Tiny Beads, Big Problem: Why Exfoliating Microbeads May be Banned

Are microbeads in facial scrubs and body washes hurting our lakes?

microbeads plastic in lakes

When you think about threats to our environment, what comes to mind? Maybe you picture large factories with smokestacks. Or maybe you picture bulldozers and far-reaching oil spills.

Chances are you probably don’t think of the plastic exfoliating microbeads found in many facial scrubs and body washes. It hard to imagine how something so tiny could pose a threat, but NPR recently published an article exploring why lawmakers in several states are taking steps to ban these beads from personal care products.

The article discusses why these beads are bad for our lakes. Not only is the concentration of small plastic particles in the Great Lakes surprisingly high, but environmental advocates are concerned because the microbeads resemble fish eggs. That means that they are being mistakenly consumed by fish and other animals, and toxins from harmful plastics are making their way into the food chain.Feng Shea

The article suggests using products with 100% natural exfoliants in place of products that advertise “exfoliating microbeads” and we agree! There are plenty of natural ingredients that work as exfoliants. Our Feng Shea Facial Scrub contains walnut shell powder, for example, which is a gentle but effective natural exfoliant.

So check out the article and keep in mind that ingredients matter! Plastic particles, no matter how small, have to go somewhere, and unfortunately they’re turning up in greater numbers in the lakes we love.

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Water Filtration Basics

As you probably are well aware of there are many water filters on the market these days, but there are basically 3 types.  So what’s the difference between the carbon filter, water distiller and reverse osmosis filter.

So let’s start off with the carbon filter. Carbon filters are the least expensive water filtration systems and you can find them available as over-the-counter systems, under-counter systems, or as in a built in carafe (such as a Britta).   Carbon filters remove sediment, they remove most chlorines but they don’t remove fluoride and other impurities that are small in particle size.  A ceramic filter can also be used along with some carbon filter systems to further remove impurities that are of smaller particle sizes.   The carbon filter is the most commonly used filter since it is is the least expensive on the market and allows you to choose between different grades of replacement cartridges to create a custom system.   They can also be used to filter the water in your whole house.carbonfilter

The next system is the water distillation system.   Distillers work by boiling water.  The boiling water or vapor gets condensed once it hits a cool surface of the distiller and then forms water droplets.   The droplets are captured in a holding tank.   So the water in the holding tank is actually the clean water and is void of any impurities.  The impurities sit on the bottom of the original tank used to boil the water since they are heavier.  So bacteria and other impurities remain in the original tank where the water was boiled.  With water distillation not only are impurities and bacteria removed but all minerals are also removed in the water. So many customers ask what do we do with the dead water? How do we revive it?  We will answer that question soon but first let’s talk about reverse osmosis systems.water distiller

Reverse osmosis systems are little bit easier to use than water distillers since there’s no heating element and there’s no cleaning of the heating element involved.  Which sometimes can take a while to clean especially with all the mineral buildup.  So the way reverse osmosis systems work is that the water flows through a very tight membrane. The membrane allows water to flow through but does not allow any impurities or bacteria or chemicals or minerals to flow through. So as with the water distiller reverse osmosis systems also remove minerals. Water distillation and reverse osmosis are the best for removing the most amount of impurities and chemicals in the water.  So now that the minerals are gone how do we get them back?reverseosmosis

If you want to revive your water, we have a couple of easy steps. First off you can simply add a pinch of sea salt. Sea salt contains 84 trace minerals. Secondly with the water distillation and reverse osmosis and possibly some carbon filters you’re also creating dead water by removing any of the waters natural formation or natural structure.   To restructure the water the simplest way we found is by using Dr. Patrick’s Flannigan’s Crystal Energy.  Simply add drops to your water as needed.

So if you ask us to recommend a water system, most likely we would recommend the reverse osmosis system since there’s less maintenance involved, it’s hidden under your counter, you don’t need to heat the water, and it removes almost all impurities.

If you’re seriously looking for a high-end water filtration system, what we recommend is to make sure you have a professional come in and test your water before purchasing..  Especially if you’re on a well water system.  Don’t forget it’s always important to add some minerals back into the water to keep you hydrated – especially in hot dry weather.


Recipe Week: Live Buckwheat Pizza Crusts (Gluten-Free)

This week we are going to make some simple crusts that you can use to create your own pizza or you can also use them to make other creations of your choice.   We typically make a bunch of these and dehydrate them so they keep for a few weeks then pull them out as we need them.   There are many variations you can make by adding your choice of spices, but we will concentrate on the basic recipe below.


pizzaIngredients are very basic:

2 cups – Sprouted Ground Raw Buckwheat Groats

2 cups – Ground Flax Seeds

2 cups – Filtered Water

Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt



Grind the buckwheat groats and flax in a coffee grinder or Vitamix.   Mix in the water and add a pinch of salt.  Spread onto a dehydrator sheet.  We like ours about ¼ inch thick and about 8 inches in diameter, but you can make them any shape and thickness you like.  Let dehydrate for about 24 hours at 115 deg F. or until they are a bit crunchy.   The thicker they are the longer it will take to dehydrate.

