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35 Ways to Use Raw Honey for Great Health

Winnie the Pooh said it best when he said, “Eating honey is a very good thing to do.” This liquid gold has been a staple in my home for many, many years, and for good reason. The benefits of honey are seemingly endless. Everywhere I have lived, I have sought out raw local sources of honey for use in my kitchen, as well as for other medicinal purposes. I am also beginning to do my own research on keeping bees — partially because I use so much honey and partially because I find it absolutely amazing that bees provide us with this wonderful gift that I want to watch them work up close and personal.

I am not alone in my awe of honey. Ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Chinese, Romans, and Greeks used honey for treating wounds and to heal conditions of the gut. Hippocrates himself used honey and vinegar for pain, honey and water for thirst, and honey mixed with water and other substances for fever.

Medicinal properties of honey

Honey is truly a healing gift from nature, and is rich in medicinal properties:

  • Hygroscopic property

In its natural state, honey has very low water content, but it absorbs moisture when exposed to air. This hygroscopic property makes honey highly beneficial to dry skin by allowing it to better retain moisture. It also helps to speed up wound healing time.

  • Antibacterial property

One especially vital component in honey, glucose oxidase, is an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide. Research indicates that this is one of the main reasons why honey seems to have such powerful antibacterial and wound-healing capabilities. The production of hydrogen peroxide is just one of the remarkable ways that honey helps to kill bacteria and heal wounds.

  • Antioxidant property

Although darker honey generally contains more antioxidant power than light-colored, both are still a rich source of valuable antioxidants. Antioxidants go to work against free radicals and encourage new tissue growth. This, in turn, helps expedite the healing of damaged tissue and also helps skin appear younger and more radiant.

  • Honey is a nutritional powerhouse

Honey is also a nutritional powerhouse, containing glucose, fructose, and numerous minerals including calcium, iron, copper, phosphate, sodium chlorine, magnesium, manganese, and potassium. Vitamins in honey include B6, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and a number of amino acids. It is also quite acidic, with a pH of 3.2. and 4.5. This helps prevent the growth of bacteria. It is also loaded with protective antioxidants.

Ways to use honey

There are literally hundreds of ways to use honey — here are 35 of my favorite. I hope you give some of these a try. You will be amazed at what you find.

1. Wound cleaner

Dab honey onto a minor burn or cut, lightly covering the wound like an antibiotic ointment. Research published in The FASEB Journal shows how honey kills off bacteria and helps speed healing time.

2. Diaper rash and nipple cream

Honey is a gentle way to soothe diaper rash.
Honey is a gentle way to soothe diaper rash (and nipples)

A New Zealand study investigated using topical pharmaceutical-grade manuka honey in place of traditional barrier cream for the treatment of redness, itching, and inflammation. Researchers found that symptoms improved in a similar fashion to using a traditional barrier cream. To help prevent diaper rash, try adding equal parts of honey to your usual diaper cream and use it daily. In the same manner that honey provides relief and healing for diaper rash, it is also a fantastic remedy for sore and inflamed nipples!

3. Hair conditioner

Honey makes for a great natural conditioner. Mix together 1/2 cup honey with 1/4 cup olive oil and warm slightly on the stove. Apply to your hair and then allow it to soak in by wrapping your hair in a towel. Once it is soaked in, rinse out your hair, preferably with cool water.

4. Natural hair remover

Mix one tablespoon of honey with one tablespoon of lemon juice and three tablespoons of brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl. Warm slightly in the microwave and allow the mixture to cool, then apply to facial hair using a popsicle stick. Place a small piece of muslin cloth over the area and rub slightly. Apply a small amount of tea tree oil to the area where you removed the hair.

5. Burn treatment

The Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery published a paper based on an analysis comparing the use of medicated dressings (silver sulfadiazine) with honey dressings over a five-year period. When burn healing time was compared, those patients with the honey dressings healed in an average of 18.16 days, while those with the medicated bandages healed in 32.68 days.

Researchers concluded that the honey dressings made wounds sterile in a shorter time period and also improved healing time. Note: Only try this home treatment for minor burns. In the case of a serious burn, call the emergency room.

6. Makeup remover

Mix baking soda and honey together to make a paste and add a few drops of tea tree oil. Apply using a warm washcloth in a circular motion. Rinse with warm water.

7. Bad breath

If you suffer from bad breath, try a mixture of 1/4 cup water, one teaspoon raw honey, and one teaspoon of lemon juice. Gargle for three minutes and spit out for fresh breath all day long.

8. Face mask

A honey face mask can help improve skin conditions.
A honey face mask can help improve skin conditions.

Honey can effectively treat conditions like acne, rosacea, and eczema, while coconut oil is great for relieving dry or irritated skin, as well as for reducing wrinkles. Combining them leads to super-soft, clear, hydrated skin! Mix one tablespoon coconut oil and one tablespoon raw honey in a small bowl with a spoon until it’s well combined.

Apply the mixture to your face and neck with your fingertips — gently — as sometimes honey can crystalize and be rough on your skin. Let it sink in for up to 20 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Simple, easy, and effective!

9. Strengthen nails

If you have weak, brittle nails, try mixing one tablespoon of honey with a 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar in a shallow dish. Soak your nails for 10 minutes and rinse. Repeat weekly for strong and healthy cuticles and nails.

10. Relieve acid reflux

Raw honey coats the lining of the esophagus and provides relief to the burning caused by acid reflux. In a report posted in the British Medical Journal, Professor Mahantayya V. Math found relief from reflux when he ingested five milliliters of honey.

11. Balance blood sugar

Although honey is sweet, it has a fairly low glycemic index. The natural sugars in honey have a “slow-release” effect, which means it does not cause the sharp peak in blood sugar that other sweet substances (like refined sugar) do. The sugars in honey are therefore more slowly absorbed and metabolized. Despite its sweetness, honey will not cause blood sugar levels to spike as high or as fast as other high-sugar foods.

12. Natural cough syrup

You can make a very effective, tasty, natural cough syrup using the following ingredients: one cup of filtered water, 1/4 cup fresh ginger root, 1/4 cup marshmallow root, one tablespoon cinnamon, 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, and one cup honey. Pour the water into a saucepan and add the dried herbs.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the volume is reduced by about half. Pour through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer to remove herbs. While the liquid is still warm, but not boiling, mix in the lemon juice and honey. Stir well and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

13. Dark circle remover

Mix one teaspoon of honey with one teaspoon of sweet almond oil and spread the mixture under the eyes. After about 20 minutes, wash the mixture off and follow up with a light layer of organic coconut oil. Repeat this treatment a few times a week to keep your skin looking great.

14. Lip moisturizer

A very easy way to heal and prevent chapped lips can be made with honey. Mix one part of warm, recently-melted beeswax to three parts olive oil. Then add one to two tablespoons of honey to the mixture. Once the mixture has been set, it’s ready to use.

