Woman applying lipstick

The Beauty Of Poliosis

How we all wait for the day when our mother’s promises come true. When the features that we most wish we could be rid of become the envy of the ‘cool kids’ at school. When the thick heavy brows we spent our lifetimes trying to pluck into non- existence show up on the cover of Vogue, when the poliosis that made some a target for classroom bullies becomes an inspiration for the latest trend in hair.

What is Poliosis?
Poliosis is a condition resulting in the depigmentation of the hair. It can affect hair on the eyebrows, eyelashes, or head. It is caused by a decrease or lack of melanocytes and melanin in the hair bulbs of the affected follicles.
Poliosis may be mistaken for age- related hair graying. It can affect both men and women and is often associated with thyroid disease, chemotherapy, irradiation and malignancy.

Types of Poliosis

  • Genetic: Sometimes poliosis is inherited. White patches of hair can be present from the time of the baby’s birth and are caused by genetic issues, such as gene mutation.
  • Acquired: If poliosis is non-congenital, it may be due to a side effect of medical conditions that reveal themselves later in life.

Diagnosis
Although this disorder is not linked to any certain medical condition, it is important that it be properly diagnosed. Most healthcare professionals will do so by establishing the patient’s family history followed by a physical examination, nutritional and endocrinal surveys, a skin sample analysis, and a blood test.

Treatment
Although there is no “cure” for poliosis, there are a few preventive methods which include:

  1. Elimination of factors that lead to the formation of white patches
  2. Treating those factors.
  3. Discontinuation of the use of antibiotics
  4. Exposure to UV-B lamps
  5. The application of Ammi magus lotion or ointment
  6. Epidermal grafting on the depigmented skin under the white patch

The Beauty of Poliosis
One needs only to look at 23- year old Brianna Worthy to appreciate the beauty of poliosis. Brianna says, “I had several names, such as skunk, that kids would try to insult me with as a child. Sometimes it would bother me when I was younger, but I grew to end up really loving it in my hair and was confident that it was my own unique signature look.” And the biggest perk? Brianna’s daughter will carry on the legacy. Millianna was born with her own white streak making the mother-daughter duo one of the cutest teams ever seen.

Let us know your stand on poliosis! To dye or not to dye? Let us know!

Woman exercising in gym

Optimal Brain Function Is The Key to Long Life

When songstress Grace Slick debuted her 1967 psychedelic rock masterpiece, “White Rabbit,” there was little doubt in the minds of her intended audience as to what she meant when she belted the infamous lyric: “feed your head.” Some 50 years later, things have certainly come full circle. Although to say many things have changed in the past 50 years is a bit of an understatement, we are still focused on expanding the mind, albeit with a healthier goal: longevity. Perhaps, we should take a closer look at the newer ways to “feed your head,” optimize brain function, and prolong your life.

Exercise
There’s nothing like a good walk for generating new ideas. Exercise gets your brain working at maximum capacity by increasing the level of nerve cells in your brain and protecting them from damage. Exercising also increases blood flow to the brain and decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. A 2010 Neuroscience study showed that monkeys who exercised learned tasks two times as quickly as those who did not. Those are some smart chimps!

Omega-3 Fats
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fat which makes up 25% of the portion of the brain that is made up of fats and is a crucial component of your retina. It is also a structural ingredient in breast milk, which is thought to be the reason breast-fed babies score tend to score higher on IQ tests than those fed on formula. One study found that by taking 800 mgs of DHA a day for four months resulted in increased verbal fluency and can help reduce psychiatric illness and brain disorders.

Coconut Oil
Ketone bodies or ketoacids are substances which can renew and restore your brain’s nerve function after it has been damaged. Coconut oil has been shown to contain about 66% of the primary source of ketone bodies. According to research, just over 2 tablespoons of coconut oil could prevent neurological diseases and treat those that are already established.

Woman sleeping

Sleep
Sleep helps the brain to remove mind blocks, help you get a new perspective on problems, and enhance creativity. Harvard research shows that directly after sleeping, people are 33% more likely to make connections between ideas than before sleep. Sleep has also been shown to enhance memory and improve skill performance. In fact, as little as four to six hours of sleep can have a big impact on your clear thinking ability the following day, and we all could use that.

Gut Flora
Neurons in your gut produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, which are also found in the brain and influence mood. Therefore, gut health can have an impact on your psyche, behavior and brain function.Healthy gut bacteria depends on your diet. If your diet consists of processed foods, your gut flora bacteria are likely not to perform as well. The best way to keep your gut flora at an optimal level is to limit processed food and sugar and take probiotic supplements.

