Sugar you sexy devil

Sugar you sexy devil.jpgThis time of year it seems that there is a plate of cookies, a pie or a dish of candy waiting around every corner and especially in the break room at work.  We may choose to overindulge and eat more sugar than we are used to, after all, it is the holidays.  I think it is safe to say that we have all heard about how bad sugar can be for weight management and health.  I am not here to preach or tell you what you cannot and should not eat, however I did want to share an interesting bit of information when it comes to sugar and our immune system.

Our white blood cells use natural vitamin C to fight off viruses and bacteria.  Sugar and vitamin C are similar in their structural make up, so when you eat sugar, it creates competition for space within the blood cell and bumps out the vitamin C.  This weakens your immune system and can promote illness and disease.  In fact, eating 100 grams of sugar (1 liter bottle of soda) can hinder your body’s ability to kill bacteria for up to 5 hours after consumption.

Not all sugars are created equal, however.  When you eat a piece of fruit or vegetable high in natural sugar, you also consume fiber and nutrients that help your body to break down that sugar.  Highly refined and concentrated sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup and white table sugar, force the body to pull the nutrients needed to break down the sugar from your bones, organs and tissues.

Instead of white, refined sugar as a sweetener and for baking, try using instead Coconut Sugar, stevia, agave, or honey.  These less processed and refined alternatives are readily available in your local grocery store.

Most sugar consumption in the US comes from drinking sugary sodas.  If you crave that carbonation and sensation of soda we have a great alternative for you.  We made our own by fermenting some ginger and adding natural flavors from fruit.

DIY Fruit SodaFirst we started by creating a “ginger bug” by fermenting some ginger.  In a glass jar combine the following:

  • 1 cup of non chlorinated water
  • 2 tbs freshly ground ginger
  • 2 tbs white sugar (we used raw cane sugar)

Dissolve the sugar in the water (we doubled the recipe and did 1 cup warm water to dissolve and then a 1 cup cold water) and then stir in the ginger.  Lightly cover with the lid, place the jar on a saucer and leave it on the counter out of direct sun light.  Every day add 1 tsp of sugar and 1 tsp of freshly grated ginger and stir to feed “the bug”.  Within 3 days you will start to notice some bubbles and by day 5 you will have a real fizzy mixture.

As the ginger ferments, the good bacteria eat the sugar, leaving you with sugar free, ginger flavored, carbonated water that has huge health benefits like probiotics and beneficial enzymes!

Puree up your favorite fruit (we used raspberries and blackberries about 1 cup of each), and pass through a strainer to remove any seeds.  The easiest way to do this is to place the strainer over a bowl, pour in the puree and then use a spatula to move the puree through the strainer.

Combine the fruit puree and 2 cups of the ginger bug in a glass and stir lightly.  Add a little agave, honey or stevia to sweeten to taste.

If you are crunched on time or do not like the taste of ginger, you can combine club soda with the pureed fruit to get the fizz without the calories.

 

Winter Skin Blues

Argan Oil

I love the holiday season, but I am not a fan of the dry, flaky, itchy skin that comes with colder, winter weather.  To combat dry skin I incorporate oils, lotions and scrubs into my daily routine.  Check out the links below to some amazing skin saving products and DIY recipes.

I previously posted about the Farsali oil that I had been using on my face (check out the original post here).  Unfortunately, I was routinely having problems trying to get this product (even direct from the manufacturer).  Out of desperation, I sought out an alternative.  I am happy to report that I have a new face oil love that is readily available at Sephora or online:

Josie Maran 100% Pure Argon Oil: cold pressed to preserve the hydrating qualities this oil is ideal for all skin types, but especially for dry and sensitive skin.  This product is vegan, gluten free, paraben free, cruelty free, and certified organic.

 

DIY Grapefruit Body Scrub

Homemade Body Butter

DIY Balancing and Moisturizing Face Oil

 

The gift of giving

Toys for tots donations DJ Chuck 617 Weddings
Half of the toys collected for Toys for Tots by our friend Chuck Uglietta (DJ Chuck) of 617 Weddings and his family at their Christmas lights extravaganza this year.

Each year we hear about local toy drives, food drives and donations being accepted for those in need.  Even if you do not feel you have a lot you can give, there is always something we can offer.  Check your pantry, cabinets, closets and toy rooms to find items that are no longer being used, that are extra or that have been outgrown.  Taking the time to donate these items can make a great impact on the lives of others within your community.

DIY Immune Boosters

The stress of the holidays (and stress in general) can weaken your immune system.  Here are some all natural, DIY immune boosting tips sure to help keep that pep in your step!

  • Smile and laugh: Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, which improves your resistance to disease, viruses and bacteria.
  • Eat more garlic: Garlic contains sulfur compounds that have huge antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral properties.  We also suggest keeping some breath mints handy to defuse the after effects of eating more garlic.
  • Get plenty of natural vitamin C:  Unfortunately, research has shown that beefing up on synthetic Vitamin C supplements has little effect on the immune system.  Natural vitamin C, however, found in citrus fruits and red peppers, has been found to have immune boosting properties.  Click here for an immune boosting juice recipe
  • Take an Elderberry supplement: Available as a syrup, tincture and capsules, elderberry can greatly reduce the risk of picking up a cold while traveling.  A study done in the journal, Nutrients,  looked at 312 airline passengers, half of whom started taking elderberry 10 days before travel and 4 days after arrival.   Those on the elderberry extract had significantly fewer colds than the placebo passengers. Those taking elderberry that did come down with a cold recovered much faster than the placebo group.
  • Incorporate Coconut oil into your daily routine: Lauric acid, one of the key components in coconut oil likes to dissolve the lipid barriers of harmful viruses and bacteria.  Be sure to use a solid form of coconut oil as the liquid oils now available do not contain lauric acid. You can add coconut oil into your cooking and smoothies or use it externally (as a lotion to create a barrier on your skin or inside the nose to prevent nose bleeds and add layer of protection for the mucous membrane).

Natural remedies for the common cold

Natual rememdies common cold

It is inevitable, winter is here, the kids are back in school and bacteria and viruses are running rampant.  Here are some easy, all natural ways to reduce the severity and length of your cold.

  • Minimize your sugar intake, even those in juice and fruits. Sugar suppresses the immune system and can therefore increase the length and severity of your cold.
  • Actually get some rest.  I know this can be difficult, especially during this time of year, but rest is a sure fire way to boost your immune system.  Lay down, avoid stimulating activities (including your phone and tv) for when the mind is engaged it wears you out and does not actually count as rest.
  • Air out the area, and diffuse antibacterial oils like rosemary, geranium or juniper to help clean the air.
  • Eat things that are easy to digest.  Having something like white basmati rice with some added cinnamon, cardamom and/or honey will help to improve digestion.  Broths and light soups are good options as well and will help to keep you hydrated.