Empowered Sustenance http://empoweredsustenance.com Eat well and heal!™ Fri, 19 Dec 2014 22:25:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 10 Reasons to Never Ever Drink Soy Milk http://empoweredsustenance.com/avoid-soy-milk/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/avoid-soy-milk/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:47:44 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8003 There’s never an excuse soy milk Some lactose-intolerant folks drink it because they want a milk substitute. Some health-conscious people drink it because they think it is the “heart-healthy low fat option.” And some vegans drink it because they don’t want to drink cow milk. But no matter what reason you have for drinking soy milk, it […]

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10 reasons to never drink soy milk!

There’s never an excuse soy milk

Some lactose-intolerant folks drink it because they want a milk substitute. Some health-conscious people drink it because they think it is the “heart-healthy low fat option.” And some vegans drink it because they don’t want to drink cow milk.

But no matter what reason you have for drinking soy milk, it is not a valid excuse. Soy milk is not a food and has no place in anyone’s diet.

Soymilk Ingredients

Ironically, almost every ingredient in soymilk  is cause for serious concern. Here are the ingredients in Silk Soymilk:

Soymilk (Filtered Water, Whole Soybeans), Cane Sugar, Sea Salt, Carrageenan, Natural Flavor, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin B12.

What’s so terrible with this ingredient list? There are 10 reasons below!

1. Phytoestrogens in Soy

Soy is extremely high in phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that look like estrogen to the body. Does this mean that soy milk will disrupt your hormones? Perhaps, but studies are highly conflicting and likely biased by the soy industry.

Although studies showing the hormonal effects of consuming soy are controversial, play it safe rather than sorry. Consider the following research:

  • One study showed that infants consuming soy formula had concentrations of blood estrogen levels 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than normal estrogen levels. It is reasonable to theorize from this study that soy consumption does indeed wreak havoc on normal estrogen levels.
  • Numerous animal studies (here and here) show that soy phytoestrogens can cause breast cancer. Studies (here and here) show that soy consumption increases the proliferation of potentially carcinogenic breast cells.
  • This list of studies from 1939 – 2008 shows various adverse effects of soy consumption
  • Researcher Kris Gunnars compiled an exhaustive and unbiased summary of soy research here and pointed out, “every study I looked at that showed beneficial effect, the study was either sponsored by the soy industry, or the authors had some kind of financial ties to the soy industry.” He also discusses that studies showing benefits of soy consumption are often observational studies, which are often unreliable.

2. Phytic Acid in Soy

Soy contains high levels of phytic acid, a compound that reduces the absorption of minerals like calcium, magnesium and zinc. As a result, soy milk also contains problematic amounts of this anti-nutrient. 

In this thorough article on the phytic acid, author Ramiel Nagel explains:

Phytic acid is the principal storage form of phosphorus in many plant tissues, especially the bran portion of grains and other seeds. It contains the mineral phosphorus tightly bound in a snowflake-like molecule.

In humans and animals with one stomach, the phosphorus is not readily bioavailable. In addition to blocking phosphorus availability, the “arms” of the phytic acid molecule readily bind with other minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, making them unavailable as well. In this form, the compound is referred to as phytate.

Phytic acid not only grabs on to or chelates important minerals, but also inhibits enzymes that we need to digest our food, including pepsin, needed for the breakdown of proteins in the stomach, and amylase, needed for the breakdown of starch into sugar. Trypsin, needed for protein digestion in the small intestine, is also inhibited by phytates.

3. Unfermented Soy is Not A Traditional Food

The one book that is responsible for completely changing the way I looked at nutrition was Dr. Weson Price’s Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Dr. Price was a dentist who, in the 1930’s, traveled the world to discover the secrets of healthy cultures.

From the Inuit in Alaska to the Maori in New Zealand, Dr. Price discovered that when tribes consumed the foods that their ancestors had eaten for centuries, they produced strikingly healthy virtually devoid of chronic disease, infertility and tooth decay.

Most interestingly, the traditional diets – although dependent on geography – followed a strict set of dietary laws. For example, certain animal products like liver and fish eggs were seen as sacred and vital to health. The takeaway rule from Dr. Price’s book is that ancient cultures intrinsically knew what to eat, and how to prepare it, for optimal health.

When it comes to soy, we need to look at how traditional cultures enjoyed this food. Traditional Asian cultures have consumed soy for thousands of years, but they intuitively knew how to minimize the anti-nutrient aspects of this legume. They would ferment soy into soy sauce, tempeh or natto. The fermentation process drastically reduces the phytic acid levels.

While fermented forms of soy are traditional foods, unfermented soy products are not.

If soy milk was a truly nutritious and delicious way to prepare soy, you could bet that great-great-great-great Chinese grandmothers would have raised their children on soy milk.

4. Genetically Modified Soy

As of this year, the US Department of Agriculture reports that 90% of soy grown in the US is genetically modified to be resistant to Monsanto’s herbicide RoundUp.

These “RoundUp Ready” crops pose a serious threat to both human health and the health of the environment.

  • RoundUp Ready crops allow farmers to use even larger amounts of this toxic herbicide.
  • Concerning levels of glyphosphate, the active ingredient in RoundUp, is found on RoundUp Ready crops. Glyphosphate is linked to a number of serious health problems (source).
  • We lack any research showing that consumption of GMO foods is safe to eat in the long-term

Whenever you purchase a non-organic soy product, you support the industry of genetically modified soy.

5. Carrageenan

The term seaweed-emulsified legume juice would be a more accurate label than soy milk. Carrageenan is a highly-processed seaweed that is added to most non-dairy milks and some other food products to create a creamy texture.

There are two types of processed carrageenan. One type is used to induce colitis in lab rats. The other type is supposedly safe for human consumption. However, food-safe carrageenan has been found to cause inflammation and stomach problems (read more in my article about carrageenan here).

Many people find that consuming carrageenan causes digestive distress and pain. The reason that I first learned about the problems with carrageenan was because I discovered that consuming anything with this additive gave me intense heartburn.

6. Calcium Carbonate

When it comes to processed foods, the sum of the parts does not equal the whole. Just because a soy milk claims to have as much calcium as regular milk does not mean the body absorbs and utilizes the calcium from both items the same way.

Case in point: calcium supplementation raises the risk of heart disease (source). Why?

The body requires vitamin co-factors to use calcium properly. Vitamin K2 is the most important because it shuttles calcium into the bone. Without adequate K2, the body cannot use calcium and the calcium can create plaque in the arteries, raising the risk of heart disease (source).

Whole milk from grass-grazing cows provides the saturated fats and vitamin K2 needed to absorb the calcium. In the same way, calcium-rich leafy greens smothered in grassfed butter offers the co-factors needed to absorb calcium.

Because soy milk completely lacks the vitamin cofactors required to use calcium, the added calcium carbonate is likely comparable to calcium supplements – it is more harmful than beneficial

7. Vitamin D2

The vitamin D that nature intended for us is D3. Vitamin D3 is the bio-avaiable form of the vitamin found in food sources such as grassfed dairy and cod liver oil. When we are exposed to sunlight, our bodies also produce the form of D3.

Vitamin D2 is a synthetic and isolated form of the vitamin and, as a result, is extremely poorly absorbed (here’s the study). It offers no viable benefit to the body and may actually be harmful (source).

Further, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Mother Nature paired foods rich in vitamin D with the healthy fats which are required for the absorption of this nutrient. For example, yolks from pasture-raised hens are a good source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2. The beneficial saturated fats found in the egg yolks allow the body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins.

8. Synthetic Vitamin A

The vitamin A added to soy milk (and other non-dairy milks) is synthetic and, as a result, lacks the vitamin co-factors. Remember, your vitamin is only helpful if accompanied by its co-factors.

