Getting Healthy

Join Me for the Journey

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Because there isn’t necessarily one single type of “raw food diet” that must be strictly adhered to…but several different variations of a “raw foods diet” out there, all with different advice and degrees to which foods can be cooked…I have given myself permission to pick and choose exactly what I myself want to eat on a daily basis…(not that I didn’t obviously do that before now, but before now the main question that I would have asked the “resident four year old” would have been if he wanted chicken nuggets or a burger with those fries)…

 

The main guideline is that about seventy-five percent of the food that you eat should be uncooked.

As far as how much to eat, as long as you are eating raw and vegetarian foods,you can basically eat whatever you want, whenever you want.

 

Foods that can be technically included on a proper “raw foods diet” actually include far more than just fresh produce. Other options include fish, seaweed and other “sea vegetables,” fermented foods, sprouted grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, herbs, spices, beans, and perhaps even pasta, boiled eggs, and even some raw dairy products.

 

 

So instead of tackling one meal at a time or one diet at a time, I have decided to take a detailed look at the foods that make up what people call “The Raw Foods Pyramid,” starting with the lowest level on the pyramid and working my way up. Then based on that information, I will be better informed as to what my options are and what truly works best for myself and my family.

 

After all, changing your way of eating and/or your lifestyle in general—whether it be by switching to cruelty-free products or managing time more effectively or beginning new habits—is all about taking even the smallest step, only one step at a time—as long as that step is taken in the right direction.

Trying to completely change your diet overnight and thinking of developing better eating habits as a “quick-fix” solution will most sabotage your efforts. Introducing these higher-fiber, raw foods into your diet more slowly not only will make this transition easier, but also might mean that you experiencing fewer digestive problems and food cravings along the way.

So I have decided that, for our family at least, this “raw food diet” will become an important part of our overall diet on a long-term, not some short-term weight-loss…the main mission at the moment is to simply start gradually adding more and more nutritional foods to our Southern diet and lifestyle.

Soon I will do another “What Now” on Superfoods…what I learn about “raw foods” and then superfoods will hopefully also become a hinge on which to base our weekly menus and grocery lists based upon.

 

Anyway, I like the idea of adopting what many people refer to as the “80/20 raw diet,” which consists of eating “raw” 80% of the time and having cooked foods for the remaining 20%….(thanks goodness for that twenty, right?!)…

Join me for the journey, not only as I begin exploring the “Raw Foods Pyramid” layer by layer, but also as our family begins to…

 

1. Avoid foods that have been refined, pasteurized, homogenized, or produced with the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.

 

2.  Choose better quality animal products, and eat them only in moderation…just like I now dowith craft beers.  Choosing better grades of meat and eating fewer of them will lower exposure to pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and hormones…while at the same will supply important nutrients and fatty acids—such as arachidonic acid, conjugated linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids.

 

3.  Learn to cook smarter and more “delicately.” Where I’m from, most of our favorite foods are deep fried, and sometimes even in lard. Where I live now, our State Fair is quite famous for introducing a new fried food of choice each year—such as deep-fried Twinkies, deep-fried Oreos, and even deep-fried ice cream. So this year I will be taking time to learn not only how to “cook” food at temperatures less than 100 degrees, but also how to blend, dehydrate, soak, steam, juice, sprout and also use my slow cooker to its full potential.

 

4. Replace all unhealthy products such as sugary snacks, refined grains, pizza, canned soup, fruit drinks, canned foods, and sweetened yogurt…with healthier choices.

5.  Replace bad fats—such as any hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats, soybean oil, canola oil and vegetable oils—with good, healthy fats—such as extra virgin olive oil, cold-pressed coconut oil, and grass-fed butter.

 

6.  Set up a healthy pantry and fridge…Other foods that I am considering on adding or keeping on the slate—or better yet in my fridge or in my pantry—include various types of sprouted seeds, cheese, fermented foods—such as yogurts, kefir, kombucha, kimchee, sauerkraut, nuts and nut butters, cold-pressed extra virgin olive or coconut oil, fresh herbs, freshly squeezed vegetable juices, fermented veggies, and herbal tea.

