Earth Day, Five Ways!

Earth Day, Five Ways!

Earth Day is a great time for families to learn more about the environment as well as other topics that relate to our planet. There are many activities that can provide a unique combination of educational opportunities and fun for people of all ages. Costs are often low or completely free for everyone.

Recycling

Families can go through their neighborhood and collect any litter that is recyclable. This activity allows parents to teach children about the importance of recycling, which reduces the amount of trash that enters landfills. For added safety, adults should never allow children to touch objects before they can be inspected.

Beach Cleanup

A visit to the beach is always fun. Spice up your next beach visit by taking the time to clean up the surrounding area. Parents can use this as a chance to educate children about the importance of preserving these natural resources. Some beaches schedule events that allow many families to participate at various locations.

Visit a Museum

There are many museums that offer Earth Day-related activities. Many of these locations are primarily devoted to subjects like natural history. Some locations include sessions that give children the opportunity to safely interact with live animals.

Hiking

Hiking offers a peaceful way to learn about nature. Parents can teach their children about plants as well as animals that appear in the area. Regular stops along the trail give each participant time to take in these surroundings and discuss what they have learned.

Gardening

Establishing a small backyard garden helps families learn about the ecosystem. Children can spread flower seeds out in various patterns. As time goes on, parents as well as their children can maintain various aspects of the garden.

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References

Earth Day Education For Parents; Earth Day Network; Accessed March 21, 2014

Fun Earth Day Activities And Traditions; Earth.Com; Accessed March 21, 2014

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A Brief History of Earth Day

Earth DayEarth Day offers a way to learn more about the environment – including the plants and wildlife that make up our planet. Many people are unaware of how the holiday first came about. Its origins represented a new movement that would change awareness of environmental issues for future generations.

Gaylord Nelson

U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson is considered to be the driving influence behind establishing the holiday. His attention toward environmental concerns grew after a major oil spill occurred in Santa Barbara, California. The area faced the consequences of a large disaster involving the oil industry. Over time, the senator was able to convince both Democrats and Republicans to help him increase awareness of this important topic.

The First Earth Day

Americans first celebrated Earth Day on April 22, in 1970. The day featured various activities designed with an emphasis on improving the environment. Clean up groups gathered to take care of areas such as parks and beaches. Protests addressed issues such as pollution by major corporations as well as local companies.

The Environmental Protection Agency

The establishment of Earth Day had a significant influence on federal and state regulations. Lawmakers, including Gaylord Nelson, pushed to find a way of monitoring issues that directly affected the planet. The Environmental Protection Agency was formed in December 1970 and continues to be an important force in writing as well as enforcing environmentally related laws.

International Celebrations

Earth Day has spread throughout the world to almost two hundred countries. Millions of people have a participated in events that draw attention to problems in their specific area, while maintaining a broad look at the planet.

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References

Earth Day and EPA History; United States Environmental Protection Agency ; Accessed March 20,2014

Roach, John; Earth Day Facts: When It Is, How It Began, What To Do; National Geographic; Accessed March 20, 2014

Earth Day: The History of A Movement; Earth Day Network; Accessed March 20,2014

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Five At-Home Stress Busters

Stress Awareness Month

The month of April is Stress Awareness Month, so iHerb would like to take this opportunity to help spread awareness by providing information and lifestyle suggestions that could be helpful towards managing your day to day stress. For this article, here are five at home stress busters that you can do to help you get in a more relaxed frame of mind.

Five At-Home Stress Busters

Stress is a serious problem that can lead to major health issues over time. Recent studies have found that various levels of stress have a direct connection to heart attacks as well as high blood pressure. Using just one of the following five stress busters can help people overcome these issues.

Exercise

Exercising is a healthy way to get over stress. Many exercises can be done at home and require no additional equipment. Programs are available through internet companies and TV services that also present guidance about specific routines. These selections often have additional fees but may be useful for people new to this method. Try a yoga class; get golfing tips; jump rope.

