Botanical skincare with ingredients

The Best Botanical Ingredients for Smooth, Glowing Skin

While botanicals may have become quite the skin care buzzword lately, these natural ingredients have been used on the skin for decades. Botanical extracts are derived from plants, whether it be the flower, fruit or leaves, and this gives each one some truly powerful and unique properties. 

Wondering which botanical ingredients you should be adding in to your skin care routine? Here are 10 of the best.

Grape Seed

Derived from the seeds of grapes, grape seed tends to appear as either an extract or an oil in skin care products, and can also be taken as oral supplements.

Whichever one you go for, this botanical has some incredible skin-boosting properties, such as:

  • Contains potent antioxidants – not only does grape seed contain vitamins C and E, but it is also high in plant compounds known as OPCs. These have been shown to have 20 times the antioxidant power of vitamin E, along with 50 times that of vitamin C
  • Anti-aging benefits – when applied to the skin, grape seed bonds with collagen to strengthen it. This then makes a huge difference to smoothness, wrinkles and elasticity
  • Reduces sun damage – when applied to the skin before sun exposure, grape seed is able to help protect against the sun’s UV rays, boosting the way in which a sunscreen works. Some studies also suggest that grape seed can even protect against cancer
  • Softens and moisturizes the skin – grape seed is a rich moisturizer, but is also extremely gentle

Aloe Vera

You have likely heard of, or even used, aloe vera before, but did you know that this plant contains more healing compounds than most of the other plants out there?

This is why aloe vera is often referred to as the miracle plant, as there are so many different issues that this botanical can treat. 

Dripping aloe vera juice into a clear jar

When it comes to the skin, aloe vera is most commonly used for its calming and soothing properties, which is why you will often find it formulated into products for sensitive skin. 

In addition to this, aloe vera has a few other benefits, such as: 

  • Speeds up wound healing – due to its anti-microbial properties. This is also why the gel is a common treatment for sunburn 
  • Hydrates the skin – aloe vera has the ability to store huge amounts of water, as this helps the plant from drying out in the desert. These water-storing abilities translate to the skin as intense doses of moisture and hydration 
  • Packed with antioxidants – aloe vera contains a number of nutrients, and many of these are powerful antioxidants that can help to treat skin cell damage while preventing premature aging 
  • Can treat acne – this is thanks to the plant’s anti-microbial properties, as well as the way in which it can calm inflammation 
  • Has anti-aging effects – many of its nutrients, including vitamins C and E, are key when it comes to keeping the skin looking youthful

No matter your skin type, and whether you are suffering from acne, psoriasis, or anything else, aloe vera is a botanical that can probably help. 

Witch Hazel

If you have oily, acne-prone skin, then you have probably already heard of, or even used, witch hazel before.

The botanical itself comes from the bark and leaves of the witch hazel shrub, a plant that is native to North America.

Why is it such a popular acne treatment?

Because, firstly, witch hazel is an anti-inflammatory. This means that not only can it reduce acne breakouts, but it can also treat other inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.

Witch hazel is also an astringent.

What does this mean?

That it causes the tissues in your skin to contract, resulting in the opening of your pores shrinking. This then prevents oil, bacteria and everything else from settling into your pores and causing breakouts.

If all of that wasn’t enough, witch hazel is also packed with tannins. These are plant compounds that boast antioxidant properties, meaning that they are able to neutralize free radicals in the skin. Research shows that tannins are also able to act as an effective barrier on the surface of the skin, preventing unwanted particles from entering into the skin’s layers.

Chamomile

A plant that produces small flowers that look similar to daisies, chamomile has long since been used for its healing properties. 

Cup of chamomile in water surrounded by loose chamomile flowers

As you probably know, chamomile tea is often consumed for its calming effects, and these are the same benefits that your skin will experience when this extract is applied topically. 

In a way, the skin effects of chamomile are quite similar to that of aloe vera, with chamomile also being an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich and skin-soothing ingredient. 

Just like aloe vera, chamomile is great for healing the skin, and is also often used for treating burns. It is also hydrating and gentle, making it ideal for all skin types, even for babies. 

Green Tea

While all of the teas are fantastic for your skin, green tea is just that little bit more powerful, making this the tea to go for. 

Studies show that green tea contains the most potent of all the antioxidants known to mankind. Known as EGCG, this antioxidant not only has anti-cancer properties, but is also a fantastic anti-aging compound. 

Green tea is also highly anti-inflammatory. This is due to the polyphenols, known as catechins, within the extract. 

If you’ve got acne, green tea can help with this too since it is an antibacterial agent, while those with dry skin will love the hydrating properties of this botanical. 

Do you suffer from puffy eyes and dark circles? 

Green tea contains tannins that are able to shrink blood vessels, reducing puffiness and redness, which is why this ingredient is often used in eye creams and serums.

Rose

Roses are quite an amazing plant, and so many parts of this plant are beneficial when it comes to the skin. 

These are just a few of the products that can be made with roses: 

  • Rose water – a great cleanser and toner 
  • Rosehip oil – incredibly hydrating and moisturizing 
  • Rose extract – gentle but potent 

No matter which type of rose product you choose, they all share similar properties, such as: 

  • Antibacterial – this makes rose an effective cleansing agent, especially for those who suffer from acne 
  • Anti-inflammatory – roses are fantastic for reducing redness and swelling while calming the skin 
  • Antioxidants – roses are packed with antioxidants, including especially high levels of vitamin C 
  • Astringent – roses have astringent properties, meaning that they are able to tighten up the pore openings 
  • Moisturizing – roses contain an array of natural oils that help to soften and condition the skin 

As you already know, roses also have a beautifully distinct scent. For this reason, many skin care companies choose to use this botanical instead of a fragrance in their products. 

Marine Algae

Often referred to as the superfood of the sea, algae, along with seaweed and kelp, is fantastic for the skin. This is something that is becoming more and more widely known, with over 40% of millennials in the USA already using a skin care product containing marine algae.

Marine algae floating freely in the ocean

So, what makes algae so effective?

To begin with, algae is one of the most nutrient-dense crops in the world. These are just a few of the nutrients that can be found in marine algae: 

  • Vitamins A, B, C, D and E 
  • Minerals including copper, magnesium, manganese, iron, potassium, zinc, iodine, calcium and phosphorus 
  • Amino acids and proteins 
  • Peptides 

What does all of this do for your skin? 

Quite a bit, such as protecting against cell damage, hydrating the skin, nourishing the skin with antioxidants and providing the skin with plenty of anti-aging compounds. 

There are many different types of marine algae out there, and while they all share some similarities, they also each have their own distinct properties. 

Jojoba

Jojoba is a plant that is native to North America, and the oil that is derived from it is already an extremely popular skin care botanical. 

Why? 

Well, most importantly, the structure of jojoba oil mimics that of the sebum that is naturally produced by the skin. This means that jojoba is an oil that can even be used by those with oily skin. Rather than exacerbating oiliness, jojoba oil tricks the skin into thinking that it has produced enough oil, resulting in its sebum production slowing down.

Thanks to its unique structure, jojoba oil also has the ability to penetrate deeper into the skin than other oils, meaning that it can bring about more significant changes. 

What does it actually do once it is in the skin? 

A number of things, such as: 

  • Antibacterial properties – able to kill bacteria and fungi on the surface of the skin 
  • High in antioxidants – can fight free radicals, while its vitamin E helps to heal the skin 
  • Noncomedogenic – this means that it won’t clog up your pores 
  • Anti-aging benefits – jojoba oil can help to increase the rate at which your body produces collagen 
  • Speeds up wound healing – the oil encourages skin cells to bind back together again after they have been damaged and separated 
  • Anti-inflammatory – calms and soothes the skin, making it especially effective for eczema and psoriasis 

Jojoba oil is extremely gentle and safe, meaning that not only can it be used by all skin types, but it can even be used on the more sensitive parts of the skin, such as around the eyes. 

Oats

While oats may not be as exotic as some of the other ingredients on this list, this botanical has some amazing skin-boosting properties. 

You probably already know that oats are a great ingredient to use if you need to soothe and calm your skin. This is due to the botanical’s anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties, both of which are so effective when it comes to treating conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, dry skin and itching. 

It is also packed with antioxidants, proteins and lipids, all of which help to protect the skin from damage while encouraging skin cell healing. 

Wondering if you can just apply the oatmeal in your kitchen to your skin? 

Technically, yes, but this won’t have much of an impact. The oat extracts contained in skin care products consist of molecules that are small enough to be absorbed by the skin, and this is something that won’t happen with standard oatmeal. 

Pomegranate

Pomegranates have been around for over 3000 years, with ancient cultures being well familiar with the health benefits that this juicy fruit can bring. 

Loose pomegranate surrounding a small vial of pomegranate extract

When it comes to the skin, pomegranate has a number of effects, including: 

  • High in antioxidants – research shows that pomegranate is very capable of protecting skin cells from damage. It also contains ellagic acid, which increases the rate at which the body produces its own antioxidants 
  • UV protection – while it shouldn’t replace your sunscreen, studies show that pomegranate is quite effective when it comes to protecting the skin from UV damage and sunburn 
  • Anti-inflammatory properties – this is down to the omega-5 punicic acid in pomegranates 
  • Anti-aging benefits – pomegranate is able to boost skin cell regeneration, as well as circulation, both of which keep the skin looking youthful 
  • Moisturizing properties – not only is pomegranate highly moisturizing, but the skin absorbs it easily, and it does not leave a greasy feeling behind
  • Packed with vitamins and minerals – these include everything from vitamins C and K to potassium, iron and zinc 

As more and more people are recognizing the benefits of botanicals, these ingredients can now be found in such a wide range of skin care products. They are able to help with so many different skin concerns, making it well worth incorporating more botanicals into your skin care routine whenever possible. 

Woman recycling her trash in coloured bins

10 Ways to Live an Eco-Conscious Life

Many people veer away from the idea of an eco-friendly lifestyle, fearing that this would require them to give up all of their creature comforts. 

However, this is not at all the case…

Take a look at these 10 small changes that you can make in your life to make your lifestyle more eco-conscious. 

Cut Back on Your Meat Consumption

The meat industry has been so devastating for the environment, and continues to cause so much damage. 

As you likely already know, humans could do with more space on the planet, yet 83% of the world’s agricultural land is dedicated to livestock production, even though this only delivers around 18% of the population’s calories. only delivers around 18% of the population’s calories.

Not only that, but the livestock industry produces large amounts of dangerous greenhouse gases, contributing to the planet’s pollution problem. 

Are you a big meat eater? 

If your answer is yes, then the idea of cutting back on your meat consumption is not likely to sound very appealing. 

But did you know that this could benefit your health too, in addition to helping the planet? 

All you need to do is start small, phasing out the meat portion in one or two meals a week. There are so many meat alternatives available now, as well as delicious vegetarian recipes, giving you plenty of other exciting options. 

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Everybody has a carbon footprint, and while this term has been thrown about quite a lot lately, do you know what it actually means? 

Your carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon dioxide released into the environment that you have contributed to. This carbon dioxide has such a detrimental effect on global warming, and if everybody sought to reduce their carbon footprint by just a small amount, this would make a huge difference to the environment. 

So, how do you go about reducing your carbon footprint? 

