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Witnessing the transition from the dreary winter into the spring is almost always an uplifting experience. The spring and the warm relief that it brings is always something to look forward to after a tough few months of cold. However, this also means that you will now have to deal with the pollen that all those beautiful sprouting plants are beginning to release.
During this time, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements about how certain over-the-counter antihistamine drugs will solve all of our problems. Sometimes they do and sometimes they cause a whole new set of problems.
Instead of masking your symptoms with drugs, you could try to treat the root causes by avoiding the pollen that caused your problems in the first place.
Here are some useful tips about how you can deal with and avoid pollen during the spring season.
Many springtime sufferers do not even know exactly what type of pollen it is that they are reacting to. With so many different trees and plants out there, it can be tough to track down the main irritants.
A good rule of thumb to know is that springtime represents the time of year that trees and flowers spread their pollen. So if you find spring a particularly irritating period, then you can narrow your focus down to these two sources.
Typically, humans are not sensitive to the pollen of flowers. If they were, it still would not make much of a difference because the amount of pollen produced by flowers is such a small amount. In fact, flower pollen is minuscule in comparison to the amount that trees produce, which makes them the real culprits of ruining the spring time for some people.
Trees produce massive amounts of pollen starting from the end of February until as far as the beginning of May. The way that trees reproduce in nature is a little bit perplexing. Since they don’t move, they have to rely on the wind to blow their reproductive juices around to precisely the correct spot.
In simple terms, the male trees produce the pollen (which is equivalent to their sperm), and it is released into the wind so that, hopefully, it lands on the correct spot of a female tree. That spot is going to be the female tree’s ovary, which can also be recognized as their flower.
Once the small pollen grain reaches inside the flower, tree fertilization starts to occur. Then, a fruit develops from the flower and this can be considered the egg of the tree. Once fully developed, it drops off to spread its seeds into a new tree or the fruit hopes to be eaten so that its seeds are “excreted” with some essential nutrients to grow healthily with.
Trees produce trillions of little pollen grains, or tree sperm cells, to increase the chances that it will land on nearby female tree.
As you can probably already deduce, when pollen is released, most of the pollen ends up in places where it doesn’t belong, like on your car or in your nose.
The worst part about this entire experience? That exposure to these pollen grains triggers an overly aggressive immune response in hypersensitive people. This is a huge bummer for those individuals, especially during the spring season of warm renewal and vibrant color.
The best way to avoid tree pollen during the spring season is to avoid exposure to the source as best you can. The type of tree that produces the highest quantity and most irritating pollen is the birch tree. Birch is commonly found throughout the United States, but especially on the east coast. It is also prevalent through western European countries.
If you have tree pollen issues, you should make yourself aware of what a birch tree looks like and make sure that you keep clear of any that are near your house or workplace. If you do recognize one from nearby, you can try your best to take a different route on your run just in case.
In reality, can we really avoid birch pollen if it is such a prevalent species? Realistically, taking a different route on your run is not going to completely stop exposure to the pollen. You are still going to come into contact with pollen from afar.
The best thing that you can do is to make those small changes that can add up together and really make a difference for improving your respiratory health during the spring season.
Thankfully, we live in an age where technology makes very difficult tasks much easier. We can easily monitor the current pollen levels in our area by checking an application that displays the results of local weather organizations’ efforts to track it.
You can choose from a multitude of apps on your phone to monitor pollen levels or go to pollen.com and use their very accurate system. This site is recommended by many medical professionals and its users seem to have an appreciation for it.
Some of these applications can get into detail for more of your benefit. You can choose to display pollen counts from different sources like birch, elm, spruce, flowers, grass, weeds, and other airborne allergens like mold and dust. You can even change the settings so that it sends you notifications about when a particular airborne contaminate is in high quantities in the air.
Check the pollen count in the morning before you go outside. That way, you’ll know if you will need to prepare for the high pollen risk. Then, you can bring emergency antihistamines, pack extra water or even a face mask to prepare for those high pollen days. It’s much better than being stuck in a fog all day, right?
Levels of pollen in the wind fluctuate throughout different times of the day. You might notice that you sneeze less during the night time, when the pollen levels in the air are at their lowest. On those ridiculous pollen count days, the night time is definitely going to be the best time to go outside if you have to.
The worst time to go outside on these days is the middle of the day around noon when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. At this point in the day, the sun’s rays are its strongest. Therefore, photosynthesis is going to be faster at this point.
Along with other natural triggers, pollinating plants release more pollen grains into the air when the sun’s rays are strongest during the day. This is also true for cloudy days as well, but less pollen will generally be present in the wind.
During the day, your skin and hair will collect an abundance of pollen even if you can’t see it or feel it. The same is true for your clothes. Pollen grains are extremely small, but their presence on your clothes and hair can still trigger reactions.
It is best to take a shower at night before you go to bed so that you wash off all the pollen that you collected during the day. You can slip into your comfy pajamas and rest easily without exposing your body to the leftover residue of the pollen.
It’s also a good idea to wash your bed sheets more often during the spring season as pollen residues can collect there over time.
Using an air purifier in your home is an excellent choice and long-term investment for your family’s health. These devices have the ability to filter out airborne particles that are floating around in your home. It can eliminate mold spores, dust and seasonal pollen that can cause issues, even while indoors.
