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Is it possible to get sun-kissed this summer and still skip the skin damage?
Learn how you can harness the benefits of sunlight and keep your skin healthy and radiant all summer long.
The first and most well-known benefit of sun exposure is the big vitamin D boost you get from even brief moments in the sun. The same ultraviolet radiation (UV) that we are often taught to fear helps your body produce vitamin D from sunlight.
The definition of a healthy blood level of vitamin D continues to spark debate. However, many experts recommend daily protected sun exposure and/or a vitamin D supplement to keep blood levels where they belong.
In fact, the further north people live from the equator, the more likely they are to develop certain kinds of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and mood disorders. Lower amounts of UV, often resulting in lower levels of vitamin D, are thought to be responsible.
Ever noticed how much better you feel when you step out to get some air?
Spending time in the sun can affect your body’s production of serotonin and endorphins. Elevated serotonin levels are linked to improved mood while endorphins may help your body manage stress.
People that do not get enough sunlight exposure tend to have lower levels of serotonin.
Some researchers believe that these lower levels may be responsible for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), where people report lower moods during non-summer months when UV is the lowest.
The third and most surprising benefit may be the relationship between sunlight exposure and better sleep.
Keeping melatonin levels in balance helps you stay sleepy at nighttime and feel alert and energetic during the day. In one study of nursing home residents, daily sunlight exposure during the summer months had impressive results.
After just 6 weeks, residents reported improved sleepiness at night, elevated alertness during the day, and overall improved feelings about their health.
So if you want to sleep better at night, get enough of your sunshine vitamin, and have a better mood, spend a little bit of time in the sun every day.
A sunburn is the most obvious and painful sign of too much sun exposure.
But UV exposure without skin protection, whether it is from the sun or a tanning bed, can cause skin damage.
Early signs of skin damage include redness, age spots, loose skin, or a ruddy complexion. Too much UV exposure can also cause skin cancer.
Because the benefits of sunshine cannot be ignored, the World Health Organization (WHO) does encourage spending about 5-15 minutes in the sun with arms, hands, and face exposed about 2-3 times per week.
In addition to spending time outdoors, most people still need a vitamin D supplement to maintain healthy blood levels, especially outside of the summer months.
Get your level tested and talk about your Vitamin D needs with your healthcare provider.
Wear sunscreen if you plan to be outside for longer than 15 minutes or if you notice your skin starting to redden.
Whether dashing out the door on the way to work or sunbathing, sunscreen needs to be part of your daily routine. Due to some recent controversy, picking the right type has gotten a bit more confusing.
Most professional health organizations recommend a broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. A broad spectrum sunscreen blocks both kinds of UV, which are UVA and UVB.
You should apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before going outdoors.
The active ingredients in broad-spectrum sunscreen often include one of about a dozen chemical UV filters.
These filters work by blocking harmful UVA and UVB rays that can cause skin damage and skin cancer.
A recent study found that these chemical filters are absorbed all over the body when applied to the skin. This means ingredients found in sunscreen pass into the blood and may exit the body later through urine or even breastmilk.
If you are concerned about the potential risks of chemical UV filters in sunscreen, look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
These natural minerals also work as UV filters but they are not absorbed into the body the way chemical UV filters are.
Currently, the FDA also lists zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the safest and most effective UV filters on the market.
Make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours, or sooner if you are sweating or participating in water sports. Remember to apply sunscreen on cloudy days as well.
2. Be Strategic About The Time You Spend in the Sun
Keep in mind that UV is usually the strongest between 10 am and 2 pm, so make sure to apply sunscreen if you will be outdoors for long stretches of time during these hours.
Long sleeves, sunglasses, and wide-brimmed hats are fashionable choices that also double as effective skin protection.
3. Look for Skin Products with Plant-Derived Compounds and Antioxidants
Skin products with plant-based antioxidants can also help protect your skin from sun damage.
For example, propolis, which is found in plants and collected by honeybees, has been shown to reduce inflammation and signs of UV damage on the skin.
Green tea, pomegranate, and grape seed extracts also have similar effects when applied to the skin.
Products that contain the vitamins ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and vitamin E are particularly effective at helping you block UV rays as well.
Please note: The words glyphosate and GMO’s are used interchangeably throughout this article.
Glyphosate (Roundup) is the most popular pesticide used worldwide. It has a broad spectrum of uses, but its most popular use is in crops in the form of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s).
GMO’s are living organisms that are developed from DNA from a plant and artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering.
This dividing of DNA to a new crop results in a new crop that would not exist naturally and is intended to supply the same desirable traits (1).
The role of GMO’s is to help crops become resistant to herbicides.
New technologies are also being used to help with other areas such as the resistance of browning in crops (such as in apples), and creating completely new organisms with artificial biology (1).
You may have heard that GMO’s are beneficial since they can help increase crop yield. The problem is, research is finding that they can do more harm than good (2).
A big concern is the association with glyphosate exposure and the frequency of cancer.
