Staycation: Why Staying Home for the Holidays Can Be Your Best Self Care Habit

Over this last Easter break, I opted for a staycation. I’m on the road a lot – both for work and play, and while this is a huge blessing (I love to travel and explore), I can often feel that by the end of a holiday I am so burnt out from the travel and jet lag I need another holiday (don’t we all get this?!). Today’s post is about Why staying home for the holidays can be your best self care habit. 

This holiday season, I felt it in my body that I really needed to ground down at home and spend some time cleansing my space and my body. I decided to try and document some of the things that created the most joy and relaxation for me, as well as felt the most rewarding. I have to say, a once-per-year staycation is going to be my new annual self care ritual. 

Here’s what my Staycation in Oslo looked like this year. 

Take Some Time Out: Home Spa or The Real Deal

Not so far from downtown Oslo is a World Class spa, The Well. Just a 20 minutes drive from the city center you’re transported into the nature surrounded 3-level spa. Boasting a full range of outdoor and indoor spa and swimming amenities, not limited to a Turkish hamam, a Japanese garden, a Northern Light Sauna, Jungle Sauna, Cave Showers and Steam Rooms. There are 15 saunas, 25 treatment rooms, and a total of 11 pools. For the most part you are either in a bathing suit purchased from the Well, or nude, which means it’s an adult only spa. It’s quiet (adult only), and the treatments are luxurious. The amenities are many, so even if the spa is busy, you can find some privacy to relax. They carry Voya organic skincare at the spa, which is always lovely for me to see. If you’re in Oslo, or Oslo-based like me, I can highly recommend a day trip here, or even a Friday after work to kick the weekend off to a perfect start.

Photo from The Well

Try a New Recipe, or an Old Favourite

One of my favourite things to do when I have a bit of extra time on my hands is cook, bake or recipe create. Over this holiday I came back to one of my all-time favourite recipes from food blogger, My New Roots. Her Life Changing Loaf of Bread is just that. I’ve been munching on this in the mornings with a little cashew butter and manuka honey.  Ingredients and directions from My New Roots. 

1 cup / 135g sunflower seeds
½ cup / 90g flax seeds
½ cup / 65g hazelnuts 
1 ½ cups / 145g rolled oats
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
4 Tbsp. psyllium seed husks (3 Tbsp. if using psyllium husk powder)
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt (add ½ tsp. if using coarse salt)
1 Tbsp. maple syrup (for sugar-free diets, use a pinch of stevia)
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil or ghee
1 ½ cups / 350ml water

1. In a flexible, silicon loaf pan combine all dry ingredients, stirring well. Whisk maple syrup, oil and water together in a measuring cup. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix very well until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick. Smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C.
3. Place loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove bread from loaf pan, place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 30-40 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool completely before slicing.

Get Out in Nature

Needless to say, getting out in nature and spending time with the trees or the ocean is a necessity for that grounding time. I love going through the woods with warm clothes and spending time in the sun – soaking up that limited vitamin D we’ve been having up in this northern hemisphere. The weather has been cold but gorgeous here this holiday, and I’ve been trying to soak it up. 

Try a New Skincare Line: Wildcraft Skincare

I was in Toronto last autumn and popped into the Detox Market, and while exploring there, I came across this beautiful brand, Wildcraft. This Easter holiday, I decided to try an entire new line on my face for the duration of the break. I’ve been thinking about when I would switch it all up, and this was the perfect opportunity. 

Why I picked Toronto-based Wildcraft:  their products are all handmade in small batches, with ingredient lists that are simple, pure and easy to understand such as honey, distilled flower waters and essential oils. I loved the simplicity of the line and the subsequent efficacy on my skin. 

My favourites from this line were their Buff Face & Body Scrub (Rice powder, Apricot kernel shells, Arrowroot powder, Rhassoul clay, Chamomile flowers, Australian pink clay, Spearmint oil, Peppermint oil, Everlasting essential oil) and their Regenerating Facial Serum (Rice bran oil, Meadowfoam seed oil, Rosehip seed oil, Hemp seed oil, sunflower oil with carrot extract and Seabuckthorn oil, Frankincense and Palmarosa essential oils). The serum went on light and was not greasy – great for all skin types that aren’t sensitive to essential oils. While the Buff scrub gently cleans, dries out blemishes, and smooths the skin with mineral-rich exfoliant for the face (and body).

Dig Into Your Spiritual Self & Reflect 

Some quiet time is essential during these Staycations – just giving yourself a little alone time to dig into your journal, your favourite book or just drink a good cup of tea. I spent some time paging through my Practice You journal created by Elena Brower, and doing my own journaling. 

Organize Your Home for some Good Vibes

I spent the better part of one or two afternoons cleaning out our kitchen cupboards and organizing them – purging old foods and contents that no longer stood the test of time, and putting everything in airtight labeled jars, making navigating the kitchen a whole lot easier and more calming. 

Getting rid of the excess clutter gave me a sense of relief, there is something to be said for tidy space, tidy mind. Almost as soon as I was finished taking out the recycling and the trash, I had an overwhelming sense of relief and a weird sense of accomplishment. Opening our cupboards never felt so wonder. haha!

Batch Prep Your Fermented Food Favourites

One of the other things I love to do is batch prepare my fermented favourites when I have some extra minutes. This super easy, vegan coconut yogurt is one of my favourites. You have probably seen it on my blog before here.  I just love this yogurt for the perfect morning breakfast to go, adding it on top of my soups and making thicker, more flavourful smoothies. 

This recipe is so quick and easy, here’s what you need: 

  1. Large jar
  2. Two to Three cans of organic coconut milk (full fat)
  3. Three probiotic capsules (that you can easily break apart and dump into the milk)
  4. A wooden spoon
  5. Cheese Cloth
  6. Elastic band


  1. Pour cans of coconut milk into clean glass jar (I used 3)
  2. Break apart 3 probiotic capsules with more than 20 billion live cultures
  3. Stir in with wooden spoon (this is improtant, don’t use metal as it reacts with the probiotics)
  4. Cover with cheese cloth and a rubber band
  5. Let sit on the counter for 24 – 48 hours – this batch was 36 hours
  6. Taste during the resting time to reach your desired tangy-ness
  7. When it has reached it, put it in the fridge overnight, it should thicken

Clean Out Your Closet for Donation or Sell and Donate!

The last de-cluttering and cleansing activity I did was clean out my closets. Spring is an optimal time for cleaning out the closets, but it can be done anytime. It feels great to make some extra room in your space, as well as donate (or even sell) your excess things. Just like the cupboards, it is such a great feeling to lighten up the household from things that are no longer needed. 

Well beauties, aside from that it was a lot of tea drinking, book reading and relaxation. 

I hope this inspires your next holiday to go against the need to get out of town, and instead feel encouraged to have yourself a little “staycation.”

Your soul will thank you for it.



The post Staycation: Why Staying Home for the Holidays Can Be Your Best Self Care Habit appeared first on Living Pretty, Naturally.



Foot Detox: Know the Facts, Top Benefits, and Recipes

A bottle of essential oil. Foot detox can help boost your immune system.

When you think about detoxing, you probably think about detox diets, colon cleansing, or fasting. But, in recent years, detoxing through the feet has gained popularity. Proponents say foot detox therapy eliminates toxins from the body, increases energy, offers immune support, and improves overall health and well-being. However, foot detoxes are not without controversy. Does detoxing through your feet really work, and are there any side effects? What different techniques exist for a foot detox? Read on for answers to these questions and more.

What Is a Detox?

Detoxing, short for detoxification, is intended to eliminate or neutralize toxins throughout the body. Toxins are virtually everywhere, including in the foods we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and common home products. There are approximately 85,000 chemicals regulated under the United States Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)[1] but the Environmental Protection Agency has only banned or restricted use of a handful of chemicals, including chlorofluorocarbons, asbestos, radon, lead, and hexavalent chromium. Unfortunately, many of these are persistent organic pollutants that stay in the environment long after their use is discontinued.[2]

Toxins accumulate in the liver and colon, and there are many detox techniques that can neutralize and help move them out of the body. Toxins are also removed through the body’s natural elimination routes such as sweating, breathing, urinating, defecating, and during menses.

What Is a Foot Detox?

Foot detoxes are intended to remove toxins and metals from the body by drawing them out through the feet. There are a variety of techniques for detoxing through the feet, including foot masks and scrubs, detox foot pads, acupressure, and ionic foot soaks. Proponents believe that a foot detox helps make the body’s pH level more alkaline. It’s also thought to deactivate a variety of harmful organisms. Some health care providers, including chiropractors and holistic health centers, offer foot detox baths and charge high prices for the service.[3] Foot detox baths are also sold in stores for at-home use.