15. Healthy sports drink

Commercial sports drinks are loaded with sugar and other not-so-healthy ingredients. However, it is very easy to make your own homemade sports drink using honey. Simply combine the following ingredients in a Vitamix and blend until the honey dissolves: 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, two cups water, 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt, and two tablespoons of raw honey. Take some of this mixture in a water bottle when going out on a long hike and you’ll feel hydrated and energized.

16. Improves healthy gut bacteria

Bees have a very diverse population of beneficial acid bacteria. A unique characteristic of raw honey is its ability to feed good gut bacteria and fight off bad bacteria. Good bacteria are essential for overall health and wellness. It forms the main defense against outside threats.

17. Relieve morning sickness

Honey can help to naturally alleviate morning sickness.
Honey can help to naturally alleviate morning sickness.

Organic honey works to relieve morning sickness for pregnant mothers. A warm tea made with honey and ginger is highly effective at calming a pregnant mother’s tummy.

18. Fruit-preserver

Preserving your fruits with raw honey makes them so much healthier. Simply use one part honey to ten parts water and cover your berries in the mixture. Much better than sugar!

19. Weight-loss aid

Hands down, honey is a better and far healthier sweetener than sugar. The body knows just what to do with this natural gift from the bees, and our cells can use it for energy. If you are looking to drop a few pounds, replace your sugar with honey. It will boost your metabolism and give you energy.

Just remember, all in moderation. You must eat a healthy diet and exercise for any permanent weight loss to occur. For an added boost, mix half a teaspoon of organic ground cinnamon in a cup of boiling water, then let it steep for 10 minutes. Add one teaspoon of raw honey and enjoy!

20. Infections in the mouth

Bacteria and viruses can cause oral infections that impact the teeth, gums, palate, tongue, lips, and the inside of the cheeks. Oral infections are very common. In fact, infections that cause tooth decay are the second most common infectious condition after the common cold.

Researchers in India have found that manuka honey worked just as well as commercial mouthwash, and better than chewing gum with xylitol, for reducing plaque levels. This they attribute to its outstanding antibacterial qualities. Manuka honey, taken orally, can help reduce gingivitis and keep the mouth healthy and free from harmful bacteria.

21. Treat insect bites

Mixing some lemon juice with honey makes a natural antiseptic solution; the natural sugar in honey kills the microorganisms, while the lemon partners with it to prevent bacteria from taking over. The combination will also reduce the swelling associated with insect bites, and decrease itchiness.

For best results, squeeze the juice of one lemon into two tablespoons of raw honey and spread on the infected area. Allow the mixture to remain on the skin until the swelling goes down. You’ll also notice a decrease in itchiness.

22. Fix fertility issues

Raw honey is also an effective natural remedy for fertility issues. It can be combined with raw goat milk to increase sperm counts in men. In women, it can increase the chances of successful fertilization.

23. Reduce the appearance of scars

Over time, a mixture of honey and baking soda can reduce the appearance of scars. Mix one tablespoon of honey with one tablespoon of baking soda. Apply the paste to a scar and let sit for about 30 minutes. Rinse with cool water and pat dry. Do this daily until the scar begins to fade.

24. Treat yeast infections

Honey can help fight off a yeast infection.
Honey can help fight off a yeast infection.

There is evidence that applying raw honey in and around the vagina can help get rid of yeast infections. Apply the honey, let it sit for 30 minutes, then wash it off in the bath or shower.

25. Stockpile for emergency

Are you building up an emergency food supply for the apocalypse? Honey should be in it! This food never spoils — collections of it have actually been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. It also provides the perfect balance of glucose and fructose for energy, along with a ton of healthy vitamins and enzymes.

26. Soften skin

The same qualities that make honey good for your hair also make it good for your skin. It’s a great way to keep your skin naturally soft and clean. Just add two tablespoons of honey to a cup of hot water and let it dissolve. Add two to three drops of lavender essential oil, then pour the mixture into your bath.

27. Whip up healthy peanut butter

I love peanut butter but hate sugar. This is quite simply the most delicious peanut butter I have ever tasted, with natural sweetness from a healthy dose of honey.

28. Combat parasites

If you have parasites, try using a mixture of raw honey and apple cider vinegar. Simply add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon of honey to a glass of water and drink it down!

29. Relieve a hangover

Because of its antioxidant properties, honey is said to neutralize the toxins created by consuming alcohol. The fructose in honey is thought to be the essential compound that helps the body break down alcohol into harmless byproducts.

30. Treat antibiotic-resistant superbugs

Antibiotic resistance is, according to the CDC, a leading world health problem. Doctors first began to notice resistance problems almost a decade ago, when kids with middle-ear infections stopped responding to the drugs they were being given.

Phenols found in manuka honey inhibit bacterial growth and promote healing. These antioxidants are not like synthetic antibiotics that promote the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Clearly raw honey is an impressive antimicrobial agent against a broad spectrum of bacteria and other infectious organisms.

31. Create a simple energy boost

If you start to feel a little lethargic towards the end of your day, a tablespoon of raw honey is just what you need. According to the American College of Nutrition, honey (unlike sugar) provides a nutritious carbohydrate that the body can use for immediate energy. When you are feeling low, take a teaspoon in a cup of warm water mixed with lemon or a scoop right from the jar!

32. Make salad dressing

Ditch commercial salad dressing and try this delicious and healthy option instead. Combine equal parts raw honey, balsamic vinegar and olive oil into a jar and shake lightly. Add herbs, pepper and sea salt to taste.

33. Treat allergies

Local honey can help to combat allergies.
Local honey can help to combat allergies.

Research contends that locally produced honey helps greatly with seasonal allergies. Try adding a tablespoon of local honey (produced during the season you have your allergy problem) to a tea made with nettle leaf for extra allergy relief benefits.

34. Topical antibiotic

Raw organic honey has been used as an antibiotic and topical treatment for abrasions and cuts for hundreds of years. For people with diabetic ulcers, it can be an effective treatment when many other topical treatments are unsuccessful.

35. Homemade dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is a delicious and healthy treat, in moderation. Make your own using honey (much better than sugar). Visit this site for an amazingly good recipe for some delicious little treats.

How to choose the best honey

Raw honey is honey in its purest state. According to the National Honey Board, there is no exact definition for raw honey. A honey label that says “untreated” or “unpasteurized” may be an indication, but not a guarantee that the honey is raw. Obviously, any honey labeled pasteurized is not raw. Don’t be fooled by words like “natural” or “pure” — they mean nothing in regards to honey processing.

To be sure that the honey you are purchasing is raw, it is best to get it from a local beekeeper who will tell you how the honey was obtained. The very best raw honey will also be organic — beekeepers must adhere to very strict regulations in order to be certified organic. Now go out and get some honey!

-Susan Patterson, Certified Health Coach and Master Gardener

Yes, You Should Eat the WHOLE Avocado – Even the Pit

There aren’t many people out there who don’t like avocados. They’re creamy, delicious, brilliantly versatile, and undeniably one of the greatest superfoods available on supermarket shelves. Most people are aware of the wide-ranging health benefits that avocado flesh provides, but few know that the seed they throw away each time they eat an avocado can provide an impressive array of health-promoting properties. While the flesh of an avocado is packed with nutrients and healthy fats, you may be surprised to learn that over 70 percent of the total antioxidant concentration in avocados is contained in the seed. Here are five compelling reasons to stop you from throwing that next avocado seed away.

