Checking labels for potentially dangerous ingredients has become a must for shoppers. A number of chemicals used in hair care and personal care products have reached a new level as companies work to grow their profits and improve production efficiency. Some of these ingredients required to accomplish that can be harmful to your health, especially phthalates. Let’s have a quick look at this chemical ingredient.
What Are Phthalates?
Phthalates are chemical compounds often used in plastic products to increase flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity. Phthalates are found in many shampoos and hair products, personal care, toys, electronics and a variety of household products including detergents, adhesives, plastic wrap, plastic containers, flooring, furniture, wallpaper, shower curtains and other things made of vinyl or PVC. Additionally, food products contain phthalates because foods such as milk, butter and meats are commonly packaged or stored in plastics containing this toxin.
Why Are Phthalates Dangerous?
Phthalates are known as endocrine disruptors because they mimic the body’s hormones and can interfere with natural hormone activity. This can cause abnormalities in the body and may lead to fertility problems and cancer. Phthalates are colorless and odorless liquids and these toxins can be absorbed into the body not only with food but through the air and skin too. Plus, higher temperatures result in higher concentrations of phthalates in the air.
How to Avoid Phthalates
You can reduce your exposure to this harmful chemical by taking a few simple steps. First, don’t microwave food in plastic containers as heat allows phthalates to leach out of products. Second, use glass and stainless steel for storage and drinking, particularly hot beverages. Lastly, phthalates are used in perfumes, eye shadow, moisturizer, deodorant, nail polish, liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner and hair spray. Shop only natural personal care products and check the labels to ensure they are phthalates-free.
Fresh, clean air is essential for a healthy lifestyle but how can you ensure that the air you breathe is actually good? That’s a difficult task but there are many ways you can reduce a number of toxins in your home which may be affecting your health.
Exposures to toxic chemicals in your everyday life can actually increase your chances of becoming sick. A good number of these indoor pollutants are not easily detected but can still affect your overall health.
For example, chemicals released from modern building furnishing materials as well as chemical fumes from paints and solvents may only be noticed in the first couple of days but these potentially dangerous gases may hang around for weeks, sometimes months. Additionally, combustion gases from fireplaces and wood burning stoves, carbon monoxide fumes from attached garage as well as chemicals from cleaning products can stick around inside your home and damage your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to get sick. Removing these toxins from your home allows your immune system to regenerate naturally, and fight off all infectious diseases.
So, how to avoid these toxins? A few simple steps can significantly improve the quality of your home’s air.
First, increase fresh air supply (in other words, open the windows). Proper ventilation is the key to filter out some of the toxins and maintain healthy air inside your home.
Second, indoor plants can also help to purify air quality as plants can up oxygen levels by absorbing chemicals in your air.
Lastly, keep your home clean by regularly dusting and vacuuming to minimize the number of airborne particles. Choose natural cleaning products to reduce the amount of chemicals inside your home and definitely avoid disinfectants as some of these products contain immune-toxicants such as cresol, phenol, ethanol, and formaldehyde, which reduce the ability of the immune system to fight the germs they are killing.
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!
Ever wonder if drinking sparkling water has any health benefits? It sure does. It’s water in a very refreshing form but other than keep you hydrated, sparkling water has also a few other benefits to your health.
Proper hydration is key to optimal health and adding carbonated water to your drinking routine may help you meet your daily fluid needs to stay hydrated. Sparkling water is a calorie and sugar-free fluid that can maintain adequate hydration by helping your body cool itself, keeping your mouth, nose and eyes moist, promoting optimal joint and muscle function, maintaining healthy skin, cleansing your body of toxins, and improving cardiovascular health.
Additionally, sparkling water offers a little more.
It can help improve Indigestion, particularly if you’re feeling sick to your stomach after eating. Drinking a glass of carbonated water might help as it can reduce bloating and nausea, and may even prevent vomiting.
Sparkling water can help alleviate constipation as well. Research has suggested that carbonated water along with the intake of foods high in fiber help when you’re dealing with constipation. Fluids, such as carbonated water, can help enhance the way fiber work in your gut and make stools normal and regular.
