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By Cliff McConville

The difference between organic, pasture-raised beef, dairy, pork, chicken, and eggs compared to food from animals raised in conventional Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) is so great that you’re really talking about completely different products.

When you eat products from CAFO-raised animals, you’re also consuming small amounts of antibiotics and other drugs in each bite. Organic, grass-fed standards, on the other hand, do not permit the use of antibiotics. With antibiotic-resistant disease being a major public health hazard, buying organic meats, dairy, and eggs is an important consideration in more ways than one.


Regularly consuming small doses of antibiotics is a surefire way to destroy your gut health, which in turn will have a detrimental effect on your overall health and immune function. Not only does it make you more susceptible to chronic disease, it also increases your exposure to antibiotic-resistant infections.


Organic grass-fed beef and other meats also tend to be leaner, and have higher levels of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. They also have a healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. Contrary to their crowded, confined, stressed-out factory farmed counterparts, organically-raised cattle, hogs, and chickens roam free on open pasture, which makes a tremendous difference when it comes to their health and well-being.


Organic farms, which tend to be far smaller in scale, also tend to provide far more sanitary conditions overall, since the animals are not kept in overcrowded buildings and manure-filled feedlots day in and day out. As a result, the animals are far less likely to harbor dangerous pathogens, which could contaminate the meat.

Unless labeled as grass-fed or pasture-raised, virtually all the meat you buy in the grocery store is CAFO raised, and tests have revealed that nearly half of the meat sold in US stores is contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, antibiotic-resistant strains. Grass-fed beef is not associated with this high frequency of contamination, and their living conditions have everything to do with this improved safety.


Eggs are another animal product where free-range pasturing makes all the difference in the world, both in terms of creating superior nutrition and reducing the contamination risk. As with other livestock, the salmonella risk associated with raw eggs is primarily heightened when the hens are raised in unsanitary CAFO conditions. In small organic farms where the chickens are raised in clean, spacious coops, have access to sunlight, and forage for their natural food, salmonella contamination is a very rare occurrence.


Cliff McConville is the operator of All Grass Farms, a 150-acre “pasture farm” located on IL Route 31 south of Algonquin in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.  The farm produces 100% Grass Fed Beef, Pastured Berkshire Pork, Free Range Broiler Chickens, Eggs, and Turkeys, as well as organic vegetables.  The farm store is open daily from 10 AM – 6 PM, or visit the farm website at .



Going to Any Length for Our Hair

Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen
Give me down to there, hair, shoulder length or longer, hair, here baby, there, momma, everywhere, daddy, daddy—hair, flow it, show it, long as God can grow, my hair

From the musical “Hair” – 1967  


Going to Any Length for Our Hair

We love our hair!  We spend billions of dollars every year – cutting, styling and coloring, curling and straightening – and even more on shampoos, conditioners, rinses, sprays and other products that enhance shine, texture and thickness.


A beautiful head of hair helps reflect a healthy and “put together” look as well as presenting a fresh, more youthful appearance.  A great cut and style on men or women is a confidence builder, representing a sharp image, and communicates  “I take care of myself and I am putting my best foot forward”.   We value a “good hair day” and hair serves as a frame for our face both in our personal and professional interactions.


Historically, hair has been prized throughout the world. In ancient history, hair and elaborate wigs were signs of status and wealth. Lush hair was associated with royalty and good fortune. Cleoptra’s mane was famous as was Sampson’s hair; associated with inordinate strength. In Colonial times, the upper class wore white curly wigs and leaders wore them as a sign of intelligence and stature.  Hair was, and is still a powerful symbol and we go to great lengths to present our hair in its best form.


Both men and women experience changes with age and/or medical conditions that impact hair density, texture and volume.  There are roughly ten principal causes of thinning hair, or hair loss and it is important that a physician or other licensed clinician be involved with understanding and diagnosing the source of notable changes in your hair.



Male pattern baldness (MPB) is inherited from the mother’s side of the family whereas genetically based hair loss in women called “female pattern alopecia” can come from either side of the family.  It should be noted that both men and women typically experience a reduction in hair volume with age, and how and when that progresses varies by individual.