Reduce inflammation: The same powerful concoction of antioxidants in avocado seeds is responsible for their potent inflammation-fighting properties. Avocado seeds contain high concentrations of catechins and procyanidins, antioxidants that reduce inflammation associated with pain, swelling, stiffness, and impaired joint function. This heroic pair of antioxidants also promotes heart health and proper blood circulation.

Fight cancer: A 2013 study from the University of Antioquia demonstrated that extracts from avocado seeds had a pro-apoptotic influence on leukemia cells, meaning that the extract caused leukemia cells to die and left the normal cells healthy and stable. For this reason, avocado seeds could be an important way to fight or reduce your cancer risk.

Improve digestion: Avocado seeds have long been used in their native homeland of Mexico and Central America to treat a range of digestive issues, including dysentery and gastric ulcers. Today, avocado seeds can be used to promote healthy digestive function, with their potent concentrations of antioxidants and fiber helping to support your gastrointestinal tract by promoting the growth and maintenance of healthy gut bacteria.

Encourage weight loss: The same fiber found in avocado seeds that helps support healthy digestion can also help you maintain a healthy weight. Their high fiber content provides feelings of fullness and satiation, meaning you don’t get the same urge to eat as often. They can also help control your blood sugar levels, with stable blood sugar meaning you’re less likely to give in to food cravings throughout the day.

Support your skin: The powerful cocktail of antioxidants contained in avocado seeds can be just what your skin needs to become supple and clear. These antioxidants can help to rebuild collagen, promote the repair of cells damaged by free radical activity and generally just make your skin look and feel healthy.

How to eat avocado seeds 

Now that you’ve learned about the many benefits that avocado seeds can provide for your health, you’re probably wondering how the heck to eat them. They’re hard, heavy, and seemingly close to indestructible. 

The first step is to remove the seed from the surrounding flesh by cutting the avocado in half with a large sharp knife then whacking the knife down hard on the seed to stick it onto the blade. Use the edge of a cutting board to dislodge the seed from the knife blade, then cut it into quarters with a sharp knife, being careful of your fingers. The seed is actually surprisingly easy to cut with a suitably sharp knife.

Now throw the quarters into a powerful blender and process until you make a fine powder. Divide the resulting powder into two piles— one pile is enough for a single serving, so put the other pile in a storage container in the fridge. Now you can throw the powder into a smoothie mix, but be sure the other ingredients are relatively strong, as the seed powder can be quite bitter due to its tannins.

Nevertheless, don’t forget that the avocado seed is highly valuable and should not be forgotten! 

 

Susan Patterson, Certified Health Coach, and Master Gardener

 

 

 

#1 WORST Sunscreen (avoid at all costs)

With warmer weather here, people all over are gearing up for poolside gatherings, beach vacations, and some good ol’ fashioned sun-soaking. The sun just seems to make us feel good, and rightly so. The sun is necessary for all human life. Without the warming rays of this massive star, life on this planet would cease to exist. Every type of living creature, including mankind, needs sunlight in order to live. Humans have been exposed to the sun since the beginning of time.

Is sun exposure good or bad? 

However, for more than 30 years, doctors, beauty experts, health officials, and skincare product manufacturers have sent out strong warnings regarding the dangers of the sun. We have been told to avoid any sun exposure without sunscreen because the rays will damage our skin and cause skin cancer.

Much of this hype has been due to the fact that skin cancer is on the rise. In 2002, over 50 percent of the 1.2 million cases of cancer in the United States were skin cancers, and 10,000 of these cases were fatal. These statistics have injected a rampant fear of the sun into many unassuming people, who have decided to stay clear of the burning ball of light at all costs. This, however, has caused problems of its own.

Does the sun cause cancer? 

To say that the sun causes cancer is not entirely correct. It is actually a great oversimplification of the truth. Well-researched and documented studies show that vitamin D optimization may actually prevent up to 16 different types of cancer.

Because of our fear of the sun, we have become a nation deficient in vitamin D. This deficiency in itself has led to a surge in a number of debilitating conditions such as depression, obesity, hypertension, and cancer. In addition, 60 percent of people with diabetes are vitamin D deficient, and studies show very low levels of vitamin D in children, women, and the elderly.

It appears, to at least some extent, that the dangers of the sun have been overemphasized while the benefits have been minimized. Dr. William Grant conducted a study that revealed that 30 percent of cancer deaths could be prevented each year if vitamin D levels were higher. That’s right: the very thing that so many hide from may not cause cancer, but rather protect from it.

Furthermore, vitamin D is also essential for a number of healthy bodily functions, such as muscle strength, cardiovascular health, strong teeth, optimal blood pressure, and a healthy immune system — to name just a few.

Does sun exposure cause melanoma? 

Melanoma has been on the rise, along with sunscreen use.

Good rays, bad rays

In order to completely understand the risk that the sun poses to our health, we must better comprehend the sun itself. The sun gives us two main types of wavelengths — UVA and UVB. While both can cause tanning and burning, UVB rays are necessary for the skin to make vitamin D, while UVA rays penetrate the skin deeply and can cause severe free radical damage including wrinkles. They also destroy vitamin D.

It only takes a little sun to make vitamin D

To encourage your body to produce vitamin D, you don’t need to spend countless hours in the hot sun and you most definitely don’t want to burn. Here are a few general guidelines to follow to help you get the most from the sun’s helpful rays while staying safe from those that can cause damage.

  • If you are just getting out in the sun for the first time in the season and have white skin, limit yourself to about 15 minutes between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • If you burn frequently, limit your time to a few minutes each day until your skin begins to slightly darken.
  • Once you have a nice tan, you can increase the time you spend in the sun.
  • Use a moisturizing non-SPF lotion to help keep your skin soft. If you use an SPF lotion it will block out the beneficial UVB rays. Organic coconut oil is a great option.
  • After your initial exposure, spend the rest of the day in the shade or covered up.
  • If you have to be in the sun for an extended period of time, use an SPF 15 non-toxic sunscreen.

Is sunscreen bad for you? 

When you slather on sunscreen that does not offer natural UVA protection, you are doing nothing short of wasting your money. Sunscreen that blocks UVB rays and does not protect from UVA rays and will work against you by limiting vitamin D production and damaging skin.

There are two main types of sunscreens — chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens prevent sunburn when they absorb UVA rays, but can increase the risk of cancer. Physical sunscreens contain inert minerals that reflect ultraviolet rays away from the skin. They are considered safe and effective.

Most of what you find in the store are chemical sunscreens, which may contain from three to six of the following active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octinoxate, and octocrylene.

Almost all products contain avobenzone – the agent for filtering out skin-damaging UVA rays. There is some concern, however, that this substance may break down when exposed to the sun. Other chemicals, such as octocrylene, are often added as stabilizers.

