Archive for the 'Healthy Living' Category

Bring Your Own Shopping Bag

Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/people/tusnelda/

Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/people/tusnelda/

In many communities across the country, the disposable plastic shopping bag has been banned. You don’t need to wait for a mandate to make this super simple change that goes a long way to reduce plastic waste. Gather up all those paper and re-usable bags lying around the house. Place a stash in in the trunk of your car so you can “BYOB” wherever you go, significantly reducing your contribution to plastic waste.

Prefer a shopping bag that reflects your personal style? Just follow the easy instructions below for making your own re-usable shopping bags or lunch bags.

How to Make a Reusable Shopping Bag

Materials you will need:
• 2/3 yard of fabric
• Sewing Machine
• Thread
• 40” of nylon strapping for handles

Cut out the following 5 pieces:
2 pieces: 12 inches by 15 inches (front and back)
2 pieces: 6 inches by 15 inches (sides)
1 piece: 6 inches by 12 inches (bottom)

If you want to make a bag of different size, adjust the measurements above accordingly.

Step 1: Place the front and bottom pieces together, right sides facing in and sew together

Step 2: Take the back piece and place it together with the other side of the bottom piece, right sides facing in, and sew together. You should now have a long rectangle of fabric: front-bottom-back.

Step 3: Place a side piece against the front of the bag, right sides facing in, and sew together.

Step 4: Bring the back piece to the open side of the side piece, right sides facing in, and sew together

Step 5: Sew the bottom of the bag to the bottom of the side piece.

Step 6: Repeat steps 3-5 to attach the other side to the bag.

Step 7: Fold a section of the top of the bag in towards the inside of the bag. About ½ inch. Pin fabric and sew around the top.

Step 8: Cut the 40 inch strip of nylon material in half. Attach one end of the strap to the front of the bag and the opposite end to the back of the bag. Make sure strap is secured in the same location on each side of the bag. Attach the other strap in same manner, leaving at least 6-8” between the straps.

Recycled Container Gardens

Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/people/mikecogh/

Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/people/mikecogh/

We all have items we have stored away in the shed, garage or simply discarded in the yard somewhere. Now that Spring is upon us, now is the perfect time to find a new use for these items. Do some Spring cleaning and set aside items that can be used for planting instead of being hauled off to the landfill.

The following items make fabulous new homes for plants and flowers and can add an element of interest to your yard or front entry:

1. Plumbing fixtures
Sinks and bathtubs make great planters. Drainage is already accommodated for and the addition of some gravel in the bottom of the piece is all that is required to prepare the fixture for planting.

2. Furniture
Old chairs, benches, vanities and dressers can be transformed to interesting yard art. Cut holes in the tops of chairs or vanities to hold recycled plastic pots. Make sure there is drainage beneath the planters. Coating the exposed surface with an eco-friendly sealant is recommended.

3. Plastic containers
Even though many plastic containers are recyclable, it can be fun to find new uses for things instead of just discarding them. Any plastic container including milk jugs, water bottles and storage containers can be used for plants and seed-starting. Clean the plastic container with soap and water and add drainage holes. The rest is up to your imagination. Try starting some seeds. It’s a super cost effective way to start herbs and veggies all year long.

4. Old dishes
Be it a favorite dish that has broken or a super interesting find at a flea market. Old dishes make beautiful containers for flowers and herbs. If drainage holes are not possible, line the bottom of the dish with gravel for drainage.

5. Tires
According to the EPA, more than 290 million scrap tires are generated each year. Fortunately, used tires make long-lasting, inexpensive raised beds.

Imagine all the garden design possibilities by using recycled and re-discovered items in your own home and yard. Enjoy!

Chloramine on Tap

There’s a threat in the water, and it appears only as a single word on your water bill: chloramines. It’s the combination of ammonia and chlorine that’s added to the water to disinfect it before use. However, when added together, ammonia and chlorine create toxic, cancer-causing disinfection byproducts.