It just goes to show, the more things change the more they stay the same. Let us know what you think. We love to hear from you! Really!

Stressed woman rubbing eyes at work desk

Stress, Lack Of Sleep, and Overeating

Well, the holidays are upon us again, and it is time for silent nights and visions of sugar plums and all that good stuff. Time for senses are assailed with images of Santa riding around on his sleigh coming to the houses of good children and rewarding them with treasure and eating their cookies. Surely, this couldn’t be too good. Firstly, he must be super stressed, and, secondly, those hours couldn’t possibly be healthy. No wonder he’s eating all those cookies. Do you catch yourself with the hand in the cookie jar late at night, even after a big meal? If you do you’re likely to gain weight and even develop health problems. If your find yourself a sleepless, stressed out, and overeating, it may be caused by a hormone imbalance.

Hormones
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, the underlying cause of night eating is biology. He believes it is caused by an imbalance in the hormones that regulate appetite and speculates that the key to ending your late night cravings lies within understanding how to balance them.

  • Insulin: Insulin is produced to process sugar. If insulin spikes and then crashes after eating, it makes you hungry, even if your meal is relatively healthful.
  • Leptin: Leptin is the hormone that sends a signal to your brain letting you know that you are full. If you eat a lot of sugar, flour, or processed food, your brain may become leptin resistant and not know when to put the brakes on your appetite.
  • Ghrelin: This is the hunger hormone which tells your brain to eat.
  • Peptide YY: This hormone is produced in your intestines and also sends signals to your brain when you’re full.
  • Cortisol: Also known as the stress hormone, cortisol can cause your blood sugar and insulin to rise making you hungrier and setting the stage for insulin resistance or pre- diabetes.

Woman eating breakfast

What Can You Do?

Eat Breakfast
If you’re binging at night, you probably won’t want to eat a good breakfast because you wake up full. If you’re are going to break the cycle, start the day with a high protein breakfast to keep your blood sugar even throughout the day.

Soothe the Stress
Stress causes overeating. Learn which methods of stress reduction work best for you. Deep breathing, exercise and yoga can all be effective relaxation techniques. They help to balance hormones, stop cravings, and maintain good sleeping habits.

Prioritize Sleep
Not sleeping drives up grehlin (the hunger hormone) and drives down PYY (the ‘I’m full’ hormone.) This means if you don’t sleep, you’ll be hungry, especially for sugar and carbs. Late night eating leads to bad food choices, so try to make sleep your number one late night activity.

Eat Regularly
Make sure to eat on a regular schedule, including three square meals. You can snack in between, but, remember, the body is a hormonal clock and needs a rhythm to keep it balanced.

We hope those visions of sugarplums aren’t keeping you up at night. Let us know your sleep and stress issues! We love to hear from you! Send comments and suggestions.

Doctor taking blood pressure

Foods That Help Regulate Blood Pressure

Fitness guru Jack Lalanne once said, “High blood pressure is from all this high-fat eating. Would you get your dog up in the morning of a cup of coffee and a donut? Probably millions of Americans got up this morning with a cup of coffee and a donut. No wonder they are sick and fouled up.” Lalanne really knew a thing or two about keeping healthy and regulating high blood pressure. The link between diet and high blood pressure is very real. If you’re dealing with hypertension, you may know that the DASH diet, which consists of foods low in sodium and high in calcium, magnesium, and potassium, is recommended to normalize and prevent high blood pressure, but there are also some specific foods have a healthy effect.

Dairy
Studies published in the Journal of Human Hypertension reported that Australian researchers found a connection between reduced risk of high blood pressure and low fat dairy foods with low fat yogurt and milk as the strongest players in the field. Although calcium content may contribute, it is more likely that other components, such as peptides, real eased in the digestion process, are responsible. It is uncertain why high fat dairy does not have the same effect, but the saturated fat may have something to do with it, or it is possible that low fat dairy eaters simply have a healthier lifestyle overall.

Flaxseed
A 2013 study published in the journal “Hypertension” found that flaxseed was among a variety of foods capable of reducing both diastolic (relaxation of the heart) and systolic (contraction of the heart) blood pressure. Why the flaxseed causes the blood pressure reduction is unclear, but it may be due to food’s levels of the compounds alpha linolenic acid, lignans, peptides. and fiber.

Olive Oil
A 2012 study which ran in the American Journal of Hypertension showed that young women with slightly high blood pressure levels might benefit from olive oil. Spanish researchers found a connection between the polyphenol rich oil and drops in diastolic and systolic blood pressure.

