Woman drinking green tea

Secrets To Pumping Up Your Metabolism

“Oh, I just have a fast metabolism.” Heard that one before? To many of us, a fast metabolism is some kind of body double that lives inside a select few people exercising and burning calories while their perfect outer shells sit and pig out on the couch. Well, that’s not far from the truth. Metabolism does work on its own to burn calories and shed fat, and the faster it runs the more calories you burn. However, it’s not only a select few that can reap the benefits. The truth is that you have a huge amount of control over the rate of your metabolism. And to prove it, here are some things that you too can sit back and let your fast metabolism do the work.

Green Tea
Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, calls green tea “the closest thing to a metabolism potion.” Green tea contains a fat burning plant compound called ECGC. One study showed that people who consumed three to five cups a day of the brew for 12 weeks showed a 4.6 decrease in body weight; other studies suggest that consuming two to four cups of the tea can burn an extra fifty calories daily – five pounds a year, if you do the math.

Dairy
Did you spend last night binge watching “Empire” with an open bag of chips on hand? You can redeem yourself with an eight-ounce glass of milk or a six-ounce container of low-fat yogurt. Calcium boosts metabolism by increasing the rate at which your body disposes of waste, says a University of Copenhagen study. Supplements will not do the job, so let’s hope you like milk.

Iron
Women lose iron when they ovulate, a loss which does not bode well for your metabolic speed. Iron carries oxygen to your muscles. When there is a deficiency of oxygen, your energy levels tank and your metabolism hits the brakes. Shames advises stocking up on iron with beans, dark leafy greens, and fortified cereal.

Working Out

Woman working out

Interval training
If you want a quick metabolism boost, and to save some time in the process, increase the intensity of your workout. One Australian study pitted two group of female stationary bicyclists against each other. One group rode for 40 minutes at a moderate pace, and one group rode for 20-minute intervals, alternating 8-second sprints with 12 seconds of low-impact pedaling. After 15 weeks, the interval trainers lost three times as much body weight as the other group. Lead researcher, Ethlyn Gail Trapp, PhD, suggests that whatever method of exercise you choose, your should start with an 8-second sprint followed by 12 seconds of easy exercise. Aim to work up to 10 sprints in 20 minutes.

Fish Oil
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, popping fish oil supplements when you exercise can stimulate your fat burning enzymes. Volunteers who took six grams of fish oil daily and worked out three times per week reported an average loss of 3.4 pounds over 12 weeks, while non-pill poppers saw minimal effects. Take two pills containing 300 mg EPA and 200 mg DHA per capsule two hours before you workout for best results.

Woman and child making salad

Diet
According to the National Institutes of Health, fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and sardines send “I’m full triggers to your brain, eliminating cravings. Another word to the wise, skip the cocktails. Two mixed drinks can slow down the calorie burn by 73 percent. Researchers from the University of Berkeley say that this is because the liver converts alcohol to acetate and uses that as fuel instead of your stores of fat. Another word of advice? Sleep well. It will help you regulate hormones that regulate energy use.

Got it? Now get out there and speed up that metabolism! Let us know how it goes for you. We love to get your stories!

Woman smiling

Jojoba Oil Is Biocompatible To The Skin

Some things were meant for each other. Peanut butter and jelly, Oreos and milk, Sunny and Cher, hamburgers and French fries, and jojoba oil and your skin. The last one take you by surprise? Jojoba oil and skin have been making beautiful music together since time immemorial. Native to Mexico, the jojoba plant has been used for centuries by Native Americans to counteract the harsh effects of the desert sun. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, non-comedogenic, emollient, and anti- bacterial, but perhaps most outstandingly, it has the ability to work harmony with living cells.

The Secret of Jojoba Oil
Although its name suggests otherwise, jojoba oil is not an oil at all; rather it is a waxy substance that is very similar to the skin’s natural oil, or sebum. The two are so similar in fact, scientists believe jojoba oil can actually trick the skin into “thinking” it is producing adequate amounts of oil which is how it helps to balance oil production. According to Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Medical Center, “Jojoba oil is rich in natural fats that mimic those in the outer layer of skin. This means it can help skin retain moisture and heal itself.”

