Health is not only what we eat or how much we exercise

Living a healthy lifestyle can prove to be a difficult thing if your understanding of health is only what you eat & how much you exercise. We are used to so many household items that we use for cooking & cleaning without realising the dangers that they pose. From toothpaste riddled with flouride to non stick cookware.

Its easy to assume that going vegan, meditating and doing yoga is the answer to making sure we stay on top of our health. It is unfortunately not enough. We are complex beings and although our gut is the gateway to a healthier temple, our environment affects us a lot more than we give credit for. Below is a brief list of everyday items that are common in just about every household that pose great risks to our health.

  • Tooth paste- This is one item that often gets overlooked because its something that you dont swallow, ideally, and doesnt stay in your mouth for long. The fancy labels always state how good they are for your gums, give you whiter teeth etc. It is also very hard to decipher which ingredients are harmful and which arent as the wording can be a nightmare to make sense of. Our mouth-body connection is very real, bad oral health can lead to an array of different health complications. With ingredients such as flouride, the smallest amount can cause acute toxicity. Diethanolamine (DEA) that is the foaming agent, is a compound that is yet another known hormone disruptor, and the EWG (environmental working group) ranks it at a full 10 on its hazard scale. These are just two of many other ingredients that are in common toothpastes.
  • Non stick cookware- The very coating that makes a pot or a pan non stick is Polytetrafluoroethylene, which releases gases when exposed to heat. Theres a chemical called C8 that releases toxins when heated, there has been some scientific data that have shown that these chemicals cause birth defects & disrupts the endocrine system. (Theres a netflix documentary called The Devil We know, worthwhile watching if you want more details). The endocrine system is made up of the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, adrenal glands, pancreas, ovaries (in females) and testicles (in males). The endocrine system affects almost every organ and cell in the body, due its function being coordinating between different organs through hormones, which are chemicals released into the bloodstream. A gland selects and removes materials from the blood, processes them and secretes the finished chemical product for use somewhere in the body. The chemicals in the non stick ware have been linked to cancers and many other health complications. At least four of the chemicals in the cookware never break down in the environment, and some are widely found in human blood.
  • Antiperspirant- Breast cancer is one of the biggest components that have been linked to antiperspirants. Its been scientifically proven that aluminum can also be absorbed through the skin, especially skin damaged by shaving, and may accumulate in the body over time as a result of this type of exposure. According to EWG the health effects of aluminum have been extensively investigated, with particular focus on neurological diseases, among others. Aluminum came under investigation as a possible carcinogen because it can damage DNA and prevent DNA repair, which are well-known mechanisms of carcinogenesis (the formation of cancer). This led to the hypothesis that aluminum in antiperspirants could penetrate the skin, accumulate in the breast and cause tumor formation by damaging DNA.
  • skin and hair hair care- On average 60% of what goes on our skin (scalp included) goes into our bloodstream. The most common chemical found in beauty products is paraben, which is used as preservative in deodorants, moisturisers, shampoos, body wash and makeup, and increases the chances of breast cancer. Its chemical structure is similar to estrogen and it can be carcinogenic even in tiny amounts. Men who use products containing parabens can have lower sperm counts and less testosterone. It could also cause endocrine disruption. Meanwhile, formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers found in nail products, hair dye, hair straighteners, false eyelash adhesives, cosmetic glues and some shampoos, is also linked to causing cancer and can also damage the immune system. There’s also ethanolamine, which contains impurities like nitrosamines and is usually not listed on product labels. It’s actually a respiratory, skin and organ cancer causing toxicants, and is usually found in soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners and dyes, shaving creams, eyeliners, mascara, fragrances and sunscreens.
  • Household cleaning products- The association between persistent wheezing and prenatal exposure to household cleaning chemicals is evident among children when they reach 7 years of age. The respiratory effects seem to have persisted throughout childhood, which raises the possibility that they could be lifelong. The bottom line is that exposure to chemicals in household products might be harmful to babies both before and after birth. The studies underline the importance of making safer choices—especially in cleaning products. Not only are the ingredients in the bottle important, but some findings show that the form they come in, particularly sprays, should be carefully considered as well.
  • Mattress- Since the mid- to late ’60s, most mattresses have been made of polyurethane foam, a petroleum-based material that emits volatile organic compounds that can cause respiratory problems and skin irritation. Formaldehyde, which is used to make one of the adhesives that hold mattresses together, has been linked to asthma, allergies, and lung, nose, and throat cancers. And then there are cotton pesticides and flame-retardant chemicals, which can cause cancer and nervous-system disorders. In 2005, Walter Bader, owner of the “green mattress” company Lifekind and author of the book Toxic Bedrooms, sent several mattresses to an Atlanta-based lab. A memory-foam model was found to emit 61 chemicals, including the carcinogens benzene and naphthalene. Although there is a lot more research required there is still not enough data to determine whether low levels of these chemicals will eventually make people sick. It is however the dose that makes the poisons.

