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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.
According to the EPA, indoor air quality tends to contain 2 to 5 times more pollutants than outdoor air (1).
This is problematic since Americans spend 90% of their time indoors.
You know that plants are great at boosting oxygen in your home, but did you know that certain plants can filter out harmful chemicals from the air?
In this article, we will talk about the importance of having good indoor air quality, 3 air contaminates to be on the lookout for, and the best plants for improving the air quality in your home.
Stagnant indoor environments are one of the most dangerous places for human health. The lack of proper ventilation and purification of indoor air can be detrimental to your health and well-being.
In 1989, NASA did a study called the Clean Air Study. They researched the effects of living in a confined environment with limited exposure to fresh air. The research found that living and working in confined spaces with recycled air can lead to what is called “sick building syndrome” (2).
As a solution to this problem, NASA found that plants do an amazing job of improving the quality of air and scrubbing it of harmful chemicals and pollutants. In fact, plants do a better job of purifying air than most manmade machines, with minimal upkeep!
We should follow NASA’s solution to this problem: using house plants in our homes to filter and improve indoor air quality. This is especially important for rooms where you spend a large amount of time (such as your bedroom or office).
There is a wide variety of toxic chemicals that are potentially present in every home. With age and improper ventilation, indoor air can be filled with pollutants that disrupt healthy lifestyles and feelings of well-being.
Two of the main pollutants to be aware of are formaldehyde and mold. We’ll detail the sources of both and how to look for them. If you want the list of the 7 best air purifying plants, skip to the bottom of the article.
One of the most harmful chemicals present in many homes is formaldehyde. It is a volatile organic compound (VOC) that is released in low levels over time by a variety of household products, including furniture and mattresses.
Formaldehyde is typically used to preserve dead bodies and you would probably recognize the smell of it as the liquid preservative in the jars that contain animal bodies in your High School science class.
This substance is very likely to cause health problems in humans and animals. It can accumulate in the environments of our homes unless action is taken to eliminate this poison.
Unfortunately, formaldehyde can be released from multiple sources that you likely haven’t considered as dangerous.
Sources of formaldehyde in our homes include:
The governments around the world have tried to regulate the amount of formaldehyde used in the building of insulated products and furniture. This has helped to reduce the overall amount of formaldehyde-laden products, but be aware that older household products will most likely contain formaldehyde.
Along with placing plants in your house, another great option is to air out your furniture (or whatever the object is) before you bring it into your home.
In addition to formaldehyde, mold is another major toxin to be aware of in your home environment.
Mold is often present in the structures of houses if a home was built in a moist environment (i.e. during a rainy season) or if it has been damaged by water in the past. Mold growth is often unnoticeable and also makes exposure very dangerous to your health.
Do you seem to get an increase in respiratory problems after it rains? This may indicate that there is a problem with mold overgrowth in your home. You may not see it, but the spores are present in the air, floating around as you breathe them in.
Factors that can increase a building’s risk for mold overgrowth include high environmental humidity, poor ventilation, and/or water damage.
According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), mold spores in the air can show up as several health effects in your body (3):
The musty smell of mold is an tell-tale sign that you have mold overgrowth in your home, but it is possible that you can’t identify it yourself because you have gotten used to the smell. If you suspect mold overgrowth, try inviting a friend over and asking them if they can smell the suspected areas of your home.
In the case of a mold outbreak, professional mold removers are very adept at eradicating mold. Otherwise, for smaller problems, some of the plants listed below can be beneficial.
Household cleaners can poison the air if it is not properly ventilated. Indoor use of pesticides, cleansers, paints, and air fresheners (including candles and incense) can release toxins into the air of your home.
Some more examples of indoor poisons that indoor plants can purify in your home include:
Household chemicals are not easy to get rid of and that is why so many health experts stress the importance of purifying the air in your home as well as looking for natural cleaning products.
Your home is circulating with airborne toxins that are undetectable to the senses. Thankfully, you have some vegetative friends that have the ability to absorb environmental pollutants and trap them in their cells.
Plants will also be able to lower toxic carbon levels in the air and replace them with oxygen, which we need an abundance of to survive with optimal health and well-being.
Below is a list of the 7 best plants for purifying the air in your home.
The peace lily has gorgeous seashell flowers that will bring a sense of summer back to any dreary room. This flower is a common favorite of the house plants that filter air for homes that need it.
The peace lily is great at removing formaldehyde, benzene, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air of your home.
Peace lilies prefer low-light conditions and will bloom in the shade during the beginning of spring. In the dark, it will quickly oxygenate the air through cellular respiration. However, be cautious because these leaves can be harmful to pets if consumed.
Palm trees are very good at removing formaldehyde. The Dwarf Date Palm is likely the best for purifying the air at a fast rate. Although this palm will remind you of warm weather, it prefers cool temperatures. It is ideal for use in a greenhouse or garage, but you will quickly notice a difference in air quality if you add them to one of the rooms in your home.
The palm tree prefers a decent amount of sunlight, so you should put one near a bright window or even outside your front door if there is no spot for them inside.
This succulent is easy to care for and makes some serious health claims. It quickly absorbs formaldehyde, benzene, and other chemicals from the air. The gel inside the leaves is full of vitamins, amino acids, and enzymes that can have healing effects on our bodies (it is very soothing on sunburned skin).
Aloe prefers a nice sunny window spot with an abundance of water in its soil. They are great because while their leaves are alive, they purify the air in your home, but you can also cut them and extract their juices for external or internal health benefits.
This plant is among the easiest houseplants to grow in your home. This makes spider plants a great choice for beginners or forgetful owners.
They effectively absorb formaldehyde and xylene from the air.
Spider plants love bright, indirect sunlight and will send out shoots that grow into baby spiderettes towards the light. They can be hung from a ceiling or be planted in a pot and placed on a window sill
There are many different strains of dracaena plants found around the regions of the world, which makes it easy to find one that matches the style of your room. They are common foliage plants with long, wide leaves that vary with lines of white, red, or cream.
They help to remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene from the air in your home.
Make sure that your pets do not eat them because they can be poisonous, just like the peace lily. Dracaena makes for quick purification of a wide range of airborne toxins while adding to the aesthetic value of any room’s style.
Mums are beautiful flowers that can purify the air in your room very effectively. You can find them during the spring time at local nurseries, grocery stores, or flower shops.
They offer great health benefits to your home by filtering out benzene and household chemicals. Mums also efficiently absorb carbon dioxide and release significant amounts of oxygen into the air.
These flower friends prefer direct sunlight and work well in hanging pots as well as potted plants placed on hard surfaces. Be cautious that some people can be potentially allergic to the small amount of pollen that the chrysanthemum’s flowers produce.
This fern loves a nice humid spot with a decent amount of moisture. It actively purifies the air of formaldehyde, benzene, and other chemicals while moisturizing the air.
They are easy to grow but need consistent watering and indirect light. The perfect spot for Boston ferns would be near the side of a bright window or outside your front door that is protected by an overhead. Ferns are also great for those who suffer from dry skin. Plus, they add layers of green gorgeousness to any home.
Add these natural plants to your house and start reaping the benefits of higher quality indoor air. It will go a long way towards decreasing your risk for respiratory health issues.
What Are Micro Nutrients?
Micro nutrients are vitamins and minerals that help your body deliver oxygen to your cells, produce sufficient energy, defend against attacks on your immune system, maintain fertility, and so much more.
Micro nutrient status is an often overlooked but crucial piece of the puzzle for optimizing health and well-being.
When you think of good nutrition, you may be focusing too much on getting enough of the energy-providing macro nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
While you obviously need to eat enough calories in order to live, good health requires so much more than just calories.
Even though micro nutrients are required in very small amounts compared to macro nutrients, they play vital roles for optimal body function, metabolism, and wellness.
Even with a well-planned diet, it can be difficult to get enough of the micro nutrients that you need from food alone.
We will explore the reasons why in more detail below.
Depending on your age, your lifestyle, your medical history, and your individual dietary restrictions/needs, you may require more micro nutrients than you can reasonably get from food.
For example, a pregnant vegetarian woman may need to consume over 48 milligrams of iron per day just to meet her higher needs during pregnancy and to account for lower absorption of iron from plant foods compared to animal foods.
To put this into context, she would need to eat about 7.5 cups of lentils every day to meet her iron needs!
While fortified foods like breakfast cereal might help fill in some of these gaps, there are still plenty of other scenarios where it’s simply not feasible to rely on only food to meet your micro nutrient needs.
We have traditionally gotten the micro nutrients we need through food.
Minerals are naturally occurring in the soil and therefore are pulled into plants. When we eat these plants or eat the animals that eat these plants, we are able to get these minerals directly from our food.
However, due to aggressive 21st-century farming practices, the soil that produce is grown in can be lacking in minerals and other needed nutrients.
Instead of cultivating the soil and naturally enriching it, most modern farmers simply pump chemicals into their fields so that they can grow crops as quickly as possible.
This produces fruits and vegetables, that, while they look good on the outside, are noticeably lower in nutrient content. Also, major changes in the way that animals are raised have resulted in lowering the nutrient composition of our meat, eggs, and dairy as well.
All of this means that much of the food you may buy today is likely not as nutritious as it was even just 50 years ago.
Back in the day, the consequences of micro nutrient deficiencies were much more obvious.
Children who didn’t get enough Vitamin D developed rickets, a condition resulting in weak bones and bowed legs.
Sailors who didn’t get enough vitamin C would succumb to scurvy on long trips at sea.
Given the increased awareness of the importance of micro nutrients and heavy food fortification and supplementation programs, the frequency of these nutrient-related diseases has plummeted in most developed countries.
However, what is on the rise is subclinical nutrient deficiencies.
This is a state where you may appear to be well nourished on the surface, but your nutrient levels can be lower than what’s optimal, typically shown through nutrient testing.
Or you may notice more subtle problems that can be nutrient related like fatigue, weakened immune systems, rough skin or more.
While subclinical deficiencies are likely not serious enough to put you in the hospital, they are not without consequences. In addition to poorer body functions, there are long term problems as well.
Some scientists are starting to believe that long term low intakes of micronutrients can actually increase the risk for poor health later in life.
The good news is if you’re reading this you probably care more than the average person about getting enough micro nutrients in your diet. In addition to consuming food sources such as organic fruits and vegetables, high-quality supplements can help fill in gaps you may have in your diet.
Here we will discuss the top 5 micro nutrients to pay close attention to in your diet.
Vitamin D also helps your body absorb calcium from food and supplements and thus helps maintain the appropriate balance of calcium in your bones.
A jack of all trades, vitamin D also plays a role in supporting your immune system, releasing insulin into your blood, and even maintaining normal blood pressure.
It is nearly impossible for most adults to get enough Vitamin D from diet or sun exposure alone. Furthermore, the 600 IU of vitamin D recommended each day for most adults may be too low for optimal health.
Those at particularly high risk for vitamin D deficiency including exclusively breastfed infants (whose mothers may be vitamin D deficient), people who live in temperate (i.e. not tropical) climates, and people who routinely cover their skin when outdoors.
A high-quality vitamin D supplement can go a long way toward improving vitamin D levels and may have other important health benefits as well.
About 90% of US adults do not get enough Vitamin E from their diets. Its most important role in the body is as a component of a powerful antioxidant that protects the fats in cell membranes from damage caused by oxidants.
A potential consequence of poor vitamin E intake is oxidative stress. This occurs when the body becomes overwhelmed by attacks of free radicals on body tissues. Oxidative stress can interfere with normal body functions.
Some of the best sources of vitamin E are sunflower seeds, almonds, olive oil, and avocados.
Vitamin E and other antioxidants found in a high-quality multivitamin supplement can help support protection for your cells from free radical damage.
Iron is a component of multiple proteins in the body involved in the production of energy, the transportation of oxygen to cells, and even immune function.
Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world and comes with a lot of negative consequences.
For children, these can include alterations in cognitive and behavioral development. Fatigue, poor athletic performance, and a weakened immune system may afflict adults with iron deficiency.
The best sources of well-absorbed iron come from animal products and include red meats and organ meats, seafood, poultry, and eggs. Vegetarian sources include legumes, leafy greens, tofu, and whole grains but the iron in these foods is not as well absorbed.
Women and adolescent girls with heavy menstrual cycles, those who engage in intense exercise on a regular basis, pregnant women, toddlers, and those with GI diseases may be at higher risk for iron deficiency.
It’s good to be cautious with excessive iron supplementation as high levels may actually be harmful. If you have reason to suspect you or your child has anemia, always ask your health care provider to confirm it with a blood test before starting a supplement.
Calcium is a micro nutrient you probably hear a lot about, and for good reason. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is essential for healthy bones.
Along with bone health, calcium also plays a role in muscle contraction and cell signaling, blood pressure regulation, and maintenance of healthy body weight.
Calcium intakes during youth are critical for establishing peak bone mass. Higher bone mass can protect against osteoporosis later in life.
In the US average intakes of calcium are falling as more and more people are replacing cow’s milk with other beverages lower in calcium.
While there is some controversy about how much calcium you need for optimal health, supplements may be helpful for those who do not eat calcium-rich foods. These might include vegans or those who are unable or prefer not to consume dairy products.
Aside from dairy, fortified foods like calcium-set tofu and orange juice are good sources of calcium. Low oxalate leafy greens like kale and bok choy are also great sources.
Experts recommend no more than 1200 mg a day from food and supplements combined, so if you regularly consume dairy products, you may not need to take an additional supplement.
Magnesium plays essential roles in hundreds of reactions in your body.
Required for functions including energy production, muscle relaxation, and production of fats and proteins, poor magnesium intake or status can negatively impact multiple body functions.
Almost half the US population is not getting enough magnesium from diet alone.
People who are likely to be magnesium deficient are those recovering from G.I. surgery or conditions and those who may excrete excessive amounts of magnesium in urine like individuals with diabetes or those using diuretics, laxatives, or antacids for long periods of time.
Another group at risk for magnesium deficiency may be those who don’t consume grains. Many of the best magnesium sources are whole grains. Other sources include seeds, nuts, avocados, spinach, seafood, and lima beans.
A high-quality vitamin and mineral supplement can help fill in gaps left the diet.
Food is the preferred source of most micro nutrients, but there are times when a supplement is more feasible and required to meet additional nutrient needs.
Due to the risk of potential medication interactions, nutrient excesses, or other potential issues, it’s always a good idea to speak with your health care provider about any supplements you are taking or thinking about starting.
Compared to many other formulations, Utzy Natural's supplements contain forms of micro nutrients that are highly bioavailable due to careful inclusion of minerals in highly absorbable chelated forms.
Chelated minerals are different from other mineral formulations because they don’t need any specific environment to be absorbed and they don’t need to be consumed with food.
Utzy believes in the efficiency of chelated minerals and has a well-reviewed multi-mineral supplement called Essentially-U.
A compromised immune system, feeling bloated or constipated, inability to maintain a healthy weight, having sugar cravings, and experiencing mood swings are all conditions that may possibly be tied to gut health, and supporting your gut may help you find relief from them.
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
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 thrives off of a healthy lifestyle while “bad” bacteria thrives 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.
•What are prebiotics? These are natural, non-digestible food ingredients that are linked to promoting the growth of helpful bacteria in the gut. They are known as the "good" bacteria promoters, and essentially feed the “good” bacteria. Prebiotics can be found in foods such as bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, and artichokes.
•What are probiotics? These are a source of "good" bacteria (or live cultures) just like those naturally found in the gut. There’s a variety of strains of probiotics, and each strain is helpful for different health conditions. You can find probiotics in foods such as fermented dairy such as yogurt, kefir, and aged cheeses, as well as kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and kombucha.
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 about sugar consumption.
Some common foods that may be high in sugar include baked goods, candies, sports drinks, low-fat yogurts, breakfast 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 amount of grams of sugar per serving in products, as well as look in the ingredient list for sugar with a less obvious name.
Some common names for sugar include:
In addition, any word that ends with “ose” is another name for sugar (such as fructose or 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 ways:
•Talk with a friend or loved one
•Do some type of physical activity
•Listen to your favorite music
•Write in a journal
•Spend time in prayer
•Read a book
•Take a bath
•Diffuse essential oils
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.
Some researchers call the gut our “second” brain because there’s a direct link between the health of our gut and the health of our mind (9, 10). 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:
•Keep a gratitude journal
•Make a list of everything you accomplished each day
•Surround yourself with positive people
•Spend less time on social media
•Spend time in prayer
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. Those include:
•High sugar consumption
•A stressful lifestyle
•Consuming a high amount of alcohol
•Using personal and household products that contain toxins
•Not getting enough sleep
•Having a negative mindset
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.
Heart health is one of the main concerns for both men and women in the United States. Many of us know that diet and exercise plays a major role in heart health, but what else can you do to maintain a healthy heart? (1).
Below are five ways to maintain your heart health today:
This type of fat is the worst type to consume due to its harmful effect on heart health.
Unfortunately, avoiding trans fats isn’t as simple as it seems.
That’s because food companies are allowed to use the claim “contains 0 grams of trans fats” on the label as long as the product contains less than .5 grams of trans fat per serving.
Tip: Don’t be fooled by false advertising. Keep an eye out on the ingredient list for words such as “partially hydrogenated” or “hydrogenated” oils which are other name for trans fats.
Studies have found that individuals who have belly fat (also known as visceral fat) have a greater risk for dying from heart disease than those with obesity.
Tip: Focus on reducing belly fat through healthy eating, getting enough sleep at night, managing stress, and moving your body each day.
Most people sit least 10 hours each day. From answering work emails to eating dinner with the family, most of our day involves sitting.
Unfortunately, all of this sitting is causing damage to our health. Some experts are calling sitting the new smoking because of its negative impact on heart health, weight, moods, muscles and joints (4).
Tip: Incorporate more movement throughout the day by getting up and stretching every hour, get off the couch during commercial breaks, stand while talking on the telephone, or get a standing desk for work.
A motivational speaker named Jim Rohn one said “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
That means when you surround yourself with positive people, chances are, you will have a more positive outlook as well.
A positive outlook may help improve your eating habits, reduce anxiety and depression, lower stress, and increase your sense of purpose. All of which can help improve your heart health.
Tip: Make a list of positive people in your life and aim to spend more time with them. In addition, focus on following more positive people on social media, and unfollow those who are negative.
We all have some type of stress in our lives, so it’s importance to learn to manage it in a healthy way.
Too much stress can lead to an increase in blood pressure, an increase in insulin levels, weight gain, physical inactivity, and poor sleeping habits. All of which can take a toll on our heart health (5).
Tip: Find a way to manage stress that you enjoy. This could be physical activity, writing in a journal, going on a walk, taking a bath, or talking with a friend. (6).
To maintain heart health it’s important to consume a nutrient-rich diet, incorporate daily movement, practice stress management techniques, and surround yourself with positivity.
If you aren't already, focus on incorporating at least one of these tips to support your heart health today.
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.
When it comes to heart health, most people associate it with having a healthy diet, exercising, limiting alcohol, and reducing stress.
But what if I told you that there’s a way to improve your heart health that goes beyond all of that?
Having a community of people that you can associate yourself with, trust, and seek support from is a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to heart health. Unfortunately, it is also something that is often neglected.
Before we get into the details of how community can be healthy for your heart, let’s first talk about why having a healthy heart is important in the first place.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both women and men. In fact, one in four deaths are related to heart disease.
High blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease, and 47% of Americans have at least one of these risk factors (1).
Improving eating habits, increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol intake are all pieces of the puzzle that may help improve heart health.
Studies have also found that having a sense of community is part of that as well.
A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association examined Italian immigrants in a small town called Roseto, Pennsylvania (2).
The study was developed because the town doctor was surprised how few heart disease problems he saw in community members of the town.
The researchers compared health statistics of the people in Roseto to other local towns for seven years, and what they discovered was shocking.
These surprising results made the researchers dig deeper into what the Roseto community was doing to have such positive results, and they called it “The Roseto Effect” (3).
Since diet is a major contributor for a healthy heart, the researchers examined the diet of the Roseto community and found that their diet wasn’t great. In fact, they were eating a lot of fried foods.
They also examined their lifestyle and discovered that many individuals worked in quarries or mines, leading them to be exposed to many toxins. They then would spend their leisure time enjoying cigars and wine.
The researchers then looked further and noticed a very close-knit social community among family and friends. In particular, elders were nurtured by the community instead of neglected.
The researchers concluded that a sense of community among individuals living in Roseto was the main contributor to the lack of heart problems in the town.
In other words, having a community can help support a healthy and happy heart (4).
Although the Roseto Effect study was done in the 1960’s, the benefits of community still hold true.
Unfortunately, social commitments and ties are often neglected and thought of as just another thing to add to our “to-do” list.
- A decreased risk for depression or anxiety
- An increased sense of purpose and connection
- Improved self-confidence and self-worth
- Better coping mechanisms and support during stressful times
Even though being part of a community takes some work, there are many benefits that it can provide.
So how can you build a community in your own life?
Below are some ways:
In addition, attracting a community can sometimes mean getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things.
It’s also important to ditch any judgement you may have and focus on building connection that goes beyond a person’s skin color, gender, or age.
Diet and lifestyle can have a large impact on heart health, but don’t forget a sense of community as well.
The more you surround yourself with people that can support, inspire, and connect with you, the healthier your heart will be.
Toxins are everywhere.
From the foods we eat, to the body products we use, to the water we drink, to the products we clean our homes with (1).
Toxins can be detrimental to our health for many reasons.
For example, pesticides in food have been linked to ADHD in children, parabens found in many body products may promote growth of breast cancer, and exposure to phthalates has been linked with obesity, changes in sex hormones, reduced fertility, and allergy and asthma symptoms (2, 3, 4).
It’s impossible to avoid toxins completely, but there are plenty of ways to help reduce your exposure to them.
Follow these six ways to reduce toxins today.
Buying organic vegetables and fruits can help reduce exposure to pesticides.
If you aren’t able to switch to 100% organic, choose organic for produce found on the “Dirty Dozen” list.
This is a list from The Environmental Working Group (EWG) that contains the non-organic produce that has been tested highest in pesticide residue.
Although the 2019 list has not come out yet, the produce listed on the 2018 Dirty Dozen list include (5):
Many processed foods can contain added preservatives and chemicals to help increase shelf life.
Therefore, reading ingredient lists on products can be very helpful when trying to reduce toxins.
3. Drink More Filtered Water
Water is essential for our health and can help flush out toxins in the body.
To make sure you are drinking enough water, aim to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water each day.
And don’t forget to use filtered water, because some tap waters may contain contaminants.
In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency found that about 85% of the population was drinking tap water that contained over 300 contaminants.
That’s why it’s best to filter your water with a water filtration system such as a water pitcher, countertop filter, or install a filtration system in your home (8).
Plastic is the go-to material for many products such as kitchen equipment and storage, toys, bags, and water bottles.
Not only is it harmful for the environment, it can also leach toxins into your food and skin.
Below are some tips to help reduce your plastic use:
Body products are poorly regulated and often contain toxins that have never been tested for safety. Avoid using body products that contain these common toxins (9):
We love Tanna Beauty + Wellness, a company that makes all-natural, raw beauty products.
Cleaning products don’t have to disclose what ingredients they contain, which means that the products you use to spray, wipe and scrub with could contain potentially harmful toxins (10).
Replace toxic cleaning products with things like white vinegar, baking soda, borax, castile soap or essential oils.
Check out these recipes for some DIY cleaning products recipes.
Although toxins cannot be completely avoided, you have the power to decrease them from the foods you eat, to the body products you use.
Try incorporating these six ways to reduce toxins to make this new year a much healthier and less toxic one.
January is here. Planning to jump into a new workout routine?
Get ready to wait in line at the gym.
70% of U.S. residents intend to start exercising more this year. By February, most will be ready to quit.
We all know that exercise is essential for our health and wellness. So why is it so hard to make this habit stick?
With the right plan and mindset, your workout goals do not have to crash and burn.
Read on for our best tips on how to start working out and how to keep going all year long.
This sounds very obvious, but start with something you enjoy. If you are dreading your workout every time you lace your shoes up, you may not be on the right path.
There are many choices for working out including cardio, strength training, high intensity interval training, and more.
You can start on your own or join a group class. You can workout in a gym or even in your living room. You can take up outdoor hobbies like hiking, kayaking, or rock climbing.
