Hearing a lot of talk about your gut microbiome lately? There’s a lot of information circulating around the wellness world about how important it is to keep our microbiome balanced…but what exactly is a microbiome? In short, it’s the complex ecosystem of microbes—bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc—located in our bodies, the majority of which live in our gut and digestive system.
Why it’s important to keep your gut healthy
So far, researchers have found poor gut health as a root cause for a number of diseases, ailments and health issues. The Standard American Diet (SAD) has been linked to the state of our of digestive health, so what we eat greatly impacts our microbiome. As additional studies about the microbiome continue to surface, we are learning more and more about the different ways our gut can have a serious affect on our overall health.
1. Vitamin production and nutrient absorption
It makes sense that nutrients need a healthy environment to do their job! Research shows that bacteria live in the gut and feed off undigested food, and in turn produce vitamin K for the body to use, as well as B vitamins that help generate and maintain energy. Microbes also help with the absorption of nutrients such as antioxidants, helping the body to fight free-radicals and inflammation.
2. Immune system regulation
According to studies like this one, 80% of our immune system greatly relies on the functionality of our microbiome. Because of this, researchers are able to deduce that autoimmune diseases like IBS, type 1 diabetes, lupus and arthritis can be traced back to an unbalanced and unhealthy microbiome.
3. Mental health and brain function
While not responsible for deep thoughts and understanding, the second brain (a.k.a your gut) is responsible for housing 95% of our body’s serotonin levels. Researchers say there is actually an elaborate system of neurons embedded in the walls of our gut, which can explain why gastrointestinal distress can affect our mental health and create mood swings.
4. Weight management
Some research shows that the condition of our microbiomes can greatly affect weight gain and our ability to lose weight, and obesity has also been linked to an unbalanced gut. Our microbes appear to have influence over appetite regulation, and our diet is crucial in determining the type of bacteria, good or bad, that develops in our gut.
What we can do to keep our gut healthy and balanced
If you have concerns about your digestive health, talk with your doctor about the best approach. Every person’s microbiome is different, so work with a physician to create a plan that suits your specific needs. Below are a few tips to offer guidance and help start a conversation with your doctor.
1. Be wary of inflammation
We are learning more and more that diet and lifestyle play a huge role in maintaining good gut health. Staying away from foods that cause inflammation, like refined vegetable oils, refined carbohydrates and sugars and trans fats can help keep your gut in check. Dairy can cause inflammation and many people find they have sensitivities. Making sure to incorporate high-antioxidant foods and anti-inflammatory foods like cruciferous vegetables, healthy fats, and probiotic-rich foods.
2. Be mindful of stress levels
Too much stress weakens your immune system and causes inflammatory responses in the body. Chronic stress throws off the balance of bacteria in your gut, and when your body thinks it’s in danger you become more susceptible to infections. Try working in some mindfulness meditations in the morning. Even just 10 minutes a day can help keep your stress levels in check.
Speaking of stress relievers, exercise is extremely helpful in reducing the stress that can cause damage to your microbiome. Research shows that exercise is critical for balancing your gut, and sitting at a desk all day can actually negatively impact your gut flora. Try to get up, walk around and stretch every 20 minutes or so, and make an effort to work more intensive exercise into your schedule.
4. Supplement when advised and necessary
When paired with a healthy diet that reduces inflammation and the amounts of bad bacteria in your gut, probiotics can replace the bad with the good. Talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement regiments, and make sure to get a good quality probiotic. Getting a healthy amount of antioxidants in your diet is a great way to help to prevent free-radical damage from disturbing your microbiome.
Want to know more about prebiotics and digestive health? Learn more from our ND, Dr. Jeremy Wolf!
At the heart of Organic India is their commitment to be a living embodiment of consciousness in action. They work with thousands of family farmers in India who cultivate thousands of acres of organic farmland. Organic India actively promotes sustainable agriculture and pays a premium market rate to their farmers. All of their products promote wellness and are certified organic. Each product you hold in your hands is one link in a chain of love, respect and connectedness between their farmers and you. By choosing Organic India you are completing this chain, which gives training and a living wage to the Indian farmers, creates a sustainable environment and brings happiness and well being to you.