For many years, chlorine has been the primary chemical used to eradicate the risks of waterborne diseases. In the last few years many municipal water treatment plants have switched to chloramines due to their ability to disinfect water for longer periods of time. When these disinfectants interact with the organic materials in water, disinfection byproducts are created. Many of these byproducts are thought to cause gastric or liver cancer, or pose other health risks such as increased asthma symptoms, danger to mucous membranes, digestive problems and skin irritation. Kidney dialysis patients cannot use water that contains chloramines in their dialysis machines because it will cause hemolytic anemia.

While chloramine poses a risk to everyone, there is an increased risk to populations with weakened immune systems, including children younger than 6 months, the elderly, those on or who have had chemotherapy, people with HIV or AIDS and organ transplant patients.

The use of chloramines is growing. The EPA estimates more than 20 percent—or 1 in 5—of Americans use water treated with chloramines. More states are adding chloramine to water supplies because it is a more stable and longer-lasting alternative to free chlorine. Free chlorine is chlorine before it combines with other chemicals, but it can evaporate quickly, while the stability of chloramine means it lasts longer in the water supply and the harmful byproducts reach the consumer in higher levels.

Washington D.C. witnessed another side effect in 2004 when chloramines were introduced. Officials say lead contamination resulted from chloramine-related pipe corrosion. The city discovered lead levels at least 83 times higher than the accepted safe limit while performing research into premature pipe corrosion. They found that the decision to change from using chlorine to chloramine as a treatment resulted in a spike in lead levels. A report released in 2010 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the water supplied to almost 15,000 homes might still contain dangerous levels of lead despite the partial replacement of lead pipes at the homes from 2004 to 2008.

As consumers, we need to be aware of the dangers posed by these byproducts in our water. In a recent study conducted by water filtration company Aquasana, it became apparent that our country doesn’t know the risk associated with unfiltered water. More than 70 percent of respondents were unaware of the health risks connected to drinking and bathing in unfiltered tap water, and 91 percent did not know that one of the President’s Cancer Panel’s top three recommendations to reduce environmentally-based cancer is to filter tap water.

The EPA does not force any state or town to use chloramine as a disinfectant. Additionally, they recommend many alternatives to the toxic mixture, including removing organic contaminants through coagulation or sedimentation. However, the use of more and more chemicals in water treatment underscores the need to regulate what goes into our water supply in the first place. By limiting toxic materials and enforcing regulations, the need for such harsh chemical disinfectants diminishes.

Along with Washington D.C., Tennessee has completely banned chloramines from water. This is the best possible outcome for consumers, but in the meantime, filtering your water has never been more important. When shopping for water filters, make sure that the company has a National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certification to remove chloramines.

Great Gift Ideas for Under $20

It’s that time of year again when gift giving abounds.  Gift exchanges and gestures of appreciation can really start to add up when you consider purchasing gifts for party hosts and hostesses, neighbors, teachers, coaches and babysitters.  To make things a little easier we’ve come up with some super easy, gift ideas for everyone on your list using our Aquasana refillable glass water bottles. Create the perfect gift by filling our glass water bottles with thoughtful treats for a present they will enjoy this holiday season and a reusable bottle they will love year round!

Gifts for the Host/Hostess

Going to a few holiday parties or get-togethers this year?  It’s always appropriate to take a gift for the host or hostess.  Fill an Aquasana glass water bottle with one of the following for a gift that is sure to be unique and appreciated.

  • Premium loose leaf tea in a relaxing or fragrant blend.  Tie a tea infuser around the Aquasana lid with a festive bow and a hand-made tag that identifies the name and flavor of the tea.
  • Gourmet coffee beans for the coffee-lover.  Choose a tasty holiday or dessert blend, add a bow and a gift tag.

Gifts for the Teacher

It’s always nice to show your appreciation to the dedicated teachers that make an impact on our family’s lives.  For a fun and festive “thanks for all you do,” fill an Aquasana glass water bottle with one of the following goodies: Jelly Bellies, home-made hot cocoa mix, red and white peppermint candies, mini individually wrapped chocolates. Add a note of appreciation and some ribbon and you’ve got a quick, thoughtful gift that will stand out amongst all the candles and coffee mugs.

