<![CDATA[Holistic Living: Your Pathway to a Balanced Life - Blog]]>Fri, 18 Aug 2017 09:23:46 -0500Weebly<![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,

<![CDATA[[July Giveaway] FREE Box of Organic Dark Chocolate Almond Bars]]>Sun, 02 Jul 2017 19:39:25 GMThttp://newholisticliving.com/1/post/2017/07/july-giveaway-free-box-of-organic-dark-chocolate-almond-bars.htmlFree Chocolate Bars
Ahh - July...it's hard to believe the year is half over already! We have been enjoying some warm and sunny weather, and the garden is going bananas (see last week's post for more about that craziness). We are looking forward to the annual 4th-of-July barbecue, fireworks, and outdoor concert with some dear friends on Tuesday. I wish you a safe, happy, and memorable holiday as well!

But now, on to the monthly giveaway!

This month, we're excited to share a tasty treat from our friends over at Thrive Market. If you're not familiar with Thrive yet, they are an online marketplace where you can find all sorts of healthy organic foods and other products at lower prices than at most other stores. They also have an awesome mission of helping lower-income families afford healthy food, and supporting sustainable farmers and food producers - a cause that as you may know is very near and dear to my heart!

Below are a few more details about Thrive Market, plus a link to grab your free box of delicious Primal Kitchen organic dark chocolate almond bars.  Wait a minute - candy that's good for you??  That's right!  :-)  Get yours below...

Making healthy eating decisions means being selective about the types of foods you eat and buy—but that can also mean multiple trips to different grocery stores just to keep your favorite products stocked. Not to mention the high markup you'll face on many high-quality food brands.

Fortunately, there’s a better way. Thrive Market takes the hassle out of healthy living so that organic food and natural products are accessible to everyone. Thrive offers a wide selection of organic, healthy and nutritious foods and nontoxic home and personal care essentials at discounted prices—all delivered right to your door. Here are just a few of the perks you can enjoy when you shop with Thrive Market:

  • All of your favorite brands shipped to your door—no multiple grocery trips necessary: Shop trusted brands like Tom’s of Maine, Bob’s Red Mill, Annie’s Homegrown, Seventh Generation, Spectrum Naturals, and many more!

  • Find exactly what you need: The site and free app make it easy to shop by dietary need with specialized search filters, like “Paleo,” “vegan,” “raw,” and “gluten-free.”

  • Save money on top quality products: Find your favorite brands and health products offered at lower prices than in supermarkets and specialty health stores.

For the month of July, get a FREE 6-Pack of Organic Dark Chocolate Almond Bars with your purchase!

Just give Thrive Market a try today and you’ll get a FREE 6-pack of these delicious chocolate bars. Primal Kitchen Dark Chocolate Almond Bars contain collagen, healthy fats, fiber, and 15 grams of protein—unlike the sugary, overly processed alternatives out there. They’re also grain- and dairy-free, and made from ingredients you can easily recognize—no artificial additives here!

Ready to sink your teeth into one of these chocolatey, chewy delights? Well, you’re in luck!

Just Click Here to Claim Your FREE Box of Dark Chocolate Almond Bars Now!

The offer is yours free with any $29 purchase, and you will also have 30 days free to check out Thrive Market's great selection and prices.

Enjoy - and celebrate your freedoms this Independence Day - we never know how long they'll last...


<![CDATA[Homestead Update: Summer Stress Case]]>Sun, 25 Jun 2017 19:48:04 GMThttp://newholisticliving.com/1/post/2017/06/homestead-update-summer-stress-case.htmlSalad greensPeas, peas, and more peas!
I know it has been ages since I did a homesteading update for you, so I figured I would go ahead and share the good, the bad, and the ugly for the season so far...

Spring was early this year, and then late - back and forth between unseasonably warm and unseasonably cold all the way up into May. But somehow the garden still ended up ahead of last year - except for the parts I am still behind on! We already have little green tomatoes of all kinds out in the garden, okra is up (this time last year I hadn't even planted it yet), and lettuce and peas are almost finished (our best pea crop so far, by far!).