While naturally-occuring (non-isolated, food-source) vitamin A only creates toxicity in uber-extreme doses, moderate overdoses of synthetic vitamin A can cause toxicity (read more about synthetic vs. natural vitamin A). This is because the body cannot assimilate the synthetic version of the vitamin, likely due to the lack of vitamin co-factors.

The body requires saturated fat and minerals to absorb vitamin A. This is why vitamin A is naturally found in sources rich in those co-factors, such as liver and egg yolks.

9. “Natural Flavors”

A company that lists “natural flavors” on their ingredient list is trying to hide something – and it could be anal secretions from a beaver. Let me explain…

“Natural flavors” can even mean various additives, even forms of MSG and artificial sweeteners. Castoreum is a secretion from the anal gland of the beaver that is often listed under “natural flavors” (with the FDA’s approval). It’s commonly used to replicate vanilla flavor (source).

If someone has chosen to drink soy milk because it is not an animal product, they may still be inadvertently consuming by-products of animals. I never purchase a product that has “natural flavors” on the ingredient list, and I recommend that you don’t, either.

10. It’s simply not Real Food!

Healthy eating can be simplified into four words: just eat real food. But this is easier said than done when we are surrounded by slippery marketing claims about “all natural” health foods.

Here are five questions that I suggest you ask yourself to determine if an item is real food: 

  • Is it a product or is it a food?
  • Is it made with ingredients that humans have used for thousands of years?
  • Is this something that your great-grandmother would recognize as food?
  • Can you make it in your kitchen with grocery store ingredients?
  • Is it advertised on TV?

When we ask these questions about commercial soymilk, the answers are: 

  • Soymilk is a product, not a food.
  • Synthetic vitamins and unfermented soy beans were never used by traditional cultures thousands of years ago.
  • Nope! Great grandma would been utterly repulsed by the idea of drinking soybean juice emulsified with seaweed.
  • Nuh-uh. Where can you get your hands on “natural flavors” and synthetic vitamins?
  • Yes! Soymilk is heavily advertised.

The only conclusion to make about soymilk is that it is not a real food. 

What are healthy alternatives?

Try real milk! While I don’t recommend the highly processed milk from massive farming operations, unprocessed milk is a time-honored food rich in vitamins, protein and healthy fats. Try to source milk from grass-grazing cows, which is vastly higher in nutrients (and it’s beneficial for the planet when cows graze in pasture).

The best option is non-homogenized and non-pasteurized milk, which is highly digestible and rich in enzymes.  Read about the safety of raw milk in my article here.

If you prefer a non-dairy option for milk, making your own nut and seed milks is easy and affordable. Homemade coconut milk – recipe here – is the best option due to the healthful fats and lack of phytic acid in coconut.

If you wish to use other nuts or seeds, I recommend a specific soaking process to help reduce the naturally-occuring phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Try this recipe from Wellness Mama for soaked almond milk.

Do you love real food? Please help me spread the message that soy milk is not a real food!

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7 Ways to Support Detox with Essential Oils http://empoweredsustenance.com/detox-with-essential-oils/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/detox-with-essential-oils/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 23:58:30 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8406 From Lauren: Today’s post is from my friend Jodi Cohen, founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. My nutritional therapy instructor first introduced me to the oils, which drastically helped my health issues. Since I’m now in the Seattle area, I recently began seeing John Tjenos, who formulates the oil blends, as a client. He is the best […]

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7 ways to support detox with essential oils

From Lauren: Today’s post is from my friend Jodi Cohen, founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. My nutritional therapy instructor first introduced me to the oils, which drastically helped my health issues. Since I’m now in the Seattle area, I recently began seeing John Tjenos, who formulates the oil blends, as a client. He is the best practitioner I’ve ever visited… and I’ve been to a ton of practitioners in my long journey toward wellness. He has an amazing healing intuition paired with an extensive knowledge of body chemistry.  Jodi and John are a truly pioneers in essential oil blends and I feel privileged to know them and work with them. 

Detox seems to be the buzz word of the day.  Every time I turn around, I notice another detox diet or protocol.  It’s a wonderful area of health to focus on as it helps the body rest, repair and heal to clear out potential illnesses and disease.  That is, if it’s done correctly. 

The idea behind a detox is to give the digestive system, including the liver, a break by eliminating foods that are high in toxins or difficult for the liver to digest, absorb and assimilate (think sugar, caffeine and processed food).   Once the liver has more energy freed up, it can then start on the work of housecleaning (i.e. cleaning out the toxins that have been stored in fat cells). 

 When most people hear the word toxin, they think of heavy metals or pollution, but in reality toxins can be any substance that creates an irritating or harmful effect in the body, including undigested food (think fats or proteins), excess hormones (like estrogen) and yeast overgrowth or other digestive concerns.  Toxins can limit the ability of cells to function, so the body safely stores them away to avoid any harm.

How can essential oils help with detox?

The detoxification process mobilizes the toxins out of storage with the intent of then removing them from your body.  Think of cleaning out your garage and putting all the trash in bags that you then take to the dump.  Just as literally taking the garbage bags to the dump is an important step in getting it out of your house, it is important that the toxins that are mobilized during the detoxification process actually leave your body.  If they don’t leave your body, they are recycled and reabsorbed into the body (and sometimes into places that are not as safe as the fat cells, like the brain).

 I think you can see where I am going here.  Most of the popular detoxes do a terrific job of mobilizing the toxins, but unless the toxins actually leave the body, they can be reabsorbed and do more harm than they would have if just left alone.  This is why it is important to include dietary fiber or clay in a detox effort to ensure that the toxins have something to bind to in order to leave the body.  It is also important to support detox with essential oils, to aid organ function and the elimination of toxins.

1.  Get into Parasympathetic mode

There are 2 states of the nervous system:  The Fight or Flight Sympathetic State and the Rest and Digest Parasympathetic State.  In order for the body to detoxify and heal, it needs to be in the rest and digest parasympathetic state.  You literally cannot heal when you are under stress.  In addition to taking time to relax, it is helpful to support the organs that oversee the body’s stress, including the hypothalamus and adrenal glands, with appropriate nutrients or the Vibrant Blue Oils Stress Support Kit.  

Another key stressor and toxin creator is an impaired digestive system.  If you are not absorbing and assimilating your nutrients, it puts another stress on the body and the undigested food particles add to the toxic burden.  To ensure optimal digestion, you can apply the Vibrant Blue Parasympathetic blend to the vagal nerve (behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone) before meals to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system “rest and digest” state to promote optimal  digestion, absorption and assimilation of the nutrients necessary to help the body heal and put it in optimal balance. 

2.  Support the liver

The Liver plays a huge role in the detoxification effort, filtering toxins from blood and neutralizing the toxins in preparation for elimination. But dumping more toxins into an already overworked liver can be a recipe for disaster.  The liver needs the energy and vitality to keep up with the increased toxic burden. 

Vibrant Blue Oils Liver Vitality  helps support optimal health and vitality of the liver.  This is a great blend to support any kind of digestive repair effort that would release extra toxins (like yeast die off), a detox cleanse or for anyone who demonstrates liver stress symptoms like sensitivity to smells (smoke, perfume, etc) and or chemicals or those who are easily intoxicated or hung over. 

3. Support the gall bladder

The Gall Bladder concentrates the bile to help break down fat and carry toxins out of the body.  If the bile becomes too thick, it doesn’t flow as well and toxins (especially estrogen) don’t move out of the system and often get reabsorbed. 

Vibrant Blue Oils Gall Bladder Flow  supports the flow of bile and with it toxins out of the body. Some indicators that Gall Bladder Flow might be a helpful blend for you would be motion sickness, floating stools, avoiding fatty food like meat or if you do eating fatty food, needing to use the restroom shortly after, pain between shoulder blades, subtle headache above eyes.

