<![CDATA[Holistic Living: Your Pathway to a Balanced Life - Blog]]>Tue, 26 Sep 2017 02:08:32 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Back to Eden Gardening - The Way God Intended?]]>Sun, 24 Sep 2017 18:36:02 GMThttp://newholisticliving.com/1/post/2017/09/back-to-eden-gardening-the-way-god-intended.htmlBack to Eden gardening method
A year or so, I was introduced to an interesting concept popularized by the gardening documentary, "Back to Eden."

In short, the concept is that God (or nature) grows plants perfectly and with no effort, and we have made gardening difficult by trying to change things and go against the way that nature works.

This appeals to me in a number of ways. Being a believer as well as a very curious person, I am always interested in learning more about how God works in the world all around us, and why things are the way they are. And of course, reducing the work it takes to maintain our large garden is always a welcome blessing! So I watched the movie and found it very interesting and inspiring.

We haven't truly implemented this system in our garden just yet, but I think we are starting to move in that direction. Here's what I learned from the movie, and what we have done with the information so far...

One of the main concepts of the film is that in nature, God designed the soil to always be covered. Industrialized large-scale forms of agriculture seem to have forgotten this principle, which is why we are losing so much topsoil at such an alarming rate, and soils are becoming more and more depleted (leading to greater applications of chemical fertilizers to maintain fertility, and all of the agricultural runoff and water pollution problems that result).  Of course, organic gardeners know the value of using plenty of mulch in terms of reduction in weeding, watering, etc. But the film explains that mulch goes far beyond simply reducing work in the garden. Mulch also enriches and feeds the soil, and prevents erosion by air and water. In short, covering your soil with a thick layer of mulch may be just about all you need to grow a healthy, productive, and beautiful garden!

The film promotes the use of wood chips for this purpose, although he admits that other organic materials (hay, straw, leaves, grass clippings, etc.) can also be used. I have relied heavily on grass clippings in years past, and still continue to do so, although we did have some problems with them this year - particularly in our bean beds. (Apparently, voles love to hide under the soft, fluffy layers of grass, and they were devouring our beans and bean plants alike. Removing all of the mulch from the beds seemed to fix the problem - so I will note this for next year.) Since we have a large supply of clean, chemical-free grass clippings from our large lawn, they are easy to come by, and they also decompose nicely, enriching the soil quickly. I cover all my garden beds with a thick layer of clippings for the winter, and when it's time for spring planting, they have all but melted away into the soil, but they still help prevent early spring weeds from taking hold before I can plant crops.

The use of wood chips is somewhat controversial among gardeners, but from what I can tell, those who have had problems with wood chips have used them incorrectly. As the film explains, you should never till or otherwise mix wood chips into your soil, as they will pull nitrogen from the soil as they decompose, and deplete your soil of nutrients. However, if you pile wood chips ON TOP of the soil, as the film recommends, they will decompose more slowly, and the bottom layers will gradually become incorporated into the soil and add nutrients as they turn into compost over time.

Our first foray into wood chips started this year, but we aren't exactly using them in quite the way the film explains...
PictureHere you can see the difference between
mulched (right) and un-mulched (left)
garden aisles.
Early in the summer, my husband and I were discussing the weed problem in the garden paths, which were quickly becoming unmanageable, and were difficult to mow, and I remembered the Back to Eden method and suggested the idea of putting down wood chips in the garden paths to keep the weeds down. We had discussed other methods before, but gravel seemed expensive and also uncomfortable to work with. (I would much rather walk around on wood chips than gravel!) Plus, I wasn't sure how effective it would really be at keeping the weeds down.

After some asking around, my husband was able to find a local source of free wood chips, and over several weeks, we piled them in between all of the garden beds. 

Although in many ways, this has been a very challenging summer garden-wise, in terms of weeds, it was the easiest one yet!

Last year, my husband mowed the garden paths every couple of weeks, and I spent hours and hours weeding around the edges of the beds where the mower couldn't reach, and between them where the drip irrigation lines ran. Even with all of our efforts, the pathways still always looked rather messy, and the weeding was never-ending.

This summer, all that was changed after the addition of the wood chips...

I now weed the garden paths for approximately 15-20 minutes once every 4-6 weeks. That's it! My husband now only has to mow around the perimeter of the garden, which only takes him a few minutes, and is much easier than trying to maneuver the mower between all the garden beds.

Our first summer here was a very rainy summer, and our heavy clay soil isn't the best at draining, which meant that our garden turned into a swamp every time it rained. Brackish water stood in the garden aisles for days at a time, attracting mosquitoes, as well as making it difficult to work in the garden.

An added benefit of the wood chips is - no standing water! This summer was nearly as rainy as the first, but I never once had to slosh through muddy water to tend the garden after a rain. Instead, I worked on a soft, thick and absorbent carpet of damp wood chips - no mosquito swamps in sight!

Wood chips in the gardenThe finished project.
Our experience thus far has been nothing but positive. We have yet to see how the chips will weather over time... Based on what I have seen during my few weeding sessions (I think I have weeded the garden aisles exactly 3 times since mid-June), there is a lot of decomposition going on down there. So what happens when the chips all decompose and now the pathways are full of dirt?? I guess we will have to figure something out then - perhaps scrape them out and add to the compost, then put down new chips?

I am not sure about putting wood chips in the actual garden beds - I worry they would inadvertently get mixed into the soil when planting, etc. But I might try it on a small area and see what happens. I think we will definitely use them when we plant trees, though. I am hopeful that this may help with the drainage issue (last time we planted fruit trees they all drowned), as well as keeping the grass down around the trees, which was also a problem with our first set of fruit trees. 

With raised beds, our garden setup is quite a bit different than the Back to Eden garden, but the basic concept makes so much sense, and it truly could be the answer to many of the soil problems we are facing today as a nation.

Besides the mulch concept, the movie is also just fun to watch - it's so awesome to see all the beautiful vegetables and think about how they grew in just the way God intended! I loved the focus on the garden as an integrated holistic system, as well as the emphasis on man "tending the garden" and actually taking care of the planet God gave us to live on - something that I find oddly lacking in most Christian discussions...

