You are what you eat

I don’t know about you. Personally, when it comes to food, I’m confused and really clear at the same time. Let me explain.

There are all these different “ways” to eat these days: Paleo, AIP (autoimmune protocol), LCHF (low carb high fat), according to your Blood type, Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw… Each of which have their own celebrities, personal trainers, dieticians, “I used it and it worked for me”-advocates swear by them. Each of them being promoted as THE way to lose weight, be healthy, have more energy.

So how come something that works for my PT doesn’t work for me? How come one friend does amazingly well as a vegetarian, and another doesn’t? How come I feel better off gluten, but to my husband it makes no difference if he eats gluten or not? And which way is really the best way for me to eat???

No wonder I’m confused! Maybe you are too?

So here’s what I think. I have finally come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” diet or way to eat. Going down that road is even a bit dangerous.

Going down that road is like saying we all learn new things the same way, equally as fast and remember it equally as well later, that we all have the same physical capabilities of lifting 100kg, that during the same circumstances, we would all react and do exactly the same thing. So if someone comes at us with a sword, we would all turn into John Snow and give them hell…

I think we can all agree that to expect any of the above to be true would be ridiculous? (Especially since John Snow knows nothing, but that’s a different story.)

Then why, oh why, are we told that “if this worked for me, it will work for you too”? Over and over again, with different ways of eating. Why do we expect any diet or way of eating to work the same for every person?

I’m pretty sure we can’t, and we shouldn’t.

So what to do? Experiment, have fun, find out what works for you. This might take some time, and I believe it’s very worth it. Maybe you do feel great on a grain free diet, maybe you don’t. Maybe gluten isn’t your thing, maybe it is. The main thing to find out is: how do YOU feel when eating that food? What makes your body happy? And then adjust accordingly. So what’s the best way for me to eat? That’s the bit I’m still confused about, by the way.

Then there is the bit that I’m really clear about. Namely…

  • Sugar is not good for me (or you) in any way, shape or form
  • Processed foods are not good for us either
  • Sugar “hides” in said processed foods under a myriad of different names, so that it’s trickier for us to recognise it
  • Food companies spend billions of dollars researching what components to put in their products (that we wrongfully call “food”) to make them irresistible, and make us unable to stop eating them
  • These products are not food, they are chemically made and researched in a lab, no chef has ever come near them, there is no cooking involved in making them
  • Any additive that has a number in front of it is not to be considered food, or safe to eat
  • So if it comes in a package, with a contents label, chances are it’s also not to be considered food
  • We are really not made to eat anything that doesn’t appear in the world in its natural form
  • What is pretty much safe to eat: fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses, meat, eggs, seafood – simple, clean, real food
  • And yes, eating organic does make a difference

Very simple rule of thumb – if it came in any form of container with a Contents label, you’re in risky territory. You need to read the label carefully, and if it contains sugar in any of its forms, or something with a number in it, you are best to not eat it.

So my thoughts are: as long as you’re eating natural, unprocessed foods and you feel good, you’re going to be fine. Then you can add on top of that any “diet” that speaks to you and sits well with you ethically.

So how are you eating at the moment? How is that working for you? Is there a specific reason you choose to eat that way? I’d love to know, so feel free to share.

To your health,
Sara

Feel Good Group - You Are What You Eat

You are what you eat

Feng Shui Friday – How to efficiently fight mould

We’ve had a bit of a damp, wet streak here in Sydney. With dampness comes mould. Most people still use bleach as their go-to solution to counteract mould growing. Read on to find out how to fight mould naturally and why bleach is the worst thing you can use.

Mould is a type of fungus. It starts growing where it is damp, and it doesn’t need any light to survive. Once the mould is established, it actually doesn’t need any other moisture than what is naturally found in air to keep growing. So drying out an area that has been affected by mould is not an effective cure at all.

Fungi and their spores are abundant in air, on surfaces, in house dust and water, so the question is not where they are but whether they are growing. In a normal household mould is most commonly found in the kitchen and wet room areas as well as outside and in floor and roof cavities.

One of the first symptoms of being affected by mould is fatigue that is not improved by rest. Some other typical symptoms/health effects of mould are: recurring colds or flus that take a long time to get over, asthma, bronchitis, nasal congestion, runny nose, eye/nose/throat irritation, fever, skin rashes, headaches and allergies. If you have any of these symptoms for a prolonged time, it might be a good idea to check if you have extensive mould growing somewhere in your home. Most often mould that is causing severe reactions like these is hidden under your floors or in the roof cavity of your home, you won’t normally get that bad from the stuff that might be growing in your bathroom or laundry.