For more ways to support the gall bladder, read Lauren’s post 8 Ways to Improve Fat Malabsorption.

4. Attend to emotional release  

7 ways to support detox with essential oils The Detoxification process  occurs on a physical, spiritual and emotional level and can help uncover and express feelings, especially hidden frustrations, anger, resentments, or fear.  Often, the more toxins a person releases, the more stored emotion that is also released.  It is important that these emotions are allowed to be processed and released to avoid causing additional stress that would undermine the detoxification process.  

Vibrant Blue Liver Support  helps supports the release of emotions, including frequent irritation, impatience, resentment or frustration, being critical of yourself or others, control issues, an inability to express your feelings, feelings of not feeling heard, not feeling loved, not being recognized or appreciated.

5. Aid the lymphatic system

Interstitial lymph fluid flows through the lymph nodes where toxins are filtered out.  Unlike the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system does not have a heart to pump the fluid through the body.  The more you can help the  lymph fluid flow, the more quickly you can move toxins out of the body.  This is why saunas, dry brushing and jumping on a trampoline are recommended.  Vibrant Blue Oils Lymph Flow blend also helps keep lymph flowing to move toxins out of the body.

For more tips to improve lymphatic function, read Lauren’s post, 10 Ways to Improve the Lymphatic System.

6.   Support detox through the skin

Sweat glands of the skin act are one of the body’s avenues for elimination. The surface area of the skin covers 11,000 sq. feet, making sweating therapy effective to remove toxins. By supporting the detoxification pathway via the skin can lessen the burden on other detox organs like the liver and the kidneys. 

For example, consider a detox bath with 2 cups of Epsom salt, 1 cup of baking soda and a few drops of Vibrant Blue Oils Parasympathetic oil. The clove oil in the parasympathetic blend helps to pull toxins out of the skin to lessen the burden on the liver, gall bladder and kidneys.

7.  Prioritize sleep

 Adequate, restful sleep is critical for the body to detoxify and heal.  If you are not sleeping, you will not detoxify. This means not only the ability to fall asleep, but also to stay asleep and achieve a restful REM state.  For help falling asleep, you might consider Vibrant Blue Oils Stress Support Kit, including the Pineal Rhythm blend, which triggers the pineal gland to release melatonin.   For night waking, consider the Vibrant Blue Blood Sugar Support Kit or Vibrant Blue Detox Support Kit.

7 ways to support detox with essential oils

stress support kit

 

gut repair kit

Vibrant Blue Oils Detox Support Kit

Several of the Oils mentioned above are included in the Vibrant Blue Detox Support KitThe Detox Support Kit contains Parasympathetic, Liver Vitality, Gall Bladder FlowWhen used in combination with a detoxification diet, fiber or clay and other nutritional supplements, these oils can help support the organs of detoxification for optimal function.   We advise you to consult a healthcare practitioner for additional nutritional and supplemental support.

Enter Lauren’s coupon, EMPOWER65, at checkout to receive free shipping on your order of $65 or more!

Also, to help determine which Vibrant Blue Oil Kit is right for you (Detox Support, Stress Support, Blood Sugar Balance or Gut Support), check out this complimentary Vibrant Blue Oils Detox Checklist.

And watch Lauren’s video below to learn how to apply the oils in the professional line, which include the three oils in the Detox Support Kit.

About Jodi Cohen

jodiJodi Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. She is Certified Nutritional Therapist, wife, mother, yoga enthusiast and former journalist and marketing executive. She discovered that along with dietary changes, she could use essential oils to bring a remarkable transformation in her young son who had struggled with aggression, impulse control and focus issues. At the same time, she learned how to use essential oils to immediately dissipate her situational depression and anxiety. She began voraciously researching how essential oils could bring about such powerful changes in physical and mental wellbeing.

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Rosemary Infused Pear Sorbet {AIP} http://empoweredsustenance.com/rosemary-pear-sorbet/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/rosemary-pear-sorbet/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 23:18:38 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8367 From Lauren: I’m excited to introduce you to Sophie from A Squirrel in The Kitchen! Sophie creates gorgeous autoimmune-friendly recipes and I invited her to guest post a recipe here.  The inspiration to create this rosemary infused pear sorbet came from a wonderful experience I had in Belgium, years ago, in a fancy restaurant called “The […]

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Rosemary infused pear sorbet recipe

From Lauren: I’m excited to introduce you to Sophie from A Squirrel in The Kitchen! Sophie creates gorgeous autoimmune-friendly recipes and I invited her to guest post a recipe here. 

The inspiration to create this rosemary infused pear sorbet came from a wonderful experience I had in Belgium, years ago, in a fancy restaurant called “The Prince of Liege”.  My husband’s grand-father liked to spoil us from time to time and that day he was treating us to a special lunch.  It was one of those establishments with smart waiters gliding around us in black suits, artistically folded linen napkins, and subdued ambiance.

I don’t remember the dishes we ordered, but I do remember the little entremets we got to savor in between courses.  Something small, elegant, with a mild flavor to reset your palate.  One of them was a refreshing fruit sorbet, served in a dainty little dish with a Polly Pocket size spoon!

Rosemary Infused Pear Sorbet {AIP}

Yield: Makes 3 cups

Rosemary Infused Pear Sorbet {AIP}

Don't skip the fresh rosemary or you will miss out on a delightful culinary experience! The delicate flavor of the pears is enhanced by a subtle hint of rosemary, making this sorbet the perfect dessert for your festive meals. This refreshing dessert is suitable for the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol.

Ingredients

  • 4 big Bartlett pears (or 5 small)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 TBSP honey
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary (3-4 inches)

Instructions

  1. Peel and cut pears into small pieces.
  2. In a pot over medium-low heat, add pears, water, honey, and rosemary (push the rosemary at the bottom of the pan and cover with water and pears).
  3. Boil for 10 minutes, or until the pears are soft.
  4. Remove from the heat, cover, and let cool down.
  5. Remove the sprig of rosemary before transferring the fruit mixture to your Vitamix or high speed blender. Blend on high for 20 seconds.
  6. Transfer to a bowl and place in the fridge to chill.
  7. Now follow the manufacturer's instructions to process the fruit sorbet through your ice-cream maker.
  8. This sorbet can be served immediately as a soft serve. Place in the freezer 1 hour for a firmer texture.
http://empoweredsustenance.com/rosemary-pear-sorbet/

Rosemary infused pear sorbet recipe

sophie's headshotAbout Sophie at A Squirrel in the Kitchen

Sophie Van Tiggelen is an autoimmune warrior, foodie, self-trained paleo chef, and photographer.  She blogs at A Squirrel in the Kitchen, where her mission is to demonstrate that you can eat gourmet meals on the autoimmune protocol! Her French heritage shines through in her simple, yet creative cooking style and her recipes are doable even for beginning cooks. 

Diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, she regained health and vitality while eating colorful and nutritious food on the elimination diet.  Stress management and regular practice of moderate exercise are also an important part of her healing journey.  She lives now in Colorado with her husband and their three teenage girls.

You can connect with her on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

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My Experience with Earthing Shoes http://empoweredsustenance.com/earthing-shoes-review/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/earthing-shoes-review/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 18:21:18 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8372 I’m the kind of girl who gets excited about essential oils and herbs, not heels and purses. With that said, there is still a part of me that jumps for joy when I discover the perfect pair of shoes. I love that little leap in my heart when I look down at my feet and […]

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Earthing shoes allow you to reap the benefits of grounding

I’m the kind of girl who gets excited about essential oils and herbs, not heels and purses. With that said, there is still a part of me that jumps for joy when I discover the perfect pair of shoes. I love that little leap in my heart when I look down at my feet and think, “I adore these shoes, they just brighten my day.”