For some reason, every year I think this year I will somehow manage to be not as stressed out during the hectic spring and early-summer in the garden, but it never happens! Last year I thought I would be done with preparing new beds for a while (always an incredibly laborious and time-consuming process), but then we ended up with fewer hay bales this year, so I decided to create one more row of beds so that area wouldn't to go waste this year. Well, it's nearly July and I STILL don't have them done, although getting close, and I should finish them this week at last... Our soil is so heavy and dense, it is nearly impossible to dig if it's not the perfect moisture level. For most of the spring, it has been either way too wet (with standing water in the aisles), or way too dry (like concrete - can't even get a fork into it), so I've been lucky to get one day out of the week sometimes where it is actually workable.

Fortunately, we got 2 1/2" of rain a few days ago, after a long, hot, dry spell, and now it is cool, breezy, and beautiful - perfect for working outside, and the soil is nice and moist - so I'm on the home stretch! My husband is finishing up the bed boxes today, so we should have them framed by the end of the week - so I can finally plant the beans!

The LAST 3 new beds!
Hopefully by next week they'll look more like this...
Besides trying to get everything else done while preparing the beds (planting, weeding, mulching, watering, laying irrigation lines, staking and weaving the tomatoes, replanting things that didn't come up, and weeding, weeding, and more weeding), this year has also been extra stressful because of the pests...

We were blessed the first year here to have relatively few, except for the asparagus beetles. Last year the squash bugs showed up, though not until late in the season, and a few more cucumber beetles, plus lots of flea beetles. This season, it is game on!  Word is out in the neighborhood that there is a delicious, chemical-free smorgasboard just ready for the taking...

And the bugs have arrived for real.

While we didn't have squash bugs last year until late July, now they are already out and about, laying eggs and sucking juices from my poor squash plants, which are already under a lot of stress as I shall describe in a moment. Not many yet, so I'm trying to keep ahead of them by picking regularly. The Japanese beetles, which have always been a problem here, are worse than ever this year - just now arriving in swarms to feast upon the belabored asparagus, as well as the potatoes, tomatilloes, and my flower beds.

But the worst of it this year so far has been the cucumber beetles. They are everywhere - hordes of hungry little beasts ready to suck out the juices of all my melons, cucumbers, and squashes, chew through the stems, and munch holes in all of the leaves. They are very fast, fly far, and burrow into the dirt to hide if they drop off a plant, so they are incredibly difficult to pick by hand.

They killed my one honeydew melon within days of planting it outside in the garden, as well as one of my cantaloupe seedlings, one of my watermelons, and 2 new baby squash seedlings. The larger squash plants have been hard hit as well, though fortunately they were already established when the worst of the beetle scourge arrived. The bugs seem to have only recently discovered the cucumbers (in a different area of the garden), and have completely eaten off several long tendrils that were already climbing the trellis and beginning to bloom.

Much of my time in the garden lately has had to be directed to trapping and picking cucumber beetles, and attempting various organic means to try to control them. Along with twice daily picking (whenever possible), I set up some "traps" I read about online - yellow bowls (supposedly they are attracted to yellow) filled with water and a couple of drops of dish soap. While not a lot of them seem to fall in on their own, it does make picking easier, as I can sometimes shake them off the leaves into the bowls, where they will die quickly in the soapy water.

Along with the bowl traps, for deterrents
I started with diatomaceous earth, which was one of the suggestions I read about online, plus it was something I already had on hand, having recently bought a 5-lb bag of it for general garden use. Some users posted online that they found the cucumber beetles did not like walking in it, so I sprinkled it on and around the leaves of the plants and on the bales where they are planted. It has perhaps helped a bit, but not to protect new seedlings. I discovered 3 cucumber beetles finishing off the last of my replanted honeydew seedlings this morning, while completely coated with DE powder! However, for the less-tasty larger plants, it does seem to deter them somewhat - though it took several days to see a difference in numbers. I am cautious about using it on the cucumbers though, as they are blooming, and I know that DE kills bees, which I am very sensitive about.

My next attempt will be neem oil, which I also have on hand, but am not sure how much it will help - it didn't seem to help with the asparagus beetles at all... For that, I shouldn't have to worry too much about the bees, as from what I have read, neem doesn't bother them much as long as it isn't sprayed directly on them, so I will spray in the evening when the bees aren't around.

