Eat Well, Avoid Toxins, Be Happy!
August 2013
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Camping brings much joy, it also causes me to pay attention to two big issues: water and bug spray. We joke about "camping rules" where we try to not drink too much water so we don’t have to make middle of the night sprints from the tent to the washrooms.  But, the truth is that being thirsty is no fun and finding the exact right amount of water is a challenge.
When we are in new areas, we don't know what the bugs will be like, and when tenting, we are always very aware of the mosquitoes trying to find their way into the tent.  How to protect against them has become an ongoing conversation.

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Avoid Toxins!

Bug spray/repellent is a complex topic. Like sunscreen, it is more a matter of balancing various risks, and less about a clear cut answer.   The Environment Working Group has released a new report on bug repellent.  While not perfect, the report does have a lot of useful information in it.
Their surprising conclusion is that sometimes chemical based bug sprays are justified and, in fact, necessary where there is a  high risk associated with tick and mosquito borne diseases. 
As a starting point, consider the risk of disease in the area in which you are using the repellent.  A backyard barbecue in a neighborhood with very low likelihood of insect borne disease would lead to very different choices than hiking in a wooded area with high likelihood of west Nile, Lyme, or other diseases.  
In a high risk area, your first defense is to cover your skin.  Long sleeved shirts and pants; light colored clothing as it will not attract bugs; pants tucked into socks; and other coverings effective strategies for protecting yourself.
In any situation, aerosol sprays, wristbands and foggers should be avoided because they are ineffective and they put you at risk of breathing toxic fumes.  Pumps, towelettes and other solutions that don't risk breathing fumes are the best application method.  It is also a good idea to avoid sunscreens with bug protection.  Because the sunscreen needs to be re-applied frequently, it will likely lead to an over-application of bug spray. Special care should be taken with children, especially small children, and doctors’ guidelines should be followed.  A good common sense approach is to apply bug spray to children by spraying it first on your hands and then rubbing it on the child’s arms and legs – this keeps it from getting on your children’s hands (which will likely wind up in their mouths). Then, wash YOUR hands!
EWG specifically notes that while the US allows DEET concentrations of up to 100%, Canada only allows concentrations of up to 30%.  The EWG recommends following Canada’s guidelines on this.
While DEET and other chemical agents provide good results in preventing mosquito bites, they don’t totally remove the risk of ticks.  Therefore, diligence in checking for ticks after outdoor activity is crucial. 
EWG seems to imply that Picaridin may be the best choice.   I like that it’s a relatively low concentration.  At 20%, it provides all day protection (apply once) against ticks and mosquitoes.  They also analyze IR3535 and DEET as reasonable choices.   As a botanical, they recommend Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus with enhanced PMD (but not for children under three). 
It is worth noting that they do indicate catnip oil as an effective mosquito repellent.  This is the main ingredient in the Ava Anderson Non Toxic Bug Spray.  Bear in mind that botanicals are not regulated, so there is less information available on their effectiveness.
On balance, I trust EWG and I believe in avoiding toxins to the extent that it does not do you any harm.  In this instance, it may be that the toxin risk is less than the risk of harm from a mosquito or tick.  I like the practical advice described above that enables you to minimize your use of bug sprays and encourage using non-toxic choices where the risk of insect borne disease is minimal.   The study is well worth reading as is the related fact sheet.
The EPA has some useful tips on applying DEET, that seem to be relevant for any bug repellent:
  • Read and follow all directions and precautions on this product label.
  • Do not apply over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
  • Do not apply to hands or near eyes and mouth of young children.
  • Do not allow young children to apply this product.
  • Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing.
  • Do not use under clothing.
  • Avoid over-application of this product.
  • After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.
  • Wash treated clothing before wearing it again.
  • Use of this product may cause skin reactions in rare cases.
The following additional guidelines apply to aerosol and pump spray formulation:
  • Do not spray in enclosed areas.
  • To apply to face, spray on hands first and then rub on face. Do not spray directly onto face.
Interested in exploring Non Toxic products?  Check out Ava Anderson Non Toxic or call or email me about this fabulous line of products.

Did you know?

  • Many Houseplants  suck some of the toxins out of your house -- helping to reduce indoor air pollution.
  • Aloe Vera is a great sunburn soother.
  • School lunches are not always healthy -- check out the choices that are available to your children
  • Because fragrances are often trade secrets, manufacturers are not required to list the ingredients on their products.
A little about me and why I am doing this.