Benefits of Doing a Foot Detox

  • May remove toxins
  • Reduces swelling
  • Calms the body
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Improves mood
  • Burns calories
  • Encourages normal blood sugar
  • Boosts cardiovascular health

Since the feet are rich with nerve endings and sweat glands, it seems like the ideal place in the body to detox and de-stress. There’s no denying that soaking your body or just your feet in hot or warm water is calming. But hot detox foot baths may also help reduce swelling, boost your immune system, and improve your overall health and mood. A recent study even found that, like exercise, hot baths can help burn calories, boost cardiovascular health, and encourage normal blood sugar.[4] People who advocate for detoxing through the feet say that it can ease mental distress while improving sleep and overall well-being.[5, 6]

Further, the manufacturers of the ionic foot baths claim their product eliminates alcohol, acids, alkali, bleach and chlorine, detergents, emulsifiers, synthetic dyes and fragrances, toxic metals, pesticides, petrochemicals, preservatives, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).[5, 6]

Detoxing with the right kind of foot pads can also have unique benefits. The best detox pads stimulate the kidney acupressure point to release tension and support overall health.

Does Detoxing Through Your Feet Really Work?

There has been some controversy around whether certain types of foot detox methods – specifically ionic foot baths and detox foot pads – actually work. Certain television shows have even looked at whether ionic foot bath detox methods did what was claimed.[3, 7]

Most proponents of foot baths believe that the water changes color as a result of toxins leaving the body and accumulating in the water. In reality, placing metal electrodes in the bath’s saltwater produce rust in a rapid manner through electrolysis. The color the water changes to has nothing to do with the toxins. In fact, the electrolysis will change color even without feet being placed in the foot bath.

A 2012 study in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health looked at urine and hair samples from people who had used a foot detox bath and were unable to find evidence that the bath eliminated toxins from the body.[8]

However, another study found that regular use of ionic foot baths decreased the amount of aluminum and arsenic present in the body.[9] One practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine reported that ionic foot baths made the body less acidic and more alkaline after just one use. Additionally, this alkaline state lasted 48 hours after use.[10]

6 Different Ways To Do a Foot Detox

Ionic foot baths aren’t the only way to do a foot detox. In fact, there are a variety of ways to detox the body through the feet, including Korean and Chinese acupressure-based foot soaks, detox foot pads, foot scrubs, masks, and soak recipes that use naturally detoxifying Epsom salts, Bentonite clay, and other ingredients.

Ionic Foot Bath

Ionic foot baths operate by sending an electrical current through a tub of water, which causes the water molecules to divide and create negative oxygen ions. Once enough are present in the water, the body absorbs them through osmosis, which is the movement of compounds from higher to lower concentration. Some newer devices also produce positive ions.

The foot bath process is quick and simple. You soak both feet in the bath which is filled with warm salt water. An electronic array is also placed in the foot bath, which sends a direct current into the water. The combination of the water, salt, and the array are meant to generate negative ions by separating oxygen and hydrogen from the water, neutralizing charged particles in the body and drawing toxins with the opposite charges out.[5, 6]

Don’t be fooled by infomercials claiming that the dark water that comes out of the ionic foot bath water is toxins from your body, or that different toxins create different colors. The color of the water is caused by a reaction of the salt water and the electrolysis array, which creates rust.[7] The ability of these ionic foot baths to detox the body through the feet has come under scrutiny, and there are conflicting reports on whether they work.

Acupressure-Based Foot Soaks, Foot Massage, and Foot Spas

Korean and Chinese foot spas have been around for thousands of years, and these unique therapy experiences are expanding in popularity across the U.S. The feet are like roots of a tree, and the sole or bottom of the foot contains hundreds of nerve endings and acupressure points that can be massaged to help certain parts of the body.

During a session at a foot spa, feet are soaked in a hot bath solution, followed by a foot and leg massage. The foot massage is the focus and stimulates acupressure points in the feet that correspond to different organs in the body to release tension, improve circulation, and support overall health and vitality. Acupressure and reflexology help balance the chi or energy in the body, encouraging better circulation, restful sleep, and normalization of health ailments ranging from head pain to digestion. And of course, soaking one’s feet in a warm bath and massaging the pressure points on the feet promotes relaxation.

Do-It-Yourself Foot Soak

You can also create a do-it-yourself detox foot bath at home using warm or hot water, Epsom salt, and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Have a partner massage your feet at the reflexology points in the diagram that corresponds to any issues you deal with, or do the foot massage yourself.

Reflexology points diagram.

When selecting essential oils, lavender is a great choice. Not only is it calming, but animal studies have shown it to normalize liver and kidney disruptions caused by exposure to certain pesticides.[11] Another option is tea tree oil, which is powerful against germs.[12] If the aroma of tea tree is too potent for your tastes, mix it with lavender for a mild, pleasant scent.

Foot Masks

One simple way to do a foot detox is to use a clay foot mask to clean and detoxify the feet. It relieves stress at the end of a long day, too. Foot masks can soften skin and tackle toenail fungus, surface fungus, odor, and athlete’s foot. I recommend do-it-yourself recipes because they are completely free of any chemical additives, which defeat the purpose of a detox.

Bentonite clay offers benefits as a detox agent and is safe for both internal and external use.[13] Bentonite clay has naturally occurring positively charged ions that draw out negatively charged toxins, including those in pesticides and toxic metals. Other studies have found that Bentonite clay has properties that fight against mycotoxins and aflatoxins from mold.

Here is my favorite DIY clay foot mask recipe:

Clay Foot Mask

  • 3 tablespoons bentonite clay
  • 3 tablespoons raw, organic apple cider vinegar
  • 3 drops of lavender
  • 3 drops of tea tree essential oil (or peppermint oil)

Combine these ingredients in a small bowl. Add the apple cider vinegar one tablespoon at a time, until the clay mask becomes a thick paste. You may not need all of the apple cider vinegar, so add it slowly and gradually until the mask is the consistency you desire. Add more clay as needed. Once the ingredients are combined to a thick paste, spread it on both feet and allow it to fully dry. Recline in a comfortable chair during this process. After 30 minutes, wash off the foot mask and dry your feet.

Foot Scrubs

Like a foot mask, a foot scrub can also clean and detoxify the feet, reducing odor and preventing fungal infections if you use essential oils with antifungal and antibacterial properties. Foot scrubs also exfoliate dead skin from the feet.

Here is my favorite DIY clay foot scrub recipe:

Detox Foot Scrub

Combine the ingredients in a bowl, stirring well to spread the essential oil throughout the mixture. Apply to each foot, rubbing the grainy salt mixture gently along the sole, in between the toes, on the top of the foot, and around the ankles for at least five minutes per foot. Spend extra time on the sole, applying pressure to the reflexology points that correspond to any areas where you need improvement. This coarse mixture exfoliates the skin as well as provides detoxification from the essential oils you choose.

Peppermint oil supports the gallbladder and overall digestive system. It’s an important part of the foot scrub because it leaves a tingly clean feeling. You can add any essential oil, but lemon, lemongrass, and juniper have particularly helpful detoxification properties. Lemon oil supports the immune system and helps detoxify the liver. Lemongrass is an anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant powerhouse. Juniper oil supports liver function and detoxes the liver, colon, skin, and lungs. Pick your favorite!

Detox Foot Pads

Detox foot pads cause the feet to sweat and draw circulating toxins out of the feet. However, not all foot pads are created equally.

Like foot massages that focus on ancient acupressure or reflexology points, effective foot pads tap into the ancient science of reflexology. In addition to being very relaxing, reflexology stimulates areas on the feet that correspond to different organs and muscles in the body. This helps to release tension, improve circulation and support overall health and vitality.

Unlike other brands, our 100% organic Detox Foot Pads use carbon-titanium adhesive to boost both bioelectricity and blood flow through the feet and body. The foot pads specifically stimulate the kidney acupressure point to encourage detoxification. Our detox foot pads are made with organic, all-natural ingredients like bamboo extracts, herbs, and tourmaline. Tourmaline is a gemstone that emits far infrared radiation (FIR). Studies have found that FIR – specifically from ground tourmaline – promotes cell repair and helps defend cells against damage from X-rays, and normalizes joint swelling and other issues.[14]

Are There Any Side Effects?

Therapists who offer foot detoxes – particularly the ionic foot spa and foot soaks – caution that some people should exercise caution and seek advice from their healthcare provider before using these therapies, including:

  • Children under age 5
  • Pregnant and lactating women
  • People who have pacemakers, electrical implants, and organ transplants
  • People who have diabetes, congestive heart failure, or who are on dialysis
  • People with open sores on their feet

You can experience a “healing crisis” from any detox, including a foot detox. When the body releases accumulated toxins, you may experience fatigue, headache, nausea, dizziness, vomiting and flu symptoms. A healing crisis doesn’t usually last longer than three days. If you have symptoms for longer or the symptoms are especially disruptive, consult a healthcare provider immediately.

In contrast, our detox foot pads contain organic, natural ingredients, and can safely be used by people of all ages. The only side effect might be a slight chance of allergic reaction by certain individuals, as with any product.

What’s Your Story?

Have you tried any of the foot detox methods described here? What was your experience? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.

The post Foot Detox: Know the Facts, Top Benefits, and Recipes appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


How to Perform a Colon Cleanse: The Complete Guide

Eating healthy, organic fruits and vegetables can help support a colon cleanse.

