Filthy Fluoride

Water-supply1

I’m sorry, I just feel like I’ve been taken for an absolute fool these past few years- probably because I have been a fool.

I never used to stop to ask what was added to my water, if my shampoo was doing anything else to my scalp rather then just cleaning it, if my tampons were safe, if the pesticides being sprayed on my veggies had any dodgie side effects, if antibiotics given to cows could end up in the milk I drink. Now I do, and my brain just won’t stop asking questions and looking for replacements.

Once you start scratching the surface and actually look at the items you’re using on a daily basis all hell breaks loose. You start seeing that at some point in the last 50 years someone decided our health and well being is big business and every tactic, marketing ploy, corner cutting, money saving scheme is fair game. Nothing is what is seems.

… OK, rant over (sigh of relief from anyone still reading!) I just needed to get that off my chest!

Anyway, before the red mist came down I was about to talk some more about water. As mentioned previously I’m trying to steer clear of plastic water bottles due to the unwelcome side effect of BPA’s (more on that here). I’ve bought myself a lovely BPA free water bottle and everything was going fine until I heard about fluoride (this is where the angry ‘red mist’ came from).

Basically since 1964 the Irish Government took it on themselves to save our little Irish teeth by pumping a chemical called fluoride into our tap water. I don’t doubt that they did this in good faith at the time. However since then the case against this practice has mounted with studies suggesting links between excess fluoride and the following:

  • Some cancers
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Down syndrome
  • Chronic fatigue, thyroid dysfunction, headaches, depression, eczema and many more.

Due to all the evidence today almost all developed countries have outlawed the practice of adding Fluoride to their drinking water and now Ireland is one of only 8 developed countries, WORLD WIDE, to be still adding Fluoride to tap water!! Crazy right?!

If you’re interested in helping the fight against fluoridation here’s some levels of activity:

Level 1 (Zero effort required) – Like Irish group ‘The Girl Against Fluoride’ (TGAF) on Facebook to increase your awareness

Level 2 (Little bit of effort required) – Sign some petitions to stop fluoridation in Ireland- here and here

Level 3 (Fairly high effort needed) – I’ve no doubt fluoridation is going to be a hot topic as 2014 rolls in and we’re expected to start paying for this toxic water. So start talking to friends and family now about the harmful effects it’s having on our water supply and maybe, just maybe, if enough of us are complaining someone up there might listen.

TGAF

In the mean time, what can we do to help ourselves, and reduce the levels of fluoride we are exposed to?

I was in touch with TGAF for their suggestions on how to combat this chemical and here’s a summary of what one of the team, Shane, told me…

The best way of completely removing fluoride from the water is to use Reverse Osmosis (RO) filters on our taps. This can be either bought or rented, depending on your fundage situation:

Buying: Renewell Water Ltd

  • This is a small one man operation who TGAF have now teamed up. He offers the RO system at a discounted prices of €399 (and will also make a €50 donation to the campaign for each filter that is sold).

Renting: The Water Treatment Centre

  • They offer the RO system as a rental for an installation cost of €50 and a weekly rental of €3.99 (which turns out to be just over €250 for the year).

EL cheapo option: Good old Lidl and Aldi!

  • A 3rd option in these ‘tough economic times’ is to scrap RO and our worries about BPA plastic and just go for Glen Carrick bottled water from Lidl, or Comeragh Spring Water from Aldi. TGAF  tells me this bottled water is both low in fluoride and high in calcium- the calcium acts as a buffer for the fluoride ion thus enabling the body to excrete this naturally occurring fluoride (5litre bottle costs €1.20)

I’m planning on investing in a rented fluoride filter and I’ll let you know how we get on!

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Clean Cleaning

clean cleaning

As anyone who has lived with me will know, I’m a little bit of ‘a Monica’ when it comes to cleaning, i.e. I verge precariously on the OCD cliffs and could easily disappear down the hole- if I had a less busy social life or cared more about germs.

