Looking for Dahlia Bee Products?

Looking for Dahlia Bee Products?

Order products on our brand new online store hosted by Storenvy!

If you have a particular skin ailment you are trying to treat, or have a particular scent you like, custom products can be negotiated. Contact me by email for details.

Please note that while my products are effective they are not a substitute for medical attention. If you have serious skin problems you should consult a physician, especially if those problems are potentially life threatening.

For updates on events we will be attending, as well as interesting sources and articles about the science behind Dahlia Bee products, please visit our Facebook Page.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sugar and Dog Food, How I Started Down the Path of Holistic Living

I didn't always live holistically.  In fact, for all the changes I have made to my lifestyle, I still feel that I have barely scratched the surface of holistic living.  It is a long and twisting road, a journey that varies per individual person, depending on health, lifestyle, and location.

But what exactly IS holistic living?

There is no clear, specific definition of holistic living that everyone can agree on.  When you search the term on Google, it gives this definition:

When used in reference to your health, holistic refers to the mind-body-spirit connection, the wellness of all our interconnected parts and aspects working towards the health of our entire selves.

So there are physical, mental, and spiritual aspects to the concept.  In Dahlia Bee, my main focus is going to be on nutrition and skin care.  With these as the focus, the word holistic basically means eating and washing in a way that encourages the natural ecosystem of our bodies to achieve balance.  Our bodies are essentially walking oceans, with billions of organisms living and breeding within us in a symbiotic relationship.  When an ocean is polluted by chemicals, it can throw an entire ecosystem off kilter, with disastrous effects.

Before we get into the meat and potatoes of the issue, it is important to know how it all got started for me. And the answer to that is the title of this post. You may be asking yourself, what dog food and sugar have to do with learning to live holistically.  The answer is: a lot!  You see, in my twenties I was attending college for a general animal science degree.  I was lucky enough to take a canine and feline nutrition course with a professor who was objective towards pet food brands.  She learned everything she could about pet nutrition and was untainted by the half-truths put out there by pet food companies. She instilled within me the idea that if a body was fed with clean, wholesome ingredients, and balanced in the proper way, then most common health problems could be eliminated.  Take, for example, flaky dry skin and a drab dull coat. The most commonly recommended remedies for this, even to this day, are to use conditioner on your pet when you give them a bath, and maybe add some fish oil to their diet.  But the results of both suggestions are poor, at best. And who in their right mind is going to bathe a cat to use conditioner?  She postulated that many pet food companies limit the amount of fat that they put in their food, since most consumers believed that a high fat diet would make their pet gain weight.  The reality is exactly the opposite.  Predators like dogs and cats process fat very well, it is essential to their health, in fact.  The dry flaky skin and dull drab fur are physical manifestations of the lack of good fat and oil. Not only that, but many vitamins and nutrients are only able to be metabolized by the body when they are dissolved in fat, often called "fat soluble vitamins". Four of the major vitamins are A, E, D, and K. The first 3 directly affect the conditions of the skin, and can really only be utilized by the body when dissolved in some kind of fat molecule.   It doesn't matter how many vitamin supplements the food company adds, without a proper source of fat for them to dissolve in, they are all but useless.

By that logic, however, adding fish oil to a pet's diet should do the trick. And really, adding a wholesome oil to a pet's food does improve the skin and coat quite a bit than without it. Doesn't it make more sense, though, to make a food that has all the proper nutrients already in it? Rather than adding the extra step of doctoring up a crappier food. It does, hence the holistic pet food market.  This idea translates very easily to humans.  You can take all of the vitamin supplements you want, if you are eating a low fat diet then most of those vitamins are going to pass right through without being absorbed, making that extra effort completely moot.  Similarly, having a hearty salad for lunch is a fantastic idea, but if you only use a non-fat or a low-fat dressing then you won't actually absorb many of the wholesome nutrients contained within.  A little extra virgin olive oil, or a nice ripe avocado in that salad and it suddenly becomes a powerhouse of nutrients.

That very simple idea is the core of holistic eating.