Every day, we’re bombarded with toxins: additives in the food supply, pollution in the air and water, and chemicals in the products we put on our bodies. The overabundance of common impurities that we all encounter can overwhelm our natural ability to detoxify. Many of these toxins find their way to the liver, kidneys, intestines, and colon. Cleansing is a great way to flush your body and reboot your overall well-being, and cleansing the colon can boost your natural self-healing and detox mechanisms.

The Colon & Its Function

The colon is part of the large intestine. It lies between the small intestine and the anus. A healthy colon is about two inches in diameter, between five and six feet long, and occupies most of your lower body cavity. The “U” shaped colon subdivides into four sections – the ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, and sigmoid colon. The primary role of the colon is to reclaim water from digested food, absorb nutrients, and provide an environment for the helpful bacteria that regulate those processes.[1]

What Is a Colon Cleanse?

A colon cleanse is a process that flushes the digestive tract to help rid the colon of harmful toxins, organisms, and accumulated waste. Colon cleanses loosen and flush accumulated waste from the intestinal walls and digestive system. Many people report that a regular colon cleanse is one of the single most effective strategies for boosting their overall wellness.

Signs Your Colon Needs Cleansing

People who follow the Standard American Diet (SAD), which is rich in dairy, meats, sweets, and processed foods, usually have accumulated waste in their digestive tract. When toxins build up, a systemic change can manifest in your body and make you feel sick.

These changes can be felt inside your body and seen and even smelled outside of your body. For example, a bad odor in your sweat or breath are signs of a toxic colon. If your diet and overall health are suffering, you may have sluggish bile production or develop health conditions such as Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, or inflammatory bowel disease.[2, 3, 4] Unhealthy bowels may also be affected by colorectal polyps, diverticula, and colon strictures that create sluggish digestion.

The accumulation of toxins that results from eating unhealthy food can lead to an imbalance in your gut flora, allowing unhealthy organisms to take hold. One of the most harmful is a fungus called Candida albicans that can cause Candidiasis – a type of yeast overgrowth that affects the entire body.[5]

Signs that you need a colon cleanse include:

What Are the Benefits of Colon Cleansing?

Maintaining a healthy colon supports a healthy digestive system and promotes overall well-being. The colon is central to your body’s most critical functions, and it directly affects your overall health. A colon that’s overrun by toxins has a difficult time absorbing nutrients and water. Not only are your detoxification abilities affected, but the nutritional value of your food is reduced. An organic colon cleanse irrigates the bowels to get you back on track.

A Boost of Energy

Many people report that one of the biggest benefits of a colon cleanse is an increase in their energy levels. Sluggishness frequently disappears after cleansing the colon and adopting healthier food choices. We receive a lot of positive feedback from people who say colon cleansing simply makes them feel better.

Develop New, Healthy Habits

Many people kick-start healthy eating and wellness habits during their cleanse. Drinking more water, eating more fruits and vegetables, and getting exercise are all habits that keep the bowels running smoothly and get the blood flowing through the colon.

Removal of Compacted Waste

By omitting processed and fatty foods during a colon cleanse, the colon has an easier time pushing out waste that has built up. Drinking plenty of water helps flush this unhealthy waste out of your body. Certain fruits have a natural fibrous quality and help break down waste in your colon. Once this toxic matter is gone, your colon is better able to function.

Better Digestion

Most people say they experience better digestion after completing a colon cleanse. Resetting the colon helps the digestive tract process food more efficiently. Not only does this promote consistent, regular bowel movements, but it also helps relieve occasional constipation.

What Are the Different Types of Colon Cleanses?

There are a variety of colon cleansing methods and products, with varying degrees of efficacy and safety.

Dietary Cleanses

Some cleanses merely involve a change of diet and eliminating certain foods, like dairy, wheat or gluten, or meat, that cause health problems. Whether it’s temporary or a complete lifestyle change, eliminating some or all of these foods serves as a diet-based cleanse.

Meat, dairy, and processed foods that contain unhealthy additives cause waste buildup along the intestinal walls. Replacing these unhealthy foods with high-fiber, nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, and drinking plenty of water flushes the bowels and cleanses the colon.

Simplifying your diet can make it easy to identify foods to which you’re sensitive. Some people like to cleanse with a raw or vegan diet, and then slowly reintroduce other foods. After following a simplified colon cleansing diet for seven to 30 days, you can reintroduce items. After eating a new food type, you should wait a few days before trying another type of food to note changes in your body or mood. You can also combine a cleansing diet with a colon cleanse supplement.

Colonic Hydrotherapy or Irrigation

Colonic hydrotherapy, also called colonic irrigation or colonic lavage, is performed in a clinical setting by a colonic hygienist or hydrotherapist. Although it’s a relatively common procedure, the safety of the technique has been called into question. A tube from a machine is inserted into the rectum to flush water through the intestines. The hydrotherapist may also massage the abdomen to help release waste, which is expelled through a different tube. This process is usually repeated several times and may last up to an hour.[6]

Colonic irrigation isn’t without risk. There have been reports of rectal perforation from colonic irrigation. Contaminated equipment is also a potential problem. In one clinic in Colorado in the late 1970s, contaminated water led to 36 cases of parasitic infection, ten colectomies (surgical removal of part of the colon), and six deaths.[7]

Although there are do-it-yourself hydrotherapy kits available, the services of a professional hygienist or hydrotherapist ensure optimal results and safety. Colon irrigation equipment is regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and a professional hydrotherapist should have equipment that’s registered with the FDA. Be sure that the hydrotherapist uses filtered, purified water, and disposable rectal nozzles. If stainless steel nozzles are used, they should be sterilized by autoclave.


An enema is like a mini colonic, although enemas only cleanse the rectum, the lower part of the colon, and not the entire digestive tract.[8] When an enema is administered, a measured amount of a liquid solution, such as mineral oil, sodium phosphate, water, or other solution, is squeezed into the rectum through a tube and bag or a bottle with a special tip. Once the liquid enters the rectum, massaging the abdomen can help loosen fecal matter. After about five minutes, the urge to defecate arises and the enema liquid and feces leave the body as a bowel movement.

Coffee enemas are a popular therapy, but there is evidence that frequent coffee enemas can cause electrolyte imbalance and dehydration. There are also reports of death from blood poisoning (septicemia) immediately after their use.[9, 10]

Enemas can be self-administered at home or in a clinical setting. Contamination is a potential issue when introducing any foreign object into the rectum. A disposable, one-time use enema is recommended for safety.


Americans spend more than $700 million per year on laxatives. Despite how common they are, regularly using laxatives has serious negative health effects. Laxatives are harsh, irritating to the intestines and colon, and can cause pain, cramping, and bloating. Although they may be a temporary solution for constipation, they can actually cause chronic constipation, leading users to become dependent. Worst of all, laxatives are ineffective as a colon cleanser. Their action is inconsistent, incomplete, and produces uncomfortable side effects. A recent study in The American Journal of Gastroenterology found a 49% increase in the risk of colorectal cancer in individuals age 50-76 who used non-fiber-based laxatives four or more times a year.[11]

Herbal Laxative Teas or Supplements

Some people use herbal laxative teas or herb-containing colon cleansing capsules or tablets as a natural way to relieve constipation. The most commonly used herbs used as laxatives, or for cleansing or “slimming” are:

    • Cascara sagrada bark
    • Senna
    • Burdock root
    • Dandelion
    • Cat’s claw
    • Yellow or curly dock
    • Licorice root
    • Slippery elm
    • Artichoke leaf
    • Gentian root
    • Rhubarb root
    • Aloe vera

Although some of these herbs are beneficial, some, particularly senna and cascara, are linked to harmful health effects. Regular use of senna and cascara laxative tea is linked to dark spotting on the inside of the colon; the long-term impact of these dark spots on overall health is not yet known. Some herbal cleansing teas contain caffeine, which stimulates the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Caffeine, however, can adversely affect your stomach and intestines by increasing gastric acid secretion.

Other herbal teas, such as peppermint tea, offer benefits beyond cleansing. Peppermint has been studied to help patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).[12] Hibiscus, black, and green teas are a source of antioxidants which may support normal blood pressure, cholesterol, and healthier organ function.[13] Turmeric, ginger, aloe, and other herbs have excellent therapeutic properties and gently cleanse the digestive system.

Fiber and Psyllium-Based Cleansing Supplements

Some over-the-counter bulk-forming colon cleansing supplements contain psyllium, a fiber-dense seed husk from the Plantago plant. When ingested, psyllium produces mucilage, a thick gooey substance that bulks up in the colon and helps move feces through the digestive system.

