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Monthly Archives

April 2014

GMOs: What You Need to Know!

GMO; an acronym tossed around more than a football on a Sunday. It’s no secret that GMOs are present in most of our food, yet how much do we really know about GMOs? Am I the only one whose wondered:

  • What the heck are GMOs?
  • Which of our favorite processed foods (+ home grown) foods contain GMOs?
  • How can we avoid them, whilst making healthier food choices??

GMO

 

What the heck are GMOs?! 

GMOs = Genetically Modified Organisms. Scary, huh? I don’t know about you but I’m not too comfortable with the idea of eating anything who’s genes have been messed with! It’s just weird! Not to freak you out, but GMOS are just thatthe smallest of organisms that have been altered in some way by us humans. Go humans! (Not.)

Plants or animals are modified for several reasons:

  • Improve resistances to pesticides/insects
  • Increase nutrients
  • Increase environmental tolerance (ie, temperature)
  • Enhance growth
  • Control reproductive activity

The list goes on…

The genetic modification process involves combining the genes of different plant and animal species. The result is unlike anything that can occur through cross-breeding. In fact, about 80% of the crops that are genetically modified are able to withstand toxic levels of pesticides! The toxins that these genetically modified plants produce are actually rupturing the stomachs of insects that feed off of these crops. (thanks, but NO thanks!)

So, just how bad are GMOs? Well, take a look at this lovely little video for a better idea:

When fed to rats, mice, pigs and cows, GMO crops have been shown to cause precancerous growths, bleeding stomachs, intestinal damage, sterility…the list could go on, folks.

Which of our favorite processed foods (+ home grown) foods contain GMOs?

How do we know if our food contains GMOs? Well, that’s the tricky part. The FDA does not require companies to disclose whether their products contain GMOs. Some choose to disclose that info on their own (hence the “GMO-free) labels you see on some supermarket shelves. Certain health food stores, like Whole Foods, are much more transparent in the GMO world. Last year, Whole Foods announced that all products would be labeled if they contained GMOs. This process is expected to be completed by 2018. (Go Whole Foods!) The state of Vermont is in the process of passing legislation that would require all GMO foods in Vermont be labeled as such by 2016! (Go Vermont!)

Despite these concerted efforts, not all GMO-ladden food is labeled. Some of our favorite foods may actually be the worst culprits on the GMO boat. Here are just a few of the food items that are known to contain GMOs:

  • Corn
  • Papaya
  • Soy
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Banana
  • Sugar Beets
  • Rice

About 80% of processed foods contain GMOs (eek!). That’s basically all of the processed food we’d consume in any given day!

So, how can we avoid GMOs, whilst making healthier food choices? 

It’s important that we continue to be aware of the foods that DO contain GMOs in order to make the right food choices for ourselves and families. Luckily, the wonderful people at the Non GMO Project have compiled a fabulous list of food products and brands that do NOT contain GMOs (yay!).

A few personal favorites:

  • So Delicious
  • 365 Brand (Whole Foods)
  • Arrowhead Mills

Steering clear of GMO ridden food is a challenge but it is not impossible. Do research and find out if any of the foods you love contain GMOs. Buy organic and avoid processed food all together while enjoying more GMO-free fruits and veggies!

For more information on GMOs, check out the Non GMO Project!

 

Peace, love & GMO-free Coconuts!

-Zeena

15 Reasons You NEED Probiotics

15 Reasons You Need Probiotics

Have you incorporated probiotics into your diet yet? If not, I highly recommend that you do and after taking them myself, I see that there are so many reasons you need probiotics in your diet.

A few years back I had these awful, sharp stomach pains that would occur like clockwork, right after I ate, no matter what I ate. Unfortunately, I did not know what caused these pains, so you can imagine what a frustrating situation this was. Right around this time, I was also experiencing awful breakouts. My face was a disaster area. As someone who did not suffer from hormone-related teenage acne, this came as quite a shock.

One fine day, I was in my second home Whole Foods, browsing the health and beauty section when a helpful associate offered me a sample of Pearls Probiotics. She told me it would help me clear up my skin. Initially I was a little off-put by this, as I hated when anyone mentioned my face, helpful intentions or not. Reluctantly I accepted the free sample and years later, I am so glad that I did. Not only did the probiotics clear my skin, but they stopped my stomach pains!! Yay! It was a pleasant side effect of something that was meant to clear my skin by balancing my intestinal flora, BUT is it a coincidence that my digestive tract was out of whack around the same time I was experiencing stomach pains and acne? I think not!

