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How To Start Living Sustainably

Getting started on a journey to living a more sustainable, eco-friendly life can feel incredibly complex. The idea of changing your entire way of life can seem like a huge task with an unclear way to start! It can seem impossible to live sustainably when you consider all the things that are a part of our everyday life that are NOT sustainable. Take a look around, count the number of plastic items that you find, single-use items, products made in environmentally unethical ways. Plastic is everywhere and has become more difficult to avoid.

Originally, the invention and mass dispersal of consumer plastic products were to make modern lives easier. In 2018 the EPA reported that single use and packaging plastic made up 14.5 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW). Overall, the amount of MSW has been increasing at a rapid pace, climbing 42 million tons between 1990 and 1995 alone. Plastic waste is not only harmful to the environment, it is also extremely damaging to our health. According to the Geneva Environment Network:

Humans are exposed to a large variety of toxic chemicals and microplastics through inhalation, ingestion, and direct skin contact, all along the plastic lifecycle. According to WWF on average people could be ingesting approximately 5 grams of plastic every week, which is the equivalent weight of a credit card.

So, where do we start?

WHAT DOES ‘LIVING SUSTAINABLY’ MEAN?

It’s important to understand what it means to “live sustainably”. Sustainable living is a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the Earth’s natural resources and personal resources. Practitioners of sustainable living often attempt to reduce their carbon footprint by altering methods of transportation, energy consumption, and diet.

HOW CAN YOU START LIVING SUSTAINABLY?

A great place to start is to do a sustainable audit of your home and the processes that keep your home functioning. Here are 4 easy ways to improve your environmental impact on a daily basis:

1. MAKE YOUR KITCHEN MORE SUSTAINABLE

The kitchen is a great place to begin, since most single use plastic is used in the kitchen. Plastic utensils are often used to protect Teflon-coated pans. Metal or wood are better choices for the environment. Many brands are also introducing bamboo dishware and storage options. Bamboo is extremely eco friendly, it is readily biodegradable and easy to grow without pesticides of chemicals.

Recycle your Tupperware and opt for glass or metal: These include reusable metal or glass water bottles, glass storage containers and reusable stainless-steel items like cups, plates and bowls. These alternatives are easy to clean and pack to go, making living sustainably easy even with a busy lifestyle! Get rid of Tupperware and all disposable packaging. Disposable plastics are often mixed with harmful chemicals which can potentially leech into their contents when heated or when worn down.

One of these chemicals is known as Bisphenol S has been found in 81% of blood tested, due to it’s inclusion in plastic consumer products, and that it can lead to ailments such as diabetes, obesity, asthma, birth defects, and cancer.

Try using reusable produce bags or go bag-less: If you often buy fresh produce, you have a significant change of ending up with a lot of single use produce bags which often end up in the garbage. There are fantastic reusable options available, many which can be sourced locally.

Keep your cleaning routine green: a large source of waterway and ecosystem contamination comes from the chemicals that are washed down drains. Things like liquid bleach, drain cleaner, and ammonia all contribute to toxic chemicals in local ecosystems and compromising waste water systems in local communities.

2. START USING REUSABLE BAGS

Did you know that between five billion to one trillion plastic bags are being used every year in the world? Plastic shopping bags are the most harmful to the environment. Shopping with your own bag can help reduce plastic waste. You can also avoid food packaging by shopping in bulk and bringing your own containers! Many cities are seeing the emergence of bulk stores. These stores offer a huge amount of products, from shampoos to spices, without any individual plastic packaging.

Remember, if you have to use plastic bags, you should reuse them as often as possible and then recycle them when you are done. Many grocery stores have bins that allow you to return plastic bags and film.

3. WHEN POSSIBLE, MAKE YOUR OWN FOOD

After a long day at the office, cooking is not something you would want to do. We get it. However, take-out often involves a lot more plastic and single use waste than eating at home. Remember that processed or premade foods and lots of disposable packaging go hand in hand. Natural, local ingredients are healthier for your health and the environment.

4. LOOK INTO PLASTIC FREE CLOTHING

Recent studies have shown that tiny fibers made from synthetic fabrics are being emitted into the water supply of aquatic animals. It is possible to reduce the amount of tiny fibers entering our water streams by choosing clothes made from natural fibers like cotton, hemp, linen and wool. Polyester, for example, is made from synthetic material.

5. GET A GREEN CLEANING ROUTINE

You will likely find a lot of cleaning products in your cabinets that you don’t use or chemical heavy products that you’re not wanting to continue using. There are only a few products that you really need to clean your entire home which makes living sustainably simple. Keeping a citric acid based multipurpose cleaner, cleaning vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide will cover all your cleaning needs across many different rooms and situations.

Find mold under your sink? Don’t reach for the bleach! Choose a non-toxic cleaning solution that contains citric acid or vinegar which is powerful enough to kill mold, but not harmful to water systems. A natural cleaning routine paired with the powerful probiotic protection of Homebiotic Environmental Probiotic spray, your home will stay happy and healthy, protected from the sources of grime and musty odors.

Annie Leonard, a notable American proponent for sustainable living, said:

There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw something away it must go somewhere.

The idea that everything we consumer MUST take up space before, during, and after we use it is a great foundation for making more sustainable decisions. Living sustainably is as easy as remembering that EVERYTHING has to end up SOMEWHERE.

We don’t recommend that you start over and discard everything. Instead, we suggest that you work with what is available and, as they run out, make a list of eco-friendly, plastic-free options. We launched with three cleaners that are focused on the main areas of our home: living, bathroom, and kitchen. The cleaners are able to handle almost any cleaning task, reducing the amount of products needed in your home. Even the biggest waves, start as small ripples.

 

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Can Mold Give You Depression?

depression

Many people are aware that mold has an adverse effect on our health and wellbeing. In the last few decades, statistics for allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions have increased at an alarming rate. But one of the reasons for that increase is that our modern living spaces promote a sterile and closed-off environment (1).

