The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:
The Pharmaceutical Drug Epidemic

Love this clip from the Daily Show. Correspondent, Michael Che discovers that pharmaceutical companies and drug cartels have more in common than one might think.

Posted by on Sep 19, 2014| 1 Comments

When Your Skin Erupts—Allergic Reactions and Rashes

Skin Allergies

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), in 2010, skin allergies affected 13 percent of children aged 17 years and under. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says these allergies are on the rise, increasing from 7.4 percent in 1997 to 12.5 percent in 2011.

Child or adult, allergic skin reactions can be really frustrating. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, you apply a moisturizer and end up with redness and inflammation.

Try these tips for soothing reactive skin—with product recommendations to help you deal with flare-ups.

What Causes Allergic Reactions?

The problem with skin reactions is that so many things can trigger them. Medications, plants, foods, clothing materials, detergents, ingredients in personal care products, and household cleaners can all cause the immune system to overreact, sending chemical messengers to the skin that cause symptoms like hives and swelling.

Skin can react this way when you touch something you’re allergic to, eat or inhale an allergen, or take a medication that triggers an allergic response in your body.

Since many skin conditions are difficult to diagnose, it’s important to remember that your body may be reacting to an allergen. If you suspect allergies may be involved, be sure to make an appointment with your allergist/immunologist, as he/she can help you discover your “triggers,” or those things that you may be allergic to.

Some common allergens include nickel, latex, dust, dyes, formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers (like urea and DMDM hydantoin), fragrances, pet dander, preservatives, and more. Whatever causes the reaction, symptoms are similar, and include:

  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Scales
  • Blisters

To Prevent It

The first way to prevent allergic skin reactions is to avoid your triggers. That’s why it helps to make an appointment with your allergy doctor to determine what’s causing your immune system to overreact.

Even if you know your triggers, though, you may be at risk from a reaction, as there are more chemicals in our world today than at any other time in history. You may come into contact with a trigger and not know it. This may happen when you’re traveling or eating unfamiliar foods, but one of the main reasons is because you’re using new skin care products.

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Posted by on Sep 18, 2014| 0 Comments

From The Be Well Kitchen:
3 Ingredient Paleo Pancakes

Paleo Pancakes
By Be Well Health Coach Jenny Sansouci

When I first heard about these pancakes, I thought – there’s no way this will be like actual pancakes. With no flour, milk, sugar or grains at all…what will these taste like? Turns out they are even better than “real” pancakes, and incredibly easy to make! With only 3 ingredients, you really have no excuse not to swap out your pancake recipe for this one. They fluff up perfectly, and are a serious crowd pleaser. Even the most die-hard pancake lovers will be shocked when you tell them the ingredients. The best part? No post-brunch food coma!

3 Ingredient Paleo Pancakes

Makes about 4-6 decent sized pancakes

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 tbsp almond butter

Recipe adapted from Ultimate Paleo Guide


Mash up banana in a large bowl. Add eggs and almond butter and whisk until the mixture forms a thick batter. Pour batter onto a pan with coconut oil or grass-fed butter, just as you would with regular pancakes. Flip when they begin to brown.

Top with berries. Enjoy!

Posted by on Sep 17, 2014| 0 Comments

Are Cholesterol and Saturated Fat Your Friends?

Bacon and Eggs

This article originally appeared on

For decades we’ve been told to eat less cholesterol and saturated fat because they can cause or contribute to heart disease. Recently, however, these recommendations have been thrown out the window by some experts while the so-called real culprit—carbohydrates—are tossed to the lions.

So, are cholesterol and saturated fat your friends while whole-grain bagels and organic quinoa are your enemies? Before you decide to make burgers and steaks a regular part of your diet or become distressed because you are a vegetarian or vegan, let’s take a closer look at what is being reported.

A growing number of studies, including a March 2014 meta-analysis of 76 reports, have indicated that people who ate higher amounts of saturated fat did not experience more heart disease than individuals who ate less of the fat. They also have suggested that reducing your saturated fat and keeping your cholesterol levels low (less than around 180 mg/dL) do not help prevent heart disease and obesity. In fact, according to a 2013 study published in the British Medical Journal, lowering these two figures can actually raise your risk for both conditions.

