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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.




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.




26
APR

Battling Spring Allergies

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Health Concerns & Ailments,Supplements at 12:01 am | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
Spring is a beautiful, colorful and happy season but for some people is the time of the year to battle allergies. The biggest spring allergy trigger is pollen. Trees are known to cause spring allergies as the pollen produced by them can traveled far by the spring breeze. Some types of trees are common triggers of hay fever in spring such as oak, maple, red cedar, elm, birch, cypress, and walnut, among others.  Grass and weed also release tiny grains into the air and can cause allergic reactions. The most common symptoms of spring allergies are sneezing, sniffling, congestion, and itching.

You’ll get some relief from spring allergy symptoms on rainy or cloudy days, or when there’s no wind to make the pollen airborne. However, when the weather is warm and dry (just like most people want), and especially when the wind picks up, allergies are likely to become worse.

The immune system mistakenly sees the pollen as a danger and releases antibodies that attack the allergens. That leads to the release of chemicals called histamines into the blood. Histamines trigger the runny nose, itchy eyes, and other symptoms that are all too familiar if you have allergies.

Getting relief from spring allergies is actually quite simple. Just keep your doors and windows closed, use allergy filters on your air conditioning unit, wash your clothes and take a shower after you’ve been exposed to pollen and mold spores. You may also avoid doing yard work or exercising outdoors on days when pollen counts are high, such as sunny and breezy days.




25
APR

8 Morning Habits To Boost Productivity All Day

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Mental Wellbeing,Mindfulness at 10:58 am | By: Madeline Reiss
Rearview shot of a young woman stretching on the edge of her bedhttp://195.154.178.81/DATA/i_collage/pi/shoots/783596.jpg

How many times have you gone to bed determined to wake up, early only to hit “snooze” five times before finally getting up and bolting out the door? I am far from an “up-with-the-sun” kind of person, but getting in the practice of rising earlier gave me more time to clear the morning brain fog and get energized for a productive day.

Here are my 8 tips for creating and actually sticking to a morning routine that enhances your mood and focus all day long!

1. Define your “why”
Why are you getting up so early? Defining your purpose is key to finding motivation to get out from under the covers. Maybe you want to clean your room, squeeze in a run or yoga session, or work on the novel you always wanted to write. Whatever your motive, write it down, set a phone reminder and make it a priority so you don’t have to think when the alarm sounds!

2. Set yourself up for success
When you’re half-awake, pressed for time and willpower is low, limiting your morning tasks and responsibilities the night before is helpful. While this seems like a no-brainer, actually making sure our clothes are laid out, lunch is packed, dishes are done and the laundry is folded before hitting the pillow is easier said than done.

3. Write something 
Setting aside time to put pen to paper in the morning is the equivalent of a cup of coffee for a creative brain. Believe it or not, creativity peaks in the morning while the analytical side of our mind is still snoozing, allowing for a free flow of thoughts and ideas. Even if you’re job doesn’t demand a ton of creative thinking, giving your brain an early workout will allow you to hit the ground running once you’re at your desk.

4. Create an energizing environment
My favorite part about mornings is waking up and feeling happy in my space and connected with myself. I light a few candles or throw on my diffuser to gently wake up my senses and soak in the aromatherapy benefits. Make your space one that’s clear of clutter and distractions so you can wake up feeling stress-free. Try opening the curtains for some natural light or listening to a podcast or upbeat music while you get ready. Fill your environment with the good vibes you want to exude all day long!

5. If you can’t work out, stretch out
Exercising first thing is a great way to boost energy levels all day long, but if you’re not morning workout person, don’t sweat it (pun intended)! Instead, block out some time (preferably right after you wake up) to stretch out and get your blood flowing. The American Council on Exercise says stretching in the morning can reduce aches, pains and lead to greater amounts of energy and focus throughout the day.

6. Take your time with your coffee 
In many cultures, the morning cup is a daily ritual meant to be savored and enjoyed. Don’t settle for blah tasting coffee or tea that’s just a shortcut to caffeine. Pour a cup of superfood spiked coffee to start your day with some essential fats and nutrients as well as a healthy jolt. If tea is more your style, try savoring earthy, herbal teas in the morning to stimulate your senses and help feel more grounded. You’ll be amazed at how the simple luxury of a good morning cup can enhance your mood all day.

