Anxiety disorders and depression are reaching epidemic proportions. Surpassing depression, 40% of adults and 12% of adolescents and teens have diagnosed anxiety disorders! To those who are not suffering, it is very hard to comprehend the illogical fears of those with these anxiety disorders. Some try to rationalize the fears of others and sometimes add, “just stop thinking that way”. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way for those who are suffering.
After having a baby, my hormones were all over the place! I never hated my life or my baby or myself, but I was scared...I was always fearing the worst. My thoughts would spiral out of control until I found a way to distract myself. My fears were mostly hormonal, but a little from experience, too. My father had a baby later in life with his third wife...when I was 16 years old, my half-brother went to sleep at 9 months old and never woke up. It tore at my heart then, but at 16, I couldn't possibly grasp the magnitude of the death of a new life, of what my father and step-mother have to bear. But now, as a mother, it tears at my soul. And it tore at my mind the first year of my baby's life. I feared leaving him alone...checking on him every few minutes. No one could convince me that he was fine or would be fine. Eventually things balanced out for me and I found relief from my spiraling thoughts, but for some it doesn't end so easily. As I see people suffering with these anxiety disorders, it breaks my heart; especially, children. I want to write this post hoping that it will help at least one person take a deeper look at what could be happening with their body.
Anxiety disorders can be linked to many things; hormones, chemical imbalances, past experiences, diseases, and many others. I wanted to give some insight into one significant factor because it is one that can changed: your gut health. Do you know that you have two brains? Obviously, there is the brain that inside your head, but did you know there is one in your gut, too? It is called the enteric nervous system(ENS). The ENS is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum. “The enteric nervous system doesn’t seem capable of thought as we know it, but it communicates back and forth with our big brain—with profound results,” explains Jay Pasricha, M.D. A new study from John Hopkins Medical Center has reported these “profound results”:
----The ENS may trigger big emotional shifts experienced by people coping with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional bowel problems such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pain and stomach upset. “For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems. But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around,” Pasricha says. Researchers are finding evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger mood changes.
“These new findings may explain why a higher-than-normal percentage of people with IBS and functional bowel problems develop depression and anxiety,” Pasricha says. “That’s important, because up to 30 to 40 percent of the population has functional bowel problems at some point.”----
Wow! What an amazing discovery that gut problems are CAUSING anxiety and depression!! For each person, the gut is home to about 1,000 trillium bacteria with which we live in harmony. These bacteria perform a number of functions vital to health: They harvest energy from the diet, protect against infections and provide nutrition to cells in the gut. Any disruption can result in life-threatening conditions(McMaster's University). Let's take a look at some of the foods and chemicals that cause disruptions in the gut leading to physical and mental diseases.
The results of this study have prompted the British Food Standards Agency (FSA) to issue an immediate advisory to parents, warning them to limit their children's intake of additives if they notice an effect on behavior. They’re also advising the food industry to voluntarily remove the six food dyes named in the study by the end of 2009, and replace them with natural alternatives if possible.
The U.S., however, has not followed suit in issuing any similar warnings to American parents.”(Mercola)
If the government won't warn you, then, I will. So here is an annoyingly long list of things to avoid. You can scroll down past it, but I highly recommend you print it out and carry it with you when you are shopping to make things a little easier:
Food Additives to Avoid:
Sodium nitrate: Added to processed meats to stop bacterial growth. Linked to cancer in humans. (Worst Offender)
Sulfites: Used to keep prepared foods fresh. Can cause breathing difficulties in those sensitive to the ingredient.
Azodicarbonamide: Used in bagels and buns. Can cause asthma.
Potassium bromate: Added to breads to increase volume. Linked to cancer in humans.
Propyl gallate: Added to fat-containing products. Linked to cancer in humans
BHA/BHT: A fat preservative, used in foods to extend shelf life. Linked to cancerous tumor growth.
Propylene glycol: Better known as antifreeze. Thickens dairy products and salad dressing. Deemed ‘generally’ safe by FDA.