You can check out the Back to Eden film here - it is truly an inspiring watch!


<![CDATA[[Infographic] 5 Natural Ways to Keep Your Kids Healthy This School Year]]>Sun, 17 Sep 2017 19:57:27 GMThttp://newholisticliving.com/1/post/2017/09/infographic-5-natural-ways-to-keep-your-kids-healthy-this-school-year.htmlNatural health tips for kids
School is back in session for the fall, and for parents with small children, that means germs, germs, germs!

Having dozens of small children trapped in a classroom together all day, sharing books, toys, and who knows what else is a recipe for colds and other illnesses. Growing up, it seemed like whenever I was in school, I was sick straight through from the start of fall to the end of the school year in May!

While it may be impossible to avoid all the bugs going around during the fall and winter months, you can take steps to reduce your child's risk of illness, and hopefully shorten any illnesses he or she might come down with anyway.

The quick infographic below explains 5 tips for helping strengthen you and your child's immune system this winter, so that hopefully you all can avoid the worst of cold and flu season!

5 Natural Ways To Boost Your Kid
1.) Probiotics help to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, which is your leading defense against pathogens. We take probiotics year-round, but if you don't, at least make sure to take them throughout the fall and winter months. Vitamin D is also one of the most important vitamins for healthy immune function - and with lower sunlight levels in the winter, as well as classes and/or cold weather keeping the kids indoors most of the time, it is important to make sure your kids are getting enough of this vitamin. As the infographic mentions, there are chewable versions of both probiotics and Vitamin D for kids if your child has trouble swallowing pills.

2.) Eating fresh, whole foods - especially lots of fruits and vegetables - is probably the best way for everyone to stay healthy year-round. Avoid processed foods, and especially sugar, which is a potent immune suppressant. Instead, your family can enjoy a wide variety of colorful fruits and veggies, grass-fed meats, and whole grains and legumes. Not only will your immune system be healthier, but all your other systems will be as well! (For some tips for cooking with these foods, be sure to check out our "Foodie Friday" recipes here!)

Some essential oils may have some immune-supportive benefits. Be careful when using these - especially with young children - as they can be very potent. Here is more information on the use of some of the most popular essential oils.

4.) While you may not think that your cleaning products have much to do with your immune system, in fact, some chemicals in household cleaners are quite dangerous to the respiratory system - especially for children. Even if they don't directly deplete the immune system, some toxins can build up over time, creating stress within your body, and lowering your immune response. 
For better health for the whole family, switch to all-natural cleaning products, or clean with safe substances such as vinegar and baking soda. Not only is this better for your family's health, but it's also better for the environment!

It seems that those glowing screens are everywhere these days... When I was growing up, televisions were just about the only screens around, but nowadays there are tablets, computers, and of course, cell phones in every room. And kids, in particular, are drawn to them like moths to a flame! Unfortunately, more and more studies are finding negative effects caused by kids' constant exposure to these devices. Not only do they disrupt sleep patterns (and sleep is one of the most important factors for a healthy immune system), but they are also quite addictive, and they tend to keep kids inside, away from the fresh air and sunshine that they need for good health.

Limit screen time for your children to after they have spent plenty of time outside and gotten plenty of physical exercise, and be sure all screens are put away at least 1 hour before bedtime.

While these tips won't guarantee that your kids won't get sick this winter, they can certainly help to decrease the odds and encourage a healthier year for everyone.

Stay well!

<![CDATA[Recipe: Quick Pickled Green Tomatoes]]>Sun, 10 Sep 2017 18:50:20 GMThttp://newholisticliving.com/1/post/2017/09/recipe-quick-pickled-green-tomatoes.htmlGreen tomato pickles recipe
We're back!!  Whew! Sorry for the long, unplanned absence... If you're a newsletter subscriber, you may know that our site access was impacted by Hurricane Harvey (though we are nowhere near Houston, apparently, our web servers are). While fortunately, the site remained available to our readers during this time, I have been unable to log into our website for 3 weeks. The good news is that for those who are subscribed to our weekly updates, we were able to continue to provide you with great recipes, workout ideas, and health and gardening tips via email. If you haven't subscribed yet, be sure to do so via the form to the right - this way if this ever happens again, you won't be left out of the loop!

Anyway, on with the show!

Over the past few weeks, our oddly cool August has transitioned into an even cooler September, with temperatures so low at night I actually considered trying to cover some of the remaining summer garden! However, we didn't quite hit frost-like temperatures, so although the tomatoes and peppers aren't too happy with me, at least everything is still alive, and hopefully, will continue growing/ripening for at least a few more weeks. But if a frost had actually threatened, I would have been left with a LOT of green tomatoes on hand.

If you're in a pickle with too many green tomatoes, it can be a bit challenging to figure out what to do with them all - after all, there are only so many fried green tomatoes a person can eat, right?

Refrigerator pickles to the rescue!

The recipe below is a great way to preserve some of those green beauties for later use. This recipe is not canned, so these will need to be stored in the refrigerator, but they should keep for several months. These are easy to make, and absolutely delicious! Check out the recipe below, or bookmark it for later if you're not quite ready to pick your green ones just yet...

This recipe is adapted from one by chef Renee Erickson. out of Seattle. You can use any green tomatoes for this recipe, but you will want to make sure they are fully green. If they are starting to turn color - even a little - the pickles will turn out mushy.

You can also modify this recipe to use small tomatoes, such as green cherry tomatoes. In this case, you can pickle them whole, and cook them only for 5 minutes.

If you like sweet and spicy pickles, you can also add a diced (or whole)
jalapeño pepper with the tomatoes before you add the brine - feel free to modify to suit your tastes - following the exact recipe isn't as important as with canned pickles since these will be refrigerated.

Quick Pickled Green Tomatoes

  •  1 ½ quarts white wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 pounds green beefsteak or other large green tomatoes, sliced into wedges or slices ½- to ¾-inch thick
  • ½ cup fresh tarragon leaves, stems removed


1. In a stainless-steel saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, and garlic. Bring to a boil. When the sugar has dissolved, add the tomatoes. Simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender but not mushy.