Also, we are cleaning with more harsh chemicals and increasing the amount of moisture and dampness in our homes. In the last two years in particular, since the start of the pandemic, more people are staying at home. This means we are showering, cleaning, and spending more time in our homes thus increasing the amount of moisture in our living space.

Most of us are aware of the danger that mycotoxins from mold can have on our health. Of course, not everyone gets sick from mold. Some people have a genetic sensitivity that predisposes them to mold illness (2). But as of yet, research hasn’t been able to clearly identify who those people are and exactly why they’re so sensitive. Nonetheless, research shows that mold illness has increased exponentially over the last several decades (3).

depression

DOES MOLD CAUSE DEPRESSION?

However, a relatively new phenomenon is that mold exposure may actually contribute to the rise of depression as well. In a study conducted by Edward Shenassa and colleagues, they noticed an increase in depressive symptoms for people living in moldy or damp environments (4). This increase is still relevant even after the researchers controlled for aspects like overcrowding, economic factors, and perceived lack of control over the study participant’s environment.

The study showed that the overall risk for depression for those living in moldy and damp environments was between 34-44% (4). This is a significant number and one that we ought to pay attention to given that depression has sky-rocketed in the last several decades. Although there are many factors that lead to the development of depression, few experts have discussed the connection between mold and depression.

the overall risk for depression for those living in moldy and damp environments was between 34-44% Click To Tweet

HOW DOES MOLD IMPACT DEPRESSION?

Although this may be surprising, it makes sense considering the effect that mold can have on the nervous system and immune system (5,6). Several studies have shown that the mycotoxins produced by mold can cause clinical features similar to several neurologic disorders including pain syndromes, movement disorders, delirium, and dementia. Mold also has an effect on the immune system which has neurological consequences as well (5,7).

Several studies have shown that the mycotoxins produced by mold can cause clinical features similar to several neurologic disorders including pain syndromes, movement disorders, delirium, and dementia Click To Tweet

Any substance or pollutant that affects that neurological system will also have an effect on the neuropsychiatry of the individual, thus creating symptoms as seen in depression and anxiety. This is a startling new finding that may help unravel the common and devastating effects of both depression and increasing mold issues in modern environments.

The problem is, there are many factors involved in why a person develops depression as well as why people react to mold exposure. Interestingly, those with more sensitive immune and neurological systems are more likely to get both conditions. But what exactly denotes that sensitivity is still up for debate. More research is needed to control for several factors and thus pinpoint more causative factors.

 

WHAT OTHER FACTORS EFFECT MOLD RELATED DEPRESSION?

For instance, those that have more income are more able to clean up mold in their homes. This means they are less likely to be exposed to mold, but also, have more locus of control in creating a better home environment (4). For those without these resources, they are more likely to be exposed to mold. But also, the feeling of lacking control could be a factor in developing depression as well (4).

However, in one study, even mild or moderate mold exposure was still statistically significant even after controlling for the perception of control, other health issues, and the ability to remove mold. The study shows that mold-exposed people are still 28-34% more likely to develop depression. Nonetheless, the researchers feel that income levels need more attention as a variable in the depression and mold exposure link (8).

mold-exposed people are still 28-34% more likely to develop depression Click To Tweet

Another study looked at a comparison between mold-exposed individuals and a control group of unexposed people for factors like central or peripheral nervous system symptoms, fatigue, brain fog, arrhythmias, and multiple chemical sensitivities. The results were highly statistically significant for the study group versus the control group (9).

 

HOW DOES MOLD IMPACT YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM?

In terms of central and peripheral nervous system issues, the study group showed that 80% of mold-exposed individuals had symptoms compared to only 11% of the control group. For fatigue and brain fog, the results were 77% and 62% for the study group versus 24% and 11% respectively (9). Since many of these symptoms are present in depression, it makes sense that depression is observed as well.

As of now, researchers can’t say that there is a definite causative link between mold exposure and depression, but the results of these studies show a strong possibility that should be explored with deeper more rigorous research.

References

https://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1994167/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4840461/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15143854/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19854819/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2072855/

https://www.ncbi.nl

m.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7303478/

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10 Health Benefits of Gardening

health benefits of gardening

Gardening is getting more attention in recent years. Unfortunately, we’ve become more disconnected from nature in the last century. We used to farm and garden all the time, but modern life made us more detached from this human practice. However, new research shows that gardening has many health benefits that improve everything from the aging brain to physical conditioning. Also, gardening puts us back in touch with the external microbiome we need to stay healthy. Let’s look at 10 different health benefits of gardening.

sunflower field1. Getting More Sunshine

Gardening definitely gets us out in the sunshine more. Getting more sun exposure has been proven to raise Vitamin D levels and boost energy and health. Sunshine makes us feel better and gives us a boost that we may not realize we were missing.

Proper vitamin D levels are necessary for our health and wellbeing. Vitamin D supports the immune system, the brain, bone health, and mental health. It reduces inflammation which prevents diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Conversely, deficiencies in vitamin D have proven to be disastrous for human health. Although health officials caution people about skin cancer due to sun exposure, sunshine is the best way to get a daily dose of vitamin D. Often, just 10 minutes of sun exposure on the eyelids can boost vitamin D levels quite a bit. This means you can wear sunscreen and get your vitamin D too. And there’s no better way to get vitamin D than during a good session of gardening.

Although health officials caution people about skin cancer due to sun exposure, sunshine is the best way to get a daily dose of vitamin D. Click To Tweet

2. Growing Your Own Nutritious Foods

By growing our own fruits and vegetables, we can increase the number of food nutrients we’re receiving. In the last few decades, many modern farms have lost soil nutrients due to over-planting the same crops from year to year. When we grow our own vegetables, we naturally retain those nutrients because we don’t often plant the same things yearly. Small gardens are some of the best ways to grow nutritious food. Planting our own vegetable gardens naturally rotates crops which helps make the crops nutrient-rich.

3. Exposure To Beneficial Soil Bacteria

Research shows that kids who grow up on farms with lots of soil exposure have much better immune systems. As a result, they have less risk for autoimmune diseases, allergies, and asthma. This is because soil-based bacteria are genuinely beneficial for our health. Exposure to soil-based bacteria boosts and trains our immune system and enhances our skin and the gut microbiome.

There’s no better way to connect with soil-based bacteria than gardening. We usually get soil all over our hands and skin, and this is a good thing. Our culture has advocated that dirt is harmful, but this is simply not true. In fact, the more soil we can connect with physically, the better our health will be. And we shouldn’t be afraid to get a little dirt from the garden into our homes. It turns out that our homes also have a microbiome, and adding soil-based bacteria to it is a great way to improve the home microbiome and keep it naturally clean. The more diverse a microbiome is, the healthier it is. Soil-based bacteria naturally compete for food and space and therefore keep the numbers of harmful microbes to a minimum.

Our culture has advocated that dirt is harmful, but this is simply not true. In fact, the more soil we can connect with physically, the better our health will be. Click To Tweet

4. It’s A Work Out!

Gardening is a surprisingly good form of exercise. Apparently, one session of gardening is equivalent to half an hour of jogging. You’d never think that tinkering in the soil would be such great exercise, but it’s one of the best ways to keep in shape. It’s a low-intensity activity that is good for fat burning and muscle conditioning. It’s also a full-body workout and strengthens ligaments and bones, along with working out the muscles. Lastly, it promotes good flexibility, which is especially good to prevent age-related issues. The exercise you get from gardening can prevent health issues like injuries, bone loss, heart disease, and diabetes.

5. Beneficial To Overall Mental Health

There is growing research attesting to the benefits of horticultural therapy. Not only is it a great source of exercise, but it also boosts our mood and sense of wellbeing. According to the horticultural therapist Mitchell Hewson, gardening can help people experiencing mental health and addiction issues. Gardening stimulates thought, exercises the body and mind, and encourages awareness of the present moment and external environment. The combination of these factors can help improve mental health and addiction issues. In addition, gardening has been shown to renew the desire to live, improve self-esteem, and decrease anxiety.

6. Helps Prevent Dementia & Alzheimers

Gardening appears to have a beneficial influence on the health of the brain and the prevention of dementia. One study shows that those who participate in gardening have a 36% lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. A different study shows the lowered risk to be around 47%. This is good news for an aging population. Not only does gardening improve the physical body and mental health, but it also enhances brain health and prevents brain-related issues. This is likely due to many factors we’ve already discussed, such as more sunshine, more activity, vitamin D exposure, and better nutrients from home-grown food.

One study shows that those who participate in gardening have a 36% lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Click To Tweet

7. Helps You Sleep Better

One study looking at the elderly shows that gardening helps improve many aspects of their lives, including improved sleep. Older adults naturally have more sleep issues due to changes in the brain and circadian rhythms. However, exposure to natural settings like gardens can help with sleep due to more exposure to sunlight, vitamin D, and activity. However, the actual physical task of gardening improves sleep hygiene because it’s an excellent form of low-impact exercise. Also, as we’ve discussed, gardening can help improve mental health, which also improves sleep habits. Studies show that problems with mental health have a direct impact on sleep hygiene. Therefore, since gardening improves mental health, it also helps reduce sleep problems.

8. Improves Mood

For all the reasons we’ve discussed above, gardening can help nurture the spirit. It lifts mood, enhances vitamin D, and gives a sense of purpose. It also connects people to the external environment by improving the connection to nature. All of these factors can give the spirit a lift. This inevitably improves mental and physical health as well. When the spirit feels well, chances are the person feels well in all areas too.

An experiment conducted by NASA in 2016 showed that gardening keeps astronauts happy and healthy while they’re in the challenging environment of space. Even if they’re in small pots, planting and nurturing seeds can help boost the mood and spirit considerably.

9. Benefits The Environment

We all know that an increase in carbon in the environment is dangerous for our climate. We also know that plants and trees have an excellent effect on reducing carbon in the atmosphere. This is because plants and trees literally “eat” carbon. They absorb carbon and send out healthy oxygen for us all to breathe. The more individual gardens we have in the world, the better. Not only do gardens help participate in reducing carbon, but they also teach us about the natural environment, which helps us stay connected to the climate we live in. Without this knowledge, we wouldn’t be able to understand our role in reducing climate change.

We live in a giant microbiome called earth, and the more we know about how to take care of it, the better we’ll all be. Having a garden can teach us about the microbiome we live in and help us understand our place in things. By communing with nature through our gardens, we expose ourselves to the outside microbiome, which has excellent health benefits for us as living beings. If we never connect to the larger microbiome we live in, we’ll never be able to understand how climate change affects us and is mediated by us. Those who live in high-rise buildings and who never get out in nature are more likely to misunderstand the nature of climate change. Gardening in any form, even if it’s just potted plants on a balcony, can be a massive help to us and the climate.

10. Gardening Benefits Overall Quality of Life

This should go without saying, but it’s worth mentioning how much fun gardening is. After all, if it weren’t fun, we wouldn’t want to do it. But the truth is, the more fun we have, the more health benefits we will achieve through an activity. The “fun” aspect of gardening gives us the mood and self-esteem boost, as mentioned above. It helps us feel grounded in nature and connected to ourselves and the outside world. We also improve our physical health as well without doing things that seem like “work.” Many gardeners will confess that gardening never feels like work.

In summary

So these are 10 health benefits of gardening. Not only is gardening good for the spirit, self-esteem, and mental health, it also nurtures our physical health in many ways. It connects us to nature, gets us out in the sun, boosts physical activity, and gives us access to helpful soil-based bacteria. All of these things combined make gardening a genuinely healthy and stimulating activity.

