At Utzy we are dedicated to providing truthful, honest information that helps you to live a healthier lifestyle
Written By: Autumn Enloe, MS, RD, LD, CLT
Your gut health impacts almost every aspect of your health.
It's responsible for turning the foods you eat into the energy. Needless to say, having a healthy gut is vital for overall health and wellness.
Below we dig into the importance of gut function, as well as tips for improving your gut health.
The gut is comprised of over 100,000 billion micro-organisms that make up what is called the gut microbiome.
It plays a critical role in our health considering it’s the site for digestion and absorption of food, where our metabolism begins, where the majority of our immune system is found, and where brain chemicals (such as serotonin and dopamine) are created.
Research related to gut health is constantly evolving, and scientists are discovering the important role that the gut microbiome has on health; especially in areas such as metabolism, immune system and mental health.
The composition of the gut microbiome can change over time. That’s because the environment that we live in, the foods we consume, and how we manage stress in our lives can either have a positive or negative impact on our gut.
As Hippocrates said, “all disease begins in the gut,” and that’s why improving the health of the gut is one of the first steps to improving your overall health.
Our gut microbiome is comprised of “good” and “bad” bacteria. Good bacteria thrive off of a healthy lifestyle while “bad” bacteria thrive off of an unhealthy one.
To have a healthy gut composition, it’s important to have more “good” bacteria than “bad” bacteria.
Pretty simple, right?
So how can we develop an environment with more “good” bacteria than “bad?” Below are some ways to do this.
Consuming foods high in sugar can feed the “bad” bacteria and kill off “good” bacteria. Unfortunately, sugar is found in a variety of foods, so it’s important to be mindful of sugar consumption.
Some common foods that may be high in sugar include baked goods, candies, sports drinks, low-fat yogurts, cereal, flavored coffee drinks, and fruit juices. Sugar can also be found in foods that you may not think of: including ketchup, BBQ and spaghetti sauces, salad dressings, canned soups, and Vitaminwater.
It can be helpful to read the nutrition facts label and ingredient list on products to help reduce your sugar consumption. Pay attention to the number of grams of sugar per serving in products, as well as look in the ingredient list for sugar with a less obvious name.
Common alternative names for sugar to be aware of:
In addition, any word that ends with “ose” is another name for sugar (such as fructose and sucrose).
Having a stressful lifestyle can alter the health of the gut microbiome in a negative way. That’s why focusing on stress management is extremely important for a healthy gut (7).
How can you manage stress?
Below are some tips for managing your stress levels:
Along with practicing stress management techniques, taking a magnesium supplement may also help promote relaxation.
Sleep can have a large impact on the health of our gut because our gut microbiome is affected by circadian rhythms, stress, and diet.
Getting adequate sleep at night allows our body to rest and recharge, and when we don’t get enough of it, it can put stress on our body and cause an imbalance in the circadian rhythm.
In addition, when we don’t get enough sleep at night, our appetite hormones can become imbalanced and lead to a higher consumption of processed and sugary foods.
Consumption of those types of foods may impact gut health in a negative way by fueling the “bad” bacteria instead of the “good” (8).
Aim to have at least eight hours of good quality sleep at night.
Improving the quality of your sleep can happen by avoiding electronics an hour before bed, keeping your room on the cooler side, not eating or drinking right before bedtime, and cutting caffeine in the afternoon.
In addition, if you find you need more support to help you fall asleep and stay asleep, check out our natural sleep aids for additional support.
That’s why having a positive outlook may help improve the health of the gut.
How can you practice positive thinking?
Below are some ways to integrate positive thinking into your life:
Things that may wreak havoc on the gut:
Now that we’ve discussed ways to support your gut, let’s talk about things that may influence the gut microbiome in a negative way.
Please note: There will always be stressful moments in our lives, and we may not always eat the most healthy foods or always have a positive mindset, and that’s okay. The goal is to try to incorporate more lifestyle habits that will help feed the “good” bacteria vs. the “bad” bacteria.
The gut is an important part of our overall health, and as you can see, the health of the gut depends on the health of our lifestyle, diet, and moods.
Try incorporating these five tips for supporting your gut and notice the difference that it makes.
Our sole purpose at Utzy is to help you live a healthier lifestyle.
Our motto, “Supplement with Confidence” isn’t just a marketing quip; it's a promise to deliver the highest quality and most effective products possible.
Products that you can have confidence in.
At Utzy, we firmly believe that supplementing is a very important action towards overall wellness. Your body needs essential vitamins and minerals to function and flourish.
But supplements are just a piece of the health puzzle....
In addition to supplementation, there are other healthful habits and actions that you should do daily that will assist you on your journey to feeling better and having a more productive life.
Around here we refer to them as "The Seven Principles For Healthy Living".
Read on below...
Hippocrates, known as the founder of medicine, was quoted as saying:
"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food"
This idea is just as true today.
Your diet is the foundation of your health.
Live by a “pay the grocer – not the doctor” mentality. Try to consume only REAL FOODS – organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes; as well as natural, pasture-raised, grass-fed meats.
Make sure to get enough daily fiber.
An excellent way to get quality food is by supporting your local organic farmers as much as possible. Eat high-quality foods. Eat until you're satisfied, and stop there.
A sedentary lifestyle is a proven killer.
Get to the gym – and get your heart rate up. Try to get some form of exercise every day; this could be as simple as going for a walk on your lunch break.
