9 Healthful Products That I Adore

As we head into warmer spring days, I felt inspired to share with you some of my favourite finds, foodie items and all-around awesome products that have all enriched my life in different ways. Some of them help me to relax, others make me feel my best, a couple of them have improved my health and some are just for fun!

So if you are looking to treat yourself or someone you love to something special – these 9 items have the patented “Lori Wilson” stamp of approval:

1. Spoonk Mat – I’m not sure if it’s all the time I spend writing at my computer or that fact that I am getting older but I’ve noticed some persistent achiness in my lower back. A friend told me about this amazing acupressure mat so I rushed right out to buy one and it was definitely a stellar purchase. I’ll admit that having over 6000 stimulation points pressed into your body is a little uncomfortable at first but the results are well worth it. Benefits include: increased circulation, decreased pain, relaxation of sore muscles, release of endorphins, improved sleep and stress relief. My husband and I are both hooked!

spoonk 1

2. Saje Perfume – I had dinner with a few girlfriends this past winter and I couldn’t stop sniffing my friend who was seated right next to me – she smelled so darn good! (At one point I’m pretty sure she thought I was hitting on her ; ) She was wearing a pure essential oil  blend from Saje Wellness called “Stress Release” that has a lovely clean and fresh scent. Saje started in western Canada and they are committed to using pure 100% natural ingredients in their products that are all are guaranteed free of “parabens, SLS, SLES, PEGS, glycols, petrochemicals, synthetic colours and synthetic fragrances.” Plus they smell amazing!

saje

3. Joy For Beginners by Erica Bauermeister – I am a regular at our local Chapters book store and I always seek out my favourite employee whenever I visit for book suggestions. Margaret is my go-to girl and she never fails to find me something fantastic – and this book is no exception. It’s moving and thought-provoking and I still find myself thinking about the characters and their unique situations months after I finished reading the book.

joy for beginners

4. Living Libations Rose Best Skin Ever – I know what you are thinking – how the heck does Lori keep her face looking so youthful and glowy? You’d never know she was about to turn 44. Well I’m glad you asked! I’m kidding but I did luck out by inheriting good skin from my mom and grandmother. I also like to keep my skin routine simple – I can’t be bothered with tons of different lotions and potions. My go-to items are Witch Hazel toner and this incredible Rose Oil from Living Libations. It smells incredible and keeps my face fresh and blemish free.

rosebse_1

5. 100% Pure Makeup – it is incredibly difficult to find makeup that is truly clean and safe in addition to working well. I’ve tried a few brands that were guaranteed all-natural but left me looking pretty frightening – mascara running under my eye, concealer the colour of mustard and garish pink lipstick that felt like I was smearing silly putty on my lips. Not flattering! I don’t wear much makeup but for my money the cleanest and most effective brand on the market is 100% Pure. It’s a bit on the pricey side but their fruit-pigmented make-up delivers on quality and looks great on the face. Win-win. (Black Tea Mascara and Berry Blush are two of my favourites)

100% pure

6. Zazubean Chocolate– I’m pretty sure the most amazing thing I’ve learned about healthy eating is that chocolate is actually a superfood! Who knew?! However, I have come to realize that all chocolate is not created equally. Those candy bars that line the check-out aisles of convenience stores are far from super – they are full of high-fructose corn syrup, artificial ingredients and nasty chemicals. But thankfully there are brands that are committed to fair-trade practices and produce delicious organic delights that will make you forget all about that stinkin’ Kit Kat bar. My absolute favourite is Zazubean’s Smooch Bar – decadent chocolate with vanilla caramel and a pinch of sea salt. Heaven!

smooch-bar

7. Strawsome – I don’t know about you but my kids are crazy for straws. Apparently drinks just taste better when you sip them through a tube (or a piece of licorice for that matter…) But I’ve never been a fan of cheap plastic straws – I work my butt of to prepare green smoothies each morning and I hate to see them consumed through something that is made with BPA and other harmful plastic ingredients. Luckily for me I found an amazing company that makes the coolest glass straws on the planet. They come in many funky colours and designs so that we can each have our own unique straw and they come with a nifty device to keep them sparkling clean.