Probiotics offer a number of benefits, including:

  1. Reduces bloating
  2. Reduces gas
  3. Prevents stomach cramping
  4. Regulates bowel movements
  5. Reduces acne
  6. Strengthens immune system
  7. Improves vaginal health
  8. Reduces chances of allergy occurrence & eczema in children when taken by women during pregnancy & breast feeding
  9. Improves urinary tract health
  10. Can help stop diarrhea
  11. Reduces bad cholesterol
  12. Lessens tooth decay & gum disease
  13. Reduces chances of common colds & illness in children
  14. Reduces upper respiratory infections
  15. Improves throat, ear, and tonsil health (fewer occurrences of ear infection, strep throat and tonsilitis)

Over the years I have tried different brands and want to share with you my top 2 probiotic supplements that I’ve had excellent digestive and skin related success with:

1) Bio-Kult Probiotics

Contains 14 probiotic strains that are are cryo-protected during the freeze drying process, which protects the bacteria from the harsh stomach acid and safely reach the gastrointestinal tract. This brand does not require refrigeration. Each capsule contains 2 billion microorganisms.

2) Pearls Probiotics “Elite”

Offering 5 billion probiotics, Pearls Elite is formulated with True Delivery technology that ensures these little probiotic supplements will survive your stomachs harsh acids and arrive to your intestines in tact. This brand does not require refrigeration.

2) Nordic Naturals Probiotics

With 12 billion live cultures, Nordic Naturals probiotics do not require refrigeration and is enhanced with prebiotics and help to support immune function.

Some excellent food sources of probiotics include:

  • Yogurt (opt for brands that don’t add sugar; some individuals, myself included, do not do well on dairy at all so, full disclosure, I do not eat yogurt or any dairy product for that matter)
  • Kefir
  • Soy Milk
  • Buttermilk
  • Some cheese: Cheddar, swiss, gouda, parmesean (note: cooking kills the good bacteria – consume raw)
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Blue Algae
  • Pickles
  • Olives
  • Kimchi
  • Tempeh
  • Miso Soup

Currently, I use Bio-Kult Probiotics and GT’s Kombucha as my main sources of probiotics.

Do you incorporate probiotics into your diet? Comment below!

~ Letisha

Ban Bad Breath for Good!

ban bad breath

Bad breath: we’ve all been there. With the amount of stuff we put into our mouths on a daily basis, it’s no wonder our pie holes begin to stink after a while! So, what exactly IS bad breath? Well folks, bad breath happens when bacteria builds up in your mouth and creates a foul odor. This is also known as halitosis or malodor. Bad breath and its lovely foulness seems to pop up and surprise you when you least expect it: during that morning yawn, when you’re talking with your friend after a tasty onion-filled lunch, or just mid-day! The good news is there are easy ways to ban bad breath for good!:

Brush Well

Brush your teeth thoroughly before bed. I know–it’s like pointing out the obvious. However, not brushing your teeth properly before bed allows ample bacteria to grow and cause stronger bad breath than if you had brushed correctly. Make sure to brush, floss and rinse thoroughly.

 

Chew Mint Leaves

Mint leaves contain wonderful antibacterial properties. Chewing on the leaves for a few minutes can help to reduce bad breath and leave you with a minty aftertaste. Instead of gum, store a few mint leaves in your bag for easy access!

 

Lemon Water

Another great reason to use lemons! Lemon water is not only refreshing and detoxifying but it helps to freshen breath by rinsing away any leftover residue that’s causing the bad breath.

 

Less Meat & Diary

Higher consumption of meat and dairy products has been linked to bad breath. Try reducing the amount of meat and dairy to help alleviate the odor.

 

Clean Your Tongue

The tongue holds onto food residue and bacteria. Keeping it clean by brushing it or using a tongue scraper can help to reduce bad breath.

How do you keep your breath fresh? We want to hear your natural tips and tricks for how you ban bad breath!

 

**Chronic bad breath could indicate an underlying health issue such as acid reflux. In this case, you may want to visit a doctor or health specialist.

 

Peace, Love, and Coconuts.

-Nalani

Eat This….But Not With That!

As if maintaining a healthy diet in a busy, junk food-filled society wasn’t enough, but it turns out there are actually certain foods that should NOT be eaten together.