 

Gifts for the Coach

A refillable Aquasana glass water bottle is perfect for the coach!  Fill one with a healthy snack such as trail mix or almonds.  Add a stopwatch or whistle with a ribbon and a note and you have a season win!

 

Gifts for the Babysitter

Show your appreciation for all those times they were there when you needed them.  Fill an Aquasana glass water bottle with their favorite treat such as Jelly Bellies, chocolates, bubble gum or home-made goodies.  Add a gift card or movie passes and you’ve got an awesome way to say “you’re the best.”

 

Gifts for the Neighbors

Don’t be caught empty-handed when neighbors stop by with holiday cheer and goodies.  Fill some Aquasana water bottles with gourmet coffee, mini-chocolates, snack mix or peppermints.  Top with a bow and a festive ornament for the best gift on the block.

 

Gifts for the Dog

Whether it’s your favorite canine friend or your friend fond of canines, an Aquasana glass water bottle filled with treats for Fido is sure to delight!  Make your own delicious treats at home or fill with a special store-bought goodie.  Add a bright colored collar around the top of the water bottle and you’ve got a guaranteed tail-wagger!

 

Make sure you have Aquasana refillable glass water bottles on hand this holiday season to make gift -giving a joy.  It’s not too late to stock up! From now until December 24th, all of our glass bottles come with gift tags especially made for you to share with friends!

Cheers!

World Water Day 2012: Water and Food Security

World Water Day is a day we spend each year reflecting on our most precious resource. It gave birth to our ancestors and sustains our lives. We drink it, eat it, dive in it, surf on it, splash it at others, walk in (or avoid walking in) drops of it falling from the sky, shoot it at people, revere it, use it to wash ourselves, use it to wash things, bow to its majesty, and in all other ways rely and depend upon it for our healthy and happy existence on this planet.

Water. Without it, we could not exist. Period.

This year, WWD is about understanding how water related to our food supply. Which products that you eat are water-intensive, and which have a relatively light footprint? We only have a small amount of potable water on Earth, and we use it up more quickly with some processes and activities than others in terms of the food supply. How much water do we waste by throwing it away? Think about buying local vegetables and meats instead of the stuff form big farms: how far does it travel to get to you, how sustainable are their practices, and how much do they pollute their local water sources?

Test your knowledge on how sustainable your food is, and today try to eat food that came from sustainable resources. Make small diet and use changes to help decrease your dependence on water-wasting sources. And take a moment to give thanks to the water that sustains your life and your health every day.

How to Install an Aquasana Under Counter Drinking Filter

So you’ve bought yourself a brand new Aquasana under counter drinking filter system. Congratulations! You’ve taken that first step into a healthier life and a healthier family.

But how do you get the thing from the box into your kitchen?AQ-4601 install kit

Here’s a video that details how to get your new filter installed, followed by written instructions.

Installing the Aquasana under counter filters is really quite simple. Just follow these steps (and be sure to watch the installation video!):

1) Unbox all your parts and make sure you have everything. You should have
• A faucet
• A bracket
• A filter system
• 2 screws
• 2 screw anchors
• A brass T-fitting
• A small brass nut
• A plastic sleeve
• A brass insert
• A silicon o-ring
• A washer
• A large brass nut

In addition to these parts, you may need an adjustable wrench, a drill and Teflon tape (none of which is included) for installation.

2) Take the small brass nut and run it onto the orange line, threads pointing toward the open end of the line. Run the plastic sleeve down the orange line. Put the brass insert into the end of the orange line and press in firmly. Pull the plastic sleeve up to the end of the orange line, and then pull the brass nut up as well.

3) Thread the O-ring onto all three water lines and push it up against the bottom of the faucet. Thread all three water lines into the hole in your sink, and firmly seat the faucet, making sure the O-ring is inside the channel under the faucet.

4) Thread the washer onto all three water lines under the sink, and run it as far up the line as it will go. Thread the large brass nut onto all three lines, and screw it into the underside of the faucet. Tighten the nut.