Read more about cholesterol

This and other research findings were fodder for a recently published book called “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet” by Nina Teicholz, a health journalist. Teicholz emphasizes that the mantra to reduce saturated fat and cholesterol because they can cause heart disease is out of key—in more ways than one. In fact, since publication of research in Circulation by Ancel Keys in 1963, which stated that saturated fat is a big no-no for health and the heart, the public has been urged by the medical realm to lower its intake of foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Keys went on to publish follow-up articles on his work. A problem is that Keys reported only on selected countries; that is, only seven of the 22 he surveyed (which is why the study is referred to as the Seven Countries Study). When the data from all of the countries are considered, the conclusion was that people who ate more saturated fat actually had a lower risk of heart disease.

The result, according to Teicholz and some researchers, is that the public has turned in a big way to carbohydrates, especially refined carbs and simple sugars. This detour from fat to processed carbs has resulted in runaway inflammation and disease, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, and more.

That’s because when you replace saturated with more carbs, especially refined white flour and white sugar carbs, you nourish and support insulin resistance, raise triglyceride levels, lower good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, HDL), and encourage obesity, according to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition report.

Another well-known study that focused on cholesterol and heart disease is the Framingham Heart Study, which started in 1948 and has continued to this day. A little known fact about the findings of this study is that the more saturated fat and cholesterol people consumed, the lower their cholesterol levels. Since three-quarters of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels, it makes sense that you would want to manage your refined carbohydrate intake and keep insulin levels under control.

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Posted by on Sep 16, 2014| 1 Comments

3 Simple Reasons to Kiss Your Sweeteners Goodbye

Artificial Sweeteners

Sugar – the less of it we eat, the healthier we all will be. At last, people are starting to get the message that too much sugar is bad for your health. And while it’s great that millions of sweet-tooth junkies are ditching sugar, they’re switching to non-caloric, artificial sweeteners, swapping one bad habit for another. So, if you’re hooked on the powdered white stuff, it’s time to make a change. Ideally, your daily dose of sweetness should come from the naturally-occurring sugars found in some whole, organic, unprocessed foods, not from synthetic sources or processed foods. Ultimately, the fix is a simple one: eat healthy and the too-much-sugar-in-the-diet problem will disappear. Easier said than done, but if you’re one of the millions reaching for the fake stuff, it’s quitting time because, whether you know it or not, those artificial alternatives are wreaking havoc with your weight, your appetite, hormones and even your brain. What follows are the 3 simple reasons why you’ve got to kick those sweeteners – you know, the ones in the cute little pink, yellow and blue packages – today.

1. Artificial Sweeteners Contribute to Weight Gain, Not Loss

If you’re using artificial sweeteners to lose weight, you’re probably barking up the wrong tree. While that package of Splenda, Equal or Sweet ‘n Low may dump fewer actual calories into your morning coffee, there’s little research to support that idea that the modest caloric savings will actually contribute much to your weight-loss efforts. However there are multiple large-scale studies over the last 30 years which have repeatedly found that artificial sweetener users gained more weight or had higher BMI’s than those who didn’t use them. More recently, another study came to a similar conclusion, reporting that rats fed artificially-sweetened foods gained more weight than those who dined on sugar-sweetened foods. Simply put, the taste of sweet, be it artificial or actual sugar, appears to play a significant role in increasing appetite, making it counter-productive for anyone who is looking to maintain or lose weight.

2. Artificial Sweeteners Trigger Cravings

If the weight-gain connection isn’t enough to put you off, how about the idea that artificial sweetener use seems to increase junkie-like cravings? Here’s the deal: your old pals Equal, NutraSweet, Pure Via, Splenda, Sugar Twin, Sweet ‘n Low or Truvia and virtually all the popular, non-caloric sweeteners have one thing in common: they’re significantly sweeter than sugar. Now logically, you’d think all that sweetness would enable you to use less or eat a smaller amount of an artificially-sweetened product. But guess what? These super-sweeteners seem to have the opposite effect, in part by flooding your taste-buds with sweet, dulling them to the taste, pushing your sweetness threshold ever higher, while never actually the craving. This also sheds more light on the weight-gain issue as well. The idea is that the super-sweetness of the artificial stuff interferes with the release of satiety hormones, slowing your body’s ability to send signals to the brain that you’ve had enough, which leads to overeating and increased calorie intake, without you even realizing it. You could liken it to rapidly downing a few shots of vodka – it takes fifteen minutes or so for your body to catch up and send the signals that you’re drunk and by then, it’s time to take away the keys.

