Which Superfoods Will Protect My Eyesight?

superfoods_for_eye_health

Our eyes are under a lot of strain and sadly, for some of us, this will lead to serious damage and even blindness later in life. The culprit? Blue light emitted from our personal digital devices, computers and lighting. Over time, these harmful rays can cause degeneration of our retinas and lead to sight loss.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Scientists at Harvard University have shown that certain superfoods actually protect against the damaging effects of blue light and can protect our eyesight in the future.  

What’s the science?

The reason blue light is so dangerous is that is has a much higher frequency than other visible light. This means the light rays vibrate more violently as they enter your eye, causing damage to your retina. Specifically, they damage your macula – a highly-pigmented area at the back of the retina.

The macula acts as a filter to blue light. It’s packed with yellow pigment, which fends of those harmful rays. Repeatedly having to do this takes its toll however, leading to what is called advanced macular degeneration. This condition is the leading cause of blindness in the West, affecting a staggering 30% of people over the age of 75. And we can only assume that, in the age of the ever-present smartphone, this figure looks set to rise.

How can superfoods help?

The Harvard study found that the nutrients in certain superfoods have a significant benefit to the health of our eyes. It followed the visual health of over 100,000 participants over the course of 20 years to conclude that two nutrients are vital in protecting against macular degeneration: lutein and zeaxanthin.

Researchers showed that people eating a diet rich in lutein and zeaxanthin are 40% less likely to suffer from advanced age-related macular degeneration. The reason? These two little carotenoids contain the yellow pigment the macula needs to be able to filter out blue light. Pretty clever huh?

Which superfoods should I be eating?

Fermented_Kale_supplementTop of the list is superfood favorite, kale. We always knew we loved these nutrient-dense greens and it can feature in a wide range of dishes from stir-fry to smoothies. If you’re not keen on its earthy taste don’t worry, there are also clever products and supplements that make eating your greens so much easier. Try Perfect Fermented Kale to quickly and easily get concentrated kale into your diet.

Other foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin include raw cress, raw spinach, cooked spinach and green peas. And in a slightly disappointing myth-buster, carrots were found to have relatively low levels of eyesight-protecting nutrients.

So, it looks like eating your greens is a must when it comes to protecting your eyesight. But exactly how many greens do you need to eat?

How much lutein and zeaxanthin do I need?

At this point in time, there is no established Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for either lutein or zeaxanthin. However, in another study into visual health – the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS2) –  just 10mg of lutein and 2mg of zeaxanthin per day were found to have significant benefits to macular health.

In the study, this was provided in the form of a supplement but just one cup (or 100g) of cooked kale is thought to contain around 20mg of lutein and zeaxanthin. Five portions a day of other green vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli and peas, would also provide you with sufficient levels of these very special carotenoids. That’s a pretty delicious way to protect your eyesight!  

AMD and superfoods

Image Credit: Focus Clinics

All-Natural Ways to Improve Your Kids’ Focus This School Year

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We all want our kids to have happy, healthy days all year long. However, that wish goes double once the school year starts! If your little ones are going to get a quality education that serves them well, they need to be healthy, focused, and alert. But is a healthy diet and a good’s night sleep enough to keep your child well until summer comes along?

Keeping your kids healthy during the school year involves much more than feeding them healthy meals and imposing an early bedtime. After all, they go through a lot during the year — mental exercise, germs from other kids, not to mention the physical stress from their backpacks! As parents, we need to feed them the right healthy foods to help them thrive. These foods can include:

Bacopa

Herbal Healing Tea From BrahmiAccording to LiveStrong, the Indian herb bacopa helps enhance neurotransmitters that are integral to paying attention. This herb reportedly affects several neurotransmitters in the brain, including acetylcholine, serotonin and gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). These neurotransmitters can help keep your child calm, focused, and happy in an all-natural way. In fact, there are some recent studies which suggest that bacopa could be an effective natural remedy for ADHD.

However, it is important to note that the science on less common herbs like bacopa is not conclusive. While it could be an effective way to help your child focus during the school year, it may not work for every child. Make sure you continue using methods that work (omega-3-rich diets, plenty of sleep, etc.), and don’t be afraid to try other safe herbal remedies, too.

