My status as stressed and broke has continued of late (I know, what??). However, these conditions have happily coincided with friends informing me of some new (and by that I mean ancient) health practices. The two I’ve decided to try out daily for the past few weeks are (coconut) oil pulling and drinking a tonic of raw apple cider vinegar. So far, so good! Even if they aren’t having the touted results — glowing, youthful skin and hair, fabulous attitude, boundless vitality (and let’s be honest, those treats are probably out of my reach) — I believe I have noticed a bit more energy and healthier gums. Sold.
First of all, let’s talk about oil pulling, an ancient Ayurvedic practice which I’d like to rename “coconut cleansing.” It’s quite simple to begin this ritual, especially if you get up before the rest of your family (otherwise, expect lots of awkward nodding and “uh-uhs” while pointing at your weirdly-moving mouth and the vat of coconut oil, respectively). Simply scoop out a large teaspoon (or tablespoon if you’re a rock star of the cleanse) of organic coconut oil on an empty stomach, let it melt in your mouth, and gently swish it around for 15-20 minutes. I find this easiest to do whilst reading or making coffee and breakfast; if I do this in the shower with water running down my face I have the panicky impulse to just spit it out all over the place. The oil is supposed to be removing toxins from your mouth, so you’ll want to spit it into the trash when you’re done. (If spat into the drain it can harden and cause problems!) So why in this spring green world would you want to do this? First of all, I read in some magazine at the gym recently that if Ashley Olsen (yes, one of the twins) were stranded on a deserted island she’d bring Mary-Kate and coconut oil (and one more item that slips my mind). Nevermind that she’d most likely find coconuts on said island; the point is, coconut oil is known to be a great health and beauty aid.
Coconut oil is high in vitamins A (eyesight, immune booster), vitamin D (strong teeth and bones), and vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant, and also has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties (think fresh-as-a-daisy breath). Although I have not personally noted my teeth looking much whiter since I started my coconut cleansing, many people swear that coconut oil not only helps fight (or even cures) tooth decay, but also whitens their teeth. (Is coconut oil a match for apocalyptic amounts of coffee? That truly would be a miracle!) Coconut oil has long been my go-to oil for baking and sauteing, but I’m happy to report I’ve also started using it as a lotion on my 99-year-old hands. I’ll keep you posted. . .
Another natural, inexpensive practice I’ve incorporated into my daily routine? Only one of the earliest natural remedies in history and my new favorite health tonic: apple cider vinegar. Yes, it’s been in your cupboard all this time. And yes, you can use it for more than salad dressing! I’ve been adding two tablespoons to a large glass of water each morning, or drinking it throughout the day in a large water bottle. I actually like the taste a lot, it reminds me of kombucha (especially when I mix it with carbonated water) — and for a fraction of the price. Your kids will probably very much dislike the taste, thereby encouraging them to drink out of their own bottles. Win-win!
Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples — and I do mean fermented. When the sugar in food is initially fermented it makes alcohol, but if left to ferment further it creates vinegar. (Oh, so that’s why that red wine you’ve been sipping on all week tastes strangely like, well, red wine vinegar. Mystery solved.) Vinegar is actually French for “sour wine.” Who knew?
Adding apple cider vinegar to your daily regime is reported to help with mood enhancement (well yes please) and appetite regulation (put the donuts down and no one gets hurt). Like the apples from which it is derived, apple cider vinegar is high in pectin, which helps break down proteins into amino acids and releases iron from foods you’re eating. These processes increase oxygen production and — hopefully — give you greater energy! Just as important: another effect of turning proteins into amino acids is the creation of tryptophan and its cousin serotonin, the “feel-good transmitter.” Low levels of serotonin can lead to depression and anxiety. Are you reaching for a bottle of ACV yet??
You can’t just use any old apple cider vinegar, however, my fresh and healthy friend. It needs to be raw (unpasteurized) and organic, and contain a “mother,” which I believe are the strands and cloudiness in your bottle. Delish.
So, along with making your own kale chips, doing yoga on the porch, and marinating tempeh on a regular basis, you’re going to be the kind of person who follows up her morning coconut cleanse with a shot of raw apple cider vinegar. And why not? Let me know what you think! 🙂