Vanity Vanity cont’d…

Where did we leave off?… OH that’s right! Toxins in our cosmetics.

Before I address the toxin, I want to talk about Silicones, because while not necessarily toxic they pose a problem to your skin and hair folicles. Your skin is made up of pores.These pores are designed to clean themselves through perspiration and oils. by filling the pores with silicones (often having the suffixes -cone, -conol, and -xane) you are impeding the natural ability of the body to take care of itself. Think of it as clogged drains…  And when you put silicones on your hair, yes it makes the split ends seem smooth, but all it is really doing is filling in the splits temporarily. Until you begin to use proper hair care systems and maintenance, your hair will continue to break and split as you brush, straighten, curl and comb your hair.

One of my BIG pet peeves is antiperspirants! Aluminum Chloride (aluminum chlorohydrate) is an aluminum found in most deodorant/antiperspirant. It has anti-perspiring effects as it blocks the pores, and we already talked about how blocking the pores is causing problem, not solving them. There have also been links between aluminum and Alzheimer’s and between aluminum and breast cancer… so why are we putting this stuff right in our armpits where we have lymph nodes???

Now lets talk perfumes: Synthetic perfumes, or fragrances, are made from unknown chemicals that don’t have to be listed on the ingredient list. Most synthetic fragrances contain phthalates, believed to cause reproductive problems.

Phthalates (alcohol denat perfume) are just ordinary alcohol that has been “denatured” to make it undrinkable. It is found in skin care products as well as perfumes.Animal tests show that phthalates are toxic to the reproductive system,liver,kidneys and lungs. And yet we spray this in the air for all to inhale?

One alternative to perfumes would be essential oils, however some essential oils can cause allergic reactions and sun sensitivity. So please read up and study your oils before use.


You Probably think the Song is About You, Don’t You?

“…Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Ecc 1:2

Why are we so vain? (can you hear Carly Simon singing in your head?)

We curl, we straighten, we gel mousse and spray. We try to turn back the hands of time by lifting, tucking, boosting and firming. We de-wrinkle, tone, brighten, prime, lengthen, volumize. We even try to protect with sunscreen, insect repellent and moisturizer.

But have we considered what ingredients are in all those products we slather on each day? Most brands are chock full of promises of youth, but actually deliver ingredients that will bring us closer to ill health. Let’s take a look over the next few days at some of the biggest culprits:

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (also labeled as SLS, SLES) I’ve covered this ingredient in a previous post, so I’ll just remind that it’s in everything from shampoo to toothpaste to lotion. It not only is toxic,but it dissolves the skin’s natural protective oils.

Butylacetate/Butylethanoate (Silicon/Dimethicone/Diphenyl Demethicone/Methicone) makes sunscreen waterproof and lipstick “kiss proof.” Also found in nail polish. considered to be harmful to the nervous system.

Mineral Oil (Medical White Oil, Oleum Petroleum, Paraffin, Paraffinum Liquidum, Oleum Vaseline, Vaseline, Kerosene, Petroleum, Propylene, White Mineral Oil) Yes this would include just straight up petroleum jellies also. This is aproduct of the distiallation of petroleumand is found in almost all conventional cosmetics today. Contact with the skin can cause irritation and some can be absorbed through the skin. Chronic exposure to petroleum products may affect the nervous system, blood and kidneys. Not to mention all the environmental side effects of the production such as acid rain, but we’ll save that for another day…

Jurrasic Park of Plants

“In the mid 1800s only one variety of potato was grown in Ireland; when they became diseased, 1 million people died. The same potato plight attacked Peru but they suffered fewer consequences due to a variety of potato crops. 97% of vegetables grown at the beginning of the 20th century are now extinct.”

The more I read about GMOs the more I feel as though I’m living in the Jurassic Park of Plants. One of the most succinct descriptions of what has happened in the past 100 years, is given in the video “The Future of Food.” For those of you who have watched this film, you know what I’m talking about. For those of you who haven’t, I will sum it up for you. Anything in “quotations” is taken directly from the film. The rest is my two cents worth. Let’s start at the beginning and the development of pesticides which led to GMOs.

“Nerve gas developed during WWII was slightly modified to make insecticides. DDT was the hero of its generation.”

“Monocultures of one crop variety, with no rotations or variations of crops, left an ecological vacuum that insects and disease could exploit. The insects and weeds became immune to these pesticides and herbicides. This caused a pesticide treadmill – the more the farmers sprayed, the more they HAD to spray.”
“In the 1970s Monsanto introduced RoundUp. It could kill most weeds, but the crops needed to be gene spliced in order to survive the weed killer. They modified seeds to be RoundUp ready, so crops will not die when sprayed. Monsantos BT corn itself is registered as an insecticide. Every cell has been modified to manufacture BT, a bacterial toxin.”

