Garlic has long been considered useful in the fight against certain cancers and other serious diseases.
Scientists consider sulfur compounds the main force behind garlic’s many health benefits. Unfortunately, the inconsistent nature of these compounds has led to varied research results.
Generally, researchers agree that garlic is useful in fighting cancer, but the exact nature of the connection is still mysterious and difficult to repeat.
For millennia, garlic has been used around the world to treat various diseases. Over the years, researchers have typically agreed on the fact that garlic is useful in preventing certain cancers, as well as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. Still, a recent study conducted at the University of Nottingham has elaborated on why the composition of garlic makes it difficult to make bold claims about garlic’s impact on our health.
Sulfur compounds found within garlic are what give the vegetable its robust and distinct flavor. Over the years, researchers have also suggested these compounds give garlic its reputation as a cancer-fighting agent. Unfortunately, there seems to be a great deal of inconsistency on how the human body absorbs these sulfur compounds. How the garlic itself is cooked, prepared and consumed can alter the effect of the garlic.
“[T]hat’s what makes this research so complex, because we don’t really understand how these compounds are metabolized in humans and it’s very difficult to identify common mechanisms of action for these molecules,” stated Peter Rose, one of the authors of the recent study.
Rose and his collaborators believe there might be a connection between sulfur compounds found in garlic and gaseous signaling molecules found in human beings. These molecules, like nitric oxide and hydrogen sulfide, are responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body. Higher quantities of these molecules are usually present when a person is fighting a particular disease. Researchers have also noted that consuming garlic can increase the production of gaseous signaling molecules, which Rose and his colleagues believe might be the answer to how garlic works its health magic.
The researchers said further studies must be conducted in order to figure out exactly how garlic helps to fight cancerous cells. Until then, scientists and researchers alike agree that consuming garlic regularly through your meals and other supplementsis an excellent move for your overall health and wellness.
Dry, flaky skin on your face and around your mouth can cause irritation and discomfort. If you’re suffering from this condition, medically referred to as xerosis, you’re not alone. According to research from the International Society of Dermatology, over 40 percent of Americans claim to have dry or sensitive skin (1).
“Dry skin is characterized by an impaired skin barrier, which allows increased water evaporation from the skin’s surface,” says Dr. Mara Weinstein, assistant professor of dermatology and dermatologic surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “A regimen tailored to nourish dry skin should involve protecting and replenishing the skin’s lipids.”
Dry skin is caused by a variety of factors including aging, changes in the weather, and certain skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, which are characterized by flaky, red patches. If you want to boost moisture levels and effectively heal dry skin on your face, follow these simple steps.
Dry Skin Roadmap: Essential Steps to Take
1. Use an oil- or cream-based cleanser. “I advise people with dry skin to start with an oil-based cleanser,” says Dr. Kachiu C. Lee, assistant professor of dermatology at Brown University. “It is less likely to strip your skin of natural oils compared to a water-based cleanser.”
When choosing a cleansing product for dry, flaky skin, avoid foaming cleansers and gel-based options. “Foams and gels tend to be alcohol-based,” says Weinstein. “Foaming cleansers contain detergents, which strip our skin of its normal lipids.”
2. Wash with warm water. Turning the faucet to a hot-water setting is not conducive to treating dry skin. Instead, make sure the water is mild before cleansing your face. “Hot water removes your natural skin oils more quickly,” Weinstein says. “Warm water is best.”
3. Use an antioxidant-based facial oil. Lee suggests applying a facial oil every morning as an important step before moisturizing. “I recommend facial oils that contain vitamins C and E since these antioxidants also help to protect against sun damage,” she says. “The key is to seal in these oils with a moisturizer on top.”
4. Choose your moisturizers carefully. The most important step in any dry-skincare routine is to moisturize in the morning prior to applying makeup and at night before going to bed. But not all moisturizers on the market will work for dry skin. Dr. Rebecca Tung, chair of the division of dermatology at Loyola University Chicago, recommends looking for moisturizers that contain natural oils such as argan oil, coconut oil and shea butter. Other natural ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and plant-derived glycerin can also help the skin retain moisture, she says.
Make sure your daytime moisturizer contains SPF, or apply sunscreen prior to applying makeup. This simple step will “slow the development of fine lines and wrinkles and prevent premature aging, brown spots, blotchiness, and uneven skin tone,” Weinstein says.
At night, your best bet is to find an emollient-rich moisturizer with ceramides, which are natural lipids found in the skin. “Ceramides help to repair our skin’s lipid barrier and also put some moisture back into the skin,” Lee says.
5. Use Vaseline for tough-to-treat dry patches. “If your moisturizer isn’t working and you have persistent dry patches, Vaseline can help to heal the dryness,” Lee says. It’s especially helpful if you have flaky, peeling skin around the mouth or extremely chapped lips. If your mouth area is dry, Lee suggests using Vaseline as an overnight treatment. Just make sure to apply it sparingly, she says, since Vaseline can lead to clogged pores.
Precautions When Treating Dry Skin
If you have dry skin or suffer from eczema, there are certain skincare ingredients you should avoid. “I would not recommend highly fragranced [products] or those with high concentrations of exfoliants, such as hydroxy acids, because they may actually bring out dryness and inflammation,” says Tung.
And be extra cautious when choosing anti-aging moisturizers and serums, because ingredients such as retinol can further dry out your skin. “Tread lightly with anti-aging products,” she adds. “If you have dry or sensitive skin, some products your friends rave about may be too irritating for you and can actually inflame your skin rather than making it appear more youthful.”
