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coconut oil

The Skinny on Oil Pulling

Oil Pulling 101

The idea of oil pulling never really interested me, which is weird, because I have tried a lot of things to whiten my teeth. (I’ve always been a big fan of brushing with baking soda.) I think I grabbed a sloppy tablespoon of coconut oil from my baking stash one time, swished it around my mouth for two seconds, regretted my decision, and spat it out.

So that’s the extent of my experience with oil pulling. Until now!

Recently, I was approached by Kismet Essentials to try their oil pulling kits. Why not, I thought? I try everything else. (Including allowing a new client to perform two hours of microblading on my eyebrows yesterday–and that hurt!)

So what is oil pulling and what should you know about it? Let me hook you up:

What is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is an an old ayurvedic dental practice. The basic idea is that by swishing a tablespoon of pure coconut oil around in your mouth for 10-20 minutes per day, you can help your body to release toxins and then expel them by spitting the mixture out.

But the benefits don’t stop at toxin removal: oil pulling whitens teeth, cleans plaque, destroys bacteria, promotes nice-smelling breath, and generally contributes to a healthier mouth and brighter smile. Here’s Kimset Essentials’ list of health benefits, as found on their website:

  • Whiter Teeth
  • Fresher Breath
  • Improved Digestion
  • Reduced Headaches
  • Cleaner Tongue and Mouth
  • Better Immune System
  • Healthier Gums
  • Reduced Plaque
  • Clearer, Softer Skin
  • Improved Skin Conditions (Eczema, Psoriasis etc)
  • Balanced Hormones

Oil Pulling with Kismet Essentials

Oil Pulling Kit

As I mentioned above, I briefly tried oil pulling in the past, and quickly (and foolishly) determined it to be a useless, kind of disgusting practice. But my experience with Kismet was really different! Their kits are meant to be completed in two weeks; they come with 14 satchels containing one tablespoon of high-quality coconut oil, flavoured with a mild, very pleasant minty taste. So right off the bat, they’re easy to use, travel with, and they taste clean, which I would think is an impressive feat for coconut oil. (Because let’s face it–coconut oil is still oil. It tends to taste fatty.)

Then for the health nuts in the group (my hand is eagerly waving), the product also uses organic, virgin, cold-pressed oil that’s non-GMO and fair trade.

So now you’re in love, right? There are like 4 or 5 magic words in that sentence!

The Results of My Experience

My teeth are not naturally white. I have a photograph of myself smiling for third-grade picture-day, and my teeth are kinda yellow. (So my expectations were not high.) I only lasted about 10-12 minutes with each satchel (actually, I only lasted 4 minutes on day 2 because I forgot and had 2 glasses of wine first, and then didn’t have the willpower to hold oil in my mouth for longer than that…oops…), and had to distract myself through the process. I usually worked on my laptop or read a book while swishing.

(Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to swish like you would with mouthwash–that would result in a very sore jaw! Think gentle.)

After you swish, you can’t spit it into your sink, because it’s coconut oil–it could firm up and cause a blockage. So I spat my coconut oil into a zip-lock bag after each time, and then threw the bag out at the end.

Hot tip: if you plan on reusing the bag to include all 14 treatments, you might change your mind after the first week or so, because the bag seriously begins to smell like vomit. I’m assuming this is because there are tons of trapped bacteria and toxins in this bag of used coconut oil. So instead, I recommend switching it up every 3-4 days.

I didn’t really see a difference in my teeth hue until after about a week, and then after 10-12 days, the change was pretty evident. I’m very sorry that I’m not providing a before-and-after photo, but it’s because I’m currently treating myself to Invisalign, and have bumps affixed to my teeth that help to hold the trays in properly, and I feel like I look like a vampire. (Also, they’re not as invisible as their name suggests. FYI.)

So that’s why.

Anyway: it was a good experience, and I’ll do it again! For those who want to whiten but aren’t into chemical bleach kits, this blog’s for you. (You’re welcome.)

To order an oil pulling kit from Kismet, view their SHOP page. This business is located in Vancouver (local for me!), and their social tags are as follows:

Instagram: instagram.com/kismetessentials

Twitter: @kismetessential

Facebook: facebook.com/kismetessentials

Cheers!