Recently, I discovered Juil Grounding Shoes and I’ve been excited to share my experience with you. I don’t think I’ve ever found a shoe brand that has made me so happy before!

P.S. This isn’t a sponsored review, and, as always, I’m sharing my honest options. I was given one pair of shoes by the company for consideration, but I loved it so much that I bought a couple other pairs.

What is earthing/grounding?

Earthing shoes allow you to reap the benefits of groundingEarthing, also called grounding, is a practice of connecting with the electromagnetic charge of the earth. When our caveman ancestors walked around barefoot and slept on the ground, they reaped the constant benefit of the earth’s charge. Now, due to our lifestyles, we need to make an intentional effort to earth or ground ourselves.

When we walk barefoot on sand, grass or dirt, we allow the healing electrical charge of the earth flow through our bodies. It might sound esoteric, but it’s actually science. Skin-to-earth contact allows the negative ions from the ground flow into our body, and this is shown to reduce stress hormones and inflammation (source). 

The research on grounding is very intriguing, but think that personal experience is even more convincing. Have you ever noticed a tingling, uplifting feeling when you walk barefoot on a sandy beach? Or experienced profound rejuvenation after laying on the grass in the sun? It’s likely due to both increased relaxation paired with the anti-stress effects of earthing.

How to get the benefits of earthing

The cheapest and easiest way to reap the benefits of the earth’s charge? Take a 10 minute break whenever possible to stand barefoot on grass, dirt, sand or unsealed concrete. Unsealed concrete also conducts the negative ions, but asphalt, wood, rubber, and treated concrete surfaces will not. 

I’m also a fan of my earthing mat, available here, which I’ve used for almost two years. It plugs into an outlet, and then releases the same charge as the earth. However, you should have skin-to-mat contact for best results. I often sleep on it.

My newest method to get grounded? Wearing my Juil earthing shoes, which are available here. Regular shoes have rubber soles, which block the electrical charge of the earth. (If you can get your hands on 100% uncoated leather-soled moccasins, however, that’s another story).

earthing shoes 6

How do earthing shoes work?

Juil shoes have a rubber sole with copper “button” inserts. Since copper is highly conductive, these dots allow the earth’s beneficial charge to pass into your body.

The important thing to remember is that the shoes will only ground you when you are on a conductive surface – sand, dirt, grass, or untreated concrete. My daily walk around campus to attend class is on grass and concrete, so this works well for me. However, when I’m sitting in a classroom, I will not be grounding.

What are the other materials in the shoes? They have a leather upper, lining and footbed, which creates durability and comfort (if you choose not to wear leather if you are a vegan, then these aren’t the shoes for you). They also use natural vegetable dyes, which creates a less toxic manufacturing process.

My experience with Juil earthing shoes

earthing shoes 2

Here’s the short version of my review: I adore Juil shoes. Period. They are probably by far my favorite shoe brand at the moment.

I get the benefits of earthing. Like I mentioned, you must be wearing your shoes on a conductive surface (grass, sand, dirt, untreated concrete) to get earthed. 

They fit very comfortably and true-to-size. I have a pair of Juil ballet flats, a pair of moccasins, and a pair of sandals. The ballet flats are perhaps the best I’ve ever worn – the leather offers a hint of stretch to mold to my feet, but it stays on. I know shoes are very personal and what works for me won’t work for everyone else. But these shoes fit my feet perfectly. I’ve even taken a swing dance class (my first, and I loved it!) in the ballet flats, and they felt like a second skin.

They have a wide variety of cute styles. I love the clean, classic ballet flats. My moccasins are more casual, and extremely comfortable. And my sandals will go perfectly with summer dresses or shorts in the spring/summer.

You can browse the Juil styles here.

earthing shoes 3

Juil earthing shoes coupon

When I find a company that I like enough to work with, I always do my best to get a great coupon for you. I think you will be happy with this coupon!

Enter code EMPOWERED20 at Juil to get 20% off your order. This coupon is available through December 20th. I hope you will enjoy these earthing shoes as much as I do!

Do you fit earthing into your day? 

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5 Holistic Insomnia Remedies (that fix the root problems) http://empoweredsustenance.com/insomnia-remedies/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/insomnia-remedies/#respond Wed, 10 Dec 2014 18:39:16 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8375  Beyond “Band-Aid” Insomnia Remedies The conventional medicine community looks at insomnia with the same view of so many other dysfunctions: they treat it as a symptom, without addressing the root causes. Sometimes, the “Band-Aid” approach with sleep drugs – either pharmaceutical or over-the-counter – can do more harm than good. I approach all health problems […]

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insomnia remedies

 Beyond “Band-Aid” Insomnia Remedies

The conventional medicine community looks at insomnia with the same view of so many other dysfunctions: they treat it as a symptom, without addressing the root causes. Sometimes, the “Band-Aid” approach with sleep drugs – either pharmaceutical or over-the-counter – can do more harm than good.

I approach all health problems with the question, “what are the underlying causes, and how do we treat the root causes so the symptoms disappear?” When it comes to insomnia, there are often these three factors (one, two or all three) at play:

The following five steps primarily focus on the hormonal aspect of insomnia. After struggling with insomnia for most of my life, these were the most important changes I made to improve my sleep.

1. Ditch the melatonin supplements

Many people reach for melatonin supplements as a “natural” sleep aid. I’m here to tell you: there is nothing natural about taking a hormone into your body! Melatonin is supposed to be produced by your body according to the circadian rhythm, and supplementing with this hormone – especially without the guidance of a medical practitioner – can throw of the delicate balance of other hormones.

For more information, please read my post Melatonin Isn’t a Sleeping Pill: 3 Reasons to Avoid Melatonin Supplements.

2. Balance your melatonin naturally

Don’t think I’m hating on melatonin! It is a crucial hormone for healthy sleep and wellbeing. I just don’t believe it should be carelessly supplemented.

Here are the 7  steps I take to balance melatonin naturally.

3. Use a wakeup light

I’ve only been using this wake up light for a few weeks, but I am hooked. A wake up light produces an artificial dawn, also called dawn simulation, to wake you up in the morning. The gradual light – a type of artificial daylight – gently pulls you out of slumber and can support healthier hormone balance throughout the day.

A wake up light can help balance two hormones that regulate our sleep cycles: melatonin and cortisol. Studies show that exposure to daylight in the morning helps spike cortisol (a good thing – cortisol should peak in the morning and diminish during the day). Research also shows that dawn simulation supports better melatonin balance throughout the day (read more in my wake up light article).

The most significant change I noticed after switching to my wakeup light? I feel much more rested in the morning, plus I no longer experience heart attacks from my blaring alarm clock. With my wakeup light, it is drastically easier for me to get out of bed.

Are you intrigued by a wake up light? You can get one for free! Read the bottom of this post for the deets :)

4. Get into parasympathetic mode

The Autonomic Nervous System has two major divisions: Sympathetic Mode (fight or flight) and Parasympathetic Mode (rest and digest). When we are chronically stressed, we get stuck in sympathetic mode. Unfortunately, this is another stressor on the body and leads to health complications, including insomnia.