7. Break from the screens & set intentions
When you jump right into e-mails, news updates and Facebook over breakfast, it can be over-stimulating and your morning time shifts to the needs of others. I like to silence my phone and set my own personal intentions for the day. I use this time to create to-do lists and write out my goals for the day and week. Taking the time each day to focus on yourself and your tasks puts you in an organized, productive mindset early, and visualizing your goals keeps your days filled with purpose!

8. Reward yourself!
Have one part of your routine that you absolutely love and look forward to each day. For me, sitting down to a podcast over my morning cup of tea and bone broth collagen smoothie is my reward for getting up early and giving myself extra time to settle into the day. Maybe you make time to read, make a tasty breakfast or stop for a good cup of coffee on your way to work. Saving time for little indulgences will boost your mood for the day and create an incentive to do it all again tomorrow!

Remember to keep your morning goals realistic and flexible. While you should hold yourself accountable to sticking to a routine, be patient with yourself and treat it like a practice: it’s okay if you miss a day so long as you get back to it tomorrow!

What are your favorite morning routines and rituals? Let’s talk about it in the comments!




17
APR

How To Choose A Folate Supplement

Filed Under: Ask The ND,General Wellness & Wellbeing,Supplements,Vitamins and Minerals at 10:16 am | By: Dr. Jeremy Wolf, ND
Yellow pills forming shape to B9 alphabet on wood background

Introduction

While shopping for supplements or simply browsing your local grocery store, you may come across the words “folate” or “folic acid.” What are folate and folic acid, and do you know the difference between the two? Folate is the general term that refers to both natural folates found in food and folic acid—the synthetic, man-made form—used in supplements and fortified foods. Also known as Vitamin B-9, folate is a water-soluble vitamin that belongs to the B-Vitamin complex. Our bodies do not make folate so we must get it from the foods we eat or the supplements we take. So what is the best way to get folate? Should we be taking folate or folic acid or both? Read on to find out all the answers to these questions and more!

 

Benefits of folate

  • Detoxification
  • Supports mental health
  • Metabolizes amino acids.
  • Helps form red and white blood cells and platelets
  • Aids neurotransmitter production
  • Reduces the risk of neural tube defects during pregnancy
  • Assists in methylation—a process responsible for a number of functions in the body.

 

Where to find folate in food

  • Beans: lentils, lima beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas and chickpeas
  • Green Leafy Veggies: asparagus, broccoli, okra, brussel sprouts and spinach
  • Juices: orange and tomato juice.
  • Fortified Foods: spaghetti, cereals, white rice, and bread.

 

How much folate should you take?

  • The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for folate from the food you eat and the supplements you take in micrograms/day are as follows:
Life Stage Age Males (mcg/day) Females (mcg/day)
Infants 0-6 months 65 65
Infants 7-12 months 80 80
Children 1-3 years 150 150
Children 4-8 years 200 200
Children 9-13 years 300 300
Adolescents 14-18 years 400 400
Adults 19 years and older 400 400
Pregnancy All ages 600
Breast-feeding All ages 500

 

What’s in your folate supplements?

Synthetic Forms

  • Folic Acid: A man-made form of folate not found naturally in foods. Though the body absorbs it well, it does not get used to its full potential. For maximum potency, folic acid needs to be absorbed and then transported through our blood via proteins to a receptor that allows it to enter our cells. Once inside the cell, folic acid needs to be converted to its active form to reap all the benefits mentioned above. Too much folic acid that isn’t utilized has the potential to block the natural form from getting into the cells.

Natural Forms

  • Folinic Acid: A natural form of folate that is readily converted by the body into its active form. Plays a role in DNA-based productions.
  • Methylfolate: This has a variety of names including L-5-Methylfolate, L-Methylfolate, Methylfolate, 5-MTHF and others. Like folinic acid, this a natural form of folate that can be readily used by the body. Methylfolate supports methylation—a process responsible for turning your genes on and off, building neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine), building immune cells, energy production, preventing hormone imbalances, managing your stress response and a host of other functions.  

