There is Hope for Infertility

Please welcome my friend and fellow blogger Rebekah Greco, of the blog Brothaholic. Rebekah suffered from infertility, miscarriages and pregnancy complications, but then discovered how she could heal her body and now has six healthy children! She has generously contributed this educational guest post about infertility and her experience, as well as ways you can heal and find hope to conceive! 

Infertility can be a topic that is treated a lot like money: it is mostly avoided,  but bringing it up can cause explosive reactions or grief.

It is a topic that involves feelings of despair, shame, and hopelessness. While it can be a painful topic, infertility is a condition that is pretty common in the US.

My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage.

While pregnant  with my second daughter, I was told that I had the beginnings of both endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). After that birth, my husband and I packed up and moved to another state. I had a new doctor and a new set of eyes to look at more ultrasound results. At this point I was pregnant again. I was told the same thing: Endometriosis and PCOS.

My doctor told me that this would likely be my last birth, that my diseases would continue to escalate, and eventually I would need a hysterectomy. I was told to mentally prepare myself.

I miscarried another pregnancy after that appointment.

Just like the first miscarriage, it was emotionally devastating.

During these years I began to really research the causes of infertility, miscarriage. My search for answers has continued for another eight years.

I have discovered there are a lot of possible causes and various forms of infertility. For one person there may only be one or two reasons to experience infertility, for someone else it may be a combination of several reasons, and some never find a reason.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is when the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus.

It is an inflammatory condition that can cause cramping, pelvic pain and heavy bleeding. (See the sections below about true vitamin A and progesterone as they are related.)

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome aka PCOS

PCOS is diagnosed when either one or both ovaries are present with regular abnormal cysts. It can cause delayed or infrequent ovulation and can be associated with later experiencing type II diabetes and heart disease. It is associated with low vitamin D levels. (1)

Low Progesterone

Low progesterone can occur during different times for women of childbearing age. Some women have low progesterone, ovulate, are able to conceive, but experience very early miscarriages or what is called chemical pregnancies.

Then there are women that produce enough progesterone to conceive and have pregnancies which go four weeks or more.

During early pregnancy, an ovary will have a beneficial ovarian cyst called the corpus luteum cyst that supplies progesterone to the baby until their own placenta takes over and begins to produce its own progesterone to sustain the pregnancy. This occurs around the twelve weeks gestation mark.

For some reason, in some women, the placenta never fully takes over progesterone production, and this causes miscarriage or it may produce progesterone on a more low side of normal.

The ones producing low, or on the low side of normal, may have frequent cramping and spotting. Low progesterone can cause a subchorionic hemorrhage behind where the placenta is implanted. Low progesterone can also cause stillbirth in late-term pregnancies.

Low progesterone is associated with estrogen dominance. (2)

Fallopian Tube Blockages

Fallopian tube blockages can cause the inability to conceive. They can also cause a tubal pregnancy where the baby begins to grow inside the fallopian tube and is most often a medical emergency.

The most common cause of fallopian tube blockages is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, aka PID, from sexually transmitted infections or surgical infections.

Blockages can also be associated with endometriosis. Unfortunately, the solution to this is not dietary/lifestyle changes. These changes could certainly help to prevent further damage, but a minor procedure using a laser can be used to clear out the tube or tubes.

For some types of blockages, a non-surgical procedure can be performed using a special catheter to unclog the blockage.  

Low in True Vitamin A

Being low in true vitamin A makes it difficult for the body to rid itself of excess estrogens. Excess estrogen can cause excessive bleeding and is associated with endometriosis. (3) Excess estrogen causes progesterone insufficiency.

We associate Vitamin A with eating orange vegetables or green leafy vegetables.

Unfortunately, converting beta carotene to true vitamin A is dependent on a few factors. Does the individual have the proper gut bacteria present to make the conversion, and are the vegetables consumed well-cooked and with saturated fat? If not, the conversion will not occur (4). 

(Note from Leah: You can boost your gut bacteria by taking a high-quality probiotic and real-food supplements. For more information on how to increase beneficial gut bacteria, see my post  Bacteria Boom: What Are Probiotics and Why are They So Popular?).

There is a way to bypass these issues by eating foods that have true vitamin A, like pastured eggs (the nutrients are in the yolks!), pastured butter or ghee, and organ meats from pastured animals. For the more squeamish, grass-fed desiccated liver pills can be found online. They come in easy-to-swallow capsules.

Reduced Cervical Mucus

In order to conceive, cervical mucus is needed to transport the sperm to the egg. In fact, noticing extra cervical mucus is typically a sign that the body is in its fertile phase.

When a woman does not produce enough cervical mucus, everything in her fertility may be in working order except for the cervical mucus production. This is when beta carotene from orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes becomes a shining star because it increases cervical mucus production, many times significantly (5).

A Regular Low Body Temperature

Hypothyroidism is associated with infertility.

Some cases of hypothyroidism are from the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Other cases are more easily fixed.

The thyroid gets stressed from not eating enough calories, excessive dieting, excessive exercise and in turn lowers adrenal function. Hashimoto’s on the other hand typically requires a gut healing protocol and testing for a chronic high viral load from things like Epstein Barr.

Removal of heavy metals may also be necessary. Other causes of a chronic low body temperature (below 98.6) can be fixed by reducing stress, sleeping more, eating enough calories, and avoiding excessive exercise.

While low-carb diets are beneficial to some women, for other women these diets can stress the thyroid excessively, affect the adrenals, and make conception difficult. (6)

Toxic Exposures

Toxic exposures to poisons can cause both the inability to conceive as well as miscarriages.

An example of this occured where I live in the Plano/Frisco area in North Texas. The water supply was poisoned with trihelomethane, which is a known female fertility disruptor. Who knows how long this had been going on and where else this is occuring.

Our family relies on a heavy duty gravity filter, like a Berkey, to reduce our toxic exposures. We do not drink or cook with water directly from the tap.

Early Ultrasound Exposure (before 13 weeks)

Unless a tubal pregnancy is a serious concern (extreme pain in the pelvis and sometimes bleeding caused by the baby growing and the tube rapidly expanding), early ultrasounds are mostly always unnecessary.

Ultrasounds have been shown to cause changes in tissue temperature and depending on where the baby is attached in the uterus and how long the ultrasound takes, it could be dangerous. We do not fully know the effects at this time. (7)

I personally had two miscarriages after an early ultrasound. I was on progesterone at the time, so low progesterone was not the cause. During the ultrasounds the babies appeared to be very healthy and active.

Though it’s possible the ultrasounds did not cause my miscarriages, for the rest of my pregnancies I have avoided early ultrasounds. This is merely anecdotal evidence, and is up to your discretion.

How I Healed

After the birth of my second child, I had begun to clean up my diet.

I have never been one to avoid eating regular fruits and vegetables, so that certainly was not my problem. I did begin to eat good fats, such as coconut oil, butter, real olive oil, avocado oil and meat fats.

I had no idea in years previous that consuming my regular salads with store bought salad dressings was causing chronic inflammation in my body and not allowing my body to properly convert sunlight exposure to vitamin D.

At that point, I rarely ate things like packaged cookies, crackers, or chips (which are mostly all loaded with cheap, rancid omega 6 oils), but until I became rigorous in avoiding high omega 6 vegetable oil products, I did not see results.

Another thing that helped my body convert sunlight to usable vitamin D was transdermal magnesium. I happened to have moved to a place by the ocean and had my feet in magnesium-rich ocean water regularly.

Those not by the ocean can get extra magnesium by using magnesium oil or magnesium lotion on their skin. Epsom salt baths are another great, inexpensive way to absorb more magnesium, as well as detoxify your body. Another way to get more magnesium is by switching from table salt to Celtic Sea Salt, which has more magnesium. I personally did both.

During this time, I began to do something else that helped my body get rid of mineral deposits in my reproductive organs, which was to consume more vitamin K2. This happened purely by accident, because I had discovered how to make Parmesan cheese crisps and ate them liberally.

Vitamin K2, not to be confused with vitamin K, helps the body to stay in balance. A lack of K2 may cause mineral deposits or plaque in the brain, arteries, kidneys and ovaries instead of in the bones and teeth. Foods with vitamin K2 are pastured egg yolks, grass-fed butter, cultured vegetables like cultured (not vinegared!) sauerkraut, hard cheeses, and natto.

