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Non-Toxic Home

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Non-Toxic Home

Moving to Seattle has been exciting as I step into a new chapter in my life. 

While I don't indulge in retail therapy often, I didn't own much walking in the door of my apartment so I have been shopping everyday. 

Since my health is important to me, I have bought specific things to ensure my home is a part of my healthy living journey. Whether you are already settled in your home, moving somewhere new, or setting up your son, daughter, or nephew in their first apartment/home, I hope some of these tips will support you and loved ones to live in a non-toxic healthful home! 

I want to be clear that I am not a saint and have had to make certain decisions based on finances, so we all have to try to do our best while minimizing toxicity in the space we live.

Living Room:

  • Jute Rug: Natural fiber rugs (jute, seagrass, sisal, coir, abaca, etc.) are biodegradable and do not off-gas chemicals. 
  • Reclaimed Wood Table: Saves virgin wood, has an eco-friendly non-toxic wood finish, and looks amazing! 
  • Couch: Here we enter a bit of a challenging area. Most couches (and mattresses) these days are made using polyurethane foam. While the EPA and industry claim that the foam doesn't off-gas, some beg to differ. Polyfoam is made from potroleum, is pretty toxic to produce, and if it catches on fire (keep your candles far away) it creates a toxic smoke which is very dangerous. The bad and good news is that most couches produced in 2015 and after are no longer sprayed with chemical flame retardants which disrupt the endocrine system responsible for hormone production in the body. The challenge is that couches using latex foam (more on this in a moment) or wool can cost $3,000 and up for a seven footer. If you have the money do it, if you don't opt for a couch that isn't sprayed with flame retardants, make sure to clean your space often (dust mixes with chemical residue and sticks around longer), and even in the winter open windows and air out your living room space every three or so days. 
  • LED Light Bulbs: Save a ton of energy and money, mercury free (compared to CFLs), and reduce energy use which equals less CO2 emissions from coal power plants. Obviously these are not just for the living room. 

Bedroom:

  • Mattress:  How many hours do you sleep a night? While sitting on a couch a few hours a day made from synthetic materials is one thing, sleeping on a toxic polyfoam mattress is bad news. Opt for latex mattress (but beware natural latex made from the rubber tree is what you want, synthetic latex is a fake full of toxicity). Wool is also an option but more expensive. Especially if you have children invest for their sake as the younger the human body is the more it will be affected by chemicals.
  • Bedding: Same as above, spend the money especially on pillows for wool or buckwheat hulls. Think how many hours you breathe with your head on a pillow. I also invested in a wool duvet (real down feathers results in many geese dying and many duvets are synthetic), organic sheets, and an organic cotton duvet cover. If I am going to spend 1/3 of my life in bed I might as well by eco and cozy.
  • Bed Frame: While many furniture manufactures are shifting to be more responsible it is taking time, trees are the lungs of our planet. Look for FSC sustainably managed wood or products approved by the sustainable furnishings council.

Bathroom:

  • Shower Curtain: If you use one this is one of the greatest sources of toxicity, especially when it interacts with hot steam. Choose chloride-free PEVA vinyl which doesn’t emit harmful chemicals into the air. 

Kitchen:

  • Glass: Bowels, tupaware, cups, pitcher, blender, jars, and anything else glass.
  • Stainless Steel: Knives, utensils, serving spoons, measuring cups/spoons pots and pans (cast iron pan is also good and to clean your stainless steel pan use a stainless steel scrub brush, makes it just as easy as non-stick, and Teflon is toxic).
  • Wood: Bamboo is a good sustainable choice for cutting boards, dish rack, and large cooking spoons.
  • Real authentic old-school ceramic cookware is also non-toxic but beware of the new nano version, not enough data.
  • Notice that my kitchen doesn’t have any plastic, simply no need and plastic leaches chemicals with heat, no thank you!
  • Cleaning Supplies: Yes most conventional cleaning supplies have a ton of unnecessary chemicals. Buy or make your own green options, just as potent but no harm involved.  
  • Water Filter: While I prefer tap water over bottled it is vital to filter water especially if your city uses fluoride (now clear it is effective topically but creates problems for the thyroid when ingested). Reverse osmosis or a counter top option like the Berkey are ideal, basic filters like Britta don't do enough. 

This conversation could go on forever but these are some big keys to a non-toxic home especially in the bedroom where we spend a ton of time sleeping. Remember, that besides the big priced items (which are an investment for the long term) most of these choices are extremely affordable and you can find good options at places like Ross (great stainless steel options), Goodwill (or other thrift shops, amazing kitchen supplies), Whole Foods (have these amazing  biodegradable green sponges to replace paper towels), and other stores.

One purchase at a time you can have a non-toxic home or apartment as well!!!

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Simple

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Simple

After reading articles on nutrition I am both happy and at times overwhelmed by all the immense data. 

To counter the feeling of "is anything I am doing really healthy?" I have to remind myself for the most part keeping it simple is the way to ensure optimal health and sanity. 

You have probably have heard all of these recommendations before, but just in case your overwhelmed. 

  1. Stay hydrated. 
  2. Eat unprocessed organic/local non-toxic foods. 
  3. Rotate the foods in your diet so your body gets nutrient diversity. 
  4. Reduce your consumption of refined grains and processed sugar. 
  5. Don't be afraid of high quality fats (grass fed butter/ghee, coconut oil, avocados, poached eggs, olive oil, nuts & seeds-in moderation) 
  6. If you consume animal foods ensure they are pasture raised. 
  7. Get restful and deep sleep. 
  8. Move your body in some way 4 times a week (walks count, but its also important to ramp things up to work your muscles and heart) 
  9. Reduce your consumption of refined & and high in Omega 6 vegetable oils (canola, sunflower, safflower, soy, and corn). 
  10. Increase your consumption of Omega 3 through low mercury fish (sardines, anchovies, salmon, halibut, sea bass, etc.)
  11. Manage your stress. 
  12. Reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals (hello teflon, cleaning products and personal care products). 
  13. Increase your intake of anti-inflammatory veggies, herbs and spices. 
  14. Tell your close family and friends how much you appreciate them. 
  15. Laugh and have some fun! 