Folate and pregnancy

Folate deficiencies during pregnancy have been associated with abnormalities in both the mother and baby, so adequate folate intake is necessary for healthy growth and development, especially of the neural tube where the brain and spinal cord form. Folate helps decrease the risk of neural tube defects in the fetus and may help prevent anemia and peripheral neuropathy in the expecting mom. Because the neural tube develops very early on in pregnancy, it’s important to make sure you start taking folate supplements before you even start trying to conceive. On top of neural tube defects, folate during pregnancy appears to also be beneficial in the prevention of congenital heart disease and oral clefts such as cleft lip and cleft palate. 

Important tips about folate

  • A deficiency in folate may increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • The symptoms of folate deficiency are very subtle. You may see signs of Anemia, which can occur due to folate deficiency. Anemia may present as pale skin, shortness of breath, persistent fatigue, weakness and lethargy.
  • Folate works in conjunction with B12. So if you believe you are deficient in either, taking them together may bring better results.
  • Extensive cooking may destroy 50-95% of the folate in food.
  • New research has shown that some individuals may have antibodies that can either bind or block the folate receptor, which prevents folate from entering the cell.
  • Certain health conditions such as alcoholism or inflammatory bowel diseases can cause a folate deficiency.

*Disclaimer* There is a lot to understand about the different forms of folate and how they work in the body. Make sure to speak with your health care provider before starting a folate or any other supplements, as side effects and interactions may occur!




29
MAR

Your Complete Spring Cleaning Checklist

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Home,Natural Cleaning Aids at 9:40 am | By: Madeline Reiss
Beautiful young woman makes cleaning the house. Girl rubs dust.

Bright, airy, living spaces aren’t exclusive to Pinterest boards and lifestyle blogs. Like most of you, I found motivation to refresh my space with warmer weather on the radar. Looking around my house at every misplaced item, dusty surface, and dirty article of clothing—I couldn’t help but dread the daunting task at hand.

Deciding this wouldn’t be a successful or enjoyable experience if I attempted to clean my entire house at once, I wrote out every task and created a master checklist for spring cleaning! Print it out and check off each completed task as you go (such a satisfying feeling!). Take on one room per day and you’ll have a clean house in two weekends!

 

Some tips on getting started…

#1 Use natural, household products to get a thorough clean that’s free of dangerous chemicals and better for the environment! You can even make your own! Find out how here.

#2 Tackle the kitchen and bathroom first! They’ll take a lot more energy than other rooms, so check those boxes off early.

#3 When decluttering, take items out of their usual places, put them in a pile, pick up each item one-by-one and ask yourself “Do I need this? Do I use this? Does this make me happy?” I’ve found physically handling each item makes me more selective in what I keep, leading to much less clutter to manage! I learned this tip from the KonMari tidying method. It was an instant life-changer, you can learn more here!

#4 Have fun with it! When your physical space is clean and tidy, your mental space will feel a lot clearer as well! Think of it as active meditating. 🙂

 

The LuckyVitamin Spring Cleaning Checklist

Kitchen

__ Declutter! Go through all products/utensils.
__ Clean stove and surfaces
__ Clean Dishwasher and small appliances (blender, toaster etc.)
__ Wipe out and reorganize pantry
__ Scrub fridge and toss expired food
__ Clean the sink and the area underneath
__ Wipe out and reorganize cabinets
__ Wipe walls, garbage can, and mop floors

Bedroom

__ Tackle your wardrobe: declutter, reorganize, donate or discard!
__ Clean any mirrors, windows, blinds etc.
__ Deep clean mattress, wash pillows and bedding
__ Vacuum/mop floor, get under the furniture!
__ Clean all furniture, dust surfaces, knick-knacks & décor

Bathroom

__ Declutter all hygiene/beauty products!
__ Clean out medicine cabinet and other shelves/storage
__ Clean shower & tub
__ Clean blinds & walls, mop floor
__ Clean toilet, dust mirror & surfaces, empty trash!