 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3372556/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/benefits-of-sunlight#health-benefits

https://www.thehealthy.com/mental-health/self-care/health-benefits-of-gardening/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16411871/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/05/11/health-benefits-gardening/7971047/

https://www.fix.com/blog/health-benefits-of-gardening/

https://www.wholebodymicrobiome.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Contaminated Potting Soil

Contaminated Potting Soil | Blog

If you are a lover of houseplants, with an ever-growing collection, chances are you’ve encountered contaminated potting soil. It is not only annoying to deal with, it can seriously harm even the most robust leafy beauties. Types of contamination can vary from bugs to harmful microbes, all requiring differing remediation techniques.

succulents in pots - homebioticHow Does Potting Soil Become Microbially Contaminated?

Potting soil contains a combination of organic, such as steer manure and composted vegetation, and inorganic material, such as rocks and sand. This mixture is often composted at warmer temperatures with a considerable amount of moisture, breaking down the material quicker for the sake of fast production. This creates the perfect environment for bad microbes and fungus to grow. Any time you have a small portion of microbes, given the perfect conditions they can multiply at an extremely high rate.

Common strains of harmful microbes found in potting soil are norcardia, legionella, and clostridium simply as a result of the components. What initially would have been a small population of these harmful microbes, has been given the perfect conditions to grow and thrive during warm composting. High levels of legionella exposure can cause Legionnaires disease, which is a form of atypical pneumonia and symptoms include high fever, muscle pain, shortness of breath, and headaches.

Common strains of harmful microbes found in potting soil are norcardia, legionella, and clostridium simply as a result of the components. What initially would have been a small population of these harmful microbes, has been given the… Click To Tweet

macro bug on stick - homebioticHow Does Potting Soil Become Contaminated With Bugs?

Bug eggs and larvae are extremely small, they would be absolutely impossible to see in a bag or container of potting soil. The eggs get mixed into potting soil either by contaminated tools or organic matter. From there the bugs finish their hatching cycle and appear, almost out of thin air, buzzing around your living room.

Getting rid of bugs in your soil and plants is extremely important. As the larvae hatch they feed on small roots and any fungus present in the plant biome, which can cause irreparable damage to your plants. They also tend to have a very small life cycle, meaning they quickly and continually recontaminate the soil by laying more eggs. They also can easily infect all of the plants in your home that are growing in soil by laying their eggs.

Getting rid of bugs in your soil and plants is extremely important. As the larvae hatch they feed on small roots and any fungus present in the plant biome, which can cause irreparable damage to your plants. Click To Tweet

Types of Common Contamination Issues & How To Fix Them

If you’re struggling with any of these issues it can seem like there is no end in sight. With patience and perseverance, you can overcome serious soil contamination without reaching for toxic pesticides, getting rid of, or damaging your plants. Here’s what we recommend:

fungus gnatFungus Gnats

An extremely common pest found in mass-produced soils. They are very small black flies, their larvae are impossible to see in the soil. Multiply quickly and can contaminate all plants in the home. Chances are if you have a significant amount of indoor plants it will be more difficult to get rid of fungus gnats because you will have to treat all plants.

WHAT TO DO

  1. Control moisture in the soil – don’t overwater or have excessive amounts of water around your plant, gnats love warm wet soil. A great way to avoid overwatering is a method called ‘bottom watering’ which means you set your plant, pot and all, in a container of water allowing it to soak up what it needs. This removes the chance of having excessive wet soil accessible to gnats.
  2. Sticky tape traps – this is an extremely simple but effective way to control the gnat population and stop adult gnats from laying eggs. Yellow sticky tape traps can be bought on small stakes to put directly into the affected plant’s soil, catch gnats buzzing around them, stopping them before they can further the gnat population. Use a few, placed strategically in different plants, to make the biggest impact.
  3. Neem oil – neem oil is an effective, natural insecticide. How neem oil works are that it inhibits important brain functions of the gnats, preventing them from performing essential functions, which eventually kills them. It also has a smothering effect as well, making it a great natural option for pest control. To use mix 1.5 teaspoons neem oil, 1 teaspoon mild natural soap, and 1 liter of room temperature water. Generously spray this mixture over the infected plant, removing it from the sun to completely dry. Use this treatment weekly for the best results!

mold on soil - homebioticMold

Much like your home microbiome, mold is an indicator that the delicate balance of microorganisms in your potting soil is off. The soil you’re using lacks the necessary beneficial bacteria to prevent harmful colonies from thriving. The mold typically found in potting soil appears as white, fuzzy areas on the soil surface. In addition to this being facilitated by over-watering and poor drainage, potting soil can come to you contaminated through improper composting techniques or storage. The best plan of attack is to treat it early on to prevent spreading to other plants/soil.

WHAT TO DO

  1. Scrape off the top 1/2″ of soil – this is the best way to stop a mold outbreak in its path. By removing contaminated soil (be sure not to reuse the tool used to scrape the soil on any other plants before sanitizing it) you stand the best chance of getting rid of the mold issue altogether.
  2. Do not overwater – mold, like fungus gnats, loves wet soil. Ensuring you have proper drainage and are not watering your plants too often will go a long way in the fight against soil mold.
  3. Treat soil regularly – if the soil you are using is microbially contaminated, it would be wise to continually treat the soil to ensure you keep away mold issues. Using hydrogen peroxide on the soil surface will help kill any active mold spores, it also gives your plants a boost of oxygen which they love! Treating with Homebiotic Environmental Probiotic spray is also a great option to boost the beneficial bacteria population, offering probiotic protection against microbial imbalances.

spider mites - homebioticSpider Mites

Unfortunately, this pest is extremely contagious to any plants that may be close by AND very difficult to get rid of. They can attack plants both indoors and outdoors, commonly getting into households on plants being brought inside for the winter. Often visible on the undersides of leaves, spider mites act like tiny plant vampires, piercing the leaves to suck out all the fluids. This will eventually kill the plant while the spider mite colony thrives. Most people do not realize they have a spider mite infestation until they see fine webbing all over their plant, at which point the population of mites is quite large.

