How Astaxanthin Helps Your Skin and Makes Flamingos Pink

Have you ever wondered what makes flamingos pink or how salmon get that lovely pink color?  Well the answer is: astaxanthin.

What is Astaxanthin?

Astaxanthin (pronounced asta-ZAN-thin) is a natural occurring pigment and part of a group of the cartenoid family.  Plants, such as sea algae or plankton, produce phytochemicals to help with their survival, and cartenoids are part of these phyochemicals.  When algae is put in contact with the sun and UV radiation it produces the astaxathin to protect itself.  You can think of it as an internal sunscreen that it is manufacturing.

How do flamingos, shrimp and salmon get their pink color?

astaxanthin in flamingos
When an animal such as a shrimp or krill, eats the algae or plankton containing astaxanthin, it gets absorbed into their system.  This causes them to turn pink.  Then as other animals further up the food chain, such as salmon or flamingos, eat the shrimp or krill, they too absorb the astaxanthin from these little creatures.  The more astaxanthin an animal eats, the pinker their appearance.

astaxanthin in krill Farmed salmon would actually not have pink flesh were it not for synthetic astaxanthin being added to their diets.  Because they are not roaming the seas and rivers and naturally eating prey with astaxanthin inside them, such as krill, they would not be getting any astaxanthin in their diet in a farmed environment.  So salmon farmers add synthetic astaxanthin to their food to get a pink color.  In fact these synthetic colorings contribute 15%-25% of the cost of commercially farmed salmon feed.  While it is expensive, what consumer would want to eat a white fleshed salmon?  But even with synthetic feed, farmed salmon can’t compare to wild salmon in their deep, pink and almost reddish flesh.  The next time you are at a fish counter in your local market, take a look at the farmed salmon’s coloring versus the wild salmon’s coloring and you will see the difference.

The Benefits of Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is still being studied and we are still discovering the miraculous effects of this incredible cartenoid.   But already we know that the benefits are numerous, including:

  • reduced inflammation throughout the body
  • reduced joint pain, muscle pain and tendon pain
  • increased stamina for workouts and physical exercise
  • younger looking more beautiful skin
  • improved eyesight
  • and numerous other benefits including protecting the body from oxidative damage

How Astaxanthin Improves Skin Health

One of the wonderful benefits of astaxanthin is that it can actually improve the quality and tone of the skin.  It does this in two ways:

  1. Prevents UV damage from the inside- in the same way that the algae makes astaxanthin to protect itself from the sun from the inside out, when you take astaxanthin there is evidence that you also produce an internal sunscreen.  This is not to say that you shouldn’t use a sunscreen on your skin, but there is evidence that prolonged use of astaxanthin allows people to remain in the sun for longer periods without getting sun burned or skin damage.
  2. There is also evidence that astaxanthin starts repairing skin from the inside getting rid of wrinkles and fine lines as well as age spots.  Perhaps by reducing inflammation, it actually improves the elasticity and health of skin.

Besides adding beautiful coloring to birds and sea creatures, astaxanthin is one of the strongest antioxidants known to man.  It is many times stronger than many of the more well-known antioxidants such as vitamin C, beta carotene, or vitamin E. So if you’re looking for a way to boost your skin health without glopping on chemical sunscreens, give astaxanthin a try!

What’s the best breakfast to eat in the morning?

We all know that breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day, but that doesn’t answer the question “What to eat for breakfast?”.  Too many Americans start the day with a bowl full of cereal, that incidentally is often 2x-3x the amount recommended as a serving size.  Plus breakfasts like cereal or pancakes that are high in carbs leave a person hungry a mere few hours after they’re done eating.  The trick is to eat a breakfast that is high in protein.  Protein will both fill you up for hours and keep you satiated until lunchtime as well as give you a good strong start to your day.

My favorite way to start the day is the incredible, edible egg.  “What about cholesterol?” you may be asking.  New studies show that it’s not actually foods with cholesterol that lead to high cholesterol in humans.  In fact eating a diet high in refined grains and sugar is far more likely to lead to high cholesterol than eating a diet rich in eggs.  So don’t be afraid of the egg.

My absolute favorite breakfast in an omelette I created that I call the ”Party Omelet”.  I call it the Party Omelette because it’s a party on the plate and a party in your mouth.  Here’s how to make it:

eggs“Party Omelet” Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs (2 whole eggs, 2 egg whites)
  • any vegetables you like
  • salsa
  • guacamole
  • hot sauce
  • calories:  about 300

“Party Omelet” Directions:

  1. Heat up a pan with some oil.  I like to use coconut oil beacause it has a high smoke point and is good for you.
  2. Then add the 4 eggs.  I use two whole eggs + two eggs whites.  The yolk is actually very good for you, so you don’t want to cut them out completely.  In fact just eating egg whites can lead to a vitamin B deficiency, but clever nature has put something in the yolk to combat it, so when you eat the complete, whole food, you don’t have to worry about it.  I then add an additional 2 egg whites to add more protein but keep the calories lower.  Also, I like fried eggs and to keep my yolks sort of runny.  You can cook to your own preference but there’s evidence that not over cooking the eggs and yolk retains more of the nutrients, so try not too cook it so long that it tastes like rubber.
  3. Add any vegetables that you like- the more the merrier!  I enjoy onions and herbs like cilantro or even rosemary.  Herbs are full of fantastic nutrients for the body so get a mixed bunch and sprinkle them in liberally.
  4. When the eggs are ready, take them out of the pan and put them on a plate.
  5. Sprinkle on some hot sauce to taste.
  6. Add two teaspoons of salsa (I buy organic salsa in a container, but it’s great if you want to make it fresh).
  7. Add two teaspoons of guacamole (again, I buy it in a container, but even better to make it at home).
  8. For the piece de resistance I add a side of fresh, unpasturized saurkraut.

