Winter is coming and it may be the best time of the year to talk about vitamin D. An estimated 85 percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient and over 95 percent of senior citizens in the US may possibly be deficient. These numbers may be even higher during the winter months as sun exposure is reduced and vitamin D synthesis is very unlikely across the country.
Vitamin D is extremely important as it plays a crucial role in maintaining optimal health and preventing diseases. Vitamin D can help reduce the risk of several health conditions including type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, age-related macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as cancer. Plus, vitamin D exhibits its infection-fighting abilities in the treatment of tuberculosis, pneumonia, colds, and flu.
Cases of vitamin D deficiency are more frequently in the winter months from early December to late February as people tend to spend more time indoors than outdoors. On top of that, the sunlight exposure may not be enough to produce D, depending on where you live in the US. People living in Northern states are unlike to produce D as there is very little sun exposure and the sun rays aren’t strong enough to produce vitamin D. Exposing your skin to the sun is not likely to produce vitamin D when the temperature is lower than 50F. This occurs in most regions in the US during the winter months.
Aside from sun exposure, vitamin D is obtained from food sources and supplementation. Common types of vitamin D are vitamin D2 and D3. Compared to D2, vitamin D3 is 87 percent more effective, and is the preferred form for addressing insufficient levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D supplements may be an excellent addition for the winter months, keeping your D levels healthy at least until you get the chance to get outdoors and product it naturally.
With the New Year “write” around the corner it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to accomplish in 2017. Not surprisingly, many people choose to take this time of year to focus on improving their overall health. One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to assess your health needs is to create a daily personal health and wellness journal. This journal can help you to understand your current health status and inspire improvements to better your overall health. Research has shown that individuals who write about traumatic, stressful and emotional events are more likely to have improvements in physical and emotional health than those who do not.
Combine these experiential writings with a log of other daily events such as what you’ve eaten during the day, how you feel, time slept, sleep quality, medications/vitamins/supplements taken that day, physical activity and overall mood, you have the makings of a personal wellness journal that can help you discover causes or correlations among behaviors, symptoms and health issues. These findings can help you assess your current health and help you form goals on where you would like to be in the coming New Year.
Short Term & Long Term Benefits to Consider of Journaling
Identify personal habits
Identify potential allergens/sensitivities
Personal growth and development
More frequent exercise
Improved working memory
Reduced number of visits to general practitioner or health center
10 Tips for Successful Journaling
Commit to a journaling schedule
Keep your notebook or journal where you won’t miss it
Try using email or calendar reminders so you don’t forget
Write in a private place, free from distractions
Keep it short
Keep it fun and interesting
Don’t worry about being perfect – write what comes naturally to you
Make time for some reflection
How to Keep a Health Journal
There are pre-made health journals that you can use to keep yourself organized, but don’t worry, a general spiral notebook will also work just fine. To start, be sure to note the date and day of the week. You can record your blood pressure and sugar level if necessary, along with weight and body temperature. It is best if these are recorded at the same time each day. Record the total amount of sleep you had for that day including naps. You can also record the number of times you woke up during the night and your overall sleep quality.
Since many individuals feel that their health is affected by changes in the weather, you can note the temperature for the day along with any present weather patterns (such as sunny, cloudy, humid, rainy, snowy, windy, etc.). Log any medications you took as well as any over-the-counter items and vitamins, herbs or supplements. Indicate the brand name, the type of medication or supplement and the dosage or strength. As you get comfortable with journaling, you can simply write “same as usual” to save time and only make notes when changes occur. You should also write down any physical activity that you performed that day, including walking, running, weight training or even vigorous housework, gardening, dancing, etc.
Take note to any pain or discomfort that you feel throughout the day. You can log the area where the pain occurs and number it on a scale of 1-10 in terms of its severity (1 being very mild, 10 being severe). Sometimes pain occurs at the same time of the day, so be sure to take note if this happens. In addition to pain and discomfort, you can also note any symptoms that you felt throughout the day. These may include fatigue, nausea, gas, bloating, watery eyes, diarrhea, heart palpitations, constant hunger, etc. Focus on all the areas of the body (from your head all the way down to your feet) and don’t forget to include any mental or emotional symptoms such as anxiety, nervousness, sadness or anger. You may also want to rate the symptom severity and take note to what time of day they occurred. If you notice any rashes, bruises, bites or other skin conditions take note of these and log them as well.
Finally, log your diet for the day including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Feel free to note the amount of calories, fat, sodium, protein, sugar and other nutritional information consumed at each meal. Also log your water consumption throughout the day. Keeping track of what you eat may help you discover trends in your day to day health to figure out if you are allergic or sensitive to certain food ingredients. For instance, every morning after drinking milk at breakfast you may have noticed excessive gas and diarrhea, which could identify lactose sensitivity. Leave a final section for comments or to include anything else that comes to mind. Congratulations, you’ve finished day one of your health journal!
