Healthy Hygiene Part 2: Deodorant

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’d like to share a little something about a simple way that you can help decrease your risk of developing breast cancer: change your deodorant.

There are two very common ingredients in deodorant that continue to be implicated as one of the possible causes of breast cancer – Aluminum & Parabens. Aluminum is used as an antiperspirant; it blocks pores and therefore prevents sweat. Parabens (look for: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben or benzylparaben) are found in most beauty products and are used to prevent bacteria growth, which helps both the shelf life of a product and preventing odors from developing as you use the product.  The issue with both of these compounds is that they are proven to mimic estrogen in the body and cause hormone disruption.  Estrogen promotes the growth of breast tissue, but when disrupted, it can lead to an abnormal & excessive growth of cancerous breast tissue.

Your underarms are a very sensitive area, with thin skin covering many blood vessels and a large cluster of lymph nodes.  The materials that you spray or roll on that location are absorbed easily by the skin.  If you shave under your arms and then roll on deodorant, you have even increased your exposure and allowed these chemicals to go straight into your blood stream.  Aluminum is a toxic metal to our bodies and if you take a look at the back of your product, you’ll find many other questionable, hard-to-pronounce ingredients on there as well. Any toxicity can limit the function of your lymphatic system, which contributes to your overall immune function.  I don’t know about you, but this is simply not a health risk I am willing to take for beauty’s sake.  Fortunately, there are safe, alternative options.  Here’s a few I recommend checking out:

Silver Botanicals – Silver Shield Deodorant

I found this awesome company at my local farmer’s market one Saturday and I am thrilled to be sharing them with y’all.  They use a blend of essential oils and colloidal silver.  Essential oils have a long list of medicinal benefits and are naturally deodorizing, anti-bacterial and have a long-lasting aroma.  Colloidal silver also has many healing properties as an anti-microbial preventing the growth of bacteria. I take it every day as an immune supplement and double up when I’m sick, so it only makes sense to put it under my arms also.  I have found this to be the best natural deodorant out there; it keeps me smelling good all day and the more I use it, the less I sweat – it’s getting my body back in balance.  One caution: it will sting a lot if you try to apply right after shaving… wait an hour or so.

Coming in at only $7.50 for a 2 oz spray bottle (it’s lasted me two months) with the option to buy discounted refills in the future, it’s a great deal. Silver Botanicals also has a great line of other hygiene & household products, my favorite being the Oral Disinfectant mouthwash.  If you don’t live in Austin, you can buy online.

Sam’s Natural Deodorant

This was recommended to me by my friends Emily & Ben – they both said that it keeps them smelling fresh the longest of any option they’ve tried.  Their list of ingredients contains several essential oils, coconut oil (which I love!), and does not contain harsh chemicals. I am excited to try it soon and see if it works for my hubby!

Buy the handmade 3 oz stick online for only $8.95 and read more about the cool company living out their American Dream.

Lafes Organic Mineral Salt Deodorant

I wrote about this product in my first installment of Health Hygiene Routines and continue to have great success with it.  I love that the list of ingredients is simple: mineral salts, essential oils and aloe vera.  I still use this regularly because it’s the most effective at preventing sweat.  How? Because of it’s use of natural mineral salts.  These mineral salts are potassium alum, which I recently  learned are technically aluminum, but with molecules too large to fit through your skin’s pores.  Essentially, it creates an outer layer that helps block perspiration instead of  actually going in your pores like aluminum.  While there are not studies yet on if on if our bodies absorb any of the toxic metal from these crystal salts, if perspiration is a problem for you (or you are looking for an option for Summer or exercise), I think it’s worth giving it a go; it still doesn’t contain parabens or other harmful chemicals.

I use both the unscented spray and the roll on lavender version.  You can find a 4 oz bottle for only $4.50 at Natural Grocers or online.

Tom’s of Maine Natural Sensitive Care Deodorant

One last option, especially for those of you with easily irritated skin or bad razor burn. I find that the more often I switch on and off of different deodorants, they seem to stay more effective (shampoo is the same way for me… anyone else?).  This deodorant has such a cooling effect that it is my go-to after I shave.  It doesn’t last very long for me, so I have to reapply once more a day, but I love the smell and it feels so smooth. Again, this option is paraben & aluminum free and the list of ingredients is simple.  It uses chamomile to soothe and hops to prevent odor-causing bacteria.

