fb

MENU

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

4 Very Good Reasons to Add Baking Soda to Your Morning Coffee

Even the best “high quality” dark roasts can make an acidic cup of coffee, though cheaper blends are notorious for being overly acidic. And acid can be hard on a sensitive stomach, particularly if you enjoy more than one cup of coffee a day. So how does baking soda improve an acidic cup of Joe?

Even the best coffee beans produce acid

Beyond using it as a natural cleaning agent to remove stains for your coffee pot, some believe that baking soda can actually improve the taste of coffee. It’s no secret that coffee can be a tad acidic. But for many, giving up their morning cup of coffee is not an option. And truthfully, with science continuing to study coffee and the many benefits it provides, it’s easy to see why coffee lovers would never want to give up their morning cup of brew. Yet, if drinking coffee is contributing to excess stomach acid and causing you digestive upset, then you’re probably thinking you’d be better off without it. Think again.

According to Harvard Health, coffee drinking is associated with a lower risk of depression among women, a lower risk of fatal prostate cancer among men, and a lower risk of stroke among both men and women. Human and animal studies show some protection against Alzheimer’s disease and a lower risk for some cancers like estrogen-negative breast cancer.

Coffee is fairly acidic on a pH scale

Coffee has a pH of five, and baking soda can help neutralize it.
Coffee has a pH of five, and baking soda can help neutralize it.

Acidity is something that’s measured on the pH scale, which uses 7.0 as an indicator of neutrality. So, numbers under seven as are naturally more acidic than numbers above seven. For instance, according to Science Buddies, battery acid is zero. Clearly, that’s highly acidic. Lemon juice registers at about two, and black coffee registers at a pH of about five. But rather than kicking your “acidic” coffee habit — and there are clearly good reasons to keep drinking coffee — why not neutralize the acid in your brew?

Helps neutralize an acidic cup of coffee

In water, baking soda is mildly alkaline and can be used to neutralize the acid. That’s why, when it dissolves in water, it works well as a natural antacid remedy. Its alkalinity is also why it makes a great deodorizer — by countering slightly acidic scent molecules. On the pH scale baking soda registers as a nine.

That means by simply adding a little baking soda to your coffee you could neutralize the acid to avoid stomach upset. There’s two way you can do that. You can add about a quarter teaspoon to your coffee beans for a pot of coffee, or you can add just a pinch (small pinch) to your cup of coffee.

Helps acid reflux or GERD

Research shows that baking soda can counteract acid reflux.
Research shows that baking soda can counteract acid reflux.

Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee exacerbate gastroesophageal reflux according to a German study. However, coffee creates more reflux than simply caffeine added to water. This suggests that other components of coffee contribute to acid reflux. A small pinch of baking soda can help counteract acid reflux.

May help relieve gout

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation. It develops in some people who have high levels of uric acid in the blood. The acid can form painful needle-like crystals in a joint and cause severe episodes of pain, tenderness, redness, warmth, and swelling.

Due to baking soda’s pH neutralizing effects, it may help lower uric acid levels. According to GoutDiet.org baking soda introduced to the blood alkalinizes it, causing the uric acid structures to break up. Then, they can easily filter out the kidneys and expel through the urine. Add a pinch to your coffee or more as needed.  

If you suffer from ulcers, baking soda can help

Since baking soda neutralizes stomach acid, it can help make coffee drinking more bearable if you suffer from a stomach ulcer. Add a quarter to a half teaspoon to your coffee grounds.

Let’s break down baking soda

Most of the baking soda in America comes from Wyoming.
Most of the baking soda in America comes from Wyoming.

While most of us often keep a box of baking soda in the house for baking, as a deodorizer for the fridge, or as a natural cleaning alternative (and now for neutralizing acidic coffee), some still aren’t sure what exactly baking soda is. So, let’s break it down.

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a chemical salt that occurs naturally as the mineral nahcolite. This is a soft, colorless, or white carbonate mineral. Nahcolite was first described in 1928 when it was found in a lava tunnel at Mount Vesuvius, Italy. NaHCO3, as it’s known chemically, contains sodium (NA), hydrogen (H) and carbonate (CO).