And for the third prong of attack, I purchased some beneficial nematodes, which I've read are one of the best ways to control cucumber beetles, BUT they only work on the larvae in the soil, so won't help with the current infestation. I'm hoping if I apply this year, next year there won't be so many? On the plus side, they are also supposed to work for asparagus beetles, which I had never read anywhere before, despite all my research on controlling them! So I also treated the asparagus bed, and we will see how it goes...

My next option if things don't improve soon will be a Spinosad insect spray, which, though organic, is more toxic to many insects, so I wanted to use that as a last resort if these other options don't work. I'm hoping the DE and the neem oil will help lessen the pressure from the adults, while the nematodes will prevent new hatches from making it to maturity.

Besides their incredibly destructive appetites, cucumber beetles also carry various wilt diseases, which I now think is what killed all of my melons last year, as well as my cucumber plants (although, by then, those were about done fruiting). So even though we didn't have that many beetles last year, they still destroyed part of my garden - including my unripe melons, which I was so sad about! I never thought I could hate an insect pest worse than asparagus beetles, but cucumber beetles are pure evil!!!
Cucumber beetle damage on zucchini leaves.
They valiantly soldier on...
Keeping up with the garden tasks and watching my lovely little seedlings die before my eyes have made this a very stressful summer so far. But there are still many blessings. We picked our first few spears of asparagus this year, though not nearly as much as we should have been able to pick, since the plants were so weakened by the scourge of asparagus beetles for the past 2 years and I was worried about taking too much. They were absolutely delicious, and even more amazingly, this year's asparagus beetle infestation seems much lighter than last year! I am not sure why, but am hoping it was the clearing and agitating of the soil during the winter, which I read about online last fall and decided to try. 

The early warm weather has meant that the garden is ahead of last year, and everything (except for the melons and squash) is looking amazingly beautiful, vibrant, and healthy. I told my husband that I think we are definitely on track for our prettiest garden ever this year!

And our newest experiment should hopefully cut down on my ongoing workload in the garden, as well as make it practically magazine-worthy. :-) 

After reading a lot about using wood chips in the garden, I mentioned to my husband that we could try using wood chips to keep the weeds down in the garden aisles between the beds. We had discussed various options for this before, as maneuvering the push mower between the beds is very difficult (though my husband does a great job with it, but it has been frustrating for him), plus the short aisles have irrigation lines crossing them, so I had to weed those sections by hand all summer last year.

And even with mowing the longer aisles, I still had to constantly weed around the edges of the bed frames, and whenever we got a lot of rain, the aisles all turned into mucky, mosquito-filled swamps. My husband had mentioned gravel, but I didn't really want to add a lot of rocks to our garden, even small ones, plus I figured they would be uncomfortable to walk on, and while it might look nice at first, over time, they would become algae coated, muddy, and not very attractive after all. And I wasn't sure they would make a very good weed barrier anyway.

Leaves look nice and work wonderfully at keeping weeds down, but our one giant maple tree only provides enough to barely mulch one aisle, and they have to be replaced every year as they decompose fairly quickly.

What about wood chips?

I had read online that you can often get them free from municipal departments or tree-trimming services. My husband said he would look into it, and on my birthday, at the end of May, he showed up in our driveway with a pickup-truck-load of beautiful, aromatic wood chips!

He found a couple of different sources which would give him chips whenever they have them, so we have been hauling wood chips for the past several weeks, and piling them 4-5" deep in the aisles around the beds. We are almost finished now - just 2 aisles left to go, and then if we can get more I think we will also go ahead and mulch the areas between the hay bales as that section of the garden is just covered with cardboard right now, which doesn't look that nice, and some weeds do find their way through it. Plus I think it will be better for the soil underneath.
The tomato bed, before wood chips...
...And after! :)
So far, the chips have been amazing! Not only do they look beautiful, but they also absorb all of the water when we get a lot of rain - no more splashing around in the muck in my rubber boots amid swarms of mosquitoes just to get anything done! They are soft and comfortable to walk on, and they also do a remarkable job at keeping the weeds down. A few stubborn ones (dandelions, really tough grass, etc.), have poked through, but I can go around once a week with a dandelion weeder and get these few stragglers taken care of in just a few minutes - as opposed to endless and somewhat futile weeding all summer long!

Someone said online that if you put them down too deep, they could smother the earthworms, but I have not found that to be the case at all. In fact, when I have dug a couple of inches down to dig out weeds, I have found dozens of active and happy earthworms working away in the moist chips.

