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My Favorite Safer Beauty Products Right Now

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If you didn’t already know by now, what we put on our skin is just as important as what we put in our mouths. Our skin is one of our largest organs in the body and is capable of absorbing up to 60% of what we put on it. Not to mention, anything we put on our skin completely bypasses the gut and goes straight into our blood.

Companies within the US are allowed to use almost ANY ingredient they wish in their products. In fact, the US governent doesn’t review the safety of products before they are sold. Other countries are pushing much harder than we are to ban harmful chemicals and ingredients from going into our personal care products. To give you an idea, the European Union has spent the past two decades restricting or banning approximately 1400 of these ingredients. In Canada the number of restricted ingredients that go into personal care products is approximately 600.

You want to know how many ingredients are banned in personal care products in the US?

30. Yep. That’s it. 30.

This is horrible.

We need to demand much more care for what is put into the products we put on our skin and come into contact with almost daily! We can do this by first becoming more aware of this reality (educate yourselves) and then secondly by voting with our dollar. We need to start supporting and purchasing personal care products from companies that are intentional about what is being put in these products and in the end being put on our precious bodies.

So, in this post, I wanted to give you a place to start or at least a reference of some safer products. I am going to share with you all my personal favorite products that I use regularly when it comes to skin and hair care.

While this post is specific to external products I use, I first want to mention that healthy skin and hair start from within. A whole foods, anti-inflammatory diet will always be the best place to start when it comes to attaining glowing and healthy skin and hair. Your skin and hair can tell you a lot about how healthy you are from within.  One of my FAVORITE supplements I cannot recommend enough  to include within a whole food diet that is EXCELLENT for supporting healthy hair, skin and nails as well as the gut is Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides.

Vital Proteins Gelatin and Peptides

For the why’s behind why I LOVE this product you can read my full post on that over here. You can also shop this product over on my ‘Shop Page‘ anytime you want.

So, Enough About That..What Do I Use for My Personal Skin and Hair Care Products?

Facial Care

Coconut Sugar Scrub – This is an incredibly simple 2-3 ingredient DIY product that I make regularly that naturally exfoliates and moisturizes the skin. The coconut oil base also serves as a natural make-up remover. I aim to use this daily before I go to bed to rinse my make-up off. My skin feels so incredibly smooth after each time that I use this, it is unbelievable.

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AnnMarie Multi-Purpose Foundation – I haven’t tried many natural make-up foundations, but I don’t really feel the need to after finding this wonderful product. I absolutely LOVE the way this product makes my skin feel and look. If you order through the link provided on this page you can get a special $25 off your first purchase of $75 or more. I’m telling you, this product is worth it. I personally use the honey shade which is meant for light to medium complexions, but they have a wide variety of other shades to choose from too for all skin tones. I also love that this product is made with zinc oxide which is a natural sun protectant for the skin.

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You can use this product a variety of ways depending on the look you want including using it as a liquid foundation, matte finish or even as a bronzer/blush. There are simple instructions on how to use it the way you would like on their website under the specific product you are wishing to purchase.  I don’t think you will find it hard to spend $75 or more after browsing all their other wonderful skin care products that would pair well with this as well.

Pure Haven Tinted Moisturizer – This is a wonderful product I use that is great when you don’t want to put on a lot of make-up but still want a little bit of coverage. It acts as more as a moisturizer but has a little bit of color that helps to even out your skin tone. I love to use this product if I’m just going to the gym, hanging around the house, or running to the grocery store and straight back home. I use the beige color.

Dessert Essence 100% Pure JoJoBa Oil – This is the carrier oil that I use to make my AnnMarie Multi-Purpose Foundation into a liquid foundation. The foundation comes in a powder form and you will need to add a couple of drops of a good quality carrier oil to mix it with if you want a liquid foundation. You literally only need like 1-3 drops max. This stuff goes a long way! I also will use this oil plain by itself as a natural moisturizer to my face after I get out of the shower sometimes before I go to bed.

Pure Haven Cheeky Bronzer – This is a great product that I use when I want a little bit more of a glow on my cheeks.

DIY Powder – This is another incredibly simple DIY product that I make regularly as a nice finishing touch to go on top of my AnnMarie Multi-Purpose Foundation. Follow the direct link I have provided for the recipe. I didn’t use zinc oxide when I made mine because my foundation has it in there already.

Lip Color – I’m pretty low maintenance and don’t really use much lip color ever really. I have purchased this lip gloss from Pure Haven before and love the color, but most of the time just don’t feel like its me to have much color on. I typically just use a natural chapstick like the one made by Hancock Hill Farms to keep my lips moisturized and to give them a little shimmer.

Body Care

Body Wash – This is another simple DIY product that I make regularly. You can find this super easy 3-4 ingredient recipe on one of my old posts through the direct link provided. The post also has a recipe for hand soap that I use. There are plenty of safe body washes out there to purchase but I have opted to make my own for the money that it saves me.  I love that you can choose the scent you wish to have each time that you make it by simply swapping out your favorite essential oils.

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Shampoo – I have tried DIY’ing shampoo and I gave up on that REAL fast. It just was NOT doing the job for me. Maybe you have had more luck with that, but every recipe I tried left my hair feeling super greasy and smelling like vinegar. This is a product I would much rather just purchase. I use the Pure Haven shampoo that you can purchase through the link provided. It does not make my hair feel greasy at all and I actually have noticed I don’t need to wash my hair nearly as often when using this shampoo.

Deoderant – This is another tricky one to discover what will work for you. You may have to shop around to find the perfect one for you. I personally have tried Schmidt’s Bergamot Lime scented deodorant in the past and it would give me a horrible rash. I finally decided to just chunk it. They do sell an unscented one that may have been less irritating but I haven’t tried it. You can buy this locally in Paris Texas at the Green Boutique if you would like to try it. I decided to go back to using Hancock Hill Farms aluminum free coconut oil deodorant and have never had any issues with it. It also keeps me smelling good too! You can purchase this product locally at the Farmer’s market when in season or order it online on their website. She sells lots of other wonderful natural personal care products as well!

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Sunscreen – I used this badger sunscreen for my 22 month old and me all summer and loved it. It rubbed in well, didn’t leave us feeling greasy and got the job done at keeping us from burning. What I love most about this product on top of the fact that it is safe and free of hormone disruptors and other toxic chemicals is that it is AFFORDABLE!!

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So, there you have it. 

Those are my favorite products right now that not only are safe but work! You may have noticed I didn’t provide options for every single product you may use on a daily basis when it comes to skin and hair care including mascara, eye shadow, eye liner, hair spray, mousse, etc. I am slowly making changes to safer personal care products and have started with products that cover more of my skin and I use most often. I don’t always put makeup on my eyes so I didn’t feel it necessary to start there, nor do I do my hair very often so swapping to a safer mousse/hair spray didn’t seem like the most practical place to start, though I do think it is important to eventually swap these products out for safer ones.

Don’t feel like you have to swap out everything all at once. Start with one product at a time. I will make sure to update this post as I include more natural products into my routine.

Of course, the products I have shared with you all are simply the ones I personally use and by no means an exhaustive list of all the wonderful safe products out there for you to use. If you want to know if the products you are using or may be considering using are safe or not, I recommend downloading the app Think Dirty. It is such a great resource to  educate yourself on what is in the products you are buying and how toxic/safe they are for you.

I hope this post has been helpful for you!! Let me know if you try and like any of these products as much as I do!

 

My Favorite Fall Soups/Chili

My Favorite Healthy Fall SoupsChili

 

As the weather is slowly cooling off and fall is settling in, all my favorite soup and chili recipes start making their appearances on our weekly meal plans.

If you’re like me, then you love a good soup recipe for a couple of reasons. Not only does it just put you in the fall/winter spirit to warm up to a delicious bowl of soup, but soup is also so easy to double or triple up on recipes to either freeze for later or make last multiple meals so that you aren’t cooking every single night.

Over the years I have tried multiple soup and chili recipes and below I am sharing with you the ones that have made it into our regular rotation because they are just SO good! I’m actually currently making most of these in bulk this week to store in our freezer to have handy once baby Eli James makes his grand debut in less than two weeks. All of these recipes are Paleo and Whole30.

Enjoy and let me know what you think you if you try any of these recipes!

Sweet Potato and Poblano Pepper Soup – We love eating this served with Emergency Meatballs by Stupid Easy Paleo and a simple mixed green salad on the side. You will also definitely want to garnish your soup with the cilantro and diced red onions that are optional in this recipe. It’s the perfect top off!

Pumpkin Soup with Apples and Spices – If you would like protein added to this, we love to pair this soup with Aidelles Chicken Apple Sausage links, sliced and sautéed until warm. We usually just dump them into the soup. We typically add a simple mixed green salad to this meal as well to get our greens in!

Paleo Tomato Basil and Beef Soup – This is a great stand alone meal since it already has the beef added in. I would recommend buying grass-fed beef. You could omit the beef if you would prefer too and it would still be delicious! If you tolerate grains and dairy well this would be delicious paired with a grilled cheese sandwich, especially if you ommitted the beef to fill you up a little bit more. I would recommend making your sandwich with some sprouted grain bread like Ezekiel bread and some raw cheddar or mozzarella cheese. My mouth is watering thinking about this right now!!

Zuppa Tuscana – (I can’t find the link to this original recipe so I have provided the recipe I use below for you)

  • 1-2 pounds grassfed ground beef
  • 1-2 teaspoons crushed red peppers
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 32 oz. or 4 cups broth
  • 1/2 cup full fat canned coconut milk
  • 3 large russet potatoes, thinly sliced or cut into large cubes (either works, just depends on the texture you would like in your soup.)
  • 1/2 bunch of organic kale, chopped (I typically just eyeball this and add a ton of kale. It most likely is way more than half a bunch by the end of me throwing it all in.)
  1. Saute beef with red pepper flakes over medium heat on the stove
  2. In a large pot, sauce the onion and garlic until soft and fragrant in some good quality fat (coconut oil, olive oil, etc.)
  3. Add in the broth to the large pot and bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, add in your cubed or thinly sliced potatoes and bring down to a simmer for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft and fall apart with a fork
  5. Lastly add in your cooked beef, chopped kale and coconut milk. Stir until kale wilts some and all is mixed in well.

Paleo Crockpot Chili – I love that this chili has so many crunchy vegetables added to it so it’s not all meat and beans like your typical chili. This is a hearty meal that the whole family will love!

I’m not kidding when I say we make these all the time! Having at least five “go-to’s” when it comes to soups/chili helps me to not get bored with eating the same ones over and over. I’ll make each of these most likely once a month throughout the fall/winter. If I find any other great recipes I will try and remember to come back and update this post and add them to share with you all!

 

 

 

 

Natural Cold/Flu Remedy: Elderberry Syrup

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NOTE: I AM NOT A DOCTOR. BE SURE TO TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TAKING ANY NATURAL MEDICINES OR VITAMINS AS THEY MAY INTERFERE WITH CURRENT MEDICATIONS.

In preparation for the arrival of our second child, Eli James, in just a couple of weeks..still can’t believe it..I have had it on my “to-do” list to stock our natural medicine cabinet to help keep our growing little family healthy throughout the winter months.

On my list of things to make was elderberry syrup for its wonderful health benefits I will talk about here in a second.

I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to get around to making this before Eli made his grand debut, but after visiting our local farmer’s market this past weekend I no longer have to worry about that because Booth’s Brew has started selling elderberry concentrate (slightly different than elderberry syrup..more on that later also) along with his incredible kombucha!! If you haven’t tried his kombucha, you are seriously missing out. You can read more on the benefits of kombucha here and here.

Anyways, as far as the elderberry concentrate goes, I was so excited because not only will this save me time from having to make my own, but I get to support local business! Win win! When I purchased this, the owner of the business told me that he planned on continuing to sell his products throughout the winter months even after the farmer’s market dies down and no other vendors are setting up anymore. He plans on setting up at the farmer’s market as more of a ‘drive-by, pick-up’ set up on the side of the road. Not sure how that will look, but just make sure to follow their Facebook page to stay updated on when he will be there and what he will be selling.

What exactly is an elderberry?

Elderberries are small, dark berries that grow in clusters on elder trees/elderberry bushes.

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They are very common throughout Europe and North America. There are many types of elderberry tree, however Sambucus nigra is the species used historically as a medicinal plant. For centuries the fruits from this tree were prepared by early settlers in Europe and North America into a black elderberry syrup to be used as a remedy for fevers associated with the cold/flu.

The berries like to grow in the moist soil along roadsides and can be easily identified when the berries are fully ripened and in their purple clusters usually at the end of the summer and early fall. The trees they grow on would look something like this..

 

Elderberry-Bush

If you don’t live near any elderberry trees (which I do not) and wish to get ahold of some elderberries, you can always just order some off of amazon too, like these. It’s good to be alive in America today. If I ever make my own one day, that is what I will do. If you do purchase or pick your own berries, just make sure to not consume these berries raw as they are not safe for consumption. You also will not want to consume the berries if they are red! The berries need to be cooked before becoming safe for consumption!!

What are the health benefits of elderberry?

Multiple clinical trials have been published on the ability of elderberry to shorten the length of time we suffer from cold or flu symptoms, including this study published in 2016.

Three specific ways that elderberry boosts our immune system and thus helps fight off the cold/flu include the following:

1.Regulates and Increases cytokines activity in our immune system

Cytokines are a large group of small proteins within the body that play a major role in our bodies immune system. When our body is infected with a virus like the flu, cytokines are the messengers that will send a signal out to other parts of the body that we are under attack. When released by our white blood cells, they tell the next defense mechanisms in line where to go and what exactly to do. Once the message has been delivered effectively, our immune system will go to work to attack any possible threat within the body.

One particular study published in 2001 showed that elderberry initiated a significant increase in the inflammatory cytokines (IL-1, IL-6, IL-8, and TNF-a), most notably the cytokine TNF-a.

All of these cytokines cause inflammation or swelling within the body. When our bodies are under attack by a virus or illness, inflammation is a GOOD thing. It is our bodies natural defense force that is fighting the possible threat.

In conclusion, this particular study showed that elderberry may be very beneficial at activating our healthy immune system.

2. Are an excellent source of antioxidants

The black elderberry plant contains many small molecules known as flavonoids which display high antioxidant activity. Antioxidants are known for their protection within the body against free radicals that can damage human cells.

Flavonoids also help fend of pathogens and allergens.

3. Display natural anti-viral activity

While further work is still necessary to prove these theories accurate, early stage experiments are demonstrating that certain chemicals within the black elderberry can actually block infection by directly inhibiting viral activity. One particular study published in 2009, suggests that it can do this by somehow staining and coating the exterior of the virus, rendering the virus non-functional. In particular it can do this with both the influenza A and B virus as well as the herpes simplex virus-143.

What’s the difference between elderberry concentrate and elderberry syrup?

So now that you know all the reasons you should consider adding elderberry to your natural medicine cabinet, let’s talk about the difference between the concentrate I bought at the farmer’s market vs. an elderberry syrup.

The only real difference between the two is that elderberry syrup has a natural sweetener like raw unfiltered honey added to it as a preservative so that it will last much longer without spoiling. The additional benefit to adding a sweetener like raw unfiltered honey is that it has its own natural anti-viral properties as well and it makes it taste much sweeter and less like medicine which can be a win for parents trying to get little’s to take it!

If no sweetener is added, the concentrate will not last as long at all. It will last anywhere from 3 days in the fridge to a week or two max. You should be able to tell if it has gone bad by the smell and taste. It would be more sour. You don’t want to consume the concentrate if it has gone bad. The sweetener will allow you to store your elderberry syrup in the fridge for about 3 months.

How to make Booth’s Brew Elderberry Concentrate into a Syrup?

Note: If adding honey, this recipe should not be consumed in children under the age of one!

If you are going to buy the concentrate that has already been made for you by Booth’s Brew, all you will need to do is pour your concentrate into a small pot on the stove and bring to a low simmer. In order to preserve the health benefits in the honey, you want to make sure to not overheat it. Once the concentrate is warm, stir in a 1:1 ratio of honey to the concentrate until combined will. So, if you have 1 cup of concentrate, you will want to add 1 cup of raw unfiltered honey. Once they are combined well, pour back into your glass jar and store in the fridge for up to 3 months.

What is the proper dosing?

Conveniently, Booth’s Brew provides a nifty little laminated card upon purchase that has the proper dosing instructions on it. You can see this in the picture at the top of this post. You will want to make sure to keep this handy in case you forget!

The dosing for prevention and daily immune support is the following:

  • Adults: 1 Tablespoon daily. You can take it straight up or I like to add mine to a nice warm cup of tea.
  • Children: 1/2 tsp-1 tsp. daily

If you end up coming down with an illness it is recommended to simply increase the frequency of taking it:

  • Adults: 1 Tablespoon every 3 hours until symptoms go away
  • Children: 1/2 tsp.-1 tsp. every 3 hours until symptoms go away

 

Recipes to follow if you prefer to just make your own:

While I encourage supporting local business if you can, I understand not everyone will be able to make it out to the farmer’s market to purchase some of Booth’s Brew’s elderberry concentrate. If you would prefer to just make your own, I have provided what looks like good recipe resources below to do so. There are also good quality elderberry syrup’s sold at most health food stores you could just purchase. They just tend to be much pricier.

 

Hope this helps keep you and your family healthy through the cold winter months! 

 

 

All About Collagen and Gelatin + My Favorite Way To Get More Into My Diet

If you follow me on social media, you most likely see me post every now and then about my favorite collagen and gelatin supplements sold by Vital Proteins.

 

Vital Proteins Gelatin and Peptides

 

I get asked questions about these products quite frequently and social media just isn’t the space to answer ALL the questions, so I finally am getting around to making a post that will explain a little bit more about what both of these products are exactly, why I personally have chosen to add it in to my and my families regular nutrition plan (including my toddler), and how I like to use it on a regular basis.

If after reading this post you decide you would like to try either of these products or try any of Vital Proteins other wonderful products, I would GREATLY appreciate you ordering through my affiliate links provided on this page. I do get a small commission for every purchase made through my personal links which supports my efforts of sharing this FREE information with you all on this blog. And for the record, I only share with you all products that I personally use myself and 100% believe in and think you may benefit from as well. Thanks in advance!!

