If you’ve heard talk of aloe juice recently and thought to yourself, “EW”, you’re not alone. Most people hear the word “aloe” and think of summer & sunburns & thick, goopy gel. Definitely not something you want to ingest, right? But aloe juice is a VERY different part of the plant; a part that can help heal your body from the inside. (We promise it’s not as bad-tasting as it sounds!) What exactly can aloe juice help with?
Have heartburn? Then you’re probably taking a proton pump inhibitor like Nexium. But if you’re doing that, you’re only treating the symptom and not the underlying cause, which can lead to more health problems. PPIs suppress the production of stomach acid, and contrary to popular belief, most cases of heartburn are actually due to having too little acid in your stomach, not too much. So taking a PPI will actually worsen your condition since stomach acid helps digest food protect against ingested pathogens.
Lack of stomach acid makes you more vulnerable to a number of problems, like nutritional deficiencies, food poisoning, and digestive system infections. However, the juice of the aloe plant naturally helps reduce inflammation, which may ease symptoms of acid reflux. Aloe is also known to soothe and cleanse the digestive tract, helping improve digestion, as well as helping to decrease the amount of unfriendly bacteria in our guts.
What other benefits do we get from aloe juice? Pure aloe vera juice reduces dental plaque as effectively as mouthwash. Pretty impressive, huh? In a mouth rinse study of 300 healthy people, 100% pure Aloe vera juice was compared to the standard mouthwash ingredient chlorhexidine. After 4 days of use, the Aloe vera mouth rinse was found to be just as effective as chlorhexidine in reducing dental plaque. Aloe vera does this by killing the plaque-producing bacterium Streptococcus mutansin the mouth, as well as the yeast Candida albicans.
When it comes to inflammation, the next time you are suffering try drinking some aloe vera juice. It contains over 12 different substances that can help you get rid of it! In fact, this juice is a rich mix of vitamins and minerals. It contains Vitamins A,C, and E; a contingent of B (including B1, B2, B3, B6 & B12); folic acid and choline. Plus it has over 20 different minerals including calcium, sodium, potassium, selenium and iron, and contains fatty acids and 8 essential amino acids. This is one powerful juice!
I’ve got a wonderful aloe juice to get you started (amongst other aloe products) and am available to answer any questions you may have. Here’s to healthy & happy!
Did you know your ability to absorb Vitamin B12 gradually decreases with age? In fact, B12 deficiency is a silent epidemic with serious consequences to your health. Reports from the USDA show B12 deficiency may be more widespread than thought, with at least 40% of the population being severely deficient. Okay, yeah, so? Why do we even need B12? What does it do? Vitamin B12 is a powerhouse that helps make DNA, nerve and blood cells, and is crucial for a healthy brain and immune system. Plus your metabolism wouldn’t run smoothly without it. So, it’s pretty important. Add advancing age, certain prescription meds (such as heartburn medications), and a lack of meat in one’s diet (looking at you, vegetarians & vegans!) and you could find yourself severely lacking in vitamin B12.
So how do you know if you’re deficient? The following symptoms are signals of a possible deficiency!
- Fatigue – The fatigue we’re talking about here isn’t the kind you get after a long day of work and chasing the kiddos around, on only 5 hours of sleep. Nope, this fatigue is constant and is around no matter how much sleep you get. Researchers from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found those who felt zapped of energy even though they get plenty of zzzzz’s may be struggling with low B12 levels. Why? Because your body relies on B12 to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your organs, and without enough oxygen in your cells, you’ll feel tired no matter how long you sleep.
- Weakness – If they’re not getting enough oxygen from red blood cells, your muscles will feel like mush. This can equal weakness and sluggishness.
- Dizziness – Been feeling a bit off-kilter? Frequent bouts of dizziness or vertigo often signal B12 stores are low. (ie experiencing a feeling of swaying when you get up too fast from a sitting position) One Turkish study compared the vitamin B12 levels of patients who sought treatment in the ER for dizziness with those of 100 healthy volunteers. The result? Those dizzy patients had 40% less B12 than the volunteers.
- Vision Issues – No, there isn’t something in your eye causing the spotting, blurred and double vision. Low B12 stores can lead to vision changes and actually damage vision, so you may experience light sensitivity, blurred or double vision, and tracers or shadows.
- Pins & Needles – You know the numbness (and then tingling) you get when you leg goes to sleep after you have it tucked under you for too long? Well, if you experience that numbness/tingly sensation without something having fallen asleep, you might have a B12 problem. Remember the whole “poor red blood cell production from the lack of B12” thing? Yeah…that can result in nerve damage (and trust us, you do NOT want to go to there!).
- Smooth Tongue – Smooth tongue? What? About half of people with a severe B12 deficiency lose the papillae—those little bumps—on their tongues, especially around the edges. Patients also complain of burning and soreness, particularly on the back of the tongue. And since most of those papillae contain taste buds, if you lose a lot of them even your favorite foods are going to taste blah.
- Forgetfulness – Forgetting where you put the keys every once in awhile is one thing; chronic forgetfulness is quite another. It very well could be a vitamin B12 deficiency! Symptoms of a B12 deficiency often mimic those of dementia, such as memory loss, disorientation, and difficulty thinking and reasoning. It can be hard distinguishing deficiency from dementia, especially since older folks are at risk for both. And the two conditions often overlap; 75% to 90% of B12 deficient people also have neurological complications such as dementia. If you or a loved one is having issues with this one, you DEFINITELY want to get tested!
Feeling concerned about your vitamin B12 levels? We’ve got you covered! Integrative Wellness Advisors, working with nutraMetrix, offers a fabulous B-complex in isotonic form for maximum impact. You can find all the deets HERE and you can call or email us with any questions about B12 or any other health questions you may have! Let’s have a healthy & happy new year!
In the past week, we’ve spent some time talking about how all sunscreens aren’t created equal and how many of them contain chemicals of which you might not have been aware. Yet you obviously know that too much sun damage can also harm you in the long run. So where’s the middle ground? Here are the top natural alternatives to sunscreen that will help minimize sun damage while not invading your body with harmful man made chemicals.
- Diet: As always, it’s important to start anything that concerns your body by focusing on your diet. Everything you put in your body controls in some way or another how your body looks and acts. Remember what we said in our last blog? Good skin comes from the inside out. This also means that you can help prepare your skin for the sun through what you eat. Eating foods rich in healthy fats and antioxidants helps protect your skin from damage, including UV damage. That means you should reach for dark, colorful fruits and vegetables that contain carotenoids and other powerful antioxidants. Also eat nuts, seeds, coconut oil, avocados, and microalgae for the best omega fatty acids and even some healthy saturated fats.
- Clothing: Clothing is the easiest and most obvious option for protection. It’s important to get some Vitamin D though, so cover up after about 20 minutes in the sun by wearing something white to reflect rays or even just a sunhat.
- Astaxanthin: This is what gives salmon their reddish pink coloring. They get it from microalgae that produce astaxanthin to protect themselves from UV rays. Literally a bit of sunscreen in a pill, astaxanthin is protects our skin from solar injuries and even helps prevent DNA from being damaged by ultra violet rays.
- Sesame Oil: Pure sesame oil can block out approximately 30 percent of the sun’s rays.
Apply sesame oil to the exposed skin once every one to two hours for maximum sun protection.
- Red Raspberry Seed Oil: This is one of the best seed-oil sunscreens. It averages between 28-50 SPF and blocks the troublesome UVB rays.
- Coconut Oil: Coconut oil can block up to 20% of the sun’s rays. You should apply once an hour for maximum protection.
- Carrot Seed Oil: Carrot seed oil may be a little harder to find, but it boasts 38-40 SPF.
- Wheat Germ Oil: Wheat germ oil is naturally moisturizing while touting an SPF of 20.
- Aloe Vera: Normally we think of aloe vera for application after we’ve been in a sun as it can soothe a sunburn. However, it can also be used as a sunscreen as it, like coconut oil, can block up to 20% of the sun’s rays. Apply every one to two hours.
