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10
JAN

Vitamin C Won’t Shorten Your Cold, But These 3 Supplements Might

Sick young woman at home on the sofa with a cold, she is covering with a blanket and blowing her nose

There are a lot of conflicting opinions out there about what to do when you start developing the symptoms of a seasonal cold. Everyone has a recipe or suggestion for what will get rid of your sniffles and help you to feel well again. For the most part, Vitamin C is a popular choice. Though many studies show how helpful Vitamin C can be for the immune system, it is not the best supplement for shortening a cold.

To take full advantage of the power of Vitamin C, one must take the right level of the supplement before the onset of a cold. This helps to shorten the presence of the symptoms, though it is not effective at changing the overall duration of the sickness. To fight back in a more effective way, consider these three helpful supplements that might pack more of a punch.

1.) Elderberry

The downside to Vitamin C is you have a very limited window for taking it in order to see the results you’d like. With other supplements like elderberry, the experience is a bit different. The extract of the black elderberry plant has been used for medicinal purposes for a long while. Native Americans first used the plant as a way of combating fevers brought on by various conditions. Nowadays, black elderberry extract can be found in a multitude of cough syrups and lozenges.

Elderberry is effective at treating both the symptoms of the common cold as well as the symptoms brought about by influenza. About a day after experiencing the aches and pains of being sick, taking an elderberry supplement should help. Studies show this extract is incredibly useful at eliminating some of the more frustrating symptoms of a cold, including sore throat, coughs, and aches of the head and body. The next time you feel a cold coming on, see what this supplement can do for your situation.

2.) Ginger

The common cold tends to appear the most prevalently in the winter. Since this has been the case for most of human history, a large chunk of remedies for colds contain ingredients that are bountiful in this season. This is especially true when it comes to ginger root. This spicy and delicious root is used in everything from cooking, to baking, to brewing teas and other elixirs. The anti-inflammatory agents in ginger assist with relieving the many pains associated with the common cold, including calming down a sore throat.

When one is suffering from a cold or the flu, it can be incredibly difficult to feel comfortable. Hot flashes and cold chills can rock the body and cause a person to feel as if he or she is completely disconnected. Ginger is useful here because it can help a body to return to normalcy in regards to temperature. Ginger can easily warm a person up when consumed in the form of tea, which can be perfect for anyone dealing with terrible chills throughout the duration of a cold.

3.) Zinc

Finally, there is zinc. Though ginger and elderberry are far better at helping a person get through the stages of a cold, zinc plays a slightly different part. Various studies over the years have concluded a person taking zinc during a cold helps to prevent the virus from multiplying and spreading throughout the body. This can be a huge help in fighting the cold but there is little to suggest it can prevent a cold outright.

Before taking zinc it is important to remember that there are side effects. Many people who take zinc supplements complain about nausea, which is something to stay alert of. Whenever a supplement you are taking is making you feel ill, stop taking it right away and consult with your primary care physician. This is the best way to get the most from your health without causing any adverse effects along the way.

 

Article written by Joe Palinsky

Joe Palinsky is a full-time writer and theater professional in Philadelphia. He predominantly works with ensemble-based Found Theater Company, where his writing has been featured in numerous productions. Though primarily a ghostwriter, his work has been published in the now-defunct Spirit News and as a guest on Found Theater’s blog.




12
DEC

4 Low-Maintenance House Plants for Cleaner Air

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Home at 11:00 pm | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
flowers in a pot on a window sill at the window

If you want to improve the air quality of your home, adding plants to your house can be an excellent and affordable way. Many buildings have inefficient air flow which may create a condition for air pollution to build up and may lead to health issues such as asthma or sick building syndrome. Plans can clean up the pollutants from the air with no too much work for you. Let’s check out 4 low-maintenance houseplants for cleaner air.

1. Spider Plant

Spider plants are known to help remove formaldehyde and xylene. These beautiful and easy-to-care plants grow quickly and look great in hanging baskets and are a great choice for beginners or forgetful owners. Safe for children or animals, spider plants need a lot of bright, indirect sunlight and you only need to water them two times per week.

2. Dracaena

Dracaena Plants are also known as natural air purifiers. These foliage plants with long, wide leaves are known to remove pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene. Unfortunately, pet owners might want to avoid Dracaena as these are toxic to cats and dogs.

3. Bamboo Palm

Bamboo palm can be considered low-maintenance but these plants need full sun or bright light. Known to filter formaldehyde, bamboo palm can filter so much air and some of the pollutants known to be removed include benzene and trichloroethylene.

4. Snake Plant

Snake plants are also useful to remove formaldehyde and benzene and require not much maintenance. This sharp-leafed plant thrives in low light and is an excellent way to help lower carbon dioxide. Research suggests that during the night, snale plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, a reversal of the process most plants undergo. They are highly recommended for your bedroom as they can increase oxygen while you sleep.




5
DEC

4 Tips To Keep You Productive All Winter Long

Beautiful happy young adult woman drinking coffee near New York City skyline wearing winter clothes and smiling. Beautiful woman holding coffee cup outdoors in the city.

Article written by Joe Palinsky

Once the dazzling colors of autumn have faded and the temperature has begun its shift in colder directions, it means winter has arrived. While the end of the year tends to get people all caught up in the excitement of the holidays, the winter also has a way of taking away a person’s motivation. Whether you are someone who suffers from seasonal depression or you can’t seem to find the mental energy to be productive on a bitterly chilly day, it can be almost impossible to get anything done.

