Monday, November 30, 2009

Benefits of Fish Oil for Adults and Children

Fish oil is yielded from the cold water fish like mackerel, tuna, salmon, cod and many other fish. It has been recommended as part of a heart healthy diet for quite some time. Fish oil is a very effective nutrient as it contains two most important omega 3 fatty acids that can be absorbed easily. EPA and DHA are two most important fatty acids that have very crucial role in development of normal brain, proper functioning of nervous system and better eyesight. The EPA and DHA fatty acids derived from fish oil are considered to be the protective elements for the body as they are very effective to reduce the risk of developing arthritis. Among other fish oil benefit you can find:

Most of the recent searches regarding fish oil benefit to the heart diseases has proved the importance of omega 3 fatty acids in protection against the heart diseases. The recent study of American Dietetic Association revealed the factor that these acids are very effective to reduce the fatty deposits in arteries.

The consumption of fish oil reduces the chances of all forms of cancer including breast, colon and prostate. The fatty acids found in the fish oil is quite helpful to stop the development of cancerous mass from quite a healthy cell, it inhibits the unwanted growth of cell and causes apoptosis or death or cancer cells.

Fish oil has significance in preventing the pregnancy complication like premature delivery and low birth weight. The consumption of fish oil during pregnancy reduce allergy in the newborns, help in development of brain and reduce risk of post partum depression. It is better to take fish oil during the period of pregnancy.

Fish oil is very effective for the eyesight. It not only improves the eyesight but also decrease the dryness in the eyes. The fish oil helps to stop the eyesight decline with the increasing age.

Fish oil is very effective to prevent all types of depression including the schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD and anger caused depression.

It is also helpful in treatment of the Huntington’s disease. Fish oil is found effective in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, systemic lupus and other inflammatory conditions.

The recent scientific studies recognized the role of fish oil in weight regulation, it reduces craving caused by the fatty foods.

These are the most significant fish oil benefits. Fish oil not only reduces the risk of a number of incurable diseases but is also very helpful nutritional supplement. Eating fish is the basic way for the body to get enough fatty acids but if you want to get more, than try to get fish oil benefits directly from the fish oil that is extracted from the cold water fishes as its benefits are bigger and it is easer to digest.

In children, fish oil is also shown to helps improve:

It was found that unruly children ingesting fish oil had improved behavior. Out of the 47 percent of children with "bad" behavior in the test group, only 4 percent remained unruly.

The use of fish oil was shown to improve concentration in children. Within the study, many two-year-olds were able to speak in full sentences rather than just single words as before taking the fish oil.

Interestingly, the use of fish oil in children improved bonding with their parents. Of course, this effect may be a side benefit for better behavior and concentration.

Accelerated Learning
In the scientific study, learning advanced a measurement of nine months in only a five-month period. This learning increase was primarily in expressive language and oral communication.

Although it is not a cure, fish oil has been shown to improve dyslexia in children.

We are huge salmon fans around my house. Glad to see the health benefits for all of us!

- Shannan

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm Thankful for My First Year of Blogging

I had an informative post planned for this week about iron deficiency, but decided that it's a holiday week and time to lighten up and reflect a bit. I looked around our blog a bit and then it hit me. A year ago this Friday, November 27th, Shannan and I embarked on our Living A Whole Life journey. We've faithfully researched and written, about 4 posts a week, for an entire year.

This year learning to blog has been an interesting one for me. I've learned a lot about blogging. It's much harder than I imagined to keep researching, writing, and producing fresh content through all the ups and downs daily life has to offer. Beginning blogging is really a thankless, non-lucrative (smile) endeavor. More than that though, it's a stimulating way to fast forward your own learning on a topic. I'm very challenged to understand why something is true so that I can explain it to our readers with the utmost of integrity. Blogging is also a community where I have learned so much from reading others work and from interesting comments placed on our site.

So Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family this year. When we each stop and think of the individual struggles and accomplishments this year has brought, we have much to be thankful for. Thank you to all of you who faithfully read our blog and give Living A Whole Life a voice on the Internet. I leave you with some of our top reader-rated posts this year.

  1. Is Raw Milk Safe

  2. Coconut Oil: Good For You Inside and Out

  3. Healthy Banana Bread Recipe

  4. Goji Berries: Health Benefits and Side Effects

  5. The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration and Shannan and I will catch you back here Monday to start our second year blogging here on Living A Whole Life.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Gratitude and Health

Do you have an attitude of gratitude? I know that I need to be reminded every once in a while to count my blessings. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here is some information on how to actually practice gratitude to promote a more positive and healthy outlook.

Good Health and Gratitude
There are many variables affecting good health, but the notion that simple acts of gratitude, appreciation, and thankfulness — all free and relatively easy to implement — can have a positive impact on health is intriguing and merits attention.

What is Gratitude?
An International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) Newsletter article of April 2008 described gratitude as an "orientation towards noticing and appreciating the positive in the world."

