How sweet it is! Honey is one of my favorite super-simple recommendations for so many reasons. It’s great for skin, healing cuts and scrapes, sore throats, and as a yummy alternative to straight sugar. Here’s why honey should be in your cupboard at all times!
Cuts, scrapes, zits, and other skin-ey things!
Studies have shown honey to be as effective as broad-spectrum topical antibiotics. Not only will applying honey to cuts, scrapes, and zits (yes that’s right, zits!) prevent infection, but it will help reduce redness, swelling, and speed healing time. While serving as a good antibiotic substitute, honey spares the beneficial bacteria. How smart! It’s even good against conjunctivitis, or pink-eye. Most importantly, it’s incredibly safe to use because we know it’s completely safe internally. Safe and tasty! Vets often recommend honey topically for surgical recovery in animals due to it’s efficacy and completely non-toxic nature. It’s antibacterial action will decrease if it’s been heated or pasteurized, but will still be effective if you can’t get the raw stuff.
Try this: as a skin mask for acne, rub raw honey over the entire face and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse off with warm water. Inflammation decreases, moisture is retained, and the bad acne-causing bacteria is removed. Add sugar in for an exfoliating scrub once a week.
Soothe sore throats.
Not only is honey great for the reasons mentioned above, but it also serves to provide a soothing coating for sore throats.
Try this: add finely chopped onion to a small jar of honey. Allow this to sit overnight and use as a cough syrup with enhanced antimicrobial effects!
A better alternative to straight sugar.
Honey is a natural way to sweeten just about anything. Because its sugar content is partially fructose, the body must first convert it into glucose which prevents rapid blood sugar spikes. Also, one study testing the antioxidant activity of natural sweeteners compared to table sugar also found that honey has moderate antioxidant activity, second only to molasses. The effect isn’t that powerful, but off-setting free radical damage is definitely an added bonus.
Try this: substitute the same amount of honey for sugar in any recipe, including tea and coffee (yes, coffee! I’ll vouch for this one!).
That’s the buzz! Have a sweet afternoon!
Your epidermis is showing... and it's taking in quite a toxic load!
When we think of overall health, cleansing, detoxifying, etc, often we think of eating organic to decrease our pesticide intake, cutting out alcohol to give our livers a break, and grab lots of veggies and some lemon water. We carefully consider everything that we put in us, but what about what we put on us?
Think about your morning routine for a minute. Toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, moisturizer, shaving cream, soap, hair gel, mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, foundation or powder, lipgloss/stick/balm... any others to add? All of your products are likely within the limit deemed as "safe" and most have likely maxed out the limit. What happens when you're using 10-20 products that have maxed out the limit deemed as "safe"? I'm no mathematician, but I'd say that's definitely over the daily limit.
Take a peek at the ingredients list and see how many you can pronounce. Be aware of green-washing: making them sound natural and healthy for you when really there's a lot of added chemicals. Also, a product that contains organic ingredients can also contain harmful chemicals. With parabens (a common preservative) and phthalates (a gelling-agent or plasticizer) being slowly phased out of north american products, they're being replaced with other shady characters. I'm sure I'll have to blog about their health effects in a few years.
The main concern with skin products is endocrine disruption and carcinogenicity. Endocrine disruption occurs with xenoestrogens, or synthetic chemicals that mimic estrogen activity. These molecules can bind to estrogen receptors but exert effects much stronger than our natural estrogens. This is when we see increased breast cancer rates and parabens (a common preservative) found directly in excised tumours. Certain types of breast cancers are fed by increased levels of estrogen and so, fed by many of these chemicals that we put on our skin everyday.
There's also a concern with heavy metals such as aluminum in anti-perspirants or lead in lipsticks. Deodorants and antiperspirants are applied directly over our axillary lymph nodes - or the centres of immune function in our armpits that directly drain the breast tissue - and often contain breast-cancer-causing chemicals. Huh. Not to mention aluminum found in high concentrations in the brains of Alzheimers patients. Finding a good alternative to the traditional antiperspirants takes time and a lot of trial and error. The patience is worth it.
Learn more. The Environmental Working Group developed their Skin Deep website devoted to rating the toxicity of skin products and to provide an amazing resource to educate consumers. You can also learn more about the most harmful chemicals and how to swap out for cleaner products. If you're in Toronto, I'll plug a great pop-up store on King Street called The Detox Market. It's a one-stop shop for organic, toxin-free cosmetics, skin care, and hair care.
While we're taking our deep breaths inside, let's let our skin take a breath as well.
1. Dairy. Unless organic, dairy is often packed full of hormones and antibiotics which can cause our endocrine systems to go a bit haywire. Many of us have some type of sensitivity to diary, whether it’s lactose, casein, or whey. These sensitivities can manifest as abdominal pain, diarrhea, frequent colds or sinusitis, headaches, irregular periods, and skin disorders such as rashes or, most commonly, acne.
Substitute: Almond, rice, or soy milk are great substitutions for regular milk. Silken tofu can be whizzed up to replace sour cream or yogurt. For heavy cream in any recipe, cover cashews in hot water and soak for about 10 minutes and run them through the blender. You can dilute this more and make your own cashew milk.
2. Sugar. The cause of many common problems today including diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), headaches and migraines, arthritis, IBS, acne, and obesity. Gradually cut this down and you’ll slowly realize that your taste buds quickly adjust. Here’s a challenge: drop one sugar out of your coffee. In a few days, you’ll already be down a teaspoon. If you’re a pop junkie, don’t switch to diet - this is actually worse for you due to the sweetening chemicals and their affect on insulin.
Substitute: Natural forms of sweetener such as honey, maple syrup, or stevia.
3. Processed foods. Often full of preservatives, sugar, flavour enhancers, and other shady characters, processed foods are a mystery to your digestive system. They can contribute to problems such as headaches, migraines, IBS, colitis, and depression to name a few. Sure they’re quick and they last a long time, but it’s best to keep these to a minimum.
Substitute: Real, whole food. Experiment with cooking and practice combining a protein source with a whole grain and lots of veggies.
4. Gluten. So many people are sensitive to this and it doesn’t mean you have Celiac Disease. Symptoms of a gluten sensitivity range from gas and bloating to skin conditions, sinusitis, migraines, and all sorts of more serious digestive disorders. Often with most sensitivities, it’s a dose-dependent thing. The more you have, the more you react and vice versa.
Substitute: Rice or quinoa for couscous, rice pasta for wheat pasta, rice paper wraps for wheat wraps, oat or gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour in baking, and use rice cakes for PB&J sandwiches.
5. The Dirty Dozen. This list of produce can be found on the Environmental Working Group’s website (www.ewg.org) and contain the highest amount of pesticides. I’d like to include non-organic meats in this as well, not only due to their antibiotic and hormone content, but also for the environmental impact.
Substitute: Where you can, buy these organic or focus on the Clean 15 produce selections. For meats and eggs, if you can go organic, do. Otherwise, look for grass-fed beef or try going vegetarian for a few days per week by using tofu in stir-fries, vegetable protein “meats”, or good ol’ beans and rice.