Hands-On Probiotics

Change is the only reliable constant when it comes to advice on health and wellness. Young or old, fit or inactive, immune support tends to be a hot topic, especially as colder months creep closer. The once popular antibacterial hand sanitizers that once proliferated in grocery stores, doctor’s offices, and public school alike have suddenly turned into the enemy. It seems that the detrimental effects may outweigh the benefits. By indiscriminately destroying all germs, both good and bad, you may end up with a more fragile immune system that’s less capable of coping with even a mild cold. It makes perfect sense, in hindsight, but turns previous health commonsense preventative care on its head. Without this protective line of self defense, what is one to do?

Probiotics are here to save the day, again, but not in the form you may think.

We’ve all heard of probiotics in our food and our supplements—but what about our hand sanitizer? Desert Essence has changed the probiotic game with their new Probiotic Hand Sanitizers, available in three botanical-infused formulas. While they kill 99.99% of most common harmful germs, they also deliver good bacteria from probiotic-packed vegan-certified kefir. Further differentiating themselves from harsh, old-fashioned options, a few drops actually helps moisturize skin, rather than drying it out.

Available in lightly scented blends of lavender, lemongrass, and simply tea tree oil, any aroma is short lived but refreshing and invigorating when you need it. Cooling upon contact, it’s like a topical palate cleanser, between activities. Best of all, the mini size is perfect for travel, because everyone knows the importance – and difficulty – of staying healthy while on the road or in the sky.

Are you on the probiotic bandwagon yet? Go ahead and rub it in; there are more ways to get your daily dose than yogurt and sauerkraut now!

Use the promo code DEprobioticpower to get 30% off Desert Essence Probiotic Hand Sanitizers by visiting desertessence.com.

This review was made possible as a collaboration with Moms Meet and Desert Essence. My opinions can not be bought and all content is original. This page may contain affiliate links; thank you for supporting my blog!

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Gut Instincts

Bacteria, yeast, and fungus, oh my! The human microbiome can seem like a scary place under a microscope, and indeed, the results can be quite horrifying when thrown out of balance. Bloating, discomfort, and irregularity are just the beginning for those so unlucky to experience it themselves. Probiotics are essential for restoring internal (and especially intestinal) peace, found naturally in fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kimchi, and more fortified processed foods than ever. Less fanfare is given to prebiotics, supplements that actually rebuild those good bacteria existing in your system, supporting your unique flora and fauna already hard at work.

There’s no one size fits all solution to wellness, which is why the current state of the probiotic craze makes little sense. Some strains may work well for some people, not at all for others, and yet there’s scant information on how to best utilize the wealth of choices now at our disposal. Country Life’s Gut Connection offers a targeted approach to address specific concerns, all stemming from a microbiome at odds.

Given the opportunity to use myself as a test subject for this innovative approach to holistic health, I was intrigued, if a bit skeptical as I broke the seal on a new bottle of Digestive Balance. I already take daily probiotic supplements, so I thought I was already doing reasonable due diligence on the issue. Prone to overindulgence at times and with a voracious appetite for all things new, particularly unusual, I’m no stranger to varying degrees of distress after a night on the town. Just one week in, I felt a real difference not just in physical symptoms, but overall well-being. If not for carefully logging my results to stay accountable, I would have doubted the impact, too. 

“Balance” is a moving target and a difficult concept to define, but in this regard, can be distilled to four primary components:

  1. Clear signals between gut and brain.
  2. Gut microbiota helps maintain immune system.
  3. Healthy gut lining.
  4. Happy digestive track.

Simple, right? If you have the right tools at your disposal, it really is! Everyone should be so fortunate to achieve that sort of internal harmony, so I’m pleased to share a FREE full bottle of Energy Balance with one lucky reader! Enter your details in the form below, and tell me in the comment section: Do you take pre- or probiotics? Have you struggled with poor digestion, and do you think it may be linked to frequent fatigue or general lethargy?

Gut Connection by Country Life Giveaway

Go with your gut. Though poor digestion may not be the first culprit to investigate when it comes to poor sleep, stress, or immunity, the results go to show that everything truly is connected.

This review was made possible as a collaboration with Moms Meet and Country Life. My opinions can not be bought and all content is original. This page may contain affiliate links; thank you for supporting my blog!

 

 

 

Bare Essentials

This blog post is sponsored by iHerb but as always, the opinions and experiences expressed in this post are my own.

Essentially, the freshest new obsessions in ancient wellness trends are essential oils.

