skip the spoon and just use your hands - it's much easier.



Step 6:  Put some wax paper on a flat surface and plop your ingredients on top.



Step 7:  Put another piece of wax paper over your ingredients and roll them until they are the desired thickness.  I like mine thicker.  Just remember that the thicker they are, the longer they will take to dehydrate.



Step 8:  Peel off your top layer of paper and cut your bars with a pizza cutter.



Step 9:  Transfer your bars to the dehydrator and turn it on until they dry.  It took my really thick bars about 6 hours to completely dry today.



Step 10:  Enjoy!


Here is a picture of one of the thin ones for the children and the big, thick, Mommy-sized bars :)



It's as easy as that - a fresh, healthy snack for your family without all of the nasty additives, preservatives and sugars. 

-Jess

Non-GMO Shopping Guide

Click here to dowload a free Non-GMO Shopping Guide put out by The Center for Food Safety.

You can learn more about the guide here.

To learn more about genetically modified foods, watch this film.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Coconut Oil

I became a big fan of coconut oil a few years ago, when I discovered that it helped my Crohn's symptoms.  Originally, I was concerned about the amount of saturated fat in the oil, but the more I researched it, the more I realized how good it actually is for you.

Coconut Oil Myths

Modern nutritionists try to tell us that eating plant-based oils are best for us, because they are unsaturated fats.  They do this because there is a fear that all saturated fat contributes to heart disease and obesity.  While most of the saturated fats in our diets do contribute to those health problems, it is the hydrogenated oils that are the contributing factor.  Throughout history there are populations of people that have lived off of natural saturated fats, like butter and coconut oil, without having heart problems like we see in our culture.  The butter and coconut oil are not the problem, the hydrogenated items like margarine are.

Here is a prime example of the misinformation I'm talking about.  How can an organic, pastured egg or fresh, wild-caught seafood be harmful?  A better list of fats, in order of best to worst for you, can be found here.

Sure, if someone eats nothing but butter and coconut oil all day long, their heart is going to pay the price.  But if you're eating a healthy, balanced diet full of organic fruits, veggies, grains, and meats, and staying away from the processed foods that are full of saturated fats, butter and coconut oil are actually very good for you.

Even though soybean, cottonseed, canola, sunflower, and safflower oils may appear to be healthier because they do not contain saturated fats, there are other factors to consider.  Most of these oils are derived from genetically-modified sources.  They are usually rancid due to their extraction processes, and wreak havoc on our digestive and immune systems.  If not rancid prior to consumption, they will oxidize inside our bodies due to the heat.  Coconut oil does not become rancid easily, and in fact can be held at room temperature for over a year without showing any signs, because of antioxidants.

The health benefits of coconut oil

Antimicrobal/Antiseptic - Coconut oil contains 40% lauric acid, the anti-viral component of breast milk. Our bodies convert the acid to a substance that protects us from infection.

Disease-fighting - Due to the high lauric acid content, coconut oil helps fight current illnesses.

Thyroid-Stimulating - Coconut oil stimulates the thyroid, giving you more energy and helping you lose weight.  Animals fed coconut oil are more lean, active, and have higher appetites.  This is why most farmers feed their animals diets that are high in unsaturated fats - they fatten them up with less food because of the anti-thyroid effects.

Anti-Aging - Due to the thyroid-stimulating properties of coconut oil, there are an increase of anti-aging steroids, pregnenolone, progesterone and DHEA - which help prevent aging and degenerative diseases.

Anti-Cancer - Animals fed diets high in unsaturated fats have more tumors.  Researchers have also noted that incidences of cancer have increased when native populations are introduced to our American diets.

Digestive -  Due to its antimicrobal properties, coconut oil fights indigestion and assists in the absorption of nutrients.

Skin and Haircare - Coconut oil is an excellent conditioner that helps repair damaged hair and fight dandruff, psoriasis, eczema, etc.  When applied to the skin, it also helps to heal a bruise more quickly and can treat rashes, like diaper rash and yeast.