Here are a few easy steps that you can take: 

  • Buy local – from food to clothes, buying locally grown or made products whenever possible will cut back on the amount of carbon dioxide it takes to bring you your goods 
  • Make use of public transport – if more people used buses and trains, carbon dioxide emissions would be significantly reduced 
  • Cut back on flying – if you are a frequent flyer, try cutting back on this, saving your flights for when they are really necessary instead 

Go Organic

Let’s begin by making one thing clear…

If a food item is organic, this doesn’t mean that it is completely free from pesticides and other chemicals. Organic farmers are still allowed to use these, although to a much smaller extent. 

That being said, organic food is noticeably lower in harmful chemical residues. Not only is that beneficial to your health, but it also means that less of those chemicals have been released into the environment in order to grow the food that you eat.

Don’t like the high price tags that often accompany organic produce? 

Due to the fact that organic food is more labor-intensive to grow, and also sometimes produces smaller yields, prices are usually much higher than non-organic alternatives. 

While you may not want to completely overhaul every item you buy and swap these for their organic versions, there are certain foods out there that end up so much more contaminated than others, making it worthwhile to at least buy the organic versions of those. 

These are some of the items worth going organic for: 

  • Soft fruits – strawberries, raspberries and more have been tested, and over one-third of all samples contained at least 10 different pesticide residues, with one containing 22 
  • Spinach – this popular leafy green is almost guaranteed to contain pesticide residue, unless you go organic 
  • Applesaround 80% of tested apples contain traces of a pesticide that is banned in Europe
  • Tomatoes – these tend to be particularly prone to absorbing pesticides, with smaller tomatoes being more vulnerable 
  • Celery – this is quite a porous vegetable, meaning that it quickly absorbs chemicals. Samples have shown 13 different pesticides contained within these crunchy stems 
  • Potatoes – research shows that potatoes contain more pesticides by weight than any other food 
  • Milk – organic milk means that the cow hasn’t been fed any hormones, making the milk much healthier for you

When it comes to the other foods you eat, many of these, such as onions and garlic, will contain tougher external skin. This helps to protect them from absorbing so many pesticides. While they will still contain chemicals, the foods listed above are the ones to focus on if you are only planning on going partly organic. 

Switch to a Renewable Energy Supplier

There are now so many energy suppliers out there that offer 100% renewable energy sources for your home. 

Where does this renewable energy come from? 

The sources are varied, and include solar panels, wind turbines and hydro power.

Illustration of finite versus renewable sources of energy

Each one will have its pros and cons, and their viability will also depend on where you live, as well as how much energy you use. 

Not only is renewable energy so much better for the environment, but it could also save you some money. 

How? 

Well, firstly, renewable energy is cheaper. Secondly, many countries offer tax incentives for those who make use of renewable energy sources, giving you even more savings. 

If you are new to renewable energy, many companies offer free consultations where they will come to your house and give you advice on the best renewable sources for you, making this well worth enquiring about. 

Swap Instead of Shop

There are times when nothing can beat the satisfying feeling that comes from a day of retail therapy, but all of this consumerism is not doing the environment any favors. 

The clothes that you buy contribute to your carbon footprint, and the rise of cheaper clothing means that more and more items are now ending up in landfills, instead of being repurposed and reused. 

This is where clothing swaps come in…

They might not sound very glamorous, but they are a great way to get yourself some new clothes without having a negative environmental impact. 

Wondering where to find these clothing swaps? 

Many cities are now home to a swap shop, where you can bring in your unwanted items in exchange for tokens, which you can then use to purchase other items in the shop. There are many swap shops that are dedicated to other types of goods, excluding clothes, such as books, DVDs and more. 

Can’t find a swap shop near you? 

You can always gather together a group of people and arrange your own swaps. Simply have everyone bring in a certain number of items, and then let the swapping begin! Any leftover goods can be donated to charity shops, ensuring that there is no wastage. 

Start Composting

Home compost bins have been growing in popularity in recent years, and for good reason too. 

While some of the waste that you throw out, such as food waste, will break down in a landfill, the way in which it does so causes the release of harmful methane gases. 

A compost bin enables these natural items to break down safely, while cutting back on the amount of waste you send to a landfill. It also helps to make you more aware of how much plastic and other synthetic materials you are using, since you won’t be able to place these into your compost bin. 

An added benefit to home composting is the compost that you end up with once the process is done. This really is the very best stuff for your garden, and will be so much more superior to any compost you could buy in a bag. Even if you aren’t a keen gardener, you will likely have friends or neighbors that are, and who would be extremely appreciative for your homemade compost.

Reusables Instead of Disposables

Disposable products really have taken over recently, and there is no denying that they can definitely make life easier and more convenient. 

While this may be the case, have you ever thought of all the waste you are creating through the disposable products that you use? 

There are so many disposable products out there that could easily be replaced with reusable versions. 

Here are a few ideas of changes you could make around your home: 

  • Ink cartridges can be refilled 
  • Batteries can be recharged 
  • Reusable coffee filters 
  • Reusable razor blades 
  • Reusable food storage containers 

Yes, it may take more effort on your part to reuse products instead of simply reaching for a new one, but the environment will definitely thank you. 

Work From Home

While not everybody’s job enables them to work from home all the time, there are many jobs out there where this is possible at least once a week or so. 

How does this help the environment? 

Well, research shows that if one million people worked from home one day a week, this would cut back on three million tons of carbon dioxide being released into the environment each year. 

Not only that, but the lack of stress you will experience from not having to go through your daily commute will do your health plenty of good too. 

Not sure if your company allows employees to work from home? 

It’s always worth asking to find out, especially when you have such good eco-friendly reasons behind your request! 

Cut Back on Plastic

You likely use plastic in just about every part of your life, and all of this plastic soon ends up in landfills around the world.

Why is this bad?

Because plastic doesn’t break down properly, and also releases harmful chemicals into the ground, which then make their way into nearby water sources, contaminating surrounding ecosystems.

There are many other ways in which plastic is damaging to the environment, such as with all of the wildlife that ends up entangled in discarded plastic bags, or the animals that mistake the bags for food and eat them.

It does take quite a bit of dedication to really cut back on plastic usage…

Begin by looking at the food you buy. Many items are unnecessarily packaged in layers of plastic, but there are likely to be loose and unpackaged versions of these items available too.

Plastic bag usage is something that can be easily cut back on. Simply start using reusable bags instead, keeping these in your home, car, office and anywhere else that makes them easily accessible for when you need them.

Bottled water is another big problem, but, again, is easy to overcome. Simply stop buying bottled water!

Don’t like the taste of your tap water?

It may be worthwhile purchasing a water filter to filter out any chemicals that have been used in the water system.

Automatic Car Washes

Do you wash your car yourself, or do you take it through a car wash? 

People who wash their cars themselves likely think that this is much better for the environment, but this is actually the opposite from the truth…

When you wash your car yourself, you end up using 10 gallons of water every minute. On the other hand, if you put your car through an automatic car wash, this uses up around 15 to 30 gallons of water in total. 

This means that unless you are able to wash your car yourself in under three minutes, you would save a significant amount of water by taking your car through an automatic car wash instead. 

Each of these ten steps are quite easy to implement, and while they may not seem like huge changes, they definitely make your lifestyle so much more eco-friendly. From using renewable energy sources to cutting back on waste, following these steps will reduce the amount of damage that you are personally causing to the environment.  

Whole garlic and garlic cloves on a wooden chopping board

8 Foods for a Stronger Immune System

You have probably heard the term “immune system” so many times throughout your life, but do you know what your immune system actually is? 

Your immune system consists of a network made up of organs, tissues and cells, and these protect the body from foreign invaders and infectious compounds. 

Do you suffer from recurrent infections, digestive problems, inflammation or an autoimmune disease? 

If your answer is yes…

Then this means that your immune system is weak, and would really benefit from a boost.

Around 70% to 80% of your immune system is located in your gut, which is why the food you eat will have a direct impact on how your immune system functions. To really strengthen and support your immune system, here are eight foods that you should try to incorporate into your diet. 

Garlic

Just about every type of cuisine in the world makes use of garlic, and it has long since been used as a method of fighting off infections.

How exactly is it able to do this?

Well, garlic contains a compound known as alliin. When a garlic clove is crushed, or even chewed, the alliin within it turns to allicin.

The allicin within garlic contains sulfur, and this is what gives garlic its distinctive smell. It is also the reason as to why garlic smells its strongest after it has been crushed, compared to when it is a whole clove.

However, allicin is quite an unstable compound, meaning that it doesn’t stick around for too long.

What happens to it?

It turns into other compounds that contain sulphur, and these are what give garlic its medicinal properties.

There is plenty of research out there that shows how garlic is not only able to prevent you from falling sick in the first place, but also affects how quickly you recover when you do fall sick.

Those who consume more garlic will not only have a lower risk of catching a cold or developing an infection, but they will also feel better so much faster.

Of course, in order for the allicin in the garlic to work properly, you need to make sure that you always crush garlic and leave it to stand for ten minutes before you use it. This will enable the allicin to convert into medicinal compounds.

Wondering how much garlic you need to eat in order to experience its immune benefits?

As much as possible! But at least one clove per meal would be ideal.

Blueberries

Blueberries may be small, but they are actually packed with a number of important nutrients, all of which really support the immune system. 

There is one compound in particular that blueberries contain that set them apart from the other superfoods out there…

This compound is known as pterostilbene. When consumed, it boosts the way in which the CAMP gene functions. The CAMP gene, which stands for cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide, is responsible for creating specific proteins that protect the body from bacterial infections.

In addition to pterostilbene, blueberries also contain high levels of: 

  • Vitamin A 
  • Vitamin C
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Antioxidants 

Infographic on the benefits of blueberries

Can’t stand the taste of blueberries? 

Other dark berries, such as red grapes, cranberries and mulberries, also contain pterostilbene, although in smaller quantities. 

Cinnamon

Now that the festive season is approaching, cinnamon is a spice that you will likely encounter more frequently, and, in addition to adding a distinct flavor and scent to foods, this spice is also a powerful immune booster.

When consumed, cinnamon is able to increase the amount of T regulatory immune cells, also called Tregs, within the body.

What do Tregs do?

They basically control the way in which the immune system responds to foreign invaders, as well as those that are coming from the body itself. This not only helps to prevent autoimmune diseases, but also strengthens the immune system, enabling it to better protect itself against infections.

Of course, there is one downside to cinnamon…

The majority of popular recipes and dishes featuring this spice tend to be laden with calories and other unhealthy ingredients, all of which will only put a damper on your immune system.

Looking for a healthy way to cook with cinnamon?

Give some of these ideas a try:

  • Cinnamon French toast
  • Cinnamon chicken curry
  • Honey-cinnamon roasted chickpeas
  • Baked cinnamon apple chips
  • Cinnamon muffins
  • Cinnamon almond butter

You may need to get creative when it comes to using more of this spice, but the benefits that cinnamon brings really makes this worthwhile.

Turmeric

You have probably already heard of turmeric being called a superfood lately, with this ingredient becoming increasingly popular in recent years.

Why?

Because a number of studies have now been carried out that prove its many benefits, one of which is the way in which it boosts the immune system. 

How does it do this?

It all comes down to a compound called curcumin, which is what gives turmeric its vibrant yellow color.

While curcumin is mostly known for its anti-inflammatory properties, research shows that curcumin is also able to enhance antibody responses within the body, strengthening the immune system.

