Naturally Shield Your Skin From the Sun With Food

Sunny Day at the Beach

A safe sunscreen (like zinc oxide) is your best bet when it comes to protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. But did you know that you can increase your skin’s resistance to damage, aging, and even cancer with certain healthy foods?

Plants have their own built-in protection against the damaging effects of the sun. When you eat foods that come from these plants, you consume those protective compounds, which helps boost your skin’s ability to protect itself.

Science Indicates Foods Can be Skin Protective

According to the University of Maryland Medical System, eating certain foods can help reduce your risk of skin cancer. Though we don’t yet have scientific tests that have measured and compared various foods and their ability to protect the skin, research has shown that antioxidants in many of these foods may offer protection.

A study published in 2010 came to similar conclusions, though it added that food nutrients can protect not only against skin cancer, but photo-oxidative damage that leads to skin aging. Scientists noted that antioxidant vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, in addition to essential fatty acids, have demonstrated protective properties. They added that the presence of these nutrients in the traditional Greek-style Mediterranean diet may have contributed to the low levels of melanoma there, despite the population’s exposure to high levels of solar radiation.

“The increasing incidence of skin cancer despite the use of externally applied sun protection strategies,” said Niva Shapira, lead author, “alongside research showing that nutrients reduce photo-oxidative damage, suggest nutritional approaches could play a beneficial role in skin cancer prevention.”

Some of the Best Choices

Though many foods may offer sun protection, below are a few of those with the most promise so far, though we’re always finding out about new super foods.

1. Apples: Surprised? A Japanese study actually found that apple polyphenol extracts, particularly flavonids called “procyanidins,” inhibit skin cancer in mice. Another polyphenol, quercetin, protected DNA from human skin cancer cells.

2. Green Tea: Yes, it’s a beverage, but it’s got powerful antioxidants. The University of Maryland Medical Center says it contains polyphenols, potent antioxidants that have shown in studies to help prevent skin tumors from starting or growing. (more…)

Posted by on Jun 18, 2015 | 2 Comments

Be Well Kitchen: Chocolate Mint Chip Shake Recipe

Chocolate Mint Chip Shake
By Be Well Health Coach Katrine van Wyk

I am so thrilled to have come up with this super energizing and cooling shake!

Seriously, just try this and I promise – you will never bother to reach for a milkshake or Frappuccino again.


  • 1 ½ cups almond milk
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder (raw is best)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • leaves from 5 stems of mint
  • 5 drops liquid stevia
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 4 ice cubes


  1. Blend the first six ingredients until smooth.
  2. Add in the ice and blend until crushed, then add in the cacao nibs and blend for few more seconds. You want the nibs to give you the “chocolate chip feeling” in the shake, so don’t crush them completely.

Cacao Boost

Cacao is in fact the highest antioxidant food on the planet with tons of magnesium, chromium, iron and manganese… and most importantly – it’s totally delicious! Chocolate can improve cardiovascular health and helps build strong bones. Bonus point: chocolate leaves us feeling good too – it is both an aphrodisiac, a mood and an energy enhancer.

This recipe is from Best Green Drinks Ever.

Posted by on Jun 16, 2015 | 0 Comments

Q&A with Gerard Mullin MD, About His New Book on the Microbiome, The Gut Balance Revolution

The Gut Balance Revolution

Today our featured guest is my friend Dr. Gerry Mullin, integrative gastroenterologist from John’s Hopkins and author of the exciting new book The Gut Balance Revolution. I recently sat down and chatted with Gerry about his new book—specifically about one of my favorite subjects, the profound influence of our gut microbes in health and weight loss. Here is what he had to say.

FL: How did you first become interested in the gut microbiome?

GM: As an integrative gastroenterologist, it has long been clear to me that the gut plays a central role in health and impacts many systems throughout the body. In fact, in other systems of medicine such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, the gut is understood to be the very center of health. This may be one reason these traditional practices often use nutrition as the first step in treating illness—a concept only recently being adopted in Western medicine.

For many years I have been using nutrition as a key intervention in treating digestive ailments—especially functional bowel disorders. What I found was striking: By optimizing nutrition—specifically by eliminating FODMAPs, a class of highly fermentable fibrous foods, many digestive symptoms improved, bloating disappeared and patients often lost weight effortlessly.

The research on the gut microbiome and related issues like small bowel bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) was in its infancy at that time, but what I experienced in my clinical practice certainly caused me to wonder if gut bacteria could be a contributing factor to issues like these. Even then we knew the gut played an important role in health and impacted various systems throughout the body such as modulating the immune system, synthesizing vitamins and more. So I have long suspected that microbiota may be implicated in health issues at a far deeper level than we first knew.

Of course, the recent explosion of research in this area has not only confirmed my gut feeling, but has shown us just how deeply our symbiotic partners impact our health—influencing everything from weight to mood to cardiovascular health and more.

FL: Your new book, The Gut Balance Revolution, addresses the role of balancing gut bacteria to achieve weight loss. Please explain the science behind your book and what doctors and patients need to know.


Posted by on Jun 15, 2015 | 1 Comments

What Do the Be Well Coaches Eat for Breakfast?

By Be Well Health Coach Jackie Damboragian

Here at Be Well, we often work with clients that skip breakfast or potentially worse, grab something not-so-great to go such as a muffin or bagel! While everyone is different, we find that most people feel more energized when they nourish themselves with a healthy breakfast in the morning. Even during busy mornings, it’s easy to get together a quick, delicious and nutritious breakfast. I checked in with my fellow Be Well Coaches to see, what do they eat for breakfast on a day when they are in the office?

For starters, I’ll share my go-to breakfast – this keeps me full and satiated until lunch, and takes about 5 minutes to whip up in the morning.

Jackie’s Breakfast Smoothie

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 large handful greens (kale and/or baby spinach)
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 2 tbsp collagen powder
  • 1 tbsp raw hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • ½ cup organic blueberries
  • ground cinnamon, to taste

Add all ingredients to the blender, blend until smooth!


I love to have a smoothie for breakfast.  I used to make more elaborate smoothies, but now that I have a young baby and time is crunched in the morning, I simply do a quick spin through the Vitamix of: protein powder + a small banana + water + ice. It’s refreshing, nourishing, delicious. I like the Be Well Chocolate Whey Protein and Recharge. And I’m thrilled to report that my 9-month-old daughter also loves Recharge!


On the mornings that I work at the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center I’ll make a Cleanse shake with almond or coconut milk and tsp of raw cacao powder, and drink it at my desk! (more…)

Posted by on Jun 12, 2015 | 1 Comments

4 Easy Ways To Build Meditation Into Your Day

Meditation at Work

Everyone Can Use a Meditation Break (or a few!) Throughout the Day 

“You don’t need to be a Buddhist monk to reap the benefits of mindfulness,” says Andy Puddicombe, founder He says mini meditation breaks throughout the day can clear your mind and help you feel less stress and more control. Commit yourself to giving it a shot tomorrow. Here’s how.

In the Morning, Fine-tune Your Focus for the Day Ahead

Sit in a comfortable chair near a window with your feet flat on the floor and your hands in your lap. Take five slow, deep breaths while gazing straight ahead. Return to a natural breathing rhythm and imagine the sun’s rays coming through the window and warming you to your core, its brightness melting away all of your stress and clearing your mind. (If it’s a gray day outside, envision a gentle rain washing away your tension.) Enjoy the sensation for a few minutes, then slowly stretch your arms and legs before rising.

During Your Commute, Exercise Your Senses

Take a minute to center yourself as you’re riding the train or bus (don’t try this if you’re driving!). Sit up straight and focus on your butt pressing against the seat. Start by listening to the sounds around you — muffled music from someone else’s earphones, the buzz of people talking — and then let each of your other senses take center stage for a minute. What do you see, smell, and feel? Now embrace all of your senses simultaneously: Think of them as parts of an orchestra coming together. Notice how everything is always moving and imagine yourself as part of this ever-changing environment, rather than being stressed-out by it. (more…)

Posted by on Jun 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

Be Well Kitchen: Cashew Cream Cheese Recipe

Cashew Cream Cheese
By Be Well Health Coach Amanda Carney

In my opinion, cheese can be one of the hardest dairy items to give up while on the Cleanse, so instead of feeling deprived, I love to make this cashew cream cheese to keep in the fridge.  It makes a great dip, adds a nice creaminess to gluten free pasta dishes, and goes great with just about anything else that you would like cream cheese on.  And you don’t have to be on the Cleanse to enjoy it!