To learn about the many other benefits of coconut oil, click here.

How to use coconut oil

Besides the uses for skin and hair listed above, coconut oil can also be used for a variety of other purposes.  It is a natural, safe alternative to other unnatural sexual lubricants, which contain many toxins.  You can also simply apply a generous layer of the oil to cuts and scrapes to provide a protective barrier that will also heal the wound.

Coconut oil is solid when at room temperature, so when cooking with it, you may need to soften it first.  I use it in place of butter in all of my baking recipes, as a dairy-free alternative for my allergic son.  The oil has a sweet taste that makes it perfect for sweets and breads.

I also use my coconut oil in place of butter or cooking sprays in prepartio for baking.  I just scoop out a small amount and smear it all over my pans and dishes in the same way I would use butter.

The bottom line

Most nutritionists have it wrong.  While their intentions are good, their focus in wrong.  Sure, we should all be trying to limit the amount of saturated fat in our diets, but we should be doing it by actually limiting the amount of food we eat, not by maintaining the same excessive diets and simply replacing the fats with unsaturated ones.  Those unsaturated fats pose entirely different health risks.  We need to also look at the health benefits of eating saturated fats in moderation.

So enjoy your butter and coconut oil - just don't overdo it.  Your waistline, immune system, heart, thyroid, skin, hair, colon, cells and taste buds will thank you!

Edited to add:  You want to use virgin coconut oil, not the refined types.

-Jessica

Sources:

"Coconutoil.com - Coconut Oil: Why It Is Good For You." Coconutoil.com - Research on Coconut Oil's Benefits. Web. 29 Apr. 2010. .



"Health Benefits of Coconut Oil Organic Coconut Oil Organic Oils." Organic Facts Home. Web. 29 Apr. 2010. .


Rubin, Jordan. The Maker's Diet. Lake Mary, Fla.: Siloam, 2004. Print.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Homemade Menstrual Cloths

In honor of Earth Day, I thought I would tackle the sensitive issue of menstrual pads and tampons.  Feminine hygiene products contribute to our overall wellness in many ways.  Lots of us use cloth diapers on our children for the following reasons, but we never think to do the same thing for ourselves.

First, their use is expensive.  The average woman in the United States will spend over $2500 on pads and tampons in her lifetime.  That is money spent every month that could be put toward buying ourselves healthier foods or other items necessary for our wellness.

Billions of pads and tampons, as well as their plastic wrappers, clutter our landfills every year, leaching toxins like dioxin into the soil, air and water.  But disposal is not the only factor to consider, because the manufacture of these items also takes a toll on our environment.

The main reason we should all be concerned with the use of disposable pads and tampons is their impact on our health.  A sanitary napkin is made from chlorine bleached wood pulp, the absorbent gel in the center of the pad is made from a plastic, and the leakproof barrier is made from a polyethylene film.  These are not things that we want pressing up against our most sensitive body parts for weeks at a time.  Studies have shown that we may be affecting our reproductive health and fertility by doing so.

Tampons are also made from bleached wood pulp and are even more dangerous, because they are used internally.  They block the flow of air to the vagina, allowing bad bacteria to grow and leading to infections and diseases, like Toxic Shock Syndrome.

The production of the ingredients used to make these items releases nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide and other toxic gases into the atmosphere.  These toxins have been known to cause cancer and birth defects in humans.

Cloth Menstrual Pads are a safe and easy alternative.  They can be laundered with your clothing, or if you are cloth diapering, simply throw them in the wash with your diapers.  You can carry a wet bag for when you leave the house just like you do with your diapers.

Cloth pads can be purchased online - do a google search for mama cloth or cloth menstrual pads and you will find websites offering a variety of products.  My favorites can be found on Etsy

But even a novice seamstress can create a basic menstrual pad from recycled items in less than a half hour!  If I can do it, anyone can.  I don't measure or make sure my seams are straight, because I figure something you are going to bleed on doesn't need to look pretty.