I changed my fats, was out in the sun, had magnesium exposure, and ate parmesan cheese with wild abandon–and I got pregnant again. 

My doctor was not optimistic about this pregnancy, but when I had another ultrasound, there was no sign of endometriosis or PCOS! He was so confused that he went to my old records to re-verify that he was not mistaken. I have had multiple ultrasounds since then and it has never come back.

A Supplemental Band-Aid And More

I had to use progesterone to maintain my pregnancies starting around 6 weeks and lasting until 34 weeks.

I cleaned up my lifestyle increasingly with each consecutive pregnancy.

I began to avoid eating or drinking from plastics or cans because they contain chemicals that cause hormone disruption.

We began to filter our water with a Berkey. I did a gut healing regimen to heal from mold exposure that had sickened me in many of the places I had spent a lot of time, like places of employment, a rental home, and a home we owned that we discovered had mold. Mold can produce mycoestrogens, which can also disrupt normal hormone levels. (8)

Another thing I discovered to avoid was conventional beef.

Beef is one of the last meats on the market that allows excess estrogen unless it is labeled as hormone free. When the cows or steers are put on a feedlot, they are given an ear piercing that delivers estrogen to cause them to gain weight quickly. (9) At home we eat grassfed beef, but when we go out to eat, I now avoid beef.

In my quest to avoid estrogen producers, I also began to avoid soy (with the exception of organic fermented soy sauce or occasional natto) as soy is estrogenic. (10)

Furthermore, to avoid hormone disruption, I also changed all of my personal hygiene products to ones that avoid toxins and hormone disruptors.

 

My Real Food Success

My last pregnancy was different than all of my other pregnancies.

For the first time in my life, at six weeks of pregnancy, my progesterone levels were on the low side of the normal range. I was always below normal in week 6 and 7 in previous pregnancies (per the levels recommended by the Pope Paul IV Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction, which differ from the levels presented as within normal range by The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology).

Since I was on the low side of normal, I took progesterone again to prevent nuisance cramping.

As a note: I used supplemental high dose progesterone.

For one pregnancy, I had done the progesterone injections and had a terrible reaction: huge hives at the injection site.  For this reason, I do not recommend the injections because the carrier oils can cause the body to overreact with what appeared to be an autoimmune response.

The pills (Prometrium) are bioidentical, but my Dr felt they were not as effective as progesterone vaginal suppositories. To prevent pregnancy loss I took them for a few days until a compounding pharmacy could finish a prescription for the bioidentical progesterone suppositories. I did this a few times during times of bleeding while I waited for my prescription.

My Experience

What does all of this mean? At this point, if I were to conceive again, would I need supplemental progesterone? I do not know the answer to that, but I am really happy with the results I have gotten so far. I no longer have any signs of endometriosis or PCOS, my progesterone levels during early pregnancy with my last child were close to normal for the first time and I now have six healthy children.

–Written by Rebekah Greco of Brothaholic


Looking for ways to clean up your diet and lifestyle for reasons of disease prevention, infertility or so you can live a happy, healthy life for years to come?

Learn more here about how to cut processed food from your diet and how to navigate the confusing, muddy waters of health and wellness.

And if you are looking for great prices on clean, natural, organic groceries and staples, check out Simply Real Foods Market–with a low-price guarantee, no GMO food in stock, no membership fees and free shipping!

Sources:

1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4669857/

2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3902220/

3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4521362/

4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10799382

5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6441332

6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15007197

7) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.7863/jum.2008.27.4.541

8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5036702/

9) http://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=B1302&title=Implanting%20Beef%20Cattle

10) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4270274/

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosure: many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

What is a Fast and Why Would I Want to Do One?

Have you ever tried fasting? 

If you are religious, you may have done a little bit of fasting for that reason in the past.

When they hear fasting, some people think of Lent, and “giving up something” for a set number of days before Easter. Maybe chocolate, TV or Facebook.

A true fast, however, involves giving up food completely for a set amount of time, usually at least 24 hours.

There are different types of fasts: absolute fasts (no food or liquid at all), water fasts (only water is consumed), juice fasts (calories from clear liquids such as juice, clear broth, or water can be consumed), Intermittent Fasting (narrowing your eating hours during the day to a window of 6-8 hours), and other variations.

I have done several juice fasts for durations ranging from 3-10 days, for different reasons each time (sometimes to focus on prayer or an event coming up, sometimes for health reasons), and each time I’ve found it a difficult but very rewarding experience.

Each time I come out of a fast of any duration, I feel physically cleansed, like a deep detox has taken place. One great benefit I have noticed is that junk food is no longer appealing to me at all.

It’s like my body has been re-booted.

When my computer gets sluggish or starts acting buggy, what do I do? I reboot, and most often that resolves the issue. And re-booting the computer periodically is best for optimal function and health of the computer.

So why don’t we think about doing the same thing with our bodies? What if we could re-set our bodies to a more natural, optimal state?

WE CAN.

Most religions incorporate fasting for a period of time to focus on a spiritual purpose: in order to pray for something or someone, to prepare for a ceremony or holiday, or just to focus on God and discipline our minds and bodies.

When I began researching fasting, I was surprised by all of the health benefits that result as well. And since I am a Christian, this serves to confirm to me that all of these different practices and guidelines that God has put in place are there for our ultimate good: spiritually, mentally, and physically.

I started my research on fasting several years ago when I read the book A Hunger for God by John Piper.

I knew the spiritual benefits of fasting, and was convinced it would be beneficial for that reason.

Then I began researching the health benefits and I was blown away. The first time I tried a ten-day fast I was living in China after college, and I wanted both the spiritual and physical benefits that fasting offered.

Without a doubt, fasting is not easy. It takes commitment and determination, and not even for the reasons you may think. The longer you do it, the harder it is, but the more benefits you receive.

Most recently I did a Master Cleanse fast about 5 years ago for 10 days. Master Cleanse is a modified juice fast in which you take only lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper in water several times per day for 10 days. The lemon juice serves to detox the liver and other organs and alkalinize the blood, the maple syrup provides some calories and minerals to help prevent severe hunger while still bypassing the digestive system, and the cayenne pepper is a blood purifier and helps ramp up the results.

Ketosis

The Keto Diet and Ketosis are all the rage right now, but what is ketosis and is it a good thing?

Ketosis is what happens when your body literally goes into starvation mode. There are no available sugars (glucose) for energy in your body to function, so your body releases ketones into the blood which triggers the burning of body fat for energy. If you go into ketosis under the right conditions, this state can be very healing and energizing to your body in the short term.

Ketosis can be beneficial on a short-term basis for plenty of reasons: bad bacteria, parasites and cancer cells all feed on glucose. If they are deprived of that energy source, they will die.

Ketones have also been shown to be an optimal fuel for the brain. Ketosis has been proven effective in treating numerous health issues, including various types of cancer, brain disorders and illnesses, as well as degenerative diseases such as diabetes and dementia.

The Keto Diet is popular right now, and a lot of people are jumping on board without really understanding how it works or the best way to go about it. Most people aren’t truly doing a keto diet at all, in fact. Since going into ketosis requires eating almost no carbs and 80% fat, 20% protein, this is not an easy diet to follow or sustain for very long. As a short-term cleanse or for the purposes of healing a major illness, I think going into ketosis is great; for a long-term diet, I think a more balanced approach is in order.

Reboot Your Body

Now that we understand a bit about why ketosis can be a good, short-term strategy for detoxing, healing, cleansing and losing weight, it’s easy to see why doing a fast for a few days that puts your body into ketosis for a short term has a similar effect.

When I fasted I did experience a clear mind, energy, and weight loss (weight loss results will vary for the duration of the fast, but rebooting your body makes it easier to lose weight for the long term as well).

The hardest part was not even being hungry: especially if doing a juice fast. I was surprised how hungry I was not.

The hardest part is mental. 

I wanted to eat. I smelled food or saw friends going to a restaurant and I felt sad. I just missed eating. 

There were times I reached for food without even thinking, and almost ate something out of habit.

There are also some detox symptoms that made me feel sluggish. Even though I wasn’t hungry, I knew that eating would make the discomfort stop. So I had to resist the urge and push through.

Want to Try?

I’ve always believed that fasting contributes to optimal health. Ideally, I would do several short fasts (1-3 days) each year and a longer fast (10 days) every few years.

