What Are You Putting Under Your Arms?

By now most of us have learned to be vigilant about what we eat and how our food affects our health. Of course, we all splurge on not-so-healthy stuff from time to time. But we’re aware, and we’re making mindful choices.

How about the personal care products we use on a daily basis?—You only need to walk down the aisle of any grocery store to get an idea of how big the business of selling deodorant has become. In the United States alone, annual sales are up around $2 billion. Do you know what’s actually in the stuff you roll on every morning? It might be time to  stop and review the ingredient list. Let’s take a closer look!

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How Does Deodorant Work?

First, it’s interesting to know that sweat isn’t inherently stinky. In fact, it’s nearly odorless. The smell actually comes from bacteria that break down the sweat on your skin. Most deodorants contain chemicals to kill off the bacteria before they have time to digest your fluids and stop the odor before it starts.

Antiperspirants, on the other hand, deal directly with sweat. They use a chemical called aluminum chloride that mixes with sweat to form a gel-like plug to stop up the sweat gland duct. The more pores that are plugged, the less you’ll physically sweat.

What’s So Bad About Using Something That Helps Us Smell Better and Keeps Us Dry?

Well, nothing except that most deodorants and antiperspirants contain a long list of mysterious chemicals. How harmful are these chemicals?

Researchers at National Cancer Institute claim that they “are not aware of any conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer”. NCI claims there is no “clear” or “direct” link between parabens or aluminum and cancer. They do admit that “ More research is needed”.

Not all researchers are convinced and many still believe common chemicals found in deodorants pose big health risks including the increase risk of breast cancer.

Here’s the thing–“Unless a chemical is proven harmful, regulators allow you to eat it, smoke it, brush with it and slather it on your body. Finding that proof of harm is a difficult, costly and time-consuming proposition.” ~ Cancer specialist Dr. Philippa Darbre 

OK, so there’s no (as yet) proven scientific evidence that aluminum, parabens or any of the other ingredients in deodorants or antiperspirants pose any threat to human health but “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence of a harmful effect” and “these chemicals are being directly applied daily, by very large numbers of people, and the long-term health effects of exposure are essentially unknown,” ~toxicologist Philip W. Harvey

I don’t know about you but if even one toxicologist tells us  his own calculations suggest there’s a chance these chemicals in question may “significantly add to estrogenic burdens” and adversely affect my health I believe the smart and safe action is to switch to products that do not include harmful chemicals.

Just like we do in food the best thing is to use only products with ingredients you can read and pronounce.

Here are a few of the most common suspicious ingredients–Check your products to be sure none of these is listed:

Mineral Oil, Paraffin, and Petrolatum – Petroleum products that coat the skin like plastic, clogging pores and creating a build-up of toxins, which in turn accumulate and can lead to dermatologic issues. Slows cellular development, which can cause you to show earlier signs of aging. Suspected cause of cancer. Disruptive of hormonal activity.
Parabens – Widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic industry (including moisturizers). An estimated 13,200 cosmetic and skin care products contain parabens. They have hormone-disrupting qualities – mimicking estrogen – and interfere with the body’s endocrine system.
Propylene glycol – Used as a moisturizer in cosmetics and as a carrier in fragrance oils. Shown to cause dermatitis or skin irritation.
Acrylamide – Found in many hand and face creams. Linked to mammary tumors in lab research.
Sodium laurel or lauryl sulfate (SLS), also known as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) – Found in car washes, engine degreasers, garage floor cleaners… and in over 90% of personal care products! SLS breaks down the skin’s moisture barrier, easily penetrates the skin, and allows other chemicals to easily penetrate.
Toluene –Very harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Made from petroleum or coal tar, and found in most synthetic fragrances. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) contains toluene. Other names may include benzoic and benzyl.
Dioxane– Found in compounds known as PEG, Polysorbates, Laureth, ethoxylated alcohols. Common in a wide range of personal care products. The compounds are usually contaminated with high concentrations of highly volatile 1,4-dioxane, easily absorbed through the skin.

If you’d like to learn more about your particular product you can search The Environmental Working Groups Skin Deep site

Not All Products Do The Job

Over the years I’ve experimented with lots of different healthier products. I found that just because something is labeled “long lasting” or “maximum protection” does not mean the product actually works on body odor.

Here are two deodorants with clean ingredients that are not effective:

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These three products work well for me. I’ve listed them in order of effectiveness. You can purchase Burts Bees and Tom’s at Mom’s Organic Market. Click on Agent Nateur for more information.

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Bull Dog is a healthy, effective option for guys. It’s available at Whole Foods Market.







Eat, Move, Live Well!