So how is a seed made into a GMO product? In a nutshell, seeds are forced with an injection of DNA from a soil bacteria which is resistant to herbicides. In order to make this resistance activate in within the seeds, the DNA of the bacteria must also be linked with an EColi DNA…  EColi people!!! Seriously? And then we act surprised by the EColi outbreaks?

So this seed, which refers to our largest crops of corn and wheat and soy (among others), is now able to withstand herbicides and pesticides but it is unable to reproduce itself. So in other words, if you take the corn from these crops, dry it and replant it… nothing will happen. You get nothing. No plant, no harvest, no food. This ‘brilliant’ idea will not sustain a country. It won’t even sustain your body! Now we have this seed line which cannot reproduce itself. Not only can it not reproduce, but it needs to be sprayed with another chemical to make it germinate once it’s in the ground.

And here’s a kicker: GMO corn seed is labeled as a pesticide… and we are eating the produce from that seed! Read your labels! Anything labeled with high fructose corn syrup or soy lecithin is undoubtedly packed with GMOs. Not to mention that our beef and chicken supplies are eating the produce from that seed also.

Now lets talk about these GMO seeds. Did you know they are patented? Did you know that goes against our Constitution?! The right to patent is guaranteed by Article 1 in the US Constitution. Food crops were deliberately excluded from patenting on the basis of moral grounds. What happened to our moral grounds?! And let’s think about how this patent effects our agricultural community… Less than 2% of the population in the United States are farmers. 2% producing all the food for the rest of the 98% of us. Something has to give! Unfortunately, what has been broken is the quality of our food and our protection of our farmers.
Farmers who have not used GMO seeds, but whose land has been invaded by GMO DNA by either wind carrying the seeds, or birds, or seeds blowing off a truck as it passes by… those farmers have had to pay thousands of dollars in penalties for “using” GMO patented seeds. Many of these farmers have been bankrupted over the law suits.

Why isn’t any of this being brought forward to the awareness of the general public? Well for one thing money talks,and guess who has the money? The biotech companies such as Monsanto (which by the way also owns Pioneer, DeKalb, Asgrow, Channel, DeltaPine, Hubner, GoldCountry and others) silence the publications and the researchers.

“The first GMO tomato, FLAVR SAVR, was introduced to the consumers in 1994, even AFTER it was proven to produce tumors and cancer in rats!”
“Dr Pushtai was suspended two days after discussing his research that expressed results of the depressed immune systems and growth of rats which had been fed GMO potatoes.”
“A Cornell University researcher found that when caterpillars of the Monarch butterfly were fed BT corn pollen in the lab 40% of them died unexpectedly.”
“Nature magazine retracted a world renowned scientist’s paper after publishing his peer view work, which studied the hazardous effects of GMO corn.” All three instances were denigrated by the biotech industry. Wonder why?

In cancer research labs, the DNA of breast cancer cells have been “repossessed” by GMO companies claiming that those DNA samples are OWNED by their company! How is that so, you might ask? Because the cancer cells contain GMO cells! They are halting the research that could have saved my mother!

We need to push to have GMO foods labeled in this country. Once again, Europe is way ahead of us on this, as are Japan, Central America and even some third world countries.
Consumers are still king! Educate yourselves and exercise your choice!

If it’s not labeled organic or verified non-GMO: Avoid products made with ingredients that might be derived from GMOs. The eight GM food crops are Corn, Soybeans, Canola, Cottonseed, Sugar Beets, Hawaiian Papaya (most) and a small amount of Zucchini and Yellow Squash.

If you would like to know lists of companies to avoid and ways to eat healthier, here are a couple links:

Printable List of Monsanto Owned “Food” Producers

Brahman on a Plate

Every once in a while we stumble upon a recipe that makes me just about want to cry, it’s just. that. good! Last night Carli, and I whipped up an Indian dish that I needed to share with you. It’s called Butter Chicken, for the exorbitant amount of butter used to saute the onions. We were actually just trying to find recipes we can use with our Vitamix, something other than smoothies.

As a side we steamed summer squash and red bell peppers. (For those of you who aren’t desperately running away from carbs, you could serve this over rice. Quinoa would work also!) This was seriously as good as anything I’ve had in any Indian restaurant. And without the side effects, if ya know what i mean.