Woman eating chocolate

Chocolate
If you must consume those breakfast donuts, at least try to make sure it is of the devil’s food variety. A 2010 BMC meta-analysis showed that dark chocolate and cocoa products with flavanols were linked to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure among hypertension patients. Other research shows that the polyphenols in chocolate can help to form nitric oxide which widens blood pressure and eases blood flow.

Beets
Have you got the beets? According to a 2013 study published in Nutrition Journal, Australian researchers found that healthy men and women who drank beet juice plus apple juice had lower systolic blood pressure that those who drank plain apple juice. The reason? Beets contain nitrates, which naturally ease blood pressure.

Pistachios
A 2013 “Hypertension” journals study found that participants who ate one serving of pistachios for four weeks saw a reduction in systolic blood pressure. However, those who ate 2 servings did not see as much of a reduction. The reason for the difference in results was not clear, but it may be due to an increase in the amount of blood pumped from the heart caused by the higher nut dosage.

So, there’s the lineup. We hope that you found something on the list that gets your blood unpumping. Let us know what works for your hypertension and if any do the above did the trick, we love to hear from you.

Woman reading food label

Count Carbs To Manage Your Glucose Levels

Celia Rivenbank, author of “Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like A Skank: And Other Words Of Delicate Southern Wisdom, cites the derivation of the word carbohydrates as, “from the Latin, carbo, which means “yummy” and hydrates which means “cinnamon bun.” and allows that they “are not something I can eliminate or even drastically cut back on.” While many of us may echo this sentiment, food science dictates that the term carbohydrates represents any food that is rich in the complex carbohydrate starch, or simple carbohydrates like sugar. Put the two definitions together and you get bad news for someone who is trying to lower his or her glucose level.

When it comes to controlling blood glucose levels, counting carbohydrates works the best of any system, including counting calories and avoiding sugar. This is because carbohydrates are what are responsible for rising glucose levels right after meals. If you take insulin, counting carbs allows you to match the doses of insulin to the foods you eat, providing for greater dietary flexibility and countering post meal lows and highs. A study done by the Texas School of Allied Health sciences found that people who ate regulated amounts of carbohydrates lowered their blood glucose level by 55 ml/dl.

Carb Counting 101

Read Labels
Luckily, the FDA requires manufacturers to list nutritional information and ingredients on food labels, including carbohydrates. Total carbohydrate represents everything in the food that is carbohydrate including starch, fiber, sugar, and sugar alcohol. Look at the number next to the g (grams). The percentage that follows is not relevant to carb counting. For a most accurate reading, subtract the fiber grams from the carb count because fiber does not raise blood glucose and subtract half the grams of sugar alcohol because sugar alcohols affect glucose levels half as much as other carbs. Also, remember to adjust for servings.

Check Listings
If you are buying foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables that do not carry a label, printed and electronic nutrient listings are available in booklet form, as downloads and on the internet. They can also be downloaded to a personal digital assistant, so you can have access to nutritional information in grocery stores and restaurants.

Estimate Portions
Portion conversion is a method involving estimating the serving of food by comparing it to a common object. For example, you know that a cup of cooked pasta has about 40 grams off carbs. You estimate that the portion on your plate in 1 1/2 cup by comparing it to a 12 oz. soft drink can.

Here are some handy measuring devices: The fist of an average adult is equal to one cup, a child’s fist is equal to a half cup, a deck of cards is equal to 1/3 cup, and a 12 ounce soda can is equal to 1 1/2 cups. Of course, it this tool works best when you have the objects in front of you, but with practice, you will find that you can eyeball it down fairly accurately.

If you are monitoring your glucose level, we hope this has been helpful. Let us know how you do it! Good luck and good health! We love to hear from you, as always!

Woman with vegetables

Reduce Your Risk Of Illness By Eating Cruciferous Vegetables

If you are a fan of “The Big Bang Theory,” you may have seen the episode called “The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification.” In this episode, Sheldon calculates his life expectancy only to find that he will not live long enough to witness the point at which man will be able to transfer his consciousness into machinery, or put simply, turn into robots. In an effort to prolong his life so he can witness the realization of this phenomena, Sheldon decides to adapt to healthier lifestyle habits, including the transformation of Thursday Pizza Night into Thursday Cruciferous Vegetable Night, beginning with Brussels Sprouts. If you have seen this episode, you will know that things don’t go well for Sheldon. Cruciferous Vegetable Night is made a thing of the past and everyone ends up at the Cheesecake Factory meeting Steve Wozniak.