Cod Liver oil has been one of the most beneficial supplements in recent years. Known to offer numerous health-promoting effects, this omega-3 supplement is made from the Gadus fish, popular known as cod, and has been a traditional health food in Nordic countries. The most common species of cod are the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), most supplements are made from this fish which lives in the colder waters and deeper sea regions throughout the North Atlantic, and the Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus), found in the northern Pacific.
People have known the benefits from cod fish in northern Europe for centuries as this unique oil can help enhance immunity and provide natural relief for joint pain and stiff muscles. Cod Liver oil contains anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) and it is also a nutrient-dense source of essential vitamin such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E. Each teaspoon of cod liver oil has about 41 calories and 4.5 grams of fat according to the USDA, split between monounsaturated, saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Cod Liver oil supplementation can help reduce levels of pain and swelling due to inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis, and decrease morning stiffness and pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, Cod Liver oil can help decrease risk of heart disease, prevent blood clotting, lower high cholesterol and high triglycerides, prevent and treat diabetes, lower high blood pressure, support brain health, and reduce the risk for eye disorders such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.
With so many potential health benefits, Cod Liver oil is a highly recommended supplement to improve overall health, particularly for those who are lacking omega-3 in their diets.
Try to relax and reduce anxiety with some of these stress reducing tips!
Meditation – Research published din the JAMA Internal Medicine found meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain. It’s easy and free. We suggest beginning with a morning meditation for ten minutes daily. To get started find a quiet space and sit comfortable. Start to focus on the breath and close your eyes. If your mind begins to wander, stop yourself and bring your focis back to your breathing.
Coloring – Once associate with an activity for children, coloring is now trending as a therapeutic creative way to combat stress. The e American Art Therapy Association views the process for creating art as an outlet to resolve emotional conflict, explore feelings and relieve anxiety. When we color we focus on the activity itself and not our problems.
Ecotherapy – this relative new form pf psychology also known as green therapy or nature therapy, believes idea that people are connected to and impacted by the natural environment. A growing body of research highlights the positive benefits of connecting with nature.
Supplements – There are a variety of supplements out there to relieve stress but the one we’re going to focus on is magnesium. In today modern diet, our body is depleted in various vitamins and minerals due to poor soil and polluted waters which causes our food to be void of these vital nutrients. One important mineral is magnesium because it plays an important role in many biochemical reactions. It’s basically natural chill pill that has been shown to enable muscle relaxation.
Essential Oils – The beautiful aroma of plants can be a natural solution for stress relief. Aromatherapy has been used for centuries to quiet the mind and promote overall well-being. Essential oils are created using an extraction method utilizing different parts of a plant including flowers, bark, leaves and roots. It’s always best to look for pure grade essential oils that don’t have chemical additives. Our favorites for calling your nerves are lavender, chamomile, ylang ylang and bergamot.
Protein is one of the most important nutrients for a healthy breakfast as it makes you feel full and helps burn more calories throughout the day. Eggs are a great choice as an average size egg contains 6 grams of protein and only 70 calories. Just be careful with high-fat protein choices such as bacon or sausage, linked with higher risks of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
2. Whole grains
Morning hours are the best time for carbohydrate intake and whole-grain choices are the way to go. Whole-grain foods such as oatmeal, cereals, low-fat granola, breads, and English muffins are full of essential nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Fiber is really important for digestion and adding fruits and whole grains to your breakfast can be a great idea. Insoluble fiber helps prevent constipation and can be found in these traditional breakfast foods such as bananas, apples, cereals, muesli, and oatmeal.
4. Low Sugar
Choosing low sugar ingredients are not only a good choice for the morning hours but also for lunch and dinner. The time between dinner and the next morning’s meal is the longest your body goes without food and eating a full and healthy breakfast can improve the way you metabolize glucose, or blood sugar, all day.
Waking up thirsty is a sign that the body is naturally dehydrated after a long night of sleep. Breakfast is the best time to refill the tank and nothing better than water or juice to provide the cells much needed fluids as well as helping flushing out unwanted toxins out of the body.
The leaves are changing, the temperatures are dropping, and the kids are back in school, this can only mean one thing. Fall has officially begun. One of the biggest highlights to fall besides enjoying the incredible temperatures is the fun that Halloween brings. Children and adults get to dress up in costumes, enjoy parties either at homes or in school and eat delicious treats. It’s common for people to focus on unhealthy snacks this time of year (Americans purchase nearly 600 million pounds of candy each year for Halloween), but it’s important to note that healthy snacks can be just as enjoyable.