I am passionate about working with people to help them achieve their goals through making healthier nutrition and wellness choices.   My particular interest is in working with people who are seeking to make health and wellness choices to help to prevent cancer or its recurrence.   I believe that through healthy food choices, avoiding toxins, and taking steps to reduce stress and be happier, it is easier to achieve life goals and to stay healthier.   Because of my passion, I am a certified holistic health coach, a distributor of Ava Anderson Non Toxic Products, and a one-on-one provider for Heart Math.
To learn more about how to eat healthy, avoid toxins and be happy, go to:
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Eat Well, Avoid Toxins, Be Happy!
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Health and Wellness: Worth the Effort
Summer is 1/2 over, what goals did you have for the summer?  Have you achieved them?   Can you commit to drinking more water for the month of August?   Let me know how it makes you feel.

"Water is life's matter and matrix, mother and medium.  There is no life without water."
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

This is the water bottle I use - it was a gift from my fabulous friend Julie.

Eat Well! -- Drink Water

It is possible that water is our world’s most valuable resource.    It is also our body’s.  Henry David Thoreau said "Water is the only drink for a wise man." The many miracles of water are astonishing!  It is so lovely and relaxing to watch -- the ocean, a lake, a river, a waterfall and it is a piece of nature that we can drink, absorbing it in its natural whole form.  There is something beautiful about that.
Replenishing your body’s fluids through drinking water is one of the best things that you can do for yourself – and the easiest.    Often being thirsty or feeling “dry mouth” is a very late signal to your body of dehydration, so drinking before you feel thirst is ideal.  Interestingly, thirst often disguises itself as hunger or as cravings. 
The average adult body is 55% to 75% water. Two thirds of your body weight is water (40 to 50 quarts). A human embryo is more than 80% water. A newborn baby is 74% water. Everyday your body must replace 2 .5 quarts of water.
There is consensus that if you exercise for up to 60-90 minutes at a time you are not likely to lose electrolytes, so staying hydrated with water will be sufficient.  If you are doing more that, you might want to explore electrolyte replacement.   Some sources say you can do it through foods, others through homemade drinks, and others through sports drinks.   Research these options and make the choice that is best for you.  Sports drinks concern me because of the artificial ingredients and food colors as well as the large amount of sugar they often contain.  Start, however, with being sure to drink enough water.
Water is good for:
  • Joints
  • Cognition
  • Skin
  • Weight loss
  • Kidneys
  • Energy level
  • Immune system
  • Avoiding headaches
Even if you make no other changes in your diet, simply drinking water can bring a significant change to your health and well-being.

If drinking water gets boring to you – here are some tips for keeping it interesting:

  • First thing in the morning, fill a mug with freshly boiled water.
  • Add a dash of apple cider vinegar and a squeeze of fresh lemon.  Sip as you start your day.
  • According to Ayuveda, hot water more easily penetrates your lymph system, helping to cure dehydration at a cellular level and to move things through the lymph system more easily.
With cold water
  • Add lemon, or
  • Add slices of cucumber, or
  • Add a sliver or orange, or  
  • Add lime, or
  • Add kiwi, or
  • Add blueberries (we add frozen blueberries in place of ice).
You can now buy water bottles with a removable bottom that allows you to add fruit or vegetables that it then crushes to infuse your water.  
Quick tips:
  • Make it easy to drink water - keep a glass by your side when you are cooking, watching TV, reading, and, of course, exercising.
  • When you reach into the refrigerator for something to eat or drink, first have a glass of water.
  • When you need a break from what you are doing, grab a glass of water.
  • Track how much water you drink in a day  - you might be surprised.
  • As a rule of thumb, try dividing your weight (in pounds) by 2 and drinking that many ounces of water each day.   See how it makes you feel.  If you exercise, you will need more than this.
  • If you are worried about having to get up in the middle of the night, drink most of your water early in the day.
Interesting Study on Water:
Masaru Emoto conducted research about the qualities of water.   His conclusion was that water reacts to emotions.  Specifically, he shows pictures of water crystals that have been in containers with different words on them.   Water with positive words forms beautiful crystals, water with negative words forms ugly, fractured crystals.    Needless to say, there is great debate over the accuracy of these studies.  But, what if it is true? What if by putting a happy word on your water bottle, the water you drink becomes healthier, happier, safer?   Try it! See what happens! And then let me know.

Be Happy! 

Byron Katie has a lovely approach to forgiveness and eliminating hurt, both of which can help with being happy   Check out her work.  There is a great deal of depth to her work, here is just a small taste.

Pick a situation or a thought that is interfering with your happiness.   This could be something someone has said to you, something you believe to be true, or a judgement you have made about someone else.   Consider these questions.
  1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If yes, move to 3, if no, let it go.)
  2. Can you absolutely know that it's true? (Yes or no, if no, let it go.)
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?
I think we often hold onto thoughts or beliefs that we forget to test or that we subsequently learn are untrue, often years later. Even if they are true, often holding on to them adds no value, only pain.  What if we just let them go?  What would be different for you?  Would you be happier?
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