The Best Mattress for a Healthy Night’s Sleep

A Good Nights Sleep

A good night’s sleep is a major component of a healthy lifestyle, and yet it’s elusive for many people. I’ve talked at length about circadian rhythms, the importance of creating a sleep routine, and other sleep tips, but cleaning up your sleep environment can have a big impact too. Your mattress plays a big part in that.

Here are the 3 most important questions to consider in choosing a mattress to support a healthy night’s sleep:

Is It Made From Toxic Materials?

You’re ideally spending 7-8 hours a night cozying up to your mattress, so make sure you choose one that is as natural as possible. Avoid PBDEs used in mattresses as flame retardants. A good natural mattress will utilize a non-toxic Kevlar flame retardant or a wool layer. Always ask questions about the flame retardant, as wool, even organic, must be bonded together with synthetic adhesive fibers, which are often toxic. Some companies can make you a mattress without the flame retardant if you have a note from your doctor.

If your body can work on its own vital processes instead of combating toxins while you sleep you’ll wake more rested.

Does It Optimize Blood Flow?

Is your mattress really comfortable? Comfort is not just about the first 10 minutes, it’s about the whole 8 hours.

Optimized blood flow is a crucial element of a restful night sleep that is rarely considered. You want to find a mattress that creates unrestricted blood flow through proper support and pressure relief. Memory foam is one of the best options to ensure this.

Poor circulation can cause pain that leaves you tossing and turning. Every time you’re roused to change your sleeping position, you reset your sleep cycle, which again can leave you feeling groggy and tired even after a full night’s sleep.

Will It Give You Good Support?

You’ll want to avoid spring mattresses, as the components are generally the lowest quality on the market. Spring mattresses are also the biggest culprit of triggering pressure points, especially with the loss in support that occurs after just a few years of use.

Natural and organic latex mattresses are durable and work well for a clean air environment, but they fall short when it comes to properly supporting your body and reducing those pressure points.

Memory foam is a material that gives you all the body support benefits but without the clean air benefits of natural latex.

Quick tip: If the natural mattress you’re looking at is topped with wool, make sure the wool layer can be easily removed and washed. Wool is a nesting ground for dust mites which are a pain for most allergy sufferers.

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Posted by on Aug 19, 2014| 0 Comments

Treat Media Consumption Just Like Binge Eating

News Media

A few months ago, as I was wrapping up the next day’s work preparations and shutting down my electronics for the evening, I noticed a new email in my inbox.

It was a New York Times News Alert informing me that Osama bin Laden had been killed. The brief email offered few details but informed me that President Obama would be appearing on TV imminently with an announcement.

Compelled, I clicked the link to the promised live-video stream and waited, looking at a placeholder screen and this message:

The White House has announced that President Barack Obama will address the American people in the next few minutes. When Mr. Obama begins speaking, his remarks will appear in this live video stream from the White House Web site.

Wow, I thought. Historic moment. I should watch this.

A minute ticked by. As I waited, I began reading the headlines of related articles. I perused the page’s unrelated live Twitter feed about Syria. I reread the placeholder message to see if anything had changed. I started thinking about hitting social media or turning on the radio to see what else was being said about the breaking news of bin Laden’s demise.

And then, I thought better of it.

I reminded myself of a commitment that I’d made almost a decade ago in the wake of another major news event — 9/11. My commitment: to become a more discerning and conscious consumer of media.

To me, that means making thoughtful choices about what I watch, read and listen to. It means noticing how I wind up giving my attention to various media streams, and why. It means being aware of the impact my media habits are having on me, and on those around me.

It especially means noticing when I am getting sucked in by something I hadn’t planned to. And it often means turning off or tuning out media — from TV and radio to books, magazines, Web and social-media content — that I find irrelevant, unhelpful, or inconsistent with what I deem to be the best use of my focus and time.

It does not necessarily mean always looking away from things that I find disturbing, surprising or provocative, but it does mean evaluating whether I am being catalyzed to grow and respond constructively, or merely being bombarded in a way that leaves me feeling helpless, hopeless and disempowered.

Over the course of the past decade, I’ve found that this approach to monitoring my media intake has served me well, and it has saved me countless hours of frustration and distraction.

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Posted by on Aug 18, 2014| 0 Comments

The 8 Most Common Genetically Modified Foods: Are You Still Eating Them?

GMO Foods

Reprinted with permission from NaturallySavvy.com

The publicity and interest in “going green” has increased awareness to serious environmental issues surrounding global warming. However, genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—also called genetically modified foods or GM foods—are another significant environmental issue that has disappeared in the shadows lately.

What Are GMOs?