If you are trying to break the mold this winter and be the most productive version of yourself, you might need a bit of help. Follow these suggestions to stay as motivated as possible this season.

1.) Consume Quality Foods

What you eat plays a huge part in the way you feel throughout the season. The short days and freezing temperatures of the winter tend to push people towards specific food groups. “Comfort foods” are popular at this time of year because they can make a person feel safe and content. Unfortunately, these dishes are usually packed with butter and fat. Though you might feel inclined to make a huge batch of macaroni and cheese every night, your motivation requires something a bit more nourishing.

Maintaining a productive lifestyle is a challenge in the winter because many people face depression or decreased moods. For some, this comes from a lack of exposure to sunlight. To counteract this, it can be in your best interests to eat meals loaded with Vitamin D. Salmon, yogurt, and tofu are all excellent choices. By consuming a healthy amount of Vitamin D throughout the winter, you are more likely to feel motivated, have a strengthened immune system, and keep your metabolism running efficiently.

2.) Life is Company

Feeling less motivated in the winter can be detrimental to your life in a number of ways. For one, you are not going to want to take on personal projects or engage in hobbies you normally find appealing. It also stands to reason you’ll want to stay home and limit your social interactions. This is no coincidence. According to several studies, people feel less social when there is an absence of warm light for extended periods. Though it might be natural to limit your social interactions at this time of year, it actually adds to depression.

Winter can be isolating. Since you might not be planning on going out after work as much as you did in the summer, you need to find ways to interact with others whenever possible. Small steps like making the decision to meet with friends for lunch on a Saturday or spend some extra time talking with coworkers at the start of the workday can be great moves. The more you interact with other people on a daily basis, even if it is only your local barista, the more likely it is you will feel motivated to be productive.

3.) Fight the Sickness

A lack of motivation is not the only issue people deal with in the winter. Colder weather also makes it far easier for germs to spread, with influenza and the common cold being most prevalent between December and March. Since coming down with a cold can easily ruin any motivation you have drummed up, you want to go above and beyond to stay as healthy as possible. A bowl of oatmeal each morning can provide your body with fiber and zinc, both which aid in keeping your body regular and well.

Foods high in Vitamin C should also make appearances on your plate throughout the season. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, oranges, spinach, and tomatoes are all practical choices.

4.) Get Out and Move

Finally, nothing beats exercise when it comes to staying motivated. Getting off the couch and heading to the gym for a workout might feel like an impossible feat in the winter but it can make a huge difference in your mood. The more you engage with your body, the less likely you are to feel stuck in a rut. Exercise releases endorphins, allowing for an improved mood and a newfound feeling of self-worth.

Winter can be harsh and unforgiving. To stay one step ahead of the blues that come from this time of year, remember to motivate yourself in the right ways. Eat foods rich in both Vitamin C and D, exercise regularly, and keep social to make it through the winter in one piece.

 

Joe Palinsky is a full-time writer and theater professional in Philadelphia. He predominantly works with ensemble-based Found Theater Company, where his writing has been featured in numerous productions. Though primarily a ghostwriter, his work has been published in the now-defunct Spirit News and as a guest on Found Theater’s blog.




30
NOV

Is Melatonin Safe For Children Struggling to Sleep?

Filed Under: Baby and Child Health,General Wellness & Wellbeing,Supplements at 9:30 am | By: Guest Blogger
Royalty stock photo of 3 years old girl during daytime.

Article written by Joe Palinsky

Sleep is a luxury that not everyone can afford. Try as they might, there are countless people across the planet who toss and turn in their beds until sunrise. Though this is a common problem in adults, it is also an issue many children experience on a regular basis. If your little ones are unable to sleep through the night, it’s a good idea to consider your options.

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland. It is responsible for helping regulate one’s cycle of sleep. Though the body produces this hormone naturally, melatonin supplements are a common solution for adults who are not sleeping well. While this may seem like a practical idea for an adult, you might be hesitant to offer your children the same answer when they have difficulty catching some shut-eye. To understand whether it is right for your kids, be sure to look over what the experts are saying.

Starting With Dosage

Many drugs and supplemental products are problematic for children to ingest. Though these pills are fine for adults with fully-developed systems, a number of chemicals found in specific pharmaceuticals can inhibit growth in a child. With melatonin, this is the main argument made. Though there are still no concrete findings on whether or not melatonin impacts children in a negative way, medical experts believe it is better to approach this task from the right perspective.

Adults tend to purchase melatonin over the counter from pharmacies or health supplement establishments. This is fine for grown individuals but it can prove trickier for kids. To get the best solution, you need to first visit with your child’s pediatrician. Speaking with a healthcare professional can open you up to all possible solutions to the problem. If the doctor believes melatonin is the answer, then he or she can prescribe a specific dosage that works appropriately. Prescription melatonin comes in smaller dosages, allowing it to work its magic without overloading your child with too much melatonin.

Serious and Simple

Though melatonin is one of a number of solutions available to parents who are trying to get their children to sleep, it is important to take a closer look at when you should avoid using it altogether. When the summer has come to a close and school is around the corner, you might notice that your children are having a difficult time hitting the hay. This could be due to the excitement of the coming school year or nerves about seeing friends for the first time in months.