And voila!  You have a HUGELY filling breakfast all for around 300 calories.  You won’t be hungry for hours!  And you will have packed in a ton of protein and a serving of vegetables.

3 Tips for Healthy and Natural Laundry

There are a lot of great options out there for using more natural products in your laundry.  A lot of people don’t want the hassle and bother of mixing and making homemade laundry detergent, and that’s fine.  There’s no need to have to create your own detergent in order to get healthier laundry and take the toxic chemicals out of your cleaning.  Find a great existing laundry product, like Nothing But Soap’s Laundry Soap and then use these three tips to make your laundry safe for your family:

natural laundry

  1. BAKING SODA- good old fashioned baking soda (also known as sodium bicarbonate) was probably something that your grandmother or great grandmother used in her laundry, and it’s still good today.  Add a half cup to a cup to each load of laundry for a natural alternative to help boost your laundry detergent.  Baking soda can get stains out of clothes in the wash and can help soften the water.  This is a good alternative to harsh bleaches or whitening agents and it won’t hurt your clothes.
  2. WHITE VINEGAR- natural laundrymany fabric softeners contain harsh chemicals and toxic ingredients that can harm you or your family.  We all want our clothes to come out of the wash soft and feeling good, so try white vinegar instead.  Just add white vinegar to the fabric softener area of your washing machine.  There’s nothing harmful or toxic in white vinegar, so it won’t hurt your clothing or your skin.  Not only does it soften your clothes, but it also brightens whites and helps to get stains out.  And an added benefit is that it cleans the washing machine while you’re doing laundry.  You may notice a vinegar scent in the machine after the load is done, but don’t worry, it won’t leave your clothes smelling like vinegar.  They’ll just be soft and lovely.
  3. LAVENDER SACHETS- natural laundry
    Now that you have fresh and clean laundry coming out of the wash, you’ll want to make your clothes smell great in the dryer.  Unfortunately many dryer sheets are laden with toxic chemicals that transfer to your clothes in the dryer.  Then once you sleep in your clean sheets or wear your clean clothes, those chemicals transfer to your skin.  One natural alternative to get great smelling clothes without the chemicals is to use lavender sachets in the dryer.  You can really use any herbs or flowers in a sachet that you want, just make sure that the bag is securely tied so that it doesn’t come loose in the dryer.  You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to give the sachet an extra punch.  Your clothes and sheets will come out smelling fabulous and there will be no harsh chemicals.

Luckily there are a lot of great, simple natural remedies to make your laundry look and smell great without all of the toxic chemicals.

UTI home remedy

Are you looking for a UTI home remedy or natural remedies for a urinary tract infection?  Bladder infections are the absolute worst!  If you’re a woman, chances are you’ve either had one in your lifetime or you’re going to get one.  Let me start by saying that if you think you have a UTI you should go see your doctor both to get tested as well as to get a prescription for antibiotics to get rid of it.  Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, there are also some home remedies UTI that you can use to help you both prevent them as well as deal with them once you have them.

Nature has created two wonderful plants to help us ladies out with bladder infections.  One is a fruit and one is a vegetable.  So when your mom says “eat your fruits and vegetables” she’s giving you good advice.

Asparagus:

First up is the gorgeous asparagus.  If you don’t like asparagus but you get a lot of UTIs are a looking for a UTI home remedy, learn to like it!  What asparagus has going for it is sulfur.  It’s the stuff that makes your pee smell funny after you’ve eaten asparagus.  That same stuff (the sulfur) is going to help kill off all of the nasty bacteria that are currently colonizing in your bladder and urinary tract and giving you an infection.  I even heard that in Germany when women get urinary tract infections doctors prescribe that they buy five cans of asparagus and eat a whole can each day.  While here in the States it’s not a traditionally accepted cure (you’ll want to see your doctor), you can help yourself out with a can of canned asparagus a day until it’s gone.  You’ll want to eat the entire contents of the can AND drink the juice or water in the can.  A lot of the sulfur will have leeched out into the water, so don’t just throw it away.

I can tell you from experience that it’s not entirely pleasant to eat a whole can of asparagus plus drink the water at one sitting, but for those of us who know the agony of having a UTI, you know that you’re probably willing to try anything.  You will feel a little bloated, but it will help.  I’ve used this method from that first onset feeling where you know you’re about to get hit with a bladder infection, and I’ve managed to stave it off without needing antibiotics.  So if you feel a UTI coming on, run to the market and buy a few cans of canned asparagus.  You’ll be glad you did.

Cranberries:

The second natural remedy for a UTI is the beautiful red cranberry.   Anyone who’s eaten a cranberry on its own knows that pucker face because these guys are TART! These acidic little berries rock because not only do they help once you’ve got a urinary tract infection, but they can actually help to prevent them!  Scientists used to think that it was just the acidity of the berries that helped to kill off bacteria in the bladder and urinary tract, but studies have proven that it goes further than that.  They actually change the structure of e.coli bateria so that they have a harder time latching onto the bladder and starting an infection in the first place.  Normally the structure of e.coli has little hooks on the end which help them “grab on” to the urinary tract or bladder and that’s when an infection gets started.  But there’s something about the cranberries that causes the e.coli to literally change their structure so that their hooks become rounded.  With rounded ends, it’s hard for them to get a hold and start and infection to begin multiplying.  Instead they just get swept out of your system when you pee, and presto, no UTI.

So if you think you’ve already got a UTI, see a doctor.  But if you’re looking for natural remedies for UTI to help prevent them or to compliment traditional medicine then give asparagus and cranberries a try.