Article written by Ashley Pitman
The way you start each day is incredibly important. Whether you're a mom, a coach, a writer, a small business owner or a yoga teacher, what you do first thing in the morning matters.
According to Ayurvedic philosophy, choices that you make regarding your daily routine either build up resistance to disease or tear it down.
Ayurveda invites us to get a jump-start on the day by focusing on morning rituals that work to align the body with nature's rhythms, balance the doshas and foster self-esteem alongside self-discipline.
Your mind may say you have to check emails, take the dog out, get the kids out the door, that you can't be late for work or that you just don't have enough time to cultivate your own morning rituals.
But, if you can only make time for one ritual that will improve your health, let it be this.....
Start the day out with a mug of warm water and the juice of half a lemon.
It's so simple and the benefits are just too good to ignore. Warm water with lemon:
1. Boosts your immune system
Lemons are high in Vitamin C and potassium. Vitamin C is great for fighting colds and potassium stimulates brain and nerve function and helps control blood pressure.
2. Balances pH
Lemons are an incredibly alkaline food, believe it or not. Yes, they are acidic on their own, but inside our bodies they're alkaline (the citric acid does not create acidity in the body once metabolized). As you wellness warriors know, an alkaline body is really the key to good health.
3. Helps with weight loss
Lemons are high in pectin fiber, which helps fight hunger cravings. It also has been shown that people who maintain a more alkaline diet lose weight faster. And, my experience is that when I start the day off right, it's easier to make the best choices for myself the rest of the day.
4. Aids digestion
The warm water serves to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and peristalsis—the waves of muscle contractions within the intestinal walls that keep things moving. Lemons and limes are also high in minerals and vitamins and help loosen ama, or toxins, in the digestive tract.
5. Acts as a gentle, natural diuretic
Lemon juice helps flush out unwanted materials because lemons increase the rate of urination in the body. Toxins are, therefore, released at a faster rate which helps keep your urinary tract healthy.
6. Clears skin
The vitamin C helps decrease wrinkles and blemishes. Lemon water purges toxins from the blood which helps keep skin clear as well.
7. Hydrates the lymph system
This cup of goodness helps start the day on a hydrated note, which helps prevent dehydration (obviously) and adrenal fatigue. When your body is dehydrated, or deeply dehydrated (adrenal fatigue) it can't perform all of it's proper functions, which leads to toxic buildup, stress, constipation, and the list goes on. Your adrenals happen to be two small glands that sit on top of your kidneys, and along with your thyroid, create energy. They also secrete important hormones, including aldosterone. Aldosterone is a hormone secreted by your adrenals that regulates water levels and the concentration of minerals, like sodium, in your body, helping you stay hydrated. Your adrenals are also responsible for regulating your stress response. So, the bottom line is that you really don't want to mess with a deep state of dehydration!
Adopting just this one practice of drinking a cup of warm water with lemon in the morning for a month can radically alter your experience of the day. Don't be surprised if you begin to view mornings in a new light.
Like I said, the recipe is really simple—a cup of warm (not hot) water and the juice from half a lemon.
In the comments below, tell me which one of these benefits is going to get you to try this morning ritual. Or, if you're already a lemon water junkie, what specific benefits have you noticed?
We knew about the "Dirty Dozen" list for fruits and veggies , but our friends at No More Dirty Looks tipped us off to the David Suzuki Foundation's new "Dirty Dozen" list of toxic ingredients in cosmetics and personal care.
If you're not familiar with David Suzuki, he's a beloved Canadian geneticist, educator, environmentalist and co-founder of the foundation that bears his name. Based on an online survey of 6,243 people and 12,550 products, the Suzuki foundation concluded that 80% of participants' beauty products contained at least one of the "Dirty Dozen" ingredients. Yikes!
The path to developing a toxic-free beauty routine begins with an inventory of what's behind your shower curtain and inside your medicine cabinet or dopp kit. Whether you are shopping for shampoo, conditioner, nail polish, sunscreen or moisturizer, be sure to read the ingredient label with the same scrutiny as you would read your food's nutrition label and ANDI score. You can also check out No More Dirty Looks for potent product picks that deliver natural, safe results across a range of budgets.
Here's the Dirty Dozen list of toxic ingredients to avoid. You can check out David Suzuki's full report here (pdf):
1. BHA and BHT
2. Coal tar dyes
4. Dibutyl phthalate
5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
7. Parfum (a.k.a. fragrance)
8. PEG compounds
11. Sodium laureth sulfate
So why exactly is SLS so bad?