Yup, there are different foods, that when eaten together can actually do more harm than good. That fatigued feeling after a meal or the stomach ache that follows a meal is often the result of a bad food combination.
bad food combinations
All of that can be avoided though! Below are a few quick rules that will ensure you stomach and body is energized, happy, & healthy!
  • Eat fruit alone. Because fruits are digested so quickly, if they are combined with other foods (starches, proteins, or fats), your stomach will choose to digest the other contents, leaving the fruit to rot in your stomach. This of course is quite toxic. Avoid it. The only exception is that fruits can be combined with other fruits or nuts.

yogurt

  • Don’t combine protein & starch. Protein and starch are both digested differently, each needing a  different enzyme, different acidity levels, and time taken to digest. Our stomachs can only focus one one however, and will choose to digest protein first. This will cause the starch to sit in your stomach for longer, leading to decomposition and this can be toxic for your body

  • Stick to one protein at a time. Too many different types of proteins eaten together are a lot to handle and can take quite a bit of energy to digest. Avoid it if you can.
Below are 10 common food combinations that should be avoided:
  1. Banana & Dairy Milk
  2. Yogurt & Fruit Parfait
  3. Spaghetti with tomatoes or tomato sauce
  4. Grilled Cheese Sandwich
  5. Cheese Filled Omelets
  6. Eggs & Bacon
  7. Eggs & Fruit
  8. Hamburgers, Hotdogs, or any other meat filled sandwiches
  9. Chips & Salsa
  10. Rice & Beans
Generally protein & veggies are fine when combined, starches & veggies are okay, and fruit & nuts are okay together too. Also, certain food combinations can become tolerable depending on how they are prepared, when they are combined with different spices, or if veggies are added to the meal. It should also be noted that certain people who have been eating particular food combinations for many years, may have adapted to the food combination and can tolerate them better than someone who is not used to eating those foods together.
Do you think you might be experiencing the negative side effects of bad food combinations? For the next week or two, try only eating the right combination of foods together and see how your body responds. See how you feel. Your stomach might just surprise you!
~ Letisha

5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Morning

Ever have those mornings where you feel like you just can’t WAKE UP?? Let’s be honest folks; getting through the day tired and groggy with droopy eyelids is unbearable, especially when you have be on your toes! I definitely have those days where I’m tired but need to stay on point!

morning

Jumpstart Your Morning

So, what’s a person to do when they need to seriously wake up ASAP? Most quick fixes such as energy drinks/shots are chock full of questionable ingredients that can wreak havoc on your body. For folks with restrictive diets, especially ones that focus on natural ingredients, choosing these popular energy supplements can be a big no-no. There is good news, however! These 5 pick-me-ups listed below will not only jumpstart your morning, but they are natural and healthy too! It’s a win-win!

1.Ginger Orange Sunrise Smoothie

The B vitamins in this fresh, fruity and tangy smoothie always perk me up. The ginger makes me feel like I’m breathing in new life by clearing up a minor sinus congestion. The vitamins in the delicious fruit provide that necessary energy boost.

How to Make:

Start with…

–        1 fresh ginger (about the size of a quarter)

–        1 large orange

–        ½ cup pineapple chunks

–        1 tbsp chia seeds

–        1 ½  cups coconut water

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth and enjoy right away!

2. Kombucha

This carbonated tea contains a good amount vitamins and probiotics that help provide an energy boost and support the immune system all at once.

3. 5 Minute Cardio Routine

It’s all about getting the blood flowing. A quick 5 minute cardio-based workout can really help wake you up. The hardest part is actually doing it! Once you get going, you won’t regret it. Try a quick 5 minute run, jumping jacks, dancing or a combo of each! Choose your favorite workout to get that morning boost.

4. Ice Cube Facial

This may sound a bit crazy but ice cubes can be a wonderful part of your morning routine. Ice cubes aren’t just for icing your coffee.  Take an ice cube and rub it all over your face until ice cube melts. The shock of the cold ice will wake you up in an instant and will help reduce puffiness, dark circles, and blemishes.

5. Iced Green Tea with Lemon

It’s no mystery that caffeine boosts energy but if you’re looking for a healthier alternative to the typical caffeinated beverages then try green tea. Green tea is widely known for its health benefits and antioxidants. Adding ice and lemon gives the tea a tangy and cool way to wake up while still supporting your health.

What is your favorite way to jumpstart your morning??

-Nalani

Oat & Honey Mask

It’s no secret that honey is one of our favorite mask ingredients here at Brown & Coconut. We’ve shared nearly all of the honey-driven masks we’ve tried:  the Cranberry & Honey Mask, the Honey Cinnamon Mask, and the all-time fave, the Honey & Epsom Salt Mask.