Situational sleep problems like this tend to come and go. Once your child has gotten back into the swing of the school year, he or she should return to normalcy with sleeping. Short-term sleeping problems usually resolve themselves and are caused by environmental factors that are not always present. When you first notice your child is not sleeping right, do not take immediate action. Allow this to carry on for a few days to see if it persists. If so, you need to contact your child’s doctor to start finding an appropriate solution.

Ultimate Answer

Melatonin is a wonderful option for adults who are struggling with insomnia or other sleep-related ailments. For children, it might be best to examine alternatives first. Take a look at your child’s habits and see what might be causing the sleepless nights. In many cases, diet and exercise can change the way a child falls asleep. According to most experts, children need to be up for around twelve hours each day and need to be physically engaged for at least one hour. Inactive children who do not get outside often might deal with insomnia from not getting out enough.

Sleep is incredibly important to the human mind, body, and spirit. When you’re dealing with children who don’t seem to fall asleep, you might need to take action. Examine your child’s habits and see how long insomnia persists. When you feel like all of your options have been exhausted, visit with your child’s primary care physician and learn more about what melatonin might be able to offer.

 

Joe Palinsky is a full-time writer and theater professional in Philadelphia. He predominantly works with ensemble-based Found Theater Company, where his writing has been featured in numerous productions. Though primarily a ghostwriter, his work has been published in the now-defunct Spirit News and as a guest on Found Theater’s blog.




29
NOV

5 Ways To Keep Moving When It’s Too Cold To Function

Filed Under: Exercise and Fitness,General Wellness & Wellbeing,Mindfulness at 9:31 am | By: Guest Blogger
Legs of two runners outside in winter nature

Article Written by Jessica Thiefels

Staying active in the winter is hard—especially on the coldest days when even getting out of bed is a challenge. Don’t let the winter doldrums keep you from moving your body and working toward new goals and resolutions. Instead, use the following ideas to stay motivated and bring more movement into your day, even when it’s too cold to function.

 

Make Time for Stretching

If you don’t want to go outside, take time to stretch while relaxing in your warm home. Not only will this get your blood flowing, but stretching is critical to maintaining a healthy body:

“Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains and muscle damage,” explain experts at Harvard Health Publishing.

Here are a few stretching routines to try:

You can also browse a full library of stretching videos from Flexy Friday.

 

Try An Active Meditation Flow

Meditation brings mind-body alignment and can help drive away those wintertime blues. However, you don’t have to sit still to reap the benefits. Active meditation is a great way to get moving on the coldest winter days while tuning into yourself and taking some time to relish in silence.

To find an active meditation, search general meditation apps like Insight Timer. If you want something more structured, check out this series from Cody. Each video has a different focus, allowing you enjoy a well-rounded practice with guidance.

 

Do An At-Home Workout

Even a small amount of space can be enough for a great at-home workout, you just have to know how to use it. Instead of ruling it out altogether, take a look at some of these great at-home workout platforms and find the ones that work best for your home.

In many cases, the best workout for a small space will be strength-based (opposed to plyometric or cardio); this is especially true if:

  • You live above someone to avoid stomping.
  • You have a lot of things that can fall off shelves.
  • You have minimal space to move and most exercises need to be done in one place.

 

Take a Lunch Walk

If you work in a big building, lunch is your chance to burn some calories while staying warm—especially if you bring your afternoon coffee along for the ride. To get more out of your walk, take the stairs whenever possible and add exercises to the mix, including walking lunges, squats, wall pushups and calf raises.

If you don’t have a large building, it’s time to bundle up and get outside. To motivate yourself to get moving, invest in some new winter gear. Just like buying new gym clothes as motivation, investing in new winter apparel may be just what you need to get you outside for a short jaunt.

 

Find Ways to Boost Accountability

The best way to keep moving when it’s too cold to function is to get someone or something to hold you accountable! When the morning alarm goes off, the sun isn’t up yet and your bed is warm and cozy, the motivation to get up and head to the gym is nearly non-existent. Especially when you’re the only one making these decisions.

That’s where accountability tricks come in handy; when you’ve already paid for a class or your gym partner will be waiting outside in 10 minutes, you’re less likely to bail. Here are a few ways to take your accountability up a notch:

  • Find a workout partner.
  • Sign up for classes ahead of time; if you don’t go, you’re wasting money.
  • Try one of the following apps: DietBet, Pact, or Healthy Wage.
  • Reward yourself with weekly treats: a massage, a night out with friends, an extra glass of wine at dinner or a new outfit.

 

Stay Warm and Fit

Use these simple tips to stay fit and healthy, despite the cold. With a little extra accountability, extra stretching and at-home workouts, you’ll fit it all in while staying warm and strong all season long!

 

Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a full-time writer, ACE Certified Personal Trainer and NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition specialist. She’s also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Honest Body Fitness, an online health magazine for women who are fed up with being told how to look and how to get there, yet still don’t feel like enough. She’s written for Shape, Reader’s Digest, AARP, Snap Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and more. Follow her on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for health articles, workouts tips and more.




6
NOV

Add These 6 Things to Your Evening Ritual for Better Sleep

Filed Under: Aromatherapy,General Wellness & Wellbeing,Teas at 6:00 pm | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
Cropped picture of a woman sitting on a bed with favourite tea and holding a mug of tea

Unfortunately, many people have a difficult time sleeping well these days. Stress, busy schedules, and hectic lifestyles often lead to difficulties falling asleep and sleeping throughout the night. Evening rituals or bedtime routines can be an excellent way to improve your overall sleep. The purpose of these activities is to relax and de-stress your mind and body, helping you calm down, sleep longer and better. Let’s look at 6 things you can add to your evening ritual for better sleep.

