Monday, April 7, 2014

In The World of Wellness: Oil Pulling and Tongue Health

Wellness is a term widely used that has multiple meanings around health and positive life style changes leading to well-being. Here we will use the term "wellness" as a means of defining a life free from disease as well as a way to explore alternative medicines, what they offer, and what this could mean for you.

Every month I'll do a post on a health and wellness related topic. This will give you a chance to explore other options, become informed, and make the best overall decision for your own well-being.

In the World of Wellness: Oil Pulling - It's just as weird as it sounds.
Your tongue and how it relates to your body
By now, I'm certain you've all heard of oil pulling. I say this because my Office BFF reached out to me about it, and when he asks me about anything health related, that means it's a big thing and everyone is doing it.

So what is oil pulling then? A lot of very fun to read and well written articles (like this one) have already been posted about it, so I won't go into all of the details, but to sum it up, it's a not so quick or easy method of pulling bacteria from your mouth while cleaning your teeth by swishing coconut, olive, or sesame oil around in your mouth. For 20 solid minutes. Without swallowing it.

Doesn't sound worth it, right? It is. Keep reading.

Let's start with the recommended steps, along with some side notes on what I've learned to do and not to do:

1.  Put 1-2 teaspoons of coconut, sesame, or olive oil in your mouth
Side note:  First of all, use no more than 1 tsp of oil. The more you swish the more volume, shall we say, is added to the oil and it makes it harder to do when you have a bunch of oil already in your mouth. Simple is better, I repeat, simple is better. Second, if you're going to use coconut oil, make damn sure it's in the liquid form and not solid. Just trust me on this. 

2. Swish around in your mouth for 20 minutes
Side note:  If you can do this for 20 minutes, great. It not, aim for at least 15. Set a timer and keep yourself busy so you don't think about the time. It will help tremendously. I'm doing it right now, actually. However, ladies, DO NOT put mascara on while doing this. You know how your jaw automatically drops open when you're trying to put mascara on? Well, you get the picture. Just trust me on this, OK.

3. Do not swallow the oil.
Side note: Definitely DO NOT swallow the oil. Ohmygoodness, don't do it! Don't. Do. It. Why? The oil is pulling the toxins, the build up, the gunk from your mouth and your teeth. You do not want to ingest it. If you really, truly have to swallow, spit the oil out and skip right to brushing your teeth. You did your best, be proud. 

4.  Do not spit the oil into the sink. Grab some paper towels and have them ready to spit into when the time is up. 

5. Rinse your mouth out with clean water and then brush, brush, brush!

What should you expect? More than you bargained for, which is why this 20 minutes of oil pulling a day is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

First of all, your teeth will feel and look cleaner and whiter. Your whole mouth will feel cleaner. Additionally, if you suffer from allergies this is a great way to help with that. My allergies (to all plants on the entire earth) are 20x better when I do oil pulling vs. when I don't. That alone is worth it if you suffer from allergies.

And last, but not least, the reason I wanted to write about this: Your tongue. You may be wondering, "What the heck, why is she so concerned with my tongue?" 

Well, let's do this real quick...

Step away from your computer for a minute, go stick your tongue out at yourself in the mirror, and observe it very closely. Is your entire tongue a pink, healthy color? Or is there gray, yellow, black, weird colors anywhere on it? If you answered anything but pink, your tongue (and your digestive system) are trying to tell you something.

The variety of colors outside of pink that you might see are signs of either illness or that what you're eating isn't agreeing with you. Some of the colors you see are from dead food particles, dead cells, and gunk (truly, gunk) stuck on your tongue. You can get a tongue scraper to get these things off, but that's just putting a band aid on the problem. The bigger situation is how well you're taking care of yourself.

Most commonly, an unhealthy tongue means you're probably eating too much sugar or starchy foods and your body can't digest it properly. You have to drink more water, eat healthier foods, and even up your oral hygiene to truly combat these unhealthy colors. And oh, by the way, these colors lead to bad breath. The type of bad breath that brushing will not solve. Oil pulling can help with all of this. I highly recommend using this method, while working on a better, more balanced diet, to get not only your teeth, but your whole body back in top shape. Your tongue can help tell you how well you're doing with that, so keep checking it.

If you want more on tongue health, check out this article. It's good, solid information you can rely on to help navigate you through things to look for.

Update: In the World of Wellness: M.S. and Celiac Disease
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my thoughts on allergy testing, specifically for gluten, and how that can help with other diseases such as M.S.  I met with my ND (Naturopathic doctor) who's a genius, by the way, and talked all of this over with her. She gave me a couple helpful things I wanted to share with you. 

First, it is very beneficial to get tested for food allergies for a wide range of reasons, all of which tie back to immune system health. In this case, with M.S., it is imperative to know what food allergies you have so that you can avoid those foods and give your immune system a good, solid chance at fighting off the illness. A weakened immune system is one of the key signs in M.S. 

Also, take your vitamins - vitamin D, specifically. She said that a deficiency in vitamin D is one of the leading thoughts of cause of M.S. This too, my friends, is something you can and should get tested for (on an annual basis). Why? Well, get this. Two years ago my vitamin D levels were 80 out of 100. That is amazingly good, for the record. I skipped testing my levels last year and this year, guess what. My vitamin D level is 20...20 out of 100. I don't even know why, because I still take the supplements and I live in the sunniest state ever, but it dropped. She suggested D-Mulsion 1000 (Seroyal Genestra) liquid vitamin D3. The liquid is twice as effective as the capsules. Also, if you want to do your own vitamin D testing it's very easy. Check out Grassroots Health and follow the steps to order a test. I've used them several times and can personally recommend them. 

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