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If you’ve read some of our past articles, you know that we write a lot about the prevalence of toxins in our modern world.

Our bodies are burdened by so many toxins on a daily basis that learning to live a detoxifying lifestyle is nearly mandatory for maintaining peak health and performance.

The Environmental Protection Agency reported that the average American has over 700 different chemicals in his or her body at any given time. 2,300 new chemicals are introduced into the commercial market every year,[1] and the average women willingly puts 168 toxic chemicals on her body every day.[2]

It’s easy to forget about all of these chemicals because most of them don’t cause serious short-term harm. And besides, product manufacturers and policy pundits are excellent at convincing us that there’s nothing harmful about their products and practices at all.

But none of this changes the unfortunate truth of the matter: industrial toxins left to accumulate in the body over time will undermine its defenses, inevitably leading to serious health issues like cancer, dementia, immune dysfunction, and more.

Luckily, there’s plenty of lifestyle choices you can make that supercharge the body’s detoxification mechanisms and ensure that your body is protected from damaging heavy metals and toxins. Some of them are even profoundly enjoyable, like infrared sauna therapy.

Healing with light and heat

You may already be familiar with the healing power of saunas. Besides being wonderfully rejuvenating, they can also raise levels of hormones associated with high performance,[3] ameliorate hypertension,[4] and reduce the incidence of illness.[5] They’re excellent for reducing systemic inflammation, and thus work wonders for natural pain relief.

Infrared saunas take all of these benefits to an even deeper level…literally. They feature not only the detoxifying heat of normal saunas, but also a profusion of infrared rays of light, which penetrate the skin and bring healing deep into the body.

The deep detoxification process that occurs in an infrared sauna rids the body of a wide array of toxins, including hard-to-shake ones like heavy metals.

This deep detoxification process rids the body of a wide array of toxins, including hard-to-shake ones like heavy metals. A study published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health found that sweating induced by infrared sauna therapy leads to the excretion of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury.[6]

Sweating is always a great way to remove toxins from the body, but a greater quantity of toxins leaves the body when you sweat in an infrared sauna. While 95-97% of the sweat generated in a conventional sauna is water, this number drops to 80-85% in an infrared sauna (meaning that a whopping 15-20% is excreted toxins).[7]

This is great news, because induced detoxification takes a huge burden off of the body’s immune system, and thus leaves you less vulnerable to disease and infection.

And detoxification isn’t just about preventing illness in the short-term either. Research suggests that infrared saunas and other detox practices are a great way to prevent serious health conditions like cancer.

After all, cancer originates from mutated cells in the body. The immune system would normally eliminate these cells before they become an issue, but is unable to do so when overwhelmed by external toxins. By accelerating the excretion of toxins from the body, infrared sauna therapy frees up the immune system’s resources, so that it can eradicate mutated cells before they turn cancerous.

Infrared sauna therapy has even been shown to help after the development of cancer has occurred. A study in Lancet Oncology discussed hyperthermia (heat therapy) as a promising adjunct for conventional cancer treatment. According to researchers, heat treatments like infrared sauna therapy can reduce the size of existing tumors and improve the survival rate of patients.[8]

Other research corroborates this data, and further demonstrates that infrared saunas can directly kill cancer cells,[9] activate the immune system’s killer cells, T-cells, and macrophages, and even improve the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood (which also helps inhibit cancer cell growth).[10]

Near or far infrared?

If you’ve done any research on the subject, you’ve probably noticed that saunas come in both the near infrared and far infrared variety.

There’s a lot of confusion over the differences and potential advantages of these infrared sauna types—and the available information is further complicated by the sales gimmicks of those trying to sell you each type.

Suffice it to say that there are subtle differences between them, but that both can effectively confer the benefits discussed above. Far infrared saunas do emit low level EMF’s, though—a potential disadvantage, given that electropollution can be as toxifying as physical chemicals.

Near infrared saunas penetrate deeper into the skin, and are also characterized by a more focused, full-spectrum beam of infrared light, and thus some experts argue that they offer greater benefits.

Comparison research has not yet been conducted, however, and it’s important to remember that even the simple act of heating the body and sweating profusely for 20-30 minutes is exceptionally detoxifying. Whatever type of sauna you choose (even if you only have access to a normal, non-infrared sauna), your body is bound to benefit.

 


References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1497458/pdf/12477912.pdf

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/apr/30/fda-cosmetics-health-nih-epa-environmental-working-group

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/999213

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22863164

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2248758

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3312275/

[7] Ibid.

[8] http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470204502008185/abstract

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2386844/

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3699878/

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woman relaxing in recliner under the umbrella at a beach in Miami, Florida

One look at the data on skin cancer is enough to worry anyone: the National Cancer Institute reports that the incidence of new melanoma cases among American adults has tripled since the 1970’s, and that number is continuing to climb.[1]

While these figures aren’t debatable, the real causes of skin cancer are. Sun exposure nearly always gets blamed, but the reality is much more complicated. As we’ve written about before, our society’s sun-phobia is based on many misunderstandings, and is often reinforced by the propaganda of sunscreen companies, who would love for you to continue “protecting” yourself with their products.

But sunscreen is not the way to prevent skin cancer. While it can be a helpful last resort if you’re going to be spending an extended amount of time in the sun, its use comes with all sorts of risks.

Most sunscreens are filled with all kinds of toxins, and even the healthy ones block your skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D (for which reason an increasing number of health experts are claiming the sun avoidance is much more dangerous than the sun itself).

If you’re skeptical, consider this fact: four independent studies conducted in the 1990’s found that individuals who use the most sunscreen are at highest risk for skin cancer[2]  It’s no coincidence that the rate of skin cancer incidence began to increase precipitously right around the time that sunscreen usage became widespread.

