Like Natural? You NEED to Try This, Seriously!!!

So I know if you’re a reader of my blog that you’re health conscious and are a fan of things that are organic and natural. However, It is SO incredibly hard at times to find products that actually work and hold up to their “natural” marketing claims. What prompted me to take a deep look at all my beauty products recently is that I was diagnosed with a sunflower seed oil allergy. Yep, you heard that right SUNFLOWER seed! Little did I know that the products i’d been using everyday were causing me to get little itchy bumps all over my skin; no skin surface was exempt! These bumps are what prompted me to see an allergist in the first place which lead me to that surprising diagnosis. Anywho, to make a long story short nearly every product I owned contained sunflower seed oil aka Helianthus annuus. Let me tell ya, my mom made out on this allergy ordeal, she proudly inherited a boatload of skin, beauty and hair products….now I hope to heck she’s not allergic!

So there I was sans all my favorite products 😦 Needless to say during this whole process and after reading all the labels on my “natural” products quite intensely, I came to the realization that most of them weren’t “natural” after all and they actually contained quite a bit of ingredients you’d need a chemistry degree to decipher. After some perusing the internet I came across Shea Terra and my love affair began. I promise you I will make this love letter short and sweet 🙂

This company makes amazing and effective 99.7-100% ALL NATURAL products they also provide much needed jobs to communities in areas where their ingredients are sourced (such as Africa). The company also provides interest free loans to women living in those marginalized areas. So not only are you getting an amazing smelling, all natural, wonderfully effective products you’re also inadvertently supporting those in need! Win win!

A small portion of what SheaTerra has to offer.

A small portion of what SheaTerra has to offer.

My favorite product is the Shea Butter Extreme Body Cream. It is incredibly versatile and not your average body cream. SheaTerra offers many choices in scents such as mango, pineapple, white chocolate, guava pomegranate just to name a few. All these scents are natural too, no fragrance, just pure simple natural scent. I use this product mostly for my cracked dry hands in the winter months. One application before bedtime and I wake up with soft nearly crack free hands!! My husband even used it once and commented on how awesome his hands felt. Secondly,  I love baths and I take about a tablespoon of this body cream and lightly rub it on my hands then put my hands beneath the stream of water thats filling to tub to add scent and moisture to my baths (it also creates a little bubble bath effect). This would be perfect to add to your little ones bath time regimen as childrens skin lacks an effective moisture barrier until about 5-6 years of age 🙂 A third way to use this body cream is to use it as a hair masque. Just take a scoopful and smooth it through your hair prior to shampooing, then shampoo as normal. Your hair will be shiny and soft due to the massive amount of shea butter in the product. I can’t express enough how incredibly fond I am of SheaTerras products and mission, Im pretty certain these are the only body care products i’ll ever be buying. Please SheaTerra, never go out of business, I love you!

Ok, now seriously ladies (and gentlemen too) check them out for yourself.

A World Of Chemicals. How You Can Limit Your Exposure.

Lets face it, everyday whether intentional or not our bodies are exposed to dozens and dozens of unique chemicals. Some are avoidable, some are not. When I think about my own personal life, sadly I start every single day dosing my body with chemicals. Unfortunately, this I cannot avoid and I’m ok with it. These chemicals are my lifeline and without them I would eventually die. They are my thyroid replacement pills and because I have no thyroid to produce the needed hormone I do not have an option. While there are some things  that are out of our control there are many things we can control. Listed below are some common chemical exposures in everyday life that can be modified to limit the amount that inevitably make it into our bloodstream. Yes, I said bloodstream.  Any chemical inhaled, slathered, eaten, touched etc…eventually makes it to our bloodstream and organs. While researching for this post what surprised me the most were “off gases” particularly the whopping 275+ chemicals that continually off gas from the plastic components of new vehicles 😦 

“Immediately after delivery, new vehicles have been found to be universally contaminated with very high concentrations of a large number of chemicals that diffuse from interior vehicle materials. Over 275 different chemicals have been identified in vehicles interiors, including chemicals associate with birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity and cancer. Automobiles are unique and harsh environments for plastics. Air temperature extremes of 192 F (89 C) and dash temperatures up to 248 F (120 C) have been observed in vehicles. These extreme temperatures can increase the concentration of VOCs and high levels of sunlight producing breakdown products which can also be harmful to human health”.  Source:http://www.healthystuff.org/findings.021512.cars.php1. 

