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The sun is shining, the kids are almost out for summer, and you’ve got the family vacation all planned out.
You spent MONTHS researching and crafting the perfect trip…but it only takes one person getting a virus or coming down with a bout of food poising to turn that highly anticipated trip into a BIG DISSAPOINTMENT.
Fortunately, we’ve gotcha covered with 12 unconventional ways to keep your family healthy on vacation…so you can relax and actually enjoy some much deserved down-time.
Here’s what to do:
1. Pump up immunity a few days before and a few days after travel, with these herbs and supplements…
Any time you travel to a new place, unfamiliar germs challenge the body’s defenses. Overall this is a good thing for building a strong microbiome and immune system…but nobody wants to get the sniffles at the beach!
To keep our family healthy, we start taking at least one of these immune-supportive herbs at least three days before we travel and continue for three days after:
• Cat’s Claw
• Olive Leaf
We also use plenty of probiotics to build our digestive immunity.
For convenience, choose probiotics that don’t require refrigeration such as lactobacillus sporogenes.
2. If you’re driving, make the drive healthier by investing in a car ionizer.
Have you ever wondered why driving is so exhausting?
A holistic nurse once told me, that driving our cars is the most toxic thing we do.
Air on the road is filled with exhaust fumes, pollen, and other road pollutants, making a long drive less than healthy for everyone in the car.
A small investment in a quality car ionizer can make a huge difference to your car’s air quality…and may even prevent crankiness in young passengers!
3. If you’re flying, protect yourself from unwanted radiation.
Many people don’t realize that flying comes with a good dose of radiation. An average 7-hour flight packs as much punch as a chest X-Ray…eeps.
Not great for the adults or kiddies.
Natural health practitioners will tell you a good dose of liquid chlorophyll, organic spirulina, or kelp (look for clean Norwegian Fjord Kelp) can help negate the effects of radiation and keep you healthier in the sky.
4. Plan ahead for healthy snacking.
If you use vacation as an excuse to eat junk food all week you’ll be feeling run down and lethargic when the party’s over.
Yes, an ice cream or special dessert here or there is all part of the fun, but too much sugar and processed foods weaken our immunity, sap energy, and can contribute to illness.
Some of our favorite kid and travel-friendly snacks include almond butter pouches, Larabars (no affiliation), string cheese, ants on a log, trail mix, applesauce, yogurt, organic baby food pouches (these are great for a quick toddler or little kid snack), and Annie’s Bunnies.
5. Don’t leave home without digestive enzymes and activated charcoal for eating out.
Does your digestion usually get a little “off” when you travel? Mine too.
To help ease discomfort I always carry plant-based digestive enzymes. Taken 20 minutes before a meal, or even after, they help speed the digestive process and keep you regular.
I also never leave home without activated charcoal. This easy-to-find, natural, inexpensive remedy is a must-have if food poisoning or tummy trouble strikes.
It’s literally charcoal in a tablet or capsule, and acts like a sponge to absorb impurities in the digestive tract.
It’s safe for children and adults, and you can find it at your local health food store.
6. Watch sugar intake.
Studies have found that 1 teaspoon of sugar can paralyze the immune system for up to 6 hours. Ouch!
Refined sugar is a “vampire carbohydrate”.
Stripped of all its nutrients in the refining process, it weakens your entire body by leaching vitamins and minerals in order to be metabolized. Sugar is also very acidifying, and unwanted pathogens just LOVE and acidic environment.
Bad news if you’re already in a new place with new germs.
If sugar does make an appearance at cocktail or snack time, help your body manage by taking some extra B vitamins and a double dose of immune-boosting herbs.
For some cool tips on making happy hour healthier, check out this article by Haaper’s Bazaar.
7. Do a little restaurant research.
I’m all for spontaneity…especially when visiting a new place.
But before you make a bee line for that funky looking dive on the dunes, grab your smart phone and log onto The Healthy Dining Finder.
I’ve mentioned the site before. I use this all the time when I travel for work.