Baking soda in North America

So, where does America get its baking soda from? Well, most baking soda in the U.S. comes from Green River, Wyoming. According to Arm & Hammer, the baking soda from Green River is mined from trona ore. Trona deposits were molded over four million years ago after the evaporation of great salt lakes in Wyoming. Trona also comes from Kenya, Egypt, Venezuela and the deserts of Central Asia. After it’s mined, it’s heated to make soda ash, which is then dissolved in water. When carbon dioxide bubbles under pressure through the solution, sodium bicarbonate is formed.

Side effects of baking soda

Now that you know all about baking soda, let’s talk about how to use it properly. Although larger quantities of baking soda have been used to remedy indigestion, in much the same way antacids are used, you can still go overboard and risk side effects. Drinking baking soda is like drinking saltwater. It’s extremely high in sodium and will raise your blood pressure. And too much sodium is linked to kidney and heart issues in healthy people.

And of course, too much baking soda in your coffee can leave you with a less than tasty cup that leaves you with a soapy taste in your mouth. Generally, to reduce the acidic nature of coffee, just a small pinch is all you need. Enjoy!

-Susan Patterson, Certified Health Coach, and Master Gardener

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 Simple Mineral Compound Could Save Your Life

You’ve likely heard of Epsom salts; a folk remedy used for generations to heal muscular aches and pains. Well, Epsom salt actually does have a long history of varied uses and benefits for everything from health and beauty to household cleaning and gardening. But while there may not be a lot of clinical trials to support health claims, many people swear by this remedy. So, why not try an Epsom salt bath yourself, as a natural way to relieve pain, de-stress and even soften your skin.

Read more

Ladies, Is Your Bra Wrecking Your Boobs?

As girls, we were taught to revere the bra. It symbolizes a rite of passage — that day when we can slip one on and take one step closer towards womanhood is an important day indeed. Most girls can’t wait to buy their first bra, not because it’s more comfortable (most of the time, it isn’t), but because it marks an important point in their lives. Beyond the symbolic value that bras represent, they also have a functional role in every woman’s life. Bras are seen as a necessary part of being female, providing stability and support and, so we’re told, preventing the development of saggy breasts over time. You likely don’t even give it any thought each day, beyond deliberating over which one you’ll use at the time: going for a run? Sports bra. Going into the office? Simple black or beige with no frills. Date night? The black lacy number, of course!

But what if you discovered that what you’ve been told about bras all your life was actually a lie?

New research says bras may be ruining your breasts

Bras may be hurting your health
Studies show significant differences between those who wear bras and those who don’t.

It turns out, not everyone takes the supposed benefits of bras for granted. Jean-Denis Rouillon, a professor of sports science at the University of Besançon in France, spent a whopping 15 years of his life studying the effect that bras have on the female body.

Professor Rouillon used a slide rule and calipers to carefully and precisely measure changes in breast features of hundreds of women between the ages of 18 and 35 over the course of 15 years. The results were groundbreaking. Rouillon found that women who never wore bras had nipples an average of 7 millimeters higher in relation to their shoulders each year than regular bra users. Professor Rouillon concluded that wearing a bra can actually contribute to back pain, and weaken the muscles that hold up breasts, making those who wear bras actually more likely to develop breast sag than those who don’t.

Many women who were involved in the study agree. A 32-year-old lady named Capucine, who was one of Rouillon’s volunteers, stated, “There have been multiple benefits to [not wearing a bra]: I breathe more easily, I carry myself better and I have less back pain.”

But this is just one study against a lifetime of popular consensus in favor of the hallowed bra. Should you consider throwing caution to the wind and burning all your bras? Here are a few more things to consider:

Bras can cut off blood circulation

Bras can cut off blood circulation
Bras may cut off your blood circulation.

Rouillon and his team discovered during their 15-year study that wearing bras for an extended period of time can cut off circulation around the midsection and ribcage. This is something that happens over a long period of time, such as several years of bra-wearing at least, but it’s fair to say that most of the female population will find themselves in this category. This anti-circulation effect can also negatively affect muscle development and health in the region of your breasts, which in turn can lead to saggy boobs. More on that later.

Bras can weaken your breast tissue

The figures don’t lie. And those figures showed that, on average, women who ditched their bras experienced a 0.3-inch lift in their nipples compared to those who continued to wrap their breasts in fabric and wire. Professor Rouillon concluded that this was due to the way constantly wearing bras can damage the delicate tissue of your breasts, causing them to lose tone and pertness. That framework of wires and cloth that’s advertised as the only way to keep your boobs comfortable and prevent them from sagging can actually signal to your body that your breasts no longer need to support themselves independently. The result is that your breast tissue may discontinue growing supportive tissues. Over time, it can become withered and lifeless.