While there are many different approaches to exercise, the biggest step is to simply do something. Park further away, take the stairs, look for small ways every day to move it!
Almost daily, we see in the news that millions of Americans have problems with sleep.
If you are one of them, make a commitment to getting better sleep.
You can try following our article on 10 sleep tips for your best night of rest.
We all need adequate amounts of restful sleep – health professionals recommend 7-8 hours a day.
Turn electronics off before bed so that you can wind down. Look for ways to eliminate unnecessary stress in your life and live at peace with others.
Your "toxic load" is the amount of chemicals and toxins that your body has to process on a daily basis. Processing these pollutants is stressful on your body, so look for ways to reduce your load.
•Use natural green medicine as a first choice (rather than turning to harsh, synthetic drugs)
•Avoid using harmful household chemicals and cleaners
•Use clean beauty products on your skin and hair
•Drink plenty of water (this help to flush toxins out at a quicker rate)
Your body is resilient and able to process off toxins, so you don't have to live in fear. That being said, make sure to do your best to create a safe environment that lessens your exposure to toxins.
It turns out that the old saying - “as a man thinketh so is he” - is true!
The gut-brain connection is a real thing, so work on having positive thoughts.
Science backs up the notion that laughter does a heart good. In fact, happiness and positivity are linked to a “wide variety of forms of well-being,” according to a recently published study (1).
A major key is to show gratitude toward the people who have benefited your life. Take thankfulness walks. Regularly count your blessings.
Build a community of family and friends that you can rely on, and they you.
Having a "Do Unto Others" focus goes a long way to relational wholeness.
Living by the Golden Rule is a must in building meaningful relationships and a more positive outlook on life.
As an example, instead of going on a walk by yourself, invite a friend or family member long. You'll get the benefits of exercise along with the bonus of good company.
Without a plan, chances are you will fail. Address your problems, create a strategy to change, and find people that can assist you on your journey.
Creating a plan is the first step on your path to feeling more vibrant, and becoming healthier.
The first steps may include:
•Seeing that doctor for that physical you’ve been putting off
•hiring a trainer
•finding a good nutritionist
•and building a team to support you.
Start small and be consistent!
The 7 principles listed above are foundational to our core beliefs of what is necessary to build a healthy lifestyle and future of wellness.
Think of ways to integrate them into your daily life. Doing so will help you to live your life to the fullest!
Daniel Powers (co-founder of Utzy Naturals) is a health fanatic and writer. Obsessed with optimizing every aspect of life, he is passionate about teaching others how to live a healthier, happier life.
(1). Cohn, M. A., Fredrickson, B. L., Brown, S. L., Mikels, J. A., & Conway, A. M. (2009). Happiness unpacked: Positive emotions increase life satisfaction by building resilience. Emotion, 9(3), 361–368. doi: 10.1037/a0015952
Plant-based meats are gaining popularity, but are they really all that they’re hyped up to be?
Many people go to plant-based meats to help reduce their red meat consumption and improve their health.
Unfortunately, these plant-based products may do more harm than good.
If you go to the supermarket, or see commercials on TV, many places are promoting plant-based meats as a healthier option.
Some common plant-based meats(1) include:- Impossible Burger
- Beyond Meat
- Beyond Sausage
- Tyson’s Plant Based Nuggets
- Good Catch Fish-Free Plant-Based Tuna
Although plant-based products are claimed to be healthier, it’s important to look at what’s actually in them (2).
Furthermore, when it comes to an ingredient list, it’s best to keep it as simple as possible.
Below is an example of an ingredient list for a common plant-based burger (the Impossible Burger) (10):
Whereas, the ingredient list for an organic, grass-fed beef patty is one simple ingredient:
Focusing more on meats with one, minimally processed ingredient provides more nutrient value, while not providing any additional additives which may be harmful for health.
Lastly, plant-based burgers can contain more sodium and saturated fat than traditional beef.
For example, the Beyond Burger has 390 mg of sodium, whereas a 85% lean beef patty has only 80 mg. Saturated fat content for the Impossible Burger is 8 grams per 4 ounces, whereas an 85% lean beef patty has 6 grams of saturated fat (11).
Many people avoid red meat to reduce their saturated fat intake, but it’s important to look at the diet as a whole, versus just one piece of it.
Also, research has found that saturated fat is not the major issue; it’s a combination of excessive carbohydrate intake, sugar consumption, stress, quality of sleep and movement that play a role in developing cardiovascular disease (12, 13).
Ultimately, it’s our lifestyle that either improves or health or reduces it, not just one nutrient or food.
So you might be wondering, what should you eat instead of plant-based meats? I always recommend going back to the basics and focusing on foods that are minimally processed.
Grass-fed beef is highly nutritious and made with just one simple ingredient.
Grass-fed beef also contains a higher amount of Omega-3 Fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce heart disease risk, reduce inflammation in the body, and may potentially reduce the risk for certain types of cancers (14, 15, 16).
Additionally, grass-fed beef contains higher levels of antioxidants from Vitamin A and E, which also helps promote health (17).
If you’re looking for other options besides red meat, opt for some of these options below:
- Organic chicken or turkey
- Wild-caught fish
- Organic eggs
- Organic dairy
- Beans and legumes
Plant-based meats are most likely not going anywhere anytime soon, so educating yourself on the ingredients they contain is key.
When it comes to our health, remember that keeping it simple is best.