2. Strain the tomatoes, reserving the liquid in one container and tomatoes in another. Add the tarragon to the liquid. Refrigerate both until cool, then combine. Spoon into lidded glass containers and refrigerate for up to 3-4 months.

How to Eat Them:

There are many ways to enjoy these tomato pickles - from straight out of the jar, to topping a burger, and more. You can use them in place of any sweet pickle or relish. Or you can also serve them as a snack with crackers, cheese, olives, and other finger foods.

Got other ideas? Feel free to share them with us on our Facebook page!


Recipe Source: Rodale's Organic Life

<![CDATA[10 Amazing Health Benefits of Yoga]]>Sun, 20 Aug 2017 21:28:45 GMThttp://newholisticliving.com/1/post/2017/08/10-amazing-health-benefits-of-yoga.htmlHealth benefits of yoga
You may already know this, but...I love yoga! I love it so much, in fact, that I even started a blog about it this year. :-)

I have tried a number of different types of yoga, and Kundalini is the one that I find the most fulfilling - at least for the past few years. But regardless of which type of yoga you prefer, the fact is that yoga is just plain good for you!

Doctors, mental health professionals, and regular old yoga practitioners like you and me all agree - yoga has loads of awesome health benefits for people of all ages and physical conditions. Of course, any form of exercise has its benefits, but yoga has some very special ones that many other forms of exercise just don't provide - at least not to the same degree.

Below is a quick roundup of 10 amazing health benefits that you can experience for yourself simply by practicing yoga on a regular basis.

1. Improves Flexibility

The first physical benefit that you probably think of when you think of yoga is obviously flexibility. While you might struggle with some of the poses at first if you are inflexible (which most adults are), in time, you will really begin to notice a difference. According to Yoga Journal:
During your first class, you probably won't be able to touch your toes, never mind do a backbend. But if you stick with it, you'll notice a gradual loosening, and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible. You'll also probably notice that aches and pains start to disappear. That's no coincidence. Tight hips can strain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the thigh and shinbones. Tight hamstrings can lead to a flattening of the lumbar spine, which can cause back pain. And inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue, such as fascia and ligaments, can cause poor posture.
2. Builds Muscle Strength

Another of the first physical benefits of yoga that you will notice is improved muscle strength. According to Gaiam.com:
The postures are meant to strengthen your body from the inside out, so you don’t just look good, you feel good, too. Each of the yoga poses is built to reinforce the muscles around the spine, the very center of your body, which is the core from which everything else operates. When the core is working properly, posture is improved, thus alleviating back, shoulder, and neck pain.
3. Pain Relief

One of the reasons I first started doing yoga was to relieve my chronic back pain. Yoga helps to stretch tight muscles, which helps to relieve pain and stiffness, but it also helps to strengthen the muscles at the same time as mentioned above, which lessens pain problems and risk of injury down the road. According to the American Osteopathic Association
“The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome...”
And according to research on rheumatoid arthritis sufferers published in the Journal of Pain & Symptom Management,
A pilot study of eight people with rheumatoid arthritis showed that a six-week yoga program improved pain, pain disability, mental health, depression, vitality, and self-efficacy.
4. Stress Relief

Stress is a major health problem in today's modern world. Chronic stress has been linked to just about every type of disease and health issue, from heart disease to stroke, to high blood pressure, obesity, and chronic pain. This might be one of the reasons why yoga is so successful at relieving so many different health issues. Yoga's focus on the body, the breath, and moving through each pose helps to take your mind off the stresses of the day and allows you to become more mindful of the present moment. This is a great way to relieve stress - and all the health problems that come with it! As this article in Yoga Journal states,
Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs—comprising what Herbert Benson, M.D., calls the relaxation response.
5. Helps to Achieve & Maintain A Healthy Weight

Obviously, exercising regularly helps with weight loss, and some forms of yoga are more aerobic than others. However, research shows that there may be another reason why yoga helps you lose weight. According to researchers at Harvard Medical School,
...People who practiced yoga for at least 30 minutes once a week for at least four years, gained less weight during middle adulthood. People who were overweight actually lost weight. Overall, those who practiced yoga had lower body mass indexes (BMIs) compared with those who did not practice yoga. Researchers attributed this to mindfulness. Mindful eating can lead to a more positive relationship with food and eating.
6. Builds Stronger Bones

As we get older, we lose bone density - especially as we tend to sit more and move less as we age. Yoga can help to reduce this bone loss, and may even help to build denser bones for those who have already suffered some loss. As this article at YogaBasics.com explains,
A decrease of bone density is one of the biggest concerns among aging adults. Research has found that yoga improves bone density in people who have suffered from bone loss, including those with osteoporosis or osteopenia. Yoga uses opposing muscle groups and gravity to put pressure on the bones, which increases the production of bone-growing cells. Triangle pose, Warrior I and II, and Plank pose all emphasize opposing muscles.
7. May Improve Digestion

Reduced stress and increased movement aren't just better for your muscles and your mind - they can even help improve digestion. According to Gaiam.com...
The digestive system gets back on track when the stretching in yoga is coupled with a healthy, organic diet, which can relieve constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and acid reflux.
8. Boosts Your Immune System

Both the meditative aspect of yoga and the physical exercises may help your immune system function more efficiently, thereby reducing your chances of infection and disease. According to YogaJournal.com,
When you contract and stretch muscles, move organs around, and come in and out of yoga postures, you increase the drainage of lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells). This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular functioning.
9. Improves Mental & Behavioral Problems in Both Children & Adults

One study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that yoga could be a beneficial treatment for adults suffering from PTSD, while yoga has also been found to improve both mental and motor skills in children with developmental and learning disabilities. According to this article at YogiTimes.com,
Regular practice of yoga and meditation has shown to improve children’s ADHD behavior, self-esteem, relationship quality, sleep patterns and anxiety levels.
10. Makes You Happier!