A study from the International Journal of Clinical Medicine concluded that high glyphosate pollution is associated with increased frequencies of cancer, and in March 2015, the World Health Organization determined that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans” (5, 6, 7).
In fact, there have been three lawsuits just this year awarded against Monsanto, the company that created glyphosate claiming that glyphosate causes cancer.
One of those lawsuits was from a California man named John Barton who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2015, and claimed that using glyphosate for decades was the cause of his cancer.
In addition to those lawsuits, there are 11,000 current pending complaints against Monsanto (7).
Whichever side you agree with, know that there is a lack of independent long-term studies showing the long-term safety of GMO’s on our health.
In my opinion, GMO’s should be avoided.
In fact, other countries such as France and Germany are currently banning the use of GMO’s on their crops (8).
In addition, supporting GMO-containing foods may decrease business for organic farmers, who provide not only nutritious food but may also support the environment and improve soil and water quality (9).
As with any area of health, it’s important to be your own advocate and and know exactly where your food is coming from.
There’s a variety of ways to avoid GMO’s.
One way is to buy products with the Non-GMO Project Verified or Non-GMO Certified logo on the package.
More companies are joining the Non-GMO Project, which is a company whose mission is to build and protect the public with non-GMO food supply. You can find companies that are Non-GMO Project Verified here.
Another way to avoid GMO’s is to choose organic for produce. Organic produce means there has not been any GMO’s used in the development of that crop.
If you’re unable to buy organic for all your produce, focus on choosing organic for the most popular GMO-containing crops such as
- Yellow Squash
- Sugar Beets.
Another way to avoid GMO’s is to look at the source of your meat and dairy products. Many animals are fed GMO-containing feed, so learning what animals are eating can also be helpful (10).
GMO’s have been around since the 1970’s, and there is still a lot of controversy regarding their health impact.
As a dietitian, I recommend to be your own advocate and learn where your food products are coming from, what the animals you consume are eating, and choose food companies that value your health.
Should you eat before bed? Unfortunately, the answer to this question varies based on who you ask.
Some experts blame bedtime eating for poor health and unhealthy weight gain. Others disagree, and research exists to support both sides.
But not so fast. Don’t put the snacks away just yet.
Keep reading as we dive into the science of eating before bed and whether or not you should have that snack.
Some research has linked eating before bed with increased body mass, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
However, bedtime eating itself may not be the culprit. Many times, other behaviors that often go hand in hand with bedtime eating can cause problems.
For example, let’s say you skip breakfast.
By dinnertime, you likely speed straight past hungry and into ravenous territory. Thanks to those powerful hunger hormones, your body demands pizza. That baked fish you were planning on having becomes a distant memory.
Many breakfast skippers develop the habit of eating very heavy meals late in the evening.
This can be problematic because of what's known as circadian misalignment.
Generally speaking, our bodies run on a 24-hour biological clock. The daylight hours are known as the active phase and night hours are the inactive phase. During the active phase is when our bodies are best prepared to digest and burn the food we eat as fuel.
The body has a greater tendency to store extra calories as fat and does not process carbohydrates as well during the inactive phase.
This is why some experts believe nighttime eating can lead to weight gain and altered blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
Eating late may also lead to overeating simply due to being awake for long hours.
But the truth is, not everyone who eats late winds up gaining more weight or facing more health problems.
How bedtime eating will affect your body and your health differs based on your unique lifestyle.
Always talk it over with your doctor or registered dietitian before you make any major changes in your eating habits.
If you have a small snack before bed and usually eat most of your meals during the day, there are some potential upsides.
For some, having a small snack before going to bed might prevent waking up in the middle of the night to snack.
In one study, researchers recruited 84 men and women who reported nighttime snacking and instructed half of them to add a bowl of cereal for a bedtime snack.
After just four weeks, those who had the cereal reduced their nighttime snacking and actually lost a small amount of weight.
It seems that having a small snack before bedtime may help some people cut down on nighttime snacking that could be contributing to weight gain.
Another possible benefit of having a bedtime snack is improved muscle synthesis and strength.
In another study, researchers had 22 young men drink a protein shake every night before bed while they completed a 12-week resistance training program.
Researchers found that muscle strength and size increased more in the group that had the shake, compared to the group that didn’t.
Meal timing and bedtime eating is an area of research that needs further exploration.
But if you want a bedtime snack, go for it.
Just take care to select an appropriate snack.
Avoid having very fatty foods or large meals right before bed.
Try to have your largest meal no later than early evening.
If you do find yourself getting hungry before bed, a small snack is ok.
Most research studies that show benefits of a bedtime snack have provided participants with high protein drinks or snacks that contain less than 200 calories.
You can plan to have your bedtime snack whenever you feel like it!
There is not a magic window for most people, but there are a couple of considerations.
Those who are athletic should have meals and snacks within a few hours of working out. A replenishing bedtime snack contains both protein and a bit of carbohydrate.
Eating late can worsen acid reflux, so it may be wise for those with this problem to stop eating several hours before bed.