Are You a Dirty Vegan?

As Canadians and Americans increasingly make the move towards veganism, some are doing it right, and others are…not. It seems pretty straight-forward, right? Vegan equals no animal products. But just because you aren’t consuming animal products, doesn’t mean you’re making healthy choices that are synonymous with veganism.

Three Major Reasons People are Taking the Plunge

Health

Health

One reason people decide to cut animal products from their diet, is to reap the health rewards that come with eating mindfully. Those who view their bodies as temples and are reluctant to consume foods that harm rather than help, are more likely to give veganism a try. By cutting down on animal products, you automatically shave many processed foods (deli meat, hotdogs, pepperoni sticks, beef jerky), trans-fats, hormones, and unnecessary antibiotics from your diet.

Sustainability

Another reason to go vegan, is to stop contributing to unsustainable farming practices and the inevitable catastrophic results that occur from mass factory farming. The stats on land decimation caused by concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) is devastating, and the water used to hydrate food animals directly takes away from water that could be saving the lives of thirsty human beings.

The system doesn’t work, and more and more consumers are recognizing that.

Ethics

The third reason people explore veganism, is an ethical one. Why kill animals if we don’t have to? Sure, in some parts of the world, animal products are mainstays and necessary to the survival of that area’s inhabitants, but not in most of North America. (There are some northern regions, where the people living there rely on animal blubber and meat to survive.) Unnecessary suffering seems…unnecessary.

Since more people than ever before are becoming open to veganism, it’s interesting to take a look at their eating practices. Despite point number one above (health), many vegans are unhealthy people, and there are a variety of factors that contribute to one becoming a ‘dirty’ vegan.

Three Signs that You’re a Dirty Vegan

Dirty vegan

You consume A LOT of sugar.  As in, waaaaaayy too much. A bowl of saltwater taffy is definitely vegan (I think…), but it has zero nutrition. If you have a sugar addiction, don’t hide behind your new-found veganism—kick it to the curb with a fruit replacement, or, if you drink soda, convert to sparkling water.

You rely on processed foods. Again, a box of Oreos is vegan—this one I know for sure. But nutrition-wise? Another zero. Homemade granola or even grainy crackers are a better alternative. You have to be careful to not fall into the “it’s vegan—I’m good” trap. Just because it doesn’t contain animal products, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Don’t assume a processed veggie dog has the same quality protein as a cup of chickpeas. It doesn’t.

You’re unaware of your nutrient intake. Many may feel that a stellar diet might consist of consuming only apples and carrots, but that’s incorrect. Remember that we, as human beings, require carbohydrates (brown rice, quinoa, millet, and other whole grains, fruits, seeds), protein (beans, tofu, nuts, seeds), and fat (avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts). Consciously consuming a great variety of the above foods as well as a plethora of vegetables and water is what makes your body happy and healthy, and that’s the main purpose of anyone’s intent when going vegan—to make the environment, animals, and ourselves happier and healthier.

So don’t be a dirty vegan. Remind yourself what your initial motivation was, why it’s important to you, what other amazing reasons there are for going vegan, and what your ultimate goal is.

Being dirty can be fun, but not at the expense of your health.

3 Ingredient Substitutions for Converting Conventional #Recipes into #Vegan Masterpieces!

Vegan Baking

Hey, y’all! I don’t know about you, but homemade STUFF is in full-swing around here. I’m hosting my annual cookie exchange next week, and it has me pouring over recipe books, looking for incredible-looking cookies that I can transform into vegan holiday treats.

(Spoiler alert: I found them!)

There are always three ingredients I am more than ready to substitute when looking at conventional recipes: eggs, butter, and milk. To greatly lower saturated fat, keep my IBS in check, and try and stay as plant-based as possible, these three gotta go. Wanna know how?