Yes, happiness is part of health, wouldn't you agree? And yoga, regardless of other aspects of our health, just plain makes us happy! At least, it does for me, and plenty of evidence suggests that I'm not alone... According to Yoga Journal,
...one study found that a consistent yoga practice improved depression and led to a significant increase in serotonin levels and a decrease in the levels of monoamine oxidase (an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters) and cortisol.
And a recent study from the Boston University School of Medicine found that
...regular yoga practice – combined with yogic breathing techniques – helped to significantly improve several markers for depression.
If you haven't yet tried yoga, I encourage you to give it a try!  And if you tried it already and didn't enjoy it, I would encourage you to try it again - in a different style, a different class, or simply a different location. You can even start at home with some easy beginner yoga DVDs like I did. Or check out our FREE weekly yoga workouts on MyYogaZone.com! Give it some time and be patient with yourself. I think you will find this incredibly beneficial form of exercise to feel even better than it is for you!

To your health,

<![CDATA[Blogging Break Week]]>Sun, 13 Aug 2017 19:37:35 GMThttp://newholisticliving.com/1/post/2017/08/blogging-break-week.htmlSorry folks - I forgot to let you know last week that this week is our summer "Blogging Break Week," so I don't have a regular post for you today...

However, we have loads of great content in our archives, so please feel free to choose a category to the right that interests you and browse through our past articles! 

Here are a few of our favorites, for easy reference:

Is Fat Really Bad For You - Part 1 - The Low Fat Myth
Is Fat Really Bad For You? Part 2 - Good Fats & Bad Fats
The Truth About Grass-Fed Beef
The Only 2 Rules for Healthy Eating You Will Ever Need
Why Eggs Are Better for You Than You Think
Guilt-Free Chocolate Fudge Recipe

Also be sure to Like us on Facebook for weekly updates on healthy and holistic living topics.

I'll see you back here next week with a new post to help you lead a healthier, happier, and more holistically balanced life!


<![CDATA[[Free Video Masterclass] 12 Steps to Health With Whole Foods]]>Sun, 06 Aug 2017 20:09:04 GMThttp://newholisticliving.com/1/post/2017/08/free-video-masterclass-12-steps-to-health-with-whole-foods.htmlReal Health With Whole Foods Class
For this month's free gift, I'm sharing an awesome video "Masterclass" on achieving real health with whole foods. It's presented by one of my favorite natural health authors, Robyn Openshaw, also known online as "The Green Smoothie Girl."

In this eye-opening free class, Robyn explains some of the major health issues facing us today (inflammation, gut health, and more), and how you can combat these issues naturally via your diet.

Read more below to find out more about this special online class, and how you can attend for FREE for a limited time...

When I started getting serious about my health years ago, I had to learn a lot about inflammation. Why? Because inflammation is disease. It’s at the root of all illness. And yet, the vast majority of us have no idea which foods cause inflammation, and which foods heal it!

In the Whole Foods Masterclass, you will learn the basics of what you need to know about inflammation, and what your food has to do with it, in just 17 minutes. You will also learn 3 foods that cause inflammation (avoid these!), as well as 7 foods that fight inflammation.

You will also learn why it seems like everyone in America is talking about gut issues these days... From indigestion to bloating, stomachache, food reactions like headaches, and more, virtually everyone seems to have some sort of digestive problem.

But, as Robyn explains in her Masterclass, all this suffering is simply unnecessary - and it has everything to do with what you’re eating... (And NOT eating)...

One of the sessions in the Masterclass is "How to Heal Your Gut With Food (and Just A Few Dollars)" - so you'll definitely want to check this out if you suffer from any sort of digestive issues!

Finally, Robyn will address a common complaint that we often hear from people trying to eat healthy - "healthy foods are just so expensive!"

However, Robyn will explain in the class how eating whole, unprocessed foods might actually be the cheapest way to eat!

In this free class, Robyn shares her story of h
ow she converted from the Standard American Diet to a whole-foods super-healthy diet - without breaking the bank. In fact, she lost 70 pounds (and ditched 21 diseases) 20 years ago. And now she teaches others how to do the same - on a budget!

Here's the lineup of the incredibly valuable information that you will learn in this FREE Masterclass:

•    How to Rehab Your Gut With Food (and Just a Few Dollars)
•    Beat Your Food Addictions In 4 Days Flat!
•    My 5 Best Tips to Eat Super Healthy, Super Cheap!
•    Make 12 Simple Shifts In One Year (For the Healthiest Year of Your Life)
•    Bonus Video: How to Get Your Partner / Kids On Board With Healthy Changes

Robyn has helped millions of people recover their health eating the RIGHT whole foods. I highly recommend you check out this FREE Video Class while it's still available.

Register Here for the Free Masterclass...


<![CDATA[How to Make Your Own Delicious Immune-Boosting Elderberry Syrup]]>Sun, 30 Jul 2017 19:08:03 GMThttp://newholisticliving.com/1/post/2017/07/how-to-make-your-own-delicious-immune-boosting-elderberry-syrup.htmlElderberries
Growing up on the farm, we had a huge elderberry bush in the front yard. My sisters and I would climb it in the late summer and pick giant purple bouquets of elderberries for my parents, who would somehow turn the tiny, bitter and unpalatable berries into quarts of delicious, dark purple sticky sweet syrup which was our favorite pancake topping year-round. 

This was long before elderberry syrup became one of the hottest natural health aids around. Touted for helping to prevent and fight off colds and influenza, reduce inflammation, and soothe coughs and respiratory illnesses, humble elderberry syrup has recently reached "superfood" status. 

Driving down the road the other day, I spied some big elderberry heads beginning to turn purple. It reminded me of the purple-handed late-summer task of my childhood, and it inspired me to share this recipe with you, so you can see just how easy it is to make your very own delicious and immune-boosting elderberry syrup - and you'll save a ton of money on those pricey commercial versions! 

Although we enjoyed our elderberry syrup mostly as a pancake topping (and sometimes over homemade yogurt), it has been used for many years as a folk remedy for many different illnesses. Recent scientific research suggests there is a reason why our grandmothers swore by it. 

Elderberries are extremely high in Vitamin C and other antioxidants. They have been used to fight flu, colds, coughs, and to soothe sore throats. In some studies, cold and flu patients taking elderberry syrup experienced reduced symptoms during their illness, and recovered from the illness 2-4 days earlier than those taking a placebo. 