The real ways to protect your skin

Make no mistake: taking measures to prevent skin cancer is extremely important. Let’s take a look at some safe, holistic practices that are much more effective than hiding from the sun or slathering toxic sunscreens all over yourself.

Don’t be afraid of the sun. It’s long been said that “the dose makes the poison,” and this adage applies equally to the sun. While UVB ray exposure is associated with skin cancer, it’s also essential for endogenous vitamin D production.

We’d therefore do well to stop fearing the sun, and instead think of it like other medicines that require specific dosages in order to remain beneficial. Given that your skin can produce 2,000-4,000 IU of vitamin D with fifteen minutes of sun exposure on a clear day, researchers recommend receiving 8-24 minutes of natural sunlight on your arms and legs without sunscreen every day.

If you know you’ll be outside for a longer period of time, try covering up with sun-protective clothing and a hat, and only use sunscreen when absolutely necessary. When you must use sunscreen, choose natural mineral products instead of the more popular, chemical-laced varieties (even mineral sunscreens aren’t perfect, but using them sparingly is acceptable if you have no other way to prevent getting sunburned). Ideally, learn how to make your own sunscreen.

If you have a fair complexion and are worried about spending even a small amount of time in the sun, be aware that you may be at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency—which is a more serious risk factor for skin cancer than sun exposure itself. Regardless of your sun habits, have your vitamin D levels tested; if your levels are below 40 ng/ml, spend more time in the sun or take a vitamin D supplement.

Optimize your diet. You can also prevent skin cancer by ensuring that your skin has all the nutrients it requires to stay strong and healthy. And there’s no better way to do so than to fill your diet with nutrient-dense, healing foods. Antioxidant-rich plant compounds are best, like the caffeic acid in spinach, coffee, olive and wine, the resveratrol in dark berries, the epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) in green tea, the ursolic acid in Holy Basil, and the curcuminoids in turmeric.

Cutting-edge research has even demonstrated that eating chlorophyll-rich plants not only protects your skin from damage, but also allows your body to manufacture energy directly from sunlightjust like plants do through photosynthesis! This emerging field of study offers even more evidence that we’re not meant to hide from the sun—some researchers even believe that human beings evolved to be relatively hairless in order to be able to absorb more sunlight.

Avoid tanning beds. A study published in JAMA Dermatology reports that a whopping 35% of Americans use tanning beds—a figure that has increased dramatically in recent decades. Some experts believe that this could have something to do with skyrocketing melanoma rates. The same study even estimates that tanning beds cause up to 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. every year.[3]

Besides the fact that people simply spend way too much time in tanning beds, artificial sources of UV rays also don’t promote vitamin D synthesis (which helps protect against skin damage in the case of natural sun exposure). There’s limited evidence to support the notion that UVB-producing beds without magnetic ballasts can stimulate vitamin D production safely,[4] but spending a bit of time outdoors is still your safest and most affordable option.

Detox regularly. As we’ve discussed many times before, regular detoxification practices are an essential part of maintaining optimal health. Helping your body rid itself of toxins frees up its energy to protect against illness and disease. Eating the detoxifying foods mentioned above, practicing intermittent fasting and juice cleansing, cold showers and sauna sessions, and oil pulling are all excellent detox strategies.

Keeping the liver and kidneys detoxed has been shown to lower the risk of cancer—and because these organs aid in the conversion of vitamin D from sunlight and food into a usable form, keeping them clean and optimally functioning helps ward off skin cancer specifically.

By adopting these practices, you’ll not only be providing your body with superior skin cancer protection, but also freeing yourself from the reliance upon commercially bought sunscreens, whose manufacturers don’t consider your health a priority anyway.

 


References

[1] https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/skin-cancer-on-the-rise/

[2] http://draxe.com/75-of-sunscreens-are-toxic-what-to-do-instead/

[3] http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/01/29/indoor-tanning-increase/5028431/

[4] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2006/11/11/can-a-tanning-bed-be-healthy.aspx

Image source

bpa-receipts - receipt-flickr-derek_b-220

The other day, I watched nervously while a coffee shop cashier dealt with a receipt printing malfunction. She fumbled with the unraveling roll of thermal printer paper, smoothed creases with her palms, and even held one end up of the stubborn reel between her teeth while she fidgeted. When she finally got the contraption working, I declined her offer of a receipt.

Not wanting to hold up the line, I didn’t voice my concerns to her…but here’s what I was thinking: even handling thermal printer paper (especially for hours every day) can be hazardous to your health, and rubbing it on your hands and mouth is downright dangerous.

This is because of a simple but frightening fact: receipt paper is saturated with bisphenol-A (BPA), the potent carcinogen and endocrine disruptor that first gained its infamy as a toxin in plastic containers and water bottles.

We wrote about this incredible destructive chemical in a past article—how it’s a form of “fake estrogen” that hijacks your body’s endocrine system and makes it go haywire. The ensuing dysfunction can lead to devastating issues with fertility and reproduction, metabolism, immune functioning, sleep, and mood. Studies have linked BPA to over fifty different serious health issues.[1]

Despite the impression given by the prevalence of “BPA-Free” plastic (which is still contaminated with other toxins, by the way), the chemical still poses a huge risk to our health and environment. While water bottle manufacturers calm our worries with misleading labels and claims, BPA is still seeping into our bloodstream through the receipts that most of us touch on a regular basis. Even handling paper currency, which is often in close contact with receipts, can be a health risk

[magicactionbox]

How worried should we be about receipts?

As much as I’d like to say that this warning about receipts is a product of overcautiousness, the unfortunate truth is that they do present a clear and present danger. In fact, studies suggest that exposure to thermal printer receipt paper is one of the primary routes by which BPA enters the body—and once it’s in there, it accumulates over time and causes progressively greater dysfunction.

