Tips On How You Can Help

Diverse volunteers sorting food into cardboard boxes for charity

Did you know September is Hunger Action Month?

According to a 2014 study by Feeding America46.5 million Americans utilize a food bank.

Lisa Tomasi, Philanthropy Expert and Founder of e-giving site YouGiveGoods, stresses that while many may feel that a small effort isn’t enough to make a change, every little bit helps someone who is facing hunger. Lisa has provided her insight for those who want to band together and help a good cause.

Tips to Fight Back During Hunger Action Month:

  1. Advocate. Use your voice to spread the word about hunger in your community. Social media has made this quite easy to do. Alert your online community that we are in the midst of Hunger Action Month and about the plight of the hungry in their own backyards. Share quotes and statistics about hunger and ask them to support their local hunger relief organization.
  2. Volunteer. Most food banks, pantries and soup kitchens rely on volunteers to make their operations work. Volunteers can sort donations, stock shelves and help with distribution. Volunteers can also frequently help from home in the form of virtual volunteering. Contact your local hunger relief organization to see if you can utilize your specific skills to help them with business operations like accounting, marketing, website and administration.
  3. Run a food drive. You can really increase your impact by organizing your own food drive. Food drives run in conjunction with your company, school, church or group tend to have the best results. And, always add an online component to your traditional drive (or run your online drive alone). Use YouGiveGoods.com to run an online drive for your local food pantry. The online drive service is free to use, easy to share on social media, and simple for supporters to shop online for brand-new most-needed food items which are shipped directly to the pantry at the close of the drive.
  4. Donate money. Hunger relief organizations need monetary donations to operate. Any size donation will be welcomed.
  5. Donate food. Don’t just walk by the donation bin at your school, store or company. Make a point to donate food whenever the opportunity arises.

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For more ways you can help, see Lisa’s site or contact your local Food Bank.  There is really no reason we should have a hunger problem here in America.

Pack It With Stonyfield and Justin’s For Back-to-School Lunches!

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Lunch time is easy when you have Stonyfield squeezers and Justin’s to go butters.  I know my kids are getting a great balance in nutrition, and they love the taste!    The Maple Almond Butter is hands down their favorite!  Easy to open pouches, I can throw these in with some crackers and they are thrilled.  Plus the Justin’s company is full of integrity!  Their values on sustainability, nutritionally sound, all natural products and giving back to the community fall right in line with our family values.   They have a variety of butters and snack items and can be found in your local grocery store.  I highly encourage you to try them and see how easy they are for kids on the go and how yummy they all taste!

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Adding Stonyfield Yogurt Squeezers to the bag makes their lunch even more special.  My youngest daughter loves the Lemonade flavor best.  We also freeze these for tasty after school treats!!  And Stonyfield is full of nothing but goodness for their bodies.  I know they are getting everything they need without all the junk they don’t!

Our newest addition to the back-to-school lunch routine is also our newest favorite!  The PackIt Lunch Cooler is so convenient and fun!  PackIt is the only bag that keeps food and drinks cool for up to 10 hours—no ice packs needed. Its secret sauce? A patented freezable gel that’s built into the walls of the bag.  It’s so simple to use, just throw store it in freezer and when it’s time to pack it, just open it and it’s ready to go!   Plus the patterns are fun and it comes in a huge variety of styles and colors!  We are definitely going to be picking up a couple more of these!  We got the Freezable Lunch Bag and it’s so simple to use.  Folds up neatly to the size of a thick paperback book. It secures with a handy Velcro tab for compact storage.  The entire bag goes in your freezer overnight (12 hours) to activate its built-in freezable gel. By morning, the walls of the bag will be completely frozen and ready to chill just like a fridge.  Everything stays cool and fresh all day!

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With our busy lives, it’s important to make the mornings go as smoothly as possible and these products certainly help!  Check out the PackIt systems here, and grab your Stonyfield and Justin’s products at your local grocery.  Your kids will thank you and your morning will run a bit smoother!!

**The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine. I only ever work with companies I support and think you, my readers, will like. Please read my full review and endorsement policy here.

 

Biotta Beet Juice Review

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“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.” Tom Robbins Jitterbug Perfume

The beetroot is the taproot portion of the beet plant, usually known in North America as the beet. It is one of several of the cultivated varieties of Beta vulgaris grown for their edible taproots and their leaves (called beet greens).

Although the leaves have been eaten since before written history, the beet root was generally used for medicinal purposes only until about 1800. The root adds flavor and sweetness to many dishes, and is often used as food coloring and dye. Many beet products are made from other Beta vulgaris varieties, particularly sugar beet.