Various medications for diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease can create some level of hair loss, yet not everyone experiences this as a side effect. Talk to your prescriber about how a particular medication may affect your hair.



Alopecia areata, (not to be confused with genetically caused alopecia) is an auto-immune disease that can cause spotty hair loss or total baldness. A relatively understudied condition, new interventions are on the horizon to treat the troubling outcome of alopecia areata.


Traction Alopecia  (tightly pulled hair)

Hairstyles that pull the hair tightly including pony tails, braids, corn rows or other styles can cause hair loss particularly at the hairline.  Styles that put a lot of tension on hair can be avoided, and therefore preventing this type of hair loss.



As if cancer treatment is not stressful enough, hair loss from certain – not all chemotherapy agents really adds to the concern for patients.  In most cases, the hair will re-grow.  Patients often report experiencing a new texture or wave once their hair regrows.


Vitamin/Mineral Deficiencies

Hair thinning and loss can occur in certain cases of malnutrition and may be treated with iron or B-complex supplements.  A healthy diet including lean red meat, chicken, fish, beans and leafy greens can contribute to a healthy head of hair.  



Underproduction of key hormones that regulate metabolism can cause changes in hair volume and patchy hair loss. Your physician can easily test for thyroid levels as a part of ruling out thyroid as the cause for hair thinning or extensive loss.



This condition causes a patchy hair loss pattern and is typically associated with more rare conditions such as “Hallermann – Streiff” syndrome.



Ringworm of the scalp is a fungal infection in the hair shaft that generally occurs in 3 to 9 year olds and is highly contagious.  No longer a common occurrence – ringworm is treated with anti-fungal medications.



This condition is associated with obsessive/compulsive disorder (OCD) and is defined by an individual who picks, scratches and pulls at their hair.  If untreated, this disorder can cause baldness and scarring.


Anyone experiencing noticeable hair thinning and hair loss should see their physician or other licensed clinician to determine the cause, and obtain a professional recommendation for treatment and prevention of continued loss where possible. The good news is that there are exciting and effective solutions for restoring and maintaining healthy hair for both men and women.  Several approaches for thinning hair or hair loss are available today when the aging process or medical conditions create new challenges, and compromise the quality of your hair’s appearance.


Self Care for Thinning Hair

James Gartner, owner of Bii Salon in Dundee offers a number of tips for those experiencing a condition that results in thinning hair.  James recommends a gentle, chemical free shampoo free of sulfates and other additives. He also recommends air-drying hair when possible and minimizing styles that put tension on, or pull the hair tightly.  James says “there is no substitute for maintaining a great hair cut and a flattering style that reflects the best look for thinning hair.  Long thinning hair can look even thinner, and getting “weight” off of the style can really help.  We have had many clients who suffer from the effects of chemotherapy and other conditions that affect their hair.  We offer a compassionate approach that makes the absolute best of what can be a very stressful time for our clients. We enjoy helping to support them to feel better and work with what they are facing as changes occur.  We encourage anyone who is reluctant to go to the salon by assuring them that they will feel comfortable with our professional stylists.”


Over the Counter Hair Products for Thin Hair

There are some over the counter products that James recommends for thinning hair or hair that is re-growing.  James likes the Awaken line by Surface that is designed to preserve hair thickness and add fullness and texture to the hair strands. He especially likes the Awaken Therapeutic Treatment that is applied to the scalp before styling.


A Great Wig – Quality Has Never Been Better!

If hair loss is extensive or slow to regrow – a great wig is a terrific option today as the quality and style choices have never been better. Both natural hair and synthetic wig styles are endless, and can make a really important difference in our customer’s self image.  Ashly from Lulu’s Wiggin Out in Crystal Lake shares “we love working with our clients to select a perfect style and color that looks natural and complements skin tone and face shape.  We have a great deal of experience with individuals during very stressful times in their life due to cancer and other medical conditions, and we are focused on making the wig selection process and end result very positive, and pleasing to our customers. Our product line is extensive, and our clients  typically leave delighted with their choice.” We love our business because we know we make an important difference in how people feel about their appearance!