The Center for Disease Control reports that they found BPA in over 90% of urine samples that were taken as a representative of the U.S. population.[2] For this reason—and because of the terrifying ease with which endocrine disruptors can disturb the entire body’s balance—many health experts believe that BPA (and its toxic cousins) can be linked to nearly every health issue facing our society.

And speaking of these toxic BPA analogues, some are even more toxic. Preliminary research has shown that bisphenol S (BPS) is up to one hundred times more toxic and endocrine-disrupting than BPA.[3] Thermal receipt paper contains both of them, as well as a number of other analogues, including PBS and BPSIP.

What you can do to protect yourself

The easy and obvious answer is to decline receipts whenever they’re offered to you. Doing so will probably feel like a paranoid overreaction at first, but just think of this comparison whenever you find yourself at checkout: handling BPA-laced receipts without gloves is like handling paint thinner or other hazardous liquids without proper precaution.

If you religiously use receipts to track your expenses, consider going digital. There’s a number of great smartphone apps that allow you to take pictures of receipts (or input totals manually) and keep track of all your expenses through one handy interface. You might just find that you enjoy not being buried under all those old receipts—and your body will thank you too.

Research has also shown that the absorption of BPA is highly potentiated by some of the chemicals in hand sanitizers, skin moisturizers, and other industrial cosmetic products. Sometimes these products even carry their own dose of BPA and other endocrine disruptors—so you should avoid them anyway. At the very least, be careful not to use any of these products right before or after touching a receipt. This means that washing and sanitizing your hands after touching a receipt could actually worsen the exposure. Staying healthy is tricky these days, isn’t it?

There are also a few ways you can lessen the effects of BPA toxicity. A particularly strong protective effect has been exhibited by certain foods and substances, including kimchi (because of its probiotic, microbiome-supporting capacity), genistein (a phytoestrogen that helps balance the endocrine system), and high-antioxidant teas.

Incorporating detoxification practices into your life is absolutely essential, as well. Read more about how to make detoxing work for you here and here, and read this article to learn more about endocrine disruptors.

You’ll want to try out these BPA-mitigating practices even if you’ve sworn off receipts. While staying away from contaminated thermal printer paper is a step in the right direction, you’ll still be exposed to BPA through rampant industrial pollution—so your body will need all the help it can get. With a little thought and effort, though, you can preserve your personal health and balance in a world that still has a tough time prioritizing either of these ideals.

 


References

[1] http://www.greenmedinfo.com/toxic-ingredient/bisphenol

[2] http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/pdf/FourthReport_ExecutiveSummary.pdf

[3] http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/wp-content/uploads/advpub/2015/8/ehp.1409427.acco.pdf

Image source

vaccines-cause-dementia - 8.6vaccine

Though there’s much that we still don’t understand about dementia—including Alzheimer’s disease, there’s one fact about which there’s no debate: it’s a growing problem.

It’s alarming enough that the condition already affects over five million Americans, and that one out of every three senior dies with some form of dementia. What’s even more frightening is that the rate of dementia diagnosis is increasing more rapidly than ever before.

The Alzheimer’s Association reports that someone in the United States develops the disease every 67 seconds[1]—a statistic that has led researchers from Bournemouth University in England to warn that the level dementia has reached is “almost epidemic.”[2]

Skeptics claim that this sharp rise in the incidence of cognitive decline is due to the extension of life expectancy made possible by modern medical science. The logic sounds good on the surface—dementia is a natural consequence of reaching old age, so if more people are reaching old age, there’s bound to be more people with dementia.

There’s insufficient evidence to suggest that this assumption holds any truth, though. Even if old age can be strongly correlated with the development of dementia, the simple fact is that the incidence of Alzheimer’s and related diseases is increasing far more quickly than America’s senior population.

And it gets worse.

Dementia is also affecting people at a younger age than ever. Researchers have found that, between 1989 and 2010, the average onset age for dementia decreased by ten years. Furthermore, the disease now causes three times the number of deaths (and five times in women) compared to 1989. This has led researchers to believe that dementia is not only increasing in prevalence, but also in severity.

The coup de grace is that, amidst all of these scary numbers, mainstream medicine projects a less than hopeful attitude. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that Alzheimer’s is “the only cause of death in the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed” (they make sure to put that last clause in all capital letters).

Luckily, their fatalistic claim flies directly in the face of top-ranked Alzheimer’s research, which has begun to reveal the culprits behind our dementia epidemic.

[magicactionbox]

Vaccines (and other brain-damaging environmental toxins)

I’ve written a lot about how difficult it can be to avoid the onslaught of environmental toxins that is part and parcel of modern life. Natural household toxins, poisonous products, and pesticide-laced food all conspire to make healthy living a full-time job.

Some toxin sources are easier to avoid, though; one prominent example is vaccination. Despite the Orwellian hopes of Big Pharma, vaccination is still a voluntary medical practice—so you need only to make the simple choice to banish it from your life. The next time cold and flu season rolls around, choose natural cold and flu fighters instead.

Doing so is easier said than done, though, thanks to the psychological smear campaign that vaccine supporters have launched. Parents that refuse to vaccinate their children (or themselves, for that matter) are blamed for the spread of infectious disease and urged to stop harming others with their “ignorance.” This line of attack was employed vehemently after the recent measles outbreak (which was declared “over” by the CDC in April, 2015).

Here’s one reason why it’s worth it to stick to your guns and refuse vaccination, though: the mercury, aluminum, and other toxins in vaccines is strongly linked to early-onset dementia.

