Nutrition and non-toxic living

Although non-toxic living is my jam, I talk A LOT about food.

This might seem incongruent but, IMO, it goes hand in hand. You see, a good portion of our toxic exposure comes from the foods we eat. That could be from conventionally grown produce that is covered in pesticide-residue or packaged foods filled with additives.

You might think:

  • The pesticide amounts are so minute
  • Our bodies are designed to detoxify/eliminate bad stuff
  • It’s safe; otherwise, why would they sell it?

But really, who knows for sure?!

The lawsuits against a very large offender continue to this day…

The problem I see is that most of us have NO IDEA how well our bodies are metabolizing these toxins. Are you 100% confident your kidneys, liver, GI tract and skin are running optimally? I sure ain’t.

The more I research this area, the more I see our body leaves clues and we need to pay better attention to them. And the more I believe our detoxification + eliminative pathways are in need of more support.

Here are three ways to love on your detox organs:

  • Eat organic: one of the best things you can do is avoid conventionally grown food in the first place. I realize this is not realistic for all of us… it’s not always available and can be cost-prohibitive. Just do your best. If it has a thick peel, like melons or avocados, it’s usually not worth spending the extra buck.
  • Up your fruit intake: fruits are some of the most astringent and hydrating foods on the planet. They will help cleanse out your lymphatic system, which is basically your body’s sewage system. You want to make sure it’s not clogged up. Here are some of my favourites.
  • Use essential oils: essential oils are a simple and effective way to help move toxins out of the body and support your cleansing organs. My whole passion for oils and the reason I became an advocate + educator stems from a detoxification blend called Zendocrine I purchased for my son. I am currently obsessed with Juniper Berry to support my kidneys. I shop my oils here.
  • Rebuild with herbs: you can be rebounding to move your lymph or exercising to sweat out the toxins but if your eliminative pathways are blocked, you won’t get far. Herbs are a great way to support kidneys, liver, GI tract and any system in your body. Be sure to always check with your health practitioner before you begin using herbs if you have a medical condition, are on medications or have any concerns.

So now you better understand the two sides of non-toxic living: reducing your toxic exposure AND supporting your body’s natural elimination processes.

Got questions? Comment below.

M.

PS – do you want to learn more about non-toxic living and the different ways you can support your health naturally? Make sure to join my email list to receive valuable information every two months.

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What is non-toxic living?

I just realized I’ve been sharing toxic-free, plant-based living for 2.5 years now and I’ve never actually provided my own “Rustik Health definition”. Just like anything else, non-toxic living means different things to different people.

The easiest way for me to define it is by explaining what it is and what it is not in my view.

What it is

Non-toxic living is about avoiding any man-made chemical in the products we consume internally, put on our bodies and use in our homes. It is also about ensuring our bodies are functioning optimally to metabolize any existing toxins we have stored over the years and the toxins we can’t avoid exposure to in our daily lives.

Non-toxic living is a continuum. You can take it as far as you want to go… and you can make it a quick journey or a slower, ongoing journey. Personally, I hopped on the bandwagon about a decade ago and made some drastic changes initially but have kept a more moderate pace ever since.

Non-toxic living is a LIFESTYLE. It is a practice that weaves seamlessly into your everyday living. And while it may seem daunting at first, you will soon realize that it is WAY:

  • SIMPLER – no more driving across town to various natural health stores to get all the products you need. When you do run out, you can usually quickly whip up a new batch.
  • CHEAPER – many of the ingredients can be found at discount stores and they often serve multiple purposes.
  • GREENER – again, one product can serve multiple purposes so less plastic bottles make their way into our homes (and, ultimately, landfills).

What it is NOT

Non-toxic living is not about perfection. Nope… I don’t own an organic mattress (yet!) and I haven’t replaced my stash of nail polish (I just avoid wearing any as much as possible) and I’m still searching for an effective DIY dishwasher machine soap (working on it!). It’s about focusing on the positive changes you are making and not on the places you fall short.

Non-toxic living is about accepting certain social constraints and, especially, not judging others. Yes, I will use that toxic-ingredient-filled hand soap at the restaurant and won’t dart out of a room sprayed with synthetic fragrance (although I may hold my breath for a while… lol!). We’re not all of the same mind or beliefs and that is TOTALLY OKAY.

Non-toxic living is not about knowing and understanding all of the questionable toxic chemicals out there. Honestly, I used to try to remember them all… then I figured why on earth would I bog down my brain with that useless information?! At the end of the day, all you need to know is they are either: neurotoxic (super bad for your brain), endocrine-disruptive (they mess with your hormones) and/or carcinogenic (screw up your DNA).

When you live a non-toxic lifestyle, you frankly couldn’t care less about the names of all those toxic ingredients in our foods and products because they are no longer part of your world… they become completely IRRELEVANT.

