What do the AAP-approved homeopathic remedy for infant colic and the International Space Station have in common? The same thing they have in common with nuclear submarines, EMTs, kidney dialysis machines, NBC suits (Nuclear Biological Chemical), water filters, emergency hospitals, poison control centers... and savvy doctors, nurses, mothers, farmers, world travelers and environmentalists.
Armed with a mother’s heart, J went to her kitchen to formulate something that would relieve her first born from his misery and crying. The family was all worn out from sleepless nights as baby C cried and cried from infant colic. With no formal training in herbs, no chemistry degree, J researched to find something other than the different gripe waters she had tried that contained alcohol and just weren’t working for her baby. After blending together half a dozen herbs, known for their medicinal benefits, she added her not-so-secret outlandish ingredient: activated charcoal. In only minutes baby C stopped crying, the colic was gone, the sleepless nights were history. Since then that simple remedy has helped tens of thousands of babies, and no doubt saved many a marriage from the brink of divorce—if you have ever experienced the strain and stress of a colicky baby that can cry almost 24/7 then you can understand why.
A Universal Antidote
Only a small fraction of the population are aware that charcoal is often referred to as the “universal antidote” for poisoning.* Activated charcoal is GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) for people and animals, and the FDA lists charcoal as Category I, “Safe and Effective” for poisoning. What kind of poisons? It is estimated in the neighborhood of 6,000+ natural and manmade toxins. From classic poisons like strychnine, arsenic and some heavy metals; to the endotoxins produced by tetanus, diphtheria, E. coli, and other microbes; to the cocktail of poisons coming out the ends of cigarettes and coal-fired generators; to virtually all psychotropic drugs (Lithium being one exception), just to name a few. In fact the neutralizing effect of activated charcoal on poisons is so wide reaching that when doctors prescribe it for various conditions, they are careful to stress not to take it within 1-2 hours of prescription drugs (pharmacologically also classed as poisons) because the charcoal may interfere with their absorption by the body.
Charcoal is basically inert. When given for poisoning, drug overdose, or food poisoning (by EMTs on the way to the hospital) the charcoal is not digested nor does it pass into the blood stream. Instead it passes from one end of the GI tract mopping up** toxins as it moves along, and together the toxins and charcoal are voided from the body at the other end.
During the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, media publicity of potential radiation poisoning had desperate people along the west coast of America trying to score bottles of Potassium Iodide (KI) tablets as a possible antidote. Meanwhile the Japanese government was buying up shiploads of activated charcoal. Connected to each nuclear reactor are giant filters holding eight tons or more of activated charcoal made from coconut shell. Because the Japanese demand for coconut activated charcoal for water, air and soil decontamination put a serious dent in world stores, the prices rose dramatically—but not as high as KI tablets in California. Strange, that the antidote of choice for radiation toxicity was never mentioned in the media. Curious, but not surprising.
It is because activated charcoal does adsorb so many drugs—toxic chemicals, as well as poisonous plants—that, in 2001, Kentucky’s Regional Poison Center spearheaded a statewide media blitz to encourage every household to store activated charcoal in their medicine cabinet. Activated charcoal is most effective as an antidote for drug poisoning, mushroom poisoning or any poisoning, if given within the first thirty minutes. The Poison Center followed 138 cases of home poisoning in children. The average time for hospital treatment from the time of ingestion was about 73 minutes. The treatment time was cut to 38 minutes, almost half, for those children treated in the home by their parents. The study authors concluded: “Greater efforts need to be put into educating parents about the need to stock activated charcoal in the home in advance of a poisoning.” When your house is on fire that is no time to go looking for a fire extinguisher.
Do you have activated charcoal in your home? If not, consider purchasing activated charcoal for medicinal uses.
* Technically it is not universal. There are many chemicals that activated charcoal does not adsorb, still, it neutralizes so many, that it stands without peer among other potential antidotes for poisons.
** This action is called adsorption, as compared to absorption. What is the difference? When you eat a lemon meringue pie you are absorbing it. When someone throws it at your face you are adsorbing it. Charcoal adsorbs toxins to its internal surface area and refuses to let them go.
John Dinsley is the co-founder and owner of Charcoal House LLC and Charcoal Gardens experimental organic farm. He is a Lifestyle Counselor, teaches public health programs, home remedies workshops, and drug cessation clinics. His award-winning book, CharcoalRemedies.com: The Complete Handbook of Medicinal Charcoal is considered the most comprehensive manual on the medicinal applications of charcoal.