Uses
When topically applied, jojoba oil can be an effective treatment for psoriasis, acne, chapped skin, and sunburn. It is frequently found in cleansing products, shampoos, and face and body lotions and can also be used as a lip balm or to condition skin prior to shaving. Jojoba oil is rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, antioxidants, and sterols, which are compounds that can reduce inflammation and boost skin metabolism. It may be the answer to your dry skin woes.

Jojoba oil

Scars and Stretch Marks
Jojoba oil can help to rid skin of unsightly scars, scabs, and stretch marks when applied in problem areas. It may also help to heal wounds.

Anti-Aging Serum
The antioxidants in jojoba oil can reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Apply to eyes, mouth and neck and watch it work its magic.

Makeup Remover
Wipe away even the toughest waterproof mascara and liquid liners when you use the vitamin E rich oil to remove makeup.

Body Lotion
After bathing or showering massage a few drops of jojoba oil into damp skin. Follow with a natural cream, like cocoa or shea butter to lock in the hydrating benefits. You’ll find a significant reduction in chapped skin, irritation, and dryness.

Facial Cleanser
Apply a few drops of the oils onto dry skin and rinse away with water to clear impurities and debris from the skin’s surface.

Anti-Acne Gel
The microbial properties in jojoba oil can clear skin and the iodine in the oil can fight growth of acne causing bacteria.

How do you use jojoba oil to keep your skin in great shape? Keep us informed! We love to know!

Couple hiking

Be Safe During Outdoor Activities

We all love the accessibility of recording devices, until we find ourselves on the wrong side of the camera. If it weren’t bad enough to have to have our epic stunts end up in epic fails, falls, and face plants, now we have the added probability of someone with a quick draw on the camera ready to capture the moment and post it on social media. It’s spring and that means it’s time to dust off the skateboards, surfboards, roller boards, and whatever other boards that have been sitting in the cellar for the last few months. But if your don’t want to find yourself the subject of unwanted attention on You Tube, here are some safety tips you may want to keep in mind.

Pack Layers
Spring weather is known for its variability. Hot sunny days may give way to cloudy afternoons and vice versa. Prepare for every eventuality by packing extra clothing layers, including socks. Wet feet can be most uncomfortable.

Hiking Preparedness
If you are heading to the mountains, you’re likely to encounter snow, and when there’s snow on the mountains, there is a risk of an avalanche. Check the local avalanche reports before heading up.

Hiking in the spring is wet. Rivers rise and snow melts, making roads muddy and slippery. Be aware of stream crossings and wet surfaces and look out for flash floods and rising water, characteristic of spring. Pitch tents above the high-water mark, even if it means sacrificing an impressive view or a longer distance to the stream. Remember that even designated campground sites can be dangerous in certain conditions.

Cotton Is Rotten
Although cotton is hailed for its comfort and durability, it is not known to mix well with water. Wet cotton clothes can trap water and rob the body of heat. Choose synthetic clothes appropriate for the activity you’re planning.

Paddling
Paddlers need to be aware of the possibility of hypothermia. If the air temperature and water temperature do not exceed 100 degrees when added together, hypothermia can be a real concern. If you must paddle when conditions are less than ideal, be sure to bring dry clothes and a fire starter in a dry bag.

Warm Up
Keep in mind that your muscles, joints, and lungs are probably still in winter mode. Don’t take on anything physically taxing if you’re not ready for it. Make sure to warm up before engaging in physical activity and stretch out when your done. Work up to longer outings to keep your self from getting strained early in the season.

Check Your Gear
Remember that the gear that broke last spring has not gotten fixed by itself. Make sure to examine, clean, and fix gear before heading out, especially if children are part of the plan.

Share Your Expertise
If you see someone who looks as if they’ve bitten off more than they can chew, don’t be afraid to make a suggestion to ease their situation. They may appreciate your advice about finding a safer place to camp or the offer of some water.

Let us know what you’re doing this spring to keep safe. We want to know your best tips for a happy healthy spring.

Woman sneezing

Living With Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis

Does this season have you doing the allergic salute? The allergic salute, also called the nasal salute, is defined as the gesture of wiping or rubbing the nose in an upward manner with the fingers, palm, or back of hand in and upward motion, and is a common telltale sign of allergic rhinitis.