While fiber, and psyllium, in particular, can help with occasional constipation, they also have safety risks. Psyllium can cause dehydration, as it is highly water-absorbent. It can also increase bloating, and some individuals using psyllium have experienced allergic reactions. Some psyllium-based colon cleansers promise to clear your colon of black mucoid plaque. However, the long, stringy black substance that is defecated after taking these cleansers is merely your fecal matter combined with mucilage from the psyllium. The FDA has ruled certain psyllium-containing laxatives as “not generally recognized as safe due to potential esophageal obstruction.”[14]

Oxygen-Based Colon Cleansers

Colon cleansers that utilize ozonated (oxygenated) magnesium are another option to cleanse the colon, and they’re arguably the best. By increasing the oxygen in the gut, specifically the colon, they help liquefy the compacted waste along the colon wall so it can be expelled from the body. Ozonated magnesium cleansers also provide a boost of energy and encourage healthier digestion. Ozonated magnesium is gentle and does not remove beneficial bacteria from the colon.

Are Colon Cleanses Safe?

Most natural, dietary cleanses are safe for healthy people. However, colonic irrigation, enemas, and over-the-counter laxative pills, or certain laxative herbal teas have the potential for uncomfortable side effects, may irritate the intestines, or lead to dependency. Some herbal ingredients, like turmeric, ginger, and dandelion are safe, gentle, and assist in detoxing. But, if your goal is to fully cleanse your entire digestive system, the best approach involves a supplement made with pure ingredients that provide a gentle cleansing effect.

When performing any cleanse, dehydration may occur if you do not consume enough water. Make sure to drink several glasses of water throughout the day while you’re cleansing. People who experience trouble with their bowels, or have issues such as hemorrhoids, should consult their healthcare professional before performing a colon cleanse.[15]

What Do You Need To Perform a Natural Colon Cleanse?

I only recommend one colon cleanse plan, and below, I will provide the simple, easy steps. The colon cleanse lasts six days and includes only organic fruit, seasonings, a water mixture made with raw, organic apple cider vinegar, a probiotic supplement, and a high-quality, oxygen-based colon cleansing supplement.

Supplies Needed

The supplies needed for this colon cleanse work together to support digestive health, gut microflora balance, and the purging of toxins from the colon. You’ll need the following supplies:

      • 6 gallons of distilled water
      • 3 organic lemons
      • 8 ounces organic, raw, unpasteurized, apple cider vinegar
      • 1 bottle of Oxy-Powder®
      • 1 bottle of Latero-Flora™
      • Organic fresh fruit
      • 16 ounces of organic, whole-leaf, cold-pressed aloe vera juice
      • Himalayan crystal salt
      • Cayenne pepper
      • Black pepper

Organic Fresh Fruit

The fruits recommended for this cleanse work better and are healthier if they are organic, or grown at home without chemical pesticides and herbicides. Fruits are chosen for this cleanse because they are easier on your intestines and a good source of nutrients and water. It’s best to add variety to your fruit intake daily.

      • Apples
      • Avocados
      • Bananas
      • Blackberries
      • Blueberries
      • Grapefruit
      • Oranges
      • Papaya
      • Pineapple
      • Raspberries
      • Strawberries
      • Tomatoes
      • Watermelon
      • White grapes

Apple Cider Vinegar and Water Mix

This six-day cleanse works best if you use an apple cider vinegar and water mix to hydrate throughout the day. It is essential to consume at least one gallon of this drink daily. The recipe is as follows:

      • Start with one gallon of distilled water, then pour out four ounces
      • Add two tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar and shake well
      • Add two ounces (¼ cup) of organic aloe juice
      • Add the juice of half a lemon
      • Mix together
      • Refrigerate

If you are unable to finish the entire gallon by the end of the day, throw it out and make a fresh batch the following day.

How To Do a Colon Cleanse

Below is a daily schedule to maximize the benefits of this six-day colon cleanse. Days one through six follow the same routine. When you pick a fruit, that is the only one you will eat for that meal. Thoroughly chew and savor each bite for better digestion.

Waking Up

Make your daily apple cider vinegar mix and drink 12 to 20 ounces before breakfast. A positive affirmation first thing in the morning will put your mind on the right track for a healthy day. Saying, “I am clean and healthy,” out loud nine times will have an encouraging effect.


Pick one type of fruit and eat as much as you can until you are full. Choose either grapes, watermelon, grapefruit, oranges, or pineapple. If these are out of season, apples or bananas are acceptable.

After breakfast and before your mid-morning snack, drink 20 ounces of the apple cider vinegar mix and take three capsules of your probiotic supplement. Repeat your affirmation if you’d like.

Mid-Morning Snack

This should be consumed halfway between breakfast and lunch. Choose either blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries and eat as much as you can until full. If none of these are in season, apples and bananas are fine.

After this snack and before lunch, consume another 20 ounces of the apple cider vinegar mix, and repeat your affirmation.


Choose either apples, papayas, or bananas and eat as much as you can until full.

After lunch and before your mid-afternoon snack, consume another 20 ounces of the apple cider vinegar mix, and repeat your affirmation.

Mid-Afternoon Snack

This meal should be consumed halfway between lunch and dinner. Choose either pineapple, grapefruit, white grapes, or oranges. Eat as much as you can until full.

After your mid-afternoon snack and before your dinner, drink 20 ounces of the apple cider vinegar mix, and repeat your affirmation.


Choose either avocados or vine-ripened tomatoes. Again, eat as much as you can until full. These foods are best eaten raw. Fresh, natural lime juice, Himalayan salt, or organic cayenne or black pepper may be used to season these foods.

After your dinner and before bedtime, consume another 20 ounces of the apple cider vinegar mix and repeat your affirmation.


Take six capsules of your oxygen-based cleanser with the remaining eight ounces of the apple cider vinegar mix.

Before closing your eyes, repeat your affirmation to encourage a restful night’s sleep.

Day Two Through Six

Repeat your schedule from the previous day for a total of six days. After the first day, you should have three to five bowel movements daily. If this does not occur, increase your serving of Oxy-Powder by two capsules until you achieve three to five bowel movements the following day.

Will a Colon Cleanse Disrupt my Schedule?

Most people report that they can follow the 6-day colon cleanse without any disruptions to their normal work or life schedule. Since the capsules are taken at night before bed and work through the night, your body will need to eliminate after you awake. If you start on the weekend, you can determine how your body reacts to Oxy-Powder

How to Maintain Colon Health

Once you’ve finished your cleanse, it’s important to maintain a healthy, organic diet. Eat foods that naturally help to cleanse your colon, including organic fruits and vegetables, healthy nuts and beans, and plenty of purified water. Avoiding tap water and eliminating alcohol from your diet is also highly encouraged.

Another way to maintain your intestinal tract is by using the same Oxy-Powder serving size you used during your cleanse. Taking this serving once or twice a week will keep your intestinal tract in good working order. To kick-start your cleanse, try the Colon Cleanse Kit. It has everything you need to cleanse your entire digestive tract of toxins and impacted fecal matter in less than a week.

Your Story

Have you ever done a colon cleanse? What method did you use? How did you feel afterward? We’d love to hear about your experience. Tell us your story in the comments section below.

The post How to Perform a Colon Cleanse: The Complete Guide appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


March Favourites: Natural Beauty and Wellness Products for Your Return to Spring

Some of my favourite posts to write are those that bring up the natural beauty and wellness products I’ve been loving over the course of the past month – my monthly faves posts. It’s been a while since I had the time to write one of these, but thanks to a long Easter break in Norway, I found the time to cozy up with some wool blankets and my laptop and curate for you March’s Monthly Faves. It’s a combination of my usual green beauty explorations and some other wellness and spirit soothing finds. I hope you enjoy, beautiful. 

Eye Treatment Fave: Maya Chia The Eye Achiever

I’m loving this concentrated corrective serum from a beloved brand, Maya Chia. The eye serum has been created specifically for the delicate eye area and contains nutrient dense oils of sweet white lupin seeds (helps with firmness), chia seed oil (what Maya Chia is known for), as well as protective raspberry seed oil and black cumin seed oil. But the real magic is working from the sea plants- macros and micro-algae extracts from Undaria Pinnatifida (great for anti-aging by promoting the cell’s ability to fight free radicals), sea lavender (which is shown to increase tubules length which increases microcirculation) and Alaria Esculenta extract (promotes firmness and elasticity of the skin). 

Needless to say, this eye serum is above and beyond when it comes to super ingredients and potent potions. I’ve been using it for a month and love the steel rollerball which massages the oil cooly into the skin, also helping to take down any puffiness. 

Shop online at Maya Chia online directly, or from The Detox Market

If you order from The Detox Market between April 1st & 2nd 2018, use code FREESHIP for free shipping in US & Canada. 

Serum Fave: Kypris Beauty Elixir III Prismatic Array

Kypris is another beautiful brand that makes some potent and beautiful products. This month I have been indulging in their Beauty Elixir No 3, Prismatic Array, a moisturizing facial oil that is perfect for even the most sensitive skin types. Youth boosting CoQ10, and collagen helping Vitamin C, this beautifully formulated oil is also packed with a heavy dose of seed, such as skin elasticity benefactor, Prickly Pear Seed oil.

My skin has been loving absorbing this oil on the daily this month, it is so super nourishing and with no essential oils, it’s a super gentle oil for anyone who is sensitive to some of the more essential-oil infused serums (which I also love). It is rich and fatty, but is light enough for any skintype, yes even oily skin types. A few drops is all you need. 