You should be able to find the 2.25 oz gel stick at your regular grocery store for $5.00 – I’ve seen it at Whole Foods and H-E-B.

Deodorant

The great thing about these natural options are that they have plenty of other benefits as well…

  1. For those of you with sensitive skin (like my friend Emily who gets blisters when she uses regular deodorant), you should see the irritation you experience drastically decrease with options that don’t contain lots of chemicals.
  2. Wives who do their husband’s laundry, rejoice: You’ll no longer have to deal with trying to bleach those gross yellow stains on all of their white shirts!
  3. You’ll be supporting small businesses & companies who truly care about the health of their customers.

Is this a change you would make? Which one are you interested to try?

Sources: Dr. Mercola, Livestrong, Silver Botanicals

In the Summertime when the weather is hot…

I love Summer.  The sunshine is life-giving to me!   I can’t imagine anything better than spending time at the pool and lake with the warm sun on my skin.  Plus, it’s mostly allergen-free, so unlike most of the year, I can spend lots of time outside without regretting it later.  Anyone else share this passion with me??

Unfortunately for a lot of people, the summertime has a bad rap.  The beautiful sunshine has been villainized; we are advised to minimize our sun exposure and when we must be outside, cover every inch of ourselves with sunscreen every hour so we don’t get the big, bad cancer.  Funny how effective the “c” word is into scaring us into submission.

Coincidentally, our nation is currently experiencing epidemic levels of vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D is a valuable nutrient that comes from the sun and helps our immune system protect our bodies from a multitude of diseases, including cancer.  Actually, some research studies have proven that sun exposure can decrease our chances of getting cancer.  Add to that the fact that there is no proof that sunscreen protects against cancer and that sunscreen itself contains dangerous chemicals and carcinogens, the case against the sun is quickly diminishing.

Okay, now of course, the sun can be dangerous; it is a burning ball of fire, after all. You can’t simply sit outside for hours in direct sunlight and not expect to be hating yourself the next day.  Sunburns do cause cell death and can damage your skin.  It’s important to develop a healthy relationship with the sun…

After a winter indoors, your skin will need to be acclimated to the sun.  The best way to do it is spend 15-30 minutes at a time out in the sun (without sunscreen), getting exposure little bits at a time.  Your skin will respond as it is supposed to, the melanin will become tanned and protect you more and more from the sun naturally.  People with fair skin get Vitamin D faster and reach the maximum level of exposure sooner, so then it’s time to find some shade.  But most people can work up to being able to spend hours in the sun without harm.

If you are going to be out in the sun for longer than your skin is ready for, or your children need protection, consider using natural sunscreen options instead of those loaded with chemicals.  Personally, I use straight up coconut oil whenever I am in the sun for longer than half an hour.  It has minimum SPF so it still allows me to get Vitamin D and my skin tans easier when I use it so that I can build up my natural tolerance to the sun faster.

Lastly, a healthy diet is the best way to avoid a sunburn.  A diet high in antioxidants will protect your body from sunshine’s free radicals that cause cell damage.   So feel free to snack away at those sun-ripened berries and dark chocolate!  Avoiding foods that cause inflammation are another way to protect yourself – grains and Omega-6 vegetable oils being the main offender.  People often blame the sun for their wrinkles, collagen breakdown/premature aging and sun spots, but it’s actually an inflammatory diet that causes these issues.  Eat a diet high in healthy Omega-3 fats (found in animal fats, fish, coconut oil and organic raw dairy), the building blocks of your skin.

Now, get out there and enjoy the summer sunshine without fear!

Read more from my sources here:

Scientists Blow the Lid Off Cancer & Sunscreen Myth

4 Ways You Are Screwing Up Your Sun Exposure

Avoid Sunburn, Tan Better

Benefits of Sunbathing to Pregnancy and Nursing

Doctored – Healthcare or Sick Care?

