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There are many ways to enhance the air quality in your home. Aside from remembering to dust, if you are sensitive to allergens and pollen, really cleaning and purifying the air is something you need to do. If you want to breathe better throughout the day, here are some natural purifying techniques you can use to improve your life at home.
Open the Windows
Fresh, clean air dilutes the pollution that’s found in various spaces. To achieve the best results, leave the windows open for about 15 minutes each day, during times when the air is relatively dry. If the pollen count is high, you should keep your windows closed to avoid allergies. Letting moist air into your house means potential mold risks in certain areas will increase, so be aware of when you decide to let fresh air in.
Vacuum in multiple passes
In order to get clearer air throughout your entire home, you must get rid of dust. By vacuuming dirty areas more than once, you’ll capture more dust and boost the overall air quality. To prevent fraying on area rugs, work from the center outward. Take your time and be sure to empty it as you go, so the suction will work best.
Use the Bathroom Fans
Mold can cause coughing and congestion if not addressed in your environment. However, you can prevent the development of mold by running your bathroom fans regularly. When the blades spin, they’ll pull the air out of the space and reduce the chances of mold growth in moist areas.
Clean the Filters
Air filters that are clogged or dirty won’t operate at high efficiency. If you have an AC system, you must design a proper maintenance schedule by working with an HVAC maintenance company. According to the American Lung Association, the filters in a typical HVAC unit should be inspected every season.
Use the Fireplace Less Often
When wood burns in a fireplace, it produces harsh toxins that can cause serious breathing issues. If certain kinds of wood are burnt regularly, children or elderly family members could develop severe health problems, such as lung or heart disease.
Avoid Volatile Organic Compounds
Many forms of commercial house paints include toxic chemicals known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Keep paint buckets in an area that’s well-ventilated. Better yet, try using paint with low-VOC or non-VOC content in your home to reduce or eliminate those contaminants completely.
Overall, the process of keeping the air in your home clean isn’t complicated if proper procedures are implemented. If you’re concerned about gas levels and other harmful toxins you may consider investing in an air quality test. Companies such as AirCheck One can detect additional pollutants you might not be aware of, and can make your home safer. Typically, prices for these services start at around $100 for a test kit, or $300 for a professional residential air quality test. If you have allergies or asthma, using these techniques may improve your overall quality of life.
Over the past few years, I’ve been working to reduce the number of skin- and personal-care products I use on a daily basis, and transitioning to natural products whenever possible. It’s been hit-or-miss on occasion, but with a little trial and error I have been able to find quality alternatives that meet my needs.
Toothpaste—at least in our house—is a product that’s hard to agree on; I love Earthpaste, but my partner isn’t quite as fond of it. So, in an attempt to keep both of our mouths happy, we’ve been experimenting with Tom’s of Maine.
Tom’s has quite a few flavors and dental products available, including many that are SLS- and fluoride-free. However, upon a bit of research, I discovered that a handful of their products are ranked as moderately hazardous (3 out of 10) by the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Database.
Ingredients of Concern
Sodium Flouride: Ranked 5 out of 10 (moderately hazardous) by the EWG, sodium fluoride is often the active ingredient in many types of toothpaste. Initially used to prevent cavities, new research has shown that fluoride can actually degrade connective tissues, creating “pockets” in gums that may allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream and cause infection.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): This is the ingredient that my partner seems to miss the most since the switch to natural toothpaste. Even though SLS provides no added benefit, it does gives products the sudsing we’re used to in soaps, shampoos and toothpastes. Although the EWG rates this ingredient as low hazard, prolonged use may lead to cold sensitivity and increased occurrence of canker sores.
Hydrated Silica: Also ranked as a low hazard by the EWG, hydrated silica is a crystallized compound found in quartz, flint and sand. This naturally occurring compound is used as a whitening agent in toothpaste, but is also abrasive enough to damage tooth enamel.
As we become a more health-conscious society, limiting the number of toxins in our homes has become a larger priority. Personal care routines shouldn’t be an exception, even though simplifying these routines isn’t always easy—trust me, I know—it’s well worth it in the end.
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Almost all of us have tried some form of alcohol at some point. Studies show that more than 85% of adults in the US consume alcohol, yet very few of us pause to think about what exactly goes on in our body while drinking. Even though we are complex organisms, you might be surprised to find out how various parts of our bodies instantly react to consuming alcohol. Here’s a quick rundown that will help you better understand the after effects of drinking, and why alcohol makes you feel the way it does.