If you’re still trying to decide what you like, many classes will let you try for free in the beginning.
For those of you who may have concerns about your ability to safely workout, consult your doctor. Then, get started.
So you’ve found an activity you like. Now it is time to start thinking about what your goals are.
Why do you want to work out?
The more specific you can get, the better.
Write your goals down and post them in a place where you can view them daily.
Goals are essential to remind you of what you hope to accomplish but they can also be daunting.
One simple way to start tackling them is to take the teeniest possible baby step. Every step gets you closer to making your workouts a lasting habit. Plus, as you achieve each little baby goal you will get more confident and motivated to continue.
You may have heard this idea of simple progression described as the tiny habits approach.
For others the Japanese principle of Kaizen comes to mind. However you think about it you can use this practice in your workouts.
Let’s say your goal is to run 30 minutes 3 times per week. Set a micro goal of running for 5 minutes once per week. Then work up to twice per week. Then add 1 minute to each workout, and so on.
As you grow stronger both physically and mentally, you will be much better prepared (and more likely to stick to it) by the time you reach 30 minutes.
Besides, even 5 minutes of activity has important health benefits.
Despite our best intentions, there are days where we feel very unenthusiastic about what we want to accomplish.
This is normal.
We go wrong when we blame ourselves for not reaching out goals because we lack willpower.
A lot of people who are successful with keeping their workout goals have learned not to rely on willpower.
In fact it is often our surroundings that help determine if we will continue to workout or stay inactive.
Building a supportive environment to hold you accountable to work out even when you don’t feel like it is essential.
You can do this by joining a weekly class or exercise group or finding a workout buddy who you know is all about their fitness (and yours!).
You can even recruit your partner, kids, or roommates to remind you to workout even if they won’t be joining you.
You might also hire a personal trainer to help you stay on track.
Have a system in place that will push you to work out when you don’t feel like. This transforms your workout from an activity to a habit.
Perhaps you are some who likes your workout and knows it needs to get done but you still don’t love it.
You will love temptation bundling. This simple approach combines something you really enjoy (think: guilty pleasure) with something you want to get done.
For example, get in the habit of listening to a good audiobook or podcast while you workout.
If you can, stream your favorite show on the treadmill instead of binge watching it on the couch.
Catch up with a friend by inviting them to walk with you or give them a call and chat on the go.
Social activities can be a great way to enjoy quality time with friends and stay active at the same time. Organize group runs or join a sports league. Walk around the field while you enjoy your child’s soccer game.
Get inspired, get creative, and get moving.
How can you do something you love and get your workout in at the same time?
Tracking how you are progressing with your workouts is essential to maintain motivation. Simple tracking adds another layer of motivation beyond viewing your written goals.
Think of a simple symbol you can use to show if you worked out or not.
It can be as basic as a check mark. Then in a planner you check daily or even on a sheet of paper, add a checkmark every time you work out.
When you look at all those check marks adding up over time, you will feel proud and more motivated to keep going.
It’s a simple hack that inspires you to keep going.
If visual tracking interests you, find more great ideas of how and what to track on Pinterest.
Last but not least, remember to treat yourself compassionately.
Sometimes we fall into a trap of working out to punish ourselves for eating too much or for looking a certain way.
Or we feel we need to workout more than we realistically can or should.
This is not the kind of mental space that fosters healthy exercise habits.
When you exercise in the ways you enjoy and in the ways your body is designed to move, you are giving yourself an invaluable gift.
Exercise can boost your mood, help increase your self-confidence, and do wonders for your health.
It is natural to feel guilty if you miss a workout here or there.
The key to being compassionate is to acknowledge that setbacks happen but they do not define you.
Also be realistic.
Some days you will not have the time or energy to work out.
If you miss a day, it doesn’t mean you have failed.
You can always start working out again tomorrow.
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 Essentials to 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 peacefully.
Use natural green medicine as a first choice.
Avoid using harmful household chemicals and cleaners.
Make sure that you use clean beauty products.
Water makes up 60% of your body weight. Drinking adequate amounts of purified water throughout the day is one of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do and helps to flush out harmful toxins.
We recommended the 8x8 Rule- eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day.
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.
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.
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 Essentials 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.