5) Turn off the cold water line (usually on the right). Unscrew the cold water line, and screw in the brass T-fitting. You may find that wrapping the threads with Teflon tape reduces leaking. Tighten the fastenings, but do not over-tighten. Screw in the brass nut on the orange water line to the 90-degree outlet on the brass T-fitting. Tighten, but do not over-tighten.

6) Measure and drill holes in the wall for the bracket, leaving at least ten inches of clearance above the bottom of the cabinet. Insert the screw anchors. Remove the adhesive backing from the bracket, and place the bracket on the wall under your sink. Screw in the screws to secure the bracket to the wall.

7) Hang the filter unit on the bracket. Take the supply lines from the faucet, and insert the blue line into the blue cap and the white line into the white cap, pushing down firmly.

8 ) Turn on the cold water line again, slowly, and check for leaks. You may need to tighten screw connections or put Teflon tape on the threads to eradicate all leaking.

9) Turn on the faucet and flush the filter; the water will sputter at first. Run the water for 10 minutes to prime the filter cartridges, and then you’re ready to drink clean, fresh water!

If you experience difficulties, please give our customer service line a call. They are happy to answer any questions you have about your new filter, and troubleshoot the installation process: 866.662.6885.

6 great reasons to filter your drinking water

1. You’ll drink more water: It’s easier to drink filtered than unfiltered water. Unfiltered water often tastes kind of funny,drink more water when you filter your water depending on where you live and what your water source is. So you drink soda or bottled water (which we will discuss in a minute), or possibly turn to tea and coffee as an alternative. Filtering does two things: it removes contamination that makes your water taste funny and maintains the healthy minerals (calcium, potassium and magnesium) that your body craves along with its water. If you’ve ever tasted distilled water or water from a reverse osmosis system, you may notice that it tastes kind of flat. Drab. Almost dry. That’s the lack of minerals. Often drinking this water fails to quench your thirst, so even if you’re full, you still have a craving for something wet. Why do people turn to sports drinks and soda? They both contain minerals your body needs—that’s both their value proposition and the mechanism that satisfies your thirst when you drink. By drinking filtered water that maintains healthy minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium, you feel more satisfied and less thirsty, and won’t hanker so much for a soda, either.

2. Your water will be cleaner: Filtration gets rid of the majority of your water’s contamination while preserving the healthy minerals that hydrate you better and relieve thirst better than some of your other options. Tap water is all right: It generally contains all the minerals in it you need, along with a good dose of contamination that you don’t. Some cities are better than others—get your local water report to learn where your city ranks—but even after treatment, the city pipes and water delivery system most likely contains some kind of contamination that gets back into the water before it gets to you. Heck, the pipes in your house are probably not all that clean, either! To be sure, a point-of-use system that attaches to your faucet goes a long way to easing your mind about the quality of water you consume.

3. You’ll have more control: Filtration gives you more control and insight into what’s in your water. It’s just always better to KNOW what you’re eating or drinking. Look no further than the spate of governmental rules and regulations food and beverage manufacturers must comply with to see that not only is it good to know what’s in there, but you have the legal right to know what’s in there. Filtering your own water once it enters your house offers a fine level of control over the quality of your drinking, cooking and bathing water.

4. It’s convenient: Really, what all the above reasons amount to is a higher level of convenience in your life. One more thing you don’t have to worry about, you don’t have to think about or wonder when you’re shopping in the grocery store. “Do I need to stock up on bottled water? Oh, no—I have better at home!”

5. It’s cheaper: Filtering is cheaper than bottled water by a mile. It’s even cheaper than pitcher filters. With Aquasana drinking filters specifically, you get almost twice as much bang for your buck than many pitcher filters, and over thirty times more than from bottled water. If you’re looking to save money in 2012, quitting the bottled water habit and choosing to filter is a long step in the right direction.