I also read somewhere that they may help the raised beds retain moisture longer, so we will see - I haven't tested that theory just yet, but it does make sense.

While this year in the garden has so far been a mixed bag, overall I am optimistic and hoping for a wonderful season!

I hope your summer is going well and that you are blessed in your own gardening and homesteading endeavors!


<![CDATA[7 Reasons to Embrace a Holistic Lifestyle]]>Sun, 18 Jun 2017 19:20:40 GMThttp://newholisticliving.com/1/post/2017/06/7-reasons-to-embrace-a-holistic-lifestyle.htmlHolistic living benefits
In the years since I started this site, I have come to realize that holistic living is not just a way of life that benefits those who practice it, but it also impacts the health of the planet as a whole. Living holistically doesn't just mean taking daily steps to lead a more healthy, balanced life - it also means respecting the natural world around you, and learning to recognize your place in it, as well as its impact on you.

When you truly begin to live in a holistic manner, you recognize the connections between yourself and others, as well as the natural world. By doing so, you find a deeper sense of peace and purpose in the world, and you also learn to recognize your body's natural needs and take care of yourself in a gentler and more loving way.

Here are 7 awesome benefits of living a holistic lifestyle:

1.) Improves Your Physical Health & Fitness

Of course, when many people refer to holistic living, they are really talking about holistic health. Holistic health involves learning to recognize your body's unique needs and take care of them using natural methods that work with your bodily systems rather than treating your body as the enemy or something defective that needs to be "fixed."

Living a holistically healthy lifestyle includes plenty of physical activity - and especially spending time outside in nature. There is no one right way to be active - simply participating in an activity that you enjoy and that makes you feel good is what it's all about!

Physical activity benefits your health in a number of ways, from burning calories, to strengthening muscles, stretching and lubricating joints and tissues, preventing or reducing pain, lowering stress, and even releasing endorphins which improve your mood. Exercise could be considered the best medicine there is for the human body! Do it daily for best results.

2.) Minimizes Dietary Stresses & Digestive Issues

Eating mindfully is key to holistic health and healthy living. Learning to recognize your body's unique needs when it comes to nutrition is a long process, but well worth the effort! By becoming familiar with the foods that cause you problems, you will be able to make healthier choices that also lead to better health, and make you feel a lot better, too.

Drinking plenty of water is important for detoxification and cleansing of your bodily systems. But you will also want to limit or eliminate processed foods from your diet. These foods are loaded with sugars, preservatives, and artificial colors, sweeteners, and flavors - all of which can negatively impact your health in various ways. They also often contain unhealthy processed fats, and high levels of sodium. 

Instead, choose to eat whole, natural foods filled with natural vitamins, minerals, and other healthy nutrients. (For more guidance, follow my 2 simple rules for healthy eating.)

3.) Helps You Access Your Inner Wisdom

Holistic living is about more than just the body, however. It also means learning to know the inner workings of your own mind, recognizing your triggers, and learning constructive and effective ways to deal with any deep-rooted issues. This self-awareness is geared towards self-love and self-acceptance, and will help you learn to take care of yourself in a more intuitive and caring way.

4.) Increases Positivity & Mental Clarity

Once you have learned to recognize when your mind is dwelling on negative thoughts or heading in a destructive direction, you can begin to turn your thoughts to a more positive state. Getting rid of negative self-talk goes an incredibly long way towards a happier, healthier mindset! If you find yourself criticizing yourself and others often, you may need some work in the area of positivity.

However, this won't happen overnight, and you will need to spend some time each day reflecting and meditating, witnessing your thoughts, and practicing self-acceptance. This doesn't have to take a ton of time. Starting with just 5 minutes per day can help to bring calm, focus, and clarity to your life, and build a more positive mindset which is not as easily affected by external stressors and daily challenges.

5.) Helps You Build Healthier Relationships

When you cultivate a healthier mindset, as discussed above, your relationships will most likely improve as well. A clear, focused, and peaceful mind will make it easier for you to deal with relationship challenges and communicate more calmly and clearly with those around you.

Developing healthy boundaries, practicing honesty and integrity, and accepting yourself as you are will all help to attract other holistically-minded people who will treat you with the same kindness and respect. It may also help you to recognize when others are not acting in your best interest, or are not treating you with the respect you deserve, so that you can take steps to either improve these relationships, or separate yourself from them if appropriate.