However, there is one thing to keep in mind when it comes to consuming turmeric…

Turmeric in its raw form is not easily absorbed by the body. In order to maximize its impact, turmeric should be gently cooked, and mixed with an oil, as well as black pepper.

Why?

The oil helps to carry the curcumin while the black pepper significantly increases its bioavailability.

Turmeric golden paste is a great way to consume the herb, as the recipe takes into account all of the above, and can be cooked up in less than ten minutes. This can then be taken on its own a few times a day, or mixed into your meals.

Turmeric paste in small clay bowls surrounded by turmeric powder

Wondering if you can just take a curcumin supplement instead?

Yes, but you likely won’t experience the same impacts when it comes to the benefits of this. Eating whole foods always tends to be more beneficial for the body, as not only will you be consuming the curcumin, but also the many other medicinal properties that the turmeric contains.

Kefir

Just like some of the other immune-boosting foods on this list, kefir has become quite popular lately. 

What is it? 

It’s a fermented drink made from milk, almost like a thinner and lighter version of yogurt. However, while yogurt contains just a couple of strains of beneficial bacteria, kefir can contain ten times this amount. 

Kefir brings with it a number of different health benefits, and, when it comes to the immune system, these include:

So, where can you get kefir from? 

One option is to purchase it, and you will usually find it at health food stores, with more grocery stores now stocking it too. 

However, there is a downside to this…

In order to be sold commercially, kefir needs to be processed. Even if this is minimal, the heat used ends up destroying a significant amount of the beneficial bacteria within the drink. 

For the very best results, you would be best off making kefir at home. There are several how-to guides out there that will walk you through this easy process.

Green Tea

Just about every type of tea is extremely beneficial for the body, but green tea is especially powerful when it comes to strengthening the immune system. 

Why? 

Because it contains high levels of epigallocatechin gallate, also known as EGCG. This is an extremely powerful antioxidant that has been proven to significantly enhance immune function. 

Wondering why black tea doesn’t contain this antioxidant, since both teas come from the same plant? 

Well, tea leaves for black tea are fermented, whereas tea leaves for green tea are steamed. The fermentation process for black tea destroys a large amount of the EGCG within the leaves, whereas the steaming process preserves this antioxidant. 

Not only that, but green tea also contains L-theanine. This is an amino acid that boosts the way in which your body’s T-cells are able to fight germs. 

Don’t like the taste of green tea? 

Many people find green tea to be too bitter. 

Here are a few tips to counter that: 

  • Use hot, rather than boiling, water, since boiling water brings out the bitter flavors of the tea
  • Add in a small amount of honey to sweeten the tea
  • Add in a few drops of fresh lemon juice to enhance the perfume and reduce the bitterness of the tea 
  • Mix a couple of sprigs of mint in with your leaves before topping with water, which is a common practice in Morocco 
  • Drink it iced, rather than hot, as this reduces its bitterness
  • Purchase a high quality green tea  

Dark Chocolate

Love chocolate? 

Then you will be happy to know that dark chocolate is fantastic for strengthening the immune system. 

Of course, this means that the chocolate needs to contain at least 70% cacao, as this ensures that there are high levels of flavonoids within the chocolate.

What are flavonoids? 

They’re antioxidants that do a number of different things within the body, including increasing the amount of antibodies that the body produces. This then gives the immune system a huge boost. 

Thinking you can eat copious amounts of dark chocolate now that it’s been proven that this is a beneficial food? 

Unfortunately not. You still need to moderate how much dark chocolate you eat, since this food is still high in saturated fat and calories. 

If you know that you shouldn’t be consuming any extra calories on any given day, you could always give some dark chocolate a sniff instead, so long as you can resist the temptation to eat it! 

This may seem cruel, but it’s actually beneficial. 

Wondering how?  

Research shows that even the smell of dark chocolate can trigger the body to produce double the amount of antibodies in just 20 minutes. In the study carried out, this boost in immunity lasted for over three hours, although it did decrease as time went on.

Citrus Fruits

Whenever you’ve had a cold, people have likely advised you to eat oranges, or drink warm lemon water. 

Ever wondered why? 

It’s all down to the vitamin C content in citrus fruits, which amp up the body’s production of white blood cells. 

What do white blood cells do? 

They are cells within the immune system that protect the body from foreign invaders and infectious diseases. These cells flow through the blood all over your body, fighting against bacteria, viruses and other unwanted compounds. 

Vitamin C is extremely important when it comes to creating these. 

Since the body doesn’t produce vitamin C itself, it can be easy to become deficient in the vitamin, meaning that your white blood cell count declines. This weakens your immune system, meaning that you will fall sick faster, and take longer to recover. 

So, in addition to oranges and lemons, what other citrus fruits are there? 

Here are some of the most popular: 

  • Lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Mandarins
  • Pomelo
  • Yuzu

Need another reason to eat more citrus fruits? 

Well, in addition to boosting the immune system, citrus fruits also: 

  • Improve heart health 
  • Protect against, and fight against, cancer 
  • Protect the brain 
  • Reduce the risk of kidney stones 

Wondering if you can just drink the juice instead of eating the whole fruits? 

While citrus fruit juices do contain plenty of nutrients, they are also extremely high in sugar. This can end up causing more harm than good when it comes to your overall health. 

When it comes to keeping your body healthy, your focus should always be on your immune system. In order to keep it strong and working optimally, your diet is so important, so make sure that you are incorporating immune-boosting foods into each meal. 

Key Foods for a Heart-Healthy Life

In the fast-paced world of health and fitness, it seems like there’s a proclamation of new “superfood” every other week. Does it get confusing? We think so. Which is why we’ve narrowed it down to the top eight foods you should be consuming for your best heart (and life).

Leafy Greens

“Eat your greens” is a mantra that should definitely not be disregarded even in adulthood.

Green-hued veggies are among the healthiest foods you can feed your body.

And if you’re not sure where to start in this green sea of health, here is a simple primer on the most beneficial leafy greens.

Spinach, one of the most accessible and user-friendly leafy green is not only supremely tasty, but also great for your immunity, your skin, as well as your mental capabilities.

This is because this particular leafy green is absolutely loaded with all sorts of immunity-boosting minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients. These include vitamins A, C and B6, but also beta-carotene, lutein, potassium, zinc and magnesium.

Bonus points: due to its mild flavor, spinach can be consumed fresh, which makes it easier to prepare and incorporate in your day-to-day meals.

Kale, an absolute favorite among wellness enthusiast, has earned it celebrity status for its incredible nutritional stats. Namely, kale is one of the richest sources of Vitamin K, which helps keep your bone healthy and promotes better calcium absorption.

Often overlooked but equally healthy are collard greens, which 

Leafy green nay-sayers might object to leafy greens, either because it might seem like they’re difficult to plan meals around or simply because their taste isn’t exactly palate-pleasing for everyone.

Luckily, both of these issues can be solved, and the only thing you’ll need is a good blender. Smoothies made with leafy greens are not only super quick and easy to make, they can also be made delicious by adding natural sweeteners like banana, mango, berries and other juicy fruits.

Citrus Fruit

Vitamin C is one of the most important components for preserving your health and enhancing your immunity.

As you probably already know, fruits like lemon, orange and grapefruit represent treasure troves of this powerful antioxidants.

Oranges are your first go-to for Vitamin C, but don’t forget about other citrus fruits like lemon and grapefruit.

Lemon, which due to its zesty flavor is best consumed in juice form, is known for its incredible detoxifying powers which can effectively flush out the pollutants that your body amasses in day-to-day life.

Nutrients found in lemon water can also promote healthier digestion, liver performance, but also reduce the visibility of fine lines, wrinkles and age spots on the skin.

And if you’re not in the mood for something that sour, you can always go for oranges, which also pack a punch when it comes to health benefits.

This wintertime favorite is laden with Vitamin C, which is crucial for shutting down free radicals that are causing oxidative damage to your cells. Through antioxidant activity, you are helping slow down aging processes and reinforcing your body’s natural protective capabilities. Also, improved consumption of antioxidants like Vitamins C means preventing cardiovascular diseases, stroke and cognitive degeneration.

Grapefruit has been a longtime favorite for people who are looking to shed pounds. Not only does the low calorie count make grapefruit an appealing diet-friendly snack, regular consumption of this citrus can promote your health in ways you couldn’t imagine.

For example, a grapefruit a day can help your body stave off a number of illnesses, including cancer, heart disease and kidney failure. Moreover, grapefruit can also boost your metabolism and contribute to lower insulin levels.

Fatty Fish

Even though the word “fat” carries a lot of negative connotation in the world of health and fitness, this doesn’t mean that all fats are automatically bad.

On the contrary, healthy fats are crucial for keeping your heart, your brain and other organs in your body healthy and shielded from diseases.

The only trick is to source these heart-healthy fats straight from nature.

And one of the principal sources of nature-derived fats is oily fish, which is often talked about when it comes to slowing down aging processes and enhancing immunity.

This is because certain creatures of the sea represent a rich source of Omega-3, powerful fatty acids.

The benefits of Omega-3 for your body are numerous: they promote healthy cardiovascular activity, enhance the performance of lung and the entire respiratory system and that can also help keep you mentally sharp.

On a more skin-deep level, regular consumption of these all natural fatty acids can contribute to a plumper, more glowing complexion.

If the benefits of Omega-3 peaked your interest, you might be wondering which particular fish to go with for your next meal if you want to replenish your body with this nutritional powerhouse.

To help you make that choice, here is the list of fish that contain high levels of Omega-3 acids:

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Anchovies
  • Trout
  • Mackerel

When shopping for fish, try to go for the wild instead of the farmed ones, as they are more likely to contain lower levels of mercury and other harmful pollutants found in water.

Avocado

Avocado? That’s right, you can’t have a list of the healthiest food out there without mentioning the fruit that defined an entire generation.

So, what is it that makes this creamy green treat so appealing?

It might be the fact that avocado manages to combine a plethora of nutritional benefits while remaining supremely yummy at the same time.

And that’s not all; this Central American fruit is also super-easy to incorporate into our busy lifestyles due to its filling flavor and incredible versatility.

There are no limits to what you can do with a single avocado fruit in your kitchen: spread it on a piece of toast, chop it up in a salad, mash it in a guacamole or, simplest of all, toss it in a blender and call it a smoothie-energized day.

If you’re already sold on the idea of more avocado in your diet, you’d be pleased to hear that you will also get a number of health perks from it, as well.

For one, avocado is one of the richest sources of healthy, monosaturated fats, which are essential for keeping heart-related illnesses and other serious medical conditions at bay.

Moreover, avocados happen to contain plenty of carotenoid, which can improve both your vision and your brain function.

Another great thing about avocados is that they are jam-packed with proteins, which makes it an excellent dietary addition for anyone looking to lose weight, build muscle or tone their body.

Nuts

Now that we’re talking about protein rich-foods, it might be a good time to focus on nuts.

This food group is known for its powerful nutritional properties, and your body and immune system would certainly benefit from more of these bite-sized powerhouses in your day-to-day life.

For example, almonds – one of the most easily accessible nuts – is packed with health-restoring nutrients, including zinc, selenium, calcium and magnesium. Still, the most potent nutrient found in almonds is Vitamin E, which is known for its powerful reparative capabilities.

For something a little different, you can also try snacking on more walnuts. This tasty nut is jam-packed with nutrients that can rejuvenate your body in varied ways.

For example, walnuts are a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which can greatly contribute to cardiovascular health by stabilizing blood pressure and regulating cholesterol levels.