Butter Chicken

1 cup plain Greek yogurt… 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces… 1 T masala… 1 1/2 t ginger… 1/4 t cayenne… 2 T honey... 1 T fresh ginger, chopped… 1 T fresh pressed garlic… 1/2 t salt… 8 T butter… 1 onion, chopped… 2 T tomato paste… 14 oz canned tomato sauce…14 oz canned whole tomatoes

Marinate chicken in yogurt overnight. Drain off yogurt. Cook chicken in skillet over medium heat.

Combine spices in a small bowl.

Saute onion in butter. Add fresh ginger & garlic. Cook 5 minutes more. Add spices for 30 seconds. DO NOT BURN.

Add tomato paste, sauce and whole tomatoes. Simmer 15-20 minutes, remembering to stir often, allowing to thicken.

Blend sauce in blender until smooth. Pour back into pan, add chicken to sauce and reheat.

Just Thought You should Know

So here’s a puzzler for ya! If an ingredient is deemed safe when used under specific levels, and you use that “safe” level in five different products, are you still under the “safe” amount? What if you’re eating this substance too? The substance I’m referring to is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and our government has deemed that, although comprised of highly toxic chemicals, SLS is safe for human consumption and use as a foaming agent and emulsifier. Sodium lauryl sulfate is used in shampoos, toothpaste, lotions and creams, baby lotions, shower gels, facial cleansers, carpet cleaner, mascara, mouthwash and soaps just to name a few. SLS is a mutagen which means that it can change the genetics within a cell. Research shows that it causes damage to the eyes, the cells and the entire body. According to the Journal of the American Cole of Toxicology, SLS  and SLES are accumulative in the heart, liver, lungs, and brain due to absorption through the skin.

And get this: other countries have banned SLS! Europe, Central America,and Dubai are ahead of the USA when it comes to the health game.

It starts out harmless enough, as a coconut oil fatty acid, but then they turn it to alcohol, after which it’s mixed with sulfur trioxide or chlorosulfonic acid, neutralized with sodium carbonate sodium bicarbonate, …yada yada… and then finally for that special finishing touch it is purified with one or more solvents such as n-butanol, diethyl ether, ethanol. Don’t believe me? You  can read a 2006 report on the substance.

Or I can sum it up for you right here…

According to the “Technical Evaluation Report Compiled by ICF Consulting for the USDA National Organic Program” from the above website, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is described as , “SLS is a “soap” type of herbicide and pesticide (PAN 2005)… SLS emits toxic fumes (sulfur oxides and sodium oxides)… SLS is included as one of more than 3,000 total substances that together comprise an inventory often referred to as “Everything Added to Food in the United States (EAFUS)” determined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). The list of substances are ingredients that may be added directly to food which FDA has either approved as food additives or listed or affirmed as “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS) substances”

Well, thank you government for caring so much about the health of this country! And to top it off, they’ve gotten tricky at hiding it under the guise of other names. So grab your products and do a run-down of the list below. Are your products safe??? Let me know if you need help finding safe products!

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
Other Names:
dodecyl sodium sulfate
dodecyl sulfate
sodium dodecyl
sulfate (SDS)
sodium n-dodecyl sulfate
Chemfinder (2006) lists many additional names for SLS
Aquarex ME
Dupanol WAQE
CT-535 (petition)
Richonol AF
Stepanol ME
HSDB (2002a) and RTECS (2005

Long Live the Queen?

So how does one live longer anyhow? Besides ridding our lives of toxins (we’ll be covering more of that in future posts), We can take simple steps to help our bodies last longer. We “rustoleum” our cars, apply coats and coats of protective waxes, and wash off salt and grime from our car. So why don’t we do easy maintenance on for our bodies? It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3… plus about 5 more.

1. Get 8 hours of sleep each night.

2. Fresh air! This used to be a given – people worked outside at the arm, urban dwellers walked everywhere. Just get outside and enjoy some nature.

3. Can you squeeze out 30mnutes of the day? Be honest… most of us spend that much time on facebook each day. why not use that time to get some exercise? Don’t overthink it… simple things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Park at the end of the parking lot and walk a little further to the store.

4. Eat healthy, good quality food. Instead of counting your calories,make sure your calories count! Be sure your energy sources are good, healthful, vitamin packed whole foods. Many people these days are opting for gluten free, but I still notice them eating “gluten free” pop-tarts! What’s the point? If you’re going to try to be healthier don’t cram yourself full of organic, gluten free junk!