A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease revealed a shocking fact: the changes induced in cells by long-term mercury exposure are strikingly similar to those induced by Alzheimer’s disease—and the rise in the incidence of Alzheimer’s is directly parallel to the rise in environmental levels of mercury.[3]

While there are a number of other mercury sources to avoid—such as contaminated seafood and dental amalgams—vaccines are perhaps the most worrying of all. Because they’re administered intravenously, the mercury they contain easily makes it into the brain. The same goes for aluminum, another horrendously toxic heavy metal that is also a common ingredient in vaccines.

Don’t believe what the Alzheimer’s Association says; by avoiding egregious toxin sources like vaccines, you can protect yourself from dementia.

Living a “neuroprotective” lifestyle makes all the difference

Even if you do nothing else to ameliorate cognitive decline, the simple act of refusing vaccination will be profoundly beneficial for your neurological health. If you can remove mercury and aluminum from your life altogether (by avoiding contaminated seafood, detoxifying your home, and switching to “biological dentistry”), the benefits will be even greater.

Research has uncovered a bevy of other neuroprotective foods, products, and practices too. Check out these articles to learn how avoiding sugar is essential to keeping your brain healthy, and how coconut oil, turmeric, beet juice, adaptogenic herbs, and other detoxifying foods can prevent and even reverse dementia in all its forms.

This information should give you the hope that mainstream medicine doesn’t seem willing to offer—the hope that, while dementia is a health issue of worrying magnitude, we don’t have to feel powerless against it.

By being proactive and making the right choices about our lifestyle (regardless of what others might say about those choices), we can rest assured that our brains will remain sharp, clear, and healthy well into old age.

Special Report: Stop Your Brain from Shrinking by Up to 90%!


References

[1] http://www.alz.org/facts/

[2] http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=155258&CultureCode=en

[3] http://www.northeastern.edu/news/stories/2010/11/deth.html

Image source

toxic-deodorant - antiperspirant

For better or worse, hygiene and cleanliness are centrally important in our culture. If you’re like most people, your morning routine probably includes applying some kind of deodorant.

After all, there’s nothing that screams “poor hygiene” like an easily noticeable body odor, right?

The fact of the matter is that sweating and body odor are natural, beneficial phenomena—they allow your body to excrete toxins, and they function as an accurate measure of your body’s chemistry and state of health.

By masking this natural process, you run the risk of closing yourself off from an awareness of what’s really going on inside your body. Just keep this caveat in mind as you read the rest of this article.

The desire to smell pleasant is obviously natural too—and luckily, there’s plenty of ways you can make it happen. Unfortunately, though, conventional product manufacturers have convinced much of the population that their proprietary deodorants are your only hope for smelling clean and fresh on a daily basis. They latch onto the shame of body odor and use it as a psychological trigger. Their commercials are saturated with sex appeal, in order to ingrain a simple association in your mind: using their product will allow you to avoid the inconvenience of body odor, which will ensure that you’re accepted, loved, and perceived as attractive.

Volumes could be written about the dangerous and manipulative flaws behind this kind of marketing. For now, suffice it to say that the convenience of masking body odor comes at a cost—conventional deodorants pose a number of dangers to your health.

Toxins inside and out

First and foremost, conventional deodorants are packed with toxic ingredients (and antiperspirants are even worse). The biggest offender is aluminum, which wreaks havoc on your endocrine system, and has thus been linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and other serious ailments.

You can usually avoid aluminum simply by choosing deodorants instead of antiperspirants (aluminum, like other toxic heavy metals, seals the pores and prevents sweating)—but even aluminum-free deodorant products contain other worrying ingredients. Many contain parabens, which are profoundly endocrine-disrupting and linked to just as many health issues as aluminum. In fact, a recent study found that a shocking 99% of sampled breast cancer tissue contained parabens.[1]

Propylene glycol—another common ingredient in deodorants—damages the nervous system, liver, and heart. It can act as a skin irritant in as small as concentration as 2%—and yet this substance makes up 50% of some deodorants. Even most “natural” deodorants contain this chemical, so don’t believe the labels until you’ve read the full ingredient list. Manufacturers get away with including this toxin in their products because its harmful effects manifest in the long-term, so its toxicity is harder to demonstrate. They also are able to tone down its irritant properties by adding steareths, which specifically make harsh ingredients feel more mild to the skin, and also happen to carry 1,4-dioxanes with them as carcinogenic byproducts.

Some deodorants even contain triclosan, which is used as an antibacterial agent and preservative. It’s also a pesticide, as well as a potent endocrine-disruptor that forms chloroform when mixed with tap water.[2] How’s that for convenience?

Last but not least, conventional deodorants and antiperspirants greatly inhibit your body from getting rid of pent up toxins. Thus, their effect is doubly harmful—your body is unable to carry out its essential detoxification functions, and new toxins are being added to your system all the while.

This vicious cycle usually ends up getting people hooked on deodorant products, because if you try to stop using them, your body’s detox processes reboot with a vengeance, and then you smell really bad. If you’re convinced that it’s time to break the cycle, though, here’s some tips and alternatives that will help you take the more natural route.

Special Report: Is Your Soap Messing Up Your Hormones (& causing weight gain)

Dealing with body odor safely and naturally

To reiterate a point made at the beginning of this article, your body odor is a natural measure of your internal chemistry. Strong, unpleasant body odor is almost always caused by one of the following factors: bacterial imbalance, excretion of excess toxins, and stress. So, by dealing with these aspects of your life, you can strike at the root of the “problem,” rather than simply masking it.

Washing frequently with lightly antibacterial soap (only natural types, like those that contain tea tree and eucalyptus essential oils) and ensuring proper microbiome health will help tackle the issue of bacterial imbalance. Avoiding environmental toxins (including those in your own house), as well as processed foods and refined sugars, will help lower your internal toxin load. Keep in mind, though, that many of the healthiest foods are strongly detoxifying—which means that they’ll make you smell worse before you smell better! If you give your body the time it needs to get rid of all those nasty toxins (and continue your optimal hygiene and nutrition regimen), your body odor will eventually neutralize. Lastly, address stress in your life by trying meditation and emotional management techniques.