Distilled from the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, or fruits, essential oils are the most concentrated expression of individual plants available through natural means, which makes them incredibly potent and effective for therapeutic uses. It doesn’t take a medical degree to reap the benefits, though! Aura Cacia makes these powerful extracts accessible to everyone, offering well over one hundred single origin essential oils and dozens of different blends. Previously overlooked or simply unavailable in small health food shops, iHerb is delivering the largest selection of these indispensable ingredients around.

Based in California but reaching customers in over 150 countries all around the world, iHerb boasts over 30,000 brand name natural products, guaranteed at the highest quality and lowest prices possible. Free or discounted shipping ensures that your oils will arrive on time for even the most urgent needs or ailments; no need to suffer from both an unfortunate malady and the offense of an interminable wait. Additionally, do I have to remind you that all this shopping can be done from the comfort of your own home, without going on a mad goose chase trying to hunt down obscure pieces to complete your wellness puzzle?

Aura Cacia oils promise the highest standards of quality. You’ll never find synthetic fragrances, fillers, artificial colors or stabilizers in any of their products. Only 100% pure essential oils make the cut.

Starting from truly the bare essentials, uses for these powerhouse oils are endless. Take a peek into my kitchen and you’ll undoubtedly find an impressive array of those tiny glass bottles standing tall, but perhaps not in the way you might imagine for someone as food-focused as myself.

Not only do citrus oils infuse everything they touch with a bright, clean, uplifting scent, but they’re also powerhouse grease busters. Natural antibacterial and antiviral properties make everything from lemon, tangerine, grapefruit, sweet orange, and all the sunny shades of warm yellow in between ideal candidates for chemical-free cleaning. My very favorite Citrus Symphony Dish Scrub is made of little more than baking soda and essential oils. Sometimes I’ll switch up the routine and inject a new bright scent with ginger or lemongrass, which are both excellent for soothing nausea, in case the aroma of your splattered, stained, and crusty dishes becomes overwhelming.

Continue reading “Bare Essentials”

The Devil Eats Chocolate

“That’s very fattening.”

Dropping like a stone out of the clear blue sky, the unsolicited comment stopped me cold. I hadn’t even been aware of the man standing in front of my cart, blocking my slow procession down the aisle. An instinctual flicker of rage flashed before my eyes, as if I had been slapped and called out back for a fight. This? This innocent little chocolate bar I held in my hand, fattening? What had it ever done to deserve such a harsh insult, completely unprovoked?

I looked up quickly, startled by the intrusion. There was only one way to respond, as far as I could see.

Looking this odd stranger straight in the eye, I spoke clearly and calmly.

“Yep.”

Immediately, the decision was made under that advice. Into the cart went the candy, tossed nonchalantly. That was all such a careless exclamation warranted.

Pulling the cart away from the shelf, away from this intruder, an incredulous grin began to spread across my face. What a laughable claim! What a strange thing to interject! Perhaps I should be grateful he’s so deeply concerned with my nutritional well-being. As if “fattening” was a terrible condition that could be contracted and spread like a disease, it was so kind of him to take a stand against the evils of all confectionery the world over, starting with my misinformed purchase.

Taking my plunder outside the store, there was only one way to dispose of such dangerous contraband. Quickly removing the wrapper to dissect the scored rectangles, it broke like the flimsy villain facade it hid behind, shattering into dark brown splinters that glittered inside the foil sheath. Vanquishing the beast, piece after piece succumbed to a sharp bite of the teeth, and a slow melt over the tongue.

May this beast inflict its fattening ways over society no more.

Dirty Mouth?

While I can’t promise I have a fix for rampant vulgar language, I can offer a solution for cleaning out the evidence of a snack attack in the middle of the night. After sharing so many sugar-coated recipes over the years, it’s really the least I can do!

One thing I always have on hand, in abundance to the point of absurdity, is toothpaste. From free samples to irresistible coupon deals, the impulse to stock up lead to an unfathomable overflow of minty paste, gel, goop, schmears, and anything else you can slather on the end of a toothbrush. Considering that wealth, why bother making even more from scratch? That’s exactly what I was wondering, until I discovered the difference of homemade.

A full batch costs cents on the dollar, contains no questionable ingredients, and feels like a refreshing massage against my gums. It’s not harsh like some brands but every bit as effective, which is a relief for sensitive teeth. Sometimes I’ll even melt it down and gargle with it, like oil-pulling version 2.0. That’s why I store mine in a glass jar, especially in the cold days of winter when it might be too solid to use right away. Just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften and it’s ready to go!

