Woman holding a glass of wine

A Little Glass of Wine Per Day

For a long time, red wine has been thought to be heart healthy. Wine Lovers rejoice whenever a new study comes out boasting of the many benefits drinking red (and sometimes white) wine can have for your heart, skin, bones, and state of mind. These studies even suggest that drinking a glass of wine a day is the key to many health issues. Do these supposed benefits actually do anything, or are we just looking for excuses to drink more wine? Maybe, but there are two main benefits to wine drinking that do seem to carry some weight.

Benefit: Resveratrol
One of the main benefits you hear about when it comes to drinking wine daily is the resveratrol in red grape skins. Because red wine is fermented in red grape skins you get a hefty dose of it with each glass. Resveratrol acts as an antioxidant, which help protect your cells from damage. If you have ever seen an add or read an article about skincare with vitamin E or vitamin C, you know all about the benefits of antioxidants for your skin. Molecules called free radicals can damage your skin cells, and antioxidant skin care helps to prevent this and heal your skin. For this reason, so many brands are coming out with skincare lines formulated with these vitamins to help brighten skin, prevent aging, and repair damage.

Free radicals don’t stop at the skin’s surface- they can cause the same kinds of damage inside your body, too! That’s why it’s important to eat (and drink!) things that are rich in antioxidants (and why every smoothie you buy will have the word “antioxidant” on the label). Luckily for all of the wine lovers out there, a glass of red wine per day can help prevent the kinds of cell damage that lead to heart disease and other health problems, such as osteoporosis. Resveratrol is linked to all kinds of health benefits, and we couldn’t be happier that drinking red wine gives you a dose of this highly sought after antioxidant!

Benefit: Decreased Chances of Depression
Though heavy alcohol consumption is not good for your brain’s chemistry, studies concluded that moderate wine drinking can actually decrease your chances of depression. One particular study warns that incidents of depression do increase with heavy alcohol consumption, but those who drank 2-7 glasses of wine seemed to be in the sweet spot. They had lower incidences of depression than both heavy drinker, and those who did not drink- so raise a glass to your health!

While not all claims about wine being healthy for you may be true, there are some benefits that do seem to have an effect on your health. The resveratrol in wine has a number of benefits ranging from heart disease prevention to bone health, and it is the main reason why wine is known has a heart healthy option.  Moderation is important with anything, so sticking to a little glass of wine a day is just right- cheers!

Woman applying sunscreen

SPF 30 vs SPF 50

When you shop for sunscreens, you’ve probably noticed products available with SPFs ranging from 15 to 100. You would think an SPF of 100 would be more effective than one of 15, but it’s not as simple as that. So, what exactly do all these numbers mean?

SPF refers to a sunscreen’s ability to block UVB rays, but not UVA rays. UVB rays cause sunburns while UVA rays are more closely linked to deeper skin damage. Both kinds of rays can contribute to skin cancer. The SPF rates measure the amount of time it would take for you to sunburn without sunscreen as opposed to the amount of time it would take you to burn with the sunscreen on. But Florida dermatologist. James M. Spencer, MD, explains, “SPF is not a consumer friendly number. It is logical for someone to think than an SPF of 30 is twice as good as an SPF of 15, but that’s not how it works.”

Spencer further explains that SPF 15 will block about 94% of UVB rays while an SPF 30 blocks 97% and an SPF 45 blocks about 98%. “After that it just gets silly,” says Spencer. Doctors like Farah Ahmed, general counsel for the cosmetics industry group Personal Care Products Council, tends to agree, but adds that high SPF products may protect better against long term skin damage and exposure related skin cancers. Generally, an SPF of 30 is recommended.

Dr. Steven Q Wang, MD and director of dermatologic surgery and dermatology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, points out ways in which using sunscreens with a higher SPF can even have negative effects. Since SPF protects against UVB rays only, and UVB rays are responsible for sunburn, individuals may not burn while using these sunscreens. However, this does not mean they are not susceptible to damage from UVA rays which cause premature aging. To these lengths, Europe and Australia have adopted UVA testing guidelines and measurement standards and capped the SPF of sunscreens at 50. The U.S. Food and Drug Association may follow suit.