How to make a homemade pad in ten minutes:

Pick your fabric.  I like to use flannel because it is soft and absorbent.  It's easy to find old flannel shirts or pajama pants at the thrift store or in your own closet.  I've even made some out of my husband's old flannel boxers.

If you can't find any used fabric, most stores have a remnant bin where you can get scraps for very cheap.  This quarter yard of flannel was less than a dollar and I can get at least two pads out of it.



Cut two large ovals.  I don't even bother measuring, because they don't need to be pretty.  I just make sure that they are wide enough to make wings.



Select the fabric for your "insides".  I had a bunch of old, birdseye prefold diapers that make a perfect absorbent core.  If you don't have diapers, an old dishtowel, handtowel or even a few layers of flannel will work just fine.

I cut the edges off of my prefolds so that just the center is left behind and fold it in half.



Sew down the center of your "insides" and attach them to one of your ovals.



Sew the two ovals together inside out.  Leave an open end, which will be sewn together after you have flipped it.

The edges of your flannel will fray after the first wash, so you will need to take some scissors and clean them up.



Sew the sides to make two channels and your wings.



If your wings are large enough to fold underneath and touch, you can add the snaps directly to the wings.  Otherwise, you may need to add some fabric for the snaps.

I made this pad extra thick so that it can be used for nighttime.  I wanted my wings to be thick and to stay pressed against my skin while I'm wearing it, so I added some fabric underneath the pad for my snaps on this one.

It may be bulky, but it will do the trick, and it cost me less than a dollar to make.



To make a postpartum or heavy flow pad, I used two prefold diapers stacked directly on top of each other. 



To make a pantyliner, I used one prefold that had been cut in half.



You can also use velcro instead of snaps.


Or you can create a pocket that can be stuffed with the correct amount of padding for your flow.



I have made several different types and my favorites so far are the ones that have snaps, because I can feel the velcro when I sit.  I also prefer having two channels instead of three, because I feel like it makes the pad fold more comfortably when I move.  Sewing a circular channel on the pad also makes it feel really comfortable.  Regardless, the feeling of the flannel against your skin is 100x better than that scratchy plastic stuff.

My next step is to start creating "all-in-ones" out of old underwear. I feel like it will be much easier to just throw them on with the pad already attached than to worry about snaps.



If you are interested in some real patterns that will make you a better looking pad, I suggest this website - Adahy's Cloth Pad Patterns.

If pads aren't for you and you are looking for a safe alternative to disposable tampons, check out Diva Cups.

-Jessica


Source:

"Sanitary Napkin." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 21 Apr. 2010. .

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Whole Soy Story

After a visit to a homeopathic doctor in 2008, I discovered that I am soy intolerant, a diagnosis that has changed my life in many ways.*  I used to be a sushi addict and my mouth still waters at the idea of a spicy tuna roll dipped in soy sauce, but then I remember the days following my sushi binges and how the soy sauce would leave me curled in the fetal position on the floor of my bathroom, writhing around in pain. 

I also was a vegetarian for nearly ten years prior to this diagnosis.  I lived off of tofu burgers and veggies shreds.  As soon as I learned that the soy was making me sick, I had to completely change my lifestyle and begin eating meat again.

A few months prior to my diagnosis, it was also discovered that my older son, Gabriel, had a soy allergy.  His first bottle of soy-based formula caused a severe allergic reaction.

Because of this our home has been soy-free for nearly two years, except for a couple of foods that my husband enjoys to have around as snacks.  Gabriel and I are also unable to eat food that has been prepared at restaurants, because the only items on the majority of menus that do not contain a soy product are plain fruits and veggies that haven't touched the grill (which is usually covered in either margarine or soybean oil).

It is estimated that nearly 70% of the foods on our supermarket shelves contain soy.  It has become filler that is used in just about everything, because it is cheap.  But what's even worse is that over 60% of the soybean crop in the United States is genetically modified.