strawsome

8. Four Sigma Foods Mushroom Teas – Back in the fall, I had the pleasure of getting to hear the president of Four Sigma Foods give a presentation on the superpowers of mushrooms. I was absolutely blown away. Apparently these little fungi are incredible healers, immunity boosters and hormone balancers. And the “Funguys” at Four Sigma are committed to unlocking the maximum power from all of their mushroom products. Each blend is specially formulated to address specific conditions in the body and they have a mild and pleasant taste. Their new XOCO Hot Chocolate is downright sinful!

chaga

9. Headspace – Although I fully realize the positive impact meditation has had on my life, I have struggled over the years to maintain a regular practice. I will go for weeks at a time and then get too “busy” and fall completely off the wagon. This easy-to-use app on my iPhone has made all the difference in the world. I am a huge fan of creator Andy Puddicombe and his easy-going and approachable manner. Somehow he manages to make meditation accessible to everyone – no incense or fancy mat required. You can download the app for free and sample a 10-day trial and then decide if you’d like to buy the full program. I have been especially enjoying the different themed meditation sessions on creativity, anxiety and relationships.

headspace

Those are my current favs and I’d love to hear about yours! What products or services are you loving right now? How are they impacting your life? And better yet – have you got another chocolate to recommend? Please leave your suggestions in the comments.

Advertisements

The Hidden Toxins in Beauty Care & How to Ditch Them

There were 3 girls in my house growing up and as you can imagine -we went through a TON of personal care products. There was the shower full of soaps, 2-in-1 shampoos and Neet hair removal cream (Pert Plus and Dial were my favs), the vanity with a huge assortment of face washes, toners, deodorant, Biore nose strips, toothpaste, hair gels and mouthwash AND our own makeup bags stuffed to overflowing with cosmetics and nail polishes. And I always liked to top things off with a generous spritz of The Body Shop vanilla perfume just to seal the deal. Hey it took a lot of work to look this fabulous!

Lori Picture

What I didn’t know back then was that each of those items that made my hair shine, my pimples fade and my nails gleam fluorescent purple were loaded with toxic chemicals. In fact, it wasn’t until I set about changing my diet 6 years ago that occurred to me what I put on my body is just as important as what I put into it. Perhaps even more important since the things we eat are filtered through our organs of elimination (kidneys, liver, bowels) but the junk we smear on our skin is simply absorbed right into our bodies. Yeesh!

The clearest and best way I’ve seen to get my head around this stuff is by watching Annie Leonard’s 8-minute video “The Story of Cosmetics”. Check it out below:

(*email subscribers – click the link above or go to my site at www.lorileighwilson.com to view the video)

Of course I want the safest and best alternatives for myself and my family but at the same time I don’t want to resort to letting my hair hang in greasy coconut oil covered strands or staining my lips and cheeks with beet juice to achieve a healthy glow. So what can I do? Believe it or not there are some really amazing and effective natural alternatives that will meet all of our cosmetic needs while still keeping us as healthy as possible. Here are 5 suggestions to get you started:

1. Read Gillian Deacon’s book “There’s Lead in Your Lipstick” – Broadcaster and environmental activist Gillian Deacon wrote this compelling book after undergoing treatment for breast cancer. It’s an invaluable resource because she not only outlines all of the hazardous chemicals and their potential side effects but also lists natural and effective alternatives by brand name.

theres lead in your lipstick

2. Download the free app “Think Dirty”– Developed by a young Canadian entrepreneur, this free app is a life saver when you are shopping for the healthiest products to use on your body. Simply enter the product or scan the URL and you will immediately get the list of ingredients with a ranking from 1-10 (10 being the worst). The “Dirty Meter” will rate the products ingredients in terms of their Carcinogenicity, Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity and Allergies & Immunotoxicities. And they even offer up greener and more natural alternatives!