1. Magnesium Supplement

Magnesium is well known for its ability to improve sleep and reduce insomnia. Studies have suggested that this mineral helps decrease cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, which keeps you up at night. Magnesium also promotes muscle relaxation and can help mood disorders.

2. Herbal Teas

Some herbal teas contain relaxing agents that can help sooth your nerves, improve blood flow, and make you feel more relaxed. The best herbal teas for sleep include chamomile, valerian, lavender, peppermint, and passion flower.

3. Taking a Bath

A hot bath is one of the best ways to promote relaxation. Immersion in warm/hot water is known to be extremely therapeutic and can significantly help relax your mind and soul after a stressful day.

4. Cooler Bedroom

Turn down the thermostat in your bedroom to improve the quality of your sleep. The National Sleep foundation recommends that the room temperature should be kept around 65 degrees in order to keep you cooler and prevent restless nights from feeling too hot.

5. Use an EO Diffuser

An essential oil diffuser can help improve your sleep as these essential oils have soothing and relaxing aroma therapeutic properties. Look for valerian, lavender, chamomile, cedarwood, vetiver, frankincense, geranium, patchouli, ylang, and bergamot.

6. Stretch

Stretching is another great way to promote relaxation and improve overall sleep. Stretch for a few minutes to reduce stiff joints and cramping muscles as well as to prevent injuries and reduce built-up tension and stress.




1
NOV

5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues (According to Science)

Filed Under: Ask The ND,General Wellness & Wellbeing,Mindfulness at 4:58 pm | By: Dr. Jeremy Wolf, ND & Lead Wellness Advisor
Young Caucasian woman looking in the window in winter

Bears aren’t the only ones who “hibernate” in the wintertime! As the days get colder & we’re less exposed to sunlight, it’s common to experience the “winter blues.” You may feel a lack of energy, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, changes in your appetite & an overall lack of motivation.

While these are all normal responses to less sunlight, some might experience these symptoms on a more extreme level through Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of major depression, bipolar I or II disorder that displays a pattern that recurs with the seasons. Those more at risk for developing SAD are women, those living far from the equator or people who have a family history of depression.

If you’re feeling the blues this winter, try working these tips into your wellness regime to help feel better naturally!

1. Light therapy or Bright Light Therapy (BLT)

If you have a hard time filling your space with natural light, consider using a light therapy box. They emit full spectrum light similar to the sun & are best used for 20-60 minutes a day, first thing in the morning. While you may feel the benefits in a few days, it’s important to use consistently to prevent symptoms from returning. Although safe, side effects can occur from light therapy (generally less severe than prescription medications) so always use under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

2. Exercise & meditation

You’ve been told countless times about the importance of exercise, but the endorphins released during your workouts are especially effective at improving your mood. You can also incorporate meditation & yoga into your routine to better manage stress and depression.

3. Nourish your body with whole foods

While sweets might seem like the answer to all life’s struggles, know that the “happiness effect” you might perceive is only temporary. Ultimately, spiking your blood sugar levels will cause inflammation & leave you feeling worse, so nourish your body with whole foods like leafy greens & antioxidant-rich fruits.

4. Get enough Vitamin D

Many people suffering from winter blues have deficient levels of Vitamin D. Have your doctor check your vitamin D levels & add a supplement to your diet if you’re lacking. Even though it’s cold, taking a quick walk outside in the sunlight during the day can help you feel better.

5. Socialize & connect with others

You’re probably not the only one who feels down in the wintertime, so talk to family & friends about the way you’re feeling. The act of sharing your feelings alone might help you feel better! If your symptoms worsen & interfere with your daily life, be sure to reach out to a professional for help.

While the gloom and gray of winter might leave you longing for the summer sun, don’t let it stop you from being active and socializing with friends! Take advantage of what every season has to offer and approach it with a positive attitude.




23
SEP

How to Brew Your Own Kombucha

Filed Under: Ask The ND,Detoxification and Cleansing,General Wellness & Wellbeing,Recipes at 9:12 am | By: Dr. Jeremy Wolf, ND & Lead Wellness Advisor
Homemade Fermented Raw Kombucha Tea Ready to Drink

You’ve seen Kombucha lining health store aisles, maybe mispronounced it a few times and probably tried it at least once…but what exactly is it and why is it so popular? Kombucha (Kom-booch-uh) is a fermented tea that originated in Northeast China around 220 B.C. and was revered for its health-boosting and gut-healing properties. It’s made by mixing black tea (or green tea) and sugar, then fermenting the blend into a fizzy, probiotic-packed wellness drink. Fermentation, by definition, is the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts or other microorganisms.

For Kombucha, fermentation happens through “SCOBY”—an acronym for a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. The SCOBY is part of the brewing process and a new layer of SCOBY will grow on the surface of the original used to begin the brew. For your first batch, you need to purchase a SCOBY from a reputable source. Once added to the tea-sugar blend, SCOBY breaks down most of the sugar in the mixture. The batch is left to ferment for 1-2 weeks and is then transferred to bottles where it sits for another 1-2 weeks to encourage carbonation. During bottling, different flavors are infused to create a refreshing, bubbly, health beverage. Kombucha is popular because it combines the health benefits of tea with those of probiotics and healthy bacteria!