Plus, its vegan, raw, gluten-free and dairy-free, which means that it can suit many diets.


  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ clove garlic (or 1 small clove)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ – ¾ cups water


  • Soak nuts overnight to soften (especially if you are not using a high powered blender).
  • Drain and rinse nuts, and place in blender with lemon juice, garlic and sea salt.
  • Begin blending on low, adding water as needed.
  • Slowly increase speed and blend until thick, smooth and creamy, adding water to reach the right consistency (think of creating a cream cheese consistency).
  • Enjoy right away or store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated.
  • This “cream cheese” will probably last about 5 days in the fridge.

For added flavor, you can include fresh/dried herbs, sun dried tomatoes, honey, chipotle powder, etc.


Posted by on Jun 09, 2015 | 0 Comments

10 Ways to Balance Your Hormones for Health, Energy and Weight Control

Hormone System

So often, patients drag themselves into my office complaining of multiple symptoms like thinning hair, brittle nails, erupting skin, poor sleep, exhaustion, constipation, sexual or menstrual dysfunction and weight gain. These are all clues that can suggest hormonal imbalance – several different types.

For example, fatigue and difficulty sleeping suggest problems with the adrenals, the glands that produce stress hormones. Fatigue—along with constipation, thinning hair, brittle nails, and weight gain – suggest problems with the thyroid, the gland that produces thyroid hormone. Peri-menopausal and menstrual issues suggest imbalances with estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, the sex hormones. Weight gain and fatigue are often a combination of all three of these hormonal imbalances.

But weight gain may also suggest a diet with too many sweets and starches. Carbohydrate-intolerance, meaning the hormone insulin isn’t working properly, is too often the culprit. I find the vast majority of patients I see who are struggling with their weight, especially as they get older, are somewhat insulin “resistant” and are eating too many carbs for what their bodies can efficiently metabolize.

In short, generally feeling and looking like crap is not OK, nor is it simply a normal side-effect of aging. However, it does indicate that your hormones may be out of balance and in need of some TLC, or even a total reboot. Even if your doctor has tested your adrenals, thyroid, and blood sugar and found “nothing wrong” by conventional measures, chances are good that the balance of your hormones are anything-but-optimal. Instead of just living with it and accepting what some docs consider to be the inevitable by-product of aging, here are 10 ways to balance your hormones, fight back and feel better. When you focus on fixing the underlying dysfunctions, your hormones will find that nice, healthy balance, no matter what your age. So here’s where to start: (more…)

Posted by on Jun 08, 2015 | 1 Comments

5 Things Your Dentist Might Not Have Told You


Too often, we associate the dentist as a place to go after something has already gone wrong with your teeth.

But your dentist can be one of your most powerful allies in preventing illness not only in your mouth, but throughout your body.

Your dentist is responsible not just for your teeth, but also how your jaw, face, and airway all develop. These things affect your ability to breathe without interruptions throughout the night, and thus, impact the quality of your sleep.

There’s so much more than just a pretty smile that you can get from your dentist.

Here are five core elements to oral health that perhaps your dentist isn’t bringing up at your visits. Bring these topics up yourself at your next check-up!

