Health

My fav immune boosting recipe...

This past July, I very quietly graduated from a year-long coaching program with The Institute for Integrative Nutrition to be a certified health coach. I don’t talk about it much but food has been a huge part of my life. I remember making my first meal for my family (roasted lemon garlic chicken) before I was a teen.  I was going through old photos the other day and found a picture of my sister and I helping our dad cook a traditional Lebanese dinner (he’s from Lebanon) when were around 8 years old…

Hormone Disruptors Are Hiding In Your Home...

And here's what you can replace them with:

Your endocrine system is made up of all of your hormone-producing glands.  It’s a big deal in your body as it determines your growth, sex drive, reproduction, aging and sooooo much more. It’s basically your body’s system of checks and balances. When a part of that system is out wack, your body tells you through dis-ease or pain. The endocrine system is especially important regarding women’s health since our hormones are the main decider of how we feel on a physical and emotional level, every single day.  

In the last 2 decades though, our endocrine system has been disrupted due to the rise of modern “conveniences”. Endocrine disruptors are anything (mainly chemicals) that throw that system out of balance, mainly by mimicking our natural hormones or by stopping their production all together. This manifests in women's body mainly in menstrual disorders including PCOS, endometriosis, irregular periods, early menopause, infertility and more. 

Common endocrine disruptors include pharmaceuticals, pesticides, plastics, metal food cans, and cosmetics.  

Endocrine disruptors are everywhere and we often can’t control when we come into contact with them. But there’s one place that we have almost 100% control; our home.  Here are a few common household items that are common disruptors of your endocrine system and entire hormonal system and some ways you can replace them!

Your Kitchen:

This is the first on the list because it’s the biggest impact on your health.  Take a look at what you’re heating your food up in; your cookware.  Is it plastic, or non-stick? Start with your utensils.  Are there plastics on your eating utensils; how about that spatula or slotted spoon? Most stores that carry our kitchenware are “big box” stores- they want to make things for ½ a penny and make a profit by turning them around quickly.  So, more often than not, your cooking utensils are made with plastic; they’re cheap to purchase and you just throw them away when they wear out.  If yours are plastic, consider switching to stainless steel or even wood. If you’re on a budget, you can get these at a thrift store for cheap, or yard sales for next to nothing!

What do you store your food in? If your tupperware is plastic, consider making the switch to glass. These will often come with a plastic lid but it’s okay for food storage since the lid doesn’t usually touch the food.  

 

Your Bathroom:

This is a big area that’s prey to filling up with endocrine disruptors.  Many bathroom storage items are plastic (think bins, makeup bags, toothbrush holder, soap dispenser). Notice just how much plastic your hands touch each day.  Think about your shower; what are you scrubbing yourself with? You could switch from the plastic-y shower scrub to a natural loofa or a cotton washrag.  Notice your shampoo bottles.  I love the stainless steel shampoo dispenser from Hairstory. There are also great options on Amazon; even if your products come in a plastic bottle, that doesn't mean they have to stay in a plastic bottle. 

Speaking of bathroom; let’s talk about body and bath products. Make-up. This is a HUGE endocrine disruptor for women.  Your skin is your body’s biggest organ- if you wouldn’t eat it, you literally shouldn’t put it on your skin.  This goes for EVERYTHING. Take a look at your makeup bag.  Dump everything out and start with your makeup brushes.  Are the bristles plastic? Are the handles plastic? You can easily switch to wood and natural-bristle makeup brushes.  

Now, how about what you’re putting on your skin? This is a catch 22 for many women. They wear makeup to cover skin blemishes or uneven skin, when in reality, it’s what they’re putting on their skin that’s causing hormonal shifts that result in skin issues. Even what we wash our face with can be a detriment to our skin. Your skin, specifically your face, has natural oil spots and natural dry spots. Skin LOVES oil. When our skin doesn’t get to produce its natural oil, it over compensates, thus producing acne and blemishes.  Have you ever used a face-wash that has those micro-scrubbing beads? Those are plastic; you're literally scrubbing plastic into your face.  Not only that, but you wash that down the sink, it goes into the ocean, never breaks down, and is constantly being found in the stomach of deceased sea animals. Something to think about...

I invite you to go a week or two with washing your face with a product (a clay-based face wash) only every other day.  Skip the foundation and anything that goes on your skin (mascara and eye-liner are fine).  You’ll notice your skin will be softer and more supple as you go longer without letting those man-made ingredients soak into it.  You’ll also save a lot of money not buying makeup products!