In one Israeli study, Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu of Hadassah-Hebrew University found that:  
"...elderberry disarms the enzyme viruses use to penetrate healthy cells in the lining of the nose and throat. Taken before infection, it prevents infection. Taken after infection, it prevents spread of the virus through the respiratory tract. In a clinical trial, 20% of study subjects reported significant improvement within 24 hours, 70% by 48 hours, and 90% claimed complete cure in three days. In contrast, subjects receiving the placebo required 6 days to recover.
You can find elderberry syrup in natural health food stores and websites everywhere, but it's pretty expensive - usually selling for $10 and up for 4-6 ounces. But if you have access to fresh elderberries, which grow throughout many areas of the U.S., it is super easy and cheap to make plenty of your own to get you through the upcoming cold and flu season!

Many recipes call for dried elderberries, but since elderberries grow well everywhere from Arkansas to Ohio and beyond, and they are ripening up right about now, I wanted to find one that used fresh elderberries, like what my parents made. (They may ripen at different times in your area, but typically the season is early August-September. You'll know they are ripe when the clusters of berries turn dark purple and start to droop or turn upside-down.)

This simple recipe makes almost 10 times the amount you would get in one of the little commercially available bottles, and it won't cost you more than about what you would pay for one (for the honey or sugar) - plus a bit of time.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Prep Time: 45 Minutes (plus 10 for picking the elderberries)
Cook Time: 10 Minutes (+ 10 for canning, if desired)
Total Time: About 1 hour (more if using the jelly bag method below)
Makes: 3 pints


3 lbs fresh ripe elderberries, destemmed (about one-half a paper grocery bag full, before destemming)
3 cups raw honey (or 4 cups sugar, but I prefer honey for the additional health benefits)

  1. Sterilize your jars in boiling water, and use new, clean and scalded canning lids.
  2. You will need to remove the berries from the stems; elderberry stems are toxic. (here are some tricks on destemming elderberries.) It should take you about 45 minutes to an hour to destem 3 pounds of elderberries.
  3. At this point you can empty your berries into a large bowl of ice water, and swirl around with your hands. Weird debris will float, like dead flower husks, bugs, etc. Pour this off.
  4. Pour the elderberries into a large pot and either mash them thoroughly with a potato masher, or, better yet, with an immersion blender. Only break up the berries for a few seconds using the immersion blender, and use it on low setting. You don't want to grind up the seeds, which are bitter.
  5. Bring the elderberries to a boil, stirring often. Now, if you are using a food mill, set it up with its finest plate and pour the elderberries into it. Run the food mill until the mash is pretty dry, then squeeze out any remaining elderberry juice. You should have a little more than 1 quart. Pour the juice through your finest mesh sieve to catch any stray seeds or pulp.
  6. If you don't have a food mill, you can use a jelly bag. In this case, mash the berries again after they've boiled, then pour them into a jelly bag suspended over a large bowl. Let this drain for 1 to 2 hours. You should have a little less than 1 quart. You don't need to strain the juice the way you do with the food mill method.
  7. Return the juice to the (cleaned) pot and add an equal volume of sugar, normally about 4 cups (if using). Bring to a boil until it froths, skim the froth, then turn off the heat and pour into clean jars. *(If using honey, add honey AFTER removing from heat and cooling slightly, to avoid killing the beneficial enzymes in the raw honey.) Always use a new canning lid when you are making this syrup, unless you plan on eating it in the next few weeks. Seal the jars and let stand until the lids pop. They will keep for up to a year in the fridge. 
  8. If you wish to store them on the shelf, place the clean, hot, filled jars (leave 1/2" of head space before sealing) immediately into a boiling water bath 1 inch over the top of the jars, and process for 10 minutes. Remove, let cool completely (make sure lids are sealed), and then store in a dark place for 1 year or more (refrigerate after opening). 

To use the syrup for immune-boosting purposes, take one teaspoon 1-2 times per day during cold and flu season. If you feel an illness coming on, take 3 tsp (1 TB) 4 times per day until you feel better. (Do NOT give the honey version to young children who are not yet allowed to have raw honey.)

You can also enjoy elderberry syrup over pancakes, ice cream, yogurt, or as a glaze or sauce for wild game, or for flavoring beverages. 

This is one "medicine" the kids won't mind taking! :-)

To your health,

Source: This recipe was adapted from this version at Honest-Food.net.

<![CDATA[7 Reasons Why Spirituality Is Essential For a Truly Balanced & Happy Life]]>Sun, 23 Jul 2017 18:40:33 GMThttp://newholisticliving.com/1/post/2017/07/7-reasons-why-spirituality-is-essential-for-a-truly-balanced-happy-life.htmlBenefits of spirituality
We often talk about the other aspects of holistic living - good health, proper financial balance, happy and fulfilling relationships, etc., but although these are all important pillars, we can't forget that spirituality is an essential piece of the puzzle. Whatever spiritual practices you choose to follow, having this connection to something higher and outside of yourself is necessary if we want to be truly happy and fulfilled and have a complete and balanced life.

As this article mentions, "Happiness, is in part, a byproduct of achievement best gained when we’re working from something and for something larger than ourselves."

No matter how successful we are in the other areas of our lives, without a sense of a connection to this "something larger," it will be hard to find true meaning and purpose.

Here are 7 reasons why a daily spiritual practice will make your life happier and more complete:

1.) Improved Relationships & Connection With Others

Most spiritual traditions around the world include a central tenant of community. Some anthropologists surmise that in this way, religion helped us become the dominate species that we are. By participating in a common belief system or set of rituals, we defined ourselves as a tribe, which helped us to develop social constructs and bond with others as a group to ensure our continued survival. To this day, this feeling of "belonging" that comes with participating in a spiritual community provides us with a sense of safety and security, and increases our well-being and our sense of meaning in life.

As psychologist and author Sherrie Campbell states, "
Whether it is attendance to church, a meditation group, even a running group, a yoga studio or a Spartan race team; membership and participation provides a sense of belonging and builds a strong network of social and emotional support."