But I’m not gonna lie. Fasting is hard. It’s hard to schedule 10 days where you can’t go out to eat. It’s hard to go to work every day or work out when you aren’t eating. It’s hard to maintain strong willpower for 10 days straight.

Recently I came across a few companies who offer products that claim to put people into ketosis quickly.

See, normally, even when on a true fast (not eating anything) it takes the body the better part of a week to go into ketosis.

With these new products, which contain ketone salts, the body is able to go into ketosis in hours or minutes, even if you are still eating.

Crazy, right? 

I’ve decided to try the products from a couple of different companies to see how they work for me. I will probably do a few livestream videos on the topic to map my progress and share my results.

But first, I decided to do a Keto Reboot. It’s a short-term fast (60 hours) that puts your body into ketosis during your first night’s sleep, and keeps it there for the next 60 hours. They provide a kit that moves you through the process. The kits contain a few supplements, as well as drinks that contain ketone salts (teas and drink mixes).

Since I’ve done a true fast, I am going to compare how this stacks up. There is a Facebook group of people who all do it at the same time, and they only sell the kits for a few days time so everyone does it together. 

Who’s in?

If you would like to do this 60 Hour Keto Reboot with me, check out the intro video and kit here and apply to join this Facebook group.

I would love to do this with as many people as possible–we can all share our results and chart our progress and how we feel as we’re doing it!

The next keto reboot event starts the evening of July 15 (Sunday night) and goes until the morning of July 18. It last 60 hours (2 full days and 3 nights).

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosure: many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

Craving Coconut? Try This Easy Coconut Yogurt in Clay!

I love to make yogurt–I’m able to control the ingredients that do (and don’t) go in it, sweeten it to my liking and make it in clay–which makes the best yogurt ever!

I use my VitaClay to make my yogurt: I love how simple it is, and it comes out great every time.

Making yogurt is an art and a science, however, especially when using different types of milk and cultures.

So when given the challenge to create a coconut milk yogurt recipe, I was excited: I knew with VitaClay it would be easier than ever, but I hadn’t tried to make anything other than cow’s milk yogurt, and didn’t know how it would come out.

I went to the store and bought a lot of different things to try it out

Then I realized I had forgotten to get canned coconut milk, so I went back the following day and picked up a few cans of that and coconut cream so I could play with the creaminess.

And the testing began!

First I tried some of the bottled coconut milks that you see above… they had a little bit of sugar so I thought that would help with the fermentation.

They tasted great both before and after the fermentation, but they didn’t thicken up at all.

I tried it a few times with different drinkable coconut milks and ratios of probiotics, but didn’t get much better results.

Finally I used canned coconut cream, blended it until smooth beforehand, and used 4 probiotics capsules instead of one. The results came out great, and it was even easier than I imagined!

Coconut Yogurt recipe for VitaClay

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Blend the contents of the coconut cream can until smooth
  2. Add to VitaClay pot
  3. Stir in contents of probiotics capsules and sugar (if adding)
  4. Close, seal and press slow cooking button to select “yogurt”
  5. (Default time is 8 hours)
  6. After 8 hours elapses, allow to rest another 12-15 hours
  7. Strain, Serve and enjoy!
  8. Refrigerate the leftovers

When you strain it out, use the probiotic-rich resulting “coconut whey” in smoothies or just drink it for a refreshing, nutrient-rich beverage.

 

It tastes great too! Very creamy and rich–perfect with a drizzle of honey or some fruit.

Let me know what you think!

What do you love to eat in your yogurt, or how do you use coconut yogurt in cooking?

 

If you want to save money and avoid yucky ingredients by making coconut yogurt yourself but don’t have a yogurt maker, consider VitaClay! there are several models and sizes, and all of them make great yogurt, no matter what type.

And if you order now you can get 10% off your order on the VitaClay site! Just use coupon code NOURISH10.

 

 

If you have any questions on the yogurt making process or my experience with VitaClay, feel free to reach out to me via email or on messenger. Bon Apetit!

 

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

 

 

Clean up Your Cleaning Game! Cut Toxins and Save Money.

I have a dilemma.

I hate cleaning. There are just so many other productive things I can be doing with my time. I don’t want to live in a dirty house, however, and my husband is an absolute clean freak, so regular cleaning is a necessity.

Little Helper

Now that my son is 12, I have him contribute to the household chores. He washes the floor of the entire house at least once a week, helps with the dishes, and keeps his room and bathroom clean, among other various housecleaning activities.

Personally, I can be very sensitive to the fumes and scents of most cleaning products, and I definitely don’t want my son breathing those noxious chemicals in while he’s doing chores to earn his screen time.

Indoor Air Pollution

We all know that there are many toxins and pollutants in the air we breathe every day, and depending on where we live, pollution may become a health concern causing acute issues like asthma, migraines, and upper respiratory infections.

To avoid this, many of us keep the windows shut all the time so we’re not breathing all of the polluted outdoor air.

But did you know that it has been found that indoor air is even MORE polluted than outdoor air, no matter where you live?

This can result from a number of factors: from the fact that the air inside already comes from outside, to paint and carpet fumes, off-gassing from yoga mats, appliances and furniture, and a number of other toxic things that build up as a result of our everyday lives.

Even if you have air filters or purifiers in your house, the number of things polluting your indoor air would probably astound you.

One of the biggest causes of indoor air pollution may be surprising however: your cleaning products.

To cut down on my household air pollution, I’ve been searching for non-toxic cleaners, and have been surprised that what I have found is not only completely non-toxic, but also more environmentally friendly, and CHEAPER!

Of course the first place I looked was at the store in the “natural” section of the cleaner aisle, and I was dismayed to find those products not only more expensive than the conventional products, but the ingredients they contained didn’t seem that much better than what I was leaving behind.

Real Alternatives.

In the realm of non-toxic, all-natural living, vinegar, baking soda and essential oils are superstars, and for good reason: they disinfect and clean a lot of things, and not only are they safe they are actually edible, so there are no worries of toxins invading our spaces from those!

Vinegar. I love to use vinegar for lots of things:

  • Spray cleaning counter tops
  • Disinfecting surfaces
  • Cleaning urine out of furniture (vinegar neutralizes uric acid, so even if you can’t throw it in the washing machine, it will get the smell out!)
  • In place of a fabric softener in my laundry
  • As a rinse agent in my dishwasher!

Baking soda is also great:

  • Add it to a pot of boiling water to get stuck-on and burned-on food or stains off of your cookware
  • Clean glass and stainless steel to a bright shine
  • Make a paste and apply to ovens for deep cleaning
  • Adding as a cleaning agent to my laundry detergent
  • I even put it in my deodorant recipe for a super effective all-natural deodorant!

I also discovered the “magic erasers” can be good for cleaning soap scum and other build-up from sinks and tubs, but I did worry about what those sponges were made of and what it was leaving behind, because to be sure they are not natural, safe and non-toxic.

Revelation

Then one day I discovered microfiber cleaning cloths, and I fell in love. If you haven’t tried microfiber cloths for cleaning, you are in for a wonderful treat: using just water and these cloths, you can clean almost anything to a bright, streak-free shine. How economical is that?!

I’ve been using those for a couple of years, and then I came across a company that takes this concept to the next level.

Not only did they take the microfiber concept and run with it in the form of different types of microfiber cloths for different uses, they also wove antibacterial silver into the fabric, making the cloths themselves able to disinfect using only plain water!

This is huge. Now I am able to use simply water and these cloths to clean virtually any surface in my house, from countertops to floors, furniture, sinks and tubs, walls, and even my body! They even have a cloth that cleans fruits and vegetables! It virtually eliminates the need for cleaners or soaps of any kind, making this a great investment that pays for itself almost immediately.

Non-toxic living: the best of both worlds.

If you or anyone in your household suffers from asthma, allergies, have chemical sensitivities or have a compromised lung capacity for any reason, these cloths can literally save  your life! They clean allergens, dust and toxins from your home using just water, so they don’t add to the toxic load in your household, creating a “safe zone.”

The Benefits of Non-Toxic, Eco-Friendly Cleaning

I love to see stories like this one, where a mom was able to protect her micro-preemie baby by using these safe products to clean her home:

Even better, the quality of these cloths is so much better than what I was using before, and the company guarantees them to last at least 2 years from the time of purchase, so they are a phenomenal value.

Saving money and making my job easier. 