We know avoiding traditional, unhealthy candy is the best option for our health. Besides the high sugar content, there are also other unwanted ingredients you might not want yourself or your children to consume. While it’s understandable that we may indulge a little this Halloween, maybe we should all think about fueling those splurges with healthier alternatives instead.
The SpOoKy Ingredients Inside Candy
High Fructose Corn Syrup
High Fructose Corn Syrup is a sweetener made from corn and an alternative to sucrose (table sugar). Much of the corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified, making high fructose corn syrup highly likely to be a GMO product.
Saturated and Trans Fats
Saturated fats come mainly from animal sources and can raise total blood cholesterol levels and LDL levels which can increase the risk for heart disease. While some trans fats occur naturally, most are artificial and made through the process of hydrogenation. Partially hydrogenated trans fat can increase unhealthy LDL levels and may lower healthy HDL levels which may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Hydrogenation is the process of adding hydrogen to liquid oils to turn them into a solid form. Partially hydrogenated oils are full of trans fat which may negatively impact your heart health.
While natural flavors must be derived from plant or animal material, artificial flavors are synthesized in a lab.
Natural dyes have been used for centuries to color food; however, synthetic dyes can be mass-produced at a fraction of the cost. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration have granted approval to just seven synthetic food colorings for use in food. These include; Blue #1, Blue #2, Green #3, Red #3, Red #40, Yellow #5, Yellow #6. Today, most synthetic food dyes are derived from petroleum, or crude oil.
Chemical Emulsifiers & Preservatives
These pertain to ingredients such as Polyglycerol polyricinoleate or PGPR and Tertiary Butylhydroquinone or TBHQ. These preservatives and emulsifiers may have detrimental health effects.
Artificial sweeteners include acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), sucralose (splenda) and aspartame.
Make sure you leave some time this Halloween to be active. If possible walk from house to house when trick-or-treating instead of driving. Remember to be safe, wear reflective materials and walk on the sidewalk not in the streets.
Lifestyle Tips for a Healthier Halloween
Just because you fill up an entire king size pillowcase with treats doesn’t mean you have to eat it all in one night or even one week. Moderate the intake of candy and other treats by setting limits and discussing with children beforehand how much they are allowed to eat.
Balance the intake of candy with other healthy alternatives such as fruits, vegetables, crackers and pretzels.
Don’t spend the night filling up on candy and junk foods. If you are having a party, give your guests some healthier alternatives and more nutrient-dense foods.
Remember to eat a well-balanced dinner before trick-or-treating. This will prevent children from overeating candy and snacking throughout the night.
Remember that there are healthier choices for candy which have less fat, calories and sugar content.
Store the leftover candy in places that are “out of the way” so you are less likely to indulge in a treat.
There are plenty of options for parents and children besides throwing away leftover candy. You can donate to a local Ronald McDonald House, children’s hospital, or help support the troops by giving leftover candy to Operation Gratitude.
In an ideal world healthy food would be available en masse no matter your geographic region or socio economic class. Of course, reality falls quite short of that lofty ideal. It’s well known that many of the highest quality health and wellness items do come at a premium, but would you rather pay the cost up front at the grocery store or kick those payments down the road to your medical practitioner’s office?
Let’s face it – unless you can afford your own personal shopper (in which case you probably don’t care much about clipping coupons anyway), most people are too busy to shop around four or five different grocery and health stores to get the best prices. As a new mom, those days of hanging out in health food aisles reading labels are but a fond, distant-seeming memory. However, thanks to technology and the ease of online shopping, saving on health and wellness items doesn’t have to be such a drain on the little free time you have left. Below you’ll find some of my tricks for living the healthy life, frugally.
Do Your Homework – This is numero uno for a reason. You need to do some initial research to figure out where you can get the best price on a favorite herb or mushroom growing kit. How anyone was able to do this pre-Google, I have no idea. But now, all you have to do is punch in what you’re interested in and viola! You’ll be able to scan multiple sites that carry that item and compare to see who’s offering the best deal. Three out of four times you’ll find the best prices are here.
Be a Saavy Shopper – Companies realize that there is a booming market for health and wellness items. The competition is fiercer than ever, with many brands now offering their proprietary blends of your favorite products at a cheaper price in order to undercut the competition. Just check the labels. If the ingredients in the “generic” line are the same as those in your fancy brand name offering, you’re essentially getting the same exact product for a fraction of the price.
DIY Baby! – This is probably my favorite way to save because you save money, learn something new and get the pride and satisfaction of knowing that YOU made something with your own two hands. You just gotta know where to get supplies. Whether you’re canning, making personal care products, dabbling in aromatherapy or brewing some booch (kombucha, that is), Lucky has got you covered.
