Oil Pulling

Oil pulling appears to be the new hype.  It’s yet another home remedy brought to you by  coconut oil, nature’s answer to so, so many things.  If you’re not in the know, here’s a brief video to explain oil pulling…

Scoop out some coconut oil, about a teaspoon, and swish it around in your mouth for at least 15-20 minutes.  If you don’t have coconut oil you can also use other plant-based oils like sesame oil, sunflower oil, or olive oil.  Oil pulling is great for oral hygiene. It may take a couple times to get used to it, but I’d definitely say after the first 10 minutes it’s no big deal.  The first time I tried it I probably took too much coconut oil, so the taste and texture were overwhelming and I had to spit it out.  The trick is to distract yourself while you’re doing it, like have a tv show ready, or power through 20 minutes of work.  It takes your mind off the time.

Oil pulling  began in India and has been used for centuries as a natural way to whiten teeth and clean teeth and gums.  The oil cuts through plaque and removes toxins and bacteria, but it does take at least 15-20 minutes to be effective.  You’ll notice while you’re doing it that your mouth becomes filled mostly with saliva after awhile, and by the time you spit it out it should be a creamy, white color.  When you’re finished, spit into the trash can, not the sink, and rinse your mouth out with warm water.  Try not to swallow the coconut oil, since it’ll should be filled with your bacteria.

There are various oral health benefits from oil pulling, like smoother, whiter teeth and better breath, but some people report feeling overall improvements in their health.

Whenever I oil pull, I do feel like my teeth and smoother and shinier.  Try it for yourselves!

Sources: WellnessMama.com

Home Remedies

urlI love using spices, herbs, and pantry items to make home remedies and beauty products.  There’s no need to feel guilty about spending $20 for a nice bottle of olive oil or coconut oil anymore, because that olive oil doubles as face cleanser and that coconut oil can be used for just about anything.  Using what’s probably in your kitchen or fridge already, here are a few simple recipes for home beauty and cleaning products:

Bathroom Freshener

-1/2 cup white distilled vinegar

-1 1/2 cups water

-10-15 drops essential oils (cinnamon, clove, lavender, lemon, or any other pure essential oils)

Mix ingredients in a glass hair with a tight-fitting lid.  Keep some of the spray in a spray bottle in the bathroom and label “air freshener.”

Most commercial shampoo and conditioners create soft, gorgeous hair on the outside, but actually are a risk to your health. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), an ingredient in most commercial shampoos, dries out hair and can trigger allergic reactions in some people.  Commercial products also contain gluten.

apple-cider-vinegar-uses-hair

Organic apple cider vinegar restores hair’s natural pH and helps remove dead skin cells from the scalp.

Rinse Away Dandruff

-1 cup organic apple cider vinegar

-10 drops clove essential oil

Combine ingredients and shake.  Apply 1/4 cup of the mixture to shampooed hair.  Towel dry, working well into the scalp. Wait 5-10 minutes and then rinse thoroughly with warm water.

Deep Conditioning Mask for Damaged Hair

-1/2 cup Honey

-1 tsp olive oil

Mix ingredients and massage into clean, damp hair.  Let sit for 20-30 minutes.  Rinse well with warm water.  Wash hair with a natural shampoo and dry.

Making body scrubs is simple.  Whatever isn’t already in your home, like essential oils, you may be able to pick up at a health food store.  Experiment with different scents and combinations of ingredients.  Your skin will be moist and soft after, especially if you use the scrub after a shower, because it’s easier to exfoliate dead skin cells.  It’s also great to use a scrub before shaving, and should result in a smoother shave.

You only need to scrub your skin once a week.  Avoid certain essential oils, because they can irritate the skin when mixed with hot water.  These oils include: basil, oregano, thyme, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, and bay.

Salt Scrub

-1 cup sea salt

-1/2 cup grapeseed oil or almond oil

-1/4 cup avocado or olive oil

-1 vitamin E capsule

-10-15 drops essential oils (blending is ok)

Mix the oils, vitamin E, and essential oils in a small bowl.  Add the salt and mix well.  Store in a container with an airtight lid.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sugar Scrub

-1/2 cup white sugar

-enough olive oil to completely moisten the sugar, but not enough to make it runny with oil

-Squeeze of lemon

Stir sugar in with olive oil.  Squeeze lemon.  Use your fingers to scoop the mixture and rub on your face.

Source: National Geographic’s Complete Guide to Natural Home Remedies

Making Sense of Meat Labels

I am a proud meat eater, but I am also a big believer in raising and killing animals as humanely as possible.  Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what I’m buying though, because there are all sorts of different labels, and some are misleading.  I’d like to help you all make sense of what you’re buying, so that you know exactly what you’re paying for.

Organic

Meat, dairy, poultry, and eggs labeled “organic” by the USDA come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.