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It ensures the cohesion, elasticity and regeneration of all of our connective tissues including our skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and even our bones. It also helps provide structure to our hair and nails.

To have a better idea of the role collagen plays in the various different parts of the body I’ve broken it down for you below:

  • Skin: Approximately 70% collagen
  • Ligaments: Approximately 70% collagen
  • Tendons: Approximately 85% collagen
  • Joint Cartilage: Approximately 70% collagen
  • Bones: Approximately 90% collagen

As we age, we naturally start to produce less and less collagen. This process of producing less collagen starts around the age of 30 and will accelerate as we head into our 40’s. As collagen levels naturally begin to decline, unless we choose to supplement or increase the amount of foods in our diet that contain high amounts of collagen, like homemade bone broth, signs of aging will inevitably begin to set in. Certain signs of declining collagen levels within the body may include dehydrated/thinner skin, wrinkles, brittle nails, fragile and more breakable bones, joint discomfort and hair loss. Supplementing or increasing your intake of collagen through other whole food options thus may help support your body’s overall levels and may slow the signs of aging.

Collagen specifically contains 18 amino acids, including 8 out of 9 essential amino acids. It is characterized by the predominance of the amino acids glycine proline and hydroxyproline. The amount of glycine and proline in collagen is specifically 10-20% higher than in any other proteins, both of which are important for a number of things including protecting/healing your gut and stomach lining, preventing ulcers and GERD, supporting digestion, and promoting a better night’s sleep.

How Do I Get More Collagen in My Diet?

The most natural way to get more collagen in your diet would be to make your own home made bone broth from responsibly sourced bones, like these. When bones from healthy and responsibly raised animals are slow cooked in filtered water, the collagen from these bones is released into the broth and is freed up for consumption. Below is a great recipes to follow to make your own collagen rich broth.

You could use homemade broth as the base to any of your favorite homemade soups or just drink it straight out of the mug in replace of your morning coffee or tea.

If making your own broth doesn’t sound very practical or like something you will realistically do, then supplementing with a high quality collagen protein would be the next best option in my opinion. My personal favorite collagen supplement is Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. It is very high quality and the collagen comes from the bones of grass-fed, pasture raised cows. Don’t worry though, while most of their products are sourced from grass-fed cows, if you are a vegetarian they did not forget about you!! They also have a Marine Collagen Protein powder that is made from the bones of wild-caught snapper fish.

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Most of their new flavored beauty waters also include marine collagen. I have not personally tried these but they look delicious if you want to spice up your water game!!! Flavors include lavender lemon, melon mintcucumber aloe. and strawberry lemon. Strawberry lemon flavor was the only one I did not see was sourced from Marine Collagen.

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What’s the Difference Between Collagen Peptides and Gelatin?

I mentioned earlier that my other favorite product sold by Vital Proteins is their beef gelatin. So, what exactly is the difference between the Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides and Vital Proteins Beef Gelatin? Well, as far as health benefits go, really not that much!  The amino acid profile is EXACTLY the same! Collagen peptides just has the proteins in smaller pieces because of the more intensive processing that it goes through. Because the proteins are broken down into much smaller pieces in collagen peptides, this product does tend to be much easier to digest for some people than gelatin.

Both products are sourced from the bones of healthy, sustainably raised animals.

The main difference is simply their chemical properties.

Collagen Peptides dissolves in both hot AND cold water, making it easy to add to pretty much anything you would like (hot tea, water, coffee, soups, oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies etc.)

Gelatin dissolves ONLY in hot water. When it is placed in cold liquids, it causes the liquid to gel. For this reason you would use this product for different culinary purposes. Think homemade jello, pudding, gummy snacks, popsicles, etc.

Why Do I Use Vital Proteins Products?

Well, for the numerous health benefits I mentioned above that both of these products provide, I have chosen to use this fabulous product almost daily!

A couple of things I have personally noticed since I began regularly using their collagen peptides and gelatin..

  • much stronger nails that grow so quickly!!
  • clearer skin
  • better digestion
  • a reduction in hair loss, especially after having a baby

I used both of these products all throughout both of my pregnancies and nursing. Of course, always check with your doctor before beginning any new supplement, especially when pregnant, but this is very safe and may benefit not just you but your baby as well!

As for my little girl (who is currently 21 months), I use both of these products in her foods as an easy way to sneak in high quality, very easy to digest protein into her diet. This is especially nice when kids are picky.

By the way, both the collagen peptides and beef gelatin products have no flavor which makes it that much easier to sneak in for little ones and convenient to add to pretty much anything you would like also without compromising flavor.

Favorite Ways I Use Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

  • Mix 1-2 scoops in to hot herbal tea in the morning
  • Add 1-2 scoops into a smoothie
  • Mix 1-2 scoops into oatmeal (Harper LOVES oatmeal, so I typically add 1/2 -1 scoop to hers to balance out this meal that is naturally much higher in carbohydrates.)
  • Mix 1-2 scoops into a glass of unsweetened almond milk

Favorite Recipes I Use Vital Proteins Beef Gelatin In

  • Homemade Fruit Snacks (Wellness Mama) – This is a great snack to have on hand for little ones! Harper LOVES these. I love that I know what’s in it and it is free of high fructose corn syrup, food dyes and any other artificial ingredients.
  • Dairy-Free Fudge Pops (Against All Grain) – This is another great snack for little ones, but adults will love this one just as much!! I made these all the time over the hot summer months for Harper and she could not get enough of them. This recipe doubles as an incredible chocolate pudding recipe also. Just put the ingredients in the fridge in a bowl and let sit until gelled instead of pouring it into popsicle molds. You could eat it straight out of the bowl or it would make a great dip for fresh fruit!

I hope this helps if you have been considering trying out their products!! I highly recommend them.

I haven’t tried all of their products, but they have a TON of great stuff. I personally like the two products I discussed and provided links to in this post because they are unflavored, which makes it easy to add to anything, but they have a lot of great flavor options if you prefer that as well. Some other flavor options for the collagen peptides include vanilla and dark chocolate and blackberry. Would love to hear from you if you try anything else to let me know what you think!

Shop All Vital Proteins Products Here

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Do you have a Passion for Helping Others and Natural Healthy Living?

Do you have a natural passion for helping people?

Do you also have a passion for natural healthy living?