You’d probably also like to know a healthy deodorant alternative that will be instantly effective, though, wouldn’t you? Fair enough—sometimes life doesn’t afford us all the time we need to let our bodies balance their odor naturally.

Whenever possible, I highly recommend trying out the balancing process described above. In the mean time, here’s a quick recipe for a natural deodorant that’s safe, effective, and easy to make.

Natural, DIY deodorant

¼ cup baking soda

¼ cup organic corn starch

2 Tbsp coconut oil

5-10 drops essential oil (choose your favorite scent)

Mix together the baking soda, corn starch, and essential oil first, and then add the coconut oil slowly until the consistency is to your liking. Fill an empty deodorant container with the mixture, and leave it to set for a couple days. If you tend to sweat heavily, you can add other natural drying agents like bentonite clay and witch hazel.

Give it a try—it’s way cheaper, it works surprisingly well, and you’ll experience a special sense of liberation when you realize that your modern conveniences don’t need to be purchased from unscrupulous companies who fill their products with poisons.

Special Report: Is Your Soap Messing Up Your Hormones (& causing weight gain)


References

[1] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jat.1786/abstract

[2] http://readynutrition.com/resources/5-toxic-chemicals-hiding-in-your-deodorant_30042014/

Image source

sauna_hallenbad02

Saunas have long been valued around the world for the deeply healing and relaxing experience that they offer.

They exemplify the perfect intersection of mindfulness, relaxation, positive social interaction, and active healing. In Finland (where the practice originated), sitting in a sauna is even approached as a sacred activity deserving of reverence.

You’ve probably already experienced the blissful rejuvenation that a good sauna experience provides. If not, you’re missing out!

They’re great for more than just relaxation, though. When integrated into a healthy lifestyle, sauna usage can be powerfully healing for both the body and mind.

Isn’t it wonderful when things that feel good are also good for us?

Here’s some reasons this feel-good activity should be a part of your life…

They’ll teach you to let go

We might as well start with the most obvious benefit of sauna use.

In today’s hectic world, the value of any activity that allows us to unwind, let go, and reset shouldn’t be underestimated.

A sauna session is a great way to step away from our busy schedules and consciously direct our attention toward our health and wellness. Stress-tightened muscles and racing thoughts are no match for a nice, hot sauna sit!

And stress relief is not something to be taken lightly. Stress has been linked to every leading cause of death, and it’s estimated that 90% of all doctor visits are due to stress-related issues.[1]

Through the simple action of setting aside time for a sauna session, you can begin to accustom yourself to prioritizing activities that minimize your level of stress.

They’ll take your detoxing to the next level

It’s nearly impossible to stay vibrantly healthy without regular detoxification practices. Every part of our daily living environment is rife with toxins—and thus, so is your body, unless you take the time to clean it out.

Saunas are an incredibly powerful detox accelerator. Anyone who’s ever used them knows how much they make you sweat—and sweating just happens to be one of the major ways in which the body excretes toxins.

Heat also increases vasodilation, which ensures that optimal blood flow flushes toxins out of muscles and tissue. This process is amplified when you interrupt your sauna session with a cold plunge, which causes immediate vasoconstriction and helps push out stagnant toxins.

The beneficial vasodilation caused by sauna use is so pronounced that one study even found that it increased the endurance of distance runners by up to 32%.[2]

There’s even evidence that the specific kind of heat stress induced by sitting in a sauna raises the body’s levels of detoxification enzymes called catalase (CAT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD).[3]

They increase vitality and decrease the likelihood of illness

Of all the magical feats that saunas can work upon your body, this one is perhaps the most surprising: studies demonstrate that a 30-minute, uninterrupted sauna session can raise your levels of human growth hormone (hGH), which many refer to as “the vitality hormone.”[4]

Human growth hormone is absolutely central to the growth of our bodies and brains. Because of its role as a catalyst for muscle growth, athletes and bodybuilders work awfully hard to keep their hGH levels elevated. How ironic, then, that you can do so just by relaxing in a sauna!

The vitality enhancement offered by sauna use extends to your heart and immune system, as well.

The Cardiovascular and Prevention Centre at Quebec’s Université de Montréal discovered that exercise and sauna dramatically improves the symptoms of hypertension for 24 hours following the session,[5] and a study conducted at the Austria’s University of Vienna found that regular sauna bathers have a far lower incidence of the common cold.[6]

While the mechanisms by which saunas exert their healing power are undoubtedly complex, many researchers attribute it to their unique combination of detox enhancement and tendency to build stress resistance.

Think of a sauna session like a homeopathic dose of stress. Over time, your body develops the ability to deal with stressors in a more effective manner—which leads to a stronger heart, a more vital immune system, and enhanced overall health.

As wonderfully health-promoting as sauna use can be, though, there’s one way that you can take its healing potential to whole new level.

Supercharge your sauna experience with far infrared therapy

Far infrared saunas are similar to those that we know and love, with a slight twist: invisible waves of energy known as far infrared waves (FIR) are distributed throughout the enclosure.

These infrared rays are able to penetrate deeply into all layers of the body, thus deepening the already impressive detoxification, relaxation, and healing that comes along with sauna use.

If this all sounds like some scary new technology, don’t worry: far infrared therapy is an ancient practice. Modern science has shown that our hands, our bodies, and the sun emit FIR rays at all times. This is why “palm healing” and “the laying on of hands” have been such widely used healing techniques for thousands of years.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that far infrared saunas have numerous remarkable healing abilities.[7] Among other things, they’ve been shown to…

Facilitate weight loss by increasing blood flow and stimulating metabolism.