Pay Attention to Holidays – You can rest assured that during major holidays like Independence Day, Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving and Labor Day, online health suppliers offer some pretty sweet site-wide sales. Take advantage of these times to order big ticket items that you’ve been eyeing up but have yet to take the plunge on. I saved big on what I call the “mother of all yoga mats” by waiting until Memorial Day to order.
Check Your Inbox – Online health and wellness sites offer weekly and monthly sales constantly. It’s hard to keep up with the constant blitz of promotional emails, but it does pay to open them from time to time. You could be missing out on saving an extra 10% off your favorite brands or getting the newest products to hit the health scene for an extra 15% off. I know my mom friends were totally in awe of my Calm-A-Mama drops formulated to eliminate tension and promote positive vibes (even during teething.)
AlwaysAutoship’n – As a working mom, my brain cannot remember how much protein powder I have left, but my prayers have been answered with this Autoship program. Not only does my favorite protein powder come monthly with no effort on my part, but I get an extra 10% off!
After making plans to attend a residential course to learn the ancient meditation called Vipassana, I told my friends about it. Their collective response included the words “relaxing” and “retreat”. I let them know that it’s actually intense and challenging – about 100 hours of meditation packed into 10 days – and noble silence, meaning no speaking, writing, gestures, or eye contact. Their encouraging facial expressions twisted as I added that course participants awake at 4am, the last vegetarian meal of the day is served at 11am, and there are no phones or internet. No reading, stretching, yoga, or entertainment is allowed and the accommodations are very modest. I realized it didn’t sound very vacation-worthy, but I knew it offered the possibility of changing my life.
Now that I’m back I can tell you that indeed, it did change my life for the better. And yes, it was different than an average vacation. I didn’t come home tan – or enlightened – but I now understand the choices I make and how they result in happiness or misery. I am now acquainted with this simple non-sectarian technique that has been trusted for over 2,500 years by people of all backgrounds and faiths. The practice helps me stay focused, loving kind, and receptive. I’m more emotionally balanced – responsive, not reactive – and I know how to enjoy life more thoroughly. I now recognize when I’m multiplying a physical pain into a mental pain, and vice versa.
What is Vipassana?
Vipassana is mental training that helps practitioners see things as they really are, not as they would like things to be. This provides groundwork for transformation through self-observation, and liberation resulting in true happiness, harmony, love, and compassion for self and others. The highly concentrated 10-day teaching (as taught by S.N. Goenka in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin) offers a way to become established in this technique that can provide understanding of the depth of your mind and the way it works – to understand at the experiential level (not just intellectually) – in the framework of your own body – how and where you started generating negativity and multiplying misery. By understanding and using the technique, you can locate the roots of your misery and break free from old habit patterns.
Vipassana is the simplest, yet most difficult form of meditation because it asks so little of the practitioner. There is no visualization, mantra, or breath control. The technique only requires equanimous awareness of bodily sensations and the impermanent quality of all things. Basically, it’s a body scanning process that can be learned intellectually in minutes. However, a concentrated and almost continual practice of at least 10 days is necessary to establish experiential understanding of the technique and its benefits. Awareness is moved systematically through the body while sensations are observed objectively and neutrally. Pleasant feelings are not to be craved and unpleasant feelings are not to be averted.
The course merely provides a Kindergarten-level understanding, yet for many, the subtle sensations experienced are so different than the gross sensations they are accustomed to, they may think they are experiencing enlightenment or bliss. During the 10 days, one learns to sweep one’s awareness of subtle sensations throughout the body, the result of which can feel something like a shower of tingling vibrations. Not all the sensations are pleasant however. Many people have to work through a variety of physical and emotional pains, so it can be cathartic and healing as well. Experienced practitioners explore even subtler sensations, penetrating their awareness through muscles and organs, while more advanced practitioners go even deeper, becoming aware of the subtlest of sensations, even into the depth of the spine.
During the course, one is to consider it as working in isolation. This is the first time that most people will ever be alone with their mind with no distractions. While everyone’s experience is unique, many get a chance to power through internal struggles in a way that makes them stronger.
Session duration is usually 1 or 2 hours long with 10 minute breaks in between. After 3 days of being able to shift position and futilely attempt to gain comfort, participants are asked to resist the urge to move during each 1 hour sitting. This teaches strong determination and practitioners learn they can make it through nearly torturous mental and physical pain. Everything arises and eventually passes away.
There are no charges for the course, food, or accommodations. Expenses are met exclusively by donations from students who complete the course. Donations pay it forward by providing someone else with the opportunity to experience the benefits of Vipassana. About 300 Vipassana centers located globally offer this unique experience to learn the basics of the technique in an uninterrupted, safe environment where one can practice almost continuously without concern for the chores of a householder. Volunteers silently cook, clean, and manage daily tasks so students may focus on learning and practicing.