Genetically modified organisms are created by taking genes from organisms such as bacteria, viruses or animals and inserting them into other, often unrelated, species. GM food refers to any food product containing or is derived from GMOs.

Proponents of genetically modified foods point to their many benefits which includes: boosting agricultural production and potentially ending world hunger; decreased use of pesticides by creating pest-resistant crops; and enhanced nutritional value by fortifying plants with additional nutrients.

Read more about GMOs creating superweeds

However, critics of GMOs, warn that creating new organisms, which would never occur in nature, pose serious unknown and unpredictable health and environmental risks.

The Big Eight:

The United States is the world leader in the production of biotechnology crops accounting for nearly two-thirds of all biotech crops planted globally.

Approximately 70 percent of foods in our supermarkets contain genetically engineered ingredients including products made from these most common genetically modified foods:

1. Soy: soy flour, lecithin, soy protein isolates and concentrates (protein shakes). Products that may contain GMO soy derivatives: vitamin E supplements, tofu, cereals, veggie burgers, soy sausages, tamari, soy sauce, chips, ice cream, frozen yogurt, infant formula, sauces, protein powder, margarine, soy cheese, crackers, breads, cookies, chocolates, candy, fried foods, shampoo, bubble bath, cosmetics, enriched flours and pastas.

2. Corn: corn flour, corn starch, corn oil, corn sweeteners, syrups. Products that may contain GMO corn derivatives: vitamin C supplements, corn chips, candy, ice cream, infant formula, salad dressings, tomato sauces, bread, cookies, cereals, baking powder, alcohol, vanilla, margarine, soy sauce, soda, fried foods, powdered sugar, enriched flours and pastas.

Read more about severe illness associated with GMO soy and corn

3. Cotton: oil, fabrics. Products that may contain GMO cotton derivatives: clothes, linens, chips, peanut butter, crackers, cookies.

4. Canola: oil. Products that may contain GMO canola: processed foods, chips, crackers, cereal, snack bars, frozen foods, canned soups, candy, bread, hummus, oil blends.

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Posted by on Aug 15, 2014| 1 Comments

Is Food Affecting Your Mood?

Food and Mood
By Be Well Health Coach Jenny Sansouci

We all have our ups and downs, but if you’re feeling anxious, depressed or lethargic and can’t seem to shake it, your diet may be to blame. Have you ever heard that the gut is considered the 2nd brain? Gut health is a major factor in feeling happy, so food and mood are very intimately linked. There are certain foods that could be contributing to your mood swings more than others — a diet high in processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and chemicals has been shown to have a significant impact on mental health.

Here are 5 culprits that may be zapping your vitality and leading to major mood swings.

Gluten

Even people without a gluten allergy can become foggy-brained and lethargic after eating gluten, and many people who give up gluten for long periods of time and then reintroduce it report they experience heightened anxiety. It can also suppress your immune system, which can lead to feeling fatigued.

Sugar

Sugar will put you on the mood rollercoaster – fast! A sugar high might give you a boost of energy quickly, but the crash can bring you to even deeper lows, leaving you feeling unmotivated, anxious and depressed. This leads to more sugar cravings to lift you back up, keeping you on the up and down ride until you decide to call it quits.

Coffee

Coffee, when used in moderation, can often be a pleasurable way to start the day and get a quick jolt of feel-good energy — but it’s often used for instant gratification when you’re already exhausted, and if that’s the case, you’re creating an energy deficit in your body that only leaves you wanting more to stay even-keeled. Although coffee does have some health benefits, the energy highs and lows can lead to heightened anxiety and depression if you’re using it as a drug.

Alcohol

There’s a reason why alcohol is called a “downer.” Think about the last time you had a hangover, or even felt slightly affected by alcohol – the mood dips that follow a night of drinking are almost impossible to escape. The constant self-medication rollercoaster of alcohol and caffeine is often par for the course for most people, which can become a slippery slope.

Processed Foods

Foods that are chemical-laden and contain processed vegetable oils, additives, artificial colors and artificial sweeteners can wreak havoc on your emotional state. Processed foods contribute to inflammation in the body, which affects brain health.

If you’re feeling overly moody, Cleanse Plus can help you eliminate these foods, clean out your gut and make room for more happy feelings.

Want to boost your health – and your mood? Try these 5 Superfoods That Fight Inflammation.

Posted by on Aug 14, 2014| 0 Comments

Artificial Food Dyes and Kids: Not a Good Mix

Macaroni and Cheese Food Dyes

report released by the National Cancer Institute showed a 9.4% increase in childhood cancer between 1992 and 2007. And today, cancer is now the leading cause of death by disease in kids under the age of fifteen.