Butane: Put in chicken nuggets to keep them tasting fresh. A known carcinogen.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG): Flavor enhancer that can cause headaches. Linked in animal studies to nerve damage, heart problems and seizures.
Disodium inosinate: In snack foods. Contains MSG.
Disodium guanylate: Also used in snack foods, and contains MSG.
Enriched flour: Used in many snack foods. A refined starch that is made from toxic ingredients.
Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH): Geneticially-engineered version of natural growth hormone in cows. Boosts milk production in cows. Contains high levels of IGF-1, which is thought cause various types of cancer.
Refined vegetable oil: Includes soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, canola oil, and peanut oil. High in omega-6 fats, which are thought to cause heart disease and cancer.
Sodium benzoate: Used as a preservative in salad dressing and carbonated beverages. A known carcinogen and may cause damage our DNA.
Brominated vegetable oil: Keeps flavor oils in soft drinks suspended. Bromate is a poison and can cause organ damage and birth defects. Not required to be listed on food labels.
Propyl gallate: Found in meats, popcorn, soup mixes and frozen dinners. Shown to cause cancer in rats. Banned in some countries. Deemed safe by FDA.
Olestra: Fat-like substance that is unabsorbed by the body. Used in place of natural fats in some snack foods. Can cause digestive problems, and also not healthy for the heart.
Carrageenan: Stabilizer and thickening agent used in many prepared foods. Can cause ulcers and cancer.
Polysorbate 60: A thickener that is used in baked goods. Can cause cancer in laboratory animals.
Camauba wax: Used in chewing gums and to glaze certain foods. Can cause cancer and tumors.
Magnesium sulphate: Used in tofu, and can cause cancer in laboratory animals.
Chlorine dioxide: Used in bleaching flour. Can cause tumors and hyperactivity in children.
Paraben: Used to stop mold and yeast forming in foods. Can disrupt hormones in the body, and could be linked to breast cancer.
Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose: Used as a thickener in salad dressings. Could cause cancer in high quantities.
Aluminum: A preservative in some packaged foods that can cause cancer.
Artificial Sweeteners to Avoid:
Saccharin: Carcinogen found to cause bladder cancer in rats. (Worst Offender)
Aspartame: An excitotoxin and thought to be a carcinogen. Can cause dizziness, headaches, blurred vision and stomach problems.
High fructose corn syrup: Sweetener made from corn starch. Made from genetically-modified corn. Causes obesity, diabetes, heart problems, arthritis and insulin resistance.
Acesulfame potassium: Used with other artificial sweeteners in diet sodas and ice cream. Linked to lung and breast tumors in rats.
Sucralose: Splenda. Can cause swelling of liver and kidneys and a shrinkage of the thymus gland.
Agave nectar: Sweetener derived from a cactus. Contains high levels of fructose, which causes insulin resistance, liver disease and inflammation of body tissues.
Bleached starch: Can be used in many dairy products. Thought to be related to asthma and skin irritations.
Tert butylhydroquinone: Used to preserve fish products. Could cause stomach tumors at high doses.
Artificial Food Colorings to Avoid:
Red #40: Found in many foods to alter color. All modern food dyes are derived from petroleum. A carcinogen that is linked to cancer in some studies. Also can cause hyperactivity in children. Banned in some European countries. (Worst Offender)
Blue #1: Used in bakery products, candy and soft drinks. Can damage chromosomes and lead to cancer.
Blue #2: Used in candy and pet food beverages. Can cause brain tumors
Citrus red #1: Sprayed on oranges to make them look ripe. Can damage chromosomes and lead to cancer.
Citrus red #2: Used to color oranges. Can cause cancer if you eat the peel.
Green #3: Used in candy and beverages. May cause bladder tumors.
Yellow #5: Used in desserts, candy and baked goods.Thought to cause kidney tumors, according to some studies.
Yellow #6: A carcinogen used in sausage, beverages and baked goods. Thought to cause kidney tumors, according to some studies.
Red #2: A food coloring that may cause both asthma and cancer.
