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!

Grilled Lemon Chicken Salad

I was looking for something easy to make with chicken the other night and I came across Ina Garten’s Lemon Chicken recipe. I made a few small changes and the end result was a tasty, colorful meal that everyone will enjoy! Start this several hours ahead to marinate the chicken for best flavor.

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Prepare the Chicken

2-3 chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4″ thin

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup lemon juice (3 lemons)

sea salt freshly ground pepper

freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon fresh thyme and or rosemary leaves, minced (I used lemon thyme) or 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs.

Directions

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and thyme. Season both sides of the breasts with salt and pepper. Put the breasts in a large zip lock bag or glass bowl along with the olive oil mixture and marinate in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. When ready to serve, grill the breasts then chill in refrigerator or serve at room temperature.

For The Salad

Sliced lemon chicken breasts into 1/2″ pieces

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (1-2 lemons)

1/4 olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 1/2-2 cups sugar snap or snow  peas, stems and strings removed

1 red or orange bell pepper, cut into thin slices

1 yellow pepper , cut into thin slices

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Taste for seasoning and adjust if desired.

Serve over a nice bed of greens.

What Is Total Wellness Anyway?

Total Wellness Challenge

Wellness can be defined as “the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.” I believe each of us has a great amount of control over our day to day health … Continue reading

Pumpkin Pie Raw Dessert

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One of the best ways to satisfy the old sweet tooth is to create raw desserts using a few simple ingredients. I generally combine almost equal amounts of dates and nuts. Dates are super sweet, have no added sugar and provide fiber, calcium and iron. Cashews are packed with protein and iron.

During our Fall Total Wellness Challenge I swore off baked goods and anything with white flour for 30 days. When I had a craving for dessert I pulled out my food processor and got to work. I made this sweet snack several times and even brought a batch to a party! This time I substituted pumpkin pie spice for chocolate and the result was quite delicious. The finished product tastes a little like caramel. Yum!

Ingredients

1 overflowing cup dates, pitted
3/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup pecans
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt

Directions

Put the dates into a food processor and pulse until broken up but not paste-like. Add nuts, spice and salt. Continue processing until mixture become like dough. Bits of nuts should be visible.

Remove mixture from processor bowl. The easiest step is to roll the dough into small balls, about 1″. If you prefer bars, simply roll the dough into one large ball then put into a large ziplock bag. Using your hands or a rolling-pin, flatten the dough to about 1/2″ and form into a long bar. In both cases refrigerate for 30 minutes to set. If making squares carefully remove the bar from plastic and cut into desired size squares or bars.
If you don’t have pecans just use 1 cup of cashews.
Happy Fall!

Exercise On Vacation- No Excuses!

posummerMost of us enjoy group fitness classes because, lets face it, exercising alone isn’t nearly as much fun! At classes we get to connect with friends and fellow exercisers, many of whom motivate us to push ourselves a little bit harder. Being accountable also adds to the benefits of group fitness; it helps when we have a specific time and place to show up to!

This might partially explain why many of us slack off our fitness regime during the summer months. It’s ok to take a week off here and there but months at a time will only make it more difficult to return to our workouts in the fall.

If we devise a plan to stay on track we’re more apt to stick with it. Even a simple 30 minute workout that incorporates cardio and strength training will keep us fit and strong when we’re away from home.

Knowing you’ll be getting up in the morning to exercise will keep you mindful of what you’re eating and drinking the night before too!

Here’s a simple workout anyone can do..almost anywhere. Start with the basic plan and mix it up by reversing the order of the exercises or adding a second round of the strength moves.

Do this type of workout two or three times a week. Everybody’s “run strong” is different. Be sure to challenge yourself for maximum benefits!

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Coconut Shrimp & Snap Peas

This is our first year growing sugar snap peas. Now we have tons of them so I’ve been looking for ways to enjoy them besides the obvious one — eating them right from the vine!

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A few days ago I tried this shrimp recipe, not something I make often but wow, was it ever tasty!

The sweetness of the sugar snap peas, coconut milk and shrimp pairs beautifully with the mild curry flavor.

Coconut-Curry Shrimp With Snap Peas

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp (not jumbo)
1/2 pound sugar snap peas (about 1 cup)
2 teaspoons Indian curry
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
2 tablespoons white wine
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 tablespoon arrowroot (can use cornstarch if necessary)
3-4 green onions sliced thin

Instructions

Melt butter in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add shrimp and snap peas. Sprinkle with curry powder and garlic salt. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until shrimp begins to turn pink.

Stir coconut milk, wine and lime juice into arrowroot until smooth. Add to shrimp mixture, stir constantly and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer two more minutes. Serve over rice or cauliflower rice if desired. Sprinkle with green onions. Savor the flavor!

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Which Shrimp Should We Buy?

It’s confusing to know which products, from which countries and raised in which method is best for us. Consumer Reports recommends “buying farmed shrimp raised without chemicals, including antibiotics. That can include shrimp farmed in large outdoor ponds that mimic the natural habitat or in tanks that constantly filter and recycle water and waste.”

Consumer Reports has evaluated organizations and stores that certify whether farmed shrimp—both domestic and imported—have been raised without drugs and chemicals. We recommend farmed shrimp labeled Naturland, Aquaculture Stewardship Council, or Whole Foods Market Responsibly Farmed. Another common certification is Best Aquaculture Practices, but we found antibiotics on four samples with that label.”

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