guide

5 Health Benefits - Apple Cider Vinegar

Is Apple Cider Vinegar the new coconut oil? Basically! Not only does it have topical uses, but using it internally has numerous health benefits. Here are five reasons why I drink it. 

1. Gentle Detoxification

2. Improve Gut Health

3. Heartburn Remedy

4. Decreases Sugar Cravings

5. Cold Remedy

For more information on each of these benefits, be sure to watch the video below.

Be sure that you are getting real benefits from your ACV by using one that is raw and contains "the mother" - aka those floaties. 

I like to drink my ACV in a lemonade like drink. I mix 1 TBSP ACV in a glass of sparkling water with the juice of one lemon and pour over ice. 

3 Surprising Causes of Acne + Natural Remedies That Help

Acne is often thought about as a topical problem. While things like using heavy beauty or skin care products, having a dirty pillowcase or chatting on your cell phone can certainly contribute to acne and breakouts, I think that acne is an internal problem. Most people know that acne can be hormonal, which is definitely a valid cause. But let's look at three other surprising internal causes of acne. 

Causes

1. Food Sensitivities. Gluten sensitivity can cause inflammation, which can be seen in the skin. However, I find that most acne that is related to food sensitivity is caused by dairy.  Dairy is a very congestive food and it is quite difficult to digest. To check out my thoughts on dairy in general, click here. 

2. Excessive Sugar & Yeast Overgrowth. Have you ever binged on ice cream and then had a massive pimple the next day? Sugar is a common cause of acne and breakouts. A bigger issue is when a person has yeast overgrowth - often described as Candida - throughout the body. Yeast Overgrowth can happen from antibiotic use, not enough good bacteria in the gut, excessive sugar, simple carbs and alcohol intake. 

3. Toxins. If your body cannot naturally detoxify the amount of chemicals that are coming in to your body, they pile up. Typically, toxins get stored in your bodies fat cells, but when they are trying to come out and your body is having trouble processing them - they have to go somewhere! That somewhere is often out though the skin, which may seem surprising, but your skin is actually your biggest organ and the body is just trying to put it to good detoxification use.  

Remedies

1. Ditch dairy for 3 weeks to see if your skin improves. 

2. Significantly decrease your refined sugar intake. Along these lines, it doesn't hurt to add in a high quality probiotic or fermented food to your diet to optimize your gut flora. 

3. Eat foods that are high in zinc, such as pumpkin seeds. Zinc can be a powerful acne preventative. If you feel like your acne is caused by hormonal imbalance, try seed cycling. 

4. Begin a regular detoxification routine. If you don't know why detox is so important, I can help you with that too! You can also see my favorite detoxification methods here. 

Get your password to enter The Vault below to gain access to the exclusive download on this topic and others.

Don't forget!

If you want to get to the bottom of your acne or other wellness issues, you can work with me one on one, too! 

Why You Need Probiotics + How To Find A Good One

Maybe you've heard the phrase, "all health begins in your gut.".  The gut houses a large majority of our immune system and a huge component of our neurologic system. It's said that all health problems originate in the gut so it's imperative to keep it healthy! 

Enter probiotics. Probiotics are the healthy flora (yeast and bacteria) that live in your gut and make up about 80% of your immune system. 

There are also unhealthy bacteria and yeast and parasites in the gut. Probiotics compete for food with these bad guys. The more probiotics in your gut, the less chances you will have of having unhealthy microbes take a hold in your gut and make you sick. 

Fermented Foods

In every traditional culture, probiotic foods were abundant. Since the refrigerator was not yet invented, fermentation was used to prolong the shelf life of food. Fermentation not only preserves food, it also creates probiotics!  Russian's had Kefir, Korean's ate Kimchi, German's made Saurkraut, and France did aged cheeses. There were also pickles and authentic sourdough breads. Now, we refrigerate all our food, and fermented foods have gone to the wayside.  

Fermented foods are a great option for getting probiotics into your daily diet. Kombucha is my favorite! 

So what do probiotics do?

