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Green tea is one of my favorite things to drink, though a good dark beer is definitely up there. :D You almost can’t beat it when it comes to health benefits, simplicity, or low-cost. I mean, I love Starbucks as much as the next person, but a couple of  bucks a day just to make the mornings bearable can add up pretty quickly. Amirite?

What Is The Difference Between Different Types of Tea?

The three main types of tea – Black, Oolong, and Green – all start their lives as leaves on the same shrub (Camellia sinensis if you’re ever on Jeopardy). A few times a year these tender, young leaves are picked and are allowed to dry on large racks, but they’re not ready for the teapot just yet.

First, they must go through varying amounts of fermentation which breaks down some of the natural chemicals found in the leaves. The darker the tea, the longer it’s been allowed to ferment before being heated to stop the process. Since the green tea has only been allowed to lightly ferment, it has a milder flavor and higher concentration of polyphenols called catechins (CAT-uh-kins).

These plants don’t produce these chemicals because they want you and I to live disease-free for a long time. Since these catechins are very potent antioxidants, they help protect the plant from various environmental hazards and help provide us the same protection from free radicals, which damage your cells and can speed aging and trigger disease .

Some Health Benefits of Drinking Green Tea:

  • Green tea consists of about 30 to 42 percent catechins, while black tea has approximately 3 to 10 percent and oolong being in the middle between black and green tea.
  • In many studies, green tea catechins (which consists largely of EGCG) have been shown to have anti-cancer properties.
  • It can help reduce inflammation in the body, which is linked to many diseases from MS to ulcers.
  • These polyphenols, especially EGCG, have been show to promote a higher metabolism and weight loss.
  • They can lower blood pressure and cholesterol which can help prevent heart disease.
  • They have also been show to help lower blood sugar, which could help in preventing diabetes and weight gain due to overeating.

Probably the best part is you can make it for less than a couple dollars per gallon! A couple times a week I brew a gallon of green tea to keep in the refrigerator or better yet, make a batch of homemade kombucha.

I recommend that most people drink 3 cups of green tea per day, since each cup contains about 90mg of EGCG and only 50mg of caffeine. Studies have shown that green tea won’t potentially raise blood pressure despite its caffeine content, but it would be smart to consult your doctor if you have any concerns  or restrictions with regards to caffeine consumption.

The ease, cost, and health benefits of green tea makes it a simple, yet powerful, choice that anyone can make to do something positive for their well-being. After all, some of the healthiest cultures in the world have been drinking it for thousands of years which is a pretty strong track record in anyone’s book.

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When I first heard that Martha Stewart was going to be releasing a whole lineup of earth-friendly cleaners, I was very happy. I saw it as a sign that there’s a glimmer of hope that the mass-market consumer could soon be making small changes for the betterment of the world by switching from toxic household chemicals to safe, yet effective alternatives. Cue doves and Angel’s chorus here.

Well, I was partially right.

Evidently Martha’s laundry detergent is “all hat and no cattle” when it comes down to its claims of being tough on stains. Consumer Reports recently put these claims to the test, and here’s the bottom line on what they found:

Martha Stewart Clean did about the same as (clothes being washed in) plain old water.

Did he just say it performed the same as water? Really!? C’mon Martha, you have to do better than just plain water or else you can’t call it laundry detergent. Those are the rules.

I sincerely hope they fix their product soon, after firing the scientist who formulated it that is, since it’s stuff like this which could turn someone off to something like a safe household cleaner due to their perception that “they don’t work”.

Consumer Reports Review: Martha Stewart Clean Laundry Detergent

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A few days ago, I was my friend’s house watching the NBA playoffs. During one of the commercials, he started flipping through the channels when he landed on a news story about a little boy who landed in the ER with a full blown asthma attack. My little sister teaches 2nd grade so I know that asthma is very common in children, but the thing that was crazy about this little boy’s situation was he didn’t have a history of asthma.

Whoa, he almost died from a condition he technically didn’t have?

After spending 3 days hooked up to a ventilator, he was finally released from the hospital which caused his distraught parents to ask, “How did this happen?”. With no prior history of asthma on either side of the family as far back as 4 generations, they definitely didn’t have the genetics to cause this little boy to have this attack, so if it wasn’t genetic it must have been an environmental cause.

Common Household Cleaners Contain Many Toxic Chemicals

This story went on to talk about about some statistics that are pretty crazy, but not entirely surprising:

  • One in thirteen kids has asthma.
  • Asthma attacks are the #1 reason school-age children are brought to the ER.
  • The rate of children under the age of 5  increased 160% from 1980-1994.
  • In 2005, there were 218,316 reported poison exposures from common household cleaners.
  • Over the past 30 years, there have been over 81,000 new chemicals registered with the EPA, but less than 20% have been tested for toxicity.

What it boils down to is we’re currently conducting a massive toxicity experiment with our families acting as the guinea pigs.

So what can we do?

Excellent question, my astute friend!

I found a very cool online database that has been put together by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which lists many harmful chemicals and the products that contain these substances. So for the sake of brevity, if you’re into that sort of thing, I’ve put together a list of 3 common chemicals found in many cleaners (among other things) that you can avoid to start doing something simple to help your family live a healthier life.

Because if something ever happened to you, I’d be sad. : (

Sodium Hydroxide

  • Immediate respiratory irritant (scientifically speaking, it makes your lungs feel crappy).
  • Harmful to your lungs, eyes, mouth, skin, and throat.
  • Can cause kidney and liver damage.
  • Commonly found in tub/tile/toilet bowl/oven cleaners, batteries, dish liquids, some laundry detergents, scouring cleaners, and some laundry pre-spotters.

Hydrochloric Acid

  • Very powerful acid that you probably remember from 7th grade science class.
  • Causes severe skin damage in a short amount of time if exposed.
  • Vapors are harmful to your lungs and the rest of your respiratory system (basically anything it touches is more accurate).
  • Usually fatal if swallowed.
  • Commonly found in toilet bowl and oven cleaners, but is also found in some odor eliminators.

Buytl Cellosolve (2-Butoxyethanol)

  • Very harsh respiratory irritant.
  • Commonly found in all-purpose and window cleaners, spray paint, auto care products, wood stains, carpet shampoos, and de-greasers.

Even though it’s just the tip of the iceberg, by avoiding products that contain these harmful chemicals and switching to safe alternatives, you and your entire family will be able to breathe easier.

See what I did there? I’m a journalistic genius.

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