The stomach is where alcohol is first broken down. Breaking down alcohol takes up a significant amount of energy, making it a hard substance to digest. The enzymes in the stomach convert alcohol into a substance called acetaldehyde, a known carcinogen which is toxic for our bodies. Acetaldehyde is also a known carcinogen.
You’re probably well aware that alcohol takes a toll on the liver. Well, that’s because acetaldehyde is a harmful substance, and the liver is what immediately converts it into something that is less dangerous for our bodies. The liver has enzymes that convert acetaldehyde to acetate, which is similar to vinegar. There’s a catch though - the liver can only metabolize a certain amount of acetaldehyde at a time. If acetaldehyde starts to accumulate in the liver, our bodies start to adversely react, especially in response to heavy drinking. That’s why chugging drinks, or doing many shots one after another can quickly lead to excessive sweating, nausea, vomiting and other short-term effects.
On a normal basis, our hearts maintain a fairly steady pulse rate. Consuming alcohol puts the body in conditions of stress, and so the heart rates tend to increase. Frequent consumption of copious amounts of alcohol can cause the heart to become very stressed, and lead to many heart problems later in life.
You might have noticed the urge to frequently urinate while drinking. Since alcohol has diuretic properties, drinking alcohol causes the kidneys to send water to the bladder. However, the kidneys start to expel more water than usual, and so you might also start to feel dehydrated when drinking. It’s most important to keep drinking water alongside alcohol so as to replenish lost fluids.
Alcohol and Your Immune System
Alcohol greatly reduces the efficiency of our immune systems, for as long as 24 hours after consumption. This means that the body is vulnerable to all sorts of illnesses for a whole day after drinking! It’s critical to keep this in mind, especially if you are already suffering from illnesses such as a common cold, since your immune system might not be at peak efficiency, thus prolonging your healing time.
Now that you know what alcohol does to your body, do keep these facts in mind before you decide to go out. Remember, always drink responsibly and stay safe!
Infographic courtesy of Lakeview Health
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You might be a fan of having coffee and orange juice with breakfast, soda with lunch and maybe a cocktail or glass of wine with dinner. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but switching out some of those beverages with a glass of water is one of the best things you can do for yourself!
Water is basically magic elixir for the human body. There are endless benefits to drinking a glass (or multiple glasses) of water every single day! Even just being in water gives your body a burst of life that only water can give.
So, now that you know that water is great, let’s talk about exactly why it’s so awesome:
Your Body Is Made Out of It
Your body is already 60% water! Keeping up this hydration is vital to maintaining the fluid balance in your body. When you don’t drink enough water, your body dehydrates, which prevents it from regulating its temperature, digesting properly and transporting nutrients. Staying hydrated also helps prevent muscle cramps and joint pain.
Helps Weight Loss
Drinking water can actually help you lose weight! If you drink water before and during a meal, it helps you feel more full so you don’t end up overeating. It’s also easy to think that you’re hungry when you’re actually just thirsty.
Drinking a glass of water instead of reaching for the chips is a healthier way to fill your stomach and satisfying cravings. It also boosts your metabolism, so it’s the all-around best bet for those of you trying to get that beach body.
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Gives You Energy for Exercise (and Life!)
Obviously, drinking water during exercise is extremely important. It replaces the hydration you lose when sweating and working out. Most people do already drink water when they’re working out — especially when it’s a hot, outdoor workout.
However, it’s also important to drink enough water during your workouts in the winter months. These colder workouts don’t make us as thirsty, so we think we don’t need water. However, it’s still important to stay hydrated, because you’re losing just as much fluid.
Makes Your Skin Glow
Drinking enough water flushes out those nasty toxins that give you breakouts and clogged pores. This helps keep your skin clean and fresh in an all-natural way! Rinsing your skin with water also helps the skin itself hydrate, which helps keep it firm and bright. These benefits apply to your hair, too! Rinsing your hair in cool water helps your tame your hair, and make it shine.
Enough water intake helps keep things moving and promotes a healthy digestive system. Staying hydrated helps the kidneys flush out waste and prevents constipation. It also adds fluids to the colon. TMI? You’ll thank us when your bathroom trips are care-free!
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If you weren’t drinking water the night before at the bar, you’ll want to hit the tap the next morning. Alcohol dehydrates you, so rehydrating helps get rid of that nasty hangover and even the headache that comes with it. Additionally, try drinking a glass of water during your wild night out to reduce your hangover symptoms the next day.
Provides Pain Relief
Ice and cold packs provide relief for sprains and strains by reducing blood flow and swelling. Often, athletes use ice baths to treat muscle damage and recuperate after exercise. It’s a particularly good solution when performing long exercises in the heat.