Innocent until proven guilty

People will argue that in many cases there’s no proof these man-made chemicals carry negative effects. I say that’s exactly why I avoid them as much as possible. I’m not going to be a guinea pig (and neither is my family), plus there’s no good reason to use most of them. Nature has provided us with the powerful and safe tools we need.

While I see value in the notion of “innocent until proven guilty” in the context of criminal justice, I see ZERO value in it in the context of the safety of man-made chemicals.

What steps have you taken lately towards a non-toxic lifestyle?

M.

PS – I’ll soon be offering group challenges to help you either get started on your non-toxic lifestyle or push your existing journey one step further. Sign up below to BE THE FIRST to know more!

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Liquid sunshine morning drink

I have to say this binge-watching of hardcore juice-pushers and fruitarian-eating YouTube videos is lasting MUCH longer than I expected it to. It’s also having an insane impact on my “diet”.

Only a few months ago, I would have told you I would NEVER remove meat from my “diet”… but ALL animal products (except bee products) have gone out the window these last several weeks except for the very rare occasion.

For the record, I hate the word “diet” which is why it’s in quotation marks. I really, really hate it. Can we remove it from the modern vocabulary?!

I was already eating loads of veggies but I’ve shifted my focus to the fruit – the melons, the berries and the grapes (you can read why here). I’ve even TONED DOWN the veggies.

The ultimate goal is to eventually go 100% raw but I still crave the odd roasted vegetable. We’ll see how my body adjusts to the already drastic changes I’ve done and we’ll go from there. I do see myself (finally!) being able to do a real juice fast and I’m actually excited about it instead of dreading it.

So whether or not this type of eating is good for everyone would certainly spark a huge debate. Always do your research before switching anything up and reach out to your healthcare professional if you have any reason to be concerned.

I’m personally going this route because it makes sense to me that fruit (and some fruits in particular) are highly astringent, cleansing and hydrating compared to most vegetables and the other food groups.

And if the so-called expert sources I’m paying attention to now are correct, all my current health issues center around excess mucus (I know, that sounds gross…). I am voluntarily being a guinea pig to see if I can break it up and eliminate it from my body through these food changes.

I’ve been having good days and bad days but it’s all part of the healing process. I’ve got decades of milk-drinking and salami-eating under my belt so I expect it’ll take a few years to undo it all.

One of my favourite quotes is from actress Kristen Bell’s therapist. She shared that he once told her: “you can’t walk 10 miles into the woods and expect to get out in 5…” It was said in a totally different context but I think it applies really well to health.

What about this liquid sunshine morning drink you ask?! Am I ever going to get around to talking about it???

Well, it’s how I’ve been starting my days on this fruitarian regime. The first thing I’ve been drinking is a mish mash of citrus juices: the ULTIMATE mucus destroyers.

There’s no precise recipe here… I’ll take whatever combo I’m feeling that day of lemon, lime, orange and/or grapefruit, use my citrus press machine and fill up a 6 oz glass. To protect my enamel, I’ll use a straw or chug it so fast down the back of my throat it never gets to touch my teeth.

Side note: depending on your health struggles, high-acid fruit to break your fast in the morning might not be the best option. Some days I’m not feeling the acidity and will reach for watermelon.

I’ll share more about what I’m doing and how things are working as I continue to move forward on this journey. To get the latest blog post updates, make sure you subscribe to my blog so you can get the notifications in your emails. Or, join my mailing list.

Cheers to citrus juice!

M.

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Top 3 essential oils for beautiful hair

Essential oils have a wide range of benefits for hair, ranging from cleansing to growth to scalp health. Plus, they can leave your hair smelling absolutely amazing!

Since going “no ‘poo”, I’ve been relying on essential oils a lot to add punch and variety to the mix. And when my hair smells beautiful, I tend to feel that way too 😉

Here are my favourite 3 essential oils for gorgeous hair.

Tea Tree

Tea tree, being one of the most anti-microbial of essential oils, is a great addition to your hair care routine to address dandruff and (for those of you with children, especially) lice.

I add 2-3 drops of tea tree to my baking soda and water mixture to keep my hair super clean.

Geranium

While geranium is a great support in balancing your hair’s natural oil production whether it’s oily OR dry, I mainly use geranium for its super “femme” smell. If you sniff it straight from the bottle, the floral scent can be intense. But, in your hair, I like that it’s strong enough to smell for a long time.

I also add 2-3 drops of geranium to my baking soda and water mixture.

Sandalwood

Sandalwood is my natural leave-in conditioner. After rinsing with water and apple cider vinegar, I run a drop or two of this oil through my hair. It is great for dry scalp and I enjoy the hippie smell. It’s woodsy and earthy with a hint of sweetness.

What essential oils do you love for your hair?

M.

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Picture of smoothie

What’s in my smoothie?