Focus on foods with the least amount of ingredients, in their whole form, and not man-made.
1) TodayShow. (2019, August 8). Want to try out plant-based meat? Here are our top 10 product picks. Retrieved from https://www.today.com/food/what-plant-based-meat-here-are-our-top-10-product-t160303.
2) Gmo. (2019, November 1). Rat Feeding Study Suggests the Impossible Burger May Not Be Safe to Eat. Retrieved from https://www.gmoscience.org/rat-feeding-studies-suggest-the-impossible-burger-may-not-be-safe-to-eat/.
3) Divi, R. L., Chang, H. C., & Doerge, D. R. (1997, November 15). Anti-thyroid isoflavones from soybean: isolation, characterization, and mechanisms of action. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9464451.
4): Avila-Vazquez, M., Maturano, E., Etchegoyen, A., Difilippo, F.S. and Maclean, B. (2017) Association between Cancer and Environmental Exposure to Glyphosate. International Journal of Clinical Medicine, 8, 73-85. https://doi.org/10.4236/ijcm.2017.82007
5) GMO Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nongmoproject.org/gmo-facts/.
6) Berger, M. E., Smesny, S., Kim, S.-W., Davey, C. G., Rice, S., Sarnyai, Z., … Amminger, G. P. (2017, August 29). Omega-6 to omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid ratio and subsequent mood disorders in young people with at-risk mental states: a 7-year longitudinal study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5611753/.
7) Schafer, M. G., Ross, A. A., Londo, J. P., Burdick, C. A., Lee, E. H., Travers, S. E., … Sagers, C. L. (2011). The establishment of genetically engineered canola populations in the U.S. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3187797/.
8) Methylcellulose (Laxative) Oral : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-6391/methylcellulose-laxative-oral/details.
9) Farris, A. L. (2010). The "natural" aversion: the FDA's reluctance to define a leading food-industry marketing claim, and the pressing need for a workable rule. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24475548.
10) What are the ingredients? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://faq.impossiblefoods.com/hc/en-us/articles/360018937494-What-are-the-ingredients-.
11) Gelsomin, E., & Mla. (2019, August 8). Impossible and Beyond: How healthy are these meatless burgers? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/impossible-and-beyond-how-healthy-are-these-meatless-burgers-2019081517448.
12) Malhotra, A. (2013, October 22). Saturated fat is not the major issue. Retrieved from https://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f6340.full.
13) Malhotra, A., Redberg, R. F., & Meier, P. (2017, August 1). Saturated fat does not clog the arteries: coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, the risk of which can be effectively reduced from healthy lifestyle interventions. Retrieved from https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/51/15/1111.
14) Peter, S., Chopra, S., & Jacob, J. J. (2013, May). A fish a day, keeps the cardiologist away! - A review of the effect of omega-3 fatty acids in the cardiovascular system. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3712371/.
15) Calder, P. C. (2006, June). n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation, and inflammatory diseases. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16841861.
16) Zhong, X., Fang, Y.-J., Pan, Z.-Z., Li, B., Wang, L., Zheng, M.-C., … Zhang, C.-X. (2013, September). Dietary fat, fatty acid intakes and colorectal cancer risk in Chinese adults: a case-control study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23377001.
17) Descalzo, A. M., Rossetti, L., Grigioni, G., Irurueta, M., Sancho, A. M., Carrete, J., & Pensel, N. A. (2007, February). Antioxidant status and odour profile in fresh beef from pasture or grain-fed cattle. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22063662.
December 10, 2019 | 0 comments
It’s estimated that women put an average of 168 different chemicals on their body before they even walk out of the door in the morning (1).
From shampoo, to lotion, to mascara; toxic chemicals are found in a variety of products that we’re using on a daily basis.
Although women typically use more products than men, there are also toxic chemicals found in men’s shampoos, soaps, aftershave cream, etc.
This article will talk about how there’s a lack of regulation related to chemicals in beauty and skincare products, the top chemicals to avoid, and some clean beauty brands to switch to instead.
It’s been over 80 years since Congress last voted to regulate cosmetics (4).
The current laws that we do have don’t even require cosmetic products and ingredients to have FDA approval before going on the market (5).
According to the FDA, “Cosmetic manufacturers have a legal responsibility for the safety and labeling of their products,” but not all companies have our health as their priority (6).
Although the FDA does ban eleven toxic chemicals from being used in beauty products, that number is way too low.
In fact, some countries ban a lot more. For example, Europe bans 1,400 chemicals from their product (7).
It’s obvious there’s a lack of regulation, which is why we need to educate ourselves
Since there’s a lack of regulation, it’s important to be your own advocate and pay attention to the ingredients that are used in your everyday products.
Below are the top ten ingredients to look out for.
BHA and BHT are used as a preservative in products such as lipsticks and moisturizers. BHA is classified as a potential carcinogen for humans, and a hormone disruptor. Studies using mice have found these ingredients to be toxic (8).
Parabens are also used as a preservative in products. They have been shown to mimic estrogen in the body, and have been detected in breast cancer tissues. Parabens can also interfere with male reproductive functions (9).
Phthalates are found in a variety of products including shampoos, facial lotions, and body wash. It acts as an endocrine disruptor and may impact human development (10).
Retinol is used in many anti-aging products and sunscreens. The Environmental Working Group recommends avoiding products with these ingredients while being in the sun since they can increase sun sensitivity and be carcinogenic (11).