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Wang also points out that people who are wearing an SPF of 50 or higher, may adopt a false sense of security and may stay out in the sun longer. They may not make wise choices like seeking shade or wearing sun protective clothing. Sun damage can take place even if skin is not becoming tan or reddening.

No matter what produce you choose, water resistant sunscreen should be applied liberally a half hour before you go outdoors and should be reapplied every two hours or after you are swimming or sweating. Look for broad spectrum sunscreens with ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are less likely to wash off and effectively protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Avoid avobenzone products which are not stable and oxybenzone, which is absorbed into your skin and has demonstrated to be a hormone disruptor.

So, what’s your number? Let us know in the comments section below!

Lady applying sunscreen while hiking in the canyons

Using "Natural" Sunscreens

With all the information available about the damaging effects of sun exposure, it seems as if sunscreens are no longer just an option, they are pretty much mandatory. But many of us dislike the chemicals sunscreens contain. Well, for those of us who feel that way, there are mineral sunscreen formulas on the market… but not all mineral sunscreens are safe. Read on to find out the best products for you in natural sunscreens.

Let’s start by looking at why we might want to avoid chemical sunscreens. They have been found to accumulate in body fat and breast milk and have been linked to hormonal disruptions like early onset puberty, low sperm count, breast cancer and allergic reactions. It is also said that they absorb UV rays, allowing them to penetrate into the skin where they can cause free radial formations that can lead to premature aging and skin cancer.

For these reasons, natural sunscreens, or those that contain only zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as their natural ingredients, are more popular than ever. They work against both UVA and UVB rays and are effective immediately after application, unlike chemical sunscreens that can take 30 minutes before they start working.

However, health and beauty writer Liz Thompson warns us to beware, as certain mainstream brands simply add these minerals to their sun protection line up without actually reformulating to safe products. These products may still contain harmful chemicals.

Consumer Reports questions the effectiveness of natural sunscreens claiming that many products that use zinc oxide as its only active ingredient were getting feedback from customers that the products didn’t work as well as they claimed to. Further investigations yielded lotions with an SPF 50 only performing at an SPF of 8. CR goes on to say that they believe the natural sunscreens perform poorly because most mineral sunscreens contain particles which do not form a uniform film on the skin that is necessary for maximum sun protection. They go on to recommend using a mineral product which comes close to its SPF (since they claim none quite add up) or going with a chemical sunscreen choice.

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Organic sunscreens are another option. These products, likely to contain oxybenzone as their active ingredient, absorbs UV light, protecting your skin from UV damage. However, they come with their own drawbacks, including a higher risk of allergic reactions. Also, there is the possibility that the compound can be disruptive to hormones like estrogen. However, studies have proven that while oxybenzone does bind to estrogen, there was not enough evidence to suggest that the absorption affected hormone levels.

So, with all these pros and cons arising, what is one to do? Read the label. According to Dr. Josh Axe, here are a list of products you definitely want to avoid in your sunscreens

  • Para amino benzoic acid
  • Octyl salicyclate
  • Oxybenzone
  • Cinoxate
  • Dioxybenzone
  • Phenylbenzimidazole
  • Homosalate
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Octcrylene
  • Methoxycinnamate
  • Parabens

So, what’s your take on it? Mineral, chemical, organic? Hit us up in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you!

Woman holding sunscreen

Save Your Skin From the Sun

Don’t leave your skin vulnerable to sun damage this summer! Follow these simple steps to keep your skin safe, so the only thing you have to worry about this summer is finding a good chair at the pool and an ice cold beverage.

Layer
Don’t expect your makeup to serve as your only protection! Use a moisturizer with SPF 30 as well as a foundation or tinted moisturizer with sun protection. Also, give your moisturizer some time to really sink into the skin before you move on to your primer- you don’t want to risk wiping off your protection when you move on to the next step of your routine!

Reapply
Most sunscreens will only protect your skin for a few hours- especially if you are at the pool or the beach! You should reapply your SPF a few times a day- or every 80 minutes if you are swimming or sweating. Read the label on the bottle to figure out exactly how often it is suggested to reapply for each brand of sunscreen or moisturizer. Don’t forget to throw a bottle of sunscreen, or a setting spray with SPF, in your bag before you leave the house to ensure your skin will be protected all day long!