Feeling connected, secure, and sure of your place in the world is a wonderful foundation from which to care for yourself and those you love.

6.) Supports Your Local Economy

One benefit of holistic living that you may not have thought of is its impact on your local community. When you start to pay attention to where your food comes from, and how it is raised and prepared, you will likely find that some of your food sources are unsustainable and possibly even unethical. Becoming conscious of what you are eating, and where it came from, will help you to make healthier and more sustainable choices for both the planet and your local community.

Most practitioners of holistic living try to spend most of their food dollars locally, and some even practice seasonal eating to ensure that your food source is in harmony with the natural seasons where you live.

Plus, it can be fun! Learning about where your food comes from, how it is grown, and the people who grow it not only helps support the local economy, but it also strengthens community and may even help you build lasting friendships based on trust with your food providers - something that far too few of us in today's world have!

7.) Helps You Cultivate Gratitude & Balance

Living holistically means living more consciously - on all levels. Becoming more aware of the people, places, and things in your life that you are grateful for will help you find a sense of peace, calm, empathy, and strength within yourself that you never knew you had!

As you can see, holistic living is all about balance - balance not just within your body, but also in the world around you. It encompasses not only physical health, but also mental and emotional health, healthy relationships, and the health of the planet as a whole. By choosing to live in a more connected, balanced, and holistic way, we truly can change the world!

Holistically yours,


<![CDATA[Got Milk? The Great Dairy Debate]]>Sun, 11 Jun 2017 19:31:25 GMThttp://newholisticliving.com/1/post/2017/06/got-milk-the-great-dairy-debate.htmlIs Dairy Healthy?
Few foods have a more interesting history than dairy. For the past several decades, dairy has been touted as so essential for good health that, if you listened to the ads, it seemed the bones of small children must simply crumble away to dust without their daily glass of milk!

However, in recent years dairy has begun to fall out of favor as digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome and lactose intolerance have become more prevalent - or at least more obvious. 

So what is the real story on dairy? Is it good for you, or bad? Should you limit your consumption, or avoid it all together?

Today we will take a look at some of these questions and attempt to clear up some of the confusion surrounding dairy.

The Opposition Party

In recent years, the dairy nay-sayers have stated a number of reasons why dairy should be avoided. Digestive health issues are a primary concern - as well they should be, since the number of digestive disorders and chronic illnesses continues to increase, causing untold suffering for millions of people every year. But is dairy truly the cause of this epidemic, or is something else to blame?

Others have claimed that dairy is a cause of other major modern diseases such as cancer, high cholesterol, and more, while still others have blamed dairy for an increase in food and other allergies.

Environmentalists cite the terrible toll that industrial dairy farming takes on the environment, while animal rights activists protest the inhumane conditions in which dairy cattle are kept and raised.

And lastly, a few thoughtful individuals have decided that drinking another species' milk is simply unnatural. And if you really think about it, it is kind of weird... After all, milk is produced specifically to feed one's young. Baby goats don't drink cow's milk, and vice versa, and you don't see any other adult animal species consuming milk of any kind.

However, there is another side to the debate as well.

Those In Favor, Say...

On the other side are ancestral eating proponents such as those in the Weston Price camp, who feel that since animal products have been consumed by humans practically since the origin of our species, they are perfectly healthy and even necessary for optimal health.

And me? In similar food-related debates, I would often stand somewhere in the middle - everything in moderation, etc.

But dairy is a bit different, as there are so many people who do have real problems with drinking milk. So I have a few more specific suggestions than simply "consume in moderation."

1. Go Raw...

If you have a real problem with dairy, you probably already know it - or at least suspect it. Lactose intolerance is fairly widespread, although the degree of severity can vary a lot. If you experience negative digestive issues after consuming dairy, then yes,  you should probably avoid it. However, if you are very attached to dairy foods and find it hard to give them up entirely, there are a few things you can try.

For one, I would absolutely agree that the pasteurized, homogenized, highly processed milk on store shelves today bears little resemblance to what our human ancestors have consumed for thousands of years. Milk that has been treated in this manner is lacking the essential enzymes that originally helped humans to digest it - not to mention all of the important vitamins and fats that make it a truly nutritious food.