If the spot you’re craving isn’t listed at The Healthy Dining Finder, at the very least check out their health score. If they don’t have it displayed (and this varies state-to-state) log onto: foodsafetynews.com and click on your state.
8. Steer clear of salad bars.
You think you’d be doing yourself a favor by opting for a salad instead of a sandwich, right? Not exactly…
Raw foods, such as salads, are prime territory for cross contamination. Why? Because salads are never heated to kill bacteria, germs, or parasites.
Having worked in restaurants for years, I can attest that salad bars are the worst offenders. No matter how vigilant the restaurant staff is, any self-serve salad bar is vulnerable to double-dipping, put-backs, and grubby little (and big) unwashed hands.
You’re on vacation, just go for the sandwich or some grilled meat or fish with veggies.
9. Be prepare for the unexpected with a natural first aid kit
When you’re in an unfamiliar environment accidents happen…especially with kids and husbands!
Be prepared with my natural, travel-friendly, first aid kit:
• Arnica cream for bumps and bruises.
• Calendula or comfrey cream for minor scrapes and cuts.
• Pure aloe vera gel for sunburns.
• Rescue Remedy for shock and stress.
• Lavender essential oils for burns and bug bites.
• Tea tree essential oil for fungal infections and general disinfecting.
• Geranium essential oil for repelling mosquitos.
• Activated charcoal for food poisoning (had to mention this gem again).
• Belladonna homeopathic for fevers.
• Plenty of Band-Aids, and pre-packaged sanitary wipes.
• A cold pack (if freezer available).
10. Don’t forget non-toxic sunscreen and plenty of it.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but how many times have run out of natural sunscreen and had to resort to the synthetic stuff?
It may seem like a small thing, but everything we put onto our skin goes into our bloodstream and either strengthens or weakens our defenses.
It pays to use the good stuff.
I recently hopped on a natural sunscreen thread (via my holistic moms group on Facebook), and these get top points for being kid-friendly, all-natural, non-toxic, non-residue/non-whitening mineral sunscreens:
11. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Between the extra coffee needed to get the whole family out the door, the summer heat, sweating it to get to the airport (or just getting everyone loaded in the car), restrictions on taking your own water on the plane (or not drinking enough to avoid too many potty breaks), and the flight/trip itself, most of us end up dehydrated before we ever reach our destination.
According to one of my all-time favorite reads, Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, dehydration can mask itself as a host of illnesses including:
• Depression/mood swings
• Joint pain
• Back pain
• Heart Burn
Make a water run your first order of business when you reach your destination. Chose spring water over purified, and encourage your whole family to drink LOTS of it.
Some foods that help hydrate include:
Coconut water is also a wonderful, natural, sugar-free hydrator and is readily available everywhere.
12. If you’re out in the woods be vigilant about mosquitos and ticks.
Lyme disease is an epidemic in this country, and experts believe it can be transmitted via ticks, fleas, mites, and mosquitos.
Geranium essential oil makes a great natural bug repellant. Though there are no known natural tick-repellants, stopticks.org offers some excellent preventative tips for keeping ticks at bay.
If your child comes down with a fever or displays any unexplained symptoms, do not hesitate to have them checked for Lyme disease. Early detection and prevention are key.
For more information about the myths and facts on Lyme, check out our previous post.
Follow these 12 tips and you’ll enjoy a memorable, stress-free, and healthy vacation.
What unconventional steps do you take to keep your family healthy while traveling? Is there a product or home remedy you don’t leave home without? Perhaps a cool travel app to share?
We’d love to hear your tips and comments!
just for the health of it!
So, you’re probably wondering was NDD stands for. I learned about the term Nature Deficiency Disorder a couple years ago when we enrolled our daughter in Montessori school. It’s a REAL thing!
I was re-inspired to get the word out through, Woot! Woot! Wednesday’s does your child suffer from NDD, after coming across this study proving the health benefits of green exercise (exercising outdoors) for children.