Suffering with allergies is no fun, and while “saluting” can relieve the symptoms, it can also lead to the transfer of bacteria and germs, and, when done often enough, can result in a “transverse nasal crease,” (a crease running across the nose) which can become a permanent feature. But, worry not. Allergic seasonal rhinitis does not have to doom its sufferers to a life of inevitable unsightly scars. There are some ways to handle the condition salute free. Read on to find out how you can survive the season uncreased.

What Is Allergic Rhinitis?
More commonly referred to as allergies or hay fever, allergic rhinitis happens when your immune system has an extreme reaction to air particles that you breathe. Your immune system reacts by attacking these particles, also called allergens, which causes symptoms, like runny nose and sneezing.

Unfortunately, people with allergies can suffer from the symptoms for many years. They may occur at certain times during the year or at random times. Sinusitis and ear infections are other allergy related problems. Symptoms may become less severe over time and allergens may have less of an effect.

Symptoms
Some of the most common symptoms of allergic rhinitis are repeated sneezing, especially right after waking up in the morning and a runny nose with post-nasal drip. The nasal drainage is usually thin and clear, but may become thick, cloudy and yellowish if there is a sinus or nasal infection involved. Other signs of rhinitis are watery and itchy eyes and itchy ears, nose, and throat.

How Is It Caused?
Pollen from grasses, trees, and weeds is the biggest cause of allergic rhinitis. Dust mites, cockroaches, animal dander, and mold are also triggers, as are things in the workplace, such as chemicals, cereal grain, and wood dust.
If your allergies are due to pollen, your symptoms are more likely to occur when pollen levels are high. If you are affected by indoor allergens, such as dust mites, your symptoms may occur more frequently.

Treatment
While there is no cure for allergic rhinitis, avoiding the causes of your allergies can significantly reduce symptoms. This may require frequent house cleaning to eliminate animals dander, mold, and dust. You may also want to stay indoors when the pollen count is high.

Over the counter medicines are available, but you may want to talk to your doctor first is you have another existing health condition. or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
If allergies are severe, immunotherapy, such as allergy shots, is another option for prevention or reduction of symptoms.

How are you surviving this allergy season? Are you doing the nasal salute, or perhaps you are giving your allergies quite a different salute. Let us know what you do to cope.

Woman sleeping soundly

Suggestions For Distraction-Free Sleep

So you’ve just gotten back from partying for 6 days in the desert and, boy, are you tired. You are going to sleep, but this will not be a regular sleep; this will be an epic sleep. You are going to sleep like the dead and pity the person or thing that dares to interrupt you. But a sleep like this will take careful planning. You need to make sure this sleep is totally free of distractions. If you can just stay awake a few more minutes, you should do the following to ensure your sleep is the blissful one you are anticipating.

Turn Off Electronics
In order to fall asleep, your body increases sleep hormone levels as it gets darker outside. In turn, your body begins to associate darkness with sleep. Exposure to light from electronics, like laptops and cell phones, inhibit the formation of these hormones. For a good night’s sleep, turn off all brightly screened electronic devises at least on hour prior to turning in.

Studies show that people who play computer games more than seven hours per week do not sleep as well as those who refrain from such activity. Also, social media outlets can raise stress and anxiety levels.

Cool Off
Heat can be a major sleep distraction. The best combination for a good night’s sleep is a cool room and hot skin. Set the thermostat to 65 or lower to induce sleepiness and prevent night sweats.

Woman sleeping with book

Keep It Dark
Bright lights are not conducive to good sleep. They trick the body into thinking it is daytime, and prevent sleep hormones from forming. Turn off night lights, overheads, and table lamps. Close your blinds and consider investing in light blocking curtain for extra relaxation.

If you chose to read or write before turning in, try a small book light as opposed to a desktop or overhead light source. if you own a bright clock, check out the dimmer option to lower brightness and face it away from you to avoid obsessive time checks.

Reduce Unwanted Noise
White noise generators are available, as are recordings of natural sounds. These rhythmic sounds can drown out noises which can interfere with sleep. You may also want to listen to some soft music. You can do an online search to find specific pieces of music recommended to aid sleep. Experiment with different types until you find which works best for you. It may be classical or modern ambient.