Ok, so cruciferous veggies were not the way to go for Sheldon, but that is not to say that they are not without their benefits. Cruciferous vegetables are part of a healthy diet and are proven to be effective in cancer prevention because of their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and detoxification properties.

Cruciferous Veggies
The cross-shaped four petal flowers on these veggies are what give them their name (crucifer-cross.) While broccoli is probably the most common of the crucifers, others include the heads: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, rapini (green), turnips and cauliflower (white) and the headless: dark leafy greens like kale. Cruciferous vegetables contain carotenoids and dietary fiber which have been found to lower the risk of several cancers.

Glucosinolates
These compounds, found in cruciferous vegetables have been shown to decrease inflammation, a known cancer risk factor. They can also block the enzymes that stimulate carcinogens and activate enzymes that inhibit them. According to some studies, glucosinolates can also slow cancer growth by beginning a process called apoptosis, or self-destruction of cancer cells.

Carotenoids
Carotenoids act as antioxidants in cruciferous vegetables. Beta-carotene, specifically helps to control the abnormal growth of cells, keeping you healthy and glowing.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, supports the immune system and has great skin benefits as well.

Kampferol, Quercetic and Anthocyanins
With their antioxidant and inflammatory effects, kampferol, quercetin and anthocyanins have all been shown to be crucial in the slowing of cancer development and boosting overall health.

Folate
Folate aids in the maintenance of healthy DNA and inhibits genes known to promote certain cancers.

Detoxification and Digestive Support
Exposure to toxins is a risk factor for many diseases, including cancer. Support of detoxification activity by cruciferous vegetables may be higher any other foods. The high fiber content found in these vegetables can also help protect the stomach lining by preventing the growth of bacteria and supporting the digestive system.

Cardiovascular Health
Decreased risk of strokes and heart attacks may be linked to the anti- inflammatory compounds in cruciferous vegetables. The folate and B-complex vitamins found in cruciferous veggies can lower the risk cardiovascular disease and may also prevent or reverse damage to blood vessels caused by blood sugar problems.

Ok, so maybe it was too much too soon for Sheldon. After all, replacing pizza with Brussels sprouts can be a pretty daunting task for anyone. But maybe you could try and work them into your diet 2 to 3 times a week, and let us know how that goes for you. We want to hear all about it!

Woman doing chair yoga

Ease Into Exercise With Chair Yoga

Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic Arizona State University Obesity Solutions has been credited with coining the expression, “Sitting is the new smoking,” adding that, “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people that HIV, and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.” Pretty scary stuff! While this may sound a bit dramatic to some, Levine’s words do seem to hold some water. Researchers have found, and are still finding evidence proving that sitting can increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. However, there is a healthy activity that you can engage in without leaving your chair. Welcome to the world of chair yoga.

Benefits of Chair Yoga

Greater Strength and Flexibility
If mobility is an issue, chair yoga can increase body strength and help withstand falls while sustaining fewer injuries. This means you can better continue daily activities and hobbies. Also greater flexibility will mean greater ease when it comes to tying shoes and bending to pick things up.

Improved Bodily Control
Proprioception is the ability to know where your body is in relation to space and accurately coordinating movement. By improving bodily control, chair yoga can help people with disabilities such as MS which interfere with this skill.

Improved Mental Clarity and Reduction of Stress
Chair yoga can relieve the impact of pain and chronic illness and can help replace stress caused by feelings of helplessness and isolation with feelings of relaxation and tranquility.

Chair Yoga Poses

Chair Cat Cow Stretch
Sit on the chair with your spine long and feet flat on the floor. Put hands on the top of your thighs or knees. Inhale, arching your spine and rolling your shoulders back and down, bringing your shoulder blades into your back, You are now in cow position. Exhale, rounding your spine and dropping you chin to your chest, allowing the shoulder and head to come forward. You are now in cat position. Continue to move from cow to cat positions for five breaths.

Chair Raised Hands Pose
Inhale, raising your arms upward. Let your shoulder blades slide down your back as you reach toward the ceiling with your finger tips. Push your sit bones into the seat of your chair and lift from there.

Chair Forward Bend
Exhale, coming into a forward bend over your legs. Rest your hands on the floor, letting your head hang heavily, Inhale, raising your arms back up over your head. Continue to switch between the raised arm position and forward fold, moving with each breath.

Chair Extended Side Angle
Bend forward and bring your left hand’s fingertips to the floor outside your left foot. Opening your chest, inhale and twist to the right, bringing your right arm and lifting your face upward. Hold for several breaths and exhale bringing the right arm down.

Chair Eagle
You can achieve the eagle pose by crossing your right thigh over your left. If you are able, try to wrap your right foot around your left calf. Cross you left arm over your right at the elbow. Bend your elbows and bring your palms together. Lift your elbows while dropping your shoulders. Hold for three to five breaths and repeat on other side.

If you tried chair yoga and liked it, we would love to hear all about it! Please send us your comments and suggestions. We love to hear from you.

Woman eating healthy

You Should Be Thinking About Your Liver

If you ever Google the words, “Dear Liver,” you will find a lot of sad sacks apologizing for the havoc they have visited or are about to visit on their liver this or this past weekend. Poor livers! What have our livers done to deserve such shameful treatment? The liver is one of the hardest working organs in your body, processing everything you eat and drink and dutifully repackaging it for use or eliminating it. Why, we shouldn’t be taking these precious organs for granted, but rather we should be doing everything in our powers to protect them and treat them with the respect that they have surely earned! So how can you keep your liver healthy?

Eat Well
According to Timothy T. Nostrant, MD, one of the most important things you can do for your liver is to eat healthy. “Because the liver stores most of out nutrients… anything bad you consume will be associated with potential for damage.” The best diet for your liver consists of protein from plant based sources, and natural foods that are low in fat. Some of the most liver friendly foods include beans, lentil and legumes. Try not to eat too much meat and load up on fruits, veggies and whole grains instead. Aim for mono saturated and polyunsaturated fats as opposed to trans fats. Good sources of healthy fats include fatty fish, avocados, nuts, and pumpkin seeds. Limit your fat intake to 20% of your diet.

Exercise
Nostrant says, ” Obesity is linked to fatty liver disease,” which can cause scarring or cirrhosis of the liver, as well as liver cancer and liver failure. Exercise is an important part of keeping your weight under control. Nostrant advises those with weight problems to set a goal to lose 20% of their weight. Your liver will thank you.

Drinking too much
Limit Alcohol
Don’t give yourself a reason to apologize tomorrow. Even former drinkers are susceptible to liver damage showing up years after eliminating alcohol. G. Anton Decker, MD, advises cutting down to one drink a day for women and two for men. Also, beware of the over the counter pain reliever acetaminophen which can cause damage if taken in large quantities over a small amount of time. Avoid using IV drugs, having multiple sexual partners, abusing IV drugs and getting a tattoo or body piercing with unsterilized needles which have all been associated with hepatitis C.

Warning Signs
If your liver is not working correctly, fatigue is the most common symptom. Other signs include vomiting, loss of appetite, jaundice, nausea and decreased appetite.

Treatment Options
The most common liver diseases are fatty liver, viral hepatitis and genetic disease. If managed properly, however, they can be handled with a minimum of negative outcomes. Viral hepatitis is especially responsive to treatment and some people may be able to eliminate it entirely from their bodies.

If you are hurting your liver, you know who you are! Send in your confessions and New Year’s resolutions! We love to hear from you.

Woman meditating on grass

Meditate For Clear Skin

If you put on the T.V. these days, it is hard not to see Ellen Degeneres. If you miss her daytime talk show, you can always catch her doing Oil Of Olay commercials, showing off her age-defying skin, or in her Amex commercial, meditating over a pair of socks that she was charged for twice. From these two examples, it becomes clear that Ellen DeGeneres is known for two things, good skin and meditation. Did you ever think these two things might be related?

Meditation, Stress and Your Skin
You’ve heard it a million times, stress is not doing you, or your skin any favors, but how do you avoid stress? While that may be impossible, there are ways to lessen it. Meditation anyone?

Dr. Jeannette Graf, MD and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center says, “Meditation is great for everything. There’s nothing like it. For starters, it settles you so you’re in a state of deep relaxation and you’re breathing. Meditation helps every single cell in the body, and it helps your skin.” Graf explains that deep breathing adds oxygen to skin which is, “the key to help boost the actions of the cells to act normally and with great health.” She goes on to sing the praises of meditation, mentioning its positive effects on blood pressure, body, and mind.