  • Boost immunity. 
  • Aid in cellular repair.
  • Combat allergies.
  • Fight gut-related issues like excema, IBS, and food poisoning. 
  • Help the body absorb nutrients like B12 and Essential Fatty Acids. 
  • Protect against infections from parasites, bacteria, fungus, cancer and heavy metals, 
  • Modulate immune and inflammation responses. 
  • Support intestinal function.

 

How to find a probiotic

Not every probiotic or probiotic enhanced food is good. While I'm all for getting your nutrients from you diet and not always from supplements, not all probiotics enhanced foods are worth it. For instance a super sugary yogurt or a kombucha loaded with added sugar is not what you want.

Some probiotic supplements also do not list the strains that are in the capsules and many companies take advantage of the consumer with their marketing.

It's hard to find a probiotic supplement that is good. Look for one that:

  • Is stable. Make sure it is kept cool during the manufacturing, the shipping, and in the store as well as in your home once you purchase it. 
  • Says Live & Active Cultures. This is not the same as "made with active cultures". It's the different between 100% Natural Ingredients in your makeup and "made with natural ingredients". 
  • Has a diverse number and type of strains.
  • Is high in CFU's.

The strains will each have two long names like Lactobacillus Acidophilis. The strains you will want to look for in a good, everyday probiotic will start with the words Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. For additional support if you've recently been on antibiotics, or are traveling to a country where you might get food poisoning,  you may want to find a probiotic that also includes the Saccharomyces Boulardii strain as well. There are several strains for each type of bacteria. The more the better! 

For an every day probiotic, I like both Therbiotic Complete and Florajen 3. If you need additional support I like ABX Support from Klaire Labs. 

A Beginner’s Guide to Seed Cycling: How to Balance Hormones Naturally

A collaboration post between Laura’s Natural Life and Healthfully Hannah

If you have no idea what seed cycling is, don't worry, you're definitely not alone. 

The first time I heard about seed cycling was when I was working in a holistic healthcare office and I had a hormonal saliva test done. The doctor at the lab who ran my test suggested seed cycling for me, rather than supplementation to balance my hormones. 

Basically, seed cycling is the easiest way to balance your female hormones. It doesn't involve taking supplements or using any hormonal creams. It's just eating seeds! It's really that easy. 

Ok, there's a bit more to it than that, but it is still one of the easiest (and most natural!) ways to balance hormones. 

How Seed Cycling Can Help 

Seed cycling can help with a any number of hormonal imbalance symptoms like acne, abnormally light bleeding, heavy bleeding, fatigue, infertility, sleep issues, PMS and irregular periods. 

The key is to ingest certain seeds during the different phases of your cycle. These seeds are high in Essential Fatty Acids, which your hormones love, and also contain lignin to help bind and escort excessive estrogen from the body. 

If you have a regular 28-day cycle you will want to consume one set of seeds during the follicular phase of your cycle (the first half), and a second set of seeds during the luteal phase (the second half.)

However, most of us don't have a perfectly "regular" 28-day cycle - and that's ok!

If you have a far from regular cycle - don't worry! You can still use seed cycling to balance your hormones. Typically in this case you would want to start ingesting the first set of seeds when the next full moon occurs and 14 days later switch to the second set. 

The first phase of the menstrual cycle is called the follicular phase. The phase starts on the first day of your period and ends with ovulation. During this phase of the cycle, the cycle is primarily running on estrogen, rather than progesterone. The estrogen builds up through ovulation. However, you need the progesterone to kick in in order to ovulate. For a textbook 28-day cycle, this would last from Day 1-Day 14. 

Related: The Healthy Girl's Guide To Periods. 

Many women have hormonal imbalance, specifically an excess of estrogen and too little progesterone. This can be from toxin exposure like from cosmetics, plastic and more. 

How to Seed Cycle

During this phase, you would want to ingest seeds that have properties to bind excessive estrogen and encourage progesterone to release after ovulation. 

The two types of seeds for the first half of your cycle are flax and pumpkin seeds. Flax seeds contain lignans, which help to bind excess estrogen so that it can be eliminated from the body. They are also known to protect against hormone- related cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, which support progesterone. 