 Cod Liver Oil

 If you take supplements yourself, you know how much they can change how you feel from day to day (mentally and physically). Many of the effects you notice in your own supplements can be effective for children too. Fermented cod liver oil (FLCO), for example, can work wonders with a child’s ability to focus. Taking FCLO as a daily supplement could be incredibly useful in any child whose mind tends to wander.

Once again, this natural supplement comes with a note of caution: FCLO can lead to vitamin A toxicity if taken in excess. Make sure you talk with your child’s doctor before you give him or her any sort of supplement, so that you administer the proper dose for the child’s growing body. And of course, monitor your child and stop using the supplement if you notice any adverse effects.

Omega-3s

Oils_with_omega_3Studies show that kids who get plenty of omega-3s in their formative years have a better time concentrating in school and an easier time remembering information. A wealth of omega-3s in our youth can even help improve memory and neural pathways as we age, which makes it one supplement you can never have too much of. Give your child a brain boost with this fatty acid!

A high-protein diet with lots of fatty fish will give your child all the omega-3s he or she needs to boost that brainpower. We recommend Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil for kids to give them a good boost of Omega 3’s every day. However, if you have a particularly picky eater, there are many other foods that serve a healthy dose of omega-3s. If your kids won’t take cod liver oil because of the taste, then Walkabout Emu Oil is a better choice as it is mild in flavor and can be hidden in other food like smoothies or yogurt very easily. Additionally, tofu, spinach, even chia seeds are a great way to give your kids the essential nutrients for truly excellent concentration in the classroom.

Keeping Active

Family running on beach smilingThere’s a reason that most people utter the words “health and fitness” in the same breath. An active body is integral to a healthy, thriving mind. While most schools do their part by mandating physical education, it is also important that parents encourage their kids to keep those fitness levels up every day – be it through organized sports, family walks, or simply running around in the yard.

There’s even significant research on the effect exercise can have your child’s ability to focus. The brain’s dorsolateral prefrontal cortex helps eliminate distractions after 30 minutes of exercise, which can help a child succeed in memory and concentration. Regular exercise will help your little one improve test scores, retain information, and even finish his or her homework faster. Best of all, playing outside is the most natural thing in the world for a child to do!

Of course, not all these methods will work like magic. Your child may need to use these supplements for a while before you see results. However, you can be sure that none of these natural methods will be damaging, and in time your child will reap some incredible benefits from regular supplements, a healthy diet, and daily exercise.

While you’re picking up school supplies, and packing those lunches, remember to incorporate some of these natural supplements and methods. Not only will you watch your child’s grades improve, you’ll watch as he or she becomes a healthier child all around – and at the end of the day that’s what we all really want, isn’t it?

 

Author Bio – Alex G Forrester is a content marketing and SEO professional who enjoys the challenge of driving sales through blogging while creating awesome and useful content. In the beginning of 2016, Alex quit his day job and ditched his plan to head to law school all so that he could start his blog and launch his freelance career.  When Alex is not at work for clients or coaching business owners and solopreneurs on how to start a website and earn money online, he can be found on the beach with his black lab, Louie. Say “hi” to Alex on Twitter!

How to Cope with Zucchini Overflow or What to Make With an Abundance of Zucchini.

Paleo_zucchini_recipes

If you have a vegetable garden then this has probably happened to you. One day you go out and everything is still too small to pick. You go back what seems like only a couple days later and you have zucchini the size of baseball bats! Well, that happened to us this week, so we’ve had an abundance of zucchini to eat and give away. We tried a few new recipes and adapted a few old recipes to bring you some great Paleo, Primal, and Gluten Free recipes for all that squash.

Spiralized Zucchini spiralized_zucchini_recipes

OK, I don’t know how I ever lived without a spiralizer before. This handy little gadget turns all kinds of vegetables into long strings that are similar in width to spaghetti. I bought a $30 professional grade one at Bed Bath & Beyond. The low end models there started at $20 and were all plastic. I thought for $10 more, the professional one had a lot more metal pieces and looked sturdier. I love spiralized zucchini! It is very versatile and easy to eat raw. Below are 3 recipes we made in the last few days as we went a little crazy with the spiralized zucchini. I also spiralized a summer squash that was a bit hard because it sat on the plant too long. This worked great, also – perfect way to use hard summer squash.