As a mother, having my daughter experience nature is very important to me. As a busy entrepreneur I also know how tempting and convenient it is to plunk her down in front of the TV or computer so I squeeze one more email in, or make one more phone call.
One of the reasons the Montessori program appealed to us when choosing childcare for Evy, is a critical part of their philosophy is nurturing the child’s oneness with nature.
Time spent outdoors, gardening, playing, exploring, learning about plants and creatures is all part of the curriculum for all ages.
But parents, whether our kids are in Montessori school or NOT, surely we can see the difference in our children when they spend an afternoon outside versus in front of the computer, Wii, tablet, or television.
If we need a study to prove it, perhaps WE are the ones who could benefit from green exercise. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a parent it’s to model the behavior you’d like to see in your children.
So, to help make a difference I did what I do best…got out my laptop, did some meditating and researching, and came up with 30 fun ideas on how to get more green time.
I think we could start a “cure NDD” movement here. I urge you to read the list and, more importantly please ADD to it!
30 Family Cure-Alls for NDD:
- Start a garden. Even if it’s one or two pots, let your kids water the seeds and steward the whole process. If it’s a flop, use it as a learning experience and try again.
- Build a bird feeder. This can be as simple as putting some millet in a dish, or slathering peanut butter on a pinecone and dipping it in seeds. Keep it simple.
- Set up a humming bird feeder, OR grow plants that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Kids are just fascinated by them.
- Paint the house with water. Fill buckets with water, put out paint brushes and have the young kids “paint” your house, deck, patio furniture. Let their little imaginations will run wild.
- Make a flower chain with your girls…it’s a great way to weed the grass AND connect together.
- Set up an easel outside and draw or paint scenery. Use finger paint for the little ones.
- Sit down with a blank sheet of paper and come up with an imaginative story or poem together based on what you see in nature.
- Go hiking. Remember to bring along lots of snacks and NO electronics.
- Plan a cool scavenger hunt.
- Go canoeing, kayaking, or boating.
- Go camping…remember, no electronics!
- OR camp in the backyard and make a family night of it.
- Volunteer to clean up local trails.
- Visit a local wildlife preserve.
- Take a bike ride. Find your local greenway and start using it.
- Try mountain biking. They even have cool tagalong attachments for the little ones.
- Chop your own wood (with the older kids of course).
- Dine al fresco. Don’t just grill something outside then eat in front of the TV. Set up an outdoor bistro, or plop a picnic blanket down and enjoy the evening together.
- Take and herb or plant identification walk. So this may bore the heck out of your kids, so let them bring a friend and run around exploring the outdoors while you learn something new.
- Get fido in on the fun! I think modern dogs suffer a bit of NDD too. Increase the time & length of your dog walks and make it a family affair.
- Get your kids involved in outdoor crafts. Now, I’m not a natural-born-crafter, so when I need ideas I hop on Pinterest.
- Three words that will make everyone happy: Hide and seek. Pick an evening and get the whole neighborhood involved…parents LOVE to participate in activities like this with their kids.
- Catch lightening bugs. This will keep your kids entertained for HOURS while you enjoy….
- ….a fire pit! Fire pits are inexpensive and a great way to enjoy an evening at home. For a tasty and healthy fireside treat, let everyone make their own custom banana boats.
- Set up a waterpark at home. Sprinklers, blow up pools, water guns, slip ‘n slides, and water play tables make for hours summertime fun. If you really want to hit a home run, have some sand trucked in and create a little beach to go along with the water play fun.
- Stargaze. Easier for those in the country…so why not drive up to the country one evening and park? Bring your iPad and take advantage of the cool stargazer aps.
- Go berry picking.
- Visit a local farm/farmer’s market. Many local farms offer tours just for kids so they can get to know and connect with where their food and meats come from.
- Encourage your kids to start a nature collection. Be it rocks, pressed leaves, shells, or even bugs, it will get them excited to back outside and explore.
- Invest in some rain gear. Don’t let a rainy day be an excuse to sit inside all day—people in the Pacific Northwest certainly don’t! Send the kids outside and let them splash in the puddles, make mudpies, and search for rainy day creatures (worms, frogs, etc.).