Remove from dehydrator add your favourite toppings and voila you have a quick and easy pizza.   We like ours with cashew cheese, marinara sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, pineapple, mushrooms, zucchini and some sprouts. You can add the toppings of your choice and put the pizza back in the dehydrator to warm it up.





Picture courtesy of www.rawfoodsandiego.com

Not sure which juicer is right for you? We can help.

So you are interested in juicing and have no idea what kind of juicer to purchase and have some questions before making a purchase.  Well, read on to help clarify some of the questions we get here at Upaya Naturals.


1. What are the best reasons to juice at home?

– Instant fresh juice that has not been sitting on a store shelf

– You control what you put in it

– It is not pasteurized and has no added preservatives, sugars or fillers

– Instant shot of vitamins and minerals

– You can get your kids and family members involved in creating their own juice recipes

2. What are the differences between the types of juicers you carry?

a) Centrifuge – these have blades inside a basket that spins very fast.  The blades cut up the food and the spinning action presses it up against the basket.  The basket has small holes which allows the juice to go through, but not the pulp.  These juicers are very load and sound like a jet plane taking off.OJ-BM-2

b) Single Auger or Masticating – These are slow juicers that use what looks similar to a tractor auger to chew up the fruits and veggies and press them up against a screen to extract the juice and separate it the pulp.  Their are 2 types. The horizontal type and the vertical type – which correspond to which direction the auger is positioned.   The vertical masticating juicers have only been on the market for about 5 years and are more compact than their horizontal counterpart.omega_8006_pic

c) Twin Gear -these juicers have 2 gears inside that are very tight to each other.  The food is pushed between the gears and crushed then it is pressed against a screen to separate the pulpe from the juice.  These are also slow juicers, meaning that the gears move less than 120 RPM and produce less heat and oxidation.GS-5000-2

d) Juice Press – a press basically takes veggies which are first mulched and pressed them using a hydraulic press to squeeze out the juice.


3. What is each of the types of juicers best for?

Centrifuge juicers are best for juicing large quantities of fruits and veggies but excel mostly at juicing hard root vegetables and fruits.  The masticating/single auger juicers do well with both greens and vegetables as well as juicing wheatgrass.   Twin gear juicers are excellent for greens but need some added attention when doing soft fruits.  Juice pressed are excellent for both greens and fruits and have the least amount of heat and oxidation when juicing.


4. Are there any drawbacks to centrifuge, single auger, twin gear and juice presses?

Each juicer has it’s own “personality”.  For example the centrifuge juicer is the least expensive and produces a lesser quality of juice, takes the longest to clean and is not very efficient at juicing greens.   The masticating juicers are good for both fruits and veggies but the vertical models are not recommended for juicing wheatgrass or fibrous greens.   The twin gears are excellent for greens but not so great with soft fruit.  The juice press is great for both greens and fruits and produces the highest quality juice but takes longer to put together and clean and costs the most.  Regardless of the juicer types, it is always recommended to drink the fresh juice right away since that is when it’s packed with the most vitamins.  The longer it sits the more it will oxidize and degrade.


5. For the beginner which juicer makes sense?

Although it really depends on what each individual will be juicing, we recommend the single auger/masticating juicers to most clients since they are the most versatile and best value.   Most of them also come with attachments for making instant frozen sorbets, nut butters and also a have a pasta extruder tool.


6. If one were to juice at home, other than a good quality juicer, what equipment would you need?

You would just need a juicer and fresh fruits and veggies.  That’s it – other than friends and family to share your creations with.   What we recommend is making sure that the juicer is on your counter and not hidden away.  Make juicing a daily routine and fun by creating new recipes and getting kids involved.   When shopping we always ask ourselves what are we going to be juicing this week and purchase what we need.  This way we are preparing ourselves mentally and have the produce ready to go.


7.  If money is no object, what is the juicer you would recommend. What is the best budget juicer?

We would recommend the juicer that best fits your lifestyle and needs.  More expensive is not always better if you are not going to use it.  We recommend the Omega 8003, 8004, 8005, or 8006 as the best budget juicers.  These are all single auger masticating juicers, that are quick to clean and compact.


If you are in the market for a juicer and are unsure of which one to purchase, feel free to contact Upaya Naturals.  The staff will take the time to help go over your juicing needs and help you choose the right juicer for you.   With over 25 combined years of juicing experience they walk their talk.