Medical Intervention

No longer is restoration of hair loss limited to men only! With most of us living longer, hair loss is not unusual. While certain males find complete balding or thinning areas on their scalp stressful or even devastating, women are, and never have been any less affected. The good news is that the latest treatments are effective for everyone.  It’s a great day when medical solutions have a wonderful impact on self-esteem and quality of life. Today specialty medical offices can offer hair restoration therapy, hair transplantation or scalp micro-pigmentation all of which are tailored to the specific needs of the client. There are multiple providers for these procedures which typically begin with a thorough interview and assessment to determine which approach if any, are appropriate given the reasons for the client’s hair loss.  


Innovative Medical Procedures – Hair Restoration – Safe and Permanent


PRP – Hair Restoration Therapy

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is a treatment that involves localized injections of platelet rich plasma which contains a growth factor that stimulates the hair follicles.  Most patients get results from 3-6 treatments, eight weeks apart, and then a follow up maintenance treatment every 9-12 months following initial therapy.  Dr. Nader Aziz from Regency Medical Spa offers PRP treatments to his patients and also uses a complementary product line (Glytone by Ducray) of hair care products that include shampoo, lotion and a supplement to help support their treatment plan. Ideal candidates for PRP are those just beginning to notice hair loss and are wanting to preserve hair density and prevent further loss.  


Hair Transplantation


Hair transplantation and other approaches for thinning hair and hair loss have come a very long way in terms of process and results. CSO Aesthetics in Arlington Heights offers a personalized consultation for each client to determine which treatment is appropriate and most effective for each individual’s hair health. Dr. Cynthia Valukas from CSO Aesthetics shares one of their strategies for hair loss that is a minimally invasive, no scar hair transplantation method called Neograft®. “The Neograft® system uses something called Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) where we gently remove individual follicles from the back of the head and then artistically implant them in areas where hair loss has occurred.  There is no scaring, less downtime and the results create a very natural looking hairline. We are so pleased to be able to offer procedures for hair restoration that literally changes our patient’s lives. Both men and women are ecstatic with their results and so happy they made the investment of time and resources in addressing their hair loss.”  


This procedure is actually medical grade tattooing that mimics the growth pattern of your hair. A semi-permanent solution, micro pigmentation is a non-surgical procedure with no down time and one that provides immediate results.  This procedure is an option for all stages of hair loss, and is optimal for the correction of scars.  Micro pigmentation results in a natural appearance and is appropriate for both men and women.  


If you are experiencing changes in your hair there is good news in that there are multiple solutions that restore and enhance your hair and address what can have a big impact on your image and self esteem. Whether it’s topical products, a great stylist, a quality wig or the available and improving innovation in medical procedures, there are many options to address thinning hair or hair loss.  


Skin Care By Decade


Skin Care by Decade

Never have we had more decisions to make about how to take care of our skin nor number of products and approaches which to choose from. Cosmetics, lotions, serums,

treatments and procedures… natural, organic, plant-based, hypoallergenic, botanical…Dry brushing, sonic cleaners, morning applications vs. bedtime. As we see the “mature”

population exploding and life expectancy now well into our 80’s, Like other medical concerns, we do have a genetic predisposition related to how we age. Good practices however, can contribute

substantially to maintaining younger, fresher skin and these should be established early and practiced for a lifetime.



Here’s what’s happening by decade as your skin evolves and matures.

The 30’s – Add A Topical Antioxidant

Collagen and elastin production begin slowing, and hormones may be fluctuating with

pregnancy. Even some symptoms of peri-menopause can occur in the late 30’s. Skin

may begin to feel a bit drier and become splotchy. Hormone changes can also trigger

acne. Anti-oxidant products containing Vitamin C can improve skin quality and even


The 40’s – Boost Your Moisturizer

Many women say “my skin changed overnite” in their 40’s… Significant drying, dulling,

hollowing, and more visible wrinkles, capillaries, broken blood vessels, and age

spots—there are typically dramatic changes in the 40’s, especially when it comes to

loss of elasticity. Be generous with your moisturizer and consider a richer formulation

for your skin type.