If you are interested in learning more about the pure, original form of Vipassana and its benefits, visit dhamma.org. There are also many interesting anecdotal videos you may want to explore that have been posted online by individuals who have experienced the 10-day course. If you do not want to commit to 10-day course, know that the simple act of quieting the mind and paying attention to breath is in itself an act of meditation and can be a very beneficial way to begin a meditation practice.
Vitamin B supplements have been one of the top-selling products for many years. The importance of B vitamins is never in question and among all B’s, biotin (B7) seems to be one of the most popular ones, along with B6 and B12. Biotin is a vitamin needed by every living cell of your body and food sources include eggs, cheese, mushrooms, tuna, sardines, berries, and peanuts. When it comes to health benefits, biotin offers many but this incredible nutrient is also well-known to promote healthy hair, skin, and nails.
Biotin can help promote glowing, wrinkle-free skin and a variety of skin care products like massage oils and creams use this type of vitamin B in their formulas. On the other hand, lack of biotin may cause several skin problems including rashes, dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema and acne. Known as one of the best natural products to prevent hair loss and promote hair growth, biotin has the ability to improve hair condition as well. Many shampoos and conditioners contain biotin to improve problems like dry, brittle hair and hair fall. Biotin can also promote healthy nails and a good number of products targeted for “hair, skin, and nails” contain high amounts of this vitamin B. For many years, the cosmetic industry has been using biotin in a variety of nail products to promote beautiful and strong nails.
Biotin’s main function is carrying out metabolic processes of the body. When you eat, several reactions rely on biotin to properly breakdown the food, including proteins, fats and carbohydrates. If your body has sufficient levels of biotin, your body is able to breakdown food at a faster rate and the food will instantly be processed, improving overall digestion. On top of that, the combination of high biotin levels, increased metabolic rates, and efficient digestion is essential to help in weight loss.
You might not realize it, but certain foods may be the culprit to everyday problems such as daily headaches, joint pain, fatigue and digestive issues including gas, bloating or constipation. Did you know that often time these symptoms are your body’s way of telling you that what you are eating might be aggravating you? Even your food cravings may be a hidden sign of food sensitivities. If you’re an individual who is suffering from food sensitivities, an elimination diet, where you take out certain foods from your diet, could be a helpful tool to identify the causal factors.
This is an immediate immune-mediated response to a specific protein in food. This is what you would think of when you hear an individual say they are allergic to peanuts or shellfish. Common symptoms include itchy skin, hives, coughing or wheezing and swelling of the throat. Food allergies can be fatal and for that reason most of these individuals needs to carry epinephrine pens with them when they go out to eat.
Food sensitivities also refer to an immune-mediated reaction. While allergies are mediated by IgE antibodies, sensitivities are mediated by slower acting IgG antibodies. Typically food allergies occur immediately while sensitivities tend to be a delayed reaction occurring hours or days after ingesting the aggravating food. Symptoms may vary but typically include brain fog, fatigue, gas, bloating, constipation, mood disorders, joint pain and more.
Food intolerance occurs when the body can’t digest a food or food component properly. This type of reaction does not involve the immune system and is what you might think of when someone says that they are lactose intolerant. Normally the enzyme lactase is responsible for breaking down lactose into simpler sugars. If a person is lactose intolerant, this enzyme activity is low and the lactose sugar does not get broken down properly, which can give rise to symptoms of flatulence, pain and diarrhea. Unlike food allergies, individuals with food intolerances may be able to tolerate small amounts of these foods.
How to Perform an Elimination Diet
Before starting the diet you should consult your health care provider. Make a note of how you feel. Start at your head and work your way down towards your feet, jotting down any major or minor complaints. You can also work with your health care practitioner to help get a better understanding of which foods might be causing you problems.
The elimination diet is often times performed for a period of 3 weeks to 1 month. In general, adults and children can do an elimination diet. Make sure to pick out a time that works best for you where you can commit to completing the diet.
Below are the food groups most often recommended to avoid (this may vary person to person). When performing an elimination diet, choose one food group to avoid entirely. For instance if you think egg causes a problem, avoid eating eggs and anything that has egg in it. However, to rule out multiple possible culprits, I usually recommend people avoid all of the main culprits at the same time.
Since the elimination diet is a good time to help the body detox, it is also a good idea to avoid alcohol, caffeine, sodas and other sweetened fruit juices as well as any other foods you believe may be causing issues. Try to avoid processed foods, fast foods and simple sugars such as candy and sweets as well.
While on the diet, it is important to read the entire ingredients label before purchasing any foods. In order for the elimination diet to be successful, 100% elimination of these foods is a must. Don’t eat the foods whole or as ingredients in other foods. For example, if you are avoiding all dairy products, you need to check labels for whey, casein, and lactose so you can avoid them as well.