One day Adam heard a news story that linked soy to hormone imbalances in men, specifically that eating high levels of soy causes men to produce more estrogen, leading to a whole host of health problems.  That was the final straw - all of the negative information I had been hearing about soy made me want to learn more about why it is considered a "healthy" food in our culture.


I finished reading The Whole Soy Story by Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN and I learned more than I ever wanted to know about the food.  The book gives a background on how this crop that historically was used as a cover crop to enrich soil, became part of a health-food craze in America. It also breaks down all of the health concerns about eating soy.  I recommend the book for anyone interested in learning why you shouldn't be consuming this food in the amounts that we find in the average American's diet.

I just wanted to highlight some of the interesting things I learned while reading the book:

The study that really made soy a healthy food in America showed that the Japanese (who eat 30 times the soy we eat) have lower rates of breast, uterine and prostate cancer.  What the media coverage of this study failed to also tell us is that the Japanese have higher rates of esophageal, stomach, pancreatic and liver cancers.  Asians also do not eat soy in the ways we eat it.  They leave the soybean intact in fermented products like miso, tempeh and natto. 


The FDA approves soy protein as a heart healthy food but it is also found on their "Poisonous Plant Database."


Soybean oil is a mosquito repellant.  It actually kills the mosquito, which makes you wonder what it does to your insides.


People who eat ground meat with textured soy protein extenders (this is what is served to our children in school) lose 61% (at a 3:1 ratio) and 53% (at a 2:1 ratio) of their ability to absorb the iron from the meat.


Here are all of the toxins and antinutrients that soy contains: 
  • allergens
  • goitrogens - cause thyroid damage
  • lectins - cause immune system reactions and play a role in allergic reactions because they destroy intestinal mucosa.
  • oligosaccharides - cause bloating and gas
  • oxalates - prevent the absorption of calcium and linked to kidney stones
  • phytates - leads to poor growth and anemia.  Levels are higher in soy than in any other food.
  • isoflavones - cause reproductive damage
  • protease inhibitors - cause gastric distress, poor protein digestion, cancer, and damage to the pancreas.  Many foods contain them (grains, nuts, seeds, some veggies, etc.), but cooking deactivates them.  They are at higher levels in soybeans (and even higher in GM beans) and are more resistant to neutralization through cooking.
The scariest information to read was about soy-based formula:
  • The isoflavones in the formula effect hormones and can cause developmental problems in the reproductive system.  They also put children at an increased risk of thyroid problems (hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroid disease). 
  • Infants fed soy formula also produce more gas (CH4 and H2S), which has been linked to intestinal disorders, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's Disease. 
  • Scientists have suggested expensive techniques that would neutralize the phytates in formula, but the industry prefers to go the cheaper route and enrich the formula with zinc, iron and calcium to compensate.  They are required by law to do this. 
  • Iron absorption from soy formula is 27%.  It is 65% in breast milk, 60% in whey formula and 46% in casein formula.
Something I learned from the author's website - "The Israeli Health Ministry has issued a health advisory warning that infants should not use soy formula. So have the British Dietetic Association, the New Zealand Health Ministry, and the Swiss Federal Health Service."
Soy lectin may contribute to Type 1 Juvenile Onset Diabetes because it destroys pancreatic cells that secrete insulin.
Asian monks used to eat high levels of soy because it was known to lower their libido.
I have also read before that animals that are fed diets high in soy fail to thrive and show signs of malnutrition.  They also have a shorter lifespan and produce less offspring. 

When I put all of this information together, it's a no-brainer for me.  It's yet another reason to make sure the food I am feeding my family isn't processed and is prepared properly (soaked, cooked properly, etc.).  Since cutting out soy from my diet, I have not had a major flare-up of my Crohn's Disease and have been able to stay off of toxic drugs like Prednisone.  I think I now know why!

If you are interested in learning more about soybeans, I suggest reading this book!

-Jessica

I was not contacted by anyone to review this book.  I just enjoyed it and wanted to share some information with my readers.

*Diagnosis made through IgE fecal test.