To make sure that your air purifier is actually doing an effective job as advertised, make sure that it is labeled as a HEPA air filter for pollen. The HEPA purification system is designed to capture small particles, specifically microscopic pollens and dust particles.
This type of air purifier should be what sensitive individuals are looking for. Any other type of air filter will likely just be ionizing the air, rather than actually eliminating harmful particles to make the indoor air healthier.
When you are going about your everyday activities and the pollen counts are very high, if you breathe through your nose, pollen residues can collect in your sinuses. If mucus isn’t able to do an effective job at eliminating the pollen, the residues could linger and cause increased amounts of inflammation.
You can assist your body’s immune system by making use of nasal irrigation. This involves the process of pouring water or saline solution through one nostril and out the other. That way, the water will push out excess pollen, dust, and congestion so your sinuses and nasal passageways can be moist and clear.
If you suffer from seasonal troubles and a stuffy nose is troublesome for you, definitely try nasal irrigation. An ancient remedy uses the neti pot for clogged nose, which is like a little teapot with a spout specifically designed to flush your nasal passageways.
When you use a neti pot at first, you might be a little bit anxious. You need to resist the urge to breathe while you are pouring the water through, but that’s basically the only minor challenge.
After you get the hang of it, the process is very liberating and makes you feel amazing during high pollen count days. If you are a beginner, you could try a saline nasal spray designed for this purpose, but without the risk of choking on water if you accidentally breathe.
If you suffer during the spring time and you find yourself wishing that it were winter again, don’t be discouraged. Using natural methods is your best long-term decision. Remember, it all starts with a focus on reducing your pollen exposure. Hopefully these tips will set you off with a few foundational perspectives about how to be innovative in avoiding pollen this spring season.
Many different studies have proven the benefits of the ketogenic diet. However, as a result of reducing the amount of fiber-rich carbohydrates that you eat, it’s common for those on a low carb diet to experience occasional constipation.
This leads to feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and lethargic.
Transitioning from a higher carb diet to a fat-focused diet can be rough on your digestive system. This is when taking a keto fiber supplement might be a good idea.
When you're switching over to a high-fat diet, it can be difficult for your gut. This leads to problems with eliminating stool.
Now, this doesn’t happen with everyone, and it is less likely to happen if you make sure to include plenty of vegetables, but some people find that their body needs help adjusting to this new way of eating. There is no shame in helping your body keep things “regular”.
Fiber is crucial for the health of your body. Fiber is the indigestible part of food that passes through your body. As it goes through your body it helps to eliminate other unwanted nutrients.
There a two different types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Each type has its own benefits and characteristics and according to the Mayo Clinic "are essential for a healthy diet". Getting too little of either type can cause unpleasant effects.
Soluble fiber absorbs water as it passes through your digestive system. This helps to bulk up your stool, and reduces the possibility of thin stool.
Insoluble fiber is made up of foods that don’t dissolve in water. This usually includes foods with a hard exterior shell (think of foods like beans and lentils). It’s beneficial because it helps to move bulk through your intestines. In a sense, it keeps things moving through your body and helps to keep you regular.
Eating enough veggies is important because they contain both insoluble and soluble fiber. If you can, try and eat some vegetables with every meal!
If you are eating enough vegetables, there are a few other things you can do to try and support your body. You can try the following:
Below I’ll detail the best keto fiber supplements. There are many different options available for you. Taking a blend of soluble and insoluble fiber from an organic, food-sourced supplement will always be your best option.
A natural laxative, psyllium husk is one of the best sources of fiber that you can take. Psyllium has many benefits including
If you’re looking for a psyllium husk supplement, check out out low-carb fiber product. The base for the formula is organic psyllium husk, this allows insoluble fiber source is just what your body needs. Plus our Fiber Food product contains only 1 net carb per serving!
Magnesium is a great way to help keep you regular. It works by helping to draw water into the bowels, this extra water help to loosen your stool.
You can check out our U-Mag, a magnesium drink mix flavored with organic lemon. It’s a great daily product that you can take. As a bonus, it will also help to relax your body. Many people like to take it before bed.
Gum arabic is a gum created by acacia trees. It helps to add bulk to your stool, which is beneficial because it helps to clear out your system. Acacia fiber is also beneficial for healthy cholesterol.
We include organic acacia fiber as part of our Fiber Food product. It is a great source of soluble fiber, which provides bulk to your stool.
Flax seeds contain mucilage which temporarily coats your digestive tract with a soothing, slimy coating along your digestive tract. This helps to smooth the digestive process. Flax is also great for adding bulk to your stools.
Flaxseed flour is included in our Fiber Food daily fiber supplement. We use an organic flax, which helps to ensure premium quality. You can take Fiber Food on a daily basis, plus, it contains only 1 carbohydrate per serving.
If you’re looking for a low carb fiber supplement, look no further than our Organic Fiber Food. It’s the perfect ketogenic fiber supplement, with only 1 net carb per serving. Give it a try! Order a subscription and save 10% + free shipping!
April 02, 2018 | 0 comments
Your immune system matters during the springtime.
With the changes of seasons often comes sneezing, coughing, irritated eyes, scratchy throat and congestions. In short, as one season comes in and another goes, it can be a miserable time for many people.
The first step to feeling better is discovering why this happens. Life is a lot easier once you know what in the environment may be triggering you, how your immune system is impacted, and what you can do to start feeling better each day.
Three key points and/or studies
If any and every change of seasons is challenging your immune system, irritating your respiratory health, spurring nasal inflammation and causing a nonstop cycle of nasal drainage and congestion, it’s time to make some positive changes in your life.
It’s easy to blame spring, summer and fall for all of our seasonal woes, but the factor of the matter is our homes have 2 to 5 times more pollutants in them than outside (4).
How can that be?
Some of those pollutants may seem obvious like the household cleaners we use, but there’s far more to it than that. Artificially scented household items such as candles, air fresheners, laundry detergents and even soaps are to blame as well.
These types of products can cause severe irritation and inflammation. And the moment you use them they become airborne going straight to your nasal passages and lungs.
As many Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors between home, the office and everything else, being constantly exposed to these compounds has a substantial impact on the immune system. Your entire body is inflamed by the time everything begins to bloom in spring and continues to do so through the end of fall.
Using non-toxic household supplies is the first step in decreasing the constant insults to your immune system. This alone is big in combating the challenges of pollen, dust and weather related moisture changes.
Pollen affects everyone to some degree. It’s highly dependent on who you are and where you live, but when spring rolls in making it seem like it’s raining pollen everyone gets runny, puffy eyes and nasal drainage. That’s when staying inside 90% of the time is understandable.
To decrease the amount of pollen you’re exposed to make sure to swap out your old air filter(s) in your home for fresh, new ones. Also wipe down your window seals, blinds, door frames and air vents can significantly decrease the amount of pollen you’re exposed to in your home.
Don’t forget to wipe down your pets too. All to often pets get blamed for making people sneeze and cough when in reality it may be the pollen that has gotten on their fur. Who knows, they may been itchy and sneezing for the same reason. Use a damp washcloth to wipe them down when they come indoors and make sure to wash their bedding regularly.
As we mentioned above, chronic, underlying inflammation can make your body’s response to pollen, dust, pet dander and more even worse. But what exactly is inflammation?
Inflammation in and of itself is not a bad thing. It’s your body’s way of dealing with foreign bodies or injuries. It’s when that inflammation becomes chronic due to stress, diet, lifestyle or environmental factors that it begins to have a significant negative impact on the body.
If your nasal passages, respiratory tract and everything else are already affected by inflammation by time your mast cells start to create histamine to combat pollen, dust, pet dander and environmental pollutants, you’re going to have extremely irritated tissue that not only overreacts to the stimuli it’s trying to fend off, but it’s susceptible to infection and/or significant damage. At that point the entire immune response goes into overdrive.
Then comes a matter of simple logistics. If the tissue in your nasal passages is puffy from inflammation when your mast cells create mucus to capture and remove foreign bodies before they get into your lungs (so there is a point a runny nose), there’s physically not enough room for all the mucus to exit. It begins to build up into congestion and that can lead to discomfort, headaches and even sinus infections.
The goal is to support your respiratory health year round by using all natural, non-toxic products. Replace everything that contains artificial scents with either unscented or naturally scented products. Additionally, all the aforementioned ideas for combatting pollen can help year round to reduce the amount of respiratory irritants in your home like mold, pet dander, dust and more.
Reducing stress and getting plenty of sleep support your health from head to toe including your lungs. Make sure to reduce the number of irritants/pollutants in the area for all your yoga, deep breathing and sleeping so that your lungs can heal while you destress.
There aren’t time release pills in nature. The time it takes to start seeing a supplement work depends on your health before you started taking it and how bad the weather and pollen have been in your area. Be patient.
Eating a healthy diet rich in beta carotene (vitamin A’s precursor), fiber, vitamin E, magnesium and zinc can definitely get you on your way to optimal health sooner as well. It’s the final puzzle piece that completes everything mentioned above. And all of those nutrients help your respiratory tract.
If changes in season are making you and your household miserable, there is a lot that you can do to start feeling better each and every day. Look into supplements that meet your needs and while you’re waiting for them to arrive you can install a new air filter, wash down the house and replace your household items with non-toxic, unscented versions. Stock up on a rainbow of produce items and make sure to get plenty of sleep.
Sheila Amir is a health and nutrition writer in love with Durham, North Carolina and the Sheila of NutritionSheila.com. After spending several years as a nutritionist, she turned in her office keys for laptop life to research, write and present while on the go. When she puts the laptop down she's either on her yoga mat or out enjoying life in the Bull City.
April 02, 2018 | 0 comments
Bone health, whether you are younger than 50 or older, is often an overlooked health consideration that may not be thought about until it is too late.
Increasing bone density may be one of the best long-term investments in your health that you can make.
Your skeleton provides the foundation for your overall physical strength while providing the structure of your body. Knowing that, you can probably deduce that your bones are extremely important for pretty much every function of your body.
Below we'll go over the best ways to naturally increase your bone density. These suggestions includes both lifestyle tips and a few nutrition hacks.
One of the best ways to naturally improve your bone density includes focusing on a proper diet. Those concerned about bone health should make sure to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and Vitamin K. Collagen and vitamin C can also provide your body with what it needs.
You should focus on consuming more raw and organic fresh cruciferous vegetables as well as leafy greens. These vegetables are high in important nutrient, such as vitamin K2 and vitamin D.
Exercise is often an overlooked factor for increasing bone density. Physicians recommend that a good combination of both cardio and resistance exercises can strengthen your skeletal structure.
Strength training exercise can help signal for your body to form new bone cells while cardio can increase the density of your bones. A side benefit of these exercises is that it strengthens your muscles.
Age is a very important factor for bone density as well because statistics show that skeletal disorders are much more common among older generations. The older you are, the more important bone health becomes. However, this does not mean that young people should neglect their health.
When you start focusing on your health at a younger age, this can build a stronger foundation for the future to prevent problems. Paying attention to your bone health at a young age can help to slow down the bone degeneration process. Your family history and awareness of current nutrient deficiencies can further push you in the right direction to increase bone density for the long term.
Studies have shown that vitamin D is essential as a partner for calcium when the body needs to produce healthy and strong bone cells. Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium, but not many people know about this.
There are many types of vitamin D (like vitamin D2 and vitamin D3), but these nutritional compounds are not exactly the same in structure or function. Vitamin D2, also known as ergocalciferol, is a compound produced by some plants when they are exposed to UV radiation.
Supplement manufacturers actually obtain vitamin D2 by irradiating mushrooms and isolating the nutrients that it makes. However, this type of vitamin D is not exactly the same nutrient that you need for bone and immune health.
Researchers are skeptical that Vitamin D2 actually provides the human body with any benefit. When compared to vitamin D3, it has proven to be much less bioavailable to the body. This makes sense because D2 is the nutrient that plant and fungal life uses, which have differing needs than humans.
When foods like dairy and grains are enriched for higher vitamin D content, ergocalciferol (D2) is usually the form that it comes in.
Vitamin D3 on the other hand is the biologically active form of vitamin D that humans and animals use. Also known as cholecalciferol, it is produced naturally when your skin is exposed to the sun’s UVB rays. After your skin creates this vitamin D, it is used for healthy immune and bone function, among others.
It seems that vitamin D3 is more beneficial for humans and animals in supplement form, as well as animal food products. Cholecalciferol can be found in the lipids, or fats, of meat products, notably fish and shellfish.
We can attempt to get vitamin D3 from good quality food sources, but it will always be much easier to just sit outside in the sun. When you let the sun’s ultraviolet rays hit your skin, it quickly produces the daily value of this vitamin in about 20 minutes. You can also take a natural vitamin D3 supplement.
Most nutritionally-beneficial nutrients come from fresh and natural foods, rather than isolated supplements. It has been proven that certain nutrients like vitamin K2 provide a more beneficial function to the body when it is paired with vitamin D. Therefore, the ideal K2 supplement is one that includes Vitamin D as well, but this is also the case for many other vitamins and minerals.
The best way that you can ensure that you are supplementing with nutrients properly (the way that nature had intended for you to) is to consume them through natural supplements. When you are shopping for a vitamin K2 product, look for one with Vitamin K2 + Vitamin D3.
We all know that calcium is essential for proper bone health, but most of us don’t even know what that really means. We used to be told that we should drink milk because it had calcium in it. However, this might not be the case any more with more research about dairy. It seems that a large portion of the population already experiences some type of allergic reaction or sensitivity when they consume milk, but the calcium content might just be overhyped in general.
Maybe the best way to obtain quality calcium is by eating fresh and raw fruits and vegetables. Most importantly, cruciferous vegetables are the best natural food sources of calcium.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale and cauliflower provide for excellent sources of calcium and the nutrients that it likes to be paired with for maximum absorption in the body.
April 01, 2018 | 0 comments
Finally shedding the cold, winter months for brighter days is always an exciting time — for most of us. As we defrost into spring and eventually summer, new seasonal challenges lie in wait, and suddenly we find ourselves too sick, stuffy, and miserable to enjoy the long missed sunshine.
The culprits usually to blame are pollen and our weakened immune systems from the colder months.
Being sick or suffering with respiratory issues disrupts those highly anticipated springtime activities. Moreover, it can interfere with your sleep, which in turn can cause stress and irritability, and can even have an effect on your skin.
This means that finding — and utilizing — natural solutions for seasonal challenges not only makes it so you can actually enjoy the warmer months, but will also put less strain on your body overall.
Taking care of your immune system is extremely important year round, but during the winter and spring months, it’s especially important. As Healthline explains, “immune system cells initiate a more robust antiviral defense at lung temperature versus nasal cavity temperature. This might mean that the body may not fight the virus as well if the temperature in the nose and upper airway is lowered by environmental cold.”
Keep in mind that flu season typically lasts until May and your immune will have likely suffered or dipped during the cold months.
You’ve got to be well prepared to fight off these seasonal offenders that can affect your health. To keep your immune system operating in full force, it’s important to adopt healthy living strategies:
It’s also essential to minimize stress as much as possible. Keeping your immune strong is the best way to ensure you can make it out to enjoy the changing season instead of being stuck in bed.
As the days begin warming up, you’ll likely want to escape the heat every now and then by heading inside your house; however, your home can contribute to many irritating respiratory issues.
Direct Energy recommends you fortify your house against local pollens by:
Making the effort to help keep your home as pollen free as possible is a great way to lessen problems and help you sleep better at night.
Don’t forget to take your shoes off as soon as you walk in, and if you or anyone in your family has been outside for an extended period of time, it’s important to change clothes quickly afterwards and make sure the dirty ones make it into a hamper.
Pollen doesn’t just mess with your nose, but likes to find its way into your eyes and irritate them as well.
According to experts at KE Eye Centers, “For many people, symptoms of [eye irritants] are worse in the spring as pollen counts rise when trees, plants and grass begin germinating. The symptoms include red, irritated eyes, itchiness, and excessive tearing or runny eyes. In some cases, eyelids may be swollen, and there may be soreness, burning or pain. Some patients also report sensitivity to light.”
Sounds like fun, right? Luckily, there are a lot of great natural solutions for these issues.
Washing your face and rinsing out your eyes with a bit of water are quick, easy remedies. If your eyes tend to swell, Everyday Health recommends applying a cold press, “soak a towel or washcloth in cold water or refrigerate a damp cloth or eye pillow. Then lie down with the compress across your eyes to let the coolness reduce swelling.”
If those methods don’t seem to reduce your problems there are also eye drops available specifically made to combat itchy, red eyes. Moreover, taking care of your eyes will ensure you don’t miss those blooming flowers that have finally escaped the grasps of winter.
When spring finally arrives, the temptation to spend more time outside is very alluring. However, the enjoyment can be short lived when seasonal offenders like pollen and the flu swoop in to make your springtime moments miserable. Giving your body some extra help during this time can help make these warmer days much more enjoyable.
There is a small chemical found in your brain called Serotonin that plays a crucial function in your overall health and wellbeing. It serves the important role of being the “happy chemical” in your body.
Serotonin is important because it gives us a “feel good” response.
Read more below on what serotonin is and how you can help to naturally boost your levels!
The scientific name for serotonin is 5-hydroxytryptamine (or 5-HT). It is labeled as being a neurotransmitter, which means that it helps to transmit messages throughout your body.
Generally speaking, low levels of serotonin are linked with a negative mood/mindset, and high levels make us happier.
It is estimated that 90% of your body's store of serotonin is found in your gut, which goes to show how strong the gut-brain connection is. It can also be found in your brain and blood platelets.
According to Medical News Today, “Serotonin is used to transmit messages between nerve cells, it is thought to be active in constricting smooth muscles, and it contributes to wellbeing and happiness, among other things” (1).
Serotonin is also a precursor to melatonin, and therefore helps to regulate the body's sleep-wake cycles and your internal “body clock”.
Maintaining your serotonin levels is highly important for a happy and healthy life.
When the stress of modern life takes over, it’s easy to become dissatisfied with even the smallest things. Fortunately, there are plenty of natural ways to help maintain a positive mood.
To help you start out, here are five healthy ways to boost your serotonin levels!
When we feel good, our brains produce serotonin. However, this beneficial neurotransmitter doesn’t appear out of thin air. An amino acid called tryptophan is the raw material that used to create serotonin in the body.
Thankfully, tryptophan is found in plenty of foods. All you need to do is integrate these foods into your diet and you’re all set.
Eggs are one of the best sources of tryptophan out there, and they also contain choline and omega-3 fatty acids that help both your body and mind stay happy and healthy.
Other great options include salmon, cheese, tofu, and turkey. These foods are easy to add into your diet, all you need is a bit of imagination.
Furthermore, tryptophan isn’t the only dietary source of serotonin. As it turns out, curry, or rather the turmeric in it, has also been shown to increase amounts of the beneficial neurotransmitter in the brain. This happens due to a compound called curcumin, which has been promoted by Ayurvedic medicine for many centuries.
The L-Theanine found in green tea is also beneficial as it helps to promotes feelings of relaxation. A trademarked version of this, called Suntheanine, is a great option for this.
The diet that you choose to eat plays a crucial role in your overall health. According to DefendYourHealthcare.com, when you follow the right diet, your overall quality of life improves tremendously, and you look and feel a thousand times better than before.
Another natural way to boost your serotonin levels is to adopt an exercise routine. Research has demonstrated that regular physical activity increases the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain due to two reasons.
The first one has to do with the rate at which it is pumped in the system. Being active triggers a rapid-fire response, which then promotes both the production and synthesizing of serotonin.
The second reason is that working out also increases tryptophan amounts, which as previously mentioned, is the amino acid that precedes the creation of serotonin. More tryptophan leads to an overall improvement in serotonin levels.
The best type of exercise for this seems to be aerobics, but any kind of physical activity will do. It is best to pursue exercise that you actually enjoy because it will serve to heighten your satisfaction even more than a regular workout would; plus you'll stick to an exercise routine that you actually enjoy!
So, what are you waiting for? Now’s your chance to find your next favorite sport. If you're new to exercise, check out our article on helpful workout tips for beginners!
There is a direct link between serotonin and sunlight. The brighter the light, the more serotonin your produce and the lower the risks of tryptophan depletion are.
As little as 15 minutes of daily walking or other outdoor activities in full sunlight is more than enough. Furthermore, vitamin D also promotes the synthesizing of tryptophan into serotonin and the best place to get it is again from natural sunlight (you can also check out our Natural D3 supplement).
With spring just around the corner, now’s the best time to try this method!
When it comes to the effects of stress on the brain, the data is clear. When external factors put pressure on your daily life, cortisol levels increase, while serotonin and dopamine take a hit. In turn, this affects your appetite, sleep cycle, and just about every other normal bodily function.
Eliminating stressors from your environment is very beneficial to your overall health. Of course, you won’t be able to do it completely. Things like chores, work deadlines, and other necessities will always exist, but you can still make sure that you declutter your home and workspace and organize your life in such a way as to not let the little things ruin your mood.
Believe it or not, massages are a great way to boost your brain’s serotonin production. A study conducted back in 2005 has found that this type of therapy increases serotonin levels by 28%, while at the same time decreasing cortisol by 31% - an impressive result!
The next time you need a quick pick me up consider getting a massage!
Avoiding serotonin depletion is essential for a high quality of life. Fortunately, there are plenty of natural and healthy ways to do that.
What you eat matters most, and it’s also a good idea to get some exercise and go outside for a walk every once in a while. And if you’re looking for an inventive way to relieve stress, try a massage.
Following these tips will help you to boost your serotonin levels!
When you begin a ketogenic diet, your pantry will become small because you will be buying less processed foods. Keto-friendly foods tend to have short shelf lives since they have minimal process. Low carb foods are also cheap compared to processed foods.
That being said, we put together a list of food staples for the keto diet. These are the top foods that you'll want to have on hand for your fat fueled lifestyle!
As a note, it is recommended to check the carb and fat content on the labels since every brand has its own values. This way you will know the exact nutrition content of each food you eat.
1. Avocado (Net carbs: 0.8g)
Avocados are a great source of healthy fiber and fats. One third of an avocado contains 10% of the daily folate value and 15% of the daily vitamin B5 value. It also contains 3.9g of carbohydrates and 3.1g of fiber.
2. Tuna (Net carbs: 0g)
Tuna is another awesome lean protein source. It is also a good source of vitamins, zinc, iron, calcium and minerals such as vitamins D, A, K, and B-12. It should however not be eaten in moderation because of its mercury content. A can of tuna contains zero carbohydrates.
3. Eggs (Net carbs: 0.36)
Eggs are an affordable source of excellent protein. They are rich in zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B and selenium. One egg contains around 0.36 g of carbohydrates.
4. Chicken (Net carbs: 0g)
Chicken is a great source of lean protein. Apart from that, it is also a great source of selenium and vitamin B. One half of a skinless, boneless, roasted chicken breast contains zero carbohydrates.
5. Tofu (Net carbs: 0.6)
If you are a vegetarian, tofu is a leading protein that has all the necessary amino acids. It is also a great source of iron, copper, vitamin B1 and calcium. A serving of tofu contains 3.5g of carbohydrates and 2.9g of fiber.
6. Spaghetti squash (Net carbs: 7.8g)
Spaghetti squash is a staple in low-carb diets and it has a lot of thiamin, manganese, niacin, vitamin C and vitamin B6. A cup of cooked spaghetti squash contains 10g of carbohydrates and 2.2g of fiber.
7. Zucchini (Net carbs: 4g)
Many people replace noodles with zucchini with good reasons. Apart from containing folate, potassium and vitamin C, its carbohydrates and calories are low. A medium raw zucchini contains 6g of carbohydrates and 2g of fiber.
8. Black beans (Net carbs: 11.6g)
Black beans have a lot of protein, fiber, potassium and plenty of useful phytonutrients. One half of canned black beans contain 19.9g of carbohydrates and 8.3g of fiber.
9. Chickpeas (Net carbs: 10.9g)
Chickpeas contain a high amount of carbohydrates like many legumes do. However you can include them in a low-carb diet through ensuring you take the right amount. They are also a good source of fiber (click here to learn how to get more fiber on a keto diet).
10. Coconut Oil (Net carbs: 0g)
A lsit of the best low carb foods wouldn't be complete without coconut oil! Coconut oil is a health made up of unsaturated fat. Use coconut oil to cook other foods with, it add a fantastic flavor to most dishes!
Those are some of the best healthy low-carb foods that you can add to your shopping list. Bear in mind that if you intend to minimize the intake of processed foods or you want to test a ketogenic diet, there is plenty of what is referred to as low-carb.
Also, every person is unique and what works for you might not work for another person. In overall, when calculating the amount of carbohydrate you consume, consider the net carbs (the amount that impacts the blood sugar level).
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Whether it’s to lose weight, reduce health risks, or boost your general immunity, it’s good to eat more fruits and vegetables. In fact, there is now evidence that eating more fruits and vegetables is linked to lower early mortality.
Considering that obesity is has reached epidemic levels, you would think more people would follow the recommended guidelines for a healthy lifestyle.
Healthcare providers are helping fight the obesity epidemic, but their patients also need to take initiative to help themselves. Even though there are plenty of health ideals out there, the simple thing is that many of us fail to fill half our plate with vegetables, as is recommended.
To make matters worse, there's a lot of false advertising that lures us into thinking we're eating healthy when we're not. Misleading branding makes it seem like quick fixes such as protein bars and “healthy” microwavable meals are good enough substitutes for real fruits and vegetables.
Even reputable brands like General Mills’ Nature Valley Bars, which is widely consumed, has a lawsuit being filed against it for falsely advertising their products as "all natural". Most of our everyday go-to granola bars could well be filled with harmful ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup.
The best way to avoid being misled is to stick to fresh fruits and vegetables as your go-to snacking items — it’s almost always better to munch on baby carrots or cucumber sticks rather than supposedly “all natural” protein bars with “no added preservatives”.
The ugly truth is that it’s easy to let our health and eating habits take a backseat as we navigate our increasingly busy lives. Use these tips to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your daily diet:
You might have seen the heavily trending hashtag “#EatTheRainbow” on Instagram. There’s a reason for this: the best way to get all your daily nutrients is to eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
Looking at produce as colorful items that can beautify your plate is more enticing than perceiving them as fruits and veggies; the increased “pretty plate” factor will make you want to eat your veggies even more.
Smoothies, smoothie bowls and juices are all the rage these days. From delicious breakfast smoothie bowls to raw pressed vegetable juices - these are some of the best (and yummiest) ways to ingest more vegetables and fruits.
The best part about making these smoothies and juices is that the possibilities are endless! Take a look at our Açaí bowl recipe - it’s loaded with fruit, and packs a punch in terms of energy.
Similarly, the internet is full of recipes for juices and smoothies that help increase your intake of produce. Green juices are especially good for you, and a great way to drink your leafy veggies that you might not like eating.
You could also try adding in superfood powders and supplements for an additional nutrient boost. Not only do smoothies and juices have health benefits, but they’re also really fun to get creative with - not to mention, they’re perfectly Instagrammable!
Mindful eating is easier said than done. Like every one of us, you’ve probably binged your way through bags of chips while getting lost in a television show, or continuously munched on fast food while completing an assignment for work or school.
If this sounds familiar, take a step back and force yourself to be mindful of your eating habits. Busy college students are often at risk for eating unhealthily without even realizing it due to their tight schedules.
If you are prone to stress eating, or eating alongside completing other daily tasks, make sure your snackable items fall into the healthy category. Snack on raw veggie sticks, bite into an apple, eat some dried fruits - but don’t cave and run to the nearest vending machine.
Another efficient but often overlooked way of including more produce in your diet is to prep your meals in advance. Some of the most regularly cited reasons for not eating enough fruits and veggies include not having enough time to prepare them in an appealing manner and not having enough time to shop for fresh produce.
Meal prep is your all-in-one solution to these problems.
Spend some time over the weekend shopping for produce at farmers markets, and then prepping your meals for the week. While prepping, include a large portion of veggies in every meal, add a fruit to snack on, and some dried fruits and nuts for dessert.
Having your meals ready in advance is almost like going to a restaurant — you don’t have to spend any time in the kitchen since you prepped over the weekend, all you have to do is sit down and eat! Meal prepping with veggies and fruits is very convenient, and leaves you with no excuse to not make healthy choices.
Fruits and vegetables are beneficial in so many ways, and there’s no proven downside of including more of them in your diet. So give it a go, and try to amp up your vegetable and fruit consumption with these tips — pretty soon, your body will thank you for it.
Avery Phillips is a freelance human based out of the beautiful Treasure Valley. She loves all things in nature, especially humans. Comment down below or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or comments.
When it comes to diet and nutrition it seems like every week there is a new list of foods that you “should never eat!”.
You’ve heard it all:
Eat more fat!
Carbs only at night.
Protein is the answer…
It’s confusing and makes clean eating difficult.
In this article we’ll go over the basic principles of clean eating that will serve you well as you strive to live a healthy lifestyle. These clean eating tips are based off of the quote by Michael Pollan (1), who elegantly summed up healthy eating as follows:
"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."
This is the essence of a healthy diet. Below, we’ll go into this in more detail and give some helpful clean eating tips.
One of the best things you can do to eliminate unhealthy foods is to make the food that you eat. By “make” we mean preparing it; baking, cooking, etc…
When you make the food that you eat, you get a couple of benefits. One, you know exactly what’s in the food (there is no mystery). And two, you have a deeper connection with your food. If you spend time and energy making a meal, you aren't going to wolf it down. You’ll enjoy it and savor it.
So strive to eat more food that you prepare yourself.
If cooking isn't your forte, consider taking a simple cooking class. It is a valuable life skill. Everyone should have a few go-to meals that they can whip up.
The typical American eats far too many pro-inflammatory foods. Inflammatory foods include foods that are high in omega-6’s, which increase your body’s inflammatory response (you can read more here).
Avoid these foods that are high in omega-6’s:
A good way to counteract this is by eating a diet high in omega-3’s. You’ve heard about omega-3, it’s the fatty substance found in fish that is so healthy for your body!
Foods rich in omega 3’s include:
A healthy diet should maintain an omega-3:omega-6 ratio of 1:2 or 1:4. That being said, the typical American diet is something like 1:20, not good!
Learn more about the best omega foods here.
A simple way to help improve your ratio is to eat fish once a week. Fish are a fantastic source of omega 3’s. You can also take a fish oil supplement, just make sure to take it at right time of day.