Recent research has shed light on the importance that dental health is to our overall health and longevity: The Mayo Clinic reports that poor oral health can affect endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart, as well as cardiovascular disease, premature birth and low birth weight, diabetes, immune system disorders and eating disorders.
It may be well worth giving up commercial toothpaste and turning toward home remedies for healthy teeth and gums.
Is Traditional Dental Care the Best?
Experts recommend protecting your teeth and gums by getting regular dental checkups; eating a healthful diet; and brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice daily. Katie The Wellness Mama cites studies about oral health and lack of minerals by married doctors Mellanby and Weston Price, showing that vitamin D is important to healthy teeth. She discusses her own experience with a diet that helps her treat cavities and improve oral health: She cuts out grains, beans and nuts, limits food with sugars and starches, and adding healthful fats (coconut oil); pastured, cultured butter; and homemade bone broths.
Even if you eat this way, regular toothpaste contains lots of things you may not want in your system. When was the last time you read the ingredients on the toothpaste you buy? Do you know what’s in your toothpaste? Do you have a favorite brand or flavor of toothpaste?
Commercially prepared toothpaste has ingredients such as synthetic additives; disinfectant chemicals containing ammonium compounds,; preservatives; fluoride; foaming agents; abrasive silicas and mica; artificial colors and flavors; and even have plastic microbeads that can get lodged underneath gums and in between teeth.
One of the most concerning ingredients in commercial toothpastes is triclosan, a pesticide that alters hormone regulation but is used in toothpaste as an antimicrobial to fight gingivitis. This petroleum-derived ingredient has also been linked to carcinogenic and abrasive properties.
Toothpaste pot from the early 1900s.
Photo via Wellcome Images
Neem & Peelu
If you don’t want to use such ingredients in your mouth every day, you have plenty of safe and effective alternatives. Before 1873, when Colgate started mass production of toothpaste in jars, people used cloth and water to clean their teeth, or chewed on twigs or inner bark fiber from neem and peelu trees.
Neem twigs are still used as toothbrushes in India. They peel off the thin, outer bark covering of a twig and chew on the end until the fibers split, then rub it on teeth and gums. Peelu fibers from the Middle Eastern peelu tree (Salvadora persica), also called miswak and siwak, are available at health-food stores to aid in oral health. Use the raw fibers to chew daily or use it in powder form to brush with.
If you live in a warm climate, you can grow neem and peelu trees for personal use. They are not hardy outdoors in freezing climates but could be grown inside as houseplants.
Use sage leaves to clean teeth by rubbing them on teeth in your mouth.
Photo courtesy Nnorbu/Wikimedia Commons
Baking soda is another great natural solution for clean teeth and gums. Turn it into a paste by mixing it with water. This is an easy and effective time-tested tooth cleanser. Mix in some peppermint or spearmint oil, as well as a little bit of stevia extract, for a better tasting paste.
Instead of baking soda, you can mix sea salt with a little bit of water to brush with. Both baking soda and salt can be abrasive, so some people may prefer formulations without them.
You can also use a toothbrush dipped in hydrogen peroxide to your brush teeth. Follow up follow with a mixture of baking soda and fine or crushed sea salt to brush a second time, unless you have amalgam fillings—hydrogen peroxide can cause mercury to leach from these types of fillings.
Try making your own toothpaste with two parts baking soda and three parts organic coconut oil to five parts calcium powder. Flavor and sweeten this mixture with mint, cinnamon or orange essential oil and xylitol.
Finally, if you have access to fresh sage, rub fresh sage leaves on your teeth to clean and disinfect them. Some tooth powders actually contain crushed sage.
Retail Products I Trust
If you don’t want to mix your own toothpaste, use herbal tooth powders such as Dr. Christopher’s Herbal Tooth & Gum Powder or inVitamin’s Natural Tooth & Gum Powder with Activated Charcoal. Dr. Christopher’s powder has a mixture of many herbs, including shavegrass, peppermint, white oak, comfrey, lobelia, cloves, prickly ash bark, bayberry bark, slippery elm bark and stevia. InVitamin’s powder contains activated bamboo charcoal, bentonite clay, orris root powder, myrrh gum powder, hibiscus petal powder, stevia leaf, peppermint and cinnamon.
You may prefer one of the natural toothpaste products from Earthpaste or Uncle Harry’s Toothpaste. With their toothpastes, you’ll get all the freshening, cleansing, whitening and antibacterial benefits without any of the risky chemicals.