Bras aren’t flexible

The thing with being a woman is, our bodies are always changing! They grow when we’re pregnant, shrink after breastfeeding, change in size according to how much weight we put on or lose, and can even adjust to our menstrual cycles. The problem is, your bra doesn’t change — it always stays the same size.

So if you aren’t constantly swapping out different sizes of bras to accommodate these changes, you could be damaging your breasts. Those changes in your breast size can actually diminish the elasticity of your skin in that area, meaning that you want to do everything you can to encourage them to re-grow supportive tissue and tighten up the skin once more. Bras don’t do that, especially if they’re constricting your boobs and preventing them from receiving enough rejuvenating blood, and telling your brain that more construction is needed in the area. This means that wearing a poorly-fitting bra can not only be painful, it can also contribute to sagging.

Bras can make your breast muscles wither

It turns out that your breasts do actually contain muscles! They’re called suspension muscles, and their role is to hold your boobs up and prevent them from succumbing to gravity. In conjunction with connective tissues called Cooper’s ligaments, these handy little numbers suspend the meaty part of your breasts on the chest wall and are therefore your primary defense against breast sag. And just like the rest of the muscles in your body, “If ya don’t use it, ya lose it.”

Well, “lose it” might be stretching the truth a little, but suffice it to say that if those breast-supporting suspension muscles aren’t being worked (i.e., by not being stuffed in a bra every day), they will stop growing. The result is withered breast muscles and subsequently saggy, possibly sore, breasts.

Incorrect bra size can hurt your head, back, and breasts

Bras can cause back pain
Wearing bras at an incorrect size can increase back and neck pain.

Surprisingly, many women are wearing the wrong size of bra. And it could be causing them all kinds of pain. Swiss lingerie company Triumph conducted a worldwide study of 10,000 women, finding that close to three-quarters of them were wearing the wrong size of bra for their breast size. That’s a lot of uncomfortable bras.

Beyond discomfort, these bras can actually create all manner of health issues for women. Richard Moore, a consultant osteopath and sports massage therapist in Nottingham, England, notes that “badly fitted bras that not only offer limited or no support but creating visible problems in posture, resulting in pain and tension.” In his practice, Moore has a badly fitted bra is a surefire way to develop back problems and neck complaints.

In addition, Moore says that traditional bras put too much tension on the ribs. This divides the back regions into smaller areas that don’t work as effectively. “The lack of support at the front can also bring the upper back forward and to compensate for this, many women end up tilting their heads backward.” Moore goes on to conclude that “All these slight but continuous maladjustments put unnecessary pressure on the diaphragm, which if you are sitting at a desk for hours each day, affect the breathing mechanism and can also be a direct link to digestion problems and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).”

From a poorly fitted bra to IBS? Who would’ve thought? But it doesn’t stop there. Your average bra comes with tight straps designed to keep the bra secure. These also keep your breasts from bobbing up and down when you move. The downside is that these straps can restrict blood flow. This could pinch nerves around your back and spine and contribute to tension headaches. They can also cause severe skin irritation, making your troublesome day a whole lot worse.

The take-home points

Before you cast aside every bra you own and burn them in a great multicolored pyre, take a moment to relax. All those years of wearing bras weren’t necessarily a complete waste — just a partial waste. Rouillon suspects that wearing a bra right from the get-go may have prevented your suspension muscles from fully developing. Therefore, this predisposed you to saggy breasts. Still, those bras still have a function. Heading out for a long run without a bra would be more than a little painful for most women, it’s fair to say.

But if you’re simply sitting around the house watching TV, making food, or reading a book? There’s really no reason why you should be putting your boobs through a claustrophobic hell. Leaving off on the bra when you really don’t need it may help your boobs. They’ll regain their structure, making them perkier and healthier in general. The positive side effect of this is that if you suffer from tension headaches, back pain, or any number of other muscular-based ailments, ditching your bras may help to quickly and effectively alleviate the symptoms.

Rouillon does warn, however, that women 45 years and older would derive no real benefit from throwing away their bras. Do your research, evaluate the pros and cons and draw your own conclusions. Your breasts will thank you for it.

Have you ever had any problems with your bras? Sore back? Headaches? Tell us about your experience and what you did to fix the problem.

