Monday, 29 June 2015

The Man Who Drank Cholera

Joel sent me this article about Ilya Metchnikoff, 'the man who drank cholera and launched the yogurt craze.' 
   Its the amusing history of an unusual and lively man who connected the dots from probiotics to immunity. 

Here's an excerpt: 
"The cholera drink didn’t sicken Metchnikoff, so he let a volunteer from his lab repeat the test. When the first volunteer didn’t contract cholera either, Metchnikoff didn’t hesitate to accept an offer from a second one. To his horror, the young man fell ill and nearly died. When Metchnikoff took his experiments into the petri dish to find out what caused such a marked difference, he discovered that some microbes hindered the cholera growth while others stimulated it. He then proposed that the bacteria of the human intestinal flora played a part in disease prevention. And, he reasoned, if swallowing a pathogenic bacterial culture sickened you, then swallowing a beneficial one would make you healthier. Therefore, he decided, the proper alteration of the intestinal flora could help battle diseases that had plagued humans for centuries."

Friday, 19 June 2015

Listen: The Brain and Microbiome

A few weeks ago I listened to a mind-blowing podcast about gut bacteria, brain function, ADHD and Autism. It was on Underground Wellness Radio, which is run by Sean Croxton, and this interview was with Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain - For Life. Sean is a superb interview host, letting his guest shine and asking pointed questions. I'm always impressed by his shows and free online summits. Dr. Perlmutter brings up amazing new discoveries relating gut health and probiotics to improvements in Autism, ADHD, Alzheimers, and even a person's timidity.
 If you know anyone with these concerns or are fascinated by the microbiome, I highly recommend a listen!
[And if you know anyone looking for a certified organic probiotic like InLiven Probiotic Superfood, please point them in this direction :)]

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Deodorant: What we use now.

Another switch we made when we began transitioning to a more natural lifestyle was throwing away our old antiperspirants and using homemade deodorant. This was actually Joel's idea, and he encouraged me in the weeks after Jacqueline was born to question the conventional antiperspirant I used, especially so close to our newborn's source of milk. Soon I found a recipe and made a batch of coconut oil, baking soda, cornstarch, and essential oil deodorant. I now recommend arrowroot powder over cornstarch, and bentonite clay can be added as well. We upped the ratio of arrowroot powder to baking soda to find a mixture that wasn't irritating, and ended up with a formula that we've used for three years now.
    Why should we bother getting rid of something as basic as antiperspirant? Here is a great outline of those very important reasons (it's more than just the aluminum). Also, homemade deodorant, a recipe for especially sensitive skin, and speeding detox when you make the switch. Narelle Chenery, the founder and formulator of Miessence products, did a presentation on why she did not use antiperspirants in her deodorant. I learned a lot even though I've been familiar with the subject for years now.

 A few months ago we tried Miessence certified organic roll-on deodorant, and have been very pleased with it. There's no risk of oil-staining shirts, and it is effective and lasting for us. We tried Ancient Spice, but there are other varieties and an Aroma Free version as well. I still have a batch of homemade deodorant left, but find myself reaching for the Miessence roll-on much more eagerly.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

In my natural makeup bag...

As with many things, when my first baby was born, I started to re-evaluate my makeup and what I put on my face. I enjoy wearing makeup, but didn't want to be putting toxins on my skin, since what we put on our skin enters our bloodstream. There are many brands out there, but I'll show you what I've been using (which is pretty much drugstore priced, as well).

Everyday Minerals: I was skeptical about a powder foundation, but their free samples (when you pay a few dollars shipping) overcame those doubts. It's a great strategy of theirs! I love it and you can use a very light amount or layer it for more coverage. I like the semi-matte base, which gives the slightest glow. Unlike some mineral makeup companies, which are still filled with toxins, Everyday Minerals has very simple ingredients, and the minerals are non-nano. A plus is that if I use a full enough coverage, it doubles as face sunscreen! 