Shop online in two different sizes (47 ml is pictured) from Citrine Natural Beauty Bar.

Oil Cleanser: Max&Me Purity & Grace

What I love about oil cleansers is how seriously gentle they are – taking away pollutants from the skin and makeup with ease but never by drying out the skin. Massaging oil cleansers into the skin also helps to activate the lymph and help drain the face from tensions and toxins its holding onto. Alexandrian laurel oil, Marula Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Sesame oil and Seabuckthorn oil is a serious power-house ingredients list. It has to be one of the most nourishing oil cleansers I’ve tried to date – and I’ve tried a lot of cleansers ;) 

I seriously love Max&Me products – their purity is so highly regarded and their ingredients are beautifully blended. Use code LPN150 to get an incredible gift with purchase on their site, when you spend 150 EUR or more. The gift includes: 5ml Mask&Wash, 5ml Beauty Balm and 10 ml Purity & Grace oil cleanser. 

Shop online from Max&Me’s site

Essential Oil of the Month: doTERRA Rosemary Oil 

I love essential oils for so many reasons: their healing properties, their scent, their taste (for some I take internally, but only certain oils). Rosemary is the oil I’ve been loving so very much this month, and have been using it in the mornings for dry brushing before my showers. I just drop 3 drops into my hand, rub the bristles of my dry brush in it and then go through the body working from the feet up. 

Rosemary is a great oil for diffusing, using topically and even taking internally (but before you take any essential oil internally make sure it is therapeutic grade, like doTERRA’s and ensure you are familiar with dosage). It is known for supporting healthy digestion, reducing nervous tension and fatigue, supporting healthy respiratory function, and maintaining concentration. Since it is a mild oil, most people do not need to dilute it before using, and you can use it “neat” or straight from the bottle.

Save 25% of your orders by signing up for a Whole Sale account here. You can create an account and ship to almost anywhere in the world. 

Face Mask: Matcha Obsessed Matcha Clay Mask

Matcha has been all the rage this past year, no doubt because of the powerful anti-oxidant benefits riding in that green powdered tea. Studies show that Matcha reduces inflammation and fights damaging free radicals, so instead of just drinking it, why not also let the skin soak up the nutrients directly? This matcha clay mask combines purifying organic clay, hydrating coconut milk, pure honey, echinacea and the antioxidants of organic matcha powdered tea. They clay removes impurities and tightens the pores, while toning the skin, while the matcha tea is great for beating off those free-radicals, and the echinacea is useful for reducing redness and inflammation in acne.  The removal of the mask will also help exfoliate dead skin cells. 

I left the mask on for 10 minutes and enjoyed the freshest feeling skin after removal. I loved also using the jade roller following the application with my facial oil to help plump up the collagen and stimulate the lymph. 

Save 20% off with code MatchaLPN on their website. 

Yoni Treatment: Fat & the Moon Yoni Duster

This was kind of a random find when I was in Maui earlier this month – a duster for the yoni with a base of natural arrowroot, white clay and oregon grape root powder, myrrh powder and goldenseal powder and tea tree essential oil. Sitting in a wet bathing suit for the better part of a week after not being in a tropical climate for the past few months, I was extremely grateful to find this on the shelves of a little shop in Paia, Maui. Lucky for you, I found them online later, and you can order online. 

I would argue this is a must have for preventing or naturally treating issues related to yeast or unwanted bacteria, this Yoni Duster is gentle and effectiveI. It is a great alternative to perfume and chemical laden products that can make bacterial situations worse, and is a perfect travel companion when you’re heading to those sunny destinations. 

Shop online from their website. 

Book of the Month: Women who Run with the Wolves

For the feminine soul, this book is a must read. I am still digging in, but thought I would share it with you since it is not going to be finished before month’s end. You spend the book digging into the Wild Woman archetype by delving deep into old folk tales and fairy tales to unlock the often unseen meanings. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, a Jungian analyst and storyteller who has a great deal of linage of female storytellers in her family. Digging into everything from trusting our own wisdom and not turning away from the hard parts in love, this book is a must-read for every woman that is ready for the plunge. 

Find this gem on Amazon for shipping worldwide. 

Crystal of the “Moonth”: Tourmaline Rubellite  

This month I have been using this month, without really knowing why I was reaching for it. It was only until after I spent some time researching the stone that it all made sense. When leading a very busy life, Tourmaline Rubellite has been said to be a great stone for bringing energy into the physical body. It is known for properties that also help increase enthusiasm and love for life. It’s a stone that is working a lot on the physical plane, which is something I needed when I dipped into these past days of holiday – an energy reboot. 

I found mine at a crystal shop back home in Vancouver, but you can seek one out at most crystal shops wherever you are. 

Hope you enjoyed this natural beauty and wellness round up.

Have a beautiful return into Spring, beauties. 



The post March Favourites: Natural Beauty and Wellness Products for Your Return to Spring appeared first on Living Pretty, Naturally.


Blood In Stool: Causes and Remedies

A bowl of blueberry. Occasional constipation is one of the reasons for blood in stool.

Many people experience the presence of blood in their stool. This alarming discovery may be the result of bleeding inside of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract and can indicate a temporary affliction or a severe illness. On the other hand, a red “bloody-looking” stool can also be caused by something you ate. Producing black, tarry, or dark red stools is an indicator of health conditions ranging from hemorrhoids to inflammation in the upper GI tract. Some of the causes of gastrointestinal bleeding can be prevented or reversed with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Brief Overlook of Blood In Stool

Here are some of the more common symptoms, causes, and deterrents associated with blood in stool.

  • Hemorrhoids, anal fissures, peptic ulcers, and polyps are common causes of blood in stool
  • Abdominal discomfort, cramping, and fatigue sometimes occur with this condition
  • Avoiding meats, dairy, and processed foods can help reduce blood in stool
  • Age, smoking, and alcohol use are risk factors associated with blood in your stool
  • Blood in stool can result from spicy foods or seasonings irritating your GI tract
  • Certain foods can cause a false alarm, making your stool look bloody

Symptoms of Blood In Stool

Blood in your stool — also known as hematochezia — is usually the result of something going on inside your gastrointestinal or digestive tract. Here are some signs that your GI tract may need attention:

  • Black or tarry stool
  • Dark or bright red blood in stool
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Fresh blood on toilet tissue
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Test results indicating blood in stool
  • Bright red blood in vomit
  • Dark brown granular vomit
  • Fatigue
  • Cramping
  • Dizziness
  • Paleness
  • Shortness of breath

What Causes Blood In the Stool?

Blood in stool can result from a number of health conditions or even a reaction to food or medication. Occasional constipation is one of the most common reasons for blood in stool. Constipation means straining, and that strain can create hemorrhoids and anal fissures.

Hemorrhoids and anal fissures are two of the most common, but also least serious causes of GI bleeding. Hemorrhoids are swollen, irritated blood vessels that are prone to rupture. Many people do not realize that hemorrhoids can occur internally, and you may not have any symptoms until you see blood in your stool. An anal fissure, which is a cut or tear on the anus, is often caused by compacted stools or trauma and may bleed, producing bright red blood on your toilet tissue.

Other health issues that can cause blood in your stool include:[1]

  • Anal fissures
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Colitis
  • Gastritis
  • Esophagitis
  • Mallory-Weiss syndrome (esophageal tears)
  • Diverticular disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Esophageal varices (enlarged veins)
  • Angiodysplasia (a small malformation of the gut)
  • Tumors or polyps
  • Colorectal cancer

Should I Be Worried About Blood In My Stool?

If you have a lot of blood in your stool, it may be the cause of acute bleeding and usually indicates a serious health condition.

If you notice blood in your stool, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider and identify the cause. If you have a lot of blood in your stool, it may be the cause of acute bleeding and usually indicates a serious health condition. Symptoms of acute bleeding are a rapid pulse, a reduction in urination, weight loss, and low blood pressure. You can become anemic with this kind of excessive bleeding or develop an iron deficiency as a result of blood loss and anemia. Regardless of the cause, if you see blood in your stool, contact your healthcare provider.[1]

Food poisoning can result in bloody diarrhea. Sensitivity to various types of food can also cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract which may cause bleeding in your intestines. If you notice you experience bleeding or abdominal discomfort after eating certain foods, it’s possible they could be the cause.

Could Your Red Stool Be a False Alarm?

Certain foods like blueberries, beets, licorice, and tomatoes can cause your stool to take on red and black hues.

Sometimes people mistake black, tarry, or reddish stools for bloody poop, when in fact it’s not blood they’re seeing. Certain foods can cause your stool to take on red and black hues leading you to believe that there is something wrong with your GI tract. Blueberries, beets, licorice, and tomatoes may be the culprits causing an oddly red or black stool.