 

Join Me for the Journey!!!

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Getting Healthy

But Can We Still Eat Bacon…and Eggs?!

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When I first told my spouse that I was going to pursue this “Raw Foods Diet” thing, his first question was…

“Will we still eat bacon?”

Where I’m from bacon reigns supreme…and men are hunters with Silverado pickups who buy their wives guns for each birthday and anniversary that rolls around.

Don’t worry, honey…we’ll still eat bacon…

Just not as much and not as often…

In fact, according to what I have read so far, studies have shown that strictly adhering to a raw foods diet can be even more detrimental than the typical American diet…or should we say “healthy” American diet, for several reasons. These reasons include…

1.  Lack of protein…Even though many plant-based foods do contain protein, these protein are not  considered to be “complete proteins” that supply all of the essential amino acids that the body cannot make on its own.

2.  Lack of critical vitamins and minerals—such as iron, vitamin B12, folate, zinc, and selenium.

These vitamins and minerals are all crucial for a vast variety of reasons. For example, iron prevents anemia and fatigue…Vitamin B12 benefits red blood cell formation and improves cellular function…folate is important for proper cellular functions and cellular division.

3.  Fatigue...Personally, I deal with having low energy and fatigue almost every single day…probably because I am a fifty year old woman going through menopause, while at the same time spending every waking hour chasing the “resident four year old.”  So a strictly vegan or vegetarian diet does not sound like a healthy option for me.

4.  Osteoperosis…Osteoperosis and arthritis runs rampant in my family, so I feel like I need to maintain as much muscle mass and bone strength as possible…another reason that I don’t think that a vegan or vegetarian diet would ever work for me.

So over the next month or two, I will be look at the different elements in a “raw foods diet” and trying to individualize the diet to a diet that works best for me and my family.

Getting Healthy

Why Next?!…Raw Foods Diet

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So why am I willing to set our Southern style of eating on hold for a while and pursue this raw foods thing in the first place? Wouldn’t anybody in their right mind be content to eat fried bacon, fried eggs, and gravy every single morning from now to eternity?

Actually, yes, I am “in my right mind”…I guess, or at least hope…but my husband was recently diagnosed as having diabetes…and we have got to eat healthier than before…than the way we were brought up…now that we have crossed that bridge that most Southern men find themselves crossing at some point in their lives…after years of eating like a true Southerner…

 

And the “Raw Foods” diet seems like a good place to start eating healthier…

In fact, there are many reasons to consider eating a Raw Foods diet, such as…

 

1. Chronic Disease/Conditions…A raw foods diet can help reduce your risk of getting certain chronic diseases and conditions—including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, gallstones or gallbladder disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

2. Digestion...Cooked foods are usually harder to digest than raw foods, and can be less “frustrating” to your stomach and digestive tract…(more on this later).

3. Energy Level.…Eating a diet like this can increase your\ energy levels, and being a fifty year old chasing a “resident four year old” 24/7, Lord knows that I personally need that.

4.  Longevity...Increasing your intake of raw fruits and vegetables could lead to a longer life

5.  Osteoporosis...Raw foods have been proven to be great for preventing and treating osteoporosis, joint pain, muscle aches and pains, and headaches.

6.  Weight...Eating fewer processed foods and consuming fewer sugary drinks is always a good idea and can result in losing weight without supposedly even trying. Raw foods contain plenty of fiber, and fiber helps curb cravings and keeps you feeling full longer so that you end up eating less overall

 

 

 

Nutritional Value...Switching to a diet that focuses less on “lower quality foods”—such as dairy, tofu, eggs, fish, and meat…and focuses more on “higher quality foods” such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds…has important nutritional benefits. Eating this way, instead of settling for the typical American diet,  will mean that you will be getting less sodium, added sugars, fats, carbohydrates, processed and pasteurized foods, preservatives, and unhealthy chemical additives…while at the same time getting more antioxidants, magnesium, minerals, vitamins, natural enzymes, phytochemicals, fiber, and other nutrients that most Americans are deficient in.

