Oil Pulling: What the heck is it, and why should I try it?

Oil_Pulling

What is Oil Pulling?

Well, it’s as “old as the hills” as they say. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic medicine remedy dating back over 3000 years and is used to promote oral health and detoxification. Simply put, oil pulling is swishing a high quality oil in your mouth as you would mouthwash. Sounds weird, I know, but trust me, it’s worth doing! Oh, and it’s really not as gross as it sounds! This daily measure has experienced quite the resurgence in recent years and for good reason.

Why do it?

Our mouth is home to millions of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other toxins (yuk!) and is essentially the gateway to the rest of our body. The oil pulls and collects these toxins before they spread throughout the body.

Benefits of Oil Pulling

Ayurvedic medicine boasts over 30 health benefits to oil pulling but here’s my TOP 6! Starting with a fun one, of course :)

Whiter Teeth

Keep your smile bright without the use of harsh chemicals and teeth whiteners. The oil possesses natural antibiotic and antiviral properties that clean and brighten teeth. Everyone is different, but you should see a great difference in about two weeks!

Better Oral Hygiene & Fresh Breath

Oil pulling helps fight gingivitis, plaque and microorganisms that cause bad breath While coconut, sesame and sunflower oil all have the same bacteria fighting benefits, coconut oil has the added benefit of lauric acid, which is known for its anti-microbial agents and therefore is more effective. There have also been promising studies done on the effect of oil pulling in preventing tooth decay. Oral health is essential for overall health as well because certain diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease are linked with gum disease.

Clear Skin

Removing all these toxins from the body before they have a chance to do harm allows the skin to shine through. Oil pulling not only leads to clearer skin but help those with acne, rashes and other skin issues.

Less Headaches

Headaches can be nature’s way of saying, “give me a break”. Oil pulling can eliminate the bacteria that can contribute to the toxic stress that causes headaches. I have to mention here that I got a friend of mine hooked on this habit about a year ago. She has suffered from frequent headaches for years and now only gets the very occasional one – yay!!

Clears Sinuses

Oil pulling pulls congestion and mucus from your throat and loosens up your sinuses – aaah! So whether you’re dealing with allergies, a cold or a sinus infection, oil pulling will bring you some much needed relief!

Boosts the Immune System

Ayurvedic practitioners believe that this therapy detoxifies the whole body system by removing harmful bacteria and toxins so that the immune system is free to heal the body. It is important to rid the body of toxins and other invaders because the body responds to these with inflammation, allergic reactions and other symptoms, consequently over burdening the immune system. Ready to give it a try?

How to Oil Pull

It might be easier to think of oil pulling more as oil swishing. Types of Oil to use. Traditionally coconut, sesame, or sunflower oil are used. It is important to use high quality oil, ideally organic, unrefined and cold-pressed. I personally like to use coconut oil because I like the taste, plus it has some added benefits (which I’ll get to soon!). coconut_oil Swisheroo! Put 1 tablespoon of oil in your mouth and swish! Swish the oil gently around your mouth and through your teeth (although avoid letting the oil go back to your throat). The recommended time for swishing is 20 minutes. If you’re using coconut oil, the oil will soften very quickly once in the warmth of your mouth, so no need to melt it in advance. If your jaw gets a wee bit tired, take a break and just hold the oil in your mouth till you’re ready to start again. DSC_0094 My tip. The first time I did this, I didn’t last long! I suggest you start slow with just 5 minutes a day and with just a teaspoon of oil until you get used to the feeling. I was quickly able to build up my time and the amount of oil with practice. Another thing I did when I was building up time was to take a second spoonful and start again, so I could add minutes that way. At first I stayed close to the trash can in case I had to spit it out, but now I can swish while doing chores. You can make the bed, unload the dishwasher or take a shower and before you know it, your time is up. If you can only fit in 5 or 10 minutes, you will still reap some benefit. Disposal. Spit the oil into a trash can. DO NOT swallow the oil, as it’s full of the toxins you’re trying to remove. DO NOT spit it into the sink or you’ll end up with a blocked drain (been there, done that!). Finishing Touches. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water and then brush your teeth and floss as normal. Squeaky Clean! Your mouth will feel fresh and fabulous! When? Traditionally oil pulling should be done first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. If this works for you – great! If not, please just try to fit it in whenever you can. It is much better to oil pull at a different of day time than not to oil pull at all. Frequency? 3 – 4 days a week is a good goal but if you’re working on a health issue or trying to get your teeth bright quickly, then doing it every day will get you there faster. If you can only fit it in on weekends when you have a little extra time, you are still benefiting the health of your mouth and your body, so it’s totally worth it! Are you already oil pulling? What benefits have you noticed? If you’ve never given it a try, let us know how you do and how you feel afterwards. Please share in the comments. email_signoff1