Now I don’t need to buy fruit and veggie washes, furniture polish, all-purpose cleaners, floor cleaners, dusting sprays, tub or sink cleaners, toilet cleaners or even body wash! These kinds of consumable products take up a large chunk of every household budget, as we have to replace them all at least once per month. Imagine more than 24 months of not having to purchase any of those products, and the toxins that are eliminated from your household by not using them at all!

I am a believer in the efficacy of using these cloths to clean everything in my house, and I will never again be persuaded to waste money on expensive cleaners that only add a toxic load and a large footprint to my household. It’s the greenest of all possible choices!

Visit the Norwex website to peruse all of the zero-footprint, eco-friendly, completely non-toxic products they offer, from the super convenient dust mitt to the microfiber floor sweeper and mop, to the window cloth and polisher and the body cloth. There are so many great customized options to cater to every cleaning need in your house, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

You may never have to buy another cleaning solution again!

And, unbelievably, my dilemma is made easier, because using these cleaning cloths actually makes cleaning fun!

I tried out the dusting mitt on my super dust-prone entertainment center: it’s black glass so every bit of dust shows up and I have to dust it often! The dust mitt is soft and fluffy, and picks up tons of dust, and you activate it just by rubbing it together then wear it like a glove and wipe every surface.

Check out these before & afters!

 

Gross! All of that was on my furniture? I love that all I have to do is wipe everything down and then throw this mitt into the wash. It’s so easy! And did you know that those dusting sprays actually coat the furniture in a film that attracts dust? So using this means you can dust less often.

I’m sold. Check it out for yourself! 

Contact me by email (leah at freedomandcoffee dot com) or message me on Facebook to learn more about how to live your life toxin-free.

 

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

 

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

 

Don’t Get Sick! Ward off Cold & Flu Season With Bone Broth (Recipe!)

Cold and flu season is upon us.

With chilly temperatures, heavy snow in some parts of the U.S. and cold rain in other parts, our immune systems are taking hits from all sides.

We’re  all looking for ways to prevent sickness this time of year.

When I was in college I would take an over-the-counter decongestant to delay sickness (it worked for a while, but then when it hit, it would hit hard). Now I look for more natural ways to boost my immune system throughout the year so I’ll be less likely to get sick in the winter time.

Even though I do get sick less, it’s hard to prevent it altogether. But there are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way that seem to really work, and I haven’t had much more than a sniffle for about 3 years.

The front line of defense during the winter is bone broth.

A traditional food of the highest degree, every society has relied on broth in some form for thousands of years, and for good reason.

Broth provides our bodies access to a rich source of nutrients that bolster our immune systems and nourish us at a deep level. Broth also provides a way to use the whole animal (and veggie scraps), allowing us to reduce our waste while boosting nutrient intake.

Broth is versatile: use it as a base for soups, stews and grains.

This is an easy way to make every meal more nutrient dense. Drink as much broth as possible during the winter. I have a batch of broth going almost constantly in the winter, and I drink several cups per day, either plain with a little salt, or incorporated into other dishes.

Throughout the rest of the year I make about a batch per week and still use it in all of my dishes.

It’s a great way to stay warm, hydrated and nourished during the cold winter months! VitaClay is an ideal tool for safely making nourishing bone  and vegetable broth—you can let it cook all night and all day and go about business as usual.

We have all heard chicken noodle soup is the best way to heal yourself of a cold or other illness. But why is this age-old recipe so effective? Is it the chicken? The veggies? The noodles?

The secret is really in the broth.

Traditionally every soup was  made with a base of broth, not water. These days we grab a bouillon cube to flavor soup and other dishes, but did you know that real, traditional bone broth is a very healing and nourishing food?

It’s good for so much more than just flavoring–though it does that very well.

Homemade bone broth will add a rich, velvety texture and a deep flavor to anything it touches. It’s also filled with nourishing minerals and proteins that build immunity at the cellular level.

Any soup, stew or chili recipe I make uses bone broth as the base, and I add it to a lot of other things as well. For example, I’ll add a spoonful to a stir fry that is getting dry, instead of adding water or more oil.

I also always use broth a s a cooking liquid for rice, quinoa or any other savory grain: it boosts nutrition and adds a really great flavor. With broth and a little butter, rice becomes very filling–almost a whole meal by itself!

Whenever my husband eats rice from a restaurant, he comments that the rice I make tastes much better. 

How Can I Make Bone Broth?

The best part about bone broth is that it’s so easy to make, and practically free! The stores sell tetra packs of stock on the cheap, but if you want to get the deeply nourishing benefits of bone broth, the real thing is usually found in the freezer section of the health food store or you can order it in bulk online.

Bone broth is amazing because you can literally make it from your “trash” –veggie scraps and bones (that’s better than free!). Save the bones and veggie scraps from meals during the week in a container in the fridge or freezer, and when you have a few handfuls, throw them in the slow cooker and get going!

Here is a quick, easy recipe for any type of bone broth:

Ingredients

  • Bones (soup bones or bones left over from this week’s dinners)*
  • Veggie scraps from the week’s meals (mushrooms, celery, carrots, etc)*
  • Eggshells, oyster shells, etc: these add calcium and minerals!
  • Seaweed strips (optional: these add lots of minerals and iodine)
  • Ginger and garlic–boosts the anti-oxidant and immune-building properties

*Scraps can also be frozen to use in a future batch of broth if it will be more than a few days until you can cook them. 

Directions

  1. Add bones, scraps and other ingredients to pot
  2. Fill the rest of the pot with purified water
  3. Cook on “soup” (for VitaClay) for 3-5 hours (up to 24 hours)
  4. Strain, bottle and freeze or refrigerate
  5. Use in everything!

I love to make bone broth in my VitaClay, because it is electronic and I can safely leave the broth cooking for hours and hours while I sleep at night or run errands during the day.

As a bonus, VitaClay does pretty much all of my cooking: it makes rice, quinoa, and other grains; it makes yogurt (!) and all manner of slow-cooking dishes, from roasts to stews, soups and beans and steamed veggies or fish. It’s truly a multi-cooker, and I don’t use anything else for any of these dishes.

If you want to start making your own broth at home and hire your “personal chef” (VitaClay) to cook all of your meals for you, use coupon code NOURISH10 at check-out for 10% off any product on the website.

What if I Can’t Make My Own Bone Broth?

There are times we simply can’t make our own bone broth. It requires space, time, and tools that are not always available.

Maybe you’re traveling or staying somewhere other than home. Maybe you are moving or live in a very small space. Maybe you’re crunched for time and just don’t have the bandwidth to do one more thing right now. Whatever the reason, don’t let it be an excuse miss out on all the nourishing, healing benefits of bone broth.

I have recently discovered Fire & Kettle bone broth, and I’m in love. I keep this stuff in my pantry for when I run out of bones and broth or just need some quick and don’t have time to make it.

I like Fire & Kettle because they have several options and flavor combinations, and they always use pastured, organic bones.

Never make/drink bone broth from non-organic bones: the toxins build up in the bones and will be passed onto you so it’s important to get the cleanest source possible!

Plus, right now you can get up to three free cartons of Kettle & Fire Bone Broth when you order through my link. It’s a great time to stock up for those times you run out!

Check out the great flavors at Kettle & Fire and start getting your bone broth on. In the meantime, be sure to make a big batch so you’ll always have some on hand to use as a nutritious base for soups, stews, rice, stir fries and other dishes!

Also, if you have a dog chicken bones are great to feed them as bone meal after they’ve been cooked into broth: you’ll know they’re ready when you can easily crush the bones with one hand.

These bones keep going, and going and going….!

What is your favorite way to use bone broth?

How often do you make it at home? 

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosure: many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

CBD Oil: Top 5 Things to Look For

You’ve likely heard a lot about CBD oil lately: it’s the newest health craze. People are claiming it can cure any ailment! Alleviate any discomfort! Heal any sickness!

With any “miracle cure” it’s hard to distinguish the truth from the hype.

We all have access to so much information these days, there is hardly an excuse to be uneducated about anything–so let’s find out what CBD oil is and if it’s worth investing our valuable time, effort and money.

After all, if the things people are saying are really true, who wouldn’t want to benefit?

In this post, we’ll discuss

Scroll down to claim your $50 Gift Card–Hurry, there are only 9 available! 

What is CBD Oil? 

CBD oil (cannabidiol) is a chemical compound found in the cannabis sativa plant (from which both hemp and marijuana plants derive) that is reported to have healing benefits to the human body.