thinkdirty_app_mock_1000x627

3. Ask questions & Source Out Greener Salons – have you ever wondered how safe the sweet-smelling shampoos and hair dyes applied at your favourite local hairdressers are for you AND for the stylist applying them? Or what about the cocktail of toxins we apply to our nails and skin at spas? Chances are we are inhaling and ingesting a dangerous mix of untested chemicals each time we get a “beauty” treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and do your own research about the products being used and take the time to find safer and healthier alternatives. Thankfully many salons and spas are now incorporating greener items into their offerings which benefits the long-term health of both their clients and their employees. (GTA friends – check out Casablanca Salon, Alma Natural Spa and One Salon & Boutique)

4. Order online – Although you might not be able to find good clean products at your local store, there are some amazing websites offering beautiful natural products to keep you looking and smelling your very best. 100% Pure, Living Libations and Gabriel Cosmetics are 3 of my absolute favourites.

100% pure

5. Make your own stuff- I’ve had lots of fun making beauty products in my own kitchen. Meghan Telpner’s book Undiet and the website WellnessMama.com have tons of wonderful recipes using easy-to-source ingredients like baking soda, epsom salts, avocado, oats and raw chocolate. I even whipped up homemade beauty products to give as Christmas gifts to my girlfriends including these Lavender Bath Salts: Combine 3 tablespoons of epsom salts, 1 tablespoon sea salt, 8 drops of lavender essential oil and 3 tablespoons of baking soda in a small jar. Shake it all up and use generously in a restorative hot bath!

Today my bathroom is filled with just as many products as when I was a teenager but over time I’ve managed to ditch the Pert Plus and Biore in favour of stellar chemical-free alternatives. Don’t get overwhelmed though- it took me a good long time to transition from Pantene to Aubrey Organics. But little by little I have replaced the old stuff with healthier and more natural choices…..I might still have those stunning purple triangle earrings though ; )

Healthy Holiday Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Although it’s not officially winter yet, the temperatures here in south-western Ontario are mighty chilly! I am still cranking out Green Smoothies every morning but to be honest- a cold drink just doesn’t cut it when the thermometer reads -10 C.

Yes I could race to my favourite coffee joint to warm myself up but lately I’ve been using my Vitamix to whip up my own hot drink that is just as satisfying and infinitely healthier. It’s chock full of antioxidants, magnesium, protein, iron and healthy fats and is minus the refined sugar and artificial ingredients that I’d get from my regular latte. And it tastes amazing!

Take a look at some of the potent superfood ingredients:

Raw Cacao Powder– not to be mistaken with the overprocessed “cocoa” that is often used for baking – raw cacao powder is the product of milling pure cacao beans at low temperatures. The result is a powerhouse chocolate powder that is loaded with antioxidants, magnesium and iron.

cacao powder

Raw Cacao Butter – these solid white chunks of butter are produced from the fat inside the cacao beans. But don’t forget that not all fats are created equally and the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from cacao butter are healthy and full of nutrients for our bodies. Cacao butter is an antioxidant, is good for lessening arthritic pain and is a mood enhancer. (I also used this stuff to make amazing chocolate-scented body butters).

giddy-cacao-butter-lg

Hemp Seeds– I love these tiny seeds because they are packed with plant-based protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, balance hormones, alleviate headaches and regulate blood pressure and cholesterol.

hemp seeds

Raw Cashews– Raw cashews are naturally high in beautifying oleic acid, which is also found in high amounts in extra virgin olive oil. They are also rich in magnesium and manganese, and are a good source of selenium and zinc.

cashews

I also throw in a couple of drops of Living Libations pure Peppermint essential oil (anti-inflammatory and soothes the tummy), raw organic dates (fiber and antioxidants), pure maple syrup (antioxidants, zinc and manganese), 2 capsules of Ortho Adapt Vegan (improves mental and physical performance) and 2 capsules of Now brand Vitamin C (immune boosting) to round out my drink.