I need to preface this post by saying that my smoothie-recipe skills are by no means refined. One thing you need to know about me is I don’t eat for taste (most of the time), I eat for purpose. And that purpose is HEALTH…

So my smoothie recipe is not for every palate. If you’re a crunchy health nut like me, you might think it is delicious! Otherwise, don’t get your hopes up 😉

This is my basic recipe, and it rarely changes:

  • 1 banana 🍌
  • 1 cup pineapple 🍍 or mango 🥭 
  • 3-4 kale leaves or a handful of spinach
  • 1/2 bunch parsley 
  • 1 chunk cucumber 🥒 
  • 1 tbsp goji berries 
  • 3 tbsp hemp seeds or chia seeds
  • 1 tsp spirulina or chlorella
  • 1 tsp Maca or Tulsi
  • 1 tsp bee pollen 🐝 
  • 1-2 cups spring or coconut water 💧
  • 1 tbsp coconut or MCT oil (occasionally)

No dairy… no store-bought dairy alternatives… no protein powders… just simple, mostly unprocessed foods!

What’s in your smoothie?

M.

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Essential oils and pets

Essential oils and pets

If you’re in my Rustik Health Education and Promos Facebook group, you might have read my post about the time I sprayed my outdoor cat with doTERRA TerraShield essential oil blend to help repel ticks (and insects in general).

At the time, I didn’t know the blend included catnip… so minutes after I sprayed “Kitterson”, he was licking himself all over! That was a fail.

As an essential oils educator, one of the top questions I get asked is if oils are safe to use around pets. Just Google the topic and you’ll find TONS of controversy and opposing opinions on this.

Here are my favourite sources on the topic to help you form your own opinion.

What a famed aromatherapist says…

British aromatherapist Robert Tisserand is said to have renewed interest in essentials oil when he published his book The Art of Aromatherapy in 1977. He has since written an authoritative book on essential oils safety, done many lectures and presentations, and written multiple research articles.

On his website, Robert Tisserand addresses the issue of essential oils and pets. He focuses specifically on cats, given cats almost completely lack important liver enzymes which support the metabolism of many essential oil constituents. Because of this, cats are at the most theoretical risk of toxicity (it’s much less of an issue with dogs). That being said, he believes a small amount of any essential oil, and a moderate amount of most, will not harm your cat.

A small amount of any essential oil, and a moderate amount of most, will not harm your cat.

What scientific research says…

Ok, well… there isn’t a ton of research on essential oils and pet safety, and that is part of the issue. But one holistic British veterinarian did some great investigating and I recommend you read the article.

Here are the main takeaways I got from it:

  • In cases where toxicity was observed, applications were 5 – 10 times more concentrated than usual.
  • Given the lack of enzymes, one must consider the dose and frequency of essential use with cats to allow for proper metabolism.
  • The quality of the essential oils used matters.

There are a few oils that make the list as contraindicated for cats – but truly remain listed as contraindicated for almost all of the aromatherapy world. 

However, there are a few oils you would definitely want to avoid using around pets but these are the same oils you want to avoid yourself: Bitter Almond, Boldo, Calamus, Garlic, Horseradish, Mustard, Sassafras, Wormseed (Chemopodium), and Pennyroyal.

What the largest essential oils company says…

I know what you’re going to say.

Of course the largest essential oils company in the world is going to say oils are safe to use around pets. They want to sell more oils. And to that I would say the largest essential oils company in the world would not have become so if it was harming pets left, right and center 😉

Here is a great one-pager from doTERRA with tips on using essential oils with animals.

Do you use essential oils around your pets?

M.

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Dehydrated juice pulp crackers

Hassle-free dehydrated crackers

Since upgrading to a better juicer, I am obsessed with making dehydrated crackers from the dry left-over pulp. I used to be intimidated by this but I gave it a shot, was quite successful and eventually developed my own recipes.

And by “developed my own recipes”, I mean I looked at different recipes online, got inspired and just wing it each time… I literally mix and match random ingredients, and eyeball the quantities.

Combine any of the following in a bowl:

  • Dry fruit and vegetable pulp (mostly vegetable)
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Dab of hot sauce
  • Sprinkle of nutritional yeast
  • Drizzle of tamari sauce
  • Seeds (sunflower, sesame, etc.)

Then, I flatten the mixture with my hands on parchment paper. I pop the tray back into the dehydrator and set the machine to 118F. I leave it for 4 hours, flip the cracker and then dehydrate for another 4 hours.

They don’t really look appetizing but they are a great replacement for the processed corn chips I used to dip in hummus or guacamole. Plus, they are raw vegan approved 😉

Do you have any dehydrator cracker ingredient ideas for me?

M.