Once the elimination diet is finished, you will gradually reintroduce these foods back into your diet. It is best to do this one food at a time over a period of 3 days. You will want to eat that food during at least two of the three meals daily for those 3 days. The reason for doing this is because once you being to reintroduce foods back into your diet, you may notice your symptoms flare again. This is an important sign that means you are sensitive to that food. If you notice a reaction before the 3 days are up, stop eating the offending food. It is also important to wait until any reactions have subsided before re-introducing another food.
When reintroducing foods back into your diet pay attention to your energy level, any joint or muscle pain, skin condition, headaches, bowel function and gut symptoms or any symptoms you noted before starting the diet.
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 fall.
HEALTHY BACK TO SCHOOL OPTIONS
Summer is over, which can only mean one thing. Back to school. And back to packing lunches. It’s estimated that the average family will use 500 Ziploc bags each year and according to one survey, around 2.79% of Americans use 21 or more bags within 7 days. That’s around 1,000 bags a year. Luckily LunchSkins has reusable dishwasher safe sandwich, snack and lunch bags that are a creative and environmentally friendly alternative. Another trend for the 2016 school year will be lunches that are gluten free, dairy free and include meat alternatives. More and more parents, children and families are embracing an allergen free or vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. As a result, I believe school lunches across the country will have more options for children with dietary restrictions.
The beetroot movement is upon us, I repeat, the beetroot movement is upon us. Since 2009 beet products have quadrupled. Beets have attracted a lot of attention as a “functional food” meaning they not only provide basic nutrients, but may help promote optimal health and reduce the risk of disease. While this vegetable’s popularity has only recently gained back momentum, its use dates back to ancient Roman times. So why has it become so popular again? Beets are a source of nitrates and provide a natural means of increasing nitric oxide (NO) availability. Beetroot is a rich source of phytochemical compounds that include ascorbic acid, carotenoids, phenolic acids, and flavonoids. Beets also contain a group of bioactive pigments known as betalains that are thought to have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Beet products can be found in the forms of Beet Juice, Energy Bars, Sports Shots, Protein Powders, Veggie Packs, and Beet Crystals. LuckyVitamin carries a large selection of these products from top rated brands.
Let’s face it, trends in the natural beauty and personal care industry aren’t just for women. With more & more men growing beards, companies all over are outfitting all natural beard oil, washes, and balms for men. Beard oil works to soften and condition facial hair while moisturizing the skin to prevent dryness, itching and irritation. Badger’s, certified organic man care beard oil is one of my personal favorites. Beard wash is generally a combination of herbs, extracts and other ingredients intended to clean, moisturize and condition the hair and skin of the face. Lastly, beard balms offer a little hold for grooming but also condition the beard to help stop dryness, split ends, tangles and frizz. Use of these products can help any man turn their 5 o’clock shadow into the manliest of beards.
The term superfood describes nutrient-rich foods that are considered to be beneficial for one’s health and well being. There’s yet another superfood craze you may not have indulged in yet, but chances are after reading this you will! Pulses, which are another name for lentils, chickpeas, beans and dry peas, have become one of the most talked about superfoods in the health and wellness industry. Pulses provide protein and fiber as well as vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc and magnesium. In fact, a ½ cup serving of black beans has one and half times the iron of a 3-ounce piece of steak. Pulses are also packed full of saponins and tannins, phytochemicals which may possess antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic benefits. An article from the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that inclusion of pulses in a diet may be a beneficial weight-loss strategy because it leads to a modest weight-loss effect, although further research & future studies are needed. This summer, shop LuckyVitamin to incorporate your favorite pulses into your diet.
White flour is unfortunately a big part of most individual’s daily food consumption even though it provides little nutritional value. With more and more individuals following specific diets free of allergens or other restrictions, limiting white flour can make baking, cooking and eating out very difficult. Now it’s no wonder more companies are providing alternative flour options. These options include rice flour, coconut flour, buckwheat flour, almond flour, sorghum flour, amaranth flour and many more. LuckyVitamin has a large selection of alternative flour options from top brands such as Bob’s Red Mill, Nutiva, NOW Foods, Arrowhead Mills and more.
Activated charcoal has long been used by hospitals around the world as a safe and effective treatment for poisoning and drug overdoses. This ingredient is making its way to the beauty realm, from facemasks to shampoos, toothpowders and deodorants. These products use activated charcoal, which means the coal has been heated to increase its adsorptive power, increasing the rate at which molecules bind to a surface. Activated charcoal is great at trapping chemicals, absorbing dirt and oil, absorbing 1,000 times its own weight in moisture. Some great beauty products using activated charcoal include Piperwai Natural Deodorant, Dr. Sponge Konjac Facial Sponge, Level Naturals and Collective Wellbeing.