Use earplugs to keep out background noises and annoying sounds, like car alarms or barking dogs.

Woman with headphones

Avoid falling asleep with head phones on, as they may become uncomfortable. Play music with a self timer, so you don’t need to worry about shutting it off after a certain time.

Take A Supplement
Herbal and mineral supplements have been used as sleep aids since time immemorial. Try taking 600 mg of calcium with 200mg magnesium as a sleep aid.

Hops are also great for helping with insomnia and relieving anxiety. 30 -120 mg should send you off to sleep nicely.

Wild lettuce tablets can also help to reduce sleep anxiety. Take a recommended 30-120 mg nightly.

L-theanine is a another supplement know to improve not only quality of sleep, but also alertness upon waking. Green tea also contains trace amounts of the amino acid.

Valerian roots supplements are another cure for insomnia. Two hundred to eight hundred mg whole help you fall asleep quickly and easily.

How do you keep your sleep distraction-free? Let us know how you keep your bedroom a sanctuary.

Couple smiling

Tips For Maintaining Your Oral Health

If you are new to a relationship, you can expect to become very familiar with your partner’s mouth. Like it or not, smooches, pecks, and exchange of oral fluids are all par for the course in the early stages of dating. This is why it’s not very surprising to learn that the top criteria for choosing a mate is good teeth. In fact, when it came to polling, 58% of men and 71% of women chose good teeth as the number one “must have” for a date, which may be as good a reason as any for wanting to make sure you have outstanding oral health.

However, even if attracting a mate is not a priority, there are many other reasons for wanting to keep your mouth healthy. Studies also show that those who practice healthy oral hygiene have a much larger chance of keeping their teeth. So, whether you want to keep your love life thriving or whether you want to keep your choppers where they are, here are some tips for oral health maintenance.

Woman brushing teeth

Brushing
Keeping your pearly whites pearly white is the first step to keeping teeth in prime condition. The American Dental Association advises these brushing tips.

Brush Teeth Twice A Day
Be sure to do a thorough job, don’t rush it.

Use The Right Stuff
Make sure you have a fluoride toothpaste and a brush with soft bristles that fits comfortably in your mouth. Battery operated and electric toothbrushes can reduce plaque and gingivitis, a mild gum disease, more effectively than regular brushes and can also be helpful to those who have arthritis or other problems which make brushing difficult.

Do It The Right Way
Hold your brush at a slight angle with the bristles pointed toward the area at which your tooth and gum meet. Use gentle back and forth motion, brushing the inside, outside, and chewing surface of your teeth and tongue.

Keep Equipment Clean
Rinse your toothbrush after every brushing and store in an upright position, allowing it to dry before using it again. Separate your brush from other toothbrushes to prevent contamination. Note that while some brushes come with covers or containers, it is best to avoid routine use of these storage devices, as they can accelerate the growth of mold, yeast, and bacteria.

Replace Toothbrush Regularly
Aim to replace your brush or the head of your battery operated or electric brush every three to four months, or sooner if it begins to look frayed.

Woman flossing

Flossing
Daily flossing is the way to reach the spaces under your gum line and between your teeth. The following are a few ADA flossing basics.

Technique
Aim to break off an 18 inch thread of floss. Wind most of it around the middle finger of one hand and the rest around the middle finger of the other. Grip the floss between your forefinger and thumb.

Easy Does it
Use a gentle rubbing motion to guide the floss between your teeth. Avoid snapping the floss into your gum line, instead try to curve it against the teeth where they meet your gums.

One Tooth At a time
After sliding the floss into the space between your tooth and gum, rub the side of the tooth in a vertical motion. Unwind fresh floss as you move through your mouth to the rest of your teeth.

Floss Alternatives
If you find it difficult to handle floss, there are interdental cleaners, such as pre-threaded flossers. water flossers, dental picks and silicone plaque remover that can do the job just as well.

Other Suggestions
Besides regular brushing and flossing, you may want to incorporate the use of a fluoride containing mouthwash into your oral routine. Also, try to avoid using toothpicks or objects that can cause injury to the gum and allow bacteria in.

Woman with dentist

Seeing A Dentist
No matter how well you take care of your teeth, it is always important to see a professional regularly.