I used to be sick… really sick, all the time. I’ve seen dozens of doctors throughout my life and popped too many prescription pills to remember, trying to get better. But y’all, for the first time ever, I feel great.  And I haven’t seen a doctor in years now, or taken medication.  Coincidence?  It certainly doesn’t seem that way to me…

Before I begin my summary/commentary of the documentary Doctored, I want to be clear that it (and this blog) is meant to inform and raise awareness, not offend.  This documentary is an exposé on the business of medicine and the harm it’s caused to many people, including me; it’s not an attack on the healthcare professionals who work with the best of intentions to heal and save people’s lives.  I sincerely hope you’ve had a very different experience from mine, but I know that many of you have not.  This documentary really helped me understand they why behind it all and I feel compelled to share it with those of you who are/have been as frustrated as me with the lack of answers.

Modern western medicine came about to get rid of “quacks” who were scamming people into dangerous treatments.  It was created to give regulation and science to the methods of healing people. Morris Fishbein, the American Medical Association’s Executive Director from 1924 to 1949 felt that only doctors should treat people, but he was also clear that “Medicine is a profession; it must never become a business or a trade, never the subservient tool of a governmental bureaucracy.”  Unfortunately, the healthcare industry is now a far cry from that.  

Medicine is sick care, not health care. 8 out of 10 people will die of a chronic illness.  These illnesses are treated with medication that may fix the symptoms but ultimately sustains the problem, rather than healing it. Let’s be honest: if drugs cured us, then we would stop spending money. According to the World Health Organization, the United States spends more on health care per capita ($8,608), and more on health care as percentage of its GDP (17.2%), than any other nation (according to 2011 figures, the most recent I could find).  Approximately 98% of the advertising revenue for medical journals in the United States is provided by pharmaceutical companies.  This seems like a slight conflict of interest to me.

“Medical school doesn’t teach doctors to address the root of the problem.  It teaches doctors to treat the problem.  It’s a practical science with practical aims… medicine is different from other sciences because more than being a science, it is first and foremost a business.”

– Dr. Cate Shanahan on her disillusionment with the industry of medicine and her desire & reason to become a doctor in Deep Nutrition

In my experience, the physicians that I have seen couldn’t figure out my problems.  Unfortunately, rather than trying to figure out why I was sick, they came up with ideas and prescribed medication to see if it worked.  But I got worse, not better.  And often, I was diagnosing myself.  Isn’t a doctor supposed to tell you what medication you need rather than you seeing a commercial, then going to the doctor to say you have the symptoms and need that pill?  When we are sick, we want the shortest route to the quickest fix.  And too often, so do our busy doctors.  The easy answer? Medicine.

Over the past year, I have seen dramatic healing by visiting my new chiropractor regularly.  I used to suffer from back and shoulder/neck/hip/foot/leg pain daily, (honestly, almost constantly).  Through regular adjustments and sticking to an anti-inflammatory diet, I have seen 95% improvement in my pain frequency and intensity.  It is simply remarkable and life changing.  What I have found incredible about fixing my spine is how much it also affects your overall nervous system and your brain, and thus the health of my body as a whole. Could the problem be that doctors just aren’t taking a hands-on (literally) approach with their patients anymore?  

Now, you’re considered a quack if you don’t prescribe drugs.  Doctors who try to help someone naturally, like chiropractors, are often considered quacks because they are trying to help their patients while avoiding the dangerous and potentially fatal side effects of medication.  Every year, 125,000 people die of properly prescribed drugs.  I am surprised that number isn’t higher, since I’ve personally known 3 people in the past 5 years fall victim to it. But pharmaceutical companies are never charged with murder.  Rather, the (vicious for us) profitable cycle continues.  I talk to people all the time who are on one medication for one issue and then on 3 more to combat the side effects of that medication. How many of you can relate?

Now time for the real controversy: the epidemic of cancer as the ultimate example of medicine as a business.  This documentary tells a couple of compelling stories about the governments efforts to fight possible cures for cancer (FDA vs Dr. Burzynski’s antineoplaston therapy) and promote chemotherapy/radiation (Utah prosecuted the parents of Parker Jensen for refusing to treat their young son with chemo after his tumor was surgically removed).  Think about it: if there was a cure for cancer, there would be lots of people without jobs.  That’s all I’ll say about that topic… please, watch it for yourself.

The documentary ends with a commentary on how the health of a nation is in direct correlation to health of it’s soil.  Our minerals and nutrients come from the soil where are food is grown and animals graze; we need active and alive food to stay active and alive.  As I’ve mentioned before, GMOs and pesticide-ridden food are now pervasive in our grocery stores. In fact, since GMOs  were introduced, the instances of autoimmune diseases have increased 400%!  It’s more important than ever to pay extra special attention to your diet and where your food comes from as a cure for your health.

To close, Doctored emphasizes the hope that with more patients pushing for real answers, healthcare is, in many cases, becoming more patient-centered and doctors are now collaborating with holistic practitioners for alternative healing methods.

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

– Thomas Edison

Soy it ain’t so…

No more soy!

Thanks to the marketing efforts of the soy industry in the U.S. (we are the top producer of soy, contributing around 35% of the world supply), we’ve been deceived into thinking that soy is a phenomenal health food. It’s supposed to be heart-healthy and keep you young. Vegetarians rely on it as a protein source. It’s a widely available alternative for those with lactose intolerance. And the Japanese, whose diet is considered one of the healthiest in the world, have eaten it for years. Unfortunately, the truth is that it’s cheap, easy to process, and therefore has great margins for making money, hence the pervasive marketing. Even worse, it’s toxic to our bodies when not prepared or grown appropriately. Bad news is that the toxic kind is how it’s currently produced and consumed by all of us today.

Soybeans contain two chemicals, goitrogens and phytoestrogens, that affect your thyroid and sex hormones. Traditionally, the Japanese would soak and ferment the soybeans before using them, which neutralizes these harmful chemicals and creates tasty and healthful miso, tofu, etc. But now, in commercially made soy products (even in many of those organically grown), the fermentation process is skipped because it’s cheaper & quicker to do so; instead it is hydrolyzed, a process that does not remove the toxins. So the soy sauce, soy milk, infant formulas, soy protein bars, tofu and most processed products you buy in stores and eat at restaurants are passing those chemicals straight to your body. These chemicals cause thyroid (regulates growth, metabolism and energy levels) issues, like hyper/hypothyroidism and thyroid & pancreatic cancer, as well as reproductive organ problems for both men and women. Soy is also one of the most common allergens, especially among infants and toddlers.

In addition to the fact that already-present chemicals are not removed, the toxic solvent hexane (a chemical by-product of gasoline refining) is used to process soy proteins. Hexane can cause cancer, birth defects, reproductive issues, and adverse effects on the environment.

Even worse, 90% of soybeans are genetically modified, a serious health issue I discussed at length here. The GMO quality of these beans only adds to the health effects, now being linked to sterility and infant mortality.

Seeing a trend here? I don’t know about you, but when I learned about all this, I was immediately motivated to remove soy from my diet. Personally, I saw amazing changes in some hormonal issues I was suffering from within just a few weeks (starting with getting rid of my daily soy-protein bars at breakfast). Here’s a few suggestions to get you started:

  • When shopping, go for fresh foods instead of processed items. If you do buy packaged (even organic), look at the ingredients label and avoid these substances: soy, soy protein (isolate/hydrolyzed), soy lecithin, hydrolyzed plant/vegetable protein, monoglycerides, MSG, and soybean oil
  • If you are lactose-intolerant or vegetarian, go for cashew, almond or, my favorite, coconut milk. I find that unsweetened, full fat coconut milk tastes the most similar and works in recipes as an easy substitute – plus it makes delicious and healthy whipped cream!
  • Start your babies off right – most infant formulas contain GM soy. Breast-feeding is best, but if you must use formula, you will have to make your own, find a local goat farm for milk, or participate in a milk sharing program. Unfortunately, there are no soy-free options available for sale in the United States, but you can import from Europe (Holle brand in Germany).
  • Attention meat eaters: many fast food restaurants put soy flour and soy protein in their meat and buns, among other things…
  • Lastly, you can still enjoy those tasty Asian dishes with traditionally fermented soy sauce instead. I have found it at every grocery store I’ve visited and I actually like the taste better. Here’s one brand to try.  Or, you can use coconut aminos, which has a very similar taste and is completely soy-free.

I’d love to know… Is this the first you’ve heard about the dangers of soy? Will you try removing it from your diet?