 

Welp….I was considering a new car in the near future. Not anymore. According the environmental working group your best option here (aside from riding horse and buggy style….haha) is to purchase a few year old vehicle as most of the off gases have already diffused. So what are some of the other chemicals, where are they found and what can you do to mitigate their effects on your body?” Heres a list for your reading pleasure. 🙂

1. Phthalates

  • Endocrine Disruptors-Linked with early puberty in females which is a risk factor for breast cancer later in life. 
  • Commonly found in #3 plastics and personal care products. Often disguised as “fragrance” on labels.
  • To minimize exposure never microwave plastics, use glass. Avoid vinyl flooring, PVC shower curtains and piping as well as products containing “fragrance”

2. Bisphenol (BPA)

  • Endocrine Disruptor- Linked with breast cancer development, miscarriage, erectile dysfunction and heart disease.
  • Commonly found in #3 and #7 plastics, canned foods & receipt paper.
  • To minimize exposure never microwave plastics, use glass. Avoid canned foods, use fresh or frozen when possible or better yet preserve your own! FYI Eden organic foods offers BPA free canned veggies 🙂 Wash your hands after touching receipt paper, or have the receipt emailed to you.

3. Chlorine (I admit, this is a tricky one to avoid….) 

  • Commonly used as a disinfectant in municipal water. Its toxic, even at low concentrations. Studies have linked chlorine exposure through drinking with an increased risk of heart disease, allergic reactions, miscarriages, bladder, colon and rectal cancers.
  • To minimize purchase a whole house filter to filter out chlorine and other chemical components in your water. If this is not an option, you can purchase an under the sink water drinking water filter for about $150 and a shower head chemical filter. Activated charcoal filters work too!!

4. Perflurochemicals (PFCS)

  • Teflon, Scotchguard, Stainmaster, Gore-tex are common PFCS. PFCS are also found in fast-food wrappers, inside pet food bags, and microwave popcorn bags. 
  • Associated with low birth weight babies, reduced immune function, abnormal thyroid hormone levels and liver inflammation.
  • To minimize avoid stain treatments on carpets and furniture. Don’t use non stick pans. Pop popcorn the old fashioned way-avoid the bags. Choose natural and organic personal care items. 

5. Pesticides & Fertilizers

  • Known carcinogens. This means they are known to cause cellular changes within the body that are consistent with the development of cancer. Basic rule, if it kills weeds or insects its killing you as well. Children and fetuses are particularly susceptible. In addition, these chemicals seep into our water system and are also highly devastating to wildlife, especially birds. Most birds eat insects and seeds from plants, if these plants have been treated with an insecticide the plant itself is toxic, as well as the insects that have come in contact with the chemical. The birds ingest the seed or insect (or feed it to their young) and inturn they are poisoned.
  • To minimize exposure. Please don’t spray your house, lawn or flowers. If you let nature do its job, it’ll take care of itself in time. This is something I have to repeatedly tell myself (especially when we have spiders in the house) but i’ve learned that its part of a working eco system and I have learned that chemical warfare against harmless spiders is silly.  Also buy organic when possible or better yet- grown your own veggies responsibly 🙂

6. Formaldehyde

  • Commonly found in melamine plastics, cigarette smoke, pressed wood products, and building materials. Exposure increases risk of brain cancers and leukemias.
  • To minimize exposure use “exterior grade” pressed wood products in the home and be sure to ask the retailer about the formaldehyde content in their products (plywoods, paneling, particle board, fiberboard, furniture and cabinets). Don’t smoke and avoid exposure to second hand smoke. Don’t purchase melamine plastics, but if you do, avoid microwaving them. 

7. Parabens

  • We’ve heard much about these lately in the media. Commonly found in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Parabens mimic estrogens and measurable concentrations have been found in breast tumors. Also, new research has shown that methyparaben found in some sunscreens reacts with the sun and actually can cause cellular damage to the skin. 
  • To minimize exposure avoid products that contain the word “paraben” (usually at the end of an ingredient like methylparaben). Use mineral based sunscreen (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) avoid sunscreens with chemical components such as oxybenzone. 

8. Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) & Polybrominated Bipenyls (PBBs).

  • These are two of the chemical off gases i’d talked about earlier in new vehicles. In addition to new vehicles (the most common source) these chemicals are also found in electronics, foam cushions and textiles. They are flame retardants. 
  • These chemicals are known endocrine disruptors that can alter a childs brain development. Research has also found linkages to decreased thyroid hormone levels and reproduction abnormalities in children exposed to off gases.
  • To minimize exposure buy vehicles that are a few years old. Use covers that limit the amount of off gas exposure and avoid using styrofoam. 