In order to fall asleep and stay asleep, we need to trigger the parasympathetic mode for deep relaxation. Here are three simple steps to get into parasympathetic:

  1. Tapping the back of your neck – This is one trick I learned from a Qi Gong master who gave a demonstration in one of my classes. Flatten your hands, with your fingers together, and use the palm of your hands and fingers to firmly but briskly pat the back of your neck. Go up and down the back of your head and neck a few times.
  2. Stimulate the vagus nerve – The vagus nerve connects the digestive tract to the brain, and is responsible for shifting the body into parasypathetic. You can get into parasympathetic mode by activating the vagus nerve through a few simple exercises, such as deep breathing and chanting “OM.” One of my favorite ways to stimulate the vagus nerve is doing a few deep breaths and then allowing my mouth to fill up with saliva. Saliva production increases when you get into parasympathetic.
  3. Parasympathetic oilParasympathetic Oil from Vibrant Blue Oils is a truly extraordinary blend that triggers the parasympathetic nervous system. There is nothing else like this blend available. You apply the tiniest dab behind the ear lobe, on the vagus nerve. I use it religiously before every meal and before I go to sleep. I have a coupon for you on this page.

5. Change your sleeping surface

Holistic insomnia remedies that address the root causesI never thought I would get passionate about mattresses. But life is so weird… and here I am, researching and writing about how one’s mattress ties into one’s health.

It started when I learned the huge amount of toxins, including carcinogenic fire retardants, used to produce conventional mattresses. These chemicals offgass and are correlated with health concerns including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The point hit home when I realized the worst flareup ever of my autoimmune disease coincided with the week that I began sleeping on a new mattress, when offgassing is the worst.

Long story short, I got connected with IntelliBED because they create the best, safest mattress I’ve found. After struggling with insomnia my whole life, my quality of sleep drastically improved overnight when I switched to IntelliBED, because the mattress supports proper alignment and restorative sleep. Most importantly, I know that I am not inhaling off-gassing chemicals because I am sleeping on a non-toxic surface.

If you struggle with insomnia or are concerned about the toxins in your – and your children’s – sleeping environment, click here to watch my Holistic Sleep Webinar. Then, read more about my experience with IntelliBED here

 Exclusive IntelliBED Holiday Package

There are just a handful of companies that I like enough to work with, and even fewer that I want to work with regularly. I love everyone at IntelliBED and deeply admire the integrity of the company. We both want to educate about sleep, because we believe it is so crucial to wellness.

I worked with IntelliBED to create a very special holiday sale for you, encompassing the factors that most improved my sleep issues. I am beyond impressed with IntelliBED’s generosity in both their time and resources in creating this holiday package. Here’s the deal:

Order an IntelliBED mattress of any size. Call IntelliBED to place your order and tell them Lauren sent you, and you will receive the following:

  • 10% off the mattress (and that’s a very significant number, especially if you are buying a King mattress!)
  • A free Philips Wake Up Light (pretty much identical to the Philips Wake Up Light version I have), a $140 value. IntelliBED is purchasing each wake up light because I told them it helped my sleep so much! We’re not working with or being sponsored by Philips.
  • A free IntelliPILLOW of your choice, a $150 value!

IntelliBED is offering this package to you through December 31st. If you have been contemplating switching to a non-toxic mattress, I hope this will make your decision easier. Keep in mind that IntelliBED also offers crib mattresses, an non-toxic mattresses are an even higher priority for babies.

Intellibed holiday sale

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5 Ways to Instill a Positive Nutrition Approach http://empoweredsustenance.com/positive-nutrition-approach/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/positive-nutrition-approach/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 15:48:38 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8360 When I was faced with an unmanageable autoimmune disease, I turned to food as a last resort. It is likely no exaggeration to say that changing my nutrition saved my life. I know from experience that food is capable of profound healing, but it’s also capable of creating confusion, guilt and negativity. Opening a magazine, […]

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5 ways to instill a postive nutrition

When I was faced with an unmanageable autoimmune disease, I turned to food as a last resort. It is likely no exaggeration to say that changing my nutrition saved my life. I know from experience that food is capable of profound healing, but it’s also capable of creating confusion, guilt and negativity.

Opening a magazine, turning on the TV or even walking down the isle of the grocery store, young children are bombarded with messages that create a fear-based relationship with food. At a young age, kids may learn to equate certain foods with feelings of guilt or fear, rather than seeing nutrition in a positive light. This negative approach to nutrition is, unfortunately, carried into adolescence and adulthood. 

Here are 5 ways to promote a positive nutrition approach in the young people in your life. These steps also work to create a positive nutrition approach in your own life, too!

1. Focus on the quality, not quanity of food

Don’t pass on the “calories in, calories out” mindset to your daughter when discussing nutrition. Wellbeing deals less with the quality of calories rather than quantity of calories consumed or burned. Contrary to popular belief, calories are not created equal. For example, research shows that coconut oil consumption promotes fat-burning. However, it is more calorie-dense than a piece of toast, which may contribute to a blood sugar spike, which in turn triggers fat storage.

Emphasize the quality of ingredients on the ingredient list rather than the nutrition label on food products. For example, don’t concentrate on the grams of fat on a nutrition label, but instead look at the quality of fat in the ingredient list. Is canola oil listed? Skip it (it’s not a food). Is olive oil listed instead? Then that’s a better choice. 

2. Don’t emphasize products labeled diet and light

I have three major problems with foods labeled diet, light, low-fat, cholesterol free, fat free, etc.:

  1. These labels are often put on food products, rather than whole foods. Always choose real foods over food products. As Michael Pollan says, “Consider that the healthiest foods in the supermarket–the fresh produce–are the ones that don’t make FDA-approved health claims, which typically festoon the packages of the most highly processed foods.”
  2. Packaged diet foods may be worse options than their non-diet counterparts. For example, diet soda contains cancer-promoting artificial sweeteners which are worse than conventional sugar.
  3. Research shows that when we label foods with terms such as diet, light and low fat, the body responds with less physiological satisfaction. When we perceive foods as nutrient-dense, however, the body responds with lower levels of hunger hormones, signaling more satiation. This was discovered in an extremely interesting study called Mind Over Milkshake.

3. Avoid language that promotes guilt around food

Young children quickly pick up on the connotations of words describing food and subconsciously carry these connotations into adolescence.

“Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say, “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.”

Sarah Koppelkam, in her spot-one article “How To Talk To Your Daughter About Her Body

Watch your language around food – you may be surprised at how frequently food-shaming slips out of your mouth. Focus on the message that food provides nourishment for a strong mind and body.

4. Don’t intertwine food and exercise

Have you found yourself saying something along the following lines? These mashed potatoes are so fattening, I’ll have to do extra time on the treadmill. Or I can’t eat this piece of bread, I didn’t go to the gym today.

Not only does this promote a fear-based relationship with food, research suggests that exercise has little if any role in the childhood obesity epidemic. While exercise is shown to be a protective factor against many diseases, studies do not support the theory that exercise leads to weight loss (source).

As a matter of fact, labeling movement as exercise may be counterproductive! A recent study by Cornell showed that individuals told to “walk for exercise” ended up consuming significantly more calories than those told to “take nature walks.” That is likely due to the pervasive – and false – assumption that we can “out exercise a poor diet.”

Instead, enjoy movement for the sake of movement. Encourage your child to dance as an expression of emotion, rather than a cardio workout. Support him or her joining a soccer team because she can enjoy the fresh air and teamwork, rather than burning calories on the field.

5. Make family dinners a priority

Juggling the varied schedules of family members may make family meals a challenge, but it’s worth the effort. Studies suggest that family dinners are a strong protective factor against eating disorders and extreme weight control measures in adolescent girls. Sharing family dinners five times per week also shows an inverse relationship with depressive symptoms. 

Perhaps more important, family dinners encourage mindful eating. When we scarf down a meal while watching TV, we can reduce the physiological triggers of satiation. When we intersperse our meal with conversation, we tend to eat slower and more mindfully.

How do you try to keep a positive nutrition outlook? Please share this post if you want to help me spread the Positive Nutrition Revolution!