Filtering your water versus pitcher filter versus bottled water

6. It’s green/sustainable: Going along with cheaper, filtering is also a very sustainable method of treating your water. Reverse osmosis wastes quite a bit of water, especially as a household solution (as opposed to a larger scale operation). Basically, you get a bit of clean water, but concentrate the contaminated water and send it back into the environment. Distillation requires electricity and also wastes water. Bottled water, aside from its health concerns, fills landfills with tons of plastic waste each day. Most bottles are not recycled (up to 80% are simply tossed in the garbage), despite their eligibility for recycling, and end up clogging rivers and land when they’re not actually disposed of “properly” in a landfill. Filtering can remove up to 4,000 bottles a year from landfills. Also, filtering is removing contamination from water—meaning less ambient contamination in general (not just for your drinking pleasure). And carbon—the chief material used in filtration—is good for the environment even once you’re done with using it to filter your water.

Have another great reason to filter your water? Let us know in the comments!

5 fun ways to get ready for the holidays

It’s that time of year again: carols, parties, gifts, familial guilt (for some of us), and the relentless pressure to buy, buy, buy. As much as I love this season, it can also be full of stress that can lessen joy and overshadow family time. Over the years I’ve discovered a few things that really help get me into the holiday spirit in a relaxing way.

Decorate

Regardless of your religious affiliation, this is the perfect time of year to add a little something new and different to your living space. Whether it’s preparing for Christmas with a tree, wreaths, lights and stockings, breaking out the menorah and dreidels, pulling out last year’s Yule Log or just displaying some tasteful evergreen boughs, holly berries and snowflake ornaments in honor of winter itself, changing your surroundings will just make the season more merry in general. If time is an issue, just do a few additions, like a few scented candles and a nice bouquet of flowers on the table. The change of scenery will give your space and you a new, refreshing energy.

Cook or bake

If you have the time and the talent, baking is the way to go to really feel the jolly rolling in your veins. Besides the satisfaction you derive from creating something wonderful at this time of year, making your home smell amazing has a way of lifting your spirits despite the early darkness outside. Just try these little beauties: salted caramel-stuffed chocolate truffle cookies. Remember that the olfactory sense (smell) is possibly the one most powerfully associated with memory, so the warm aroma of crusty bread or chocolatey goodness can transport you to childhood or happier times in an instant. And the dishes can wait until tomorrow.

Give

Of your time. Of your heart. Of your loose change to the Salvation Army pot at the local grocery store or a local charity. It needn’t be a tremendous out-pouring, it just needs to be sincere. Remember, if you are one of us who shoves relentlessly through December in search of perfect holiday gifts for loved ones, to let a harried mother cut in line, smile at over-worked and under-appreciated store employees, stop and give a few murmured words of thanks for small kindnesses. Feeling thankful and appreciative is one of the quickest ways I know of to feel warm inside.

Forgive

Take a deep breath on this one because it’s not always easy or comfortable. This is, however, the perfect time of year to tally up in your head all the people who wronged you—perceived or real, on purpose or not—and make the conscious effort to let it go. It’s not for them, it’s for you.

Breathe

Take some time to yourself. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but find five minutes a day or a weekend afternoon during which you can take a break from the hustle and just relax and be yourself. Such a break will recharge your system and give you the energy and calm center you need to make it to January.

What are your favorite things to do to get ready for the holidays? Share your tips and thoughts in the comments!

Antioxidants: Avoiding disease takes more than a piece of fruit!

Antioxidant-rich fruit
Free radicals

Have you ever left a piece of fruit on the counter for too long and it turned brown and mushy? What happened to that once vibrantly colored fruit to cause such a change? When food is exposed to oxygen from the air, the cells of the food go through a process called oxidation. This means that there is a chemical reaction on the surface of the fruit with oxygen in the air, which causes cell damage and appears as rot. When this metabolic process happens, the cells of the fruit give off byproducts called free radicals. It is this byproduct that causes food to turn brown or rot.

The same process happens within the human body. We all know that oxygen is a necessary part of living and for creating energy. However, when our cells use oxygen, they give off the same free radical byproduct and it is released into our body.

Antioxidants

An antioxidant is a vitamin that cleans up these free radicals that are produced in both food and the human body. Have you noticed that fruit does not rot right away, but rather goes through a process every day? When all the antioxidants are used up, then the fruit begins to rot. In the human body, we manifest illnesses such as cancer when all of our antioxidants are used up.