WHAT TO DO

  1. Remove infected leaves and wipe plant clean – the first step in the battle is to physically remove any visible spider mites from the plant. The easiest way to do this is to trim off leaves that are infested with mites and to take a wet paper towel to wipe off infested stems. This is not a sure-fire way to get rid of them but it will help decrease their numbers, making the remaining bugs easier to get rid of.
  2. Beneficial predatory insects (outdoors) – if at all possible, the best way to get rid of spider mites is to introduce beneficial insects into the area. Ladybugs are sold during the summer months at farm supply stores and are a great, natural way to control spider mite populations.
  3. Natural insecticide options – there are a few natural insecticide options available, many containing either citrus oil or neem oil, that not only kill spider mites but will also interrupt their reproduction cycle. This will make getting rid of the spider mites a lot shorter of a task.

References

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/03/29/health/potting-mix-bacteria-partner/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/about/index.html

https://getbusygardening.com/neem-oil-as-organic-pest-control/

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6 Spring Gut-Healthy Recipes

6 Spring Gut-Health Recipes | Salad

Spring is the perfect time to refresh and liven up your go-to menu. As the sun begins to show her face more, warming everything up we are able to find locally grown delicious fruits and vegetables to nourish our guts. We’ve hand-selected 6 fantastic  Spring gut-healthy recipes that are not only  easy to make but will keep you feeling your best:

spring confetti salad - edible perspective

Spring Confetti Salad

This absolutely stunning salad from Edible Perspective has everything you need for a deliciously filling main course salad. Red cabbage, chickpeas, and asparagus pair perfectly with a light, easy salad dressing. Add feta cheese to add that punch of probiotics.

favorite chicken sandwich

Favorite Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Nothing satisfies quite like a chicken salad sandwich! This fantastic recipe from The Crafting Chicks takes your standard chicken sandwich to a whole new level by using craisins for a bit of sweetness and colby jack cheese for some serious flavor. We also love the idea of using a light, fluffy croissant instead of regular sandwich bread.

pea fritters lavender aand macaron

Pea Fritters with Greek Yogurt Sauce

Accompanied by the probiotic-rich greek yogurt sauce, these pea fritters from Lavender & Macarons are fantastic finger food. Peas are a phenomenal source of vitamin A, vitamin K and other antioxidants that actively support your immune system and overall cell health.

mediterranean buddha bowl

Mediterranean Buddha Bowl

Another nourishing, filling recipe featuring a probiotic heavyweight FETA! This dish from A Cedar Spoon contains so many amazing gut-healthy ingredients like chickpeas, kalamata olives, and hummus. A perfect bowl to fill you up and keep you cozy for those still chilly spring days.

asparagus soup 31daily

Season’s Best Asparagus Soup 

Lacking in the prebiotic department? This amazing soup recipe from 31daily features asparagus which is a fantastic source of prebiotic fiber. It is the perfect way to optimize your gut function AND stay nourished.

spring roll bowl

Shrimp Spring Roll Bowls

We love bowls as a way to pack a lot of highly nourishing ingredients into the same meal. This dish from Robust Recipes is filled with amazing prebiotic vegetables paired with a delicious tahini sauce. Hot or cold, this bowl is sure to please the whole family.

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5 Must Haves For Natural Cleaning

5 Must Haves For Natural Cleaning | Blog

The idea of using natural cleaning products or products with more natural ingredients in place of their readily available, toxic counterparts has seen a massive rise in popularity in the past 5-10 years. A large part of this drive is the realization over time what these chemical cleaners are not only doing to our health but the environment.

Individually many of these ingredients can cause serious mucus membrane irritation, respiratory distress, and other seriously concerning health effects. Many readily available multi-purpose cleaners are a Laundry list of these chemicals mixed together, amplifying their toxicity. So we look to natural cleaning alternatives to preserve the health and safety of ourselves, our families, and the environment.

soapy sponge - homebiotic

How natural is natural?

The rise in demand for natural cleaning products has resulted in the practice of greenwashing. Originating in 1986, the term greenwashing is used to reference companies and their products that are designed, marketed, and labeled to appear more environmentally friendly than they actually are.

The rise in demand for natural cleaning products has resulted in the practice of greenwashing. Originating in 1986, the term greenwashing is used to reference companies and their products that are designed, marketed, and labeled to… Click To Tweet

leaf on sandy beach - HomebioticWhile there are instances of greenwashing occurring unintentionally, a more troubling trend is companies utilizing false environmental claims as a marketing strategy to capture consumers. A common form of greenwashing is the use of nature imagery to convey the idea that the product comes from natural origins.

Another common instance is when products claim to be made from “recycled” or “post-consumer” materials; however, these products are made by workers in exploitive conditions in factories that are not environmentally friendly. Almond milk, for instance, exploded on the market as a more ethical and environmentally friendly milk alternative to traditional dairy. We now know that although no livestock is required to make almond milk, the amount of power, pesticides, and water needed to create almond milk is not responsibly sustainable.

It takes 15 gallons of water to make 16 almonds. This is an issue because many of the crops used are grown in California, a state already suffering from significant drought issues and soil erosion due to lack of natural groundwater. On top of water usage, almond crops require multiple pesticides, many of which kill the already endangered honey bee population.

It takes 15 gallons of water to make 16 almonds. This is an issue because many of the crops used are grown in California, a state already suffering from significant drought issues and soil erosion due to lack of natural groundwater. Click To Tweet

tall trees in a forest - homebioticWays To Be More Environmentally Friendly

The perfect opportunity to make a lower environmental impact is to clean up your cleaning supplies. There is a laundry list of toxic ingredients often found in cleaning products, some of which are known carcinogens. Here are some readily available options to keep your home clean:

Vinegar

USE IT FOR – window cleaner, keeping laundry fresh, removing hard water build-up, removing mold, washing floors, home-made multi-purpose cleaner

Create your own multipurpose cleaner using a 1:1 ratio of cleaning vinegar to the water. This mixture can be used on almost any surface in your house to keep harmful microbes in check. It’s important to remember that vinegar is extremely acidic and should not be used on hardwood, granite, natural stone, and used in irons.

While vinegar is completely environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and biodegradable, it’s important to know that many mass-produced kinds of vinegar are processed in very non environmentally friendly ways using petrochemicals. Be sure you’re purchasing all-natural vinegar with no chemical additives.

hydrogen peroxide for plant care - homebioticHydrogen Peroxide

USE IT FOR – killing mold, removing stains, disinfecting, plant care

Using readily available 3% hydrogen peroxide is one of the best, most effective ways to successfully kill mold. When hydrogen peroxide breaks down you are left with only water and oxygen, no additional chemicals to potentially harm yourself or the environment.

When using hydrogen peroxide it’s important to allow for about 5-10 minutes of active oxygenation to ensure an adequate amount of time to disinfect the area.

If you are purchasing oxygen bleach, typically created using hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate, ensure that what you are purchasing is chlorine-free. Chlorine causes significant irritation to mucous membranes and when washed into waterways it can pose a toxicity threat to organisms in the water and soil.

Tea Tree Essential Oil

USE IT FOR – laundry deodorizer, pest control on houseplants, multipurpose cleaner, antifungal cleaner

Tea tree oil is a distilled oil from the leaves of the melaleuca plant. It has long been admired for its anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antifungal properties. It poses little to no risk of dermatitis when applied directly to the skin which makes it a great option to add to your own multipurpose cleaner. Dilute a teaspoon of tea tree oil with one cup of water in a spray bottle to make a ready-to-use antiviral spray for surfaces.

castile soap - homebioticCastile Soap

USE IT FOR – laundry soap, dish soap, hand soap, multipurpose cleaner

Castile soap is a blend of oil and either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. All of these ingredients are biodegradable. When selecting a castile soap ensure that there are no palm oils used. The palm oil industry is responsible for a significant amount of habitat loss for orangutans and other endangered animal species.

Using castile soap is extremely easy in many instances. Washing floors or your car? Add a couple of tablespoons to a full bucket of water. To make an all-purpose cleaner mix ¼ cups of castile soap with 6 cups of water.

Homebiotic

USE IT FOR – maintaining microbial balance, preventing grime build-up and musty odors.

Homebiotic Environmental Probiotic spray is the perfect way to end any natural cleaning routine. Replenishing the probiotic population in your home and on your surfaces helps protect against an overgrowth of harmful microbes. Microbial balance is extremely important in any biome. Without beneficial bacteria, harmful microbes thrive causing issues such as toxic exposure and musty odors. Prevent them before they become an issue by using Homebiotic.

homebiotic spray on bathroom counter - Homebiotic - how to use homebiotic spray

Resources

 

https://sustainability.ucsf.edu/1.713#:~:text=The%20main%20issues%20associated%20with,the%20world’s%20almonds%20are%20grown.

https://www.greenmatters.com/p/how-does-vinegar-affect-the-environment&ved=2ahUKEwj6hN6TzuDvAhWKt54KHYyLDyMQFjALegQIHxAC&usg=AOvVaw3pg-lcwfDMtieEwez_jPal

https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/non-toxic-disinfecting/

https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tn2873spec

https://medium.com/disruptive-design/what-is-greenwashing-how-to-spot-it-and-stop-it-c44f3d130d5

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We Want To Know: Can You Eat Moldy Foods?

We Want to Know Can You Eat Moldy Foods? | Moldy Bread on a Plate

Nothing in the food world is more polarizing than blue cheese. Some people eat it straight from the block or excitedly devour it as a dip to hot wings. To others, the smell alone could ruin a meal, let alone seeing that mold marbling its way through the cracks. Preferences aside, can you eat moldy foods? Are there any negative health impacts to eating food created with mold? The answer is a little complex!

What Kind Of Mold Grows On Food?

This question can be broken down into two categories: food created with mold AND food that has gone moldy. It’s important to distinguish the two because of the types of mold in each category.

blue cheeseFood Created With Mold

We owe a lot of delicious foods to mold! Most notably, as previously mentioned, blue cheese. This is the perfect example of how certain strains of mold can be utilized in specific, controlled ways to create delicious food making it so you can eat moldy foods.

During the cheese-making process, small channels are added to the cheese block to allow air exposure. This is where the mold Penicillium Roqueforti comes in to work its magic creating those blue channels everyone uses to easily identify the type of cheese. This strain of penicillium is completely safe to consume and has been utilized in this process for possibly hundreds of years, and was formally identified in 1906.

moldy foodFood That Has Gone Moldy

Commonly seen in households via bread and fruit, this stage of expiry is when mold spores have begun to cause rot and decay, feeding themselves and spreading.

Although there are 100,000+ types of mold species, the mold on bread and spoiled fruit are most often identified as Rhizopus Stolonifer. In addition to the possibility of consuming this mold, it can also easily be inhaled, making it extremely difficult to avoid completely.

Individuals with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to mold-related infections which, although not currently fully understood, have proven to be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. The mold spores infect mucus tissues, spreading and growing rapidly making it hard to treat, often resulting in necrosis of tissues.

Individuals with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to mold-related infections which, although not currently fully understood, have proven to be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. The mold spores infect mucus… Click To Tweet

When thinking on a small scale, like accidentally ingesting a moldy slice of bread, it’s important not to worry. The human stomach is a very acidic environment that can easily eliminate small amounts of harmful mold if eaten.