-The Backyard Vitality Team

 

Eat More Beef Fat, Here’s Why

For countless years people have valued the stable, nutrient-rich fats which came from the animals they raised. Even until recently, beef tallow was the chosen fat in the Western food industry (fast-food restaurant chains included) for high-heat frying and cooking due to its legendary stability and delicious flavor.

Following untruthful yet damning information from the U.S. government around the 1970s, however, tallow and other vegetable fats rapidly attained an unfair stigma. The vegetable oil industry swooped in, promising a ban from supposedly unhealthy saturated fats but in truth bringing in a far more dangerous era of trans fats. Unsurprisingly, heart disease and cardiovascular conditions skyrocketed, despite the western world turning its back on saturated fat.

trans-fats

Even though the original report alleged that saturated fat was harmful to our health, scientific evidence continued to suggest otherwise. As the irrefutable evidence in support of saturated fat began to pile up, governments around the world slowly began to change their stance on the matter. While the U.S. government has taken back much of its hatred of animal fats and other oils containing large amounts of saturated fat, the long-standing stigma has become so ingrained in the American psyche that most people still can’t bring themselves to recognize just how important it is for their health.

Well, folks, it’s time to erase the dietary mistakes of the last 40 years and bring something which is overwhelming good back into our lives. Saturated fats, when they are sourced from happy, healthy, free-range animals, provide a vast array of vital nutrients, energy, and body-supporting compounds. Perhaps more importantly, they do not make you fat!

Beef tallow can be one of the healthiest and most versatile cooking oils you have in your kitchen, provided you source it from the right animals. Your beef tallow should come from grass-fed, organic, humanely-raised cows, and should be minimally processed. If you get your hands on some quality tallow, here are some of the wonderful things it can bring into your life.

free-range-cows

1. It’s cost-effective

Compared to other fats and cooking oils, beef tallow is amazingly cheap. Due to the unwarranted fear that tallow and other animal fats still elicit in most people, it’s in low demand, and what tallow you can get your hands on is always cost-effective. In some cases, it’s even free! While back in the day butchers would have recognized the value of tallow and priced it accordingly, today’s meat dealers are either throwing the stuff away or selling it for pennies. Head down the right butcher and they’ll probably be happy to give you a big tub of the stuff for free! Just make sure you only use the tallow from organic, grass-fed cows, as many of the toxins can be transferred to the fat otherwise.

2. It’s a great source of saturated fat

There would have been a time when a heading like that might have sent people running for the hills, but that time is happily over! Beef tallow is one of the best sources of healthy saturated fats, which provide an excellent energy source for the human body. While our bodies can run on both glucose (sugar) and fat, they function far more efficiently on fat… and the best kind is saturated.

Many of the most common diseases plaguing Americans today, including metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, are caused by an over-abundance of dietary sugars and a lack of nutrients. Sugar breeds addiction, causing people to become more and more reliant on sweet foods and therefore more and more unhealthy. Getting plenty of saturated fat from sources like tallow helps to break that addiction, triggering satiety hormones, providing bucketloads of nutrients, and forcing your body to function more efficiently.

3. It fights cancer

It might not be much to look at, but beef tallow is dynamite when it comes to keeping the ravages of cancer at bay. Research conducted by the Department of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy at UC Davis indicated that beef tallow prohibited the development of metastatic breast tumors. The study found that mice fed conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in conjunction with beef tallow had fewer metastatic breast tumors than another group that was fed a vegetable fat blend.

Scientists from the study concluded that the fatty acids in the beef tallow “may increase the efficacy of dietary CLA in reducing mammary tumorigenesis.” In short, the saturated fat in beef tallow enabled the mice to more efficiently break down and utilize essential nutrients, giving them an advantage over the growth of cancerous tumors.

4. It’s great for your skin

Historically, beef tallow was used as a key ingredient in skincare concoctions and recipes. In fact, many companies continue to use it in their high-cost beauty products today, although they’d be hard-pressed to admit it! Much of the skin-nurturing benefits of tallow are owed to its surprising similarity to our own skin cells, with both beef tallow and our skin containing 50 to 55 percent saturated fat content. This means that a lot of the nutrients contained in beef tallow head straight to your skin, helping to maintain skin integrity, tone, and elasticity.

In addition, tallow is chock full of antioxidants and nutrients, including vitamins A, D, E, and K. It also contains palmitoleic acid, which has anti-microbial properties, and conjugated linoleic acid, which is super anti-inflammatory and helps prevent certain cancers, including those of the skin. For this reason, tallow is one of the most powerful skin-nurturing products in the world. And the best part? It’s completely natural!