One Saturday morning, as I sprayed what must of been a half a bottle of bleach around our windowless and particularly filthy bathroom, I started to wonder what the chemicals were doing to my lungs or what the chemicals I had used to wash the kitchen floor was doing to our bear feet. I decided there and then to try and educate myself on whether it’s possible to conduct ‘clean cleaning’. Here’s what I discovered…

  • It turns out that companies aren’t actually required to put their ingredients on their cleaning products because their formulas are considered protected trade secrets so you can’t actually be 100% sure what you are spraying. I don’t know about you but that just seems wrong to me.
  • Obviously no one wants filthy dirty germy surfaces and toilets but according to my research it’s not only lot cheaper but also safer to clean your house with common, non-toxic household staples. Have a look yourself here

So, like my attempt at cleaning up my food intake and regular beauty products, I’ve also started trying to replace my ‘dirty’ cleaning products. Here’s some replacement ideas:

(I found the following safe cleaning products on Jess Ainscough’s – the ‘official’ Wellness Warrior- website)

Clearing drains

  • No more of that ridiculously toxic, ‘wear- safety- goggles- and- gloves-when- using’ crap, instead I pour down a handful of baking soda mixed with 1/2 cup of white vinegar when my drains annoy me. Trust me- this one works a treat!

Bathroom and kitchen surfaces: Homemade baking soda paste- again works like magic

  • Dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 4 tablespoons of water.
  • Use a soft cloth to rub the paste onto the surface to be cleaned.
  • Wipe off with a clean cloth and buff to shine.
  • This can also be used to clean pots and pans and the inside of your fridge.

Shower

  • Clean shower doors with white vinegar.
  • Spray or wipe on and leave for 10 minutes before rinsing off.
  • Sponge shower curtains with water and baking soda.

Toilet

  • Pour 150ml white vinegar into the toilet bowl and brush before flushing.
  • Disinfect your loo with a solution of 10 drops of tea tree oil in 115ml of water. Leave it in the bowl until the next flush.
  • Wipe the toilet seat with an all-purpose surface cleaner made from 600ml white vinegar, 300ml water and 20-30 drops eucalyptus oil.

 Drainage holes and taps

  • Rub a cut lemon to remove grease and lime scale
  • Remove lime scale from taps with a soft cloth dipped in white vinegar.
  • Scrub away rust and grime from around the taps with an old toothbrush coated with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

More clean cleaning ideas can be found here 

However if all this talk of measuring and mixing makes you feel like a crazy scientist, there are of course clever people who make clean products for us to use instead…. Sooooo much easier!

These nice people include:

  • Ecover- which can be bought in Tesco/ Dunnes/ most Health Food shops and online

clean cleaning1

  • Or, if you’re feeling loaded, try Jessica Alba’s new website Honest on for size

clean cleaning2

Happy clean cleaning! 😉

My Wellness Cloud Bookshelf- Part 2

Books

Happy rainy Monday morning to you- things can only get better I suppose!

Here’s a round up of a few more books I love and would recommend to any budding Wellness Warriors…

No More Dirty Looks: I’ve discussed this book in past blogs (here and here) so I’ll just quickly say here how this book opened my eyes to all the crap we are lathering on to ourselves on a daily basis.  I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you- but some of the products on your bathroom shelf and make up bag have chemicals which are hormone disturbing at the very least and carcinogenic at the worst- eeeeeek :-/!

Since reading this book I’ve become one of those annoyingly smug people who doesn’t buy any ‘unclean’ beauty products. I preach about the joys of using coconut oil for everything (‘I use it as a face and body moisturiser, eye make up remover and hair defuzzer don’t you know?’) and it makes me happy, so I’m planning to keep it that way.

Even if you love your beauty products (as I once did), I’d recommend this book as it’ll arm you with a fighting chance when trying to decide between shower gels so you can pick the less offensive one.

You Are What you Eat: There was a time I used to call this book my ‘Bible’, I’d bring it everywhere and refer to passages regularly, (‘Page 15, section 2: ‘thou shall not eat fruit after carbs’). It was my first introduction to ‘wellness’, although the movement didn’t have any fancy terms, blogs and quiona back then.