Heidi Cardenas is a freelance writer, gardener, knitter and crocheter in Illinois with a keen interest in growing and using herbs and spices. She has written about gardening and natural living for various online venues and loves the focus on natural alternatives at Mother Earth Living.
During the cold winter months, finding natural ways to ease cold and flu symptoms may help prevent or shorten the length of symptoms. While the days of being sick can be miserable and long, finding enjoyment and relaxation from a warm bath, a cup of hot tea or the warmth of a cozy bed are some of the best natural medicines. Thanks to friendly advice from family, friends and neighbors, here are a few of my favorite natural cold and flu remedies.
Photo by Kristy Severin
Warm Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salt, otherwise known as magnesium sulfate, is known for its therapeutic properties, including relief of minor aches and pains, reducing inflammation, improving circulation, helping detox the body, aid in stress relief and helping raise energy levels. Epsom salt can be found at your local drug store, at your nearest natural grocery store or online. To start, sprinkle 1 to 2 cups Epsom salts to warm water in a standard bathtub and soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Add a couple drops of your favorite essential oils to enhance your experience. I added a couple drops of peppermint essential oil to help alleviate congestion.
Photo via This Organic Life
Whether you decide to make your own or purchase elderberry syrup from your local natural-food store, this powerful natural medicine is known to fight against colds and flu.
Photo via Healthy Happy Life
Start your morning or end your day with a bright orange smoothie filled with tons of vitamin C and other vitamins to help fight or prevent a cold. I found this recipe from one of my favorite vegan recipe blogs, Healthy Happy Life.
Photo by Kristy Severin
Hot Herbal Teas
Thyme, licorice root, echinacea, cinnamon and eucalyptus are just a few herbs that can help prevent and relieve cold symptoms. To make an herbal tea for cold-relief, boil dried herbs in hot water to steep and strain, or use a simple pre-made tea bag. The powerful properties of herbs are extensive and certain herbs can be used to help with specific symptoms.
Photo by Kristy Severin
Honey can help calm a cough, soothe a sore throat and sweeten a warm cup of tea or lemon water. I am always sure to have honey on hand during a cold and take a teaspoon of pure, raw honey when needed or add it to a warm cup of herbal tea with lemon.
Photo via Monsoon Spice
Spicy Hot Soups
A warm spicy soup can help relieve congestion and soothe a cold body. Enjoy your favorite soup recipe and kick it up a notch if you wish. I don’t typically like spicy foods, but I enjoy the relief and regaining the ability to taste again with a hot and spicy soup.
Photo via Sustainable Suburbia
Natural Vapor Chest Rub
Help alleviate congestion with a natural vapor chest rub. From a simple mix of peppermint essential oil and coconut oil, to a more complex recipe such as this one from Sustainable Suburbia, enjoy the relaxation and relief from congestion.
Warm Bed and Happy Thoughts
Rest and happy thoughts can go a long way! Remember to use your best judgment and do what feels best for your body during a cold or flu this season.
Kristy Severin is a mother of two, a certified art instructor, photographer, painter, writer and cook. She earned her BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uganda, East Africa. Inspired daily by her children and love of the earth, you can find her fine art and writings at The Art of Green Living.
The start of a New Year evokes contemplating on the previous months and marks a clean slate for everything you want to see happen in your life. Who wouldn’t want to live life to the fullest? This 2015, cultivate healthy habits that will help you lead healthier and better lives. Here are eight mindful habits to help make 2015 your year.
Photo courtesy Andy Arthur via Flickr Creative Commons
1. Buy Less; Help The Earth. Everybody has a duty to lessen their carbon footprint, the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the production of goods and services. According to Carbonfund.org, manufacturing products produce 4 to 8 pounds of CO2 for every pound of manufactured product. In a world that’s growing more and more materialistic, live simply by reusing and recycling whenever possible. Not only will it help combat global warming, it will make you realize that the best things in life don’t come with a price tag.
Photo courtesy 401(K) 2012 via Flickr Creative Commons
2. Be Savings-Savvy. Money isn’t everything, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to live a comfortable life borne out of secure savings. Allocate your windfall earnings—a bonus, gift or extra cash—wisely, advises Reader’s Digest. Divide it into three parts: past, present and future. Use the first part to pay a debt, the second to spend on present necessities or even indulgences, and the third to prepare for the future.