Flax seeds for vegan baking

  • Eggs. Eggs can be replaced by ½ cup of anything gloppy (think fruit puree, like applesauce, pumpkin, or avocado), but so can butter, and you don’t really want to substitute both ingredients for the same thing, because your recipe will end up flat and dense. Also, eggs are used in recipes as binding agents, so you need to find something else that will hold everything together the way eggs do. So with eggs, I use flax seeds and water. One egg can be replaced by 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds, mixed with 3 tablespoons of warm water. Let this mixture sit in the fridge for about 15 minutes, until it’s kind of congealed. Mmmm…congealed…(Just kidding. That word’s gross.) You can also use ground chia seeds instead of flax.

Coconut Oil.

  • Like I stated above, butter can be swapped directly for anything wet and gloppy. Pumpkin puree, applesauce, coconut oil (melted), and avocado are my faves. If the recipe calls for a ½ cup of butter, then use a ½ cup of one of the above, instead.

Almond milk instead of dairy

  • This one’s easy: swap milk for organic, unsweetened soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, or hemp milk. Keep in mind that the latter three are thinner than 2% milk. If you need thick, use soy or canned coconut milk. If you can get away with thin (like skim), then use one of the other three.

And there you have it! Easy ingredient substitutions that will help your recipes become vegan beacons of deliciousness. (Too much?) If anyone has any suggestions, let me know! If I forgot something, call me out, ok?

Happy baking! xo

The Relationship Between Alzheimer’s Disease, Diabetes, and Coconut Oil

Alzheimer's

Alzheimer’s and Diabetes

There is always a steady stream of research being done on Alzheimer’s disease: an incurable type of dementia that affects memory, behaviour, and usually results in early death. [1] So, why is it recently being nicknamed type 3 diabetes?[2]

“When the body refuses to make insulin, the condition is called type 1 diabetes; when the body mismanages the hormone, it’s known as type 2. Now, scientists report new evidence linking insulin to a disorder of the brain: when the brain prevents the hormone from acting properly, the ensuing chemical imbalance may help trigger Alzheimer’s disease. The correlation is so strong that some researchers are calling Alzheimer’s disease “type 3” diabetes.” –Time[3]

The human brain is fed by glucose, or sugar. (This is one of the reasons I have such a huge beef with Atkin’s-type diets: you NEED carbs.) A recent study by Northwest University concluded that in the instance of insulin shortage (which the brain needs to properly break down glucose), one of the first things to be affected is memory.[4] Huh.  Are there any alternatives that the brain can use besides glucose, you ask? Well, looks like there might be!

What Does Coconut Oil Have to Do With It?

Ketones are a compound that can be used as an alternate source of energy for the brain in the absence of glucose, and coconut oil is a known source of ketones.[5]  Ketones can theoretically be used to synapse function in the brain, thereby restoring brain function. Once brain tissue dies, it cannot be brought back.[6] But ketones can help to restore brain function before any tissue death occurs. Interesting, right?

Now, there are always a ton of declarations concerning which foods may be killing us, which ones should be eaten voraciously for better health, and which ones are only food-like substances, and therefore should technically be avoided. We all are privy to television and newspaper reports that allege the amazing benefits or the disastrous effects that certain foods have on our bodies.

Should we drop everything and take to heart all that we hear about these foods? Certainly not! That would be exhausting. Usually I’m pretty skeptical when I hear something crazy-sounding, like “coconut oil may hold the key to curing Alzheimer’s!”[7] I ask myself who is making such a claim, who is backing the claim, and what studies have been done to prove that the claim is real and not just a really great idea? (‘Cause most are just really spectacular theories.) 😀

What Are the Studies Saying?

Basically, studies are indicating that we’re going to have to take all this coconut oil/ketone talk with a grain of salt. While there haven’t been any studies to definitively prove that consuming coconut oil will provide the brain with ketones needed to help stop or reverse Alzheimer’s,[8] there ARE several individuals who have been sharing personal success stories via the web.