Ameliorate chronic fatigue by relieving stress, decreasing inflammation, and ridding the body of toxins.

Clear skin conditions by cleaning the liver and kidneys, thus relieving the body of its toxin-processing burden.

Boost the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells and killer T-cells.

Far infrared saunas are now available for installation in your own home (and they’re more affordable than you might expect), and the trend is catching on at many spas and health centers too.

Far infrared or not, just make an effort to become a more regular sauna bather (if you’re not already)…your body and mind will thank you.

 


References

[1] http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00694/Stress.html

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16877041

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24304490

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/999213

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22863164

[6] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2248758

[7] http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/health-benefits-of-far-infrared-therapy/

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silica-anti-aging

Mineral deficiency is one of our society’s many silent epidemics.

Minerals are essential for nearly every bodily process—they allow for proper nerve function and metabolic processes, keep the body’s many systems in sync, and quite literally hold us together (more on that soon).

Mineral deficiencies cause a staggering array of issues…and the fact of the matter is that most of us are deficient in one or more minerals. Anxiety, environmental toxins, and other environmental stressors all cause your body to recruit minerals for protective and detoxification purposes—so there ends up not being any left for standard bodily maintenance.

And to make matters worse, our food and water have been all but emptied of their mineral content (thanks to industrial farming and less-than-ideal water purification practices), so it’s very hard to maintain optimal mineral levels without supplementing.

As awareness about this health problem grows, a few minerals have gotten some time in the spotlight (most notably magnesium, in which an estimated 80% of Americans are deficient).

There’s another mineral that’s absolutely essential for your body’s physical integrity, though, and no one is really talking about it: silica.

How powerful is Silica?

Silica converts into Calcium in your cells – an experiment with chickens confimed it: when you remove calcium from chickens’ diet, they continue to lay eggs, but when you remove silica, they stop laying eggs, because they can no longer make the egg shells.

More than any other mineral, silica functions as a sort of glue that helps holds together the structure of our bodies. It supports the strength of all your connective tissues, bones, muscles, and even your arteries.

What does that mean?  Stronger nails, healthy looking hair, and fewer wrinkles.

Thus, silica deficiency causes brittle nails, lifeless hair, sagging skin, and other signs of declining reserves – the signs of aging. 

The silica in your body also keeps everything flexible and adaptive. Deficient silica can lead to inflammation in soft tissue: back pain, joint pain, psoriasis, arthritis, high blood pressure.

Silica: the anti-aging mineral?

Silica’s replenishing and strengthening effects skin, hair, nails, teeth, and gums. The more resilient and healthy they are, the younger and more radiant you’ll look and feel.

And the anti-aging benefits of optimal silica levels goes deeper than appearances too. Silica ensures that, as you age, your body continues to function like a well-oiled machine.

It prevents injuries (which can lead to more serious complications), and ensures that your arteries and blood vessels deliver the necessary oxygen and nutrients to all parts of your body.

It lowers oxidative stress (and thus inflammation) by improving the body’s natural detoxification system. This is why many people augment their detox regimens with diatomaceous earth and other “healing clays,” which have a very high silica content.[1]

Studies even suggest that silica helps immensely with brain detoxification, and that it therefore could play an important role in the prevention of cognitive decline.

But here’s the catch: your body is continually losing silica faster than it can replenish it.

Your silica levels steadily decline as you age, and your body also becomes increasingly less efficient at absorbing silica. And as mentioned above, you can no longer rely on food as a suitable source of silica, because unsustainable farming has stripped the Earth’s topsoil of its minerals. Depleted soils = depleted food.

And it isn’t just old folks who should be concerned with silica deficiency. Even by the time your body stops growing (usually in your teens), you’ve already lost 80% of the silica that you had at birth.

So what’s the solution?

The only reliable way to maintain a healthy silica level is to supplement with it. Luckily, there’s a wealth of ready-made options available to you.

Healing clays are very high in silica, and are also very inexpensive. Because these clays can be strongly detoxifying (and sometimes even chelating), though, they’re usually better suited for occasional or semi-frequent use.

Our favorite silica supplement is this one . It’s 100% plant-derived, and made from the most bioavailable silica source on the planet—bamboo.

It’s also blended with leaves of barley, kamut, and alfalfa, as well as a wealth of essential enzymes and antioxidants—all of which potentiate the strengthening and detoxifying effects of silica.

The formulation of this product is truly impeccable, and it’s still very affordable…so give it a try.

Doing so is one of the simplest and most powerful steps you can take toward maintaining the integrity and youthful vitality of your entire body.

 


 

References

[1] http://draxe.com/the-best-way-to-detox/

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coriander_16x9

Industrial society has trained us to believe that good health is something that only modern medicine can provide—that true healing only comes in the form of expensive and proprietary products, pills, and technologies.

But sometimes the greatest health solutions are also the subtlest and most ancient ones. And more often than not, you can find them right in your own kitchen.

Here’s a prime example: coriander (also known as cilantro) is a healing dynamo with a whole host of uses and benefits.

It’s also delicious, as you’re probably aware. If you’re not already accustomed to keeping it around the house, here’s some great reasons why you should consider doing so.

You can use it to help detox

Regular detoxification practices (link: detox) help keep us healthy in today’s toxic world. Coriander is particularly good to removing heavy metals from our bloodstream through a process called chelation.

Unfortunately, heavy metals like mercury, lead, and cadmium are ubiquitous in our environment (mostly as industrial byproducts). They destroy the immune system, undermine neurological function, and sap your vitality.