Is your viewpoint more towards natural solutions rather than drugs and surgery?

If so, then I would invite you to consider the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Course.

 

 

This is the certification course that I personally went through to be able to further help not only my clients but my family as well.

I currently run a very part time practice and am able to only help a few people at a time however, I have people asking me all the time if I can help them and I have to turn them away or put them on a waiting list! Trust me, the need is there for more holistically minded health care providers and you would have an opportunity to help change people’s lives drastically if you went through this course.

Even if I chose to not make any profit off of the education I received and decided to never start my own practice, I would do this course over again in a heartbeat! I learned SO much valuable information in this course that gave me the confidence to better take care of not only my clients but myself and my family as well for the rest of our lives. In other words, even if you just have a desire to learn more and work on your own health as well as your families, this course is for you!

I not only am more confident in coaching my clients on the foundations of building health through customized nutrition, rest and good quality sleep, appropriate exercise, and managing stress, but I also now have a professional relationship with  well respected functional lab companies that allow me to order test kits for myself and my clients. These tests are a key part in my coaching and allow us to stop guessing and get to the root of main health complaints.

The three main labs that I currently run with my clients include Oxford Biomedical Technologies MRT (food sensitivity test), Precision Analytical DUTCH test (a complete hormone panel), and Diagnostic Solutions GI-MAP (a comprehensive stool panel that tests for multiple parasites within the gut and other important gut immune markers). The FDN course has allowed me to not only have access to these incredible labs, but has also trained me in accurately interpreting and putting together customized protocols for myself and my clients based off of lab test results.

I absolutely LOVE what I get to do! Below are a couple of testimonials from my most recent clients.

“This has changed my life! I have been suffering from stomach cramps and blood sugar issues for years, and recently was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. I was in severe pain, on several medications, and unable to do my normal every day activities. After working with Erin, I am taking one medication, have no stomach pain, and experiencing occasional mild arthritis pain! I am amazed at how food affects inflammation in the body! She makes eating healthy a breeze with her delicious recipes and grocery lists! Thank you for showing me a whole new way of living! I’m able to live life again! ”   -Angie Duren

“I recently had the pleasure of working with Erin Finch at Holistically Fed. I had been struggling for quite some time with numerous health issues and symptoms. I had been trying to eat healthier and reading as much information as I could about clean eating and many other different plans to sustain a healthy diet and lifestyle yet as I incorporated much of this information into my daily routine I still struggled with symptoms.

A friend had told me about Erin’s website and blog. After speaking with Erin, we agreed that the one on one coaching and the food sensitivity testing would be something that I could benefit from.

It was amazing to see the lab results and realize many healthy foods I consumed on a regular basis were actually foods I was sensitive to. The one on one coaching that Erin provides is amazing. She was able to use the lab results and create a custom eating plan for me that removed all the items I was sensitive to and created a shopping list based on this as well. Erin has a gift for teaching and helping you to succeed in this new lifestyle. Each week we worked on a different area so that I was not overwhelmed by incorporating everything at once. We had weekly calls and discussed how the week was and reviewed items I had been working on before moving on to a new area. She also would send recipes that fit into the specific plan for me. Erin has a heart for health and nutrition and she celebrates the successes with you. Our focus was to help me relieve my symptoms and gain health and energy. We succeeded. Each day I logged my symptoms and it was such a wonderful feeling to wake up one day and realize I actually had no symptoms!

I am so thankful for the information Erin has shared with me and the things she has taught me during our time together. I highly recommend her and the services she provides and look forward to working with her in the future as I continue to seek a healthy lifestyle for myself and my family.”  -Jennifer Blount 

“When I became a client of Erin’s, I thought I was dealing with a suppressed immune system. Well, on the plan Erin developed for me, my gut issues were straightened out, my sinus infections went away, my young children weren’t able to share their illnesses and germs with me, and I lost a healthy amount of weight in a healthy time period.

Unfortunately, as time went on, Erin being a good diagnostic nutrionist, encouraged me to continue seeking answers for things that weren’t normal. At time of writing I’m now in a wheel chair most of the time and am undiagnosed but according to the Mayo Clinic in the realm of some motor neuron disease. When the doctor met with me last time, he told me if I was not as healthy as I was, I would find myself in a much worse condition. I knew that but it was reaffirming to hear the impact Erin’s plan has had on me. If you are thinking about becoming Erin’s client, don’t hesitate, do it now! Even though I’m dealing with a weird progressive neurological condition, so many aspects are much better than before and I’m thankful for Erin’s help.” -Wade Pierce

If you have any desire at all to learn more, please feel free to call me at 940-224-9833 or email me at erin@holisticallyfed.com and I would love to discuss more with you about the course.

You can also go and visit the functional diagnostic nutrition course website to learn more as well as register for the course.

The public is crying out for healthcare providers to help them with the cause of their health problems! We need more and you could be one of them!

 

Don’t Be Fooled

The new year has officially begun. By now, you have most likely been bombarded with endless marketing aimed at you to lose weight and get fit.

There’s no doubt about it that our nation as a whole is unhealthy and big change is in order if we ever want to see a shift in our nation’s health. In fact, many people would benefit greatly from losing weight, but weight loss alone is not what makes you healthy! I have met plenty of skinny people that are extremely unhealthy.

“..big change is in order if we ever want to see a shift in our nation’s health.”

Stop and think for a second and ask yourself some questions before you set out on your journey to lose weight this year.

What measures will you go to to lose weight and what will it cost you?

Is what you are doing sustainable? If it is not, it probably is not realistic that you will continue it as a lifestyle and you will end up falling into a cycle of yo-yo dieting where you lose weight quickly only to gain it right back when you realize you can’t keep up what you are doing.

Are you losing weight or are you losing fat? There is a difference.

Did you start working out and putting on muscle? This may result in weight gain and is a good thing! Please don’t use your scale as a measure of your health. It really is such a poor and ineffective tool to measure something that is so much more complex than a simple number. I threw mine out a long time ago and it has been the greatest thing for my health!

Don’t miss the bigger picture. There is so, so so much more to your health!

How is your outlook on life, are you having fun?

Do you make time for the things that you love to do and bring you life?

How often do you laugh, speak positively to yourself?

What do your relationships look like?

Are they encouraging or draining to you?