Sparkling water is also a healthful alternative to soda as carbonated water is just plain water with dissolved carbon dioxide. When choosing a sparkling water, opt for a variety that’s high in minerals and free from sugar and artificial sweeteners, flavorings and colors. You may add fresh fruit to your sparkling water for some natural sweetness or even mix in with juices such as orange, apple, blueberry, or cranberry. You can also make flavored carbonated drinks with slices of orange, lemon, lime, cucumber, or sprigs of mint.
Digestive enzymes can improve the functionality of your digestive system and make you feel a lot better after eating a meal. The majority of digestive support supplements contain a blend of enzymes, but with so many ingredients on every label, it can be hard to choose the right supplement for your needs.
Below are three highly effective digestive enzymes to consider when choosing a supplement.
1. Papaya Papayas are a rich source of valuable proteolytic enzymes, such as papain, chymopapain, caricain and glycyl endopeptidase, that can greatly aid in the digestive process. The enzyme papain is one of the most effective at breaking down meat and other proteins, comparable to the enzyme pepsin that we produce in our pancreas.
In fact, papain is often considered a more effective enzyme than pepsin. Eating the papaya enzyme papain in a meal containing meat can significantly speed up its digestion. It may also help with the breakdown of other troublesome proteins, such as the gluten in wheat and the casein in milk, that are often implicated in digestive problems.
2. Bromelain Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple juice and in the pineapple stem and is known to improve digestion. Used for reducing swelling and inflammation, bromelain has been shown to treat a bowel condition that includes swelling and ulcers. Often used in digestive support products, bromelain can also help improve the absorption of antibiotics. Bromelain seems to cause the body to produce substances that fight pain and inflammation.
3. Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) Hydrochloric acid, also called HCL, is one of the many chemicals released in our stomach when we eat a meal. The role of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, along with the other gastric juices, is to break down foods and cause the release of enzymes that further aid digestion. HCl also protects the body from illness by killing pathogens commonly found in foods.
HCL supplements can aid the stomach’s acid to destroy harmful bacteria as well as relieve the symptoms of heartburn. Low stomach acid causes indigestion, gas, bloating, acid reflux, constipation, and diarrhea. Supplementing with Hydrochloric Acid in the form of Betaine HCL can dramatically help people with low stomach acid. Make sure you choose an HCL product that contains pepsin because, without it, the body can’t break down proteins into the peptides required for proper absorption.
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.
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.
Essential oils are volatile, aromatic compounds that have been around for centuries. Frankincense was even used to anoint Jesus upon birth. A hydrophobic, concentrated liquid of plants and flowers can be used to heal, clean and do just about anything else for the body, mind and soul that you can imagine. Here’s how you can introduce these “magical” healing oils into your home.
Aches & Pains The analgesic compounds in essential oils are their secret to easing a variety of common pains and ailments. Our winner for headache relief is lavender by a landslide. If you suffer from arthritis, then frankincense can help limit the production of inflammatory molecules. If your back is causing you pain try several drops of peppermint mixed with a carrier oil to cool inflamed joints. We always recommend using a carrier oil such as almond or jojoba oil to help dilute the essential oil and strongly advise that you never apply it directly to the skin!
Cleaning Did you know that some essential oils have the power to kill bacteria and mold? Oh yes! But remember, a little can go a long way, so don’t overdo it. Try lemon, tea tree, rosemary and eucalyptus oils combined with hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar for an all purpose, DIY cleaner.
Personal Care Free yourself of the harmful chemical and phony fragrances found in most personal care products. Make them over with essentials oils! Lavender, which can be applied directly to the skin, makes a great perfume. Tea tree is great for acne-prone or oily skin and clary sage fights fine lines. Many natural personal care brands incorporate essential oils into their products, or you can experiment with your own mixes and blends!
Topically As mentioned above, you want to use a carrier oil when applying most essential oils topically to the skin. Tea tree and lavender are great for topical use, however, you’ll want to do a small, isolated skin test to make sure you do not have an adverse reaction before going all-in on a major application. Some great areas of the body to apply oils are your temples for stress, the bridge of your nose for a sinus infection and between the eyebrows when you’re trying to fall asleep.