Other places in your home:

Take a look at your living room and bedroom and find things that aren’t natural- what’s man-made? Here’s a list of common items that have tags so you can see what you’re touching every day:

Furniture (couch, coffee table, chairs, pillows, etc)
Rugs/carpet
Bedspread/sheets
Towels
Clothes
Underwear
Bags/Purses
Wallet

I could go and on but I’m sure you get my point; be intentional about what you are touching every day.  Imagine the span of your lifetime and how much plastic gets into your body on a daily basis.  It’s no coincidence that in our lifetime we’ve seen certain plastic items get BANNED, certain types of cancers rise, and infertility rates increase.  Your endocrine system determines how you feel on a daily basis so it’s no joke to asses what affects it, that you can directly change.

The quality of what we put on our around our bodies is a huge passion of my work and of Lunar Nourishment. In fact, it's a really big part of the Balanced Babes online training course.  In this 4 week long course, you'll discover not only how to reconnect to your body through your menstrual cycle, you'll learn all about endocrine disruptors and how they affect how you feel. Want to know more about the course? Click here! 

 

Nature is my Medicine

Most of my earliest memories are filled with the lush, green visions of forest in Mississippi and Arkansas.  My parents took my sister and brother and I camping in the falls and summers; we would venture to the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas where we played in streams, dodged water moccasins and climbed over rocks and boulders, to get a better view.  

As I grew older, nature continued to call to me.  The biggest reason that I chose the college I attended was because it was nestled in a valley of the same mountains I grew up playing in.  I've gone white water rafting on the Ocoee river in the Cherokee National Forest,  canoed down the Buffalo River in Arkansas, camped in the dry heat of Santa Fe, and slept in a van in Yellowstone.  So many adventures are lodged in my memory as many of the best times of my life. 

When I moved to Austin, Texas 5 years ago, I thought less about nature and more about living in a city for the first time.  Regular excursions in the woods turned into biking adventures to the city downtown.  Camping trips became replaced with weekend yoga workshops and networking events, as I familiarized myself with my new home.  However, my love of nature has always beckoned me.  

I have found my special spots off the beaten path in Austin; of which I will keep to myself for reverence to their untouched nature.  I have foraged for mushrooms and eaten wild onions right from the ground.  I have discovered a southwest-style nature that I never saw growing up, save for yearly road trips out to California where cacti dotting the landscape always seemed unfamiliar.

I want to share with you my most recent outdoor excursion; a simple 2 hour walk on the greenbelt to forage for wild edibles, just the other day.  On this trip, my goal was to find Wood ear mushrooms (a meaty delicacy!) and gather Cleavers (a detoxifying herb) and spring onions.   

Wood-ear Mushrooms

Wood-ear Mushrooms

Whenever I go foraging, the energy around me seems to shift into something quiet, and still.  I feel that I must be alone, and silent so that I can listen to where each plant may be hiding.  Cleavers are extremely prominent and weren't hard to find; but it's the mushrooms and wild onions that call for that stillness.  

I first happened upon a small batch of Cleavers but they were nestled amongst poison ivy, so I let them be- for obvious reasons.  I knew I would stumble upon more.  Next, I found what I call "my mushroom log" - a trusty fallen branch that seems to always grow Wood-ears after a heavy rain.  I hit the jackpot on this day! I was able to forage 2 handfuls of these earthy treats- I always leave a few, out of respect for this Earth-offering.  

wild Cleaver

wild Cleaver

Further down, I made it to my favorite spot by the water- white rocks that make me feel like I'm in a tropical grotto. I spent some time meditating before I journeyed back.  I happened upon an enormous Cleaver crop. I only needed a handful so a handful is all that I picked.  

As I made my way to the end of my adventure, I spotted a beautiful batch of wild spring onions.  You have to be careful when picking onions; there is a look alike but toxic plant. If it smells like onions, then it is onions.  I picked just a few to put into some soup I will be making this week.

When I got home, I began the process of drying the mushrooms. They'll last for ages, once dried, and can then be rehydrated in soups or stews. The texture of them is truly amazing.  I made a tincture with the Cleavers and Gin to help with PMS, breast tenderness, and to flush the lymphatic system.  I also made a facial toner by covering them with witch hazel. The final thingI made with the Cleavers is a drinking vinegar, with apple cider vinegar. Each of these tonics will need to rest in a cool, dark place for at least 4 weeks and then they'll be ready to use! 

For me, my body has no choice but slow down when I am immersed in nature.  The sounds of the birds, rushing water, and the breeze on my skin brings back home to myself. I feel like we can all return home to ourselves when we put on feet on the bare ground.  Each time I go for a hike, I always take off my shoes and feel my toes on the dirt. 

There is nothing more satisfying than spending a few hours with no distractions except lush greenery and butterflies.