What is your stress level like?

Are you eating good wholesome food that is nourishing to your body on a regular basis?

Do you even enjoy your workouts? Do they bring you energy or leave you feeling drained?

What do your sleep habits look like? Are you getting enough?

Do you wake up feeling rested?

What internal stressors are you dealing with?

Have you been tested to rule things out that may be preventing you from reaching your health goals like gut pathogens, parasites, yeast infections, hormone imbalance, food sensitivities?

These are the things that make up a whole health program and these are the very things that I coach all of my clients to focus on when working with me.

So, do you want to be skinny this year, or do you want to be healthy?

There is a BIG difference. Don’t be fooled.

Work with me

Contact Me Today!

 

 

 

Benefits of MRT Food Sensitivity Testing

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In a previous post I shared with you all my top 5 reasons for having functional lab work done. I am following that post up with a series of posts that discuss the benefits of a few of the specific labs I am trained to interpret. In this post, I will be discussing the benefits of running the Mediator Release Test (MRT) by Oxford Biomedical Technologies.

Medical research has shown that sensitivities to foods and food-chemicals can be involved in a wide array of painful symptoms and chronic health problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, migraines, weight imbalances, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, skin problems, brain fog and many other uncomfortable lingering health problems.

If foods and additives in your diet are contributing to your main health complaints, no medication will help you in the long run, they will only mask your symptoms and possibly contribute to other health problems with all their negative side effects.

The first thing that someone needs to do that is suffering from food sensitivity is to identify the specific foods and chemicals that are triggering an immune response in the body, which brings me to the first benefit of the MRT.

Benefit #1: Allows you to eliminate foods that elicit an immune response immediately

Once the lab has received your blood draw sample, your results will be sent back to me within about a week. Once we know the specific foods and food chemicals that trigger an immune response in your body, they can be eliminated immediately and restoration of your health can begin. This is in contrast with common elimination diets that can take up to 1-3 months to discover which foods you are sensitive to. My favorite elimination diet as a starting place for most people is the whole30. While this is a great starting place for most people, even so called “healthy” foods such as salmon, chicken, apples or even spinach can provoke symptoms in sensitive individuals. The MRT takes out the guesswork and time that it would take to discover your trigger foods.

Benefit #2: It tests 150 foods and food chemicals at once

Again, while elimination diets are a great place to start to eliminate junk foods and foods that commonly contribute to negative health symptoms, they can only be done with a handful of foods at once. Even then, each food must be added back in, one at a time to determine if there is a reaction. It would take an extremely long time to follow this process with all 150 foods and chemicals that the MRT tests for.

Benefit #3: Will turn up sensitivities that are not yet presenting any obvious symptoms

Food sensitivity does not always produce obvious symptoms and may not produce any signs or symptoms at all, which makes trying to figure it out on your own really difficult. Just because a food does not produce any obvious symptoms, it can still be damaging your health slowly and quietly underneath the surface. If left undetected, they can potentially lead to multiple health symptoms down the road. Sometimes, the reactive food is something easy to identify, like milk or gluten, but other time’s it can be a food chemical that is not so easy. Certain foods can also have a delayed effect, sometimes days or hours providing another challenge to discovering trigger foods on your own. The MRT peels back the curtain and gives a concrete account of which foods you are sensitive to, taking the guesswork out.

Benefit #4: Tests the single most clinically important component of all diet-induced inflammatory reactions

People suffering from food allergy can often identify what foods they are allergic to without the help of a doctor or testing. This is because the reaction occurs every time and shortly after they eat their allergic food. Food sensitivity is quite another story however. The delayed onset of symptoms and complex physiological mechanisms involved in food sensitivities make them an especially difficult puzzle to try and solve either on your own or with most laboratory blood tests.

While the physiological mechanisms involved are extremely complex, all diet-induced inflammatory reactions share a common end point. Whether the reactions are immediate like a food allergy, or are delayed, whether dose dependent or not, whether governed by the innate or adaptive immune systems, whether cell-mediated or humorally-mediated, and whether inflammation remains at a sub-clinical level or becomes symptom-provoking, they ultimately cause mediator release (cytokines, leukotrienes, prostaglandins, etc.) from various white blood cells (neutrophils, monocytes, eosinophils, lymphocytes). This is the single most clinically important component of all diet-induced inflammatory reactions and is what the MRT specifically measures.

For more information on this test you can visit Oxford Biomedical Technologies to learn more.

Why people have food sensitivities is not easy to answer. The most common factors that cause food sensitivities include poor digestion, unbalanced gut flora, chronic stress/severe trauma, immune system overload, genetics, and overexposure to chemicals. Thus, eliminating trigger foods is only the FIRST step in restoring health. In addition to improving one’s diet, it will be equally important to support healing of the gut as well as work on reducing as many stressors as possible. This includes reducing emotional stress (anxiety, worry, fear, negative relationships, negative mindset), physical stress (prolonged or intense exercise, trauma, poor posture, weakness), and chemical/functional stress (sleep deprivation, antibiotics, parasites, bacteria, EMF’s, pesticides, herbicides etc.).

For coaching and help on building your health in any of these areas, please contact me today to discover how I can help you!

 

 

“Test, Don’t Guess.”: 5 Reasons to Have Functional Lab Work Done

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We are living in a time of health crisis. People are facing unprecedented levels of health problems. The list of things people are suffering from daily seems to only be getting longer and more common. These include but are not limited to, allergies, acne, blood sugar issues, diabetes, insomnia, headaches, fogginess, indigestion, fatigue, inflammation, asthma, irregular cycles, PMS, depression, anxiety, hypertension, excessive weight gain and weight loss.

We all have a choice when it comes to our health. We can either accept this downward spiral of our nation’s health as normal and eventually be forced into the disease care model used by modern medicine, or we can choose a model of self care with the help of a functional health coach, like myself, that will help you build health and take care of yourself for the rest of your life. While both models of health care are important, they are different in many regards. As your functional health coach, I will provide you a framework and logical step by step method to not only restore your health, but maintain it.

A major key to me helping you in this process is functional lab testing. Below, I share with you my top 5 reasons for why having functional lab work done is so important.