It’s very important to make sure that you have sufficient ventilation in your kitchen, bathroom and laundry as air humidity levels above 70% increases the risk of developing mould. With sufficient airflow you can reduce the risk of mould growing dramatically.

Something to be aware of around mould, apart from its adverse effects on our health, is that once a person becomes sensitive to mould it is often for life and for all types of mould, which is why it’s so important to avoid mould in any home or office to being with.

So mould can grow from any source of water. For this reason it is very important to have sufficient and working ventilation in your wet rooms and you kitchen as well. As a rule of thumb if any steam or smell of food is still present 10 minutes after showering or cooking, your ventilation is not adequate.

Most people use bleach to fight mould, or a commercial cleaning product containing bleach. This is what our parents did, and this is what we’re shown on TV etc. in clever marketing campaigns from the companies selling cleaning products. What no-one really talks about is this interesting little fact: bleach is a source of food for mould! So while cleaning products containing bleach will make it look like the mould is gone (as it has now been bleached and therefore you can’t see it anymore), the mould is still there and it’s growing, happily feeding from the bleach. So bleach is not only not good for your health, it is also creates a source of food for the mould! I know I go on about this a little, and there is really no reason what so ever to use bleach in the cleaning of your home. It’s toxic and it does nothing for you.

Use a naturally effective method to clean mould from your home instead.

Below is a recommendation on how to clean mould from the Mycologia website:

  • Protect yourself by putting on a respirator and gloves. (Note: In a normal home I don’t think respirator is necessary, unless you are over-sensitive to mould or going into the roof or floor cavities).
  • Vacuum the affected area with a HEPA vacuum (see Vacuum cleaner section below) to remove the mould spores.
  • Wipe clean the affected area using microfiber cloths with vinegar (80% vinegar, 20% water) or methylated spirits solution (70% methylated spirits, 30% water). NOTE: only use naturally fermented white vinegar as cheap imitation vinegar made from acetic acid is not effective.
  • Use a two-bucket system – one bucket with vinegar solution and the other with clean water (or rinse under running tap). Do not put the dirty cloth back in the vinegar solution – wash in the clean water bucket first. This avoids cross contamination.

 

The Mycologia website has a lot of great information on Mould and is a good starting point if you think you are affected by mould in your home or office.

Educate and protect yourself properly from mould. It’s worth the effort.

Take care,
Sara

 

Mould – it’s not very nice…

 

 

Feng Shui Friday – Clean Green

Modern day cleaning products are a major health hazard. Most people don’t realise this. We’re so sold on the belief that germs are bad for us, germs are what make us sick. Did you know, that if your immune system didn’t have to deal with germs on a regular basis, you could fall and scrape your knee and die from that tiny scrape wound? All because your immune system hasn’t been exercised properly by dealing with some germs now and then!

Any conventional cleaning products that you use to kill the germs in your home will contain toxic substances and they leave a film of very unhealthy chemicals on the surface where you use them. In my opinion, these chemicals are even worse for your health and wellbeing than the germs you were getting rid of to begin with!

Imagine you’re using Pino Cleen to wipe down your kitchen bench. Next thing you make your kids’ lunch sandwiches on that same surface you just wiped. Guess where the chemicals from the Pino Cleen end up? Yup, that’s right, in the sandwich. So commercial cleaning products really make no sense, at least not to me.

Add to that the fact that cleaning products are not governed by any regulatory body at all, and manufacturers do not need to disclose their contents (Benis 2009). This means that by using conventional cleaning products at home you can be spreading an unknown number of health hazardous chemicals in your indoor environment, and you don’t even know what they are or what effect they may have on you. If you don’t know what’s in each separate product, there is no way of telling the compounded effect of these products used in your home. You could be mixing up a cocktail of unhealthiness in the effort of “cleaning”.

One of the most common house hold cleaners used in Australia today is bleach. According to Bijlsma (2010) bleach gives off toxic fumes which irritate the eyes, lungs, nose, throat and skin and may even cause burns and death. She continues to explain that when mixed with acidic cleaning products bleach may form chloramine gas which is lethal. I would recommend everyone to avoid using bleach at all costs due to this.

And it doesn’t stop there. As I mentioned, most (if not all) conventional cleaning products contain toxic substances. Some of these substances can leach through the container in which the product is stored and contaminate the indoor air, even if the container is stored in a cupboard (Benis 2009). So you don’t even have to actively use these products for them to be able to get into your indoor air and pollute your home environment. You only need to have them in a cupboard.

So what can you do? Luckily, there are some great, healthy and environmentally friendly alternatives to use for cleaning your home. The below is all I use in my home, and it works a treat. It’s sparkling clean, smells fresh (not that chemical smell from the perfumes in the conventional stuff) and healthy!