  1. If you grind your teeth, your dentist should screen you for obstructive sleep apnea and refer you to a sleep specialist MD. Studies using human brain scans show that grinding is how our body responds when we are struggling to breathe during sleep. Grinding requires the teeth to touch, thereby activating the muscles and bringing the jaw and tongue forward to reopen the narrow space at the back of your throat, getting you to breathe again. Other muscles, including the neck and shoulders, work to reopen the airway. Whether you remember it or not, every time this happens, your body’s sleep is interrupted. Treating sleep apnea early on on can prevent premature aging, heart and circulatory system damage, anxiety, depression, decreased IQ, and unnecessary wear and tear on the immune system. Dentists treat sleep apnea, as part of a team with physicians and other sleep specialists.
  1. All those antibacterial toothpastes and mouthwashes are hurting us. From all the advertising out there, you would think that the goal with oral health is to kill all the bacteria in your mouth. This idea is incredibly harmful to not just our oral health, but the health of the rest of our bodies as well. Antibacterial products wipe out both the good and bad bacteria in our mouths, hurting our microbiome and gut bacteria, and potentially causing the regrowth of the wrong type of bacteria in our mouths.
  1. Before doing cosmetic work, you need a foundation of healthy teeth. I can be pretty unpopular sometimes telling patients we can’t whiten their teeth until we work to stop their gum disease. Have you ever heard the phrase, “we want to be thin before we’re fit”? Looking good is a byproduct of good health, not the other way around. Your dentist should not be doing cosmetic work for you unless you have a foundation of strong oral health first, including no gum disease, straight teeth, and good sleep ability, or ability to breathe without interruptions at night.


Posted by on Jun 05, 2015 | 3 Comments

5 Popular Myths about Sun Safety


Written By Sonya Lunder (Senior Analyst at the Environmental Working Group)
Copyright © Environmental Working Group, Reproduced with permission.

I love this time of year. After a long, cold winter, how can you resist the sun when it beckons you to go outside?

Before you leave the house, though, be sure to reduce your risk of skin damage. Cover up with a shirt, put on sunglasses and check the UV index to plan events around the sun.  Early morning or late afternoon are the best times to go outdoors.

Limiting sun exposure and wearing protective clothing are more important than sunscreen for preventing skin cancer and premature aging. Here are five popular myths not to believe:

Myth #1:  All Sunscreens Are Created Equal

FACT – EWG’s research finds wide disparities among these products.

A whopping 80 percent of sun protection products analyzed by EWG contain potentially harmful ingredients or offer inadequate protection against dangerous ultraviolet radiation. Many products do not provide enough UVA protection. Some contain hazardous chemicals such as the hormone disruptor oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A linked to skin damage.

Only 21 percent of the 1,000 sunscreens analyzed for EWG’s guide scored high marks. Roughly 19 percent of moisturizers and 21 percent of lip balms scored well.

Myth #2: High-rated SPF Sunscreens Give People Complete Protection

FACT – High-SPF products tempt people to apply too little sunscreen and stay in the sun too long. The Food and Drug Administration has proposed prohibiting the sale of sunscreens with SPF values greater than 50+, calling higher SPF values “inherently misleading,” but it has not issued a regulation that carries the force of law. Twelve percent of sunscreens EWG evaluated this year advertise SPF values greater than 50+. (more…)

Posted by on Jun 04, 2015 | 1 Comments

Be Well Kitchen: Grilled Salmon and Avocado Salsa

Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa
By Be Well Health Coach Courtney Blatt

Now that it’s finally warm out, I love to grill. It’s a great way to add extra flavor to your favorite fish, poultry or meat. I pick up wild fish and fresh corn from my local farmers market. Grilling a delicious salmon is easy and the perfect summer-time meal when paired with avocado salsa!

Grilling the Salmon


  • 2 lbs Wild Salmon, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper


  1. In a small bowl mix the spices together – salt, coriander, onion, paprika, garlic, and black pepper.
  2. Check salmon filets for pinbones, then pat dry and rub spice mixture on each salmon filet
  3. Place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat the grill to medium high
  5. Grill salmon to desired tenderness (a one-inch piece will cook in 6-10 minutes)

Avocado Salsa


  • 2 large ears, fresh yellow corn (preferably from your farmer’s market )
  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and cubed
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • Pinch of cayenne (if desired)

Refrigerate until salmon is ready to serve.

Combine tomato, onion, corn, lime juice, garlic, olive oil, and salt to a bowl. Stir in avocado and cilantro, add cayenne if desired.

Add to the top of the salmon once grilled, serve and enjoy!

Posted by on Jun 02, 2015 | 0 Comments