This is just a small part of what encouraged our change in habits and scrutinising everyday items we use. Luckily we live in a time where we can get hold of non toxic version of everything we use.

As a part of these changes i began making most of the things that we use. This was the start of my skin and hair care company MalmalByAsliM, another post on different streams of income, what started off as a healthier way of life lead to a business.

What we eat has a huge impact on our overall health but there are so many factors in our immediate environment which we have control over, once we educate ourselves on the dangers of these items, that we can change so that we can lead a healthier life.

As always please feel free to reach out with any questions or any further information you would like.

Until next time,

Blessings from me and mine to you and yours.


Casas L, Zock JP, Carsin AE, Fernandez-Somoano A, Esplugues A, Santa-Marina L, Tardón A, Ballester F, Basterrechea M, Sunyer J. 2013a. The use of household cleaning products during pregnancy and lower respiratory tract infections and wheezing during early life. Int J Public Health. Oct;58(5):757-64.

Henderson J, Sherriff A, Farrow A, Ayres JG. 2008. Household chemicals, persistent wheezing and lung function: effect modification by atopy? Eur Respir J. Mar;31(3):547-54.

Exley C. Human exposure to aluminium. EnvironSci Process Impacts 2013; 15:1807–16.2. Darbre PD. Aluminium, antiperspirants andbreast cancer. J Inorg Biochem 2005; 99:1912–9.3. Darbre PD. Metalloestrogens: an emerging classof inorganic xenoestrogens with potential to addto the oestrogenic burden of the human breast.J Appl Toxicol 2006; 26:191–7.4. Banasik A, Lankoff A, Piskulak A, et al. Alumi-num-induced micronuclei and apoptosis inhuman peripheral-blood lymphoc ytes treated dur-ing different phases of the cell cycle. EnvironToxicol 2005; 20:402–6

Living in a city may not be as safe as many assume

One of the greatest attractions of a city is that there’s everything you could possibly need or want,
all around you, there are big and small businesses that do everything for you. It’s convenient. As long as you can pay, you can have anything. In cities a host of “others” have control over supply of everything you may need. In a crisis, it’s that very condition that becomes your greatest danger. You can’t remove yourself from the dependency on others and suddenly become self-reliant. You have very little control over your surroundings and the services you need.

In a crisis, the first locations to be hit with food shortages are cities, and you may find you have no alternate supply of food. this is true of any city, no matter how nice it is in good times, but if there’s a food shortage and some people are desperate. Your not going to want to be walking home from a supermarket with a loaf of bread under your arm.
If your lucky enough to have a few cupboards full of food when disaster strikes, what about the most basic needs like water, electricity, cooking gas and so on, they are piped directly to your house or apartment what happens if they stop working?
Your ability for self-reliance is very low indeed, You can’t simply go out and collect some firewood to stay warm or cook, how do you bathe if the water stops coming out the tap?

In a crisis, none of the attractions of city life continue to matter or have any value. The city becomes your greatest liability.

I’m not suggesting some sort of doomsday scenario is around the corner, what I am saying however is that if you live in a city and you want to minimize your exposure to risk should the worst happen.
Then there are things you can do to mitigate your exposure to these risks.
Some of us are blessed enough to be able to have a small place in
the countryside or better yet in another country altogether which we may use as a bolt hole.
But if this isn’t currently achievable as might be the case for many more of us, then there are still things you can do to help secure your basic needs.
In some places like in the UK garden allotments are available to rent for a very small fee, if you can find one then it’s well worth getting your hands dirty growing some vegetables. Our son learnt a lot in our allotment while we lived in London he was two at the time and still talks about it even now.

There are often also community garden associations or small farms of sorts on the outskirts of towns and cities that offer some form of paid membership in exchange for a share of produce, again this is well worth exploring, even if nothing ever happens you’ll still have fresh fruits and vegetables to enjoy that you’ve already paid for.
Having a home BBQ could be very useful should the utilities stop working properly as you can still cook.

There are many other things you can do as well, perhaps you have a relative or good friend in the country somewhere, maybe you could stay there for a time?
but the main point is, have a plan B,
At least take a few minutes, sit down and write a few notes of what a plan B means to you and start taking some simple steps to implement it.