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2014 Wellness Gift Guide + Coupons http://empoweredsustenance.com/2014-gift-guide/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/2014-gift-guide/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 15:55:13 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=7661 It’s time for the annual Wellness Gift Guide! Over the last couple of weeks. I’ve called/emailed/wheedled/begged my favorite sponsors and companies to get you very special coupons for my essential health products. I think my sponsors may be tired of hearing from me, but I wanted to share my favorite wellness gifts with you for a great […]

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wellness gift guide 2014

It’s time for the annual Wellness Gift Guide! Over the last couple of weeks. I’ve called/emailed/wheedled/begged my favorite sponsors and companies to get you very special coupons for my essential health products. I think my sponsors may be tired of hearing from me, but I wanted to share my favorite wellness gifts with you for a great deal. 

Products that make the cut for my annual gift guide live up to my high expectations. All of these are items that I own, use and highly recommend. Further, these items are from companies that deeply value the health of humanity and our environment.

Natural Wellbeing

Air-Purifying Salt lamp

Made from chiseled chunks of himalayan salt, salt lamps generate air-purifying, mood-lifting negative ions. For those who couldn’t care less about the benefits of salt lamps, the lamps provide a warm, ambient glow to any room. This is a universally-loved gift that will work for almost anyone on your list. 

You can find salt lamps in various health food stores, but I purchased this one on Amazon and love it.

Near Infrared Sauna 

near infrared sauna benefitsThis is the biggest investment on this gift guide, but it may be one of the most important investments for anyone’s health. And compared to using a sauna at a spa, you’ll save a ton of money in the long run. I’ve used my SaunaFix religiously for about a year and believe that it is aiding the recovery of my thyroid, immune system and hormones.

The heat and near infrared light has been shown to have a myriad of benefits including heavy metal detox, skin improvement, tissue regeneration and more. Please read my Near Infrared Sauna discussion here for more info and necessary safety precautions.

Coupon: SaunaFix, available here, is currently $50 off – originally $450, it’s $400 while supplies last. In addition, I worked with Eileen to create a bonus package worth $75 included for FREE with coupon code EMPOWERED. With this coupon, you’ll get Stay Safe Glasses to use in the sauna ($25 value), Dr. Wilson’s book on sauna therapy (a $19 value) and a 5 pack of jade stones (a $30). When warmed, these stones emit infrared and can be placed on the body. SaunaFix, the portable near infrared sauna that I use.

Natural Body Care and Home Care

empower your hair package

Morrocco Method Raw Hair Care

You’ve likely heard me talk about Morrocco Method, the only hair care products I’ll use for the rest of my life! Morrocco Method offers unique 100% raw hair care. Unlike regular shampoos which strip hair of protective natural oils, MM shampoos don’t lather. This is one of the foundations for a healthy scalp and beautiful hair.

Coupon: Click here to watch my Holistic Hair Webinar with Anthony Morrocco and get access to my exclusive Empower Your Hair Package (it’s only accessible through that link, and it’s only available until December 8th). In addition, you can use coupon EmpowerBrush20 to get 20% off any Morrocco Method boar bristle brushes, available here.

Primal Pit Paste

oc_Stick__36073.1415811363.1280.1280Natural deodorant sounds like a good idea, but it doesn’t always smell like a good idea. After trying a myriad of ineffective natural deodorants, I made the switch to Primal Pit Paste and fell in love. With their customizable strengths, pit primers, and different formulas, Primal Pit Paste offers a solution for everyone.

If you have highly sensitive skin, you’ll love the extra-gentle Happy Pits stick. Alternatively, you can first use the Pit Primer as a buffer between your skin, and follow with their regular deodorant. And if you need heavy-duty odor protection, reach for their Strong deodorant and optionally use it with the Pit Spray or Pit Primer. Their body butters and lip butters make fantastic stocking stuffers and use only the purest ingredients.

Coupon: Use coupon code primalgift20 for 20% off your entire order! This offer expires December 21st.

Radiant Life Catalog

beauty balmI am always on the lookout for that one multi-purpose salve that fulfills all my skincare needs. I believe I’ve found it in the Blue Ice Beauty Balm, available here. I’ve been a faithful devotee of consuming grassfed butter oil and fermented cod liver oil for the internal health benefits, but it turns out that these star ingredients in the beauty balm work wonders topically.

I’ve used the balm on dry skin, rashes, burns, chapped lips and irritated skin with incredible results. You can also use it on your face if your skin is on the drier side. It has a lovely faint fragrance from orange, cranberry and lavender oils.

Coupon: Use coupon code ‘EMPOWERED’ with orders above $125 to get a free jar of Radiant Life’s sustainably-sourced, cold-pressed red palm oil - a $16 value! You’ll also get free shipping. This coupon will only run until December 17th or while supplies last, so don’t wait too long.  Other essentials I get from Radiant Life include their sprouted nut butter, magnesium oil, desiccated liver capsules, and fermented cod liver oil.

Branch Basics Household Cleaners

Safe household cleansing with Branch BasicsI am certainly not going to compromise on ingredient safety when it comes to household cleansers. After years of using smelly, labor-intensive DIY vinegar cleaner, I recently found Branch Basics and was hooked. This multi-purpose cleanser is strong enough to remove the most stubborn stickers from glass jars (and you know how extraordinary a feat that is!) but safe enough not to be harmful if accidentally ingested.

Branch Basics can be used from everything from laundry to bathroom cleaning. Even better, a little of this super-concentrated solution goes a long way… according to my calculations, with one gallon of Branch Basics, I’m set for two years (!) of personal laundry and household cleansing.

Coupon: Use coupon code ES20 for 20% off your entire order! This offer expires in just a few days, on December 6th. I highly recommend the Large Starter Kit, which comes with 1 gallon of the Branch Basic solution, three spray bottles to dilute it, and a 2oz. travel spray bottle. It’s by far the best value, especially with the 20% off.

Non-Toxic Cosmetics

100% Pure is one of the few natural cosmetic companies that truly lives up to the term “natural.” Everything I’ve tried from this brand has exceeded my expectations and I fully trust the integrity of the company. I’ve tried dozens of chemical-free mascaras (I reviewed them in my Natural Mascara Guide) and 100% Pure’s mascara is one of the few that I re-purchase. Their Lip Shines are also lovely – highly pigmented and moisturizing. The nail polishes, although limited in color selection, are high quality and a good choice if you’re looking for a safe nail polish.

Another brand that I recommend in my natural mascara guide is the W3LL People Mascara, available here at Spirit Beauty Lounge. That website also carries their mineral foundation, which is my favorite after trying tons of mineral foundations.

Coupon: I don’t have a coupon, but they frequently run holiday specials with a minimum purchase – just check their website.

 Healthy Foodie

Sprouted Nut Butters

nut_butterYou haven’t experienced nut butter until you’ve tried these Better than Roasted Nut Butters from Radiant Life. They’re made from gently soaked and dehydrated nuts or seeds. The results? A vastly healtheir and raw nut butter, since the live enymes are activated and the bitter phytic acid is reduced. It’s also much easier to digest. While I’m not able to tolerate regular nut or seed butter, I find that I can enjoy small amounts of this option without a problem.

Coupon: It’s the same Radiant Life coupon I mentioned above. Use coupon code ‘EMPOWERED’ with orders above $125 to get a free jar of Radiant Life’s sustainably-sourced, cold-pressed red palm oil - a $16 value! You’ll also get free shipping.

Tigernuts

I’m on a tigernut kick after discovering these paleo-friendly nuggets of nutrition a few months ago. Not a nut, they are an ancient superfood tuber that fueled up to 80% of the diet of our pre-human ancestors, according to research from Oxford University. Tigernuts are sweet, crunchy and versatile… for example, I recently shared a Tigernut Flour Pancake recipe! You can read more about the health benefits of tigernuts here.

Coupon: Sorry, no coupon for this one. I recommend this brand of tigernuts and tigernut flour. These are only available through Amazon.

