Coconut water: nature’s perfect drink

Coconut water has recently surfaced in the US as a healthy alternative to energy drinks and for very good reason. Coconut water, not to be confused with coconut milk, is the clear liquid inside an unripe coconut.  The clear, slightly sweet liquid contains an abundance of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, electrolytes, amino acids, cytokines and phyto-hormones including:

  • B-complex vitamins: thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, folate which work together to boost your metabolism and increase energy.
  • Trace minerals: magnesium, manganese, calcium, potassium (more than a banana!) and small amounts of zinc, copper, and iron.  Minerals are vital for keeping your hair, skin, and body healthy, happy and beautiful!
  • Bioactive enzymes: acid phosphatase, catalase, dehydrogenase, diastase, peroxidase, RNA polymerases etc. Together, these enzymes aid in digestion and metabolism.
  • Lauric-acid: an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal medium chain fatty acid which helps fight off illness and infection, keeping your immune system in check.
  • Anti-oxidents: protect against free radical damage and prevent aging

There are several varieties of coconut water available, but I would recommend staying away from those that are from concentrate (re: Zico) as both flavor and nutrient content are greatly diminished.   O.N.E. Coconut Water is a good choice.

If you want the real-real thing, you can find young coconuts at Whole Foods and select natural health food stores. Simply cut off the top (you can usually convince the guys in produce to do this for you), stick a straw in and enjoy!

Harry B knows what’s up: Coconut Woman

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Let’s talk about the birds and the bees…

Or more specifically, the many amazing benefits of bee pollen! Yes, bee pollen — collected on the legs of honey bees.  These tiny granules pack more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other nutrients per ounce than any other known natural substance.

“Modern research has found that bee pollen is rich in important health-giving phytochemicals. Some phytochemicals found in pollen can reduce inflammation and promote detoxification. Others are known to lower cholesterol, stabilize and strengthen capillaries, reduce inflammation, quench free radicals; and are antiviral, antibacterial and anticarcinogenic,” said research scientist C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD.

Though it has recently surfaced as an herbal “fountain of youth” in natural health circles, it is not a new discovery; Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, used bee pollen as a healing substance over 2,500 years ago with the belief that it contributed to a longer, healthier life. Moreover, this wonder food is so perfect that some researchers have claimed humans could survive on a diet of solely bee pollen.

A list of the major known nutrients in bee pollen:

  • Vitamins: Provitamin A, B-1 Thiamin, B-2 Riboflavin, B-3 Nancin, B-5, B-6 Pyridoxine, B-12 (cyanocobalamine), Pantothenic acid, Vitamin C, F, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin H, Vitamin K, Vitamin PP, Folic Acid, Choline, Inositol, Rutin.
  • Minerals: Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Iron, Copper, Iodine, Zinc, Sulfur, Sodium, Chlorine, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Selenium, Boron, Silica, and Titanium.
  • Other nutrients: 22 Amino Acids, 14 Fatty Acids and 11 Enzymes

Some of the documented benefits:

  • weight loss
  • increased energy, vitality and stamina
  • enhanced immune system
  • relief from allergy and asthma systems
  • improved sexual function and prostate problems
  • improved digestion
  • slow the aging process
  • prevention of cancer and other diseases

I’ve been known to eat the bee pollen by the spoonful (it tastes a bit like honey infused gram cracker crumbs) for a quick health and energy buzz-zz, but it’s easy to blend into a smoothie if you’re not as crazy about the flavor. A teaspoon (or two) per day should be enough to reap the benefits.