If the idea of Nature Deficiency Disorder resonates with you, I highly recommend Richard Louv’s book on the topic, Last Child in the Woods.
Now it’s YOUR TURN. What can you add to this list? Can we get over 100 ideas going? Maybe even 200?!
Can I get a Woot! Woot! For curing NDD?
just for the health of it!
If you subscribe to health blogs, magazines, or newsletters you’ve been bombarded with info on the “latest and greatest” antioxidants.
From doctor-endorsed juices that claim to “prevent nearly all disease and make your energy soar…”
To “the exotic-berry-extract supplement that can help you lose 50 pounds in three months…”
To “the next proprietary miracle night cream that’s better than a face lift AND can do your laundry”…LOL!
All the hype is enough to make you tune out and become an anti-antioxidant!
But seriously, there’s a reason so much research money and hype is poured into this field—legit antioxidants have serious health value.
So, how do you filter through hype and get to the good stuff? Grab yourself a glass of red wine and keep reading…
After bending my practitioner clients’ ears over the years, attending endless health conferences, and doing some research…I discovered some of the best antioxidants are also the most easy to find and affordable.
Makes you think twice about blowing 40 bucks on a bottle of juice, huh?
Here’s the starting lineup.
1. Turmeric—ah, we’ve touched on the healing powers of turmeric a couple times before…it’s the herb that just keeps on giving!
Curcumin, the antioxidant found in turmeric, is one of the most studied herbal antioxidants, and has been shown, among other things, to kill and inhibit the growth of cancer cells in a laboratory setting.
Game. (freakin’) Changer.
Human cancer trials are underway, but from its anti-inflammatory properties, to liver healing, immune-boosting, and anti-aging benefits…there’s no denying turmeric is one of the most valuable antioxidants available.
2. CoQ10—no surprise here. CoQ10 has been around since the second coming of boy bands.
But…are you taking an absorbable form of CoQ10? Let me explain.
CoQ10 is a fat-soluble nutrient, like Vitamin E or Vitamin D, making it more challenging for the cells to absorb.
If CoQ10 is taken without a special delivery system in place, much of it will end up being excreted.
Hear that flush? It’s your designer antioxidant careening down the toilet!
My company, Energetix, recently released MicoActive CoQ10. A form of time-release CoQ10 that is proven to provide advanced absorption to 100% of users in clinical studies.
I’ve already received awesome practitioner feedback on its noticeable effects on energy levels and stress.
For more info, visit: www.goenergetix.com or talk to your healthcare professional.
3. Milk Thistle: This prickly powerhouse may not be as smooth and sexy as a resveratrol-rich glass of cabernet wine or high ORAC value acai juice, but it’s worth a second look.
Milk Thistle is a common herb you might see growing in a field. It’s active antioxidants, silymarin and silybin, are being studied in cancer cells, and in tumors of the tongue, skin, bladder, colon, and small intestine.
On an every-day basis, milk thistle can protect your liver from environmental toxins and does wonders for improving the texture, tone, and clarity of your skin. Teenagers with acne swear by it.
Milk Thistle is inexpensive, easy to find, and can be taken as a tea, tincture, or capsule.
4. Vitamin C—walk into nearly any integrative medical clinic, and you’re likely find intravenous vitamin C drips on the menu for treating infections, fatigue, and even cancer.
According to cancer.gov, IV vitamin C cancer studies are being conducted in laboratories and on animals with promising results.
Due to the notable decrease of Vitamin C in foods over the last century, many healthcare practitioners recommend daily supplementation as part of a healthy lifestyle.
5. Green tea—there’s no arguing with the science behind this one.
Green tea may be one of the reasons traditional Eastern cultures enjoy much lower rates of cancer and other degenerative diseases.
Green tea is loaded with polyphenols which function as antioxidants. Catechin is a polyphenol in green tea that has been studied for its positive effects on reducing breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer in women.