People naturally take for granted the routine things of life, becoming immune and unappreciative of the positives of daily life. Though this adaptation guards the senses against overload, it can also deprive a person of the ability to focus upon and appreciate a sunny day, a spring breeze, and a child's laughter. These are all opportunities for gratitude and an incumbent boost to good health.

Gratitude Exercises for Good Health
The following gratitude exercises are easy to do and will help you maintain an attitude of gratitude.

Gratitude Letter – Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has been a positive influence in your life describing how you were affected and what it meant to you. For even greater benefit deliver the letter in person.

Three Good Things – At the end of each day, recall three good things that happened that day, considering even the smallest positive event.

You at Your Best – Reflect on an experience that demonstrated you at your very best. Write about it and describe your feelings.

Novel Use of Signature Strengths – Understand your special skills and abilities often called your signature strengths. Each day find a new way to utilize one of your strengths.

Three Questions – At the end of each day, ask yourself these three questions: "What has surprised me?," "What has touched me?" and "What has inspired me?"

Happy Thanksgiving!

- Shannan

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Delicious Nutritious Beef Bone Broth

Back before my days of studying holistic nutrition, I was a closet fan of Martha Stewart and was always impressed by her homemade soup stocks. (I say closet because with a part-time job and 2 small children - I really can't be Martha Stewart, but it was fun to watch her create). Although I thought after watching and reading her bone broth recommendations that a good stock should be made from scratch and use soup bones, I never really made the time to try it. Recently I've been reading a lot about the awesome healing benefits of a good bone broth/soup stock and decided it was time to try it for myself. I'm 27 weeks pregnant now and trying to prepare myself and the baby for delivery in -my goodness- 13 more weeks. Amazingly, it really wasn't that difficult - like anything else it's a matter of having the right ingredients on hand and knowing what to do. Why take the extra time? Why not buy some soup stock from the grocery store?

Benefits of a properly made bone broth

  • By adding vinegar to the cooking broth it releases calcium, magnesium phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and other trace minerals from the bones. Held in a broth form, these minerals are so easy for the body to absorb and provide quick nourishment and healing. These minerals are also the basic building blocks for healing whether from the flu, broken bone, or surgery. Drinking a good bone broth will speed healing time.
  • Broth also contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons, like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine - no more expensive supplements to take!!
  • Bone broth is rich in collagen and gelatin which aids digestion of milk, beans, meat, and the proteins in wheat, oats, and barley. (Adding whole grains and beans into your favorite soup makes even more sense now!)
  • Bone broth can be helpful in easing the following conditions: food allergies, dairy allergies, colic, bean maldigestion, grain maldigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, malnutrition, weight loss, muscle wasting, cancer, osteoporosis, calcium deficiency and anemia.
  • Bone broth contains amino acids in a readily absorbable form that helps the body detoxify.

How to make Beef Bone Broth
6-7 pounds of various beef bones, including marrow, knuckle, meaty rib, and neck bones (Remember the quality of your broth will depend on the quality of the ingredients. I recommend spending a little more for grass-fed beef or organic and avoiding beef tainted with antibiotics or hormones).
4 quarts of cold filtered water
1/2 cup vinegar
3 onions, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
Several sprigs of thyme or other favorite herbs
1 bunch of parsley
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup of favorite red wine

Place the meaty bones on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 350 to 400 degrees until browned. Add bones, vegetables, vinegar, parsley, tomato paste, and red wine to pot and cover with water. Liquid should come no higher than within one inch of the rim of the pot, as the volume expands slightly during cooking.

Bring to a boil. A small amount of particulate matter may rise to the top and it is important to remove this with a spoon or small fine mesh sieve. Reduce heat and add thyme or other herbs.

Simmer the stock for at least 12 hours and as long as 72 hours.* Just before finishing, add the parsley and simmer another 10 minutes.

Strain the stock into a large bowl. Let cool in the refrigerator and remove the congealed fat that rises to the top. Transfer your delicious, nutritious broth into small glass jars and freeze for long term storage.

This broth can be used to make soups and stews; added to rice or other grains in place of water; freeze in small cubes and use when cooking vegetables; or just drink warm when feeling under the weather or in need of healing.

*Another idea is to make your stock on low in the crock pot. If you are like me and cannot be home for long periods of time and don't want to leave the stove-top on this works really well. Mine spent 2 days in the crock pot on my counter and turned out great. You may have to adjust the recipe depending on the size of your crock pot.

Stay tuned as I plan to experiment with Chicken Stock and for our vegan readers a delicious Vegetable Stock to make ahead, freeze, and have on hand when needed.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Mighty Cranberry

With Thanksgiving right around the corner we will all be diving into our favorite cranberry concoction. I love cranberries and add them to my oatmeal every morning. Here are some great facts about cranberries from Drs. Oz and Roizon.

They're antioxidant all-stars. Cranberries have more of these disease-fighters than do apples, red grapes, strawberries, oranges, bananas, pears, grapefruit, pineapples and peaches! And the antioxidant roster includes powerful resveratrol, the heart protector in red wine, which is now being tested against breast, skin, prostate and liver cancer.