Photo courtesy Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ via Flickr Creative Commons
3. Change the Way You Look at Fitness. Most people only exercise when they feel like losing weight. While there’s nothing wrong with that, you should transform your perception of fitness. Instead of merely aiming to lose weight, strive for a healthy and fit lifestyle. Doing so doesn’t have to mean devoting hours to Spartan-style training. You just need to incorporate fitness in your daily regimen and tap the resources that you may already have right in your own home or community. Use the stairs whenever you can. Make use of yoga videos on YouTube and kick-start a healthier you right in the comfort of your own home. Need a fun and social way to getting fit? Just ask if your homeowners’ association or condo administration offer Zumba sessions.
Photo courtesy Darkhorse Winterwolf via Flickr Creative Commons
4. Spend Quality Time With Family and Friends. According to the 2006 study by Daniel Kahneman and Alan B. Krueger, both from Princeton University, interacting frequently with people is good for your mental state. It connects us with other humans and reinforces bonds. Moreover, being more social will bring forth good vibes and a strong support system that will surely come in handy whenever times get tough.
Photo courtesy Tarciso via Flickr Creative Commons
5. Eat Right. Ending the previous year with a string of feasts may sidetrack even the most steadfast healthy eater, but no need to fret. Get back right on track by detoxifying and committing to supply your body the nutrients it needs. A healthful diet delivers benefits like helping in controlling weight, improving mood, combating diseases, boosting energy and improving longevity. Get all these health benefits and more by making small tweaks to your lifestyle. Bring packed lunches to work; munch on more fruits and vegetables; steer clear of junk food; rev up your body by fueling it with only the good stuff; and more.
Photo courtesy Vancouver Film School via Flickr Creative Commons
6. Let Go of Time Wasters. Time and again, proper time management is one of the most coveted goals. After all, people who efficiently spend their time reap results such as less stress; fewer mistakes; more free time and energy; and overall improved productivity. Evaluate what keeps you busy and whether these activities are really necessary. Sort out the trivial stuff and focus on the tasks that bring you closer to your goals.
Photo courtesy Moyan Brenn via Flickr Creative Commons
7. Push Yourself to Learn New Things and More About the World. Learning certainly doesn’t end in school. The National Health Service in the United Kingdom points out that learning throughout life leads to greater satisfaction and optimism, as well as an improved ability to get the most from life. For instance, a 2004 study found that people who pursued further learning had higher self-esteem and a greater ability to cope with stress. There are many activities out there to suit you. Take up a new sport; learn a foreign language; immerse yourself in travel; the list goes on. All you need is to open your eyes to the possibilities.
Photo courtesy Steve Janosik via Flickr Creative Commons
8. Take Up Volunteer Work. Living better is not all about you. In fact, helping others is a surefire way to find and increase your happiness. There are many benefits of volunteering: Not only will you make a difference in other people’s lives but you will gain new skills and meet new friends. Your heart will also thank you for it. According to a 2010 study by Karina W. Davidson, the director of the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health at Columbia University Medical Center, people with a joyful, positive and enthusiastic disposition—what psychologists call “positive affect”—are less likely than their gloomier peers to have a heart attack. Indeed, James Doolittle’s words ring true: “There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.”
It doesn’t take much to take up these eight habits, but if you cultivate them and make them part of your daily living, you will reap the benefits and experience the life you have always wanted. So go ahead, make every day of 2015 count!
Aby League is a medical practitioner and an Elite Daily writer. She also writes about business and other topics of great interest. She also writes a blog, About Possibilities. Follow her @abyleague and circle her on Google+.
Think you don’t have time for fitness? Use any of these equipment-free solutions to fit in time to care for your body.
Photo by iStock
Walk It Out. The benefits of simple walking are numerous, and walking has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity. Walking for 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, maintain a healthy weight, improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer, and enhance mental well-being, according to the American Heart Association.
Free Trainers. Fitness Blender offers free workout videos ranging from low-impact to more difficult high-intensity interval training. This type of training is among the most effective ways to increase overall fitness. What’s more, the session length ranges from five to 75 minutes, meaning you can fit in a workout no matter how much time you have. Most routines require no equipment; others require only hand weights.
Just Dance. Dancing is free and requires no equipment (other than your iPod). Dancing not only tones muscles, burns calories and helps strengthen bones—it’s also been shown to reduce stress, make us happier and even sharpen our minds. In a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, teaching the cha-cha to older adults twice a week for six months improved memory and cognitive function on a number of tests.
Most of us know that our surroundings can have a big impact on our mood, so we try to do things like brighten up rooms with artwork and plants or keep the shades open if we’re going to be working inside all day.
But what about when Mother Nature herself seems to be conspiring against you?