There have always been claims regarding the medicinal properties of the cannabis plant. In several states, “medical marijuana” has been legal for quite some time. More recently, legislation has passed for the legal recreational use of marijuana in many of the same states.

Marijuana can now be found in dispensaries on almost every street corner in states such as Colorado, Oregon and California.

Hemp and Marijuana: What’s the Difference?

The first thing to understand is that CBD oil is usually derived from the hemp plant, not the marijuana plant.


Both hemp and marijuana are varieties of the cannabis sativa plant, but have each been selectively bred and cultivated with very different purposes in mind. Marijuana has been bred to enhance THC, the psycho-active chemical that will make us “high” when smoking marijuana.

Hemp, on the other hand, has been bred to enhance more practical uses: strong fibers that can be woven into fabrics, ropes, clothing and industrial uses.

Both hemp and marijuana varieties of the cannabis sativa plant contain chemical compounds called cannabinoids. THC, the psycho-active component of marijuana that makes you “high” is only the most famous cannabinoid. CBD is another one.

In all, the cannabis plant contains at least 85-100 different cannabinoids.

Legality. While THC levels in marijuana can vary from 5-30%, hemp plants contain inconsequential amounts of the psychoactive chemical. In the U.S., the FDA rule is: any product containing THC levels under 0.3% are federally legal, because at these levels there are no mind-altering effects.

Another important cannabinoid, CBD (cannabidiol) has garnered a lot of attention and scrutiny lately, with claims that CBD oil can heal almost anything.

The hemp plant, which contains very low levels of THC, contains much higher levels of CBD than marijuana.

Additionally, research has shown that CBD acts to inhibit any psychoactive effects of THC–which widens the gap between the two plants even further.

But does it really work?

Traditionally, CBD oil was used as a cure-all, and it was a component of almost every medicinal remedy until the early part of the 20th century.  If you look up pictures of old medicine bottles, a staggering number have CBD listed in the ingredients.

Why is that?

If it’s so effective, why has CBD fallen out of favor in the medical community?

(Will prescribing medicine from a plant–that anyone can cultivate in the back yard and use personally–create profit for doctors or drug companies?)

Though CBD is no longer widely used in pharmaceutical drugs, people everywhere have been re-discovering the healing benefits of CBD.

There is no shortage of information about CBD oil on the internet: from video testimonials to articles, documentaries to clinical trials and research studies: the evidence is compelling.

So compelling, there is no reason not to try it.

Top 5 Considerations to Choose the Best CBD Oil

My research into CBD oil has convinced me that it is safe, and the abundance of studies, research and testimonies have convinced me that it is effective.

If it can do even a fraction of what people are claiming it can do, who wouldn’t want to try it?

If you have decided to try CBD oil, the next questions are:

How can I get some?

and

How do I know if what I’m getting is good quality?

With any supplement, FDA regulation is loose. Because it’s not technically a “food” or a “drug,” (as long as it is within the minimum levels of THC) the FDA has permitted the sale of CBD anywhere in the US, and does not regulate quality or potency.

Here are the top 5 things to consider when choosing a CBD oil:

1. Pure and Unadulterated

Because supplements are not regulated by the FDA in the same way as food or drugs, some companies will inevitably maximize profit by diluting a product to cut costs. Cheap fillers in some CBD supplements are not only ripping us off, they can be harmful to health.

Ensure your CBD oil has guaranteed levels of CBD in each serving: look for verified independent accredited lab tests that demonstrate these levels.

Remember: CBD is what we are paying for–so if the maker can’t guarantee the levels of CBD, what is the point?

2. Legal

I live in California, so it’s easier for me to get hemp or marijuana products from a dispensary, but the good news for everyone else is:

CBD oil products that contain less than 0.3% THC are federally legal!

Because the government is only concerned with THC levels, and CBD oil doesn’t contain significant THC, CBD oil and supplements are legal on the federal level.

That’s good news for us, because right now anyone in the US can benefit from pure, organic CBD oil.

3. Organic

Any crops that aren’t certified organic are sprayed with a cocktail of pesticides, herbicides and other toxins that can mess up our hormones and make us sick. Hemp is no different.

I live in California, where a law for recreational marijuana use was recently passed, and where medical marijuana has long been legal.

Though cannabis products are easier to get, studies show high levels of pesticides and toxins in 93% of dispensary marijuana and CBD products tested.

If your CBD isn’t organic, find one that is! The added toxins may be doing more harm than the CBD is doing good!

4. Low in THC

The main issue with marijuana for me, and for many others, is the psycho-active properties of the chemical THC found in marijuana.

After all, you want healing benefits, but you don’t want to be mentally compromised when you are driving, working or taking care of your kids!

Besides, if you don’t live in a state where marijuana has been legalized, getting a product with high levels of THC is not only harmful, it’s illegal!

Ensure the CBD supplement you choose is guaranteed to contain maximum amounts of CBD and minimal amounts of THC.

5. From a Company You Can Trust

For all of the above reasons, when finding a source of CBD oil, it’s crucial to find a provider you can trust. High quality CBD oil is not cheap, but it is a case of getting what you pay for.

How to Find the Best CBD Oil

Most states don’t have dispensaries, so many people have to find a CBD source online. Find a company you know is committed to quality: purity of the oils, no adulteration of the product, insignificant THC levels, and most importantly: an ORGANIC source.

In my research there is only one company that fits all of these criteria: Kannaway. I trust Kannaways’ commitment to quality and purity in the products, and the results speak for themselves.

If you’re looking for a high-quality source of healing, organic CBD oil supplements, I urge you to look into Kannaway and try their products for yourself. They even offer a “PURE” line that contains guaranteed 0% THC for those who undergo drug tests with no-tolerance policies, such as military personnel, professional athletes, policemen and firefighters.

Right now is the best time to save money on CBD oil with Kannaway!

How to Save Money on Kannaway CBD Oil

You want to try CBD oil and now we know that Kannaway has the highest quality CBD oil available. Now learn how you can save the most money possible on Kannaway CBD oil!

Starter Packs

Kannaway offers “starter packs,” which include a variety of the most popular CBD products at a significant discount. These starter packs are offered to first-time orders so you can try out several products and see which one you like best!

Example: if you purchase the items in the Starter Pack individually at retail, you spend:

  • Premium Full Spectrum Capsules $113.30
  • Chocolate Energy Chews: $49.50
  • Rev!ve AM: $110.00
  • Rev!ve PM: $79.20
  • Total: $352.00

If you purchase the same products as a loyal customer (wholesale pricing) you still pay $289.30

But if you purchase the Starter Pack, you pay $218.90 (38% off!)

 

On Sale!

Now through January 31, these already-discounted starter packs are on sale! You can save even more on these value packs if you order now! Those same four products from above? $193.90 if you order before midnight January 31!

$50 Gift Cards!

On top of this, I have nine $50 Kannaway gift cards I will offer to any first-time orders through my link. This will give you an additional $50 off these starter packs!

3 Ways to Order

  1. Buy retail. 
  2. Sign up as a “loyal customer” which automatically enrolls you in a monthly auto-ship. You get wholesale pricing–a 30-40% discount–on all purchases.
  3. Sign up as a Brand Ambassador. You receive the wholesale discount, and you receive two $50 gift cards (free!) to pass along to others who want to try CBD oil!

As a Brand Ambassador can earn commissions for anyone who buys CBD oil from you, and you can use Kannaway as a SIDE HUSTLE. Brand Ambassadors pay $55 per year to stay active, and this will be added to your total.

Kannaway doesn’t spend big bucks on advertising–instead they use word-of-mouth “Brand Ambassadors” who make a commission on the sales they refer.

 

Save Money Now

On top of the starter pack sale (ends Jan 31) and $50 gift card, any purchase paid with American Express or e-check also gets an additional 10% discount.

Here is a breakdown of the savings you can get today by taking advantage of the starter pack sale, the $50 gift card and using AmEx or e-check:

Get Your Gift Card! Only 9 Available! 

AND if you sign up as a Brand Ambassador, I will personally help you to reach your first goal, selling 3 starter packs within 30 days–this will earn you a $180 bonus. That pays for your starter pack by itself before your credit card bill is due!

Email me (leah at freedomandcoffee dot com) or message me on Facebook to request one of the $50 gift cards today! They are good for any purchase over $50.