They keep your ticker, well, ticking. Cranberries pack a triple whammy: They're chock-full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and anticlotting agents, a combo that helps prevent fats and cholesterol from sticking to artery walls and seems to lower bad LDL cholesterol and boost good HDL cholesterol.

They protect your pearly whites. Compounds in cranberry juice appear to reduce decay-causing mouth bacteria and dissolve clusters of unhealthy germs. Just be sure to buy sugar-free juice or rinse well with water afterward. Do the same with any sweetened drink.

They ward off ulcers and upset tummies. Cranberry compounds and bad bacteria loathe each other, which is a good thing. Scientists suspect that the berries keep ulcer-causing H. pylori bugs from hanging around the stomach and flush other harmful bacteria out of your digestive system.

They fight infections "down there. "Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are responsible for 8.3 million doctor visits each year. That's a lot of waiting-room discomfort. But drinking cranberry juice significantly cuts the rate of UTIs and may even cure those that are already under way. The antioxidants—in this case proanthocyanidins—keep the pesky bacteria at bay.

Here a just a few cranberry recipes you may want to try this holiday season:

- Shannan

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Natural Cough Remedies

My daughter was diagnosed with Croup last week and I got sick shortly after. I am now on day 5 of feeling pretty lousy and a suffering with a horrible congested cough. This sent me on the search for some natural cough remedies that my ease my discomfort.

Congested Coughs Causes
The obvious causes of coughing are colds, flu, bronchial infections, sinus congestion, smoking, and the need to rid the throat of foreign matter. But did you know that heartburn is one of the leading causes? For some unknown reason heartburn is the cause for about 10% of chronic coughers. See our Heartburn section for suggestions to relieve both the heartburn and coughing. Dust, pollen and chemicals are other sources of irritants. Also, some drugs, most notably ACE inhibitors used for high blood pressure, have coughing as a side effect in 21% of the people using them. Coughing is also a common symptom of asthma. The sound of your cough may indicate its cause. Below is a list of the cough sounds and what that may indicate:

A barking cough - bronchitis or croup

A high-pitched cough - your vocal cords are involved and the airways have become narrowed

A wheezing cough - asthma and/or bronchitis

A loud, gasping cough with difficulty getting air - whooping cough

• Breathe the steam from a vaporizer, hot shower, or pan of boiling water. The moist air will soothe the airways and loosen sinus congestion and phlegm in your throat and lungs. A few drops of the oil of eucalyptus will help this process.

• Elevate the head of your bed. This will allow your sinuses and nasal passages to drain better and not create that "tickle" in your throat.

• Stop smoking. Passive smoke or other irritants, such as chemicals, can be a cause. Household cleaners, new carpeting, paneling and mattresses are some of the many possible sources of chemical irritants.

• Drink at least 8 eight ounce glasses of water. This is especially important if your cough is due to an illness. Water is the best expectorant you can take and will help thin the mucus and loosen the cough.

• Do not use over-the-counter expectorant cough remedies as they just suppress the symptoms and do not address the underlying problem. If you have the kind of cough with mucus you want to get it out of your respiratory system, not suppress it. Try one of the natural expectorant remedies below.

• Try eating hot chili peppers, horseradish or other spicy foods. They will help loosen mucus.

• During the winter, if your house is dry, use a humidifier and a cool-mist vaporizer in your bedroom at night. This will help thin the mucus. Be sure to thoroughly clean the vaporizer, as it can harbor bacteria.

• Drink hot tea to break up the mucus and open and moisten the airways.

• Cough drops or hard candy will help stop the tickle if you have a dry cough and will moisten the throat.

• Avoid foods that increase the production of mucus, such as dairy products, meat and fried foods.

• Hot packs placed on your throat and chest are very soothing.

Vitamins A, C and E are beneficial with conditions that cause coughs.

The use of inhaled steam can be very effective in liquefying mucus and reducing irritation. To control the steam, bend over the steaming water while holding a towel over your head. Try some of these aromatherapy oils. Inhaling essential oils can stimulate your lungs to expel phlegm.

Cypress Add three drops each of cypress and juniper oil and a drop of ginger.

Cedar Dilute 3 drops of oil of cedar in one teaspoon of carrier oil, such as olive, sweet almond or jojoba, and massage onto your chest several times a day.
Add 10-15 drops to a pot of steaming water and inhale the vapors

Eucalyptus Add a few drops of eucalyptus to a carrier oil and rub on your chest.
• Put 10-15 drops of oil in boiling water and inhale the steam. Eucalyptus is a good decongestant and expectorant. You can also add three drops of hyssop oil.

Jasmine Use the oil in a burner or put a few drops on a handkerchief and inhale the fumes.

Myrrh Add a few drops of myrrh to a carrier oil and rub on your chest. This will help reduce mucus.

Peppermint Dilute 3 drops of peppermint oil in one teaspoon of carrier oil, such as olive, sweet almond or jojoba, and massage onto your chest several times a day.
Add 10-15 drops to a pot of steaming water and inhale the vapors.

Pine Put some essential pine oil in a burner to soothe the throat. You can also place a few drops on a handkerchief and inhale the fumes.