The 50’s – Increase Cell Turnover By Exfoliating

Collagen levels really wane and skin begins to show laxity. Skin may become even

dryer, and brown spots may begin forming from sun exposure. Use a sonic cleaning

device several times per week or cleansing product that exfoliates and removes dull,

dead cells.


The 60’s – Boost Circulation By Staying Active

Skin loses tone, circulation decreases, lips thin and more wrinkles form around the lips.

Daily exercise increases blood flow to the skin and has multiple heath benefits including

the color and appearance of the skin.


Regardless of your age, the best habits can start now and include things that sound

simple but actually have a very large impact:


1) We have heard it over and over but number one, hands down, is sun protection –

using a sunscreen of at least every day, wearing a hat, choosing to stay in the

shade. We all love the so-called “healthy” glow of a tan, but today there are

terrific self-tanner products easily selected by reading product reviews and



2) Stop smoking. It is estimated that a 40-year- old lifetime smoker’s skin may look

similar to a 70-year- old non-smoker. Smokers will prematurely develop more

significant facial wrinkles and furrows, crows’ feet, vertical ear creases, smoker’s

lines around the lips, baggy eyelids and slack jawline as well as dry, coarse skin.


3) Drink water, drink more water, then drink some more. Establish the habit of

always sipping, including during the night.


4) Exfoliate your skin using a product suited for your skin type to remove dead cells,

refresh your skin surface and maintain a smoother appearance.


5) Don’t wear your makeup to bed, wash your face with a gentle cleanser and

remove eye makeup with a product that isn’t harsh on the delicate eye area.


6) Use cosmetics that are as free of additives as possible. There are a number of

product lines that are considered “green” that avoid any number of added

chemicals and fillers.


7) Use a moisturizer with sunscreen in the morning and moisturize again at night.

Even oilier skins need moisturizer and doing so can balance the skin and actually

reduce oil production.


8) Be disciplined to get consistent, adequate sleep. The older we get the more we

“wear” our sleep loss.


In addition to this important self-care for the skin, the good news is that science and

well- trained medical specialists offer a number of topical and procedural choices that

can improve tone, texture and overall appearance.

Over-the- counter choices for topical products continue to improve with serums,

moisturizers, peels and more that when carefully selected, offer good results and a

budget friendly option.


Professional medical grade skin care products have also come a very long way. While

these products are typically more expensive, they have higher concentrations than

many over the counter products, reach deeper levels of the skin and are backed by

clinical studies and testing. Regular facials can also improve skin appearance and

eliminate dullness and dryness.


The new generation of non-surgical youth-boosters—injectables, lasers, and

radiofrequency—address small age-related changes over time. They’re also safer,

easier, cheaper, and require much less downtime than solutions in the past. The

challenge is, that there are so many options out there—seemingly more every week—it

can be tough to know which will give you the best return for your investment. Do your

research and consult with a strongly recommended dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

Following the recommended self-care for skin in combination with quality choices for

skincare products will bring out the best in your skin. Stay informed about new

innovations in skin care treatments and procedures that offer great results, less

recovery, and affordable options to keep you looking fresh and youthful.

Great Foods for Healthy Skin

Great Foods for Healthy Skin


As it turns out, a healthy diet has even more benefits than we may have considered, including those affecting the appearance and quality of the skin.   Our skin needs care from the inside and from the outside, and selecting foods that contribute to healthy glowing skin involves learning about super foods and those high in antioxidants.  Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals.  These substances may prevent or delay the cell damage leading to a number of diseases, including cancer.  Antioxidants appear in many fruits and vegetables and other foods listed below.