The second half of the menstrual cycle is called the luteal phase. This phase begins at ovulation and lasts through the end of your cycle. 

During this phase, you would want to ingest sesame seeds to block excess estrogen - as they contain the special lignans to do so. The sunflower seeds are high in selenium, which is an essential nutrient for hormone balance. 

For exact details on the best ways to consume seeds, how much you should consume to promote hormone balance, a chart to track your progress, and our favorite tips for making it simple, download the Seed Cycling Guide below. 

Soaking seeds? If you suspect any type of digestive issues, consider soaking seeds before consuming them. This reduces the naturally occurring phytic acid, which can cause digestive stress and issues with absorption. 

Keep in mind, seeds should be ground, not whole. Whole seeds often pass right through our digestive systems, which means we don't absorb their nutrients. Grinding seeds allows for greater absorption. You can either buy seeds that are already ground, or grind your own if you have a coffee grinder. 

Related: The Surprising Benefits of Seeds

To make it easy on yourself, prepare a mixture that you can easily use when you're on the go! Just grind equal parts flax and pumpkin seeds for days 1-14 of your cycle and equal parts sesame and sunflower for days 15-28 of your cycle. 

Lastly, seed cycling isn't a quick fix. You will want to give seed cycling a try for a minimum of three menstrual cycles before expecting to see changes. 

Don't forget to download your free Seed Cycling Guide below!

Seed cycling is a fantastic method to balancing hormones naturally, without the side effects that come with conventional methods. 

Do you plan to give seed cycling a try? Tell us below:

 

 

 

Hannah of HealthfullyHannah.com empowers others to live healthfully through Clean Eating, Natural Beauty, and Nontoxic Living. You can get access to her free library of resources that will help you eat well, transition to natural beauty, and detox your home.

Laura is the creator of LaurasNaturalLife.com, including The Crave-Free Cleanse and Clean Beauty Academy. When she's not creating exciting things on the internet, she can be found devouring an acai bowl and having one-sided conversations with her dog, Tedford. You can get your free Clean Beauty Boot Camp Mini-Course at LaurasNaturalLife.com

 

5 Reasons Why You Should Ditch Sugar

I'm not going to lie, I have a sweet tooth. It's my only real vice.

Too bad refined sugar is pure poison.

Refined sugar consumption is linked to diabetes, serious chronic health conditions, fungal overgrowth, premature aging and it can even affect mental health. 

The average adult American eats about 18 teaspoons of refined sugar each day - or about 66 pounds per year! Although, I've even seen some studies that suggest the average American eats close to 100 pounds of added, refined sugar each year. 

And we wonder why our country has rampant disease! Decreasing your sugar intake is literally the best thing you can do for your health in the long and short term. It's not easy, but I swear you will look and feel better for it. 

There are over 100 ways that sugar destroys the body, but I chose the five reasons that resonate with me the most that I want to share with you. 

 

Sugar lowers your immunity.

This is the reason that gets me every time, but especially around the holidays. Ingesting 2 tablespoons (about two cans of soda) will decrease your white blood cell count by 40% for about five hours. Your white blood cells are basically the soldiers of your immune system army, so this is a big deal! 

 

Sugar feeds disease.

Sugar is the favorite food of harmful microbes like bacteria and yeast. Even cancer cells like to chomp on sugar. If we remove the food source for these dangerous illnesses, the likelihood of getting them goes down. If you continue to eat refined sugar on the regular, your chances of getting diseases - acute and chronic- are much higher. 

 

Sugar is addictive. 

You've probably already heard that some studies have shown that refined sugar is as addictive as cocaine.  Addiction makes you eat more and more without feeling satisfied so you continue to eat more and more and more and more and more over the years. 

I recently read a blog post that suggested sugar addiction is often used as an easy (unhealthy) method of self-care. If you have a true sugar addiction, it might be worth examining your self care practices.  

 

It's bad for your liver.

A recently study suggests that excessive sugar consumption is as bad for the liver as excessive alcohol consumption. The body has to process sugar through the liver, like it processes alcohol. While this study is specifically talking about liver disease, my take away is that eating refined sugar eats up time and energy that the liver could be using for detoxification. 