Choose snacks that contain a decent amount of protein but aren't too heavy. For example:
In conclusion, eating before bed can sometimes be bad, but it depends on what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat most of your meals.
With a few simple guidelines, your bedtime snack does not need to negatively impact your health or sleep. In fact, read our article on 10 Foods That Can Help You Sleep Better!
No matter how often you clean your house, there will always be pollen, dust, and dirt. And sometimes, these aren’t just minor annoyances, they can have a major impacts on your health.
That’s why it’s important to limit the amount of dust and pollen in your home as much as possible.
Here are a few good ideas to get started.
Below, we’ve written down 15 tricks for removing dust and pollen from your home.
Please share this post with your friends and family using the share buttons to the side – help us spread the word!
You spend a lot of time laying on your bed (a third of your day in fact). Making sure that your sheets are free of pollen and other dust contaminates is vitally important. Old, used sheets collect all sorts of dust and skin flakes. The solution to this is to wash your sheets (and pillowcases) on a weekly basis. Also, change into clean clothing before spending time on soft surfaces like beds and sofas, especially if you’ve been outside. You should also make sure that your sheets are made of natural fibers like cotton, linen, or even wool!
A dehumidifier helps to reduce the levels of humidity in your house. It is one of the best ways to help dust mite control, since dust mites are sensitive to humidity. Make sure to keep your dehumidifier tray clean and dry, and the air filters clear.
Use a microfiber and go over all of the furniture and surfaces in your house. Microfiber cloths have special fibers that are able to clean up even the smallest of dust particles. This is a great solution for removing those pesky dust mites!
This tip is a no-brainer! Make sure to regularly vacuum your house. This will eliminate a good amount of the pollen, dust, and contaminants present in your house. If you are looking for a vacuum cleaner, make sure to go with one with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. These premium vacuums help to remove 99.9% of the pollen, animal dander, and bacteria from the air. Use the hose attachment to clean spots where dust tends accumulate such as on vents, ceiling fan blades, and floorboards.
Sweeping tends to stir dust up into to air, but giving your floor a good mopping afterward will pick up any of the dust that you missed. The longer you leave dust, the harder it will be to remove it, so use a mop!
Dust particles and other air contaminants can hide in cushions and rugs. When cleaning them, hang your rugs outside on a railing or clothesline, and place your cushions on a clean spot on your driveway or porch. You can use a broom handle or a carpet beater to beat them. Continue to beat them until you can no longer see dust fly off when you hit them. You may want to use a dust mask and protective glasses while you do this.
Keep an eye on your pet’s fur. Regularly brush and comb them. When grooming your pet, make sure to do it outside, or at least on a hard surface (i.e. not on your carpet). Thoroughly vacuum any soft surfaces your pet may shed on frequently. If you can, you should also give your pet regular baths. This will remove the dust trapped in their fur. Also, keep pets out of your bedroom! Pets bring in not only their own hair and dander, but dust and pollen particles can also hitch a ride in on their fur. Definitely not something you want on your pillow!
Go on the offense! Use an air purifier to trap all those nasty dust particles. Make sure to place your air purifier close to areas where dust can blow in (next to windows and doors are great options). Using an air purifier will help to prevent airborne contaminants from getting in and circulating around your house. You can also use plants to purify your air, to read more it, check out our article, 7 Air Purifying Plants For Your Home.
Dirty air vents contain dust particles. Making sure they are clean is an important step for improving overall air quality and improving ventilation. Just know, it is probably best to have your air ducts professionally cleaned. Professional cleaners have special tools that remove almost all of the bad air contaminants. You can’t get that level of cleanliness with a quick vacuum. The good news is that you only need them cleaned every 3-5 years, unless you live in a very dry, dusty climate, in which case you will want to get them cleaned more frequently.
If your child is sensitive to dust or pollen, then it’s a good idea to keep their toys clean and limit the amount of stuffed animals they have. Buy washable toys made out of materials like wood, rubber, or plastic, and store them in an airtight box to help keep out dust. You may also want to keep the toys of your child’s bedroom as an extra precaution.
Open windows on a dry day can lead to dust particles and pollen flying right into your living environment. Opening them on a damp day can result in mold. Keep them closed and stop air contaminants from entering your home.
Make sure to remove your shoes when indoors. Leaving shoes on will track dirt and dust from outside into your home. You should leave shoes on a hard surface near your door to avoid walking across any carpeting. If you don’t have a tile or wood floor entryway, look into getting a rubber mat to place near the door. Slippers are an excellent option for indoors!
Carpet holds a TON of dust. In addition to that, each time you take a step on carpet, it releases dust into the air. If you’re truly set on reducing the dust in your home, consider installing a wood floor, or another hard surface like stone, tile, or vinyl flooring. This will go a long way toward reducing the dust present in your home.
Prevent outside dirt and dust from invading your home by getting a doormat and leaving it outside your front door. Make sure to wash your feet before coming inside your house. Also, make sure to periodically clean your doormat, it too can collect dust and dirt.