Dangers of using sunscreen

Sunscreen contains several chemicals that get stored in the body.
Sunscreen contains several chemicals that get stored in the body.

Studies done on a number of the chemicals found in commercial sunscreen indicate that they may disrupt hormones. Animal research also suggests that oxybenzone (found in 80 percent of chemical sunscreen) and octinoxate are toxic to reproductive systems and can interfere with development. While more testing is yet to be done, many are concerned that the high level of toxicity found in these active ingredients may undermine any benefit that this type of sunscreen offers. Like personal care products, sunscreens penetrate the skin and deserve special attention. Studies done at the University of Zurich found sunscreen chemicals in 85 percent of milk samples. Four of the chemicals that were found are commonly used in American sunscreens.

Avoid sunscreens with retinol

Sunscreens that contain vitamin A, or retinol, may actually speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when sunlight is present, according to a 2009 study done by the National Toxicology Program. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a study in 2011 that concluded the same thing. Since this time, consumer advocates have been urging the FDA to restrict the use of vitamin A in topical products.

Avoid spray-on sunscreens

Vitamin A and toxic chemicals are not the only things you have to worry about in sunscreen. In July of 2012, a very scary incident occurred for one man who applied aerosol sunscreen and immediately walked over to his barbecue. Upon lighting the grill, he sustained second-degree burns, because the sunscreen had not had time to set into his skin, and the propellant chemicals didn’t have adequate time to evaporate. According to news reports, the spray also left a vapor trail that added insult to injury. He caught on fire immediately after lighting the grill.

Banana Boat, the makers of the aerosol sunscreen in question, voluntarily recalled their product after hearing of the incident. The company cited a problem with the spray valve as being the reason for the accident.

“The spray valve opening on the affected products dispenses more than is typical in the industry for continuous sun care sprays. As a result, the product is taking longer to dry on the skin than is typical with other continuous sprays. If a consumer comes into contact with a flame or spark prior to complete drying of the product on the skin, there is a potential for the product to ignite.”

Mothers of young kids, and many other people of all ages, love the ease of application that aerosol offers, as well as the fact that spray sunscreen makes it easy to cover all of the hard-to-reach spots.

Dangers of aerosol sunscreens

Spray-on sunscreen contains chemicals that get into your lungs.
Spray-on sunscreen contains chemicals that get into your lungs.

Besides the fact that aerosols are highly flammable, there are more concerns with this type of sun protection. First, the Food and Drug Administration has mounting concerns that aerosol sunscreens can be inhaled during application. Both the propellant chemicals and the nanoparticles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (found safe in other forms) worry scientists, who say that these particles are easily ingested.

Although the particles can’t be absorbed through the skin, they can accumulate in different organs in the body once they are ingested. Because they are so small, they can move freely throughout the body, causing problems at the sub-cellular level. What is worse is that the body can’t get rid of them.

Each time the sunscreen nozzle is pressed, these particles are transported some 20 feet in all directions, landing on everything in sight. Everyone in the danger zone gets to breathe in the dangerous particles, even if they don’t want to. Use caution with loose powder sunscreens as well for the same reason; they contain particles that could end up in the lungs and cause damage.

There are presently no recommendations or guidelines set by the U.S. government regarding the size and characteristics of nanoparticles to protect from the sun and be safe to users at the same time. As with other personal care products, this is a “caveat emptor” circumstance where consumers must do their own research with regard to safety.

How to stay safe in the sun

Playing it safely requires forethought. Obviously, the sun is a very important part of health, one that should not be ignored. However, there are rules:

  • Playing or laying all day in the hot sun without any protection and getting burned to a crisp must be avoided at all costs.
  • Be especially careful with young children; avoid sunburn as much as possible.
  • Try to stay in the shade between the hours of 12 and 3 p.m. — this is when the sun’s rays are the hottest and can cause the most damage.
  • Wear lightweight, white clothing if possible, and a hat if you have to be in the sun for long periods of time.
  • Avoid tanning beds.
  • Never tan through a window — you will get all UVA rays and none of the beneficial UVB rays.

Check the label on your favorite sunscreen 

The Environmental Working Group urges us not to use sunscreen as a tool to prolong time spent in the sun, and to check our skin often for irregular moles or other suspicious spots. Being choosy about the type of sunscreen that you use for yourself and your family is critical. The best is one made from natural ingredients that protect you from damaging rays, don’t break down on the skin, and allow at least some penetration of UVB rays for the production of vitamin D.Visit The Environmental Working Group for a list of safe sunscreens which contain non-toxic ingredients and offer protection from damaging UVA rays without compromising UVB exposure.

Remember: Enjoy the sun, respect the sun and know what is in your sunscreen. For natural sun protection, try coconut oil. Coconut oil has been shown to have between 7-10 SPF and is a great moisturizer for the skin.
-Susan Patterson, Certified Health Coach, and Master Gardener

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.

Read more

11 Coconut Oil Fixes That Work

Honestly, it would be easier to list the problems that coconut oil can’t solve rather than the ones it can. Keep a jar of this all-purpose oil in your bathroom and your kitchen to help with everything from dry elbows to halitosis. If you’re still not sold on coconut oil, check out our list for just a few of life’s problems that are eliminated by this tropical treasure. 

Moisturize dry skin

Perhaps one of the most well-researched and famous uses of coconut oil is its ability to replenish dry skin. This oil is a nourishing powerhouse and is full of beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants that work to heal your skin, boost collagen production, and prevent issues such as eczema and rosacea. 

Prevent razor bumps

Coconut oil works as a naturally hydrating shaving cream that will give you a close shave while penetrating your skin to prevent rashes and shaving cuts. Be cautious when shaving during a  shower as the heat from the water can cause the coconut oil to become incredibly slippery. 

Remove stubborn makeup

Many commercial makeup removers are full of harsh ingredients that damage and dry out your skin. This wonder oil works to remove even the most stubborn waterproof mascara with just a few swipes. Be sure to rinse and cleanse your face following use as too much oil can clog your pores. 

Cook at high heat

Because of its high saturated fat content, coconut oil is one of the all-time best oils for cooking things at high heat. Unlike other unhealthy oils such as vegetable and safflower, it retains its structure and will not break down during cooking.

Trim your waistline

If you eat a healthy, whole foods diet and exercise regularly but still can’t lose those last few pounds, coconut oil could help you cross the line to your weight loss goal. It has been shown to be an effective tool for cutting down on excess visceral fat along with a healthy lifestyle. It may also help reduce hunger, which can lead to a lower calorie intake and subsequent weight loss. 

Reduce inflammation

Chronic inflammation can be dangerous and severely debilitating. Adding coconut oil to your diet helps reduce this inflammation and markers of oxidative stress. 

Restore shine to wood furniture

Over time, wood furniture can get grimy and dusty, and no amount of cleaning seems able to restore its shine. Instead of purchasing commercial wood polish with dangerous chemicals and weird-smelling fragrances, simply place a little coconut oil on a soft cloth and apply in a circular motion. It will soak into your furniture and leave it gleaming!