 

And perhaps best of all…A “raw foods” might even make us smarter and able to remember stuff. Studies have shown that chewing stimulates those parts of the brain responsible for learning and memory,  puts you in a better mood, and improves both your alertness, as well as both your short-term and long-term attention spans….and chewing raw foods simply takes more effort than chewing cooked foods.

Getting Healthy

Now What?!…Raw Foods Diet

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The next series of posts will be what I consider my breakfast posts. However, instead of talking about breakfast and the foods that you would most likely expect me to devote my time to right now, I plan on writing about my feeble attempts to adopt some sort of a “raw food diet.”

Mainly I am doing this so that I won’t have to cook…kinda like the fact that I use huge recyclable cloth bags whenever I go shopping—not to save the environment, but so that I can crame more into each bag and, as a result, make fewer trips from my car into the house…and also so that I don’t have to worry about some high school kid filling bags so full that the $200 worth of groceries that you just bought end up as one huge compost pile in your driveway.

Pursuing a “raw foods diet” involve eating mostly, or only, unprocessed and uncooked foods that are actually “raw.”…go figure.

Some followers of the raw food diet do eat raw fish and meat, raw eggs, sushi, and unpasteurized dairy. But most people who stick to a “raw foods diet” adhere strictly to stick to a strictly vegetarian diet that only includes foods that are organic, uncooked, and unprocessed.

Foods that can be included on a raw foods diet include vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, sprouted grains, and beans—none of which can have been heated above a certain temperature, usually somewhere between 104 and 118 degrees.

Being brought up in the Deep South, this should be interesting. Our typical breakfast, when we actually have time to grab something other than a granola bar as we head out the door, typically consist of bacon, big biscuits with lots of gravy, grits with cheese, and  so forth. This should be fun?!

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

And To All A Good Night (Review)

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

My initial goal when starting this blog was to take you on my journey to establishing a bed and breakfast in Oxford, Mississippi…but this dream has taken a sudden backseat as we now find ourselves raising our grandson…becoming a “new mother” at the age of fifty.

So this has been a journey, or “Now What,” series of posts on taking the “sleeping aspect” of my daily life and learning how to make it better…Lord knows that I need to this, being the 49 year old mother for a four year old.

 

Sleep is as important to your health as a healthy diet and regular physical activity. How well you sleep each night can impact nearly every aspect of your life.

Lack of sleep can…

  • Affect performance on the job or at school
  • Cause countless headaches
  • Cause increased irritability of the person who has had trouble sleeping
  • Cause the immune system to function poorly
  • Cause us to become more irritable, short-tempered, and impatient during the day
  • Damage relationships
  • Decrease the quality of work performance
  • Diminish quality of life
  • Give you a general feeling of being unwell, both mentally and physically.
  • Hinder our ability to stay focused for long periods of time
  • Make certain activities, especially driving, dangerous for both ourselves and people around us
  • Make getting started on even the easiest work or school assignments even harder than normal
  • Make you gain weight
  • Make you have less energy to tackle the day ahead
  • Sabotage our health
  • Sap our energy levels
  • Slow the ability of the nervous system to process information and translate visual cues into conscious thought.

I have personally found that having such a “nightly routine” of soothing transitional activity between my being awake and actually falling asleep helps your sleep quality and overall wellness….just like it probably did when my kids were little, and does for my “resident four year old.”

The following is a summary of the tips that I have learned lately to help create a relaxing ritual that I can do each and every night that will help me fall asleep faster and more consistently…healthy bedtime habits—such as meditation, soothing music, essential oils—that will help program your mind to get ready for bed.

Breathing Techniques

  • Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 Technique
  • Kapalbhati Breathing
  • Nadi Shodhana
  • Pranayamic Breathing Techniques
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Essential Oils for helping to cure insomnia..

  • Bergamot
  • Cedarwood
  • Frankincense
  • Juniper Berry
  • Lavender
  • Marjoram
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Sandalwood
  • Vetiver
  • Ylang ylang

Music

Supplements

  • 5-HTP
  • Flower essences
  • GABA…GABA (gamma butyric acid)
  • Holy basil
  • L-theanine
  • Magnesium
  • Melatonin
  • Skullcap
  • Valerian Root
  • Vitamin Supplement

 

Snacks

 

  • Almonds and Almond Butter
  • Bananas
  • Cereal and Milk
  • Cheese and Cottage Cheese
  • Cherries and Cherry Juice
  • Edamame
  • Granola
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Hummus
  • Lentils
  • Peanut Butter
  • Popcorn
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Whole-Grain Crackers

Tea

  • Banana
  • Catnip
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Oat Straw
  • Passion Flower
  • Peppermint
  • St John’s Wort
  •  Valerian

Apps

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Getting Healthy

Book Review…The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Simple Rules for Losing Weight While You Sleep

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

This book is a guide about the connection between inadequate sleep and weight gain written particularly for women faced with the fatigue, moodiness, and weight gain that we often experience because of chronic stress or hormonal changes to show how a good night’s sleep will actually enable you to lose weight, especially if you have been chronically sleep deprived.

 

This book sparked my interest because who wouldn’t love it if all we had to do in order to lose weight was sleep…If this were truly the case, then we would all be skinny, because all of us sleep, right?!

 

The title,  The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Simple Rules for Losing Weight While You Sleep, is appropriate for the book because the book gives you the tools to overcome the stress, poor habits, and environmental challenges that are causing you not to get adequate rest. The author of the book is Michael Breus, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and board-certified sleep expert.

The book shows how simple health and lifestyle changes can help increase your energy level, eliminate many health concerns, and help you lose weight loss without having to eat “rabbit food” every meal of spending a crazy amount of time spent exercising.

 

I enjoyed reading this book because I learned many things about how sleep affects your body—like how sleep boosts your metabolism, ignites fat burn, and decreases your appetite. I also liked the fact that the book provides information, advice, and practical strategies designed to help you get the sleep you need.

These tools include a realistic action plan designed to help you get both your best sleep and your best body possible, involving a slumber-friendly evening routine, stress management techniques, recipes for healthy meals and snacks all designed to help you fall asleep more easily.

Some of the key factors in losing weight while you sleep, according to this book are…

  • eating small meals that are high in protein and fiber every three to four hours
  • eliminating calorie-laden sodas and juices from your diet
  • substituting an olive oil cooking spray for butter or margarine
  • sticking to a specific sleep schedule
  • eliminating all caffeine after 2pm.
  • not drinking alcohol for three hours before going to bed
  • not exercising for four hours before going to bed
  • doing thirty minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise early in the day, most days of the week
Getting Healthy

Midnight Snacking

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

Blame your midnight refrigerator raids and before-bed snacks on your circadian rhythm, or inner time clock…or come up with any other excuse that you can possibly think of, but how many of us find ourselves raiding the refrigerator in our pajamas  before we go to bed every night or while anyone in their right mind would be asleep?

 

Honestly does it really matter why we find ourselves nibbling away, but instead which snacks should you choose at night?

Thankfully not all midnight or before-bed snacks are that bad for you, and some snacks can actually help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

 

So exactly which “health-conscious snacks” should you grab first when raiding the fridge at night?

 

In order to make sure that your bedtime snack can actually help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, there are certain ingredients to look for. These ingredients, as well as sources for these ingredients, include…

1. Carbohydrates

  • Why carbs?…Carbohydrates boost the production of serotonin and melatonin and help reset your circadian rhythm. Carbs also increase your insulin levels, which in turn affects the levels of the crucial sleep-regulating gene PER2 so that you’re drowsy when you should be.

How carbs?

  • Bananas…Bananas are the perfect bedtime snack…not only because bananas contain not only healthy, complex carbs…but also abundant amounts of potassium and magnesium, two minerals which help your muscles relax, and tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your body produce serotonin….(more on this below)…
  • Popcorn…Air-popped popcorn contains only thirty calories per cup and is an ideal late-night-TV-watching snack food.
  • Whole-Grain Crackers…The high-fiber content and low glycemic index of whole grains create a steady stream of glucose in your system throughout the night.

 

 

2.  Folate

Why folate? Folate helps to regulate sleep patterns, especially in older people.

How folate?

  • Hummus...The main ingredient in hummus is chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, which are not only rich in folate, but also vitamin B and tryptophan.

 

3.  Magnesium

Why magnesium?…Magnesium is a muscle-relaxing mineral that plays a key role in regulating sleep. Yet studies have shown that nearly 70% of adults do not get enough magnesium in their daily diets. Magnesium deficiency has been linked not only to insomnia, but muscle cramps, which can also disrupt sleep.

  • Almonds and Almond Butter…Almonds are a great source of magnesium…so grabbing a handful of almonds or enjoying a tablespoon of almond butter before bed may help you fall asleep — and stay asleep longer. (more on nut butters next post)…
  • Granola…Granola, oats, and other whole grain foods not only contain those all-important snooze-promoting carbs mentioned above, but also contain magnesium.
  • Lentils…Lentils are a superfood that are not only a great source of magnesium, potassium, and protein…but also are high in fiber and low in fat, so you can enjoy them without worrying about gaining weight.

 

4. Melatonin

  • Why melatonin? Melatonin is a sleep-regulating hormone that regulates your internal clock and basically tells your body when it’s time for bed. We talked about melatonin as a supplement in an earlier post, but there are foods that actually contain natural melatonin as well, such as…

How melatonin?

  • Cherries and Cherry Juice…Cherries and cherry juice, especially the tart variety, are rich sources of melatonin, as well as antioxidants and carbohydrates. Studies have shown that people who drink eight ounces of tart cherry juice twice daily fall asleep sooner and then sleep an average hour-and-half longer than those who don’t.
  • Walnuts…Walnuts another natural source of melatonin….not to mention that they’re just plain good to eat.

 

4.  Protein

Why protein? Protein helps create tryptophan, the sleep-promoting amino acid (see below)…

How protein?

  • Edamame...Edamame is high in fiber, protein, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
  • Cheese and Cottage Cheese...Cheese is full of casein proteins, which provide sleep-inducing tryptophan. Actually cheddar cheese contains more tryptophan than turkey, gram for gram. Eating cheese thirty minutes before going to bed not only will help you fall asleep faster, but has also been shown to improve your metabolism.

 

5.  Tryptophan

  • Why tryptophan? Tryptophan is a sleep-promoting amino acid that the brain uses to make serotonin and melatonin, hormones that promote relaxation and control sleep and wake cycles.

How tryptophan?

  • Cereal and Milk…Milk already contains tryptophan, but adding the carbohydrates of a good whole-grain, low-sugar cereal makes this tryptophan more easily available to the brain.
  • Greek Yogurt…Not only does Greek yogurt contain tryptophan, but Greek yogurt is also a rich source of protein and calcium, both of which can help regulate melatonin production and help you get your sleeping habits in check.
  • Peanut Butter…Most of us grew up loving peanut butter, and my Dad would always peanut butter before bed every night when I was growing up. Wonder if he knew that his favorite night-time snack was rich in tryptophan…(or if he really cared?).
  • Pumpkin Seeds...Pumpkin seeds are packed with a variety of essential nutrients,including substantial amounts of tryptophan.

 

Three final important tips as far as midnight snacking…

  • Avoid sugary snacks at bedtime because these will cause a quick glucose spike that can interfere with sleep quality.
  • Be sure to keep these midnight or pre-bed snacks light. Keep your selection as a 150 to 200 calories actual snack, instead of another complete meal in itself.
  • Eat no later than thirty minutes before bed so that your body has enough time to digest the food and absorb the nutrients before you go to sleep.
Getting Healthy

Music and Sleep

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

Listening to about 45 minutes of relaxing music before bed can help you relax and fall asleep faster, sleep longer, wake up less during the night, and feel more rested in the morning.

Listening to the “right” kind of music can slow down your heart rate to the 60-beats-per-minute range needed to enter the “sleep zone,” help you breathe easier, and lower your blood pressure.

 

The “right” kind of music can masks background noise,

The “right” kind of music can shorten stage two sleep cycles and help you reach restful REM sleep, the restorative part of our sleep, more quickly.

The “right” kind of music can blocking both disruptive external sounds, such as traffic, and internal sounds, such as tinnitus.

The “right” kind of music can fill in uncomfortable silences.

And the “right” kind of music can provide a sense of companionship and security.

 

So what is the “right” kind of music to listen to if I want to have a good night’s sleep for a change…and what makes it “right”…

Music is a always a matter of personal preference…(just ask any Southern Baptist about their preference between singing hymns or 7-11, seven words sung eleven times, songs in big church)…

But there are certain things to keep in mind when choosing the music that you do listen to at night, such as…

  • Beats Per Minute…Choose something that has a rhythm of about sixty to eighty beats per minute.
  • Familiarity…Choose something that you actually are familiar with and like.
  • Neutrality…Choose music that does not evoke strong emotions.
  • Pitch Perfect…Choose music with lower pitches, nobody wants or needs to hear anyone scream and squeal right before they go to sleep and tranquil melodies.
  • Rhythm…Choose music a regular rhythm, not too much syncopation.
  • Words…Choose music without words…it’s more likely to make you sleepy. Our good friends Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, not to mention Frederic Chopin, have written enough music to fill our playlists from here to eternity.

So what IS the “right” kind of music to listen to if you want to have a good night’s sleep for a change…and what makes it “right”…

The “right” kind of music for you personally to listen to in order to have a good night’s sleep for a change may not be, and probably will not be the “right” kind of music for any other person on this planet Earth.

So the “right” kind of music for you personally to listen to in order to have a good night’s sleep for a change should be music that you choose, based on what you like and what you need from the music at the time.

But to get an idea of the type of music and playlists that have worked for other people, take a look at these top  “sleep” playlists from Spotify and these options available from Bedtime Beats.


Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Book Review…Essential Glow

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

Essential Glow: Recipes & Tips for Using Essential Oils is an all-inclusive guide to natural beauty written for people who would like to learn how to use essential oils in their daily lives to boost their beauty, home, and general wellness.

This book sparked my interest because I am just now starting to use essential oils in my home now that I have started this journey to a happier and healthier lifestyle.

The title, Essential Glow, is appropriate for the book because the book was written by the same people who host the popular Hello Glow website—the ultimate source for daily inspiration, recipes, projects, and tips for living a healthy, mindful life and learning more about natural beauty and wellness.

The author of the book is Stephanie Gerber, a Nashville-based natural living blogger, who has also written…Stephanie Gerber says that she believes that “the journey to well-being can and should be, simple and beautiful, natural and stylish.”

The book is filled with over two hundred simple recipes and tutorials for making organic skincare and haircare-products, household cleaners, and even cosmetics at home…all using essential oils…including recipes for laundry softeners, all purpose cleaners, steam tablets, masks, bath oils, and invigorating scrubs.

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Essential Oil of the Month—March 2018—Bergamot

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

When I first heard of bergamot essential oil and found out that it was a citrus fruit, my initial reaction was, “Gee, I’ve never heard of that before. Let’s go to Sprouts and go buy some bergamot oranges.”

But nestled among all the other citrus fruits, there was no sign of the bergamot orange.

Perhaps because the bergamot orange itself is inedible? Kinda like the penguin who can’t fly in the bird world, right?!

Anyway, bergamot essential oil is extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a fragrant citrus fruit that is the size of an orange and has a taste that is much sweeter than your typical lemon.