Berberine is a chemical that is found in a number of plants commonly used in botanical medicine practices. These herbs include barberry (Berberis vulgaris), oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium), goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis), and chinese goldthread (Coptis chinensis). Berberine is a yellow-colored alkaloid compound. Alkaloids are compounds found in plants that have physiological actions on humans. Berberine is believed to have anti-microbial actions against bacteria, fungi, viruses, and helminthes. It may also has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, and may even be beneficial against metabolic syndrome (a group of conditions that puts you at higher risk for stroke, heart disease and other health problems such as diabetes). With the increasing rise in metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease and the therapeutic potential of berberine, it is no reason that this chemical is trending upward. LuckyVitamin has a large selection of Berberine products from top rated companies such as Vital Nutrients, Douglas Laboratories and Biotics Research.
Wellness bloggers and celebrity chefs have been talking about this trend for some time now, and its popularity continues to grow. Bone broth, or stock, is made by boiling the bones from the animal of your choice (commonly turkey, chicken or beef) with vegetables and spices. Part of the reason it’s becoming so popular is because bone broth is easy to make, relatively inexpensive and packed with vitamins, minerals and proteins. Some of the benefits may include promoting strong bones and reducing joint pain and inflammation. It may also help inhibit infection and seal your gut to promote healthy digestion. While it’s best to try and make your own bone broth, Pacific Natural Foods, Kettle and Fire and Osteobroth are great sources of convenient pre-made broths.
Saturated fats get a bad rap. However, it’s important to remember that saturated fatty acids are classified by the length of their chains, such as short, medium or long chain fatty acids. Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are a form of saturated fat with many proposed health benefits. There are three separate fatty acids classified as medium chain: caproic, caprylic and capric acid. MCT oil is one of the biggest growing health trends right now. It’s believed that because MCTs are more rapidly metabolized that they may increase energy expenditure (calories burned) leading to weight loss. It is also believed that MCTs have a lower calorie count and are not stored in fat deposits in the body as much as long chain fatty acids. Lastly, MCTs may provide you with a little extra energy to get you through the day. You can use MCT oil for a salad dressing or cooking oil, however, it does not have a very high smoke point (320°F). Other MCT sources include coconut oil, palm kernel oil, cheese, butter, milk and yogurt. Shop our large selection of top selling brands such as Nature’s Way, Now Foods, Quest Nutrition, Barlean’s and many more.
When it comes to fruits with health benefits, avocados are at the top of the list. They’re packed full of fiber, potassium and vitamins such as vitamin B6, B5, C, E. One of the most talked about benefits is the fact that it provides the body with “good” fats, also known as monounsaturated fats. These fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood, which in turn can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. One new and interesting use for avocado is avocado oil. Brands are using avocado oil to make all sorts of products, including cooking oil, avocado mayonnaise and avocado kettle chips. You can even find avocado oil in personal care products. Some great brands that use of avocado oil based beauty products include Peter Lamas, Giovanni, Now Foods and Baby Mantra.
We’re pleased to announce our new partnership with HowGood— a company that shares our passion for transparency in the food system and a mission to help shoppers to find products that meet their high standards. You’ll now find HowGood’s GOOD, GREAT, and BEST ratings on our most sustainable food products as well as information on why each positively rated item receives the HowGood stamp of approval.
HowGood was started back in 2007 by brothers Alexander and Arthur Gillett with the goal of finding ways to support and improve our food system. They spent their first five years partnering with industry experts, farmers, scientists, NGOs, and academics to develop a research framework that could be used to examine and rate the environmental and social impact of different foods. The company now has a database of over 170k rated items and a team devoted to researching the sourcing standards, production methods, and company conduct for each product. They look at over 60 different metrics for each item, including factors ranging from pesticide usage to labor conditions to processing practices, before assigning a rating to help shoppers make informed decisions.
Each product that meets the HowGood standards receives a GOOD, GREAT, and BEST rating, with each step up on the scale equating to extra measures that the company is taking to produce foods that are more responsibly sourced, environmentally-friendly, and wholesome. Those in the top BEST category are industry leaders in sustainability and are focused on making products that are good for consumers, their employees, and the environment. Now, using the HowGood ratings on our site you can easily identify trustworthy brands that are making a difference!
For more information on HowGood, visit their website or download their free app.
Stretching after a workout is vital to improving flexibility and especially in preventing injury. You put in all that hard work at the gym, so don’t blow it by not cooling down the right way. Help your body recover with these perfect workout-ending yoga poses.
Kneeling Crescent Lunge, or Anjaneyasana, is perfect for those with tight, closed hips (hello, anyone who sits at a desk all day).