Check the lint collector in your dryer and clean the dust from it. This will not only help to keep your appliance running smoothly, it will also prevent dust from flying around every time you open the door. Lint buildup can also be a fire hazard, so keep it clean!
So there you have it. Use these 15 tips and start breathing easier. If we missed anything, comment your favorite cleaning tips below!
Are you guilty of believing the common myth about exercise, “No pain no gain”?
For many of us, the word “exercise” brings to mind images of struggling through a punishing workout and then collapsing in exhaustion as we tell ourselves “well done.”
Well, the time has come to put this myth to bed.
In reality, exercise does not have to be painful or very intense for us to reap major benefits. For those of us who want to avoid high impact exercise (think jumping or running), low impact exercise works just as well.
Low impact exercise has the power to protect joints, boost moods, improve physical fitness, and keep our bodies and minds healthy for longer. Ready to learn how?
Low impact exercise describes any joint friendly movements where one foot always stays on the ground.
In addition to reducing risk of injury (as compared to high-impact activities), it may be a safer option for those of us who are pregnant, recovering from joint or spinal injuries, or just getting started with working out.
You can break up those 30 minutes into several 10 minute chunks throughout the day.
It still counts.
If you want to get your heart rate up without putting more stress on your bones or joints, increase the frequency, intensity, or amount of time you spend doing low impact activities.
To keep things interesting, incorporate several different types of activities and invite others to join you.
Walking is the simplest form of low impact exercise. All you need is a good pair of shoes and a place to walk.
Add more walking into your day by parking a 5 minute walk away from your destination.
You added 10 minutes of activity each time you walk to and from your car.
Make walking more fun by getting together with some coworkers on your lunch break.
Consider getting (or borrowing) a dog to keep you company.
Did you know dog owners are much more likely to meet recommended daily physical activity levels? Hint hint.
Biking can be leisurely or intense, depending on your preference. Enjoy a ride outdoors, hop on a stationary bike with your favorite TV show or magazine, or join a cycling class.
You can even build biking into your daily routine by biking to work. Working up to an active biking commute can benefit your health, the environment, and your wallet.
Turn the music up, wherever you are, and dance. Dancing is an effective way to get your heart rate up and improve your cardiovascular fitness.
There is even some evidence that dancing in your later years helps your brain function more effectively.
Up the fun by taking lessons with a partner or signing up for a Zumba class.
Taking the stairs can level up your fitness on your way up. Making the simple switch from the elevator to the stairs is a habit that will get you in shape before you know it.
If you don’t have an opportunity to climb real stairs, try using the stairmaster at the gym or walking up and down bleachers.
Water activities include a variety of options such as swimming laps, water jogging, aqua walking, aerobics, and more. As a bonus, you can do water activities year round without breaking a sweat. All the while, you get healthier and give your joints a gravity-free break.
One study found that swimming reduced joint stiffness and pain while improving strength after three months.
Depending on the pose, you may not technically have both feet on the ground all the time with this one. But yoga can help improve balance, flexibility, and be an effective stress reliever.
Join a group class or pull up some videos on YouTube to get started.
Gardening connects you with nature and can be a very rewarding form of activity.
You also get to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Many gardeners report benefits such as less stress, improved mental and physical health, and even better eating habits.
Get a plot at a local community garden or simply put some pots outside and get started.
Resistance training builds muscle, strengthens bones, and may improve stability around your joints.
Start with completing one set of 8-10 repetitions of exercises for each major muscle group, up to twice per week. Ask staff at the gym to make sure you have correct form.
Resistance training should be done in combination with other activities for optimal fitness and strength.
You can also supplement with Utzy's Vitamin K2 to help you build stronger bones.
Read more on how Vitamin K2 can help you strengthen your bones naturally in our article, "5 Natural Ways to Improve Bone Strength"
Not all fish oil products on the market today are the same. There are different grades and types of fish oil.
The two main types of fish oil are Natural Triglyceride fish oil and Ethyl Ester.
There is a big difference between the two when it comes to overall quality, and absorption. Ethyl Ester is a cheaper form of fish oil. It is synthetic and has limited bio-availability.
If you are looking to get the most benefit out of taking a fish oil supplement, you will want to avoid the cheaper Ethyl Ester form of fish oil.
If you are looking for the best form of fish oil, start out by seeking a fish oil supplement that comes in a natural triglyceride form.
As we'll talk about below, the Natural Triglyceride form of fish oil is the best type you can get. It is the safest, purest, and most potent form of fish oil.
The Ethyl Ester form of fish oil has an Ethanol (alcohol) backbone (instead of Glycerol). Ethanol is added to fish oil as a part of the refining process. Among other things, it increases the boiling point and provides the pathway for impurities and other harmful substances to be removed.
While the ethylization process can be helpful for refining fish oil, the problem occurs when manufactures stop their fish oil processing at this point and leave their fish oil in a synthetic Ethyl Esther state. This results in cheaper and less effective form of Fish Oil.
Manufactures committed to producing higher quality fish oil go through a secondary process of re-attaching the oil to a Glycerol backbone, putting it back to the Natural Triglyceride state. This is what you want; pure fish oil that is highly concentrated, purified, containing bountiful levels of EPA, DHA and back to the Triglyceride form as nature intended.
Triglyceride form fish oil is the natural state that fish oil is found in. Triglycerides are made up of three essential fatty acids (e.g. EPA and DHA) attached to a Glycerol backbone. High quality forms of fish oil will come in a Natural Triglyceride form. This is the way nature meant it to be.
Keep in mind, some forms of Natural Triglyceride fish oil will go through an ethylization process to remove impurities and pollutants. Once this oil has been processed, it is then converted back into a Triglyceride form by adding the fish oil to a Glycerol backbone. This type of fish oil is called “Re-Esterified Triglyceride Fish Oil”. Natural Triglyceride Fish Oil is the best type of fish oil you can buy.
Below are a few important facts about omega-3 supplements. Taking the right form is crucial for finding a product that will work for you.
•Ethyl Esters are not found in nature, but created in a chemical process that involves Ethanol (a form of alcohol)
•The Natural Triglyceride form of Fish Oil has a much higher absorption rate (48% for EPA and 36% for DHA), and does not require the liver to filter out the Ethanol alcohol (2).
•Cellular levels of Omega Oils EPA and DHA taken in the Triglyceride form are 25% higher after 6 months of supplementation, compared to the Ethyl Ester version
•Ethyl Ester fish oils are less stable and oxidize more quickly, causing the product to spoil much more rapidly
•Consider Utzy’s premium fish oil supplements, which contain highly purified, Natural Triglyceride form fish oil.
Have you wondered why omega fish oils are called essential? It's because the human body cannot synthesize EPA or DHA on its own; omega-3's must come from a food source such as fish or through supplementation.
Omega-3's are essential because every living cell in the body must have them to function properly! So picking the right fish oil is absolute key.
1) Gross, Michael and Klein, Susan. “Fish Oil Triglycerides vs. Ethyl Esters”. Physician Recommended Nutriceuticals
2) Lawson, L.D. and B.G. Hughes, Human absorption of fish oil fatty acids as triacylglycerols, free acids, or ethyl esters. Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 1988. 152(1): p. 328-35.
Can you remember the last time you thanked your bones? Strong bones are key for a healthy and active lifestyle, yet it is so easy to take them for granted until something goes wrong.
As the unsung heroes of the body, bones literally support you, protect your vital organs, and store minerals, such as calcium. Along with helping you move, they also produce red blood cells.
Whether you are 10 years old or 110 years old, there are simple and effective ways to build strong and healthy bones for years to come.
Below are the top, researched-backed tips for building stronger bones.
Demanding lifestyles, bad weather, and comfy couches are a few of the many reasons that staying indoors and being inactive is becoming the new status quo.
National trends suggest fewer and fewer adults are meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines with each passing year.
Excessive sitting not only leads to weaker muscles (due to limited exercise), it also can affect bone health.
When you spend too much time indoors, this can deprive your body of Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, which is necessary for healthy bones.
Vitamin D’s important role in bone strengthening lies in its ability to help your body absorb enough calcium from the foods you eat. Calcium and Vitamin D work together to help you maintain healthy bones.
This is discussed further below.
While getting a little more sun is a feasible way for some people to improve their Vitamin D levels, just doing this one action won’t help everyone.
If you live in a northern climate or a city with a lot of smog, routinely cover most of your skin when outdoors (with clothes or sunblock), or have darker skin, you may have a harder time producing enough Vitamin D from sunlight.
You might also need to be more careful about spending a lot of time outdoors with uncovered skin if you have a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
Therefore, consider having your Vitamin D level tested and then supplement accordingly. If you are far outside the optimal range, most food sources will be insufficient for providing adequate vitamin D.
To naturally increase your vitamin D levels, add frequent, small bursts of outdoor activity to your day, especially during the summer months. And remember to wear short sleeves so you leave more skin exposed!
Go for a walk in the morning or midday.
Jog outside instead of inside on the treadmill.
Take your dog for a walk.
Have a picnic.
You get the idea.
Calcium is important for bone health. You probably know this already. But do you know why?
Calcium is the mineral that is laid down when your body builds new bone tissue.
And since old bone cells are constantly being broken down and replaced by new bone cells, eating enough calcium gives your body the "raw materials" that it needs to build up and repair your bones.
The amount of calcium that you need differs depending on your age. Generally speaking, as you grow older, your calcium needs will increase in order to maintain healthy bone tissue.
Unlike Vitamin D, dietary calcium sources are generally preferred over taking supplements. This is because excessive calcium supplementation has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular complications.
Fortunately, there are plenty of foods that are excellent sources of calcium. The best sources include dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.
If you are unable to consume dairy products, non-dairy milks that are fortified with calcium and Vitamin D are good alternatives.
In order for a drink to be a good source of calcium and vitamin D, look for beverages that contain at least 20% of your daily value for each of these nutrients.
Remember that adequate Vitamin D intake and levels is required for optimal calcium absorption.