Moreover, walnuts are a treasure trove of antioxidants, which can reduce inhibit growth of malignant cells in the body.

One of the most convenient things about nuts is that they can be pretty much consumed anywhere and at any time. Because of this, walnuts, almonds, cashews and other nuts make for a great post-workout, mid-study or office snack. They can provide an instant sensation of fullness without stuffing your body with unnecessary salts and saturated fats.

Berries

When it comes to suppressing aging processes in your body, it’s crucial that you start consuming more antioxidants in your diet.

And the quickest shortcut to more of these body-rejuvenating components in your everyday life is simply more berries.

Now, don’t be fooled by their size – despite being bite-sized, berries manage to pack a punch when it comes to health-enhancing nutrients.

For example, blueberries, which can be a welcome addition to any smoothie or oat bowl, represent a treasure trove of flavonoids, a potent polyphenol that can be of immense value when it comes to fighting free radicals and reducing oxidative damage in your organs.

Furthermore, the antioxidants found in berries can enhance your cognitive and mental capabilities and stave off degenerative processes in the brain.

And if you’d like to add another berry to your diet, why not make it a blackberry? This summertime treat contains a host of good-for-you nutrients, including the immunity-boosting Vitamin C. In fact, one cup of blackberries a day will already supply you with half of your recommended daily intake of this powerful antioxidant.

Seeds

You’ve probably never given much thought to how much presence seeds have in your diet, but once you take into consideration their immense nutritional properties, we are positive you will be rushing to replenish your meals with chia, flax and other micro superfoods.

To start with, seeds represent a rich source of protein, a substance your body needs in order to regulate insulin and control blood cholesterol.

Moreover, these tiny nutritional powerhouses are loaded with healthy acids such as Omega-3, which means that they can improve your cardiovascular health and notably slow down aging processes in your body.

So, now that you are convinced in the immense health-related power of seeds, you might be wondering which one you should go with first? And how to include them in your meals, exactly?

One of the most hailed sees is flax or linseeds, in no small part because they represent a rich source of an Omega-3 acid called alpha-linoleic acid or ALA. Flaxseeds can be a welcome addition to your morning smoothies, as they can provide your AM meal with more body-energizing fiber and nutrients.

Chia seeds are also popular among the health-conscious crowd, largely because of the high doses of fiber and antioxidants they contain. When it comes to food preparation, chia seeds can be incredibly versatile: you can toss them into any smoothie or salad to add extra crunchiness. Alternatively, sprinkle them on top of your rice or pasta-based dishes for an extra fiber kick.

Sweet Potato

Carbs seems to be the bane of everyone’s existence when we’re talking about attempts at establishing a healthier way of life.

And yet, not all carbs have to be necessarily as evil as weight loss advice resources might make you think.

And one of the most satisfying, delicious sources of the good-for-you carbs is sweet potato, which contains high doses of valuable nutrients.

One of them is Vitamin B6, which can greatly diminish levels of homocysteine, a harmful substance that’s been connected to a number of degenerative diseases.

Sweet potatoes also contain high concentrations of Vitamin C, which can help rebuild your immune system and keep your organs strong in the fight against free radicals.

Thanks to its palate-pleasing, filling texture, sweet potato can be prepared in a number of different ways. You can lightly coat it with olive oil and seasoning of your choice, toss it into the over and – voila – you got yourself a serving of healthy chips.

Alternatively, boil your sweet potatoes and combine them with a bit of butter and thyme to create a tummy-filling mash. 

And there you have it – some of the healthiest ingredients you can start consuming as soon as today! Thanks to all these nature-derived vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber, we are sure your body will feel younger, more energized and better equipped to stave off any nasty illnesses.

Young woman running in the city

The 7 Most Annoying Skin Issues for Athletic People

Do you exercise quite often?

While this is fantastic for your health, as well as for your skin in the long run, athletic people do tend to face a whole host of skin issues due to this increased physical activity.

From body acne to hyperpigmentation, here are 7 of the most common skin issues experienced by sporty people, along with ways in which you can avoid them.

Facial and Body Acne

Acne is frustrating enough to deal with on the face, but when it starts to develop on the body too, which is also known as bacne, this can be even harder to clear.

How does exercise lead to acne?

It all comes down to sweat…

When you exercise, your body releases sweat, which then builds up in your hair follicles, not only on your face but also your body. This clogs up the follicles, leading to inflammation and breakouts. Add to that the irritation from clothing, as well as any rubbing that your clothing has been doing, and you have the perfect recipe for a big breakout.

So, what’s the best way to avoid this acne?

Well, when it comes to facial and body acne, the methods are pretty much the same.

To begin with, make sure that you remove any sweaty workout clothing as soon as you are done, and take a cool shower immediately. To help unclog your hair follicles, use a cleanser that contains either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.

Can’t have a shower immediately after working out?

That’s ok, because you can simply use a salicylic acid face or body wipe instead, and then have a shower as soon as you are able to.

Don’t forget to also wear loose and breathable clothing, as this will help to prevent your clothing from irritating your skin and causing you to sweat more.

Not sure if your workout clothes are breathable or not?

These are some of the most breathable fabrics:

  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Rayon 

Heat Rash

As you can guess from its name, heat rash is a rash that is caused by heat.

In a way, its cause is similar to acne…

Again, it is your sweat that leads to this skin issue. When your sweat ducts become obstructed for whatever reason, it causes your sweat to leak on to your skin. The area around that leakage then becomes extremely inflamed, leading to the red prickly bumps known as heat rash.

How can heat rash be prevented?

Well, the solution is easier said than done…

The answer here is to keep your body cool at all times, which is, of course, quite difficult when working out. However, restricting the amount that you sweat is key, so it may be worth moving your work into an air-conditioned room on hot days, or saving your workout for the cooler early morning or evening air.

Just like with acne, keep your clothing light and breathable, to prevent it from rubbing against your skin.

Already have heat rash?

Here are a few tips to help you to clear it:

  • Make sure that you do not scratch at your rash, as this will only make it worse
  • Take an antihistamine to lower the inflammation in your body
  • Look for cooling sprays and creams, but make sure that these do not contain any fragrances or other harsh ingredients
  • Bathe your rash in cool water, adding in some colloidal oatmeal if the rash is especially itchy 

Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation can be caused by a number of different factors, with the main one being UV exposure, something that sporty people tend to experience much more of than those who lead a more sedentary lifestyle.

Not sure what hyperpigmentation is?

It refers to darker patches of skin, either on your face or your body.

Each time you expose your skin to the sun, your body produces more melanin, which is the pigment that gives your skin its color, and is responsible for suntans. Melanin is your body’s way of protecting itself against the sun’s rays, but sometimes melanin can be over-produced, leading to it clustering up under small areas of skin, which is why these patches appear darker than the rest.

How can you avoid this?

Well, seeing as it is likely due to sun exposure, the best way to avoid hyperpigmentation would be to ensure that you are using plenty of sun protection. Not only should you be wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen each time you are out in the sun, but make use of physical sun protection methods too, such as hats, sunglasses and lightweight clothing.

You should also take care to stay out of the sun during its hottest hours. These are usually between 11am and 3pm, although it will vary depending on your location. Try to seek shade whenever possible, and give your body regular breaks from direct sunlight.

Sun Damage

If hyperpigmentation wasn’t bad enough, the sun also leads to other skin issues, which, again, is commonly experienced by athletic people and those who spend a large amount of time exercising outside.

What sort of skin issues does the sun cause?

Well, the first, and most common, is a sunburn.

While you may think that this is just a temporary problem, sunburns are actually much more serious than most people realize…

Did you know that five serious sunburns can increase your risk of developing a deadly form of skin cancer by 80%?

There are many ways in which you can make a sunburn easier, and less painful, to deal with, using products such as aloe vera and green tea. However, you would be far better off avoiding the sunburn to begin with, as this significantly reduces your cancer risk.

Another extremely common skin issue caused by sun exposure is premature aging…

If you have ever noticed an increase in wrinkles in those who regularly exercise outdoors, then it is likely that they have not been using adequate, if any, sun protection. 

The sun is responsible for up to 80% of skin aging, causing everything from wrinkles and fine lines to dark spots and dryness.

Fortunately, there is a simple way to avoid all of this…

All you need to do, as mentioned above, is wear sunscreen each and every day.

Think you can skip out on your sunscreen because it’s cloudy outside, and you don’t plan on working out for too long?

The sun’s UV rays can not only penetrate through thick cloud, but also through glass, so even if you are working out indoors near a window, you will still need to wear sunscreen.

Artist illustration of UV rays penetrating layers of the skin

While a certain amount of sun exposure is good for your skin, your skin only needs 10 minutes of this a day in order to top up its vitamin D supplies. So, if your workout is going to be longer than ten minutes, which it likely will be if you are a sporty person, then definitely apply plenty of sunscreen beforehand.

When it comes to premature aging, make sure that you are already following an anti-aging skin care routine. Even if you are diligent about sun protection, you will likely still end up leaving your skin exposed at times by accident, so it is important to be using the right skin care products as a follow-up to this.

Athlete’s Foot

If you are already quite an athletic person, then you are likely already well aware of athlete’s foot.

However, for everyone else, this is a fungal infection that can be picked up from other people’s feet.

This does not mean that you need to be touching their feet…

Simply walking barefoot over public areas, such as in the changing rooms at the gym, can lead to this.

What does athlete’s foot look like?

It generally manifests as white scaly skin on the bottom and sides of your feet, with this being quite dry and sometimes itchy. It can also lead to a thicker and softer white skin developing in between your toes, before entering into your toenails and causing them to thicken and turn yellow.

Fortunately, this is another skin issue that is easy to avoid…

All you need to do is make sure that you are wearing sandals or flip flops when walking around public exercise areas.

Already have athlete’s foot?

You will likely need to make an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist, as the best way to clear this is with a prescription anti-fungal cream. It takes a few weeks for the infection to clear, but make sure that you have it treated as soon as you notice it, because once it worsens, it is much harder to eradicate.

Dry Skin

For some, exercising regularly can lead to oily skin and acne, but for others, it can have the opposite effect.

Those who regularly exercise often end up showering more often, which is necessary in order to clear away the sweat from your skin.

This is no problem if your showers are quick and cool.

However, if you like to turn up the temperature and enjoy a leisurely steamy shower, this is when the problems arise…

Wondering what’s so bad about a hot shower?

The hot water strips away your skin’s natural oils, which are important for skin hydration.

Yes, your skin does produce more oils on its own, but if you have a hot shower too often, you will be stripping your oils away faster than your skin can replace them. 

What happens then?

Your skin ends up dry and dehydrated, with red, itchy and flaking patches.

As mentioned above, a shower after working out is essential, but the hot water isn’t.

The best way to prevent dry skin from developing is by keeping your showers as cool as you can handle, and make sure that you do not remain in the water for any more than ten minutes.

Don’t forget…

As soon as you are done in the shower, it is important to apply a layer of moisturizer, while your skin is still damp.

Why?

Because a moisturizer is designed to form a thin protective layer over the surface of your skin. This prevents moisture from evaporating, meaning that if you already have extra water on the surface of your skin, the only place for this to go is downwards into your skin.

Frequent Eczema Flare-Ups

While exercising doesn’t cause eczema, it does cause existing eczema to flare-up, and quite drastically too.

Why?