5. Eat until you’re 80% full. As grandma used to say “Give it a chance to hit bottom!” It takes your brain longer to register that the stomach is full, than it does to shovel the food in. So take your time, enjoy the flavors of your food, and give your stomach a chance to signal to your brain that you’re full.

6. Drink at least 6 glasses (8 oz) of water per day. If you can’t bear the thought of plain water,add a slice of fruit. Other than lemon or lime, try strawberries, honeydew, raspberries, cucumber (yeah i know it’s not a fruit).

7. Laugh. Learn to enjoy life… stop and smell the roses…

8. Relax. Contrary to #5, here I’m going to tell you to clear your plate. Not CLEAN your plate… CLEAR your plate. Our lives have become so busy, and one must ask “Why?” The Supermom myth is exactly that…. a myth. Think of everything you do each day. Can you eliminate something? (yes someone might be disappointed, they’ll get over it) There’s a little thing called the “Joy of Missing Out.” Less on our plate means more time to enjoy our lives.

So now it’s my dare to you”choose one of these things to implement this week.then next week implement another one. Keep adding and let’s see if we don’t all feel a little better!

And so it begins… again…

It seems as though I have started this journey numerous times. But then I consider it just a slow process, baby steps. Ever since I can remember, which reverts back to mid-elementary school, I’ve been concerned for our environment. (actually I was one of those weird kids who thought the trees talked to me, and I believed in tiny little people who lived at the creek; but don’t hold that against me… I was 10 and had a vivid imagination) Over the past few years my younger daughter, who has picked up my inner-hippie ways, has become my conscience and convinced me to become more involved in our mission. I’ve had numerous people ask about our choices, and most were genuinely surprised when I proceeded to give them some information that they had not been privy to previously. Mind you, this blog will NOT be only about environmental issues. More like it will contain whatever is on my mind at the time, which could be entertaining and scary for some of you.

We started researching possible causes for cancer, dementia and many other degenerative diseases. Not surprisingly results stated were toxic causes including environmental toxins, drugs, and irradiation. Much of our produce is irradiated without the public even being aware of this. Ever wonder why those oranges will last a loooong time on your kitchen counter? Ever consider the effects bleach, ammonia,and formaldehyde have on our overall health? Ever contemplate why our food supplies need to be fortified with vitamins and minerals that were once naturally found in those foods?

Recently, said daughter and I took a road trip to visit friends in Ohio. She chose to read out loud to me instead of working on schoolwork during the long drive. The book of choice was “Sleeping Naked is Green” by Vanessa Farquharson, a book we picked up three years ago and have read through at least three times now. Each time we commit to making small changes. This time while reading we highlighted the items which we have already implemented and I was actually surprised at the count.(my friend Karen, who cringes at dogeared pages, is probably horrified at the thought of highlighting)

Many of the changes we have made are due to watching my mother battle and lose to cancer; I’m so tired of our society thinking that toxic solutions are the only solutions! Even my husband is now on board with our decisions, after seeing Mom dwindle away. We’ve made some substantial changes in our lifestyles and also many small changes. Over the past few years we’ve managed to: 1.Switch to cloth napkins 2.Use non-toxic cleaning & laundry  supplies 3.Use non-toxic bath supplies 4.Turn down the thermostat 5.No more bottled water 6.Toss out our microwave 7.Switch to electronic billing 8.No more disposable plates & cutlery 9.Use tote bags 10.Phosphate free dish detergent 11.Stainless steel travel mugs 12.No more nonstick pans!! 13.Recycle everything our local recycle business will take 14.CFL lightbulbs throughout the house 15.Switch to organic fruits & veggies 16.PVS free shower curtain 17.Take stairs instead of elevator 18.Wash dishes by hand 19.No more straws (yes yes I know this increases susceptibility to germs, but I prefer to look at it as building my immunity) 20.Only cold water for laundry

There are a few of Ms Farguharson’s 365 changes that will not be implemented in my home, such as “If it’s yellow let it mellow.” Nope, not going to happen. That toilet better get flushed after each and every use. “No toilet paper for #1.” Ummm no. But on the whole her book has been quite inspiring.

So, what changes are next? First, as soon as the weather breaks in our dreary Chicagoland, we will begin walking or biking to anything within a two-mile radius. For us that will include the coffee shop we like to frequent, the video store and the library. I refuse to walk/bike in the rain and cold. Also on the table are shorter showers for daughter – she’s notorious for her half-hour bathing habits. I would also like to spend part of each day, or at least each week, educating myself (and passing along this information in bite sizes to you,my audience. Ha! I have an audience!) on environmental issues. Keep in touch for further updates!