2.) Support Through Life's Challenges
"As we get stronger, we come to view our painful times as contemplative opportunities, and eventually come to trust that the hardships we pass through are designed to makes us stronger and wiser as people."
When we feel connected to a group of people via a spiritual community, we develop a sense of faith that we are supported - both externally and internally - when challenges and hardships inevitably arise. Having a defined spiritual practice and a deeply held philosophy to live by provides us with a calm and centered place where we can seek support and refuge when we need to. This helps us to develop into stronger and more resilient beings.

3.) A Realization That We Are Never Alone
"When we are spiritual we learn that we are not by ourselves, we are with ourselves."
When we being to recognize the interconnectedness between our own lives and every other person and being, it becomes very evident that we always have company on our journey. For me, this was one of my most important revelations when becoming a Christian. I developed a sense that no matter what happened in life, I would get through it with support and guidance from others and that "still, small voice", and very rarely since then have I ever felt alone or isolated. After all, the amazing world filled with God's wonderful creation surrounds me everywhere I go!

4.) A Sense of Acceptance

This may be one of the most important benefits of embracing a spiritual practice - at least in my opinion. So much of the struggle and strife in our lives comes from not accepting things or people as they are. When we begin to develop a sense of acceptance and appreciate ourselves and others without expecting perfection, we are able to experience so much less stress and more peace and joy!

Letting go of bitterness, anger, and hurt allows us to enjoy and appreciate all of the many wonderful things that we have. Not only does it lower our stress levels, but it also improves our relationships immeasurably, as well as our health. Less stress means lower blood pressure, a healthier heart, more energy, and even better skin!

Realize that your Creator made you - and everyone else - perfect just the way you are. Accept that your flaws and faults are just a part of the plan. This doesn't mean you can't and shouldn't strive to improve yourself, achieve goals, or become a better person (see #5 below) - but it does mean letting go of judgement of yourself and others in order to find a deeper peace and happiness.

5.) We Make More Mindful & Responsible Choices

As we develop a deeper love and understanding of ourselves and those around us, we also gain a sense of responsibility that reminds us that our actions have consequences - both for ourselves, each other, and the planet. Developing as a spiritual being means finding ourselves becoming more healthy, loving, humble, and kind. We naturally begin to shed unhealthy habits that may be harming our bodies, our loved ones, or the world around us. And instead, we begin to act in ways that enrich, uplift, and care for ourselves and for others as we find ways to live from a place of peace and maturity.

6.) Having a Spiritual Conversation Helps You Find the Greater You

Whatever your idea of God is, a spiritual practice should help you connect with that daily. Whether you choose to pray, read, write in a journal, meditate, or whatever your form of communication may be, we all need to have a daily connection with the "inner us," our higher selves.

For me it's yoga. My Kundalini yoga practice helps me get in touch with that inner and outer sense of wisdom and knowledge that we all have, but most of us forget or rarely tap into.

Connecting with this source of power helps to change our perspective on the world, and to see "the bigger picture," instead of being stuck inside of our own little worries and fears all the time. From this higher perspective you are able to make healthier choices and wiser decisions.

7.) Humility

Ah, humility - the great equalizer. Almost all spiritual philosophies emphasize humility to some extent, and for good reason. Humility recognizes that we are all the same - we all have flaws, faults, and foibles. We all fall short sometimes. By embracing spiritual humility, we become less judgemental, more generous, kinder, and more empathetic.

Paradoxically, by becoming more humble, we also begin to recognize our own abundance. We begin to appreciate life more, we become happier with the things we have, and we gain the true "emotional wealth that can sustain our spirits and our hope in life and people."

In summary,
"Spirituality helps to buffer our fears, to protect our hearts, and to bring us a sense of resilience from a communal support. A strong life philosophy serves to raise our levels of consciousness in how we handle ourselves, how we handle people, and how we think about life and approach our problems. Spirituality brings a depth and a maturity that grows us into healthier, happier and wealthier people..."
There is no question that we are spiritual beings. The only question is, how do we enact a daily spiritual practice that will enrich ourselves and those around us, and help us to live healthier, happier, and more holistically balanced lives? This is the goal of spirituality, and it is a journey each of us must discover for ourselves. But when we do, all of these benefits will be ours, and no matter what form your journey takes, you can be sure it will be worth it.

To your (spiritual) health,




<![CDATA[The Real Truth About Coconut Oil]]>Sun, 16 Jul 2017 19:31:38 GMThttp://newholisticliving.com/1/post/2017/07/the-truth-about-coconut-oil.htmlThe truth about coconut oil
You may have heard of the recent hullabaloo over coconut oil after the recent USA Today article stating that coconut oil is bad for you. This article was based on a report from the American Heart Association, and it caused a storm of controversy and alarm among natural health experts and enthusiasts who have wholeheartedly embraced coconut oil in recent years.

After reading a number of comments and articles in response to this "news," I decided it was time to jump into the fray and clear up some of this confusion!

I have written about coconut oil before, but it has been a while. However, none of the research has substantially changed since then, so why would there be a backlash against coconut oil now? That I can't answer, but I can address some of the concerns raised by the recent article.

The conclusion reached by the Dietary Fats & Cardiovascular Disease Advisory of the American Heart Association after reviewing "existing data on saturated fat" was that:

"Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD [cardiovascular disease], and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil."

(Interestingly enough, the USA Today article goes on to say that "cutting saturated fat doesn't necessarily decrease heart attack risk"...)

There are a whole lot of issues with the above statement. I will break them down for you here:

"Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol..."

First of all, coconut oil DOESN'T increase LDL cholesterol - at least not as much as it increases HDL - the good kind of cholesterol!

Here's what Dr. Mark Hyman, MD, author of the well-researched Eat Fat, Get Thin has to say about coconut oil and cholesterol:
...One study of over 130,000 people who had heart attacks over 5 years showed that 75 percent had normal LDL and 50 percent had optimal LDL cholesterol. But only 10 percent had normal HDL or the protective cholesterol. Guess what raises HDL? Saturated fat. And coconut oil raises it the most of any saturated fat. And what lowers it? A low-fat, high-starch, and high-sugar diet. We need cholesterol and saturated fat for the health of every cell membrane, for your brain cells, your sex hormones and more. Cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, it is the band-aid that tries to repair the arteries when damage occurs from a low-fat, high-starch, high sugar diet...
2. "...a cause of CVD [cardiovascular disease]..."