Lucky Vitamin is happy to introduce a revolutionary product to our customers: Boost Oxygen.
Boost Oxygen offers a unique supplement used to enhance sports recovery, alleviate high-altitude effects, remedy fatigue, and otherwise promote a heightened sense of personal health and well-being. These portable, lightweight, 95% pure oxygen canisters have used by people visiting high altitude locations, professional and amateur athletes, senior citizens, and famous celebrities alike. Founded in 2006, Boost Oxygen is currently the best-selling and most trusted oxygen canister brand in the world.
Boost Oxygen is all-natural, safe, and provides pure oxygen in a convenient, non-prescription form. Unlike stimulants and energy drinks, Boost Oxygen does not contain caffeine and sugars that can actually harm the body over an extended period of time. Considered by many as nature’s body supplement, oxygen is obviously required to sustain human life. When deprived of oxygen, performance of the body and mind can suffer. At sea level, the average oxygen content in the air is 21%. At altitude, it can be much less. Boost Oxygen provides a convenient source of 95% pure oxygen.
Oxygen is more than a life sustaining element. Studies have shown that the right amount of oxygen can significantly impact mental acuity, muscle strength, blood flow, organ vitality, stress abatement, and overall well-being.
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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.
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.
Exercising is great for your health and it can be a lot of fun too. Unfortunately, one common occurrence in physical activities isn’t fun and can significantly affect your health: injuries.
Ligament damage is one of the most common injuries particularly for people who play sports such as football, soccer, and basketball, but it can also happen to runners and during many other activities.
One way you can “support” your body is trying to prevent these injuries by wearing a brace, tape, or sleeve in certain areas of your body such as knees, ankles and calves.
Braces can be extremely beneficial especially for those who have suffered an injury before. Not only it can help prevent another injury but it can also help healing the previous injury. Knee braces can help you keep playing your favorite sport, minimizing injuries as well as pain and discomfort during and after activity.
Same can be said about calf sleeves. Many people have injuries in the calf area when playing sports. These injuries can range from mild to very severe. One of the most common injuries is a calf strain, a tear of the muscle fibers of the muscles at the back of thelower leg. A pain relief sleeve can help increase blood flow to your skin and muscles, reducing pain, stiffness, swelling and fatigue.
Lastly, let’s not forget about ankle injuries. One of the most common injuries in indoor sports, ankle injuries can happen in many ways such as sudden movements where the foot is perpendicular to the direction of movement or when the foot tilts too far inwards or outwards. Most ankle injuries happen when ankle ligaments, mostly the relatively weak outer ligaments, are stretched or torn. An ankle brace or even taping the ankle area can help to accelerate healing and reduce the risk of re-injury.
Technology has improved personal care products throughout the years and if you haven’t heard of Radius toothbrush, it might be a good time to learn about this innovative product. Lucky Vitamin is proud to introduce this revolutionary toothbrush to our customers.
Radius offers one of the most uniquely shaped brushes, which featured a wide handle designed for an easier grasp and a large, shoe-brush shaped head packed with bristles. The company is fully committed to develop revolutionary, elegant and eco-friendly personal care products, designed to make you smile.
Radius unique and different design is the result of years of research to develop a functional and enjoyable toothbrush. Research indicates that the major problem in oral hygiene is that people don’t use toothbrushes for long enough and tend to keep their toothbrush for too long. Dentists believe that with diligence, teeth and gums could be perfectly maintained for a lifetime. The average brushing time is from 31 to 65 seconds, and the average toothbrush is thrown away after 10 months.
Radius aims to make the toothbrush comfortable, enjoyable and effective. With a mass of very soft bristles, a large head area for low pressure, Radius toothbrushes have a wide oval brush head designed to improve gum health and reduce the risk of gum disease by massaging the whole mouth, leaving you with that tingly-fresh feeling. The first revolutionary Radius product is now displayed at the Smithsonian Institute National Design Museum.