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Sulfur Baby

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Sulfur Baby

I often find myself attracted to subject matters that defy my Virgo nature to box things up and reach a final conclusions. Its probably the reason that I love nutrition. 

Just when I think I have a grasp of something I discover more about how food and the body interact.

In my latest exploration I have been reading and listening about the role of sulfur in regards to health. 

Sulfur works in the background and is key in:

  1. Biological functioning and shape of proteins.
  2. Enzyme functionality.
  3. Detoxification.
  4. Hair, nail, and joint health. 
  5. Maintenance and integrity of cellular systems. 

How can you get enough sulfur in your diet?

  1. Eat more onions, leeks, shallots and garlic (if you find raw too pungent, steam them lightly). 
  2. Consume more cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, bock chop and other members of the Brassicas family (again lightly steamed is best for sulfur availability). 
  3. Explore grass fed beef, pastured eggs, and omega 3 rich fish.

Especially if you find yourself struggling with depression, fatigue, or high stress add in some sulfur foods and notice if they make a difference. 

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Vegetable Centric

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Vegetable Centric

When I look at the way I eat today I have to partly give thanks to the culture I was born into; Israel.

Even though my diet was McDonalds Centric for the first few years of living in America, eventually I came back to my roots; vegetables at most every meal. 

Vegetables often fall victim to a busy lifestyle because their shelf life is short or people get overwhelmed when it comes to preparation. Add in spread out families and the loss of traditional food wisdom being passed down from generation to generation and you get a processed food epidemic.

Luckily, with a greater awareness of how food impacts our health and the need to heal our ailing planet, many individuals are rekindling their relationship with plant-based goodies.

Being a strict vegetarian is not a requirement but study after study is clear, even if you consume animal foods it is vital to have veggies around. In fact, eating Vegetable Centric can be life saving by increasing fiber, offering the body more hydration, and balancing out the acidic qualities of meat. 

So why dominate your plate with a variety of potent and colorful friendly companions?

  1. Alkaline & Acid: the first and most important contemplation in the internal chemistry of the body is our alkaline and acid profile. To put it simply, when the internal environment of the body is overly acidic (which occurs from low quality processed foods, over consumption of animal foods, toxic medications, and stress) the body is literally crafting a breeding ground for disease. When the internal environment is more alkaline disease is held at bay and the body can thrive.  For example, broccoli, garlic, kale, sea vegetables, pumpkin seeds, and sprouts are more alkaline. Beef, corn chips, chicken, and ham are more acidic. When eating high quality animal foods the key is not to get rid of more acidic foods but instead balance them out with alkalizing foods that will bring the body back to center.  If a typical breakfast consists of fried eggs, white toast, sausage and hashed potatoes, the body is in acid overload. The same meal can be upgraded with poached eggs, whole wheat toast, and adding a side of kale, asparagus, salad greens or lightly steamed bok-choy to shift the acid alkaline equation.
  2. Color Beautiful: the bright diversity of colors in vegetables communicates their high antioxidant properties and variety of vitamins and minerals which fight cancer causing free radicals in the body and help many essential enzymatic processes unfold with ease. Dr. Walter Willet, the chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health writes in his book Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy, that eating vegetables can decrease the chances of having a heart attack or stroke, protects against a variety of cancers, lowers blood pressure, and protect the eyes against cataracts. Visit www.disabled-world.com/img/fruitvegetablecolorchart.jpg for a color based chart for fruits and veggies.
  3. Fiber Power: eating a variety of vegetables contributes to the health promoting effects of fiber, which has impacts on the gastro intestinal tract and other essential systems in the body. Dr. Mark Hyman, author of Ultra Metabolism writes that fiber helps us burn more calories, stay full longer, and helps reduce our appetite. All three benefits occur because whole vegetables foods take longer to break down, provide us with more sustained fuel, and stabilize a potential blood sugar rollercoaster that can occur from fiber deficient foods.
  4. Food to Body Wisdom: the way many vegetables look actually clues us in to the health benefits that they posses. A walnut resembles the folds of the brain and contains vital neurotransmitters for optimal functioning. Celery looks like bones and contains an ample amount of sodium to help replenish the strength of the skeletal system. Avocados support the health of the womb and cervix while creating hormonal balance. Sweet potatoes resemble the pancreas and help the body stabilize blood sugar. 

To include more vegetables in your daily routine get creative, be demanding (and kind) at restaurants for a larger portion of veggies, and experiment with new way to steam, bake, sauté, and eat plant-based foods as is.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Poached eggs, salsa, yeast free rye bread, and steamed spinach.
  • Soba noodles, sautéed onions, garlic, kale, sun dried tomato paste, olives, olive oil, and goat cheese.
  • Avocado, cucumbers, fresh parsley, squeezed lemon and sea salt on sourdough leavened bread.
  • Carrot, daikon, parsnip, ginger, yellow miso soup (add miso when water is not boiling once all your veggies are tender).
  • Wild Alaskan salmon, steamed with squeezed lemon, garlic, olive oil, fresh pepper, mushrooms, and mustard greens.
  • Salad greens, red pepper, radish, celery, sautéed zucchini and summer squash, sardines, chili flakes, sea salt, olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Steamed broccoli with a touch of sea salt and grated raw cheese

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