Woman sneezing into napkin outside

Natural Ways to Beat Allergies

Ugh, allergies! They’re such a pain not to mention that they can really put a damper on your lifestyle! But you know what can be just as bad or worse than allergies? Allergy medication! With side effects like drowsiness, dizziness, upset stomach, constipation, blurred vision, dry mouth or nose…who needs them? Isn’t there some way that you can fight allergies naturally? Well, sources say that there are natural ways that will help you avoid allergic reactions, and they may be more accessible than you think!

Probiotics
Tracey Beaulne of Naturopathic Family Medicine in Toronto says reaching for probiotics like acidophilus should be one of the first steps you take in correcting the root cause of allergic reactions. Taking a daily dose of the BB536 strain year round from food and following any course of antibiotics with acidophilus for double the length of time you were taking the medication, can influence the immune system to prevent allergic reactions while boosting digestion and immunity.

Butterbur
This is a herbaceous perennial plant with forms of hydrocarbons in its essential oils called sesquiterpenes. These are said to possess anti-inflammatory properties and can be just as effective as an antihistamine. The recommended dose is one tablet four times daily.

Vitamin C
According to Liz Bruckner at Reader’s Digest Best Health, adding vitamin C to your day prevents the formation of histamine, which is directly responsible for symptoms like excess mucus, tearing and runny nose. For best results, take it with bioflavonoids throughout the day and aim for 2000 mg daily.

Quercetin
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that can benefit your diet and minimize the occurrence of watery and itchy eyes, asthma and hay fever, and it is most commonly found in onions. “Quercetin has been proven effective for allergies…and has some promising research as an effective mast cell inhibitor for allergic conditions,” says Beaulne. Take it in conjunction with vitamin C in doses of about 2 grams a day.

Fish oils
Natasha Turner, Toronto naturopathic doctor recommends healthy types of oils, like fish oil, that have essential fatty acids. Because of their anti-inflammatory properties, they can have a beneficial impact on health and can help with the effects of hay fever. Take 2,000-6,000 mg daily for with meals for best results.

Adrenal Support
Supplements that support adrenal glands can be helpful in maintaining energy and reducing the effect of stress and allergies on the body. “I like supplements like TAD+ or Cortex as both contain adrenal glandular which are nutrients that support these glands as well as licorice, an herb that I love for stress adaption and immune function,” says Turner.

Healthy Diet
Diet plays an important role in overall health and allergies are no exception. Recent studies show that following a Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits and vegetables, can be effective in reducing allergy symptoms and also help children with asthma. In general, it is best to follow a hypoallergenic, anti-inflammatory diet during allergy season. It’s also a good idea to keep a food diary and pinpoint foods which might have led to a flare up so you can avoid these foods in the future.

Three panels of woman's aging process

A Decade of Changes

As we age, our skin changes drastically. Skin is a reflection of what is going on inside our bodies. When we eat well, it shows in the skin. The skin also betrays when we eat poorly. Our skin reflects when we are stressed, tired, happy, and angry. It’s no surprise that our skin will also change when we get older, even though they are definitely not always welcome changes.

What happens to your skin at 40?

What is your body doing?

Your estrogen levels are heading down. You may be experiencing a slower metabolism and more fatigue.

How does your skin reflect this?

The collagen that keeps your skin firm is starting to break down. Your skin is also losing hyaluronic acid, which helps maintain the skin’s elasticity, giving the skin that bouncy, youthful appearance.

What can you do?

  • Taking a low dose of estrogen can help keep your estrogen levels from dropping too drastically, so these changes won’t happen quite so suddenly. This can make them more manageable.
  • Adding a product with hyaluronic acid will help your skin maintain its elasticity and hydration.
  • Using a retinol will increase the cell turnover of your skin. This will keep your skin looking fresh and bright- just make sure you are using a good exfoliator because retinol will create dead skin cells to exfoliate away and uncover younger-looking skin.

Woman applying serum

What happens to your skin at 50? 

What is your body doing?

Most women experience menopause during their 50’s. This means their estrogen production has slowed or stopped.

How does your skin reflect this?