However, you may want to contact your dentist immediately if your notice the following:

  • Tender, red, or swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Gums pulling away from teeth
  • Loss of permanent teeth
  • Changes in the alignment of your top and bottom teeth
  • Chronic bad breath or a strange taste in the mouth
  • Variation in the fit of dentures or partial dentures
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Unusual cold or heat sensitivity
  • Mouth sores and ulcers that don’t heal in a timely fashion.

We wish you good brushing and great oral health! Let us know how you keep your teeth in shape. We love to hear from you!

Healthy lifestyle

Setting Personal Goals For Healthy Living

Being unhealthy is not just a part of your life; it’s a part of your identity. And now you’ve decided to make the change. But you’re uneasy. What are your buddies going to think when you beg off a trip to the bar in order to go to the gym? What are they going to say when you pass on the midnight donut run? When you get the spinach pizza instead of the meat lovers?

Setting personal health goals can be difficult, especially when you’re accustomed to a less than Jack Lalanne approved lifestyle, but it can be done. Here are some tips on doing just that.

To-Do List for Healthy Living
Go see your doctor. Even if you’re feeling great, it’s always a good idea to make sure everything is running smoothly. Get yourself screened and immunized and get the answers to all of the nagging questions that may be on your mind.

Keep tabs on your height and weight and make sure you are getting in enough physical activity. The CDC recommends that adults get a minimum of two and a half hour of moderate aerobic activity and 15 minutes of more intense aerobic activity each week, plus muscle training exercises at least two days a week.

Nutritionist Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD, LD tells you to, “Keep track of what your eating–all of it. The idea is to write it down without judgment. You can’t change what you’re not aware of or don’t acknowledge.”

Check your relationships and evaluate your mood and energy levels. Make sure you’re surrounded by people that enrich your life; get adequate sleep, and monitor yourself for signs of depression.

Food

Improve Your Diet
Its all about taking back the power over food. Says Williams, ” Instead of,’I should be eating more fruits and vegetables,’ it’s, ‘I choose to eat more fruits and vegetables,’ or, ‘ I choose not to, It shows your in control, you’re making the choice. Stock the kitchen with healthy foods, so you have a healthy strategy for when cravings hit. Slow down and enjoy your food. According to Williams, “You’re much more likely to feel psychologically satisfied,'” and shoot forgive to nine servings of varied vegetables and fruits per day.

Exercise More
Not the exercise type? No such thing! Dr. Williams says there’s no need to stick with the dreaded cardio: find something you enjoy and keep track of what you’re doing. Put big X’s on the calendar on days when you exercise. A visual record will Keep you motivated. Set weekly goals rather than daily ones, so you have greater day-to-day freedom. That way, you can forgive yourself if you miss a day, so long as you make it up before the weekend

Cut Down On Stress
When it comes to handling stress, Williams has two suggestions. Routine maintenance entails the development of coping skills, like meditation or yoga to keep your stress level down. You can also breakthrough stress, by finding ways to handle stressful situations when they pop up. For example, you might run up and down the stairs to quell aggravation after a stressful encounter.

Woman sleeping

Sleep More Soundly
If sound sleep is a problem for you, Lisa Shives, MD has a few tips. The doctor advises avoiding the stimulation of computer and tv two hours before bedtime and recommends a light reading lamp that doesn’t shine into your eyes directly. She warns against vigorous exercise near bedtime and taking a hot bath to relax yourself mentally. Shives also stresses the importance of maintaining a regular sleep schedule and making good sleep a priority saying sleep is, “just as important as diet and exercise.”

Sound doable to you? Of course it does! Let us know how you’re getting a handle on your health. We love to hear it!

Woman showering

Shower Habits That Damage Your Skin

Spoiler alert! If you enjoy taking steamy hot showers, do not read this article. To many of us, a hot steamy shower is the high point of our day. The little cubicle, your own private haven, the steam, unknotting the stress in your muscles and opening the pores of your skin. The acoustics of the tile, providing just the right amount of echo to make the renditions of your favorite pop songs almost listenable. How can this be wrong?

Unfortunately, pleasurable as they may be, long hot showers can be damaging to your skin. While there are ways to mitigate the damage, it may involve making small sacrifices. Read on to find out which shower habits may be harming your skin, if you dare.

Water Temp is Too High
While the water temperature may offer short-term pleasure, the long term effects may be less enjoyable. Hot water can strip skin of its natural oils, drying it out, and causing possible discomfort. Those with eczema should be especially wary of very hot showers, as the skin barrier of eczema sufferers is already weak. If you really can’t live without the steam, try blasting the hot water, allowing steam to build and them decreasing the temperature of the water before it comes into contact with your skin.

Dirty towels

Dirty Towels
Even though it may seem that we emerge from the shower clean and bacteria free, this is not the case. Dead skin cells transfer to towels and can result in growth of bacteria, and even mold. Wash towels regularly and try and leave them in a dry, well-lit environment to cut down on bacterial growth.

Harsh Soap
Although antibacterial soaps are great for stripping pores of dirt and bacteria, it may also strip skin of natural oils and good bacteria that helps skin to maintain a balanced pH level. While antibacterial soaps may work well on your hands, they are not recommended for all over cleansing. Also, you may want to swap the bar soap for a moisturizing, natural body wash. Bar soaps can accumulate bacteria from sitting in a wet, dimly lit shower.

Showering Without Moisturizer
Showers provide the best opportunity for moisturizing, and one that you should definitely take advantage of. Warm water opens the pores, allowing water to hydrate skin and allowing the moisturizer to lock the hydration in. For optimal results, use a soap that contains moisturizing ingredients in addition to your regular lotion.

Woman scrubbing

Overscrubbing
Scrubbing should not be confused with exfoliation. Roughly textured bathing accessories, such as shower brushes and loofahs, can break healthy skin cells, leaving behind raw patches on your skin. These tools also collect bacteria, which, when combined with vulnerable skin, is a recipe for damage. Use mild loofahs and try to keep exfoliation down to once or twice a week.

Hard Water
Unfortunately, the water most of us shower with is “hard.” This means it has chemicals and mineral to purify it. While this makes it safe for showering, it may not be the best thing for our skin, and may clog pores and strip skin of natural oil. However, you can avoid this by purchasing a shower head with a water filter to keep the hard stuff out.

What do you think? Is good skin worth the sacrifice? What price is too much for a great shower? Let us know!

Woman headache

Triggers For Cool Weather Pain

You may have heard the expression, “kill the messenger,” and indeed that may have been what you wanted to do when, on Groundhog’s Day, this year, the prognosticating rodent came out of his whole and saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter. As American columnist and author, Bill Vaughn once said, “The groundhog is like most other prophets, it delivers its prediction and then disappears.”

Although many of us have our own reasons to wish for the early end of winter weather, it is especially understandable for those of us who suffer from cold weather pain. However, if you are included in this number, there may be some precautions you can take before you go on a bloodthirsty hunt for old Punxsutawney Phil. Here are some common triggers of cool weather discomfort you may be able to avoid.

Winter Air
The two main sources for skin hydration are healthy fats and moisture from the air. However, when the air gets dry, there is less moisture for the lips and skin to absorb, which can lead to chapping and flaking. Lip licking can exacerbate the problem and lead to cold sores and dehydrated skin can crack and even bleed, leading to possible infection.

Barbara Doty, MD and family physician says, “Develop the habit of caring for your skin on a daily basis. Have easy access to lip balm, use a good moisturizer, and avoid excessive use of soap.”

Woman shovelling snow

Shoveling Snow
According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, about 11,500 people are treated for snow shoveling injuries yearly, and the wetter the snow, the heavier it is. Sandra Fryhofer, MD explains, “Shoveling puts strain on your heart. If you have heart problem get someone else to do it.”

However, even if your heart is in good condition, you need to take precautions. Fryhofer suggests waterproof shoes and an ergonomically designed shovel, which is lightweight and has a curved shaft to help keep your back straight when you use it, Dr. Doty advises that you, “Pick up smaller portions of snow for less weight per shovel.” It is also best to use your legs rather than your back to lift and to shovel in both directions, rather than in one, to avoid strain.