Gardening Yup, that’s right, you can control garden pests with essential oils! Throw out your chemical-laden garden bug killer. Just combine 8 ounces of water with a teaspoon of Dr. Bronner’s soap and 6 drops of essentials oil (like peppermint) to repel unwelcome garden guests such as beetles and aphids. Apply every few days to keep the pesky guys at bay.
Remember that essential oils are derived from plants and can cause a reaction if you are allergic! Like we mentioned earlier, always test a small patch of skin before using all over. Also, like with any major change in your routine, consult a professional before making the long term switch!
How do you use essential oils in your daily life? Share below!
Toothbrushing is important to maintain proper hygiene but what we may not realize is that this healthy, daily procedure can actually cause problems to our health too. Popular toothpastes contain toxic and harmful ingredients that can make people sick and might even lead to more serious long-term health problems. Let’s look as what ingredients you should avoid in your toothpaste.
Used in the vast majority of conventional products sold in the US, sodium fluoride has been linked to lowering productions of testosterone and reducing fertility by immobilizing sperm. Fluoride is effective against tooth decay but it is also known to cause vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Also known as SLS, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is used as a detergent and cleansing agent and has a long list of potential health risks. This ingredient can easily penetrate the skin and oral mucosa and stay within the body for as long as 5 days. SLS is known to cause skin and eye irritation. Additionally, SLS mimics estrogen when it enters the body and its 1,4-dioxane has been linked to male infertility, breast cancer, as well as other health problems such as development of man boobs.
Propylene glycol acts as a wetting agent and surfactant in toothpaste but this chemical can be rapidly absorbed through the skin, leading to brain, liver and kidney abnormalities. It is also an estrogen mimicker.
Diethanolamine or DEA is used in toothpaste and is known to disrupt hormones and form cancer-causing nitrates, which may lead to increased risk of liver and kidney cancers.
Found in many conventional toothpaste brands, triclosan is a type of chemical suspected of causing cancer in humans.
Prebiotics and probiotics. Two similar words, two completely different things. Probiotics have been popular for quite some time as they are essential for gut health and overall wellbeing. However, what’s interesting about this debate is that prebiotics are actually one of the best ways to improve probiotics and get even better results but many people still wonder: what are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are a specialized plant fiber that beneficially nourishes the good bacteria already in the large bowel or colon. Prebiotics help your good bacteria grow, improving the good-to-bad bacteria ratio, which is essential to your health and overall wellbeing.
Additionally, prebiotics provide a wide range of health benefits which have been medically proven. These amazing non-digestible fiber compounds are known to improve gut health and enhance digestion as well as lower inflammation, reduce risk of heart disease, boost immune function and promote weight loss.
Found in many fruits and vegetables, sources of prebiotic fiber include greenish bananas, raw garlic, raw asparagus, raw leeks, onions, artichokes, chicory root, and beans. However, it’s nearly impossible to obtain the ideal amount of prebiotic from food sources as one would have to eat in large quantities every day.
Prebiotic supplements are a great option as most products are mild in texture, nearly tasteless, and can be easily added to water or any other food. Prebiotics powders are not affected by heat, cold, acid or time, unlike probiotics which must be kept alive and may be killed by heat or simply die with time.
Kefir is a fermented dairy drink known for its gut-friendly benefits. And if you are interested in trying to make your own we sell a great DIY starter kit here. This kit contains healthy bacteria including S. Lactis, S. diacetylactis, S. cremoris, L. casei, L. acidophilus and lactic acid yeast strains which will do your gut some good.
Kombucha known by diehard fans as “booch,” this is another popular fermented drink made using tea and a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and sweetened tea. The process of brewing your own is similar to making beer. Kombucha contains antioxidants and the healthy acids created by the fermentation process aid digestion and help detoxify. However, if you’re not a brew master, no worries, you can find plenty of delicious pre-brewed varieties here at LuckyVitamin.