Your skin can lose up to 30% of its collagen in the first few years of menopause. Skin will lose a lot of its elasticity, and be much more prone to dryness. Wrinkles will deepen as your skin loses collagen.

What can you do?

  • Hormone therapy (if your doctor approves) can help your skin hold on to more of its collagen.
  • Keep using retinol creams and firming eye creams to slow the loosening of the skin, especially around the eyes.
  • Switch to a rich night cream to combat dryness.

What happens to your skin at 60? 

What is your body doing?

As you age, your body becomes more susceptible to illness. Your immune system isn’t as strong, and things like smoking and drinking start to have a more negative effect.

How does your skin reflect this?

Your skin is drying out and thinning, so it is much more sensitive to sun damage, heat rash, damage from smoking, and other environmental factors. Wrinkles can deepen, and collagen breaks down further.

What can you do?

  • Keep using your rich night creams and retinol.
  • Protect the skin around your eyes- it is your thinnest skin.
  • Be careful to wear sunscreen and shield your skin from the sun as much as possible.
  • Most importantly, don’t worry about it! If you care for your body and your skin, you will age beautifully.
Issues that affect aging skin

Avoid These Environmental Agers

There are all kinds of little things you can do to prevent premature aging. Follow these types to keep you skin looking younger, longer!

Take Care of Your Pores
Making sure you cleanse your skin appropriately plays a huge role in maintaining the skin’s youthful appearance. Dirt, makeup, and bacteria can clog pores and cause blackheads and uneven skin tone. It is important to cleanse your skin and remove makeup before bed. Sleeping in makeup can really add years to your skin. You should also always cleanse your skin after you work out, so sweat doesn’t sit on your skin causing it to dry out and breakout.

Woman smoking

Don’t Smoke
There are many reasons not to smoke, but if you are looking for one more to add to the list, smoking also ages your skin. Smoking causes wrinkles and dulls the skin. Dewy, bright skin is youthful looking, and smoking causes it to take on a sallow tone.

Be Careful in Dry Climates
If you live in a dry or extremely hot area, keeping your skin hydrated will help preserve its youth. Using thick night creams or overnight masks to replenish your skin overnight can help combat dryness. Looking for products with collagen and hyaluronic acid will replace what your skin losing as you age, keeping it looking young.

Woman drinking

Limit Drinking
Alcohol takes a huge toll on your skin. Drinking dehydrates your skin, and can deprive it of nutrients it needs.

Avoid Sun Damage
The sun causes age faster and more easily than any other environmental factor. It dries out your skin very quickly, and if you are at the pool or the beach, it may be several hours before you can moisturize and rehydrate. Sun spots and liver spots can also form on the face or hands, and they tend to be a dead giveaway when it comes to age. Make sure you wear sunscreen every single day- yes, even during the winter and on cloudy days. Buy a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher that is non-comedogenic and non-irritating. It also doesn’t hurt to pair your moisturizer with a foundation that also has sun protection. Wearing a hat when you know you are going to be out in the sun for an extended period of time is also a good idea. Sun damage can result in wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, which can age your skin immensely. Too much sun can also cause skin cancer, so protect your skin!

Basically, you should listen to what your mother told you to protect your skin from aging. You should also be taking preventative measures in your twenties to try to maintain youthful looking skin. Using an eye cream is a great way to prevent wrinkles from forming. The thin skin around your eyes could use the extra care. Using a retinol cream can also help prevent signs of aging and keep your skin looking young. Whatever measures you take to prevent aging, don’t forget the sunscreen!

Stressed woman

Understanding Adrenal Fatigue

You may have heard the term “adrenal fatigue,” but what does it actually mean? Adrenal fatigue occurs when your adrenal glands are not working as they should. These glands are meant to regulate your hormones, heart rate, energy, and immune system in order to control how stress affects your body.