Use cilantro to protect yourself from heavy metal toxicity by juicing it or throwing it in your smoothie. Combining it with lemon, jalapeno, and chlorella (a maybe a little granny smith apple or beet for sweetness) creates one heck of a detox juice.

It’s an anti-diabetic agent

The secretion of hormones throughout the body (including insulin) is regulated by the endocrine system. When its processes are thrown out of balance by endocrine-disrupting toxins (which are everywhere, by the way), the risk of diabetes increases (and the dangers become greater for those who already suffer from diabetes).

Coriander aids the endocrine system, regulates the secretion of insulin by the pancreas, and ensures that the proper amount of sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. By this same process of hormone regulation, coriander also helps reduce menstrual cramps.

So while there’s no substitute for proper diet and lifestyle when it comes to treating diabetes and insulin resistance, coriander offers excellent support along the way.

It lowers cholesterol

Another prevalent health problem that coriander helps combat is high LDL (the bad cholesterol), which is one of the leading causes of heart attack and stroke.

Coriander contains oleic, linoleic, palmitic, ascorbic and stearic acid, all of which have been shown to help remove cholesterol deposits in arteries and veins.[1]

It’s powerfully anti-bacterial

We’ve mentioned the pitfalls of antibiotics before.

The prevalence of antibiotic-resistant infections like MRSA is continuing to increase. And even when antibiotics do work, they wreak havoc on our microbiome, which often never recovers from the shock.

This worrying predicament makes it fairly obvious that we need an alternative solution…and coriander may be just the ticket. It packs quite a powerful anti-bacterial punch on its own, and its high vitamin C content simultaneously helps your immune system effectively fight infection.

You can dramatically amplify its anti-microbial properties by using it in the form of high-quality coriander seed oil, which is a highly concentrated distillation of the plant’s medicinal components.

A study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology showed that coriander seed oil is highly effective against a wide range of bacteria—including antibiotic-resistant infections.[2] And best of all, it will target harmful bacteria without adversely affecting your gut flora.

It aids in digestion

Not only does coriander not upset your microbiome while working its anti-bacterial magic, but it also actively helps your digestion.

Its antioxidants help regulate liver function and bowel movements, and it even aids in the production of digestive enzymes. Soaking coriander seeds in water (or using coriander seed oil) works wonders for indigestion.

It even makes your skin beautiful

Did you know that proper digestion and healthy gut flora help make your skin clean, clear, and radiant?

By helping keep your digestion on track, coriander indirectly contributes to healthy, beautiful skin. It also directly encourages clear skin with its vitamin-rich, detoxifying, antiseptic, antioxidant, and anti-fungal properties.

You can even use coriander seeds and coriander seed oil to treat eczema, mouth ulcers, rashes, inflamed skin, pimples, and other skin conditions.[3] Just mix coriander paste with honey and turmeric, and apply it to the skin.

It even works on allergy-related skin conditions (coriander oil functions as a general anti-histamine, and can also relieve seasonal allergies like hay fever).

It supports eye health

This same cornucopia of vitamins and antioxidants that encourages healthy skin also makes coriander an excellent preserver of optimal eye health.

Its natural phytonutrients, vitamin A, vitamin C, phosphorous, and myriad other essential oils all reduce eye strain and age-related degeneration.

Coriander seeds can even be used to prevent and treat conjunctivitis (pink eye) and other eye diseases. To treat conjunctivitis, many health experts recommend making cold compresses soaked in coriander-infused water, or even flushing the eyes with coriander water.[4]

Ready to add some more coriander to your life?

It’s always convenient when natural healing tools are also delicious. Fresh cilantro is always a treat—add it to eggs, salads, stir frys, or any other recipes that you enjoy. It works particularly well in curries and chutneys (coriander is a frequently used spice in Indian cuisine).

And remember, if you want to reap the full healing benefits that coriander has to offer, consider using coriander seed oil (especially the treatment of bacterial and fungal infections).

You’ll be amazed by the healing power that this little plant packs…and I bet you’ll be inspired to turn some of your focus from Big Medicine to more of the natural healing wonders that are all around us.   

 


References

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18831331

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21862758

[3] http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/amazing-benefits-of-coriander-seeds/

[4] http://www.findhomeremedy.com/11-home-remedies-for-pink-eye-or-conjunctivitis/

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sn-formaldehyde

There are all sorts of sneaky toxin sources that hinder our ability to live healthily and happily.

All too many industrially manufactured products seem to trade safety for convenience or short-term enjoyment.

You’re probably already familiar with many of the “toxins of convenience” that should be avoided: GMO foods (which allow for better short-term crop yields), preservatives (which increase shelf life, and thus the manufacturer’s bottom line), cleaning supplies, flame retardants in beds…and the list goes on.

But here’s one that may not have shown up on your radar yet: wrinkle-free clothing.

Ever wonder how wrinkle-free shirts stay so neat and fresh?

I wish I could tell you that it’s because of some revolutionary manufacturing method that alters the fabric’s properties without the use of noxious chemicals.

Here’s the unfortunate truth, though: wrinkle-free clothing is treated with perfluorinated chemicals (or PFCs, which contain Teflon), sulphuric acid, and even a resin that releases formaldehyde (which is also used as an embalming fluid).

These chemicals strengthen the integrity of the fabric, thus allowing it to more readily resist wrinkling. In return, our clothing is left with chemical residues, which can cause headaches, respiratory issues, eye irritation, rashes, itchy skin, blisters, and a skin condition known as contact dermatitis.

And by the way, the National Cancer Institute classifies formaldehyde as a confirmed human carcinogen.[1] That’s right: you can add your wrinkle-free clothing to the long list of potential cancer-causing agents.

It’s certainly nice not to have to iron our clothing all the time…but are these risks really worth the convenience?