Try subbing your morning coffee with this creamy, healthy and delicious Peppermint Hot Chocolate at least 1 day per week and I’m willing to bet you’ll find it warming and satisfying. I’ve even got my toddler drinking it by cooling it off with some almond milk and calling it a “candy cane hot chocolate.” Oh and I might have stuck a marshmallow or 2 on top of his drink just for good measure!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate
(makes enough for 2 big mugfuls)

cashew cream latte

1/4 cup raw organic cashews
1/4 cup hemp seeds
2 pitted medjool dates
1 tbsp. pure maple syrup (more or less depending on desired sweetness)
2 drops food-grade peppermint essential oil
2 heaping tbsp. of raw cacao powder
1-2 medium-sized chunks of cacao butter (approx. the size of a loonie)
2 capsules Ortho Adapt Vegan
2 capsules Vitamin C
4 cups of boiling water

Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend for 1 minute. Pour into big mugs and enjoy!

10 Awesome Ideas for Healthy Holiday Giving

I love the holidays! I love the baking, the music, the traditions, the socializing and I love dreaming up special presents for my loved ones. As a little holiday inspiration, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite things to help make your holiday giving a little bit healthier:

1. All-Natural Homemade Gifts – I took a course this year on making homemade beauty products and my daughter and I have been whipping up our own concoctions ever since. This holiday season we are preparing Flower-Shaped Lotion Bars, a special Sugar Body Scrub and our very own Bath Salt recipe to share with family and friends. We purchased some inexpensive mason jars to use as containers, a bit of ribbon for decoration and voila – beautiful chemical-free delights. My favourite online recipe resources are meghantelper.com and wellnessmama.com.

Izzy and Lori’s Bath Salt Recipe: 4 tbsp. Epsom salts, 2 tbsp. sea salt, 8 drops of lavender essential oil and 6 tbsp. baking soda. Shake in a small mason jar.

epsom salt bath

2. Fitness Classes– one of the best ways to stay happy and healthy is to get out and move your body. Why not give the gift of exercise and treat your favourite person a gift certificate to experience a new fitness class? Make sure it’s one you have already tried yourself and can wholeheartedly recommend as being fun and worthwhile. My personal local favourites are Tread Powerfully (kick butt workouts with a caring and inspiring leader), Be Yoga Studio (zen atmosphere and gentle uber-bendy teachers) and Exhale Pilates (a lovely studio, kind instructors and mat, reformer and barre classes that will tone and lengthen your body).

compass

3. Essential Oils – I am completely addicted to essential oils and I have the cupboard full of little glass jars to prove it! Just a few drops of these plant essences have remarkable healing properties and virtually unlimited uses. Since all essential oils are not created equally, be sure to do your research and pick a company that has 100% pure oils and certified food grade ingredients. I order all of my oils from Living Libations and they are truly amazing!

living libations

4. A Great Book- One of life’s great pleasures is settling back with a fantastic read. And it can be even better if the book inspires you to achieve greater health, more personal happiness or inspires some positive growth. This past year I enjoyed a number of game-changing books that I’ll definitely be sharing with the people on my Christmas list. My top picks are Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly, Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth, Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart, Marianne Williamson’s The Law of Divine Compensation and Tara Brach’s True Refuge.

daring greatly

5. Charitable Gifts– There are many amazing charitable organizations that offer special opportunities for giving during the holiday season. Plan Canada provides a catalogue of items you can donate in the name of a loved one (including quinoa plants this year!) and the World Wildlife Fund will send a cuddly stuffed animal to people who contribute to their cause. And a big thanks to my friend and fellow veggie blogger Celeste who shared a great idea for “adopting” an animal from Farm Sanctuary. In her recent post entitled “Top 10 Vegan Christmas Gifts of 2013” she shared the following: “By adopting a farm animal, you’ll help provide their food, shelter, and veterinary costs, and you’ll show your opposition to farm animal cruelty. Adoptions can be made in a gift-recipient’s name and the recipient will receive information about their adopted “pet” including a picture, his/her story, and even details about visiting their animal. $10 to $50 per month for 1 year from Farm Sanctuary.”