SYMPTOMS

  1. Not feeling rested (even when you get plenty of sleep). People who suffer from adrenal fatigue often never feel like they can get a good night’s sleep. Even if they go to bed early and wake up late, they can never seem to shake their hazy tiredness.
  2. Increased responses to stress. Because the body of some with adrenal fatigue body is having trouble regulated their hormones in stressful situations, they are more likely to feel increased levels of anxiety or depression. They can have trouble coping with situations that would not normally have as much of an effect on them, and they can’t seem to get out of their funk.
  3. Getting sick more often. Because adrenal fatigue can weaken the immune system, sufferers will get sick much more often than they used to, and it will take longer to recover each time.
  4. Weight gain. Adrenal fatigue can also cause the sufferers metabolism to drop considerably. Even though they may be experiencing a reduced appetite, the stress levels, and decreased metabolism can cause sudden weight gain.
  5. A sudden boost of energy in the evening. People without adrenal fatigue will experience a jump in cortisol in the morning, but sufferers will have the spike in the evening, which can make it even more difficult for them to get the rest they need.

COMBAT ADRENAL FATIGUE 

Change Your Diet

  • To help keep energy up, eat several small meals throughout the day.
  • Feeling tired can make it hard to cook every day and make healthy meals for yourself. It is more important than even to eat healthy, balanced meals so your body has the best chance of recalibrating.
  • Try to avoid sugar. Sugary foods can give you fast energy, but they will cause a crash later. This crash is even worse if you suffer from adrenal fatigue.
  • Cut down on caffeine. If you are relying on cup after cup of coffee to get you through the day, consider avoiding reaching for another cup when you start to feel fatigue.
  • Don’t skip breakfast. Because you are having trouble getting out of bed, you are likely skipping breakfast before rushing to work. Try to put bananas and granola bars by the door so you can quickly give your body good energy to start the day.

Try Supplements
Different kinds of supplements can help combat adrenal fatigue. B vitamins, vitamin C, and Omega-3 are among the supplements available to can help.

Hormone Replacement
Talk to your doctor about trying hormone replacement if adrenal fatigue worsens. Because your body is not producing enough hormones on its own, hormone replace can help correct some of the symptoms caused by adrenal fatigue.

Woman sleeping on her back

Back Sleeping for Your Health

How you sleep can make a huge different when it comes to how rested you actually feel when morning comes. Sadly, more and more studies have shown that you should avoid screen before bed, so the late night Instagram sessions and Netflix binge-watching are not going to help you get a good night’s sleep. In addition to eliminated light and distractions, your position also affects your quality of sleep, plus can have many other benefits! Sleeping on your back is by far the best position for sleeping through the night comfortably.

Benefits of Sleeping on Your Back

  1. It’s the best for your spine. Sleeping on your back allows your head, neck, spine, and hips to align in a neutral position. Many people will develop a forward head posture due to the amount of time spent on the computer, and looking down at a phone. Resetting at night with a neutral spine position can help correct this forward head posture, which can prevent the back pain that often comes with it. Just be careful not to use too many pillows that will wrench your head up, pulling your neck out of alignment.
  2. It takes the pressure off of your joints. Sleeping on your side can be touch on your knees and hips. Back sleeping will alleviate stress on your joints, and can prevent chronic pain.
  3. Can help prevent acid reflux. Because sleeping on your positions your stomach below your esophagus, acid is less likely to come up while you sleep. Sleeping on your side or on your stomach can be problematic for people who regularly suffer from heartburn.
  4. It’s better for your skin! This is an unexpected benefit, but a great one! Sleeping on your back can help prevent wrinkles, simply due to the fact that you are not pressing on your skin for extended periods of time. It also helps prevent breakouts and clogged pores that can be caused by the bacteria on your pillow case (ew).

If you read these benefits and now want to start sleeping on your back, great! Unfortunately, it’s not very easy to change the way you sleep. Here are a few suggestions to switch the back sleeping.

  1. If you are a side sleeper, using pillows to keep your head in place and cushion your arms and torso so you won’t roll over in your sleep will really help. Making sure your head feels supported is key. Your head flopping to the side while you sleep will totally defeat the purpose of back sleep as it will pull your neck out of alignment.
  2. Make sure your back is flat. Choosing a mattress that will fill the hollow of your lower back will make back sleep much for comfortable. You can also use a pillow if your mattress is not well suited for this.
  3. Keep trying! It’s really hard to break any habit. Trying to begin each night on your back, even if you can’t stay there, will help you gradually switch to a healthier sleeping position!
South Beach, Florida

Florida's Gulf and Atlantic Beaches

What’s Florida known for if not Sunshine and Sand? Certainly, these aren’t the only defining characteristics of the state, and to reduce any state to such a simplified image is potentially offensive, but while it’s certainly got a lot of other great things, beaches are definitely one of them, and that’s what we’re here to talk about today.

To an avid beach-goer, a beach-hopping vacation in Florida probably sounds downright idyllic, and even if you’re not a big-time beach junkie, knowing what beaches appeal most to you before you book a vacation will certainly make a difference in ensuring you enjoy a truly relaxing, fun-in-the-sun style trip.

With that in mind, let’s list off some of the best, prettiest beaches on both sides of the Florida Peninsula, and what makes them so great.

Key West

Key West
Want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities in the mainland? Head just off the coast of Florida to Key West for a slice of pristine, crisp paradise. The beaches are idyllic, the overnight lodging options are luxurious, and there’s a whole lot of adventurous activities you can partake in here. Ever wanted to try snorkeling? Or maybe a 2-person glass-bottom kayak trip where you can see the sea life through the bottom of your boat sounds appealing? Or, if dry land is your forte, perhaps you’d like to bring or rent a bike and try the beautiful local bike path? Key West has all this and more. Head on over for a heaping helping of paradise with a side of adventure.

South Beach
This beach features not only beautiful sandy shores, but also novel, pretty architecture and other eye candy, and a booming nightlife to boot. This man-made beach is as long as it is clean and clear. So go for a morning run, lounge topless in the afternoon when the sun isn’t as intense (use plenty of sunscreen! Remember that the goal should be to enjoy the feeling of warmth, not to actually tan; all tans are damaging tans and increase your risk of skin cancer; use high quality spray tans, tanning lotions, etc instead), and in the evening, stand out here to get not only an enchanting look at the nighttime ocean, but a stunning view of the city’s lights if you turn and face the other way. Then, invigorated by such wondrous sights, waltz right into a club and enjoy the nonstop, bustling, booming nightlife.

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach
A list of Florida’s best beaches would be woefully, woefully incomplete without mentioning Clearwater Beach, which was has a well-deserved reputation as one of America’s finest. The sandy shores are idyllic and beautiful as they are expansive, and the area’s full of extravagant beach-front hotels and opportunities for activities like beach volleyball, boat fishing, dolphin-watching cruises, museums, aquariums, para-sailing, and so much more. If you want the ultimate, archetypal beach experience, this is the place. What on earth are you waiting for, anyway? Get out there and have a blast.

Night blooming cereus

Visiting the "Queen of the Night"

There’s no doubt that a lot of really pretty flowers exist in this world. All of them have their merits, all of them are beautiful and aesthetically pleasing for different reasons, and a lot of them have interesting facts associated with them. The lotus boasts near-perfect symmetry unlike any other flower (lotus flowers look so perfect it’s hard to believe they’re not fake), honeysuckle and jasmine smell amazingly sweet and pungent, morning glories open up in the day and close at night, and their counterpart in the same genus, moonflower, does the opposite, closing every morning and opening at dusk.

Majesty of the Queen of The Night
But one flower, in particular, boasts beauty, lovely scent, and fascinating novelty all in one package. This flower is the bloom of the Night-Blooming Cereus Cactus, Selenicerous grandiflourus, also known as the queen of the night. The plants grow only in Mexico and parts of southern U.S. They’re rather unimpressive looking most of the time, but one night a year, and one night only, their lovely, sweet-smelling flowers open at dusk, and wither away at dawn. This event is considered wondrous to behold, and even worth traveling to see.

Road Trip!
In fact, if you’re looking for a last-minute travel idea, why not head to a desert flat habitat in southern Arizona, East to West Texas or South to North Mexico and see if you can’t see one of these things bloom? It typically happens in late June or early July for any given plant, so you may not be too late? And even if you are, it’ll be worth it for the trip itself. Who doesn’t like an early summer road trip?