Act as a carrier oil

Essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin since they can cause burning and rashes and are too potent on their own. Combine them with a gentle carrier oil such as coconut oil to receive all of the health benefits of both. 

Restore lifeless hair

If you use a lot of heat on your hair such as blow dryers and flat irons, you are probably accustomed to dealing with brittle ends and dry, lifeless locks. Lauric acid, the main fatty acid in coconut oil, has been shown to penetrate the hair shaft more effectively than other oils that simply sit on the surface. Use a coconut oil mask every few weeks to give your thirsty hair the moisture it craves.

Eliminate bad breath

Oil pulling, or swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 20 minutes before spitting it out, can improve your oral health and eliminate bad breath once and for all. Since coconut oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties, this practice can also help clear away germs in the mouth, prevent gum infection, and even leave your teeth whiter. 

Act as a mild sunscreen

Though coconut oil won’t keep you from burning if you spend hours in the sun, it provides about 20% protection from the sun’s UV rays and can be an adequate daily sunscreen for normal activities. Always be sure to cover up in the bright sun and use a higher SFP mineral sunscreen when spending significant time outdoors. 

Note: Always use unrefined organic coconut oil.

Susan Patterson, Certified Health Coach, and Master Gardener

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

The 5 Best Foods to Feed Your Brain

Just as the foods you eat influence your heart, kidneys, liver and all other major organs, your brain is also impacted by what you put in your body. Treat it right, and you may be able to stave off future neurological complications, including the development of neurodegenerative diseases.

Study finds link between diet and brain size

If you look at the available research, there are numerous studies that show a clear connection between a nutrient-rich diet and brain size, as well as brain function. This is particularly the case when eating a Mediterranean diet.

This month, a new study was published in Neurology. After studying 4,213 people in the Netherlands, it was found that diet may have a profound effect on the brain. The average age of these participants was 66 years old (none of the participants were living with dementia at the time of the study).  

After filling out a questionnaire based on their intake of 400 items in the past month, the researchers focused their attention on diet quality. More specifically, they examined the participants’ intake of fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grain products, nuts, fish, dairy, tea, unsaturated fats and oils, processed and red meat, alcohol, salt, and sugary beverages.

The participants were then each ranked based on the quality of their diet. They were given a score between zero and 14. The average score was seven. Following this analysis, all participants underwent an MRI scan. Measuring a number of metrics, the average brain volume was found to be 932 milliliters.

After adjusting for other variables (sex, education, age, smoking, and physical activity), it was found that a higher diet score was linked to a larger brain volume. In previous studies, those with a greater brain volume were shown to have higher levels of cognition.

Overall, those who consumed a healthier diet had an average of two more milliliters of total brain volume in comparison to those who did not eat a healthy diet. To put this in perspective, a brain volume that is 3.6 millimeters smaller equates to one year of aging.

These five foods can help reduce brain shrinkage

The study above is not the first of its kind and it won’t be the last. In fact, past research shows that a diet rich in key vitamins, minerals, and fats can stop the brain from shrinking. In comparison, eating “junk food” has the opposite effect.

Starting today, consume more of the following five foods while maintaining a balanced, active lifestyle.

1. Wild-caught fish

Unlike farmed fish, wild-caught fish is not as heavily exposed to toxins, antibiotics, and other harmful chemicals. Known to offer the body and mind essential omega-3 fatty acids, fish may also reduce brain shrinkage. In one key study, it was found that adults who took fish oil, who had not yet developed Alzheimer’s, experienced less brain shrinkage and cognitive decline in comparison to those not taking fish oil.

2. Dark leafy greens

It was recently found that kale and other dark leafy green vegetables may help keep the brain up to 11 years younger. As published in Neurology, older people who ate at least one serving of leafy greens daily, experienced lower rates of decline on tests of thinking skills and memory. High in folate and B-12, these B-complex vitamins have been shown to reduce brain shrinkage across time.

3. Olive oil

A staple of the Mediterranean diet, quality olive oil has been shown to protect brain tissue. Not only has it been attributed to less brain shrinkage, but also healthier neurons. Loaded with anti-inflammatory and antioxidants properties, olive oil is also believed to reduce the risk of genetic mutations in the brain.

4. Nuts

Nuts provide your body with a range of key nutrients, including healthy fats and vitamin E (which is high in hazelnuts and almonds). Walnuts are one of the top nuts for brain health, and just one-quarter of a cup provides nearly 100 percent of your daily recommended DHA (an omega- 3 fatty acid found in the human brain, skin, retina and cerebral cortex). Brazil nuts are also highly recommended.

5. Blueberries

When it comes to inflammation, blueberries can act as a natural line of defense. Also, based on their high concentration of antioxidants, these little nutritional powerhouses are believed to protect brain cells from damage. The research shows that the regular consumption of blueberries is linked to increased blood flow to the brain. It has also been found that blueberries help protect against (and in some cases reverse) cognitive loss due to brain injury, stroke, and normal aging.

When it comes to your neurological health, it is also important to note that there appears to be a significant connection between heart and brain health. This means that you should address and properly manage any cardiovascular conditions, including hypertension and diabetes.

On that note, I’m going to leave you with this quote from T. Colin Campbell, one of my favorite American biochemists. He is also a nutrition educator and once said, “Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. All parts are interconnected.”

Feed your body and mind what it needs, and it will help you take care of the rest!

– The Backyard Vitality Team

 

Science Says: Coffee Could Help You Live Longer

No one needs to be convinced of the benefits of coffee. It jolts your brain into action in and is the main way that humanity functions during those early mornings (or late nights) spent working away. Caffeine is the lifeblood of culture, and the good news for coffee drinkers, it may actually help save your life too. Recent research explores the potential cancer-related benefits of coffee and gives us all just another reason to sip this liquid gold daily.

One recent study looked at “the anti‐proliferation and anti‐migration effects of six potentially active types of coffee compounds, including kahweol acetate, cafestol, caffeine, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, and trigonelline hydrochloride…using human prostate cancer cells.” Essentially, the aim of this research was to determine the effectiveness of coffee against prostate cancer. 

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death for U.S. men. Though you may not think of it, there is a high possibility that you or someone you know could be affected by this rampant disease. Fortunately, this new research has produced promising results and could be the key to slowing down and even preventing the development of these cancer cells. 

The study, published in The Prostate found that the synergistic combination of kahweol acetate and cafestol had an inhibiting effect on the proliferation and migration of prostate cancer cells. Plus, they also noticed that this combination had a unique ability to actually induce the death of cancer cells. As if you needed any more reasons to drink coffee, right?

Other benefits of coffee

Can improve energy levels

Anyone who has ever had a cup of coffee could attest to this fact. Even the smell has a singular ability to wake you up and get you going like nothing else. Science backs this up too, showing just how effective appropriate amounts of caffeine are for stimulating your mind and increasing energy levels. 

Great source of antioxidants

Coffee can help eliminate free radicals in the body and may be the greatest source of antioxidants in the Western diet. Since many people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, which are the most common source of antioxidants, coffee has taken the top place as the most frequently consumed antioxidant-rich substance.

Can protect your brain

Drinking coffee could help protect your brain from age-related mental diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. In fact, studies show that coffee drinkers have up to a 65% lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s. 

Help fight depression

Coffee has been shown to be an effective deterrent for depression. This is a serious mental disorder that often requires treatment and medication; however, coffee could help counteract the effects of mild-to-moderate depression and act as a preventative tool.

You could live longer

Because coffee intake has been linked to a reduction in a number of conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and kidney disease, a daily dose of coffee could help extend your life and keep you healthy. 

Warning

As we always say, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Too much caffeine can lead to an increase in anxiety, raised blood pressure, negative cardiovascular effects in compromised individuals, and insomnia when ingested too late in the day. Though standards vary, it is usually safe to drink between three and four cups of joe each day. 

Remember, it is never a good idea to rely solely on caffeine to get you through the day. Make an effort to cultivate a healthy sleep schedule and bedtime routine where you’re getting at least eight hours of sleep. Drink plenty of water, exercise daily, and strive to live healthier wherever you can. 

A note about quality:

Though it should be obvious by now, a sugar-laden caramel frappuccino from Starbucks isn’t the same thing as a cup of freshly brewed coffee with a splash of half and half or oat milk. The former is full of nasty processed ingredients, loaded with sugar, with barely any traces of actual coffee. The latter is loaded with heart-healthy antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients that wake up your mind and set you on the path of productivity. If you need a little extra sweetness, try adding a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup.  

-Susan Patterson, Certified Health Coach, and Master Gardener

Eat Grass Fed Beef to Reduce Your Heart Disease Risk

The old saying, “You are what you eat,” is true and also accurate is the saying, “You are what you eat has eaten.” Let me break it down for you. If you consume fish, chicken, beef, or other meat, how that fish or meat was raised and what it has eaten during its lifetime has a direct impact on your health. 

That’s right. Take beef, for example; cattle that are allowed to free-range on grass, move around under the sun, and live a stress-free life are much healthier than beef that comes from cows raised on industrial farms and fed things they should never eat. Let’s take a closer look.

The first thing that we need to do is set straight some terminology as it pertains to various types of beef.

The difference between grass-fed beef and grain-fed beef

Cows are naturally meant to graze on grass in wide-open pastures. However, with the increase in demand for meat, farmers began to feed cattle grain-based feed made from corn and soy. 

The difference between grass-fed beef and grass-finished beef

Most of the cattle raised by responsible farmers graze in open pastures during the warm months, but that is not an option in the colder months when there is snow on the ground. During the winter, farmers feed their cattle feed containing corn and soy. However, since they graze for the majority of the year, they may be labeled grass-fed. 

Beef that is from a cow raised entirely on grass will say “grass-finished” on the label. These animals will graze on grass during the summer and eat alfalfa in the winter. This term is not regulated by the USDA.

Is grass-fed beef also organic?

Organic and grass-fed or grass-finished beef are two completely different things. The USDA regulates the term “organic.” To be certified organic, farmers have to complete an onerous certification process that can take up to three years. Organic beef needs to be raised on a farm that does not use pesticides, genetic engineering, or sewer sludge.

In the case of beef, you can purchase organic, grain-fed beef. What this means is that cows from an organic farm were given organic feed, which includes organic corn or soy-based products. In addition, animals raised on an organic farm must live in a way that protects the welfare of the animals.

Choosing the best grass-fed beef

When shopping for grass-fed beef, look for meat that has the American Grassfed Association (AGA) stamp of approval. The AGA is a trustworthy group that guarantees that animals do not receive hormones, antibiotics, or grains.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.” By his standards, the commercial meat industry in the United States points to grim flaws in our national character. However, there is good news. More and more farmers and ranchers are choosing to graze their cows, bison, sheep, and goats on ranges, where they feed on pasture grasses…just as nature intended.

As mentioned, grass-fed animals are treated humanely and fed only natural grasses, and as a result, the meat and milk that comes from these animals has significant health benefits. Most animals commercially raised for meat and dairy products in the United States come from Confined Animal Feeding Operations, also known as CAFOs. Animals that are raised in CAFOs often have no space to walk or move around at all. The stress and abuse of these conditions are truly horrifying, and many meat-eating Americans choose not to think about it, which only perpetuates the cycle of mistreatment.

Health benefits of grass-fed beef

Known as a nutritional powerhouse, grass-fed beef has numerous health benefits that make it well worth the extra you might have to pay.

  • Grass-fed beef helps balance blood sugar levels –  When you enjoy beef from cows that have grazed on grass, you reap the benefit of the fatty acid CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). This fatty acid has been found to reduce the risk of several diseases and conditions, including obesity and diabetes. In one randomized, double-blinded study, it was found that 37% of people given CLA had better insulin sensitivity when compared to those who were not given CLA. Insulin sensitivity helps to promote healthy blood sugar levels.
  • Grass-fed beef is a potential cancer fighter There are 16 different types of CLA. Each of them has a unique health benefit. In research studies, CLA has been found to be a cancer-fighting food. In one study that was published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, researchers discovered that women who had the highest levels of CLA in their diets also had a lower risk of breast cancer when compared to those without CLA in their diet.
  • Grass-fed beef can boost your immune systemGrass-fed beef is rich in bioavailable vitamin A that is vital for growth, reproduction, vision, and a healthy immune system. Heme iron, found in grass-fed beef, is also important for a strong immune system, sexual function, and the production of stomach acid. Beef from cows fed grass also contains B12 that helps keep nerves, blood cells, and DNA healthy. The vitamin K2 found in grass-fed beef is good for your heart, blood vessels, and bones.
  • Grass-fed beef can reduce the risk of heart disease – The CLA found in grass-fed beef has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. Because this type of meat contains less unhealthy fat than beef from cows fed grain, it can help promote a healthy heart. It also contains less dietary cholesterol, high levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and heart disease-fighting antioxidant vitamins, including vitamin E.

Grass-fed cows are happy and healthy cows

As stated earlier, cattle that are allowed to range freely on grass are generally happy cows that are not crammed into tight spaces where disease can run rampant. Almost 80% of antibiotics sold in the United States go to conventionally raised livestock like beef. Sadly, as the demand for meat skyrockets, farmers crowd animals into smaller and smaller spaces where they can get sick easily. Using antibiotics in meat causes antibiotic resistance in humans. Additionally, grain-fed cattle have acidic intestinal tracts that can cause issues like E. coli, which can be fatal in people who eat undercooked beef. 

According to Consumer Reports research: 

“One of the most significant findings of our research is that beef from conventionally raised cows was more likely to have bacteria overall, as well as bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, than beef from sustainably raised cows. We found a type of antibiotic-resistant S. aureus bacteria called MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus), which kills about 11,000 people in the U.S. every year, on three conventional samples (and none on sustainable samples). And 18 percent of conventional beef samples were contaminated with superbugs — the dangerous bacteria that are resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics — compared with just 9 percent of beef from samples that were sustainably produced. We know that sustainable methods are better for the environment and more humane to animals. But our tests also show that these methods can produce ground beef that poses fewer public health risks.”