If you think something you ate may be responsible for this stool color, avoid that food for the next couple of days, then take a look in the toilet. If your poop is back to normal, you’re in the clear. Stool that still has a bloody color indicate something is happening within your GI tract. Consulting with your healthcare professional can also provide peace of mind and ensure an accurate diagnosis.[2]

What Are the Risk Factors?

  • Age
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use

Three factors contribute the most to your risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and bloody stools: age, a history of smoking, and alcohol use.[3] Other risks include the use of medications such as aspirin or anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant medications. If you see blood in your stool and are on a medication, then your dose or type of medication might be causing upper GI bleeding. Kidney and cardiovascular issues tend to cause heavier bleeding, making stools more saturated with blood.[4]

Natural Remedies for Blood In Stool

Natural remedies for gastrointestinal bleeding depend on the cause, and where in your body the bleeding is taking place. Serious cases in which the bleeding won’t stop may require surgery. When ulcers or infections result in GI tract bleeding, doctors are often quick to prescribe medications.[5]

Depending on the cause of the bleeding, taking a more natural approach may help. Hemorrhoids can dissipate with a diet devoid of meat, dairy, and processed foods. Adopting a diet high in fiber will keep stools soft and easy to pass. Acid reflux — a condition where stomach acid is regurgitated into the esophagus, causing heartburn — is another condition that can benefit from a healthy diet. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol will also help reduce acid reflux and promote a healthier GI tract. Following a plant-based diet, in general, is a great way to stay in control of unwanted health issues,[6] not to mention that vegetables and fruits are easy on the digestive tract. A diet high in fiber, and low in sodium, sugar, and refined carbohydrates makes for easy digestion and supplies your intestines with important vitamins and nutrients.

A few healthy food choices include:

Probiotics are a great way to regulate healthy and unhealthy bacteria in your gut. Introducing natural foods into your diet that distribute healthy bacteria throughout your GI tract can help prevent and reduce the adverse effects brought on by conditions that cause blood in your stool. Some foods that are rich in probiotic include:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Miso
  • Tempeh
  • Kombucha
  • Yogurt

Preventing Blood In Stool

Preventing blood in stool is dependent on knowing what’s causing it. Blood in stool that results from an anal fissure is prevented much differently than blood in stool resulting from a medication. In general, keep in mind that certain foods, unhealthy habits, and external factors can irritate the GI tract or disrupt the healthy bacteria in your gut. So, if you experience blood in your stool, you need to take inventory of your lifestyle and identify the cause – or consult with your healthcare provider and get assistance. It’s also important to take food sensitivities into consideration and stay away from foods that cause issues for you.

Foods That Irritate the GI Tract

Certain foods may result in gastrointestinal bleeding, stomach discomfort, vascular conditions, and other issues. Coffee, alcohol, and spicy foods can wreak havoc on your GI tract. Meat and processed foods are a significant contributor to constipation. When constipated, your stools become hard and painful to pass. This compacted poop causes you to strain and develop hemorrhoids. As you continue to move these hard stools, hemorrhoids can rupture and bleed, resulting in blood on your toilet paper.[7]

If you are experiencing blood in your stool, ask yourself what you’ve eaten recently. Foods that may cause bloody stool include:[8]

  • Peppers and spicy foods
  • Fatty or fried foods
  • Dairy-based foods
  • Processed foods
  • Sugary foods
  • Wheat-based foods
  • Energy drinks
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

Unhealthy Habits & External Factors

Tobacco has a big effect on the GI tract, so it’s best to eliminate smoking or chewing tobacco from your lifestyle.

Stress can cause ulcers and acid reflux. Taking time every day to meditate – even if it’s only for a few minutes – can do wonders to help balance your emotional state and, as a result, help your overall digestion. A lack of exercise can affect circulation, which makes it difficult for your blood to carry essential nutrients throughout the body and keep your energy at key levels.

If you still feel there may be something going on inside your digestive tract, see your healthcare provider. A colonoscopy is a common preventative procedure performed by a gastroenterologist to detect any polyps or unhealthy growths inside your intestines. However, this procedure is usually recommended for people after the age of 50 and is typically repeated every five to ten years. Regardless, a healthy lifestyle that includes a plant-based diet and frequent exercise is the best way to avoid an unhealthy GI tract and lessen the chances of blood in your stool.

Do you want to see what’s going on inside your body? The next time you use the bathroom, take a look at your poop. It’s a good indication of the state of your health. A quick glance at this Bristol Stool Scale article can help you find out just how healthy you are.

Your Story

Have you ever had blood in your stool? What was the reason? Were you able to remedy your situation? What helped the most? We’d love to hear about your experience. Tell us your story in the comments section below.

The post Blood In Stool: Causes and Remedies appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


How to Choose the Best Dairy-Free Probiotic

Coconut milk yogurt is a source of dairy-free probiotics

Probiotics are microorganisms that support a healthy gut flora. Available in foods or supplements, probiotics can boost the immune system, support digestive health, and relieve gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. If you follow a vegan, vegetarian, or dairy-free diet, there are plenty of delicious probiotic-rich options to add to your daily menu.

Top Dairy-Free Sources of Probiotics

  • Coconut milk yogurt
  • Non-dairy kefir drink
  • Tempeh meat substitute
  • Kimchi fermented cabbage
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kombucha probiotic tea drink
  • Miso paste
  • Natto fermented soybeans
  • Fermented pickles
  • Umeboshi plums
  • Vegan probiotic supplements

What Are Dairy-Free Probiotics?

Dairy-free probiotics are probiotic foods and supplements that do not contain milk or other products from cows or other livestock. Dairy-free probiotics are thus lactose-free. Many people around the world have an intolerance to lactose – the sugar in milk – and, according to a 2013 report, 75 percent of people with lactose-intolerance or milk allergies either reduce their dairy consumption or go dairy-free altogether as a way to manage symptoms.[1] Other people may want to avoid dairy for health reasons or because they live a vegan lifestyle, avoiding dairy, meat and animal products.

What Is Lactose-Intolerance?

According to the NIH, 65% of people around the world – that’s 30 to 50 million people in the United States alone – have a hard time digesting lactose beyond infancy.[2, 3] Some people also have a true allergy to the proteins in milk, including the protein casein. While some people will use the terms allergy, sensitivity, and intolerance interchangeably, allergy and lactose intolerance are quite different. An allergy is when the body’s immune system sees a substance – milk protein in this case – as a foreign invader, or allergen, and then the body produces antibodies in response. The allergic reaction can range from mild — itching, red skin — to severe, causing an inability to breathe due to swelling in the throat, or even anaphylactic shock. Fortunately, there are far fewer milk allergies compared with lactose-intolerance – 2-3% of the population in the developed world, though that still makes it the most common food allergy among kids.

In contrast, people with lactose-intolerance do not produce adequate lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, which is the sugar in milk. People who are lactose-intolerant experience different symptoms from people with a milk allergy. Lactose-intolerance causes digestive symptoms, including stomach pain, diarrhea, gas, and bloating.

What Are the Benefits of Dairy-Free Probiotics?

Whether you have been formally diagnosed with lactose-intolerance or you follow a plant-based lifestyle, choosing dairy-free probiotic foods is an effective way to encourage a healthy balance of bacteria for overall gut health.

Your microbiota is made up of countless microbes, or microorganisms, that live in and on your body. Most of these microbes are found in the gastrointestinal tract, or gut, and consist of bacteria and yeast. Your body naturally contains a host of healthy bacteria that are part of its defenses that keep you healthy. Some bacteria, however, are harmful and lead to illness.

Many factors contribute to an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, including the use of antibiotics, food additives, diet, and genetics.[4, 5, 6, 7, 8] Scientists are actively studying the many ways a person’s gut microbiota affects health, including mental health, immune system health, weight loss and metabolism, and reactions to seasonal allergies.[8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18] Probiotics also:

  • Improve digestion
  • Relieve gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort
  • Reduce diarrhea from the uses of antibiotics
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Manage blood glucose levels
  • Normalize blood pressure and heart health
  • Improve overall health and wellness

How Can You Tell Dairy From Non-Dairy Probiotics?

If you’re considering buying a probiotic that is not specifically identified as dairy-free, make sure to scan the label. Although food-labeling has improved, when it comes to finding non-dairy probiotics and lactose-free probiotics, the word “dairy” isn’t always written on a product label. To make sure your probiotic doesn’t have dairy, avoid these ingredients:

  • Casein
  • Dairy product solids
  • Protein hydrolysate
  • Lactic acid
  • Lactalbumin (whey protein)
  • Lactoglobulin
  • Lactose
  • Lactulose
  • Milk powder
  • Milk protein
  • Nonfat milk solids
  • Rennet
  • Whey
  • Zinc caseinate

If any of these ingredients are present, it’s best to walk away from the product. Probiotic supplements that include natural or artificial flavoring might also contain dairy and should be avoided.

Dairy-Free Food Sources of Probiotics

When it comes to eating non-dairy foods rich in probiotics, there is an impressive list of dairy-free probiotic sources. If you are lactose intolerant or are following a dairy-free diet, you can still reap the benefits of probiotics by consuming dairy-free fermented foods or taking dairy-free probiotic supplements. These products can be found at your local store or ordered online. The following are a few sources of probiotics that don’t contain dairy.