Red #3: A carcinogen. that is added to cherry pie filling, ice cream and baked goods. May cause nerve damage and thyroid cancer.
Caramel coloring: In soft drinks, sauces, pastries and breads. When made with ammonia, it can cause cancer in mice. Food companies not required to disclose if this ingredient is made with ammonia.
Brown HT: Used in many packaged foods. Can cause hyperactivity in children, asthma and cancer.
Orange B: A food dye that is used in hot dog and sausage casings. High doses are bad for the liver and bile duct.
Bixin: Food coloring that can cause hyperactivity in children and asthma.
Norbixin: Food coloring that can cause hyperactivity in children and asthma.
Annatto: Food coloring that can cause hyperactivity in children and asthma.
3. ANIMAL PRODUCTS: Animal products contain Omega-6 fatty acids, also called arachidonic acids. Arachidonic acid is a non-essential fatty acid, which means our bodies make it themselves without needing it in our diets. When we eat foods rich in arachidonic acid like poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs our bodies have an excess. An excess of arachidonic acid produces inflammation in the digestive tract and the rest of the body; especially, the brain. “In the Journal of Lipid Research study, Dr. Green in collaboration with Dr Gal Yadid of Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, used the Flinders Sensitive Line rats to investigate the link between omega-3 fatty acids and depression. They examined the brains of the depressed rats and compared them with brains from normal rats. Surprisingly, they found that the main difference between the two types of rats was in omega-6 fatty acid levels and not omega-3 fatty acid levels. Specifically, they discovered that brains from rats with depression had higher concentrations of arachidonic acid, a long-chain unsaturated metabolite of omega-6 fatty acid. (moodfoods)” Another study was done that removed poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs from the diets of participants and within 2 weeks they eliminated their symptoms of depression and anxiety!!
You are probably feeling like I want to blame all of the world's problems on food...you are right, I do! But, I'm not saying these things without a ton of scientific evidence to back it up! When it comes to your health; especially, your child's health, you have to take a look at all of the evidence and information and make informed, intelligent choices. I'm not asking you to take my word for it...do the research yourself. You have control over your health.
Peace, Love, Plants,
A friend recommended a restaurant to me, “They have vegan options!” We didn't get a chance to check it out for a few months. We don't go out to dinner very often. Mostly, during the hockey season as we travel around for my son's games. I get really tired of black bean burgers and veggie wraps, but my friend promised this place had different options. Do you get a little nervous eating at new restaurants? I do! But isn't it amazing when you find a diamond in the rough?! If you live anywhere near Olean, NY you have to try this place out: Four Mile Brewing!! Not only is their food spectacular, the beer is delicious! I had a mango wheat Belgian white and it was so good. BUT not as good as the vegan philly cheese steak!! Oh my gosh, this wrap was spot on! They make their seitan (re: fake meat) in house and it is the BEST I have ever tasted! It came with a side of broccoli slaw that was equally as delicious! So GO, try this wrap and get a beer while you are there!
Of course, I wanted to try to recreate that amazing sandwich...my version didn't taste the same, but it was just as delicious and I wanted to share the recipe with you! It is a little time consuming; however, it is easy and so worth it! I've made it super easy to follow along with pictures so you can see exactly what each step should look like!
While the veggies are sauteing, work up the "cheese sauce". The Cheese Sauce is super easy and delicious:
1 Medium Sweet Potato (peel, dice-1/2 cubes, and saute in water for 15 minutes until softened)
-when the sweet potatoes are cool add to a blender with:
1/4 cup of non-dairy milk
3 Tablespoons of Nutritional Yeast
1 Tablespoon of Oil
2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice
1/2 Tablespoon of Sriracha
1/2 teaspoon of Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt
-Blend until Smooth
I choose broccoli slaw as my side. This is one of my favorite sides; especially during the summer! Here is the dressing recipe:
You could choose any veggies you like, but I like this one with Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Shredded Carrots. I chopped the broccoli and cauliflower very small.
Stir it up! I served the Philly Cheese Steak on whole wheat tortillas, but you could choose any roll or wrap you like!