Why buy organic meat?  Because animals raised commercially in factory farms suffer.  Chickens raised commercially, for example, are crammed in small cages and fed hormones, steroids, and antibiotics, none of which I would ever want in my body!  Commercial chickens also contain traces of cancer-causing arsenic, which is completed approved by our government.  Don’t believe me?  Click Here.  So even though organic meat is more expensive, just think of the purchase as an investment in your long-term health.  Another reason to buy organic is also it tastes better!  Try it for yourself.  When animals are raised well I bet you’ll taste the difference.

4colorsealgif

Natural

Beware, “natural” does not mean organic.  Only foods labeled “organic” meet the USDA’s organic standards.

Free Range

Animals living “free range” are raised in an open air or free-roaming environment, however, only poultry labeled “free range” meet the USDA’s standards of “free range,” not eggs.  For poultry, the animals are required by the government to have outdoor access for “an undetermined period each day.”  No other meat labeled “free range” have actually been regulated by the USDA or any other governing agency.  If you wish to determine whether your meat is free range, the best thing to do is contact the individual manufacturer.

Grass-Fed

“Grass-fed” cattle, bison, goats and sheep have eaten nothing but their mother’s milk and fresh grass or grass-type hay from birth, according to the American Grassfed Association.  Only if poultry and pigs have had grass as a large part of their diets are they considered “grass-fed.”  The USDA currently is reviewing its guidelines on grass-fed marketing claims.

Marine Stewardship Council

This independent global nonprofit council promotes sustainable fishing practices to “ensure that the catch of marine resources are at the level compatible with long-term sustainable yield, while maintaining the marine environment’s bio-diversity, productivity and ecological processes.”

Is Working With a Health Coach Right For You?

A-journey-of-a-thousand-miles-begins-with-a-singl-step

The journey to healthy living can be a process.  My personal health journey started toward the end of college.  I had gained 25 pounds at school, hadn’t stepped foot in a gym or touched my sneakers in two years, binged on late night Domino’s and drank regularly (generally vodka with sugar-laden Red Bull).  Everything I purchased from the grocery store had “fat-free” or “light” labels on it, and I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t losing weight.  I felt like crap and didn’t like how I looked.  Coming from a family of athletes and having been a very active person most of my life, it was unsettling that I couldn’t even run across our relatively small campus to our gym without feeling like I was having a heart attack.

388472_4760171876572_670551006_n

That’s me in the front during my soccer days as a kid

My dad passing was the event that changed all this.  I began looking at life with a new perspective, that life is too short and there’s too much to experience while I still have my health.  It wasn’t easy transforming my life, especially while in college.  I began with gradual changes, mostly cutting back on alcohol and 2am pizza binges at first.  My senior year I enrolled in both a gym class and a yoga class, which were fantastic and helped get me back in the groove of exercising.

Today, I am in the process of getting certified as a holistic health coach.  My friends now come to me with their food questions and beauty advice.  Exercise has become a regular part of my routine, because I found types of exercise that were fun for me.  I have more energy than I have ever had, and I don’t rely on caffeine.  I’ve also cleaned up my eating, and WOW, what a difference!

If you’re someone who is struggling with weight, skin problems, self-confidence, regular exercise, stress, or anything else, trust me, it gets better if you commit to change.  There are people out there, like health coaches, who can offer support and hold you accountable so that you don’t feel so lost.

If you are interested in speaking with someone about your health and wellness goals, I invite you to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me.  I am the happiest I have ever been and this feeling is infectious.  Everyone deserves happiness and the chance to spend some one-on-one time with someone dedicated to to helping you look and feel better. There’s no one right way to health and no diet or lifestyle that works well for everybody.  I personalize my programs based on your individual needs.

1000246_10200630845867930_1810031577_n
Email me for more information, jessicakhealth@gmail.com.

Is Gluten the New Fat?

For the past 40 years, Americans have been lead to believe that any form of fat and all types of cholesterol were bad for us.  New studies have proven that this idea is outdated, but today, the new “evil” is gluten.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are by now you’ve at least heard the word gluten.  There are entire sections at the grocery store devoted to gluten-free products and I don’t know about you all, but out of the blue everyone I know is suddenly gluten intolerant.

What is gluten?

Gluten, Latin for “glue,” is a name for proteins that act as an adhesive glue, keeping together foods like breads, pastas, flour, etc.  Gluten exists in wheat, barley, and rye and can be found in many products, whether it’s our food or personal care products, like toothpaste or shampoo.  The “sticky” nature of gluten makes it hard to breakdown and absorb nutrients.

t1larg.gluten.foods.gi

What are some symptoms of gluten sensitivity? 

Depression, inflammation, joint problems, gastrointestinal problems, or fatigue, ADHD, anxiety, hives/rashes, miscarriages, nausea/vomiting, sugar cravings, brain fog, malabsorption of food, dairy intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, or infertility.