The one honey mask we have yet to mention is the ever-so-pleasing Oat & Honey mask. This luxurious mask leaves your skin looking like a fresh, Summer morning (if you can imagine how that looks). Go ahead, imagine! Looks pretty amazing, right?

mask

The antibacterial and antioxidant-rich honey paired with the soothing properties of the oats creates the ultimate facial treat. The duo whisk away dead skin cells while cleansing and moisturizing dry, thirsty skin. Your skin becomes smoother and less irritated. Your complexion will glow and breakouts and scars will fade (with continued use).

Ready to get started?

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 tbsp oats
  • 1 tbsp honey

Mix the oats and honey. Wallah! You’re done! Apply the mixture to a clean, dry face and allow to sit for 15-30 minutes. Be prepared to have a few oat and honey clumps fall off your face! I chose to use uncooked oats (no method to my madness) but feel free to use cooked oats. Using cooked oats  is actually a lot less messy in the long run!

mask 2

After your desired amount of time, rinse the mask away. I carefully removed the oat clumps from my face and threw them in the trash to avoid clogging any drains. There is no need to wash your face again. Simply pat dry and moisturize. My go-to moisturizer is argan oil. I LOVE argan oil because it provides deep moisture without any greasy build up. Feel free to do this mask 1-3 times per week.

Enjoy, Coconuts!

-Zeena

The Dangers Lurking in Your Makeup

facial contouring. Woman with a different shades of foundation on her face

Did you know that women absorb several pounds of chemicals per year as a result of cosmetics and other products they use on their bodies?

Think about it, from the time you wake up, to when you head to sleep at night, how many products/chemicals do you expose yourself to?

  • toothpaste
  • mouthwash
  • soap
  • face wash
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • body lotion
  • face cream
  • deodorant
  • hair gel/cream/mousse/spray
  • perfume
  • cover-up
  • foundation
  • blush
  • eyeliner
  • eyeshadow
  • mascara
  • lipstick/chap-stick/lipgloss

We haven’t even left the house for the day and we’re already close to 20. If all of those products have a minimum of 10
chemicals (which most do), that’s nearly 200 chemicals you’ve just exposed yourself to! 200!!

What we apply to our skin, faces, eyes, lips, are all absorbed by our skin. Now think about that for a second. That ingredient you have no idea how to pronounce, yup, thats getting absorbed into your body (all 200 (or more) of them).

What really concerns me is the makeup we apply to our face, particularly the makeup we apply to the most sensitive and vulnerable parts of the body, our eyes and mouths. Our eyes and mouths do not have much protection from the external environment. Chemicals on our skin is by no means safe, but our skin is meant to act as some form of a protective barrier. Our eyes and mouths are gateways to the inside of our body. We apply these products day in and day out and they literally sit on our face for hours, with plenty of time to soak in. I mean, we might as well eat our make-up. Not that we should be ingesting ANY makeup, but I pretty much would fear for my life if I consumed any non-natural/organic make up. With that being said, WHY WOULD I EVER PUT IT ON MY EYES AND LIPS??

Scary right?
makeup
Many of these chemicals can disrupt our bodies in ways that aren’t as visible as a cream that gives you a rash, for example. They are wreaking internal havoc on our bodies and we don’t even know it. Parabens for example, disrupt hormones in our bodies, which as you may or may not know, are important for so many body functions. They are also linked to cancer.
That’s just one chemical though, what about the rest? Who knows what other dangerous chemicals are seeping into your body every single day. If you were to screen your body for toxic chemicals, you’d be surprised at the numerous chemicals you’d find, and how high your levels really are. That type of exposure to chemicals for such extended periods of time is a recipe for organ damage, illness, and death.
We make the effort to work out daily, eat well, cut out unhealthy fats, simple carbs, sugar, you get the picture, but what good is that if we turn around and drench our bodies in poison? It’s like trying to train for a marathon, yet smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, right?
Take a look through your make-up bag. There’s a good chance there are a few items you’d probably want to throw away.
Check out EWG’s cosmetics database and search for your products’ ratings to see how hazardous they really are. You may find yourself in the market for some new mascara, or lipgloss sooner than you think.
For some great natural/organic make-up brands, click here.
Tell us about the products you’re using (or what you’re throwing away..)
Comment below!
~ Letisha
Skincare Guide

The Truth about Salt

Our world is changing. More and more of our food has become prepackaged; vacuumed sealed, stickered-up, and labelled with its nutritional facts.