Health Benefits of Kombucha

  1. Packed with antioxidants, enzymes and organic acids such as acetic, caprylic and more
  2. Contains B-Vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, B5, B12
  3. May reduce heart disease risk
  4. Improves digestion and supports a healthy gut
  5. Promotes detoxification
  6. May have immune system boosting & antiviral properties
  7. Antioxidants in Kombucha may help protect the liver

 

Recipe For Brewing Kombucha

 

Ingredients:
*This recipe makes 1 gallon

  • Active SCOBY
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 96 oz. of water
  • 6 bags (12 g) black or green tea
  • Pot, mason jars, 1 gallon glass fermentation vessel/jar, wooden spoons, mesh tea ball (if using loose leaf tea)
  • Thermometer strips
  • pH test strips
  • Organic cotton cloth cover
  • Rubber bands
  • Herbs, spices, fruits or flavoring of your choice (optional)

Brewing Instructions

  1. Clean all surfaces, utensils, pots, jars & hands with soap & water—leaving no residue behind. Always use glass vessels and wooden or plastic utensils.
  2. Bring ¼ gallon of filtered water to a boil.
  3. While the water is heating, prepare your tea. If you are using loose leaf tea you will need a mesh tea ball. The tea for this step should be simple & unflavored. Earl Grey and other flavored teas are not recommended.
  4. Once the water has reached a boil, steep six tea bags (12 grams) of black or green tea in hot water for 20 minutes, mixing frequently. Make sure to do this step in a pot that can withstand high temperatures.
  5. Remove the tea bags and stir 1 cup of sugar into the pot. Mix this for a couple of minutes to help the sugar dissolve.
  6. Pour your mixture into your 1 gallon, glass fermentation jar.
  7. Fill the jar with 8 cups of cold, filtered water.
  8. Use your thermometer to ensure the temperature reads between 68-84 degrees F before adding your SCOBY or Kombucha culture.
  9. Once the temperature is right, add your culture to the mixture.
  10. Cover your fermentation jar with an organic cotton cover and seal it with a rubber band.
  11. Place your mixture in a warm place out of direct sunlight & with plenty of airflow (not in a closed cupboard). The best temperature for this process is between 72 and 80 degrees F. Make sure to check the temperature gauge frequently & adjust locations as needed.
  12. After a couple of days you will begin to notice a cream-colored layer growing on top of your brew. This is your new culture! Your batch should be ready in about 9-14 days depending on the temperature, water quality & your taste preference. Cool temperatures slow fermentation while warm temperatures speed it up. The typical fermentation period is about 7-10 days.
  13. If your batch is too sweet, put the cloth back on and let it brew a few more days. If it is too tart you can sweeten during the bottling process.
  14. After you have made your Kombucha, it’s time to bottle it!

Bottling & “Second Fermentation”

  1. Remove the SCOBY & place into a glass or porcelain container. Pour some of the Kombucha liquid on top, enough to cover your SCOBY. This will be the starter liquid for your next batch and keeps the SCOBY fresh.
  2. Add your brew to a 32 oz. glass bottle with a tight-fitting lid. Your brew may contain brown blobs, strands, or debris after removing the SCOBY & that it is perfectly fine! It’s just parts leftover from the mother SCOBY. If you don’t like the blobs, you can use a strainer if when pouring your Kombucha into the bottle.
  3. It’s best to leave an inch or less of air at the top of the bottle. This should allow for the appropriate amount of carbonation.
  4. You can use crushed leaves of fresh herbs, ground or whole spices, fruit purees, veggie juices & host of other options to flavor your brew. Add the individual flavors directly into your Kombucha bottle and cap. If your lid is metal, be sure to place plastic wrap in between the lid & your Kombucha.
  5. If you are looking for a carbonated beverage, let the sealed bottle continue to ferment at room temperature for 3-7 days. Then put the mixture into the fridge & enjoy. If you don’t like fizzy drinks or carbonation, you can just put the flavored bottle straight into the fridge after bottling. You can strain out the fruits, herbs etc. after if preferred.

Some Cautions…

  • Always use caution when brewing your own Kombucha & be careful about fermenting it too long.
  • Never touch the Kombucha or SCOBY with metal as it may kill it.
  • Look out for mold! Brown, clear and cream are acceptable colors for your SCOBY. Black, green, blue or white, fuzzy mold & dark, round spots should never be present. If you see any of those make sure to throw the culture and brew away.
  • If you ever have any reserves about your Kombucha, reach out to someone for help. You should also check the pH of your Kombucha using test strips to make sure it’s between 2.5-3.5—the ideal range for Kombucha.

Other Tips

  • If you are brewing for the first time & nervous about making your own Kombucha, there are an assortment of kits you can purchase which provide you with everything you need to brew your own. They also come with easy-to-follow instructions that make the process very enjoyable!
  • It’s recommended to start with a little Kombucha a day & gradually work your way up to drinking more. Stick with about 8 oz. per day or less, especially in the beginning.
  • If you are pregnant, breast feeding or have underlying health conditions, make sure to check with your health care provider before trying Kombucha.
  • Kombucha is brewed using black tea and sugar which, when fermented, turns into alcohol in very small amounts. However, only about 1% of Kombucha is believed to be alcohol.




12
SEP

Are Your Fitness Supplements “Clean?” Here’s How To Tell

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Supplements at 3:00 pm | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
Whey protein powder in scoop with vitamins and plastic shaker on wooden background

Finding a good supplement can be difficult. With so many different products and brands available, one might find it complicated to choose the right one. Plus, recent reports on supplements are making this task even more difficult.

According to the World Health Organization, a variety of supplements available in a number of retailers including large, national chains do not contain the ingredients listed on their labels.  In other words, some products, particularly fitness supplements, are fake and contain phony ingredients. This adulteration of herbal products is a threat to consumer safety as these supplements may be contaminated or substituted with alternative plant species and fillers that are not listed on the labels.

So, how can you tell if your fitness supplements are unhealthy? How can a regular customer check if the product they are buying contain additives, unhealthy fillers, or harmful ingredients?

Checking for verification labels should be the first thing to do. Look for the USP certification label which ensures that the product has been tested and looked at by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, which verifies that the listed ingredients do indeed exist, and that there is no contamination. Plus, a NSF label is a certification that the product is what it claims to be.

Additionally, find a brand known and certified for good practices. A lot of top-quality brands embrace DNA barcoding for authenticating herbal products through testing of raw materials used in the manufacturing of the products.

Lastly, avoid cheap, conventional brands sold at large chain stores as those seem to be the most “fishy” when it comes to providing consumers with safe, high quality herbal products.




6
SEP

5 Signs You Should Start Taking a Multivitamin

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Vitamins and Minerals at 4:00 pm | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
bottle pouring pills on a male's hand

A multivitamin is one of the best supplements anyone can take on a regular basis. These products contain all the essential vitamins plus important minerals to maintain good health. Plus, some multis add a few extra ingredients such as omegas and herbs that can maximize results, offering an even more complete product. If you are still unsure, let’s talk about 5 signs you should start taking a multivitamin.

1. Deficiency Symptoms

If you take a blood test and the results show that you are deficient in a certain nutrient, a multivitamin is the best way to restore optimal levels. Some vitamins and minerals are extremely important for good health. For example, vitamin D and vitamin B deficiency can significantly affect your body as well as the lack of some minerals such as iron and calcium.

2. Feeling Tired

If you are always feeling tired or have had a lot of stress for a long time, a multivitamin can help you tremendously. Multivitamins contain every B vitamin which can promote a boost in energy levels as well as a decrease in anxiety and stress, which burns these nutrients quickly.

3. Often Sick

If you are often sick, seem to catch a cold every single month, or spend most of the winter battling the flu and cold, an uptake in vitamins should help you. Multivitamins help boost immunity as they contain vitamin C, a strong antioxidant known to enhance the immune system, as well as vitamin E, which can help reduce allergy symptoms.

4. Poor Diet

If you are unable to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet, a multivitamin can minimize the damage. Of course eating a good diet is ideal but for those who don’t eat many fruits and vegetables, these supplements can at least provide the minimum required amount of vitamins and minerals to cover off nutrients you are not getting from food and keep you in better shape.

5. Chronic Illness

If you have been diagnosed with an illness of any kind, a multivitamin will likely to be recommended by your health caretaker. Inadequate levels of some vitamins can lead to chronic illness and when you are battling disease, your body needs the most nutrients possible to get you back to full health.




29
AUG

What Exactly Is Oil Pulling & Is It Worth A Try?

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Personal Care at 2:52 pm | By: Madeline Reiss
Coconut oil, milk, dried shavings, nut, towel, skincare ingredients. Top view white wooden background.

Whether oil pulling is a staple in your morning routine or the mere thought of swishing oil for 20 minutes makes you gag, this ancient, Ayurvedic technique is buzzing in the wellness community. So what exactly is oil pulling? It’s taking roughly a tablespoon or two of oil (traditionally sesame, sunflower or coconut) and swishing it in your mouth for up to 20 minutes prior to brushing your teeth. Many seemingly miraculous health claims have been touted about the practice, such as its ability to draw out toxins from your body, relieve TMJ symptoms, help digestion, prevent heart disease, whiten teeth, increase energy…the list goes on.

While there is a lot of anecdotal-based support for this remedy, the problem with oil pulling is that there is little scientific evidence to back up the claims—as there are only a handful of studies completed on the topic. It’s great to stay in-the-know when it comes to health and wellness, but it’s always important to do your research and make an informed decision with the help of a doctor before jumping on trends.

What oil pulling could do for your health

Studies show that a decrease in plaque and gingivitis symptoms can be noticed after 7 days of oil pulling, but naturally, these results will vary from person to person. Many have reported whiter teeth and sensitivity relief as the common and most noticeable effects of using this remedy daily.

Oil pulling is a great substitute for conventional mouthwash because it can eliminate bad bacteria without taking the good bacteria along with it. Still looking for a minty-fresh feeling after you brush? Add a drop of peppermint to the coconut oil promote better breath.

What oil pulling probably won’t do for you

While there are some apparent benefits of oil pulling, the jury is still out on its other supposed health benefits. There is no scientifically confirmed evidence that it can pull toxins from your body, balance hormones, prevent heart disease, etc. For now, we have only the testimonies of oil pulling advocates as we await new scientific studies to test this ancient, natural remedy.

It’s extremely important to remember that oil pulling is NOT a substitute for flossing or brushing. Like mentioned above, it can be a more holistic alternative to mouthwash, but nothing replaces the mechanical actions of brushing and flossing.

So…is it worth a try?

For now, it seems like the best way to find out if oil pulling will work for you is to try it! Most dentist’s philosophy seems to be “there’s no real risk so give it a try if you enjoy it,” just remember to NOT neglect your regular flossing and brushing. Another warning is to be very careful not to inhale oil down the wrong pipe, as it can cause lipoid pneumonia if it gets into the lungs.

Personally, I’ve used coconut oil for my sensitive teeth and it’s been helpful at providing some pain relief. My teeth seem whiter, but I’ve also stepped up my overall dental care routine, so that could have (obviously) played a role in that! In addition to sensitive pain relief, I prefer oil to mouthwash as it does leave a fresh feeling without the harmful chemicals and lingering aftertaste.

How To Oil Pull

If you think oil pulling can benefit you, here are a few tips to get started:

  1. Oil pull first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking or even brushing your teeth
  2. Swish 1-2 tablespoons for 10-20 minutes. You can start with a short amount of time to build up your tolerance.
  3. Spit out into a trash can, never your sink! It can clog drains.
  4. Brush your teeth and floss as normal after. You can oil pull a few times a week or every day if you want!

Like many natural remedies, it will take some time and regular practice before you see results. Are you an oil pulling advocate or not? Let us know why below!

 




4
AUG

How To Practice Mindfulness

Filed Under: Ask The ND,General Wellness & Wellbeing,Mental Wellbeing,Mindfulness at 11:30 am | By: Dr. Jeremy Wolf, ND & Lead Wellness Advisor
Hands of young beautiful woman practicing yoga at home

We have all caught ourselves worrying about our busy lives. Wake up, make breakfast, pack lunch, get the kids off to school, go to work, finish the big project at work, pick the kids up from school, take one kid to music lessons and another to practice, make dinner, do the laundry…the list goes on. Whatever fills your day, thinking about the exhaustive list of tasks and chores is likely to cause stress and anxiety, which can lead to health issues. What if we stopped worrying about everything that needs to get done and instead focused our attention on the present moment? The moment we’re actively experiencing. This is mindfulness: being present in your everyday life.

Practicing mindfulness means paying attention to your experiences, both physical and mental, and not judging them. This means instead of rejecting a feeling because it is “bad” or “good,” you learn to cope with it by not labeling it. For example, maybe you are working on a big project at work and you start to feel your heart racing as you realize the deadline is approaching. In mindfulness, you acknowledge the fact that your heart is racing, but don’t judge the feeling. Just acknowledge it’s there and accept it. While mindfulness is most often associated with meditation, the two don’t have to coexist. The best thing about incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine is that you can do it anywhere!

Benefits to consider of mindfulness: 

  • May help reduce anxiety and depression
  • Improves focus and cognition
  • Enhances emotional regulation and control
  • Helps promote stress reduction while allowing the brain to become more adaptive to stressful or negative situations.
  • Lower stress levels are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, improved immune function, lower blood sugar levels and reduced risk of early mortality.
  • Enhanced self-insight, morality, intuition and the ability to modulate fear.
  • May help improve sleep and reduce insomnia
  • People who practice mindfulness report more positive moods
  • May help reduce pain

What’s the difference between mindfulness and meditation?

  • There is a lot of overlap between mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness is specifically the awareness of what is going on that present moment. It can be both a formal or informal practice. For instance, mindfulness is stopping to breathe when the phone rings versus rushing to immediately answer it. Just because you are mindful of your experiences does not mean you are meditating. Just as there are many forms of meditations, there are many ways to define the practice as well.
  • Meditation is the formal practice that encourages relaxation and attaining a state of consciousness different from your normal, waking state. One of the most common forms of meditation is mindfulness meditation. In mindfulness meditation, you set aside time to intentionally pay attention to whatever is happening in the moment, bringing awareness to your breath, body and mind without judging any thoughts that come and pass.

Ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life

We all live busy lives. Being mindful doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stop what you are doing to meditate. Here some ways to bring attention to your daily routines:

  1. Eating: Focus your attention on your meal. Invoke all your senses. How does the food smell? What is the taste and texture? What does it look like? Take note of all the colors on the plate. Be present at the meal without watching TV or scrolling through your phone.
  2. Walking: Mindful walking means being aware of every step you take. Take note to how your feet strike the ground and your specific, heal-to-toe rhythm. Notice the muscles in the legs and how your hips move. Is there any discomfort? If so that’s OK, remember not to judge! Take note to your breath, every inhale and exhale. Bring attention to your surroundings.
  1. Mindfulness meditation (the body scan): There are plenty of ways to meditate. One of my favorites is the body scan. The core of almost any meditation is the breath, so start your focus there, noticing the rise and fall of your stomach and the change in temperature from inhale to exhale. As you relax, bring focus to your head. Note any sensations on the top of your head, maybe there is tension in your scalp or you feel a draft. After a few minutes, shift your focus to your face, then neck, shoulders, arms, chest etc. until you have reached your feet. Always remember your mind is allowed to wander. If you have a thought pop up, simply acknowledge it without judgment and recognize that your mind has wandered off, and then return to your awareness back to your breath or scan. Start with a couple of minutes each day and increase over time.
  2. Showering: The shower is a perfect time to relax and forget about past and future events to focus on the now. As you stand in the shower, take note the temperature of the water, how does the water feel as it hits your body? Be mindful of the smell of your shower gel, soap or shampoo, the feeling of your hand or wash cloth passing through your hair or over your skin. Listen to the sound the water makes as it hits the shower floor. Take note to any thoughts that come up while you’re in the shower—remembering the importance of not passing judgment on them. Lastly, notice the feeling of the towel as you dry yourself off.
  3. Teeth brushing: Become mindful of the taste and texture of your toothpaste, the sensation in your arms as they go from side to side. Take note of the pressure of your feet on the surface of the bathroom floor.

In the digital world we live in, there are many apps that can help you incorporate mindfulness into your day. Just like anything else we do, learning mindfulness takes practice. Take some time today to be mindful and see how it can improve your day!




5
JUN

6 Items To Always Bring On A Hike

flatlay top hiking with shirt hiking shoes and wristwatch

I’ve been hiking for a few years now and I still ALWAYS manage to forget (at least) one essential item when packing. Hoping you can learn from my mistakes, below are six things I always double and triple check before heading on an outdoor adventure!

1. Water
This may sound obvious, but often water is easily overlooked. No matter how long or how far you’re hiking, water is a “must-not-forget” item. Opt for a reusable water bottle that’s light weight & can fit comfortably in your backpack. Refill at a ranger station if necessary, or along the trail if the water sources are clean and your bottle has a filter. This also minimizes the amount of plastic waste you could potentially leave behind with on-time-use bottles.

2. Food storage
If you’re planning to have lunch at the overlook, you’ll need something to carry it in! Bringing a food container with a packed lunch is an excellent solution. It saves money to bring your own food and cuts down on packaging waste from convenience store lunches (another win for the environment!).

3. Trash bags
Since you will most likely need some snacks to keep you fueled for the day, have a plan to store the trash and wrappers from any protein bars, jerky and other trail snacks. As the biggest rule of thumb in regards to nature goes: take nothing with you and leave nothing behind. Make sure you bring along something to collect your trash!

4. Natural bug spray
When exploring a new trail, it’s hard to predict what the bug situation will be like. Bugs are not only annoying, but can carry diseases, so it’s a good idea to slip bug spray in your pack. Make sure it’s natural so as not to expose your skin or the environment to harsh chemicals!

5. First Aid
You never know what can happen outdoors, so always be prepared for even the most minor cuts and bruises. I don’t wear my hiking shoes often, so I know from experience it is the WORST when your shoes start to give you blisters. Because of this, I always have extra band-aids or some moleskin on hand.

6 Sunscreen!
Hiking can often include large portions of uncovered trail, so don’t get caught without sun protection! Same as with your bug spray, make sure to opt for something natural to protect your skin and water-resistant to prevent it from running in your eyes.

What are some of your hiking/outdoor adventuring essentials? Let us know in the comments!




10
MAY

4 Ways Owning a Pet can Improve Your Health

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Pet Care at 9:39 am | By: Jessica Justh, Senior Editor
pets

There are few joys in life that are comparable with providing a safe and loving environment for a homeless or unwanted animal. Local and national agencies like the ASPCA and petfinder.com are great resources for locating shelters that can help match you with your ideal companion. And don’t forget — by saving their life, you’re also greatly improving yours, too. Here’s a few ways how…

1. Blood Pressure
Research from SUNY has shown that the stress responses of dog and cat owners who’ve been prescribed blood pressure medication is roughly half that of non-pet owners.

2. Anxiety
This is a no-brainer. It’s widely accepted that our cute and cuddly companions can help alleviate depression, anxiety and other mood issues. The simple act of touching or petting an animal has proven therapeutic qualities and is a simple and enjoyable way to lift your spirits (and theirs!).

3. Heart Health
Australian National Heart Foundation revealed that people who own pets, especially men, tend to have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Also, devoting daily quality “outside time” with your pet is another easy way to build up cardiovascular health

4. Reduce Allergy Risk
Forget the Claritin – owning and being exposed to pets at a young age is one of the greatest factors in helping live an allergy-free life. In research conducted on young adults, those who had a pet in their home during infancy were approximately 50% less likely to develop an allergic reaction to animals.




5
MAY

Vitamin D: Sunshine versus Supplements

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Health Concerns & Ailments,Vitamins and Minerals at 12:01 am | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
Sunny days have arrived marking the beginning of vitamin D season. As people start spending more time outdoors, vitamin D production increases and people can enjoy all the health benefits this important vitamin has to offer.

Vitamin D promotes healthy bones, largely by increasing the absorption of calcium, and can reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It can also prevent type 1 diabetes, improve heart health, reduce muscle and bone pain, and even help prevent serious issues such as cancer.

The sun and supplements are the most common sources for vitamin D as food does not contain much of it, except for fortified products such as milk, dairy products and breakfast cereals. The sun is the most natural way to obtain vitamin D and it’s impossible to overdose D intake from sunlight as the body regulates production, stopping when reaching healthy levels. However, the sun can be dangerous if you are overexposed to its rays, but in limited quantities, it’s a great way to get your daily dose of vitamin D.

You may be in the sun for 5 to 30 minutes between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at least twice a week without sunscreen, making sure to expose your skin to the sun. Some factors should be considered as they may significantly reduce D production. Cloud coverage, pollution, and your location (distance from the equator) can all affect how much vitamin D your skin can produce under sunlight.

If you are unable to get sun on a daily basis, vitamin D supplements are the way to go. Vitamin D3 cholecalciferol is highly recommended over than ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) as recent research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that vitamin D2 is less potent than vitamin D3.

Perhaps the best way to obtain vitamin D is alternating sun exposure, whenever possible and without risking sun burns, with vitamin D supplements, the best option for rainy days, people with busy schedules or sensitive skin.