Beets have therapeutic qualities as well and have been studied as an aid to lowering blood pressure.

A research review published in 2014 in Nitric Oxide, and a study published in 2015 in Hypertension, both showed that a diet including inorganic nitrates from beet juice can lower blood pressure; improve the ability to, and the duration of, exercise; boost oxygen delivery to the heart; and ehhance the general health of blood vessels.
(Everyday Health http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/jared-bunch-rhythm-of-life/how-drinking-beetroot-juice-lowers-blood-pressure-and-relaxes-stiff-hearts/ )

Drinking a glass of beet juice may have an immediate impact on lowering blood pressure, according to a study.

The study shows that within hours of drinking it, beet juice lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) by an average of 4-5 points among a small group of healthy men.
(WebMD http://www.m.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/news/20121212/beetroot-juice-blood-pressure )

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Biotta Beet Juice is USDA Organic, Vegan and Non-GMO verified and the main benefits can include boosted stamina, improved blood flow, and aids in the lowering of blood pressure.

We were given a bottle to try for ourselves and I can tell you it is yummy! So far we have used it in smoothies and everyone has enjoyed it! I highly recommend this brand of you want to add some good alternative medicine to your life! Your heart will thank you!

The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine. I only ever work with companies I support and think you, my readers, will like. Please read my full review and endorsement policy here.

Stonyfield Goodness

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Hey all!  This month Stonyfield challenged the Yo Getters to come up with some recipes using Stonyfield Yogurt and Nativas Naturals products.  I received the Mulberry Berries and Hemp Seeds.  Both of these are super nutritious additions to any recipe.

Why do you want these in your pantry?  Read on…

Mulberry Berries

Mulberries are native to the Morus genus of trees and can be found in many parts of the world nowadays, but they originated in the Far East, traveling along the Silk Road from China to Turkey. Beyond their sweet and delicate flavor, mulberries are an excellent source of nutrients including iron, calcium, vitamin C, protein and fiber.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds provide a healthy dose of protein, omega fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants and minerals.

Hemp is a well-balanced vegetarian protein source that includes all of the essential amino acids. Not only is hemp one of the best veggie sources of protein, it’s easy for the body to digest and assimilate. Hemp also features plenty of other nutrients including abundant fiber, chlorophyll, vitamins and omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids.

The Recipes

I made the best dinner the other night using Stonyfield Yogurts and Navita Naturals products.  I love testing new recipes and decided instead of doing just one recipe with my yogurt, why not base an entire meal around it?

So for your enjoyment, here is what I made:

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Middle Eastern Inspired Chicken

I love Middle Eastern and Mediterranean style food.  The spices and freshness are so appealing and healthy.  For this dish, the spices and yogurt were a perfect match.

INGREDIENTS

1⁄2 cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon ground coriander
1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken

DIRECTIONS

Mix the yogurt with the seasonings and place in a plastic bag with the chicken.

Marinate for 2 hours to overnight.

Pound chicken in the bag with the marinade to 1/2 thick and grill, saute, skewer or bake until lightly browned and cooked through.

Serve with rice or pasta and salad and enjoy!

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Greek Inspired Salad

For the salad I chopped up Romaine lettuce and added heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced black olives, goat cheese crumbles, chopped cucumbers and topped it with Navitas Naturals Mulberry Berries and Hemp Seeds.  Super simple!  The dressing is a yogurt dressing I made and oh my gosh, Stonyfield organic yogurt is perfect for this.  All the flavor of Ranch without all the bad for you fat and extra ingredients!  This didn’t last the night.

Lemon-Dill Yogurt Dressing

1 cup while milk Stonyfield plain yogurt, drained for 1 hour in a strainer (save the whey that drips out for smoothies!)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

After yogurt has drained and thickened, combine everything into a bowl and refrigerate for an hour.  Great with salads or as a dip!!

And to top off the meal, a dessert using my yogurt and toppings!  These also didn’t hang out for long.

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French Yogurt Cupcakes

Nonstick canola oil spray
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup raw sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup plain whole-milk Stonyfield yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Navitas Naturals Mulberry Berries and Hemp Seeds.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat cupcake pan with canola oil spray or paper liners.

Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.