I’m not suggesting you give up your morning coffee, but perhaps a pot of green tea in the afternoon may be worth its weight in coffee beans…just sayin’!
Super-concentrated green tea extract is another option, and is available in supplement form.
6. Whole foods—there’s a saying in the natural health field: no amount of supplementation or exercise can make up for a crappy diet…I’m paraphrasing here!
There’s no getting’ around it.
A diet rich in plant-based whole foods such as leafy green vegetables, dark colored berries, and orange and yellow fruits and veggies, offers a plethora of antioxidants in their natural form.
Here are some key players:
o Go Green…and leafy: Kale, collard greens, spinach, broccoli, Brussels’s sprouts, and chard for vitamin C, E, and quercetin.
o Stay mellow and think red, orange, and yellow: For vitamins A and C. Bananas are also source of the antioxidants vitamin E, selenium and lutein.
o Think deep, dark, purples and ravishing reds: Wild blueberries, prunes, grapes, cherries, and raspberries…all are antioxidant powerhouses.
And remember, for the best nutritional bang for your buck, opt for fresh, organic, local produce whenever possible.
A note about supplementation and a healthy diet
Now, it stands to reason that if you eat a healthy diet with plenty of the above fruits and veggies you should be getting enough antioxidants.
This may have been the case decades ago, but as our world becomes more toxic, and our food supply less nutritious, our need for antioxidants has and will increase.
Sad, but true.
Discover the best antioxidants for YOU
Knowing what supplements to invest in makes a huge difference.
Even though antioxidants are beautifully broad in their benefits, certain forms work best for certain conditions.
This is why I always recommend taking it a step further, and finding a complementary healthcare practitioner who can tailor a nutrition and supplement program just for you.
Do you have a favorite antioxidant supplement you use or a juicy testimonial to share?
Tell us about I in the comments section, and help reconvert the anti-antioxidants!
Enjoy your Woot! Woot! Wednesday…
just for the health of it!
As I look out my window on this glorious day, I am taken by spring’s two predominant colors.
There’s green, as in the new green leaves and bulbs popping up everywhere…
And yellow…as in my-car-used-to-be-mauve-and-now-it’s-freaking-yellow…yellow. Yep, I’m talkin’ pollen.
Itchy, sneezy, mucus-producing, make-you-miserable pollen. Which is the inspiration for today’s post, 5 mucus reducing foods that really work.
If you live on the East coast, you know all too well that insane pollen counts are the price we pay for tree-lined streets and beautiful fall foliage.
But this year, instead of reaching for the same old temporary (and questionable) comfort of allergy meds, why not help nip mucus in the bud with nature’s delicious decongestants?
Here are my top five faves:
1. Chicken soup—as it turns out, good ole’ chicken soup isn’t just Grandma’s answer to the flu.
A 2000 study found that chicken soup helps fight upper respiratory infections, AND “accelerates mucosal clearing”…a fancy-schmancy way of saying, it can help reduce mucus.
Not surprisingly, the study reported commercial soup varieties varied greatly in their effectiveness, so I’d stick with homemade chicken broth with lots of garlic and onions.
Think you haven’t time to make it? Sure you do…and here’s the secret: use a slow cooker!
Just throw in left over chicken carcasses (or a whole chicken), onions, celery, carrots, garlic, a splash of apple cider vinegar, water and your favorite herbs, and let it “make itself” while you’re busy changing the world.
2. Ginger—hot, spicy, and warming ginger has been used as a natural decongestant in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries.
It’s super easy to make ginger a part of your daily diet. Give these tips a try:
• Blend it in to a smoothie.
• Add some grated ginger to your fruit salad or yogurt.
• Grate some into your ice or hot tea.
• Pick up a bag of candied ginger at your local health food store.
• Add freshly grated ginger to your salad dressings for a tasty zing.
3. Pineapple—fresh pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which has been studied for its positive effects on reducing mucus and inflammation.
Click here to learn more about bromelain’s rock-star healing properties.