I hope this gift guide was helpful to you, and enjoy the savings! Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

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How to Choose Safe Household Cleansers http://empoweredsustenance.com/safe-household-cleansers/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/safe-household-cleansers/#comments Mon, 01 Dec 2014 17:12:52 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8332 “Did you spill salad dressing?” Asked one of my housemates, when she came to my room the other day. “It usually smells like flowers and rainbows in your room, but not today.” I explained to her that my room only stinks when I’m cleaning, thanks to my DIY vinegar-based cleanser. But when I’m not wiping down […]

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Safe household cleansing with Branch Basics

“Did you spill salad dressing?”

Asked one of my housemates, when she came to my room the other day. “It usually smells like flowers and rainbows in your room, but not today.”

I explained to her that my room only stinks when I’m cleaning, thanks to my DIY vinegar-based cleanser. But when I’m not wiping down my bathroom counter with vinegar, my room smells lovely thanks to my essential oil diffuser and bamboo air purifying bags.

Do you know what’s in your household cleansers?

Vinegar and elbow grease has one major point in its favor, which is why I relied on this duo for the past year: it’s chemical free. I’m not about to settle for the notoriously toxic ingredients found in conventional household cleansers!

Here are 6 of the worst offenders commonly found in household cleaning products:

  • Nonylphenol ethoxylate – California banned this ingredient in cleansing products in 2012, and it is also banned in the European Union. It is a strong endocrine disruptor, is neurotoxic, and is also toxic c to aquatic life.
  • Phenoxyethanol – this commonly used preservative is irritating to eyes and skin, as well as being neurotoxic and a reproductive toxin. As women are experiencing more and more hormone-related problems, including fertility issues and early puberty, it’s vital to remove endocrine-disrupting chemicals from your home.
  • 2-butoxyethanol – This solvent found in the popular “non-toxic” cleanser Simple Green is absorbed through the skin and irritates eyes.
  • Triclosan/Microban – Antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers frequently contain this antibacterial agent. It’s absorbed through the skin and linked with both hormone disruption and antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
  • Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride – Found in disinfectant cleansers like Clorox wipes and Lysol, this chemical is linked to liver toxicity and respiratory irritation.
  • Fragrance – I call “Fragrance” the “Natural Flavors” of cosmetics and cleansers. Both of these labels allow producers to avoid fully disclosing ingredients to consumers… ingredients that are often highly toxic.

safe household cleanserDo you want to ensure that you are using only safe household cleansers?

  • Avoid products that that says Caution, Warning or Danger on the label (these labels are required by law depending on the dose-dependent toxicity of the product).
  • Avoid products that carry a Mr. Yuk sticker 
  • Avoid products with any of the above toxic ingredients
  • Avoid products that recommend using a mask or rubber gloves for use
  • Avoid products that warn of eye, skin or respiratory irritation
  • Avoid products with synthetic ingredients

You may think that warning labels on cleaning supplies is normal. Well, it may be the norm but that doesn’t mean it’s right. Any cleaning product with a warning label should raise a big red flag.

Can you understand why I stuck with my smelly, labor-intensive DIY vinegar cleaner?  You can imagine my excitement when I found a truly nontoxic multi-purpose cleanser that works, called Branch Basics

This post is kindly sponsored by Branch Basics. As you know, I only work with companies when I’ve had an extremely positive experience with their product, when I’ve personally spoken with the founder(s), and when I admire the integrity of the company. Branch Basics is a small company run by three amazing women, and it’s been my privilege to work with them.

Branch Basics: The multi-purpose green cleanser

Branch Basics is strong enough to remove the most stubborn stickers from glass jars (and you know how extraordinary a feat that is!) but safe enough not to be harmful if accidentally ingested. Take a look at the ingredients:

Purified water, fatty acids, coconut oil, organic alcohol*, folic acid, minerals and enzymes derived from edible and seed-bearing plants (*evaporated out during manufacturing process)

The combination of efficacy and non-toxic ingredients hooked me immediately. Branch Basics is:

  • Completely fragrance-free – Even “botanical fragrances” can be problematic in terms of safety, due to processing. Branch Basics is fragrance free and has no smell whatsoever.
  • 100% food grade – It’s basically coconut oil and plant-derived enzymes!
  • Non-allergenic – Branch Basics is free of dairy, corn, wheat, nuts, soy and gluten.
  • It works – Works, works, works. That’s all I can say. I cleaned my entire bathroom in a matter of minutes using my diluted bottle of Branch Basics spray, with minimal elbow grease required. No streaks, no scrubbing, no splotches!

One other reason why I adore Branch Basics? As a college student living in campus housing, my storage space is greatly limited. My bottle of Branch Basics fits under my sink and I can use it for almost everything, including:

  • All-purpose home cleansing (sinks, counters, toilets, bathtubs, etc.)
  • Mirror and windows
  • Laundry degergent
  • Stain removal (it works great for coconut oil stains on blouses, speaking from experience)
  • Fruit and veggie wash
  • Dish soap
  • Yoga mat spray
  • Removing sticky labels from jars (finally, something that works!)

And that’s just the short list! Here are the other uses for the cleanser – the key is diluting it properly for the intended purpose

Branch_basics_dilution_guide 2

Further, you don’t have to be a college student like me to appreciate the price tag. A one gallon container of Branch Basics can be diluted to make at least 24 32oz. spray bottles! Alternatively, one gallon of Branch Basics washes 250 loads of laundry.

I just did some quick calculations and, with one gallon of Branch Basics, I’m set for two years (!) of personal laundry and household cleansing. With an investment in one gallon of BB, which costs $86, I won’t need to buy detergent or cleansers until 2017… wow.

20% off Site Wide at Branch Basics

Do you want to stock up on non-toxic, all-purpose cleaning solution? I was able to work with Branch Basics to get you 20% off your entire purchase at BranchBasics.com. Enter coupon code “ES20″ at checkout.

branch basics coupon

This coupon is only available for six days only, until December 6th.

Additionally, for Cyber Monday (December 1st) you’ll get free shipping with your order! But this is only available on Monday.

I highly recommend the Large Starter Kit, which comes with 1 gallon of the Branch Basic solution, three spray bottles to dilute it, and a 2oz. travel spray bottle. It’s by far the best value, especially with the 20% off coupon. I keep one diluted bottle in my bathroom and one in my kitchen, and then I use the undiluted solution for laundry.

I hope you enjoy Branch Basics as much as I do!

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Introduction to Tigernut Flour + Tigernut Flour Pancakes http://empoweredsustenance.com/tigernut-flour-pancakes/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/tigernut-flour-pancakes/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:55:26 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8310 Tigernuts: tubers with a misnomer Last week in this post, I introduced you to one of my favorite foods: tigernuts! Tigernuts are actually small vegetables with an ill-fitting name. They are more widely known in Africa and the Midde East and are also known as: chufa yellow nut sedge earth almonds Why am I so smitten […]

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tigernut flour pancakes + intro to tigernut flour

Tigernuts: tubers with a misnomer

Last week in this post, I introduced you to one of my favorite foods: tigernuts!

Tigernuts are actually small vegetables with an ill-fitting name. They are more widely known in Africa and the Midde East and are also known as:

  • chufa
  • yellow nut sedge
  • earth almonds

tigernut flour pancakes + intro to tigernut flour

Why am I so smitten with this new food discovery?