Correlation is not causation, but the escalating rates of conditions like cancer, diabetes and food allergies have a lot of parents paying attention to what is in their food.  Some cancer doctors even call it the “doorknob syndrome.”  A patient is diagnosed with cancer, spends hours in the office being walked through procedure options, then as they turn to go, with a hand on the doorknob, turn back into the office and ask, “Is there anything I could be doing differently with my diet?”

We are quickly learning that our food is full of a lot of non-food ingredients.

About 15 million pounds of petroleum-based dyes are used in food each year.  And a certain kind of red food coloring, known as “Red 3,” is a known carcinogen that the FDA banned from our medicines and makeup in 1990, but it’s still used in our foods.

But instead of making the long overdue move to do something serious about getting rid of toxic food dyes so ubiquitous in our food supply, dyes derived from synthetic chemicals that studies have linked to cancer, the FDA, upon learning this, fell back on two simple words: “more research.”

In kitchens across this country, eight dyes, currently being used by manufacturers, can be found in everything from packaged macaroni and cheese to breakfast cereal to practically every piece of candy your child has ever put in his or her mouth. Links are being found to hyperactivity in kids (ADHD), cancer and serious food allergies.

But here is the truly amazing thing, and for those of us who have fed our kids these color-laden foods, perhaps the toughest thing to stomach: Kraft, Coca Cola and Wal-Mart have already removed these artificial food colors and dyes from the same products that they distribute in other countries. Skittles?  Don’t have them.  M&Ms?  Don’t have them either.  Neither do cereals, fruit snacks and just about any food you’d think to put in a kids mouth. They did it in response to consumer demand and an extraordinary study called the Southampton Study.

The Southampton Study was unusual in that it tested children on a combination of two ingredients: tartrazine (yellow #5) and sodium benzoate. The study’s designers knew that a child very rarely has occasion to ingest just a synthetic color or just a preservative; rather, a child who is gobbling up multicolored candies is probably taking in several colors and at least one preservative.

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Posted by on Aug 12, 2014| 4 Comments

Could SLS In Your Cream be Making Your Eczema Worse?

Skin Cream

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) states that about 15 million people in the U.S. suffer from eczema, a type of dermatitis that causes chronic irritation, redness, cracked, and dry skin. The condition can be embarrassing, uncomfortable, and even painful, and can continue to flare up for years.

Patients struggling with eczema know that it’s best to use soothing creams and lotions to reduce symptoms, but many don’t know that the products they’re using could actually be making their eczema worse. A recent study, for instance, found that using some emollient creams actually made for soothing eczema could aggravate the condition‚ all because of one ingredient—sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

Eczema Cream Increased Skin Dehydration

A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology (2010) showed that aqueous cream BP—one of the most widely prescribed emollients for the treatment of eczema—actually reduces the thickness of healthy skin over a period of four weeks by more than 10 percent, increasing water loss by 20 percent. Professor Richard Guy, one of the study authors, said the cream was likely to aggravate those dry, itchy rashes that are common in people with eczema.

What did the researchers think caused this problem? They stated the most likely ingredient was sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

What is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?

SLS is a chemical compound used as a foaming agent in personal care products like body washes and shampoos, as well as in detergents and industrial products. In skin care, it’s often used to create a creamy, rich texture. In toothpastes, it has been found to increase the risk of canker sores or mouth ulcers, and is known to irritate skin with prolonged exposure. In fact, SLS is used in lab tests to purposely irritate and damage the skin’s outer layer.

It’s no surprise then that researchers believe the SLS in the aqueous cream is what caused the thinning of the skin. Professor Guy offered this conclusion: “Our study has found that rubbing aqueous cream containing SLS into the skin thins this protective barrier, making the skin more susceptible to irritation by chemicals. So to use this cream on exzemous skin, which is already thin and vulnerable to irritation, is likely to make the condition even worse.”

What to Use Instead?

This study shows how important it is to maintain that protective outer layer in skin. That layer is what keeps skin healthy and moist, and when it’s stripped or damaged, skin becomes dry and cracked. Compromised skin is even more fragile, as some of that outer layer has already been damaged. Therefore it becomes critical to read the ingredient list and make sure you’re using products that won’t contribute to that damage.

Those suffering from eczema may be better off using ointments rather than creams, and choosing products that contain safer ingredients. Check with your dermatologist, read the label, and consider trying Purely Shea 100% Organic Shea Butter, and Earthbound Organic Chickweed and Calendula Cream, or other similar nurturing products.

Have you found a safe product to use on your eczema? Please share!

Source: Tsang M, Guy RH. Effect of Aqueous Cream BP on human stratum corneum in vivo. British Journal of Dermatology 2010; Article first published online: July 22.

Posted by on Aug 11, 2014| 0 Comments

How to Add More Steps to Your Day

Footsteps
By Be Well Health Coach Kerry Bajaj

Sitting is bad for you! Prolonged sitting is linked with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and premature death. Some reports are saying that sitting is as harmful as smoking cigarettes.

Here are some tips to add more steps to your workday.

1.  Count Your Steps

I truly had idea how sedentary my life was until I got a pedometer. The Fitbit, Jawbone UP and other pedometers are great tools to increase your awareness of how many steps you’re taking a day. I have the Jawbone UP and it sets a goal of walking 10,000 steps a day. I quickly figured out that if I didn’t exercise for 30 minutes and squeeze in some brisk walks, it was very nearly impossible to reach that goal. If you can’t buy one, try to borrow one for a week – you will learn a lot, I guarantee it!

2. Take a Brisk Walk at Lunchtime

I’m very lucky because I bring my dog to work, so I absolutely have to take her for a walk at lunchtime. Even at my last job, when I didn’t have a pup, I had a work buddy that I would always meet for a short spin around the park. We built it into our day, after eating and before going back to our desk for the afternoon. If you buy lunch, think about getting it from somewhere a few blocks away and don’t get it delivered!

3. Take the Stairs

If you work on the 10th floor, you might not want to take the stairs. But one option is to take the stairs for just 2 or 3 flights and hop on the elevator for the rest of the journey. It will still get your heart pumping. Or – I will admit that I don’t often climb the 5 flights of stairs to my office, especially since the stairwell is locked in the lobby. However, I often walk DOWN the 5 flights of stairs, which still does wake up my leg muscles, with a little less huffing and puffing.

4. Schedule an Outdoor Meeting

Think outside the cubicle when setting up meetings. If you have to do some brainstorming with a coworker, you could always do it while walking and talking. You may find it gets the creative juices flowing. I have a friend who works near Central Park and often does short brainstorming jogging sessions with a colleague — they love it!

5. Keep Key Office Supplies Far From Your Desk

The printer that I use is way down the hall, so every time I print I get to take a little stroll to pick up my documents. Every moment you get off your butt counts!

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Posted by on Aug 08, 2014| 0 Comments

Drinking? Choose Your Alcohol Wisely

Margarita
By Be Well Health Coach Jenny Sansouci

On Be Well Cleanse, alcohol is cut out for a full 2 weeks. The cleanse eliminates sugar and any foods that may be causing sensitivities or inflammation in the body, and because alcohol is like liquid sugar – it gets the boot!

Most people aren’t thrilled about giving up their beloved liquor, so we tell them not to worry – it’s only 2 weeks – and it could be an interesting experiment to kick the habit. But after the 2 weeks are up, what’s a cocktail lover to do when they want to experience that vibrant health they felt on the cleanse — while still indulging in a drink once in awhile?

One question we get all the time is “if I do decide to have a drink, what should I drink?” While we’ll never say alcohol is healthy or recommend people drink alcohol, we can give suggestions on how to make the best decision if you decide you definitely want to have a drink.

  • The less volume, the better. We generally recommend people stay away from consuming beers and wines, as most people tend to drink multiple glasses of each and that’s a lot of liquid sugar. The more volume of alcohol you’re consuming, the more sugar you’re putting into your body.
  • Beer is basically liquid gluten. If you must drink beer, go for a gluten-free beer or gluten-free hard cider.
  • Instead of beer or wine, stick with a small amount of liquor like vodka (vodka is made from wheat, and while most of the gluten is removed during the distillation process, you may want to try a potato vodka if you’re gluten free), or tequila (check out this NorCal Margarita recipe).
  • Beware of the mixers. Opt for plain seltzer or soda water rather than tonic (it’s loaded with sugar). Sodas and fruit juices are filled with sugar or artificial sweeteners too, so if you want a little flavor, squeeze a lemon or lime (or both) into your cocktail.
  • Best case scenario? Try going booze-free for the night (or longer!) and see how you feel. It might not be as bad as you think. It could be an adventure. Plus, you’ll feel fantastic the next morning!

What do you think? How do you indulge in a cocktail without derailing your healthy habits? Let us know in the comments!

Posted by on Aug 07, 2014| 1 Comments

Interview with Jimmy Moore About His New Book “Keto Clarity”

Keto Clarity

Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet

Dr L:  What is Ketosis?

