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Keep Your Vagina Healthy and Prevent Leaks by Eating These Foods

Your vagina is a complex and finely tuned environment that has several factors that need to be kept in balance. Your vagina is pretty good at protecting and cleaning itself. Proper vaginal care, such as good hygiene, safe sex, and regular gynecological visits, all play a role in keeping your pH in check. But what about food? What you put in your mouth has an effect down south, and what you eat could make or break the health of your vagina.

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Tips for Growing the Tastiest Microgreens Indoors

Microgreens are one food anyone can grow with minimum space, minimum effort, and a minimum investment of time and money. They are tasty and nutritious to boot. There really isn’t any excuse not to grow them.

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Why Fish Heads are the Secret to Massive Tomatoes (and a few other tested tips)

There is nothing more delicious than a juicy tomato picked from a homegrown tomato vine. I can remember plucking and eating fresh tomatoes, warm from the summer sun, from my grandparents garden. My grandparents ran a little country market in Iowa and grew some of the biggest and tastiest tomatoes ever. How did they do it? Here are a few of their time-tested tips that they happily shared with anyone who visited their market.

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5 Things To Do For A Massive Harvest of Beans

Beans are a staple crop in home gardens around the world. They are robust, easy to start, and a delicious garden vegetable that can be canned and preserved for later enjoyment. But have you ever wondered if there was anything that you could do to maximize your bean plant’s performance and increase your yield? In fact, there are some really easy, time-tested tricks that can help you have a huge harvest of your favorite beans.

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This NO-DIG Garden Method Produces a Huge Harvest

When I discovered just how easy it was to grow my favorite veggies, herbs, and even flowers in straw bales, I was hooked. Straw bale gardening combines the best of composting and compact gardening in one.  

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7 Easy to Grow at Home Spices

Spices add flavor and zest to any meal. They are aromatic, delicious, and packed with health-promoting properties. They can also be kind of expensive if you use enough of them. The good news is, you can grow an abundance of beautiful spices right in your home garden. 

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Improve Your Gut Health and Reduce Toxins With Lemon Water and Zest

You’ve probably heard of drinking lemon water for any number of ailments, and though there is limited scientific research to back up many of its purported benefits, there is still plenty of proof that should inspire you to include lemon water in your morning routine. Additionally eating lemons and enjoy lemon zest throughout the day can help boost your health. Unlike many other health fads and fleeting trends, this wellness aid is more than just smoke and mirrors. Read on for our favorite reasons to drink a glass of warm (or cool) lemon water as soon as you step out of bed and enjoy the zest all day long!

Can help keep you hydrated

It is well known that the majority of the population is severely dehydrated. In fact, 75% of Americans fall short of the recommended minimum daily water consumption, which is 10 cups per day. That means that three out of every four people are living in a chronic state of dehydration and forcing their bodies to work overtime to compensate for lack of water. 

Often, the reason that so many people cite for their uninspiring water intake is a dislike for the way water “tastes.” Fortunately, getting into the habit of drinking water with lemon first thing in the morning will give you a great, hydrated start to your day. Even if you don’t like the taste of water, a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice can make it infinitely better. 

Supports healthy digestion

Lemon water encourages the liver to produce bile, which is required for proper digestion, and it can help flush out toxins from the body and prevent buildup. Getting your digestive system on the right track early in the morning is critical for proper bowel function throughout the day. Don’t forget to add some lemon zest in with your daily meals as well to further help your body digest the food you eat all day long!

Boosts your immune system

Millions of people around the country are bracing themselves for the upcoming cold and flu season. As Halloween decorations start to emerge, so do the nasty bugs hanging out on bathroom door handles and public transportation, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike a vulnerable immune system. Now is the time to load up on fresh, whole foods, and do whatever you can to boost your body’s natural germ-fighting capabilities. 

This preparation includes drinking a daily glass of lemon water, as this tart fruit has loads of natural vitamin C that helps your cells produce infection-fighting antibodies.

Can aid in weight loss

This study found that the polyphenols in lemons can reduce and suppress body fat accumulation, while the pectin fiber in lemons can help curb appetite and reduce hunger. These abilities combined could help you in your wellness journey. Remember, weight loss does not happen overnight, and there is no magic drink that will (on its own) make you thinner. Lemon water and lemon zest should be enjoyed in conjunction with a healthy whole foods diet, daily exercise, and reduction in sugar consumption. 

Helps freshen breath

There’s nothing like waking up to nasty morning breath. Unfortunately, no matter how well you brush your teeth, you may be subject to halitosis in the morning. Drink a glass of lemon water to help eliminate that foul odor and encourage saliva production.

How to enjoy lemon water:

All you need is two ingredients…filtered water, and a lemon. It’s that easy. Simply squeeze one half or a whole lemon (depending on how much flavor you want) into a tall glass. Fill the remaining way with filtered water and sip away. The water can be cool in the summertime for a refreshment from the heat or hot in the winter for a warming beverage. Add a squeeze of honey, if desired, for a hint of sweetness to combat the sour lemon. Drink through a straw to help protect your teeth’ enamel from the lemon acid, and always swish your mouth with a sip of plain water after drinking to eliminate residue on your teeth. 

Add any of the following ingredients for an extra health boost:

  • A few sprigs of mint
  • Slice of fresh ginger
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Sprinkle of turmeric

Another great way to get your lemon fix is to add fresh lemon juice and zest to an ice cube tray and freeze. These handy lemon cubes will shorten your morning routine even more and ensure you never miss a day. 