Reduced Visibility

Do you ever feel like you’re turning in on yourself?

As I looked out at the fog hanging heavily over my house this morning, the first thought I had was that it was going to be a blah, dreary day. DSC_0008

Fog used to be a BIG part of my life.

Scotland is well known for its foggy days and when I was growing up I never saw fog as a positive or beautiful thing. I think about the times we’d be driving around Loch Lomond and the fog would be so thick that we’d barely be moving and my poor dad would have the side window down with his head sticking out of it and trying to drive at the same time. Quite a challenge! Fog seemed to me to cause difficulty and danger. Sometimes I just thought of fog as something that blocked my view. I resented it for this. Why did it have to hang around and hide things? Over the years I’ve come to love and appreciate the beauty of fog in certain situations though. Driving though Glencoe I’m constantly gasping at the beauty of the mountains with the fog suspended between them. The sight of fog hovering over water is also hard to beat. Now I appreciate the haunting quality that fog brings to the land and seascape.

Today I had a new thought as I looked out at the fog.

I thought how nice it is not to be able to see too far way or too far ahead. How it was comforting to feel enclosed and cozy. Safe and sound. Surrounded and protected. I felt like the fog was giving me permission to turn inward. There is so much visual stimulation in our lives. Everywhere we look there’s something to take our minds off one thing and on to the next, or distract us in some way.

I felt as though I was being forced to look inward instead of outside myself.

When we are encouraged to look “in” instead of “out”, we have the opportunity to see something we may otherwise miss. Think about something we may otherwise not give time to. Ponder or solve a problem. Access our creativity.

I can see clearly now!

Fog can certainly change our day, but it doesn’t have to be in a negative way, the way I used to see it. Fog can actually help you see further than you ever thought possible. Further into yourself, your mind, your heart, your soul. So the next time the fog rolls in, I’m going to take full advantage of what might lie within, instead of what lies outside myself. How do you feel about fog? Are you a fan? How does fog change your day or how you feel? Please share below, we’d love to hear. email_signoff1    

Morning Sunshine: Why you should start your day with “Lemon Water”

DSC_0222 If you start your day right, chances are you will keep that theme going! This simple Daily Measure is a small change anyone can make to their routine, and one that comes with long-term health benefits. The first thing I do in the morning is to drink a cup of warm water with lemon. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now and it has become an essential part of my routine. I know this habit plays an important role in my continuing good health and therefore I make it a priority! There are SO many benefits to drinking warm lemon water but I am going to focus on what I consider the most valuable. Here are my top 6!

Hydration

You’ve just woken up from 7-8 hours of sleep (I hope!) and your body is dehydrated. Warm lemon water is the perfect way to rehydrate, and get your body and mind going for the day. Warm water is kind to the system, and doesn’t shock your body awake like cold water does.

Liver Lover

While you’re sleeping, restoring and repairing, your liver is busy, busy!! Your liver is the main detoxing organ in the body and is responsible for so many vital functions that support good health, so it’s crucial that we give it all the help we can to do it’s job right! The liver can make more enzymes out of lemon juice than any other food. Lemon water cleanses the liver and stimulates it to release toxins and flush them out of your body. Bye, bye!