I also use their blush (Wild Vines), and have an eyeshadow (Jane Eyre) and powder concealer, although I don't use them much (I was not impressed with the powder concealer, but they have a new line of cream ones which I have not tried). I have a lipstick of theirs which I forgot to picture, but I don't believe it's made any more (they have a new line, however).

Zuzu Luxe Liquid Eyeliner by Gabriel Cosmetics: I would love to find an even more pure option (I have not tried making, though I know you can do that!), but I really missed my liquid eyeliner for doing a simple cat eye. This works perfectly.

Honeybee Gardens Truly Natural Mascara: I have only tried this and Reviva Labs as far as natural mascaras go. I prefer Honeybee Gardens and find it more build-able if I let it dry a few minutes. Neither measure up to a drugstore mascara's extraordinary volume, but the ingredients are worth it to me. There are many more natural mascara options and I will probably try a new one, but they go up in price from these two. (Many of these things can be found on Vitacost!)

Honeybee Gardens Eyeshadow: I love this eyeshadow! It's very shimmery and has a nice peachy color. I would like to get a shimmery brown version from them. Also very affordable. 

Etherealle Lipstick: This is a popular Etsy seller who makes mineral make up. Although I prefer Everyday Minerals foundation, her lipsticks are wonderful and there is a huge variety! I ordered three samples and took forever deciding between them. I haven't ordered yet, but I plan to get Darling, a nice everyday tone, and perhaps Serenade, which is a more berry shade for dressing up. I would love to try many more of hers!

I use homemade lipbalm from this book, and have two Everyday Minerals vegan brushes (I never use the eyeshadow one), and an old Sonia Kashuk brush which I love. My bag is a gift from my lovely aunt! 

Miessence has a line of organic makeup, and I fell head over heels for the liquid Translucent Foundation that I sampled. I've been content with powder, but I miss liquid foundation! I also hope to order their concealer soon, since that is what I miss most from the drugstore makeup days.
What is your favorite piece of makeup? 

Monday, 1 June 2015


In the last year or so we have enjoyed experimenting with water kefir, not to be confused with the yogurt-like milk kefir, usually called just kefir. And you may have seen kombucha at the grocery store, if you haven't tried or made it already. Kombucha is tea, fermented with sugar and a SCOBY 'mushroom,' whereas kefir is sugar water fermented with kefir grains, which consume most of the sugar in both cases. (Here is an explanation of the difference between water kefir and kombucha.) The fermentation process produces carbonation, and adds beneficial bacteria, yeasts, and B vitamins to the drink. It's nice to have a probiotic, fizzy, customizable alternative to just water, with minimal effort. Others find it a healthy switch from a soda habit. I have been able to find starter cultures (small, clear grains) on Etsy for a few dollars, and sugar and purified water is all that is needed to maintain it.

 Here is a quick tutorial of how to actually make water kefir (in a nutshell - grains + water + sugar + 24 to 48 hours on the counter, then flavor and ferment again!). I always use a tightly capped lid for both first and second fermentations, instead of a loose cloth as is sometimes recommended. This traps more carbonation and keeps the fermentation safer.

Our favorite flavors have been lemon (1/2 or whole juiced lemon), any berries (especially pureed strawberries), apple with clove and cinnamon sticks, elderberry (with berries leftover from making elderberry syrup), cream soda (vanilla), mock coca cola (vanilla, lime, and cinnamon, although I haven't gotten the ratio just right), and ginger. You can use any juice, cut up fruit, whole spices or dried fruit for flavoring, which I always do in a second ferment.

The fizziest kefir I've ever come up with was from juice concentrate, given to us by a friend. I suppose the extra fruit sugar in that really had an effect! It looks like real soda.

Although I like to fit cultured foods and fermented beverages like water kefir into our diet, I still consider a high quality probiotic supplement to be important. This gives a good foundation to other probiotics we encounter, such as in kefir, but doesn't leave such an vital part of our health and immunity to chance.