Cutting down on pre-packaged food will reduce omega-6 consumption as the oils used in pre-packaged foods tend to be high in omega-6’s.
Want to eat cleaner? Then start eating less pre-packaged food. That includes some pre-packaged foods that are listed as “health foods”.
Foods that are designed to sit on a shelf for 18-24 months are not your friend. They are usually full of added ingredients and chemicals that help to extend their shelf life.
Do yourself a favor and eat more fresh foods.
A simple tip is to shop on the perimeter of your grocery store (where all of the fresh food is stored). Foods on the inner shelves tend to be pre-packaged and are often full of harmful chemical additives. Just following this simple trick will help to increase your fiber intake and overall wellbeing.
A major key to maintaining a healthful diet is to eat a variety of foods. Don’t get bogged down into eating the same bland foods. Make it a point to try out a new food everytime you go to the grocery store (and no, a new flavor of Doritos doesn’t count!).
As well as trying new foods, try out new recipes. For instance, you’ve probably purchased hummus at your local grocery store, but did you know that you can easily make it at home? Here’s a simple and quick hummus recipe, it takes just a few minutes to make a fresh batch!
This tip is simple, drink more water. Soda and coffee (and other drinks) tend to be full of sugar and other other unhealthy additives. While it’s ok to have those things in moderation, make sure that your drink of choice is water.
Not only does water hydrate your body and help to keep it functioning properly, it also can help to keep you full. The rule of thumb is to drink eight 8oz glasses of water a day.
If reducing your coffee consumption is difficult, consider drinking tea. Green tea in particular has many benefits, including its L-theanine content. It can help to give a stead, focused energy. If drinking tea isn't your thing, consider taking a supplement with Suntheanine; an isolated, natural form of theanine.
Make sure to regularly share meals with friends and family. Studies show that sharing a meal with family members helps to build up relational bonds, and also helps with maintaining good health (2).
Don’t eat alone while scrolling through the internet. Spend that valuable time being with others. Here’s a helpful article that talks about how you can start to be more intentional with how you choose to spend your meal time.
When you eat a meal, truly enjoy it. Sit down and savor each bite. Enjoy the food you eat. Cooking can be a chore. Gathering family together for a meal can be difficult. Creating nutrient-dense recipes can be a thankless job.
But through it all, take the time to truly enjoy your food.
In closing, nutrition is tricky. There are a lot of methodologies, and each different approach may work (depending on genetics and lifestyle). However, rather than nutrition fads and trends, make sure to look at the principles of healthy eating.
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
And I would add, enjoy it!
Our immune systems are pretty remarkable, they fend off sickness and help to keep your body healthy. It’s important to keep them strong, especially during the challenging winter months.
With friends and co-workers around you getting sick, it’s a great time to think about what you can do NOW to build a healthier immune system for when you need it most.
Don’t wait until it's too late to boost your immune health – start now!
Below, we have tips and the right vitamins and minerals to make sure your immune system stays at the ready!
It can be easy to slip into a diet made up of "comfort food" during the cold winter months. This is problematic because eating unhealthy food can impact your immune system's ability to defend itself.
A healthy immune system is made up of warriors cells that need quality nutrition to perform at their best.
Make it a priority to eat a balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables. Eat high protein foods and plenty of greens, this will help to keep your immune system fighting strong during the winter months!
Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. Research shows that physical activity can help your white blood cells move more quickly throughout the body, which can help build up a strong immune system.
Now, we know what you're thinking. We all have busy schedules, and it's hard to carve out time in our day to hit the gym. But you don't need to workout an hour a day, five days a week to help build up your immune system.
Studies have shown taking a 30 minute walk a few times a week can help support a strong immune system (source).
At Utzy, your health is always our top priority - we want you help keep you feeling your best. Our immune support product U-Mune has the perfect balance of vitamins, minerals, and botanicals to help support your immune system.
U-Mune contains four immunity boosting herbal ingredients you will want to have:
• Arabinogalactan Heartwood (Larch Tree)
• Andrographis Leaf Extract
Adding our Natural D3 5,000 is also a great idea, after all, we could all use extra Vitamin D in the winter months.
According to Harvard Medical School, getting adequate sleep is one of the most important steps you can take to help boost your immune system (source).
Sleep has a restorative impact on your body. Make it a goal to get 7-8 hours per night. This will help to keep your immune system strong.
Here is an in-depth list of sleep tips that you can follow to get higher quality sleep at night.
You can also download our free Sleep Diary here, this will help you track your sleep and will also help you to establish better sleep habits.
If you struggle with occasional sleeplessness, check out our natural sleep aids. We have award winning formulas that have helped many people get better sleep at night. Pick up for first bottle for 50% off here.
This is a pretty self explanatory tip. Try your best to avoid being around people that are sick or coughing. If you do find yourself around someone with a cold, your best option is to maintain good hygiene.
Wash your hands after touching surfaces that others have handled. Cover your mouth when you cough, etc... Pretty basic, but if everybody practiced good hygiene, we would see much less sickness around us!
Also, if you have children, this is a good time to re-enforce to them the importance of good hygiene.
It's easy to lose track of daily things you can do to keep your immune system strong during the winter. But knowing just a few tips can keep you at your best!