Living Room

__ Declutter odds & ends—discard, donate or sell!
__ Wash cushions, blankets & any sofa covers
__ Clean carpets/rugs, wipe surfaces
__ Clean TV and electronics
__ Vacuum, sweep & mop the floor—getting under the furniture!
__ Clean walls, dust décor
__ Clean windows, blinds & curtains

Miscellaneous

__ Clean washing machine & dryer
__ Sweep back deck/patio (time for outdoor furniture?!)
__ Wash car
__ Cleaning day of choice! Do a final sweep & tidy up loose ends
__ Empty vacuum, organize cleaning supplies & do a happy dance because YOU DID IT!

 

Take a deep breath and enjoy your fresh start to spring! How did you do? Share your spring cleaning tips and organization hacks below!




27
MAR

Health And Wellness Trends To Watch In Spring 2017

Filed Under: Diet & Weight Loss,General Wellness & Wellbeing,Green Living,Health Foods,Personal Care,Supplements at 3:34 pm | By: Dr. Jeremy Wolf, ND & Lead Wellness Advisor
Female athlete getting ready for running in spring park. Fitness workout outdoor concept.

With new superfoods and alternative health products popping up in the media every day, it’s hard to know what the cleanest, most effective product innovations really are. Dr. Jeremy Wolf N.D., Lead Wellness Advisor at LuckyVitamin.com, breaks down the trends and how to be a savvy wellness shopper this spring.

Coconut

Everyone is still going cuckoo for coconuts. What may have started as a health trend with using coconut oil for cooking has now turned into a coconut takeover. In today’s market, it seems as if there is no part of the coconut that can’t be used. One of the newest trends for coconuts are coconut wraps. By using the white meaty part of the coconut, coconut wraps offer a vegan, gluten-free and Paleo friendly alternative to traditional wraps. NUCO now featured on LuckyVitamin offers a USDA Organic, Non-GMO, Kosher and raw coconuts wrap to replace traditional bread and tortillas.  But it wouldn’t be much of a trend if the uses for coconuts stopped there. While traditional coconut products continue to sell, new coconut products can now be found such as coconut vinegar salad dressings, coconut sugar, coconut aminos, coconut flour and even coconut butter. So why the coconut craze? Coconuts are a healthy alternative to some of the most commonly used foods. They are a rich source of dietary fats, vitamins, fiber electrolytes, enzymes and amino acids.

The Ketogenic Diet

Similar to the Atkins diet, although much stricter, the Ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate protein and low-carbohydrate diet. The diet was first designed in 1924 by Dr. Russell Wilder and is commonly used as a treatment for children or individuals with epilepsy. However, many researchers are starting to look at the use of the ketogenic diet for disorders other than epilepsy. This includes other neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, migraines and autism. Like the Atkins diet, it too is also in the spotlight for its weight loss potential. New research has shown on top of weight loss, following a ketogenic diet may also help decrease total cholesterol, increase HDL (the “good”) cholesterol, lower LDL (the “bad”), decrease triglycerides and lower blood sugar levels. Even professional athletes and endurance athletes are catching on to this popular diet. The diet works by forcing the body into a state of ketosis.  Ketosis is the result of ketones building up in the bloodstream when people eat a low- or no-carbohydrate diet. Because the body can’t use glucose for energy, fat becomes the primary fuel source.  The diet isn’t as simple as just cutting back on carbohydrates; there are specific calculations that go into figuring out the right percentage of fat to protein to carbohydrate ratio.  LuckyVitamin’s new ketogenic specialty page is designed to help support your ketogenic diet needs. It’s important to note that you should be under the care of a trained health care provider during this diet or at least in the beginning.

Cannabidiol

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in public awareness for the possible health benefits of cannabidiol or CBD. CBD is one of at least 85 cannabinoids found in cannabis and is the major non-psychoactive component of Cannabis sativa. CBD interacts with the body through the endocannabinoid system. This system is thought to play a key role in memory, mood brain reward systems and certain metabolic processes. Possible therapeutic uses for CBD include anxiety, nausea prevention, pain management, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, cancer and more. But how can makers of CBD oil legally sell CBD in the United States when marijuana is illegal? Enter, hemp. The difference in hemp and marijuana lies in the fact that hemp is a low resin, low THC, high CBD form of cannabis. Currently, there are a wide variety of CBD hemp oil extracts products available including pure oils, dark chocolates, gummies and even chewing gum.