Don’t Forget your Eyes!
Even if you use a moisturizer with SPF religiously, you may be neglecting some of your most sensitive skin- the areas around your eyes. Some kinds of sunscreen can sting your eyes, so try to find an eye cream or concealer formulated with SPF to protect those peepers!

Woman wearing sunglasses

Accessorize
Always getting those painful sunburns where your hair is parted? Try throwing on a cute, wide brim hat next time you’re going to be outside for an extended period of time. Oversized sunglasses are also a trendy way to protect your eyes from sun damage. Mix up your looks this summer with cool accessories, and protect your skin at the same time!

Don’t Stop at Your Face
While wearing sunscreen on your face every day is important, we tend to spend more time outside during the warmer months, so extending our sunscreen coverage is essential. Applying sunscreen to your ears, neck, chest, shoulders, and hands can do a lot to help protect your skin from sun damage. It doesn’t take long for the stronger summer sun to harm your skin, so adding these extra steps to your morning routine will help you remember to do this every day!

Limit Sun Exposure
We’ve all heard this tip, and no one likes to follow it, but whenever possible, it is best to limit your sun exposure during peak hours. Taking a lunch break inside while the sun is highest in the sky (and using this time to reapply your sunscreen) can help decrease your chances of getting burnt. We hate to say it, but less sun is always better for your skin’s health.
No need to skip out on all of the fun outdoor activities that summer brings, but don’t forget to protect your skin first!

Healthy woman jogging outdoors

Immune System and Metabolism Boosters

“If you don’t have your health, you’ve got nothing!” We’ve all heard this saying, or something similar to it, at some point in our lives. And it’s very true. If we’re not healthy, being happy or even functional can be extremely difficult. That’s why it’s so important to take care of both our metabolisms and our immune systems. But being healthy is not that difficult if you follow these strategies that will ensure a healthier you.

Our immune system does a great job of fighting disease causing microorganisms. But it’s not always successful. So how can you intervene to make your immune system stronger? Although there is a lot that researchers still have not discovered about the intricacies and interconnectedness of the immune response, healthy living strategies are a good way to give your immune system the upper hand. Here are some recommended lines of defense as offered by Harvard Medical School.

Don’t Smoke
Eat a healthy diet high in fruits vegetables and whole grains. Avoid saturated fats. Deficiencies of zinc, selium, iron, copper, folic acid and vitamins A, B6, C and E can lead to lowered immunity. If you suspect your diet is not providing you with all your micronutrient needs, you may want to start taking a multivitamin and mineral supplements.

Maintain a Healthy Weight
Exercise regularly. Exercise can promote good circulation which allows cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.

Control Blood Pressure
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

Get Regular Medical Checkups and Screenings
Metabolism has been defined as “all of the chemical reactions that take place in a living organism every day to keep it alive”. It is the process of converting calories into usable energy in the body. A strong metabolism is tied to a more svelte body and also benefits the immune system, lowers chances of disease, contributes to having more energy, brain functionality, longevity and much more. There are many signs that you may be in need of a boost to your metabolism including ongoing fatigue, cold body temperature, irregular periods, thinning hair, and more.

Try High-Intensity Interval Training (HIT)
This is a form of exercise that features intervals that may vary from all out effort to short period of rest. It is known to boost the metabolism better than steady workouts.

Lift Weights
This builds lean muscle mass which naturally uses more calories than body fat does.

Avoid Inflammatory Foods
Inflammatory foods can slow down the digestive processes. These include sugary drinks, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and low-quality dairy and animal products. Add metabolism power foods which help the body use and expend energy better. These include high protein snacks, green tea, garlic, spicy foods and apple cider vinegar.

Get Adequate Sleep
We don’t even need to stress how important sleep is in your everyday life!

Frankincense oil on stone table

Benefits of Frankincense

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years and are known for their therapeutic and healing properties. Frankincense is a common essential oil that offers a variety of health benefits. It can help fight common stress and anxiety, reduce pain and inflammation, boost the immune system, and even fight cancer. Read on to find out the health benefits of frankincense and how you can take advantage of them.

