It’s Easy Bein’ Green with These Healthy and Delicious Green Smoothies!

There may still be white snow on the ground, but it’s never too cold to bring some green into your diet. Green smoothies make fast, easy, and nutritious snacks or meals. People who regularly drink green smoothies report having more energy and even weight loss. Here are some of my favorite green smoothie recipes. Keep these in mind for St. Patrick’s Day treats, too!

The Simple Green Smoothie Formula

Simple Green Smoothies has got the green smoothie down to just a three-step formula. Remember 2+2+3: 2 cups of leafy greens, 2 cups of liquid base, and 3 cups of ripe fruit.

Simple Green Smoothie

The Kick Booty Kale Smoothie

Well-Plated by Erin came up with this butt-kicking recipe that takes just five minutes to make. The pineapple, banana, and honey add sweetness to the kale and tart Greek yogurt.

Kick Booty Kale Smoothie

Not Enough? Here are 50 More Recipes!

Can’t get enough green smoothies? Here are 50 more recipes to try from Skinny Mom. Make a new one each week, and these will last you until next February.

50 Green Smoothies

You’ve gone green at home and the workplace with Life’s Pure Balance, now green up your diet with these delicious green smoothies. For more green tips, contact me today.

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

Invaders! Fight Off Your Child’s Head Lice Naturally

Treat lice naturally with tea tree oil.

Source: Centers for Disease Control

It’s back to school season in Minnesota, and for many parents with young children, that means prepping for an annual scourge: head lice. But fear not—it’s easy to treat the little buggers without resorting to harsh pesticides and other chemicals.

Know Thy Enemy       

Head lice is a common condition in school-aged children. The little insects pass easily from one head to another, especially if combs and hats are shared. Though a nuisance, head lice do not carry disease. Having a case of head lice does not mean the hygiene of your child or your house is subpar or compromised.
Head lice cannot survive for long once removed from your child’s head (they feed on blood), so they will not take up residence in your carpets or linens. Lice also do not lay eggs until they are 10 days old, so treatment over a week or so will effectively eradicate them.

Treating Head Lice Naturally

While it may be tempting to snatch every lice pesticide off the shelf of your favorite drug store, before resorting to harsh chemicals, consider this: A study has found that treating lice with tea tree oil killed the lice on the heads of nearly all subjects. Conventional pesticides? About 25 percent of subjects’ heads.

To treat head lice naturally, you’ll need the following:

  • lice comb
  • cotton balls or a spray bottle
  • olive oil or rubbing alcohol
  • tea tree essential oil

This treatment packs two punches: The combing removes the critters from your child’s scalp, and the tea tree oil is a natural pesticide that kills the lice. Just a few drops are enough to kill the lice. Pouring the whole bottle on your child’s head may cause skin irritation.

You have two options for applying the tea tree oil to your child’s scalp. You may make a mixture of 2 ounces of olive oil and 15 to 20 drops of tea tree oil and apply the mixture to your child’s scalp with cotton balls. Or, you could make a spray out of 4 ounces of rubbing alcohol and 15 to 20 drops of tea tree oil and coat your child’s hair with the spray.

Once you’ve applied the tea tree oil, cover your child’s head and leave the mixture in overnight. Then, using the lice comb, carefully comb through your child’s hair, removing head lice as you go. Comb through one small layer at a time, rinsing the comb under warm, running water after each pass.

After you’re done combing, wash your child’s hair with his or her usual shampoo, rinse, and repeat. Soak your lice comb in vinegar for 30 minutes to sanitize it. Or, you could boil the comb for 10 minutes. Wash any towels you used, too.

Repeat these steps once a day for a week or until you do not find any more head lice when you comb through your child’s hair with the lice comb.

Head lice are a nuisance, but they can be easily and naturally dispatched. Contact me for a recommendation for a high-quality tea tree oil.

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

Is Your Body Scrub to Blame?

Blog Image_06202014_7540860_sPlastic Microparticles Plague the Great Lakes — Is Your Body Scrub to Blame?

There have been many media reports recently on the presence of tiny plastic particles in the world’s oceans. Now, researchers are finding the microparticles in the waters of the Great Lakes, too. They place blame on the prevalence of tiny plastic balls in personal care products. Is your body scrub to blame?

The Problem with Microbeads

Many personal care companies boast about the exfoliating power of tiny beads in their gels, scrubs, and even toothpastes. However, once the plastic beads scrub down your skin and get washed down the drain, they tend to stick around.

A petroleum product, the plastic does not degrade in water. Their small size—most are less than two tenths of an inch in diameter—allows them to slip through every treatment stage at municipal water treatment plants. They are released into rivers, lakes, and streams. Eventually, the particles make their way to the Great Lakes and into the stomachs of fish, who mistake the beads for food.

The concentration of plastic microparticles in the Great Lakes is now greater than that in the ocean, where plastics account for 80 to 90 percent of all pollution. Dr. Sherri A. Mason of the State University of New York in Fredonia has collected and analyzed at least 100 samples of Great Lake water. Her research suggests that the lakes contain 1.1 million pieces of microplastics in each square mile of water. All the Great Lakes contain microparticles, but Lake Erie and Lake Ontario contain the most.