Digestion

The citric acid in lemons interacts with other enzymes and acids to stimulate the release of gastric juice, which aids digestion. Good digestion allows your body to absorb the nutrients it needs to operate at it’s best. It can also help relieve symptoms of indigestion such as heartburn and bloating.

Immune Support

The vitamin C in lemons gives your immune system the boost it needs to keep you healthy and fight off infections. With cold and flu season upon us, this is a great reason to start this healthy habit now!

Skin

By supporting the body in detoxing and improving the digestion, lemon water can lead to clearer skin. The vitamin C in lemon also boosts collagen production to create smoother, healthier skin. The antioxidant properties in lemon help fight free radical damage, which is responsible for the symptoms of aging. (My personal fav!) 

Weight

Lemon water is an ally in maintaining a healthy weight and can aid in weight loss, when included along with other healthy habits. The pectin fiber in lemons also helps suppress hunger cravings.

Here’s how I make mine

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  1. I turn on the electric kettle (which I cannot live without) but if you don’t have one, you can just boil water on the cooktop.
  2. I start with half a cup of room temperature filtered water.
  3. Squeeze half a lemon into the cup. I have several different lemon squeezer options in the kitchen because we use lemons all the time, but if you don’t have one, just give it a good squeeze with your hands and use a fork to help get all the juice out. This is how I do it when I’m travelling :) If you’re doing it this way, be sure to strain the seeds!
  4. Next, I top up the cup with the hot water from the kettle. This creates the perfect temperature for drinking and also allows your body to gain the most benefits.
My latest accessory (and I DO love an accessory) is the addition of a glass straw. I’ve read conflicting reports about how the citric acid from lemons can affect the enamel on your teeth. Some say it does, some say you would have to drink huge amounts for this to happen. So, I’ve decided to add the straw, just in case. Another simple solution to this potential issue is just to rinse your mouth with water afterwards.

Confessions

As I typed my “how to” a little spark of guilt arose in me, and I feel I must share how I really drink my warm lemon water MOST mornings! My amazing husband Randall makes me warm lemon water (to my simple recipe above) and brings it to me in bed. I know!! I must have done something pretty fabulous in a previous life to deserve this sort of treatment. I almost feel bad sharing this, and yet I‘d feel equally bad saying I make it for myself every morning! I DO make it on the occasional morning when Randall has a ridiculously early meeting and I need a wee lie in. Do you already drink warm lemon water in the morning? How do you feel it’s affected your health? If you don’t already drink it, would you be up for a 14 day challenge to add it to your routine? I’d love to hear how it goes and what benefits you see and feel! Please do share! email_signoff1

The “Yes” Express

IMG_2244 “I’d love to, but I’m afraid I’m just too busy that day, but let’s get a date on the calendar, that does work”. “I’d love to help at the event but I’m already volunteering at a fundraiser that same week”. These things aren’t hard to say and yet somehow or other, when we are in the moment, often these are not the words that come out. We end up saying “Of course, I’d love to help” or “I’ll be there” or “Yes, I’ll host that” or any number of similar answers. We just seem to have a hard time saying “NO”!

Jingle Bells

The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for many people. There’s decorating and shopping to be done, baking and cooking. We want to see all our family, friends and colleagues. There are parties and open houses and dinners and on and on. How wonderful it all sounds! However, a couple of weeks at this pace and you may find yourself tired and grumpy before we’re even half way through December, which is not wonderful at all! Of course we want to do as many fun things as possible and if you are good with a hectic pace, go for it! However, for some of us it’s important to set boundaries and save a little time and energy so that we can enjoy the season. I remember the days when I would cram it all in, and be so exhausted by the end of the year that I inevitably started the New Year with a bad cold and sore throat.

My Proposal

I don’t want you to think of it in terms of saying “no” to someone or something but instead think of it as saying “yes” to yourself! We all love the word “yes”. It has such a nice soft sound to it. It’s fun to say and good to hear.
When you say “no” to an invitation or obligation that could cause you stress, what you’re really doing is saying, “yes” to you, and you’re worth it!!

“Yes” is More!