On the flipside, hot-water soaks can relieve some types of chronic pain. For people with back pain, waterbeds can provide relief for a restful night’s sleep.
Provides a Perfect Workout Space
Ever tried working out in water? Exercising in a pool or another body of water is actually great for you! It provides a low-impact alternative to on-land activities like running and weightlifting. There are even group exercise classes you can take! Exercises like aqua yoga and aqua cycling are becoming more and more popular as people realize the benefits of exercising in water.
In multiple ways, water helps our anxiety levels. Living near water leads to good health and a higher satisfaction with life. Staying hydrated also helps improve overall mood and helps us sleep more soundly. Also, the sound of running water and waves is extremely soothing. It can lower our pulse and blood pressure, which both rise when we listen to noises such as screeches and car horns. Spending time in water, like a warm bath, releases oxytocin to make your feel warm and relaxed, taking away feelings of sadness and anxiety.
Overall, being in water, drinking water and even being near water can drastically benefit your health and your life. Keep a water bottle with you on a daily basis to encourage yourself to drink enough water. Even set a reminder on your phone or calendar if you have to so you can ensure you’re drinking enough, It’s a natural and healthy way to stave off illness and keep your body up-to-par. So what are you waiting for? Drink up!
Chard: Chard leaves contain at least 13 polyphenol antioxidants, notably kaempferol, a cardioprotective flavonoid; syringic acid, an effective blood-sugar regulator; and betalains, anti-inflammatories and detoxifiers.
Collards: Collards are among the greatest cholesterol-lowering plants and also offer unique cancer-protective benefits.
Endive: Endive is an excellent source of vitamin A, beneficial to the eyes and a cancer fighter; vitamin K, important for balanced blood coagulation; and B vitamins, including folate, thiamin and niacin. It’s also a good source of manganese, which assists in regulating blood sugar, metabolizing carbohydrates, and optimizing nerve and brain function.
Kale: Renowned as one of the world’s healthiest foods, kale offers cholesterol-lowering benefits when steamed. It lowers risk of five kinds of cancer, including bladder, breast, colon, ovarian and prostate. It also reduces inflammation and is a comprehensive detoxification supporter.
Lettuce: Green-leaf lettuce is the best lettuce source of vitamin K; Romaine is the best lettuce source of vitamin A. All lettuce is low in calories and offers fiber, as well as 2 to 11 percent of essential vitamins and minerals in just 1⁄2 cup.
Mustard: Like kale, mustard greens can help lower cholesterol, especially when steamed. This cruciferous vegetable offers two special glucosinolates, both of which offer well-documented cancer-preventive and anti-inflammatory properties.
Spinach: Spinach is an excellent source of vitamins K and A, manganese, folate, iron, copper and B vitamins. A cup of cooked spinach offers about a quarter of the RDA of vitamin C and potassium, and 11 percent of our daily protein requirement. Studies show it may also protect the lining of the digestive tract from damage.
I’ve blogged about the benefits of massage for diabetes before. Unfortunately, massage therapy is expensive, so we can’t always afford this miraculous treatment. Fortunately, a great company has developed a revolutionary self- massage product, known as T Spheres. This product is a game changer.
T Spheres are a cost effective alternative to massage therapy. Created by a seasoned massage therapist, these gel-like spheres are infused with aromatherapy oils (which also supports a healthy nervous system) and can be used in countless ways.
I tried the Perk Up T Sphere Set with peppermint and grapefruit essential oils. The spheres are about the size of a ping pong ball and made from a firm gel like substance (think bouncy ball). The natural aromatherapy oils were pleasant and relaxing. When the smell starts to fade, use the spray bottle of oil that comes with the set to refresh it. For the past week, I have been primarily using the spheres on my stiff upper back and feet. They dig deep into my muscles, which can be a little overwhelming at first, but after a few minutes I reach deep relaxation. The T Spheres team has put together photos and descriptions for proper usage.
“Diabetes is a genetically transmitted condition and the suggested T Spheres reflex points can help prevent side effects associated with diabetes. The use of our suggested self-care T Spheres Techniques will help your body function more efficiently, and relieve daily stress and tension.” – T Sphere experts
Front of Lower Leg Points:
Photo courtesy T Spheres
Use Palm Pressure or Fingertip Technique placement 2 centimeters below the knee, as shown in the picture. Stimulate with circular motion in this area with a little pressure for 5 minutes every day. This point can help balance the digestive system – as it is a stomach meridian master point and is also used to prevent aging, arthritis and other forms of weaknesses. Combine this with a balanced Diabetes diet for best results.