-Susan Patterson, Certified Health Coach, and Master Gardener

3 Scary Reasons To Ditch Aluminum Foil (And What To Use Instead)

You’re probably getting a little tired of people telling you that the things you’ve been eating or using for years are bad for your health. Some you’ve accepted; you do your best to stay away from gluten and you eat organic when you can. Some you’ve strategically chosen to ignore; your favorite dairy-based ice cream, for example, or that supposedly toxic non-stick frypan that makes the best pancakes.

But here’s one you should probably avoid like the plague: aluminum foil. Believe it or not, every time you use aluminum foil in the kitchen, it’s seriously harming your health. Here are three reasons to keep aluminum foil out of your kitchen, and some healthier alternatives to use instead.

1. Aluminum foil is a neurotoxin

Aluminum has long been scrutinized by the scientific community for its potential role as a neurotoxin. Researchers maintain that, due to the fact that aluminum has no physiological role in the human body, it has the potential to cause significant detrimental effects when consumed.

This theory was unequivocally proven when a 2014 study showed that a 66-year-old man who died with Alzheimer’s disease had significantly elevated aluminum content in his brain, following eight years of occupational exposure. While the study noted that it was the respiratory system that was exposed to aluminum dust, we now know that there is a direct link between aluminum ingestion and Alzheimer’s disease, a debilitating neurological disorder.

The fact also remains that aluminum foil is not fully inert; food cooked or prepared in it has been shown to have significantly higher levels of aluminum than if they were prepared in another medium. The takeaway is simple: aluminum foil has the potential to cause neurotoxic effects, including Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Aluminum foil can contribute to bone disease

Research shows that aluminum from sources like foil can increase a person’s risk of developing bone disease. A study that examined the effect of hemodialysis, which causes a buildup of aluminum in the blood, found that 37 percent of dialysis patients had developed aluminum-associated bone disease. The study proponents concluded that “long-term oral aluminum intake in hemodialysis patients results in a high prevalence of aluminum-associated bone disease.” It was theorized that aluminum either directly or indirectly impacts osteoblast production, which in turn leads to bone wasting.

The key here is that little statement about “long-term oral aluminum intake.” Many would argue that using aluminum foil regularly for years would equate to long-term oral aluminum intake. This means that using aluminum foil in the kitchen can contribute to bone disease.

3. Aluminum foil can promote pulmonary fibrosis

Using aluminum foil to prepare, store or cook food can increase a person’s risk of developing pulmonary fibrosis, a form of lung disease. A study that performed lung tissue analysis of nine workers exposed to aluminum oxide found alarmingly high levels of aluminum in the lung tissue, suggesting that aluminum exposure contributed to their development of pulmonary fibrosis.

While aluminum foil might not contribute to lung disease at the same rate as breathing in aluminum oxides, there is still a very real risk that cooking with aluminum foil may cause pulmonary fibrosis and other diseases of the lung.

Why aluminum may be leaching into the food you eat

In a 2012 study, a faculty of engineering team from the University of Ain Shams in Cairo examined the different ways in which aluminum foil and other cookware interact with food. Leaching of harmful aluminum compounds was by far the highest when acidic foods like lemon juice or tomatoes were coming into contact with aluminum foil, and this was often further exacerbated by the use of spices.

In essence, aluminum foil is not inert. When exposed to certain foods, it has been shown to leach a portion of its metallic compounds into the food, whereupon people ingest it. From here, it can build up in the blood, muscles, and organs and contribute to all manner of health problems. Science is only just starting to understand just how negative these consequences may be.

The onus is simple: keep aluminum foil out of the kitchen, and well away from the food you eat. Here are some healthier alternatives for cooking and storing your food that won’t have any ill health effects.

Healthier alternatives to aluminum foil

Personally, I’ve never been much of a fan of aluminum foil and aluminum cookware anyway. If I want to store food in the fridge or pantry, I’ll almost always use glass storage containers. Glass is completely inert and doesn’t transfer any harmful chemicals or metals into food, no matter how acidic they are. This way, we’re also minimizing waste, as the glass can be used over and over again… unlike aluminum foil!

For cooking, where one might use foil to enclose baked potatoes or fish, I simply used a ceramic dish with a lid. The effect is exactly the same, it’s just that ceramic doesn’t leach compounds into our food! And for baking, I either use glassware or high-quality silicone bakeware that doesn’t require any sort of lining. These materials are much nicer to use, usually produce higher quality dishes, and don’t create excess waste. That’s a win-win if you ask me!

-The Backyard Vitality Team

10 Reasons You Should Try Simple Box Gardening

Traditional gardens are planted in long rows in the soil and generally require quite a bit of space and tending to be successful. You have to clear a space, amend your soil and be diligent in keeping weeds away. In short, conventional gardening can be kind of backbreaking, and this is why many people never create a home garden of their own.

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Supercharge Your Water With Delicious Homegrown Produce

Water, we can’t live without it, and consuming it on its own has a myriad of health benefits such as keeping us hydrated, aiding in weight loss, and keeping our skin, hair, and nails looking great. Plus, it can aid in digestion, maintain the balance of body fluids, energize muscles, help kidneys and bowels with regular function, and so much more. But…do you sometimes get tired of water and wish that it actually tasted like something other than, well, water? You are in luck. There are a number of easy-to-grow, delicious and nutritious herbs and fruits that you can add to your water.

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Always Wanted to Sprout an Avocado Seed? Here’s How To Do it

Why would you want to sprout an avocado seed? Well, the most simple answer:  because you can! There are not many fruits and vegetables that are near as fun to grow from seeds as avocados. Some seeds are a real pain to get started. For instance, seeds of peaches, plums, and apricots need to be either subjected to cold stratification or their hard pits broken mechanically before planting.

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