The Dark Side of Blue Light

In conjunction with the publication of my article in the July / August 2015 issue, I’ve put together this post which provides more information to those of you interested in this subject.

Light and Health Program Director Mariana Figueiro, from the Lighting Research Center (LRC) and Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, reveals surprising facts about the effects of light – its presence, its absence, and its patterns – on human health.

Learn about the fascinating mysteries of sleep.

Learn about a nifty free software app to reduce the blue light that is emitted from your digital devices.

Click here to install the free software called F.lux

For iPhones and iPads you can install this free blue light filter app by clicking here.

For Android run devices, install the free app Twilight.

For information about protecting your eyes from blue light exposure by wearing crizal prevencia glass lens watch the following clips.

The Yogic Benefits of Ghee

Ghee_Lamp_8401_BLOGHomemade ghee candle. Image by Kyra Xavia

In conjunction with the publication of Yoga Scene, April 2015, which includes my article about the ‘Yogic Benefits of Ghee,’ I’ve put together this post to provide information about how to make your own ghee at home, as well as some clips which explain various techniques that enhance wellbeing using ghee.

Not only is ghee an effective digestive aid, it lubricates joints, softens tendons, and nourishes the skin, also making your skin and hair shiny and healthy. Ghee enhances the memory too, and calms a scattered and agitated mind.

Ghee has been around for thousands of years and it’s one of the most healing and nourishing substances on Earth.

The following clip demonstrates how easy it is to apply abhyanga (self massage) using ghee to nourish skin, brighten the complexion, and calm the nervous system.

To make ghee candles

The Benefits of Ghee

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Ghee_8241_BLOGHomemade ghee made from raw, cultured, organic butter. Image by Kyra Xavia

In conjunction with the publication of my article titled ‘Glorious ghee’ in the May / June, 2015 issue of Organic NZ Magazine, I’ve put together this post with clips that explain the many benefits of ghee, as well as instructions on how to make your own at home. If you’re curious about the special energetic qualities of this medicinal food in regards to Ayurveda medicine and how it can enhance your Yoga and meditation practice, please check out another post here.

The following short clip discusses why ghee is different to butter.

Ghee also contains an important vitamin called K2. The following clip explains more but I would recommend including homemade ghee instead of taking a supplement.

To make ghee at home yourself, follow the simple method shown in the following youtube clip.
Always use unsalted, cultured, certified organic, pasture raised butter.

The Crucial Role of Whales

It’s becoming clear that whales do far more than scientists ever imagined and their crucial role is only now being understood in a wider context.

Before their numbers were reduced, it seems that whales might have been responsible for removing tens of millions of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year.

Quite simply, whales can help change the climate.

If humanity ensured the return of the great whales by protecting them and their environment, they could undo some of the damage done, both to the living systems of the sea, and to the atmosphere.

Credits:
Editor: Steve Agnos
Producer: Chris Agnos
Narration: George Monbiot

For more from George Monbiot, visit monbiot.com/ and for more on rewilding check out George Monbiot’s book Feral: rewilding the land, the sea and human life.

Music Credits:
Cylinder 2 – Chris Zabriskie
Dramatic Film Strings (Cinematic Movie Soundtrack) – Ramazan Yuksel

Film Credits:
The majority of footage found in this film was generously donated courtesy of Peter Schneider of underwatercam.tv.

Academic Sources:
Stephen Nicol et al, 2010. Southern Ocean iron fertilization by baleen whales and Antarctic krill. Fish and Fisheries, vol 11, pp 203–209.
Kakani Katija and John O. Dabiri, 2009. A viscosity-enhanced mechanism for biogenic ocean mixing. Nature, Vol. 460, pp 624-627. doi:10.1038/nature08207
Joe Roman and James J. McCarthy, 2010) The Whale Pump: Marine Mammals Enhance Primary Productivity in a Coastal Basin. PLoS ONE vol 5 no 10, pp 1-8. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0013255
Daniel G. Boyce, Marlon R. Lewis and Boris Worm, 2010. Global phytoplankton decline over the past century. Nature, Vol. 466, pp591-596. doi:10.1038/nature09268
Steve Nichol, 12th July 2011. Vital Giants: why living seas need whales. New Scientist, No.2820. http://www.newscientist.com/article/m…
Trish J. Lavery et al, 2010. Iron defecation by sperm whales stimulates carbon export in the Southern Ocean. Proceedings of the Royal Society: B. Vol 277, pp 3527-3531.doi: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0863
James A. Estes, et al, 2011. Trophic Downgrading of Planet Earth. Science, Vol 333, pp 301-306. doi: 10.1126/science.1205106

 

That Unique Smell of Rainfall on Earth Finally Explained

Scientists may have discovered how that distinct smell of rain on earth (known as petrichor) occurs.