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Posted by on Sep 15, 2014| 3 Comments

6 Signs You’re Eating Too Much Sugar

Sugar Cravings
By Be Well Health Coach Jenny Sansouci

1. You’re Fatigued

If you’re constantly tired and reaching for your next pick-me-up, chances are you’re on a blood sugar rollercoaster. When we’re tired, we often reach for even more sugar to counteract the fatigue, which leads to a cycle of sugar-fueled highs and lows. If you decide to cut out sugar, give your body a few days to adjust – and then you’ll begin to feel your energy levels even out. Boost your energy naturally.

2. You Have Sugar/Carb Cravings

Sugar is extremely addictive, and the more of it you eat, the more you crave. If you’re constantly on the hunt for something sugary throughout the day, your body and brain are probably hooked on the sweet stuff. You’ll find that the less sugar you eat, the less you’ll crave it. When you cut out refined sugar and artificial sweeteners, you’ll reduce your sugar cravings and begin to realize how sweet fruit is! Tips for sugar cravings.

3. You Have Skin Issues

Sugar can wreak havoc on your skin – causing acne, dryness and overall skin imbalances. Your skin is a mirror of what’s going on inside your body, so the inflammation that sugar causes on the inside will show up on the outside. If you have pesky skin issues that won’t go away, examining your sugar intake could be a smart idea. Check out these tips for glowing skin.

4. You’re Depressed or Anxious

Sugar is one of the biggest contributors to mood disorders like depression and anxiety. There’s a reason they call it the “sugar blues” – sugar can put you on a rollercoaster of emotions that can be hard to get off of until you make a commitment to give up the sweet stuff. In addition to depression and anxiety, you may experience brain fogginess and stress. You’ll feel your mood lighten when you begin to lay off the sugar. Enhance your mood with food.

5. You Get Sick A Lot

Sugar suppresses the immune system – so it impairs your body of its ability to fend off stress and chronic illness. If you’re always “coming down with something” or frequently taking over-the-counter drugs for the common cold, chances are your diet – particularly your sugar intake – could be the culprit. A cleanse that puts you on an elimination diet can help your immune system tremendously!

6. You’re Overweight

You probably know by now that fat doesn’t make you fat — sugar does! A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can definitely keep on the extra weight. If you’ve been trying to lose weight by eating a low fat diet, but still including sugars and other carbohydrates, it’s not helping your cause. Try cutting out the sugar and even most of the grains for a couple of weeks and see if it makes a difference. Sugar can also wreak havoc in the gut, which hinders weight loss too. Learn more about your gut and weight loss.

Ready to say goodbye to sugar? 20 Ways To Get Sugar Out Of Your Life

Posted by on Sep 12, 2014| 0 Comments

Are Fecal Transplants the Future of Medicine?

Fecal Transplants

This article originally appeared on

Fecal transplants are real, and yes, technically a medical thing.

A relatively new technology designed to help battle C. diff, the most common hospital-contracted illness that’s extremely difficult to treat with antibiotics, fecal transplants hold some promising results.

“Doctors, health officials, researchers, and entrepreneurs have begun to see the potential of fecal transplants to treat not just C. diff, but perhaps a multitude of ailments, from irritable bowel syndrome to chronic constipation,” reports Mother Jones.

As a new, and never-going-to-be-not-gross procedure, fecal transplants are gaining acceptance as a legitimate treatment. The MIT-formed nonprofit OpenBiome, collects and sells “screened” stools for procedures such as treating C.diff, Mother Jones explains. “With more than 70 hospitals around the United States using their stool to treat patients, it’s currently the largest of a family of nonprofit stool banks, having shipped more than 840 treatments to 87 hospitals in 30 states and the District of Columbia.”