I have written numerous times and at length about the fallacy of cholesterol causing heart disease, so I won't go into much more about it here, but feel free to check out my previous posts on the topic. Even the 2015 U.S. governmental dietary guidelines announced the withdrawal of the warning against saturated fat, stating that “Cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.” And if you're still not convinced, here is a review of 17 meta-analyses (reviews of numerous relevant studies) showing no link between saturated fat and heart disease.

It's time for the American Heart Association to get with the times and stop spouting decades-old and long-since-debunked myths about saturated fat!

"...and has no known offsetting favorable effects..."

Frank Sacks, the lead author on the AHA report, reportedly stated that he has "no idea" why people think coconut oil is healthy. So let's give him some answers, shall we?

Besides its HDL-boosting capabilities, coconut oil boasts a whole range of purported health benefits, with more being discovered all the time. Coconut oil has been shown to benefit those with Alzheimer's, Crohn's disease, and other mental and digestive disorders, as well as the following as listed by Dr. Mercola:

• Supports proper thyroid function – Unlike soy oil and other vegetable oils, coconut oil does not interfere with thyroid function. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation that may lead to hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.(1)

Promotes heart health – Animal and human studies found that heart disease risk factors such as total, LDL and HDL cholesterol levels were greatly improved by taking coconut oil.

In particular, coconut oil's saturated fats may actually increase "good" HDL cholesterol, while also helping convert "bad" LDL cholesterol into a less harmful form.(2)

Promotes healthy brain function - Researchers found that ketones may work as an alternative energy source for malfunctioning brain cells, which has been found to reduce symptoms in Alzheimer's disease patients.(3)

Gives your immune system a boost – The lauric acid, antimicrobial lipids, capric acid, and caprylic acid that coconut oil contains are known for their antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.(4)

Regularly using it may help prevent colds/flus, and alleviate illnesses like hepatitis C, herpes and the Epstein-barr virus.(5)

Helps promote weight loss – Coconut oil provides an excellent "fuel" for your body and stimulating your metabolism to help you shed excess body fat.

Aids in digestion – This oil is easy on your digestive system, and will not produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream. The medium-chain fatty acids can also be absorbed easily in your digestive tract, compared to longer chain fatty acids found in polyunsaturated vegetable oils.

Keeps candida yeast from wreaking havoc on your body – A study published in mSphere found that mice that were given coconut oil had a 10-fold drop in the colonization of Candida albicans yeast in their gut, compared to mice that were given soybean oil or beef tallow.(6)

Promotes good oral health – One study found that massaging coconut oil on your gums for 10 minutes a day, for at least three weeks, has a significant effect on reducing plaque and decay-causing Streptococcus mutans.)7)
Um, Mr. Sacks, maybe this is why people think coconut oil is so healthy!

Coconuts and coconut oil have been consumed by various indigenous cultures around the world for hundreds of years, so if there was a problem, don't you think it would show in the health of these peoples? However, research has actually found the contrary:
...individuals in Polynesian populations such as those in Tokelau and Pukapuka, where people tend to eat a lot of coconut, were examined in light of their high saturated fat intake and low cholesterol and sucrose levels.

Researchers found that "vascular disease is uncommon in both populations and there is no evidence of the high saturated fat intake having a harmful effect."(10)

Another case in point is the Kitevan people in New Guinea, whose collective diet is untarnished by the food habits of the Western world. Besides eating a lot of tubers, fruit and fish, the people also consume coconut as a prominent staple.

None of the people involved in the study (11) reported stroke, sudden death, weakness, brain diseases, or chest pain related to heavy lifting. Coronary artery disease was nowhere to be found.

Based on the fallacious "evidence" provided above, the conclusion of the report is:

4. "...we advise against the use of coconut oil."

Okay, Mr. Sacks, you can "advise" all you want, but I, for one, will continue to enjoy my coconut oil (in moderation).

If you enjoy it as well, please don't be scared off by this recent "news story" or other sensational headlines about saturated fat based on decades-old science that has long-since been disproved.

By all means, do your research and get the facts (the real ones - not the "alternative" kind). When you do, I think you will find that the truth about coconut oil is much less scary than the headlines want you to believe.

To your (real) health!


<![CDATA[5 Ways You Are Unwittingly Damaging Your Immune System]]>Sun, 09 Jul 2017 19:36:29 GMThttp://newholisticliving.com/1/post/2017/07/5-ways-you-are-damaging-your-immune-system.htmlImmune system
As we have discussed in the past, your immune system is by far the most important factor in good health. Unfortunately, our allopathic medical system focuses more on treating symptoms than on preventing disease in the first place, so the immune system is often ignored by most modern medical treatments.

However, there are numerous things that you can do on an individual level to help make sure your immune system is healthy and functioning properly. The first step is becoming aware of what behaviors and lifestyle habits may be causing problems for your immune system. Most people do these things without even realizing the harm they are causing to their health!

Here are 5 ways that you may be harming your immune system, and some positive changes you can make today to reduce your risk of disease, and improve your odds for living a long and healthy life.

1. Taking Antibiotics

We think of antibiotics as something we take to make us healthy when we are ill, but in fact, antibiotics are doing a whole lot more harm than most people realize...

You see, antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria, so if you take them for a bacterial infection, not only do they kill the infection, but they also kill millions of good bacteria that help to maintain a proper bacterial balance in your gut - which is one of the most important parts of your immune system!

Unfortunately, antibiotics are highly over-prescribed, and are often used for non-bacterial infections as well - which they don't help cure in the first place, but they still cause damage to all the "good bugs" that normally help keep you healthy. This is why you often hear of people being put on multiple courses of antibiotics - once your immune system is damaged, you can enter a vicious cycle of illness that is difficult to recover from.

We are also exposed to antibiotics in our food, as antibiotics are often routinely fed to industrially farmed animals to keep them from getting sick when confined in unhealthy conditions for most of their lives.

The Fix: Do your best to avoid taking antibiotics. If you are prescribed an antibiotic and you're not quite sure what it's for, be sure to ask your doctor - "is this illness caused by a bacteria?"  If not, you shouldn't be taking an antibiotic for it!