Thyme Add 10-15 drops of this oil in a pan of boiling water and inhale the fumes, in an infuser, or place a few drops on a handkerchief and inhale.
• Massaging using oil of thyme may also be helpful in relieving your cough. Put 5 drops in 1/4 cup olive oil and massage your neck and upper body. Thyme is an excellent expectorant and has been used for centuries to heal respiratory conditions.

Rub the padded area below your big toe in various directions at the first sign of a cough. Also, hold back the toes and press on the raised area with your thumb. This will help relieve chest congestion.



Aloe vera Mix equal parts of aloe juice and honey. This is very good for a scratchy cough.
Angelica Use a tincture of the root or leaf, or make a tea. Angelica is an expectorant. Do not use if you are pregnant.

Bee balm Native Americans used bee balm to alleviate colds and coughs. Steep two teaspoons of fresh (one, dried) bee balm leaves in a cup of hot water, covered, for four minutes. Sip a cup three times a day. Bee balm has antiseptic compounds that can help heal respiratory infections and clear nasal congestion.

Carrot juice Mix with honey and a little warm water. Take a tablespoonful several times a day.

Cayenne pepper Mix 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a glass of water and use as a gargle, swallowing afterward. You can also use 15-20 drops of Tabasco sauce in a glass of water or juice. Pepper helps clear congestion and draws blood to the throat to fight infection.

Chamomile tea will soothe the throat.

Garlic Grate one or two cloves of garlic and mix with a teaspoon of honey. Take as needed.

Ginger Make a tea using ginger and drink 6 oz several times a day, as needed.

Grape juice Mix a cup of grape juice with a teaspoon of honey.

Honey Mix honey with juice of a fresh lemon and take as needed. Not only does honey soothe the tickle, but it has antibacterial properties, too.

• Dr. D. C. Jarvis, in his classic book, Folk Medicine, described another honey remedy that worked very well: boil a whole lemon for 10 minutes; when cool enough to handle roll it back and forth on a hard surface, cut it in half and squeeze the juice into a pint of raw honey. Add a teaspoon of glycerin and take as often as needed.

Horehound cough drops have been used for generations to quell coughs. One of horehound's compounds, marrubiin, stimulates bronchial secretions and helps break up congestion.

Hyssop Steep two teaspoons of dried hyssop in one cup of boiling water, covered for ten minutes; strain and drink cool for an expectorant or hot to relieve congestion. The oils in hyssop are good for mild respiratory problems. Hyssop contains marrubiin, the same compound that makes horehound an excellent expectorant.

Lime juice Mix equal parts of lime juice and honey.

Mullein soothes and relaxes the lungs and bronchial tubes, which eases a cough. Use 25-30 drops of tincture in a small glass of boiling water three times a day.

Onion broth Make a broth by boiling an onion for 10-15 minutes; strain and drink the broth several times a day. The broth will reduce congestion.

Onion juice Make a syrup by combining 1 teaspoonful of raw onion juice with 1 teaspoonful of honey; let stand for 3-4 hours, and take in divided doses.

Sugar Suck on a cube of raw sugar.

Tea Tea made with peppermint or rosemary will help break up congestion.

Thyme Make a tea using two tablespoons of fresh (one tablespoon of dried) thyme in a cup of boiling water; steep, covered, for four minutes; strain and drink hot. Thyme relaxes the lungs and promotes expectoration of mucus. It contains a volatile oil, thymol, which has antiseptic and antibacterial properties.

Looks like I have a lot to try!
- Shannan


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Made My Own Lotion (and I love it)!

Not long ago I mentioned that I was attempting to make my own Herbal Healing Lotion. I finally got a chance to do it and I love it. It turned out a little thicker than I would personally like. I probably went a little overboard on the beeswax and would use less next time. Otherwise I love this lotion. It is very moisturizing and healing. Here are the directions for what to do.

Herbal Healing Lotion

1 ounce Calendula infused oil
1 ounce Comfrey infused oil
1 ounce St. John's Wort infused oil
1 ounce plantain infused oil
10 drops Vitamin E Oil
20 drops Lavender essential oil
1/2 ounce Beeswax (Carnauba or Candelillla Wax may be used for a Vegan salve) (Add more if you want a thicker salve and less if you want a thinner lotion.)

Place herbal infused oils and Beeswax over a double boiler and gently heat until the Beeswax melts. Remove from heat and add Lavender Essential Oil and Vitamin E Oil. Quickly pour into prepared tins or glass jars and allow to cool completely. The salve will last for at least a year, and is best kept in a cool and dark area such as a cupboard or cabinet.