Fixing the Microplastic Problem
The public has taken notice of the high microplastic rates in the Great Lakes and pressured companies to make changes to their products. Large corporations such as Johnson & Johnson and Proctor and Gamble have pledged to phase out use of the beads in their products. Some states have proposed laws to ban the sale of products containing microbeads. Just this month, a federal ban was proposed.

Some companies are already using natural alternatives to the plastic beads. Ground nut shells are common choices for alternative scrubbers, as is oat kernel flour. Because they are natural and plant-based, these products degrade in water and pose no threat to the health of our Great Lakes.
Plastic microparticles pose a health threat to the animals of the Great Lakes and pollute our water. The next time you’re in the market for a scrub, gel, or toothpaste, check to see if the product uses plastic beads or a natural alternative. To learn more, contact me!

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

Slather on Sunscreen to Avoid UV Ray Health Conditions

Blog_05202014_5130038sIt’s finally here—the warm sunshine of spring and summer! Minnesotans are trading their winter hats for baseball caps and mittens for gardening gloves. Before skipping outside to enjoy some sunshine, though, be sure to slather on some sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays.

What Are UV Rays?

The sun constantly emits ultraviolet, or UV, rays, some of which penetrate Earth’s atmosphere and reach Earth’s surface. They are strongest at midday during the spring and summer due to the sun’s angle. Latitude and altitude also affect the strength of UV rays. The closer to the equator we are, the stronger the rays are, and the higher we are, the stronger the rays because there is less atmosphere to absorb them.

Cloud cover can reduce—though not eliminate—how many UV rays reach the Earth’s surface. Some surfaces, such as pavement, water, and sand, can reflect UV rays, even into shady areas.

UV Rays and Your Health
Some UV ray exposure is beneficial to us. Sunshine helps us generate vitamin D, an essential nutrient. Too much sun exposure, however, can cause a variety of health conditions. UV rays can lead to skin cancer, cataracts, premature skin aging, and a suppressed immune system.
Fortunately, you can avoid too much sun and UV ray exposure with a few simple steps. Use a sunscreen lotion with a SPF of 30 and cover your skin to block out the sun’s rays. Instead of sun tanning, sit in the shade. Avoid tanning beds, too.

Sunscreen No-Nos
Sunscreen can be a helpful tool in avoiding UV ray-related health conditions. However, not all sunscreens are created equal. Here are a few things to avoid when choosing your family’s next bottle:
• spray sunscreens, because of incomplete coverage and risk to health if inhaled
• high SPF factors, since they give a false sense of security because they do not block UVA rays, only UVB ones, and may lead people to spend more time in the sun
• oxybenzone, because it may act as an estrogen if it is absorbed by the skin and enters the bloodstream
• retinyl palmitate, or vitamin A, since it can accelerate the development of tumors and lesions if used on skin exposed to sun

The next time you spend some time in the sun, make sure your sunscreen will adequately protect your skin. Contact me to learn more about UV rays, sunscreens, and your health.

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

Does Air Pollution Cause Asthma Attacks?

Blog_04162014_inhaler-58360-mIn a word, yes. Air pollution can trigger symptoms in a variety of respiratory illnesses, not least of all asthma. As we move into the warmer summer months in the Twin Cities, some Minnesotans may experience the effects of poor air quality, especially if they reside in the metro area.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that asthma affects up to seven percent of Minnesotans and 20 million people across the country, including 6 million children. In 2005, asthma attacks prompted nearly 2 million trips to US emergency rooms.

Air Pollution and Lung Health
Asthma attacks are triggered by ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide. These
greenhouse gases are commonly found in urban smog. Ozone is particularly prevalent in summer, when many people spend more time outdoors, breathing in dirty air.

Air pollution can cause a variety of respiratory problems for humans. Some people experience minor
effects, such as wheezing and shortness of breath, while others can develop more severe conditions.
Cardiovascular disease, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease can all develop after exposure to air pollution. In extreme cases, people can develop lung cancer as a result of exposure to severe air pollution.

For millions of people with asthma, air pollution is a trigger for symptoms and asthma attacks. An asthma attack causes airways to swell and narrow, closing off the windpipe and making it difficult for a person to breathe. If untreated, these attacks can be life-threatening or fatal. Minor symptoms of asthma can include coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

Why Kids Are at Risk
Unfortunately, children are most at risk for developing respiratory conditions from air pollution. Pint-sized kids’ lungs have surface areas that are proportionately larger than those of adults. They also spend more time outdoors than a typical American adult, which exposes them to more air pollution. Children also tend to breathe through their mouths, bypassing the natural filtering noses provide.

How to Prevent Asthma Attacks
The best thing you can do to prevent asthma symptoms from escalating into an asthma attack is to
identify what triggers the symptoms and avoid those things. Use AirNow to check the air quality in your area and avoid going outside when air pollution levels are high.

Avoid places where people are smoking, spritzing fragrances, or are sick with colds. In the fall and winter, consider getting a flu shot. The flu makes asthma symptoms worse, which may lead to complications and hospitalization.

As the weather starts to get warmer in Minnesota, keep an eye on the skies and the air quality, especially if you suffer from asthma. Contact me to learn more about how air pollution can affect your health.

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!
Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance