A number of studies have shown us that our tap water can be contaminated with chemicals. What are these chemicals doing to your skin?
You splash it on to rinse your face, but you also spend hours a week showering and bathing in it. Over a period of years, your skin could be exposed to a lot of chemicals simply because you wash regularly.
Is there a way to protect yourself, outside of investing a mint into distilled water? Fortunately, there is.
5 Ways Tap Water Causes Harm
As you may have already guessed, it’s not the water itself that may be causing the damage, but what’s in it.
- Chromium VI: In a recent study, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found measurable levels of chromium VI in the tap water of 31 out of 34 cities sampled. In addition to being a carcinogen, chromium VI is a skin irritant, and can cause contact dermatitis and allergic reactions.
- Heavy metals: Tap water contains heavy metals like iron, copper, magnesium, and zinc. Though they are present at very small levels, they can interact with free radicals and damage collagen fibers in the skin. They can also cause a reaction with the skin’s natural oils, clogging pores.
- Minerals: Most American homes have hard water, which is full of minerals. If you don’t have a water softener in your home, you’ve likely seen the hard water stains on your shower door or curtain—those white, chalky marks. That same water can leave a soapy layer on the skin that clogs pores, increasing acne breakouts, while leaving skin itchy and dry. With repeated use, hard water can also increase risk of redness and eczema. A 2014 study, for example, found that infants living in areas with high calcium content in the water supply (hard water) were at an increased risk for eczema. Researchers also found that those living in hard-water areas were at a greater risk for damage to the skin barrier, resulting in dryness.
- Chlorine: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to protect water from disease-causing organisms, water suppliers often add a disinfectant, like chlorine. Unfortunately, chlorine is bad for your skin (and your hair). It’s an irritant, and because of its abrasiveness, can cause itchiness and even rashes. It strips the skin of its natural oils and damages the outer layer, leading to increased dryness and flakiness. Over time, it can exacerbate the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, accelerating the aging process.
- Fluoride: Fluoride is also added to drinking water to “protect public health” as the EPA says—mainly, to promote dental health. Like chlorine, it’s irritating to skin, but it can also disrupt the production of collagen, which can have aging effects.
How to Reduce the Damage and Protect Your Skin
To reduce the damage your water may be doing to your skin, try the following steps: (more…)
I learn from my patients every day. This week I was asked by one if the carrageenan in her almond milk was a concern. She suffered from arthritis, obesity, and heart disease. Although I was aware of a health issue regarding this food additive, I needed to read up on the topic before I responded to her concerns. Here is what I learned.
- Carrageenan is extracted from red seaweed and is added to many foods to thicken nonfat or low-fat foods or dairy replacements. It can also stabilize beverages that may otherwise separate, like chocolate milk. It is also used in meats like deli meats and chicken as a binder or for juiciness. It is found in many processed foods like frozen pizzas and food bars.
- This “natural” food ingredient can be transformed in acid to poligeenan or “degraded” carrageenan. In animal models degraded carrageenan is a potent inflammatory agent and is used in experiments to create inflammation to test new therapies. Degraded carrageenan is also listed as a possible carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the United Nations.
- Degraded carrageenan can be found in food products and is supposed to be kept <5% of the total. It has been reported that up to 25% of carrageenan in foods may be degraded but the industry producing it has taken exception with this (http://www.marinalg.org/misinterpreted-science-used-against-carrageenan/).
- Scientific reports have raised concerns about the health effects of carrageenan for years. A report in 2001 reviewed the literature on the harmful gastrointestinal effects of carrageenan in experimental animals. Higher rates of lesions, ulcerations and malignant tumors were described.
Breakfast for dinner or dinner for breakfast? That is the question! And the answer is both!
In America, we are trained to think of eggs as mainly a breakfast food. But who says we have to limit eggs to a time frame that ends before noon? In many cultures, it’s customary to eat satisfying foods at any time of day. In Japan, it’s even common to have salmon and miso soup in the morning!
So if dinner can be for breakfast, why not breakfast for dinner? Here’s to inviting eggs to the dinner table! And with a little creativity there are many more dishes that can be whipped up besides just a scramble (although there’s nothing wrong with that!).
This recipe is one of my go-to’s at the end of a long workday. The first time it came together as a combination of ingredients I already had in my fridge (farm fresh eggs being one of my convenient staples).
It’s best to buy free-range, pastured eggs, if possible. Your local farmers’ market is the best option, and if you’re buying at the grocery, make sure they are organic. Non-organic eggs contain lots of pesticides and antibiotics.
For the base of this dish I use whatever leftovers are on hand! Here are some examples, but feel free to improvise:
- Mashed avocado with smoked salmon and diced cherry tomatoes
- Beans and rice with salsa
- Roasted root veggies with olive oil, sea salt, and cracked black pepper
- Spinach leaves, mushrooms and walnuts
Cook 2 eggs over easy and place them atop whatever you’ve created as your base. Cut into the yolks and let them ooze over the base. Then toss, coating all ingredients to mix well with the yolk. Voila—egg dishes you can eat at night.
In my previous post, 7 Ways to Boost Your Heart Health Now, I shared a few of my favorite diet-related and behavioral tips to help you improve your heart health, but there’s even more you can do to give your heart as much love as possible. Try adding a tip a week or all at once if you’re rarin’ to go. What’s wonderful about my happy heart prescription is that overdosing is all but impossible, the side-effects boost health rather than undermine it, and each tip puts you on the path to a healthier, stronger, more resilient heart. Sound good? Then climb aboard the love-your-heart train:
1. Get Into a Meditation Groove
No matter what the physical state of your heart, you can support it with a regular meditation practice – and it doesn’t have to mean days on end in the lotus position. With a little practice, you can train yourself to meditate anywhere, anytime, and bust stress on-demand. Doing so will increase your resilience and resistance to stress as well as lower blood pressure within minutes and reduce the level of cortisol (aka the stress hormone) – all of which is great news for your heart. In addition, the deep relaxation that meditation creates also stimulates the release of nature’s happy pill, oxytocin, the feel-good chemical that’s also released during orgasm. To start your meditation practice, or brush up on your skills, take a look at 6 of our favorite meditation apps.
2. Get Moving
Even if you’re not training for an Ironman race, the heart and the rest of you gain so much from exercise, it’s crazy not to make it part of your regular routine. As long as you’re well enough for exercise (check with your doc), a workout – as in one that gets your heart rate up —every other day for at least 30 minutes will help cut heart disease risk, lower blood pressure, increase blood flow, boost circulation and good (HDL) cholesterol. Other pleasant side effects? Better sleep, increased muscle tone, less weight – all those things that those of us in the over-30 (and then some) crowd crave. Looking for a great and efficient way to give your heart a hard-core workout? Consider interval training, where you alternate between moderate and high intensity activities for a minute or two at a time. It makes the heart work harder and helps strengthen it as you go. Not a lot of time to spare? Even two 15-minute sessions that get your heart rate up counts so, as they say, ‘Just do it.’
3. Get Off Your Arse – And Stand Up – A Lot
The bad news: many studies suggest that sitting all day is horrendous for your heart, going so far as to call sitting the new smoking. The good news is that you can combat the problem simply by standing more that you sit every day. How to work around the perils of toiling at a desk all day? Start by getting a stand-up desk or laptop stand that raises your computer and keyboard, effectively forcing you out of your chair, saving your health in the process. Options start as low as $70 so do your heart a favor, buy your own if the boss won’t spring for it and stand up for the health of your heart.
By Be Well Health Coach Jenny Sansouci
Enjoying a cup of good quality, organic coffee isn’t a problem for most people, but if you find yourself overdoing it on caffeine it can come with some pretty frustrating side effects. If you’re experiencing anxiety, trouble sleeping, digestive woes, restlessness or dehydration, you may be consuming too much. Drinking coffee as part of a healthy lifestyle is one of those tricky habits to master—you really have to find your sweet spot with it, so you don’t begin to rely on it for energy. Once you hit the point where you’re exhausted throughout the day unless you reach for another cup…it might be time to take a break.
If you’ve decided it’s time to kick the coffee habit for now, have no fear! For many people who want to experiment with quitting their beloved coffee, it’s more about the ritual of drinking the coffee rather than the coffee itself. The good news is, there are some truly great substitutes out there so you won’t miss your daily hot (or cold) beverage. Here are 6 that I personally love, along with the other Be Well Health Coaches. Although I go through on-and-off periods of coffee drinking depending on how I feel, these are my go-tos whenever I need a break from the joe.
Some of them contain caffeine and some don’t, so experiment and see what makes you feel the best!