Finally, with any skincare routine, it’s important to closely monitor how your skin is reacting to different products and ingredients. “If you’re breaking out with acne, rashes or redness, it’s time to switch up the routine,” Lee says. “You may be over-stressing your skin with too many products, clogging pores or causing irritation.” If problems persist, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist to find a solution that works for you.
Here’s why you should drink apple cider vinegar, and how to get your daily dose.
Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Of all the claims made by apple cider vinegar proponents, this one has the most meat to it: One study by researchers at Arizona State University found that the glucose levels of participants were 34 percent lower than the controls when they drank 20 grams of apple cider vinegar mixed with 40 grams of water and one teaspoon of sugar during a meal (1).
A separate study found that patients with diabetes who consumed two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed woke with improved fasting glucose levels (2).
It’s not a direct link, but for some of the same reasons apple cider vinegar helps with your blood sugar levels, it can also help with your waistline. Glucose levels were lower after participants in the Arizona State study drank vinegar because it contains acetic acid, which increases insulin sensitivity and can slow the absorption of calories from a meal.
Additionally, lower glucose levels have been linked to feeling more full and, presumably, eating less. To date, however, there isn’t much data linking apple cider vinegar directly to weight loss.
What’s the Best Way to Drink Apple Cider Vinegar?
The most basic way you can get your daily fix of apple cider vinegar is by taking it straight up as a shot. But not everyone enjoys that burning sensation in the back of their throats, especially first thing in the morning!
If a shot of ACV is too strong or sour for your taste, you can try diluting it with water, seltzer or tea and sweeten it up with a bit of honey to make it more palatable.
If you’re feeling even more creative, you can incorporate apple cider vinegar into everything from smoothies and detox drinks to cocktails and mocktails.
Here are two ACV drinks you can enjoy equally for their taste and their health benefits:
Spiced Cranberry & Rosemary Mocktail
(Recipe and photo courtesy of Miss Allie’s Kitchen)
Cranberries, lime and rosemary for garnish (optional)
Add the water, cranberries, raw honey, Fire Cider Original and rosemary to a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture out, and place it in the freezer to chill for 20 minutes. Fill a glass with ice and to each, add ½ cup of the spiced cranberry and rosemary syrup and 1 cup of lime seltzer. Mix, garnish with desired toppings and enjoy.
In a mug, add whiskey, lemon juice and turmeric sipping vinegar. Top with hot water and mix well. Add one star anise and serve.
Other Ways to Consume Apple Cider Vinegar
If you’re still not keen on drinking apple cider vinegar, there are other ways to consume it. For example, you can work it into a marinade or sauce for a little extra zip.
Of course, salads are a great vehicle for apple cider vinegar, and a tasty vinaigrette or dressing might make you more likely to eat nutritious leafy greens and veggies. Combining vinegar with oil also helps balance the pH level and prevent tooth enamel erosion from the acetic acid.
If you can’t stand the taste no matter how you prepare it, apple cider vinegar capsules might be your best bet. Keep in mind that the amount of acetic and citric acids in commercially available apple cider vinegar tablets reportedly varies dramatically between samples (3). This means dosage information on apple cider vinegar capsule packages may not be accurate, and taking too much can cause digestion issues.
You know that feeling of calm you get when you sit at the beach, allowing the sand to slide effortlessly between your toes? How about letting all your troubles fade away as you walk barefoot on a dewy lawn on a spring day? Turns out, those moments may not only bring you bliss; they could benefit your overall health, too.
What Exactly Is Earthing?
Earthing, or grounding, is the practice of absorbing electrons from the Earth into your body. By absorbing these electrons, you can improve everything from sleep issues to hormone levels to better blood circulation, according to the experts.
So how exactly does all this work?
“The Earth has a natural electric charge, based on lightning strikes and other meteorological phenomenon,” explains Martin Zucker, coauthor of “Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?” “Humans are highly conductive, and when the skin of our bodies contacts the Earth, we create a mind-body-Earth connection.”
Zucker says that the Earth has an “unlimited reservoir of electrons” that are critical to “the operation of our cells and ourselves.” These electrons from the Earth are able to neutralize free radicals in the body that contribute to health issues such as inflammatory conditions and diseases.
In other words, the electrons from the Earth have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and we can apparently harness this energy by making direct contact with the Earth’s surface, either by going barefoot outdoors or by using grounding products, such as blankets, wristbands and floor mats.
Indoor grounding products are made of conductive materials and used via a grounded wall outlet or an earthing ground rod that’s placed outside, Zucker describes.
Since not everyone has access to safe outdoor space, Zucker says these products provide a way for people to reap the benefits of earthing from their desk, their couch or even their bed.
Benefits of Earthing
Integrative pain and rehabilitation specialist Tina Michaud-Gray not only practices earthing with her family, she also uses it for her patients. “It really helps accelerate the healing process,” she says.
Earthing cannot only be used as an anti-aging remedy, but also can assist people who have been living with illness or chronic pain, Michaud-Gray adds. Being one with nature, whether it’s outdoors or via other earthing methods, is a “primal need….our bodies, minds, and spirits require it,” she says.
While results vary from person-to-person (one person may see rapid changes within a week, while another may see subtler health benefits over a longer period of time), Zucker says that earthing “creates a new normal in the body.”
Though there are some skeptics to the practice, there is evidence to back up these claims. “Emerging evidence shows that contact with the Earth—whether being outside barefoot or indoors connected to grounded conductive systems—may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy” against issues like chronic stress, inflammation and pain, as well as common health disorders, such as cardiovascular disease, a 2012 study concluded (1).