Many people get a little bit moody and sad when summer slips into fall and winter, but what you might not know is that extreme feelings in this vein that occur at the same time every year can be a sign of a serious condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
Though some people don’t believe the condition is real, medical experts disagree and say that somewhere between 10 and 12 million Americans have some form of the disease. That’s 1 out of every 30 people!
How Do You Know If You Have SAD?
Unfortunately, there are no diagnostic tests that doctors can give to determine whether or not you suffer from SAD. They are only able to diagnose people with the condition by observing them and using their history. True SAD sufferers:
• Only experience depression during a specific season — usually winter.
• Have gone through this depression for at least the last two years in a row.
• Have seasons with depressive symptoms that outnumber those without depressive symptoms.
Without those three things, Seasonal Affective Disorder cannot be given as a diagnosis.
Still there are things that can make you a more likely candidate to suffer from the condition. People in colder northern climates are far more likely to get it than those who live in places that are warm and sunny all year round. Those who don’t get a lot of light have a greater chance of suffering from SAD, because experts believe this is what leads to the negative effects on the brain.
Most people with SAD are women, so depressed men are likely suffering from something known as the “winter blues” or possibly another form of depression. And because there seems to be a genetic link, those with relatives who have Seasonal Affective Disorder, another depressive disorder, or who abuse alcohol are also more likely to get SAD.
What Does SAD Look Like?
There are many symptoms associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Unfortunately, many also occur in those who are dealing with other psychological issues, so they can’t confirm the presence of SAD all by themselves. Still, it’s important to know what to look for so the diagnosis can eventually be made – and you can get the help you need.
• Body aches
• Crying spells
• Poor sleep
• Trouble thinking or concentrating
• Feeling tired
• Decreased activity level
• Weight gain
• Loss of sexual desire
What Can You Do About SAD?
If you have been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or truly believe that you have the condition, there are several things you can do to alleviate your suffering.
Counseling. When you are dealing with a trying psychological issue, you go to see a psychologist or psychiatrist. There’s no difference when that problem is SAD instead of bipolar disorder or another disease. While it certainly doesn’t help everyone, many find that simply going to counseling and talking to a professional helps to make them feel better.
Get away. As the name implies, Seasonal Affective Disorder is related to the changing season. So if falling leaves, colder temperatures, and darkening skies make you feel like you just can’t cope, one potential solution is to leave and head somewhere with a more hospitable climate. For most, simply planning your vacation to skip town for the worst of it is enough, but there are some who find that their symptoms don’t completely disappear until they pick up and move.
Phototherapy. Since SAD symptoms are believed to be related to a lack of light, some people receive treatment that includes being exposed to artificial or natural light for a set period of time each day. Apparently it works quite well, because 80% of people show improvement within 2 to 4 days.
If you’re worried about SAD and want to learn more, this infographic from Yellowbrick covers a lot of ground.
Let’s face it: when it’s chilly outside, the last thing you want to do it reach over to your cold water bottle and drink eight ounces of life-giving water. In the winter, the air gets drier and heaters only dry out indoor air even further. Combined with that, because it’s colder, we don’t sweat as much and so are less apt to notice if we are becoming dehydrated. No matter the temperature outside, dehydration can cause muscle fatigue, exhaustion, cramps and dizziness, and can make you more susceptible to winter colds and the flu. Drinking water bolsters your immune system and lets your body run at full capacity.
The old rule of thumb was to drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day. This was set in place primarily because it’s easy to remember: 8 x 8, water is great! According to the Mayo Clinic, an adequate intake for men is closer to 13 cups of water, while for women it’s only nine. This number increases when you add exercise (two more cups), weather (hot or cold), and/or illness.
Unfortunately, cold weather in winter makes it tough to want to hydrate, even though this is the time of year we need it most. (Just ask your dry skin and chapped lips!) Try some of our tips to stay hydrated and healthy this winter.
1. Make It a Goal
Consciously decide you want to drink more water, and you can create a healthy habit. Invite your family and friends to join you—you could even turn it into a competition. Make a schedule—you could even write it out directly on your water bottle. There are many apps that can help you track your water intake, like Waterlogged or Water Your Body for Android. Try to replace every soda you might have with a glass of water, and see how you feel after a week.
2. Drink Tea
Tea is a great way to drink more water. The hot water is inviting on a chilly day, and gentle tea flavor can be invigorating. Plus all those other great benefits of tea. Studies show that having one cup of green tea a day can greatly increase your immune system function. You could even experiment with herbal teas—mixing up your own “tea” (it’s not real tea without tea leaves) with fresh or frozen fruit, or some slices of ginger root for added health benefits!
