Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Carrageenan, It's All Natural So What's The Big Deal?

Hi Everyone!
I usually don’t blog so close together, they say it is a sign of being too pushy, but this is so important that if you don’t know about it I feel it an obligation to shout it from the roof tops as soon as I can. I even contacted a few friends directly in hopes that elimination this from their diets may help them with some health issues that they are facing now.
While researching for another blog I came across something I felt was worth investigating, Carrageenan.
Now I had seen this word listed on ingredients before, and had remembered vaguely that it was not good for us but couldn't remember why.
As someone who has read labels for years I thought I was doing pretty well, until this.
Label reading is only as good as the knowledge you have of what you are reading and Carrageenan is listed but what the heck is it really?
Carrageenan or Irish Moss as they are starting to call it, comes from Red Seaweed and is all natural, the government has deemed it safe as recent as 2012 so this ingredient in conventional as well as organic foods is safe... right?
Well, lots of things are natural but still not safe for us to eat, Carrageenan is one of them.
The main purpose Carrageenan is used is for thickening, or stabilizing the foods we purchase. Think dairy products that can separate, soy and almond milk are also products that this can be found in.
It is often used in frozen and cooked chicken to keep it juicy and tender.
It can also be found as a binder in deli meats.
It is also listed in many of our pet foods.
There are two kinds of Carrageenan, food grade or "Undegraded" which the government has deemed safe for human consumption and "Degraded" which is not for human consumption.

So what's the big deal, just eat the food grade and you will be fine would be the simple thought. The answer is more complex however, because once the food grade Carrageenan hits your stomach the acid in your stomach takes over and scientists are concerned that the acid is turning the Carrageenan into degraded, the bad kind, when it gets to your digestive system.
At that point the bad or degraded Carrageenan has become A CARCINOGEN, A CANCER CAUSING SUBSTANCE!

This is showing up in humans as the following: gastrointestinal inflammation, intestinal lesions, abdominal bloating, spastic colon, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, malignant tumors, as well as low grade inflammation, which can go on undetected for years causing all sorts of problems. It can also show up as an immune response in the body which has similar effects of salmonella.  
Tests on humans generally show nothing out of the ordinary yet, it in lab rats when Carrageenan is added to their diet they have developed colon cancer.
Studies on Carrageenan have been going on since the 1960's and the findings are shown over and over to be problematic, however major manufacturers have and continue to lobby the government and fight hard to keep this substance in our food system.
Some manufacturers are now removing this from their products and replacing it with things like guar gum, which has been found not to put rats in danger of getting cancer, and others are simply putting the words "Shake well" on their products so if their items do separate it can be controlled by the consumer. Others, even some organic companies, are not willing to remove this from their list of ingredients.
What is the answer?
Really know what you are reading on those labels and then you must make the decision for yourself.
Studies have shown many people have shown great improvement in their overall health by removing Carrageenan from their diet.

I just found a few things in my own house with Carrageenan in it  like the holistic cat food we buy, as well as my husbands all time favorite Nesquik which our kids and grandkids have enjoyed as well, it makes me angry that I have been uninformed and not involved enough. This stuff is out of my house permanently!

We need to make good choices, I have always said you are only responsible for what you know and now you know this too.
Stay Healthy my friends!

For more information on this please visit for a complete report as well as a scorecard/ shopping list of items that are conventional as well as organic with Carrigeenan as an ingredient.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The day my hair fell out, and how I kept my sanity with vinegar, coconut oil, and laughter!

As a vibrant woman turning 50 in 2013, I finally had a grasp on who I was, a strong intelligent woman with wisdom and a ridiculous sense of humor.

On my fiftieth birthday I decided to bust out my Tiara and be Queen for the Day. 

I got some really strange looks, yet I had fun, so what the heck. I mean at this stage of life I think we become freer than ever before. We start to use our energy wiser and choose our own battles while weighing in on whether they are even worthy of our time.
We are more settled, less worried about other people's opinions about who we should be, how we dress, or how we act. We are trying to make better choices for ourselves in how we eat, the chemicals we are around and our environment as a whole. We are simply more self assured, yet when the rubber meets the road often times things can catch us off guard.

Let me set the stage: I heard a special lecturer speak on hair dye while I was attending school. Now I knew there were chemicals in hair dye, but I had been coloring my hair for over 20 years.
I listened to him, " If you are coloring your hair every two weeks (Toni) it's too much".  
Wow! O.k. What ?
He didn't really say my name, but how did he know that my roots were showing every two weeks and I was faithfully coloring that often. Was he watching or something?  Yikes!

He then talked about the chemicals in hair dye and how they can seep into your skin, your brain, causing all sorts of problems. Ugh! Oh great!  I'm 1/2 Italian, got my first gray at 17, and colored ever since.
Well that was it, I decided I was going to stop!

I finally did stop about 8 months later on March 9, 2013.

I had tossed the idea around and felt I could live with it. I'm sure I drove everyone nuts with should I or shouldn't I, but that was it, in June I was going to stop.

Wait what?  I said June, but stopped in March, why the three month speedup?  This is why...

That's right my hair was coming out in clumps in my hand! I had just put the color refresher packet on my hair and was massaging it in, when poof, the rubber has now met the road!

*This becomes a defining moment in a woman's life no matter the age.
The vanity of losing your hair.
The bargaining with the Universe.
The decision to laugh or cry, and about a million other feelings that come rushing over you.*

Well, I decided that I was going to laugh, they say its good for the soul, it takes more muscles to laugh than frown, whatever it took, it seemed to be the better of the two choices.
Oh, don't be confused, I was still freaking out,  yet I had to keep my wits about me.

After pouring about a gallon of vinegar over my head to stop the burning and neutralize the stinging and while repeating that for several days, a trip to the beautician, and the doctor's office determined that the color actually burned my scalp.

I started coconut oil treatments on my fried scalp immediately.

I took a jar of the oil and placed it in hot water to warm it. Next with a hair dye brush, painted coconut oil on my scalp as if I were sectioning and coloring my hair. I then covered my head in a plastic shopping bag, remember to do your part to recycle, they are not just for carrying your groceries home anymore.

I left it on for at least 30 minutes, but if I were at home that day I would leave it on for several hours, there is a UPS man and a FedEx man that can tell a tale or two about the crazy lady with the shopping bag tied on her head. I repeated this once or twice a week for several weeks, it is a great way to condition your dry scalp, and can be done even when you don’t burn it first!

My hair did continue to fall out for several weeks after the incident, but it was only noticeable to me and eventually recovered completely.  I have not colored it since.

Yes, the grow out can take forever depending on the length, but make hats and updo's your friend! A quick twist and a huge clip can cover most of the outgrow line and look cute or even fairly chic while doing it.
I love baseball caps, so now I have some great ones and hey, I got to shop with an excuse!
I also went shorter. I love the way my hair looks now and people even say I look younger.
Who knew?

Listen, we will all face some vanity decisions in our lives, question is, do we do it with ease or worry?
My advice is to buckle up and enjoy this crazy time of life, it's a journey of choices and I choose to laugh!

P.S. I recently decided to remove my gel nails as well. The chemicals in those have got to be crazy and I had two tips pop off in one week which had never happened before.
I actually had talked to my nail tech about taking them off because of what this was doing to my real nails and how all this could be affecting my body.
This time I decided to just take them off myself, and get the nail polish off my toes.
I really can't afford to learn another lesson, I mean who knows what might fall off next??