Due to the moisture and salt of your sweat. These both irritate the skin, which not only makes an eczema rash redder and more visible, but also more uncomfortable. With an increased itch, you will likely end up scratching or rubbing at the rash, which then, as you already know, makes the eczema even worse.

Want to know how to prevent eczema flare-ups when exercising?

Here are a few tips:

  • Keep wiping off any sweat while you are working out, but make sure to use a towel and not your shirt
  • Wear lightweight and breathable clothing so that your sweat can easily evaporate off your body, rather than being trapped on your skin
  • Take regular breaks to keep your body cool, and drink plenty of water too
  • Always shower immediately after working out 

If you are already experiencing an eczema flare-up…

Tone it down a bit when it comes to your workouts, taking this slower until your flare-up has calmed. This may mean walking instead of running, or doing some yoga instead of a sports class. 

While you may be tempted to ignore the problem and just carry on with your normal routine, this is only going to make your eczema worsen even more.

Make sure that you are keeping your skin well-moisturized, as those with eczema already have a damaged skin barrier, which a moisturizer will help to temporarily heal.

If your flare-up is especially severe, then visit your doctor for a more powerful treatment. 

While these skin issues can definitely be annoying, the benefits of exercising frequently and regularly far outweigh the problems that these skin problems bring. As long as you know how to avoid the issues that you seem to be most susceptible to, you will be well-equipped to keep being just as physically active as always.

Friends laughing while using a tablet

How Social Media Affects Your Life

Do you frequently use social media?

For the majority of people out there, the answer will be yes.

The next question is…

Have you ever thought about how this has actually affected your life over the years?

Social media has so many different effects on daily life, both positive as well as negative, and no matter how addicted you may be to your favorite social media platforms, it is important to still be aware of the impact that this is having.

Social Media Can Prevent Quality Sleep

When you can’t seem to fall asleep at night, are you guilty of often reaching for your phone and scrolling through social media sites?

This is extremely common, and is something that many people do as a way to wind down after a long day.

However, while you may think that this is harmless, it is actually having quite a detrimental impact on your sleep quality…

How?

Due to the blue light that is emitted by the electronic devices you use.

There are multiple studies out there that show that the blue light from LED screens interferes with your body’s production of melatonin, which is the hormone that tells your brain that it is time to fall asleep.

Without as much melatonin in your body, you end up being more alert, staying awake for longer than you otherwise would have.

Of course, there is an easy fix to this…

All you need to do is download an app that adapts your device’s screen to the time of day, meaning that it takes on a warm orange filter in the evenings. This is so much easier on the eyes, and will prevent your device’s blue light from keeping you up

While this may seem like a great solution, keep in mind that simply staring at any sort of screen will still trigger your brain to stay awake. If the blue light apps don’t seem to be working for you, you will likely be better off staying away from social media, along with any other electronic devices, for at least an hour before bed

Social Media Can Affect Your Self Esteem

Whether you openly admit it or not, you likely have a few insecurities, and this is something that everybody experiences in their life.

While this is completely normal, social media has the effect of exacerbating any insecurities, making you feel worse about them than you already did. 

In fact, a study carried out at the University of Copenhagen found that those who used social media regularly tended to suffer from Facebook envy.

What is Facebook envy?

Simply put, it refers to the feelings of jealousy that you feel after seeing all of the activities that your friends have been up to on social media.

On the other hand, those who abstained from using social media for a while reported that they felt much more satisfied with their lives, and considered their mental well-being to be quite high. 

Social Media Makes it Easier to Spread and Absorb Knowledge and Information

While the internet already made it so much easier for information to be shared, this became even more so after the rise of social media.

In just a few seconds, your message could be spread to people all across the globe, giving you quite the sense of power.

The upside to this is the fact that if you have an important message to share, you can easily do this.

However, there is also a downside to this too…

Fake news is a term that you have likely heard about quite a bit recently.

If you haven’t, the term fake news refers to a story that has been created to deliberately deceive its readers and spread misinformation.

Fake news spreads like wildfire on social media, with the more “likes” a story receives making others believe it even more.

The only way around this is for social media platforms to regulate the news that is posted, but this would, of course, end up leading to censorship, which defeats the purpose of social media to quite an extent. 

Want to keep yourself educated when it comes to fake news and misinformation?

Well, when you read a story that sounds doubtful, all you need to do is a quick Google search to find out more information from trustworthy sources, before making up your own mind about the situation.

When it comes down to it…

Don’t believe everything that you read on social media!

Social Media Can Hinder Real Life Social Interaction

You may think that you are an incredibly social person because of the hundreds, or even thousands, or friends you have on social media, as well as the fact that you are always communicating with many of them.

However, when it comes to real life social interaction, social media can actually hinder this quite a bit.

How many times have you been spending time with others, only for one or more of those people to be staring at their phone?

This is so common, and even if you personally are not guilty of it, chances are that you will notice this happening when visiting a restaurant, a bar or any other social setting.

Constantly staring at your phone, or even checking it periodically, takes your attention away from what is actually going on around you.

Social Media Can Also Promote Real Life Social Interaction

While social media does hinder real life interaction, it can also have the opposite effect…

Social media is a fantastic way to reconnect with old friends whom you have lost touch with, bringing you together once again and making it easier for you to meet up in real life.

There are also many events that are organized and promoted through social media, which you may otherwise have never heard of. These events bring together people with similar interests, enabling you to make so many more like-minded friends.

Not only that, but social media has been seen to be quite effective when it comes to promoting real life social interaction among introverted adolescents. It allows them to interact with others from the safety of their screen, which then builds up their confidence when it comes to real life interactions.

Social Media Can Encourage Cyberbullying

Have you heard of cyberbullying before?

This is a problem that is becoming increasingly common, and refers to bullying an individual by sending them intimidating messages.

Why is it becoming more and more common?

This is largely due to social media, and the way that these platforms make it so easy to involve yourself in someone else’s life.

This is especially the case with younger generations, as many do not realize just how hurtful their words and comments can be.

Social Media Can Be Extremely Entertaining

One of the great things about social media is the amount of entertainment it provides. This can be in many different forms, such as:

  • Watching videos
  • Looking at pictures
  • Playing games
  • Reading stories

Thanks to all of this, social media can sometimes  be a great way to relax and de-stress.

Social Media Keeps You Constantly Connected

There are many people that feel that being constantly connected is nothing but a positive, but this can actually have quite a detrimental effect on your mental health.

How?

Because of the pressure you face to always be available and quickly respond to others, and this can often make you feel as though you simply never have any time to relax.

Even when many try to disconnect, they end up feeling as though they are missing out on what is going on, and crave being back online again.

Social Media Makes It Easier for Small Businesses to Reach Customers

In the past, one of the biggest challenges that a small business would face is the lack of a marketing budget, and this would make it extremely difficult to reach new customers.

However, social media has turned this all around…

Even with a completely non-existent marketing budget, social media still gives you the opportunity to reach out to, connect with, and interact with new and existing customers, making it so much easier for you to build a reputable brand.

For many small businesses, social media is their sole form of marketing to begin with, and this is usually set up long before a business develops a website. 

Not only that, but advancements in social media enable users to make purchases directly through social media platforms, meaning that small business don’t need to even worry about setting up online shops anymore, saving so much time and money.

Social Media Encourages Multitasking

Are you guilty of checking social media sites while you are in the middle of doing something else?

This is something else that is extremely common, and ends up causing you to multitask.

This may sound great, as well as productive, but research shows that the human brain is not actually capable of multitasking. While you may think that you are doing multiple tasks at once, your brain is actually just switching from one to the other very rapidly, meaning that you are not fully concentrating on any one task.

Why does the brain do this?

It is likely due to the way in which humans evolved. In order to survive while hunting big animals, it became necessary for humans to put all of their focus on to one task, and this is one of the reasons as to why humans have become the dominant species in the world

So, while you may think that your brain can cope with constantly checking social media while you are working, keep in mind that this is actually preventing you from being as productive as you would be if you put social media away for a while.

Social Media Can Affect Your Job Prospects

Many people still do not realize just how often potential employers will check out your social media accounts. Why do they do this?

To find out more about you, of course!

Social media profiles can be extremely revealing, but, sometimes, the information that is revealed is not what you want your employer to know.

This makes it so important to be aware of every little thing you post or comment on, while also editing privacy settings to ensure that only the people you personally know have access to all of these details in your life.

Using Social Media Responsibly

While social media may have its downsides, there are definitely plenty of upsides that come with it too.

Wondering how to use social media in a way that impacts your life positively, rather than negatively?

There are several steps that you can take to do this, such as:

  • Be yourself – don’t try to be someone you aren’t when posting on social media. Stay honest and don’t lie or exaggerate
  • Watch what you postdon’t over-post every detail of your life, and keep in mind that everything you put on to the internet is permanent
  • The right frame of mindnever post on social media when you are angry, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Be aware of your friends on social mediait may be tempting to accept friend requests from just about everyone, but remember that all of those people will then be able to see so many details of your life
  • Privacy settings – every social media platform will have its own privacy settings, so make sure that you are aware of these

Social media really has spread all across the globe, with more than 2.3 billion people in the world being active social media users. While there is no denying that social media can have quite a few negative impacts on a person’s life, it does also have so many positive points too. The key is to use social media in a responsible way, and make sure that you do not allow it to dominate your life.

Happy smiling middle-age woman with short wavy hair

Keeping Your Skin Healthy At Every Age

It is no secret that as your body ages, your skin is going to go through quite a few changes, with your skin in your 20’s being extremely different to your skin in your 50’s.

This is why it is so important to keep adjusting your skin care routine as you progress through life, adopting different ingredients and techniques at each stage, as this will help to cater to your skin’s ever-changing needs.

Skin Care in Your 20’s

When you are in your 20’s, it may seem as though the firm and tight skin you have always known is going to last forever, but, unfortunately, this is not true.

In fact, your 20’s is when things begin to slow down in your skin…

In particular, cell turnover.

This is the rate at which your body sheds its old skin cells, to make way for new ones. In your teens and younger years, your cell turnover rate is every 14 days. However, as you progress through your 20’s, this declines to every 24 to 30 days.

Collagen is another key element of your skin that begins to decline in your mid-20’s.

What is collagen?

It is one of the building blocks of your skin, and is the protein that largely makes up your skin’s structure. Once you reach your mid-20’s, the rate at which the collagen in your body breaks down overtakes the rate at which you naturally produce new collagen.

This means that skin aging is not too far away…

So, what can you do about this?

Well, seeing as up to 90% of facial wrinkles are caused by the sun’s UV rays, wearing sun cream is essential. If you are not already doing this every day, then this is something to begin doing right now.

When it comes to your declining collagen production and slower cell turnover…

Start using a retinol product.

Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A, and is one of the most potent anti-aging ingredients out there, with one of its greatest benefits being the way in which it speeds up cell turnover. Not only that, but it also stimulates your natural collagen production, helping to increase this so that production once again outweighs breakdown.

Skin Care in Your 30’s

While you may have been completely confident in your skin in your 20’s, you are much more likely to experience a few panicked moments in relation to your skin in your 30’s.

This decade tends to be the one where you experience your first static lines and wrinkles.

These are lines that do not fade when your face is resting, and are usually due to the continued decrease of collagen in your body.

If you are not yet using a retinol product, then now is the time to start, for the same reasons as mentioned in the 20’s section before.

Another key component in your skin that begins to noticeably decline in your 30’s is hyaluronic acid.

You may have already noticed this ingredient in many skin care products out there, but do you know what it actually is?

Hyaluronic acid is a molecule that occurs naturally in the body, and can be found in so many different parts of the body. So, when your natural levels of hyaluronic acid begin to decline, it only makes sense to top these back up.

But what exactly does hyaluronic acid do for the skin?

Well, this ingredient is a humectant, meaning that it draws moisture from the air into its molecules and then holds this water there. Your skin then absorbs this moisture, helping it to stay hydrated for longer.

Hyaluronic acid can also help with:

  • Wrinkles
  • Sagging skin
  • A damaged skin barrier
  • Wound healing
  • UV damage

Hyaluronic acid can be found in everything, from serums to creams. The most effective tends to be a serum, as their thin consistency means that they are more easily absorbed by the skin.

When choosing a product, make sure that it contains at least 1% hyaluronic acid, as this is the amount needed in order for the ingredient to really have an impact. 

How else can you care for your skin in your 30’s?

By incorporating antioxidants into your skin care routine.

Your skin is constantly under attack from free radicals, which are caused by everything from sun exposure to pollution. Simply put, free radicals are atoms that are missing an electron. In order to “heal” themselves, they will try to steal electrons from nearby cells, thereby damaging those cells, as well as their DNA.

Free radicals are one of the primary causes of aging, which is why this is something worth focusing on.

How do antioxidants help?

They provide free radicals with the electron that they are missing, therefore healing them and stopping them from attacking other cells in the body.

So, which antioxidants should you be using?

In addition to retinol, give these a try:

  • Resveratrolthis is an antioxidant that comes from plant-based foods, such as red wine, blueberries and cacao beans, and provides so many benefits for the skin, from brightening to anti-inflammatory 
  • Vitamin Chelps to strengthen the skin, while calming and hydrating it

Don’t forget…

Antioxidants work best when used in conjunction with each other, so try adding multiple antioxidants to your skin care routine.

Skin Care in Your 40’s

Those light lines that you noticed appearing on your face in your 30’s will begin to deepen in your 40’s, making them much more noticeable.

All of the natural declines from your 30’s, such as collagen production and hyaluronic acid, continue on, with cell turnover also decreasing down to every 30 to 42 days. You will notice that your skin feels much less resilient, and that it does not “bounce back” in quite the same way anymore.

Another common skin change that many experience in their 40’s is dryness…

Wondering what causes this?

The outer layer of your skin consists of a protective barrier, whose role is not only to protect your skin from environmental damage, but also to retain moisture.

As the body ages, this barrier weakens, meaning that your skin experiences a far greater loss of moisture.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to deal with this, and this is by switching to a much richer and thicker moisturizer. You may also need to moisturize more frequently throughout the day, in order to compensate for the extra moisture loss.

Another skin issue that may arise in your 40’s is hyperpigmentation.

This is when melanin, which is the pigment that gives your skin its color, is over-produced in some areas of the skin, causing those areas to darken. This can vary greatly in terms of shape and size, as well as placement on the skin.

Here are a few tips on how to deal with this:

  • Use a sunscreen – UV exposure only encourages your skin to produce more melanin, which you are trying to prevent
  • Use a gentle chemical exfoliant this helps to speed up the cell renewal rate
  • Use a lightening cream such as one containing kojic acid or hydroquinone

One key ingredient that you should be using in your 40’s are ceramides…

These are naturally one of the main components of your skin’s surface, and are an integral part of your skin’s matrix and structure.

However, with age, the body’s natural production of ceramides declines, meaning that the skin then begins to lose its firm structure and supple surface.

Research shows that the topical use of ceramides can really help with this, improving suppleness, roughness, uniformity, hydration and overall glow

Skin Care in Your 50’s

Once you have gone through menopause, your skin will be experiencing even more drastic changes.

Due to the drop in estrogen levels, the skin becomes much thinner and more fragile, meaning that it is even less able to retain moisture

Not only that, but research shows that, in the first five years after menopause, 30% of your collagen is lost.

This may sound frightening, but there are still several steps that you can take to keep your skin looking youthful and healthy.

Begin by making sure that you are already following all of the tips mentioned in each section above. While you may not be able to reverse your skin’s changes, you will still be able to brighten and nourish the one you have, preventing the changes from worsening.

A multi-step skin care routine is vital, and this should be something that you follow each and every day.

Wondering what the multiple steps should consist of?

Here are some guidelines:

  • A cleanser – this should always be the first step of any skin care routine, as it allows subsequent products to easily penetrate into the skin and work much better
  • A tonerthis helps to rebalance your skin’s pH level, which is often disrupted through cleansing
  • Exfoliant/peelthis is important to keep the surface of your skin looking smooth and vibrant. It will also encourage your natural cell turnover
  • Masksthese can be used on a weekly basis to give your skin a deeper treatment. Look for masks that address your specific skin concerns, whether this may be hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, or dry skin
  • Eye serums and creamsthe skin around your eyes is so delicate, and eye products are formulated to be gentle enough to nourish and care for this area without harming it
  • Face serumsserums are thin and lightweight, meaning that they quickly and easily penetrate the skin. While they may not look much different to water, serums are actually packed with a high concentration of active ingredients, which is why they are so effective at tackling various skin issues
  • Moisturizeras mentioned above, the moisturizer you are using now should be rich, thick, and packed with antioxidants

Skin Care in Your 60’s and Beyond

If you have worked out a skin care routine that is working for your skin in your 50’s, then stick to it through your 60’s, adjusting and adding in individual products when needed.

If you have been caring for your skin well throughout your life, then, by the time you reach your 60’s, you will be able to tell what your skin does and does not need.

One example of a product that you may want to add into your routine at this stage in life is targeted wrinkle creams. These are potent formulas that come with a small applicator that enables you to directly apply them to each wrinkle.

Of course, skin care is internal as well as external, and caring for your skin from within can really help to maintain a healthy glow throughout your later years.

How can you care for your skin from within?

Here are a few tips:

  • Diet – make sure that you are consuming a healthy diet, filled with plenty of fresh, whole foods, and with a minimum amount of processed foods 
  • Sleepadequate quality sleep is so important, although you may find that you need slightly less sleep as you age
  • Exerciseexercise is one of the best things that you can do for your skin, no matter what age you may be
  • Stressstress leads to nothing but problems in the skin, so try to find some stress management techniques that work well for you

By understanding the changes that your skin goes through as your body ages, you will be able to provide it with exactly what it needs. From the preventative steps that you can take in your 20’s, to the healthy lifestyle changes you can make in your later years, it is well worth taking the time to keep your skin healthy, no matter what age you may be.

 

Young woman stressed and rubbing her forehead

The Best Ways to Relieve Stress at Any Time

In the short term, stress isn’t such a big deal, and can actually help when it comes to meeting goals and challenges, urging you to act in a more efficient way.

However, chronic stress can really cause some problems…

This is when you experience stress over a longer period of time, whether this may be weeks or months. This can really damage your health in several different ways, including:

  • Lowering the function of your immune system
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches and irritability
  • Flare-ups in autoimmune diseases
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Increased cardiovascular risks 

With 70% of Americans claiming to feel stressed on a daily basis, learning how to tackle and deal with stress could really make a huge difference to the general health of many people. 

Want to know how to go about reducing your stress levels?

Here are a few of the best ways…

Do Some Exercise

It has been proven time and time again that those who exercise on a regular basis are likely to experience less stress and anxiety than people who do not.

Why is this?

For a few different reasons, such as:

  • Lowered stress hormones – exercise lowers the levels of cortisol in the body, while triggering the release of endorphins, which are chemicals that help you to feel happy
  • Improves sleepthis then helps to reduce stress
  • Improves self-esteem this can really help with anxiety

Don’t have time for a long workout?

There are many ways in which you can quickly squeeze some exercise into just ten minutes of your day, although you should then do this twice a day for best results.

Try doing some squats or standing push-ups while cooking meals in the kitchen, or spend five to ten minutes a day climbing stairs.

If you drive quite often, try parking further away than where you would usually park, so that you have to walk for five to ten minutes.

Even while you are sat down watching TV, you can still be exercising…

Jog on the spot during commercial breaks, or use small weights to do some leg exercises while you are sitting.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing exercises are actually one of the most effective ways to instantly lower your stress levels.

When you breathe in a deep and relaxed way, even if you are forcing yourself to do this, it sends a signal to your brain to calm down. Your brain then sends this same signal to all of the different parts of your body, and, before you know it, you will feel so much less stressed and more relaxed. 

Want to give this a try right now?

All you need to do is:

  • Place your tongue behind your upper front teeth
  • Breathe in through your nose quietly, for a count of four
  • Hold this breath in for a count of seven
  • Exhale completely, forcing your mouth to make a whoosh sound while doing so, for a count of eight

You should then repeat these steps four more times

Spend Quality Time With an Animal

Did you know that science has proven that spending quality time with an animal can decrease stress in a few different ways?

Some may find this hard to believe, but it is true.

Just physically being around an animal, even if you are just watching a fish in an aquarium, decreases your blood pressure. Petting them will magnify this effect.

Animals can also help the way your body responds to stressful situations in the first place, reducing the amount of stress that you actually experience. 

Take a Natural Supplement

There are some supplements that can really help to keep stress levels low.

These include:

  • St. John’s Wort lifts the mood and helps you to look at situations in a more positive light
  • Rhodiola Rosea shown to reduce stress and lift the mood, which is why it has long since been used by athletes in Russia
  • Magnesiummagnesium deficiencies are extremely common, even though magnesium promotes relaxation while regulating the way in which the body responds to stressful situations
  • Valerian Roota herb that is commonly used to treat stress, anxiety and insomnia, and has been proven to help reduce blood pressure and heart rate 

Since supplements are not regulated by the FDA, you do need to ensure that you purchase any supplements from a reliable source, and only use high quality products.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy has been used since ancient times as a stress reliever, and can really be quite effective.

Not quite sure what aromatherapy is exactly?

It makes use of aromatic plant oils, such as essential oils, as well as other aromatic plant compounds to boost both physical and psychological well-being.

Plants can be extremely powerful, and many people respond well to scents, making aromatherapy worth a try.

Want to give it a go?

The easiest way to get started is by using essential oils. The best oils for stress relief are:

  • Lavenderwhen this is rubbed on the skin, it enters the bloodstream in just five minutes, reducing stress and agitation and boosting mental concentration
  • Cedarwoodhas a calming effect on the mind, while triggering the brain to release serotonin, which helps to stabilize the mood
  • Limerefreshing and uplifting, lime can really help with stress and anxiety caused by grief or sadness
  • Rosepromotes tranquillity in the body while boosting self-esteem and helping with depression
  • Orangea study carried out in Japan showed that patients taking orange oil for stress and depression were able to reduce their intake of antidepressant medications
  • Sandalwoodhas a therapeutic effect on the brain, helping to balance your emotions 

Wondering how to actually use these oils?

Some can be applied directly to the skin and then inhaled, although others will need to be mixed with a carrier oil, so make sure to thoroughly research the oils you choose to use.

Alternatively, place the oils in a diffuser, or sprinkle a few drops in a bath or shower.

Drink Some Tea

There is quite a bit of research out there that shows just how effective drinking tea can be when it comes to relieving stress.

Different studies prove different things, from the way in which drinking black tea can lower the levels of the stress hormone in their body to those who drink tea being able to de-stress much quicker than those who do not.