Ginger contains phenolic compounds like gingerol and volatile oils that are hugely beneficial to your digestive system. Herbalists for thousands of years have known of the healing powers of ginger, including Ayurvedic practitioners who have used it to activate the body’s internal energy to help regain balance and harmony.
Apple Cider Vinegar. It’s no surprise this overall health tonic is great for digestion too! ACV can jump start the production of HCL, the digestive juices that help breakdown food. Try adding a tablespoon to eight ounces of water and drink 15 minutes prior to a meal to help ensure that everything goes down smoothly. Did you know that LuckyVitamin makes their own apple cider vinegar? Oh yeah1 Get yours here (it has the “mother” too!)
Coconut Oil is an anti-inflammatory food. Unlike other fats, the medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in coconut oil are broken down easier by your GI tract. Plus, the anti-viral and anti-microbial properties can help kill the bad micro-organisms that cause inflammation. This explains why many people who suffer from Crohns and colitis use coconut oil as a healing food.
Supplements for heart health may help lower cholesterol, improve blood pressure, prevent heart attacks, strokes, and many other problems that put you at risk. If you are still not familiar with these wonderful products, we present you 5 important supplements for heart health.
1. CoQ10 – Coenzyme Q10
We can’t talk about heart health supplements without mentioning coenzyme Q10. Popular known as CoQ10 and also known as ubiquinol, the body naturally makes small amounts of this enzyme but as we age, production reduces, resulting in heart issues. CoQ10 supplements work really well to balance the amount of the enzyme in the body, especially for people taking cholesterol drugs, which may reduce the amount of CoQ10 the body makes on its own.
Garlic supplements work efficiently to reduce blood pressure and arterial calcification. Studies have shown that garlic can help slow the buildup of plaque in the arteries, lowering the risk of blood clots. Fresh garlic as well as supplements are a great heart-healthy choice as it can improve several parameters of heart health.
3. Fish Oil
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the best ingredients for health and fish oil supplements are a great source of them. Fish oil is known to reduce triglycerides, the unhealthy fat in the blood, up to 30%. Additionally, the American Heart Association recommends that adults eat at least two 3.5-ounce servings of fish a week but since many Americans don’t eat fish regularly, supplements may be a great alternative.
4. Vitamin K
Found in foods such as kale, collard greens, and prunes, Vitamin K is known to reduce arterial calcification and can also provide benefits for bone health. During arteria calcification, calcium adheres to the artery wall, increasing its stiffness. Vitamin K can help maintain your arteries flexible and healthy preventing heart problems.
L-carnitine is another key nutrient for cardiovascular health as it can help chaperone EFAs into the mitochondria, where they are turned into energy. L-carnitine works well with CoQ10 to help ensure your heart has the energy it needs to keep pumping.
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.
Thanksgiving is a great celebration but some folks often end up eating more than they should. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a little overeating in one of America’s oldest tradition but the after dinner bad feeling doesn’t have to last long. Many natural supplements can help minimize indigestion, bloating and gas, making you feel better and reducing growling stomach, abdominal pain, burning sensation in the upper abdomen, as well as preventing vomiting. Here’s a quick list of 5 natural products to relieve indigestion.
Chamomile is effective for relieving many gastrointestinal complaints, including indigestion. Drinking herbal chamomile tea after eating a heavy meal can help calm your stomach and relieve digestive problems.
Ginger offers a variety of health benefits including digestive support. Ginger has the ability to not only soothe the gut but also aid digestion by increasing the wavelike muscle contractions (peristalsis) that move food through the intestine. Plus, ginger stimulates digestive juices and the flow of enzymes that help you digest your food, especially when it is caused by overeating.
3. Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds can be really helpful for indigestion particularly when caused by very spicy or fatty food. Fennel seeds, and alternatively you can drink fennel tea, contain volatile oils that can help reduce nausea and control flatulence.
Papaya contain enzymes that break down protein, called proteolytics. Research suggest that papaya enzymes can be helpful for relieving indigestion, specially provide good relief for pain in the abdomen.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is often used to kick start a slow stomach. Though acidic in nature, it also has an alkalizing effect that helps settle indigestion.
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!