Before we get into the recipes, let me give a little advice about how to spiralize squash. If you have huge pieces like we did, then cut them as long as you can to fit your spiralizer. Make sure you have an end piece on the end closest to the handle, or it can dig into the soft part with the seeds and just makes a hole there instead of pushing the vegetable into the blade. If this happens, don’t fret too much, you just have to hand spin it without the handle. The spiralized zucchini noodles still come out great!

Spiralized Zucchini with Paleo Meat Sauce

Recipe inspired by jaysbakingmecrazy.com

Paleo_meat_sauceIngredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 organic red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 pounds grass fed ground beef
  • 1 29oz can of plain tomato sauce
  • 1 14.5 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 1 Tb Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 7-8 cups of raw spiralized zucchini (One extra large zucchini or 3-5 smaller ones)

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add the crushed garlic and saute for a minute to release the flavor. Make sure not to brown or burn the garlic.
  2. Add the bell pepper and saute until softened.
  3. Add the ground beef and cook until brown. Break up any large chunks.
  4. I had quite a lot of oil in my browned meat, so I removed some. To remove or not is your preference. Leave some for flavor.
  5. Add in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, coconut aminos, and spices. Stir well and cook for 20 minutes for the flavors to mix.
  6. Serve over spiralized squash. I like my spiralized zucchini raw, but if you want it warm, quickly rinse it in hot water. It gets mushy if you overcook it and makes for poor consistency as spaghetti.

Shrimp Scampi Over Spiralized Squash

Paleo_shrimp_scampiIngredients

  • 1 pound large raw wild caught shrimp, shelled & deveined
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp grass-fed butter
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup white cooking wine
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 7-8 cups of spiralized zucchini (One very large zucchini or 3-5 smaller ones)

Directions

  1. Heat a saute pan. Add the butter and olive oil. When the butter melts, add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute for just a minute to soften and release flavors – don’t let it burn!
  2. Add the shrimp and wine. Arrange the shrimp in a single layer and cook 3-4 minutes on each side – until they’re good and pink all the way through. The heat should be high enough so the sauce is bubbling, but not burning.
  3. Once cooked and the wine reduced a bit, remove from heat and add the lemon juice, parsley and black pepper. Toss to combine all flavors.
  4. Serve over raw or slightly cooked zucchini noodles. Enjoy!

Spiralized Zucchini Greek Salad

Primal_Greek_salad_recipeIngredients

  • 2 Tbs  extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs organic lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1/8 tsp dry mustard
  • 2-3 Tbs red onion, diced small
  • 2-3 zucchini spiralized, about 4 cups
  • 1/2 large organic tomato, diced
  • 1/2 organic cucumber, diced
  • 15 kalamata olives, halved
  • 2 oz feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
  • 2 Tbs chopped organic raw pecans

Directions

  1. Whisk the first seven ingredients together for the dressing. Add the onion and set aside for the flavors to combine.
  2. Spiralize, chop and combine all other ingredients.
  3. Pour the dressing over the veggies and cheese and enjoy!

Paleo French Meat Pie Stuffed Zucchini

Paleo_stuffed_zucchini_recipeMy Mémère used to make the best French meat pies. That tradition has been passed to my aunt, and this year I made a few. I’ve altered the recipe a bit to include sweet potatoes instead of regular white potatoes and added celery for the stuffing. I also only used grass-fed ground beef instead of a combination of ground pork and beef. The rest of the recipe is all Mémère’s. Hope you like it as much as we did!

Stuffing Ingredients

  • 2 lbs grass-fed ground beef
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 Tbs grass-fed butter
  • 2 medium organic sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp Bells Poultry Seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Peel, boil and mash the sweet potatoes. Don’t add anything to the potatoes. Set aside
  2. Heat a large skillet to medium high heat. Melt the butter and saute the onion and celery until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add hamburger and cook until meat is no longer pink, stirring often to break up the large chunks. Add a little water if it starts to get dry.
  4. Add 1/2 the mashed sweet potatoes. Check the consistency. You want just enough to hold it together. Add more if needed. You may not use all of it.
  5. Add the cloves, salt and pepper, and poultry seasoning. This part is really to taste, so feel free to change the measurements.
  6. Grab your zucchini. Slice in half the long way and scoop out the seeds. I used one XL zucchini because that is what I had. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. You may have to slice a bit off the bottom to get it to sit flat on the tray.
  7. Spoon the stuffing into the zucchini, overflowing it.
  8. Cover with foil and cook at 350° until the zucchini is tender, but not mushy. My XL zucchini took close to 1 hour, but smaller ones should be checked after 1/2 hour or so. Remove from oven, slice and serve.