  •  Tigernuts are non-allergenic, with no reported allergies in two million years… that’s a pretty good track record! Organic Gemini tiger nuts are produced in an allergen-free facility to ensure that sensitive individuals can enjoy them.
  • When it comes to paleo-friendly foods, tigernuts take the (grain free and dairy free) cake. Research from Oxford showed that tigernuts fueled up to 80% of paleolithic man’s diet.
  • Tigernuts are the highest source of resistant starch, an elusive type of fiber that is feeds for the good bacteria in the digestive tract.
  • Tigernuts are concentrated nuggets of nutrition and include a balance of protein, fats and carbs. Interestingly, the fat profile is very similar to olive oil, which has been heavily studied for its heart-health benefits. (Read more about these benefits in this post)

Whole tigernuts are available here at Amazon.

What is Tigernut flour?

Although I had been familiar with their whole tigernuts, Organic Gemini recently introduced me to their tigernut flour. I was over-the-moon to incorporate this grain-free flour into new recipes.

The only place that I’ve found to purchase this tigernut flour is here from Amazon.

If you google recipes for tiger nut flour, you have really really slim pickings. It seems like a newcomer in the world of grain free recipes. I didn’t have much to use as a jumping-off point for recipe development. So, I decided to grab a couple of bags of tiger nut flour, set aside a long afternoon, and start from utter scratch.

tigernut flour pancakes + intro to tigernut flour

Here are factors to keep in mind about tiger nut flour

  • Organic Gemini, the producers, says tiger nut flour substitutes 1:1 for white flour. In my experience, the only flour that substitutes 1:1 for white flour is white flour. Tigernut flour boasts versatility and a mild flavor, but you can use it in place of white flour and expect the exact same result.
  • Tigernut flour has the same mild, toasty, slightly sweet flavor of tigernuts. I also find hints of vanilla in the flavor. I absolutely love it!
  • Tigernut flour has a slightly grainy texture, which I find pleasant and hearty. It doesn’t necessarily produce dense baked goods, but it lends a very slight grittiness in recipes – neither a good nor bad thing, just something to keep in mind.
  • Tigernut flour is very high resistant starch, which can cause digestive upset when introduced into the diet in large amounts. I encourage gradually increasing your tigernut flour intake, starting with a tablespoon or two a day to make sure you tolerate it.

About the other ingredients

tigernut flour pancakes + intro to tigernut flourCoconut flour – I used coconut flour in this recipe to absorb moisture and provide a bit more structure. I also wanted to stretch the tigernut flour in this recipe, because it is relatively pricey. Blending it with a coconut flour works like a charm. t also stretches the tigernut flour, which is relatively pricey.

Eggs – I can’t tell you if this recipe will work with an egg substitute. I’m in the early stages of tigernut flour experimentation, so I haven’t yet tried variations without eggs. Over the next few months, I look forward to experimenting with egg-free tigernut flour recipes.

Baking soda and apple cider vinegar – I’m frequently asked why I use this combination in many of my baked good recipes. In short, it’s a grain free leavening substitute for baking powder, which contains cornstarch. The vinegar reacts with the baking soda to provide lift. You can use white vinegar instead.

Tigernut Flour Pancakes

Yield: Makes about 12 4" pancakes, for 2 hearty servings

Tigernut Flour Pancakes

These grain free pancakes feature the superfood tigernut flour, which is available here.

Ingredients

  • 4 pastured eggs
  • 1/2 cup tigernut flour (50 grams by weight), available here
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour, available here
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda

Instructions

  1. Properly measuring the flours is key to the recipe. Stir the tigernut flour with a fork to "loosen" it, then dip in the measuring cup and level the top with a knife. Measure the coconut flour the same way.
  2. Combine the flours and the eggs to create a smooth batter. Mixing these ingredients first allows you to smooth out the clumps of tigernut flour. Then, add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined.
  3. Cook pancakes as usual and enjoy with your favorite toppings!

Notes

I store leftover pancakes in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days. These leftover pancakes actually make a delicious "bread" for grain free sandwiches!

http://empoweredsustenance.com/tigernut-flour-pancakes/

Are you interested in trying tigernut flour? Have you used it before? 

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3 Benefits of Using a Wake Up Light http://empoweredsustenance.com/wake-up-light-benefits/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/wake-up-light-benefits/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:59:38 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8299 What is a Wake Up Light? A few weeks ago, I shared on Facebook that I was trying a wake up light for the first time. I’ve used it for a good three weeks now and am eager to share my experience with my alarm replacement. A wake up light produces an artificial dawn, also called dawn simulation, […]

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Have you heard of a wake up light? They are like nature's alarm clock and support balanced hormones

What is a Wake Up Light?

A few weeks ago, I shared on Facebook that I was trying a wake up light for the first time. I’ve used it for a good three weeks now and am eager to share my experience with my alarm replacement.

A wake up light produces an artificial dawn, also called dawn simulation, to wake you up in the morning. The gradual light – a type of artificial daylight – gently pulls you out of slumber and can support healthier hormone balance throughout the day.

The wake up light that I use is the Philips Wake Up Light with Sunrise Simulation, which I got here from Amazon.

Wake Up Light Benefits

I believe the human body is intrinsically tied to the rhythms of the earth. Now, we have more and more research showing exactly how these rhythms influence our health. For example, earthing – getting skin-to-earth connection – has been shown to reduce stress hormones. Daylight is another way in which nature shapes our wellbeing.

You may have read my post on Lunaception, where I explain how light can shape and balance menstrual cycles. By manipulating the light in your bedroom to mimic the light cycles of the moon, you can help re-align your menstrual cycle with the moon’s cycle to support hormone balance and fertility.

A wake up light follows a similar concept. By replicating sunrise, you can support balanced hormones and a healthy circadian rhythm.

1. A wake up light supports morning cortisol response

Have you heard of a wake up light? They are like nature's alarm clock and support balanced hormonesLight significantly influences cortisol levels. Cortisol levels should follow a circadian rhythm, peaking in the morning and gradually decreasing over the day. Chronic stress causes irregular cortisol spikes, eventually depleting cortisol production. This is frequently referred to as adrenal fatigue (a currently vogue diagnosis but something which is very real).

Do you experience debilitating grogginess in the morning? Do you rely on caffeine to get you going? Those symptoms often point to low morning cortisol.

Exposure to daylight in the morning via a wake up light can support that morning cortisol peak, which in turn supports a healthy cortisol response throughout the entire day (source, source). And because all hormones are intricately tied together, balanced cortisol means better overall hormone balance.

2. A wake up light helps balance melatonin

Light also controls melatonin levels. A light-responsive hormone, melatonin levels should follow an opposite pattern of cortisol – that is, lowest in the morning and peaking at night. I’m not a fan of using melatonin supplements, since they can really mess with overall hormone balance. However, tweaking your light exposure is a powerful way to balance melatonin.

Studies show that exposure to dawn stimulation in the morning supports better melatonin balance throughout the day (source, source).

3. A wake up light may help depression and seasonal affective disorder

Light therapy has been heavily studied as a treatment for seasonal affective disorder. This may make a wake up light more valuable during the dark months of winter, rather than summer. Studies suggest that dawn stimulation may be an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder (source, source).

My experience with my wake up light

I am a lifelong convert to my Philips wake up light (if you missed the link above, I have this version). Here are a few noteworthy points:

  • First and foremost, I have no more morning heart attacks from my blaring alarm clock. Yay!
  • For the first couple of days, I awoke at the dim light of the sunrise simulation. I have the sunrise simulation set for 15 minutes, and it peaks at the time which you set the alarm. (For example, if you set the alarm for 7:30 the sunrise starts at 7:15). Now, I awaken later in the stages of the simulation.
  • I usually wake up with the gradual light, but I use the soothing alarm sounds as a “back up.” The wake up sounds gradually increase in volume and are very gentle, unlike a beeping alarm clock.
  • Most importantly, I feel much more rested in the morning. I don’t know if I’ve noticed a significant difference in my energy during the rest of the day, but it is drastically easier for me to get out of bed.

Do you use a wake up light? What is your experience? 

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