How to make your own herbal infused oil

  1. Solar Method: Fill a glass jar 1/4 full of dried herb and then cover with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or other oil of choice) leaving at least 1-2" of oil above the herbs to allow the herbs to swell. Place jar in a sunny window and shake once or twice per day. Allow the oil to infuse for at least 4 to 6 weeks, or until the oil takes on the color and scent of the herb. Once that oil is ready, strain using cheesecloth, and bottle into amber bottles for storage. Make sure to squeeze as much oil as possible from the herbs and cheesecloth so that you do not waste any precious oil! The infused oils may be used alone, or used within herbal preparations such as salves, massage oils, creams, lotions, or anything else you desire! Herbal Oils will keep for approximately a year if stored properly in a dark and cool place. Vitamin E Oil may also be added to prolong shelf life. This is the preferred way of making Herbal Infused Oils, however if you live in an area such as I do where the sun doesn't shine much in the winter, there is an alternate method for making these oils on the stove.

  2. Stove-top Method: Another way to infuse oils, is the double boiler or crock-pot method. Much care needs to be taken when creating herbal oils this way because you do not want to deep-fry your herbs! Place herbs in a crock-pot or double boiler, and cover with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or other oil of choice) leaving at least an inch of oil above the herbs. Gently heat the herbs over very low heat for 1-5 hours until the oil takes on the color and scent of the herb. Some texts recommend heating the oil 48-72 hours at a controlled temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn off the off the heat and allow to cool. Once the oil is ready, strain using cheesecloth and bottle into amber bottles for storage.

Perhaps you don't have the time or inclination to make your own lotion - some aren't as crazy as me. Here are the healing properties of some of the ingredients. Look for these when you purchase your own skin care products!

  • Calendula - otherwise known as the common marigold is known for it's healing and pain relieving properties.

  • St John's Wort or Hypericum perforatum is a calming herb, emollient and skin softener. It works great on dry, irritated skin, damaged hair and dry scalp.

  • Vitamin E Oil is the most potent antioxidant vitamin. It protects the skin from cancer causing free radicals and is essential for proper utilization of oxygen in the tissues.

  • Comfrey is a wonderful herb that encourages healing in any tissue when used either topically or internally. It's great for skin, but also beneficial when used on open wounds, sores, or burns.

  • Lavender Oil has soothing and antiseptic properties when applied to the skin. Of course we love it's beautiful fragrance too.

  • Beeswax, Carnauba, and Candellilla wax are all used as natural thickening agents, but each imparts it's own moisturizing and protecting barrier for the skin.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Whole Foods Field Trip

I had the pleasure of chaperoning my twin daughter's kindergarten class field trip to Whole Foods today. I was so excited to see what their tour would be like and what they would learn about healthy eating. In the end I decided I would write about our lesson as a reminder to all of us how important organic whole foods are to our bodies and our environment. And, how to talk to our kids about this subject.

It all started with the introduction of our tour guide Mike. He is, of course, a Whole Foods employee in charge of marketing at the store we were visiting. He was great with the kids and you could tell really enjoyed giving tours. Our first stop was the skincare section of the store where Mike explained that anything that is put ON your skin ends up IN your body so it is important that it be natural and organic.

He went on to ask the kids if they new what organic meant. There guesses were pretty good and I thought his explanation was clear. Organic means that it is 'from the earth'. It is natural, without added chemicals and the basic ingredients are unchanged.

Next we moved on to the produce section. Mike explained how it is important to eat a rainbow of colors. Not only to make sure you are eating different kinds of food, he explained that even different colored apples (green, red) provided slightly different vitamin and mineral levels. He quizzed the kids on what some of their favorite green, yellow, orange and red veggies were. It is hard to keep track of what is a fruit and what is a veggie sometimes, but they did great.

We also talked about why it is so important to buy our fruits and vegetables locally. He showed the kids a section full of Michigan grown apples, squash and pumpkins. They picked up on the fact that food sitting on a boat or trucks for weeks vs. hours makes a big difference in freshness.

At the fish counter, our tour guide was trying to make a point about the importance of sustainability. He asked how many of the kids had ever been fishing before, most raised their hands and what you do when you catch a really small fish. One of the boys answered 'throw it back.' This was exactly what Mike was looking for. He then asked if anyone knew what sustainable meant. This was my favorite part of the whole experience..."when you get something on your shirt and you have to wash it off" one of the other boys answered. How cute is that? Never fear, they ultimately learned that sustainability means that we should never go out and catch all of the fish. We need to save them for the future.

We talked about meat and how important it is (if we are meat eaters) to eat meat from animals that are allowed to roam free, not be kept in tight cages. The tour guide compared chickens to the kids, calling them 'free range' kids.

Along the way there were samples of gum drops, sushi, bread and really yummy gelato. The kids had a great time and learned a lot about not only what to eat, but why it is so important to be aware of where your food comes from.

I am sure all of the whole food stores offer this service and I hope that you and your teachers will take the time to take a tour.

- Shannan

Thursday, November 12, 2009

And The Winner Is...

The lucky winner of our Bright October giveaway is

Megan Williams!!!!

Megan said that she "loves all of the play food from Haba - my DD is getting a play kitchen for Christmas and I hope to stock it with some of these adorable little goodies." Well, now you can!

Congratulations Megan! Megan will receive a $50 gift certificate to start her Christmas shopping on Bright October this year. Bright October has so many fabulous natural, eco-friendly, and organic toys at very reasonable prices!

Megan please send your contact information and email address to Living A Whole Life's email address Everyone else, stay tuned for more great giveaways and join me in your Christmas shopping on Bright October!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cannonau Wine

I am currently in the middle of reading The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. Blue Zones are communities where common elements of lifestyle, diet and outlook have led to an amazing quality and quantity of life. In this book Dan Buettner shares the secrets from four of the world's Blue Zones - Sardinia, Italy, Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda, California and the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica.

I will be sharing more insights from this book in future posts, but would like to pass on some information on Cannonau Wine today. Cannonau grapes are grown in Sardinia and are known to contain 2-3 times the level of artery-scrubbing flavanoids than other wines. These grapes endure endure the harsh Sardinian sun by producing mre red pigment to protect them from the ultraviolet rays. Thus providing us with more antioxidants.

According to the book, the Sardinian diet includes moderate levels of wine consumption, 1-2 glases daily with dinner. In addition to providing healthy flavonoids this sort of moderate wine consumption can help reduce stress which may also lead to a longer life.

Here is an article I found on Cannonau wine for you connoisseurs out there.

I know I will be swinging into my local wine shop to find a bottle. Salud!

- Shannan

P.S. Don't forget to enter to win a $50 gift certificate to Bright October. All entries must be in by 12:00 tomorrow. Check out Bright October's great eco-friendly toys for all the kids on your holiday shopping list!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

$50 Gift Certificate Giveaway for Toys from Bright October

You just never know who you will run into when sitting and waiting for your daughter to finish dance class. Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of conversing with the creator of the website that brings us today's product review and giveaway.

Courtney is the mom to two beautiful girls and created a website, Bright October, that specializes in eco-friendly, naturally made, and creative toys. Several years ago when her first daughter was born, she became disenchanted with the commercialized, character-driven toy world and instead sought for toys that stimulated creative play, imagination, and fun. She also wanted safe and natural toys that taught kids to appreciate the planet. Her website, Bright October, (so named because the "day they brought their daughter home was the brightest day in October" - sweet) is the culmination of her search for the perfect child's toy.
Bright October has a wonderful website neatly arranged in categories such as age, type of toy, brand of toy, and price range to make your shopping easier. Their shipping costs are low, only $3.99 for standard or free if your purchase totals over $75. They have a wonderful 90 day return policy if you are not satisfied with your product. Sign up for their newsletter and your next purchase will receive a very generous 10% off discount.

Just look at some of the adorable toys the kids and I got to preview from her site.

This is an adorable toy for our little baby to be. It's a pram decoration from Haba. It will no doubt be tons of fun for the baby to look at and touch and my other two can't seem to take their hands off it as I keep finding it in their rooms. The figures are made of beech wood and they are connected by a sturdy elastic cord. So cute!

This my friends, in the last three days, has become my 5 year old's favorite doll. She has literally taken it everywhere we have gone including a bike ride. It's the Blabla Coral Doll.

This doll is hand-made, 100% cotton and so soft. The pictures don't do her justice as she is about 22 inches long. I'm pretty sure every little girl needs one of these! Check out all the fabulous Blabla Doll styles here.

This is a really neat toy that I had never seen before for my little guy. It's an Automoblox T9 Pickup. The body of the pick-up is constructed of solid maple and as you can see in the bottom picture, every piece of this this truck comes apart. My son, C., has had tons of fun pulling this thing apart and putting it back together. There are more styles of cars and trucks in the Automoblox line and your little one can mix and match pieces making their own creations. This is number one on my list right now to purchase for my nephew for Christmas! Shhh! Don't tell him.

Just in time to start your Christmas shopping, Courtney has generously offered to give one of our readers a $50 gift certificate to spend on her site. Entry to the giveaway is easy. Here is what you need to do.

  • Visit her site Bright October and select a favorite toy.

  • Leave a comment in our comments section telling us about that favorite toy and who you would purchase it for this Christmas!

The giveaway will end Wednesday, November 11th at 12 p.m. and the winner will be announced later that evening.

Thanks Courtney!


Friday, November 6, 2009

Some Natural Help for Night-Time Bedwetting

I belong to a really great list-serve through the Holistic Mom's Network and oddly enough that is where I got the idea for today's post. A mom had written in wondering what she could do for her 5 year old son who was wetting every night. This brought back a few memories of about a year ago when our son seemed to have nightly wetting episodes. People will tell you it's so normal, and that it's a stage, which is all true; but when it's you up every night at 2 am changing sheets and laundering a complete set of bedding every night, you hope there is something to stop the cycle.

There is a lot of literature out there about the effectiveness of using Homeopathics and Bach Flower remedies to stop bed wetting and we found the homeopathic Pulsatilla to be invaluable in helping our son quickly get over his issue with bed-wetting. He completely fit the profile for Pulsatilla and it wasn't long after giving him Pulsatilla that we finally had some dry nights. I stopped giving him the Pulsatilla as a test and found that the problem re-occurred soon after. It seemed like forever, but probably after a month or two of no wetting we again stopped giving him the Pulsatilla and he was able to stay dry at night. What a relief. I still believe to this day that he wouldn't have gotten through that stage as quickly without homeopathics.

Unlike traditional medicine where there is a one size fits all approach, when you use homeopathics and Bach flower remedies you must find the right remedy for the person you are treating. I can't count the number of times I've heard people say - "Oh, I tried XYZ remedy for teething, homeopathy doesn't work." There are half a dozen remedies to try for teething and each one fits a particular personality and situation. It's not always easy to see yourself or child in a remedy, but a little investigation and perseverance usually pays off.

Homeopathics for Night-Time Bed wetting

  • Belladonna - helps the child who sleeps so deeply he cannot wake up.

  • Causticum - helps the child who wets the bed in the first sleep and is worse in dry, clear weather.

  • Equisetum - helps the child who had dreams or nightmares when urinating

  • Kreosotum - helps the child who sleeps so deeply he cannot wake and often has dreams or nightmares involving fire or of being pursued.

  • Pulsatilla - helps the child who is shy, sensitive, weepy and affectionate.

  • Sepia - also helps the child who wets in their first sleep. This child generally loves vigorous exercise and dancing, and is sensitive to cold air.

Bach Flower Remedies for Night-Time Bed Wetting

  • Chicory: due to lack of attention - reduces the child's dependence on the parents at night.

  • Crab Apple: helps overcome a feeling of uncleanliness. When a child is ashamed of his own weaknesses, it becomes harder for him to overcome them.

  • Mimulus: alleviates the anxiety induced by anticipation.

  • Pine: relieves guilt feelings

  • Willow: due to contrariness, resentment, or bitterness

Any of the Bach flower remedies can be mixed and taken together. Use a combination of Bach flower remedies and homeopathics to suit your child's needs. You can find Bach flower remedies and homeopathics at your local health store. I also purchase a few homeopathics at

For those of you going through this stage: Good Luck and remember "This too shall pass"!


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Veggie of the Month - Brussels Sprouts

You may think that Brussels Sprouts (or baby cabbages as they are known in our house) are a strange little vegetable to spend any time on, but they happen to be one of my favorites. I just like them because I think they taste good. Maybe I should like them because of all the great nutrition value they provide.

It's no surprise that Brussel sprouts look like perfect miniature versions of cabbage since they are closely related, both belong to the Brassica family of vegetables. Brussels sprouts are available year round; however, they are at their best from autumn through early spring when they are at the peak of their growing season.

Brussels Sprouts are an excellent source of both vitamin K and C.

Cancer Protection from Special Sulfur-Containing Phytonutrients
Plant phytonutrients found in Brussels sprouts enhance the activity of the body's natural defense systems to protect against disease, including cancer. Scientists have found that sulforaphane, one of the powerful glucosinolate phytonutrients found in Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables, boosts the body's detoxification enzymes, potentially by altering gene expression, thus helping to clear potentially carcinogenic substances more quickly.

Crucifers Cut Risk of Bladder Cancer
Human population as well as animal studies consistently show that diets high in cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussel sprouts, broccoli, kale, cabbage and cauliflower, are associated with lower incidence of certain cancers, including lung, colon, breast and ovarian cancer. Now, research published in the International Journal of Cancer (Zhao H, Lin J) suggests that bladder cancer can join the list.

Optimize Your Cells' Detoxification / Cleansing Ability
For about 20 years, we've known that many phytonutrients work as antioxidants to disarm free radicals before they can damage DNA, cell membranes and fat-containing molecules such as cholesterol. Now, new research is revealing that phytonutrients in cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, work at a much deeper level. These compounds actually signal our genes to increase production of enzymes involved in detoxification, the cleansing process through which our bodies eliminate harmful compounds.

For Healthy Skin and Immune Function, Think Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin C, the body's primary water-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin C supports immune function and the manufacture of collagen, a protein that forms the ground substance of body structures including the skin, connective tissue, cartilage, and tendons.

Fiber-rich Brussels Sprouts Support A Healthier Colon
Add Brussels sprouts to your diet, and you'll increase your fiber intake. A cup of Brussels sprouts contains more than 4 grams of fiber, and both soluble and insoluble fiber are present in roughly equal amounts.

A Birth Defect Fighter
Especially if you are pregnant, consider learning to love Brussels sprouts. A cup of Brussels sprouts supplies 93.6 mg of folic acid, a B-vitamin essential for proper cellular division because it is necessary in DNA synthesis. Without folic acid, the fetus' nervous system cells do not divide properly. Deficiency of folic acid during pregnancy has been linked to several birth defects, including neural tube defects like spina bifida. Despite folic acid's wide occurrence in food (it's name comes from the Latin word folium, meaning "foliage," because it's found in green leafy vegetables), folic acid deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency in the world.

Although I am fine with my Brussels Sprouts simply steamed. Here is a great sounding recipe you may want to try.