Raising cows as they should be raised is good for the planet earth

Not only is grass-fed beef good for your health, but it is also good for the environment. Research shows that traditional grass-based beef production can help decrease greenhouse gas emissions, create a diverse ecosystem, and improve the quality of run-off water from pastures where cows graze. In short, raising cattle as they were meant to live creates a much smaller footprint, and unlike conventional cattle farming in tight quarters, it brings much good to the earth.

Keep in mind that moderate consumption of meat is recommended. A good rule of thumb is to treat meat like your side, not your main dish.

-Susan Patterson, Certified Health Coach, and Master Gardener

This Secret Silver Solution Fights Bacteria and Boosts Immunity

The human body is an amazing machine, capable of self-regulation and internal healing. Plus, it is loaded with natural ways to prevent sickness and disease. Eating a healthy diet full of fresh fruits, veggies, healthy fat, and proteins gives the body great fuel to work with. There are a few additional ways to supercharge your immune system, and this powerful silver solution is one of them. Colloidal silver has long been used to fight the growth of bacteria and unwanted microorganisms — even the simple practice of dropping a silver coin into a jug of milk to prevent it from spoiling. Similarly, silver particles can be used to disinfect unsafe drinking water. It was used in antibiotic medications prior to the 1940s when modern drugs became patented and popularized.

What is colloidal silver?

Colloidal silver is simply distilled water with nanoparticles of silver added. It is created by placing strips of pure elemental silver into the water and applying a small electric current. The silver releases tiny particles into the water. This mixture can then be consumed, inhaled, used topically, or as a suppository.

Colloidal silver benefits

Silver is naturally found in small amounts in soil and food, and when used in a concentrated solution, it has many health benefits.

Give your immune system a boost with colloidal silver

Many people swear by colloidal silver’s ability to fight the common cold and the flu. The metal disarms a wide range of disease-causing microorganisms and encourages the healing of inflamed tissues. It’s no surprise that hospitals use catheters and dressings that are impregnated with silver to prevent infection.

Many viruses fear colloidal silver

Several serious viruses can be warded off by colloidal silver, including HIV, pneumonia, herpes, shingles, hepatitis, and warts. This is particularly exciting because modern medicine has no solution for viruses.

Colloidal silver is a natural antibiotic

The most celebrated use of colloidal silver is as a natural antibiotic. One researcher documented that over 650 different disease-causing microorganisms could be destroyed within a short period of time thanks to exposure to tiny amounts of silver. More recent research has shown that it is even able to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

The reason colloidal silver is so effective against bacteria is that it destroys important enzymes that protect pathogens from oxidation. It is even able to specifically seek out bad bacteria because its electric charge attracts the negatively charged bacteria.

For this application, colloidal silver can be consumed in an eyedropper, used in a neti pot, or sprayed directly into the nose.

Colloidal silver works wonders on skin

Colloidal silver can be used to stimulate the healing of skin conditions, wounds, and infections. Try putting one or two drops into the eyes to treat pinkeye, apply two to five drops directly onto skin conditions and injuries, or use as a rinse for gum disease. Other conditions that can be helped include ringworm, thrush, psoriasis, and eczema.

Colloidal silver is an infection fighter

Since colloidal silver can destroy so many different types of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, it is very effective against ear infections, which can be caused by unidentified microorganisms. Similarly, sinus infections caused by either bacteria or viruses can benefit from the inhalation of a colloidal silver spray. This may also help fight allergies and asthma. In addition, colloidal silver can be used on fungal infections. It can be applied directly to affected nails, or consumed orally with a spoonful of aloe vera, to fight candida yeast overgrowth.

Ease digestive distress with colloidal silver

Colloidal silver is perfect for gastrointestinal conditions such as traveler’s diarrhea or food poisoning. For this purpose, most experts recommend swallowing a teaspoon of colloidal silver a few times a day.

Types of colloidal silver

There are three types of colloidal silver, which are considered beneficial in varying degrees. Ionic silver is the least expensive to produce and only contains silver ions, not actual nanoparticles. Silver protein contains larger silver particles suspended in gelatin and water.

These cheaper varieties are not considered as effective as true colloidal silver, which does not contain any additives and is labeled with a definite measurement of silver nanoparticles in milligrams per liter (mg/L) or parts per million (ppm). Experts recommend choosing a brand that contains ten parts per million and has the smallest possible particle size.

How to use colloidal silver safely

Many mainstream sources have popularized the notion that colloidal silver is dangerous. Natural health experts maintain that discounting its effectiveness is a way to protect the patents and profit interests of the pharmaceutical industry.

A few cases of severe side effects have been noted — prolonged use of large amounts of a crudely produced colloidal silver can result in a strange and rare condition called argyria, where the skin turns blue. Colloidal silver can also interact with prescription medications and occasionally cause allergic reactions.

This is why it’s important to purchase high-quality colloidal silver and use only small amounts for a limited length of time. Holistic physician Dr. Josh Axe recommends using just one to two drops for most applications, or a maximum of 10 drops in some cases. Daily use should never extend past 14 days.

Popular natural health expert Sarah Ballantyne maintains that colloidal silver should not be swallowed, but rather should only be applied topically, or at most, used for gargling. Others suggest that the digestive system can be bypassed by nebulizing and inhaling colloidal silver, which can be achieved using a small spray bottle. This method allows the tiny silver particles to enter the lungs and go directly into the bloodstream.

You can also use colloidal silver gel and take a good whiff

If you don’t have a nebulizer, it is recommended that you use a colloidal silver gel and rub it on the inside of your nose and towards the nasal cavity. After this, inhale quickly through your nose to activate the gel. Another way to encourage the silver particles to enter the bloodstream directly is to hold the liquid in the mouth and allow the ultra-thin tissues in the cheeks and gums to absorb the colloids. The safety of taking oral colloidal silver is a contested issue. Before you consider using colloidal silver, remember to consult a trusted practitioner to ensure that your personal situation and health are taken into account.

Are you ready to take prevention and immune-boosting to the next level?

-The Backyard Vitality Team

NEVER Cook with These Dangerous Oils

There’s a lot of rumor, speculation, and misinformation surrounding the topic of cooking oils. We rely on them every single day to lubricate our frying pan, bolster our marinades, baste our roasts and dress our salads. And yet, the majority of us know next to nothing about them. Typically, if you happen to strike up a conversation about cooking oils with someone, it’ll conclude with them swearing by one particular oil, which they use in almost all their dishes. Ask them why they swear by this oil, however, and they’ll likely feed you a series of rumors and second-hand information which justifies why that particular oil is better than the rest.