If you can find a source of raw, whole milk, give that a try, and see if it is easier for you to digest. Many people have found they can enjoy raw milk - and products made from it - with impunity, even after experiencing years of "lactose intolerance" caused by commercial milks.

2. Got Grass?

One of the best ways to ensure that the dairy you consume is healthy, that the animals were treated well, and that the environment was protected is to buy grass-fed. For the most part, grass-fed cattle are MUCH healthier than any industrially raised CAFO animal could ever be. The fresh, green grass that they consume is converted in vitamins that make their way into your milk, creating a much healthier beverage that is higher in a number of healthy fats and essential factors that are often missing from the modern American diet (such as certain important forms of Vitamin K that are ONLY found in full-fat dairy).

And yes, grass-fed animals can be a lot better for the environment, if the farmer knows what they are doing! Rotational grazing practices can actually help to enhance soil health, and reduce erosion and runoff of waste into water supplies.

That said, to be able to effectively raise all dairy cattle on grass using responsible and sustainable grazing practices would require quite a bit of land - possibly more than we have available (although I still contend that much of our agricultural land is misused and inefficiently managed, and if everyone switched to more efficient model, who knows what could be possible?)... So, in the interest of making healthier choices both for yourself and the planet, if you do consume dairy, make sure it's grass-fed, buy local whenever possible, and consume in moderation.

But Is It Really Natural?

On the "humans aren't meant to drink milk" front, I have a couple of thoughts on that as well. First of all, maybe it is weird to drink another species' milk - but then again, we humans are WEIRD! Drinking milk is probably the least of it...

Part of what makes us human is our penchant for doing weird stuff that other species don't do. After all, no other species cooks its food either. And few other species combine foods together to make a more nutritious meal, which we have been doing practically since the beginning of time - or at least, the beginning of our species.

While you can argue that our digestive systems have not evolved to digest milk, I disagree. Humans have been consuming the milk of various animals for thousands (perhaps even millions) of years. Ancient remains of human societies and primitive peoples from various countries all around the world have contained traces of milk proteins - although it was more prevalent in some regions than others (for example, dairy has never been common on the Asian continent).

Is it weird? Maybe. Is it new to our digestive systems? Hardly.

However, what IS new to us - at least in evolutionary terms - is the processing of milk. Prior to the discovery of pasteurization, milk was always consumed raw - or cooked only very slightly. Obviously, fresh milk doesn't keep for long (especially without refrigeration), so various fermentation methods were used to preserve the nutrients in milk for human consumption (and potentially make it easier to digest as well). Fermented milk products such as sour cream, cheese, yogurt, clabber, and others were prevalent before the advent of refrigeration, and many health experts now suggest that the lack of fermented foods in the modern American diet may be partly to blame for the drastic increase in digestive issues we are experiencing.

So no, pasteurized, skimmed, homogenized, artificial-strawberry-flavored milk is NOT natural. However, raw, whole milk in it's original form is far from foreign to the human body - at least in most areas of the world.

What About the Health Stuff?

Lastly, in terms of milk as a healthy food or an unhealthy one, Dr. Weston Price's research suggests that primitive cultures which consumed raw, fresh, whole-milk dairy products on a regular basis experienced better dental health, and better health overall, than those consuming a modern diet. And recent studies have found that even processed milk does not have the ill health effects that some have attributed to it. For example, a comprehensive study
of 29 different studies covering more than 900,000 people published in the April 2017 European Journal of Epidemiology found no link between milk/dairy and premature death or cardiovascular disease.

However, if you do want to consume dairy, there is no question that the best way to do it is in it's natural, unprocessed form.

And if you don't, that's fine as well!  Just as there is no rule that says you have to eat meat, there is no rule that you have to drink milk either - or eat yogurt, cheese, or ice cream. However, if you love dairy, but find it causes problems for you, give raw milk a try and see if it helps (read more about raw milk, and find sources here). If you care about the environment and the treatment of animals, buy grass-fed, and local if at all possible. But most of all, remember my 2nd rule for healthy eating, and stay away from the highly-processed, skimmed, homogenized, and otherwise depleted milk in those white plastic jugs in the refrigerator case of your local supermarket - there is no nutritional value to be found there, regardless of where you stand in the dairy debate.

Got questions? Visit our Facebook page to chime in on the debate!

To your health,