A topic every woman needs to know about…

A topic every woman needs to know about…

Would any of these symptoms describe you:
- allergies
- insomnia
- fatigue
- depression
- anxiety
- irritability
- breast cancer
- infertility
- fat gain especially around the abdomen, hips and thighs
- Endometrial (uterine) cancer
- decreased sex drive
- breast tenderness
- osteoporosis
- memory loss
- uterine fibroids
- uterine cancer
- polycystic ovaries
- irregular menstrual cycles
- PMS
- water retention, bloating

These symptoms, among many others, are signs of Estrogen Dominance and chances are pretty good that you are suffering from it. Estrogen Dominance occurs when the delicate balance between Progesterone and Estrogen is upset in a person’s body (this definitely affects men as well). Because of all the excess estrogen in our diets and environment, it is likely that almost everyone is affected in some way. Estrogen is present in pesticides, plastics, car exhaust, beef, chicken, dairy products, household cleaners, body care products like soaps, shampoos and lotions as well as and much of the carpeting, furniture and paneling that we live with indoors every day. Ever wonder why girls are getting their periods earlier or why teenage boys are getting “breast buds”? The excess estrogen in our diets and environment is causing all sorts of mayhem.

I became aware of Estrogen Dominance a few years ago and recently had my hormones tested. For quite a few years I had struggled with depression, irregular menstrual cycles, irritability and anxiety. But, it wasn’t until I started dealing with insomnia that I decided to take a test. What I found out was very surprising – my estrogen was actually normal (we only use all natural body and cleaning products, eat grass-fed meat, drink raw milk without added hormones, etc. so I wasn’t too shocked by this), BUT my progesterone was horribly low. For a premenopausal woman, the progesterone level should be between 75-270 pg/ml (depending on where you are at in your cycle when the test was done). Mine was 16 pg/ml. Yikes. No wonder I was experiencing symptoms! Thankfully my estrogen level was normal or I’m sure my symptoms would’ve been even worse.

So, do you think you might be experiencing Estrogen Dominance? I highly recommend you start out by having your hormones checked with a saliva test (saliva tests are much more effective at testing hormones than blood tests). Saliva tests can be ordered here without a doctor’s order. You can first take this test to see what specific hormone tests you should order based on your symptoms.

What do you do once you see your hormones are out of balance?

First, if you have excess estrogen, you need to work hard at cutting out the estrogen in your diet and environment (actually, everyone should work hard to cut out excess estrogen!):
- eat only meat and dairy products from pasture-raised animals, or at least animals that are not given hormones
- do not consume soy products
- avoid plastics containing BPA and canned food (most cans have a BPA lining)
- do not heat up food in plastic containers
- switch to truly natural body, hair and cleaning products (Jenuinely Pure products are about as natural as you can get!)

Then, if your progesterone is low consider supplementing with a natural progesterone cream. There are many of them out there, but be sure to find one with only natural ingredients. Here are a couple I’ve used and recommend: Progesterelle Oil and Life-flo.

I know I have given a super simplified explanation on this topic and there are many resources out there to learn more.

Dr. John Lee was the pioneer in discovering Estrogen Dominance. His site is very informative and he has different books and other resources available.

Here is another good source to learn more about it.

It is worth your while to study this issue, have your hormones tested and take steps to make changes. Your very life may depend on it!

The healing power of probiotics, part 2

The healing power of probiotics, part 2

As my Kombucha is brewing in the cupboard, my Kefir culturing on the counter, and a new 4# bucket of Sauerkraut in the fridge, I thought it would be a good day to finish what I started…sharing how easy it is to make probiotic-rich foods. If you missed my last post on the incredible health benefits of probiotics, you’ll want to check that out first.

First, if you’ve never tried Kombucha, you’re missing out! Kombucha is actually a fermented tea that has a fizziness and taste slightly similar to soda. If you are looking to break your soda addiction and want a healthy alternative, I really recommend trying Kombucha. It can be flavored in countless ways to suit your taste, some of our favorites are grape, strawberry and pineapple. Before learning to brew it, it might be a good idea to pick some up in your local health food store. That way, you’ll know what it is supposed to taste like and you’ll know for sure you like it.

Kombucha has been used for thousands of years to help treat a wide range of health problems including ulcers, kidney stones, headaches & migraines, constipation, eczema, cancers – you name it. Now, there is of course varied opinions on these healing claims, but there is a reason it’s been a popular drink for thousands of years! It does seem to help detoxify the body and bring it back into proper balance so that it can heal itself.

Kombucha is pretty expensive to buy (around $3.50 for a 14 oz bottle), but very cheap to make. All it requires is black or green tea, organic sugar, water, a glass container to brew it in and a SCOBY (the Kombucha mother). You can read detailed instructions here on how to brew it. It’s a very simple process. I actually bought my SCOBY off Ebay for a few dollars and it has worked great!