Well, as you can imagine this is certainly not an exhaustive list. The main purpose of this post was to alert you to some chemicals that you may not know about and to provide you tips on what you can do to minimize exposure. I hope i’ve enlightened you in some way. I’ve certainly learned a lot myself and plan on making some changes. 🙂

Resources:

http://www.lung.org

http://www.breastcancerfund.org

http://www.healthystuff.org/findings.021512.cars.php

http://www.epa.gov

http://www.ewg.org

 

One Pretty Awesome Sunscreen!

If you are anything like me, 20 minutes in the sun will leave you with some sweet tan lines and a nice burn. I guess thats what predominantly german genes buys me :). On a beautiful day you really don’t want to spend most of the day indoors, you want to enjoy it right?! Me too! With that said, we all know it’s pretty darn important (especially for the fair skinned) to slather up with sunscreen before enjoying some fun in the sun, even if its just sitting on your patio with a good read. Unfortunately, most sunscreens leave you either feeling massively sticky, greasy or white as a ghost (thank you zinc oxide). This is even more true if you like to stay away from the chemical based sunscreens and stick with the mineral based ones. I am all about natural, you all know this, but I just cannot get over the white look and the heavy feel of the mineral sunscreens which use a combination of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to block UVA and UVB rays. If you feel the same way I’ve got a solution! I present below Coola Classic sunscreen for the body and for the face :). The only sunscreen I am willing to wear every single day.

photo 6

This sunscreen utilizes organic ingredients, is broad spectrum with an SPF of 30 and is oxybenzone free!!!  Whats oxybenzone you ask? Well, its a very common ingredient in mainstream sunscreens that has recently been suspected as hazardous to the body. It is correlated with endocrine disruption, cellular dysplasia and photoallergic skin reactions. Why use a sunscreen that contains it if one without works just as well?  In addition, Coolas sunscreen is NOT at all greasy and smells amazing! It offers a silky smooth feel, mostly organic ingredients and broad spectrum SPF coverage. It is a little pricey for a sunscreen but in my opinion is 100% worth it. Give it a try, you can thank me later 🙂 http://www.coolasuncare.com

 

Calling Dr. Google

Admit it, if you are like most people suffering from an ailment you do a quick google search to seek answers or a diagnosis for your problem. However innocent your initial search is, it can lead you down a slippery slope of misinformation and inevitably create fear and questions of “what if?” As a nurse, and a future nurse practitioner I would advise against googling your symptoms but as a normal person I fully admit I am 100% guilty of this crime. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times i’ve worked myself into a tizzy over what google told me I had. As a medical professional I know how bad this is, but yet human nature tends to take over and curiosity prevails. Now in reality I know that its easier said than done, no one is going to abandon the wealth of information that google has to offer- but there is good information and bad information out there and if searching you must be able to discern the difference. You also have to have a plan on what you will do with the information you obtain, will you take that information to your Dr. to help in diagnosis or will you ruminate and create even more anxiety for yourself? More than likely you will come across something that says you are in great peril and that you might die from said illness, but rest easy, 99% of the time YOU WILL BE FINE!  Here are a few of my tips that I would tell all my patients.

  • If you are going to google, after you type in your symptom(s) use the word “emedicine” after to help google to bring up accurate information. For example; you google “bad headache” you get a bunch of nonsense that comes up (i.e., peoples personal accounts of terrible things that have happened to them, brain tumors, stroke, ruptured aneurysm etc…) but if you google “bad headache emedicine” you will get medscape articles and information that is far more accurate to what may actually be happening to you.
  • Always remember that you will come across something that will scare you, but keep in mind that even reputable medical websites        have to list the good, the bad and the ugly and 99% of the time you are not dying!
  • Take the information you find that you have concerns about and bring them to your healthcare provider. They will be able to answer your questions and if they feel necessary (based on your symptoms) provide you with the appropriate testing to help diagnose you.
  • If you are highly concerned about what you find online, and it is after hours for your providers practice you can always utilize the nurse staffed call lines that most insurance companies offer. They will ask you for your symptoms and be able to triage the degree of your illness based on certain algorithms. Keep in mind they cannot offer a diagnosis, but can tell you if its best to go to the hospital, urgent care clinic, your doctors office, or wait it out. These lines are usually staffed 24/7 by highly qualified RNs and trust me when I say this- RNs often know more than you think 🙂

I hope this provides you with a start in helping you to use google responsibly when searching your symptoms. It can be a curse, or a savior depending on how you use the information, and remember- 99% of the time you are going to be fine 🙂 Take a deep breath and relax!