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Best summer detox foods

It’s summer up here in Canada so fresh fruit is the only food on my mind! When the sun is scorching, what better food to bite into than ripe, sweet and juicy fruit of any kind…

In general, fruit pack a powerful detox punch. Here are 3 fruits to focus on if you are looking to help your body cleanse and detox:

Grapes

Apparently, the “grape detox diet” is a thing. You’ll find all sorts of stories about it by researching online. It usually calls for only eating grapes for extended periods of time (AKA a mono-diet).

Eating only one fruit in this fashion can certainly help detoxify by virtue of removing a huge burden from the digestive process. At this point, I can’t see myself trying or advocating a grape-only diet but I totally see why it’s a worthwhile indulgence.

Grapes are an excellent source of flavonoids and resveratrol, which support cardiovascular health, have antioxidant activity and demonstrate some anticancer effects.

Tip: grapes are often a heavily-sprayed crop. Although more expensive, it is totally worth buying organic if you have access and to truly support detoxification.

Berries

Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries… there are so many good things to say about all the different types of berries!

The dark-coloured berries are renowned for their super high antioxidant levels. Did you know that, according to ayurvedic tradition, the red-hued berries are powerful lymph movers?

“The primary function of the lymph is to remove cellular waste while circulating the immune system throughout the body.” (Source)

Unlike the blood, there is no “pump” in our bodies to circulate the lymph. So on top of deep breathing, rebounding, drinking plenty of water and etc., make sure you are consuming the right foods!

Watermelon

This is definitely the fruit of the season. Is there anything more refreshing than watermelon on a blistering summer day?!

Since getting a new juicer for my birthday, I’ve been juicing watermelon every morning and consuming a good 20 ounces. It is full of pure water to help you re-hydrate, contains an important antioxidant called lycopene and is also a powerful diuretic.

Natural, food or herb-based diuretics are valuable detoxification tools as they help the kidneys filter and pass more urine. This is one of the ways you remove waste products and excess fluid from your body.

Tip: add a drop of doTERRA lime essential oil for extra detoxifying power.

What is your favourite summer fruit?

M.

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How essential oils work

This is by no means an exhaustive explanation or list of how essential oils work for the mind or in the body. But it gives you a general idea of what these amazing plant essences can do for you!

Here are 2 easy-to-remember ways essential oils work to positively impact your health:

Olfactory System

The most simple and popular way to use essential oils is by inhaling its beautiful scent. Okay, some of them don’t smell that great…

But remember! Regardless of what you think of the smell, that powerful aromatic compound is passing through your nasal cavity, getting picked up by your olfactory receptor sites and directly affecting the limbic area of your brain.

That means, you can use essential oils to positively impact your mood, enhance your memory and help manage your emotions. I love diffusing a citrus oil in the morning to take the edge off grumpy people and then a woodsy oil in the evening to wind down before bedtime.

Even though you’re just breathing it in, some of the essential oil components also get into your blood stream through the small capillaries in your lungs.

Passive absorption

Another way to use essential oils is topically. Essential oils are teeny, tiny molecules that easily pass through your skin. Some are said to even be able to pass through your blood-brain barrier!

They are so easily absorbed that your body doesn’t need to break down, convert or take up any energy to use them.

Although essential oils will make their way throughout the body, applying them topically can help you target a particular area of interest. I love rubbing them on my neck when I’m feeling tension, on my tummy when it’s causing issues or on my joints when they are sore.

What’s your favourite way to use essential oils?

M.

Ready to start using essential oils as part of your lifestyle? Learn more.

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Super green and clean laundry routine

IMO, the easiest place in your home to eliminate toxic chemicals is your laundry room. And, it really doesn’t have to be complicated at all!

I literally only use three simple ingredients: soap nuts, vinegar and doTERRA Purify essential oil. No mixing required! Plus, two tools: a muslin bag to hold the soap nuts and dryer balls. Occasionally, I will use doTERRA OnGuard cleaner concentrate to remove tough stains.

To wash, put 4-5 soap nuts in the muslin bag and put 4-5 drops of essential oil on the bag. Throw this in the washing machine tub with your dirty clothes. If using the concentrate, apply to stains as soon as possible after they happen and let sit at least an hour before washing.

To dry, put 4-5 drops of essential oil on each dryer ball and throw into the dryer tub with your wet laundry. And that’s it, folks! The smell will be super light and clean.

The bottle of essential oil lasts me about two months and I’m only halfway through the 1 KG soap nuts bag I bought 6 months ago. I’ve had the dryer balls a good two years and they are getting quite tired… Buy the biggest tub of vinegar you can find and it will last you a few months.

So not only is this the purest way to do your laundry (and very minimalistic!), it’s also super cost-effective. You don’t have to worry about any of these products touching your skin or going into the earth.

Give it a try and let me know how you like it 🙂

M.

PS – If you need help getting the essential oil and concentrate, send me an email or comment below and I’ll hook you up.