The bergamot orange is the most delicate of the citrus plants, requiring the special climate and soil found mainly in the Mediterranean. For this reason, most of the oranges used to make bergamot essential oil will have been harvested from trees located in the Ionian Sea coastal areas of the province of Reggio di Calabria in the southern part of Italy. Considering that the production of three ounces of bergamot oil requires one hundred bergamot oranges, there must be too many trees there to count(?!)…

 

If you’re like me, you’ve been enjoying the benefits and taste of bergamot for years without even realizing it. This is because an essence from the skin of the bergamot orange is extracted and used to give Earl Grey tea its distinctively citrus aroma and flavor.

And even though the bergamot orange is supposedly inedible, the bergamot orange is still used in Italian cooking to make Turkish delight and marmalade such as this recipe from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders.

 

 

 

As far as essential oils are concerned, bergamot has a very strong, very sweet citrus-based scent with a hint of florals and a strange spiciness. It is considered to be uplifting and relaxing, and blends particularly well with sandalwood, jasmine, and rosemary.

 

As far as the best uses for bergamot essential uses, here are a few of the best reasons to open the bottle…(no, not that bottle of whiskey or gin…the bottle of essential oil that you only spent how much for(?!))…

 

1. Aches and Pains...Bergamot essential oil stimulates the secretion of certain hormones which lessen the sensitivity of nerves to pain and help reduce the feeling of pain in the body. This makes bergamot essential oil an excellent choice for using topically when you are seeking quick relief from muscle cramps and headaches.

 

2.  Anxiety…Bergamot stimulates the activity of certain hormones in the body, like dopamine and serotonin, and improves blood circulation. This makes bergamot essential oil a good choice when you are looking for an essential oil that will help the most in relieving stress and anxiety, and soothing frazzled nerves…and helping to treat stress-associated ailments such as high blood pressure, insomnia, and depression.

 

3.  Cardiovascular Disease…The iconic coast of Italy in the Calabria region, where the bergamot orange is grown, is an area where people have experienced low incidents of cardiovascular diseases for generations. The soil in the region supposedly has some secret “fountain on youth” potion that results in the fruits and vegetables having been grown there, such as the bergamot orange, positively affecting your cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, HDL and blood glucose level.

 

4.  Deodorants…The refreshing aroma and natural cleansing/disinfectant properties of bergamot oil make this an excellent choice whenever you are considering which essential oil to be used in deodorant or household cleaners and air fresheners.

 

5.  Digestive System…According to traditional Chinese medicine, bergamot essential oil is the best treatment for keeping your your digestive system work properly. So if you’re needing anything pertaining to your digestive system and pooping mechanisms—indigestion, gas, constipation—this is probably the essential oil of choice.

 

6.  Respiratory…Bergamot essential oil is one of the best essential oils for anyone suffering from respiratory problems or asthma…

Honestly, this is the one essential oil that I made a special trip to Whole Foods to buy as soon as we completed last month’s journey to Cook’s Children’s Hospital after the “resident four year old” had an asthma attack.

Much rather breathe in bergamot and cough up that phlegm and mucus, than breathe in a deep sigh of relief when you finally leave the pediatric ward and have to cough up enough to pay for an ambulance ride and two night vacation with room service.

Might be using bergamot in my diffuser for a long, long while now…

 

7.  Skincare…Bergamot is used extensively in such cosmetic and skincare products as creams, lotions, shampoos, soaps, cleansers, and perfume. In fact, about one-third of all men’s and about half of women’s perfumes contain bergamot essential oil.

One main reason that bergamot is used in these products is its ability to help more evenly distribute pigments and melanin when used to help heal marks on the skin, such as wounds and scars and acne. Using bergamot topically to treat such marks allows these marks to gradually fade away into a more even, attractive skin tone instead of leaving noticeable scars on the affected areas for many years.

Also, bergamot acts as an antiseptic agent that allows for fast healing of not only wounds as previously mentioned, but also helps heal cracked heels, ulcers, and eczema.

 

Bergamot Rollerball Stress Mess…Combine 3 drops grapefruit essential oil, 2 drops frankincense essential oil, and 2 drops bergamot essential oil in a dark rollerball bottle. Fill remainder of bottle with a light carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil. Apply to pulse points as needed. Store in a cool, dark place.