Coconut Milk Yogurt

Coconut milk yogurt is a delicious, dairy-free probiotic. This food can contain varying levels of sugar, so be sure to check the label. Avoid yogurt with too much sugar, or opt for an unsweetened version. Adding berries to coconut milk yogurt is a great way to enjoy the added benefits of a healthier and tastier meal. For a non-dairy yogurt that packs a big serving of probiotics, try this easy, do-it-yourself vegan probiotic yogurt recipe.

Non-Dairy Kefir Drink

A lightly fermented drink, kefir contains up to 30 microorganism strains, which gives it a higher level of probiotics than yogurt. Although dairy Kefir exists, any milk can be used to create it, including coconut milk, almond milk, and others. Kefir and the associated probiotics have been shown to fight against harmful bacteria and Candida yeast,[19] and normalize gut function.[20]

Tempeh Meat Substitute

Tempeh is made from cooked and fermented soybeans and has a firm texture and nutty flavor Not only is it dairy-free, but it’s also high in protein and calcium, and an excellent source of probiotics. It is used as a meat substitute in many types of dishes such as tacos, chili, or a vegetarian stir-fry. Some brands of tempeh are also a good source of gluten-free probiotics.

Kimchi Spicy Fermented Cabbage

Kimchi, a spicy fermented cabbage, is a popular Korean side dish that’s dairy-free and rich in probiotics. This food also contains healthy servings of iron, folate, and vitamins A, C, K, and B6. A bit sour and a bit spicy at the same time, adding a scoop of Kimchi to meals will liven up almost any dish.


Sauerkraut is another version of fermented cabbage and is a great way to get non-dairy probiotics and digestive enzymes into your diet. Sauerkraut is also low in calories and a good source of fiber, manganese, folate, iron, potassium, and vitamins B6, C, and K.

Kombucha Probiotic Tea Drink

Kombucha is a dairy-free probiotic drink in the form of black tea. This delicious beverage is fermented by a combination of bacteria and yeast and it contains several types of probiotics including Gluconacetobacter, Lactobacillus, Acetobacter, and Enterococcus faecium bacterial strains as well as probiotic yeasts like Zygosaccharomyces. Kombucha is a refreshing and healthy replacement for soda or carbonated beverages.

Miso Paste

Miso is a traditional Japanese condiment made from either fermented rye, soybeans, rice, or barley. It is a lovely source of probiotics that includes Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. Commonly enjoyed as miso soup, it can also be used to make a delicious salad dressing.

Natto Fermented Soybeans

Much like tempeh, natto is made of fermented soybeans and contains bacillus, a healthy bacteria. It’s also an excellent source of protein and provides several vitamins and minerals including iron, copper, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, selenium, and vitamins C and K. Traditionally eaten as a breakfast food, natto can be consumed by itself, or it can be added it to virtually any dish.

Fermented Pickles

Pickles are an excellent source of good-for-you probiotics, but not any pickle will do. In fact, most pickles you find on store shelves don’t make the cut because they are cooked and preserved in acidifying vinegar, which kills any probiotics. Look for brands that are labeled “naturally fermented,” or ferment them yourself at home.

Umeboshi Plums

Widely heralded in Japan for their healing and therapeutic properties, umeboshi plums – also called Japanese salty plums or ume plums – are a source of probiotics but are less known in the Western world. Famously used by Samurai warriors to provide strength for battle, the plums have an alkalizing effect on the body. The ume fruit is pickled in brine along with shiso leaf. You can buy these plums pickled, as an umeboshi paste, or even as umeboshi vinegar – which is actually not vinegar, but the brine the plums are pickled in.

Raw, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can contain probiotics, but make sure to buy unpasteurized, raw, organic varieties, which are made from fermented apple cider. The bottle will contain cobwebby strands called the mother or scoby, which is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Raw apple cider vinegar is full of proteins, enzymes, and probiotics, including Mycoderma aceti, which ferments the apple cider into vinegar. These healthy probiotics permeate the liquid and are present in every tablespoon.

Dairy-Free Probiotic Supplement

Getting probiotics from food is ideal. However, our diets are not always perfect, and stress and sleep disturbances can throw off the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut. Taking a daily probiotic supplement can help boost your digestive health. Make sure to choose a trustworthy brand. Since ingredients, efficacy, and quality can vary, you should purchase probiotic supplements from a credible company with a history of excellent quality control. Verify that they use the purest, most natural ingredients. Keep the following tips in mind.

Look for a Blend of Multiple Strains

Some supplements contain one type of bacterial strain, while others contain several strains. Which is best? Research shows that some strains offer specific health benefits that others do not. Although there are plenty of excellent, single-strain probiotic supplements, a good rule of thumb is to choose a dairy-free probiotic with at least three strains.

Don’t Forget Prebiotics

Prebiotics are non-digestible “food” for probiotics that help probiotics grow and colonize in the gut. Prebiotics are found in non-dairy foods like onions, garlic, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, and asparagus. As a bonus, some probiotic supplements also contain prebiotics.

Opt for Vegetarian Capsules

Many probiotic supplements use gelatin capsules made with beef, pork, or both. Although it’s not a hard and fast rule, vegan supplements that are made with vegetarian capsules tend to be manufactured more carefully and are of a higher quality.

Can Probiotics Be Vegan?

Many probiotic supplements contain different species of Lactobacillus, which is a type of healthy bacteria. Although Lactobacillus sounds a bit like lactose, it is dairy-free and does not contain lactose. Its name derives from the fact that it is often grown on a dairy medium, although all dairy is removed during processing. Lactobacillus actually occurs naturally in your gastrointestinal tract regardless of whether or not you consume products containing dairy. If you prefer a supplement that does not grow on a dairy medium, consider a vegan probiotic. I recommend Floratrex™, our vegan, non-dairy probiotic, which contains 50 billion CFU (colony-forming units) of over two dozen of the best probiotic strains, and it includes prebiotics for the perfect balance.

Your Story

Do you use dairy-free probiotics? What are your reasons? How have they worked for you? We’d love to hear from you. Tell us your story in the comments section below.

The post How to Choose the Best Dairy-Free Probiotic appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


Alpha Lipoic Acid: Top 10 Benefits & Possible Side Effects

Alpha lipoic acid can be found in foods like broccoli.

Antioxidants are nutrients that counteract the natural deterioration of cells. Raw, organic fruits and vegetables provide a wide array of antioxidants. Antioxidants are also present in herbs like astragalus root and Tibetan Rhodiola. In recent years, antioxidant supplements like CoQ10 and alpha lipoic acid (ALA) have gotten significant attention. In the case of ALA, it’s no surprise, as ALA is an important nutrient that offers many positive health benefits. It promotes healthy aging, organ function, cardiovascular health, and brain and nervous system health. ALA also strengthens your body’s network of antioxidants stronger by boosting cellular production of other antioxidants and antioxidant enzymes. Here, we’ll take an in-depth look at alpha lipoic acid and all that it has to offer.

Top 10 Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid

  1. Encourages normal thyroid hormone levels
  2. Supports healthy nerves
  3. Promotes normal heart health
  4. Protects muscles from exercise-related stress
  5. Supports the liver
  6. Promotes a strong brain and sharp memory
  7. Encourages healthy skin
  8. Promotes graceful aging
  9. Maintains healthy blood glucose levels
  10. Supports a healthy body weight

What Is Alpha Lipoic Acid?

Alpha lipoic acid, abbreviated ALA and also called thioctic acid or just lipoic acid, is an omega-3 fatty acid. ALA is a coenzyme necessary for the Krebs cycle, which is the sequence of chemical reactions by which a cell produces energy. In the body, it’s actually produced in small amounts by the mitochondria, which, you may remember from science class, is the “powerhouse” of a cell.

ALA occurs in two forms that are mirror images of each other, called R- and S-lipoic acid. Only R-LA is synthesized naturally in the body and naturally occurs in food. It may also exist in a form called Na R Lipoic acid; the Na refers to the sodium (Na) salt that stabilizes the R-lipoic acid. The sodium keeps each molecule separate and more readily available for the body.

Where Do You Get Alpha Lipoic Acid?

There are several ways you can obtain alpha lipoic acid. First and foremost, the cells in your body naturally produce it. Many foods contain alpha lipoic acid, and it’s also available as a nutritional supplement. Additionally, alpha lipoic acid is an ingredient in anti-aging skin care creams and, in some situations, administered by injection.