 

SUGAR CAUSES Unpleasant physical changes.

Guess what? Sugar is what causes us to gain weight, not fat. It also causes acne and breakouts. It even can contribute to other types of skin problems like eczema, by causing fungal overgrowth. 

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Be cautious when purchasing packaged food product. Sugar is added to every from condiments to baby foods! Look for following words on an ingredient label: 

Sugar, Cane Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Corn Syrup, Cane Juice, Cane Juice Crystals, Confectioner's Sugar, Corn Syrup Solids, Dextrose, Evaporated Cane Juice, Glucose, Maltodextrin, Sucrose.

Ditch refined sugar for a solid month. It might be difficult, but you can do it! Those of us in my Facebook Community are giving this a whirl as a group for 30 days. Come join us and gain support from your new friends. 

If you feel like taking your sugar detox to the next level, check out my 10 day nutritional reset program. I created it just for our community and I personally go through it myself. 

One Fix To Better Digestion

The easiest way to help your digestive system might be something you are already doing  - just not enough of.

This hack isn't a dietary system, eliminating a food group or even taking a supplement or pill - it's simply to chew your food. Just a lot more times. 

 

Aim to chew each mouthful of food about 30 times.

 

Why? 

 

1. Chewing your food sufficiently breaks down larger food particles into much smaller particles. Any extra work that your mouth can do to create smaller particles takes away stress on the stomach and intestines.

 

2. Having smaller food particles ready to swallow puts a lot more ease on the rest of the digestive system, so that the particles can be fully broken down and assimilated. Basically, you'll be absorbing more nutrients from your food than if you didn't thoroughly chew eat bite. 

 

3. Another reason why small particles are the best is because large particles can linger in the gut. They can ferment and lead to bloating, gas and other not so fun digestive issues.

 

4. The longer food particles are exposed to saliva, the more enzymes they are exposed to. Enzymes live in the saliva with the purpose of breaking down food so that the stomach isn't too stressed with too large food particles. 

 

5. Lastly, because you're chewing each mouthful for a sufficient amount of time you will eat the proper amount of food for your body. When we don't chew thoroughly, we tend to overeat, and then pack on pounds. Chewing keeps us lean! 

If mindful chewing doesn't seem to help at all, make sure to check out the easiest cleanse ever - my 10 Day Reset. It's a simple, food based 10 day reset for your digestion, will power and cravings. I return to it a few times each year when I feel like I need to hit the reset button on my body and my eating habits. 

Scary Facts About The Birth Control Pill

Did you know that the birth control pill is the most prescribed medication in the world? 

I am at an age where many of my friends are trying to conceive and are therefore going off of their birth control. Many are met with some unexpected challenges. I am so glad that my mom convinced me not to go on The Pill when I was younger.

Considering I am not a Medical Doctor, I have relied on the books and articles produced by medical doctors and other holistic medical practitioners who are experts in this field. I have been doing research on The Pill, fertility and natural birth control methods for a few months now and my favorite resources come from Dr. Nat Kringoudis, and Australian fertility expert and Chinese Medicine Practitioner. Most of the facts below come from her articles and videos. You can find about her thoughts on The Pill here. She has a fantastic e-course on understanding fertility so that you can use this knowledge to avoid pregnancy or to make a baby here

So why don't I take The Pill? Well, my original reason was because I did not want to take a daily medication, especially one that would contribute to Candida Overgrowth. Being prone to Candida, at the time, I asked my medical and holistic doctors their opinion regarding if The Pill could contribute to Candida. The consensus was that it could. 

But, let's look beyond my early 20's reasoning and take a look at the scary facts I've uncovered:

1. Many women are prescribed The Pill to "counteract" hormonal issues and women's health conditions like hormonal migraines, hormonal acne, PCOS and PMS. It doesn't heal these conditions, it only acts as a band-aid, as is the case with many pharmaceutical drugs.  I've seen many women ask about natural ways to help with PCOS, and while I am not a doctor who could recommend treatment for you, I do have one idea you might like. Dr. Nat Kringoudis also has an E-Course called Debunking PCOS. After taking her Debunking Ovulation course, I almost went on to the PCOS course because it looked so good and I don't even suffer from PCOS!