Toxins

What else can cause an increase in free radical formation in the body? Toxins. As we try to scrub toxins such as pesticides, chemicals, alcohol, cigarette smoke, fried foods, etc. from our environment, we form more and more free radicals. If we do not have enough antioxidants to compensate for these free radicals, we develop illness.

Common antioxidants

• Vitamin A and carotenoids – found in carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards, cantaloupe, peaches and apricots (bright-colored fruits and vegetables!)
• Vitamin C – found in citrus fruits like oranges and limes, etc., green peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, strawberries and tomatoes
• Vitamin E – found in nuts and seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil and liver oil
• Selenium – found in fish and shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic

At the grocery store

When you shop for food, try to buy organic if possible and look for fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors to assure you get as many different antioxidants as possible.

Also, experts recommend you take extra supplementation, but be sure to contact your natural health professional to find out which one is right for you.

~Dr. Wendy Norman, D.C, Applied Kinesiologist

www. bodyelectrictoday.com

What is THAT?! …Psoriasis?

Psoriasis?

With all the hype lately about Kim Kardashian and her psoriasis, it’s becoming a hot topic. The paparazzi went a little haywire there for a couple weeks, trying to get pictures of her legs or arms and the red bumps and scales. This is what you get for being in the spotlight and broadcasting such intimate medical details, I guess, but such exploitation makes me feel sick.

Unlike some of the other skin conditions we’ve discussed on this blog, psoriasis is a chronic condition. Once identified and treated with medication and/or lifestyle changes, it can go into remission, but it’s a disorder people have to live with forever. Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease, which means that some faulty wiring in a person’s immune systems puts skin cell production into overdrive. Dead cells don’t slough off the skin’s surface as fast as new cells are produced, and gather and become patches or rashes, and can become quite painful.

The good news: it’s not communicable. (Remember this if you try to call in sick to work with psoriasis!)

The bad news: most doctors agree that it’s hereditary. So by saying “it’s not communicable” does not mean you didn’t get it from SOMEone.

Recognizing it

There are several different ways psoriasis afflicts people:

• Red, patchy skin covered in flaky white scales (most common) (Plaque)
• Very intense redness that covers large portions of skin (Erythrodermic)
• Small pink dots on the skin (Guttate)
• Skin redness in places where skin touches skin: groin, armpits and behind the knees, etc (Inverse)
• White blisters with red skin (Pustular)

In general, consult a doctor for any persistent rash or skin irritation, and you might suspect psoriasis if there’s a family history of it and you see flaky, scaly skin.

Causes

Most experts agree that the cause of psoriasis is simple genetics. It comes on sometime between the ages 15 and 35, showing up as a rash or red, flaky skin. An outbreak can appear because of a variety of factors:

• Inadequate sunlight
• Overexposure to sunlight (there’s just no winning, I guess)
• Excessive alcohol consumption
• Stress
• Some kinds of medicine (see also “Your Prozac might be making you scratch”)
• Infections (bacterial or viral)
• Excessive dryness (both environmental—air—and physical—skin)

Treatments: the clinical and the wild

Sadly, there’s no getting rid of it; we just have to learn to cope and be as comfortable as possible. There are a wide variety of creams and ointments available that could help (cortisone is commonly used), pills and injections, and even phototherapy. If you feel like stress is one of your outbreak triggers, you might consider taking yoga or getting acupuncture to help you relax. Or lay back in a nice, soothing oatmeal bath (there are several brands out there for bath supplements you just sprinkle in).

There are a number of wild claims on the Internet about cures, but take them with a grain of salt and big fat suitcase of skepticism. Before embarking on any treatment, discuss it with a dermatologist you trust (not just your GP), and if you don’t like what she says, seek a second opinion.

Are there any horror stories out there about dealing with psoriasis? What treatments have you tried, and how did they work? Any advice on what to ask a dermatologist regarding treatments or research on cures? Let us know in the comments!

 

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