Everyday Items You’re Probably Allergic to and Don’t Even Know It …

According to WEBMD.com 55% of the U.S. population tests positive to one or more allergens. The estimated annual cost of allergies to the health care system and businesses in the U.S. is $7,900,000,000.00

Crazy huh? More than half the U.S. suffers from some type of allergy and that statistic is based on just the allergens we have tests for –the things that have already been identified as common allergens. It doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of all the myriad chemicals in our everyday items that may be causing allergies or making them worse.
If people really knew just how many chemicals they’re being exposed to through their everyday items and how that exposure is contributing to their allergy misery they would run out and get themselves a hazmat suit for some cover!

I know that sounds a bit radical but the research and evidence are overwhelming for anyone who is willing to take a hard look at what’s going on with the cumulative effects of using products made with these toxic ingredients. The real culprits are the ones that get into our body either by being absorbed through the skin or inhaled into the lungs. From there they get into our bloodstream and end up hanging around because our bodies don’t know how to properly metabolize and eliminate them.

This chemical residue that remains behind is sometimes called a Body Burden. The greater your Body Burden is, the more damage it does to your body in the long run. It causes inflammation that can be similar to the inflammation you get when you have allergies, which is why it’s usually overlooked as a possible source. It also weakens your immune system which makes it harder for you to get rid of your allergies and a lot of times it paves the way for your allergies to turn into something more serious like sinus infections, bronchitis or even asthma or eczema.

The good news is that by simply making safer choices you can radically reduce your exposure to substances that might trigger or worsen your allergies. Having healed myself from over a decade of chronic allergies, asthma AND eczema, I am living proof it can be done. But the first step to addressing any health challenge is simply creating awareness of what may be causing it, or otherwise interfering with your body’s ability to resolve it without the need for medication.

If you suffer from chronic allergies, or know someone who does then it’s vital for you to pay attention to the hidden toxins in your everyday items and start by getting rid of them or switching to healthier alternatives. In my next post I’ll be exploring 3 everyday items that we often use when we go camping, or throughout the summer season, that are suspect.

Easy Birth: A Conversation About Childbirth Choices

Hope you were able to attend last Thursday night’s call –our Holistic Pregnancy Tele-Summit Grand Finale call. It was an interesting, enlightening, and informative panel discussion offering different perspectives on all the various choices for childbirth. I can hardly believe it’s been a week already! I am SO grateful to our expert panelists: Laura Shanley. Author of Unassisted Birth; Sheila Kamara Hay, Ecstatic Birth Advocate and Rena’ Koerner, Founder of Integrative Childbirth Services, Doulas for Surrogacy, and the Lullaby Lounge, for bringing their energy and wisdom to this final call in the series.

Here are some of the highlights from that call in case you missed it:

Laura emphasized that giving birth is inherently safe and relatively painless provided a woman doesn’t live in poverty, and does not interfere either physically or psychologically. It’s important to not “over-think” the birth process. Connect to your inner strength, believe in your body’s ability to give birth without interference and always remain calm. That’s how Laura was able to give birth to her four now grown up children without any assistance even though each birth had some form of complication including a footling breech!

Sheila shared the story of how she moved from a traumatic birth with her first child to a Zen-like birth with her second child followed by an ecstatic birth with her third! She emphasized the importance of connecting with your body and its inner wisdom and asking it what it needs, to know how to do this for yourself. Her ecstatic birth was triggered by her mid-wife’s suggestion that she move around. After her mid-wife left the room, she turned on some music and started to dance and danced that little girl down through her body and out. She now believes that dance is one of the most sacred paths from maidenhood to motherhood!

Rena’ explained the importance of having a Doula that supports you wherever you are in terms of the type of birth you desire, the place and the care provider — without judgement. She strongly believes that pregnant women and their birth partners should invest the time in educating themselves by taking birth preparation classes so they can really be prepared in advance and not get thrown off by the stress and pressure that can come up during childbirth. She recommends laboring at home in a safe, private place for as long as possible to avoid the all too common pitfalls of unnecessary interventions and medical interference.