One of my favorite things is the way Gillian breaks everything down into individual body parts:

  • Pealing nails= Means you many have a weak and over worked liver and you are recommended to introduce Milk Thistle into your diet.
  • Stinky poo= Points to stagnation in the large intestine and that you’re in need of a digestive enzyme after meals
  • Spots on chin= Means you have an hormonal imbalance in the reproductive area and you could do with a herb like agnus castus to correct it.

womancode

Womancode: In the last few months I’ve been slowly coming to the conclusion that a lot of women’s health issues (physical, mental and emotional) are due to our hormones being unbalanced, or out of ‘whack’ as a lot of other bloggers seem to say.  This book cemented this theory for me. The book discusses some really important topics and I think it’s a book we should all read (my copy is available if anyone wants a lend!)

Some of the stuff I learnt:

  • PCOS, endometriosis, low libido, infertility, cystic acne, PMS, cramps and irregular menstruation are not normal and are not things we should be expected to live with (a say whaaat?!)
  • These are all symptoms of unbalanced hormones.
  • Amazingly interesting things (which I actually can’t believe we didn’t learn in school!) about our monthly cycles and how we have different ‘powers’ and qualities at different times of the month depending on the balance of hormones in our system (e.g. we are proven to be more creative the 7 to 10 days following our periods and that’s the time we should brainstorm and try new foods and sports as we will most likely enjoy them).

Mind Over Medicine: I am currently reading this fascinating book all about how we can heal ourselves with the power of our minds- sounds a bit ‘out there’ but apparently its all backed by medical research as Lissa is a qualified doctor. I’ll report back here once finished.

Salt, Sugar, Fat: This is next on the reading list and I’m pretty excited about it as it provides insights into the big business that is the Food Industry. 

So, have any recommendations of other wellness books for me to read? Any suggestions are much appreciated 🙂

Clean Beauty Products- Shampoo Review

Clean2Through most of my teen and adult years I’ve been slapping endless bottles of  lotions, potions, fake tans, moisturisers, cellulite creams (useless but bloody expensive!), hair reducers, shaving creams and exfoliaters all over my body, being a marketers dreams and not once stopping for even a second to wonder what was in them or if there was a possibility the ingredient list could be anyway detrimental to me (more on that here)

So when I stumbled across the ‘Clean’ beauty product movement my initial reaction was, ‘naaaah, that can’t be right, Dove wouldn’t do that to me. It’s just another conspiracy theory from a pack of smelly hippies…’

But, even though I tried to silence it, one train of thought kept nagging at me as I slapped on my moisturisers and fake tans, ‘your skin is your biggest organ, it absorbs everything you put on it… can all this crap be good??‘.

Then it hit me, it was suddenly so blindingly obvious. Why the hell was I going out of my way to eat fresh, organic foods and reduce eating any products with unknown/ unpronounceable ingredients and then ruin it all by consistently slathering on unnatural substances and chemicals on a daily basis?

It was defo a personal ahh-ha moment (Oprah would be so proud!).

Anyway, I sent a mental apology to all the ‘conspiracy theorists’ I had been doubting and jumped firmly on the ‘Clean’ beauty regime. I blogged previously about all my new organic products but here’s a quick update.

My most recent purchase was Avalon Organics Glistening Shampoo.

shampoo1

I bought it in The Select Stores in Dalkey, Dublin for about €6 and am very happy with it. It has no parabens or the evil sodium lauryl/ laureith sulphateit, it smells good and it works just fine (it does take a bit longer then most shampoos to get a lather going but other then that it’s just spiffy!).

Dirt Cheap Epsom Salts

epsom salts1

In keeping with the last post about relaxation let me introduce you to the magic that is Epsom Salts. They are a brilliant detoxifier and a great way to turn your bath-time into a bonafide spa treatment!

All you need to do is pour 2 cups of the salts into your bath and soak for just 20 minutes to get the following benefits:

  1. Ease stress by replenishing magnesium in the body. Magnesium helps produce serotonin, a mood elevating chemical.
  2. Ease PMS
  3. Flush out toxins and heavy metals from the system- great when doing a detox
  4. Relieve cold symptoms
  5. Relax and ease muscles
  6. Reduce inflammation
  7. Relieve pain and headaches
  8. Relieve asthma
  9. Treat bruises

Here’s Epsom Salts secret sauce… it’s sooo bleedin’ cheap! I bought a massive tub from The Health Store for about 2 yoyos!

Epsom saltsP.S. I wouldn’t bother wasting money on the ‘Dead Sea Spa Magik’ brand which is sold in most pharmacies around Ireland, as it’s double the cost and seems to do the same job as the less fancy looking Mr Epsom.

P.P.S When I’m having a bath I tend to leave out the harsh and drying Bubble Bath and replace it with a few drops of yummy lavender essential oil instead.

Sneaky Synthetic Supplements

supplimentsBleedin heck, they’ve gone and fooled me again.

I’ve been taking a Multivitamin for months now, each day gulping down a little pale pink tablet, feeling all smug with the thought that I’m getting all ’23 essential vitamins and minerals’ in one go. Then my wellness bubble went and spectacularly burst, splattering against the wall and sliding down into a pool of creepy synthetics.

The reason for this was I’ve recently read how not all multivitamins are created equal and the majority of store-bought supplements are made up mostly of synthetic ingredients, which can do more harm than good. What’s the problem you ask? Basically synthetic versions of vitamins are created in test tubes and contain chemical compounds that do not occur in nature.

I checked, and each and bleedin everyone of the following ‘Synthetic Vitamins to Avoid appeared on the ingredient list of my empty ‘Sanatogen A-Z Complete Multivitamin’ bottle! Gurrrr.

  • Vitamin A: Acetate and Palmitate
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Thiamine Mononitrate, Thiamine Hydrochloride
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Riboflavin
  • Pantothenic Acid: Calcium D-Pantothenate
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
  • Vitamin B12: Cobalamin
  • PABA (Para-aminobenzoic Acid): Aminobenzoic Acid
  • Folic Acid: Pteroylglutamic Acid
  • Choline: Choline Chloride, Choline Bitartrate
  • Biotin: d-Biotin
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): Ascorbic Acid
  • Vitamin D: Irradiated Ergosteral, Calciferol
  • Vitamin E: dl-alpha tocopherol, dl-alpha tocopherol acetate or succinate

I was majorly peeved when I learnt all this as one of the main themes of my ‘wellness journey’ is to stay away from adding any man-made chemicals into my system- and then I go and take a pill chock-a-block full of them?! I mean I’m taking a multivitamin to nourish my system, not pump it with synthetics! 😦 But now that I was more aware I wanted a natural multivitamin, stat.

So my investigation to find a natural multivitamin available here in Ireland began. I started in the place most modern day ‘investigations’ begin and googled high and low, to no avail. I then asked John, the owner of my favourite Organic Shop ‘Eco Logic’ what he thought and he recommended the good people of the Hobsack, Swan Centre, Rathmines.

thehobsack

A very knowledgeable lady in there recommended Terra Nova’s Living Multinutrient Complex (a bottle of 50 cost €15.99). This still isn’t 100% clean of synthetics but is a great improvement on what else is available out there, I was also impressed with the natural ingredient list (including green tea, kale, watercress, turmeric, acai berry etc.).

suppliments4

I left the Hob Sack with my new multivitamin, Vitamin D spray (for himself) and a yummy, freshly made beetroot, carrot and ginger juice, enveloped again in my happy Wellness Bubble.

And so my hunt for a 100% clean multivitamin continues, but once I’ve found one I’ll report back!

Coconut Oil strikes again!

coconutoil1I’ve blogged about ze coconuts before but I’ve come across another amazing use for Coconut Oil through some research into Ayurveda (an ancient Indian practice for alternative medicine/ lifestyle) which I feel the need to tell yis about.