Ask them about important aspects of that oil, such as smoke point, oxidation, and rancidification, and they’ll probably look profoundly confused or quickly change topics. Go easy on them — it’s not really their fault. Choosing the right cooking oil or fat for a given task is a very difficult process, and requires an in-depth look at a range of different attributes of that oil. And because oils are such an important part of our everyday lives, I’d like to guide you through everything you need to know, so you can confuse even more of your friends with your know-how and, more importantly, safeguard your health.

The two types of cooking oil

Any given oil can fall within one of two groups of fats: saturated and unsaturated. Knowing the type of fat your cooking oil is can help in the process of deciding whether it’s actually good for your health and if it’s the right oil for a given form of food preparation.

Saturated fats are the simplest, most dependable of the two fat groups. They have simple bond structures, and for this reason, are less likely to undergo a chemical reaction when heat is applied. This makes them the more stable of the two fats, and they’re therefore often a better choice for medium to high-heat cooking. One easy way to tell whether an oil has a high saturated fat content is if it turns solid at room temperature.

Here’s a list of common, primarily saturated fat-based oils you’re likely to see on the supermarket of health food shelves:

  • Butter (technically not cooking oil, but many people use butter for cooking purposes)
  • Chicken fat
  • Coconut oil
  • Ghee (clarified butter)
  • Lard (pork fat)
  • Palm kernel oil
  • Tallow (beef fat)

You’ll notice that, with the exception of coconut oil and palm kernel oil, the majority of saturated fats are from animal sources.

Unsaturated fats are, unfortunately, a little bit more complex than their simpler, more carefree saturated counterparts. Unsaturated fats can be further broken down into three sub-groups: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans unsaturated. Popular or common unsaturated fats include the following:

  • Avocado oil
  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Hemp oil
  • Olive oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Various nut oils (walnut, almond, etc.)

Before I go any further, let me do you a huge favor and tell you to throw out any canola, corn, soybean, or sunflower oils you might have sitting around. Despite what many outdated health advisors and websites would have you believe, these oils are bad for your health! The reasoning behind these advisories and websites condemning other oils is their high saturated fat content, however as you probably know by now, saturated fats are actually very beneficial to our health. Even the government and mainstream media are starting to grudgingly concede that they may have gotten it wrong all these years.

Now that you’ve vanquished your health-degrading canola, corn, soybean, and sunflower oils, let’s continue. The three unsaturated fat groupings are based on their molecular structure — monounsaturated fats have only one double bond, polyunsaturated have multiple double bonds, and trans unsaturated fats have multiple bonds which have been chemically and artificially altered through the process of hydrogenation.

This may all sound like technical mumbo jumbo to you, but it’s important that you learn the differences. Why is it important? Well, for starters, monounsaturated fats are much more stable than polyunsaturated fats due to their simpler bond structure, meaning they’re generally better suited to high heat cooking. Next, trans unsaturated fats are just plain nasty, being the diabolical creation of the fast-food industry, and always found in foods containing partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oil. Avoid these foods at all cost, if you value your health!

The smoke point of cooking oil

After the complexities of the previous section, you’ll be pleased to know that the concept of a smoke point is an easy one to wrap your head around. Simply put, the smoke point of an oil or fat is the temperature at which it starts to produce smoke when heated. I told you it was simple!

But, while this is a simple concept, the 99 percent of people who use cooking oils likely have no idea what the smoke point of their oil is. They’d do well to find out, as an oil which has reached it’s smoke point can rapidly become very damaging to your health.

When you’re cooking with an oil or fat and it reaches its smoke point, it begins to break down and transforms into acrolein. Acrolein is one of the detrimental chemicals found in cigarette smoke and is a known carcinogen (cancer-causing compound). Therefore, knowing the smoke point of your cooking oil and staying below it can prevent you from breathing in carcinogenic fumes — probably something you want to look into.

The following graph provides a convenient list of common oils in relation to their smoke point. You might want to consider printing it off and sticking it to your kitchen wall — a little unsightly, but it could be instrumental in reducing your risk of cancer.

 

7.-Smoke-Point-of-Cooking-Oils
(Photo courtesy: Paleo Hacks)

The (U) next to some oils and the (R) next to others signifies unrefined and refined, respectively. As you can see, the process of refining an oil makes it more stable and therefore more resistant to heat, however, it also generally removes a lot of the vitamins and nutrients found in the unrefined versions of these oils and fats.

After seeing this graph for the first time, I confess that I was somewhat dismayed to see my good friend butter at the bottom end of the spectrum. With a smoke point of only 150 degrees Celsius, it certainly isn’t fit for some of the high-heat cooking I usually use it for. But it’s revelations like these that make it all the more important to learn about the oils and fats we’re cooking with.

Cooking oil oxidation

Alright, so now you’re familiar with the smoke point of your favorite cooking oils. Excellent. Arguably even more important than the smoke point, however, is the oxidative stability of your oils or fats. Oxidative stability is determined by an oil’s resistance to oxidation, the process of which causes the fat molecule of your oil to lose a hydrogen atom and transform into a diabolical free radical.

Free radicals, in case you’re not familiar with them already, are one of the great enemies of the human body. They attack our bodies at the cellular level, speeding up the process of aging and dramatically increasing our risk of developing a range of different diseases, cancer included.

For this reason, choosing an oil that has solid oxidative stability, or is resistant to oxidation, is definitely a good thing. One thing to be aware of is that just because a certain oil or fat has a high smoke point, doesn’t mean it has a high oxidative resistance. In most cases, it’s exactly the opposite, so there’s a bit of a trade-off, unfortunately.

How to get the most out of your cooking oil

After reading through the above, you’re probably a little bit frustrated to learn how many variables there are governing the quality and use of oil. Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut winner, as an oil that has a high smoke point may be prone to oxidation and therefore become rancid easily. Likewise, an oil that is packed with nutrients and is resistant to oxidation may have a very low smoke point, and therefore only be useful for low heat cooking.

For this reason, it’s good to have a range of oils available, so that you have one for every possible culinary occasion. Also, to help you along, I’ve compiled a list of things you can do to get the most out of your oil and ensure you enjoy all of its health benefits and none of its potentially damaging effects:

  • Antioxidants: unless you’re only doing high-heat cooking (such as stir-frying and grilling), choose oils that are high in antioxidants. These compounds, found in oils such as avocado, olive, and coconut, work against the oxidative damage of free radicals and prevent things like heat, air, and light exposure from making your oil go rancid.
  • Light: ultraviolet wavelengths from the sun increase the oxidation rate of your oil. For this reason, only buy oils that come in dark or opaque bottles, and store them in a dark place to reduce their rate of rancidification (yup, that’s a word!). This rule doesn’t always apply, particularly in the case of coconut oil which is highly resistant to oxidation and doesn’t really go rancid too easily.

  • Re-use: don’t store and reuse your oil — every time you do, its smoke point lowers significantly.
  • Temperature: be aware of your oil’s smoke point, and stay below it! Your food will taste better, and you won’t be breathing in carcinogenic compounds in the process.

It’s a lot to take in, but do your research, and your health will thank you for it.

-The Backyard Vitality Team