Seriously, make this!! It is so freaking delicious!!
Peace, Love, Plants,
Recipe Adapted from The Edgy Veg
Vegan Philly Cheese Steak
Has your sneezing begun? It has in our house, which has led to a few sore throats. The trees are sporting buds and soon we will see dandelions. All that new life leads to pollen and allergies. Allergies aren't a huge issue with us, but as each new season blooms we feel it with some sniffles and sneezes. We've been blessed through the winter season with no illnesses so I will take the sneezing and sore throat without too much complaint!
I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some of the wonderful healing gifts Mother Nature has to offer and for most of us they are growing in our backyards! There are so many wonderful things growing around us that we can harvest, for FREE!! Today, I'm going to share two of those that I harvest each year in my own backyard. I like to call myself a backyard apothecary because as the gifts of growth are given to me, I reap the rewards. And by reap, I mean hoard. I have been know to spend hours picking “weeds”.
Let's start with my favorite and not because it's fun to pick; in fact, it can be down right painful! Have you been walking through the woods when you just slightly rubbed against some green leafy vegetation and find your ankle burning and itching like you've been stung by 10 bees and bitten by 100 mosquitoes, all at the same time?!?! That jewel is called stinging nettle and you've probably heard of it if you are a hiker; it is one you are always trying to avoid! Take a look at all those little stinging hairs!! “The tiny sharp stinging hairs which densely cover the leaves and stems act as miniature syringes that inject a mixture of histamine, formic acid, and acetycholine into the skin; these irritating chemicals cause burning, itching, and even blistering to the skin.”*
Not pleasant, right?! Well, don't judge a book by its cover! This “weed” has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. Greek physicians used nettle as a diuretic and laxative. “The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (ca. 23-79 A.D.) reported its use as a counter irritant and effective remedy for chronic rheumatic pain, muscle paralysis, and sciatica.”*Currently, it is being used in Germany where “clinical trials have demonstrated that dried stem and leaf nettle extract taken internally is effective in addressing pain associated with rheumatic complaints.”* In the United States, dried nettles are used as a component in formulating herbal supplements for addressing hay fever and allergies. And this is how we use them!! Studies have found that nettle tea can be as effective or even more effective than common over the counter allergy medicines like Benadryl, Claritin, Allegra, etc.
My son now asks for nettle tea when he feels the sneezes and sore throat coming on. He finds relief within 30 minutes and it lasts for about 6 hours. But the amazing thing is, for his mild allergies, he only needs to drink the tea a few times a day for a few days and the allergies seem to disappear for months! The BEST part of all is that there are NO bad side effects to nettles, only GOOD!! Nettles are packed full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. I've found the easiest and most common way to consume them is through nettle tea. I usually make a big pot on the stove and store it in the refrigerator to have as iced tea. My recipe is 4 cups of water to 1 cup of dried nettles and a little honey for sweetness; boil for 20 minutes.
Nettles can be consumed like other green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, cooked or raw; however, it takes some skill to eat them raw as you will have to learn some tricks to avoid those stinging hairs!! Speaking of those stinging hairs, if you want to harvest and dry your nettles you have to be prepared for picking. Wear gloves and pants! These plants usually grow together and get thick so you will need to wade through them. I use pruning shears and always wear gloves. I still get pricked from time to time as those little hairs are resilient and will poke through my gloves or find my exposed skin. They tend to grow in sunny places where there is rich, moist soil. You’ll find them growing along rivers, streams, lakes, ditches, fence-rows, and on the edges of cultivated farm fields. (you shouldn't have any trouble finding them; they are everywhere!). Avoid picking them along roadways and areas where you know pesticides are sprayed.
It's best to harvest nettles in the spring before they have flowered because they tend to become bitter after flowering. Not interested in picking your own? You can also buy them in bulk here. If you are on any medications, always consult your doctor before consuming medicinal herbs as there may be some interference. Nettles have a diuretic effect and will interact with diuretic medication. Nettles can also interfere with these medications: blood thinners (nettles contain a lot of Vitamin K which can help the blood's ability to clot), drugs for high blood pressure (nettles reduce blood pressure), NSAIDs (nettles are anti-inflammatory and will increase NSAIDs effects), and Lithium (nettles are a diuretic and may interfere with the body's ability to remove these drugs).
