healthy living: b12

by darraugh collins in

Back in 2011 I wrote a post on the importance of vitamin B12, which I urge you to read (here) because it contains so much good information about symptoms of B12 deficiency and reasons behind that deficiency you might not think about. That is exactly the reason I'm writing an additional post related to B12, because I wasn't seeing the connection to why my B12 levels were low despite eating a healthy diet rich in grass-fed meat, eggs, and seafood. Within the past week I've told you about the how common it is for people suffering with low thyroid function to also have low stomach acid, which has been at the root of my issues with properly absorbing the beneficial nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from the food and supplements I've been taking.

I told you my B12 level when tested about a month ago (with a simple blood test) was 323. It should absolutely be over 500, and then ideally should be between 800 and 900, otherwise you are likely suffering from B12 deficiency. And this vitamin is so important to many functions in the body, particularly digestion - that a deficiency can lead to problems like depression, dementia, eye problems, and sleep problems - to name a few. So, you can see that B12 is vital to your first brain and your second brain - also known as your stomach.

Here's what I'm doing to improve my B12 level: I'm taking Betaine HCL with Pepsin (here) to increase stomach acid production, so I can properly absorb B12 from my food and supplementation. I'm also following a very clean diet, free of processed foods and refined sugars. I've also been supplementing with B12 sublingual lozenges (here).

Again, sources of B12 are grass-fed meat, eggs, seafood, and dairy, so if you are vegan or vegetarian you will certainly need to supplement. Supplementation is best with B12 injections, oral sprays, and sublingual lozenges, as these seek to avoid your digestive system altogether - which is beneficial if you've got issues with low stomach acid.

healthy living: oil pulling

by darraugh collins in

A little over a year ago I started oil pulling with coconut oil. Oil pulling is the practice of taking a spoonful of oil (I prefer coconut, but you can use others. Make sure they're organic and non-GMO) and swishing it around in the mouth for 15-20 minutes before spitting it out (I use the kitchen trash since it's lined with a trash bag). You don't want to swallow any of the oil because it contains germs, bacteria, and toxins that you have just worked to rid from your mouth.

By looking into the mouth, you can tell a great deal about a person’s health.
— From Oil Pulling Therapy by Dr. Bruce Fife

I started doing some research when I first went to the dentist here in St. Louis after visiting the same dentist in Florida for 20 years. I always had good dental visits with pats on the back for everything looking good. Suddenly, I felt as though I had lots of issues...well, not a lot, but enough to think something was up. The dentist said I had some gum recession on a couple teeth and he thought I should do gum graft surgery to fix it before it becomes a real problem. Then, he said I had a small cavity in my very back tooth (I still have all my wisdom teeth). And the final thing relates to the mercury filling I have - yes, I think I've mentioned my desire to remove this due to the incredibly toxic mercury. I've even wondered if the mercury filling was the trigger for my thyroid issues. What they don't tell you when they put mercury in your mouth is that one: it's toxic, and two: it expands. This expansion causes the tooth to crack, for which you then need a crown. My tooth has small cracks on all four sides, but they weren't sure if it had penetrated all the way around the bottom.

I was floored. How could I suddenly have so many things wrong? So, I started looking into natural ways to heal gums and cavities. I had heard about the work of Dr. Weston A. Price, but I decided to become more familiar with his work...and also oil pulling. I'm a huge proponent of the benefits of coconut oil, so I picked up the book, Oil Pulling Therapy by Dr. Bruce Fife.

This is an informative and fascinating read on the origins of oil pulling and the experiences people have had by doing it - including the experiences of Dr. Fife. So, I began oil pulling right after reading this and have been doing it almost everyday since (except when I'm out of town). It might take some getting used to but put on your big boy pants. I find it fascinating that people won't hesitate to put red dye no. 40 or other toxic, unpronounceable ingredients in their body, but then ask them to swish around some completely natural coconut oil in their mouth and they're suddenly a big baby. Anyway, I've noticed my gums looking a nice bright pink color, and where it seemed my gums could bleed easily before with flossing - very rarely now. The dentist noticed my healthy gums and said there was no further recession. I will tell you, good luck finding a dentist that will support your efforts to naturally heal your mouth. Most of them will likely poo-poo the practice of oil pulling, so you have to be your own advocate and try it for yourself. It can absolutely NOT hurt you. I was going to a dentist who recently added the word holistic to their website address and yet they seemed less-than-thrilled when hearing about my oil pulling and working to remineralize my teeth and reverse decay. The hygienist even referred to it as "the healthy stuff" I was doing. Yeah, that along with the fake plants in the waiting room were my clues that these people didn't know the first thing about being holistic. So, again, do your research. There are plenty of people willing to pretend they're something they're not to get your money and be part of something they think is trendy. If can make for some frustrating experiences. Trust me, I've been there. But don't give up.

As for me, I'm pretty vigilant about oral health since I'm realizing that all disease does truly begin in the mouth. The mouth is a part of the digestive tract, and if it's healthy, your intestines will be healthy.

read: what your doctor might not tell you about...

by darraugh collins in ,


I think so many women (myself included) don't even want to hear the words premenopause, or god forbid, menopause. We most likely have horrible visions of what these life events involve, not to mention the obvious fact of getting older - which so many fear and associate with a life that must only be getting worse. I'm hear to say, "snap outtavit!!" (OK, who loves the movie Moonstruck as much as me?!).

Getting older doesn't have to be this horrible, rotten, awful thing. In fact, it should be quite the opposite. The phases of premenopause and menopause don't have to involve holding a fan under your armpit, severe mood swings, and weight issues. Seriously, if we take care of our bodies and understand what is happening within our bodies during each phase, we can considerably change our outcome. I have believed this for some time because of all the research I've done in search of answers to my own health issues, but I read a book that I believe is essential for women to read.


In fact, if you're a woman between the ages of 30 and 50 and choose to only read one non-fiction book this year, make it this one. It was written in 1999 - yes, 1999!! Oh, how I wish I had known about this book in 1999. I would've seriously altered my own health journey for the better. No joke. I would have saved myself years of suffering without answers - or incorrect answers. Dr. John Lee and Dr. Jesse Hanley are amazing. Dr. Lee coined the phrase estrogen dominance, which is what I've struggled with for so long. What I find most amazing is that much of the information in the book I've learned from my own research over the years, because I couldn't find any doctors to truly help me (they only wanted to put a band-aid on my symptoms), and for the last 17 years this amazing information hasn't yet crossed over into the mainstream because our system of educating doctors still encourages them to treat symptoms, not root causes. I also find it interesting that I'm NOT a doctor, and I've managed to find this information for myself, yet most doctors out there appear to be living under a rock. For example, I might have thought one way about an issue, but if something seemed off, or if I questioned whether it was right, I look into it to find answers. And if those answers show otherwise, I change my course. But these are educated people (doctors!) who must obviously see the enormous obesity problem, diabetes problem, autoimmune problem, cancer problem, thyroid problem...yet...YET...they STILL think the brand of medicine they're slinging around is working.

Anyway, I could scratch my head all day on that one. The important thing is that you don't have to buy that brand of medicine if you don't want to. And it starts with taking control of your own health by educating yourself about your body. Stop being so disinterested. Your body is the most important thing you own, and without it you are literally nothing (and that is a correct use of the word literally).

If you're over the age of 50, definitely read their other book, What Your Doctor Might Not Tell You About Menopause, because it's filled with even more need-to-know information to help you through menopause and beyond.

READ THIS BOOK. Have you taken fertility drugs? Does your doctor have you on some form of estrogen? What can progesterone replacement do for you? Why is it better to take progesterone in cream form? Find out...

inspiration: framing alternatives

by darraugh collins in

I've shared with you (here) about a photo site that I love called Social Print Studio, but I've found another called Parabo Press that is also good and offers some really neat options for displaying on your walls. One is great alternative for photos, posters, prints, or here's an idea I love - hanging a really cool piece of wallpaper or wrapping paper. They're called wood poster, take a peek:

You might recognize this photo from yesterday's post on Food52. They offer something similar (shown here) and it looks like a really neat piece of wallpaper or wrapping paper.