Dr. Mary Newport is one such person, who accidentally stumbled upon the powers of coconut oil when (some might say successfully) attempting to treat her husband for Alzheimer’s.[9] She has written about her experiences with her husband, Steve:

“He is a very different person than he was a year ago and perhaps even two or three years ago. He has serious atrophy of his brain and will never be “normal,” but for now we are very pleased with where he is at and, should coconut oil stop or slow down the progress of his disease, it will be worth every drop that he takes. My sister Lois told a lady she works with about the coconut oil and Steve’s response to it. Her fa­ther began to give this to her mother, who has Al­zheimer’s and she has had a similar response, with more alertness, conversation and sense of humor.  ” [10]

In Conclusion…

Although there is no clear evidence as of yet to absolutely prove the miraculous benefits that coconut oil may hold in regards to curing Alzheimer’s disease, we need to ask ourselves: why should we wait? There are countless natural remedies that work well for tons of different ailments that are not “officially” recognized. These types of remedies, of course, are my favourite. If you know someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s, I can’t imagine there being any harm in treating them with coconut oil, but I’m definitely going to put the disclaimer out there to first check with their physician or naturopath. Good luck!

References:  


Love that Coconut Oil!

So…around last Sunday (Easter), I noticed that my 4-year-old daughter was getting a rash on her face. This was a little unusual, because she’s not normally the one with sensitive skin. (That would be my youngest son.) Thinking that this rash might be an irritation due to the amazing amount of sun we had recently become exposed to, or perhaps a reaction to hot tub chemicals, I decided to ease her rough, dry, reddish cheeks and chin with a lotion that was organic, un-scented, free of parabens, etc.

The next morning, she woke up and looked like her whole face had been burned. A little horrified, I continued to “sooth” her skin by applying more of this high-quality cream. To make a long story short, this went on for another couple of days before I realized that the cream that I thought was pretty pure was REALLY pissing off her skin, and I quickly switched it up to coconut oil. Within a day, and after two applications, her face was relatively clear.

Huh. I am a total proponent of natural, healthy alternatives to things like processed food and chemicals– why hadn’t I just used the coconut oil in the first place? And with everything that we’ve been hearing about coconut oil lately, what’s really going on with it? Is it as fab as everyone’s been telling us? My daughter’s skin certainly thinks so. So…what exactly is coconut oil, and how can we use it to our benefit?

Coconut oil is literally the fatty oil that is obtained from coconut. It has many uses:

– It’s used in cosmetics.

– It’s a substitute for an animal-based fat, like butter or lard. It can be used in place of these things when baking, cooking, greasing a dish, etc.

– It makes a great moisturizer. It’s goes on greasy, but is fabulous at healing dry, damaged skin. It’s great on eczema.

According to Dr. Oz, coconut oil can help our bodies to build resistance to viruses and bacteria, as well as well as fight off yeast, fungus, and candida. It can also regulate our hormones and blood sugar, and boost thyroid function. It can also lend a hand in the workout department, by escalating our metabolism, energy, and endurance. Pretty sweet, right?

Huffington Post lists these as their top 5 reasons to love coconut oil:

1- It lowers cholesterol

2- It acts as an amazing immunity booster

3- It helps in the weight-loss department

4- It’s fabulous for our skin and hair

5- It makes a great massage oil, which can help in stress reduction

Once thought of as just a saturated fat that is high in calories and not healthy for us to consume, coconut oil is now being hailed as a multi-purposed wonder food. It’s so exciting! So next time you need to sooth a sunburn, moisturize dry heels, or grease a baking dish, don’t forget about coconut oil! Happy Nude Food Friday! 😀

Are You Still Eating Margarine?

First, there was butter. This fat was (and still is) highly versatile, and relatively pure. Then, the public was told that it was too fatty, and that they should switch to a “new” butter called margarine. Margarine was quickly accepted in the homes of millions, despite the fact that it was lab-created, and full of chemicals that should never be in real food.

Well, this isn’t the 50’s anymore, and margarine needs to go.

We’ve all heard the joke that margarine would last a lifetime if just left alone on the floor of your garage. I don’t find this particularly amusing anymore, because it’s true– substances that last longer than your family pet should not be consumed by any human. Or otherwise. Yuck.

So, what are some good alternatives to margarine? Well, you could go back to butter (which has ONE ingredient: whipped cream), or, if you’re vegan, try coconut oil or Earth’s Balance Buttery Spread. Both of these options are good ones, and they’re both free of animal products. (Coconut oil is my personal fave; EBBS contains soy isolates, which is a little weird)

It’s 2013! Out with the margarine! In with the food that has some component of nutrition to it. Go, YOU! Have a great weekend!