How to choose the best toxin-free cosmetics

Posted on March 31st, 2015

I’ve done several toxin-free cosmetics lists over the years, each with several updates…resulting in a bit of a jumble. So I’ve pulled them apart and rejigged them all with updated information.

Picture 5

Image via Pinterest

And before I go on… I really want to emphasise that making the switch to safer and cleaner shouldn’t be about buying more stuff. It’s about making a slow, gradual, informed switch as your current products run out.

I’ve spoken to a lot of people about how you and I can best act on the very real fears we have that our foundations and hair dyes and deodorants are not good for us. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Use less stuff

Reduce the chemical load where you can. It takes some getting used to – wearing less makeup and less products – but it’s doable. It makes sense at all levels. I don’t wear foundation (where possible) any more. I wear a bit of powder, mascara and eyebrow pencil. No hair product. No nail polish. Less is more.

2. Read the labels and avoid these ingredients:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. This is a really good starting point. Anything with SLS… high-tail from it - it’s a common Read more

Is resistant starch the cure for chronic constipation?

Posted on March 3rd, 2015

Gut health makes the world go around. This is where the wellness movement is at right now. And crucial to good gut health is sturdy, regular poo action. For many, especially those of us with an autoimmune disease, regular poo action is but a pipe dream (which sounds like an ablution entendre; so many things do!).

sack of potatoes

Does ablution have to be so arduous? Image via Flickr

I’ve written about constipation quite a bit (you can catch up here). And I am on a committed journey to finding a safe, natural, gentle solution to my own periodic struggles with stuckness. The latest theme to emerge is resistant starch.

What is this resistant starch when it’s not sounding so recalcitrant?

It’s a type of food starch – contained in legumes, green bananas and cooked (and cooled) potatoes – that remains whole through the stomach and small intestine, and, unlike most foods, reaches the large intestine intact. Ergo, it resists digestion. For many years it was believed that starch was completely digested and absorbed in the small intestine. But a study published in the 1980s showed that certain starches reach the large intestine as malabsorbed, fermentable material.

What does this mean? Well, when it reaches the colon, good bacteria attaches to it and the digestion/fermentation process begins.

And why is this so good? Foods that are digested in the colon promote the growth of good gut bacteria, and increase the colon pH to become more acidic, which improves your overall gut health and decreases the risk of leaky gut. Read more

Which fermenting starter is best: salt v whey

Posted on February 12th, 2015

I’ve been making my own ferments for a while now. It started a few years back with pickled daikon and sauerkraut and has developed into a passionate hobby. I’ve recently added fermented turmeric tonic,  kombucha, ginger-ade soda, cream cheese, beet and turmeric kvass. My next book is going to take things to even mouldier levels!

turmeric fermentation

Three generations of turmeric experimenting… A bug, fermented tonic and then the leftovers puréed to become a cooking paste. And a hoola dancer!

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again. Fermenting your vegetables is THE BEST thing you can do for restoring and maintaining the health of your gut. And the stuff is a boon for autoimmune folk like me. I’ve shared before how the process all works, the magic ingredient being a starter culture.

When I first started out, I used whey – a protein derived from dairy products (I make my own) – as a starter culture to get the fermenting process moving along.  Whey acts as an inoculant, reducing the time needed for sufficient lactic acid to be produced to ensure preservation of the food.

Using salt, or brine, is the more traditional method of lacto-fermentation. Before the invention of refrigeration, salt was used to preserve foods. Most bacteria need a warm, wet environment to thrive. Salt draws out the moisture in food, denying such a watery Read more