2. In fact, The Pill can contribute to hormone imbalance which can cause things like hormonal acne, PMS,  breast tenderness and even lead to breast cancer down the road.

3. The scariest fact is that there is research which appears to show that The Pill can lead to infertility. In order for a women to get pregnant, there must be fertile cervical mucus. The Pill appears to degenerate the part of the cervix that secretes fertile cervical mucus. You can read more about this here. 

4. The Pill robs the body of essential nutrients. It depletes the body of all nutrients, but it really likes to eat up B Vitamins, Zinc, Selenium and Folate. It can take up to six months for a woman to replenish these nutrient stores after she goes off of The Pill.  If you've ever gone off of The Pill and wondered why your period took so long to come back, this is why. It can take sometimes up to six months for a woman's period to return. 

5. Another scary scenario The Pill creates is when a woman gets pregnant while taking The Pill or shortly after going off of it. Since her body has been robbed of essential nutrients needed for energy, immunity and basic body functions, her baby is developing in a nutrient robbed womb. This can lead to a difficult pregnancy, fussy baby and an extra frazzled new mother. 

6. Lastly, let's not forget about the common side effects of taking hormonal birth control like weight gain, bloating, depression, low sex drive, mood swings. No thank you!  

So, what are the alternatives? One popular choice is non-hormonal birth control like the copper IUD. However, I am not comfortable with this going inside of my body. It isn't without downsides. 

My personal method of choice is to follow the Fertility Awareness Method, which you can learn about in this book or by taking Dr. Kringoudis' course I mentioned above. It is similar to Natural Family Planning, but like it's cooler, sexier cousin. Way sexier. 

Of course, using a barrier method is always a wise option, especially if you are not in a monogamous relationship or are not OK in the event you do get pregnant.

Fertility Awareness is so easy these days with all the new apps to help you track your fertility (I use Kindara) and tools like The Lady Comp. I actually just spoke about this method with my gynecologist (who isn't a holistic practitioner) and she said that she thinks this method works really well.

However, I don't think this is a method I could've followed well when I was young. There is a greater degree of responsibility that comes with tracking your cervical mucus and/or morning temps and interpreting how fertile you might be. I know I couldn't have done this effectively at the age of 21, had I been using it alone as contraception as I do now. 

If you are going off of The Pill, or have recently gone off, I would highly consider some natural interventions to help balance your hormones faster. If you have a little bit of money to spend, I would recommend seeing a practitioner who specializes in Functional Medicine or a Naturopath. These doctors can test your hormone and nutrient levels and prescribe the proper supplements for your body. If you do not have the funds for this, I also really love acupuncture. Acupuncture can be a fabulous, faster treatment to help regulate hormones and alleviate any negative sensations while coming off of The Pill. 

Interested in learning more about women's health? Be sure to check out my post, The Healthy Girl's Guide To A Healthy Period. 

3 Secrets To Glowing Skin

Hello, beauty! It's time to get your glow on, because glowing skin is always in. Have you bought into this myth that your skin is the result of what you put on it? All the lotions and potions in the world will not transform your skin. 

WHY?

Glowing Skin Comes From Within. 

If you've signed up for my email newsletters, you've already received my 5 Nutrition Tips to Glowing Skin. If you haven't, you're going to want to pick that up at the bottom of this post. 

In regards to diet, it is essential to stay hydrated! Drinking an adequate amount of water each day is essential for plump, glowing skin. Another huge piece of the skin puzzle is to avoid dairy. There is no other sure fire way of getting breakouts and acne than a dairy binge!

It is also essential to detoxify. If you can't get the toxins out of your body, they will come out in your skin. There is no where else for them to go. The best way to do this nutritionally is to eat a plant based diet. I'm talking veggies at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The fiber from all the fabulous vegetables and fruits that you are eating will help escort those toxins right out of your system. 

In last place comes finding skin care products that work well for your skin. My current favorite skin care routine is:

Aleavia Cleanse 2x/day

Ko & Humble Passion Fruit Seed Oil 2x/day

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Sensitive 2x/week

Acure Brightening Scrub 1x/week 

3 Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies

Allergies suck, amiright? First, the never ending need to scratch at your eyeballs which results in red, puffy eyes. Then you've got the sneezing and the intense aversion to being outside when it finally becomes warm enough to enjoy the great outdoors after a long, cold winter. No fun.  Let's look at three natural ways to combat these unappealing symptoms.

1. Fish Oil. Essential fatty acids actually help to boost your immune system and calm down your reactions. 

2. Essential Oils. Perhaps the most popular allergy blend is lavender, peppermint and lemon. You can diffuse this in your home, or apply the blend to your feet. 

3. Supplements like quercetin, Traditional Chinese Medicine tinctures, and homeopathy can help to dull the intense symptoms. 

 

Disclaimer:  Any supplements mentioned are purely my opinion. These videos are to inspire individuals to be their own health advocates and are not to be taken as medical advice. I am not a Medical Doctor. Please see your medical doctor or holistic practitioner for advice about which nutritional supplements and doses may be beneficial to your health prior to starting any product.

Healthy... or Hype? Dairy Edition

 

In today’s Healthy or Hype episode we’re talking about dairy.

The first thing I want to mention is that Dairy is probably the most controversial food group amongst nutrition professionals. There are very strong opinions on both sides, so keep that in mind. I also want to clarify that I’m going to be talking about conventional dairy, not raw dairy. Also, we’re not going to be discussing obvious unhealthy foods like ice cream or cheesecake. Butter is also it’s own topic, because the body doesn’t usually process it the same as milk and cheese. So, we’re going to be referring to the “healthy” forms of dairy like milk, cheese, cultured yogurts, etc. 

3 Easy Tips for Better Sleep

We've all been there. It's 1:00 am and you're still binge watching the latest season of Orange Is The New Black. It's ok. It happens. BUT. It shouldn't happen on a regular basis. Sleep is so crucial for healing and for essential body functions. I know so many people who rarely experience a restful night's sleep and simply chalk it up to how they are wired. They learn to cope. Don't do this!

First try these easy steps. If these don't work make sure you see your holistic healthcare practitioner or medical doctor. Don't let persistent crappy sleep slide!

How To Stay Healthy During Cold & Flu Season

I used to be one of those people who got sick all the time. 

Once I adopted these practices that stopped on a dime!

Together they're more effective than separate, but if I had to choose only one I'd pick Vitamin D. 
1. Sleep! Go to bed girls! By 10:30 is best. 
2. Sugar. Eating refined sugar decreases your white blood cell count by 40% for 8 hours. 
3. Sweat! Exercise to stimulate your lymphatic system. 
4. Supplements. My favorites for immunity include Vit D, Probiotics and Essential Fatty Acids.

Detox Methods / The Healthy Girl's Guide

 My absolute favorite (and easiest, less invasive, cheapest....the list goes on!) way to detox is through the skin. Since the skin is our largest organ, why not utilize it to push the toxins out? 

1. Sweat. Exercise is great, especially something like hot yoga which really makes you drip. 

2. Skin Brush. Skin brushing mobilized the lymphatic system and opens the pours for more effective sweating.

3. Detox Baths. Detox baths (baths with epsom salt) help pull toxins out through the pores. They're also super relaxing. Consider skin brushing first for a more effective bath. 

4. Far Infrared Sauna. These have literally changed my life. No exaggeration. Because the far infrared light penetrates so deeply into the body it helps mobilize the toxins deep in the fat cells. They work their way up and out through the pores in our sweat. Do you want a more in depth post about Far Infrared Sauna? 

5. Detox Supportive Nutrients.  These include Glutathione, NAC, Vitamin C, Silymarin.

6. Toxin Binders. Binders are another method of detox which have been so helpful for me. These include Activated Charcoal, Bentonite Clay, & Chlorophyll. 

As a reminder, just because something is natural & generally regarded as safe does not mean that it is safe for you. Please consult your healthcare practitioner prior to starting any detoxification routine.