I paid for these gift cards myself, so please only claim one if you are planning to use it right away.

THE BEST PART: Kannaway offers a 30-day Money-Back Guarantee! If you are unsatisfied for any reason, you can return the product for a FULL REFUND within 30 days–There’s no risk! 

Get the best deal while you can! 

ORDER NOW! The sale ends Friday, January 26!

BONUS: What is a SIDE HUSTLE?

Did you know you may be able to reduce your tax burden while increasing your income?

Most of us have jobs. A side hustle is an income “on the side.” Working for yourself! There are so many advantages to working for yourself: flexible schedule, tax deductions and extra income!

Tax Deductions

The biggest benefit of working for yourself is the tax deductions. Businesses deduct expenses from their taxes every year. With a side hustle, you can take advantage of this business benefit–deductions can reduce taxable income and may even bump you into a lower tax bracket–so you pay less tax on all of your income!

  • If you work from home you might deduct part of your mortgage or rent.
  • If you use your car for your side hustle, you might deduct applicable mileage.
  • If you use your computer, internet, TV, cell phone, groceries–you name it–you might deduct the cost of those items (or a percentage) on your taxes!

This is huge. The money that you are already spending on everyday expenses could be deducted from taxes, simply by getting a side hustle!

Tax deductions alone should be motivation for everyone to have a side hustle. 

Extra Income

You think CBD oil is great. Naturally you will tell other people how it is helping you and how it could help them. Why not get paid for it?

Sign up as a Brand Ambassador and get paid just for sharing the health-promoting benefits of CBD oil!

Contact me by email (leah at freedomandcoffee dot com) or message me on Facebook to claim your $50 gift card: save money and make money by signing up as a Brand Ambassador today!

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

In this CBD oil review, I share what CBD oil is, why I am using CBD oil, what the benefits are, and whether or not it may be able to help you. I also talk about how to choose the best CBD oil brand, how I evaluated the different CBD oil products and companies, and why I chose to become a distributor with a specific company.

I am not an accountant, so please talk with your accountant or tax preparer for more details on the tax deductions for which you qualify. 

 

Resources:

What's the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

Cannabis is Contaminated in California Dispensary Samples.

If I'm Healthy, How Can CBD Help Me? 

Kannaway Site

See the starter packs in greater detail. 

Get your side hustle on and deduct the expenses on your taxes! 

Kannaway Independent Accredited Lab Test Results

Bacteria Boom: What are Probiotics and Why are They So Popular?

Over the past couple of years, I noticed that the pastor at my church has had some health issues which made him him sometimes miss meetings, stay home sick from church on Sundays every once in awhile, and generally just not feel very well.

Thinking back, I remembered about two years ago he had a big infection and was hospitalized for several weeks. During that time, he was put on an aggressive course of antibiotics (as most sick people are, whether or not they have a bacterial infection).

I don’t know the details of this original illness, but I do know that he’s been suffering from digestive issues ever since, which have increasingly tormented him and prevented sleep at night, interfering with his work and ministry at church.

One day after hearing he was again missing meetings, I emailed him and told him my suspicion: the course of antibiotics resulting from his illness two years ago had wrecked his gut and had precipitated most (if not all all) of his current issues.

I recommended he try taking some high-quality probiotics.

I shared some articles and research, then gave some recommendations of how to choose a few good ones.

I told him to start slow (because there can be an adjustment period as “bad bacteria” die off and “good bacteria” begin to populate the gut–but nothing worse than the symptoms he was already experiencing).

Two weeks later my pastor approached me and said, “Leah, I’m a new man! I feel so much better! I’m sleeping better and I have energy and I don’t feel sick any more!”

Word began to spread at church, and now I have people approaching me with questions about their health all the time. I’m happy to pass along any knowledge and resources I have, because the information is all out there!

What are Probiotics? 

Probiotics are “beneficial” bacteria. In modern society, we’ve been conditioned to see all bacteria bad, foreign things that will make us sick, but this is simply not true. There are millions of bacteria that live with humans and animals in a symbiotic relationship: they benefit us, and we benefit them.

Why do We Need Them?

We don’t know the full scope of the symbiotic role that beneficial bacteria play, but we are beginning to understand how vital they are to our existence.

  • It is estimated that human bodies are made up of approximately 90% bacteria by volume. These microbes are everywhere: on our skin, in our sinuses, ears, mouths, in our guts… literally everywhere. These microbes do a good job of helping to regulate our bodies and keep them functioning properly, and in return, we feed them with the food that we eat or byproducts from our bodies, like skin cells and sweat.
  • A huge variety of our bacteria live in our digestive systems, or our “guts,” and researchers are discovering that at least 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut. Our guts have a huge influence on our overall health: both physical and mental.
  • Bacteria do a lot of work in our bodies, including helping to regulate hormones that control fat stores, skin issues, auto-immune response, fertility, available energy, and overall well-being.
  • Balance is key. We refer to bacteria as “good” and “bad” but really we just need a balance of the bacteria in our guts. The fact is, we all have “bad” bacteria such as E. Coli in our bodies, but if these bacteria don’t overrun our systems or multiply too quickly, they are not a threat. Even “good” bacteria can cause problems if there’s too much of it. Our bodies generally do a good job of regulating the population of bacteria, as long as we ensure we have a good variety of bacteria for our bodies to work with. As long as we have enough “good bacteria,” or probiotics, in our guts, they will fight off the “baddies” and keep our bodies balanced and healthy.

How Can I Get Them?

You may have noticed an array of probiotic supplements in your local health food store (and how expensive they are).

The good news is that you don’t have to buy a lot of expensive supplements to get a good balance of bacteria in your body. In fact, different fermented foods carry a large population of beneficial bacteria, and they are really easy to make, and to eat.

Yogurt is the most popular and widely-known source of probiotics, but not all yogurts are created equal.

Many of the yogurts on the store shelves are full of sugar (which feeds bad bacteria) and a lot of them even have harmful additives like carageenan (which has been found to cause cancer) to keep them refrigerator shelf-stable for weeks at a time.

Store bought yogurts can be a source of probiotics, but you need to know what to look for, and they shouldn’t constitute your only source of probiotics.

  • Look for “live and active cultures” on the container, and check the ingredients for which specific cultures are contained.
  • Find out if the yogurt has been pasteurized. Most yogurt is made with pasteurized milk, but even after it’s been turned into yogurt is then pasteurized again. Pasteurization will kill the beneficial bacteria that were necessary to make the yogurt, so they won’t benefit you.
  • Get organic. Yogurt is made from milk, and if the milk is not organic it will contain antibiotics and hormones that were given to the cows. These substances are detrimental and even toxic to our bodies, and can cause hormonal imbalances and antibiotic resistance in the long run.
  • Get plain and unflavored yogurt. You may not like the taste of plain yogurt, but you can add fresh fruit and honey for flavoring, instead of consuming a lot of extra added sugars.
  • Get whole milk yogurt. Studies have shown that low-fat dairy products do not contribute to weight loss and may actually cause weight gain. The full-fat options allow your body to more efficiently process the beneficial fat-soluble vitamins in the yogurt, and the fat will make you feel full longer, so you’ll eat less overall.
  • Check the ingredients. In addition to checking for live and active cultures, make sure your yogurt doesn’t have any additives like carageenan, sugar, color, or anything else. Ideally, it should just be milk and a culture.

Did you know? 

Yogurt is so easy to make. Yogurt makers are inexpensive and make it easier, but you don’t even need one to make yogurt. My favorite yogurt is clay-batch yogurt, which I make in VitaClay.

VitaClay has a built-in yogurt maker in most models.
VitaClay Personal Yogurt Maker and Slow Cooker

All you have to do is load in milk and a yogurt culture and press “yogurt” and a few hours later you’ll have the best yogurt you’ve ever tasted, and a starter batch to make more!

Kefir is a milk-based probiotic beverage that is also known as “drinkable yogurt.” Kefir often contains different bacteria than yogurt, and sometimes at greater quantities per serving. If you’re buying kefir from the store, apply the same checks as listed above for yogurt. Add kefir to smoothies or drink it plain–it tastes like buttermilk.

Incidentally, my father suffered from terrible seasonal allergies for over 60 years. My mother read about kefir and started making it at home, and he hasn’t had a problem with allergies since!

Homemade Sauerkraut: cheap, easy to make, and loaded with probiotics!

Other fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchee, natto and miso contain other probiotics that are beneficial, and they are delicious additions to your diet. Sauerkraut is super easy to make, and two ounces of homemade sauerkraut contains exponentially more beneficial bacteria than a whole bottle of store-bought probiotics, for pennies on the dollar!

Chop up the ingredients for salsa, then just add a little whey and let it sit on the counter for a couple of days–you won’t believe the healthy zing!

Additionally, lots of things can be fermented: I’ve fermented homemade salsa, which was super easy and so delicious! I’ve also seen recipes for fermented carrots, onions, cucumbers (pickles!), and even guacamole! The possibilities are endless! (Wild Fermentation link)

If you don’t want to make these fermented foods at home and would rather buy them, follow the rules listed under yogurt, and make sure they have live and active cultures (which is, after all, the whole point). Also watch for additives such as MSG and citric acid, in addition to those listed for yogurt.

Probiotic Supplements

Overall, I think that many probiotic supplements are a waste of money. As discussed above, the probiotics in just one serving of homemade sauerkraut can contain more good bacteria than an entire bottle of store-bought bacteria! This generally applies to lacto-based bacteria, however, which are the type contained in yogurt and most fermented foods. These bacteria are good, and you should definitely get them. If you absolutely don’t want to ferment anything at home, go ahead and buy them.

A few great brands to consider are: 

I recommend going to a health food store with high-quality probiotics rather than trusting a drugstore brand.

AND! Check out this really great database that can help you determine which probiotic strains may help you the most based on your current symptoms and struggles!

Look for a bottle that lists the type of bacteria included and a guaranteed number of live bacteria per serving (usually listed in the billions CFU). The higher the number, the more bacteria it will contain (and very high numbers will require a slower breaking in period, which you can discuss with the worker at the health food store). These higher-quality probiotics will cost more, but this is a classic case of getting what you pay for, and what we want here is results.

Probioitics I buy

My one exception to the “store-bought probiotics are a waste of money” rule is in the category of soil-based probiotics. Here’s why: the lacto-based probiotics like those found in yogurt, sauerkraut and other ferments are so easy to make and so delicious to eat that there’s no reason to pay expensive store prices for a shelf-stable inferior product.

Soil-based probiotics, however, are different strains that have a different effect in our bodies: they go deeper into the gut and contribute differently to immunity. So we need both, but soil-based are found in soil, as the name implies.

In antiquity, people got a good amount of soil in their diets from digging up veggies and eating them.

These days, I don’t trust the soil as far as I can throw it. It’s been compromised with pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceutical drugs, and all manner of other toxins from our waste water and runoff. Even if I were inclined to eat soil (I’m not), it would probably do much more harm than good.

So when it comes to soil-based probiotics, I will purchase them from a reputable company that can guarantee their purity, quality, and effectiveness–even if they are expensive. I’ve listed below a few soil-based probiotics on which I have done research. I trust them to deliver a safe, effective, quality product.

What About Prebioitics?

Prebiotics are the “food” for beneficial gut bacteria that already live in our guts. And since not all gut bacteria can be supplemented with probiotics, it’s a great idea to get some good prebiotics in your diet as well.

As a matter of fact, you probably already do get some prebiotics, as they are often soluble fiber found in fruit.

There are also symbiotic prebiotic-probiotic supplements that you may find beneficial, especially if you have recently taken antibiotics or had some digestive problems. Here’s one I like because it includes a prebiotic in drink form, a probiotic with several different types of strains, and a real food multi supplement. 

One Last Thing

Since probiotics by their nature will multiply in our guts, it is unnecessary to take the same one every day of your life (though it is a great practice to ensure you are always getting plenty of prebiotics so your gut population can flourish). In fact, it’s better to switch them up, comparing the ingredients to ensure you get different bacteria with each different supplement.

Once a bacteria colony is established in your gut, it will likely be there awhile, so after you’ve taken one for a month or two, you can move on to a different one with different strains. You may want to double back to one you like in a few months or in a year to make sure that colony is still thriving, but overall, your body will maintain those bacteria once they are established (until they are killed off by antibiotics or toxins in the diet).

Read this article about how different strains may help different health issues.

Resources:

Humans: 10% Human and 90% Bacterial
Our Bodies, Our Health, Our Gut Bacteria  (Cornell)
5 Quick Tips For Healthy Guts And A Healthier Immune System
The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet (Johns Hopkins)
Gut microbes closely linked to proper immune function, other health issues
How to Repair Your Gut After Antibiotics
Why Antibiotics Today Could Threaten Your Life Tomorrow
Antibiotic overuse: Stop the killing of beneficial bacteria
Is Carrageenan Safe?

 

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosure: Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks! 

Ginger Tea: Your New Best Friend in the Winter (Plus a Hot Toddy Recipe!)

My step-daughter Lexi recently had an issue with her foot: it was swollen, painful and difficult for her to walk. Being in college, that is a big problem. She was forced to use crutches for several weeks, she was in constant pain, and she was at the mercy of whatever her doctors told her.

My husband and step-daughter on a daddy-daughter date in San Francisco.

It was clear her doctors didn’t know what was causing it: she was getting contradictory opinions and diagnoses, and all they could really do was prescribe pain meds.

My husband works out several times a week at the gym, as well as playing softball games twice a week, visiting the batting cages, playing flag football, and coaching sports teams. Needless to say, he often has sore, tight, or stiff muscles.

I’m usually cold. I have to carry a jacket everywhere, and when it starts to get cold in the fall I end up catching a chill and eventually getting a head cold or sinus infection as a result.

What if I told you there is a cheap, easy, and delicious way to relieve all three of the above issues, and many more?

GINGER

Ginger is a rock star in the world of natural healing and “food as medicine.”

  • Ginger is an anti-inflammatory: inflammation causes most of the pain and disease we experience
  • Ginger boosts the immune system: fend off that cold & flu virus going around
  • Ginger warms up the body: ward off chills and stay toasty in the winter!
  • Ginger breaks down toxic build-up in the body
  • Ginger improves cardiovascular health
  • Ginger relieves nausea and improves digestion: even nausea from motion sickness!
  • Ginger lowers cholesterol
  • Ginger works with fiber from your diet to cleanse your digestive tract
  • Ginger balances blood sugar
  • Ginger is a pain reliever: studies have found it even more effective than over-the-counter pain meds when taken every day!
  • Ginger can reduce the risk of cancer
  • Ginger is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal: it helps your body fight infections
  • Ginger can ease nasal discomfort: and serve as an alternative to decongestants and allergy meds
  • Ginger may rev up body fat loss: it ramps up your metabolism by raising your body temperature, encouraging your body to burn fat
Ginger does so many things!

So how can you get it in you? You can cook with it–I love the subtly sweet-hot flavor it adds to dishes. There are ginger candies you can eat as well–they’re a little spicy but pretty good! Or you can drink it as a tea!

Ginger tea is not actually tea, it’s an infusion of ginger in water. Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients for Ginger Tea

  • Fresh ginger root
  • 4-5 cups Pure filtered water

Directions for Ginger Tea

  1. Cut the fresh ginger into slices, using about one inch total
  2. Add the ginger and water to a saucepan and boil for 10-15 minutes
  3. Strain out the ginger and use the “ginger tea” that results

You can also buy ginger tea bags, or other ginger-infused products such as these ginger-honey crystals.

Ginger tea can be enjoyed hot or cold: you can even make a big batch in the summer and refrigerate it for a refreshing beverage with health benefits, or use it to make ginger lemonade!

It’s great sweetened with honey and with lemon, or you can use the “ginger water” in other things: like if you make herbal tea (I love this one) at night, use the ginger water instead of regular water to add ginger’s health benefits without the flavor–you’ll just taste the tea!

You can also use ginger water as the base for soups, stews, or other beverages. It can be used in place of water in a lot of recipes, and be swapped out for water when making rice, quinoa, or oatmeal. You can even use it when you make hot cocoa!

Some people (and kids) don’t love the strong taste of ginger. My friend Jennifer over at Home on the Meyerstead came up with this really great honey-based throat elixir that is great for kids–it’s sweet and sour with a great flavor, but also has the benefits of ginger, along with lemon and honey! It’s delicious–so much better than cough medicine but works just as well–and it’s a great tasting and nutritious ready-made add-in for tea!

When I feel a chill or get a tickle in the back of my throat, I make this delicious hot toddy and it warms me right up:

Ingredients for Healing Hot Toddy

  • 2-3 cups hot ginger water
  • 2 T lemon juice (if using a fresh lemon, throw in the whole lemon slice to get some of the benefits of the rind and zest)
  • 1-2 T raw organic honey (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • A splash of whiskey (about 1 oz)
  • 1-2 oz Elderberry tincture or a spoonful of Elderberry syrup
  • 2 T Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon
  • A sprinkle of real salt (for electrolytes and flavor)

Directions for Healing Hot Toddy

  1. Add all ingredients to hot ginger water
  2. Stir and add to two mugs

I love this hot toddy because it warms my whole body up right away–

perfect if I’ve caught a chill.

It also tastes great! it’s like hot apple cider, thanks to the apple cider vinegar.

It’s the perfect immune-boosting nightcap!

It’s even better to pair up this hot drink with a detox bath at night before you go to bed or when you feel sick.

My step-daugter Lexi said the ginger tea helped relieve pain in her foot as it was healing, too!

Ginger is an age-old remedy that really works as a warming, soothing, anti-inflammatory food, and it’s very inexpensive and easy to use! Grab some ginger next time you’re at the store and get to healing!

 

Read more about how to boost immunity and stay well during the winter:

Caught a chill? Take a Detox Bath! 

Make Your Own Elderberry Tincture: Stay Healthy and Ward off Cold & Flu Season! 

Plus: Watch “5 Top Ingredients to Add to Your Detox Bath

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosure: Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks! 

Make Your Own Elderberry Syrup or Tincture to Ward off Cold and Flu Season!

Cold and flu season is officially upon us.

No matter how robust your immune system, how careful you are to avoid germs, how many flu shots you take… you will be exposed, and it’s only a matter of time before it brings you to your knees. A cold is an inconvenience at best and several weeks off of work or a visit to the hospital at worst.

So let’s do everything we can to avoid that, yeah? Especially if you are ever in contact with children: at a school, at home, in the store (via the dried snot left on your grocery cart as you arrive) the germs and viruses are everywhere, just waiting to attack.

If you’re anything like me, you don’t love taking medicine. Not only are most over-the-counter and prescription meds made of yucky chemicals that aren’t good for you and stay in your tissues for years, they contain other baddies such as brain-toxic artificial colors and preservatives that we try to avoid in our food.

Do we really want exposure to those things while we’re sick?

One remedy I found is elderberry syrup. Elderberry syrup is all natural: it’s made from berries! Its use goes back thousands of years and it’s very effective for both recovery and prevention of cold and flu viruses. It’s easy enough to find, but it’s more expensive than making it for yourself.

So I set out to make my own. And it was easy!

The best part is that it’s simple: you only need 3 ingredients, it’s super easy to make, it actually tastes really good, and it’s sweetened with raw honey (which is another cold remedy).

VitaClay is completely non-toxic, unlike other slow cookers, rice cookers and multi-cookers on the market!

I love making this stuff in my VitaClay multi-cooker, because I let it soak in hot water for several hours. I know VitaClay is safe and won’t leach any chemicals or heavy metals into my elderberry syrup (because there is nothing to leach!)

Also I like to be able to steep the berries on “warm” because it only gets up to about 160 degrees and doesn’t boil anything–which is ideal for this process.

And I don’t have to leave anything simmering on the stove–I can let it steep in VitaClay for a few hours while I’m sleeping or out of the house!

Dried Elderberries–about $20 per lb, but it will make gallons of syrup or tincture!

Ingredients for Elderberry Tincture:

  • 1 cup dried elderberries (some people have elderberry trees… Lucky! Otherwise they’re on Amazon)
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 2-3 Tablespoons raw honey, to taste

Directions to Make Your Own Elderberry Tincture:

  1. Put the water and the elderberries in the clay pot
  2. Set to “warm” overnight
  3. Strain off the berries and add in the honey, mixing it in while it’s still warm
  4. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks

Note: If you want it to last longer, you can add a little bit of vodka, which discourages mold growth (even store-bought cough syrup has some alcohol in it, so it’s still safe for the little ones). If you don’t want to use alcohol, you could also use Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, which also discourages mold growth and is great for digestion and has lots of other benefits. You can add other herbs like elderberry flowers or rose hips for added nutrients and different flavors. Let us know how you like it!

You can drink it straight or add it to other juice or carbonated water. It really tastes quite good! Even kids will like it! 

It also goes great added to ginger tea or Hot Toddy to warm you up and keep you from getting sick!

Read more about how to boost immunity and stay well during the winter:

Caught a chill? Take a Detox Bath! 

Ginger Tea: Your New Best Friend (and Hot Toddy Recipe)

Plus: Watch “5 Top Ingredients to Add to Your Detox Bath

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosure: Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks! 

Ward off Cold & Flu Season: Detox Baths

In the age of busy schedules and quick showers,  not many people take advantage of baths any more.

A bath is a relaxing experience that can help you to de-stress, decompress, think through your day and even detox your body!

Baths have a lot of benefits, especially if you add a few key ingredients.

Baths can

  • Relieve headaches
  • Help you sleep better
  • Raise your body temperature and ward off chills
  • Relieve tight, sore or tired muscles
  • Prevent a cold & flu bug from taking you down
  • Detoxify your body

One of the most important bath ingredients is both inexpensive and easy to find:

Epsom Salt

Virtually every grocery and drug store carries Epsom Salt for just a few dollars per pound, and it contains a very important ingredient:

Magnesium

Studies have shown that a majority of Americans are deficient in Magnesium, which can lead to symptoms ranging from anxiety, headaches, fatigue and insomnia to muscle and bone issues. Poor memory and even seizures have also been linked to low magnesium levels.

Magnesium is a key component to calcium absorption too, so if you are low in magnesium, you probably aren’t absorbing that daily calcium supplement very well either.

There are several types of magnesium supplements, but some can cause digestive complaints. I find the best way to get enough magnesium is trans-dermally–or through the skin.

Magnesium oil is a spray-on solution that a lot of people love, and I like to add it to my homemade deodorant. Epsom salt baths are also an excellent way to absorb Magnesium and have many other benefits.

Epsom salt baths are great for lots of things, including relieving sore or stiff muscles, raising body temperature (thus warding off chills in the winter), and helping you relax. When I get a headache, a nice warm bath usually gets rid of it for me.

Baths are also helpful for bringing on a sweat, which can prevent a cold & flu virus from taking hold, or can help you to break a fever.

If you are feeling under the weather, once you get out of the bath dry off right away, jump under warm covers and go to sleep–if you get another chill that will defeat the purpose!

I like to add a few things to my detox bath:

  • Epsom salt (about 1 cup)
  • French green clay (or another clay)–1/4 to 1/2 cup
  • Kelp granules (for iodine)
  • Essential oils (for scent and relaxation–I love rose geranium and lavender)
  • Citric acid (1-2 spoonfuls) I use this because I don’t have a whole-house filter and it helps to neutralize the chlorine in the water
  • Bubbles! I usually use a tiny bit of this.

Directions for Your Detox Bath:

  1. Run the bath water about as hot as you can stand it, or a little hotter (it will cool slightly as it runs)
  2. Add the Epsom salt and any other ingredients you choose into the hot water and stir.
  3. When it’s almost full, add bubbles.
  4. Sit in the bath for 10-20 minutes, ideally until you break a sweat.
  5. Dry off, bundle up and get some rest!

Of course, it’s also important to get magnesium from your food. Some foods high in magnesium include:

  • Dark chocolate (!)
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Avocados
  • Fish, such as salmon and tuna
  • Bananas
  • Leafy Greens
  • Figs and dates
  • Oatmeal

A warm Epsom Salt bath should definitely be added to your arsenal of healthy, all-natural choices for warding off the cold & flu bugs during the fall and winter season.

Watch it!  “5 Top Ingredients to Add to Your Detox Bath

What are your tried-and-true methods of staying well during the cold winter months?

Resources

https://draxe.com/magnesium-supplements/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-magnesium-benefits#section5

21 Foods High in Magnesium

Read more about how to boost immunity and stay well during the winter:

Ginger Tea: Your New Best Friend in the Winter (and a Hot Toddy Recipe!)

Make Your Own Elderberry Tincture: Stay Healthy and Ward off Cold & Flu Season! 

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosure: many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!