Jimmy Moore:  Put simply, ketosis is a metabolic state that happens when you consume a customized low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat diet that causes your body to switch from using glucose as its primary source of fuel to running mostly on ketones and fatty acids. Ketones themselves are produced when the body burns fat, and they’re used as an alternative fuel source when glucose isn’t available. In other words, your body changes from being a sugar-burner to a fat-burner. It’s a completely normal and natural state that happens within a few days to a few weeks in most people who reduce their carbohydrate intake, moderate their protein consumption, and consume dietary fat, especially saturated fat, to satiety.

Dr L:  What is a ketogenic diet all about and how can ketosis be used to deal with many chronic health problems?

Jimmy Moore:  Traditionally people have looked at the ketogenic diet in one of two ways–a natural therapy for treating epileptic seizures or for weight loss. However, there are so many more conditions that a low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat, ketogenic diet can help with. Shifting the body from relying on glucose as the major fuel source to one that uses fat and ketones for fuel has been shown in solid research over one year in length to help not just with epilepsy and weight loss, but also Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), GERD and heartburn, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). There’s good evidence of less than one year that this way of eating is beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, dementia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, mental illness, narcolepsy and other sleep disorders, and even exercise performance. Finally, there’s emerging evidence where we have seen anecdotal stories of improvement for conditions like cancer, autism, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, migraines, traumatic brain injury and stroke, gum disease and tooth decay, acne, eyesight issues, Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis, aging, kidney disease, restless leg syndrome, arthritis, alopecia and hair loss, and more. Modern medicine is currently prescribing some very powerful drugs with risky side effects attempting to deal with these things in their patients. So if there is a chance that a natural dietary solution can be as effective or better than these medications with no downsides, then why wouldn’t doctors want to try it?

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Posted by on Aug 05, 2014| 4 Comments

Beating Lyme Disease

Beating Lyme Disease

For patients with tick-borne diseases, the path to health can be confounding. Combining integrative and conventional approaches may be the best way forward.

Reprinted with permission from Experience Life Magazine.
Written by Pamela Weintraub

Katina Makris was living her dream when life derailed. A natural-medicine practitioner with a flourishing career, she had a passionate marriage, a young son she doted on, and a home she had lovingly restored in the New Hampshire woods. But slowly she began to slip.

First, in June 2000, there was an inkling of muscle pain and fatigue. A few months later, she experienced a crippling migraine, and her arms and legs felt numb. The symptoms only got worse. At night she was engulfed in drenching sweat. Her brain became sluggish and confused. The days were a blur of exhaustion and pain. Eventually, she required a wheelchair and was so sick she had to give up her practice.

Unable to care for her child, she hired an au pair. Between trips to doctors and naturopaths, she spent most of her time in bed. Her marriage crumbled, and divorce was followed by financial struggle and more years in bed.

Five years into this devastating slide, after visits to teaching hospitals and myriad other physicians and practitioners, Makris happened to consult a well-known nutritionist. “He took one look at me and said, ‘I think you have neurological Lyme disease,’” she recalls.

That hunch was confirmed by lab tests, which came back positive for the infectious agent of Lyme disease, a spiral-shaped bacterium, or spirochete, transmitted by the bite of a black-legged tick.

Makris also tested positive for Babesia, a malaria-like blood parasite often inhabiting the same ticks. “I was never so relieved and furious at the same time,” Makris recalls. How could someone immersed in the healthcare profession herself fall so disastrously between the cracks?

Remarkably, Makris eventually recovered from this body blow, emerging whole to write an inspiring book about her experience, Out of the Woods: Healing Lyme Disease — Body, Mind, and Spirit. Even more remarkable, she managed to navigate a path to recovery without prescription antibiotics.

Integrative-medicine colleagues advised that prescription antibiotics might harm her in her fragile state. They recommended she instead consider relying solely on nutritional, herbal, and lifestyle-based treatments to heal her Lyme disease.

The treatment was multipronged. First, her doctors attempted to detox her body with plants known to aid liver function: milk thistle, dandelion, and bayberry. To lower inflammation naturally, she cut wheat and sugar from her diet. The brain fog diminished, she recalls, “and the worst jet lag of my life started to lift.”

Then her doctors treated her Lyme and Babesia with antimicrobial herbs. “I was able to make small meals again and do simple chores, like emptying the dishwasher,” she says. Along the way, she received acupuncture therapy for pain, boosted her energy with supplements like dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), stabilized her gut with probiotics, and then finally fixed the moldy roof on her house. “A year into treatment I was doing yoga, and I could walk a mile,” Makris says.

Ultimately, she and her son moved to a new, mold-free house on a city street in Peterborough, N.H., farther away from the ticks. By 2010 she was finally well.

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Posted by on Aug 04, 2014| 3 Comments