1. Yerba Mate
Yerba mate is, by far, my favorite coffee substitute. In fact, this is the beverage that originally made me decide to quit coffee the first time I ever did it! This wonderful South American tea is traditionally consumed from a yerba mate gourd with a metal straw, and it’s passed around and shared in community and celebration. You don’t have to drink it this way, though. I buy loose-leaf organic yerba mate and I make it in my French press, just like you would with coffee! It does contain caffeine, so it’ll give you that morning boost, but without the jitters and crash that often come with drinking coffee. It’s also high in antioxidants – give it a try!
2. Matcha Tea
Matcha is a powdered green tea that’s incredibly concentrated in nutrients and antioxidants—some say drinking a cup of matcha is like getting the benefits of 10 cups of green tea! That’s right. The best part about matcha is you can just stir a little bit of the powder into water and it will dissolve. Because matcha tea contains L-Theanine, a relaxing amino acid, it calms you while simultaneously giving you a boost with the mild caffeine content. It makes a really great iced tea, too! If you like green tea, give matcha a try. It’s an antioxidant powerhouse!
3. A Green Juice or Smoothie
Did you know that leafy greens are naturally energizing? If you grab a green juice (get one that’s low in fruit, ideally with cucumber for extra hydration) or make a green smoothie next time you need an energy boost, you’ll find the energizing effects lasting longer than the coffee — without the crash and grogginess that may come with coffee drinking. The best part about making a green smoothie is that you can add superfoods that will give you an extra energizing kick – try adding a little maca powder or cacao powder! (more…)
What really causes addiction — to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail firsthand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do — and if there might be a better way. As he shares in this deeply personal talk, his questions took him around the world, and unearthed some surprising and hopeful ways of thinking about an age-old problem.
By Be Well Health Coach Amanda Carney
The verdict is out – healthy fats are good for us! And we should try our best to get them in at every meal! Healthy fats lubricate our digestive system, are necessary for hormone production, support the health of our brain and help us to feel satiated! Make sure to check out this interview with Nina Teicholtz, author of The Big Fat Surprise, to learn more about why we need fat in our diet.
So, how do you know which healthy fats you should be eating? Here are some of our favorites.
Good Quality Oils
Oils can be a great source of healthy fat, but unfortunately not all oils are created equal. Many of them are over processed and toxic for the body, so it is important to consider which ones are being used in your food, especially when you are out to eat. When possible, avoid restaurants that use oils such as canola, soy and corn, and especially trans fats.
Some good quality oils include:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Unrefined organic coconut oil
- Raw flax seed oil
- Raw hemp seed oil
We love cooking with coconut oil as it has a higher heat index than most other oils, and we use flax oil and hemp seed oil on things like salads and smoothies.
One of our favorite sources of healthy fat is the avocado. It tastes great and is easy to add to just about anything! We love it in smoothies, in salads, with eggs, made into a tasty dip, or sliced up alongside any animal protein!
Good Quality Animal Protein
When it comes to animal protein, quality is the most important thing to consider. Ask yourself (or your farmer), where was this animal raised? How was it treated? What was it fed?
When possible, choose good quality proteins by asking your butcher, shopping at your local farmers market or health food store, and taking the time to read labels. (more…)
Most of us only get one heart in this lifetime, and with second-hand hearts so hard to come by, nothing is more important than taking good care of the one you were born with. If by chance you haven’t been treating yours as the precious organ that it is, it’s never too late to start showing your heart some love.
To start improving your heart health –today – my prescription is a simple one: Follow the tips below, adding one or two a week to your routine. These heart helpers will become second nature in no time; healthy habits that will gift your ticker with benefits that no pharmaceutical can match. So, let’s get started:
1. Cut Out Sugar
I’ve long maintained that sugar is poison – and in a nutshell here’s why: Sugar raises blood sugar levels, which raises insulin levels, which in turn slows metabolism, decreasing the burning of calories for energy and increasing the calories converted to fat. Sugar also pushes up cholesterol, especially small particle LDL, the most damaging kind and the stuff that’s most closely correlated with heart disease and heart attack. Drop sugar and your heart will avoid the whole mess.
2. Cut Out Processed Foods
Processed foods are high in sugar and mass-produced vegetable oils so they’re a sure bet to invite the blood sugar and insulin problems which in turn abuse your heart. In addition, virtually all processed foods are manufactured with an alarming list of chemical ingredients. When you drop processed foods, you drop all those chemicals and sugar – and that makes your heart sing.
3. Cut Out Vegetable Oils
Because when you cut ‘em out, you’ll reduce the cardiac risk associated with taking in too many omega-6 fatty acids (and not enough omega-3s). As with cutting back grains, dropping vegetable oils reduces the inflammation triggered by an over abundance of omega-6’s, found in so-called ‘healthy’ oils like canola, corn, cottonseed, safflower, sunflower and so on.
4. Cut Back on Grains
Grains are carbs that are one step away from being broken down to sugar (glucose) by the body. Particularly if you are insulin-resistant or carb sensitive, go light on the grains, especially the refined grains, if you want to protect your heart from the ravages of sugar. Grains are also high in omega-6 fatty acids, which, consumed in excess, are pro-inflammatory.
This article originally appeared on naturallysavvy.com
Here’s a statistic that may be hard to believe: There were more than 6.9 billion subscriptions for cell phones around the world in 2014, yet only 4.5 billion people have access to working toilets. While the estimated 3.5 billion people without toilets are at risk for health problems, so are the 6.9 billion with cell phones.
That’s because cell phones emit electromagnetic fields (EMFs) or electromagnetic radiation, which has the potential to damage the cells in the body. In fact, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies EMFs from cell phones as possible carcinogens. EMFs can interfere with the body’s natural electrical system and disrupt sleep, immune system function, hormone production, and the healing process. Kevin Byrne, president of EMF Solutions, also points out the simultaneous increase in conditions such as chronic pain, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease and the significant rise in EMF exposure.
According to Dr. Devra Davis, who wrote Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, cell phones are dangerous because they emit erratic signals capable of disrupting resonance and DNA repair. As long as your cellular phone is on, it sends out radiation intermittently. Even if you don’t take your phone out of your pocket all day, it continues to expose you to radiation. Dr. Joseph Mercola, founder of Mercola.com recently wrote an excellent article on the dangers of cell phones and provided commonsense ways we can protect ourselves and our family from the electromagnetic radiation it emits.
So What Can You Do to Protect Yourself From Your Cell Phone?
1. Keep Your Distance
Do not keep your cell phone next to your body or in your bra. Some athletic wear companies are now making bras with cell phone pockets, as seen in the picture above. PLEASE do not put your phone in the pocket unless your phone is on airplane mode. There is evidence offered by the Environmental Health Trust to suggest that women who keep a cellular phone in their bra may develop breast cancer. Research also indicates that men who keep their cell phones on their belt or near their reproductive organs may have lower sperm counts and less sperm motility.
2. Talk on Speaker
Holding a cell phone to your ear also eposes your salivary glands to EMFs. Research has shown a fourfold increase in cancer of the parotid gland from 1970 to 2006 while rates of other salivary gland cancers have stayed the same. The parotid gland is located closest to your cheek.
3. Turn Your Phone Off More Often
No radiation is emitted when the device is off.
4. Consider Alternatives
When possible, use a landline or Skype, which offers a way to stay in touch without a cell phone! (more…)
Wal-Mart’s announcement that it is urging its thousands of U.S. suppliers to curb the use of antibiotics in farm animals shines a light on a practice that the meat industry would rather not discuss: the use of drugs on the meat that we eat.
80% of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are used on the animals we eat: injected into them, fed to them and many of the drugs are banned or restricted around the world.
As Wal-Mart steps into this issue, it brings to light one of the most controversial drugs in our food system: ractopamine.
Here in the US, the FDA approved ractopamine and allows the drug to be used widely in U.S. factory farm operations.
There are 196 countries in the world, and it is estimated that 160 countries them ban or restrict ractopamine. But the US? We are not one of them.
The U.K., China, Russia, Taiwan and the European Union ban or limit the use of ractopamine, a drug that promotes growth in pigs, cattle and turkeys. Ractopamine is linked with serious health and behavioral problems in animals, and human studies are limited but evoke concerns, according to the Center for Food Safety.
The U.S. meat industry uses ractopamine to accelerate weight gain and promote feed efficiency and leanness in pigs, cattle, and turkeys. The drug mimics stress hormones.
So how did this drug wind up in our food supply?
The FDA’s approval of the drug relied primarily on the drug-makers’ studies.