You may be surprised to see protein on this list, but there's a good reason for it.
Adequate protein intake stimulates bone and muscle formation and enhances the absorption of calcium from food. Most adults actually get enough protein, so there’s no need to go overboard.
Those who may need to pay special attention to getting enough protein are vegans and older adults. Vegans should focus on regularly incorporating high-quality protein sources like beans, tofu, tempeh, nuts, and seeds.
Vegetarians who regularly include eggs and dairy products are more likely to get enough protein.
Older adults can become less sensitive to the bone and muscle-enhancing effects of protein and need to take care to include good protein sources with every meal, especially after working out.
It is good practice for older adults to try to distribute protein sources throughout the day instead of eating just one large serving.
This is because the body becomes less able to use protein to build and maintain healthy muscles as we age. Good sources of protein include: meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, and the vegetarian sources mentioned above.
So how much protein is necessary for the body to have strong bones?
This varies based on your body size, activity level, health status and more. Generally speaking, older adults, those who are more physically active, and those who have large amounts of muscle mass require more protein on a daily basis.
While there is no "magic potion" for building stronger bones, several nutrients play a key role in this process.
As we discussed above, Vitamin D and calcium are necessary for bone health. Emerging research suggests the bone-building effects of Vitamin K2 should not be overlooked either.
If you have never heard of Vitamin K2, you are are not alone. Supplementation with Vitamin K2 for adults looking to support bone health is standard in Japan but it hasn’t quite caught on in the United States yet.
When you hear about vitamin K, often it’s about vitamin K1. Vitamin K1 is necessary for appropriate blood clotting. In fact, it is so important that newborns often receive a vitamin K1 injection as soon as they’re born to prevent excessive bleeding.
Leafy greens and plant oils contain the largest amounts of vitamin K1 and most people are unlikely to be deficient.
Vitamin K2, on the other hand, is essential for activating osteocalcin. This protein is found in bone tissue, and when activated, it helps the body remove calcium from the blood and place it in the bones.
This helps to support joint elasticity and overall bone health.
Vitamin K2 also keeps calcium where it belongs. Some research suggests that those deficient in vitamin K2 may be more likely to have changes in calcium metabolism that may be harmful.
The good news is that plenty of foods contain Vitamin K2 including hard cheeses, egg yolks, chicken liver and breast, ground beef, and even sauerkraut.
Want to learn more about supplementation?
Check out our blog post on the Best Bone Supplements. Complementing Vitamin D3 and K2 with other supplements like Magnesium can be beneficial, as these nutrients all work together to build stronger bones.
Your bones have the ability to adjust to the stress that you put them under. This means that activities that stress your bones (in a good way!) will help to strengthen them.
One of the best ways to stimulate bone strengthening is via exercise, but it has to be the right kind of exercise. The evidence suggests that resistance training with weights is the best way to improve bone strength.
How you train can determine how well your bones will respond. For example, lifting light weights slowly may have almost no effect on strengthening your bones.
However, lifting progressively heavier weights and completing reps faster seems to have the strongest effects.
Before embarking down this road, it is important to get clearance from a health professional and find a qualified trainer to help you design a workout plan that will be as safe and effective as possible.
In addition to resistance training, other high impact activities are also important.
These include things like jumping, dancing, jogging, or climbing stairs.
Of course, proceed with caution if you have a bone-related disorder or a history of injuries.
You may have heard of lectins before, but what are they exactly?
Because of their protective mechanisms, some people are putting lectins to blame for certain health issues such as digestive distress, fatigue, or inflammation, but we can’t put the blame entirely on lectins alone.
Before we dive into the impact lectins can have on our health, know that not all lectins are bad or cause adverse reactions for people.
In fact, some lectins can actually be beneficial for our health (3).
When individuals have problems with lectins, it could be for various reasons. One being their resistance to digestion.
Some people may feel gastro-intestinal distress, such as bloating, after consumption of foods containing lectins.
This could be due to lectins being resistant to digestive enzymes.
In addition, due to their binding abilities, lectins can interfere with the absorption of key nutrients such as calcium and iron, and also cause damage to the gut lining. This may lead to nutrient deficiencies or other health complications later on (4).
Lectins may be harmful if consumed in large amounts due to their negative impact they can have on the gut microbiome.
Although they are widespread, roughly 30% of the foods we contain have significant amounts of lectins, therefore making it fairly simple to avoid foods that contain the highest amounts of lectins if you need to (7, 8).
If you’re experiencing health problems such as digestive issues, brain fog, fatigue, or inflammation, it may be helpful to avoid lectins or implement ways to reduce exposure.
If you aren’t, you may still be able to consume lectins sporadically and not have any issues.
Although lectins are found in a variety of foods, they are significantly higher in the following foods:
If you’re concerned about lectin exposure or experiencing health complications, try removing or reducing exposure of these foods to see if that helps.
Lectins are found in a variety of foods and are highest in about 30% of the foods we eat including wheat, soybeans, nightshades, and legumes.
Not all lectins are bad for our health, and not everyone has a negative reaction after consuming them.