How to use beef tallow

butcher

First, you need to find a good place to get your beef tallow. Certain butchers pride themselves on stocking good quality, organic, grass-fed beef, so they’re often a good place to ask whether they’re willing to sell (or give!) you some tallow. If you can’t track down any good butchers, join a good farm cooperative — these are a great way to get meat and other farm products straight from the source, and they’re usually composed of farms that only use sustainable farming methods. Check out this article for more information on farm cooperatives.

If none of that works out and you can’t source some good quality tallow, simply save any grass-fed beef fat you don’t eat and use it to make your own. The following video walks you through the steps of making tallow from suet.

Store your rendered beef tallow in the fridge when you’re not using it (it will turn hard when cooled below room temperature) and simply scoop out a healthy chunk when you’re ready to cook with it. Place it in the pan, set to low heat so that it melts and covers the pan, and start cooking! It’s great for stir-frying, sautéing, roasting, grilling, and just about anything you can think of which requires high heat!

-The Backyard Vitality Team

 

Eat These Foods to Avoid Prostate Cancer

Despite rising prostate cancer rates, there are known prostate-friendly foods to add to your diet which can significantly reduce your cancer risk. It is worth noting that the month of November is annually dedicated to general men’s health issues, but most prominently prostate cancer. Some men participate in “No-Shave November,” where they don’t shave in an effort to raise awareness. You can donate to the cause here.

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer among men in the United States. Also, cancer is the second most common type of death in the United States, only behind heart disease.

With that said, a substantial number of cancers, like prostate cancer, are very preventable and can be avoided with changes in diet and lifestyle choices. Astonishingly, according to The World Cancer Research Fund, an estimated third of all cancer cases could have been avoided.

With how unhealthy foods are being marketed to the average food consumer in the United States, you really have to ask yourself if you are doing everything possible to alleviate potential health struggles, for both yourself and family members.

Here are nine foods that you need to add to your diet to help avoid prostate cancer.

1. Tomatoes

Tomatoes have an extremely beneficial antioxidant called lycopene. It helps prevent prostate cancer and recedes tumor growth for men with prostate cancer. Researchers have found a trend suggesting that men who eat more tomatoes and tomato-based products, like ketchup, were less likely to develop the disease.

Lycopene may decrease cell damage and slow cancer cell production. Lycopene is actually bound to our cell walls, and this can sometimes inhibit our body’s ability to extract it from raw tomatoes, so cooked tomatoes may be an even better option. Some recommended options include tomato sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, and tomato juice.

2. Fish

 

Our bodies need different types of fats like polyunsaturated fats, omega 3s, and omega 6s. They are almost entirely found in our diet because they can’t be synthesized by our bodies. These fats may help prevent the development of prostate cancer. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a strong link between eating fish and the mortality rate from prostate cancer. The absolute best types of fish to eat include salmon, herring, trout, cod, and flounder. Realistically, you should eat the species of fish that you think has the best flavor. For example, cod and flounder have a milder taste due to their white meat.

3. Green tea

Green Tea is loaded with components like catechin, epicatechin, xanthine derivatives, and epigallocatechin-3-gallate which are known to prevent prostate cancer. In a report from Chinese Medicine, men who drank five cups of green tea a day saw a decreased risk of the disease. One of the best ways to add it to your diet is to simply replace coffee with it. It has some caffeine and can be just as delicious.

4. Broccoli

 

Broccoli is seriously one of the most underrated vegetables out there. It contains complex compounds that fight against cancer. Also, it has a tremendous calorie to protein ratio, making it a great source of protein for vegans and people that don’t eat meat. One of the components in broccoli called sulforaphane selectively targets and kills cancer cells while leaving normal prostate cells healthy and unaffected. Also, broccoli is really easy to put into diets. It is a great complement to almost all dinner and lunch options. Steam some broccoli in a pot, put some butter on it, and you have yourself a deliciously healthy side dinner option.

5. Mushrooms

Aside from other incredible health benefits, mushrooms are great for their ability to help fight cancer. For example, the shiitake mushroom contains lentinan, a type of beta-glucan, which has anti-cancer properties. Studies in 2009 showed that shiitake mushrooms suppressed tumor spread in mice with implanted human colons. Also, mushrooms have a potent antioxidant called L-ergothioneine, which protects all kinds of cells throughout the body. Ergothioneine is especially known to provide protection from damaged cells from toxins and other substances. Mushrooms are great to put on chicken and even make delicious additions to pasta dishes.

