Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Yes, Going Gluten Free Helps the Body Stay Healthy

Hmmm, is gluten-free body care cosmetics necessary? Well, it's easy for someone who's not suffering from the symptoms of Celiac Disease to say no. However, those with inflamed scalp and hair loss begs to differ after they've tried using a shampoo or conditioner with wheat in it. Or when some of us start to itch and breakout from lotions or cosmetics that are formulated with it too. I've met many with the same or similar problems while doing product demos in several retail stores and gluten free expos across the country. Many state that they've learned to be medical advocates for their own body and pay attention to how their skin reacts to what's being placed on or in it. With this being said, below is an interesting article from New Hope Media discussing a survey that explains how improving health, 'feeling better' are top reasons many are choosing to live the gluten free lifestyle:   

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What Is Argan Oil, The Origins of the Tree and How It Supports Your Skin

We wanted to discuss the orgins of The Argan Tree and to explain why we choose to build our brand around this amazing oil and the nutrients it provides, which comes from the nut of the Argan Tree. The tree is a relic of the Earth's Tertiary Period and can only be found in Southwestern Morocco now. This gift from nature can grow between 7 to 10 meters high and is believed to be a blessing due to its amazing characteristics. The Argan Tree can live from 150 to 200 years, longer than the olive and requires no cultivation. Should it die, it can lay dormant and revive itself in 7 years. It is tenacious, withering and fruitless during extended droughts; can handle very high temperatures, manages well at preventing erosion due to its strong root system, thus preserving fertility of the soil and definitely is great at dealing with the harshness of the desert. The appearance is often twisted and gnarled, allowing goats to clamber along its branches and feed on the leaves and fruits. Its fruit has a green exterior and reminds you of the olive, but it's large with a hard-shelled nut inside. The goats value this tree and they love to eat the fruit, the fleshy part is digested but the nut remains. These nuts are what the farmers use to extract oil from.

In the traditional Berber pharmacy, this noble and rich oil is intended for everyday use - for internal as well as external treatment. It is used also on babies to protect against external influences. Body oiling is also an ancient Indian ayurvedic medical treatment, providing energy to the body and enhancing one's wellbeing. The massage using argan oil, which needs to be gently applied, is considered to be helpful in losing weight, improves the firmness of the skin and relaxes the spine. Argan oil is easily absorbed into the skin, leaving greasy residue on the skin. It is also one of the most important oils for making the skin look younger and is used also for the treatment of various skin diseases. The high content of vitamin E (twice as high as in olive oil) has strong antioxidant properties. Vitamin E is important for the development and maintenance of the functions of the nerve and the muscle systems. Argan oil contains more than 80% mono-and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which have beneficial effects on rheumatic conditions and cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, they neutralize free radicals, protect connective tissues, stimulate oxygen in the body, improve brain capacity and have a beneficial influence on the liver and digestion. The high content of linoleic acid helps to regulate the blood levels of cholesterol. Studies have shown that 16 g (2 table spoons) of argan oil satisfies the body's daily needs for essential linoleic acid, which is said to help to regulate the blood levels of cholesterol.

UNESCO, and enthusiasts excited by the oil's reputed anti-aging qualities have helped by creating a global market for the exotic oil, the unlikely alliance hopes to raise awareness about the inherent value of the trees, encouraging more careful grazing and stopping the local population from chopping the trees down for firewood. The people in the area are poor; as they now understand the value of the tree, they are protecting it. It has declared a 25,900-square-kilometer of land (between the Atlantic and the Atlas Mountains) an Argan reserve and provided money to manage the trees' preservation. Chefs and society matrons took up the cause, praising the culinary qualities of the oil and its anti-aging effect on the skin. There is also a ban against grazing in the trees from May to August, when the fruit ripens to a bright yellow and eventually the goats climb the trees, eat the fruit and expel the pits, which locals continue to collect.

At the Cooperative in Tiout, Berber women sit on the floor with rough rectangular stones between their knees cracking pits with rounded rocks.  Each smooth pit contains one to three kernels, which look like sliced almonds and are rich in oil.  The kernels are then removed and gently roasted.  This roasting accounts for part of the oil's distinctive, nutty flavor. It takes several days and about 32 kilograms of fruit, roughly one season's produce from a single tree, to make only one liter of oil.
The cosmetic industry love’s that it’s rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids and is used for massage, facials and as an ingredient in anti-aging cream. The edible oil is extracted from roasted kernels. Most of the oil is bottled pure for cooking, as a dressing on salads, meat or fish or simply as a dip for bread. The Tiout cooperative produces about 5,000 250-ml bottles of the edible oil a year.

Sustaining Communities and Supporting Women of Morocco through the Berber Women Cooperatives: All argan sold today is produced by a women's cooperative that shares the profits among the local women of the Berber tribe. The cooperative has established an ecosystem reforestation project so that the supply of argan oil will not run out and the income that is currently supporting the women will not disappear. The money is providing health care and education to the local women, and supporting the entire community as a whole.[5]  According to the Department of Water and Forests, Argan oil provides income for 3 million people in the southern part of the kingdom. The oil provides a total of 20 million workdays per year. Its operation is an income-generating activity and has always had a socio-economic benefit.

The vast majority of the production of argan oil passes through the women's cooperative of Argan oil. This program focuses on improving the working conditions of rural women’s economic activities, generating additional income and sustainable management of argan areas in the southwest of Morocco.
Co-sponsored by the Social Development Agency (SDA) with the support of the European Union, the UCFA (Union des Cooperatives des Femmes de l’Arganeraie) is the largest union of cooperatives for argan in Morocco. It comprises twenty-two cooperatives that are found everywhere in the region (e.g., Coopérative Al Amal, Coopérative Amalou N'Touyag, Coopérative Tissaliwine, Coopérative ArganSense, Coopérative Maouriga). These women come together to be better organized and thus guarantee a fair income through cooperatives, allowing them a better living environment and a dynamic local. Women cooperatives in Morocco work within a biosphere protected by UNESCO, which ensures its protection and reforestation.

An Outline of the Composition of Argan Oil

Fatty acids
Unsaturated fatty acids: %
Palmitic acid 14
Stearic acid 5
Polyunsaturated fatty acids: %
Linoleic acid 37
Alpha-linolenic acid < 0.6
Monounsaturated fatty acids: %
Oleic acid 43.5
Sterols %
Schottenol 48
Spinasterol 42
Delta 7 Avenosterol 5
Sigmastra-8, 22-dien 5
Proportions mg/kg
Tocopherols 720
Polyphenols 60
Sterols 3200
Triterpene alcohols 1800

Now increasingly important for oil produced for sale, as the oil will keep 12–18 months and extraction is much faster. Using mechanical presses, mixing of the dough and water is unnecessary and the dough can be directly pressed. All other steps remaining unchanged, the oil is obtained in about 43% yield (calculated from the kernels) and only two hours are needed to get one liter of oil that preserves correctly.

"Biosphere Reserve Information". UNESCO. Retrieved 2007-10-11.
Morocco: Argan trees
Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (1880). The Pharmaceutical journal. J. Churchill.
"Argan Oil Ailment Treatment". DietOBio. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
"Is Argan oil miraculous?". Care2. Retrieved 2009-07-17.

General references
* Rachida Nouaim: L'arganier au Maroc: entre mythes et réalités. Une civilisation née d'un arbre, une espèce fruitière-forestière à usages multiples. Paris, L'Harmattan (2005) ISBN 2-7475-8453-4
* Multilingual taxonomic information from the University of Melbourne

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using this product.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Allergy Train, by Celia Kaye via the Huffington Post Healthy Living Blog

I was just about to post my latest blog on gluten free body care and discovered a wonderful article on the Huffington Post Healthy Living Blog. However, after reading Celia's very interesting story, I decided this is definitely a better story to post for GlutenFree WheatFree Wednesday. Below is what she had to say:

I'm pretty accepting of the fact that I can't eat gluten-containing foods without suffering the consequences. I know that it will irk some people and result in dubious looks from others. I know that when restaurants charge more for gluten-free sandwiches it's because gluten-free bread costs them more than regular bread, and I am happy about the fact that they offer it at all rather than grumpy about the extra cost. (The difference in price is tax-deductible anyway.)
It frightens me sometimes in restaurants when I have to explain what I can't eat and why, because I don't trust that the crash course I gave the waiter was sufficient and that my food won't be cross-contaminated. But I don't get annoyed when someone doesn't know what celiac disease is if they listen to what I tell them.
For some reason, though, I'm still surprised when someone in the food service industry gets it completely wrong. I mean, gluten is a pretty hot topic right now. I can't imagine how someone who works in a restaurant has been so thoroughly sheltered from all gluten-related talk. Apparently, it's possible.

Here's what happened to me recently at a restaurant. While the waiter rattled off the list of available desserts, I mentally checked the ones that were usually gluten-free. Crème brûlée without the cookie, ice cream, sorbet. Great! Three options. Knowing that there were two gluten-free customers at the table, the waiter told us that none of the desserts were gluten-free. Not surprising. Desserts in restaurants like that usually weren't unless they were somehow modified -- like crème brûlée without the cookie -- and often the desserts were pre-made and unmodifiable. So, after the rest of the table had ordered dessert, my gluten-free comrade and I ordered ice cream. To continue reading her store click here