Fresh pineapple is readily available, delicious, and affordable so go get you some! I’m emphasizing fresh because the heat used in canning destroys pineapple’s natural enzymes.
For those concerned about GMOs, stick with pineapples from the Caribbean over Hawaii.
4. Raw apple cider vinegar with honey—we’ve talked about the many health benefits of alkalizing your body before.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, consuming raw apple cider vinegar is one of the best ways to alkalize your body and fight mucus build up.
Taken hot with some local honey makes it even more effective. I like to do this in the morning or before bed.
Here’s an easy recipe:
Apple Cider Vinegar “Hot Toddy”
1 Tablespoons raw organic apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon raw, local honey
1 cup boiling water
Stir, sip, and enjoy.
5. Cayenne—like ginger, spicy cayenne heats up the body, moves stagnation, and gets the sinuses flowing.
If you like spicy foods, you can add cayenne pepper to just about anything (including the above apple cider vinegar hot toddy).
If you’re not a fan of spice, you can purchase cayenne (also known as capsicum) tablets from the health food store.
Would you look at that? A recipe for relief from congestion was probably sitting in your fridge or pantry this whole time!
In addition to these mucus-reducing foods, a diet rich in real, non-processed, low-sugar foods is the best medicine for keeping phlegm at bay.
Many integrative practitioners also recommend reducing or eliminating dairy products if you tend towards congestion during allergy season.
What secret home remedy, or phlegm-fighting-foods do you reach for when you’re all stuffed up?
Share the love…not the mucus!
…just for the health of it!
(Today’s Woot! Woot! Wednesday guest contributor is Erin Huerta, SEO specialist and WordPress design assistant at www.hostpuppies.com. Erin is passionate about natural skin care, and after following the Lara Mealor blog, was inspired to try her hand at a guest post. And guess what…girlfriend can write! We hope you enjoy Erin’s tips, sweet spirit, and fresh perspective.)
As the old adage goes, “Time for spring cleaning”. This doesn’t just mean your home, but your skin care products as well.
The time has come to peel off your sweaters and long pants…and ditch your cold-weather cosmetics!
Take spring by storm with our I-aint-got-time-guide to de-winterize your skin.
Have you ever noticed your skin care items have a “Best when used by date”? No ladies and gentlemen, this doesn’t just apply to the meat and veggies in your fridge.
The fresher the products the more active and potent their ingredients. When skin care items sit open and under light for long periods of time, they break down and become less beneficial.
So, despite what you mother may have told you, hanging onto a two year old bottle of sunscreen or night cream isn’t saving you any money.
Let’s start by clearing out those heavier moisturizers and creams. They were great for skin that was taking a beating from the winter dry air and central heating. Most of them likely contain heavy oil based products to help protect and seal in moisture.
Now that spring has sprung, your skin needs to get some deep cleansing and fresh air too.
Time to book a facial and bust out your favorite, all-natural exfoliating scrub to buff away the dry, dead skin and show off the rejuvenated new you.
To tone, moisturize, and protect, reach for products that are light and oil-free…and don’t forget sun protection of SPF 15 or higher.
And for a full body, tingly-all-over spa experience at home, try dry skin brushing.
All you need is a natural firm bristle body brush.
Apply medium to firm pressure, and brush your skin with long even strokes upward in the direction of your heart. It helps to do this as part of your daily cleansing routine, like before you shower.
Dry brushing feels AMAZING, will help buff away dead skin cells, and stimulate circulation and lymphatic flow. Many swear by it for cellulite reduction.
Who doesn’t want to show off their skin in those shorts, tank tops, and flip flops?
Skin spring cleaning and de-winterization, DONE.
And remember that the outside of your body is just as important as the inside.
(Erin Huerta is an SEO specialist and WordPress design assistant at www.hostpuppies.com. When she’s not changing the world through the web, Erin loves spending time with family and friends, window shopping, and movie night. She is an avid reader, newbie writer, and self-proclaimed video game junkie.)
Enjoy your Woot! Woot! Wednesday…
just for the health of it!