- Natural Sunscreens: There are still several sunscreens available on the market that don’t contain harmful ingredients. To find out what they are and which works best for you, check out the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) yearly list of sunscreens that make the cut.
- Make Your Own Sunscreen: You can even make your own sunscreen by mixing some of the above ingredients with other ingredients like shea butter and beeswax. You can find different recipes online like this one.
Summer shouldn’t be spent worrying about what toxins are getting into your body – summer should be about having fun, vacations, time at the beach and time with your family. Use our sunscreen alternatives and enjoy your summer!
You know what an allergy is, right? At the least, you know the symptoms – itchy eyes, sniffling, runny noses and, in more severe cases, rashes or hives. But do you really know why your body is reacting the way it does? Are you aware of the everyday toxins around you that can cause the reactions? And most importantly, do you know that you don’t have to take over the counter or prescribed drugs to combat them, but can use natural remedies?
First, what is an allergy? In its simplest form, an allergy is an over-reaction of the immune system, the body’s natural defense system. In short, the body responds as though it’s under attack, releasing antibodies and triggering inflammation, even though the stimulus of the attack (the allergen) is normally harmless. So when it comes to allergies, your immune system thinks it’s doing something good, when in reality, genetics and environment have conspired to make cells that are essential for normal immune function become overactive and respond to otherwise innocuous substances. This is due mostly to two immune system cells – helper T cells 1 (Th1) and 2 (Th2). These white blood cells circulate in the bloodstream and alert other immune system players that the body may be under attack from invading germs. Th1 cells handle certain types of bacterial infections, while Th2 cells help in eliminating certain parasites. But in allergic reactions, this process goes haywire. Th2 cells are more likely to respond than Th1 cells, and your body mounts these Th2 responses to substances that are not actually harmful, such as pollen and dust mites.
Second, what toxins in the environment are causing these allergic reactions? Sure, you have the usual suspects, such as pollen and ragweed. But what about chemicals hidden in your food or everyday household items? Even if you eat well and live a healthy lifestyle, you may be inadvertently exposed to numerous chemicals and potential allergens. There are over 3,000 chemicals added to our food supply, and more than 70,000 chemicals used for other purposes in North America. Scary, huh? Here’s an example of something that a lot of you probably use on a regular basis – Febreeze. It’s convenient, it just takes a spray or two to freshen up your car or your sofa (where your wet dog was sitting). They even have Febreeze air fresheners now, and Febreeze air fresheners for cars. But think about this – Febreeze is all chemical. And everytime you spray it, you’re breathing in those chemicals. Then there are phthalates and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), which are dangerous substances used abundantly in construction and household products, fragrances, and plastics We’re surrounded by toxins that can eventually lead to allergies. Why do they lead to allergies? Because our bodies are designed to be able to handle only a certain load and over the course of many years, all this chemical exposure has a cumulative effect. If you add the other factors so prevalent in the modern woman’s life — poor diet, emotional stress, and hormonal imbalances — it’s a marvel our bodies can cope at all.
So what can you do? You can take over the counter and prescribed drugs, but wouldn’t you rather do things the natural way? After all, how exactly does fighting chemicals with more chemicals really help? A few good places to start are with your diet, cleaning house and clearing your mind. Diet eliminations of certain foods can help you see where your food allergies are coming into play, while cleaning your house helps eliminate chemical and environmental toxins. Invest in a good vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Go through your cabinets and throw out cleansers, creams, soaps, and cosmetics with irritating synthetic chemicals. Buy green products, such as laundry detergent, when you can. Even simple things, like keeping your windows closed, will help reduce allergies. You can also try acupuncture/acupressure, allopathy, chiropractic, and kinesiology as ways to help clear your body of allergies.
We’ve been talking all month on our social media pages about natural ways to help decrease allergies and ways to get rid of the symptoms without having to use drugs. Go check us out on Facebook to learn more about natural remedies to allergy season!