However, if larger amounts of mold are consumed they can trigger allergic reactions or even chemical toxicity symptoms, these reactions can be amplified if the person has a compromised digestive or immune system. The CDC recommends if you find mold on food items to err on the side of caution by throwing them away.

Is It Safe To Eat?

Moldy foods are not, but foods created with mold are…in moderation. It’s important to remember any type of mold could potentially trigger an allergic reaction, especially if ingested in large amounts. Common symptoms can include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough and postnasal drip
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Dry, scaly skin

If you experience food-related mold allergies, it’s important to consider that you may find yourself triggered by other fungi related foods (yeast or mushrooms), such as:

  • Vinegar and foods containing vinegar
  • Sour cream
  • Meat or fish
  • Bread
  • Jarred jams
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickled and smoked meats

cheese plate with pickles

Like anything, when thinking if you can eat moldy foods, they should be consumed in moderation. While studies do not show any direct health benefit of consuming the types of mold utilized to make foods, it’s important to consider the other natural health benefits that food may provide. Blue cheese, for example, is an excellent source of calcium and rich in protein while being low in carbohydrates, making it a great addition to your diet.

Foods that are created vinegar and mushrooms also have their own respective health benefits. Mushrooms activate gut microbes meaning it is a prebiotic, a necessary component to proper gut function. Although vinegar itself is not a probiotic, it is used in many food fermentation techniques which produces substantial amounts of probiotics. Adding both mushrooms and vinegar into your diet is the perfect way to optimize your gut health.

Delicious Moldy Foods Recipes

Looking for some inspiration to incorporate “moldy” foods into your diet? We’ve found some fantastic recipes sure you please:

gnocchi blue cheese platings and pairings

Gnocchi with Blue Cheese and Frizzled Prosciutto from Platings & Pairings

Mushroom Risotto from Spend With Pennies

Buffalo Blue Cheese Deviled Eggs from Cupcakes and Kale Chips

References

https://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/Mold.htm

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhizopus_stolonifer

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zygomycosis

http://foodsafety.merieuxnutrisciences.com/2018/02/20/3-foods-exist-because-yeast-mold/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penicillium_roqueforti

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mold-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20351519

https://www.webmd.com/allergies/mold-allergy-basics

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3 Ways To Keep Your Home & Gut Healthy

3 Ways To Keep Your Home & Gut Healthy | Blog

Keeping your home & gut healthy can involve some of the same steps! In the book “Never Home Alone,” biologist Rob Dunn says that we’ve done a fantastic job controlling the pathogens in our home environment (1). However, we’ve inadvertently gone too far and killed off all the beneficial species. Next, we built our homes in ways that favor problem species like fungi, new pathogens living in our faucets, or cockroaches living in our kitchens. He says there was always another way – that is to nurture the beneficial species in our homes (1).

Just like our gut biome, our home has a biome as well. Although the home biome is somewhat different than our guts, the same principles apply. Nurture the good species while removing whatever nurtures the bad. Experts say that we ought to focus efforts on the good microbes instead of killing off the harmful microbes. This is because whenever we kill off bad microbes, we usually kill the good guys too.

bright home filled with plants woman standing in window - Homebiotic - keep your home & gut healthy

To care for our gut biome, there are three main principles we need to follow: eat healthy, take probiotics, and take pathogen-killing medicine when absolutely required. It turns out that caring for the home biome follows very similar principles. Let’s look at each of these principles and how nurturing our home biome is similar to nurturing our gut biome.

coffee and healthy breakfast - homebiotic1. Eat a Healthy Diet

Keeping your home & gut healthy means keeping them nourished. Eating healthy for our gut biome means that we are feeding the good microbes with foods they like. Harmful microbes tend to like sugars, starches, and processed foods. In contrast, good bacteria and microbes like to eat fermented fibrous items like fruits and veggies. The idea is to enhance the growth of good bacteria and microbes, which will naturally balance out the gut microbiome (2).

The same can be said for our home biome. Good microbes consist of more soil-based bacteria and microbes, which we don’t often find in modern homes (3,4). Over the last half a century, we’ve become so averse to dirt that we have created a home environment favoring human microbes and pathogens. Research shows that when we began actively removing microbes and building airtight living spaces cut off from nature that we inadvertently favored a biome that lacks healthy microbes (1,3,4,5). At the same time, many illnesses developed, such as asthma, allergies, and autoimmune diseases. We’ve also made our immune systems more susceptible to other illnesses as well (1,6).

Over the last half a century, we’ve become so averse to dirt that we have created a home environment favoring human microbes and pathogens. Research shows that when we began actively removing microbes and building airtight living spaces… Click To Tweet

So the first step in nurturing our home biome is to feed the good guys in our homes. We do this by allowing our environment to find its own natural balance without using harsh cleansers, cleaning too frequently, and avoiding any and all dirt. The truth is, good microbes will eat and compete with harmful microbes if we let them be. Good microbes also have a symbiotic relationship with our human and pet microbes, and we must nurture that relationship as well (1,3,4,5).

alternative medicine - homebiotic2. Take Probiotics

Keeping your home & gut healthy sometimes requires calling in reinforcements. The other way we can nourish and promote good microbes in our homes is to actually add them to our environment the same way we do in our guts. It looks a little different between the gut and the home biome, but the principle is much the same.

Probiotics for our guts involve taking probiotic pills or ingesting foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and kefir (2). As science and human technology advances, we are discovering ways to add probiotics to our home environments (7).

A research study done in a healthcare setting shows that probiotic microorganisms may help decrease the growth of harmful pathogens. Probiotics and their biosurfactant products may keep hospital-based infections under control. Since this works in a hospital setting, it may indeed work well at home (7). This is excellent news amidst a pandemic where we need to clean our homes with harsh chemicals more often.