6. Pomegranates

Similar to mushrooms, pomegranates are loaded with rich antioxidants. One of them, called ellagitannin, is especially great for your prostate. In fact, some people call pomegranates a “miracle fruit” because of its ability to prevent chronic diseases and oxidative stress. Also, scientists believe that pomegranates work to “seek and destroy” prostate cancer cells, meaning they kill bad cells and not healthy ones. With that said, pomegranates could not be any easier to implement into your diet. They make a delicious drink and you can even add them to water. Also, you could easily mix them into a salad.

7. Cayenne

Cayenne peppers, more commonly known as chili peppers, are the source of a prostate-supportive spice. They get their intense heat from a concentrated substance called capsaicin. Capsaicin is known to get cancer cells to “commit suicide,” in a process known as apoptosis. The substance is able to do this by attacking the energy-making portion of the cells, called the mitochondria, without harming surrounding healthy cells. With that being said, capsaicin also helps our cardiovascular systems because it releases other beneficial antioxidants. Also, cayenne is known to prevent ulcers, congested nasal passages and it can even reduce cell damages that are known to cause diabetic complications.

Add these delicious foods to your diet and your prostate will thank you!

-The Backyard Vitality Team

101 Best Foods for a Healthy Penis

Being a woman, I’ve never experienced what it’s like to have a bulge in my underwear. I do, however, have a husband — and you guessed it, he’s got a penis. We’re young and healthy, so, fortunately, neither of us have experienced any issues down under — but that doesn’t mean that we do not actively eat to improve our current reproductive system. After all, when the time is right, we’d love a couple of little ones running around.

Although I have researched a fair amount in the past, mainly due to menstrual pain, we have become more interested in foods that promote healthy reproduction. From sperm motility to optimal hormonal balance, your diet influences more than you think.

Whether you’re a lad looking to enhance sexual performance, or a wife trying to improve your hubby’s health, these 101 foods will help you achieve a healthier, more functional penis.

The connection between diet and penile health

Depending on your end goal, you may need to take a number of steps in order to achieve optimal results. For some, they would like to improve the strength of their erection. Others would simply like to increase their libido.

Far too often, we look at each area of our body as its own separate “part” or entity. The truth is, everything is connected. If you’re struggling to wake up your Johnson, you may need to address other aspects of your health. These include your cardiovascular, endocrine or nervous system.

Regardless of your initial goal, your diet is an ideal place to start. What you put in your body will greatly influence how it functions. In this case, your penile health is no different.

If you’d like to obtain a stronger erection…

Blueberries can help your penis function better

If you’re struggling to get an erection, you’re not alone. Experts estimate that up to half of all middle-aged and older men suffer from some level of erectile dysfunction. Since an erection is influenced by blood flow, you will want to actively take care of your heart.

More specifically, researchers have found that flavonoid-rich foods can target this issue, resulting in a stronger erection. Within one study, published in the American Journal of Nutrition, men who regularly enjoyed foods such as blueberries, apples, citrus fruits, pears, and even a glass of red wine were less likely to develop erectile dysfunction.

If it’s your sex drive that’s suffering…

When it comes to libido, your brain is most certainly in the driver’s seat. It is influenced by key neurotransmitters — such as serotonin and dopamine — as well as the hormone testosterone. Basically, any food that increases stimulation and enhances optimal blood flow will support a healthier libido. Some examples include:

  • Bananas: High in tyrosine, this amino is a precursor to norepinephrine and dopamine. Other foods that offer this amino acid include eggs, spirulina, and berries.
  • Watermelon: This vitamin-rich treat helps the body produce dopamine, serotonin, and melatonin.
  • Kale: Offering plenty of folate, kale will also trigger increased dopamine production.

As you’d expect, when you eat a more nutrient-rich diet, your body and mind will reflect the daily choices you’ve made. Just as a healthy diet will help boost penile health, a poor diet can have the opposite effect. Take your sex hormones, for instance, as they are influenced by blood sugar and insulin balance.

Sugar may be the culprit

Sugar may be interfering with your penis function

Like many illnesses, sugar can be one of the biggest culprits when suffering from poor penile health. Not only can it poorly affect testosterone levels, but it also increases symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, poor libido, and, in some cases, impotence. As a society, we’re eating far too much added sugar and our health is now paying the price.