Using your fingers, rub raw sugar with lemon zest in a large bowl until sugar is moist. Add yogurt, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract; whisk to blend. Fold in dry ingredients just to blend.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Sprinkle help seeds and mulberries on top if desired. Bake until top of cakecakes are golden brown and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert onto rack; let cool completely.  Can top with homemade whipped cream if desired.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

So there you have it!  My Stonyfield based meal!  You can find Stonyfield products at most grocery stores.  The yogurt is perfect to use in recipes subbing out higher fat ingredients…we use it everyday!  Hope you enjoy and let me know what you have made with your Stonyfield products!

The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine. I only ever work with companies I support and think you, my readers, will like. Please read my full review and endorsement policy here.

Ice Chips Review!

I recently received an assortment of Ice Chips from Bev and Charlotte to review and am thrilled with them!  What a great way to get the benefits of Xylitol in a sweet treat that I feel good giving to my girls.  Love them!

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Who are the Ice Chips Grandmas?

Bev Vines-Haines and Charlotte Clary have known each other since 1986.  They met in Washington state and bonded over their shared entrepreneurial spirits and love of all natural products.  Over the years they had many ideas they put into place, including all natural herbal salves and lotions.

In the fall of 2009, they were looking for a way to make Xylitol candy. They knew Xylitol was great for teeth and diabetics could enjoy it.  They wanted to create a good for you treat.  They had tried ordering a few different kinds but could not find one with the zing and the burst of flavors they wanted.  They are both grandmas and between them they have 37 grandchildren. They wanted a healthy candy that would taste good enough so that their grandchildren would gobble it the same way they gobbled sugar. Thus, Ice Chips Candy® was born.

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What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a polyol, a sugar alcohol. It is all natural, safe for diabetics and has many health benefits.

Mostly, it is made from birch bark or corn. Ice Chips Candy uses only the birch bark Xylitol in order to avoid any chance of using Genetically Modified Corn (GMO).

What are some of the benefits of Xylitol?

  • Strengthens teeth
  • Reduces new tooth decay
  • Reduces cavity-causing bacteria
  • Inhibits growth of dental plaque
  • Stimulates saliva flow
  • Does NOT impact insulin levels
  • Contains zero net effective carbs
  • Delicious and satisfying
  • The FDA has approved xylitol as a Natural Sweetener
  • Xylitol is a natural sweetener found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables
  • Xylitol is found in small amounts in the human body
  • One teaspoon of xylitol contains 40% less calories than sugar
  • Savoring ICE CHIPS Candy 3 to 5 times a day delivers maximum benefits
  • Use ICE CHIPS Candy immediately after meals or snacks
  • Recent studies have found a link between consuming Xylitol during pregnancy and stronger teeth in infants

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I have to say, these little tins won’t be lasting long in our house!  The kids love them and I know they are getting some great benefits!  The Root Beer Float is my girls favorite!  I love the Peppermint.  But they all taste fantastic!

You can find Ice Chips at most Whole Foods and other health food stores.  Or you can order directly from the Grandmas!!

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The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine. I only ever work with companies I support and think you, my readers, will like. Please read my full review and endorsement policy here.

Thieves!

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Thieves Essential Oil is an excellent blend of essential oils that is specifically designed to support the body’s natural defenses. This proprietary essential oil blend was universally tested for its cleansing abilities. It includes Eucalyptus radiata essential oil, which may help maintain a healthy respiratory system.

Did you know that Thieves oil was developed based on the ingredients found in the “Four Thieves Vinegar” or “Marseilles Vinegar”?  The vinegar was first prepared by thieves that worked in the spice industry and robbed the dead and dying to generate income in the 15th century.  Some nasty things going around then.  Crazy time of history!

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The oils in Thieves are Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus and Rosemary.  Remember last month talking about ORAC values?  If you need a refresher course, Lisa Greco Lopez wrote an excellent article about ORAC values and what they actually mean to us.  Check it out!

The ORAC value of these individual oils are as follows:

Clove – 1,078,700 µTE/100g (that is NOT a typo!  good stuff!)

Lemon – 660 µTE/100g

Cinnamon Bark – 10,340 µTE/100g

Eucalyptus – 2,400 µTE/100g

Rosemary – 330 µTE/100g

Also, Thieves is Kosher Certified.  Being kosher-certified means that a product is fit to use in any application in a manner that conforms to the kosher laws rooted in Biblical and Rabbinic traditions. These products and the facilities that produce them have been inspected and found to meet strict kosher requirements.

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Thieves essential oil is definitely one of my favorite essential oil blends and I will not leave home without it! A day doesn’t go by that I don’t use Thieves for something.  And it’s found in so many YL products!  Might want to try it….just saying…

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Peace!