Another idea for casually hanging photos is using washi tape, or Parabo Press has their mylar tape:

inspiration: food52

by darraugh collins in

I'm a big fan of Food52 - an online food community that provides inspiration for those who like to eat and live well. You can find tons of recipes, and they have an amazing shop (UH-mazing) that carries goods for the home, and they even have a hotline that allows you to tap into the community with your food questions (Gotta soufflé that won't rise? Ask for help.). You can even create collections (or boards, like Pinterest) to easily catalog the items you love. Food52 was founded by Merrill Stubbs and Amanda Hesser. I have a couple of Amanda's books. She's a former food writer and editor for The New York Times. Did you see her in Julie & Julia? Anyway, the site has already won a James Beard award and continues to grow in popularity - so, check it out if you haven't already. I thought I'd share some of the things I'm drooling over from their shop:

on my radar: juicero

by darraugh collins in

Last year I was reading an article about the next wave in gadgets, and one that was getting buzz - and lots of VC funding - was Juicero. It was mentioned as the "Keurig of juicers", but I wasn't really impressed. I'm not a fan of Keurig, mainly due to the environmental waste created by all those K-cups, but I couldn't imagine how they were going to create juice that was truly healthy. Fast forward a few months and the Juicero machine is being released in California, so more details of how it really operates have been released. I'm certainly much more impressed now and here's why: the juice packs are shipped fresh, certified organic, and there's only ONE button to operate it. I was envisioning K-cup style pods of "juice" sitting around in every Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond, and thinking what an awful idea. This however, makes more sense. Founder Doug Evans was the former CEO of Organic Avenue - a juice company in New York City that I greatly admire. He has lived many lives and brings such a passion to healthy living. Juicero was his vision, and he built the first Juicero machine in his kitchen in 2013.

I am curious how they will make it work as they roll it out across the country. They're partnering with the farmers and sourcing directly from them so the vegetables are processed and packaged within a couple days. I imagine that means their network of farmers will grow accordingly. Also, the price. At $699 for the unit and then $4-$10 per juice pack, it certainly isn't inexpensive. It truly comes down to paying for convenience and the time you won't have to spend cutting up fruit and vegetables - which, if you're committed to a healthy lifestyle and have a busy life, then there's your answer. The juice packs are recyclable (yay!) and the technology incorporated not only into the machine, but also the app that you use to ensure you always have fresh juice packs, along with the certified organic produce - makes Juicero so much more than the "Keurig of juicers" in my opinion. What do you think?



find: monroe workshop

by darraugh collins in

For someone without kids, I certainly have a fascination with well made and imaginative children's toys. Recently, I spotted an adorable wooden robot while I was checking out the pics of Emily Henderson's daughter's nursery - and had to find out where it was from. Enter Monroe Workshop. This Los Angeles based furniture company recently began producing a line of children's toys that includes this robot monkey. A herd of robot horses, anyone? These toys are made of solid maple and cotton rope and can be purchased on the website. But if you're looking for something other than toys definitely check out their furniture collection - which is what they're most known for. Matt Monroe has an incredible background of experience that includes working for BDDW in New York, and getting his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. His pieces are inspired by mid-century classics and meant to last for generations. His clients are some of my favorites, Ace Hotels and Commune Design, so it's no surprise I'm a fan of his work.

*all images via Monroe Workshop

on my radar: let's move to Austin...

by darraugh collins in ,

...because I need to live at Starlight Village - a new development of 29 homes to be built in the Midcentury style in Austin, Texas, with prices starting at $270,000 and sizes ranging from 1300-2400SF. There are a variety of styles to choose from so it doesn't look cookie cutter, and you can choose from upgraded touches like terrazzo flooring and Eichler paneling. Thanks to Retro Renovation for sharing the news (BTW, you should follow that site if you love retro!). Here are the styles to choose from, so you can get yours picked out. I can't decide between Cocoa Beach and Palm

inspiration: irene neuwirth in los angeles

by darraugh collins in

Irene Neuwirth is a Los Angeles-based jewelry designer known for her modern and sophisticated designs, and bold and intense colors. When she chose a space in West Hollywood for her signature boutique, she hired design firm, Commune, to make the space speak to her playful style. I am a big fan of Commune, so it's no surprise I love what they did here. And though this is a retail boutique, it's actually the kitchen that's my favorite part. The warmth of the wood, along with the unique scallop detail on the cabinets, brass accents, and that Lacanche range make for a stunningly clean and simple space with full-on style. Take a look at the entire space, as well as some of Irene's fun jewelry.