There’s still time to take advantage of our limited time special discounted price for The Holistic Pregnancy Tele-Summit: The Complete Recordings. You get unlimited access to all 6 Natural Self Care & Childbirth Training Calls as downloadable MP3s files that you can listen to any time and as often as you like PLUS multiple FREE bonuses including a variety of gifts from our speakers. Go to www.dropwise.info for more details and to purchase your copy now. But hurry … prices go up at the end of the month.

Don’t forget to join the continuing conversation on our Facebook Group: Holistic Pregnancy and Natural Childbirth

Easy Birth: Addressing the #1 Fear Most Pregnant Women Harbor

Great call last night with Debra Pascali-Bonaro! She confirmed what I’ve suspected all along: the way a woman gives birth has the potential to change how she feels about herself forever. The way she feels has consequences for how she mothers and cares for her baby. Babies are also affected emotionally and physically, and over the long term, by their birth experience, and it has consequences for a woman’s other relationships, as well as for society.The creator and director of the documentary film Orgasmic Birth, knows what she’s talking about and when Debra speaks, people listen. She made it very clear that birth CAN be a profoundly sensual, sexual, and spiritual experience. When women agree to feel their labors, the flow of oxytocin will increase which is beneficial to both mother and the baby before and after birth. But in order to enable an orgasmic birth, a woman has to feel safe and open to surrender –something that doesn’t often happen under the watchful eyes of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel.Tomorrow is the final call in the Holistic Pregnancy Tele-Summit series and I said I saved the best for last so it should be a good one. I’ve got a panel of birthing experts with different perspectives lined up for a lively discussion about childbirth choices and what you really need to have a successful and pleasurable childbirth experience whichever method of delivery you choose.

Our distinguished panel consists of:

Laura Shanley — author, freelance writer, speaker, and childbirth consultant widely recognized as one of the leading voices in the natural-birth movement. A new and expanded edition of her book, “Unassisted Childbirth,” with a forward by physician and homebirth advocate Michel Odent, was released in 2012. Laura maintains a website dedicated to natural childbirth: http://www.unassistedchildbirth.com. Her work has been featured on ABC News, “20/20,” “The Doctors,” BBC, Discovery Channel, Disney, The New York Times, Reuters, and The Washington Post. She also works with women on a one-on-one basis, providing them with childbirth education and emotional support before and during pregnancy.

Rena’ Koerner –owner and founder of Integrative Childbirth Services and the Lullaby Lounge –a Southern California based place where families can come for education and proper support beginning with childbirth classes, baby classes, exercise and nutrition, all the way through the postpartum period, with special emphasis on addressing postpartum mood disorders. As a trained and certified Childbirth Professional for over ten years, Rena’ has had the pleasure of serving over 350 families. She co-founded Doulas for Surrogacy with partner Darla Burns to offer support to all triads. Her goal is to bring knowledge and compassion to both clients and students. She continues to stay abreast of the latest research as it pertains to fertility, pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. She has sat on the Board of Directors for local, state and even national organizations, so she could spread the word of choices in childbirth.

Sheila Kamara Hay is the creatrix and visionary behind Ecstatic-Birth.com. She fiercely desires to share with women that childbirth is not something they must endure, but something they can enjoy. As a mother of three, Sheila has experienced firsthand a range of births — from the traumatic to the ecstatic — and has advised and inspired countless women in the creation or reclamation of their births. Sheila serves on the board of Choices for Childbirth, a not-for-profit organization that raises awareness among expectant mothers about their options for childbirth. Sheila has worked closely with leading women in the fields of birth and pleasure, including Dr. Christiane Northrup and Regena Thomashauer (of Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts). Sheila loves cracking wide open her worldview of what’s possible in life and passing that knowledge on to other women.

These three birth professionals are passionate advocates for childbirth choices and bring an interesting and eye-opening perspective on the subject!

In this final session, we’ll be talking about:

    • The pros and cons of different delivery methods

 

    • Answer your questions about how to prepare for a pain-free birth

 

  • Tips and techniques you can use to make the most of your birth experience whatever you choose

We’re going LIVE at 5PM Pacific/8PM Eastern tomorrow, Thursday June 6th. Don’t miss this very important call – your last opportunity to learn how you can remove the fear from childbirth and turn it into a joyful, ecstatic experience as well as the best options and tips for doing it from women who have been there and done that! It’s totally FREE and there’s still time to register and attend the call! Even if you can’t make it to the call you will have access to a replay for a few days afterwards, but only if you register!