Most health experts will agree that it is optimal to obtain nutrition mainly from food however, the following factors may indicate smart use of supplements:


  • The foods we purchase may vary in terms of nutrient levels
  • Extended periods of stress can deplete the body’s reserves
  • Certain medical conditions may benefit from targeted supplements


Super Foods High in Antioxidants 


Blue, Red, Purple Grapes


Dark Green Vegetables


Green Tea


Red Berries

Sweet Potato/Orange Vegetables

Whole Grains


High Impact Foods for Enhancing Skin Health



Carotenoids include: Beta-carotene (β-carotene) and A-carotene (α-Carotene), lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene. Along with active vitamin A, carotenoids help prevent premature skin damage and skin cancer. Diets high in carotenoids are beneficial for preventing UV light damage, which can lead to melanoma, aged-looking skin, wrinkles, drying, scaling and thickening of the skin.  Great choices for foods high in carotenoids include:

  • Acorn Squash
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon



Selenium is an essential mineral found in small amounts in the body. It works as an antioxidant, especially when combined with vitamin E. Antioxidants like selenium help fight the damaging particles in the body known as free radicals. Foods containing selenium include:

  • Brazil Nuts (2-3 per day will fulfill this requirement)
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Garlic
  • Pork
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Wheat Germ



Alpha Linolenic Acid

Alpha linolenic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid that must be obtained from the diet or supplementation.  Omega-3s have been shown to reinforce the skin by protecting it from dryness and reducing skin sensitivity. Other benefits may include protection from autoimmune skin disorders like psoriasis or inflammatory conditions like acne and eczema.  Great sources of alpha linolenic acid include:

  • Chia Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
  • Hemp Seeds/hemp oil
  • Walnuts



Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant powerhouse with multiple benefits. For the skin, Vitamin C fights free radicals and protects from sun damage, contributes to collagen production, better wound healing, prevents skin discoloration and improves skin texture. The overall health benefits of Vitamin C intake are considerable, and many dermatologists and aestheticians also recommend topical application of Vitamin C which is present in a wide variety of products from lotions to serums.  Great dietary sources of Vitamin C include:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Kale
  • Kiwi
  • Bell Peppers
  • Grapefruit
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries





Long Chain Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids have powerful anti-inflammatory effects and, in general, increasing intake will improve skin moisture and appearance and may improve eczema. Even psoriasis may benefit from increased omega-3 intake. While cold water fish has always been high in omega-3, grass-fed beef has a higher level of omega-3 fatty acids and is generally leaner in total fat. Good sources of these omega-3s include:

  • Grass-Fed Beef
  • Herring
  • Mackeral
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Sablefish
  • Trout



Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin necessary for the breakdown of fatty acids. Often referred to as the beauty vitamin with benefits for hair, skin and nails, it is easy to obtain the recommended amount in the diet.  Including regular consumption of these foods with high nutritional value that ensure adequate intake of this vitamin:

  • Avocado
  • Eggs


Water, Water and More Water

Food choices can have wonderful skin benefits along with a recommendation we just can’t hear enough: maximize water intake, and minimize alcohol.  Alcohol dehydrates the skin, and those who overindulge may see it on their faces the next day. Chronic overuse negatively affects skin tone, dryness and reflects an aged appearance. Re-think those couple glasses of wine or cocktails you may be having each day…Water is your skin’s best friend, and the formula for staying hydrated is the amount of water it takes to consistently produce urine that is colorless.


What NOT to Eat for Beautiful Skin

Nutritionists and aestheticians recommend avoiding foods that cause inflammation especially for those who may be suffering with skin disorders.  Inflammatory foods include sugars, refined starches, vegetable oils, dairy products, wheat, processed corn, and many food additives.  Foods with a high glycemic index that produce a quick rise in blood sugar are not recommended for several reasons including the negative effects on your skin.


Following these nutrition and diet recommendations will result in multiple benefits, including better health and higher energy as well as keeping your skin feeling and looking its best.



* This information is not intended to substitute for the advice or direction normally provided by a licensed medical professional. See your physician or a registered dietician for optimal dietary recommendations that are consistent with your comprehensive wellness plan, treatment you may be currently receiving, and to avoid interactions with prescription or over the counter medications you may be currently taking.

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