Insect repellent is commonly called “bug spray” and is a necessary product in many regions during the hot summer months. Bug sprays can be applied to skin, clothing, or other surfaces which discourages insects to land, protecting your skin. Insect repellents help prevent and control the outbreak of diseases such as malaria, lyme disease, dengue, and West Nile fever.
However, one question always comes to mind: are these products safe or do they contain dangerous chemicals? Reading the ingredient list of any bug spray product is essential to ensure you are not applying a potentially dangerous product to your body.
Most bug repellents contain DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) as their active ingredient. DEET works well to repel bugs but this ingredient has been known to cause multiple health issues. DEET is absorbed through the skin and enters the bloodstream fairly quickly. Symptoms of swallowing sprays which contain DEET can go from breathing difficulty, coughing, loss of alertness, and upset stomach to nausea, vomiting, tremors, and seizures.
Additionally, DEET may cause a variety of skin reactions such as hives or mild skin redness, as well as more severe skin irritation such as blistering, burning, and permanent scars. DEET can also trigger temporary burning and redness of eye. If DEET is sprayed into these parts of the body, wash the area immediately to prevent further damage. High usage of DEET bug sprays may also result in more serious issues including low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and insomnia.
A variety of natural ingredients can be effective to keep the bugs away. Essential oils have been shown to work efficiently and several oils are highly recommended including neem, cedarwood, citronella, clove, lemongrass, tea tree, mint, lavender, rosemary, grapeseed, jojoba, almond, olive, and witch hazel. Lemon eucalyptus essential oil has been reported to be an excellent natural substitution for DEET in repelling insects. Soybean oil-based products also work fairly well providing on average 1.5 hours of protection from bites and are non-irritating to the skin.
Allergies are an immune response by the body to various substances—many of which aren’t necessarily harmful. However, because the body thinks these substances are damaging, it develops a response to inhibit the substance from advancing further into body and attempts to rid itself of the substance as quick as possible. This is why a person has symptoms like swollen tissues, sneezing, congestions, and runny eyes and nose. These symptoms are the body’s defense led by the chemical histamine.
In order to treat the symptoms, some doctors and medical professionals suggest medicated nasal sprays that have decongestants, antihistamines, or a steroid, aimed to treat symptoms. They block histamine, impede mucus production, or constrict blood vessels to decrease inflammation. All of this may help to reduce symptoms and help a person feel better.
However, relieving the symptoms doesn’t get rid of the cause of the problem—the allergens. In fact, medicated nasal sprays go against the body’s natural defenses. If the allergens are allowed to stay in the system, then the body can still react to them, and when the medication quits, the symptoms could come back. Some medicated nasal sprays can actually make symptoms worse after you stop using them or even be habit-forming. The body becomes even more congested unless the decongestant is used consistently.
Luckily there’s an alternative to the medicated nasal spray, Xlear Nasal Spray. Xlear works with the body to rid itself of contaminants and relieve congestion due to allergies. Xlear is a hypertonic solution, meaning it pulls the extra moisture out of swollen, inflamed tissues. This opens up the airway. The additional moisture and saline also thin the mucus, which traps the contaminants, helping it to leave the body more quickly. Since the contaminants are out of the body, it doesn’t produce histamine and you don’t have the unwanted symptoms. Xlear is natural and non-medicated. It can be used as much as needed, by anyone of any age.
Along with Xlear Nasal Spray, the Xlear Sinus Care line also has a neti pot, and rinse bottle so you can have the benefits of the patented Xlear solution in a more thorough cleanse. Enjoy outside again. Breathe better with Xlear.
There are plenty of alternatives for a healthy breakfast but some foods are often a reason for the endless debate: are they really healthy or not?
Muesli is one of them.
Muesli is often regarded as a healthy breakfast cereal but some people may beg to differ. Normally made up of oats, flakes, nuts, and dried fruit, muesli may also contain other ingredients such as wheat, rye flakes, honey, and spices. With a ton of varieties available, one must check the ingredients before claiming muesli is a healthy option or not.
Muesli typically has less sugar and calories than most breakfast cereals on supermarket shelves and is known for its high amount of fiber which can support the digestive system. Fiber also helps to regulate cholesterol levels and is essential to avoid digestive problems such as constipation. A potent source of antioxidants, muesli is also a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids as long as it contains nuts.
Additionally, muesli can aid in weight-loss as its high fiber content has the ability to make you feel full, which is ideal for a morning meal. Fiber absorbs water and swells up, filling up your stomach and making you feel less hungry during the day. On top of that, it contains B vitamins which help to break down fat in the body.
Most muesli products are more natural and contains less calories and sugar than granola, which usually has more added syrup to aid in the toasting but be careful: some muesli products may have very high sugar amounts. So, look for products with limited dry fruit which are high in sugar. Plus, aim for varieties containing under 20g of carbohydrates per serving.
An allergy is a result of an overreaction by our immune system to a foreign substance or “allergen.” We may be exposed to these substances through the foods we eat, the air we breathe or the medications we take. With all the different possible allergens in our environment, it is no wonder that an estimated 50 million Americans today suffer from all types of allergies. Allergies are the 5th leading chronic disease in the U.S. among all ages, and the 3rd most common chronic disease among children under 18 years old. However with proper prevention and nutrition allergies can be managed.
Tips For Preventing Allergies
Use impermeable pillows and mattress covers.
Remove carpets and try to vacuum on a weekly basis.
Don’t wear shoes inside.
Wash bedding in hot water.
Prevent build-up of allergens with an air filter.
Remember to clean your air conditioning filters often.
Limit travel time during peak pollen times.
Keep car windows closed when traveling.
Stay indoors when humidity is high and winds are gusting.
Shower after extended hours outside to wash off the pollen on your skin.
Wear sunglasses to help keep pollen out of your eyes.
Don’t hang your clothes outside to dry.
Supplements For Allergies
Vitamin C– is an essential nutrient that cannot be synthesized by humans. Therefore it must be obtained through diet and supplements. Vitamin C has anti-histamine properties and some preliminary research suggest it might aid in reducing allergy symptoms due to its role in our immune system and anti-inflammatory properties.
Urtica Dioica – commonly known as stinging nettles, this herbal plant has the ability to reduce histamine in the body. The nettles leaves are very good for all types of allergies and may help to reduce the sneezing and itching associated with seasonal allergies.
Quercetin – a bioflavonoid found in red wine, grapefruit, onions, apples and black tea. Research has shown that it stabilizes parts of the cells that release histamine, the major chemical responsible for allergies thus reducing triggers for allergic symptoms. It can also reduce production of other chemicals responsible for inflammation and airway constriction.
Bromelain – a proteolytic enzyme found naturally in pineapples. Part of the reason it’s great for allergies is due to its anti-inflammatory and mucolytic properties. Meaning it helps reduce inflammation associated with hay fever and breaks down mucus. Bromelain also aids in the absorption of quercetin, one of the key supplements used for allergies.
Probiotics – contain live beneficial bacteria. It is believed that the presence of these beneficial bacteria in the gut can help decrease the incidences of allergies and allergic rhinitis.
Hot chili peppers, horseradish and other hot mustards work well as decongestants. In fact, a 2009 study showed that nasal sprays containing capsaicin improved nasal allergy symptoms.
Daily netti pot use with filtered water and/or saline is also a helpful way to prevent allergen build up in the sinuses.
When I think of peppermint, I think of the small red and white mints you get when leaving a restaurant. But did you know that using peppermint oil can do more than just give you minty fresh breath? As I’m reading more into the use of peppermint essential oil, I’m thinking it’s a necessity in the medicine cabinet. Why? Read on to find out the best and most beneficial uses for this healing oil.
Colds and Congestion. The menthol in the peppermint plant provides a cooling sensation and eases discomfort which makes this oil particularly helpful in providing relief from the common cold. It’s often included in natural chest rubs to help with congestion, but can also be easily made at home. To make an at-home chest rub, mix a carrier oil (i.e. almond oil) and peppermint oil, since peppermint oil can be too intense on its own.
Digestion & Upset Stomach. Of all the things peppermint oil is known for, digestion help is probably the most well-known. Help curb feelings of nausea, upset stomach or motion sickness with this herb. It can be massaged onto problem areas such as the abdomen, but it’s also easy to digest with peppermint tea.
Headache. If you are prone to headaches, this is a great addition to keep at your desk or in your purse. Use a small amount of carrier oil (i.e. almond oil) with a drop of peppermint oil and rub on temples, forehead and the back of the neck. The cooling sensation of menthol can work wonders!
Energy. Peppermint oil can help improve mental clarity and energy levels which is perfect for those mid-afternoon slumps. Instead of reaching for the coffee, trying rubbing a drop of peppermint oil under the nose for alertness, applying to the back of the neck and shoulders for energy levels, or diffuse into a room to improve concentration.
Sore Muscles. Peppermint oil has been found to be a natural painkiller and muscle relaxant, especially for sore backs, muscles, and cramps. It’s a great ingredient to include in natural massage oil or even in the bath to decrease stiffness and promote relaxation.
Dr. Wolf explains Elderberry’s effects on the body and our health in this episode of LuckyVitamin’s Ask The ND. He also gives tips on what to look for when shopping for different Elderberry Supplements.
Watch LuckyVitamin’s Ask The ND series featuring Dr. Jeremy Wolf for healthy information, benefits and facts about popular nutritional supplements and wellness topics. These quick guides are great educational resources to learn about a variety of wellness-oriented topics from a trained Naturopathic Physician. View other videos from LuckyVitamin on our YouTube channel.
Checking the labels in children’s food products has become an essential task for every parent. The alarming number of potentially harmful ingredients used in kids’ products is a strong reason for parents to stay alert and prevent their little ones from ingesting and suffering side effects from these ingredients. Here is a quick view of 5 ingredients to avoid in children’s food products.
1. Food Coloring/Dyes
Leading off the list is food coloring added to children’s foods and drinks. Manufacturers usually use dyes to add and enhance color to colorless foods but these ingredients are also known to cause a variety of behavior effects such as hyperactivity and even ADHD. It is believed that the consumption of foods containing dyes may increase hyperactive behavior in children. Warning labels for synthetic food dyes are required in Europe and some countries have banned their use. However, a good number of products containing dyes are still sold in the American-market.
2. High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
HFCS is a cheap substitute for sugar used primarily to sweeten beverages such as sodas and juices. HFCS has been shown to promote increased belly fat and insulin resistance as well as causing chronic diseases. The fructose in HFCS goes directly to the liver, where it converts to fat and can ultimately lead to heart disease. Additionally, sugars are known to cause a variety of health problems but high-fructose corn syrup is the worst in terms of cancer risk.
Celiac disease and gluten intolerance have become increasingly common with nearly 8% of all individuals experience gluten intolerance. Children and adults with undiagnosed celiac disease have a much higher risk of ADHD than the general population. A gluten-free diet is the best way for kids to avoid these issues and improve behavior and functioning.
Aspartame has been linked to numerous adverse effects and behavioral disorders as well as headaches, anxiety, dizziness, convulsions and memory loss. High levels of aspartame can alter serotonin levels, which can lead to behavioral problems and other emotional disorders. In some studies, side effects were so severe that doctors were forced to prematurely end the studies.
5. Trans Fats
Vegetable oils are hydrogenated to transform them from a liquid to a solid fat, creating a desired consistency and increasing shelf life of foods. Trans fats raise your triglyceride and low density lipoprotein (LDL, the bad cholesterol) levels, and can lead to obesity even for kids as well as diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
The days of baking in the sun covered in baby oil using tin foil reflectors are over. While science and research has shown that the sun is the best source of vitamin D, too much exposure to its powerful rays can be harmful. Freckles, age spots and wrinkles are frequent results of overexposure to the sun, which is also the leading cause of skin cancer.
One of the best ways to protect against sun damage is by applying sunscreen. But not all sunscreens are created equal. What we put on our skin is eventually absorbed into our body, and new research shows that some chemicals in sunscreens can speed the rate at which cells become malignant. So while we try to protect ourselves, using the wrong sunscreen could do more harm than good.