1. Microfiber cloths
Use damp for dusting. Keep separate ones for toilet and kitchen. Rinse in hot water after every use.

2. White vinegar
For decalcification and cleaning of toilet bowl. Mix with Baking Soda for cleaning of drains, add to hot water to clean hard floors. Can also be used as rinse aid in your dishwasher. Ensure you only use naturally fermented white vinegar as cheap imitation vinegar made from acetic acid is not effective. White vinegar will also kill mould.

3. Baking Soda or Bicarbonate of Soda
For stains, to clean toilet bowl, to shine up appliances.

4. Borax
Use for carpet cleaning, to make your own dishwashing powder, with hot water to clean hard floors.

5. Eucalyptus oil
Smells great and is a disinfectant and antiseptic too. Great for cleaning the bathroom and hard floor surfaces.

So there you have it. No need to use those nasty chemicals in your home any more. There are alternatives that are better for you, your family and the environment.

Please feel free to share what you use to clean green at home. I’d love to know!

Happy Feng Shui Friday,
Sara

 

Avoid commercial cleaning products and instead – Clean Green!

Sources:
Benis, K. 2009, Air Pollution – Cleaning Products, (DVD), Australian College of Environmental Studies, Melbourne. 
Bijlsma, N. 2010, Healthy Home Healthy Family, Joshua Books, Buddina Australia

 

 

Feng Shui and Personal care products

In Feng Shui we talk about the importance of setting your outer environment up in a way that supports your health, wealth and relationships. Supporting a positive flow of energy (qi) in your home is paramount in making the most out of the energies you have around you and creating a healthy home. Today I want to talk about something else you can do to specifically support your health – choosing the best form of personal care products.

Commercial personal care products are not good for you

It might come as s bit of a shock or surprise that most, if not all, mainstream commercial personal care products contain various substances that are anything but good for your health. Most of these substances are chemically created and/or petroleum based. Petrochemicals are all derived from petroleum and hide in our personal care products under various fancy names, such as diethanolamine (DEA for short), paraffin and mineral oil to name but a few. So the stuff you are using to make your skin look younger, feel softer or smoother is probably casing some unwanted effects on the inside.

What you put on your skin matters

Your skin is your biggest organ, it covers all of your body. And research now shows that whatever you put on your skin is absorbed into your blood stream faster than things you eat. So what you put on your skin is very, very important for your health. Many modern day personal care products also contain penetration enhancers to help drive whatever ingredients are in that product deeper into your skin for a “better effect”. If the original ingredient is not good for you, then the penetration enhancer will make the problem worse faster.

It surprises me that so many people today are very conscious about what they eat, and yet keep using commercial personal care products without even reading the labels. To be healthy in today’s world we have to look at everything we put in and ON our bodies. Without being conscious of what you put on your skin, you are running a big risk of contaminating your body from the outside in. I don’t want to be a spoil sport and scare you – I do want you to wake up to the fact that commercial personal care products are rarely (if ever) good for you and they are not safe to use!

Many diseases are linked to substances found in personal care products

Many commonly used ingredients in personal care products have been linked to cancer and other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. The accumulative effect of these various ingredients when used together has not really been researched, so we don’t actually know what happens in our bodies when we mix a number of ingredients that on their own have adverse effects on our health. This is one of the things that really made me think twice about what personal care products I use. Am I willing to experiment on my own body? For me, the answer was no.

Something that really hit home with me when I started learning about personal care products was what is in commercial deodorants, especially antiperspirants. What is used to prevent the natural way for the body to regulate its temperature, i.e. perspiration, is various forms of aluminium compounds. These chemicals are plainly neurotoxins and have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, among other things. When I found that out, I went out and bought a natural, certified organic deodorant straight away. In the beginning I felt really awkward and was afraid of spreading BO. And I did smell a bit more to begin with. Now I have found a few natural deodorants that really work for me. It took some time and experimentation. And I think it’s definitely worth it. I don’t smell and I also don’t put any neurotoxins under my armpits any more. An interesting fact to be aware of when it comes to deodorants is that the adverse health effects of the unnatural ingredients in commercial products have a bigger effect on women overall. Why is that? Women tend to shave their armpits to a higher extent than men. Having the hair left on your skin actually helps prevent the absorption of toxins into your body.

Another thing to be aware of is the fact that absorption of any unhealthy chemicals is made easier in the shower and bath. The warm water will open up the pores on your skin and hence make the uptake of whatever you are using a lot quicker. When washing your hair for example, the uptake of any chemicals present in your shampoo is made nice and easy by the warmed up, open pores of your scalp. Normally we will help these substances along the way with some nice massaging too and then we have the actual strands of hair helping with the transport of any substances into the follicles where absorption is even quicker.