This is where Homebiotic Environmental spray comes in to create a population of beneficial microbes within your home. Include Homebiotic as a treatment at the end of your regular natural cleaning routine to create a barrier of probiotic protection on surfaces in your home, keeping them clean long after chores are done.

spilled bottle of pills - homebiotic3. Take Pathogen-Killing Medicine Only When Absolutely Required

Keeping your home & gut healthy can mean minimizing the intake of antibiotics. In the last few decades, we’ve discovered that antibiotics and other chemical irritants can kill off the beneficial microbes in our gut. Even things like stress, massive change, and unhealthy food choices can negatively affect our gut biome. Now that we know this, many health officials are advocating for the discretionary use of antibiotics. There’s also been an increase in education around foods, chemicals, and stress and how they negatively impact the gut biome (1).

It turns out that the same is true for the home biome. Research shows that over-cleaning, using harsh antibacterial cleansers has a devastating effect on beneficial microbe species in the home. As we discussed above, creating a sterile environment in the house has led to the development of many new illnesses (1,3-6). This is because we need beneficial bacteria in both our guts and our homes to stay healthy.

Research shows that over-cleaning, using harsh antibacterial cleansers has a devastating effect on beneficial microbe species in the home Click To Tweet

So in order to nurture our home biome, we need to decrease our use of harsh cleansers and reduce our cleaning frequency. This is not to say to leave our homes dirty and full of grime. Rather, we allow some microscopic dirt to remain and clean in ways that don’t destroy beneficial species. Instead of using antibacterial cleansers, we can choose essential oils, small amounts of vinegar and opt for surface wiping and removing excessive dust (1,4,5,6).

Conclusion

In conclusion, it seems that nurturing our home biome is quite similar to promoting health for our gut biomes. As we are biological beings that live symbiotically in a connected biosphere, it makes sense that our home and gut biomes would behave in similar ways.

There are three main points to keep your home & gut healthy:

  1. We need to feed the good microbes while starving out the bad ones.
  2. We add in good microbes when necessary to help repopulate and bring balance to the biome.
  3. Be careful with how we treat overgrowths of harmful microbes.

When we don’t need to kill any harmful pathogens, then it makes sense not to use harsh pathogen-killing chemicals if it’s unnecessary.

As we become more familiar with our gut biome, it makes sense to look at the entire biome we live in, including our home. The principles for nurturing any biome are relatively similar. The more we understand, the better we can be at fostering our overall health and wellbeing.

 

References

http://robdunnlab.com/science-portfolio/never-home-alone/

https://www.wholebodymicrobiome.com

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1471490615000022

https://err.ersjournals.com/content/27/148/170137

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19201053/

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What Are Prebiotics & Why Do We Need Them?

What Are Prebiotics & Why Do We Need Them? | Three Healthy Smoothies

It’s no secret that probiotics are great for your gut health, but where is all this enthusiasm for prebiotics? Prebiotics, the lesser talked about partner to probiotics, are equally as important to your gut health. The proper function of your gut is imperative to the optimal function of other body systems, including your nervous system. Like a luxury car, your gut deserves the best in preventative maintenance – that is where prebiotics come in.

gut health - homebiotic - prebioticsWHAT ARE PREBIOTICS?

Generally speaking, the concept and discovery of prebiotics are one of the new kids on the block. Having only been identified in 1995 by PhD Marcel Roberfroid, the idea of dietary prebiotics is fairly new in the world of nutrition. When discussing his research, Dr. Roberfroid said:

Prebiotics are a selectively fermented ingredient that allows specific changes, both in the composition and/or activity in the gastrointestinal microflora that confers benefits upon host well-being and health.

Prebiotics are the fuel for your gut bacteria. They support the health of your gut bacteria, making sure they are in tip-top condition to properly digest and absorb nutrients.

Prebiotics are the fuel for your gut bacteria. They support the health of your gut bacteria, making sure they are in tip-top condition to properly digest and absorb nutrients. Click To Tweet

They are composed of indigestible carbohydrates, which pass through your digestive system to live in your lower gut. This is where they get gradually consumed by your gut microbes, essentially fueling your whole digestive system.

blood pressure cuff - homebiotic - prebioticsWHAT ARE THE NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS OF PREBIOTICS?

Although we do not gain any direct nutritional value from prebiotics, our digestive system would suffer without them. A diet lacking in prebiotics can cause serious health issues and even permanent damage to gut function.

Without proper amounts of prebiotics, studies have shown that our gut microbes are forced to look elsewhere for fuel, leading them to consume part of the all-important mucous layer of the intestines. This mucous layer is integral to not only the proper absorption of nutrients but is also the first line of defense against harmful microbes.

The adequate presence of prebiotics in your gut determines the effectiveness of your probiotics. Without proper intake of prebiotics, all the probiotics you are putting into your body will lack a fuel source, creating serious health problems.

The adequate presence of prebiotics in your gut determines the effectiveness of your probiotics. Without proper intake of prebiotics, all the probiotics you are putting into your body will lack a fuel source, creating serious health… Click To Tweet

box of vegetables - homebiotic - prebioticsWHERE CAN YOU GET THEM?

You can find naturally occurring prebiotics in lots of plants and whole-grain foods. Things such as oats, onions, garlic, cocoa, apples, and bananas all contain prebiotics.

Additionally, many pre-packaged or pre-made foods can be fortified with prebiotics. This is commonly done with baby formula and yogurt.

Another source, often recommended by nutritionists and medical professionals, is a fiber supplement. This is an easy way to consume a significant amount of prebiotics with minimal effort.

GREAT PREBIOTIC RECIPES

Looking to add some delicious prebiotic-focused recipes to your cooking arsenal? Check out these amazing options, perfect for any day of the week:

Ultimate Prebiotic Salad from Sophie Uliano

Oatmeal Smoothie by Beauty Bites

Leek & Potato Soup by Food Matters

Prebiotic Pancakes by Cultivate Beauty