Just about all types of tea will have this effect, but you do need to be drinking it on a regular basis in order to experience these results.

Chew Some Gum

Don’t like tea?

Try chewing some gum instead.

This is actually something that has been done for centuries, with even the Ancient Mayans and Greeks chewing on tree sap. This practice was introduced to settlers, after which it spread all over the world, resulting in the modern day chewing gum we know today.

Wondering how chewing gum can help with stress?

Research suggests that chewing gum is able to reduce the levels of cortisol in the body, leaving you feeling less stressed. It also helps to wake your brain up, keeping you feeling more alert and perceptive, meaning that you will be much better equipped to deal with stressors that come your way. 

If you find that this helps you…

You need to make sure that you do not rely on this stress-relieving method completely.

Why?

Because people who chew gum for stress tend to bite down harder on the gum each time they chew, and chew much more aggressively. This can then lead to jaw problems, which can get quite serious. 

Write It Down

The next time you are feeling stressed, try writing about it.

Keeping a journal is actually quite a meditative practice, and can help to reduce stress and its symptoms.

Not sure what to write about?

Write about the stressors you are currently experiencing, noting everything from what triggered the stressful situation to who you were with and how you feel, both physically and emotionally.

By doing this on a regular basis, you will be able to identify new patterns in your stressors, and may even be able to find a way to tackle these directly.

Give Someone a Hug

This may sound too easy to be effective, but giving somebody a hug can really help to relieve stress.

How?

Because hugging triggers your body to release oxytocin, a hormone that helps to promote relaxation in the mind, while boosting your mood and making you feel so much more positive about stressful situations.

Try to hug your loved ones multiple times a day to really take advantage of this.

Laugh

Laughing can be a fantastic way to relieve stress

You are probably thinking…

“I don’t feel like laughing when I’m feeling stressed!”

Even forcing yourself to laugh can make a huge difference.

How?

In a few different ways, such as:

  • By directly reducing cortisol levels
  • By bringing more oxygen into your body and into all of your organs
  • By relaxing your muscles to emphasize tension-relief

Give Yoga a Try

A study carried out on people experiencing chronic stress discovered that yoga was able to help relieve stress in 85% of subjects.

Yoga not only relaxes the body, but it relaxes the mind too, helping it to slow down.

It also encourages effective breathing, which, as mentioned above in the section on breathing exercises, can be so effective in reducing stress and its symptoms.

Already a fan of yoga?

Give some of these poses a try for the best stress-relieving effects:

    • Wide-legged forward bend
    • Low lunge pose
    • Standing forward bend
    • Garland pose
    • Legs up the wall
    • Bound angle pose 

Listen to Calming Music

It has long since been known that music can have such a relaxing effect on the body, and science has now proved this.

Listening to music can really help to promote relaxation within the body, not only lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, but also the amount of cortisol in your body.

Wondering what you should be listening to for maximum stress-relieving benefits?

Any type of music that you enjoy can help, but, for best results, slow-paced and instrumental music is ideal. Give classical, Native American and Celtic music a try, but make sure you pick something that you actually enjoy the sound of.

Eat Stress-Busting Foods

You are likely already aware of how the foods that you eat have a direct impact on your body, and this applies to the stress that you are feeling too.

There are many ways in which certain foods can help to relieve stress, such as:

  • Complex carbsfoods such as whole grain bread and oatmeal encourage the brain to produce more serotonin, giving your body a steady supply of this feel-good chemical
  • Fruits high in vitamin Cfruits such as oranges, lemons and strawberries help to reduce cortisol levels in the body while strengthening the immune system, all thanks to their vitamin C content
  • Leafy greens packed with magnesium, leafy greens can help to reduce stress-related symptoms
  • Avocadosthese are high in potassium, with half an avocado containing more potassium than a whole medium-sized banana. Potassium can really help to lower blood pressure, but be sure not to overdo it with the avocados, as they are also quite high in calories

Stress can really have such a negative effect on your life, which is why it is important to tackle this head on and keep your stress levels under control. The next time you find yourself feeling stressed, give a few of these stress-relieving tips a try to see what works best for you.

 

Goji berries in a wooden bowl

The Vitamin Truth About Berries

If you’ve been paying any attention to the world of health and wellness, maybe you noticed how there isn’t a single health enthusiast out there who isn’t raving about the all-healing power of berries. From hearty oatmeal to colorful fruit bowls to body-charging smoothies, it seems berries have been finding their way into every health-conscious meal plan.

So, how are berries supposed to help our health and beauty, exactly?

Well, these bite-sized nutrients are nature’s very own stockpile of vitamins, which hold a number of immunity-boosting properties that can contribute to your overall well-being. By regularly supplying your body with vitamins, you can help ensure all your vital organs are functioning properly.

Moreover, having more vitamins in your diet doesn’t hurt on the beauty front, either. You heard that right – munching on berries can help you achieve healthy-looking skin, hair and even nails! Read on to find out exactly how.

Strawberries Are a Treasure Trove of Vitamin C

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is the undisputable star among body-boosting nutrients.

Even if you aren’t well-versed in health and wellness trends, you probably already know that Vitamin C can do wonders for improving your immune system.

However, the benefits of upping your Vitamin C intake go way beyond that.

For example, did you know that a regular consumption of this Vitamin can also improve your eyesight, fade your age spots and relieve stress?

And that’s only the beginning.

First of all, Vitamin C can be your best friend when you want to fight off those pesky symptoms of common cold, such as sore throat, coughing and fatigue.

Upping your Vitamin C intake will boost your immunity and help your body in the fight against damaging infections.

Consuming foods with high Vitamin C concentration can also be beneficial for keeping more serious illnesses at bay.

Increased stress levels can also deplete Vitamin C levels in your body, so redressing the balance may help with reducing stress-related symptoms such as over-irritability, fatigue and lack of sleep.

When it comes to beauty benefits, Vitamin C is crucial for the production of collagen, that special little substance that keeps your complexion plump and glowing.

By upping your daily Vitamin C intake, you can help smooth out fine lines, wrinkles, but also minimize dark spots and other symptoms of hyperpigmentation on your skin.

Moreover, Vitamin C can reverse the negative effects caused by free radicals and protect it from additional damage causes by UV rays, pollution and other kinds of harmful environmental factors.

So, how do you make sure you are getting enough of this magic Vitamin C in your day-to-day meals?

We have some good news for you: berries are packed with this immunity-pepping antioxidant.

b, everyone’s favorite springtime treat, make for a great source of this body-healing vitamin.

One serving (a cup) of this palate-pleasing treat contains 80 milligrams of Vitamin C, which is around the exact amount of prescribed daily intake.

Raspberries and blueberries are also rich in Vitamin C. To create a trifecta of this illness-fighting vitamin, combine a handful od strawberries, raspberries and blueberries into a delicious fruit bowl.

Vitamin K Found in Blueberries is a Powerful Antioxidant

Vitamin K might have been flying under the radar in the past, but these days, all the health freaks are raving about it.

Why is this the case?

Well, this essential vitamin helps keep your body strong on several fronts.

For example, this nutrient can improve the functioning of your cardiovascular system. Since it can promote blood clotting, it is crucial for your body to be replenished with this vitamin in order to be able to heal from bleeding or bruising.

One of the most well-known benefits of Vitamin K is that it can strengthen your bones, and it does so by boosting the amount of protein needed to preserve bone calcium.

Optimal Vitamin K intake can help prevent occurrence of medical conditions such as osteoporosis and bone fracture.

Furthermore, increasing the presence of Vitamin K in your diet can help relieve PMS symptoms such as cramps and other types of discomfort. It can also help with excessive bleeding during periods.

In combination with other vitamins (such as A, C and D), Vitamin K can also help fight off the bacteria that accumulates on your teeth and gum. As a result, it can be effective in warding off tooth decay, cavities and various gum diseases.

One fruit that is especially loaded with vitamin K is blueberry.

A cup of these tiny nutritional powerhouses can contain up to 28.6 micrograms of Vitamin K, which is more than a third or prescribed daily intake.

And when it comes to introducing blueberries into your day-to-day meals – it’s as easy as it sounds.

You can carry a pack of this delicious fruit with you and snack on the go whenever you feel like a pick-me-up at work or after gym.

Blueberries can also be a great way to infuse your breakfast with the precious Vitamin K – simply throw them in your favorite oat meal and cereal and your dish will instantly become charged with antioxidants.

They can also add a kick of vitamins into your smoothies. They work well for sweetening more bitter ingredients like spinach or kale.

And in you need further inspiration, here’s an idea for a healthy smoothie where blueberry is the star ingredient.

In a blender, combine the following:

  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup almond milk

Mix until you achieve a smooth consistency. Voila, you’ve just made an ideal snack to kick-start your body and up your Vitamin K intake.

Vitamin A is Abundant in Acai Berries

It is a well-known fact Vitamin A can be incredibly beneficial for eye health and good vision.

However, not many people know this component is directly or indirectly tied to regular functioning of all the vital organs in the body.

This is because Vitamin A has powerful antioxidant properties, which can assist your body in the purging of free radicals, those harmful agents that cause genetic damage to your cells and trigger a host of medical conditions.

Furthermore, optimal Vitamin A intake can fortify your immunity, which means your body will be better equipped to ward off various illnesses.

Vitamin A can be found in certain animal products, as well as plant-based food, in which case it’s known as beta carotene. 

And one ingredient that is especially rich in this organ-pepping vitamin is the acai berry, a dark-hued fruit that hails from the Amazon region.

Because of its notable medicinal powers, this tropical berry has been consumed by the native people of Brazil for centuries.

Recently, it has become increasingly popular in health and wellness-conscious circles, which hail it as the new superfood du jour.

And for good reason, too: not only does the acai berry have numerous benefits for your body, it can also improve the appearance of your skin.

Due to high concentration of Vitamin A and other antioxidants, frequent consumption of acai berry can stave off various ailments, improve your digestion and cardiovascular activity and boost your energy levels.

When it comes to skin, the active ingredients found in acai berry can help reverse symptoms of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.

The vitamins concentrated in this Amazonian treat can also reinforce skin’s protective barrier, which will help protect it from harmful environmental factors, such as the sun, pollution, harsh weather, etc. 

Due to its rich, slightly bitter flavor, acai berry work well in combination with slightly sweeter ingredients.

It can be added to healthy dessert alternatives when you’re looking to add a punch of antioxidants to your after-meal treats.

The easiest way to consume the Brazilian berry is simply to throw it in a smoothie or breakfast bowl.

For added sweetness, chop up a banana or an apple, so your concoction isn’t too bitter.

Vitamin E in Blackberries Has Immense Reparative Properties

When it comes to reversing aging processes, one antioxidant in particular can be incredibly helpful: Vitamin E.

To begin with, this component can be notably beneficial for your cardiovascular system.

Vitamin E can help balance cholesterol levels and reduce chances of it oxidizing, as well as preventing thickening of the arteries.

Because of its powerful antioxidant properties, Vitamin E can effectively help in the fight against free radicals. This will in turn reduce chances of your body developing all kinds of medical issues, from common ailments to more serious conditions.

Having more Vitamin E in your diet can also transform your skin, hair and nails – making them healthier and more resistant to outside harms.

Due to its reparative powers, Vitamin E can help rejuvenate and heal damaged and irritated skin. Since Vitamin E is potent at accelerating cell regeneration, it can be used to treat sunburnt skin, scars and eczema.