Take a Hot Bath

This is an easy way to change moods and enhance relaxation. Various bath products — such as aromatic oils — can be used for added enjoyment. Candles may provide a relaxing mood, but should be carefully monitored. Make sure that water remains at the same temperature as long as possible to increase effectiveness. Add Epsom salt to soothe sore muscles.

Meditation

Meditation is a quick and easy way to reduce stress. There is no standard pose to take. People can sit in chairs or on the floor during this activity. Each participant should concentrate on breathing methods during each moment. Sessions can last as long as someone wants to take advantage of this option.

Read a Book

Reading a book or a magazine is a simple choice for increasing relaxation. Try to find text that does not deal with stressful or violent topics to better promote relaxation.

Listen to Music

Find music that quickly calms the senses. The choice will depend on what each person is searching for and what they consider favorite songs or compositions. Selections from classical music are often praised for their stress-reducing properties.

 Click here to see iHerb’s selection of Stress and Mood Support Products! New to iHerb? Use Coupon Code WOW123 to get $5 off any first time order of $40 or less or $10 off any first time order of over $40.

References

Moninger, Jeannette; 10 Relaxation Techniques That Zap Stress Fast; WebMD; Accessed March 21, 2014

Morin, Kate; 23 Scientifically-Backed Ways to Reduce Stress Right Now; Huffington Post; Accessed March 21, 2014

Everett, Jenny; Stress Relief 10 Ways to Relieve Stress; Womens Health; Accessed March 21, 2014

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How to Get Rid of White Spots on Nails

How to Get Rid of White Spots on Nails

White spots on either the fingernails or toenails — commonly referred to as leukonychia, can have a variety of different causes: deficiencies in minerals stemming from illness or poor eating habits; fungal growth, and in some cases, wearing footwear that does not properly fit. However, these spots or lines can often be treated with over-the-counter or at-home natural remedies.

Determining the Cause

One of the first steps in getting rid of white spots on the nails is to determine the cause. Inspecting the nails closely is recommended to rule out a fungal condition. For example, if the white spots are accompanied by thickening of the nail or other changes, fungus may be to blame. However, if there has been no recent trauma or sign of a fungal infection, taking a good look at the diet can help.

Remedies

There are several different remedies that can be used safely and conveniently in the home to get rid of white spots on the nail. When a fungal infection is present, the first mode of treatment is generally to apply a topical anti-fungal product. Tea tree oil is a natural alternative to many topical anti-fungals, which may contain chemicals such as miconazole. However, supplementing the diet with mineral-rich foods or supplements — such as zinc, calcium, phosphorous and magnesium, may be recommended if diet is a cause.

Treatment

Getting rid of white spots on the fingernails or toenails is not something that occurs immediately. It may take weeks or months to obtain the desired results. If the problem was a mineral deficiency, maintaining adequate amounts through diet or supplementation is recommended. If, after several weeks of taking mineral supplements or using topical solutions, there is no change in the spots, it may be wise to consult with your primary care physician.

Click here to see iHerb’s selection of Nail Care Products! New to iHerb? Use Coupon Code WOW123 to get $10 off any first time order with a minimum $40 purchase or $5 off for orders less than $40.

Reference

MDHealth; White Spots on Toenails; MD Health.com; accessed February 10, 2014

The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide; Toenail Problems; Accessed April 16, 2014

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Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Chocolate Quinoa Cake
Photo and Recipe From Joanne Choi of the Week of Menus Blog

Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Ingredients
(serves 16)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line two round 8-inch pans with parchment paper and grease well.
  2. Combine the milk, eggs, quinoa, and espresso powder in a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth. Add the butter and continue to blend until smooth.
  3. Whisk together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl or in a mixer. Add the contents of the blender and mix well.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans and bake on the center oven rack for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely in the pan.
  5. Once cake is fully cooled, turn out of pan.  Dust with powdered sugar and serve with berries on its own.

Chocolate Quinoa Cake
 
Author:
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, any color (cook ⅔ cup uncooked quinoa in 1 ⅓ cup of water)
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 Tbs. espresso powder
  • ¾ cup (12 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1-1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two round 8-inch pans with parchment paper and grease well.
  2. Combine the milk, eggs, quinoa, and espresso powder in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the butter and continue to blend until smooth.
  3. Whisk together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl or in a mixer. Add the contents of the blender and mix well.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans and bake on the center oven rack for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely in the pan.
  5. Once cake is fully cooled, turn out of pan. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with berries on its own.

 

iHerb sells thousands of natural food items, everything from stevia to gluten free flours to much more!  Click here to take a look at our product offerings.  If  you’re new to iHerb, you can use Coupon Code WOW123 to get $10 off your first order with a minimum $40 purchase or $5 off orders less than $40.

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The Antifungal Properties of Garlic

National Garlic Month

April is National Garlic Month and while it’s one strong-smelling and pungent-tasting bulb, it has many uses. First, it can be used as flavoring or as an ingredient in cooking. Second, there are also health benefits to supplementing with garlic. For example, did you know that garlic has antifungal properties? To learn more, read on.

The Antifungal Properties of Garlic

Garlic has been used in food for years as a flavor enhancer. Historically, it has also been used as a folk remedy for many types of ailments. For example, there’s been some success with the use of garlic to lower blood pressure and reduce plaque in blood vessels. While studies have shown mixed results, Louis Pasteur showed many years ago that a compound of garlic is clearly able to kill bacteria.

In addition to killing bacteria, garlic also has antifungal properties, especially on fungal infections that attack the skin, such as athlete’s foot. For athlete’s foot and similar tough to treat skin infections, a 1 percent solution of ajoene (an active ingredient in garlic that kills fungus) is as effective as Lamosil, a popular treatment for this condition. A 0.6 percent solution applied to the skin may wipe out jock itch and ringworm.

Garlic has some limitations: Topical use of garlic can burn the skin. Garlic also has a blood thinning effect, so you need to be careful when taking garlic if you are on any blood-thinning compounds or medications. This effect is lessened if you are only using garlic on the skin’s surface, but some take garlic powder or supplements as well.

Products can be made “odorless” by aging the garlic, but this process may make the garlic less effective. For some conditions, it’s a good idea to look for supplements that are covered in an enteric coating — so they will dissolve in the intestine rather than stomach.

Click here to see iHerb’s selection of Garlic Products! New to iHerb? Use Coupon Code WOW123 to get $10 off any first time order with a minimum $40 purchase or $5 off for orders less than $40.

Resources

Ledezma E, DeSousa L, Jorquera A, et al; Efficacy of ajoene, an organosulphur derived from garlic, in the short-term therapy of tinea pedis; National Center for Biotechnology Information; accessed April 2, 2014

Ledezma E, Marcano K, Jorquera A, et al; Efficacy of ajoene in the treatment of tinea pedis: a double-blind and comparative study with terbinafine; National Center for Biotechnology Information; accessed April 2, 2014

Web MD staff; Garlic; WebMD; accessed April 2, 2014

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Filed under Herbs and Supplements, Skin Health

How to Get Older Kids to Eat Healthier

How to Get Older Kids to Eat Healthier

Feeding our families nutritious meals after a long, hectic day can seem like an impossible task. But, there are ways that we can ensure that our children, especially our busy adolescents, are getting the vitamins and minerals they need.

In order to foster a love of healthful foods in our children and teens, it helps to include them in meal planning, ingredient shopping and recipe preparation. Speaking with our older children to find out what their favorite meals are and how those meals can be made healthier, will encourage them to think about their food choices and options.

When cooking with kids, it is important to engage them in the preparation of their food by asking them to read the recipes and peel, chop and measure ingredients.

If one of your child’s favorite meals is pasta, you can easily boost the nutrition of the dish by adding a variety of chopped, sauteed vegetables to the sauce. Good additions to pasta sauce include: mushrooms, bell peppers, peeled zucchini and summer squash. Substitute whole-grain pasta noodles for those made with refined flour to further improve the nutrition of the dish.

Most people are aware that darker varieties of rice are more nutritious than white or parboiled rice but do not care for the flavor or texture. By cooking rice in broth or stock, rather than plain water, you enhance the flavor of the rice while adding trace amounts of vitamins and minerals. You can then use this rice as a base for a multitude of entrees from chickpea and tomato curry to stir-fried chicken or tofu with vegetables.

Encourage your child to think of colors on their plate rather than food. Ask them to prepare a dinner menu that involves specific colors and give choices for each color such as sweet potatoes, carrots or salmon for orange; broccoli, green beans or chard for green; red cabbage, beets or blue potatoes for purple, etc.

With practice, your children will learn that a beautifully colorful plate equals a nutritious meal. Encourage healthful attitudes toward whole foods for the best nutrition your child can get.

iHerb sells thousands of natural food items, everything from stevia to gluten free flours to much more!  Click here to take a look at our product offerings.  If  you’re new to iHerb, you can use Coupon Code WOW123 to get $10 off your first order with a minimum $40 purchase or $5 off orders less than $40.

Reference

Mayo Clinic; Vitamin Deficiency Anemia; Accessed September 26, 2013

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Filed under Children's and Teen Health, Food (Benefits, Cooking and Nutrition)

Got Kelp? All About Kelp Noodles

All About Kelp Noodles

Kelp noodles seem to be popping up on restaurant menus and in shops that sell natural products everywhere. For many people, however, kelp noodles are still a new concept. While kelp noodles might not initially sound appealing, they actually have a variety of health benefits that could make them worth your while.

The Raw Food Craze

Literally made from natural and cultivated kelp (just like the stuff found in the ocean), kelp noodles are commonly used as a substitute for pasta. Unlike regular pasta, kelp noodles are gluten free, which means they’re popular among people who are avoiding gluten for health reasons or who have gluten intolerances. Kelp noodles are also a popular substitute for pasta among individuals on a raw food diet — consuming only items that haven’t been cooked or heated.

Low Calorie Pasta Substitute

One of the biggest reasons people choose to eat kelp pasta is because it’s very low in calories. A whole serving of kelp noodles is so low in calories that it’s pretty much a “worry-free” food. In fact, a single serving of about 4 ounces of kelp noodles contains only 5 to 10 calories. Kelp noodles are also a low-carbohydrate food ideal for people on diets to lose weight. Despite their low calorie content, kelp noodles tend to make people feel full, potentially helping to boost weight loss.

High Nutrient Content

Kelp noodles might be low in calories but they do contain considerable nutrients. A serving of kelp noodles contains about 70 minerals, including iron, calcium, iodine, magnesium and potassium. One serving of kelp noodles provides about 4 percent of your daily iron needs, which is very high considering the incredibly low calorie content.

Click here to see iHerb’s selection of  Kelp Noodles! New to iHerb? Use Coupon Code WOW123 to get $10 off any first time order with a minimum $40 purchase or $5 off for orders less than $40.

References

Briggs, Allison; What Are the Health Properties of Kelp Noodles: Livestrong; accessed March 16, 2014

Wong, Cathy ND; Kelp Noodles: What You Need to Know About Kelp Noodles; About Alternative Medicine; accessed March 16, 2014

Catanese, Nicole; Should You Dive Into Kelp Noodles?; Refinery 29; accessed March 16, 2014

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What About the “Five Second Rule?”

5 Second Rule

The “five second rule for dropped food” is an interesting myth. No one is sure where it originated or why the rule is five seconds and not say, four seconds. However, studies have been undertaken to check out this myth.

Naturally, the studies yield conflicting information.

The first study was done by Jillian Clarke during her internship at the University of Illinois in 2003. She found that bacteria does attach to food immediately. She also found out that women are more likely to eat fallen food than men (perhaps they are the experts on floor cleanliness,) and that sweets were more likely to be saved than vegetables.