Within one study, researchers found that sugar intake was correlated with higher triglycerides and lower HDL levels. They found that the more sugar men consumed, the worse their lipid profile. The researchers also stated that anything that negatively affects your lipid profile will often lead to impotence and erectile dysfunction.

The takeaway: Do not only focus on the types of nutrient-dense foods you should be eating, but also the low-nutrient foods that you should eliminate.

101 foods to include in your diet today

Here are 101 foods to introduce into your regular diet, helping you not only boost penile health but also to improve your overall well-being. Remember, everything is connected. If you do not eat a clean, nutrient-rich diet, numerous systems will begin to suffer — not just your ability to “get it up.”

  1. Chilies
  2. Salmon
  3. Coffee
  4. Lemon
  5. Strawberries
  6. Bananas
  7. Cherries
  8. Onions
  9. Fish
  10. Oats
  11. Red wine
  12. Cherries
  13. Spinach
  14. Pumpkin seeds
  15. Walnuts
  16. Pines nuts
  17. Almonds
  18. Green tea
  19. Pesto
  20. Ginger
  21. Garlic
  22. Tomatoes
  23. Watermelon
  24. Kales
  25. Eggs
  26. Spirulina
  27. Oregano Oil
  28. Red beets
  29. Apples
  30. Pears
  31. Dark chocolate
  32. Porridge
  33. Saffron
  34. Mussels
  35. Pomegranate
  36. Cloves
  37. Whole grains
  38. Cardamom
  39. Pasture-raised pork
  40. Fennel
  41. Trout
  42. Peppers
  43. Pineapple
  44. Green beans
  45. Grapefruit
  46. Limes
  47. Peaches
  48. Apricots
  49. Avocado
  50. Sweet potato
  51. Shrimp
  52. Mackerel
  53. Tuna
  54. Figs
  55. Celery
  56. Raw honey
  57. Cinnamon
  58. Grapes
  59. Flax seeds
  60. Brussels sprouts
  61. Black-eyed peas
  62. Chickpeas
  63. Cashews
  64. Free-range chicken
  65. Oranges
  66. Asparagus
  67. Goji berries
  68. Turmeric
  69. Broccoli
  70. Lentils
  71. Cantaloupe
  72. Red cabbage
  73. Radish
  74. Dill
  75. Olive oil
  76. Mushrooms
  77. Brown rice
  78. Quinoa
  79. Kiwi
  80. Cilantro
  81. Carrots
  82. Sardines
  83. Greek yogurt
  84. Mangoes
  85. Parsnip
  86. Chestnuts
  87. Shallots
  88. Hemp seeds
  89. Eggplant
  90. Seaweed
  91. Plums
  92. Cauliflower
  93. Bean sprouts
  94. Swiss chard
  95. Dates
  96. Zucchini
  97. Grass-fed beef
  98. Radicchio
  99. Coconut
  100. Artichoke
  101. Papaya

So there you have it, folks! Whether you’re a man trying to boost sexual performance or his wife, start focusing on the foods listed above.

Change your diet, change your libido

Your diet can effect how your penis functions

You’re going to want to consume anything that supports internal balance. Eliminate foods that sabotage your efforts. Sugar and processed foods are the first places to start. Every time you crave an order of fries or a soda, think of your poor Willy — limp and sad.

As you begin to eliminate these sabotaging foods, one after the other, you will find that you no longer crave them. In fact, you’ll likely think, “how did I live off of that junk before?” Trust me on this one. When you truly change your diet, you will notice a difference in all aspects of your health. You’ll find that you sleep better, that you’re able to manage stress more easily, and that you are motivated to take care of yourself.

Once all these benefits begin to stack up, something else will be “standing up” more easily as well.

If your penis is giving you a hard time, it may be trying to tell you something — listen to it. When something isn’t right internally, we begin to experience symptoms externally. This is your cue to make something lifestyle changes. Of course, if something is noticeably abnormal or if problems persist, you’ll want to visit a specialist in sexual medicine, a urologist, or even an endocrinologist.

-The Backyard Vitality Team

Taking the Plunge: Benefits of Ice Bathing

Would you take a dip in freezing arctic waters? What about sitting for a few minutes daily in a tub filled with ice water? Although at first blush, this may sound like torture, ice bathing is an ancient therapy that has been practiced through the ages and is touted for its potent healing benefits. 