3. Keep It Nearby and Visible
You’re much more likely to drink water from your stainless steel or BPA free water bottle than walking all the way across the building to the water fountain. Don’t give yourself any excuses. Keep water at your desk, in your bag, or even better, right in front of you!
4. Drink Almond, Soy, Coconut or Other Non-Dairy Milks
Non-dairy milks are made of ground meal from almonds, coconut meat, hemp seeds or soybeans, which is then infused with water and strained. Almonds, soy, coconut and hemp all have great nutritional benefits on their own, so a glass of one of these milks will give you a vitamin boost without filling you up with protein and fats like dairy milk does. You can also learn to make your own almond milk.
Bonus: Hot almond milk with cinnamon and honey? Delicious.
5. Just Drink Water: Before and After Meals
More than anything else, drinking water before and after a meal can give you some structure to your drinking schedule. You may not realize you haven’t had anything to drink all morning until lunchtime rolls around. If you make it a point to drink 16 to 32 ounces of water at lunchtime, you'll be two to four cups closer to your goal! This is also one method for healthy weight loss, as you may find you eat less. Warmer water, even just at room temperature, can greatly aid your digestion as well. According to Livestrong, cold beverages are removed from the stomach much more quickly than warm drinks, thus not doing much for your system.
Coconut water (different from coconut milk) falls under a slightly different category. This is the liquid taken directly from a young (green) coconut. This is also a great hydrating beverage—often praised as a good substitute for Gatorade or other sugary post-sport drinks. It is hydrating, thirst quenching and full of natural electrolytes.
6. Eat Spicy Foods
You can “trick” yourself into drinking more water by adding some red pepper flakes to your meal, giving a simple dish a kick of spice. That spice will have you reaching for a glass of water in no time!
7. Serve Soups
Nothing quite erases the chill of a cold day like a cup of hot soup. This hydration trick can have you drinking more water while you’re eating your lunch—two birds with one stone! Soups with clear broth, particularly, have a high water content that will help replenish your water reserves. You can find some great soup recipes on our Soups & Stews collection page.
8. Flavor Your Water
This trick will work in the winter or summer, and can be changed to suit the season. Make your water look fun and interesting, while adding a touch of fruity flavor with fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, watermelon or cucumber—any sort of fruit will work! Toss in some cranberries, figs, pomegranate, rosemary or mint leaves for a real holiday slurp. You could even try infusing a cinnamon stick if you like drinks with a spicy kick. Infuse basil and cucumber for a refreshing herbal concoction. It’s hard to go wrong, so try a few of your own recipes with fruit and herbs that you have around the kitchen.
You could also add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and one tablespoon of honey to your water, for an alkali boost that aids your digestion. Turmeric and a dash of pepper make a great, semi-sweet anti-inflammatory combination for your water. You could also add a splash of your favorite juice to a glass of water to add light flavor without all the sugar (added or not).
9. Snack on Water-Based Foods
Watermelon may not be in season, but there are many other fruits and vegetables that have a high percentage of water. Eating your water also has the added benefit of giving you other much needed nutrients, antioxidants and vitamins. Try clementines, celery, tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, spinach, citrus fruits, pears, pomegranates and winter squash (aka spaghetti squash) for a tasty, hydrating treat.
10. Hydrate Your Skin, Too
Your skin is the barrier between you and the elements. As air dries in the winter, your skin takes a hit (chapped lips, anyone?). When your skin is dry, microscopic cracks appear, making it easier for germs and viruses to invade and get you sick. These fluctuating conditions also make it hard to retain elasticity and thus leads to more wrinkles. Invest in a humidifier if you live in a particularly dry climate. Put on lotion or homemade body butter to seal in the moisture and give you skin a real pampering treat.
11. Avoid Sodium
Sodium retains water, effectively trapping it and making it inaccessible to the rest of your body. Sodium is not just table salt. A spoonful of table salt in a home-cooked meal is less than 100 milligrams of sodium, while an 8-ounce bag of potato chips can have more than 1,000 milligrams of sodium—that’s almost half of your daily recommendation! To lower sodium intake, avoid processed foods and foods with many additives to limit the dehydrating impact of sodium.
Do you have any tips on how to stay hydrated this winter? What are your favorite flavored waters or water alternatives? Share your best tips below!
Taylor Nutting is an editorial assistant at Mother Earth Living who loves to find new ways (especially if it involves cooking!) to live a healthy and happy life.