As a side note:
I’m not one for advertising and pushy sales talks but If any readers would like a more in depth personalized consultation on how to best address their current situation I do offer this as a paid service, as always the first consultation is free and if you feel I would be helpful as an advisor going forward then we can discuss costs based on your individual needs.

Until next time

Why Belize?

We learnt about this small central american country living in Kenya, east africa 4 years ago. At this time we had lived in east africa for about two years. It was through this time that we realised we wanted to live a decentralised life. Its all well and good wanting but where does one even begin?

The checklist-
Move outside your home country, but where? Creating a checklist might help.

Alright….so since we are all about decentralised life, moving about the globe and having several places to call home is a bit of a no brainer.

But how do you go about figuring out exactly where in the world could possibly be a good fit for you? Officially there are something like 195 countries in the world…..(who made them the law on this “elite club membership” is another topic entirely,)
Realistically there’s many more countries if self declared nations, breakaway nations and autonomous regions are accounted for.

That’s a lot of choices, it would take years or even decades to travel to and study all of them to determine the best candidates to call home.

However one good place to start is sitting right at home wherever you are now, and start thinking about what makes any place somewhere you’d want to consider.
Write down 10 or more key points that your looking for in a desirable destination, this should make the list of options much easier to navigate.

For myself and my family we decided to make a checklist to rate each country that we’d visited so far, we also realised using this checklist would enable us to have a pretty good idea of where we should travel next.

The point of the checklist for us was to “rate” each place we’ve been according to what we find important.
To do this we created a 0-10 rating system, the higher the score the higher the rating for the location.

So how do you rate a country?
Well…..that all depends on what your looking for and where you find yourself in life. What is important for you at this stage in your life? What are your long term goals?

What that means is; a single young person will have different ideals than a family with small children, a family with older children or a more elderly person will have again different ideals, someone looking for a place to retire might be considering what health care options are available and at what cost. If we’re elderly and living in the USA I would certainly be looking for a better cheaper health care system, (according to statistics health care is the number one cause of bankruptcy in the USA)

you’ll have to create your own system of bullet points.
For my family some key points on our check are the following…..

1-Warm weather year round,
While we appreciate all nature has to offer and find beauty in even the coldest places, the cold weather itself is not something we want to experience every year or greet us when we open the door outside.

2- Personal safety
There are many ways in which to view what defines personal safety, but all should include physical safety, financial safety, and right of privacy, it’s harder than we might think to really find a place that checks all 3 of these safety boxes.

3- The people
Our preference is a population diverse in colour, culture, religion and pretty much everything else. The more mixed the people the more accepting they might be to others (including us) and the less likely they will be to extremist actions, (again a subject for another post).

4- Cost of living v/s Quality of life
A high quality of life may be available in your home country, but most likely it’s price tag is what keeps you one paycheck away from being broke and may well be one of the reasons your looking to try finding a home someplace else.
its surprising sometimes to see how much further your money will go elsewhere.

5- Less government interventions
Admittedly every government has some good attributes, for us personally the least government interference the better, but that’s a story for a whole new post.

We have many more points on our list including things like “lack of mosquitos” “child friendly community” and “coffee” but the point being to serve as a few examples of what we find to be “make or break” attributes for a better life.

weekend trips to ancient mayan caves

You the reader will have to find the things that are the most important to you, the best place to start is to make a list, you can always go back and edit it later as time goes on. After all life evolves, as we should too, over time and priorities change. So to review the list regularly is definitely something you want to do.

One of the greatest advantages in choosing a new place to call home is not being confined to compromise on key elements that contribute to your happiness.

For ourselves we recognise it’s practically impossible to find a place thats absolutely perfect, but we have been able to find many countries that score higher on our checklist than the country that was our home by default. The idea is to find a place that helps your journey in this world, not to be stuck in the rat race.

So we find ourselves in Belize now, a small and quaint little country in central america. Buying a piece of land to build live a off grid & sustainable life. Belize was one of the countries that scored high on our priorities list. The time it takes to make the list to come to life, is a topic for another time.

our evening playground and walks by the town sign.

Until next time,

Peace and blessings,

From me and mine to you and yours.

Growing your own food

As mentioned before growing your own food is one of the most important steps to living a healthier and self sustaining life. All our circumstances are different and not everyone knows where to begin. We began ours with getting on the list of our local allotment whilst living in a flat in London.