From the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans through the Renaissance period until today, the use of spas and hydrology for relief from various physical ailments has been widespread. In the mid-1700s, two physicians Floyer and Currie, employed cold water therapy to treat physical and mental conditions. The fascination with and use of cold water therapy has continued down through time. 

From ice packs to ice baths

When you injure yourself, you may reach for an ice pack to reduce swelling and pain, which is a good thing. The ice pack will likely bring great relief to the injured area.  In the same manner, ice bath therapy minimizes pain and can also accelerate recovery between workouts. Professional athletes have long been known to incorporate cold bathing in their recovery routines. However, it has been found that the benefits of cold water bathing are even more expansive than easing muscle soreness and pain.

Benefits of cold water bathing

When you take a dip in an ice bath, a few things happen. The skin is cooled, which makes the body work harder to keep the internal temperature constant, and at the same time, this increases blood flow to all areas of the body. 

Here are just some of the documented benefits of taking a dip in a nice cold tub of water.

Immune system boost, infection and disease protection

We all could use an immune system boost, right? In addition to eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise,  good sleep, and managing stress, you might want to consider adding cold water bathing to your immune-boosting regime. 

A clinical trial in the Netherlands discovered that people who routinely took cold showers called out of work 29% less often than those who did not engage in this chilly practice.  Exposure to cold also increases leukocytes in the body, which helps protect from disease. Daily exposure to cold in shower or bath form increases the numbers and activity of cytotoxic t-cell and NK cells which prevent and attack tumor cells. Furthermore, a quick immersion in ice-cold water increases the blood-brain barrier permeability, which is thought to hle[ keep some infections at bay.

Boosts energy, metabolism, and weight loss

At a plateau with your weight loss? Jumping in ice-cold water sends adrenaline and noradrenaline  – also known as catecholamines –  along with endorphins, skyrocketing. This makes you feel energized and really good. Research shows that even dipping in 57-degree water increases catecholamines by 530 percent. Additionally, ice baths may improve metabolism and help you shed unwanted fat. One study on human metabolism  found that exposure to cold helps white fat act more like brown fat – known as the “good fat.” Brown fat helps with insulin sensitivity which can help with metabolism and weight loss. Cold therapy has also been found to reduce blood glucose in persons with Type 2 diabetes.

Speedy recovery from exercise

As mentioned above, cold therapy is popular amongst professional athletes who use it to help speed up recovery between workouts, games, or events, but this can benefit anyone who engages in everyday physical activity.  It is swelling and lactic acid that causes muscles to become sore after a workout. Dipping in a cold bath constricts blood vessels which ease this soreness. One study found that submerging in an ice bath after a hard run helped increase tissue oxygenation and promote muscle repair. It appears that cold therapy also provides pain relief due to injury – just like an ice pack. A meta-analysis done in 2014 found that cold therapy’s effect on pain even lasts once the body has warmed up. 

Improved brain function and mood

Need a brain boost? Dipping your body in some icy water may help you focus. Cold therapy causes the feel-good neurotransmitters known as endorphins to increase while increasing noradrenaline in the brain. This gets the body ready for action and helps to sharpen focus. The skin contains a large number of cold receptors that, when exposed to cold, send impulses to the brain. This may result in an antidepressant impact.

Additional therapeutic benefits of ice bathing  may include:

  • Healthier, more vibrant skin and hair
  • Reduced risk of premature birth for pregnant women
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Reduction in symptoms associated with psoriasis and other skin conditions
  • Reduced risk of injury
  • Reduction in anxiety

Take an ice bath at home

Now you don’t have to travel to the far northern hemisphere to enjoy all the benefits of an ice-cold bath.  No, you don’t have to fill your tub up with ice cubes either. Morozko Forge had made it easy to enjoy all of the benefits of cold water therapy in the comforts of your own home. Morozko Forge makes the only ice bath in the entire world capable of maintaining cold temperatures. Their baths come highly recommended by health professionals, athletes, and those who know the benefits of cold therapy.  Find testimonials from satisfied customers and various ways to incorporate a Morozko Forge cold bath into your wellness routine and studies to support the use of cold therapy here.

Don’t worry; once you get over the initial shock, your body will soon crave regular ice baths. Happy plunging!!

-The Backyard Vitality Team

 

Note: Seek medical advice from your medical practitioner before exposing your body to cold therapy.