Whether you’re hoping to gain more energy, heal a wound or combat an illness, earthing may just help improve your overall well-being. As Michaud-Gray puts it, “It’s right there at your feet…literally.”
Beards can totally change your appearance and are a great way to further express your personal style. Whether you’re going for a corporate or castaway look, it’s important to support that look with regular attention. Here are my five beard care commandments to ensure you put your best face forward.
Brush Your Beard
To keep your beard looking nice and neat, you’ll need to brush and comb it on a daily basis. I use a natural, boar bristle brush for my beard, which stimulates the skin and promotes blood flow to the hair follicles. Then, I use a natural wood comb to finish it off.
Trim Your Beard
Even if you’re trying to grow out your beard, you still need to trim it periodically for maintenance. I trim my beard a few times a week, because I like to keep it at a certain length and keep it looking sculpted. I don’t use clippers on my beard, because it doesn’t give me the look that I want. I just trim it with scissors to manage unwanted flyaways and take a little bit off the sides and bottom. One of the most common mistakes is shaping your beard to your jawline instead of your neckline. Find your neckline by placing your finger on your Adam’s apple and go from there!
Oil Your Beard
Beard oil helps nourish the hair and keeps it soft and smooth. I oil my beard at night before I got to bed, and I also oil it after I get out of the shower in the morning to help my hair and skin retain moisture. I use Every Man Jack hydrating beard oil in Cedarwood—it smells awesome. Avoid beard products containing alcohol, as they can dry out your hair and skin.
Wash Your Beard
Although beard hair is coarser than head hair, it’s still hair and needs to be washed. A little bit of conditioner won’t hurt either. I wash my beard three times a week to keep it clean and polished.
Take Supplements for Your Beard
If you’ve never tried growing a beard because you think you’d have trouble, supplements can help. I take LuckyVitamin Pure Collagen powder twice a day as my new protein supplement. I used to take whey proteins and plant proteins, but now I’m sticking with collagen. It’s a great protein source, and you get all the added benefits of healthy hair and skin. I also take two tablets of LuckyVitamin Hair, Skin & Nails formula daily. It’s got a great dose of biotin, plus 24 other ingredients to help support hair growth.
So, those are my five beard care commandments. I used to be a guy who thought he couldn’t grow a beard, and look at me now! You too can grow a thicker, healthier beard by following these easy tips.
As tempting as it is to bask in the sun on a warm summer day, you’ll want to protect yourself from its rays every time you head outdoors.
The best way to prevent a sunburn, of course, is to not get one in the first place. But we all know that things happen, even to the savviest SPF advocates.
As soon as you notice a burn, cover up, head inside and try one of these natural healing remedies:
The Right Moisturizer
Dr. Jeremy Wolf, LuckyVitamin’s lead health advisor, recommends using calendula lotion to treat sunburns or even urtica urens, a plant-based cream that can be used to treat first-degree burns.
Stacey Rex, creator and owner of Pure Stella Skin Care in North Carolina, suggests using aloe vera to soothe and hydrate sunburned skin. If possible, she recommends using aloe straight from the plant, but it can also be used in a gel or lotion.
In addition, Wolf cautions against using lotions or creams that contain petroleum, benzocaine, or lidocaine. Moisturizers with petroleum trap heat in your skin, he says, and benzocaine and lidocaine can also be irritating.
“Stick to moisturizers that are free from fragrances and preservatives, which may further irritate your skin,” Rex adds.
Florida-based beauty chemist David Pollock considers tea to be the greatest at-home remedy for sunburns.
“You can brew a strong pitcher of black tea using several tea bags, then bring it to room temperature,” says Pollock, founder of JustAskDavid.com. “The tannic acid in the tea will instantly restore the acidic nature of your skin, take out the stinging and help to prevent peeling.”
He suggests using a compress to dab the tea across your burn, or run a bath and pour the pitcher of tea into the tub to soak in.
Baking soda can have a similar soothing effect on sunburns. “It helps balance the pH of your skin to promote healing and soothe your skin,” Rex says.
Add a cup of baking soda to a cool or lukewarm bath and soak for 20 to 30 minutes, Rex says, or apply a paste of baking soda and water to clean skin with a cotton ball. Let it sit for up to 10 minutes before rinsing with cool water.
Like tea, white wine vinegar is acidic and can be used to soothe a sunburn naturally, Pollock says. (It just has a stronger smell.) In addition, Rex recommends using apple cider vinegar as a sunburn-treating solution.
“Mix equal portions of water and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spray on skin,” she says. “I also recommend adding lavender essential oil; not only will it mask the vinegar smell, but lavender is also great for soothing burns and speeding up the healing process. You can also add a cup of vinegar to a warm (not hot) bath and soak.”
The acidic nature of yogurt is close to that of our skin and can help promote natural healing, Pollock says.
In addition, Rex says that the probiotics in yogurt help moisturize and reduce pain. “Make sure you find a plain, full-fat version, then apply to the skin, wait 10 minutes and rinse off in the shower.”
Hydrating Foods and Beverages
One of the most important things you can do to help heal a sunburn is to stay hydrated, Wolf says. Drink plenty of water, and even consider adding a scoop of electrolyte powder to your water bottle to maintain hydration, he says.
You can also consider trying certain foods to help ease your pain. “Snack on foods that are high in vitamin C, like oranges and watermelon, to promote healing,” Rex adds. “As an added bonus, they also help keep you hydrated.”
Though trends in the world of health and beauty might come and go pretty fast, there are some products that can withstand the tests of time. Castor oil, for example, has been used for so long that there is a ton of anecdotal evidence suggesting Egyptian ruler Cleopatra regularly relied on the oil to keep her skin and face fresh (1). Whether you’re presiding over an entire nation or you’re simply looking to get rid of some acne before a date, castor oil might be a great fit.
Take a look at some of the exciting ways you can incorporate castor oil into your daily routine. The more you learn about its benefits, the easier it will be for you to grab yourself a bottle and see for yourself.
1. Heal Your Skin
To begin, let’s look at the example of Cleopatra. In order to keep her face moisturized and protected against the harsh climates of Ancient Egypt, the ruler was said to have used castor oil regularly. There is a lot of scientific evidence to suggest that this would have been a very sensible move for anyone living in this region at the time. The fatty acids found in castor oil can do wonders for dry, irritated skin (2). The fatty acids keep the skin moisturized while simultaneously helping to heal any wounds or abrasions on the skin’s surface.
Several studies also suggest that castor oil can help to reduce inflammation of the skin. By using castor oil on your face, you might be able to reduce the odds of an acne breakout by reducing inflammation and encouraging healthy skin cell growth (3). For best results, rub a small amount of castor oil on your face before you go to bed. You can wash it off right away or leave it on until the morning. Some health experts suggest using a warm cloth to open the pores on your face before applying castor oil to see the best results.
2. Protect Your Hair
Your hair can also benefit from a bit of castor oil. As with your skin, the fatty acids found in this oil can help to keep your hair hydrated. These same fats reinforce hair follicles, making it far less likely you’re going to see breakage or feel like your locks are in an unhealthy place (4). You can also expect your scalp to benefit from using a bit of castor oil when you wash your hair. Some studies have suggested that you can lower the odds of developing dandruff by using a little of this oil (5).
The best way to use castor oil on your hair is as a conditioner. After washing, apply a small amount of the oil on your hair and vigorously rub it in. Start with warm water and slowly switch to a cold rinse. The colder water at the end helps to lock the oil into your hair. For best results, be sure to condition in this fashion two or three times a week.
3. Ease Stomach Troubles
Castor oil is also useful by the spoonful as a laxative. No matter how much time you dedicate to cultivating a healthy diet, there are plenty of surprises that can come along. When you find yourself feeling constipated, it can make you feel terrible and prevent you from going about your routine with the same vigor. Castor oil is perfect in this situation. The oil itself is a fantastic natural laxative, helping to encourage muscle movement in the intestines (6).
While there is a ton of evidence out there suggesting that castor oil can relieve constipation, there are also some drawbacks to stay mindful of. Using castor oil might actually be too much of a good thing when unblocking your system and cause diarrhea. If you go from being backed up to being in the bathroom every five minutes, you might want to reduce how much castor oil you’re using or try another method.
4. Dental Health
You might not like hearing it, but your mouth is swarming with bacteria (7). For the most part, the germs that lurk in the mouth are safe. Some simply exist on the tongue and teeth to encourage healthy digestion. Of course, you also want to get rid of most of this bacteria when you brush. Some substances that grow in the mouth can lead to serious dental issues like plaque. By swishing some castor oil around in your mouth before brushing, you can clear our some of this bacteria in an effective manner (8).
Castor oil is a simple product with a ton of uses. When you want to add an extra level of protection to your teeth, hair, and skin, this is definitely an option worth your consideration!
LuckyPlanet is a line of cleaning products created by the LuckyVitamin team. They are powerful on dirt and grime but safe enough to use around your family and pets. From dish soap to window cleaner, everything in the LuckyPlanet assortment is plant-based, non-toxic and cruelty-free. The whole line is free and clear, which means there are no extra scents or weird smells that you’re going to get from these products. If you want to DIY it, you can add some essential oils from our LuckyAromas brand and maybe make your toilet bowl smell like lavender!
LuckyVitamin created these products with you in mind. They are free of synthetic dyes, colors, fragrances, parabens, phthalates, chlorine, bleach, phosphates and ammonia. So keep your home clean and green with LuckyVitamin!
Doing the laundry is one of those frustrating inevitabilities in life. You need your wardrobe to look (and smell) as fresh as possible, so making laundry a weekly priority is important. Of course, very few people look forward to this task. Sure, it doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it can definitely eat away at your day.
On top of all this, there are a handful of frustrating environmental issues that stem from the way we wash our clothes. Using a washing machine too much can waste water and energy (1), while certain cleaning products contain agents that can be hazardous to human, animal and plant life (2). Luckily, you can keep your clothes fresh without destroying the planet by taking a few additional eco-friendly steps when going about your routine.
Hand-Wash Your Clothing
The best way to get started is by limiting how much you use your washing machine. Opting to hand-wash your clothing can be a fantastic way to conserve both energy and water. Now, the difficult part of hand-washing your clothing is you need to make time for the task. You will no longer be able to toss your clothes in the machine and go off to focus on another task. Hand-washing requires your full attention and a bit more room in your day.
That said, making space for the activity in your weekly schedule can make you feel more accomplished. To get started, all you need to do is find a large plastic bucket for washing and wringing out each article of clothing. Next, look at tools like a laundry plunger (3) to make the cleaning task easier and a laundry wringer to aid in the drying process. Hand-washing with a plunger has been noted to be effective and requires only a bit more effort than plunging a toilet. You’ll get a little workout for your arms and have some clean laundry in under 15 minutes.