If you do feel you have health complications that could be tied to lectins, try removing or reducing exposure, and see if symptoms improve.
As humans, it is our responsibility to take care of the Earth we live on.
There are people who reject this responsibility and are actively damaging the environment, while others simply don’t care.
Most of us though, want to help but don’t know where to start.
If you aren’t vegan or biking to work, you might feel like “What’s the point?” when it comes to helping the planet. Not so fast.
There are dozens of simple green habits you can start doing right now to help reduce greenhouse emissions and protect the environment for future generations.
Here’s how to start.
Purchasing durable clothes that are made using environmentally friendly processes reduces your environmental impact.
Did you know the average American throws away more than 80 pounds of clothing every year?
Making the decision to donate, recycle, or re-purpose clothing is a good starting point. Many textiles can be recycled but most end up in landfills.
Just like with other recyclable goods, sometimes the supply outpaces the demand. Many companies are only able to resell a fraction of the clothes that are donated.
And while the price is cheap, the environmental cost of producing and discarding clothes is very steep. That cute shirt made from nylon, polyester, or acrylic is more than likely made from petroleum, which will remain in a landfill for many centuries while it slowly decomposes.
The Organic Consumer Association recommends buying jeans made in the USA and purchasing fair trade, organic cotton clothing.
To keep the clothes you already have out of landfills for longer, there are simple things you can start doing right away.
The next time you get a stain or a tear in a favorite piece of clothing, drop that credit card and pick up the needle and thread.
Support vintage or second-hand stores and organize clothing swaps with friends.
For clothes that are on their deathbed, re-purpose them into cleaning rags or find cool craft projects online.
Paying attention to manufacturers’ instructions for care of garments, limiting how often you wash clothes, washing in cold water, and hanging clothes to dry are all proven ways to extend the life of your clothes and reduce your environmental impact as well.
Think about the big picture before using plastic and choose better options when you can.
We are literally drowning in plastic. According to National Geographic, there is so much plastic in the world’s oceans right now that 5 grocery bags full of the stuff could sit on every single foot of coastline in the world.
What’s even more sobering is that the vast majority of plastic that is used just once will go on to sit in a landfill for at least 450 years, with some experts stating plastic will never break down.
Plastic use has exploded over the past 20 years but it’s not too late to start making some changes.
Ask your server to “hold the straw” next time when you go out to eat. Bring your own bags whenever you shop. Choose fresh fruits and veggies that are free from plastic packaging.
Instead of buying bottled water invest in a home filtration system. When you’re on the go, opt for a glass water bottle with a water filter.
While recycling is a good idea if you don’t already, recycling a little bit of plastic is better than recycling a lot of plastic.
Just like with clothing, we are discarding so many plastics that most of them will end up in landfills. They can’t all be re-used.
Think critically before you reach for that next plastic item and get in the habit of using glass or just saying no when you can.
One of the biggest eco-friendly habits to consider is reducing the amount of stuff you buy. A lot of the problems plaguing the environment today can be traced back to overconsumption.
The problem is that the planet cannot keep up with the demands placed on it when all of us decide to acquire more stuff.
Whether it’s the newest iPhone, car, or living room set to fill the bigger house, the cost of these choices goes beyond price.
The first step to being a more responsible consumer is to become more aware.
First and foremost, do you truly need what you are about to purchase?
Asking yourself this simple question can stop impulse shopping in its tracks and may save you some money.
When you are preparing to make big purchases, do a little research.
Find brands that sell quality products that will last longer so you won’t have to replace them as quickly. If possible, try to buy items made from recycled materials that are locally made.
Another option is to buy things second hand or to borrow if it’s something you’ll only need to use a few times.
Be honest with yourself.
Do you really need that snowblower if every neighbor on your block has one? Get to know your neighbors and flex those sharing muscles.
When it’s time to get rid of something ask yourself if someone you know could use it before you throw it away. Sell it or donate it.
Stop wasting food, save money, and help the planet.
Imagine going to the grocery store and throwing away half of your groceries before you get to the car.
Most of us would be horrified if we saw someone so blatantly throwing away perfectly good food.
Unfortunately, it happens every single day.
In the United States alone, about 40% of food ends up in the trash. Wasting food is also quite the budget buster, with some estimates suggesting that the average family of four is throwing away $1600 per year.
Keep more of that money in your pocket and less of that food in landfills by following some simple strategies.
Always shop with a plan. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate plan. Simply think about what food you have at home already and make a grocery list based on the meals you’ll be eating before heading to the store.
When you get to the store, only buy what you need. Even if the larger items are on sale think realistically about how soon your household can finish what you buy.
Instead of letting 5 pounds of potatoes rot on your counter, opt for a few potatoes at a time.
Get in the habit of using your most perishable foods first and freezing the foods you won’t be using for a while.
Take it another step and think about backyard composting. Fruit and vegetable peels, overripe produce, egg shells, coffee grounds, and newsprint junk mail can be up-cycled into a rich soil amendment full of beneficial microorganisms for the soil.