In 2007, a group of scientists at Clemson University decided to look at this issue again. First, they looked at how long bacteria that can make you sick can stay on a surface. They also looked at the various types of surfaces. They found, similarly, that bacteria are transferred immediately. However, surface made a difference. Carpets transferred less bacteria to the food, while other types of flooring such as tile, hardwood and linoleum all transferred bacteria in significant numbers. Also, the type of food made a difference. The more moist the food, the more bacteria were transferred. Also, the longer the item was in contact with the surface, the more bacteria were transferred.

However, in 2014, researchers at Aston University in Birmingham, England, essentially found the same results, yet stated that the chances of getting infected from foods exposed to the floor five seconds or less was negligible. While they found that moist foods pick up 20 times more bacteria, the scientists involved in this study feel the amount of bacteria picked up will not harm most people. So these two sets of researchers agree on the result, but disagree on their meaning and effect.

Where does that leave you, the consumer? Clearly, the safest bet is to throw the food out. You really can’t know what is on the floor. At home, you may feel safer, but do you know what bacteria you have brought into the house?

If you have a problem with your immune system or are dealing with a very young child, it is best not to take a chance. Further, most bacteria or viruses that will infect you can stand up to your stomach and enter the intestine intact. If your concern is whether or not infective bacteria can be transferred to the food, then the answer is yes, if the floor was contaminated. This happens the moment the food contacts the surface. The choice is yours. How well do you know your flooring?

Looking for vitamins, herbal supplements and other alternatives to help you keep a healthy balance in your life? Check out the thousands of products we sell at iHerb.com. Use Coupon Code WOW123 to get  you $10 off any first time order with a $40 minimum purchase or $5 off any first time order less than $40.

References

Whitman-Salkin, Sarah; Scientists Study What To Do If You Drop A Cookie On the Floor; National Geographic; accessed on March 20, 2014.

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Stress-Busting Supplements to the Rescue!

Stress Awareness Month

The month of April is Stress Awareness Month, so iHerb would like to take this opportunity to help spread awareness by providing information and lifestyle suggestions that could be helpful towards managing your day to day stress. For this article, let’s learn more about supplements could be beneficial in your stress management practices.

Stress-Busting Supplements to the Rescue!

Stress is something everybody deals with in their lives. In many cases, stress is a beneficial signal that lets you know a situation needs your attention. However, when stress becomes too frequent it can be difficult to deal with and take a toll on your mental and physical health, especially over prolonged periods of time.

If you feel like you have too much stress in your life, adding one of the five top supplements for fighting stress could be beneficial.

1. Vitamin B6

B vitamins are often depleted when you’re under stress, so taking a supplement can help you boost your intake. Another beneficial part of taking B vitamins is that they can give you more energy, which is one of the first things to go for many stressed-out individuals. B6 is the most effective, but a B-complex supplement can work as well.

2. Holy Basil

Holy basil might be new to you, but it’s been around for quite a while in natural food and medicine circles. Typically used for its anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, holy basil also helps to reduce cortisol levels in the body. Lower cortisol levels equal fewer side effects of stress.

3. Melatonin

One you’ve probably seen before, this natural cure-all has a variety of different uses. However, its main use by most Westerners is for getting a bit more sleep at night when feeling stressed and keyed up. It works because it naturally helps to shift the body’s clock back, making it ideal for shift workers and insomniacs. Follow dosage instructions properly when taking this supplement.

4. L-Theanine

An amino acid found in green tea, L-Theanine can help to reduce mental and physical stress while promoting relaxation. The supplement works by increasing GABA production, serotonin and dopamine in the body.

5. Rhodiola

Rhodiola is a natural herbal supplement that can help fight fatigue, boost your energy level and decrease your overall stress level.

 Click here to see iHerb’s selection of Stress and Mood Support Products! New to iHerb? Use Coupon Code WOW123 to get $5 off any first time order of $40 or less or $10 off any first time order of over $40.

References

Bhatia, Tasneem, M.D.; Supplements That Fight Stress; The Dr. Oz Show; accessed March 22, 2014

Borboa, Michele; Top 5 Stress-Busting Supplements; SheKnows; accessed March 22, 2014

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Filed under Stress Management