Try Drying Alternatives
You’re already learning how to wash your clothes by hand, why not take things to the next level? Instead of hand-washing and throwing your clothes right into your dryer, you might find it more beneficial to explore some alternatives. Limiting dryer usage can be helpful when you’re conserving energy, but there are a handful of drawbacks to this. For one, it will take more than a day for damp clothing to dry without machine aid. You can speed this process up a bit on a warm, sunny day by utilizing an outdoor laundry line (4).
As mentioned above, the best way to ensure dry clothing in the fastest manner is by thoroughly wringing out each piece of clothing. Doing this action by hand is incredibly straining to your wrists and it requires much more effort than hand-washing. Use a wringer or similar device and you can limit your energy consumption without developing wrist problems in the process.
Use Better Cleaning Products
To get your clothes truly clean while hand-washing, you have to use the right products. Since a number of detergents and bleaches are terrible for the environment, you want to opt for green alternatives. In recent years, a number of new products have appeared on the market promising to deliver options that are less harmful to the planet. With so many different products out there promising the same thing, you might find yourself wondering if everyone is being honest.
Governmental regulations on what qualifies as a “green” cleaning product do not exactly exist. Still, you can consult helpful resources put out by the EPA to become a more informed shopper and avoid using products that contain hazardous chemicals (5). While most brands that make eco-friendly promises are being on the level, it is best to verify the claims on your own to know you’re making the best choice.
Making these slight adjustments to your routine can provide you with a sense of pride that your effort is helping to keep the world as fresh as your hand-washed clothing.
One of the latest diet trends to explode in the health and wellness space is the ketogenic diet. But if you aren’t quite sure what it is or how it works, we’re here to help. Let’s take a closer look at this diet craze, so you can decide whether it’s right for you.
What Is a Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate diet. It was developed by Dr. Russell Wilder in 1924. It was historically used as a treatment option for patients with epilepsy, but researchers now believe this type of diet can help other neurological conditions.
Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
One of the main benefits of following a ketogenic diet is weight loss, according to Jeremy Wolf, a naturopathic doctor and lead health advisor at LuckyVitamin. “When properly adhered to, this type of diet causes the body to break down fatty acids into ketones,” he explains. “When ketone levels in the bloodstream are elevated, individuals enter into a state of ketosis, which often helps shed pounds quickly and consistently.”
The ketogenic diet may also protect against certain diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, by controlling the release of insulin into the body and lowering cholesterol levels.
And while more research still needs to be done, there are plenty of studies that demonstrate ketogenic diets may aid in the treatment of neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism and severe migraines.
How Does the Ketogenic Diet Work?
Adhering to the ketogenic diet is not as simple as cutting carbs, Dr. Wolf stresses. “There are specific calculations and ratios of fat to protein to carbohydrates that need to be followed in order for the diet to work properly,” he says.
Before starting on a ketogenic diet, it’s important to speak with your health care professional to work on a plan that is right for you.
“The classic version of the ketogenic diet involves a ratio of fats that is three to four times greater than the intake of proteins and carbohydrates,” Dr. Wolf says. “This means that approximately 75 percent of calories would come from fats, 25 percent would come from protein, and only 5 percent would come from carbohydrates.”
A more moderate version of this diet includes a ratio of fats that is two times greater than the intake of proteins and carbohydrates.
Those following a ketogenic diet plan will drastically increase their consumption of fatty foods, Dr. Wolf says. “Popular ketogenic food options include eggs, fatty fishes like salmon, cheese, avocado, olives and olive oil, nuts and nut butters, seeds, ghee, and coconut oil.”
Things to Consider with a Ketogenic Diet
If you are thinking about making the switch to a ketogenic diet, there are some things you should take into consideration. “This type of diet completely cuts out sugars and sweets such as candy, cookies and desserts, so individuals should be ready to give up indulgences if they want to be successful,” Dr. Wolf says.
Additionally, many medical professionals will recommend gradually decreasing your carbohydrate intake and introducing the ketogenic approach over a three- to four-day period, Dr. Wolf says. “This slower transition will help stave off a big loss of energy.” (Keeping hydrated while on a ketogenic diet is very important, and some supplementation with vitamins and minerals may be necessary to help meet nutritional requirements.)
“And while a strict ketogenic diet could be exactly what you need to jump-start weight loss, it may not be the best option for your long-term health and wellness,” Dr. Wolf advises. “Make sure to consult a health care professional to identify a plan designed around your individual needs.”
Summer’s arrival means more time spent outside. If you are headed outdoors, you have to take steps to protect yourself from the sun. Though responsible for allowing life on Earth to thrive, the rays of the sun are also a cause for concern. Consistent exposure to sunlight without wearing sunscreen or a similar layer of protection can lead to skin damage and other more serious illnesses (1).
Now, the frustrating part of this is that you also need to expose your body to sunlight in order to get a healthy dose of vitamin D. Produced by the human body after it is exposed to sunlight, vitamin D ensures heart health, creates strong bones and helps the nervous system to function at its best (2). If you’ve spent more time indoors than out in recent months, then your body might not be producing the right amount of vitamin D. To remedy this, pay attention to the signs your body sends when it requires more of this essential vitamin.
1. Feeling Sleepy
Do you feel tired, like, a lot? Plenty of people do. When you work long hours, have an active social life and binge Netflix all night, feeling a bit tired can seem normal. Of course, you also could be feeling exhausted because you aren’t getting the right amount of vitamin D. One of the easiest signs to spot when your body needs a boost of this vitamin is fatigue (3).
Research suggests that working indoors for long periods of time can lead to a vitamin D deficiency. Nurses, for example, were reported to suffer from a lack of vitamin D. Due to the nature of working as a nurse, many of the people in this profession assume feelings of fatigue stemmed from the long hours and physical demands (4). In truth, a lack of vitamin D was to blame. If you’re a nurse, be sure to take supplements to ensure your body is getting ample vitamin D to keep up with all the amazing work you do.
2. Chronic Pain
Living with pain is definitely not enjoyable. Unfortunately, millions of people all over the world deal with persistent pain on a daily basis. Though there are numerous reasons why a person could be suffering from this sort of lasting discomfort, some studies suggest the pain could be linked to a lack of vitamin D (5). Since this vitamin is responsible for helping the body absorb calcium, having less of it in your system can weaken your bones and teeth. This makes it easier for bones to break when you fall or bump into a piece of furniture.
Low levels of vitamin D might also lead to chronic back pain. According to one study, people with vitamin D deficiencies tended to experience lower-back pain more often than people who got ample amounts of vitamin D (6). If you feel like you’ve been living with mysterious pain and want to know why, visit with your physician to determine whether more vitamin D is the solution. In the meantime, play it safe and start your day with a big glass of orange juice. Fortified drinks like OJ and milk contain a healthy dose of vitamin D.
3. Losing Hair
Do you ever feel so stressed out that you just want to pull your hair out? Maybe that’s a bit extreme, but you probably know the feeling. While you might not be yanking out your own hair, losing follicles could actually be a sign that you need more vitamin D in your diet (7). Various reports have revealed that a vast majority of women suffer from nutrient deficiencies without realizing it (8). Usually, it takes a more extreme sign like hair loss to alert one to the fact that something is wrong.
Don’t panic, you most likely won’t lose significant chunks of your hair because of a lack of vitamin D. Still, you definitely don’t want to allow this to persist. Protecting your hair is important to ensuring its longevity. Salmon can do wonders when it comes to restoring your vitamin D levels, though you need to make the fish a weekly meal to see lasting benefits (9). This fish also contains omega-3 fatty acids, perfect for encouraging hair growth and giving your locks a chance to shine.
4. Experiencing Depression
Feeling depressed can also be a warning sign you need a bit more vitamin D. There’s a good reason being exposed to sunlight makes people feel happy and alive. Not getting enough of this vitamin can encourage symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 16.2 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2016 (10). If you are prone to depression and feel like your symptoms have gotten worse recently, you might find some relief by adding more vitamin D to your diet.
Oatmeal can be a perfect way to boost how much vitamin D you get each day. Though somewhat bland at first, you can customize this morning dish in a number of ways to make it more appealing. Top your oats with some chia seeds, fresh berries or slices of banana, and treat yourself to something delicious while helping your body. Be kind to yourself when you feel low and be sure to speak to a professional should your depression become more severe.
5. Sweating Buckets
Some people sweat more than others. It might be gross, but bodies aren’t always the most pleasant things. If you suddenly begin to sweat more than normal without engaging in additional physical activity, then your body could be telling you something important. In most cases, it is the forehead that will see increased sweat production. Adding more egg yolks into your diet can help to balance your vitamin D so you don’t have to constantly wipe down your brow (11).
Though a majority of people would prefer spending their days outside in the sunlight, most lifestyles won’t allow for it. When you notice any of these symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, be sure to take action by improving your diet or taking the appropriate supplements. Should symptoms persist, be sure to visit with your doctor as soon as possible.
Fermented foods seem to have become quite popular in recent months. Whether you’ve heard about the benefits of drinking vinegars or are simply wondering why yogurt is such a hot option for breakfast, you most likely want to know what all the fuss is about. People are clamoring for fermented products lately because these foods and drinks are excellent sources of probiotics.
For those a bit shaky on what probiotics are exactly, it is best to think of them as good bacteria for your gut (1). While you might associate bacteria with germs and other sickness-causing agents, the truth is there are many bacterias your body requires for healthy functions. Probiotics help to encourage digestion by affecting the nerves that control the various muscle movements in the stomach and intestines, keeping a person regular and comfortable (2).
If you feel like you’re ready to explore these options for yourself, you will be happy to learn there are several simple ways to get started. Take a look at these tips on how to work fermented foods into your diet and see which tactics work for your lifestyle.
Do you like yogurt? If you do, then you’re already on your path to including more fermented products in your diet. The cultures found in dairy products like kefir and yogurt can provide your body with the right daily dose of probiotics to encourage a happy gut. Start your morning right by grabbing a bowl of yogurt and topping it with your favorite crunchy granola and fresh fruit slices. You might even enjoy the experience so much that you forget you’re treating your body to a healthy meal.
While dairy cultures are excellent fermented products to include in your daily meals, there are a number of people who cannot eat dairy. For those who are lactose intolerant or vegan, there are other avenues to explore. Coconut yogurt cultures can offer all the digestive power offered by dairy without the discomfort or bloating.
Yogurt is the centerpiece ingredient for fermented breakfast options, but there are less obvious ways to include probiotics in your meals. Plenty of people enjoy eating quick meals like sandwiches and salads for lunch. For those who want to work more probiotics into lunchtime, consider adding fermented pickles to the mix.
By themselves, pickles do not offer a ton of nutritional value. Though tasty, these briny cucumbers are more for flavor and crunch than anything else. Still, eating a pickle on or with your lunch has been reported to increase the good bacteria in your gut and promote easy digestion (3). While pickles might be an acquired taste, the simple health benefits can make them a lot more palatable.
Speaking of acquired tastes, sauerkraut is another great option when it comes to eating more fermented foods. Since it is made from cabbage, sauerkraut contains a ton of fiber. This by itself is enough to encourage a healthier digestive system (4). Due to the fermented nature of sauerkraut, it also enhances the digestive experience by introducing healthy probiotics into the mix.
It is also important to note that introducing too much sauerkraut to your system at once can have a negative impact on the way your stomach feels. You don’t want your stomach to turn from the experience, so it is best to use sauerkraut sparingly at first. Increase how much of it you use with time and you’re likely to feel the benefits in your stomach in no time at all.
Switch to Sourdough
Finally, you can do wonders for your diet by switching what kind of bread you eat at home. Unlike other options found at your local grocery store, sourdough bread packs a ton of digestive benefits into one loaf. This type of bread is made with only water, salt and flour, with the rest of the process being more about fermentation than anything else. While sourdough has long been considered a great option for people having trouble achieving glucose homeostasis (5), there are many who are now seeing the digestive benefits.
The longer the dough has been fermenting, the better it will be for your gut. Instead of opting for whole wheat or white, see how using long-fermented sourdough can transform your meals.
Get creative with the way you infuse fermented foods into your day. While you might not want to eat a sauerkraut and pickle sandwich on sourdough with a side of yogurt, you can easily find more practical ways to ingest these helpful sources of probiotics.
Coconuts are having a moment in the sun. Fans of the fruit trumpet its virtues, claiming that it’s great for your brain, your body and even your hair. While coconuts aren’t exactly the miracle food may “experts” claim that they are, products made from the fruit can be a nutritious addition to your diet.
A brief, geeky scientific aside: Coconuts contain lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that has been linked to the prevention of “vascular events” (think: heart attack) in patients with advanced coronary troubles, according to a 2016 study review published in the journal Open Heart.
Another bonus: Anything made from coconuts is delicious. If you’ve ever had Thai curry, which is often made with coconut milk, you know this. You also know that if you order this dish out at a restaurant, it can often taste sickly sweet.
That’s because restaurants often use sweetened coconut milk. Make your own coconut curry at home with unsweetened coconut milk and you’ll cut sugar, calories and regret. This recipe is so simple, it’ll even take you less time to make than going out to eat.
But no matter what you do, please don’t rub it in your hair.
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 medium shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
½ jalapeno, minced (optional)
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
1 cup unsweetened light coconut milk
1 Tbsp Thai green curry paste
1 bunch fresh basil, torn
¼ cup unsalted cashews, roughly chopped
1 cup jasmine or basmati rice, cooked
In a nonstick pan over medium heat, add the oil. When it shimmers, add the chicken, plus a big pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is well browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
Using the same pan, reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the shallot, garlic, ginger and jalapeno (if using) and stir constantly until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the reserved chicken, chicken stock and green curry paste. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors meld, about 5 minutes.
Serve the curry with the rice. Top with basil and cashews, to taste.
Got diarrhea? Take a probiotic. Irritated skin or acne? Again, probiotics. Bad breakup? Why not try a probiotic!?
There’s no denying that probiotics have a cult-like following. They’ve been taking over the supplement aisle for the past few years, thanks to a surge in research revealing the massive extent to which the health of our gut microbiome influences pretty much every other aspect of our health—from our mood to our digestion to our weight to our skin. Problems in these areas may arise when the “bad” bacteria in our gut start to outnumber the “good.” But some studies—and plenty of anecdotal accounts—suggest taking a probiotic supplement can ease health woes such as diarrhea, yeast infections, urinary tract infections and weight gain by fortifying your gut with good bugs and restoring balance.
But now, probiotics are extending their reach beyond supplements and into the snack, beauty and pet food aisles. Which begs the question, do you really need a probiotic face cream or granola? Or, uh…does your dog? Here, we reveal some of the more surprising new places that probiotics are popping up—and whether they live up to the hype.
Consuming probiotics via food used to mean opting for naturally fermented stuff like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and yogurt. But now, they can be found in everything from granola to popcorn to chocolate. Essentially, probiotics can be added to anything edible.
Nearly all probiotic-enhanced packaged foods today contain GanedenBC30, which is a proprietary preparation of the probiotic strain Bacillus coagulans (1). The good news: Research has shown that this type of probiotic protects itself in a spore-like casing that allows it to withstand (at least to some extent) the manufacturing process, time spent on a shelf and the acidic conditions of your stomach (2). Meaning, it actually stands a chance of reaching and colonizing your gut.
But does it help you once it gets there? After all, not every probiotic strain treats every ailment. Some studies suggest GanedenBC30 has promising digestive benefits and can reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), including gas and bloating (3) and diarrhea (4). But still, it’s very difficult to know just how beneficial these probiotic-enhanced foods actually are in reality, says Jen McDaniel, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A lot of that depends on whether there’s enough present in the food to begin with (1 billion CFUs is a good minimum number to aim for, she says). But because many foods don’t list a probiotic quantity on the nutrition label, it’s often a bit of a gamble.
Probiotic Waters and Teas
When you think of a probiotic-packed drink, you probably think of kombucha, which naturally contains gut-friendly bugs. But now, you can find probiotics in beverages like flat and sparkling waters, and even in tea bags.
Like probiotic-enhanced foods, many (if not all) of these drinks contain the probiotic strain GanedenBC30. So the benefits are likely to be the same. However, based on our research (aka scrutinizing lots of labels), bottled drinks are more likely to list the number of probiotic CFUs on the package than foods or tea bags, with counts ranging from 2 to 4 billion CFUs at time of manufacture. If you do opt for one of these drinks, just be sure it’s not loaded with sugars, artificial sweeteners or any other questionable ingredients that could counter the probiotic health benefits.