The cosmetic industry is self-regulated

Another piece of information I think is worth mentioning here is the fact that the cosmetic industry is self-regulated. There is no authority looking after your interests as far as product safety is concerned. No one is regulating how much of this and that is safe to use and no one is officially checking for compounding effects of several different substances being used together. One of the biggest unknowns (and therefore possibly biggest risks too) I see here is the perfume industry. Due to “secret recipes” there is no way to even know what types of chemicals are used to create your favourite fragrance. Once I found that out, I stopped using perfumes all together. The only thing that I now use to smell nice is various types of essential oils. Yes, they evaporate quicker than a perfume would. That’s because they are all natural and have no chemicals in them to make the fragrance stay on my skin for longer. So I just put them on a little more frequently. In my opinion I smell better and I’m not putting unknown, potentially health hazardous substances into my body. Knowing that makes me feel a lot better.

What to do?

So what can you do? I recommend using Certified Organic products as much as possible. Note that just because a product is said to be “Natural” or “Organic” it doesn’t mean it’s safe to use. Anything containing a carbon atom can be called organic, and anything that comes from the Earth can be said to be natural. And less serious companies do use this kind of deception when promoting their products. You have to be just as mindful about what is in your personal care products as you are about what is in your food these days! Read the labels and work on finding Certified Organic products.

I particularly recommend to never, ever buy or use any products containing the below:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS): causes skin and eye irritation, suspected liver toxicity, can cause or promote acne, penetrates skin and accumulates in vital organs, cause eczema, is toxic to aquatic organisms.
  • Aluminium compounds (Aluminium Chlorohydrate, Aluminium Hydroxide etc.): strong evidence of human neuro toxicity, suspected respiratory toxicity, alters the function of the blood-brain barrier. Aluminium containing deodorants should be avoided at all costs as it is a neurotoxin linked with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Parabens (Butyl, Ethyl, Methyl etc.): petroleum derived. Can cause allergic reactions and rashes. Known to be highly toxic. Has an estrogenic (feminizing) effect on the body. A 2004 study found that 18 of 20 breast tumours contained significant amounts of parabens.
  • PEGs (Polyethylene Glycols): derived from petroleum products, can cause eye, skin and gastro-intestinal irritations, allergic reactions and nausea among other things. They are also suspected carcinogens.
  • Phtalates: suspected endocrine, reproductive, developmental and neuro toxicity. Further health effects include liver and kidney damage, birth defects, testicular cancer and various reproductive disorders.

Where to begin?

So where to begin now? Should you clean out all your personal care products, pop them in the bin and buy new stuff? Well, that of course would be ideal for your health! Economically though, that’s not very clever. I suggest you start changing to certified organic products gradually when whatever you are using now runs out. So when your current deodorant runs out, buy a certified organic one. Then when your shampoo runs out, buy a certified organic one. You get the drift! Sometimes you can’t find certified organic products, then look for alternatives that are as natural as possible. Your local health food store can probably be a great help, that’s where I first started my explorations.

There is also a great little shopping companion that you can use to quickly check whether an ingredient is safe to use or not, “The Chemical Maze” by Bill Statham. This nifty little book also comes as an i-Phone app and has information on food additives as well as cosmetic ingredients.

Please also have a look at the resources list at the bottom of this article where I have listed the books and websites I’ve used to gather information. They are all worth checking out and there is a lot of useful information in all of them.

I’ve also added a few websites for products that I have used personally and that work for me. I’m not here to promote any specific brands or products (I’m not getting any kickbacks from any of these companies). I’ve just listed them here because I personally like them and to give you somewhere to start looking.

Please add any comments or questions you might have and I will do my best to answer then for you. I hope you find this information helpful and that it might inspire you to start making some changes, if you haven’t already.

To your good health,

Sara

Facts and literature

Benis, K. 2009, Sick Building Syndrome – Cosmetics, (DVD), Australian College of Environmental Studies, Melbourne.

Bijlsma, N. 2009, Sick Building Syndrome, Australian College of Environmental Studies, Melbourne.

Statham, B. 2008, The Chemical Maze Shopping Companion, Hyde Park Press, Australia.

Environmental Working Group – Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, availble online: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

Truth In Aging – the honest truth about beauty & personal care products, available online: http://www.truthinaging.com/

Product websites

Australian Bushflower Essences: http://ausflowers.com.au/Products/Skincare/Love-System-Products

Miessence: http://retail.mionegroup.com/home.jsf

Sukin: http://www.sukinorganics.com/

Organic formulations: http://www.organicformulations.com/products/18/australian-biologika (this is the deodorant that I use)

(These are all Australian as this is where I’m based)

iPhone app

Chemical Maze by Bill Statham