Shae

Today I am excited to introduce guest blogger Matt Riemann, founder of ph360 and Shae, a new techology coming out this year that can help you make better health choices tailored to your personal needs and in real time.

Matt is a personalized health expert and has addressed both the United Nations and the World Health Organization at their request, advised the US Army and recently did a TED Talk on personalized health in Los Angeles.

“My Healthy Habits were Making me Sick”: Three People Share Their Stories

By Matt Riemann, founder of ph360, entrepreneur, changemaker

If you’ve ever had symptoms that won’t go away no matter what you try, prescribed or over-the-counter, physical or mental, big or small, then I think you’ll enjoy reading the stories of Janna and Diana. Though their stories are very different, they have something very important in common: each woman, either suddenly or over time, was faced with a slew of physical symptoms that persisted despite her leading what she considered a healthy lifestyle – eating right, exercising, and managing her stress. More importantly, what these women’s stories share is a triumphant conclusion! Read on.

Janna

My life. I‘m a 63-years young proud mom of two beautiful daughters who love to travel the world. I spend a lot of time on my own, with my nose in a book, my arms deep in soil while I garden in the sun, or discovering new places, cultures and foods on my own travels to far off lands.

My challenges. Just a few years ago, I went for my annual physical. One week, one biopsy, and many tests later, it was confirmed: I had inflammatory breast cancer, Stage 3. Immediate chemotherapy, a full mastectomy, radiation; my body went through it all. I felt extremely weak and constantly ill. My hair and nails were gone, as was the sensation in my hands and feet from the nerve damage. And to top that off, all the treatment was also killing my liver. All I wanted was the strength to complete treatment and regain my strong body.

My triumph. I was blessed to be given personalized lifestyle recommendations via a health program my daughter discovered and suggested to me. Little by little, I changed what I was eating, and slowly, my liver values returned to normal. All I knew was that I was happy to have my liver and my body back. To be feeling new, and that I had personalized health to thank for it. I notice that when I follow my diet closely, my lymph flows freely and the swelling that sometimes shows up in my arm (a function of several lymph nodes being removed along with my left breast as part of cancer treatment), goes down.

Diana

My life. I’m 49 years old, an avid skiing, hiking, and health enthusiast. I have three daughters and three grandchildren who are my world. My life’s passion is helping others get healthy, which I’ve done as a health coach for the last twenty years.

My challenges. Out of my 49 years of life, I’ve been extremely healthy for 48 of them, maintaining a slim, strong figure with only a few grey hairs visible on my head. That all changed a few years ago, when I began to get aches and pains, and soon after muscle weakness, joint pain, memory loss, mental fog, ringing in my head, sinus issues, extreme hand dryness, shingles, fatigue and constant heart palpitations. If that wasn’t enough, I was waking up with nosebleeds and rarely did a severe headache pass up the opportunity to greet my afternoon. The vibrant, energetic woman I considered myself to be was all of a sudden physically debilitated and unenthusiastic about life.

My triumph. I sought help from various health professionals and, though well-intentioned, none could tell me what was going on with my body. Then came the long-awaited solution that at first threw me for a loop. I discovered, thanks to personalized health solutions recommended to me by a friend, that my particular bodily constitution benefits from living at low altitudes and warm, dry climates. I also discovered that kale, touted as the nutrient-rich “superfood,” was good for me in very small quantities or not at all. Here I was living in the cold, windy mountains, drinking green smoothies packed with kale every day for the past two years. Pessimistic yet hopeful, I went to stay with my daughter, who lived in an environment that mimicked what I was being told was ideal for my body, to give this latest recommendation a try. After nearly 3 weeks, all of my symptoms were gone! My soft hands, supple joints, and clear head and sinuses were back! I felt like a completely new woman! One who was and is so grateful for finding the right things for her body when she did! Thanks to personalized health.

Can you relate to Janna and Diana? I can. In 2006, I awoke in severe and excruciating pain – a sensation that felt like I was being stabbed in the chest and soon enough in my spine too. I was doing everything I thought I was supposed to be doing – eating right, exercising every day, managing my stress, spending time with loving, supportive family and close friends, and leading a passionate career as a physical therapist working with Olympic athletes. Needless to say, I was surprised by the constant, severe pain I was all of a sudden having. I tried every available treatment option. Everything from physical and hydro therapy to pain and anti-inflammatory medication. Nothing helped. After months of confusion and frustration, I found out I had familial amyloid polyneuropathy. A condition caused by a mutation in my TTR gene. I was told that l would be alive for a maximum of 9 more years, most of which I’d spend in a wheelchair.