Stress Relief
Frankincense immediately brings on feelings of peace, relaxation and satisfaction. By adding a few drops to a hot bath, you can take advantage of these calming sensations. You might also want to add frankincense to a diffuser or vaporizer to fill your home with this peaceful feeling at all times.

Household Cleaner
Frankincense is an antiseptic meaning it will help eliminate bacteria and viruses from your home and clean indoor spaces. The plant can be burned to help disinfect an area and work as a natural deodorizer.

Natural Hygiene
Because frankincense has antiseptic properties, its  a great addition to any oral hygiene regimen. It can help prevent tooth decay, fight bad breath, cavities and oral infections. You can even make your own toothpaste out of it by mixing it with baking soda.

Anti-Aging
Frankincense is a powerful astringent so it helps protect skin cells. It can help reduce acne blemishes, shrink large pores, diminish the appearance of wrinkles and help lift and tighten skin. It can be used on jowls, under eyes or even the abdomen area. For best results, mix 6 drops of the oil to one ounce of unscented oil and apply directly to the skin. Be sure to test on a small patch of skin before use to ensure it does not cause allergic reactions.

Indigestion
If you have digestive issues including gas, constipation, irritable bowl syndrome, PMS, or cramps, frankincense can help. It speed up the digestion of food. Add 1-2 drops of the oil to 8 ounces of water or a tablespoon of honey and ingest orally, making sure it is 100% pure oil, not a fragrance or perfume oil.

Scars, Wounds, and Stretch Marks
Frankincense can help with the healing wounds and decrease the appearance of scars as well as reducing the appearance of acne blemishes, stretch marks, eczema and even surgical wounds. Mix 2-3 drops with an unscented base of lotion and apply directly to the skin.

Colds 
Frankincense can help relieve coughs associated with a respiratory infection. It helps eliminate phlegm from the lungs and acts as an anti-inflammatory in nasal passages making breathing easier. Add a few drops to a cloth and inhale for maximum effectiveness.

Pain and Inflammation
Frankincense can also improve circulation and lower joint and muscle pain in conditions like arthritis. You can simply massage the oil into effected areas or diffuse it in your home. You may also want to add a drop of oil to steaming water and soak a towel in it. Place towel over your body and face to decrease muscle aches.

Vials of botanical oils surrounded by flowers

Oils To Have In Every Medicine Cabinet

While many of deal with medicines that may cause harmful side effects, others realize that there are safe, affordable products which are as accessible as our nearest grocery store. These are essential oils, many of which have remarkable benefits that can help us with physical and mental ailments. Read on to find out which essential oils no medicine cabinet should be without.

Cedar Oil
Its rich woody scent can be emotionally grounding and help relieve nervous tension. When applied directly to skin or in a bath, it can reduce the skin peeling and infection associated with eczema. When added to shampoo, conditioner or rubbed into scalp, it can increase circulation in the hair follicles to reduce hair loss and fight dandruff.

Frankincense
When inhaled it reduces heart rate and high blood pressure, as well as anxiety and depression. It has immune enhancing abilities which may help destroy dangerous bacteria, viruses, and even cancers. It helps strengthen skin, improving its tone, elasticity and defends against bacteria and blemishes.

Tea Tree Oil
Mix with raw honey to make a homemade, gentle acne face wash. It’s considered to be just as effective as benzoyl peroxide without the associated negative side effects. It is beneficial to the scalp as it soothes dry flaking skin and can eliminate dandruff. Tea tree oil’s ability to kill off bacteria makes it effective in oral health. Mix tea tree oil with coconut oil and baking soda for an amazing homemade toothpaste.

Orange Oil
Limonene, a monocyclic monoterpene that’s present in orange peel oil is a defender against oxidative stress, and even has cancer fighting abilities since monoterpenes have been shown to be effective against tumor growth. When diluted, orange oil makes a great cleaner. Use it to clean countertops and appliances without chemicals. It leaves behind a great citrusy smell. Adding orange oil to a shower wash or perfume, or inhaling it directly can lift your mood and bring on relaxation.

Lemon Grass Oil
Lemon grass oil has a strong citrus scent that is proven effective for headaches, muscle pain, and stress. It can also be used as a skin toner as it helps to close open pores. When applied to sweaty feet, it can reduce excessive perspiration.

Fennel Oil
Fennel oil has estrogen-like compounds which can have a balancing effect on hormones. It’s helpful for women suffering during menopause, and can also help women with low estrogen levels. Fennel oil is also great for treating cramps, nausea, and indigestion. Use fennel oil orally for fighting gum disease and freshening breath.

Basil Oil
Basil oil has antiviral properties and is a great expectorant for congested nasal passages when added to steaming water. Basil oil is also effective at relieving pain as it is an antispasmodic.

Bergamot Oil
Bergamot oil is considered a powerful antidepressant known for its cheering properties. When diluted in alcohol, bergamot oil is great for cold sores, chicken pox and shingles as it inhibits viral activity.

Woman looking in the mirror

Pimple Classification and Treatment

Pimples are never a fun thing to have to deal with. Nobody likes having unsightly, sometimes painful blocked pores to deal with, especially when they catch you by surprise or linger way longer than they should. And to make matters worse, not all pimples are created equal, and as such some require different treatment than others, and some are more severe than others. So how do you tell the difference, and how do you know which ones you can take care of at home and which ones you need a dermatologist’s help with? Keep reading and you’ll find out.

What’s a Pimple?
You might not think we’d need to define what exactly a pimple is, but it’s important to clarify before we move on; it’s always a good habit to review a concept before examining it in further detail. The term “pimple” is a broad umbrella term that encompasses a variety of localized infections that all share the common trait of occurring within pores that have been blocked by some form of debris (anything from oil to makeup you forgot to take off can do it) and as such, ceased to function properly—pores need to be open to “respire” and do their job properly.

Blackheads and Whiteheads
The most common and, thankfully, least serious, and easiest to deal with pimples are blackheads and whiteheads. Both tend to be rather tiny. Blackheads are clogged pores that remain open, so the blockage is easily visible and has a blackish appearance. Whiteheads are similar but have closed up around the blockage and appear more whitish. Both can be treated with products that contain salicylic acid, and may benefit from light to moderate exfoliation. Give it a few weeks, resist the urge to pop (seriously, you don’t want the acne scars; don’t do it), and they’ll more than likely go away. If they don’t, though, feel free to talk to a dermatologist about other methods of treatment. It’s unlikely you’ll have to, though, as blackheads and whiteheads should respond to daily salicylic acid treatment (look for face washes, scrubs, and even moisturizers with this ingredient) and once to twice-weekly exfoliation.

Papules and Pustules
These are the “middle of the road” pimples, meaning it’s a coin flip whether you’ll be able to take care of them on your own or need to see the doctor. Pustules and papules are pimples that have grown so large the pore walls have broken. Papules are hard bumps in the skin, while pustules are a bit softer and visibly filled with pus. Again, resist the urge to pop. Try salicylic acid and exfoliation as described above, but seek immediate treatment by a dermatologist if this isn’t working after three or so weeks.

Nodules and Cysts
The worst, but fortunately, least common types of pimples are nodules and cysts. These are blocked pores which have gotten irritated and expanded outward and inward (they go deeper into your skin and are visibly much larger than any other pimple type). Nodules are hard, while cysts are softer to the touch and may be visibly reddened and irritated. If you have any nodules and/or cysts, don’t waste time with home treatment. Make an appointment with a dermatologist today.

Salad

Meatless Monday

When it comes to dieting, it can be frustrating and overwhelming to figure out what works for you. Elimination diets are extremely popular, but when not done carefully, they can actually be detrimental to your health. If you have ever thought about trying a vegetarian diet, but aren’t quite sure if you can commit to the total elimination of meat, try easy into it. Meatless Monday is not a new phenomenon, but it can be a refreshing way to change your diet in a way that you can really stick to! Why go meatless?