baby pig

6. A Restaurant Gift Certificate– when people find out that I follow a mainly plant-based diet, they often assume I consume a very boring and limited selection of foods. But nothing could be farther from the truth! There is a bounty of amazing vegan and vegetarian foods and some very cutting edge chefs preparing exciting menus of  inventive dishes. A gift certificate to your favourite veggie restaurant or bakery is a great way to introduce friends and family to plant-based foods that are healthy and delicious. We are lucky in Burlington to be able to enjoy amazing vegan fare from Lettuce Love Café, The Naked Sprout and Kelly’s Bake Shoppe.

kellys

7. A Meditation CD or Course– We live in a fast-paced society and it can be hard to find quiet moments to relax, unwind and get in touch with your mind. I started my own meditation practice this year and I can tell you that it has made a tremendous difference in my life. Yes life is still hectic and crazy but I am able to approach most situations with much more calmness, awareness and patience. You can simply sit and begin but I found it very helpful to start with a guided meditation. Check out the Chopra Center for Meditation and Oprah and Deepak Choprah’s meditation courses, CD’s and downloads.

oprah and deepak

8. Healthy Foodie Gifts– This is another opportunity to whip up a homemade gift by pulling together the ingredients for your favourite veggie dish and wrapping it up in a creative way. You could make homemade granola and share it in a large mason jar (thanks to my friend Elisa who recently did this for me!), bake up your favourite holiday goodies and pop them in a decorative box or gather all of the spices and cans of beans for the world’s best Spicy Chia Chili and package it together with the recipe. And if homemade is not your thing – there are tons of fabulous and unique healthy foods you can buy online to share. Check out Coco Polo’s stevia sweetened chocolate bars, Wild Branch’s maple syrup infused with medicinal mushrooms or a big bag of Black Elderberries from Mountain Rose Herbs to help ward off and treat the flu.

Dark_Almonds_DSC_0944

9. Non-toxic Beauty Products– I am always on the hunt for a great new beauty product that works well, smells great and makes me look at least 10 years younger ; ) If you aren’t into making your own stuff – check out a couple of my favourite new all-natural products: LaVanilla All-Natural Deodorant Stick, John Masters Organics lavender and Avocado Intensive Conditioner, Good Gums Natural Tooth Paste Powder and Aubrey Organics Facial Moisturizing Rose Hip Seed Oil.

john masters

10. Bling– I am a girlie girl at heart and nothing makes me happier than a beautiful new piece of jewellery. I can highly recommend the lovely Tiny Devotion Mala Beads that my husband got me for Mother’s day and I have been coveting a ring from the vintage collection at Brilliant Earth for the past few years (hint, hint Mark). This Canadian company  is committed to using ethically sourced materials, conflict-free diamonds, and recycled gold. Also -check out this funky Swatch watch that I saw featured in Today’s Parent magazine that reads “Be Happy For This Moment, This Moment is For Life“. What a great reminder to slow down and fully appreciate the holidays!

swatch

I hope this list inspires you to put your health and the health of your loved ones at the very top of your list this Christmas. I wish you and your family the happiest and healthiest of holiday seasons!

My Favourite Holistic Cold & Flu Remedies

As the fall weather starts to turn cooler, I always get a little anxious about cold and flu season. Luckily my family doesn’t get sick too often but when we do I feel so much better knowing I am prepared with an arsenal of natural remedies that can help us heal quickly. Here is my personal list of go-to illness busters that strengthen the immune system and offer comfort when someone is feeling under the weather:

1. Probiotics – I only recently learned that the foundation of immunity is in our belly. In fact, 80 percent of our immune system is located in our digestive system, making a healthy gut a major focal point if you want to maintain optimal health. Good quality probiotics are made up of healthy bacteria that balance harmful bacteria in the body. Each of us has more than 1,000 different types of bacteria that live in our digestive tracts and research is now showing that the “good” bacteria from probiotics helps not only to stimulate digestive health, but may  stimulate a healthy immune system. I follow the advice of my naturopath and use either the HMF or Culturelle brands that each contain many strands of live bacteria.

hmf

2. Oregano Oil– I first learned about the power of oregano oil years ago from a client of my husband’s – and I thought she was nutty when she first told me about it. But I have since learned that oregano is a virtual powerhouse when it comes to it’s antiviral and antifungal properties and has been proven to kill unwanted bacteria, fungus, yeast, parasites and viruses. Living Libations makes a potent and pure food grade oil that I always have on hand. When I feel a cold or a sore throat coming on- I immediately put a drop or 2 under my tongue and swallow it a few times a day. But brace yourself – it is very strong and will burn for a minute or so after you ingest it. My older children are able to handle the oil under their tongues but I generally wouldn’t recommend this remedy for children.

oregano

3. Castor Oil– Don’t worry- I’m not going to go old school and suggest that anyone do a shot of castor oil to clean out their system. But the oil from this amazing plant has wonderful healing properties when massaged onto the skin. According to nutritionist Meghan Telpner The ricinoleic acid in castor oil prevents the growth of bacteria, yeast, and viruses. When I have joint pain anywhere, I rub it on the joints, if I have swollen glands, I massage it into neck/gland area, if I am feeling a little backed up- on to my belly it goes (massaged in a clockwise direction- the same direction stuff moves through the large intestine). With a cold or congestion, I’ll mix in a little comfrey and eucalyptus and massage it into my chest.” You can also direct the healing power of castor oil directly onto your stomach by making a “castor oil pack”. You simply soak an old cloth in the oil and place that directly onto your belly. Cover that with a plastic bag and lay a hot water bottle over top and relax for 20 minutes or longer. The castor oil will soak through your skin and is said to “improve the body’s ability to assimilate nutrients, eliminate toxins, and stimulate circulation.” (source: Meghan Telpner)

castor flower

4. Flu Tea– I got the recipe for this tea from a Flu Fighter seminar I attended a few years ago that was offered by a local naturopath. As soon as someone in my family gets a bug, I immediately whip up a batch of this healing tea and serve it up a few times a day. The combination of natural healing herbs and superfoods will kick any cold to the curb! But you’ll want to add lots of honey to each cup to make it drinkable. Into a medium saucepan add 6 cups of water, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 tsp of cumin powder, a 3-inch chunk of fresh ginger cut into pieces, and 1 lemon cut into slices. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and save the tea in the fridge in a mason jar. Heat and drink as needed.

flu tea

5. Magic Socks– you are going to think I am off my rocker when I tell you about this remedy but my naturopath swears by it and everyone in my house has benefitted from this treatment over the past couple of years. You can follow this link to get clear directions on what to do but basically you warm your feet in hot water, dry them thoroughly and then put on a pair of socks that have been soaked in cold water and rinsed out. You cover those with a dry pair of wool socks and immediately get into bed. Think I’m nuts yet?! Well according to Jamey Wallace, ND, Clinic Medical Director at Bastyr Center for Natural Health: “The treatment is known as a “heating compress,” meaning that it’s up to the body to heat the cold, wet socks. The body reacts to the cold socks by increasing blood circulation, which also stimulates the immune system. You have to ‘rev up’ the immune system, so it’s ready for battle against the affliction or condition. This treatment acts to reflexively increase the circulation and decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head and throat. It also has a sedating action, and many patients report that they sleep much better during the treatment. The treatment is also effective for pain relief and increases the healing response during acute infections.”

wool socks

6. Immune Illume – I mentioned the wonderful food-grade oregano oil from Living Libations above- but I also always have a bottle of their Immune Illume handy during the fall and winter. I simply cannot say enough good things about all of the pure and potent oils I have purchased from this company but the Immune Illume is my absolute favourite. According to Nadine at LL “This fortifying fuse of potent antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral agents groom a resistant immune; hyssop, thymes, ravensara, rosemary, eucalyptus + oregano releases breathing. Inhale, bathe, massage into chest + sinuses or diffuse. Ingest a drop or two in: olive oil, teas or honey.”

immuneillume

I hope these ideas help naturally ease some of the pain of cold and flu season. Remember that these are my own personal remedies so remember to do whatever works best for you and your family.

Another quick suggestion- cook with tons of onions and garlic. They are both nature’s antibiotics and have potent virus busting properties. Sometimes I’ll even chop up a clove of garlic and swallow the bits with some water when I’m feeling a bug coming on. Powerful…and smelly stuff!

What are your go-to home remedies?

Smelly Pits and Natural Solutions

As I’ve made the transition to a plant-based diet and began to really consider what I am putting into my body, I have also become more cognizant of what I am using for body care and putting on myself in the form of makeup, soap, shampoo, lotion, sunscreen, perfume and deodorant. Did you know that according to Environmental Defense Canada the average woman applies over 126 different chemicals on her body on a daily basis- many of which are highly toxic?

So let’s tackle a sensitive area right off the bat – armpits! This is a tricky one to address because no one wants to be stinky and although sweat itself is generally odourless, the bacteria in our pits can really get rank.

deodorant woman

This has probably been the toughest area to find a safe and non-toxic solution for because to be completely honest most all-natural deodorants just don’t cut the mustard…or the stink. But I am absolutely determined to keep trying for a number of reasons. First of all, despite conflicting scientific research, I just don’t feel good about slathering a bunch of chemicals and sweat inhibitors into an area that houses lymph nodes- a vital part of my body’s immune system (not to mention how close my armpits are to my boobs and their fat cells that are prime receptors for toxins).

deodorant there's lead

If you don’t already have a copy, I highly recommend Gillian Deacon’s book There’s Lead in Your Lipstick. Gillian is an author, a broadcaster, an environmental advocate and a breast cancer survivor and she offers up a wealth of information regarding what is really in our body care products and what we can do about it. Here is just some of what Gillian has to say about our pits:

  1. Perspiring is our natural mechanism for releasing toxins and impurities from our bodies, regulating our body temperature and maintaining an appropriate salt level in our bloodstream
  2. Conventional antiperspirants essentially release aluminum salts that enter our pores to block this natural process
  3. If our skin isn’t able to properly eliminate toxins through perspiration, we may experience a trickle-down effect on our internal organs. The liver, kidneys and large intestine are challenged to work harder if impurities that would otherwise be released by sweating stay inside the body
  4. Both conventional deodorants and antiperspirants contain many scary ingredients including parabens, triclosan, synthetic fragrances, formaldehyde, phthalates and aluminum

Source: There’s Lead in Your Lipstick, Gillian Deacon

As a mom, I also want to make sure my kids are armed with the safest and most effective products as they enter their tween years and begin to experience their own aromas. Their growing bodies are especially sensitive to chemical exposure and it is up me as a parent to introduce them to products that will leave them smelling fresh but will also lessen their overall toxic load.

If you are curious about the products you are currently using, check out the amazing Cosmetic Safety Database put together by the Environmental Working Group to get the scoop on your favourite brands. You simply enter the name of your personal care product and you will get a detailed report of toxicity, safety studies and a hazard rating.

So here is the best advice that I can give you when it comes to armpits and natural toxin-free deodorants– you’ve got to keep mixing it up. What works one month may make you stink to the high heavens the next so keep trying new things and alternating your favs to keep yourself smelling wonderful and your body chemical-free and healthy.

Here are some of the ones I like and what I’m using right now:

Crawford Street Deodorant Cream– this is a great lemon-scented deodorant cream and it works quite well but needs to be rotated after a few weeks with an alternate brand to maintain it’s effectiveness. I ordered mine online from their store in Toronto and it arrived within a few days.

deodorant - crawford St

Rocky Mountain – this is another goodie and it comes with a guarantee that it will work or your money back. I’ve ordered a number of products from this company out west from their online store and I’ve loved all of them. Again, I’d recommend switching it up from time to time.

deodorant - rocky mountain

Weleda Rose – I love this light rose-scented spray and I use it to top up my deodorant of choice or to spritz on other sweaty areas to keep me smelling….well, like a rose! You can get it at most health and natural food stores or order it online from Saffron Rouge.

deodorant Weleda

Purely Great – this is my current fav and I love it. It’s a bit of a pain in the butt because you have to scoop it out of the container with the little wooden stick that is provided but if you can get over the inconvenience it actually works really well. They also have special formulas for teen boys and girls. I bought mine at my local health food store but you can also order online.

deodorant - purely great

Dr. Hauschka– this is a lovely scented deodorant and works remarkably well but with the $25 price tag per bottle you might not want to pony up for this brand. If you want to add it in to your rotation it is quite effective. You can buy this one at high-end health food stores (like Whole Foods) or order online from Saffron Rouge.

deodorant - dr hauschka

Living Libations– the deodorants from this incredible company are also effective but quite pricey. They use only the very purest ingredients and essential oils, however you will smell like a bit of a hippy with their many of their scents of choice so if this bothers you at all this one probably isn’t your best bet (I quite like it). You can order any of their products online and they are shipped promptly.

deodorant living libations

Remember – perspiring is a natural function of our bodies that is in place for a reason. Instead of attempting to override sweating with artificial chemicals and fragrances, why not swap in a more natural product? Try some of these brands out and let me know how they work out. I’m interested to hear from you as well. Have you tried out any toxin-free deodorants that have been effective? Tell me in the comments!

Why Does My Water Taste Like A Swamp?

I love this question. It was posed to me recently by my 9-year-old daughter and there is actually a very simple answer: Ocean’s Alive Marine Phytoplankton. I thought I was being so darn clever sneaking little droplets of this rich sea tincture into the kids school water bottles for the past few weeks and they didn’t even seem to notice. Or so I assumed. They know me well enough to suspect some trickery when their water smelled funny and they were dumping it into the sink in favour of some highly chlorinated school water. Yeesh! Back to the drawing board.

So why add this fishy stuff at all? Well there are a ton of health benefits for adults and kids alike. Ocean’s Alive Marine Phytoplankton is the smallest of all of the algaes (nano-pariculate microalgae size) and is basically as close as we are ever going to come to drinking in pure sunlight. It’s a naturally rich source of minerals, vitamins and energy directly from the sun and can provide whole body cellular rejuvenation.

phytoplankton meghan

Ocean’s Alive has been associated with:
• Increase in energy
• Immunity boosting
• Blood sugar balancing
• Reduction in skin irritations
• Support for digestive health
• Alkalinizing
• Improved circulation
• Detox support

A word of warning – if you are new to phytoplankton start slowly. Because it is so detoxifying to the system it can give you a bit of the runs at first if you aren’t careful. Start out with a drop or 2 in your water and work your way slowly up to a dropperful (and I only ever put a few drops into the kids’ water). I buy my Ocean’s Alive Marine Phytoplankton from the amazing nutritionista Meghan Telpner on her site here and it is shipped right to my front door within a couple of days. Try it out for yourself and see if you notice a change in your energy level and overall health.

phytoplankton in glass

So will I continue to sneak it into those water bottles? You bet! As for the taste -I’ve got a new trick up my sleeve. Edible essential oils. Food-grade tangerine essential oil from Living Libations is fragrant and delicious and the perfect solution for masking any unpleasant odours or tastes (I adore Living Libations and I’ll post soon on the products I love most from their site).

tangerine oil

A few drops of phytoplankton and one drop of tangerine oil and now their water tastes like orange and not the swamp! Crisis averted.