#1: Diet and Exercise are not always enough

While the right diet and proper exercise are critical when it comes to building health, these alone are often not enough for many people. It can be so frustrating to feel like you are doing everything right and not see the scale budge, still feel terrible, have low energy, continue to struggle with anxiety or depression etc. Sometimes there may be an underlying cause for your main health complaints. Medications, hormone imbalances, the integrity of your gut, and food sensitivities to even so called healthy foods can all contribute to common health complaints. Functional lab testing can help identify the underlying causes that diet and exercise fail to do.

#2: Identifies Healing Opportunities

Instead of just treating symptoms or managing disease, as a functional health coach, I use functional lab testing to find as many healing opportunities as possible within the hormone, immune, digestion, detoxification, energy production and nervous systems. In order to build health, it is important to restore function to all systems in the body.

Our body is a complex and beautiful system that all works together and must be treated as such.

When there is stress or imbalance in one system, it is always affecting the others by default. For example, if you have a specific food sensitivity that you are unaware of, over time, it may affect the integrity of your gut, which may set the stage for pathogens to thrive, which will further affect the integrity of your gut, which can weaken your body’s immune system and contribute to chronic stress within the body, which will affect your hormones, which will put added stress on your liver, which will ..etc. etc. etc. The more healing opportunities we can find through functional lab testing, the more I can customize and tailor a natural drug free protocol to support your overall health and path to healing.

#3: Ends the Cycle of Trial and Error

There are so many different exercise programs, diets, and health information available these days. It can be overwhelming to know where to start. Most people, blindly choose diets or exercise programs based off of what is popular or trending at the time. It can be so frustrating when you see other people experiencing positive results following the same program as you are on when you are not getting any results. So, you either give up or try something else that promises to work, only to end up in the same frustrating place with no results and even more confused.

The reason some programs work for some people and not others is because none of them have the individual in mind. Functional labs end the cycle of trial and error by revealing the underlying issues that are contributing to your main health complaints. Test results, along with a comprehensive health intake evaluation, allow me to put together a customized protocol with your specific health issues and life circumstances in mind.

#4: Gets to the Root of Your Main Health Complaints

While your stubborn belly fat, headaches, migraines, acne, anxiety or depression may be your main complaints, they are not the problem. They are the result of the problem. Think of your health like an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg represents your main complaints; what you can see and feel. Before the tip of the iceberg emerges however, there is a much larger piece of ice that precedes this beneath the surface. The same is with our symptoms. There are often much bigger issues going on beneath the surface, sometimes for years! Over time, if left unchecked, imbalances within the hormone, immune, digestion, detoxification, energy production and nervous systems, will build and eventually contribute to what we see and experience as our main health complaints. The only way to build health is to get to the root of your main health complaints rather than just treat symptoms, and running functional labs helps us to do just that.

#5: Allows You to Start Healing Faster

Bottom line, if we can get to the root of your main health complaints, we will end the cycle of trial and error which means you will have the opportunity to start healing faster and get back to living the life you love! There is hope for healing. It just might take a little bit deeper investigation.

For more information on specific labs that I am trained to interpret, please visit my ‘Functional Labs’ page and for more information on how I work, please visit this page.

Set up a FREE 30 minute consult with me today to discuss how I can help you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flourless Sweet Plantain Cake with Whipped Cinnamon Coconut Cream

So I promised I would have this recipe up I think like two weeks ago, whoops..

Well, here it is now!! Better late than never!

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Mmmm..I need to make this again soon!!

This recipe is so simple to make. That’s usually the theme of most of the recipes I post.

The cake could be enjoyed alone without the coconut cream but trust me, you will want to make the cream to go on top! Plus, if you make extra of the cream, it makes for a great healthy fruit dip, Pineapple chunks is my favorite with this. It provides a lot of good quality fat to make it a more balanced snack when enjoyed with fruit. Fruit by itself can disrupt blood sugar levels if you’re not careful.

If you’re an athlete, this would make for an AWESOME post workout snack providing you with the starchy carbohydrates you need to refuel your muscles after a hard workout as well as a decent amount of protein. If you are interested in what I suggest for post workout fuel, I have an old blog post on that over here.

As a nursing mom, I personally love this as an afternoon snack that packs in more carbs throughout my day. My baby needs all the good carbs for healthy brain development and the plantains in this recipe provide me with a significant amount.

The whipped coconut cream is made from full fat coconut milk which yes, is high in fat, but I really hope you are over that whole myth now that fat is bad for you and will make you fat. The saturated fat in full fat canned coconut milk is made up of a medium chain triglyceride called lauric acid. Unlike other fats that are digested slowly, medium chain triglycerides are digested and absorbed quickly making them easily available for energy. Who doesn’t want a little energy in the middle of the day? This is another reason this would make for a great afternoon snack or an alternative to your usual breakfast to get your day going!

I found the original recipe for this over at doyouevenpaleo.net and modified it just slightly to add a couple different flavors.

Here is the recipe below, Enjoy!

Flourless Sweet Plantain Cake, with Whipped Cinnamon Coconut Cream

For the Cake:

  • 3 plantains, ripe ..they should look really black and disgusting like this

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  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  1. Mash your plantains with a fork or place in a blender and blend until smooth
  2. In a mixing bowl mix in your eggs and spices to the plantains
  3. Grease a 9″ round cake pan with coconut oil and pour the batter into it
  4. Bake at 375 for approximately 30 minutes or until the middle is cooked through

For the Coconut Cream:

Ingredients:

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (the brand I use and have found to work the best is this one below, but there are definitely others you can use as well. This brand just seems to have more cream that rises to the top in the can than others I have used)

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  • Ground Cinnamon to taste
  • Pure Organic Maple Syrup or Honey to taste

Instructions:

  • Place your canned coconut milk in the fridge for a full day. This will allow the thick fattier part of the milk to rise to the top. If you cut open a coconut, the thick white part that lines the inside edges is where this cream comes from. It’s the meat of the coconut.
  • After you’ve let your coconut milk sit in the fridge for a day or so, open up the can and the cream should have risen to the top, and will be nice and thick and look like this..

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Photo Credit: nourishingmeals.com

  • Scoop out all of the thick coconut cream into a mixing bowl or kitchen aid mixer and whisk until blended well and the texture resembles whipped cream.
  • While continuing to whisk slowly add in your sweetener of choice and ground cinnamon, tasting as you go until you reach your desired sweetness
  • Store in the fridge for up to a week. The whipped cream will get a little thicker after sitting in the fridge.