Athleisure

What happens when you combine the comfort and convenience of workout clothes with the style and fashion? You get athleisure.  Athleisure is a trend in fashion in which individuals wear clothing intended for workouts and other athletic activities in other settings, such as during work as well as casual or social occasions. It has become one of the biggest trends in the fashion and retail industry today and it continues to grow and expand into new venues and marketplaces. LuckyVitamin carries a large selection of fitness apparel for both men and women from top brands such as Chaser, Purusha People, Soybu, Manduka and Teeki. Many of these brands offer products that are not just beneficial to you but incorporate materials such as fair trade cotton and recycled plastic that are also beneficial to the environment.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms belong to a unique group of organisms called fungi. While new mushroom trends are emerging in the health and wellness industry, the health promoting benefits of mushrooms are well-known and have been around for a long time. For thousands of years mushrooms have been known to be both nutritious and immune building, and now modern research is beginning to validate traditional herbalists beliefs about mushrooms. Mushrooms are a natural source of vitamin D precursors, contain proteins, minerals and are packed with polysaccharides like beta-glucans which have immune-boosting effects. For years traditional mushroom supplements and extracts have been available, but new trends are popping up everywhere. The new products include mushroom powder, elixir mixes, coffee and hot chocolate all with the same added benefits. LuckyVitamin has a large selection of all the mushrooms products you need to help you be a fun-gi or fun-gal.

Collagen

Nutrition is a key factor for influencing skin health and its overall appearance. Maybe that’s why the saying goes “beauty comes from within.” This is why nutricosmetics, or the use of supplements to help improve skin health, is a growing trend. At the forefront of the nutricosmetic industry is collagen. Collagen is the main structural protein found in animal connective tissue and it can be found in our muscles, bones, skin and tendons. This is why it is the most abundant protein in the body. Collagen can be found in supplements, protein powders, protein bars and even beauty chews. Shop our top selection of collagen products from NeoCell, Reserveage Nutrition, Primal Kitchen, Vital Protein and many more if you’re looking to give your skin and joints a little health boost.

Plant-Based Proteins Powders

 Plant-based protein powders were featured in our 2016 trend report and they continue to dominate the market. With new formulas like chia protein, what was once advertised mostly to body builders looking to get “jacked,” is now marketed to triathletes, marathon runners, weekend warriors, vegans, moms, yoga enthusiasts and even business people constantly on-the-go. Plant-based formulas are often hypoallergenic, free of common food irritants making them easier on the stomach. They contain a blend of foods such as pea, quinoa, artichokes, hemp, amaranth and rice. Because of this blend, they contain an excellent variety of amino acids while also delivering quality protein.  LuckyVitamin has a large selection of top brands including Plant Fusion, Garden of Life, Aloha, Orgain and much more.




20
MAR

New Brands Showcase: Air Repair

Filed Under: Beauty,General Wellness & Wellbeing,Personal Care at 12:01 am | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
Lucky Vitamin is happy to introduce a revolutionary brand of products to our customers: Air Repair.

Air Repair offers a unique line of products designed to meet the specific issues of skin care for the traveler. Air Repair was created specifically to combat environmental stresses that affect the health of the skin including travel and flight fatigue. Each of the five naturally inspired products contain a ground breaking combination of ingredients to help heal chronic inflammation which can cause pre-mature aging. The company has researched highly effective skin care brands and successful performance regiments with the goal of creating unique and effective products that are luxurious and effortless.

The Air Repair Kit is the only system available in the market specifically created to combat the effects of flying and environmental changes that are directly related to one’s skin. Dry and dehydrated skin, fine lines, redness, dull appearance and irritation are quickly and effectively treated with the kit. The Air Repair Kit uses a ground-breaking formulation which contains no petroleum, mineral oil and parabens. Targeted ingredients such as hyaluronic acid for moisture retention, the powerful anti-oxidant cloudberry seed oil, and heat shock proteins (climate-adjusting) deliver superior results that are ideal for any and all skin types. Whether in the air or on the ground, Air Repair is the premiere “take care anywhere” skincare kit choice available. The kit is packaged in a see-through travel bag for carry-on convenience.

Save even more when you shop Air Repair products at LuckyVitamin.com. No code needed at checkout to save an extra 15% on all items of this new brand as savings are automatically applied.