In the UK, allotments are small parcels of land that are rented out to an individual for the purpose of growing food crops. These are available to anyone to rent and maintain. Just because you live in a apartment building doesn’t mean that you need to stick strictly to growing indoors, or give up all together. One of the main benefits of an allotment is that it’s a great starting point in terms of size. Having a farm is no small feat for a new beginner. The reality is cultivating and maintaining the land takes a lot of time and energy, if you have the financial freedom to do so. Having an allotment enables you to start with putting all the theory of growing into practice in a manageable space. The yearly fee is generally a small fee, in comparison to what it yields.

Liban 2 years old in our allotment in london.

This is just one example of where to grow that worked for us, as a starting point. We also grew various herbs & aloe vera etc in our flat. Now we are growing everyday fruits and vegetables that we eat such as: tomatoes, onions, ginger, pumpkins, bok choy, melons, yam, beans etc. in belize. We are learning what works in this climate whilst incorporating what we have had already picked up. What you grow is mixture of what you like to eat, what grows in the climate you are in and what you would like to add to your diet. Self sufficiency is possible for everyone and anyone.

In urban dwellings you can use containers, trellises or hanging gardens for those that are limited on space and many more creative ways to make use of whatever space is available to you.

Growing your own food may seem like something that is unachievable or it has not crossed your mind because we take food for granted. We have supermarkets that have almost everything under the sun and most of it doesnt seem to cost much. So why the hassle that comes with the initial start to growing your own? As we have all learnt over the years a lot of food is brimming with pesticides and all sorts of harmful chemicals. Is our health and our childrens health worth the few pennies we supposedly save? The other route then would naturally be to buy organic. Unfortunately organic food is expensive and majority of people cannot afford to buy organic food regularly to feed a whole family. Organic food always costs more than conventional foods, anything from 40%-120% in the case of vegetables such as carrots and broccoli.Growing your own organic produce means that you save money. Which means that you are able to allocate your finances to other areas in your life.The key point here is to do your due diligence, make a plan & prepare to put in the work.

Liban and awralla picking mixture of vegetables from our garden that they helped plant.

What may seem like a lot of work right now will be your saving grace in the long run. Investing in the food you eat and growing it yourself is the best investment you can make. You will be healthier, a analysis of over 300 studies published in 2014 by the British journal of nutrition ( researchers found that organic crops have a substantially higher concentration of antioxidants and other health benefits. You know everything that came in contact with the food you put on your table. As a parent my ultimate goal is to protect my children to the best of my ability, children are way more susceptible to pesticides and other chemicals put on food than adults. According to the National Academy of Science about 50% of lifetime exposure occurs in the first 5 years of life. You are more likely to avoid cases such as E. coli outbreaks linked to spinach in 2006 and lettuce more recently when you grow your own.

Having your children grow around food and cultivating the food that ends up on their table is one of the most valuable lessons you can provide as a parent. This is the ultimate skill in providing them with essential life skill, growing food and being capable of providing for themselves. We introduced food growing and maintaining a garden to our son from the age of two, at 5 he has his own corner of the garden. He collects seeds and is always eager to plant and identify different plants. Our younger one is just over one and as a result of where we are and what we are doing shes already become accustomed to the garden. One of the first things she did when she started walking was to pick tomatoes and eating them. This is just the beginning but as the saying goes “start as you mean to go on”. This is not by all means the only way to go, every family is unique in their growth and development. As a family wer always striving to grow and want to share the lessons we have picked up along the way and hopefully serve as a guide to others.

Frank, Liban and Awralla picking cucumber on our porch in Belize.

On a more personal level gardening in great for your mental health. Although indiginous people had known this from the beginning of time, science now confirms the immense benefits of gardening and its therapeutic effects.

For a more in depth information on growing your own please feel free to drop us a line, wer more than happy to share resources on what will suit your circumstances best.

A few books on starting to grow your own:

  • RHS Grow your own veg and fruit year planner
  • Allotment Month By Month- Alan Buckingham
  • Grow vegetables: Gardens, allotments, patios and balconies- Alan Buckingham
  • The grow your own food handbook- Monte Burch

with love,

From me and mine to you and yours.

Financial literacy and Generational wealth: Part two

The importance of Teaching your children how to invest and thrive for the future.

We left off part one with the simple idea of taking action to incrementally increase our savings and invest our money to start making at least some money work for us instead of us working for it.

Financial literacy is not something that’s only reserved for the fortunate few lucky inheritors of fortunes, in-fact without financial literacy even they end up broke again within a generation.