Using high-speed cameras, MIT researchers observed that when a raindrop hits a surface, it traps tiny air bubbles at the point of contact.
The bubbles then shoot upward, ultimately bursting from the drop in a fizz of aerosols.

Interestingly, the study showed that not all surfaces and not all rainfall intensities are conducive to generating aerosols.
Heavy rains, for example, are not ideal for aerosol production, nor is rain falling on sand.

“Until now, people didn’t know that aerosols could be generated from raindrops on soil,” explains Youngsoo Joung, a coauthor of the study. “This finding should be a good reference for future work, illuminating microbes and chemicals existing inside soil and other natural materials, and how they can be delivered in the environment, and possibly to humans.”

We may finally have a scientific explanation as to why walking in the forest after a spring rain is so energising and uplifting. (You’re experiencing natural aromatherapy along with a perfect dose of beneficial bacteria.)
Once again the vital relationship between beneficial soil bacteria to human health is coming to the fore, suggesting there may be even more reason to spend time close to nature.

Organic Skincare

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This post has been created in conjunction with the publication of my article about organic skincare in the January / February 2015 issue of Organic NZ magazine.

Natural and organic skincare is experiencing a global boom as consumers wake up to the fact that conventional products contain a plethora of harmful ingredients. With so many new products coming onto the market and many brands jumping on the greenwashing bandwagon, how can consumers know what brands to trust? Well for starters, there are some important distinctions between natural and organic.

The word ‘natural’ has been so misused as a selling point by the advertising industry that it means very little. For an entertaining look at the greenwashing that goes on in the advertising and packaging of ‘natural’ products, watch this clip. Although it focuses on food, the same misleading approach can also apply to personal care products.

CERTIFIED NATURAL

Certified natural products are definitely a healthier option than conventional products, but they are not certified organic.

To create a recognised standard for products made with natural ingredients, the German certifying agency BDIH was established in 2001.

European-based Natrue followed suit in 2007 with three different certifications:
1) natural,
2) natural with an organic portion,
3) certified organic
All have the same logo (see below) but a different subheading, so if you’re wanting a certified organic product registered with Natrue, read labels carefully. To learn more about Natrue standards visit  www.natrue.org.

NATRUE_LOGO

CERTIFIED ORGANIC

Certified organic products must meet standards that surpass natural certification. Today, organic certification is the best guarantee consumers have that skincare products are safe, healthy and environmentally sustainable. Organic manufacturers, producers and processors are subject to rigorous inspections by third-party inspectors, and only products that meet the highest standard (containing more than 95% certified organic ingredients) will be free from harsh synthetic surfactants, artificial fragrances, pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics, heavy metals, GMOs, nanoparticles, and plastic microbeads.

But there are two different tiers within most certified organic standards –
1 – Products with a minimum of 95% certified organic ingredients and,
2 – Products made with a minimum of 70% certified organic ingredients.

But matters can get complicated for consumers because not all organic standards are the same and labelling requirements differ.

For more information about different organic certifiers and their standards please click here.

New Zealand has two main organic certifiers:
AsureQuality doesn’t have a separate health and beauty standard, but as long as skincare brands meet their organic production standards (for farming and food) they can gain certification.

AssureQuality Organic Logo

BioGro developed their health and beauty standards as recently as June 2013. BioGro also adopted Natrue certification under license.

Both certifiers have two tiers for organic health and beauty products.

95%+    Products with a minimum of 95% certified organic ingredients are identified by the words ‘certified organic’ and the certifier’s logo on the front of products (displaying the actual percentage is voluntary).

70%+    Products ‘made with organic ingredients’ contain a minimum of 70% certified organic ingredients. Products must display the percentage of certified organic ingredients alongside the certifier’s logo. With this category, BioGro doesn’t allow its logo on the front, while AsureQuality allows its logo on the front of packaging along with the words ‘certified organic’.