Here are what tests show about Sodium Lauryl Sulfate:
(1) SLS PENETRATES EYES AND TISSUES. Tests show that SLS can penetrate into the eyes as well as systemic tissues (brain, heart, liver, etc.) and shows long-term retention in those tissues. Especially when used in soaps and shampoos, there is an immediate concern relating to the penetration of SLS into the eyes and other tissues. This is especially important in infants, where considerable growth is occuring, because a much greater uptake occurs by tissues of younger eyes, and SLS changes the amounts of some proteins in cells from eye tissues. Tissues of young eyes may be more susceptible to alterations by SLS.
(2) SLS FORMS NITRATES. When SLS is used in shampoos and cleansers containing nitrogen-based ingredients, it can form carcinogenic nitrates that can enter the blood stream in large numbers. They can cause eye irritations, skin rashes, hair loss, scalp scurf similar to dandruff, and allergic reactions. 
(3) SLS PRODUCES NITROSAMINES. (potent carcinogens that cause the body to absorb nitrates at higher levels than eating nitrate-contaminated food like hot dogs or lunch meat): Dr. David H. Fine, the chemist who uncovered NDELA contamination in cosmetics, estimates that a person would be applying 50 to 100 micrograms of nitrosamine to the skin each time he or she used a nitrosamine-contaminated cosmetic. By comparison, a person consuming sodium nitrate-preserved bacon is exposed to less than one microgram of nitrosamine. 
(4) SLS STRIPS MOISTURE AND OIL FROM THE SKIN. According to the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, SLS produced skin and hair damage, including cracking and severe inflammation of the derma-epidermal tissue. Skin layers may separate and inflame due to its protein-denaturing properties. 
(5) SLS IRRITATES SCALP AND MAY PROMOTE HAIR LOSS 
(6) SLS CAN DAMAGE DNA IN CELLS - according to Japanese studies. 
SLS and all its cousins are very harsh detergents that strip the skin's moisture barrior (which is linked to immunity and skin health) and causes serious health problems during testing on animals. It is linked to harming children's eyes, denaturing protein (thereby possibly contributing to hair loss or thinning), and combines with DEA, MEA and TEA (often found in the same shampoo) to form nitrosamines, a potent carcinogen. Since it is only included in products because of its potent foaming action, the question you must consider is:
What's more important: the foam or your health?
You CAN choose healthful alternatives:
Dare to Care What Touches Your Skin and Hair!
References for the above information:
 Green, Dr. Keith. Detergent Penetration into Young and Adult Eyes. Department of Ophthalmology Medical Coggege of GA, Augusta GA
 Hampton, Aubrey. Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients. Organica Press Metarasso, or Hampton, Aubrey. Natural Organic Hair and Skin Care. Organica Press, Tampa FL
 Journal of Invest. Dermatology, 32-581, 1959 "Denaturation of Epidermal Keratin by Surface Active Agents"
 Wright, Camille S. Shampoo Report, Images International, Inc. 1989
 Vance, Judi. Beauty to Die For. Promotion Publishing, San Diego, CA 1998. Page 23
Article by Louise Jensen
Microgreens are plants grown in soil (or a soil substitute) and harvested at a young seedling stage. They have a stronger flavor than sprouts (partially germinated seeds produced in water), can be eaten raw, and are full of nutrients.
It is super easy to grow salad greens at home. Try using buckwheat and sunflower seeds as an inexpensive, nutritionally superior, clean alternative to lettuce. The greens can also be added to juices to produce a chlorophyll-rich drink. Alternatively, use in sandwiches or add to soups or a stir fry.
The sunflower part of this mix will provide amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins B and E, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and chlorophyll (one of the benefits of chlorophyll is that it assists the body in maintaining normal blood pressure). The the buckwheat portion, meanwhile, contributes vitamins A, vitamin C, and rutin (used in naturopathic medicine to treat high blood pressure, chilblains, and can help prevent strokes).
To begin growing the greens, place one cup of organic unhulled buckwheat and sunflower seeds in a sprouting jar and soak for 12 hours. Rinse, drain well and leave for 24 hours to sprout. Place the sprouts evenly in a soil tray containing approximately a 2 cm depth of damp soil, and cover with a thin layer of soil. Ensure you water daily to keep the soil damp, but not too wet. Leave at room temperature.
The greens should be ready to harvest in approximately seven days. Use scissors to cut just above the soil surface, wash well and consume as soon as possible for maximum nutritional intake.
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