It involves applying your body lotion before getting into the shower. A say wha?! Wait until you try it, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing this your whole life!

Steps to slidey silky skin:

  • Melt two or three table spoons of coconut oil by sitting the solid coconut in a glass jar in boiled water.

meltedcoconutoil

  • Once melted, rub the oil all over yerself (be warned, if, like me, you spill droplets of the oil it turns solid pretty quickly and you’ll end up with waxy spots all over your bathroom! So be careful!)
  • Then try yer very best to stand in the nip for as long as possible, 20 minutes if you can stand our cold miserable weather!
  • Then hop into a hot shower. The steam will open your pores and the oil will get deep into them.
  • When you get out of the shower dry yourself off and marvel at how silky smooth your skin is!

Leave me a comment below if you tried this, or if you have any questions – I’m only dying to hear from you! Oh and if you’re interested in being kept up to date with ‘The Wellness Cloud’ click on the ‘Follow’ tab at the very bottom! Spanks 🙂

Enter Tea Tree Oil

tea tree1

I’ve suffered from cystic acne for most of my twenties. Every month or so I would get this eruption on my chin, the roots of which could be felt right down my throat. The spot would sit on my chin all red, painful and aggressive for days on end before forming a white head, bursting (with a little help from it’s friends), getting scabby, before slowly, ever so slowly, receding. (Sorry if you read that description while eating.)
I’ve spent a small fortune trying every spot cream under the sun, EVERYTHING. But nothing would work. Until today…
Before I go any further I just want to mention I don’t for a minute think Tea Tree is the only contributor here. I largely put my newly well behaved chin down to some research into ‘Face Mapping’ (blog post here) and everything I’ve said in my ‘Belly First’ post. However, even with my cleaned up diet, I was still getting these regular confidence killers on my chin… Enter Tea Tree Oil!
Now when I start to feel the familiar painful/ numbing sensation I douse a cotton ball in Tea Tree Oil and rub it on to the area each morning and night (and don’t touch it during the day). I’m delighra to say that (so far) this method has resulted in my spots disintegrating away, all defeated and embarrassed, before they can even get started. Yippee!!

The Good the Bad and the Ugly of Clean Products

Clean1

A week or two ago I posted a blog on why I’m moving to Clean beauty products and suggested I’d write a review of the Clean products I’m currently using… tada, here it is!

Generally most of the stuff I’ve converted to is absolutely brilliant, but, as with most things, there have been a few dodgy ones.

The Good

  • Coconut Oil– An all around winner for cleansing and moisturising!
  • Tea Tree Oil– I’m actually going to do a blog post on this stuff alone. It’s amazing and has solved (fingers crossed!!) my regular cystic acne on my chin.
  • Trilogy Rose Hip Oil– Can you see a trend happening here? I’m in love with oils! This stuff is great for anyone with dry skin. I use about 3 drops of it each night  (no need for a moisturiser) and my skin feels lovely and hydrated getting into bed.
  • Say Yes to Carrots Conditioner– Love this stuff. I bought it in a Pharmacy up in the Beacon Court and love that I only need to use a tiny bit and my hair feels great. Before I switched I was using the Gold Elvive bottle and it was literally making me look like Wednesday from the Adams family with lank and slimy hair (no offence Wednesday)
  • Trilogy Face Moisturiser, looove this stuff!! It smells so good and again I only need a tiny bit in the mornings and my normally extremely dry and often flaky skin is happy all day
  • Voya Cleanser– Another nice creamy, smelly one. However it’s meant to be washed off and my skin is too sensitive to be washed each night, I end up getting red pimply things across my cheeks. So the hunt continues once this bottle is finished.
  • The Green People Shampoo- After years of using the same brand of shampoo- Head and Shoulders (due to an irrational fear of Dandruff!), I’m enjoying branching out. Again very little is needed to clean my long hair and it’s doing the job nicely without any fan fair or attention seeking!