Of course everyone has heard of yogurt (& probably eats it on a regular basis), but did you know it is very easy to make and homemade yogurt contains larger amounts of probiotics? Plus, you can control how much sugar is in it (most Yogurt contains a ton of sugar), what kind of milk you use (definitely use organic!) and it is much cheaper to make your own. Here are some simple instructions on making homemade yogurt.

Next up, Kefir…I have to confess, it has taken me years to give Kefir another try. I lived in Kazakstan for a year and a half and it was a very popular drink there. In most cases it was served at room temperature and to me it tastes terrible that way. My memories of Kefir were not good ones, so I was a little opposed to trying it again. But, as I was reminded of the incredible probiotic value of Kefir, I decided to give it a try. I will admit, I still do not like to drink it straight. I suppose if I added a bunch of honey or maple syrup to it I could drink it straight, but I instead merely use it in smoothies. We drink a ton of smoothies around here, so it’s been working well to get it in my system that way.

Kefir can contain up to 40 different strains of bacteria and around 5 trillion bacteria total per 16 oz. Considering that the best probiotic supplements have around 60 billion per capsule, Kefir is by far superior! Yogurt, in comparison, contains around 1.5 trillion per 16 oz.

Out of the different sources of probiotics I’ve mentioned so far, Kefir is definitely the simplest to make. All you need is some milk (organic, of course, and if you have raw, even better) and Kefir grains (I also found these on Ebay. Look for those that have only been grown in organic and/or raw milk). Here is a step by step guide to making your own Kefir.

One last highly nutritious probiotic source I want to mention is Sauerkraut. Sort of like with the Kefir, I was less than eager to try sauerkraut. I don’t think I had ever had it, but the smell was always a turn off to me. But, again, because I had learned that it is incredibly nutritious I decided to give it a try. I’ve been pleased to find that I really don’t mind the taste. In fact, it is really yummy on top of a salad, homemade pizza or some sprouted chips or crackers. Sauerkraut is also easy to make, but I prefer to buy it. If you’re a part of Azure Standard, we love the Wildbrine dill & garlic! If you do want to learn to make your own, here’s how to do it.

Well, hopefully I’ve encouraged you to try at least one of these probiotic rich foods! See for yourself how easy they are to make and good they can be for your health.

The healing power of probiotics, part 1

The healing power of probiotics, part 1

Lately I’ve been fascinated by the health benefits of probiotic-rich foods and how easy they are to make at home. I’ve been busy making my own raw Yogurt, raw Kefir, brewing Kombucha Tea & I have been amazed at not only how good they are for the body, but also how simple they are to make.

I’m sure this topic isn’t completely new to you – most people know at least a little about helpful bacteria and eat yogurt knowing there’s something healthy about it. You might even be one that takes a probiotic supplement on a daily basis. But, did you know that consuming probiotics in food is so much more effective than taking a supplement? Plus, probiotic-rich and fermented foods taste great and have incredible health benefits!

If you aren’t familiar with probiotics, there are over 1,000 species of bacteria living in the human body. With the obsession in our culture with antibiotics and antibacterial soaps, you’d think this would be a bad thing. Absolutely not! These little critters are critical to our health and well being and when the balance of them is disrupted (by taking antibiotics or eating an unhealthy diet), many health problems can occur.

Natural News describes them this way, ‘Probiotics are Nature’s truest form of antibiotics. These microscopic organisms (microflora) help the body build long-lasting immunity to a host of illnesses and diseases, including allergies, irritable bowels, viruses, bacterial infections, and yes, cancer! No vaccination or prescription medicine in the world could ever come close to this safe and beneficial way of balancing the body’s billions of microbes. Probiotics not only help create this balance but also help maintain it for years and years, hence the name probiotic, which means “for life”.’ The entire article is full of helpful information about Probiotics, check it out to learn more.

Some of the health benefits of probiotics include:
– Enhanced immune system response – they fight off viral, fungal and bacterial infections
– Digestive health – they promote regularity, aid digestion and help alleviate diarrhea and symptoms of Crohn’s Disease and IBS
– Help the body absorb nutrients
– Promote anti-tumor and anti-cancer activity in the body
– Protect babies and children from future allergies
– Aid with lactose intolerance
– And many more!

Hopefully I’ve helped you see the importance of getting good bacteria in your body, soon I will share with you more about how to make your own super nourishing probiotic-rich foods.

In the meantime, here are some more links to learn more:

http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/6-healing-benefits-of-probiotics

http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/health-benefits-of-probiotics/

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/24/one-of-the-most-important-steps-you-can-take-to-improve-your-health.aspx

It’s that time of year again…

It’s that time of year again…

Hello there!

I’m sure like me you are busy getting ready for the holiday season and that means it’s that time again for Vitamin D supplements.