How to protect yourself

When questioned about their use of formaldehyde and other potentially harmful chemicals, many manufacturers and retailers claim that their clothing is perfectly safe. They cite stringent standards that govern the allowable chemical levels in their clothing.

Nevertheless, the Government Accountability Office examined 180 random items and found that 5.5% had formaldehyde levels beyond what is considered safe for skin contact (75 parts per million).[2]

And the U.S. doesn’t regulate the use of formaldehyde in clothing, so the assumption that most clothing is safe may be a dangerous one.

The risk of adverse health effects seems low (unless you’re allergic to formaldehyde), and cancer has never been directly linked to chemical-treated clothing. Nevertheless, it may still be a risk worth avoiding.

After all, do you really want to support a clothing company that coats their products in toxic embalming fluid—just for the sake of convenience?

Your body has enough environmental toxins to deal with already; help lighten its load by ditching chemical-laden clothes.

If you can’t bear the thought of giving up your wrinkle-free clothing, at least be sure to thoroughly wash it before wearing it (ideally, wash it twice). There will most likely always be traces of formaldehyde left in the fabric, but its overall levels will be dramatically reduced.

Above all else, take responsibility for your health choices, and be aware of their effects. Recognize how powerful it can be to place health and vitality over convenience. From this vantage point, ironing your clothes might seem like a small and worthwhile sacrifice.

 


References

[1] http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/formaldehyde

[2] http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d10875.pdf

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5-anti-inflammatory-superfoods

Inflammation is a colossal health problem in our society.

While it tends to be associated only with aches, pains, and stiffness, its deleterious effects on the body reach far deeper. Most health experts now agree that inflammation is the root of the vast majority of diseases.

Here’s why: inflammation is a defense mechanism that focuses your immune system’s attention toward fighting a perceived threat. This means that the immune system’s ability to fight off other bugs and pathogens is compromised.

Furthermore, inflammation itself is incredibly destructive to the body. It impairs cognition, saps the blood of nutrients, slows down metabolism, and contributes to emotional imbalance.

These “side effects” of inflammation are considered to be necessary evils by the body, which evolved its inflammatory immune response as a way to respond quickly and drastically to emergency threats. Effectively healing a wound or protecting a pulled muscle from permanent damage, for example, is worth a bit of inflammation-induced stress on the body.

The problem is that these days, our bodies are kept in a near-constant state of inflammation.

Why are we so inflamed?

It may seem strange (if not poetic) that the root of all our diseases is the overreaching of our own bodies’ defense mechanism. The story is a bit more complicated, though.

Our modern lives are inundated with immune system triggers—stimuli that, for better or worse, our immune systems perceive as threats. Food allergies, toxins, and stress are the biggest culprits.

Chronic inflammation is usually considered to be the effect of an “overactive” immune system—as though your immune function is confused or malfunctioning. Is this really what’s happening, though, or do we just live in an insanely toxic and stressful world?

After all, both stress and environmental toxins are clearly real threats, to which the body has every right to react defensively. Even the most common food allergies are simply your body alerting you to clear and present danger (most people assume that there’s something wrong with their body if they can’t process gluten, dairy, or peanuts, but the truth is that all of these foods contain substances that are objectively difficult for the human body to process).

Therefore, in order to combat inflammation, we need to help our bodies cope with this continuous onslaught of immune triggers. One of the best ways to do so is to eat an anti-inflammatory diet.

The perfect anti-inflammatory diet

Designing an anti-inflammatory diet starts with common sense. First and foremost, get rid of everything that’s obviously detrimental to your health, like processed foods, sugars, and GMO’s.

Keeping your consumption of red meat and omega-6 fatty acids to an absolute minimum is helpful too, as both are directly linked to higher levels of inflammation.[1]

Once you’ve removed some of these stressors from your regular diet, you can add in more of the good stuff. As a general rule, a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables (especially leafy greens, low-sugar fruits, and other veggies) and healthy fats is an anti-inflammatory one.

But let’s dive a little deeper.

To achieve the perfect anti-inflammatory diet, you’ll want to consume foods that have the following four properties: antioxidant activity, chelating (detoxifying) activity, nutrient density, and hormone-regulating activity.

While there’s an abundance of foods that meet these criteria, I’ll focus on a few that are especially powerful.

Raw cacao was called “the food of the gods” by the ancient Aztecs, and for good reason. It contains over 300 enlivening compounds (many of which are strongly anti-inflammatory), has 20 times the antioxidant power of blueberries, and is packed with vitamins and minerals.[2]

Acai berry is a low-sugar fruit that outshines the antioxidant potential of nearly every other food (with the exception of raw cacao). It also directly decreases inflammation and speeds up the body’s metabolism.[3]

Detoxifying supergreens. You can’t really go wrong with greens; they’re an invaluable part of any healthy diet. Some greens are particularly special, though. Alfalfa, dandelion, dulse, and kelp pack the most powerful nutrient punch per serving, and they’re also potent antioxidants. Spirulina and chlorella are chelators, which means they supercharge the body’s detoxification processes and accelerate the removal of heavy metals and other toxins.

Maca is a South American root that’s been used for thousands of years as a vitality elixir. It’s one of the most potent and intelligent hormone regulators around, and it’s also been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.[4]

Turmeric is a true health superstar, as evidenced by thousands of studies. There seems to be no ailment that turmeric can’t tackle, and it’s one of the only foods in the world that has all four of the anti-inflammatory properties discussed above.  

 


References

[1] http://www.pnas.org/content/112/2/542.abstract

[2] http://foodfacts.mercola.com/cacao.html

[3] http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Acai-compound-shows-potent-anti-inflammatory-activity-Study

[4] http://www.naturodoc.com/library/nutrition/maca.htm

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