Indulge in the Scent of Elusive Beauty
If the Night-Blooming Cereus’ elusiveness, novelty, beauty and especially pleasant smell appeal to you, there’s another way you can celebrate this flower’s majesty. The perfume company “Once in a Bloom Fragrances” has a “Desert Queen Fragrance” designed to emulate the intoxicating scent of this flower so few have ever seen or smelled.

Grow One Yourself!
Though the plant has rather lackluster features, it could still make an interesting, eclectic accent for a modern household. The cactus (which doesn’t look much like the conventional idea of a cactus) has angular, twiggy, sparse stems around half an inch in diameter, and the plant typically reaches between 4 and 8 feet tall. It grows well in rock gardens, is fairly hardy, and can be grown from cuttings. If you want to be to see a Cereus flower bloom with your own eyes, growing it yourself as a houseplant could very well be your best bet. Just remember this isn’t a project to be undertaken by those early to rise, early to bed! Night-owls will get the most benefit and be the least likely to miss it when this beauty finally blooms some day late June or early July.

Beautiful woman smiling at her partner

Maintaining a Healthy Smile

There are many components to looking great; as important as skincare may be, it’s not the only thing you need to keep on top of to look your very best. That said, making sure to take proper care of your pearly whites, and keep them just that: pearly white, can be difficult. So let’s go over the basics of smile maintenance, as it were, and how to avoid some common pitfalls.

Don’t Skimp on the Brushing…
…and make sure you do it properly. Ideally, you should brush your teeth twice a day, but at least once daily is a bare minimum. When you brush, you want to make sure you brush down right to the gum-line, not just on the exposed surface of your teeth. Plaque can hide under the gum-line, in the tight space between your teeth and your gums. Brush the exposed enamel of your teeth, but after that, push the bristles down into your gum-line and push any plaque out with a flicking motion. Do this along every millimeter of your gums, and don’t forget the hard to reach areas in the back! Try to brush for at least two minutes.

Remember that Floss Is your Friend
Of course, brushing along isn’t enough. You need to floss regularly too. Every day is always a great idea, but you could scrape by with 2-3 times a week. If your gums bleed when you first start flossing after not doing it for ages, don’t worry, they’ll toughen up as you continue to floss. However, if they still bleed after a few weeks of consistent flossing, make an appointment with your dentist, you could have some kind of gum disease.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Seriously, don’t wait. Don’t put it off. Get your appointment over with sooner rather than later. Your dentist is trained to detect problems you won’t necessarily notice, even if your home care is fantastic. Further, if you’re trying to improve your home care, your hygienist can show you things like proper brushing and flossing technique, and give you other pointers. And the sooner you visit, the better your odds are of staying cavity-free.

Consider Whitening
If your teeth are yellowed or otherwise stained for whatever reason; be it poor dental hygiene in the past (regardless of whether you’ve worked on it since or not), drinking way too much coffee or tea, or for any other reason, you might consider dental whitening. There are simple, at-home things you can do, like getting a whitening toothpaste or, if you like DIY solutions, making a paste from 1 part baking soda and 1 part water, and using that to brush once a week (baking soda is a natural tooth whitener you can find in your kitchen or at the grocery store for a pittance). If your discoloration isn’t helped by using such methods for a month or two, then talk to your dentist about dental whitening procedures they provide. Discolored teeth are less pressing than a cavity, but it’s worth looking into whitening for the sake of achieving that pearly-white, confidence-filled smile.

Woman sleeping

Tips for Clearing Skin Overnight

We all want our skin to look its best, which is why it’s important to take good care of it. After all, it’s not just a blank canvas for makeup; skin is our body’s largest organ! Eating a healthy diet, which should include plenty of leafy green vegetables and healthy fats, staying well-hydrated, and getting a solid night’s sleep every night should be the base of your skincare routine.

Unfortunately, even the best skincare routines can’t keep every single breakout at bay. Hormonal acne, food sensitivities, environmental factors, and even stress can trigger a breakout. When dealing with blemishes, there are a few important things to remember. The last thing you want to do is make it worse and the following advice will help get your skin clear again.