NOTE: Water, minerals, salts and preservatives cannot be included as organic ingredients in the 95%+ or the 70%+ (but may be in the remaining portion of up to 5% or up to 30%).

RECOMMENDED BRANDS

The following five brands are those I use myself and feel confident recommending. Plantae and Viola are made here in New Zealand. Mukti is produced in Australia. Mukti and Viola package their products in glass, with Mukti using biophotonic glass, which protects, preserves and energises the products naturally. Dr Hauschka, Plantae and Weleda apply anthroposophical principles in the harvesting of ingredients and the manufacturing of their products. 

Dr Hauschka
Mukti
Plantae
Viola
Weleda

 

The Benefits of Fermented Foods

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In conjunction with the publication of my article in Organic NZ magazine (September / October issue, 2014), I’ve put this post together explaining why fermented or cultured food in our diet plays such a crucial role to well-being, especially in regards to the human microbiome. (Due space restrictions in the magazine, the references for the article are posted here.)

References
1 – E Clair et al. Effects of Roundup and glyphosate on three food microorganisms: Geotrichum candidum, Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus. Curr Microbiol. May 2012 64(5).
2 – M. Frémont et al. High-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing reveals alterations of intestinal microbiota in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome patients. Anaerobe. Aug 2013.
3 – A.K Adiloğlu, et al. The effect of kefir consumption on human immune system: a cytokine study. Mikrobiyoloji Bulteni 2013, 47(2).
4 – Z.B Guzel-Setdim et al. Review: functional properties of kefir. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. Mar 2011 51(3).
5 – H. Szaefer et al. Modulation of CYP1A1, CYP1A2 and CYP1B1 expression by cabbage juices and indoles in human breast cell lines. Nutr Cancer Aug 2012 64(6) .
6 – B.E. Licznerska et al, Modulation of CYP19 expression by cabbage juices and their active components: indole-3-carbinol and 3,3′-diindolylmethene in human breast epithelial cell. Eur J Nutr. Aug 2013 52(5).
7 – K.Y. Park et al. Health benefits of kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables) as a probiotic food. J Med Food. Jan 2014 17(1).

Drinking_Kefir_6116_Web                                                                           Photo: Kyra Xavia, www.kyraxavia.com

It’s now widely accepted that a modern lifestyle and diet can negatively impact the diverse community of microorganisms responsible for health (the human microbiome), but restoring and maintaining bacterial balance can be as simple and enjoyable as consuming fermented foods that you can make at home. It’s also more cost effective for supporting digestive health long-term than purchasing probiotic supplements.

For further reading and recipes see the end of this post.

The following clips explain how health depends upon the human microbiome.


Click here to watch a great interview that discusses the breakthroughs in understanding the importance of the human microbiome.

For further reading and recipes to make your own cultured foods
• Missing Microbes. Martin J. Blaser (2014)
• An Epidemic of Absence. Moises Velasquez-Manoff (2013)
• Fermented Foods, vol. 1: Fermented Vegetables, vol. 2: Milk Kefir, vol. 3: Water Kefir. Meghan Grande (2014)
• Fermented Foods for Health. Deirdre Rawlings (2013)
• Real Food Fermentation. Alex Lewin (2012)
• Wild Fermentation and The Art Of Fermentation. Sandor Ellix Katz (2011, 2012)
• Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. Michael Pollan (2010)
• Nourishing Traditions. Sally Fallon and Mary Enig (1999)

The Benefits of Raw Milk

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In conjunction with the publication of my article in Organic NZ Magazine July / August 2014, I’ve created this post about the many benefits of drinking raw organic milk from pasture raised cows.

Below are a series of informative slips about the health properties raw milk, the benefits of organic farming , the history of pasteurisation, food safety and more.

Not only is raw milk more nutritious, satisfying and healthy than processed milk, it is also safer, because it contains a wide range of  naturally occurring substances that help destroy pathogens. To learn more check out this great post by Cheeseslave titled  ‘Top 10 reasons to Drink Raw Milk.’

To read the enlightening e-book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A Price  click here

Pasteurisation significantly reduces the nutritive value of milk to the degree that is no longer a healthy food. In fact the consumption of pasteurised milk burdens the body. Despite claims by dairy manufacturers and some dieticians, in no way can processed milk compare to raw.

Milk in its natural state is a complete food containing every known vitamin and mineral needed for health. It also contains all the enzymes, lactic acid and beneficial bacteria needed to digest it, all of which are heat sensitive. Various other immune enhancing factors such as fatty acids, cholesterol and whey proteins etc are also effected by processing.

The following nutrients are either damaged, destroyed or reduced in pasteurised, homogenised milk.
Butterfat
Omega 3s
Vitamin C
B-9 (folate) – the binding protein needed for folate absorption is destroyed
B6
B12
Vitamin A
Vitamin D
Vitamin E
Calcium – becomes difficult to absorb
Iodine
Iron – absorption prevented due to the destruction of lactoferrin
Beneficial bacteria lactobacillus acidopholous and bifidus bacteria – destroyed by heat and their destruction means the uptake of minerals and various vitamins is impaired
Lactase – the enzyme needed for lactose digestion is destroyed by heat
Beta-lactoglobulin – a protein needed for the uptake of Vit A is destroyed by heat

Please check out the following links for more information
www.eatwild.com
www.raw-milk-facts.com
www.realmilk.com
www.westonaprice.org
www.betacasein.org
NZ Alliance for Raw Milk: www.facebook.com/nz.arm

Finally, to source raw milk  ask around or contact your closest Weston A Price Foundation chapter.

Wildpure Organic Honey

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In conjunction with the publication of my article about Wildpure in Organic NZ magazine, I’ve posted information and links related to organic honey and the importance of pollination.

I can also say with a glee that Wildpure’s wild thyme honey is the most exquisite honey I have ever tasted. (Words do not describe how special it is.)

Wildpure is one of those rare and inspiring businesses with real heart and ethics, which is reflected in the purity and quality of their products.

While interviewing Reece Adamson, I learned how important it is to support the health of honeybee colonies, and how everyone can help, simply by filling gardens, window boxes, urban rooftops, and farmland with bee friendly plants. This will ensure adequate sources of nectar and pollen for honeybees to feed upon, which in turn strengthens their immunity.
Here’s a helpful planting guide suited for the New Zealand landscape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reece Adamson from Wildpure, with his daughter Briar. Photograph by Kyra Xavia

After reading about Wildpure in Organic NZ magazine you may also be curious about their pollen and where to buy their honey.

To try Wildpure pollen visit Little Bird Unbakery in Auckland.
Taste Nature the Organic Shop in Dunedin provide their customers with bulk organic Wild thyme honey from Wildpure.
Reece is happy to sell 20 kg buckets of their honey to other organic retailers in New Zealand. To contact him by phone (03) 449 2036 or email reece@wildpure.co.nz
To purchase Wildpure Honey as packaged by J. Friend and Co as seen in the photograph below, click here.

Pollination is vital to life on Earth, but largely unseen by the human eye. Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg shows us the intricate world of pollen and pollinators with gorgeous high-speed images from his film “Wings of Life,” inspired by the vanishing of one of nature’s primary pollinators, the honeybee.

The following trailer is for an important documentary called Queen of the Sun, about the decline of the honeybee due to industrial monoculture farming, the wide spread use of pesticides and herbicides, and a lack of adequate pollen and nectar sources.

Why Getting Your Hands Dirty is Good for Health

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In conjunction with the publication of my article in Organic NZ magazine March/April, 2014 issue, this post explores the health benefits of gardening and getting your hands in the soil.

Exposure to a wide range of bacteria is crucial to the healthy development and function of the human immune system.

It turns out that the microbes present in soil provide immune boosting properties, as well as important anti-depressant effects upon the brain, making playing outside and gardening am important activity for children and adults alike.

Here is a fascinating podcast interview by Wendy Myers with Moises Valasquez-Manoff, who explains the link between exposure to a diverse range of microbes in a natural environment and human health.

For further reading
An Epidemic of Absence – A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases by Moises Velasquez-Manoff
Richard Louv. 2011. The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder.
Richard. Louv. 2005. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.

Michael Pollan has written a wonderful article about the intriguing world of microbes and their importance to humans for the New York Times. Read it by clicking here.

To learn more about increasing your exposure to friendly bacteria (other than gardening), please listen to this radio interview about the many health benefits of fermented food by Sandor Katz.