- Shannan


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Seed Milk

If you are wondering what to do with those pumpkin seeds leftover from Halloween pumpkin carving, or just thinking about making pumpkin pies, muffins, or cookies from scratch, try making your own pumpkin seed milk with the leftover seeds. Alternatively, most local health food stores and even our local grocery chain, Busch's, sell raw pumpkin seeds if harvesting your own seeds doesn't appeal to you. I have a bowl of seeds sitting in my refrigerator that I harvested last week and instead of roasting them, which is also yummy, I'm going to make a batch of pumpkin seed milk today.

Pumpkin seed milk is very healthful and along the lines of almond or other nut milks. Pumpkin seeds boast very high levels of manganese, magnesium (the anti-stress mineral) and phosphorus among other minerals. They can reduce cholesterol, enhance immune response, decrease the risk of certain cancers, and reduce inflammation.

Pumpkin milk is delicious and refreshing by itself, but can also be used in smoothies; most baking recipes in place of regular milk; or as a base for soups to impart a nice nutty flavor. Give it a try - I think you will like it!

Pumpkin Seed Milk Recipe

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, washed

4 cups filtered or distilled water

1 tablespoon maple syrup, raw honey, or agave (optional if you like a sweeter nut milk)

Blend the above ingredients until smooth in the blender

Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Filter through a nut milk bag or fine mesh filter to separate the pulp from the milk. Give the pulp a good squeeze at the end to get all the moisture out.

Use right away and refrigerate any leftovers. It is normal for separation to occur - just stir it up before pouring and it will get creamy again.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Goat's Milk

So one of my 5-year-old daughters saw a segment on goat's milk on a kid's show she watches, not sure which one, and has been asking for it ever since. I wasn't sure if she would like it, I had never tasted it before, but I am always up for them trying new things so I bought a quart. Without hesitation she drank it down and announced that she would drink a cup of goat's milk everyday to stay healthy.

So what are the health benefits of goat's milk and how is it different from the cow's milk we are all used to?

Delicious with a slightly sweet and sometimes salty undertone, goat's milk is the milk of choice in most of the world. Although not popular in the United States, it can be found in markets and health foods stores throughout the year.

Unlike cow's milk there is no need to homogenize goat's milk. While the fat globules in cow's milk tend to separate to the surface, the globules in goat's milk are much smaller and will remain suspended in solution. When individuals have sensitivity to cow's milk, goat's milk can sometimes be used as an alternative.

Health Benefits
Goat's milk is a very good source of calcium and the amino acid tryptophan. It is also a good source of protein, phosphorus, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and potassium. Perhaps the greatest benefit of goat's milk, however, is that some people who cannot tolerate cow's milk are able to drink goat's milk without any problems. It is not clear from scientific research studies exactly why some people can better tolerate goat's milk. Some initial studies suggested that specific proteins known to cause allergic reactions may have been present in cow's milk in significant quantities yet largely absent in goat's milk.

Calcium-A Mineral for A Lot More than Strong Bones
Goat's milk is a very good source of calcium. Calcium is widely recognized for its role in maintaining the strength and density of bones. In a process known as bone mineralization, calcium and phosphorus join to form calcium phosphate. Calcium phosphate is a major component of the mineral complex (called hydroxyapatite) that gives structure and strength to bones. A cup of goat's milk supplies 32.6% of the daily value for calcium along with 27.0% of the DV for phosphorus. In comparison, a cup of cow's milk provides 29.7% of the DV for calcium and 23.2% of the DV for phosphorus.

Building bone is, however, far from all that calcium does for us. In recent studies, this important mineral has been shown to:

- Help protect colon cells from cancer-causing chemicals
- Help prevent the bone loss that can occur as a result of menopause or certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Help prevent migraine headaches in those who suffer from them
- Reduce PMS symptoms during the luteal phase (the second half) of the menstrual cycle

Energy Producing Riboflavin
Goat's milk is a very good source of riboflavin, a B vitamin important for energy production. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) plays at least two important roles in the body's energy production. When active in energy production pathways, riboflavin takes the form of flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) or flavin mononucleotide (FMN). In these forms, riboflavin attaches to protein enzymes called flavoproteins that allow oxygen-based energy production to occur. Flavoproteins are found throughout the body, particularly in locations where oxygen-based energy production is constantly needed, such as the heart and other muscles.

A Good Source of Protein
Goat's milk is a good source of low-cost high-quality protein, providing 8.7 grams of protein (17.4% of the daily value for protein) in one cup versus cow's milk, which provides 8.1 grams or 16.3% of the DV for protein. The structure of humans and animals is built on protein. We rely on animal and vegetable protein for our supply of amino acids, and then our bodies rearrange the nitrogen to create the pattern of amino acids we require.

Cardiovascular Protection from Potassium
Goat's milk is a good source of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Since a cup of goat's milk contains 498.7 mg of potassium and only 121.5 mg of sodium, goat's milk may help to prevent high blood pressure and protect against atherosclerosis.

Give it a try!

- Shannan

Sources: WHFoods

This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog is intended to replace the advice of a physician. We recommend consulting a physician before embarking on diet changes or a fitness routine. In addition, we recommend that you thoroughly research alternate points of view and make your own decisions as an informed consumer. You are ultimately responsible for your health.