Paleo Zucchini Bread

recipe from theroastedroot.net

Paleo_zucchini_bread_recipeCan’t do a zucchini recipe post without a good zucchini bread.  I like chocolate chips in my zucchini bread, so I added it to the recipe. This recipe is great with a cup of coffee for breakfast or dessert.

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup full fat canned coconut milk or almond milk
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups grated zucchini 1 medium zucchini squash
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbs ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate chips, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° and use coconut oil to lightly oil a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.
  2. Grab a medium mixing bowl and whisk together the first five ingredients until well-combined. Add in the grated zucchini and stir until well combined.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients (except the chocolate chips), the dry ingredients.
  4. Pour the flour mixture into the bowl with the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Add chocolate chips, and gently stir. Allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Place on the center rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until loaf tests clean in the center.
  6. Remove the loaf from the oven and cool for at least 20 minutes. Turn the bread out onto a cutting board and enjoy with butter and honey.

Cleaning Detergents that Are Kind to the Environment (and Your Pocket)

 

homemade-cleaning_products

Over ten years ago Berkeley, the University of California released an article that detailed the harmful effect cleaning detergents have on the environment. Not only are these toxic to the surroundings, the ingredients consist of petroleum and other non-sustainable items. This places a lot of pressure on the environment, but will also push up prices as these ingredients become more valuable. An alternative for cleaning products will have a positive effect on the household, whether the household is mindful of the environment or not. With the use of just a few simple ingredients, consumers will have a multitude of cleaning detergents. These ingredients are coconut oil, vinegar, borax, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), and fresh lemon juice.

Homemade Cleaners for Bathrooms and Kitchensavoid_toxic_deodorant

Although these are areas that require a thorough clean, chemicals and bleaches may not always be the solution. In fact, bleach can be far more harmful than good.

The Tub and Toilet

These two areas tend to suffer from brown stains and rings. This recipe should blot those stains out.

Mix the following ingredients for an overall cleaning solution:

  • 1 cup bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1 tablespoon borax
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Water as needed to form a paste as desired

Follow this up with a wipe-down using a cloth dabbed in a fragrance oil of your choosing. Homemade cleaners work the best and leave surfaces smelling fresh and inviting.

For areas that are a bit grimier and stained, use two tablespoons vinegar to two tablespoons bicarb and two tablespoons borax. This should form a thick paste. Add a bit more vinegar if not pasty enough, or bicarb if too runny. Put it on the grimy area for a few minutes before cleaning. Although favorites for these jobs, ammonia and formaldehyde are linked to allergies so should be avoided at all costs.

 clean_with_coconut_oilTaps and Mirrors

Although a vigorous rub with a microfiber cloth will make a world of difference, stubborn water stains and marks can be tough to deal with. For taps and other chrome or steel fittings, dab the cloth in a bit of coconut oil. Solid oil works better as this ensures there isn’t too much on the cloth. Keep a bit in the fridge for this purpose if it has a liquid state. There should be enough on the cloth to form a thin coat on the items, but not enough to be noticeable.

Mirrors can be a bit tricky to keep clean. Keep the following in a jar for mirrors that are easy to maintain.

After cleaning the mirror with this mixture, use a newspaper to remove any oily residue. If the oil seems a bit thick, use vinegar on its own.

Stainless Steel, Brushed Steel, or Chrome Appliances

After wiping appliances with a damp cloth and waiting for it to dry, use the microfiber and coconut oil combinations for the bathroom taps and fittings. This will prevent water marks and finger marks. Also, it will keep the exterior of the appliances rust-free, especially in coastal areas.

 

5 Facts We Absolutely Know About Good Nutrition

whole_food_greens_powder_sale

Though there is much debate in the scientific community regarding the role nutrition plays in development of health and disease, a few facts exist that are relatively certain and based on a body of good research.

Like everyone else, we’ve grown weary of the countless fad diets and claims about miraculous results just by eating one thing or avoiding x food. For that reason, we’ve assembled a list of nutritional facts that can be used to help assemble and/or supplement a healthy diet.