Now, onto sugar.  Specifically refined sugars.  My vendetta against sugar started around the same time I was learning about pet nutrition.  I had struggled with weight control my entire life, and I felt ready to take on the weight loss challenge during college.  Being a poor college student definitely helped a lot.  I realized that I had a very limited budget to feed myself with and at first I bought the cheapest "health food" that I could get my hands on.  This included, but was not limited to: diet soda, sports drinks, cheap granola bars, cheap yogurt, and low cost fruit.  But, apart from the diet soda, all of these food were LOADED in sugar.  I found I had very little energy after the initial crash, and I was downright starving only an hour after consuming.  I began to notice that my skin and acne were getting worse, and my teeth were starting to decay at an alarming rate, despite brushing and chewing gum after meals. With the pet nutrition ideas rattling around in my head, I started to come to a realization: that I needed to apply the principles go pet nutrition to my own life. Just, you know, with a human's nutritional needs in mind.

That was easier said than done.  I had a major sugar addiction, I was poor, and low cost food is downright saturated in the stuff.  Sadly, the last is completely by design.  Cheap eats are cheap because they are often made with low quality ingredients that have almost no nutritional value.  In order to make them appealing they must be soaked in either salt, fats or sugar, since those are flavors that our bodies are naturally attracted to.  Our society has a vendetta against fat, especially back then, so low cost food is loaded in sugar and salt.  It is no wonder that some of the poorest people in our country also make up a significant part of the overweight population.  But I was determined to get healthy, so I started doing one of the hardest things I have ever done: I quit refined sugar.

I have never been able to get away from sweet stuff completely. Like I said, it is everywhere and the food industry seems hell bent on shoving it down our throats. Soda and candy can be found in every convenience store, even pet stores and craft stores have candy by their registers.  I felt like a drug addict trying to get clean in a world where everyone was doing the drug and thought I was nuts for avoiding it.  I'm not good at quitting cold turkey, so I gradually cut things out or substituted for healthier options.  Soda became seltzer (I HATE the taste of aspartame, which is natural since it's basically poison, but that is a post for another time) candy became fruit when it was affordable, peanut butter crackers filled my belly and kept me sated for hours.  When my budget loosened up a little bit, I was able to afford decent honey and real maple syrup which replaced sugar in other parts of my diet.  I will discuss in another post about why real honey and real maple syrup are better for you than refined sugar. If you are curios now, check out this article on honey, and this article about maple syrup. The article on maple syrup article is particularly informative because it makes a very good point:

"The fact that maple syrup contains some minerals is a very poor reason to eat it, given the high sugar content. Most people are already eating way too much sugar.
The best way to get these minerals is to eat real foods. If you eat a balanced diet of plants and animals, then your chances of lacking any of these minerals is very low.
But if you’re going to eat a sugar-based sweetener anyway, then replacing refined sugar in recipes with an identical amount of maple syrup will cut the total sugar content by a third."

Ultimately, it is better to limit your overall sugar intake, no matter what form it is. But if you are going to use a sweeter, it may as well be one that has other benefits that go along with it, like minerals, anti-oxidants, and (in the case of raw, local honey) the ability to reduce seasonal allergies.

The effects of my dietary shift became apparent within a month or so.  My skin began to clear up drastically.  I was starting to shed weight without additional exercise, though between work and school I was already fairly active and on my feet most of the day. I had more energy and just felt better in general.  Eventually my cravings for sugar reduced significantly.  I started to look at sugary food and drinks with disdain and honestly did not want to consume them any more. There was another, unexpected effect: I started to appreciate different flavors again.  When you are addicted to sugar your pallet almost forgets that other flavors exist without it.  Bored with plain water, I found I had developed a taste for unsweetened iced tea, I started to like spicy food when I used to hate them. Sour and, more recently, bitter flavors became much more enjoyable.  I'm more satisfied by the foods I eat now and I feel good about eating them.

There was significantly more to the journey than giving up sugar.  But it is a really good place to start.  The determination and discipline required to break the sugar habit lays down a good foundation for the rest of the journey and makes the road a little bit smoother.  In later posts, I will explore some of the other positive changes one can make to their life, as well as debunk some commonly believed myths about nutrition and skin care. Including how eating fresh food is not as expensive as they would like you to believe, and why almost all forms of soap are bad for your skin.

Like and share this post if you found it useful.  Visit the Dahlia Bee Facebook page and show some love.  If you came here looking for Dahlia Bee products, you can email me with your request.  I will have an official shop up and running very soon.

Thank you for reading!