This is a different recipe than most I’ve shared in this space, so a few notes on ingredients here:

  • Virgin coconut oil will also work, but impart a more distinctive flavor. If you don’t mind that, go for it!
  • Xylitol is technically optional, but very strongly recommended. Not only do studies show that it genuinely helps to prevent cavities, but it gives the toothpaste a sweeter flavor, to put it on par with more commercial options. Please be very careful though because xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs.
  • Peppermint oil or cinnamon oil refers to essential oil, which is much stronger than extract. Also optional, if you don’t mind an unflavored paste or don’t want to buy a whole bottle, and highly flexible if you wanted to mix in different flavors instead.

Seems like my push for cleaning out the pantry has inadvertently lead to a cleaner mouth, too. Now that I have this staple to replace all those old tubes cluttering up the bathroom cabinets, I don’t think I could go back to the old trash talk.

Homemade Toothpaste

1/2 Cup Refined Coconut Oil
2 Tablespoons Baking Soda
6 Tablespoons Calcium–Magnesium Citrate Powder
3 Tablespoons Xylitol
1 – 3 Drops Peppermint Oil or Cinnamon Oil

Simply melt down the coconut oil and whisk everything else in, until smooth. Transfer the liquid toothpaste to two small glass jars. Seal and store in a cool, but ideally not cold, place. Keeps indefinitely.

Printable Recipe

When Health Care is Self-Care

Staring straight ahead with unfocused eyes, an expression of abject terror plastered across my face, the urge to escape grew stronger with every passing minute. A dozen other deliberate prisoners shared my plight, but none seemed nearly as disturbed by the situation. Hands shaky, shallow breaths failed to fill lungs, while a vague buzzing began to resound within my head. For a general well visit, I did not feel very well at all.

Call it classic white coat syndrome or iatrophobia because the symptoms are impossible to deny. I am absolutely terrified of doctors, to the point that merely dialing the phone to arrange an appointment is liable to send me into a full-blown panic attack. No matter how sick I may feel, no matter how dire physical evidence, there is always a good reason why it doesn’t warrant professional medical attention. Unless I was actively dying, it would not be a reasonable option to seek further intervention, and even then I might give it a 50/50 chance.

As you can imagine, many years tend to pass between checkups. Rarely afflicted by anything more serious than a head cold once a year, if that, there’s been no reason to reconsider this routine anyhow. I can’t say that the lack of objective evidence of overall well-being hasn’t bothered me, though. How accurate is my own self-assessment? How do I know that I’m taking the right supplements, at the right dosage, from prime sources? There’s no nutrient you can’t get from a vegan lifestyle, but conflicting nutritional advice makes it an onerous task to plot out a healthy diet on any level.

That’s why, despite my intense anxiety, I was quite excited to find the Vegan Nutritional Maintenance Panel offered by Health Labs. An independent service that needs no primary care physician nor medical insurance, available at over 4,500 labs nationwide, the range of potential tests is staggering, covering more wellness concerns than I thought could be addressed without more invasive measures.

Stunningly, the worst part of the whole experience was just waiting to be seen at my local clinic, which was one of three I could walk to from my home. After presenting a photo ID, I had my blood drawn in under 5 minutes, no pain, no bruising, no problems. It seemed implausibly easy, in sharp contrast to the mountains of paperwork required for even a vehicle’s emissions testing. Still eager to make a quick getaway, I made a break for the door, nonetheless dubious of the whole process.

Two small miracles resulted almost immediately, the first of which being that it was actually immediate. After submitting my blood samples on a Friday, I got back the results on Monday morning. Given the snail’s pace at which such highly regulated exams typically proceed, how is that even possible? Then, to my immense relief and mild surprise, after so much worry, my vitamin levels for the 11 most common deficiencies in a vegan diet were all within optimal range. Every. Last. One.

Having that peace of mind is priceless, and to anyone else even moderately curious about their own nutritional intake for any reason, I can’t recommend this service highly enough. Whether you add supplements or get all of your vitamins directly from food, it’s incredibly challenging to strike the proper balance. There’s no need to go it alone or feel like you’re hunting for answers in the dark; after getting your results, you can even get a personal consultation to help make sense of the numbers.

In the quest for personal health, just knowing your baseline is half the battle. After all, you can only improve upon something if you’re aware of it in the first place.

Many thanks to Health Labs for making this post possible.