Fragrance is used in nearly all beauty products, especially perfumes, colognes, lotions, and deodorants. Studies have found that fragrances to be associated with allergies, migraines, and asthma symptoms. Additionally, this ingredient can build up and cause damage to the environment (12).
Petrolatum (also known as petroleum jelly) is a mineral oil jelly that is used to lock in moisture. Petrolatum can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are associated with skin irritation and allergies and can be carcinogenic (13).
Triclosan is a preservative and anti-bacterial agent used in many deodorants, cleansers, and facial tissues. It may interfere with hormone function, and scientists have found Triclosan in 75% of individuals tested. It can also cause irritation to skin and eyes, and also be very harmful for the environment (14).
Formaldehyde is used as a preservative in a wide array of products such as nail polish, toothpaste, and baby care products. It’s considered a carcinogen, and can also negatively impact air quality (15).
PEG's are petroleum-based compounds that are often used in face creams, which have been shown to cause irritation and toxicity in the body. Lastly, its function is to increases skin absorption, thus increasing the negative health risk (16).
These chemicals are used as emulsifiers and foaming agents in products such as mascaras, body washes, shampoos, soaps, facial cleansers, and bubble bath. These ingredients have been associated with skin irritation, allergies, and organ toxicity (17, 18).
Although many cosmetic brands use the ingredients listed above, more and more clean beauty brands are coming out and creating products that aren’t harmful to your health.
•Attitude: https://attitudeliving.com/ - they offer personal care products such as hair cair, body washes and soaps, hand soap, moisturizers, and skincare.
•Beautycounter: www.beautycounter.com - they offer personal care for women, men, and children including skincare, shampoo and body wash, lotions, and makeup. If you’re interested in learning more about products from Beautycounter, contact me here.
•Inna Organic: https://innaorganic.us/ - they offer skincare including facial oils and serums, facial masks, and body lotion.
•Juice Beauty: https://juicebeauty.com/ - they offer different skincare solutions as well as makeup products.
•Primally Pure: https://primallypure.com/ - they offer deodorant, dry shampoos, body butters, bath soaks, and baby products.
Along with choosing cleaner beauty brands, The Environmental Working Group has a website and app called “Healthy Living” where you can scan and search for products to verify safety. They use a scale from 1-10 to show safety based on various health areas.
Many people use beauty and skincare products on a daily basis. Unfortunately, they aren’t all safe for us, and the U.S. has a lack of regulation on what ingredients can be used in products and which ones cannot.
It’s best to be your own health advocate and look at the ingredients used in the products you’re using daily. Additionally, use the resources such as the EWG’s Healthy Living App and website to check the safety of your products.
It may seem overwhelming to change out everything all at once, so focus on switching out one product at a time; first focusing on the products you use the most.
What’s one product that you can swap out today?
Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients we know of.
It plays a key role in many different bodily processes, including: immune support, bone health, and muscle function (among many others).
Read on below to learn more about how vitamin D impacts your health, and how to ensure that you get enough through the winter months.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”, since our bodies make it when our skin comes into contact with sunlight.
Vitamin D is nutrient that many people are lacking in; especially in climates without a lot of sunlight.
It’s suggested to get your Vitamin D level tested on a yearly basis, and opt for levels between 40-60 ng/mL for both adults and children.
Anything under 30 ng/mL is considered a deficiency (5).
Vitamin D can be obtained in several different ways including sunlight, foods, or supplements.
We'll detail below how each of these methods can help to boost your vitamin D levels.
Exposure to sunlight provides the best quality Vitamin D, and you don’t have to be outside for very long to reap great benefits (6).
Just 10-15 minutes of sunlight can provide 10,000-25,000 IU of Vitamin D alone.
Of course there are many factors that can affect how well your body will absorb Vitamin D from the sun.
Another option would be to get a light therapy lamp to use during the winter months.
This is a great option if you live in a location where sun exposure is limited (8).
Keep in mind that too much sun exposure can be dangerous, and it’s important to limit being outdoors for long periods of time without sunscreen.
Too much unprotected skin exposure may lead to dehydration, pain, early aging, and skin cancer.
There are very few foods that contain natural sources of Vitamin D.
That’s why Vitamin D is often fortified into foods such as milk or orange juice.
Even though fortified foods can be helpful, aim to consume the majority of your Vitamin D from foods that naturally contain it.
Another way to increase your Vitamin D intake is to take a high-quality Vitamin D supplement.
A supplement can be especially helpful for individuals who are not exposed to much sunlight during the winter months (such as in the Midwest), and for those who want to increase their Vitamin D levels more quickly.
Not all supplements are created equal, and there are many things to consider when choosing a Vitamin D supplement.
If you're interested in a high quality vitamin D supplement, Utzy offers a couple of different options.
Our product line includes:
Vitamin D plays a critical role in our health, so it is important to get your levels tested on a regular basis.
If you find that your levels are low, incorporate Vitamin D-rich foods, get some sunlight or light therapy, or a take a Vitamin D supplement to help improve your levels.
When you think of what it takes to lead a healthy lifestyle, gratitude probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.
But it should be.
Incorporating gratitude into your life transforms the way you view yourself, the world, and the people in it.
Practicing gratitude reminds you that goodness does exist in this world.
When you take the time to reflect on the good you’ve received - either from other people or higher powers - you will be better off because of it.
People who are intentional about counting their blessings often enjoy improved physical, social, and emotional health.
Simply being grateful can dramatically improve the quality of your life and relationships.
Ready to learn how?
Want to get the best sleep of your life?
Try counting your blessings every day.
While getting enough sleep each night is essential for good health, the quality of your sleep is equally important.
Gratitude journaling is one of the most effective ways to count your blessings and cultivate gratitude. Researchers in the UK recruited healthy young women to either keep a gratitude journal or fill out a survey each night.
The women who kept gratitude journals were instructed to write down three people and three things that made them feel grateful.
After only two weeks, gratitude journalers reported boosts in their sleep quality.
To see if gratitude journaling may help improve your sleep, try to follow the “Three Good Things” practice when you journal. Jot down three experiences that you feel grateful for, how each experience makes you feel, and why you think each experience happened.
Set aside at least 10 minutes each night to write these experiences down. Writing is a necessary part of the process - don’t just think about it and say you did it.
For the best benefits, aim to journal at least three times per week.
It probably comes as no surprise that optimists tend to live healthier and happier lives.
But what if you’re not an optimist? Being grateful may be your golden ticket.
People who have higher levels of gratitude tend to report lower levels of stress.
Gratitude may allow you to bounce back more quickly from life’s ups and downs with a more hopeful, positive, and resilient outlook on life.
Being grateful can literally turn you into an optimist.
One simple way to cultivate more gratitude and optimism is through prayer. Researchers have found that prayer is an effective way to boost optimism and reduce negative emotions.
For the most powerful impact try to focus on giving thanks for the good in your life while you pray.
Keep at it and over time you may begin to see that glass a little more full than empty.
Do you crave deeper and more meaningful connections with those around you?
Think of it as the “social glue” that helps strengthen relationships with others.
Being grateful for those around you may motivate you to be more kind, more social, and more giving.
Gratitude may even nudge you toward finding new friends or partners when you recognize how thoughtful other people can be.
Remembering ways those you love have been good to you can help you view your relationships in a deeper and more positive light.
Subconsciously, this means you might start to seek ways to be a better friend or partner, which can really improve the quality of your relationships.
To begin reaping some of these benefits, try writing a letter of gratitude to someone important in your life.
Be very specific in terms of what this person has done to impact your life and why you are grateful.
Present the letter in person if possible and actually read it out loud to them.
Watch how the benefits of this simple exercise will blossom in your life and relationship.
70% of American workers report hating their jobs according to a recent Gallup poll.
If finding another job is not an immediate option, practicing gratitude in the workplace might make those 2080 hours per year more tolerable, fulfilling, and engaging.
Happier employees tend to be more successful.
What may surprise you is that happiness itself may lead to career success and not the other way around. The cultivation of gratitude can lead to more positive emotions, including contentment and happiness, which can make you a better employee. Who knows, you may even get a raise!
Be intentional about being grateful in the workplace.
Take a moment to genuinely thank a coworker. If your workplace has a “kudos” program, you could also nominate someone for a job well done.
Send a thank you note to your supervisor.
Or block out 5 minutes before work to say a short prayer of gratitude.
When you leave work, reflect on the good, not the bad.
Being more intentional about acknowledging the good in your workplace, whether it’s people or experiences, helps you cultivate more positive emotions at work and in general.
The leading cause of death in America, heart disease, is responsible for nearly 1 in 4 deaths each year.
In addition to not smoking, following a healthy diet, and being physically active, consider practicing gratitude to reduce your risk of succumbing to this silent killer.
One study reported that healthy volunteers who experienced feelings of appreciation had measurable improvements in heart rate variability (HRV). Having high HRV means your heart might be better able to handle stress and function better overall.
In another study, patients with heart failure experienced significant reductions in inflammation after an 8 week gratitude journaling intervention.
Inflammation may also be related to your risk of developing heart disease.
Keep that heart healthy by keeping a running list of people, experiences, and places that make you grateful.
November 18, 2019 | 0 comments
What do you think of when you think of stress?
Sleepless nights awaiting important test results? Tension headaches and coffee to survive work?
Stress is tough to define but you know it when you feel it.
Researchers describe stress as any situation that would cause most people to feel stressed. Situations that cause these feelings are defined as stressors.
Stressors generally fall into two categories, acute and chronic.
Acute stressors include things like traffic jams, job interviews, or public speaking.
Once your brain perceives a situation to be stressful, hormones are released that increase your blood sugar levels, heart rate, and blood pressure.
In the short term, these changes are good.
They fuel your heart, brain, and muscles more efficiently. As a result, every sense sharpens. Your muscles prepare to react. You slam on the brakes, ace the interview, or rock the presentation.
The stressful situation ends, and everything in your body returns to normal.
Unlike acute stressors, chronic stressors don’t have a clear end in sight. Consider the stress of saving for retirement, managing a health condition, or caring for aging parents.
Some of the most common stressors are related to finances, work, relationships, health, and politics.
Feeling chronically stressed activates your stress response for much longer than nature intended. And this constant state of being on guard is no good.
It triggers your immune system in ways that might erase years from your life.
Your immune system is a complex collection of cells, tissues, and organs working to protect you from illness, injury, and/or death. When threatened, your immune system responds to keep you healthy.
Remember the last time you had a paper cut?