Sometimes you will be given antibiotics preventatively, such as before a surgery. If you must take antibiotics for this or any other reason, be sure to follow them up with at least 30 days of a high-quality probiotic supplement! Consuming fermented foods such as naturally fermented sauerkraut or kimchi will also help to restore a healthy bacterial balance in your gut, and get your immune system back on track to good health.

2. Too Much...(Sugar & Processed Foods)

I know you don't want to hear it, but yes, sugar is not just bad for your waistline - it's also bad for your immune system. I bet you didn't know that when you downed that can of soda, you were actually decreasing your body's immune response immediately...

In fact, drinking just one can of regular soda can depress your immune system for up to 5 hours! And according to this article,
"eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of two- and-a-half 12-ounce cans of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by 40 percent."

However, "sugar" doesn't just mean white sugar - it means glucose, which our bodies produce when we eat certain foods. In this case, "sugar" doesn't mean candy or sweeteners - it means any starchy food high in simple carbohydrates such as bagels or crackers, which are broken down into glucose during digestion.

The Fix? Limit your consumption of simple carbs, and instead, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, which often contain immune-boosting vitamins and antioxidants. You don't have to cut out ALL carbs (this extreme isn't that healthy either), and once in a while a sweet treat is okay - but make sure to avoid them entirely if you feel like you may be coming down with something.

3. Not Enough...(Sleep & Exercise)

Guess what? You already knew that exercise was good for you, but did you know it can also boost your immune system? According to WebMD, those who exercise regularly are less likely to come down with colds and other infections.

Not only does exercise improve immune response, but it also releases endorphins which help improve your mood and relieve depression and fatigue, and it helps you sleep better - another extremely important factor in immune system function.

Speaking of sleep, most people (including many doctors) greatly underestimate the importance of sleep for good health. In fact, lack of sleep can severely and chronically inhibit immune function.

Personally speaking, I have found that I almost never get sick - unless I don't get enough sleep.
Of the handful of times I have been sick over the past 5 years, every single one of them followed a bout of sleeplessness.

Sleep allows your body to rest, recover, and repair itself. Not getting enough of it puts enormous stress on all of your bodily systems - but especially your hardworking immune system.

The Fix: Exercise regularly, and get at least 8 hours of shut-eye every night! (Check out this article for a few tips on better sleep.) Note: The one exception on exercise is if you are already sick. Exercising strenuously when sick (or getting sick) can actually put more stress on your body, which is not helpful. Wait until you are well, and then commit to a regular exercise program to help you stay that way!

4. Exposure to Toxins

One thing that can also challenge your immune system is exposure to various toxins and chemicals. Your body has the amazing ability to clean itself of toxins and substances that would harm it. Although you aren't aware of it, millions of cells within your body are constantly busy removing waste and toxic buildup that would otherwise kill you (this is why you will quickly die if your liver or kidneys - two major detoxifying organs - cease functioning well).

Unfortunately, in today's modern world we are exposed to thousands of chemicals on a daily basis. There are chemicals in the air (air pollution, traffic fumes, etc.), water (agricultural chemicals, prescription drug residues, etc.), and in our food (pesticides and other chemicals). We also voluntarily expose ourselves to chemicals on a regular basis by using chemical-filled soaps, lotions, makeup and skin care, household cleaners, and lawn and garden chemicals.

All these toxins can put extra pressure on your bodily systems, leaving the immune system with less energy to fight off the bad stuff that it is faced with on a daily basis. Eventually, a weakened immune system - and increased illness and disease - can result.

The Fix: While it is literally impossible to avoid all chemicals in your daily environment, you can certainly take steps to lessen your exposure:
  • Get a good water filter that removes toxins like chlorine and fluoride and other chemicals from your water.
  • Eat organic foods whenever possible - it's true there may still be some chemicals present, but they will be much fewer than on conventionally grown foods.
  • And switch to non-toxic, organic, or all-natural products in and around your home, as well as those you use on your body. There are hundreds of safer and less toxic brands readily available online and on store shelves today, so ditch the toxins, and make the switch! (Grab a copy of our FREE "Toxic Load Checklist" for more ways to reduce your toxic exposure and improve your health.)

5.) Stress

Ah, yes, stress. The modern-day killer. You knew this one would make the list, right? 

Chronic stress is terrible for just about every aspect of your health, but none more insidious than its effect on the immune system. You could even say that stress is the cause for most of the other habits and causes listed above... Stress can impair sleep, cause overeating and cravings for sugary junk foods, and make you sick - and then even when you take antibiotics, it can inhibit the recovery process.

Unfortunately, most Americans lead high-stress lives (for a number of reasons which I won't go into here today), and it's killing our immune systems. Chronic stress creates a constant state of "fight-or-flight" within our bodies, which keeps all of our systems "on alert" at all times. This greatly impairs your body's ability to fight infection, and it also creates chronic inflammation within the body, which has been linked to an increase in all types of illness and disease - from simple respiratory illnesses, to heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Since your immune system is responsible for helping to deal with all of these issues, along with removing toxins and pathogens from the body, it can easily become overworked, and unable to keep up with its main and most important task - keeping you healthy.

The Fix: Just stop it with the stress, already!

Okay, I admit it's easier said than done. However, most of the fixes listed above will also help reduce stress. Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress (and hey, it's free!). I especially love yoga, which helps eliminate mental stress as well as physical. Getting plenty of sleep can also help you to feel less stressed and better able to cope with daily challenges. Eating healthy can also help reduce cravings and relieve the stress of feeling bad about your diet. Meditation, journaling, and other reflective coping techniques can also help relieve mental and emotional stress.

Take good care of your immune system! It works hard to keep you alive and healthy every day! The simple tips above will help you to build a strong, healthy immune system that will hopefully see you through a long and healthy life. They don't require much work, but they do require some commitment and awareness on your part. Isn't your immune system (and your life) worth it?

To learn more about your wondrous immune system and how to support it for optimum health, be sure to check out this month's FREE event: The Immune Defense Summit.

Click Here to Register for Your Free Pass...

To your health,