The Bad

  • Faith in Nature Shower Gel– It’s probably not fair, but this is going in this category due to the fact I picked up a ‘Tea Tree’ smelling bottle (as the options were pretty rubbish). Although I love Tea Tree Oil as a spot remover, it’s a pretty pungent smell and one that I don’t enjoy smelling of all day… when I did use it my mother told me I smelled of mothballs and himself asked ‘what the hell is that smell?!’
  • Moo Goo Body Lotion– Again classing this ‘bad’ isn’t very fair as it’s perfectly OK, it’s just not for me. It’s made from Ozzy cow’s milk and is meant to be great for people with skin conditions (e.g. Eczema, Atopic Dermatitis, Psoriasis). However I found it too thick as it took ages to sink down into my skin. Also I love my Coconut Oil too much to use anything else for the time being!!

The Ugly

  • The very first clean product I bought was a tube of fluoride free toothpaste (after realising that SLS was in my Colgate). So I bought The Green People’s toothpaste. I had heard some shockingly bad reviews from friends about clean toothpastes (one found a fly, an actual whole fly, in their Clean toothpaste!!) but I ploughed ahead anyway. My main problem with SLS free toothpastes are that they don’t foam. While that’s OK from my Clean shampoo and shower gel (when I get one I like!) I just cant handle it from my toothpaste. Also my breath started to smell after a few hours. I’m obsessive about brushing my teeth (after 4 years of train track braces and not being able to get at them) and this was just one Wellness step too far for me.

The Innocent Looking Tampon

Guess how many tampons we approximately use in a lifetime? Go on, just guess.

…12,000!! Seriously, twelve flippen thousand tampons over our life time! But then again, I suppose that makes sense, they’re a product that most women need on a monthly basis for approximately 40 years of their lives.

Without being too graphic, it’s safe to say that these 12,000 products go into a very intimate and delicate place. We’re not talking application of foot cream or nail varnish here. We’re talking about the most absorbent part of our body. So obviously you’d like to know the tampons you’re using are safe and totally harmless right? Or maybe you’ve never given this topic a second thought? Keep reading, I command you! 🙂

You know the way tampons are made almost entirely by cotton? What if I was to tell you that cotton is the world’s dirtiest crop, that it is sprayed with 25% of the world’s pesticide- more than any other crop. That the pesticides it’s continuously sprayed with include, among others: insecticides, fungicide and herbicides.

I mean this is grand (ish) when the cotton is used to make the jumper you’re wearing, but when it’s used in something that’s getting intimate with you, multiplied by 12,000 times?

cotton1

If you thought that was bad, how about this- if your regular tampon has a plastic applicator it’s made from petroleum products, which will also contain plasticisers, which is an additive which makes the plastic pliable and which therefore contains Phthalates (a large family of industrial chemicals). High exposures to Phthalates for women of childbearing age are proven to create a risk of reproductive birth defects and other scary health effects.

It’s also been proven that continued exposure to these chemicals can worsen period pains, PMS, and aggravate symptoms of endometritis, polycystic ovaries and other fertility issues.

Lastly (and the picture I’ve posted below illustrates this pretty well) when conventional tampons (the one on the left) are placed in a glass of water, small bits of the cotton breaks off and floats off in the water… Do you get what I’m saying here without having me spell it out? BITS OF CHEMICAL LADEN COTTON FlOAT OFF INTO YOUR LADY PARTS!!… Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

But don’t despair. None of this happens with Organic tampons (the one on the right) which are made from clean, non processed cotton and uses a safe carboard applicator.

tampon2

And that’s why, in my quest to become Clean, the very first product I replaced was my tampons. I now use Natracare tampons (which again can be picked up in any health store and cost about €2.25 for 10) and am promising myself (and future me) that I’ll never compromise on this again.Tampon1

Ok, rant over (cue sighs of relief all around).

More on this topic can be seen on this video of Nat Kringoudis (a fertility expert) talking to Aimee Marks, the founder of TOM Organic (an Ozzy Organic Tampon company).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BNmmH3kqZHQ

Or for more on Natracare

http://www.natracare.com/en-GB/

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