It’s Good for the Environment
Cutting down on the amount of meat you eat, even when it is only one day each week, can actually help the environment. Relying a little less on meat will cut down on how much water is used to make the food you buy. You will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If more and more people start embracing meatless Monday, it could make a real difference!

It’s Good for Your Health
Replacing a fatty protein with a lean protein once, or a few times, a week is going to help you lose weight, and it is better for your heart. Practicing meatless Monday is said to help you live longer because you get some of the benefits of eating a vegetarian diet, but putting less pressure on yourself to majorly restrict your diet right away is a huge benefit. It is really difficult for most people to cut out meat entirely right away, so joining meatless Mondays makes it really easy to stick to your plan, and a lot of people are trying it, so you aren’t alone!

Easy Way to Mix Up Your Menu
It’s very easy, but never fun, to fall into a repetitive, mundane rut when it comes to food. It can become difficult to come up with affordable, easy to cook options that you have the energy to make after work. Increasing the number of veggies you eat can really help get you out of your rut! There are tons of recipes out there that involve spicing up vegetables to create a filling, flavorful meal.

Dedicating one day a week to try out a vegetarian diet has many benefits. Just make sure you are planning your menu carefully so you aren’t cutting out protein with the meat! It’s easy to get enough protein as a vegetarian, but if you are trying it out for a day, don’t forget to add it to your meals!

Stressed pregnant woman

Reducing High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

One fairly common and understandable concern for expecting parents is high blood pressure. The reason it can be a concern is twofold: increased chance of hypertension (high blood pressure) during pregnancy, and the risk of hypertension causing complications for pregnancy. Here, we’ll go ahead and examine and address this concern from both angles, and discuss what can cause hypertension during pregnancy, how to deal with it, and when it’s harmless and when it’s a concern.

Types of Hypertension During Pregnancy
There are actually several different categories of hypertension during pregnancy; three, to be precise. Let’s go over them.

Gestational hypertension occurs when the pregnant person develops high blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy. There are no signs of organ damage such as excess protein in the urine. Gestational hypertension can eventually become preeclampsia, but it is fairly rare. If you develop gestational hypertension, make sure you and your doctor keep an eye on it, but you and your baby will probably be fine.

Chronic hypertension typically refers to high blood pressure that existed independent of pregnancy, but also refers to high blood pressure that occurs anytime before 20 weeks of pregnancy has passed. It can be difficult to determine for sure when it began, so make sure you’re seeing a doctor regularly and keeping an eye on your blood pressure.

Preeclampsia is the most concerning type of hypertension during pregnancy and the one that requires the most care and oversight. Preeclampsia is a condition that sometimes develops from chronic hypertension or gestational hypertension, and is characterized by not only high blood pressure, but signs of damage or another organ system, including but not limited to protein in the urine. Preeclampsia can lead to serious or even fatal complications for both the baby and the pregnant parent if left untreated, but it is treatable, so do not panic if you develop preeclampsia, just work closely with a doctor to control the condition.

What Problems Can Hypertension Cause in Pregnancy?
High blood pressure—specifically, or at least mostly, preeclampsia—during pregnancy can decrease blood flow to the placenta, limiting the nutrients and oxygen your baby receives, slowing growth and potentially causing preterm birth, low birth weight, and breathing problems for your baby. Placental abruption—the placenta separating from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery—is also a concern, which is potentially life-threatening to both you and your baby. Preeclampsia can also predispose you to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases in the future.

What Can I Do About it?
First and foremost—and we cannot emphasize this enough—work with a doctor, follow their advice to the letter, and always check in with them before you try any self-treatment of any kind, to make sure it’s safe. Be thorough and honest with your doctor, reporting any and all symptoms, and remember that preeclampsia can develop with no symptoms, even without protein in the urine, in rare circumstances, so monitor your blood pressure closely; check it at least once a week and keep your doctor updated. Also, watch for other symptoms like severe headaches, vision changes, upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, decrease in urine output, lower platelet count, weakened liver, or shortness of breath. Finally, exercise regularly (under your doctor’s guidance), take everything as prescribed, avoid sodium, eat lots of leafy greens and fruits, and avoid smoking, alcohol, and illicit drugs. Ask your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications.