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5 Amazing Homemade Soap Recipes For Natural Living

5 Amazing Homemade Soap Recipes For Natural Living

The idea of making your own soap can seem bizarre at first. It is not like soap is expensive, and nor is store-bought soap that harmful. So why go through all that effort?

The thing is, is that soap-making is not actually all that difficult. Yes, there are safety issues when it comes to using lye (and if you’re making soap without lye, you’re not making soap). But if you take some basic safety precautions, you will be fine and discover that in addition to the ease of making soap, you can put your own natural, artistic touch into it.

Different soap recipes can have different effects, so don’t hesitate to try and try until you find your favorite soap. Here are five easy recipes which can get you started on the road to homemade soap:

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1. Olive Oil Soap

At a fundamental level, every soap recipe consists of mixing together three ingredients: oil, lye, and some other liquid. Olive oil is one of the easiest and most popular oils to use for soap cooking, though coconut oil is another popular, basic choice.

A general soap recipe will work like this: first, you take your oils and heat them until they reach around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, preferably in a slow cooker. Then while wearing protective equipment, you mix together lye and water by pouring the lye into the water (and this cannot be stressed enough: DO NOT POUR THE WATER INTO THE LYE). After that, you mix everything together until they reach a firm, but not solid consistency. Then you pour the ingredients into a mold and let it wait. Some soap makers will wait as long as a year, but there is nothing wrong with using your homemade soap bar after a few days.

Soap made just with olive oil is known as “castile soap” and is named after the Castile region in Spain. It is known for being fairly soft, though there are ways to make it harder. If you’re interested in a more detailed recipe for how to make Castile soap, then check out this recipe and get to work.

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2. Peppermint Soap

If you think that making soap is going to be too difficult or dangerous, there are ways to simplify the process. One way is to use a soap base such as Goats Milk Soap Base, which you can order on Amazon. When you get the soap base, melt it inside a microwave. Then you can add peppermint oil or peppermint zest and mix it to ensure that the soap has a good consistency. You can also use other oils if you’re interested such as lemon.

A peppermint-laced soap smells fantastic, ensures that your body smells fantastic after you’re done showering, and is great for your skin because it contains so many nutrients and vitamins.

3. Oatmeal Soap

Soaps may largely consist of oils, liquids, and lye, but those do not have to be the only ingredients you use. Solid ingredients such as herbs and flowers can be added into any soap mixture to give the soap new fragrances and textures. Mint is a good choice, as are fruit rinds and berries.

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But my personal favorite solid ingredient is oatmeal. While we should know the health benefits of eating oatmeal, oatmeal can also be used in other ways to improve our skin. Using oatmeal in the soap adds chemicals called saponins, which can cleanse our face from germs and dirty which harm your skin.

4. Pumpkin Soap

One of the best parts of making soap is that you can customize it to what you need. This can take on a health perspective – for example, a soap made for people with sensitive skin should use more oil and less lye.

But customization can be done just for fine, such as a pumpkin soap which is just perfect for fall. If you want to make pumpkin soap, follow the standard soap making recipes discussed above, but mix pumpkin batter in with everything else. Vanilla blends extremely well with pumpkin, but don’t use more than a couple teaspoons. Otherwise, it will turn your soap brown.

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The result is a hearty, rich-smelling soap which works just great on your skin and leaves you smelling of fall.

5. Christmas Soap

In addition to all the wonderful benefits of homemade soap talked about above, soap can also serve as a great holiday gift. Once your friends and family realize the work you put in to make soap from scratch, and feel the benefits of the natural ingredients you used, they will appreciate you all the more.

This recipe offers a fantastic path to creating a red, white, and green soap perfect for the holiday season. And combining with it with peppermint just makes too much sense for a Christmas soap. Don’t worry about using oxide in your soup, too. Just remember that it’s a form of coloring, because soap is an art.

Featured photo credit: a- kang via flickr.com

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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and black tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here:

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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