Hands Off
It’s easy to look at a big, ugly pimple and think popping it will make things better, but it won’t. Your hands can introduce new bacteria to the breakout and make it worse. Even squeaky-clean hands can spread bacteria from an existing pimple to otherwise clear skin, creating new breakouts. Not to mention, the pressure and aggravation caused by picking at blemishes can cause damage to the skin and lead to scarring.

Cleanse
Properly cleansing your skin can help start the healing process. All you need is a gentle cleanser and warm water. When shopping for cleansers, look for ingredients that can treat blemishes without overdrying your skin. Salicylic acid in low percentages can be quite effective and ingredients like chamomile or aloe vera help calm inflamed skin. To wash your face: wet your skin with warm water and apply a dime-sized amount of cleanser with your (clean!) fingertips. Using gentle, circular motions, massage the cleanser into your skin. Rinse with warm water and pat dry with a clean towel.

Woman moisturizing feet

Moisturize
While your skin is still damp is the perfect time to apply a moisturizer. Often, we think we need to dry our skin out to heal pimples, but well-hydrated skin will heal quicker and look better in the process. Those with acne-prone or oily skin should look for oil-free moisturizers. Normal and dry skin types can use richer formulas suited to their individual needs. All skin types can determine if their moisturizer is right for them by seeing how their skin feels within 5 minutes of application. If your skin feels dry, you need a more hydrating moisturizer. If it feels tacky or greasy, you need a lighter, or oil-free option.

Treat
Finally, applying a spot treatment can help clear your skin when time is of the essence. There are hundreds of over-the-counter treatments available; look for ingredients like sulfur or benzoyl peroxide to help dry up pimples. For a d.i.y. treatment, apply a small amount of raw honey to the affected area for about 15 minutes before rinsing off. Since honey is naturally anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory, it can treat blemishes without being quite so harsh on the skin.

Following these tips will help you wake up in the morning with clearer skin. Remember that most of all, your body needs good nutrition, hydration, and sleep to heal breakouts and repair damage. Treat your body with t.l.c. and your skin will be clear again in no time!

Woman jogging

Will A Healthy Attitude Help You Lose Weight?

If you’ve ever tried losing weight before, you already know how difficult it can be to make the necessary lifestyle changes. What you may not realize, though, is that your attitude toward your weight loss journey could be what’s hindering your efforts. Most weight-loss programs fail to consider the psychological aspect of weight loss and therefore fail. We’re told it’s simple, just eat less and move more, yet we all know it’s seldom so easy to reach our goals. Perhaps the missing piece of the puzzle isn’t in the form of a pill or the latest workout video but in our attitude.

There are several schools of thought on the power of positive thinking and its relation to weight loss. From ancient Ayurveda to modern psychology, the consensus is clear: our thoughts have real power and those thoughts can become actions. If you think to yourself that you are always going to be overweight and that you’re not strong enough for exercise, you’re likely to become depressed and sabotage your own efforts for weight loss. On the contrary, if you tell yourself you are strong, capable, and that you will reach your goals, you will be motivated to take the necessary action to indeed make it happen.

It may sound overly simple, just change your attitude, but the truth is, this does require some effort. Some of us have spent years, maybe even our whole lives thinking negatively about ourselves. Our society treats this negative self-talk as normal. Men and women are expected to dislike their bodies and to always be striving for something more. In order to change our attitude, it’s going to take practice. In the beginning, it may seem silly or strange to compliment yourself after a workout, but changing your inner voice to one of love and support is just what you need in order to succeed.

If you struggle with where to start, it can be helpful to think of something not related to weight-loss to get you started. Think of an area of your life that you excel in. Perhaps you’re wonderful at your job or you are an excellent parent. Congratulate yourself for that! Next time you receive a compliment from someone, accept it without making excuses for why you don’t deserve it. Eventually, this new healthy attitude will become second nature and along with helping you in your weight loss endeavors, it will trickle into all areas of your life, making you healthier all around.

The weight loss industry is full of gimmicks and diets that don’t work and you can easily spend hundreds of dollars seeking advice from so-called experts who only want to sell you something. But you have the power to change your attitude and change your life. Be your own weight-loss coach and get started on your new lifestyle today. By focusing your energies toward the positive, you can create the healthy attitude that will lead to healthy and lasting weight loss.