As a society, we have also grown increasingly concerned over the exact nutritional content of the foods we eat: calories, carbs, sugar, protein — the list goes on! We almost HAVE to become obsessed because it’s so easy to go over our nutritional requirements for any particular nutrient. You can eat a whole bag of chips and end up meeting or even exceeding certain nutritional requirements. Not in the good way though, particularly when referring to something like salt.

salt

Salt is everywhere: from the ground we walk on to the food we eat. The salt we generally think of is typically consumed in the Sodium-Chloride form. Each nutrient that we consume generally serves a purpose and is important to our body’s function and sodium is one of them. Sodium and Salt, has gotten a bad rap over the years, for being the destroyer of blood pressure and synonymous with the sodium in all those processed foods. Salt & sodium are not the bad guys though.

Why is salt good for us?

1. Assists in the regulation of  nerve and muscle function

2. Regulates body fluid balance

Now, too much salt is where the problem lies. The recommended daily sodium intake is 1,500 mg. The highest recommended level is 2,300 mg (Source: CDC, 2014).

There are different types of salt on the market such as processed table salt, Himalayan, sea salt, pink salt, to name a few. Regular processed table salt typically lacks minerals that can be found in salts that are less processed such as pink or Himalayan.

Before you swear off salt consider using a less processed, more natural salt. Also, you may just need to reduce the amount you use. Try adding a sprinkle of salt at the end of cooking, that way you can really get that salty flavor. Lastly, reduce the processed foods you eat which usually adds huge amounts of sodium to your daily intake. The key to a healthy life is balance with everything.

Peace, Love, & Coconuts

~ Nalani

The Dandruff Dilemma: 6 DIY Remedies

If you have ever suffered from a dry, flaky scalp (eek!), then you know just how irritating it can be. It seems like no matter how much you do OR don’t wash your hair, the pesky dandruff keeps on returning! Does this sound like you? If so, keep reading to discover a few interesting ways to cure your dandruff!

garlic

Before we get to the fun stuff, I think we should know what causes dandruff:

  • Dry scalp
  • Sensitive scalp
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Poor Diet (lacking Zinc & B Vitamins)
  • Drying hair products (shampoos, gels, etc.)

These are just a handful of the potential causes of dandruff. So, now that we know a little about what causes dandruff, it’s time we learn how to get rid of it!

6 DIY Remedies

1. Coconut Oil- This magnificent oil works wonders getting rid of any pesky flakes! The coconut oil moisturizes your scalp while creating strong, shiny, healthy hair! To use: rub the coconut oil onto your unwashed, dry scalp. Allow the oil to work its magic for about an hour (or even longer!). After the desired amount of time, use the pads of your fingers to wash the oil off of your scalp. Make sure to use a gentle shampoo that won’t strip all of the oil away!

2. Tea Tree Oil– If rubbing oil all over your scalp just isn’t your thing (it’s not for everyone!), add a few drops of tea tree oil to your shampoo. Again, try to only use shampoos that won’t strip all of the oil from your scalp. If you do enjoy the idea of rubbing coconut oil all over your scalp (I love it!), you can also add a few drops of tea tree oil into the mix!

3. Apple Cider Vinegar– ACV is one of my favorite techniques to use on my dry scalp. The ACV works by changing the pH of your scalp, creating a less than optimal home for the yeast-like fungus that can cause dandruff! To use: Simply mix 3 parts filtered water and 1 part apple cider vinegar. Pour the mixture onto your scalp and massage with the pads of your fingers.

4. Garlic & Honey– I know this sounds stinky, but it’s worth a shot! By mixing a few mashed garlic cloves and a tablespoon or two of honey, you can achieve great results. The garlic works wonders getting rid of dandruff, while the honey creates soft, luxurious hair (not to mention the honey makes the application so much easier!). To use: After combining the two ingredients, massage the mixture onto your scalp for 3-5 minutes. Then, shampoo with your favorite gentle shampoo to wash away the mixture and the garlic smell.

5.Lemon Juice– This has been one of my favorite remedies when it comes to getting rid of dandruff. A friend recommended mixing lemon juice with oil (I prefer olive oil or coconut oil) and to massage the mixture onto your scalp. After a few minutes of this exhilarating massage, I allow the mixture to sit for another 10-15 minutes before shampooing with my Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat shampoo.

6. Lifestyle– One of the most important remedies for dandruff is a change of lifestyle. Start by praticing one of these DIY remedies at least 1x per week. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water, consuming vital vitamins and nutrients, and remaining stress free. Avoid using any hair products that could be drying out your scalp (shampoos that contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate are a no-no!). Stick to gentle shampoos like Giovanni’s or Everyday Shea products. Most importantly, stay positive! I hope these tips help!

-Peace, love & coconuts!

Zeena