Think of generational wealth as first and foremost being about financial literacy, rather than about the actual money itself. It’s the process of educating yourself and your children how to manage this aspect of life that is vitally important.
The money comes as a result of basic financial principles.
I often question why these basic concepts aren’t given any mention at all within institutional education? Shouldn’t even a very basic education include some simple lessons on financial literacy ?!

“Produce more than you consume and the surplus becomes wealth over time”

Money is the store of wealth from the transactional value of the goods or services that you provided to those who wanted them (the consumer).
Be the creator more than you are the consumer, produce more than you consume.
Choose a lifestyle that enables you to consume less than you produce, therefore your able to save the remainder, in other words “live within your means” don’t max out your credit cards on shiny new toys!

Don’t think that a small relatively insignificant few hundred dollars can’t grow into generational wealth over time, it can and it will with the right mindset, consistency and dedication.

With my first $500 investment capital i opened a brokerage account and invested in 3 companies I thought had good potential at the time.
While I grew up with absolutely no knowledge of even the concept of financial literacy, I had an interest in investing and at some point began reading and doing some basic research, and eventually years later I was ready to give it a go.

Partially I got a lucky start, one of the three companies I initially put money into handed back 556% returns within a few months, the other two didn’t do much, but that was good enough for me, I was convinced this was doable. I continued to add a hundred here and there as much as I could over the first year.
I bought more positions in other companies and by the end of the year when I calculated what I’d initially invested in each position, (some winners and some losers) taken away from my total balance I had an overall return on investment of 57%
I was very happy with that as I knew id done better than I could have expected from any broker, CD, savings account, high interest vehicle, or even most charter services. So I decided then and there to continue and I’ve being doing it ever since, and slowly but surely it is building up nicely,
I tell my own story here to demonstrate it is possible to start with not much at all, get it working for you and see the rewards within a year or so, from there you just have to keep at it.

….But back to financial literacy and generational wealth….,

If you’r lucky enough (or have worked hard enough in your life) to have a steady job as an employee or as a small business owner to have savings and essentially some capital you could deploy to work for you then you’ve got a head start.

If not then you need to think about how you can both increase your income and decrease your living costs (even just a little bit), save the remainder each month.
How do you begin to produce more of whatever it is that you do and consume less in your lifestyle so you can have a surplus?!
you might want to look at monetizing a skill or two you probably already have as an extra income source?
Most of us can if we really try, cut out one or two small expenditures that aren’t absolute necessities from our monthly budget, use this little cash to start your savings.

Yes….the word “budget” comes up here, I spent the majority of life without understanding the importance of having a budget! I’d be way ahead by now if only I’d cared enough to figure that one out.

If you currently live paycheck to paycheck and want that to change then you need to seriously think about creating a realistic budget and sticking to it!
You budget and your lifestyle should always cost less than what you make, keep it that way

To be continued……

Financial literacy and Generational wealth: Part one

The importance of Teaching your children how to invest and thrive for the future.

Generational wealth is that which is past from generation to generation, most of us probably weren’t lucky enough to be taught the importance of putting your money to work for you instead of working for your money.
probably because many of us were born into family’s without much money in the first place.
our parents could not teach us what they did not know which is financial literacy.

It’s something that seems to have a distant air of “that’s only for the rich to teach their children” some sort of fantasy we all shrug off like it’s something that’s not realistic for the rest of us??

I have to ask…..what’s the plan then?
Wait for a few million to drop on your lap and then start to learn how to manage your money?

Stats show in cases where this does happen, (which is statistically rare) like the lottery, (essentially just luck) the probability is so small it’s barely worth buying a ticket other than to try your luck.
Lottery winners are majority broke again within five years. so how much time did the winner spend learning to be financially literate after the money landed on their lap? None!

The point is, if you ever have a hope of building your wealth to be anything meaningful and then maybe one day pass it on to your children, you’d best start learning how to make your money work for you now, not later… don’t put it off any longer.

It doesn’t matter if you can barely scrape together $500 in savings over a few months, even $500 is enough to make a start.

Speaking from personal experience that’s all I had when I made my first investment some years back, over time with self education and direction it will grow…..and grow….and grow.

The first step in learning to be financially literate is to take action!
If nothing changes in the way you operate your day to day life then nothing changes in your financial life either, I’m not talking about massive changes or commitments just small incremental efforts that over time add up to something and have a positive impact.
If you like the idea of putting your money to work for you instead of working for your money and want to start investing then start by investing in your own savings.

Add at least something every week or month until you have at least a few hundred dollars, then invest that and repeat the same process over and over, this action alone will compound over time into a decent nest egg.

To be continued in part two.