1) Low Carbohydrate Diets Reduce the Likelihood of Type II Diabetes

As Type-II Diabetes (formerly known as adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes) hits prevalence, researchers are constantly exploring different factors that could be contributing to this pandemic. Some focus on genetic factors (for which there is some support) and others focus on lifestyle choices (exercise levels, for instance).

But nearly all walks of science and common sense agree on one thing – eating too much sugar is a major risk factor, particularly processed sugars that have been separated from their respective whole foods. Soda is one of the prime culprits, sometimes containing over 40 grams of sugar in just a single can.

Diets low in processed sugars (or entirely devoid of them) have been linked to reduced incidence of Type-II diabetes and may generally lead to healthier outcomes. Conversely, whole foods high in fiber reduce the incidence of diabetes, most likely by slowing the absorption of sugar and improving gut health.

2) Setting Goals Helps Stay on Track in Life and Nutrition

Goal setting has always been an important part of success. Some cultures naturally orient themselves towards healthier diets, but that isn’t the case for everyone. The United States is one of the more obvious examples, where the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) is plagued with chemically derived ingredients and artificial foods.

For those pursuing better nutritional standards, setting goals can be helpful in the same way it has been proven for other areas. Exact methods vary, but taking advantage of what technology has to offer may reduce the difficulty. Tracker apps such as MyFitnessPal or SparkPeople aid in keeping track of calories consumed, activity and food types eaten. They’re best paired with security apps such as VPNs in order to ensure privacy (among other things).

3) Unprocessed Foods Are Higher in Essential Nutrients

It’s no secret that eating whole foods is beneficial; virtually no sane person would argue the contrary. Yet exactly how beneficial a diet loaded with unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and meats can be is often lost on the public. Take the nutritional content of a sweet potato.

A single sweet potato contains over two times the daily requirement of Vitamin A, half the daily requirement of Vitamin C, and a host of B Vitamins. Eaten with the skin, sweet potatoes also incorporate a large amount of our daily fiber requirement.

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli tend to be high in Vitamin K and Folate (absolutely essential for anyone avoiding enriched grains, particularly women who plan to become pregnant), while fruits such as berries or citrus are usually high in Vitamin C. Grass fed and free range meats are fantastic sources of complete protein (they contain all essential amino acids) and are higher in Omega-3 than their grain fed counterparts (especially the processed kinds).

Unprocessed foods, due to lack of added sugars, contain significantly fewer calories. Eating a mixed diet full of vegetables, fruits, and proteins make it difficult to overeat because the fiber, fat, and protein content help to trigger the “full” response in the hypothalamus and keep the stomach from emptying as quickly.

organic_greens_powdersThose still new to unprocessed foods may want to consider supplementing at least initially. Particularly when it comes to eating leafy greens, it can be really difficult to develop a taste when coming from a previously high sugar, high salt diet. Have time constraints? A greens smoothie makes a quick, easy breakfast, lunch or snack.

4) Whole Foods are Devoid of Fillers & Additives

Another major concern we constantly see voiced is one regarding the “extra” ingredients added to so many different kinds of foods. Additives range from colors to artificial flavors and preservatives, all with the aim of making food sell better and stick around longer before it rots. Fillers, on the other hand, are there to cut costs (usually at the cost of vital nutrients). We see this done with sugar more than anything, especially in foods where fat is removed.

But whole foods don’t suffer from any of these pitfalls. Before hitting your table, they had everything needed to survive and this translates into better nutrient content. This has many benefits for us. For instance, watermelon seeds are actually highly nutritious (don’t worry, you won’t grow a watermelon in your stomach).

That’s not to say all whole foods are equal and able to be eaten in excess. Bananas taste great, but are relatively high in sugar and low in fiber compared to some other fruits and should be eaten semi-conservatively. But even at their worst, bananas will never lose out to packaged snacks and other premade foods.

5) Trans Fats Are Never a Good Choice

There are so many reasons that trans fats are terrible for you. Totally devoid of any real nutritional value, they are produced by a chemical process involving hydrogen and high heat to yield what is commonly labeled on foods as “partially hydrogenated [oil type].”

This is the type of fat you might expect to find in packaged sweets and especially in butter replacements like margarine. Consuming trans fats has been linked with heart disease, insulin resistance, and even the development of Alzheimer disease. In the interest of good health, there’s absolutely no reason to ever consume anything with trans fats in it.

organic_virgin_coconut_oil_saleThat it is still allowed in food is nearly a mystery of its own. That said, if you use oil to cook, it’s recommended that you stick with extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, as both offer relatively healthy mixes of fat (omega 9 and saturated fat respectively) and are readily available without breaking the bank. Just be sure your olive oil comes in an opaque container and isn’t used in high heat recipes, as direct light and high heat ruin its nutritional value.

For a Healthy Tomorrow

While researchers may continue to debate the merits of individual chemicals such as caffeine, there is no shortage of certain information regarding good nutrition. Other factors are certainly at play in determining overall health, but eating nutritious foods is one way to keep things in your favor.

Will you take steps to create a scientifically sound diet? Tell us how below.

About the Author: Cassie is a health enthusiast with a heavy focus on nutrition. While some of her knowledge comes from academia, much of what she knows is independently learned through a great deal of research.

How to Avoid Damaging UV Rays Without Living in the Basement

Physical_sunblock

Life on Earth as we know it couldn’t exist without the ultraviolet (UV) rays provided by the sun. In addition to the vital role the sun plays in the food chain by providing energy for plant life, UV light is important for human beings in helping produce vitamin D in the body. However, as anyone who has ever experienced sunburn knows, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. In the case of UV light, overexposure can cause serious damage to skin and even lead to cancer. There’s nothing wrong with getting some sun. However, you need to use some protection if you’re going to be out in the sun for a prolonged period of time to ensure you’re not getting too much of a good thing.

Applying Protection

Sunscreen is important to remember when you’re out and about on a sunny day. It’s recommended to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to provide the best protection. Sunscreens labeled “broad spectrum” provides protection from more types of UV light than products without that label. Water-resistant formulas are better because they won’t be rinsed away as easily during activities in the water or run off when you sweat. Another key factor when choosing a sunscreen is getting a physical sunblock as opposed to a chemical sunscreen with nanoparticles that absorb into the skin and get into the blood stream. For more information on this, check out this blog post.

Safe_sunblock_for_kidsNourishing World sells two sunscreen brands that are physical sunblock and get a # 1 rating from the Environmental Working Group. These are Thinksport Regular and Kids Sunscreens, both have a 50+ SPF. The other brand we sell is Mercola Sunscreen, one has an SPF of 15, and the other has an SPF of  30. One last thing to remember about proper sunscreen use is to re-apply often, sometimes every hour in the worst of the summer months, to ensure you receive maximum protection.

Wearing clothing that covers as much skin as possible is another good way to stay protected in the sun. Be sure to wear long-sleeved shirts and wide-brimmed hats to receive the most protection. Dark-colored clothing provides more protection than light-colored clothing; and tightly woven fabrics are better protection than loosely woven clothing.

Seeking Shade

And finally, the easiest way to help shield yourself from UV rays is to keep to shady spots on very sunny days — especially during the late-morning-to-late-afternoon period when the UV light from the sun is at its peak. This includes when you’re on the sand or snow, because it can reflect UV light and increase the amount in which you’re exposed. Staying inside when UV light is strongest also helps, especially if the windows in your home or car are tinted to block more UV rays. If you’re thinking about having your car windows tinted to protect yourself from the sun, the amount of tint you are allowed to have may vary based on where you live. The following chart illustrates the amount of window tint permitted in each state. Now go enjoy the outdoors safely!

rayno-window-film

This post was courtesy of Rayno Window Film.

Beat Mosquitos Without Killing The Planet

Mercola_Natural_Bug_Spray

More and more people are changing their lifestyles and eliminating as many chemicals and toxins around them as possible. But, since chemicals are all around us from the beauty products and cleaning supplies we use to the food we consume and the air we breathe, it is not that easy to do. Every little bit helps, and some changes are easier than others, like using naturally-made DEET-free mosquito control and repelling products over chemical ones.

Pest control products like bug sprays, mosquito fogger systems and insecticides are very toxic, especially to the environment. So by switching to the more natural versions of these products, you will be able to decrease the amount of chemicals that are polluting our rivers, lakes and even air. Let’s look at the some of the main differences between natural and synthetic mosquito repellents and also how to properly use natural bug spray to get the most out of the products.