Saying, “yes” to yourself is like telling yourself how valuable you are. How worthy you are of care and consideration. You’re telling yourself you’re important, and your needs are valid. When you say, “yes” to yourself you’re also setting a good example for your family, friends, and children. People will respect you when you set these boundaries. Lead by example and set the tone for others. When you get through the season with ease and are able to enjoy every moment with your friends or loved ones, and maintain good health and cheer, others will take note. It is not selfish but sensible. What good are you to anyone if you deplete yourself or compromise your own life or health? We naturally want to make others happy (which is a nice thing) but we shouldn’t always do this at the expense of ourselves. You don’t have to always be the one to host the family gathering or make the entire meal. Find ways to share the responsibilities with others. And don’t feel bad about declining an invitation (as lovely it is to receive them) because you have multiple commitments that same week and you need a little time to recharge or to work on your own projects or passions. Unless of course you actually enjoy wrapping presents at 2 a.m.!

Say “yes” to...  

yourself

your health

your body

your well being

your needs

your spirit

your passions

your dreams

your choices

your ideas

If saying, “yes” to someone else compromises your life in some way, then you seriously need to think about saying, “yes” to yourself instead! I spent years saying, “yes” to things and people that didn’t serve me. How did that work out for me? Not so well! I have worked hard at learning to say “yes” to myself instead. It takes practice but I can report that I have gotten rather good at it! Trust me, the more you practice doing it, the easier it gets. You quickly see and feel the difference it makes in your life and then there’s no going back. The power of saying, “yes” to yourself builds and builds. So, get on the “yes” express with me now, and feel the difference for yourself! How are you at saying, “yes” to yourself and your needs? Do you have any tips to share to help us all out as we navigate the holiday season? Please share below, we’d love to hear!  email_signoff1

Go with the flow! The Benefits of Eating What’s In Season

I think we would all agree that’s its easier to be in the natural flow of things than trying to fight against it. This is just as true when it comes to eating. Sometimes we have to be reminded to change our diet with the season. So many of us eat the exact same thing for breakfast everyday, don’t vary our lunches very often and have a few go-to dinner recipes. This does make our busy lives just a little easier. However, let’s keep the seasons in mind and try to follow the natural order of things. Our ancestors would eat with the season, not because they were trying to be fashionable but because they simply didn’t have a choice. They didn’t expect to be eating peaches in the winter and Brussels sprouts in the summer. Technology and our modern food system allow us access to most foods all year round and grocery store shelves don’t vary that much from season to season anymore.
Eating seasonally is simply trying to include foods in your diet that are grown at the same time of the year that you actually eat them.
Eating seasonally is good for your health, the planet and can save you money! IMG_1092

Higher Nutritional Content

Produce harvested and eaten at its peak generally has more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than produce harvested before it’s really ready and then shipped long distances. You know what a big fan I am of those free-radical fighting antioxidants helping to keep our bodies free from disease! Foods that are grown out of season are often sprayed with all sorts of chemicals to help them survive in a growing season that’s not natural for them. Therefore, these foods are often full of pesticides, waxes, preservatives and other chemicals that are used in order to make them look fresher than they are. YUK! More preservatives = Less nutritional value

Flavor

Fruits and vegetables just taste better when they’re eaten in season. A great example is the perfect, juicy tomato ripened by the summer sun versus the bland, not so juicy green house grown winter version

Variety is the spice of life

When we eat for the seasons we naturally get a broader variety of foods in our diet. This can encourage us to try new things and consequently, expand our palate. This can also help create a more well-rounded and better balanced diet. Nature knows best and seasonal foods often harmonize with our nutritional needs. In winter we are provided with foods that help keep us warm and in summer with foods to cool our body down and keep us hydrated. So as winter approaches, think about replacing that lunch salad with a bowl of hearty soup. Eating seasonally also allows us to rotate the foods we eat which may help prevent us from developing food intolerances to certain foods and reap the health benefits of a diverse diet that is naturally detoxifying. IMG_1020

Value for money

When a food is in season, and plentiful its also usually less expensive. When it’s out of season it can cost a small fortune. Think about the teeny wee tub of blueberries that costs double what it did a couple of month ago. Ouch! When you buy what’s in season, you’re buying that food at the peak of its supply and it costs less for farmers and distribution companies to harvest and deliver to your grocery store or local farmers market. Out of season food either grown in an unnatural environment or shipped half way around the world is not only not as good for your health but can break the bank.