Have you heard of plantain? If you have, you are probably thinking of the things that look like bananas, but aren't bananas. I'm referring to the really cool “weed” that I'm willing to bet grows in everyone's yards. Look familiar?
As you can see there are two different looking plants, but they both have amazing medicinal properties! My favorite way to use this extraordinary plant is after a bug bite or bee sting! After you've been stung or bitten, rip off a leaf, chew it up a bit to release the compounds, and then apply it to the affected area. Allow it to sit on the area for 5-10 minutes and before you know it your bee sting no longer hurts or your bug bite no longer itches! It really is amazing!! It can also be applied to minor cuts and scrapes as plantain has anti-inflammatory effects, and it is also rich in tannin (which helps draw tissues together to stop bleeding) and allantoin (a compound that promotes healing of injured skin cells). The leaves of plantain as well as the juice have been widely used as topical substances in poultices and lotions for treating sunburns, stings, insect bites, snakebites, poison ivy breakouts, rashes, burns, blisters, and cuts. So cool, right?!
Not only can plantain be applied topically, it is more nutritious than most of the greens you are adding to your salad and is FREE!! They are tastiest when the plants are young because as they continue to grow, they become a little bitter and less tender (the larger ones become stringy and tough). The seeds can also be harvested and ground into a flour (I haven't tried this, yet). Interestingly enough, Plantain is a common folk remedy in many parts of Latin America for treating cancer. It has also been used for many centuries in treating sore throats, coughs, bronchitis, tuberculosis, and mouth sores. It is as close as your yard (or your neighbors).
Even if you have no intention of picking these wonderful plants in your backyard, I hope you have found some inspiration to look beyond your medicine cabinet. We can find relief through the use of plants with no bad side effects! The earth has provided us with everything we need to live a healthy life! Check back soon because I would love to share more of the plants that can heal our bodies!
Peace, Love, Plants,
*-See more at: http://drexel.edu/cnhp/news/current/archive/2012/August/2012-10-01-Stinging-Nettle/#sthash.kSv7oQbJ.dpuf
On average, Americans eat just ONE serving of fruits and vegetables per DAY. “If Americans ate just one more serving of fruits or vegetables per day, this would save more than 30,000 lives and $5 billion in medical costs each year.” What? Crazy! Just think how amazing it could be if Americans added two more servings?!?! *Mind Blown* All kidding aside, it really is important to add more fruits and vegetables in your diet. EVERYONE needs more and you can not eat too many fruits and vegetables. They are called superfoods for a reason! Did you know all fruits and vegetables contain cancer-fighting compounds?!?! People who eat just five servings of fruits and vegetables a day lower their risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other conditions!
I know what you are going to ask me: “what's an easy way to add in more fruits and veggies?” That is what you were going to ask me, right? I am always looking for easy ways myself! The best way to make a change is to Set Goals! Don't just say “eat more fruits and vegetables”; make it actionable! Set tangible, specific goals! So, let's make this a list, I LOVE lists!!
I use it for fruit, too! I always hesitate buying berries because I feel like they go bad
by the next day. With these nifty contraptions I can store berries in the fridge for at least 10 days!! I know, so exciting, right?! So, the tip is to make a big salad that you can grab at anytime!! How easy is that?! The secret to keeping the salad fresh though is not adding the vegetables that get too wet...I save the tomatoes and cucumbers until I'm ready to serve. I also top with some seeds like sunflower or pumpkin.
Here's what I throw into those awesome containers:
Are those doable? Can you find some time to fit more fruits and vegetables into your life? Your life depends on it;)
Do you have any tips that can make my life easier?!?! I'd love to hear them; post in the comments, facebook, instagram, or throw an email my way!
Peace, Love, Plants,
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