Bottom line: Both foods and drinks containing added probiotics could potentially be beneficial, but probiotic supplements and foods or drinks naturally rich in probiotics likely offer more bang for your buck, says McDaniel.
Probiotic Face Creams and Body Lotions
Turns out, our skin has its own microbiome that’s teeming more than 1 trillion bacteria, many of which are beneficial and help keep your skin clear, vibrant and healthy. But if your skin’s microbiome is out of whack (say, from harsh cleansers or a poor diet), this can compromise your skin’s natural barrier, which could result in painful and embarrassing skin conditions such as acne, rosacea and eczema, according to Whitney Bowe, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center and the author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin (5).
Bowe believes that increasing the variety of healthy bacteria species on the skin can help reduce inflammation and minimize these conditions, and that one way to do this is via quality probiotic-enhanced skincare products (6). A few beneficial bugs to look for in skincare products: Streptococcus thermophilus, which may help retain moisture (7); Bifidobacterium, which may help reduce skin sensitivity (8); and Lactobacillus plantarum, which may help prevent acne (9). Just make sure that the other ingredients in these products are gentle and preferably natural—no harsh chemicals, which will only compromise your skin’s barrier further.
So, if probiotics are good for your face, are they good for your pits? There are a bunch of new probiotic deodorants on the market promising fresh underarms without the chemicals. How it supposedly works: The good bacteria in the deodorant fights off the bad, odor-causing bacteria in your armpits, leaving you fresh as a daisy (or something like that). Unfortunately, there are no studies proving this benefit, and the strains of bacteria used in these deodorants (typically Lactobacillus acidophilus) aren’t naturally found on the skin—so, odor experts say, their deodorizing effects would likely be very short-lived (10). And who wants to reapply five times a day? If you’re looking to use a more natural deodorant, that’s cool…there’s just no obvious reason to make it one that contains probiotics.
Probiotic Supplements for Dogs
Probiotics for dogs are a thing now, too. And the research is promising. In a 2016 study, dogs given a probiotic supplement containing various strains of Lactobacillus bacteria maintained their appetite and recovered faster from a bout of acute diarrhea than dogs given a placebo (11). There were also fewer pathogens in the feces of the probiotic-treated dogs, making them less likely to pass on this harmful bacteria to other dogs. In another study, dogs with diarrhea that received a specific strain of Bifidobacterium animalis recovered faster and were less likely to need antibiotic treatment compared to the placebo pups (12). Many vets agree that probiotics are harmless for dogs and likely offer some digestive benefits (13).
Who wants to de-stress, unplug, connect with nature and give their overall wellness a boost? Everyone, of course! But who has the time? Everyone, of course!
Why? Because one single activity provides all of these benefits and more: camping.
Camping is a chance to enjoy the outdoors, re-energize and create lasting memories with family and friends. Make sure those memories are good ones by packing these 11 essentials (plus the tent…don’t ever forget the tent):
A first-aid kit tops the list. A bare-minimum kit includes bandages, gauze, antibacterial ointment and tweezers (vital in tick-prone areas). To bulk up your kit, add medications you might need like those for pain or stomach problems.
All-natural, biodegradable baby wipes can clean a scraped knee, wash hands before dinner, scrub the sunscreen off your face before bed and so much more.
Matches or a Lighter
Or both to be extra cautious. You’re going to be cooking on a campfire or camp stove (don’t forget the propane in that case), so don’t forget the method to light it!
Bring plenty of water in a reusable, refillable water bottle, especially if you won’t be near a water source (most campgrounds have water fountains). If you’re in the backwoods, bring a water bottle with an integrated filter to clean as you collect. Dehydration is a real danger when camping, so bring and drink plenty.
Camping provides fun exercise opportunities, but activities like day hikes, swimming, kayaking and climbing will torch calories. Keep your energy up with healthy snacks like seeds, nuts, granola or dried fruit.
A flashlight is great, but a headlamp is better. Why? Late-night bathroom dashes are much easier if you’re hands-free. Same with washing dishes by campfire. Having both hands free to complete tasks in the early morning or evening hours is invaluable. (Stash a flashlight, too, to cover your lighting bases.)
Even under a canopy of trees, you need sunscreen. Sun damage is real, and sunscreen is a simple way to keep yourself safe. Choose a natural formulation that will work for the activities you plan on doing (e.g., active, sport, water-resistant).
Know before you go: What kinds of bugs are prevalent where you’ll be camping? Choose an insect repellent formulated for the worst offenders. Then, don’t forget to toss an anti-itch stick or cream in your pack to combat any bites you do get.
Hopefully you have nice weather throughout your entire camping trip! Unfortunately, that’s never guaranteed, so waterproof storage is a must. Keep food and food prep items sealed tightly in food storage containers, and keep your matches or lighter in a separate waterproof container. As for clothes, here’s a packing hint: Pack outfits in reusable, waterproof storage bags. That way, they stay dry if it rains, and when you change your clothes, you can pack dirty, wet, stinky, sunscreen-covered clothes into the storage bag to keep your other outfits clean and dry.
Whatever you bring into your campsite, you must bring out. Stash large reusable totes to collect trash and recycling. If you’re camping with your car, keep them tucked inside to prevent wildlife from getting too interested; if not, be sure to hang your trash and recycling just as you do your food.
This list isn’t all-encompassing, of course, and so much of your camping packing list will be determined by your location and activities. That said, if you have these 11 items, the basics are covered and you can focus on the fun!