Save the planet

By eating seasonally this often in turn means you’re eating more locally grown produce. This not only helps support local farmers and your community, it also cuts down on fuel costs and pollution. IMG_0880

Harmony

Eating with the season connects us to the calendar, the earth and each other. We can recall or look forward to the activities associated with certain foods such as blueberry picking with a friend or a special seasonal family dinner.

Balance

As with everything, we shouldn’t get too hung up on trying to eat “perfectly” with every season.   Yes, there are health benefits to this food movement, but stressing out over it will reduce those benefits enormously. Just keep the seasons in mind and try to work with them and not against them. If you love a certain fruit or vegetable that’s out of season, it’s not a crime to eat it, but keep in mind that there might be a seasonal or local alternative that’s just as delicious and good for you!

Hearty Winter Vegetable Soup

Talking of expanding our vegetable horizons, Tania from The Cook's Pyjamas www.thecookspyjamas.com created this recipe to do just that – try new winter veggies! http://thecookspyjamas.com/hearty-winter-vegetable-soup/ Hearty-Winter-Vegetable-Soup-3

Roasted Winter Vegetables

Jamielyn from I Heart Naptime www.iheartnaptime.net takes you step-by-step through how to roast the perfect veggies! http://www.iheartnaptime.net/roasted-winter-vegetables/ roasted-winter-vegetables-7-e1358487693365 Do you feel like you already eat with the seasons? Or want to give it a try? Share below any tips of favorite foods you enjoy at this time of year. email_signoff1

A “Proper” Thank You!

Growing up in Scotland, we of course, didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. However, it wasn’t long after I moved to the U.S. that I realized what an important holiday it is to people here, and I can now understand why.

There’s no place like home!

It’s one of the few holidays that everyone wants to be “home” for. No matter where they are, how long the journey might be or how uncooperative the weather, there is a need to be with “your people”. It feels to me, that it’s a more important holiday to many people than Christmas (and Christmas is pretty darn important!). I’ve spent Thanksgiving in countless homes over the years, generously being embraced by friends and family happy to take in “just one or two more”, so I’ve seen a few different traditions along the way. uYrwXZnU5F828k32SElIiGLmjk9KZeRq5WIcwFKCmIs

What are you thankful for?

Without a doubt, the tradition that unifies all my experiences is that of everyone taking turns around the dinner table to say what they are thankful for. Such a lovely thing to do!

Turning the tables.

However, last Thanksgiving day, I spent the entire day writing emails to people who I felt the need and desire to thank. People who had touched my life in such a significant way that a short card just wouldn’t do! Last Thanksgiving happened to fall on the anniversary of my first surgery (bi-lateral mastectomy and reconstruction, November 27th, 2012, which was also my lovely dad’s birthday!) so it was a memorable date for me and that it fell on Thanksgiving day that year, it just seemed appropriate to spend my day thanking some of the people who helped me through that time.

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A “proper” thank you!

Shortly before this, I had listened to a talk on “thanking”. What I loved about it was that it made me realize that it’s so important to be specific when you write a thank you. If someone has made a huge impact on your life in some way, tell them! It’s not enough to simply write “thanks for everything”, “I couldn’t have done it without you”, or “thanks for being there”. If someone made that big of a contribution to your life, then they deserve to hear, in detail, exactly how. How they made you feel, specifically how they helped or encouraged you, how they changed your life for the better and how you think of them often because of all they did.

A new tradition.

I know you’re all very busy on this special day, but maybe take a little time and write a “proper” thank you to someone who you’ve never really thanked properly for something they’ve done to change your life. Imagine how special they will feel and how good you will feel for having done it. A very BIG Thank you to you ALL for reading my post! Happy Thanksgiving! xox email_signoff1_name