Natural Sunscreens – Benefits To Consider
Minimal to no exposure to harmful chemicals
Reflect UV rays instead of absorbing them
Eco-friendly, cruelty-free and organic options available
Different Types Of Sunscreens
Inorganic Sunscreens tend minimize chemical content and use other mineral ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These products work by reflecting UV radiation instead of absorbing it.
Chemical Sunscreens work by absorbing UV radiation and converting it into small amounts of heat. These products tend to contain toxic chemicals with side effects as described below.
What’s The Difference Between UVA and UVB?
UVA rays penetrate the skin on a much deeper level. They commonly contribute to changes associated with aging, such as wrinkling, leathering and sagging.
UVB rays are the causative agent behind sunburns and the increasing rise in skin cancer rates.
Ingredients To Know And Avoid
Oxybenzone – This toxic chemical absorbs ultraviolet rays from the sun, easily penetrates the skin and acts like estrogen in the body. Allergic reactions can be triggered in the body when it’s absorbed. Studies have found it can alter sperm count in animals, and be associated with endometriosis in women.
Vitamin A – When taken as a supplement or used in night creams, vitamin A doesn’t seem to cause as much of a problem. However when applied to the skin and exposed directly to sunlight, “retinyl palmitate,” a form of vitamin A commonly found in sunscreens, seems to speed the development of certain skin tumors
Octinoxate – Although it has relatively high rates of skin reactivity, the most troublesome effect of this product is hormone disruption, due to its hormone-like activity. In animal studies, it altered the function of the reproductive system and thyroid gland.
Homosalate – Chemically-derived sunscreen often times needs to get absorbed deep into our skin layers to work. Homosalate helps sunscreen to penetrate deep into our skin. When this chemical builds up in our bodies, it disrupts hormones like estrogen, androgen and progesterone. If that isn’t bad enough homosalate can even break down into more toxic products.
Avobenzone – Avobenzone offers the best UVA protection out of the chemical filters and is not as toxic as the other chemicals used in sunscreens. While there’s no evidence of hormone disruption, there are relatively high rates of skin reactivity and allergies to consider.
Octisalate – Overall octisalate is pretty safe and there’s no real evidence of hormone disruption or skin reactivity. If you see it on the label, it’s typically there to help stabilize avobenzone. It’s not broken down by sunlight, providing longer-lasting skin protection.
Octocrylen – Like octisalate, this ingredient is generally pretty safe and there’s no current evidence of hormone disruption. However, skin reactivity is fairly common.
How To Read What’s On The Label
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and is a measure of how well the sunscreen protects against UVB radiation.
In general, if your unprotected skin would burn within in 10 minutes of being in the sun, then applying SPF 15 would prevent burning 15 times longer. So you could be in the sun for 150 minutes without burning.
The other way of looking at this is in terms of percentage.
SPF 15 filters 93% of all incoming UVB rays
SPF 30 filters 97% of all incoming UVB rays
SPF 50 filters 98% of all incoming UBV rays
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more.
Broad Spectrum on a sunscreen bottle means that it is intended to protect you from both UVA and UVB radiation
Expiration Date – Sunscreens past the expiration date are typically no longer effective. Most sunscreens last up to 3 years. If your product doesn’t have an expiration date, try writing the purchase date on the product to help ensure effectiveness.
Other Tips To Help Reduce Sun Damage
Being outside doesn’t have to mean being in direct sunlight – find shade, or cover your skin by wearing shirts, hats, shorts or pants
Choose cosmetics and contact lenses that offer UV protection
Wear sunglasses that provide extra UV protection
Sun strength varies throughout the day – avoid peak sun exposure between 10am and 2pm
Check the UV Index to prevent overexposure
Re-apply your sunscreen! Every 2 hours is standard, or more frequently if swimming or sweating
Know the signs of overexposure to avoid getting burned (redness, sore skin, blistering, dehydration etc.)
Consider loading up on antioxidants after a day in the sun