Dark Days
Headaches are signs of seasonal affective disorders. According to Laura Knobel, MD, changes in barometric pressure can trigger migraines and less sunlight can cause a vitamin D deficiency, which has been linked to an increase of headaches in the winter and fall.

“If headaches are due to lack of sun,” says Dr. Knobel, “natural spectrum lights can make a big difference for some people.” She also suggests using garden grow lights to grow indoor plants as a relief from winter blues, adding, “Seeing the seedlings grow can give you hope that spring is on its way.”

Woman coughing

Dehydration
Dehydration is a problem in winter as well as summer. Not drinking enough water can make you achy because it prevents the body from processing waste products efficiently.

Try to maintain a healthy water intake by sticking to plain water rather than warm caffeinated drinks, like black and green tea or water. Dr, Doty warns against caffeinated beverages, “which are diuretics,” and leave bodies at a hydration deficit.

Colds
Of course one of the biggest causes of winter pain is the common cold, or flu, and the dry air can make it worse. Doty says, “In winter, nasal passages get plugged more easily, and with a lot more mucus, it can get irritated down in the back of your throat, which means you can’t clear it as well.” To avoid sickness, get your annual flu shot if you haven’t already and try natural remedies and get plenty of rest to soothe symptoms.

Are you thinking of throwing rocks at the groundhog? If so, we want to hear from you. What are your most common cold weather pain triggers and how do you avoid them? Let us know!

Girl in hat

Sun Protection: Shade Vs. Sunblock

Sunblock talks a pretty good game. You may have heard of SPFs as high as 75, melt- in sunscreens, continuous sun comfort sprays and even melanin-inducing sunblocks and screens. But how can you be sure that all your sunscreen is really working? Did you apply enough? Did you miss any spots? It’s enough to make you think you’re better off just using your own methods of avoiding sun exposure, like just staying in the shade. Of course, the shade is a good option, it definitely cuts down on direct sunlight, but is it a better alternative than sunblock? Here are some things you should know before you give up on sun lotions altogether.

Shade
According to the National Skin Cancer foundation, the guideline is, if you can see the sunlight, seek the shade; but know that not all shade is created equally. You can spend hours in the shade and still receive quite a good amount of sun exposure. Indirect UV light is radiation that has been scattered in the atmosphere and bounced back by UV reflective surfaces, like sand and concrete. As a result, most of the UV light we get sitting under an umbrella or tree is indirect. Only when we are in deep shade, meaning we are unable to see the sky, can we be assured of complete protection.

Hats
Even if you wear a hat, you may only be getting minimal sun protection, especially on your neck, nose, and ears. Hats with all around broad brims angled downward provide the most comprehensive sun protection. Research shows that wearing a broad brimmed hat will provide sunblock protection comparable to a sunblock with and SPF of 5 for the nose, ears and neck, while baseball caps may offer the same for the nose, but little for the other parts of the face, like the cheeks and chin.

Umbrella

Umbrellas
Unless your umbrella is very large, their UV protection is relatively low. Although the SPF of an umbrella can range for 3-106, the amount of UV light under the umbrella can be as high as 84% of that in direct sun. In other words, because so much UV light is reflected under the umbrella from the water, sand, and sky, an umbrella on the beach offers very little protection against the sun.

Trees
If you are looking to a tree to defend you from the sun, look for ones with large, rather than sparse spreads of foliage, and, if possible, choose a tree located near other trees or buildings and note factors that may decrease the amount of protection, such as reflective surfaces. Also note that the same tree will give less protection in the early and late parts of the day, when the diffuse UV rates are higher, than it will at midday, when the sun is directly overhead. Similarly, trees offer better protection on a sunny day than on a cloudy one, when indirect sunlight is greater.

Other Elements
Because you are never guaranteed full UV protection from shade alone, it is important to employ a comprehensive program for sun protection, including wearing clothing made of dark or bright colored tightly woven threads, hats, and sunglasses, and regularly using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more. Be aware of sunscreens claiming higher than an SPF over 30. According to dermatologist James Spencer, an SPF 15 product will block approximately 94% of UV rays, while an SPF 30 blocks about 97%: and SPF 45 blocks about 98% and, “after that, it just gets silly.”

What do you think? Do you swear by your parasols or can you trust your sunblock? Let us know!

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