But the FDA hasn’t fully regulated fecal matter yet; it’s currently receiving a drug class regulation until a final rule is issued. There are questions as to just how it should be classified, handled and distributed moving forward. OpenBiome says it should be classified like tissue (blood or organs), while others see it more as a drug or vaccine of sorts. “Regulating poop as a drug would subject it to a higher standard of safety tests by submitting it to clinical trials and generate data which could benefit the entire field,” explains Mother Jones. “But critics of that approach say it will limit the supply of this therapy to companies that can afford to undergo the trials.”

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Posted by on Sep 11, 2014| 1 Comments

From the Be Well Kitchen:
Our Favorite Cleanse Shake Recipes

Favorite Smoothies
By Be Well Health Coach Kerry Bajaj

If you’re doing the Be Well Cleanse and looking for some tasty shake combos, look no further! When I do the Cleanse, I often make a smoothie for my breakfast shake, so that it’s a bit more filling. Then I have the other 2 shakes with just water or almond milk.

If weight loss is an important goal for you, we recommend skipping out on the smoothies and keeping the shakes simple by mixing them up with water, almond milk or coconut milk.

For all of these, simply add ingredients to the blender, blend and enjoy!

Be Well Coach Laura Kraber

1 Cleanse shake
8 oz almond or hemp milk
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix (or cinnamon)
3 drops liquid stevia

Note: no blender needed for this one!

Be Well Coach Jennifer Mielke

1 Cleanse shake
½ pear
¼ cup blueberries
8 oz coconut water

Be Well Coach Kerry Bajaj

1 Cleanse shake
8 oz almond milk
Hefty dash of cinnamon
½ tbsp almond butter (optional)
½ tsp cocoa powder (optional)
Lots of ice

Tastes like a milkshake!

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Posted by on Sep 10, 2014| 2 Comments

How Traditional Treatments For Hyperpigmentation Are Actually Causing More Damage to Your Skin

Facial Cream

As women in the beauty industry one of the biggest complaints that our customers express to us is chronic hyperpigmentation, or those unsightly dark spots that remain on the skin after a breakout is long gone. It seems that women are becoming more concerned about the aftermath of a bad breakout rather than the breakout itself. There has been much information circulating about acne and how to treat it, fight it, and prevent it but there seems to be little information on how to stop the discoloration of the skin surrounding the area of devastation. In response to this we’ve put together some practical solutions for those seeking to heal those pesky dark spots, and some tips on how to prevent them in the first place.

Hyperpigmentation is a darkening around an area on the skin and is caused by several factors, but most commonly an increase of melanin. Melanin is a complex group of insoluble pigments which contribute to the coloring of skin, nails, hair and eyes. Some ethnic groups produce higher amounts of melanin and are more prone to experience hyperpigmentation than others, especially after a bout with acne and sun exposure. Some people may also experience hyperpigmentation due to certain conditions such as Celiac Disease, mercury poisoning, smoking and Addison’s Disease. Pregnant women are also likely to experience patchy discolorations called Melasma due to an increase of melanin during pregnancy. The instances of hyperpigmention are definitely on the rise so, how do we prevent it from happening in the first place.

One of the simplest methods of prevention is to diligently wear sunscreen daily and to reapply as as needed while spending time outdoors. There is a myth that people with darker skin do not need sun protection because their skin will not burn as quickly as those with lighter skin. The truth is: UV rays do not discriminate. As a matter of fact, UV light stimulates melanin activity and breaks down the DNA of surrounding tissue and inflamed areas of the skin of all people. This is what often causes the dark spots on your face after your acne has healed. However, UV light isn’t the only culprit. Often times in an attempt to rid our skin of blemishes many of us put our faces through the ringer. We use chemical laden “treatment” lotions or creams that can actually cause more harm than good; or we may over-exfoliate to slough off dead skin cells, but this actually increases inflammation and exacerbates hyperpigmentation as a result. It is best to be gentle to your skin and remain patient and consistent while treating mild to severe discoloration. Products with Vitamin-C and Vitamin-E contain potent antioxidants that seem to work well on chronic hyperpigmentation.