If you’re pregnant now, are planning to become pregnant, work with pregnant women and want to better support them through this journey, or know anyone who fits any of these criteria, please share this with them and encourage them to register at: http://www.dropwise.info.

Look and Feel Your Best Without Compromising Your Baby’s Health

Hope you’ve been enjoying all the insight and wisdom that’s being shared on these Tele-Summit calls. This evening is our 4th call in the series: “Look and Feel Your Best Without Compromising Your Baby’s Health.” I’ll be the resident expert for today’s session and I’ll be talking about something very important –-the hidden health threats to your baby from the personal care and beauty products you use! Some of the things I’ll cover on tonight’s session:

  • Startling new research about ingredients in mass-produced personal care products that may pre-dispose your baby to obesity (among other serious health problems!)
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  • The top 10 ingredients you MUST avoid to keep you and your baby safe and how you can find out if the products you’re using right now may contain them
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  • Using Mother Nature’s Rx: Essential Oils to safely address some of the most common pregnancy-related complaints

Much of what I’ll be sharing on tonight’s call applies to you whether you are pregnant or not, but becomes even more important when you are or planning to be. There’s no better time than now to take inventory of the products you currently use and toss the ones that are bad for you. Come join me and learn how to become a more conscious consumer so you can stop exposing your baby to hidden threats from toxic exposure while learning how to identify and choose safer, more effective natural alternatives.

We’re going LIVE at 5PM Pacific/8PM Eastern. Don’t miss this very important call!

If you’re pregnant now, are planning to become pregnant, work with pregnant women and want to better support them through this journey, or know anyone who fits any of these criteria, please share this with them and encourage them to register at: http://www.dropwise.info. It’s FREE!

Smart Bombs and Tea Leaves: The Future of Breast Cancer Treatment

self breast examOctober is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In the breast cancer world there’s always a lot of talk about “finding the cure.” I don’t know that it’s possible to find a cure for any type of cancer. I think that addressing cancer has to consist of a two-pronged approach: 1) Focusing on the causes so we can effectively engage in prevention and 2) Finding better (i.e. more effective and less devastating) treatment options for those who already have it. I firmly believe that prevention is the best long-term solution for significantly reducing the incidence of breast cancer (or any other type of cancer for that matter) and developing better tools and technology for early detection are also critical. There are many things we can do to lower our risk of developing cancer, but at the end of the day, if we’re not so lucky, having a wider range or treatment options would make a difficult situation a whole lot better and improve our odds of survival.

Despite all of the support and funding for breast cancer research and the advances in treatment achieved over the past 20 years, women diagnosed with breast cancer today still have limited and often devastating options for treatment. Depending on the type of breast cancer and the stage that it’s diagnosed at, women basically have three options: surgery to remove part or all of the breast, chemotherapy, or radiation –or some combination of these.

If you or someone you know has suffered through breast cancer treatment, then you know how hard it is on both the body and the mind. But there is a glimmer of hope that more and better treatment options are on the horizon. A number of recently concluded studies reveal new treatments for breast cancer with promising results.

The first study, sponsored by Genentech, tested a new treatment that targets and kills breast cancer cells while leaving healthy cells undamaged. Nearly 1,000 women with advanced breast cancer took part in the study, and according to researchers, the treatment stopped the progression of breast cancer for several months. This form of highly targeted treatment also appears to improve survival rates. Compared to another group who were given standard cancer treatment drugs, 20 percent more of the women involved in this study were still alive after two years.

This new treatment, called the T-DM1, is being dubbed “smart bomb” by researchers. Researchers combined Herceptin (the first gene-targeted therapy for breast cancer) with a chemotherapy that is normally too toxic to give on its own and another chemical that keeps the two substances bonded together until they reach a cancer cell. Once the cancer-killing cocktail comes in contact with a cancer cell, it releases the toxin to kill just the cancer cell.

The researchers in this study are confident that this double weapon will not be as damaging to the body as current treatments for breast cancer. Dr. Jennifer Ashton, an OB/Gyn and former medical correspondent for CBS News explains it like this: “Think of it like a heat-seeking missile with a nuclear warhead. So it travels around the body, does no damage until it meets the cancer, and then it deploys a massively toxic dose that wipes out [just] the cancer.”