Eat More Beautiful Beets For A Healthier You

beets on the deck

Recently one of our exercisers  surprised me with a beautiful bunch of beets from her garden. I was interested to learn that beets grow during the summer months; I’d always thought of them as a fall crop. I absolutely love beets. I’ve heard they’re super healthful but I was curious to find out exactly how they improve our health. Read on to learn more!

Beets are not only loaded with antioxidants they also have important anti-inflammatory properties.

You may be surprised to know that beets also:

 Lower Your Blood Pressure- This benefit likely comes from the naturally occurring nitrates in beets, which are converted into nitric oxide* in your body. Nitric oxide, in turn, helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.

 Fight Inflammation-Beets are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It’s also known to help fight inflammation and help protect internal organs.

Help Prevent Cancer –The powerful phytonutrients that give beets their deep crimson color may help to ward off cancer. Taste good and help prevent cancer. What more do we need to know?

Provide Us With Valuable Nutrients and Fiber-Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium, and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beets are particularly important to women who are pregnant–vitamin B and iron are very beneficial to new growth cells during pregnancy and replenishing iron in the woman’s body.

Less known but interesting facts about beets:

Nature’s Libido Booster- One of the first known uses of beets was by the ancient Romans, who used them medicinally as an aphrodisiac. And that’s not just urban legend – science backs it up. Beets contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.

 Beets cleanse the body-They are a wonderful tonic for the liver and work as a purifier for the blood.

Help your mental health-Beets contain betaine, the same substance that is used in certain treatments of depression. It also contains trytophan, which relaxes the mind and creates a sense of well-being.

* Researchers have found that sunlight triggers your skin’s production of nitric oxide. Why is this significant? Because nitric oxide is crucial for maintaining healthy blood pressure, helps prevent atherosclerosis, and plays a role in modulating immune system function.

I usually enjoy my beets roasted but the thought of turning on my oven during these dog days of summer is not appealing. This recipe does require a little stove top cooking but the end result is a really tasty vegetarian meal.

Tangy Beets With Soba Noodles


1 onion
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
3-4 large beets
1 Cup almond milk
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
3 Tablespoons almond butter
1/2-1 cup vegetable broth
1 package soba noodles* or whole grain pasta


Peel the beets and cut them into small pieces. Peel and dice the onion.

Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet then add the onion and beets. Saute over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the almond milk, tamari, maple syrup and spices. Reduce heat to low, stir in 1/2 cup broth and the almond butter. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the beets and soft.

Meanwhile, cook and drain the soba noodles. Serve the beets over the noodles.

If you have leftovers try this:

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add a can of drained garbanzo beans. Season with 1/4 to  1/2 teaspoon of turmeric. Add sea salt and pepper to your taste. Cook to heat through then add to your beet mixture.

*Soba noodles have fewer calories, more fiber and more protein than traditional pasta.


Make This Simple, Ultimate Veggie Burger Tonight!

bean patties cut in half


This veggie burger works well because it actually holds together — something so many versions don’t do. The secret is in the four eggs and whole wheat bread crumbs.

I love the idea of cutting the cooked patty in half and stuffing the center with delicious fillings so you don’t need bread. The original recipe calls for garbanzo beans but I used the mung beans I had left over and they worked well too. Mung beans cook much faster than most beans and have a nutritional profile similar to chickpeas except they offer more magnesium (good for intense exercise enthusiasts), folate and vitamin B1. The recipe makes about six burgers and one per person is plenty. They’re very filling once you add the stuffings!

Ultimate Veggie Burger


2 1/2 cups garbanzo beans (chickpeas) or mung beans
1 onion, quartered
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Grated zest of one large lemon
1 cup micro sprouts, chopped (try broccoli, onion or alfalfa sprouts), optional
1 cup whole-grain bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or clarified butter)


Pulse the onions a few times in a food processor. Add the beans, eggs and salt. Puree until the mixture is the consistency of a very thick, slightly chunky hummus. Pour into a mixing bowl and stir in the cilantro, zest and sprouts. Add the breadcrumbs; stir and let sit for a couple of minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point, you should have a moist mixture that you can easily form into six larger patties. If the patties seem too runny,  you can always add more bread crumbs a little at a time to firm up the dough if necessary. A bit of water can also be used to moisten the batter.

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-low, add four patties, cover, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms begin to brown. Turn up the heat if there is no browning after 10 minutes. Flip the patties and cook the second side for 7 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties. Carefully cut each patty in half, insert your favorite fillings, and enjoy immediately.

I spread salted Greek yogurt on each side then added oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and sliced avocado.  You might also add some grilled red peppers, arugula or thinly sliced red onion. The possibilities are endless!