If you don’t have the space or patience for backyard composting, consider vermicomposting, which uses worms. And no, the worms won’t escape if you keep a bin in the garage, basement, or even in a corner of the kitchen. There are great online resources for building and running a worm bin.
By planning ahead with your food purchases and re-purposing food scraps, you can make a significant impact on cutting your household’s food waste and save more money.
It's a harsh reality to grasp, but some of our favorite brands use toxic, life threatening chemicals that somehow have been approved for general consumption.
As conscious consumers, it is your right to know what these chemicals are and where to look for them. And how to spot them, as, while products may have their ingredients shown, there are many different names that chemicals may be listed as.
Below are 5 common toxins found in your everyday products and the common names they are often called.
You'll want to check your home for these ingredients and do your best to eliminate them from your home!
Phthalates are chemicals that allow for plastic products to be more flexible and durable. When your skin comes in constant contact with these plastics, the phthalates can begin to absorb into your skin.
Hair & body brands use phthalates to make fragrances last longer and for your skin to absorb substances quicker.
When you use products that contain phthalates you may be opening yourself up to potential health complications.
“The animal studies suggest there is a potential for the phthalates to impact birth outcomes, including gestational age and birthweight, fertility (lower sperm production), and anatomical abnormalities related to the male genitalia.” - DR. MAIDA GALVEZ, PEDIATRICIAN.
Below are various everyday products that commonly contain phthalates.
“The most widely used phthalates are di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), diisodecyl phthalate, and diisononyl phthalate.” - SafeCosmetics.Org
Be sure to check for phthalates in your home, as you can see, they are commonly used in a variety of consumer goods.
Parabens are preservatives that are used in products that contain water. They work to prevent bacteria and mold growth.
Parabens are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that affect the hormonal systems of all organisms that they come in contact with. It does this through its ability to mimic estrogen, a hormone produced by your body.
“Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.” - National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
The most commonly used parabens are methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben, according to the FDA. Look for these names on the labels of products that you use.
BPA or Bisphenol A is a pretty well know chemical that is used in the packaging of hundreds of everyday plastic and canned products; from lotion bottles to meats & produce.
What people may not know is that BPA is a synthetic estrogen that disrupts your endocrine system (your hormonal system). It is thought to have the same health implications as parabens & phthalates.
BPA has also been linked to asthma, obesity, and breast cancer. More companies are becoming aware and are making changes, but the responsibility will always fall on the consumer to become wiser when out shopping.
“If you use plastic dinnerware and reheat food in it, you are poisoning yourself. The microwaves heat your food up, which heats the plastic up and makes it degrade. When it degrades, additives like BPA leach into your food.” - Dr. Tanei Ricks, PhD Organic Chemistry
Look for bottles that are BPA-free. If a product is BPA-free it will usually say so on the label. If there is no info on the label about it being BPA-free, then it probably contains BPA - not good!
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS is a very common chemical used in skin and body care products, mainly to create foam when lathered. SLS is similar to Phthalates in that it is used to penetrate the skin quickly, which can serve to be a major issue when coupled with other toxic chemicals that may be in the product.
While there has been debates about the safety of SLS and ALS (Ammonium Laurel Sulfate), we encourage our readers to still be aware of the potential dangers that come with using products that contain these chemicals.
According to Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Reviews, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate consumption has been linked to irritation of the skin and eyes, organ toxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicology, and biochemical or cellular changes.
Formaldehyde is another commonly preserving chemical mainly known for its use in embalming. What many people may not know is that Formaldehyde is considered a cancer causing agent by the National Cancer Institute.
An even lesser known fact is that not only is Formaldehyde used in products like shampoos, lotions, and deodorant; it is also used in the construction of many homes in the forms of glue, plywood, and insulation.
Consumption of Formaldehyde can result in low testosterone, impotency, skin irritation, and even death.
“Formaldehyde is an irritant compound, which can elicit adverse respiratory responses in children and adults. After acute inhalation, irritation of eyes, nose and throat are observed in different patients. Exposure to high concentration (>120 mg mm-3) of FA vapour caused hypersalivation, acute dyspnea, vomiting, vascular spasm, convulsion and finally death.” - National Institutes of Health
A great way to reduce your exposure to formaldehyde is to grow plants in your home. Certain plants can bind up toxins and neutralize them. Read our article on the best plants to purify your home!
It is extremely important to do your part in avoiding these toxins and the products that contain them. The first course of action should be to eliminate as many of these products from your home as soon as possible.
Follow up by being a more conscious consumer when you shop your local markets. Always read the ingredient listing before purchasing to make sure they are safe to consume/use.
Start replacing your everyday products with brands that pride themselves on offering goods that are healthy for you.
Another great way to support yourself against toxins is to eat a diet rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants can help to neutralize harmful free radicals (found in toxins). Foods rich in antioxidants include most fruits and veggies (1).
If you are looking to increase your antioxidant intake, consider our Essentially-U multi-nutrient formula. It contains the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that your body needs for optimal daily health.