Frequent consumption of this antioxidant will also boost hair growth, but also make your strands thicker and better equipped to fight off environmental damage. It can also do wonders for an itchy, flaky scalp.

And if you’re looking for ways to increase your daily intake of this powerful nutrient, you can always go down the easy road and take supplements.

However, to get the real deal, you should know that this vitamin can only be found in plant-based foods.

Luckily, berries represent one of the richest sources of Vitamin E. 

Blackberries in particular pack a punch when it comes to Vitamin E concentration: one cup contains about 1.68 milligrams of this powerful antioxidant.

When it comes to meal ideas, blackberries can be consumed on their own and make for a great snack when you’re on the run.

However, if your mind the slightly sour flavor, you can always combine them with sweeter fruit (like mango or papaya, which also contain high concentration of Vitamin E) to make a delicious, antioxidant-packed smoothie.

You can also add blackberries to your favorite oatmeal or throw them in a fruit salad.

Other berries that contain high concentration of Vitamin E include:

  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries

These mini bombs of antioxidants are bountiful during warm, sunny seasons and will make for a refreshing meal during scorching summer days.

Goji Berries are Rich in B Complex Vitamins

By B complex vitamins, people usually refer to the following compounds:

  • B1 (thiamine)
  • B2 (riboflavin)
  • B3 (niacin)
  • B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • B6 (pyridoxine)
  • B7 (biotin)
  • B9 (folic acid)
  • B12 (cobalamin)

And you’ll be delighted to hear that goji berries, a nutritious fruit that originates form Asia, contain even four of these super-charging agents, including vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B12.

And each of these has its own set of benefits for your health and your body.

For example, Vitamin B1 contributes to healthy digestive tract, but can also improve your nervous system, as well as skin, eyes and hair.

On the other hand, riboflavin or Vitamin B2 helps prevent cognitive decline, and it can also minimize symptoms of depression.

Vitamin B12 found in goji berries is one of the most important components for the healthy functioning of your organs. Regular Vitamin B12 consumption will keep energy levels high, but also regulate your mood.

This particular vitamin also reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

Since goji berries are still somewhat mysterious to the casual health food enthusiast, you might be wondering how you can include them in your day-to-day meals.

Luckily, this task is a lot easier than you think!

Just like any other berry, goji can be a welcome addition into various health-oriented meals, including smoothies, breakfast bowls or oat meals.

It can also be consumed on its own; however, if you’re looking to pack a punch of antioxidants, combine your goji berries with a handful of nuts like almonds, cashews or walnuts.

Have you been convinced of berries’ immense vitamin powers yet? Next time you find yourself at the fresh produce section, make sure to stock up on these super-charging nuggets. Your body will soon be thanking you!

Young blonde woman checking skin in mirror

Dehydrated Skin? Try These Easy Tips

Dehydrated skin can lead to so many different skin problems, from premature aging to a dull and rough complexion, making this an issue worth dealing with as soon as possible.

Not sure where to begin?

Here are 12 tips to help you to treat your dehydrated skin.

What’s the Difference Between Dry Skin and Dehydrated Skin?

Many people often think of dry and dehydrated skin as being the same thing, but this is not at all the case.

Wondering what the difference is?

The main difference is that dehydrated skin lacks water, while dry skin lacks oil.

Since water and oil are so different, you need to know for sure whether your skin is dry or dehydrated before you begin treating the problem.

Here are a few more details about each condition:

  • Dry Skin – becomes more prevalent with age, due to the skin’s natural lipid barrier decreasing. Symptoms include redness, itchiness and ashy areas, especially for those with a darker skin tone
  • Dehydrated Skincan be caused by a number of factors, such as not drinking enough water, sun exposure, and indoor heating or cooling systems. Symptoms include tightness, a scaly, rough or flaky texture, and the appearance of smaller pores 

If you think your skin may be dry rather than dehydrated, then you will need to look for ways in which you can counter that.

Make Sure That You Are Drinking Enough Water

Do you drink around eight glasses of water a day?

If your answer is no, then this could be one of the reasons as to why your skin is dehydrated.

All of the organs in your body need water in order to properly function, and each time you drink some water, this gets distributed to the organs that need it the most. These usually tend to be the vital organs, and the skin is last on the list, meaning that it often misses out when it comes to this dose of hydration.

However, while many may recommend drinking more that the recommended amount of water a day, this will actually not benefit dehydrated skin, unless you do feel thirsty. Any excess water will only end up being flushed out of your system, and not much of this will actually reach the skin.

To keep your skin at its healthiest, try to drink around eight glasses of water a day, or more if you are overly active.

Eat More Moisture-Rich Foods

As mentioned above, water that you drink ends up being directed to your vital organs first, meaning that your skin can sometimes miss out.

So how do you ensure that your skin is hydrated from within?

By eating moisture-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables. 

These contain water, but in a more structured form, and rather than flushing out your system in the way that a glass of water would do, moisture-rich foods provide your body with long-lasting hydration. This water is released into your body slowly, making it more likely that your skin will receive some of this hydration. 

Wondering which fruits and vegetables contain the most moisture?

Here are some of the top moisture-rich foods out there:

  • Watermelon, Green Peppers and Strawberries – 92%  water
  • Cucumbers96% water, with most of this located in its skin
  • Iceberg Lettuce96% water
  • Celery95% water  
  • Cantaloupe90% water
  • Pineapples, Oranges and Raspberries87% water 

Make Use of Hydrating Skin Care Ingredients

There are so many different skin care ingredients out there, and each one will bring its own range of unique benefits to the skin.

When it comes to hydrating ingredients, there are plenty to choose from, but one of the most effective is definitely hyaluronic acid.

Never heard of this powerhouse before?

Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, meaning that it draws moisture from the air towards the skin. It is able to hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, making it key when it comes to helping your skin to retain moisture.

Your skin naturally contains hyaluronic acid, but applying some more topically can make a huge difference. Look for this ingredient as part of a moisturizer or a serum for best results.

Other ingredients to look out for include:

  • Urea – has strong water-binding properties
  • Plant oilsimproves the skin’s water retention
  • Glycerine especially hydrating when used along with hyaluronic acid 
  • Ceramideshelps with the skin’s hydration balance
  • Niacinamidealso known as vitamin B3, this helps to heal and strengthen the skin’s barrier, preventing moisture loss

Stay Away From Dehydrating Skin Care Ingredients

While some ingredients are known for the way in which they hydrate the skin, others are infamous for being dehydrating.

If you already have dehydrated skin, then dehydrating skin care ingredients are the last things that you want to be applying to your skin.

These are a few of the ingredients that you should try to stay away from, at least until you have managed to treat your skin dehydration:

  • Alcohol
  • Fragrances
  • Harsh exfoliants  
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Salicylic acid

Make Use of Hydrating Face Masks

Face masks are designed to remain on the skin for an extended period of time, meaning that all of its active ingredients have enough time to properly penetrate your skin and work their magic.

Of course, there are so many different types of face masks out there, and not all of them are suitable for dehydrated skin. 

So, which ones do you go for?

Cream masks are great, because these are rich in oil and moisturizing ingredients, with many of them also containing hyaluronic acid.

Gel masks are also incredibly hydrating, especially since these tend to be infused with antioxidants, while sheet masks can also be beneficial, especially if you apply an extra layer of hyaluronic acid underneath the mask. 

Wondering which ingredients to look out for, as well as to avoid, when it comes to hydrating face masks?

The same ingredients mentioned above, as those apply to all skin care products.

Be Extremely Gentle With Your Skin

Dehydrated skin is usually a sign of some form of skin damage, meaning that you need to treat it just as gently as you would any of your other organs if they were to become damaged.

When touching your face, whether this may be to cleanse your skin or to apply a cream, allow your hands to smoothly glide over it, avoiding any scrubbing, rubbing or tugging motions.

Invest in a Humidifier

A humidifier and dehydrated skin go hand in hand, because this is something that can really help to add moisture back into your skin.

The optimum humidity level for your skin is around 55%. However, if you use central air in your home, this can bring the humidity level in your house down to 10%. As you can imagine, this is not good for dehydrated skin.

So, how does a humidifier help?

They work by adding water vapour into the air, therefore increasing the air’s moisture content, and therefore the humidity of a room. By increasing the air’s moisture levels, you then help to prevent it from pulling out moisture from your skin.

Wondering where to keep your new humidifier?

The best spot is usually in the bedroom.

Why?

Because the time during which you are asleep is when your skin cells are healing and regenerating, meaning that this is the time in which they require the right amount of moisture in order to properly function. The humidifier will help it with this, at the time when it needs it the most.

Can’t decide between a warm mist and a cool mist?

Experts recommended going for a warm mist, as this is much closer to the skin’s natural temperature. 

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Sun Protection

If you often neglect to wear sunscreen, then this could be one of the big causes of your dehydrated skin.

Exposing your unprotected skin to the sun for an extended period of time leads to water evaporating from your skin, leaving it dehydrated.

How do you prevent this from happening?

With the use of sunscreen.

When it comes to choosing a sunscreen for dehydrated skin…

Many find that the physical sunscreen formulas often exacerbate any flaky or scaly areas.

Why is this?

Because the mineral filters used in a physical sunscreen, such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, also work as an astringent, meaning that they can have quite a drying effect. 

The best way around this is to either apply a layer of moisturizer on to your skin before applying a sunscreen, or opting for a chemical sunscreen formula instead.

Cleanse Your Skin Each Evening

Cleansing is actually extremely important for dehydrated skin.

Why?

Because if you do not remove the layer of dirt, dead skin cells, oil and more that settle on the surface of the skin throughout the day, any hydrating skin care products that you apply will not be able to properly penetrate into your skin.

Attractive woman washing face in mirror

Of course, with your skin being dehydrated, you do need to make sure that you opt for a gentle, moisturizing cleanser, staying away from foaming formulas.

Wondering why it is better to cleanse at night rather than in the morning?

Because this allows you to wash away all of the dirt from the day, while giving your skin the ingredients needed to help it with all of the work it does at night. If you cleanse immediately before going to bed, and sleep on a clean pillowcase, then your skin will still be clean in the morning.

Don’t be tempted to cleanse twice a day, as over-cleansing can cause even more problems for dehydrated skin.

Use Oil-Blotting Paper for Excess Oil

As mentioned above, over-cleansing your face can cause numerous problems, but what happens if your dehydrated skin is oily as well?

While it may be tempting to scrub at your face a few times a day, this will only lead to even more breakouts.

One easy way to clear your skin of excess oil throughout the day is to use blotting papers, as these gently remove the oil without damaging your skin in any way.

Give it a Month

You are likely tempted to try some of the new skin care ingredients or techniques mentioned above, but patience is key here…

It takes, on average, about 28 days for your skin regeneration cycle to go through one round, meaning that this is how long it takes for your old skin cells to be replaced by new ones. The older you are, the longer this takes.

This means that, when trying anything new on your skin, you need to give it at least a month before deciding whether or not it works.

Of course, if anything you are trying is clearly affecting your skin in a negative way, then you should cease this immediately.

Dehydrated skin can definitely be frustrating to deal with, but you need to make sure that you treat it with the care it requires, otherwise it will only get worse. From knowing which ingredients to avoid to providing moisture to your skin in different ways, these tips will help you to rehydrate your skin in no time at all.

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