Inflammation can also cause “leaky gut,”which makes us more susceptible to future food sensitivities and puts us at risk for developing autoimmune diseases or neurological disorders in the future.  Some of these diseases linked to inflammation include: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, and Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), diabetes, Hashimoto’s thyroidtis, arthritis, or schizophrenia. People with Celiacs disease share these same symptoms but on a more extreme level.  It’s also possible that some people just don’t show symptoms, but are fighting the attack elsewhere in their body, like in the nervous system.

But didn’t we always eat gluten? 

Our diet has changed drastically from what our ancestors ate. We used to thrive off of high-fat diet, low-carb diets, but now our diet consists of mainly carbs and significantly less fat.

Ancestors                                  Modern Diet

-Fat 75% of diet                            -Carbs 60% of diet

-Protein 20% of diet                     -Fat 20%

-Carbs 5% of diet                          -Protein 20%

evolution_of_man

We have far more disease today and different types of diseases than we ever did before.  The majority of our great-grandparents and generations older than them died from old age, but today many of us are plagued by cancer, heart disease, brain disease, obesity, or diabetes.  The answer to this conundrum exists not just in genes, but in our food.

As you can see from the numbers above, most of us eat an unbalanced diet.  Our percentage of carbohydrate intake are at unnaturally high levels, which takes a toll on our bodies. The first sign of celiacs, however, traces all the back to the first century AD, when a Greek doctor named Aretaeus of Cappadocia wrote about the symptoms and used the word “celiac” to name the illness in a medical textbook.  Gluten has always been a part of our diets since our ancestors learned to farm and mill wheat.  The gluten we eat today, though, hardly resembles the gluten in our diet ten thousand years ago.  Today our food is far more processed and bio-engineering has us growing structurally-modified grains containing gluten that’s less tolerable.

So is a gluten-free diet for me?

Although I know people have healed themselves of ailments by removing gluten from the diet and although I’ve read the research on the links between gluten and neurodegenerative conditions, I full-heartedly believe in the idea of everything in moderation. I personally have not given up my bread products yet, but I eat much less of it and not every day, because a little bread every now and then probably won’t kill you.  The problem is, carbs, like sugar, can be addicting, so some people have a much harder time removing gluten from the diet.

One way to cut back on carbs, processed foods, or sugar is to fill up on proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats.  By adding in these other foods, it’s easier to naturally crowd out carbohydrates, processed foods, and sugar.  I highly encourage everyone to do research for themselves, rather than hopping on the bandwagon without really knowing why.  There are probably way more products containing gluten than you know, some which may be surprising, and I’ve listed some of these products below.  I highly recommend the book Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD if you’re looking for more research and information.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), or diabetes, or if it runs in your family, then I would think it best to stay away from gluten.  If you’re eating gluten and finding yourself suffering from headaches, abdominal pains, or any of the other symptoms previously mentioned, then try at least one week of cutting out gluten and see if you can notice any improvements.

Which grains are gluten-free?

Amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, corn, millet, potato, quinoa, rice, sorghum, soy, tapioca, and tee.

gluten-free-grains

Which gains contain gluten?

Barley, bulgur, couscous, farina, graham flour, kamut, matzo, rye, semolina, spelt, triticale, wheat, and wheat germ.

Random things that contain gluten:

Cosmetics, lipsticks/lip balm, medications, non-self-adhesive stamps and envelopes, play-doh, shampoos and conditioners, toothpaste, some vitamins and supplements.

There are lots of other foods and ingredients that contain gluten, so do some research if you’re planning on going gluten-free.

Sources:

Perlmutter, David, MD. Grain Brain. New York, NY.  Little, Brown and Company.

Getting Dirty

IMG_4301One of my favorite things about living in California is our Mediterranean climate and access to amazing food.  My city is surrounded by farms with fresh produce and humanely-raised animals.  That being said, you don’t need to live in California to enjoy the foods grown by your local farmers.  If you don’t know how to find farms near your area, I suggest looking at the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) website for locally grown produce.

FullSizeRender

Last week I decided to get hands on and visit one of my local farms.  Green Skies Vertical Farming is a small farm just across the bay from me in West Oakland.  They grow lots of microgreens and lettuces.  My favorite plant I got to nibble on was the stevia plant, which tasted just like a cube of sugar!  I helped the guys there repot some escarole lettuce.  Here are some photos from my experience!

IMG_4305     IMG_4299

Never tried microgreens before?  Here’s how I like to eat them:

FullSizeRender-1

Healthy detox salad: microgreens, avocado, radish, tomato, chickpeas, quinoa, feta cheese, salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil

FullSizeRender-2

Eggs & toast with avocado, tomato, microgreens, pickled sweet red onion, salt, pepper