Chemical vs. Natural Mosquito Repellents

Fresh Citronella Leaves On Wooden BackgroundAs you might guess, the main difference between natural and artificial insect repellents is the ingredients that are used to produce each type of product. If in chemical sprays the main active ingredients often are either DEET or Picaridin, then in green bug sprays the mosquito repelling abilities of the products come from different essential oils, usually oil of lemon eucalyptus, citronella oil or lemongrass oil.

How do Natural Mosquito Repellents Work?

Now, you might be wondering, how can these natural plant oils deter mosquitoes? Well they do that thanks to their aroma. All of the most common essential oils used in natural mosquito repellents have distinct scents. They usually smell citrus-like and fresh. And, since mosquitoes distaste these types of aromas, and would much rather go for flowery, sweet scents, once you apply the natural insect repellent on your skin or clothing, mosquitoes will keep away from you.

DEET: Not good for People or the Planet

The second difference of the two types of repellents is how healthy they are in regards to human health as well as the environment. As we already established, synthetic insect repellents usually contain laboratory-made chemicals. DEET is a member of the tuolene chemical family which are solvents used in plastic and rubber cements as well as paint removers. They can pass through the skin and into the bloodstream, getting all the way natural_bugspraysto the gut. It is also harmful if inhaled or consumed, or sprayed on other living creatures, like cats and dogs. The most troubling concern is the adverse effects it can have on the nervous system. The combination of DEET and permethrin, another common mosquito spray ingredient, has been shown to lead to motor deficits, and learning and memory disorders. Is this something we want to spray on our children? Of course, sprays made of natural ingredients may have an adverse effect on some people. Those with sensitivities may get a skin rash or experience other reactions if they are allergic to one or more of the ingredients in the natural bug sprays. However, the likeliness of that happening is much smaller than when you use insect repellent based on DEET or any other chemically-made bug deterring ingredient. Which I think is a reason enough to go for natural insecticide.

Natural Bug Sprays Can Be Just As Effective, If Used Properly

And the third big difference when it comes to chemical and natural pest control is how efficient each type of product is and for how long it will be able to repel mosquitoes. Although, chemical bug sprays may last longer than natural ones, their efficiency is a different story. Many natural bug sprays are just as efficient as chemical sprays, but they don’t last as long and have to be reapplied more often than their synthetic counterparts. To me, the fact that I’ll have to reapply the repellent a bit more frequently doesn’t bother me compared to the damaging effects of chemical bug sprays on my family and the environment. But how do you make sure that you are using your natural repellent to its full potential?

First and foremost, read the label of the product. There should be information about how you should apply the product, how often it needs to be reapplied, if it is waterproof or not and other important bits of knowledge that will help you get the most out of your spray. Secondly, don’t forget to reapply the mosquito repellent, because, you will probably only get a few hours of efficiency after which the mosquitoes will start bugging you again. And thirdly, don’t overdo it with the application of the repellent – it won’t make it magically work better. All it will do is create an unnecessary layer of repellent on your skin which can start to irritate it.

Which Brand Of Natural Bug Spray Do We Recommend?

We love the Mercola Bug Spray for the whole family, including our pets! I use it daily on my dogs to keep ticks off them. I still find a tick on them here and there, but certainly not daily anymore. My sister uses it on her cat for the same reasons with equally good results. There are only four ingredients, oil of citronella, lemongrass oil, peppermint oil and vanillin. It has a pleasant lemony scent.  The best news is it beat DEET in a lab test Mercola_Bugsprayperformed by BassFan Lab. The results are below:

  • Unprotected group: 16 bites per hour
  • DEET group: 2.78 bites per hour
  • Mercola Bug Spray group: < 1 bite per hour (1/5 bite per hour)

Mercola Bug Spray was the clear winner and is an excellent choice for you and your family and pets. But, as stated, it does need to be applied every 2-3 hours for best results.

Overall, choosing to use natural bug sprays over chemical ones does have more pros than cons to you as well as to the environment and everyone around you. But, of course, ultimately it is your decision.  And no matter if you do decide on organic bug spray or stick to a synthetic one, wearing any type of pest control in the spring and summer is much better and safer than not using any at all.

Guest blog by Insect Cop