Back of Knee Point:
Photo courtesy T Spheres
This Pressure point is associated with the Urinary Bladder meridian. Toxins and impurities can be stimulated to drain out by massaging this point. The pressure point is at the crease of the knee – it is important to look for any varicose veins and if there is any edema or pitted edema the pressure must be slight and avoid any veins to perform properly. Apply light pressure on this point for 3-5 breaths – release – repeat for 5 minutes daily. Excess urination and other diabetic related concerns to the urinary tract should start to be reduced noticeably.
Pressure Points on the Feet:
Photo courtesy T Spheres
Seated cross legged or in a chair with one leg bent across the other. Hold one foot and apply the T Spheres to the liver point between the tarsals of the Big toe and second toe. This is a very effective pressure point for the treatment of insomnia, diabetes and hypertension. Regularly T Spheres Fingertip and palm pressure on this acupressure point will help to reduce side effects of Diabetes. Adding full foot Reflexology for diabetes is recommended and a great practice to help control the blood glucose levels.
Big Toe Point:
Photo courtesy T Spheres
Standing with wall or chair support, place the T Spheres under the big toe. Slowly apply your body weight to the foot and allow the pressure under the big toe to increase with the focus on your breathing. The pressure points under the big toe are associated with, and can aid in long term relief from the discomfort of Diabetes. Twice daily, standing and applying pressure on this point should prove to be fruitful, in relief from excess water retention and pain in the legs.
Hand Pressure Point:
Photo courtesy T Spheres
Apply Fingertip Technique with the T Sphere at the crease of the wrist as shown in the photo below. This is a well-known acupressure point relating to the heart. This pressure point is stimulated with the focus on processing emotions to release stress from the body and mind. Breathe slowly and as deeply as possible to connect to your heart and release the emotional holdings that occur from all aspects of your life. Remember to honor where you are each day and give permission to there with acceptance – every day is a chance to move forward towards better health.
Thumb and Index Finger joint:
Photo courtesy T Spheres
This pressure point is used for relief of any kind of pain. Press the T Sphere into the joint between the thumb and index finger. Press and release for up to 5 minutes a day three times a day. This is a large intestine acupressure point and it will aid in relief in the large intestine. It will also help to reduce excess heat in the body. Apply this technique daily to help energize your body and reduce stress.
The benefits I have noticed most are improved sleep, overall pain reduction and reduced morning glucose. Usually, I wake up three to four times every night for various reasons, but have been sleeping straight through (waking maybe once) for the duration of my T Sphere usage. My blood glucose levels have been lower than they typically are in the morning, ranging from 10-40 points less. Overall, I feel a stronger sense of calm and well-being.
It is important for everyone, not only diabetics, to go beyond taking pills, and use healing, natural methods the earth has already provided us. We may prevent the need for medication all together, or at least reduce our dependency. However, massage is just a piece of the wellness puzzle. Our world holds an abundance of better, alternative ways to care for our bodies. Facilities such as Progressive Medical Center, and products such as T Spheres, support our search for better medical care.
Karyn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.
Traveling into different time zones throws off the body’s patterns, including digestion. As you know, simple things like using other people’s bathrooms, eating earlier or later, eating out more and socializing while you eat can lead to digestive troubles like constipation, bloating, weight gain and heart burn.
If, like me, you eat for energy and enjoyment, fasting for a day while traveling is not the answer. Aside from the common sense guidelines of drinking plenty of water, exercising daily, choosing seasonal fruit and high fiber foods over dairy and bread, I fall back on these three Ayurveda digestion hacks.
Photo courtesy Shar Veda.
Triphala, “three bitter fruits” in Sanskrit, consists of Amalaki, Bibhitaki and Haritaki. It is a powerful rejuvenating tonic that aids digestion and nutrient absorption through the colon, while maintaining regularity. Take it before bed to avoid constipation during every trip.
Aloe Vera Juice, a natural laxative and heartburn soother, also balances stomach acidity and aids in nutrient absorption.
Antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids, aloe juice naturally cleanses the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of remaining food particles that slow the process of digestion. You can’t drink too much of it.
Probiotics support colon health, bowel regularity and overall digestive function by replenishing healthy microbial bacteria. I always go gender specific because, like it or not, men and women have different physical needs.
All three products can be found at your local natural food stores and are worthy of space in your luggage. Stow these essentials in your dopp kit to ensure comfortable, healthy travels. Go, be free of digestive ailments and enjoy your summer adventures.
Email me comments and questions, I love hearing from you.
Shar Veda, Southern Oregon’s Premier Alternative Therapist, is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, yoga therapist and herbalist. Shar has been blessed to study with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio, and photos or find her on Facebook and Instagram.