TIP! Make sure your front knee does not extend forward over your toes.
Cobra, or Bhujangasana, is a great stretch for the abs and shoulders. This back-bending pose helps to open the chest and is good for building strength in the back.
TIP! Remember to keep your hips on the mat and your shoulders away from your ears.
Bridge Pose, also known as Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, opens your chest, shoulders, spine, and hip flexors. Marathon runners, take note, this pose helps alleviate some of the painful side effects of heavy marathon training, such as loosening up your hips.
TIP! For assistance with this pose, use a block under your lower back.
Childs Pose, in Sanskrit called Balasana, is a resting posture that stretches and opens the back to prevent tightness. Rest on your mat, with your arms by your sides and take long, deep breaths. You can hold this pose for 3 breaths or for a few minutes.
TIP! Increase the stretch by reaching your arms forward.
Summer is coming to an end and the beginning of school is right around the corner. For parents, it’s back to the school year routine. For a child, it commonly means a new teacher, new classmates, new routines, new thoughts and maybe even a new school. However, all this excitement can unfortunately bring some anxiety. While the cause of anxiety in children can differ, anxious feelings are normal and even expected as children make these important transitions in their life. I have found that when dealing with a fear driven thought, it’s important to walk through the fear in its entirety to help them problem solve. For instance, if your child is nervous about attending a new school and is afraid they’ll get lost or be late to class, don’t just reassure them that everything is going be “OK.” Instead, help walk them through the worst things that could happen and go through different scenarios of what to do if they get lost. Besides talking out the fears, I have found homeopathic remedies may be helpful in calming back to school jitters. These remedies can be taken as pellets and dissolved in the mouth. Below are just a few examples of some of the remedies that may be helpful. Remember it is always best to consult with a trained health care provider before starting to more accurately get the correct remedy and potency for your child.
This remedy is appropriate for a child that is very timid, mild and tends to have a yielding disposition. Often times they have a strong emotional bond with the mother and cling to them. They may display their anxiety by demanding excessive attention, weeping often and crying at almost everything. Generally their anxiety is worse in a warm room and they seek the open air.
This remedy is one of the first remedies that come to mind when speaking about anticipatory anxiety. Lycopodium is suitable for children who have an aversion to undertake new things, yet when they do so they go through it with relative easiness. A lot of the anticipatory anxiety is because they are afraid they will fail and look foolish. Most of these children try to conceal these insecurities with over confident mannerisms.
This remedy is often the first remedy considered when it comes to test anxiety and stage fright. One of the keynote symptoms for this remedy include anticipation of any unusual ordeal, such as appearing in public, public speaking or test anxiety that can bring on diarrhea.
This remedy is good for a child that is generally very sharp, alert and desires creative activities yet has many anxieties. In their anxious state they become fearful when they are alone and for that reason strongly desire company. They are very restless and fidgety and desire to be rubbed gently. When they are anxious they can bite their nails. Lastly, they have a strong fear of the dark and their anxiety is often time worse during thunderstorms.
This is a great remedy if your child is afraid to go to school because of undertaking anything new, such as new people, new classes, etc. This child is excessively shy, they oftentimes hide behind the mother, their hands or furniture as to not be looked at by strangers. They tend to lack self-confidence. If this type of child walks into a room with people laughing, they may assume the people are laughing at them. They easily get homesick because they feel a sense of safety in their home. Lastly, this child may also have some problems in the classroom with learning. They tend to be very forgetful and inattentive, and have a hard time learning and remembering new information.
Dietary and Emotional Health
Diet may also play a major role in emotional health. While sugar itself may not cause anxiety, researchers have found that it might worsen anxiety symptoms. In one study, researchers found that rats that binged on sugar and then fasted displayed anxiety-like behaviors. It’s important to limit the amount of sugar laden, processed foods in your child’s diets throughout the school year. This may not only help with keeping their anxiety at bay but also may help improve their overall health and immunity.
Other Tips to Consider
Role playing can help your children to come up with different plans for different scenarios that they may be anxious about.
Focus on the positives and help your children to redirect their attention from negative worries to positive thoughts. This could be getting to see friends they haven’t seen since the last day of school, focusing on a special snack in their lunch bag, or any other positive experiences you can come up with.
Pay attention to your own behavior. Remember, children are very aware of how parents react to situations. Even if it doesn’t seem like they are paying attention, they hear and see more then we think they do. Children also learn many cues and emotions from their parents. If you can show more confidence and less anxiety, your children are more likely to follow suit.
While back to school jitters are common, there are many tips to help tackle them before they get out of hand. Consider some of these tips the next time you are faced with a child who is experiencing anxiety around school and life. Best wishes for a happy and healthy school year.