The painful swelling and redness you likely experienced are thanks to your body’s immune response. As soon as your skin is injured, your immune system goes on the defensive. White blood cells are released. Your body temperature increases. Inflammation occurs at the site of the injury.
These changes happen to prevent infection and promote healing. So once the threat passes, everything should return to normal. Well, what happens if the threat never passes?
Enter chronic stress.
Under stress, the hormones your body releases trigger the immune response described above. Except for this time, inflammation happens throughout the body.
And it continues as long as you feel stressed.
Chronic stress also suppresses other parts of the immune response. Stress could be making your immune system less effective at warding off infections, allergies, and/or illness.
Scientists continue to debate the specifics of how stress influences the immune system. However, many researchers agree chronic stress is making most US adults ill. Up to 90% of doctor visits are for stress-related symptoms or illnesses.
Therefore, learning to manage stress is an important tool for dealing which chronic stressors before they deal with you.
While you can’t always get rid of the circumstances that stress you out, you can choose how to respond to them.
Read on for four simple suggestions for better managing stress.
Did you know that physical activity can reduce stress’s effects on your body?
Exercise can lower blood pressure and inflammation, two side effects of a chronic stress response.
Other benefits include:
• Improved sleep quality
• Elevated mood
•Enhanced insulin sensitivity
30 minutes of cardio most days and strength training two times per week is recommended for best results.
But any physical activity is better than none.
A quick walk after dinner, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and parking further away are all ways to squeeze in more steps.
Even 10 minutes of walking has been shown to decrease blood pressure. If it works better for your schedule, break up 30 minutes of cardio into 10-minute bouts throughout your day.
To make a new exercise habit stick, pay attention to how you feel when you exercise and when you don’t.
Connect your activity levels to specific benefits, and you will find more motivation to keep it up.
With the non-stop pace that many of us are accustomed to, it can be easy to overlook the importance of creating time and space for quiet and reflection.
Even in the midst of stressful seasons, finding time to pray, meditate, and/or journal can do wonders for stress relief.
Journaling may also help reduce negative emotions about stressful situations.
Whatever approach works for you, fostering more positive emotions is a great tool for coping with life’s greatest stressors and leading a healthier life. In fact, studies show that optimists live longer and have a lower risk of certain health problems.
Aside from boosting mood, meditation and prayer reduce the effects of stress on the body.
These practices help your body cope with stress, so it doesn’t wear you down as much.
You can pray, journal, or meditate anywhere, anytime. Like physical activity, the more you do it, the more likely you are to reap these impressive benefits.
Self-care describes personal practices that help you meet your basic needs so you are better equipped to handle stressful times.
So what does self-care look like?
While we all have the same basic needs, how we take care of ourselves to best meet them varies from person to person. For some people, getting enough sleep means turning in early instead of staying out late when they know they need rest.
Perhaps you practice self-care by packing a healthy lunch instead of hitting the drive-thru. Nutritious eating can protect your body from some of the harmful effects of stress. For example, fish oil, rich in omega 3’s, has been shown to reduce stress levels.
Many people respond to stress by doing the exact opposite of what their bodies need the most. They sleep less, make fewer healthy food choices, and cut back on exercise.
Prioritizing these areas of your life, even during high-stress times, can better equip you to cope with life’s challenges.
Social support is one of the greatest buffers against stress. But often when high-stress moments kick in, relationships are the first to suffer. Many people respond to stress by withdrawing from friends and family.
But in an increasingly disconnected society, it's important now more than ever to invest in healthy relationships.
Having positive relationships and maintaining them helps you cope with stress. You may enjoy a better mood, lower blood pressure levels, and find it easier to stick to healthy habits.
Phone a friend. Join an exercise class. Plan a weekly walk or dinner night with someone you care about. Volunteer for a cause that moves you.
These are all ways to cultivate those important connections in your life and boost your ability to deal with stress.
During Cold and Flu season, it may be tempting to use harsh chemicals to clean your house.
You know, the ones that promise to kill 99.99 percent of germs, but should only be used while wearing a haz-mat suit in a well-ventilated area.
You may find yourself wondering, is it possible to actually sanitize with natural products?
Yes, it is!
There are some really great, non-toxic cleaning products available that don’t contain dangerous chemicals but will still you give you the same level of cleaning power.
We’ve rounded up a few of our favorites, as well a few options you can make yourself!
Check them out below!
Mrs. Meyers combines garden inspired scents, essential oils, and plant-derived cleaning ingredients to clean kitchen messes and all over the house. Great on all non-porous surfaces such as finished wood and tile floors, countertops, walls, porcelain, bathroom fixtures, sealed natural and synthetic stone, and more!
Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes are a convenient solution to cleaning! With their patented disinfecting technology based on Thyme Oil, these wipes will kill household germs such as: Influenza A virus, H1N1, Rhinovirus type 37, Methicilin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
This patented disinfectant formula may smell like heaven, but it cleans like heck, and kills most household germs (specifically: influenza A, staphylococcus aureus, salmonella enterica and E. coli).
Made specially for the bathroom, this spray is optimized to target soap scum and hard water stains. Despite the tough guy routine, it’s gentle on hard non-porous surfaces.
Biokleen Free and Clear Laundry Detergent is a fragrance free formula that’s gentle on senses and skin without sacrificing cleaning power. Plant-based surfactants and extracts of grapefruit seed (has no scent) clean tough stains and odors. Rinses clean and leaves no harsh fumes or residues on fabrics.