When purchasing bee pollen, please be cognisant of where it was sourced. Like any consumed food, seeking products that originate from an environment free of pesticides, chemicals and other toxins is the healthiest choice. In addition, I don’t recommend the non-refrigerated varieties as many vital nutrients will be lost due to heat and shelf-life. Many natural food co-ops have organic, locally sourced bee pollen available in the bulk refrigerated section — the most economically and environmentally friendly option. And, depending on your area, Whole Foods usually carries a selection of fresh bee pollen in the refrigerated Whole Body section (I know — I’ve been to over half of the Whole Foods in the U.S., no joke). My favorites include Y.S. Organic Bee Farms (Midwest and West regions), Stakich Organic Bee Products (Northeast and East regions), and Local Bee Pollen, Buzzer Bee Inc.(Southeast regions) .

Precautions:
If you are allergic to bees, please do not use bee pollen products!

Sources and Additional Information:
Books:

  1. Broadhurst, C. Leigh; PhD. Health and Healing With Bee Products. Alive Books, 2000.
  2. Elkins, Rita. Bee Pollen, Royal Jelly, Propolis, and Honey: An Extraordinary Energy and Health-Promoting Ensemble. Woodland Publishing, 1999.

Online studies and periodicals:

  1. Bee Pollen as a “promising candidate” in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17639562?ordinalpos=23&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSu
  2. On prostate health: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1699628
  3. On antioxidant effects: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19243635?ordinalpos=6&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
  4. On allergies: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19367658?ordinalpos=5&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
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Breathing for health

Breathing deeply from the diaphragm is an essential piece in the puzzle of health; however, many of us are classified “shallow breathers.”  What this means is that we are not filling our lungs completely with oxygen when we inhale or ridding our lungs completely of carbon dioxide when we exhale.  This results in high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood which creates fatigue, mental fog, and decreased tissue function.  A quick test to determine if you’re in the shallow end of the swimming pool of breath, is to breathe in deeply for a count of five and if your chest expands rather than your belly, you are breathing incorrectly.

“If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly.  Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders, ” said alternative health practitioner, Dr. Andrew Weil.

If you are not yet convinced (or are convinced and eager to reap the benefits of deep breathing!), please spend a few minutes completing one of the below exercises – excerpted from Dr. Andrew Weil’s website.   I feel an immediate well-being and energy boost, and I’m sure you will, too.

Exercise 1: The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise
This exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Exercise 2: The Stimulating Breath (also called the Bellows Breath)
The Stimulating Breath is adapted from a yogic breathing technique. Its aim is to raise vital energy and increase alertness.

  • Inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose, keeping your mouth closed but relaxed. Your breaths in and out should be equal in duration, but as short as possible. This is a noisy breathing exercise.
  • Try for three in-and-out breath cycles per second. This produces a quick movement of the diaphragm, suggesting a bellows. Breathe normally after each cycle.
  • Do not do for more than 15 seconds on your first try. Each time you practice the Stimulating Breath, you can increase your time by five seconds or so, until you reach a full minute.

further reading: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00521/three-breathing-exercises.html


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To begin, away with cancer causing cosmetics!

Though it’s no secret that toxic chemicals are present in many modern beauty products, current laws enable the cosmetic companies to substantiate the safety of their own products before marketing to consumers.  Thus, without a regulatory agency overseeing the quality and safety of cosmetics, chemicals such as Aluminum and Lead
will continue to enter our bodies and create “mysterious” diseases and disorders.

A full list of common beauty products with a breakdown and explanation of ingredients can be found on the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database.

It’s worth checking out, especially if you use Maybelline’s best-selling mascara.  She’s probably not born with dark, waterproof lashes…or cancer.  Maybe it’s Maybelline!

In light of this, I would never knowingly put toxins on my body; however, I, like most modern women, am well aware of the benefits of mascara…and lip gloss…and a shimmery, eye-opening shadow.  Therefore, I have tried many of the toxin-free brands and will list my favorites below.  I do recommend checking out the makeup counter at your local co-op or organic grocery (Whole Foods typically carries a decent selection) to find what works best for you.

lovely, safe lipstick and lipgloss from Honeybee Gardens

mascara and eyeliner from Dr. Haushka Skin Care

Blush and eyeshadow from Maia’s Mineral Galaxy

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