I spent the following year researching and meeting with clinical geneticists and genetics researchers and I learned something life changing. Our genes, like my TTR gene, can be activated or deactivated by way of our lifestyle and environment. All I had to do was find out and enact the lifestyle and environment that were right for me. The solution recommended for my unique biology and genetics by some of the greatest minds in the world, led me to making some unexpected changes to my diet and lifestyle. Soon enough I was completely pain free!

You too can triumph over your health challenges. That’s because we now know that our genes, whether for illness or health, obesity or thinness, acne or clear skin, can be activated or deactivated, turned on or off. Our environment and lifestyle is what controls the switch. What Janna and Diana have in common is that the cause of their triumph was personalized. They each made changes specific to them.

The wisdom of epigenetics has revived in society a new hope that each one of us can get and stay optimally healthy by learning to operate our personal epigenetic on/off switch. That’s why the real triumph for me wasn’t in becoming pain-free myself but in creating a way for everyone in the world to have their unique epigenetic wisdom work for them. Developed alongside a global team of doctors, researchers and scientists, it’s a wellness platform known as Personal Health 360 that applies personalized health to give each person insights specific to their unique body, from the point of view of the many facets of epigenetics.

The solution to your quest for optimal health lies in the ways you eat, exercise, think and sleep. The ways you socialize, work, and live, and anywhere in between. So I hope you’ll join Janna and Diana and thousands of other men and women all around the world who are reclaiming their health and wellness by discovering what is right for them with Shae™, the next generation of ph360 and the very first application to customize health specifically for your unique body and circumstances in real time.”

I am looking forward to trying out my own device this Fall.  (Shae has a Kickstarter campaign you can check out here.)  Here’s to better health for all of us!

Garden Happenings

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Getting back to the garden after an extended hiatus where we let things go wild.  Several pretty blooms, and I am excited about our tomato beds.  We got the idea from DIY wicking beds using pvc, gravel, container, etc..  Google it, there are so many variations that use supplies you probably already have!  Tomatoes prefer to be watered from the bottom up, so this should be a success…we will find out!  I also planted some bush beans in the container as the kids love fresh green beans!  We also have some cucumbers and I just picked up some peppers, another tomato (Cherokee Purple) and strawberries for a $1 each!  OH, and peppermint to put in a pot.  I am so happy to be back out in the dirt.  It’s been awhile I am ashamed to say…

And it looks like we will have lemons this year!!  So excited for this!  We have a dwarf Meyer’s lemon in our front yard and I wasn’t sure if it would really ever produce, but this is year 3 and it’s covered!  Happy dancing over this…;)

What are you growing this year?

Review: AQUA Carpatica Naturally Sparkling Water

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A recent article in The Atlantic pointed to the effects carbonated water has on tooth decay. As people started substituting sparkling water for soda, studies were being conducted on dental effects and it all boils down to pH.

Acidity is measured on a pH scale. The lower the number, the more acidic the substance, and the more detrimental to dental health. Pure water has a pH level of 7. Bottled water, both still and carbonated, can have a pH level of 5-7, while sodas can have a pH level as low as 2.

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AQUA Carpatica recently sent me some products to sample. Both sparkling water and still water. I have to say, I love sparkling water, and this water didn’t disappoint. It has a very smooth consistency. Not overly carbonated, but still just as refreshing! And it appears to be healthier for your teeth than most other carbonated waters!

For those who love sparkling water but are concerned about the recent news, consult your pH scale! AQUA Carpatica Naturally Sparkling Water has a nearly neutral pH of 6.5 – the closest pH level to pure water compared to other brands on the market (for comparison, Poland Spring Sparkling has pH of 4.6, Perrier 5.8, and San Pellegrino 5.6 according to recent lab tests with NSF International).

AQUA Carpatica’s Naturally Sparkling Water also contains a very high mineral content, which according to dentists, can actually offset some of the potential damage caused by consuming beverages with a low pH. AQUA Carpatica Naturally Sparkling Water contains 280.00mg/L of Calcium, 24% of an adult’s daily needs. So while there is still some natural CO2 in AQUA Carpatica, the nearly neutral pH level and the mineral content can offset the acidity, making AQUA Carpatica Naturally Sparkling Water the ideal choice for a sparkling refreshment.

This brand has recently been launched in select stores and will be available in national stores in the coming months.  I highly recommend grabbing a few bottles and trying them for yourself…refreshing!