For stubborn stains, you can try their Bac-Out Stain Remover as well.
Our personal devices are covered in germs and bacteria, especially our smartphones.
Give all of your tech a good cleaning with Spruce & Co screen cleaning wipes. They are free of harsh chemicals like alcohol and ammonia. Plus, they work for glasses too!
3% hydrogen peroxide is a fantastic disinfectant because it kills bacteria, mold, and fungus! Hydrogen peroxide is water, but with an extra oxygen molecule.
Most of us have a bottle under our sinks for cleaning small scrapes and cuts, but it disinfects surfaces too!
Many people attach a spray cap to a bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide and just spritz and wipe. It will bleach fabrics and some surfaces so make sure you test in a small area first!
For a simple DIY cleaner, you can mix 1 cup of ordinary distilled white vinegar and 1 cup of water to clean most surfaces in your home. Spray it on and scrub.
Do not use on natural stone or wood, as the acid in vinegar may damage these surfaces.
You can also add a cup of distilled white vinegar to a load of laundry to work as a deodorizer for sour towels or gym clothes.
To use as a fabric softener, just add half a cup of distilled white vinegar to your washer’s final rinse cycle!
Steam cleaners use high heat to kill bacteria in a simple, effective way. You do not need a cleaning solution as steam cleaners use only water heated to a very high temperature.
This is an effective method for sanitizing, but it is not really effective for removing dirt or debris.
Try using steam cleaners as a final once-over for especially germy spots.
Please remember that, although these products are natural and non-toxic, all cleaning products should be kept away from children and pets.
You should also always be wary of mixing cleaning products. For instance, mixing vinegar and hydrogen peroxide can result in a toxic gas called paracetic acid.
Use one product at a time and don’t combine them.
Certain spots in our homes can be hotspots for germs and bacteria, especially in winter, so make sure you are regularly disinfecting them.
If you are recovering from a cold or flu, make sure to give them a good scrubbing!
Don’t be afraid to crack open a window and let some sunlight and fresh air in.
Spots you should sanitize include:
As you can see, there are a lot of great options available to help you make your home safe and sanitary.
Non-toxic, natural cleaning products can be just as effective as killing germs and bacteria, without the dangers of harsh chemical cleaners.
PS. Let us know if we missed your favorite product!
As the leaves change and the nights grow chillier, are you dreading the colds you will have to fight off this year?
While you are busy with the hustle and bustle of autumn, your immune system is hard at work, defending you from attacks on a variety of fronts that are trying to keep you down.
Avoid these 5 common immune system wreckers and get back to focusing on all things fall.
Getting enough micronutrients in your diet is a necessary step for optimal immune system function.
Take vitamin C for example.
One in three people are not getting enough of it.
When you lack adequate vitamin C, immune system byproducts can damage tissues in your body. This damage can increase your risk of developing future health problems.
Think of these immune system byproducts as little fires that vitamin C is able to put out before they start to cause damage. Therefore, getting enough vitamin C helps your immune system function without harming you in the process.
Another example? Vitamin D.
Though difficult to find in food and challenging to get year-round from sunlight, vitamin D helps your immune system function in tip-top shape and may protect you from developing certain autoimmune conditions.
Find micronutrients in brightly colored fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and dairy.
If you feel your diet is lacking, round it out with a hiqh quality supplement.
Fast food, while cheap and convenient, can alter the healthy balance of beneficial bugs in your gut. Over time, this imbalance weakens your immune system’s ability to protect you from certain chronic conditions.
In addition to helping you digest your food, your gastrointestinal tract acts like a fence. When it works the way it should, germs you are exposed to in food and drink can't enter your bloodstream.
The added sugars and refined carbohydrates in fast food may overfeed the bad bugs in your gut and starve the good ones.
This condition, called dysbiosis, weakens your gut's ability to keep certain proteins and bugs from passing into your bloodstream.
Leaky gut syndrome is the condition that develops when proteins and microbes breach the gut barrier. This scenario has been linked to autoimmune conditions and allergies.
To help keep your gut healthy, eat plenty of prebiotics, the food the good bugs love.
Find prebiotics in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and supplements.
Being active for the recommended 150 minutes per week may get you through this year's cold season, more or less unscathed.
While no one can say for certain why exercise may help the immune system, there is some promising research.
Make physical activity you enjoy a priority and reap additional benefits like dealing with stress and sleeping better, moves that also help your immune system.
Stress is a necessary part of the human experience. And in short-lived and specific instances, it may help boost memory and cognitive function. Think about how stress motivated you to nail that last job interview or presentation.
Years of chronic stress can suppress your immune system and increase your risk of developing infections or even overactive immune responses to triggers in your environment.
Keep stress in check with healthy coping strategies like physical activity, maintaining positive relationships, and getting enough sleep.
A lack of sleep, aside from making you sluggish and tired, might also be weakening your immune system.
Inadequate sleep leads to changes in immunity that can make you more susceptible to falling ill.
In one interesting study, healthy adults recorded how long they slept each night for two weeks. At the same time, researches exposed the adults to the common cold virus and monitored the rates at which they got sick.
Those who got fewer than 7 hours of sleep were almost 3x more likely to develop a cold than those getting at least 8 hours of sleep.
As you can see, when it comes to staying healthy this cold and flu season, sleep matters.
While it is possible to stay healthy during the winter months, you may find that you are sabotaging your own immune system.