Serve your cake nice and warm topped with a dollop of cooled cinnamon coconut cream on top!! Be careful not to eat the whole cake in one sitting. This could easily happen, but shouldn’t. Not only will you have eaten too much, but you will be sad because there won’t be any to eat the next day.

 

3 Ways To Start Using Epsom Salt for Better Recovery and More

A while back I posted an article on why you should consider supplementing with magnesium. 

Turns out there are a lot of reasons. It is required for over 300 enzymatic processes in the body, in particular those processes involved in energy production, and according to an article posted over at Ancient Minerals, an estimated 75% of Americans have daily magnesium intakes less than the RDA. The RDA is just a MINIMUM nutritional requirement that was originally introduced in the 1930’s to prevent diseases such scurvy, rickets and pellagra. For optimal health,   the nutritional recommendations are actually much much higher than the RDA, often 300-1000% higher! So, when we see that 75% of Americans are below the MINIMUM recommendation for magnesium, we know most people are no where near having optimal levels of this vital nutrient.

If you read my last post on magnesium you would also know that it plays a role in almost every cell and organ in our body, one of its major roles being in our skeletal muscles.

Magnesium is commonly known as the “Natural Relaxant Mineral”, responsible for making our muscles relax. So, a deficiency of magnesium may lead to symptoms such as twitches, muscle cramps, muscle spasms, muscle soreness, back and neck pain, tension headaches, constipation, and more.

If you workout regularly, you most likely are all too familiar with many of these symptoms. In fact, intense exercise and excessive sweating are two major contributors to the body using up its magnesium stores which makes it that much more important for you to increase your magnesium intake if you workout regularly, especially if you do lots of high intensity type workouts such as CrossFit.

Of course a great place to start with increasing your magnesium intake is whole foods, unfortunately with the gradual decline of our soil, food quality is just not the same as it used to be, therefore it is not always enough to just rely on even the best of food sources. Excellent sources of magnesium include nuts and seeds (preferably soaked overnight to release enzymes that bind to magnesium and prevent absorption), leafy greens and dark chocolate (80% or higher).

So because food isn’t always enough we have the option to turn to supplements to support a whole foods diet however, supplementing with oral magnesium, even in its most absorbable form (magnesium citrate) may not be enough either.

In the last post I told you all about my favorite oral magnesium supplement, Natural Calm. This is one of the most absorbable oral forms of magnesium (magnesium citrate), however according to a post titled Magnesium Absorption and Bioavailability, only 20-50% of orally ingested magnesium is typically absorbed. Typical absorption involves 40% magnesium intake absorbed in the small intestine, 5% absorbed in the large intestine and 55% leaving the body as waste. All of this will vary between each individual and largely depends on the integrity and health of the individuals gut.

So what is the best way to increase magnesium levels in the body then?!?!

The answer may lie in avoiding the gut altogether and applying magnesium transdermally (aka. via the skin, the largest organ in our body). When magnesium is issued to the body transdermally, it bypasses the digestive tract and goes directly into the tissues via the skin where it is quickly transported to cells throughout the body. Transdermal magnesium also is beneficial for those who may have low tolerance to oral magnesium as it will avoid problems of gastrointestinal irritation and diarrhea.

One of the most common, convenient and affordable ways to supplement with transdermal magnesium is with Epsom Salt.

So What Is Epsom Salt??

The name is slightly confusing as it’s not actually a salt. It looks like salt, but it is actually a pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. You can find Epsom Salt at most any grocery store in the pharmaceutical department or health food stores, or you can order it online as well through amazon or vitacost.

Here is the brand I buy and what it looks like.

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The benefits of using Epsom Salt are numerous, including but not limited to

  • reduction in sore/achy muscles, spasms, cramps and general muscle tension
  • reduced headaches/migraines
  • improved sleep
  • improved energy and mood
  • reduced anxiety
  • increased athletic performance
  • a natural detox, pulls toxins out of the body

If you’re looking for a solution for better workout recovery, Epsom Salt may be your answer when looking at all the benefits it can have on the skeletal muscles.

In addition to relaxing the muscles we see it helps with sleep and detoxing the body both of which are also essential for optimal health and better recovery in the gym.

Everyone wether you work out at at high intensity or not would benefit from using Epsom Salts regularly for its wide variety of benefits to the body. Remember, 75% of Americans are deficient in magnesium which means a majority of you need to find a way to increase your levels and this is a great way to do that!

Below are three ways that you can easily start using Epsom Salts in your weekly personal care routine

Soak with it in a Hot Bath

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Pour 1-2 cups of Epsom Salt into a nice warm bath and soak in it for about 20 minutes. This would be a great thing to add to your bedtime routine as magnesium is very calming and could help you wind down before you hit the pillow.

Here is an interesting study I found on the absporption of magnesium sulfate (epsom salt) through the skin. In this study participants soaked in an epsom salt bath for 7 days straight and urine and blood samples were taken to measure the level of the participants magnesium levels.

The results of the study reported changes in magnesium levels in blood before and after the testing period. Blood levels showed an average increase of 10 ppm/ml after one day of soaking, and 36.3 ppm/ml after seven days, indicating an increase in blood magnesium concentration after prolonged soaking.

The study concluded that bathing 2-3 times per week in a 1% solution of magnesium bath salts would result in health benefits related to an increase in magnesium levels.

Use it as a Foot Soak

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While it would be nice to take a warm bath every night, this may be more convenient for most people as you can do this while watching TV, sitting at the computer, nursing your little one, etc..

Pour 1 cup of Epsom Salt into a large bowl of warm water and soak your feet in it for about 20 minutes to receive the same benefits of soaking in a bath.

Use it in a Homemade Body/Facial Scrub

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I recently posted on how to make the above homemade coconut sugar body scrub. You easily could replace the sugar in this recipe with Epsom Salts as it would have the same exfoliating effect as the sugar with an extra added mineral boost!! Only downside to this is you can’t eat it..maybe that’s a good thing actually lol.

Now go buy you some Epsom Salt and start adding one or all of these into your weekly personal care routine!

 

 

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