Your Body

Cells produce a small amount of alpha lipoic acid. However, the amount of ALA your body produces declines as you age or when your immune system is compromised. Numerous scientific studies have found that supplementation provides substantial therapeutic benefits, suggesting that supplemental ALA can complement a healthy lifestyle.[1]

Foods That Contain Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha lipoic acid is naturally present in many foods. Animal tissue, especially organ meats like the liver, kidneys, and heart, contains the largest amounts of this nutrient. To a lesser degree, alpha lipoic acid is found in vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, flaxseed oil, chia seeds and walnuts.[2, 3]

Nutritional & Therapeutic Supplements

If your body doesn’t produce enough ALA or you don’t get enough in your diet, which is especially true in Western culture where people consume processed foods and are exposed to environmental toxins, a nutritional supplement that contains ALA can help.. Supplemental servings of ALA typically range from 50 to 600 mg, which is up to 1000 times more than naturally occurs in food.[1, 2, 3] Most supplements contain 50-50 combinations of the mirror image isomers, while the highest quality supplements only contain pure R-LA. Studies show that the body absorbs ALA best on an empty stomach.

What Are the Top Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid?

“Alpha lipoic acid is a strong antioxidant, and the bulk of its benefits arise from that fact.”

Alpha lipoic acid is a strong antioxidant, and the bulk of its benefits arise from that fact. Being uniquely fat and water-soluble permits this antioxidant fatty acid to work in a broader range of body tissues than other antioxidants, like fat-soluble vitamin E or water-soluble vitamin C.[4, 5]. ALA can also bind with toxic metal ions such as mercury, copper, iron, and others so they can be expelled from the body.[6]

ALA plays a role in energy metabolism in every cell’s mitochondria.[4] Research has shown that ALA’s antioxidant properties support liver health, cardiovascular health, the nervous system, brain, skin, and muscle recovery following intense exercise.[2, 4] Additionally, ALA supports a healthy weight and normal blood sugar levels.[3, 4, 7, 8]

ALA Is a Powerful Antioxidant

Most of ALA’s therapeutic properties arise from its status as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules that produce oxidative stress and damage cells.[1] During oxidation, O2 splits into two oxygen atoms, each of which has a single electron. Because electrons prefer to occur in pairs, these “free radicals” — the single electrons — look for and scavenge other electrons so they can pair up, thus damaging cells in the process. Not only does alpha lipoic acid defend against free radicals, but it also helps boost the efficacy of other antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E.[1, 4, 5]

Encourages Normal Thyroid Hormone Levels

At the front of your throat, sitting like a little bowtie above your collarbone, the thyroid gland is a crucial part of the endocrine system. One of its most important functions is to produce the hormones that regulate maturation, growth, and metabolism. When thyroid health is compromised, hormones are thrown out of balance. A 2016 study found that alpha lipoic acid, when taken with quercetin and resveratrol, helped promote normal thyroid hormone levels and temper hormone-induced weight gain.[8]

Supports Healthy Nerves

The nervous system has two primary components: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system includes your spinal cord and your brain. The peripheral nervous system, which is the larger of the two, consists of the nerve cells outside of your brain and spinal cord.

When the peripheral nerves are unhealthy, they may tingle and cause numbness, especially in the legs and feet. This can impair a person’s balance and affect their ability to grab and hold objects. Over time, this can progress and become severe and debilitating.[9] Research suggests that alpha lipoic acid’s oxidative stress-relieving qualities may support normal nervous system health, particularly in the peripheral nervous system.[10]

Promotes Normal Cardiovascular Function

Blood vessels are lined with a single layer of cells called the endothelium. When healthy, endothelial cells promote the relaxation of your blood vessels. The endothelial lining can become compromised due to illnesses, leading to poor vascular health. As we age, oxidative stress negatively affects cardiovascular health. Unchecked, oxidative stress will damage endothelial tissue in arteries and affect blood flow, including to the heart. While the degradation of heart function can lead to serious health issues, antioxidants help promote a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.[11, 12, 13]

One study revealed that when ALA was introduced to previously damaged blood vessel cells in vitro (in Petri dishes), it promoted normal function of the cells and supported the cell’s antioxidant defenses.[12] In another study, IV-administered alpha lipoic acid helped promote normal circulation.[13] Overall, ALA has a cardioprotective effect which may be helpful to people seeking to support their heart.[14]

Protects Muscles From Exercise-Related Stress

Exercise is one of the best ways to achieve weight loss, healthy blood circulation, and higher energy levels. However, exhaustive, high-intensity exercise routines can accelerate oxidative damage that affects muscle tissue and muscle cells.[15] Oxidative stress contributes to the soreness you feel after strenuous exercise. Nutrients with antioxidant abilities, such as alpha lipoic acid, may help lessen this effect. Alpha lipoic acid supplements support internal antioxidant defenses and reduce lipid peroxidation, a process that results in cell damage.[16] One study even revealed that the supplemental use of ALA protected liver, heart, and muscle tissue.

Supports Proper Liver Function

When evaluated for its effects on liver health, studies found that ALA supported proper liver function.[17, 18] Other studies found alpha lipoic acid supplementation promoted a healthier liver after exposure to various toxins.[6]

Promotes a Strong Brain and Sharp Memory

As you get older, your body produces less alpha lipoic acid, which means you have less protection from free radicals than when you’re young. Some research shows that people living in heavily polluted cities experience cognitive damage due to higher-than-normal levels of environmental toxins.[19]

Some studies show that the strong antioxidant properties of alpha lipoic acid help to sharpen the memory, promote mental clarity, and overall alertness.[20]

Promotes Healthy Skin

Genetics, stress, an imbalanced microbiome, and even a diet high in sugar or sodium can cause occasional acne and other skin conditions to appear at any age. While practicing a healthy skin care regimen, following an all-natural diet, and strengthening your gut flora[21] by taking a probiotic supplement is important, people who experience dry, irritated, itchy, or cracked skin should know that alpha lipoic acid helps promote healthy-looking skin.[22, 23]

Promotes Graceful Aging

As you age, oxidative stress takes a toll on cells and causes what we describe as “aging.” Studies have investigated the antioxidant properties of alpha lipoic acid how they might help balance the effects of aging. Some show that alpha lipoic acid reduces oxidative stress on skeletal muscle cells and helps aged heart tissue become more youthful.[24, 25] Other research showed that ALA might be beneficial in keeping excessive iron from accumulating in the cerebral cortex — which is linked to age-related oxidative stress and memory lapses.[26]

Supports Already Healthy Blood Glucose Levels

High levels of blood glucose, or blood sugar, are a result of the body’s inability to sustain normal insulin levels, the hormone responsible for helping glucose enter your cells. Without insulin, glucose builds up and can result in many serious health issues. A 2017 study examined the effects of alpha lipoic acid on blood glucose levels and found that it helps sustain normal blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity,[27] indicating that ALA’s properties extend beyond that of being strictly an antioxidant.[4]

Supports a Healthy Body Weight

The consumption of processed food, fast food, and other unhealthy dietary choices is an epidemic that’s causing obesity rates to skyrocket – especially in Western culture. There is no quick fix to losing weight, and the proven lifetime plan for maintaining a healthy weight involves regular exercise and a plant-based, organic diet. However, nutrients like alpha lipoic acid may enhance the effects of a healthy lifestyle. Although more research is needed to confirm its effects on long-term weight loss and overall weight management, one study found that patients who took an ALA supplement experienced a small yet significant reduction in weight compared to patients who took a placebo. An animal study found that combining ALA with a high-fat diet inhibited weight gain.[7]

Is Alpha Lipoic Acid Safe to Take During Pregnancy?

“Inquiries into its effects during pregnancy are far from conclusive, but trend toward positive.”

ALA’s natural ability to support healthy mitochondria in cells may help support a normal pregnancy.[28, 29] Such inquiries into its effects during pregnancy are far from conclusive, but trend toward positive. As always, however, check your healthcare provider before using any medications or supplements before, during, or after pregnancy.

Safety & Side Effects

Overall, ALA supplementation at moderate servings does not produce significant adverse effects.[1] The most common reported side effects were skin reactions like itching, rashes or hives, with a small number of severe allergic reactions, and a few reported cases of nausea and stomach pain.[1] Some people have experienced heartburn, but eating a small snack with supplementation has been shown to help. Some people report a sulfur smell in their urine, much like asparagus causes, when taking ALA.

Studies of older patients using supplements with servings ranging from 600 mg to 1,200 mg experienced nausea, acid reflux, and stomach discomfort.[30] Persons with diabetes who are using supplemental insulin should monitor their blood glucose levels closely when taking ALA supplements as it influences insulin-mediated blood glucose utilization.[1] Talk with a healthcare professional before taking supplemental ALA, especially if you are taking other medications or supplements.

Is Alpha Lipoic Acid Right for Me?

The benefits of alpha lipoic acid are many. There is compelling evidence that the antioxidative qualities of this nutrient may give your body and brain a healthy boost. If you could benefit from an all-natural supplement that contains a blend of powerful antioxidants, including the natural form of alpha lipoic acid, try Cell Fuzion™. Cell Fuzion is an advanced formula designed to energize mitochondrial function, sustain healthy cell cycles, and protect DNA. It contains ingredients that may also help regenerate the body’s natural intracellular antioxidants.

Do you take an alpha lipoic acid supplement? What was your motivation? How has it benefitted you? Leave a comment below and share your experience with us.

The post Alpha Lipoic Acid: Top 10 Benefits & Possible Side Effects appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.