It is important that we care for our bodies through all aspects of health. Not just through diet and exercise, but emotional health as well.
You may need to take a look at your life and identify unhealthy habits and behaviors that are affecting your health for the worse.
In recent years Elderberry has become one of the most popular herbal products around.
And for good reason....
It has many benefits for your body!
While you may know Elderberry for its immune-supporting properties, you may be surprised to see the wide variety of benefits that has.
We’ll go over the benefits below, but first, let’s look at a brief history of the plant…
Elderberry, also known as Sambucus nigra, has been historically used both as a medicine and as a food source.
The word 'Elder' comes from the Anglo-Saxon word aeld, which means “fire”.
This is thought to be due to the fact that the hollow stems of the young branches were used for blowing on fires (as a sort of early bellows system) (1).
It was primarily used throughout the United Kingdom, in fact, the main variety of Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is the European variety.
Sambucus nigra is the type that is most often used in supplements and food products.
In the US, there is a similar tree/berry, it’s known as Sambucus canadensis. It appears to have the same health benefits and is often used interchangeably with Sambucus nigra.
The Elder tree was looked at as “the medicine chest of the country people” (1). Every part of the tree was used; from the roots, to the stems, to the flowers… and of course, the berries.
Below we’ll dig into 4 major benefits of Elderberry.
The first thing most people think about when they think of Elderberry is its immune supporting properties.
And that’s correct!
Elderberry's immune-supporting properties are backed by a double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted in 2011.
(Double-blind placebo-controlled studies are the gold standard as far as studies go).
The researchers found that of airline passengers that got sick while traveling overseas on a flight, the individuals that took Elderberry before and after the trip had a significant reduction in cold duration (2).
This was the perfect test since airline travel is one of the most stressful events for your immune system.
The reason for these immune-supporting benefits appears to be the anthocyanin content in Elderberry, we’ll talk more about that in the next point.
Elderberries are chock full of beneficial antioxidants.
In particular, Elderberries contain high amounts of anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins are a special category of natural plant chemicals known as flavonoids. Anthocyanins are found in the skin of the elderberry, they actually help to give the berries their dark purple/blue colors.
Scientific research is still being conducted on anthocyanins, but it appears that they have a widespread positive effect on the body.
One hypothesis is that anthocyanins support the immune system by boosting the production of cytokines.
As a reminder, cytokines are cellular messengers employed by your immune system, they help your body’s cells to talk back and forth with each other. This signaling is especially important when your immune system is facing an attack (3).
Elderberry also appears to also have antibacterial properties.
In 2011 a study was conducted to test whether or not Elderberry would have an impact on bacterial cultures.
In the study, a concentration of Elderberry juice was placed into a dish of different types of bacteria.
After allowing the Elderberry extract to work, the researchers went back and tested the bacteria, they found that the Elderberry extract had helped to stop the growth and spread of the bacteria (4).
This shows that Elderberry may be effective as an antimicrobial.
A 2010 report showed that polyphenol-rich plants (such as Elderberries) may help to protect against UV radiation.
The study found that polyphenol-rich plants with yellow, red or purple pigments can absorb UV radiation.
Specifically, they were shown to absorb “UVB radiation”, a mid-range form of UV radiation that’s responsible for the majority of UV-related skin damage (5).
One note, this research was conducted on topically-applied polyphenols. This means that you’d have to absorb the polyphenols through your skin, such as in a lotion or moisturizer.
This may not be ideal with Elderberry since it has a deep purple staining effect.
It hasn’t yet been verified that you can get the same UV protective benefits by taking an Elderberry supplement (in a capsule or syrup form). However, this could lead to interesting research in the future.
Elderberry is a fantastic natural plant with a variety of different health benefits.
Whether it’s elderberry syrups, capsules, or gummies; there are a variety of ways to add this beneficial herb into your routine.
One caution, make sure if you do take an Elderberry product, to make sure that it doesn’t contain a large amount of sugar. The sugar content can work to suppress your immune system.
Make sure to pay special attention to the labels of syrups and gummies, those are the main ones to watch out for.
Encapsulated supplements with Elderberry will be free of additive sugars, so they may be a better option.
At Utzy Naturals, we have our U-Mune formula. It’s a natural immune support formula made with Elderberry and Echinacea (along with other beneficial herbs).
If you’re looking to support your immune health this winter, be sure to get a bottle of U-Mune.
We whole-heartedly recommend taking it, especially during the winter months. It’s immune-supporting benefits and rich anthocyanin content makes it a must-have.
(1). Elder. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2019, from https://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/e/elder-04.html.
(2) Tiralongo, E., Wee, S., & Lea, R. (2016). Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients, 8(4), 182. doi: 10.3390/nu8040182
(3) Khoo, H. E., Azlan, A., Tang, S. T., & Lim, S. M. (2017). Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: colored pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits. Food & Nutrition Research, 61(1), 1361779. doi: 10.1080/16546628.2017.1361779
(4) Krawitz, C., Mraheil, M. A., Stein, M., Imirzalioglu, C., Domann, E., Pleschka, S., & Hain, T. (2011). Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 11(1). doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-11-16
(5) Nichols, J. A., & Katiyar, S. K. (2009). Skin photoprotection by natural polyphenols: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and DNA repair mechanisms. Archives of Dermatological Research, 302(2), 71–83. doi: 10.1007/s00403-009-1001-3