The bottom line, to prevent hyperpigmentation we must stop punishing our skin with harsh acne treatments that simply thin the skin’s protective layers and make it more susceptible to trauma and further discoloration. While it is tempting to seek out drastic measures promising a quick fix, acid peels and other harsh treatments are huge contributors to hyperpigmentation. As an alternative, try natural acids such as, kojic acid, lauric acid, amino acids or ascorbic acid which are found in natural ingredients such as rice, coconut oil, olive oil and citrus fruits. Enzymes are also a gentle way to exfoliate skin cells without the damage of extreme exfoliants (with rough ingredients such seeds, walnut shell or plastic microbeads), which can cause tearing and micro-abrasions on already damaged skin. A few more of our favorite natural skin healing choices are raw honey which is good for cleansing , as well as products that contain bromelain, an active enzyme found in pineapple and papaya extracts. Licorice root has also been shown to be extremely helpful in gently lightening discoloration especially when due to pregnancy related Melasma. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Dermatology in 2000 found that 70 percent of the participants experienced skin lightening effects when licorice root extract was applied topically to areas of Melasma over the course of four weeks.

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Posted by on Sep 09, 2014| 0 Comments

5 Reasons to Home-Cook Your Way to an Instant Health Upgrade – And 5 Tips on How To Do It

Home Cooking

Need a quick health fix? Then look no further than your kitchen – it’s there you’ll find the real fountain of health. If you are looking to get health issues under control, your kitchen is an excellent place to start. Here are 5 reasons I urge everyone to bypass the boxes, pass on prepared foods, retreat from restaurants and make your kitchen your go-to source for sustainable health:

1. Home Cooked Meals Are Nutrient Powerhouses. McDonalds? Not So Much

Now I’m not saying that all restaurant food will short-change you nutritionally, but most fast food, “family style” and “casual” restaurants will. For them, it’s not about your health, it’s about their profits. To maximize them, the cheapest ingredients possible are used in order to “pass the savings on” to you. As a result, your meals’ inexpensive ingredients will come at a high cost to your health, consisting mostly of raw materials from large-scale industrial farms and feed lots, where GMO crops, nutrient-depleted soil, pesticides and antibiotics are the order of the day. Hardly the ideal nutritional environment and not very appetizing either. Whereas, when you make your own meal with fresh, local and/or organic ingredients, each bite delivers loads of bio-available, health-supporting nutrients.

2. Home Cooking Puts Money in Your Pocket

Not to sound like your Depression-era grandpa, but dinner out once a week plus a few deli lunches is akin to lighting money on fire. Douse the flames by getting into a home cooking groove, which will also deliver the added benefit of leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. Cutting back to just one or two dinners out a month and brown-bag lunches can save you roughly $2,000 -$4,000 a year, which healthfully-speaking, could be better spent on fresh, local produce, grass-fed meats and dairy from the farmers’ market. You could also use it for a CSA (community supported agriculture) membership, which will give you exclusive access to deliveries of fresh, local, seasonal produce, no supermarket required. For a list of over 4,000 CSAs visit

3. Cooking at Home Gives You Control

Sure, restaurant meals are fun and leave you without a sink full of dishes, but you have to keep in mind that even the best restaurants, may be using unhealthy oils or slipping in scoops of extra sugar and salt. At home, you’re in control. You’re in charge of portion size and what does or doesn’t get slipped onto your plate. When you’re your own top chef, you guarantee that there will be no surprises, weird additives or allergens that can make you fat or ill.

4. Cooking at Home Sets a Good Example

Cooking at home is a great lesson for the kids and a wonderful opportunity to bond over a shared activity. It’s also an opportunity to teach them an important life skill. Cooking isn’t a mysterious activity that just somehow happens – good food is a hands-on affair, where creativity and imagination can make playing with food fun (and for some, a career). The lesson of self-reliance is the meal that lasts forever, so let’s get cookin’! 

5. Closer-to-home-cooking Should be Your Fallback

If you are going to eat out, your best nutritional bets are closer-to-home-cooked, organic and farm-to-table style restaurants, which use more nutritionally-dense, fresh, local and organic ingredients to make your meal. Keep in mind though, too much of even a good thing can still hit wallets and waistlines hard, so make dining out a rare treat, not your default setting.

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Posted by on Sep 08, 2014| 0 Comments