We have been blessed so far in Iowa with very mild weather and no snow, but it is a little too brisk to sit outside and read a book. Soooo, if you’re in a more northern climate and are finding it difficult to get your daily dose of sunshine, it’s time to stock up on some Vitamin D.

Having adequate Vitamin D levels in your body is one of the best defenses against illness & is crucial to overall health. And, not only defending you from the winter cold and flu, it also is responsible for so much more. Many studies show that a deficiency can effect all 36 organs in our bodies, increasing our risk of cancer, eczema, diabetes, autism, infertility and many, many more diseases. It is estimated that 85% of Americans are deficient. For more information, check out this article.

To find out how much Vitamin D you need (and no, just because you’re taking a multi-vitamin, that does NOT mean you’re getting enough!), where to find it, and lots more helpful information, please read my post last year about it.

Well, happy baking and present wrapping! Just don’t forget to order that Vitamin D….

“All Natural”? Don’t be fooled.

“All Natural”? Don’t be fooled.

I clearly remember when I started out on this journey of more “natural” living how often I was fooled into thinking a product was a good choice because it said it was “all natural”. I figured if it claimed to be all natural, it had to be good, right?? Wrong. Did you know that in the United States there are no regulations on using those words on packaging? Now the word “organic” is a totally different story. If you falsely use that word, the organic police will be after you in a heartbeat! But, currently there are no standards on using the words “natural” and “all natural”. If you can’t trust the marketing on the packaging, how do you make wise decisions at the store?

When I shop for products, whether food, cleaning or body care products (thankfully I use Jenuinely Pure products for almost everything, so that greatly decreases the amount of body products I have to make decisions on!), I typically follow these rules:

1.) When at all possible, go organic. Because there are fairly high standards for organic products, this is always the safest choice. Organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones. Going organic on everything is probably not realistic, so some of the most important things to buy organic are “the dirty dozen”, meat, dairy products and products with ingredients that are most often genetically modified (corn, soy, sugar, canola oil and cottonseed oil are some of the top ones).

2.) The smaller amount of ingredients, the better. Ideally, stick with single ingredient foods, i.e. have an apple for a snack rather than a granola bar, or have a pasture raised chicken breast with a salad for supper rather than a casserole that calls for lots of ingredients. Casseroles and similar dishes often call for ingredients that aren’t fully natural (like cream of chicken soup, for example). When buying processed foods, try and only buy products with 5 ingredients or less. For example, compare these two types of tortillas (Stacy’s is our family’s favorite):

Stacy’s Organic Whole Wheat Tortilla ingredients: organic whole wheat and unbleached white flour, water, organic sunflower oil, salt, citric acid

Mission Whole Wheat tortilla ingredients: Whole wheat flour, water, vegetable shortening (interesterified soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil and/or palm oil), contains 2% or less of: leavening (sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, corn starch, monocalcium phosphate and/or sodium acid pyrophosphate, calcium sulfate), sugar, salt, preservatives (calcium propionate, sorbic acid and/or citric acid), cellulose gum, distilled monoglycerides, enzymes, wheat starch, calcium carbonate, antioxidants (tocopherols, ascorbic acid), dough conditioners (fumaric acid, sodium metabisulfite and/or mono- and diglycerides).

See what I mean? Quite a difference, huh?! Why on earth tortillas need to be made with 100 ingredients is beyond me!

3.) Only buy food products that are made with ingredients you’d find in your pantry. Let’s take a look at the tortilla example above…I don’t know about you, but distilled monoglycerides, fumaric acid and sodium metabisulfite aren’t items I regularly keep stocked in my pantry (and while I’m thinking about it, what in the world is, ‘interesterified soybean oil’? Sounds kind of scary, doesn’t it?!). In case you’re wondering about the citric acid in Stacy’s tortillas, that isn’t a typical ingredient found in my pantry, but if I made a lot of sour dough bread, it sure might be. Another side comment, you know the little red squiggly lines you get when a world isn’t in the normal English dictionary? Well, there aren’t any squiggly lines in the Stacy tortilla ingredients, but they’re all over the place in the Mission tortilla ingredients. Just sayin’…

4.) Buy local. I do my best to buy my eggs, meat, raw milk, and produce from local producers. That way, I can know exactly how the animals are being raised and I can even visit the farm to see for myself. If you don’t know of local producers in your area, start asking friends, neighbors or post a question on Facebook about it. You’ll be surprised by what’s out there.

5.) When buying body care and cleaning products, use EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. You can look up a particular ingredient, a type of product (shampoos or lotions, for example) or even a particular brand. All of the products/ingredients are given a score from 0 to 10, 0 being the safest and 10 being the most toxic.

So, when at all possible, follow these five simple steps to avoid being fooled by the “all natural” craze.

Do you have any other tips you shop by?