While some of the women on T-DM1 showed signs of minor liver damage and low levels of blood clotting agents, most did not experience the usual problems of chemotherapy. The study’s leader, Dr. Kimberly Blackwell of Duke University added: “People don’t lose their hair, they don’t throw up. They don’t need nausea medicines, they don’t need transfusions.” You can view the ABC News story on this here.

Another study in England took a look at a more natural treatment approach for breast cancer. Scientists at Aston University in Birmingham and Russells Hall Hospital in Dudely examined the effects of a plant extract on cancer cells. The plant is called Virgin’s Mantle (Fagonia cretica) and it grows in the desert regions of Pakistan, India, Africa, and parts of Europe. It was chosen as the focus for this study because virgin’s mantle extracts are used to make medicinal tea in some of these places. In fact, a small hospital in Pakistan began using the herbal tea 40 years ago to treat breast cancer patients.

Though the treatment has long been regarded as folklore or placebo, the study found surprising results when the plant extract was combined with cancer cells in a lab. Tests showed that the extract stopped the growth of cancer cells within five hours and killed them off within twenty-four hours. Not surprisingly, women who take the tea report that there are no serious side effects –like those that result from conventional chemotherapy.

What causes the plant extract to be so effective? According to the researchers, the extract has a unique mechanism that can fix defects in the cell DNA that normally prevent tumor growth. When DNA is not properly functioning, cancer can flourish and even the effects of treatments such as chemo are less effective.

Researchers are quick to note that more research is needed to demonstrate if the plant extract is as effective at killing cancer in the body as it is in the lab and how it can be used to develop a new treatment drug.

 

Copyright 2009-2012 Dropwise Essentials

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Donya Fahmy, is a green business owner and the creator of Dropwise Essentials’ spa-quality aromatherapy body products that help you safely relieve stress, increase vitality, improve confidence, or simply manage your emotional state any time or place without popping a pill. For more free tips and valuable information visit www.dropwise.com and subscribe to the Dropwise Health & Beauty News Ezine or blog feed.

There’s A Lot Of Room For Improvement In Early Breast Cancer Detection

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month and it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything on the subject so it seems like a good idea to re-visit it. If you’ve been following my posts here or are a subscriber of our Health & Beauty News ezine and have been reading it for some time you know that when it comes to cancer –which is often though not always, the end result of a prolonged state of imbalance or “dis-ease” in the body– I’m a passionate advocate for prevention.

We now know a hell of a lot more about the role of food and nutrition in preventing disease and the role that antioxidant-rich foods and nutrients play in protecting us from cancer. At the same time, there’s been a growing movement to create awareness and educate about the role of repeated toxic exposure in promoting the development of cancer –thanks in large part to the work of the Environmental Working Group and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. But there’s still a lot of work to be done in this critical area.

When it comes to breast cancer, there’s also a lot of room for improvement in the area of early and accurate detection. Thinking about some of my friends and loved ones who have faced (and thankfully survived) breast cancer, I wish that there had been better ways to detect the cancer much earlier so as to open the door to more treatment options with less devastating consequences. As I learned a couple of years ago while researching this subject, by the time a cancer tumor or growth is large enough to be detected by a mammogram, it has already been developing in the body for 7 or 8 years!!

I used to believe that until this aspect of breast cancer was drastically improved, women who are diagnosed would continue to be faced with limited and far less than ideal treatment options. But at last, there’s some good news to share on this! Some recently concluded studies are revealing promising new treatment approaches that, if they pan out, will at least offer some kinder, gentler treatment options. Stay tuned as I will share some of the results of these studies in an upcoming blog post.

Got a Blank Space Where My Mind Should Be: Can Aromatherapy Cure Memory Loss?

Some people are fond of saying that our memory is the first thing to go as we age. The conventional wisdom is that as we age, our memory inevitably gets worse. We just have to accept things like not remembering where we parked the car or forgetting a new person’s name within seconds of meeting them, as unavoidable signs of aging.

While most people will experience a decline in memory as they get older, there are some simple, natural things you can do give your brain a little “tune up” from time to time when you need some help remembering things. A number of recent studies have demonstrated that aromatherapy can stimulate positive significant change in all of the functions of the brain, from increasing mental focus to making people more likely to remember things.

One study conducted by the University of Northumbria in the UK observed the effects that different scents had on memory and mood. The study found that subjects who inhaled a peppermint aroma performed better on memory tests than subjects who inhaled a ylang ylang aroma, while those who were given the ylang ylang reported being calmer than the group that had received the peppermint. That’s because peppermint is one of the most well known aromatic stimulants. Now we know that in addition to its cooling, analgesic, and digestive properties, it can be used to improve mental performance too!

An earlier study conducted by the same University in 2003 used a different set of essential oils in order to measure their impact on memory and concentration. In this initial study, scientists had subjects work in rooms that were filled with either rosemary or lavender aromas. While both scents made subjects think longer about their answers to their memory test, those under the influence of lavender got more answers wrong. By contrast, those who were in the room filled with rosemary gave significantly more detailed and higher quality responses to their memory test questions.

This research clearly reveals some of the interesting and important benefits of using aromatherapy to aid in the area of memory and concentration, but even more astounding are the results of a recent study in Japan that measured the effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Japanese study examined the curative effects of aromatherapy on the behavior and cognitive function of 28 elderly patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The subjects received aromatherapy treatments twice a day for a full month. Rosemary and lemon essential oils were used in the morning treatments while lavender and orange essential oils were used in the evening treatments. They were given three different tests to evaluate how well they functioned both before and after the thirty day period. At the end of the month-long study, patients “showed significant improvement in personal orientation related to cognitive function,” and no side effects associated with the use of aromatherapy were noted.

Impressive as these results are, they are not as surprising as they may seem. The link between scent and memory is well-known, and has been for centuries. The parts of the brain that are associated with memory and feeling are all part of the limbic system, as is the olfactory bulb (the area of the brain that processes scent). Because of it’s position in the brain, the olfactory bulb has easy access to the hippocampus, which is responsible for creating long-term memories, and the amygdala, which is the emotional center of the brain.

What researchers concluded from these studies is that aromatherapy stimulates the creation of new cells in the memory center of the brain. The creation of these new cells improves the higher functions of the brain, such as memory recall and abstract thinking.

So how can you use aromatherapy to benefit your own mind? There are a number of different scents you can use to boost your brainpower, and a variety of ways to use them. Your best choice would be the essential oils used in these studies that generated the greatest results like peppermint, rosemary, and lemon. The best time to use them is right before you need to focus on something, like at the start of your work day, or right before you do something that you want to remember well, like the beginning of a study session or lesson or even at the start of a movie if you have trouble remembering scenes.

If you have any of these essential oils on hand, you can mix 70-75 drops of one (or a blend) of the oils with 3 oz (or 80 ML) of purified water inside of a spray mister bottle (a 3% dilution). Shake the bottle to make sure the oils are evenly mixed then spray in the air and inhale deeply whenever you need to. For faster and more direct results you can inhale the essential oil or blend (undiluted) directly from the bottle. If you are blending oils be sure to place the oils into a dark glass bottle, and don’t overdo or over-use this method as it can sometimes result in the opposite effect of the intended or desired result.

Some of these scents can be obtained directly from the natural ingredients themselves only in a much less concentrated form. For example, you can grow fresh mint in your garden, kitchen, or on your desk and use it to make tea or crush some leaves to release their scent. Or you can throw the peel and rinds of some oranges, lemons, and/or limes into your garbage disposer and run it for a few seconds to grind the fruit and release it’s natural scent.

Copyright 2009-2012 Dropwise Essentials

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Donya Fahmy, is a green business owner and the creator of Dropwise Essentials’ spa-quality aromatherapy body products that help you safely relieve stress, increase vitality, improve confidence, or simply manage your emotional state any time or place without popping a pill. For more free tips and valuable information visit www.dropwise.com and subscribe to the Dropwise Health & Beauty News Ezine or blog feed.

Sugar Showdown! Finding Healthier Substitutes for Your Sweet Tooth

It seems like lately, every time you turn on the television or radio, or pick up a magazine there’s a story about sugar and its role in the nation’s growing epidemic of diabetes and obesity. You’ve likely been hearing a new term called Diabesity, which encompasses the intricate relationship between sugar, diabetes, and obesity.

Ever since the American Heart Association’s 2009 recommendation to limit our daily consumption of added sugar to between 100 and 150 calories (vs. the 355+ calories that is actually consumed), the link between our overly sugar-laden diets and our ever-expanding waistlines has become painfully clear.

Understanding the potential health consequences of eating too much sugar is one thing, knowing what to do about it is an entirely different story … Looking at sugar consumption as a long-term health imperative rather than a simple weight management issue might give you the motivation you need to tackle it. Start with small manageable steps and work up from there.

First, aim to significantly reduce your consumption of (and eventually eliminate) highly processed sugars like corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup –which can be addicting and wreak havoc with your blood sugar levels.

The next step (which can also be taken simultaneously) is to substitute whole grains for white flour and add more raw fruits and vegetables. After that, try to uncover all the hidden sources of added sugar that may be sabotaging your best intentions, and find healthier alternatives. I’m talking about sugar that’s added to less obvious things like peanut butter and spaghetti sauces, and frozen, canned, or other packaged foods. Avoid fruit juices with added sugar and watch out for those flavored yogurts that boast only 150 calories per serving! Some of those tiny containers have as much as 45 or 50 grams of sugar per serving!

Last, but not least, become a savvy consumer of alternative sweeteners. The marketplace for alternative and especially natural sweeteners has exploded over the past few years, but with no practical means to evaluate all the options, the average consumer still turns to artificial sweeteners like NutraSweet, Equal, or Splenda, as low-calorie solutions to manage their weight.

The problem with artificial sweeteners is they may actually contribute to obesity because they trick the body into thinking they’re sugar molecules. When the tongue and brain recognize sugar the body produces insulin. Excess insulin in the body is converted into fat, leading to weight gain. Several studies support this finding while others conclude that Aspartame, for example, may be neuro-toxic under certain conditions and should be avoided altogether.

So how can you work your way through the maze of alternative sweeteners (natural and synthetic) to find the right substitute? Here are some quick tips to help you get started:

  1. Compare Glycemic Index Scores. Look first and foremost for the impact of a sweetener on your blood sugar levels. The easiest way is to find its Glycemic Index (GI) score and compare it to that of white sugar (68). The Glycemic Index basically measures how fast carbohydrates convert to glucose in the blood. The higher the number the faster the conversion. Lower numbers are better. Honey is in the 70s, maple syrup is around 55 and high fructose corn syrup is just above 90, while palm sugar is around 35 and agave nectar is in the low teens.
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  3. A Sugar By Any Other Name. Make sure that your sweetener of choice isn’t simply another version of white sugar. Most of the sugar in the food and beverages that people purchase at the supermarket is refined cane sugar. Evaporated sugar cane juice is simply the solid that remains when sugar cane juice evaporates. It’s considered less refined than white sugar but has the same GI score so avoid products made with this sweetener.
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  5. Weigh Pros & Cons. Not all natural sweeteners are created equal. Some have better GI scores than sugar but no nutritive benefits. Others like Molasses, are high in minerals and antioxidants but not suitable for broad use as a sweetener. Stevia has added health benefits, almost no calories, and a GI score of zero, but sometimes leaves a bitter after taste. Sugar alcohols like Xylitol and Erythritol are very low in calories and have dental health benefits but are not natural and if eaten in excess, can have a laxative effect.
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  7. Context, Texture and Taste. Find out which natural sweeteners work best for sweetening beverages and which work best for cooking and baking. Many times, these may not be one and the same. Erythritol and Stevia are often recommended for sweetening beverages, while Brown Rice Syrup (made from sprouted brown rice) and Agave tend to work better for baked goods. Keep in mind, the latter are liquids so they can’t be used spoon for spoon as a substitute for table sugar in recipes.

Above all, stay open minded and willing to experiment with different types and brands of sweeteners, until you find the right combination for your particular needs. Remember to balance your taste buds’ needs with your body’s overall health needs and don’t rely strictly on substitutes as a way of managing your weight or your blood sugar levels. Try to get most of your sugar from natural sources and limit the amount of sugar per serving to 12 grams or less.

Is Your Love Affair with Sweets Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Efforts and Putting You at Risk?

It’s a new year and every new year brings with it “New Year’s resolutions” designed to help us improve our lives in some way –either by ditching a bad habit or acquiring some new good habits. By far, the most common New Year’s resolutions have something to do with losing weight or getting into shape. And somehow, no matter how well intentioned these resolutions are, for many of us, our weight loss efforts never seem to really get off the ground.

If losing weight and getting into shape were that simple we all would have accomplished it by now! The truth is, there are many factors that contribute to weight gain, and consequently our ability to successfully manage our weight. While most of us are focused on how to lose weight we may be ignoring an even more insidious health threat that coincidentally, also hinders our ability to diet successfully.

Whether you follow the weight loss advice of health gurus like Dr. Oz or Dr. Mercola, or if you keep up with the latest findings on weight loss, one thing is becoming very clear: managing your body’s insulin response is the key to not just weight loss but to ultimate health. That’s because too much sugar creates a cascade of health problems that not only hinder our attempts to lose weight and keep it off, they put us at risk for chronic inflammation which is now considered to be the main contributing factor in the development of most diseases –including heart disease and even cancer.

The statistics on sugar consumption are staggering. By one estimate, the average American consumes over 150 pounds of sugar and sweeteners (like corn syrup) every year! Phew! That’s a LOT of sugar. According to research and analysis firm Datamonitor, U.S. consumers’ reliance on sugar and sweeteners for total energy consumption is more than twice the global average.

Other studies indicate that 75% of the American diet is made up of refined carbohydrates like sugar, white flour, white pasta and potatoes. It turns out that sugar is actually more fattening than fat. What that means for anyone who is serious about losing weight and getting healthy is cutting way back on sugar and simple carbohydrates, which your body quickly converts into sugar!

Sugars and starches are carbohydrates and carbohydrates are one of our body’s main sources of energy (the other being fat). When your body needs energy it will first look for carbohydrates to burn as fuel. If there are fewer sources of carbohydrates available, then your body will break down your fat reserves for energy. That’s the key to successful weight loss and maintenance. By limiting your intake of sugars and starches, you force your body to use up your fat reserves instead.

What happens if you don’t? The opposite. When you consume more sugar than your body needs for energy, your blood sugar becomes elevated so your pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin. Insulin is designed to balance blood sugar by carrying glucose to your cells where it is normally burned off for energy. Storing sugar in these cells is your body’s way of balancing its blood sugar levels. This is a normal insulin response. But if we consume more sugar than our body needs for energy then the excess insulin in our blood is stored as fat to be burned for energy at some point in the future.

Like it or not, most of us have become addicted to sugar in one if not all of its various forms. Our love affair with sweets leads to consistently elevated blood sugar levels. When that happens, our energy-burning cells begin to become resistant to the action of insulin (hence the term “insulin resistance”).

If insulin can’t be balanced due to insulin resistance, our entire hormonal system can be thrown out of whack, leading to unintended weight gain and ultimately to diabetes and obesity. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that as we age our metabolic processes slow down and we simply don’t need as many carbohydrates as we did when we were younger, so our continuing overconsumption of sugars and simple carbs makes it all the more difficult to lose those extra pounds!

While weight gain is the most visible result of this hormonal imbalance, a much deeper more insidious process is taking place within our bodies that is far more dangerous to our long-term health. Sugar is acidic, so when large quantities of sugar remain in the body, it creates an acidic and hostile environment that leads to cellular damage and inflammation. This causes us to age prematurely on the inside as well as on the outside.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, sugar and other refined carbohydrates appear to trigger a chemical reaction that creates pro-inflammatory compounds in the body. A conclusion that is further supported by the findings of a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that women who consume excess sugar are prone to chronic inflammation.

If you’ve resolved to lose weight and get healthy this year, first consider some of the ways you can cut back on your consumption of sugar (especially processed sugars) and simple carbohydrates. Part of the trick is to free yourself from the addictive taste of sweets and the best way to do it is to go cold turkey for a couple of weeks. This may seem difficult at first, but you may also be surprised to learn that after doing without for a while, you no longer crave sweets as much as you once did. If you’re really lucky you might actually find the overly sugary taste of certain foods a turn off to your taste buds!

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Donya Fahmy, is a green business owner and the creator of Dropwise Essentials’ spa-quality aromatherapy body products that help you safely relieve stress, increase vitality, improve confidence, or simply manage your emotional state any time or place without popping a pill. For more free tips and valuable information visit http://www.dropwise.com and subscribe to the Dropwise Health & Beauty News Ezine or blog feed.

From Chappy to Happy: Discover the Best Lip Balm Ingredients to Keep You Smiling

The human body is amazingly resilient. It can take a lot of neglect and even a fair amount of abuse before the signs of damage start to show. But some parts of the body, like your lips, are a lot more delicate and sensitive, showing almost immediate signs of distress. And unlike the rest of your skin, which has the ability to hydrate and regulate moisture, your lips have no sebaceous glands or lipids (fats) to help them retain moisture.

What’s worse is lips are at the front and center of your visage so when they become dry or cracked, not only do they look bad they feel bad too. So what can you do to keep your lips soft, supple and happy instead of chappy?

Some causes like overexposure to the elements –wind, sun, hot or cold dry air– or chronic congestion that forces you to breathe through your mouth rather than your nose are often unavoidable. Other causes like frequently licking the lips or overuse of petroleum-based lip balms and glosses are easier to address.

happy lipsLike the rest of your skin, your lips need a good balance of ingredients that are emollients (softeners) and humectants (moisturizers that attract and hold water to the skin). The good news is there are a wide variety of emollient ingredients you can use. The bad news is the ones found in most lip products are petroleum-based and work via something called “occlusion” which means the act of closing off. They are spread onto the skin to slow or prevent moisture evaporation and are made from oils and waxes that can’t be penetrated by water.

They coat lips, forming a short-term barrier that can provide temporary protection from the elements but quickly wear off (or are often licked off) and must be constantly re-applied. Because they offer no lasting benefits, they are not the best choice for long-term or ongoing lip care.

Choose Only the Best Ingredients for Your Kisser

At a minimum you should hold your lip balm products to the same standard as the moisturizers you use on your skin and face, but because lips are more delicate you would do better to hold them to an even higher standard. The main things to look for are:

Base Oils. Products made primarily with raw or unprocessed plant-based vegetable or nut oils and butters like jojoba, virgin coconut, high-oleic safflower, extra virgin olive, sunflower, hemp, avocado, castor (an excellent humectant) and shea or cocoa butter –preferably certified organic. Oils like olive and coconut that most closely resemble your skin’s natural sebum and are rich in Vitamin E and other antioxidants, will work best and deliver consistent results.

Herbal Infusions or Extracts. Products that include skin-friendly herbal ingredients like calendula, chamomile, comfrey, chickweed, and yarrow provide added protective benefits.

Natural Waxes. Although waxes can act as emollients and protective barriers, their purpose in your lip balm is more functional than beneficial — adding stiffness so it can be dispensed in a push-up tube. Choose lip balms made with natural waxes like beeswax, candellila, or carnauba wax.

Essential Oils. Look for products that are made with 100% pure essential oils versus “fragrance” and flavor oils, which may contain unidentified, potentially harmful ingredients like phthalates or synthetic sweeteners. Too much flavor invariably leads to frequent, involuntary, and excessive lip licking –one of the main causes of dry chapped lips. Essential oils will open your senses, and though they smell good they won’t taste good enough to make you lick your lips.

Remember, when you lick your lips, eat, or drink while wearing lipstick or lip products, or kiss someone who is wearing a lip product, you ingest some of the product’s ingredients. So it goes without saying that if you want healthy happy lips avoid products made with petroleum or synthetic chemicals and stick to products made with only the best natural and organic ingredients. Not only will they make your lips look and feel better, you won’t have to worry about the consequences of ingesting them!

Copyright 2011 Dropwise Essentials

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Donya Fahmy, is a green business owner and the creator of Dropwise Essentials’ spa-quality aromatherapy body products that help you safely relieve stress, increase vitality, improve confidence, or simply manage your emotional state any time or place without popping a pill. For more free tips and valuable information visit www.dropwise.com and subscribe to the Dropwise Health & Beauty News Ezine or blog feed.