Meditation Lessens Negativity
The popularity of meditation has grown exponentially in the past 30 years. Research from the University of Sheffield found that relaxation sessions, meditation and cognitive behavior therapy can benefit people suffering from eczema. psoriasis, acne, and vitiglio. In one such study, individuals suffering from psoriasis were asked to listen to meditation tapes while receiving UV light treatments. They were found to have healed four times faster than non-meditators. It was determined that this was caused by meditation’s ability to reduce the stress that initially caused psoriasis and helped to trigger the body’s ability to repair itself. Meditation can reduce wrinkles and slow the aging process, brightening you skin’s complexion. It will also help you feel younger by relieving tension related ulcers, headaches, muscle aches, and joint problems.

How Do You Start?
Good skin? You’re in! Meditating can be done anywhere at anytime. Just focus your mind and center your breathing. Try to clear your mind and concentrate on each breath as you inhale and exhale, excluding other thoughts. You don’t even need a quiet room, candle, or a lot of time. Graf enthuses, ‘First of all, a yoga class is a moving meditation, so find a yoga class nearby and pop in. Yoga is amazing for your skin. If you’d rather practice privately, you can buy guided meditation on iTunes and listen anywhere.

Are you a good skin guru? If you are, we want to know your secrets. Tell us what meditation has done for your skin. We love to hear from you.

Woman at the gym

Stay Safe At The Gym

If you are like most children, you have grown up being taught that sharing is a beautiful thing. We share our toys, we share our food, we share our houses. However, as time has gone on and science has gotten more advanced, we have learned that with sharing comes a not so pretty consequence. It turns out that when we share our things, we share our germs as well. Sure, Suzy was nice enough to give Jimmy her extra Twinkie, but she gave it to him with her bare hands. Did Suzy wash her hands after she went to the bathroom?

As we grow up, we are still expected to share, only our toys have gotten a little more adult. Our jungle gyms have been replaced by gym equipment, but, unfortunately, the threat of germs is just as real. According to a December 2014 study found in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 25 different types of bacteria were found on handrails, toilet handles and equipment at four gyms in Memphis. The most common category of bacteria found were Staphylococcus or staph, a species known to be a cause of skin infection.

Why are Gyms a Breeding Ground for Skin infection?
Although it is easy to see how a virus may spread from one treadmill to another, it may be more difficult to imagine how skin infections are transferred. Fungi, bacteria and viruses that lead to skin infections thrive in warm, moist areas. Therefore, the sweat left on towels and exercise equipment provides the ideal tropical location for bacteria. The germs are also quite comfortable in a nice warm shower, sauna, or swimming pool deck. Not only that, but because staph infections are resistant to a variety of antibiotics, they can live on mats exercise machines and locker room benches for days.

Amber Marie Vasquez, MD and spokesperson for the CDC says, ” Skin infections…are most commonly reported in athletes engaged in sports that involve skin to skin contact, such as football or wrestling, but transmission can also occur…before and after participation-in locker rooms, for example. Open wounds, poor hygiene, and the sharing of towels and equipment all increase your risk.”

Sizing Up a Gym for Cleanliness
If you are checking out a new gym, it may be a good idea to check with the management about the cleaning routine. Make sure that the locker rooms and gyms are cleaned at least once a day with disinfectants and detergents registered by the EPA. Make sure disinfectant sprays and wipes are easily accessible and that equipment is well maintained with no damaged surfaces that make equipment more difficult to clean. “Also, bathrooms and locker rooms should be stocked with liquid soap or alcohol based hand sanitizer,” says Vasquez.

Lowering Your Risk

  • Protect Your Skin. Make sure cuts and scrapes are kept clean and covered with a bandage. Keep a towel or item of clothing between exercise equipment and your skin and always wear flip flops or jellies in the shower.
  • BYO Exercise Mat. Since yoga and gym mats may not be cleaned between classes, it is safest to bring your own.
  • Partake in Good Hygiene. Always wash your hands before and after using equipment and playing sports. Although a wash in good old soap and water is your best bet, the CDC advises utilizing a sanitizer that has an alcohol content of at least 60% if soap is not available. Disinfect fitness equipment with sprays and wipes before and after use and shower after you exercise, or use a swimming pool or hot tub.
  • Wash Your Stuff. Vasquez says, “Evidence shows that the numbers of skin bacteria build up each time we wear a piece of clothes without washing it.” Sweaty clothes, used towels and swimsuits should be stashed in a plastic bag separate from the rest of your stuff and washed after each use. Since heat kills bacteria, wash and dry items at the warmest temperature level possible.
  • Be Stingy. It all comes back to no sharing, especially when it comes to items that touch you, like razors.

So the next time you forget your towel and no one is eager to lend you one, don’t take it personally! Let us know about your experiences sharing (or not sharing) at the gym. We love to hear from you!