Resveralife Partner 21 Drops

21 Drops

Aromatherapy has been a method of healing and relaxation for centuries. While there is little known about the history of aromatherapy, the Egyptians are credited with inventing one of the first distillation devices that were used to extract oils from plants. Aromatherapy has come a long way since then. Resveralife is thrilled to have 21 Drops as one of our lifestyle partners.

21 Drops is a pioneer in the field of modern essential oil therapy. Founder Cary Caster has dedicated her life to the study of plants and nature. Cary began the journey that would lead to the formation of 21 Drops as a horticulture major at the University of Florida. She pursued a graduate degree in ethnobotany and subsequently went on to achieve clinical degrees in anatomy and physiology. Her extensive knowledge is the foundation upon which 21 Drops was built. Cary moved to England in pursuit of her certification as an Aromatherapist from the Traditional Chinese Medicine and Aromatherapy center. Cary didn’t stop there; she went on to France for an Advanced Clinical Certification from Essential Oil Research Consultants.

Cary not only possesses an incredible array of academic accolades and wisdom, she also has a profound passion for the healing properties of essential oils. It is this blend of knowledge and passion that make 21 Drops a uniquely modern way to heal, calm, soothe and invigorate your body. While diet and exercise are tantamount to feeling and looking healthy, your mental health is equally important. Aromatherapy from 21 Drops uses essential oils that have been sourced from sustainable, indigenous habitats. The standard of quality that 21 Drops maintains is unparalleled by any other essential oil companies. Every 21 Drops solution is pre-blended using distinct essential oils and use organic jojoba oil as the carrier. These solutions are all targeted to treat specific concerns, ailments and aspirations.

Because 21 Drops is meticulous about creating the perfect concentration of the correct essential oils, the blends work in synergy to deliver their targeted promise, resulting in a healthier mind and body. What makes 21 Drops a modern way to experience aromatherapy is not only the extreme care and consideration that goes into every blend, but it is also the packaging. Every oil blend is packaged in an airtight, leak-free glass bottle with a roller top. 21 Drops has made sure that aromatherapy is something you can easily and conveniently carry with you because sometimes, you really need an extra boost of inspiration when working on difficult project or a calming blend after a stressful meeting. The fun, lively packaging makes these perfect to toss right into your bag the same way that you do your favorite lip gloss and you never have to worry about leaking or spills.

Cary is not only the founder of 21 Drops, she also now sits on the board of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists and is frequently featured as an essential oil expert by the Huffington Post, Vanity Fair and Martha Stewart Living. In addition to all of the success 21 Drops and Cary Caster already have, they have achieved the following major achievements:

  • HBA IPDA Award Finalist in 2011
  • Pantone Color Design Award Winner in 2011
  • Chosen for Oprah’s O List in 2011
  • Featured in Marie Claire in 2011
  • Top 5 GLOSSYBOX Office Obsessions in 2013
  • Dr. Oz named Passion Scent from 21 Drops as one of his favorite zen scents in 2014
  • Yoga Journal names 21 Drops a “Must-Have for Yoga” in 2015

Resveralife boutiques place an emphasis on health for your total body in the form of exercise equipment, apparel, tea, candles and aromatherapy. With 21 Drops as one of our lifestyle partners, you can stop and take a moment to yourself no matter where you are as you live your active life.

Resveralife Partner La Vie Boheme Yoga

Resveralife Yoga Mats

The practice of yoga encompasses physical, mental and spiritual discipline. Yoga originated in India, where it has been practiced for centuries. Practicing yoga is beneficial for all individuals as it is a safe, low-impact form of exercise. But yoga goes beyond physical exercise: it helps clarify your mind and fosters a deep sense of relaxation. Resveralife is excited to offer exclusive mat designs that represent the beauty of yoga.

Designed by the Resveralife design team, Resveralife currently offers two yoga mats designs: a Mandala Mat and a Dream Catcher Mat. A celebration of strength and unity is captured in both designs. The word mandala is a Sanskrit term that means “circle” or “discoid object”. A mandala can be defined externally as a schematic visual representation of the universe and internally as a guide for several psychophysical practices that take place in many Asian traditions, including meditation. The beautiful mandala on our mat is meant to inspire completeness while focusing on your wellbeing. The origin of the dream catcher goes back to the Anishnabe Indigenous Tribe, where an elder had a vision of a spider’s web in a hoop with a feather and bead attached that would catch the bad dreams of the tribe’s people while letting good dreams pass through. Our dream catcher mat will remind you to only let positive thoughts guide your life.

The style, prints and materials in Resveralife yoga mats are certainly part of what distinguishes these mats from others, but it is not only the aesthetic appeal that is different. All yoga mats are made with natural rubber and microfiber, and are machine washable. Designed to grip and at a 24” x 69” size, they are ideal for all variations of Yoga, Bikram, Pilates, meditation and general exercising.

Resveralife encourages a lifetime of healthy habits that keep you looking and feeling your best. All yoga mats have a limited lifetime warranty, guaranteeing that you have years of health and wellness in every mat.

With Resveralife mats you invest in yourself and your well-being. Practicing yoga is an incredible way to take a bit of time to relax, tone and center yourself in the midst of your busy life. Available in Resveralife boutiques.

Woman enjoying a salad while working on her laptop

11 Superfoods That Will Boost Your Brainpower

As you might have already known, your brain is in charge of everything.

It is like a conductor of a big and complicated orchestra.

Now, imagine if the conductor was feeling a bit woozy because they haven’t eaten anything? Without the necessary cues, the trombone flips, the violin storms off the stage, and the piano simply crashes.

If you want a healthy and happy body, you need to have a healthy and happy mind. And one way you can ensure that is by providing proper nourishment.

Food for Thought

Many of us don’t even think about the food we eat on a daily basis. However, food is what gives our body energy, food is what gives it health and helps it develop.

But it is often that we forget this fact and choose something that is fast and easy.

If you want to truly boost your brainpower for a longer period of time, you should definitely try to encompass at least some of these foods on a regular basis.

No, we don’t mean every day.

However, it is definitely also recommended that you talk to a nutritionist before making any large dietary changes.

1)   Coffee

Yes, yes, we decided to start with coffee, since it’s something that most of us like.

But, we are not talking about a tall latte with caramel drizzle (even though we would definitely like it, this is not the healthiest choice). We are talking about the essence of coffee.

There are truly numerous benefits of coffee, but the ones we are most concerned with have to do with the brain.

Woman's hands holding a small cup of coffee

Now, if you’ve ever had to study under pressure (and you most certainly have, otherwise you’ve missed on an adventure!), you know that coffee is simply divine when your bed is calling your name.

We all know that coffee works wonders for alertness and focus. In fact, caffeine in coffee blocks adenosine, which can make you feel sleepy.

However, there is yet another benefit to coffee – it increases your brain’s capacity to process information. Some recent studies have found that caffeine increases the brain’s entropy.

Another good thing about coffee is that it can actually support your brain health as you get older. Longer consumption of coffee reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

However, always be mindful that too much coffee can lead to other health issues, so it is advisable not to drink more than 3-4 cups a day. If used excessively, it can even trigger a migraine. And then you can kiss all your brainpower goodbye.

2)   Dark Chocolate

Yes, you’ve guessed it, we’re hittin’ you with the good stuff so you don’t hate us too much afterwards.

And no, milk chocolate doesn’t count.

Yeah, as we said – don’t hate us.

Cocoa contains flavonoids that actually improve blood flow to the brain. You know what that means – improved memory and focus. Cocoa can also prevent mental decline linked to old age.

Dark chocolate is full of organic compounds that function as antioxidants, which means that it’s also incredibly healthy in many other ways.

And we don’t even need to mention what chocolate (yes, even dark chocolate) does to your mood.

However, even though dark chocolate is healthier than its milkier version, it also has more calories. So, don’t eat too much of it, just enough to get that brainpower started.

3)   Olives and Olive Oil

For a long time now, researchers have been pointing to the health benefits of olive oil. There are so many, that we can’t even name them all.

The bottom line is this – olive oil=health galore!

Olive oil on wooden table

Now, some studies have even shown that regular consumption of olives and olive oil leads to less brain deterioration over time because of the mono-unsaturated fat that olives have. This is the healthy fat which actually increases the transportation of oxygen to the brain.

Olives can be eaten as snacks, you can put them in salads and even on pizza! Also, you can use olive oil for cooking (although it loses some of its healthy vibe when cooked), marinades and many salad dressings.

Truly, olives and olive oil are so versatile that they can be incorporated at least once a week in your regular diet.

4)   Fish

No, tuna’s not gonna cut it.

You need the good kind of fish, that is, fatty fish, which includes:

  • Trout
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Kippers
  • Sardines

Yeah, not the nicest-smelling bunch in the b(r)ook, but hey, your brain’s going to be really grateful for your nose’s sacrifice.

These types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. And guess what your brain’s made of? (Well, not entirely, but to a great extent.)

This means that eating these types of fish not only boosts your brainpower, but it also helps protect your brain against mental decline. Some studies have found that not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids is linked with depression and even learning impairments.

So, it’s a good idea to incorporate fish into your diet. Try to eat it at least twice a week. That is, if you’re not allergic to fish, since it’s a common enough food allergen.

Which brings us to our next superfood.

5)   Nuts

Nuts are great in all sorts of ways. You can have them in salads, as a snack on the go, you can even put them in cakes.

Talk about versatility!

Now, don’t go nuts here. While they are truly healthy, they are also packed (and we mean packed) with calories. So, if you’re on a restrictive diet, you might want to use them sparingly.

Cup of mixed nuts

Most experts recommend a handful a day (to keep the doctor away) to get the most benefits without ingesting too much. 

You might have heard that nuts are in general great for you heart. But did you know that eating nuts on a regular basis can reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases and improve cognition significantly?

Nuts are full of healthy fats and antioxidants. They are also rich in vitamin E, which shields cell membranes from free radical damage. This, in turn, slows down mental decline.

When it comes to the type of nuts you should eat – walnuts take the cake! They are full of fatty acids, copper, iron, calcium, manganese, folic acid, antioxidants, etc. Walnuts are the rulers of nuts everywhere.

However, nut allergy is truly widespread so, if you aren’t sure whether you have it, consult your doctor before you start eating  of the aforementioned kinds on a regular basis.

6)   Wholegrain Foods

Yeah, we told you you’d hate us.

We know, we know, nobody particularly enjoys eating wholegrain food. But have you ever wondered why the sudden popularity, then?

Because it is incredibly, incredibly healthy.

We kid you not.

Aside being great for digestion, whole grains are also a source of vitamin E, which, as we’ve mentioned, slows down mental decline by preventing free radicals from damaging cell membranes.

There are numerous ways you can incorporate wholegrain food into your diet. You can eat oatmeal, or wholegrain bread, or even use wholegrain pasta (which, we have to admit, does not actually taste that bad).

Why are whole grains good for the brain?

Well, the body works more to break them down, thus releasing energy in the form of glucose, into the body at a slower pace. This, in turn, extends your energy levels, increases your mood and concentration.

And, another perk is that you’ll feel full for longer.

So, instead of cramming down bacon or pancakes for breakfast, try a nice oatmeal or wholegrain toast. That will raise your energy levels and improve your concentration just when you need it most!

7)   Pumpkin Seeds

Just like nuts, pumpkin seeds are also great as a snack, filling you up for a longer period of time. Again, you can use them in salads or eat them just without anything.

Just. Like. That.

However, they’re also great if you want to put them in your wholegrain bread. This is an awesome way to combine several things that are great for brainpower.

You might not have thought about them, but pumpkin seeds are truly beneficial to your overall health.

But why are they good for your brain?

They also have a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, which, as we’ve mentioned, support brain function. But, they also have magnesium (which is essential for learning and memory), B vitamins and tryptophan (which is a precursor for serotonin, improving good mood). Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, as well, which enhances memory and critical thinking, according to certain studies.

So, next time you’re thinking what healthy, brainpower-boosting snack to try out, the choice is simple!

But, again, not more than a handful.

8)   Berries

Strawberries cherries and an angel’s kiss in spring

My summer wine is really made from all these things.

Nancy Sinatra knew what she was singing about.

And she knew how to use it to her benefit.

The song notwithstanding, berries are really a wondrous gift from the earth. Many of them contain flavonoid antioxidants, which can improve communication between brain cells, boost learning and memory, and reduce cognitive decline.

Assorted bowls of berries

When it comes to the type of berries you should be munching on, these include, as Nancy sang, strawberries, of course, but also mulberries, blackberries, blueberries and black currants. These are all great for brainpower, and great for your immune system in general.

And they are certainly versatile when it comes to incorporating them in your diet. You can literally do anything with them, and they’ll still taste good.

Making fresh juice? Great!

Putting them in pie? Awesome!

Making a ham glaze? Why not?

There’s no reason why you should deprive your brain (and your body) from the gloriousness that are berries.

As the saying (that we’ve made up) goes, a new day, a new berry.

9)   Leafy Greens

Tastes differ, but many people apparently share a distaste for this particular type of food.

Ever since we were little kids, our parents had to make us eat spinach, kale, broccoli, etc.

The monsters!

It’s like they wanted us to be healthy or something!

But all jokes aside, the health benefits of leafy greens are well-known and we are now (a little) less reluctant to eat them.

They are simply overflowing with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants good for your entire body. But when it comes to the brain, they have a lot of iron, which improves attention, learning and memory, as well as vitamin K, which increases cognitive function.

Basically, your parents were right.

You should eat your veggies.   

10)    Avocados

Avocado is also great for a number of reasons.

Yes, it’s a bit on the high-calorie side.

Okay, a bit more on the high-calorie side.

However, it is a great source of unsaturated fat. This type of fat reduces blood pressure, which is linked with cognitive decline. They are rich in omega-2 fatty acids, which improve blood flow to the brain.

Woman presenting avocado

Now, if you’re not certain how to incorporate avocados into your regular diet, we have one word for you – guacamole!

11)    Eggs

Eggs are great for a number of reasons. Those reasons mostly include a vast array of ways to prepare them.

But, as it turns out, they also include some health reasons, as well.

Eggs are, in fact, a good source of some nutrients that have been linked with improved brain health – vitamins B6, B12, as well as folate and choline.

B vitamins can delay cognitive decline, while their deficiency has been linked to depression. As some research has shown, folate deficiency is common in the elderly suffering from dementia.

But choline is the star when it comes to eggs. Eggs are some of the richest sources of choline we can get. Choline is particularly important for the development of the memory center. The body uses choline to create acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and memory.

An average egg yolk has about 200 mg of choline, but that doesn’t meet our daily needs. Women need 425 mg per day, while men need 550 mg.

Drinking tea on the couch, with socks on

How to Create a Self-Care Routine that Actually Works

As many of us who have ever had social media (i.e. everyone) know, 2019 is all about self-care. And even though many try to disregard its importance, in this day and age, we truly need some time for ourselves, to take care of our physical, emotional and mental health.

We often go about our days just letting the stress accumulate without any regard for how it may impact our lives. When in fact, stress can have a major impact on both the body and the spirit.

That’s precisely where self-care comes in.

However, a lot of people struggle with implementing self-care into their daily lives. Rushing here and there, it remains forgotten among duties of the day. But, fear not, there are ways you can make sure you stick to your self-care routine.

What is Self-Care?

Most people find it tricky to truly take care of themselves. When we truly think about it, not many of us can find too many things that we do in that regard.

How long has it been since you dedicated a day, or even an evening, to yourself?

If you can’t remember, then it’s clear you’re in dire need of self-care.

Self-care includes activities that we do that help our physical, mental and emotional help. Its main purpose is to improve our mood and to reduce anxiety and the accumulated stress of the day. It is also the basis of a healthy relationship towards one’s self and even others.

It’s not selfish, as some may think. Self-care is extremely important if we are to help ourselves get through the stress of our day-to-day lives.

So don’t think you’re selfish if you’re dedicating your time to your well-being. It seems that we’re not doing enough of that as it is. Focus on yourself from time to time and this will lead to a much fuller, happier life.

It doesn’t have to be anything complicated – it can include a good book, reveling in the joy of bath bombs, or even playing music. But it is incredibly important to have that time devoted to doing what will make you feel better. 

There are various benefits to self-care, which are, frankly, too precious to count. Here’s what you can expect when you dedicate yourself to yourself:

  • Lowered stress
  • Improved wellbeing
  • Increase in productivity
  • Higher self-esteem and self-awareness
  • Improved health

So how do you create a reasonable self-care routine?

Many of us decide one day that we’ll start treating ourselves better, and that we’ll start our self-care routine this very day.

However, many of us also don’t follow through. Various commitments get in the way and we simply give up on what’s the easiest.

But, with these few tips, you can create your own self-care routine that you won’t abandon when the obstacles arise.

Do the Things You Love

One of the possibly worst things you can do when you’re trying to stick to your self-care routine is to do something you’ve heard is the best, but doesn’t quite cut it for you.

Yeah, yeah, we all know that yoga’s great (and it really is), but if you find that it doesn’t suit you, and you don’t feel too relaxed when you’re doing it, then that’s not something that should find its way into your routine.

Remember, everyone’s different. What works for someone else may not work for you.

And in that case, it’s most likely that you won’t commit to it.

Try to think of a few activities that you love, and some that bring you joy. For instance, you may feel happy when you’re playing the flute, or when you’re building a table. Make a list of activities that make you feel good.

If you’re not sure what you truly love, try a few different things. You may even find something that you’re good at. Why not? Try a dance or a cooking class, or listening to some podcasts, see what interests you and, more importantly, what leaves you feeling a little more content and a little less stressed.

Friends cooking together

Choose activities that are beneficial in various ways

There are truly plenty of self-care routines, but a lot of them do fall into some dimension of wellness. There are six dimensions of wellness: intellectual, spiritual, emotional, physical, social and occupational.

So, if you’re choosing to take care of yourself, choose activities that will be good for you in various ways.

For instance, if you enter a volleyball team, you get the bonus of physical and social wellness. On the other hand, if you join a book club, you’re getting both intellectual and social part of your being taken care of.

Of course, don’t go against yourself. If you feel like the social factor of the activity would not benefit you, choose something else. You can even read a book while you run on a treadmill, there’s nothing stopping you.

The important thing is to choose activities which will satisfy more needs, but that will also suit you.

Keep It Simple

One of the reasons why our self-care routines don’t always work is that they’re too complicated. And it’s not likely that we’ll stick to something too complicated.

In fact, we might just chuck it in the bin right on the first day precisely because of that, believing we can’t keep up with that.

And it’s true, if you go on thinking that it’s just another obligation, it’s probably not going to work. With so many other obligations pertaining to work, and our family/friends, we tend to put our needs on the backburner.

Self-care doesn’t have to be anything lengthy and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. The main point here is to fit it into your lifestyle, while also getting to the point where you’re recharged and relaxed.

Create A Plan

Now, when we say plan, we don’t mean a regimen that you simply have to stick to. This is about simply making the time for self-care.

You can start off easy, with 15 minutes in the morning or the evening scheduled for exercise, or reading.

Make sure that you let your family and friends know you’re unavailable at that time.

If you prefer it that way, write a faux timetable and put it on your wall. Sometimes, when you plan ahead, it simply becomes much easier to fit it into your days, especially if you generally lead a hectic life. And, in general, some people simply like planning.

Unknown woman writing in her journal

A good way of doing that is making a plan a day in advance. We’re not often sure what our whole weeks will look like. That is why it is perhaps best to sit down in the evening and map out the next day. That way, there’ll be less chance of something changing and putting a wrench in your plan.

Know When to Be Flexible

Another thing that it’s important is that, while we all lead pretty organized lives, there are times when our routine changes and something unexpected pops up.

Things get in the way, that’s a given.

But the important thing is not to let your plan go completely.

However, you should remember that every day is a fresh start. If you were unable to do your self-care routine one day, do it the next. If you’re unable to do it in the morning, do it in the evening.

After all, this is about you and what you can do at that time. If you choose to do just one thing from your routine because you simply don’t have the time, well, then, you did that one thing. And that’s great. The important thing is not to give up. You can’t always do everything that you’ve envisioned, but you can do at least something.

No two days are the same, so it’s best if you try to adapt. Work around your schedule to see what works best at that particular day or moment.

Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

A self-care routine will certainly take time to become a way of life. And, more importantly, it’s a process of trial and error.

But it’s okay if your first attempt was not that successful. Through trial and error, you will find what works best.

Another thing to look out for is not to set goals that are too hard. Be realistic when you’re making your plan.

Let’s face it, none of us can go from zero to sixty, so to speak, in a week. Unattainable goals are not what self-care is about. It’s about finding the perfect routine for you and devoting yourself to it. If you want your routine to turn into a habit, being realistic is the best way to start.

Find a Buddy

If you have someone who can fulfil the role, you should find someone who will “hold you accountable,” so to speak. A friend, a family member or even a coworker who will check in from time to time to see how you’re doing.

Also, they can be the person you turn to when you feel like you can’t devote yourself to the routine.

Couple cycling together in the park

When we’re on our own, it’s sometimes too easy to let self-care fall to the background (and in that case, be forgotten), but if you have someone to help you along the way, it will be easier to stick to the commitment you made.

If your self-care routine includes making your diet more healthy, maybe some of your friends need encouragement for the same thing, as well. See if you can be each other’s helpers along this way to mutual wellbeing.

Get Back to Basics

Sometimes the simplest things will help you stick to your self-care routine. There are things that are so simple, yet do so much for our health, that we usually disregard. Here are some of the tips on how to get back to the basics for a much healthier day.

  • Get enough sleep. How often do you get enough hours of sleep? Sleep is incredibly beneficial, but because of our jobs and other reasons, we seem to disregard it as unimportant. But that is simply not true. Our bodies fill up on energy during sleep and they need it like the air we breathe. Even a power nap during the day can help you feel more rejuvenated and more alert. But it is important that you get at least seven hours a sleep a day to be able to go about your day.
  • Maintain a proper eating schedule. As with our sleeping schedule, there are various things that happen to our bodies when we mess up our eating schedule. Make sure to eat three meals and two small snacks every day. This will help stabilize your body, preparing it for the world. You can even implement food into your self-care routine. If you have an affinity for cooking, use that as me-time.
  • Use the free time you have the way you enjoy it. For instance, if you have 15 minutes in the morning before you have to go to work, why not solve a crossword puzzle? Or go to the store on foot. Use those fifteen minutes for something relaxing. If you have the weekend off, try to do some activity that you know will make you feel good – finish that show that you wanted to watch, ride a bike or just meet up with an old friend. It’s essential that your free time is spent the way you will enjoy it the most.
  • Focus on here and now. Many times, when we are doing one thing, our mind wanders, completely disconnecting us from the present. We think about the obligations that we have, or even something that we are planning to do in the distant future. However, self-care flies right out of the window if we do this. For it to work, we need to stay connected to the moment. The more we practice that, the less we will think about unrelated things. And the more mindful we are, the more we will actually enjoy the present and the more effect the self-care routine will have.
Woman looking at her skin in bathroom mirror

How to Clear Clogged Pores Properly

It seems like recently, everyone’s been doing their best to prevent clogged pores. Let’s face it – clogged pores are one of the biggest nuisances there are.

And, once you get them, it’s a bit annoying trying to get rid of them.

Every day, your skin battles pollution, your own sweat and makeup. Sometimes, its defenses get a bit sluggish. And, when that happens – you’re faced with clogged pores.

But, don’t worry. Where your skin falters, you must continue. There are ways to clear clogged pores properly, with perseverance, tenacity and, of course, a few tips from professionals.

What Are Clogged Pores?

Pores are basically small holes in the skin through which oil and sweat go out.

Clogged pores occur when dead skin cells get trapped in your skin. They are supposed to be shed into the environment, but sometimes they can get stuck.

You can usually see when your pores are clogged if you see pimples or, in general, a certain dullness to your skin.

Now, many people think that clogged pores necessarily lead to pimples. However, that is simply not true.

While yes, many such pores do end up becoming pimples, there are some that don’t involve inflammation. Unlike with pimples, there’s no need for your body to get rid of them and they can remain like that, blocked, forever. (Well, not forever, but you catch the drift. For a very long time.)

You can usually see them in a certain light or, when you tilt your head just so. But, even the clogged pores that don’t immediately become pimples can become pimples at one point. That is why it is best to deal with them on a regular basis.

Infographic on clogged pores

What Causes Clogged Pores?

There are a lot of things that can cause clogged pores.

Truly, a lot. Our skin reacts to various things, both internal (like hormonal changes), to external (like air pollution).

But that is truly unfortunate, because it means that there are a lot of things you and your skin have to fight. Here are some of the things which can cause clogged pores.

  • Puberty. Yes, during puberty, our bodies increase its production of oil, that is, sebum, which can combine with dead skin and bacteria at times. And you get stuck with clogged pores which, as you may have guessed, can easily turn into pimples.
  • Smoking. You may not have known this, but greasy particles from smoke can easily land on your skin, thus contributing to unclean pores. Aside from the other adverse effects smoking has on the skin, it also contributes to clogged pores.
  • Stress. During stressful times, our bodies produce stress hormones in excess. This, in turn, triggers sebaceous glands to produce a lot of sebum.
  • Using certain beauty products. Basically, many of your favorite beauty products can be the culprit here. You should only buy non-comedogenic formulas. That means that they use ingredients which won’t clog your pores. Also, you should only use face products that specify that they are oil free.
  • Not cleansing or cleansing too much. Yes, this one is really the trickiest cause of clogged pores. Basically, while not cleansing your face can lead to a buildup of sebum, if you do it too much, this can also be a bad thing. Too much exfoliating strips your skin of its natural oils. Then, your oil glands decide to overcompensate and create more oil. That is why finding the golden middle is perfect for your skin.

Professional Treatments for Excessively Clogged Pores

If you have particularly specific skin and you’re not quite sure you can deal with your clogged pores on your own, going the professional route can often prove to be the best option.

Basically, you go to a dermatologist or a skincare specialist for a facial treatment which can be done in several ways. They test your skin and decide how best to proceed.

1)   Extractions

We know how it sounds – a bit terrifying, to be honest.

However, you have to have faith sometimes – professionals know what they’re doing (and they’ve done it a thousand times).

They extract what should not be there in the first place by using a metal extractor tool to apply pressure around the clogged pores. This causes the content to spill out.

Now, this can also be done with pimples if they can be unclogged. If they can’t, your skincare specialist will not suggest this treatment.

After unclogging your pores, the specialist usually applies some antibacterial or antiseptic which should bring back the natural pH levels of the skin, preventing further breakouts. They may even apply a soothing mask or carry out some other treatment. You can go on these treatments once a month to keep your skin healthy and glowing.

In any case, such extractions should be left in the hands of professionals. If you try to pop your pimples at home, you can damage your pores and cause further buildup of sebum.

2)   Steaming

As blasé as this may sound, this treatment is simply heaven.

You can literally feel your skin getting clean. Of course, steaming is something you can do at home with a towel and a pot. However, that requires more effort than a professional doing it.

Your dermatologist or skincare specialist uses a steamer to put warm, moist air on your face, which helps your pores open.

Woman undergoing face-steaming procedure

Then, they can apply treatments such as masks and moisturizers more easily. After steaming, your skin absorbs those treatments more deeply, and this can, and usually does have better results.

3)   Exfoliation

Exfoliation basically includes a process of removing dead skin cells from your skin. It typically includes using an exfoliation tool or a chemical or a granular substance.

Regular exfoliation, whether done by professionals or not, improves the overall health of your skin and unclogs your pores. It also improves skin elasticity and encourages collagen production. Truly, there are many benefits to exfoliation.

Exfoliation usually includes the use of a few abrasive materials:

  • Loofahs
  • Cleansing scrubs
  • Exfoliating mitts
  • Micro derma rollers
  • Dry brushes

These are the products you can use yourself at home with a good chance of success. You can combine them with a facial exfoliant for truly magnificent results.

On the other hand, you should never attempt to do chemical exfoliation yourself. This should only be done by professionals.

If you choose chemical exfoliation, consult with your dermatologist first to find the best option for you. Typically, this usually includes alpha hydroxyl acids, beta hydroxyl acids, retinols or topical enzymes.

Precisely because some of these chemicals are harsh and can dry out your skin if handled improperly, it is important to talk to a professional.

At-Home Treatments for Clogged Pores

While many, many people go to professionals, fearing that they won’t be able to deal with their clogged pores properly, there are plenty of options that are definitely safe to try at home and quite effective when it comes to unclogging pores.

You simply need to be a bit more persistent. Here are some products you can use at home to clear your pores efficiently.

1)   Pore Strips

Pore strips come in various shapes and sizes. While most people use them for their nose, you can use them for any part of your face.

You can use pore strips to remove bacteria, oil, dead skin and everything else that is left on the surface of your skin.

And the process is quite simple. You wet the strip and put it on the part of the face with clogged pores. Leave it there for five or ten minutes, and then slowly peel away.

Make sure to rinse the area with warm water. You want to remove any residue that the strip left.

However, you should avoid pore strips if you have any skin allergies or if you have sensitive skin. Also, they can be used once a week at most. Don’t overdo it if you want to avoid skin irritation.

2)   Charcoal Masks

Everywhere you look nowadays, some Instagram celebrity is praising this invention. Activated charcoal is now used in facial and body cleansers, scrubs, and even masks.

And truly, it does have many benefits, as it removes toxins, dirt and pollution from pores.

For most charcoal masks, you should first rinse your face before using them. Also, you should leave it between 5 and 10 minutes and then remove it. While some should be rinsed off, others harden and should be pulled off.

Spa professional applying black face mask on woman's face

However, dermatologists warn that you should never make your own charcoal mask at home. This can be dangerous and can cause irritation of the skin. It’s better to buy a charcoal mask from a certified distributor.

3)   Pore Vacuums

Pore vacuums have also been gaining on popularity in recent years. Many people praise them as the best invention in recent years.

The principle is pretty simple – there’s something in your pores, this sucks it out.

However, experts recommend that you don’t use it too often. Apparently, while they may work for blackheads that are already loosened, they do not have the same effect on other types of clogged pores.

Also, while there are pore vacuums that can be bought for as little as $10, experts also recommend that you don’t buy cheap ones. If you are to do this at home, you should at least

Another option is to go to a professional. They will be able to see which areas need more suction and which areas need less. They can then adapt the treatment to your particular needs.

Natural Remedies for Clogged Pores

There are really a lot of ways you can clean your pores at home, without buying anything. You can simply use what you have in your cupboard.

No, we’re not talking about the chemicals you use to unclog your sink, if that’s where your mind wandered.

Basically, people have long found various uses for common things you can find in every home. Some of those uses can include purifying the skin.

1)   Baking Soda

Yes, this is truly an ingredient everyone has in their homes. But it’s one of the most versatile ingredients there are in this world.

First, mix two teaspoons of this epic ingredient with one teaspoon of water. This should make a paste. Then, you should gently massage it onto your face.

Don’t leave it on for longer than five minutes, though, this should be perfectly enough to unclog your pores. Then, rinse if off.

You can do this once a week if you want balanced skin but don’t want to overdo it with cleaning.

2)   Lemon Slice

Lemon also has quite a lot of benefits for many parts of our bodies, not just our skin. But it is also a superb ingredient when it comes to unclogging pores.

Slicing a lemon on chopping board

All you have to do is cut a lemon in half and run it over your skin where you’ve been having problems with clogged pores.

You should leave it on the skin for about five minutes, and then rinse it off with cold water. Again, don’t leave it for longer than five minutes, because it can irritate your skin and possibly cause other problems.

This works because the acidity present in the lemon can help break up all the old skin cells, dirt and grime that have accumulated over time.

3)  Parsley

Parsley is not just a garnish, it’s a life saver!

Parsley is known to pull out impurities and toxins out of your skin and it’s incredibly effective.

Put a handful of parsley in a pot of water, bringing it to a boil. After that, let it cool down a bit. (Yes, you’re basically making parsley tea, which has all sorts of benefits.)

Simply dip a clean washcloth into the water, and then squeeze out excess moisture. Place it on your face for about 10-15 minutes. Wash your face afterwards.

This treatment can actually be repeated every other day, as it has numerous benefits.

There have recently been some claims that such home-made treatments of clogged pores do more harm than good. However, that is simply not true. The key here is not to do it too much, as some of these ingredients can harm the skin if left for too long. But, if you use it the way they’re supposed to be used, they will clean your pores in no time.

Woman enjoying the scent of a palm leaf

How to Use These 9 Scents to Change Your Mood

Whether you’re feeling down and need a slight boost, or you’re feeling on edge and need to relax a bit, you might want to try using your nose.

That’s right, your nose.

Your nose knows.

As incredible as it sounds, our sense of smell can play an incredible part in improving your mood. Researchers have devoted their time to the issue and found that some scents can, in fact, alter your mood to a certain extent.

So, the next time you need a mood boost, you might want to try some of the scents we will list to help you.

Scent and memory – the best of friends

The fact that scent is connected to mood changes is directly caused by the specific “wiring” of our brain.

That is, the olfactory center is connected directly to the parts of the brain that handle emotions and associative learning.

Basically, when we draw odor molecules into our nose, they dissolve and penetrate the mucus. Then they bind with the cilia (projections attached to receptor cells) and create an impulse which travels through nerves until it reaches the olfactory bulb in the brain, where the signals are processed and passed to other parts of the brain.

Many people don’t know this, but processing smell is closely related to the hippocampus, where memories are stored.

So, there’s a reason why you always remember grandma when you smell freshly baked cookies.

Or why you cringe when you smell rubbing alcohol.

Studies have even shown that memories evoked through odor went back farther in time. Also, they were more emotionally charged than memories evoked through words.

And because memories are always connected and intertwined with emotions, when we experience a scent stored in our memory, the brain then usually correlates it with some recollections and emotions present in them. That is why certain smells sometimes evoke strong feelings in us, even if we can’t quite place why that is.

Lemon

Aside from its various health benefits, the very scent of a lemon can have incredible impact on your stress levels.

You might not think it particularly appealing, but the scent of lemon can increase your energy levels, improve your mood and even your ability to concentrate.

Now there’s a reason why you like those lemon-scented cleaning products, right?

In fact, most people would describe lemon as smelling “clean,” which is precisely why it is used in a great number of cleaning products.

It’s used in aromatherapy to help people get rid of feelings of impurity and imperfection. It also serves to boost their confidence.

You can use essential oils to achieve that purpose, or you can simply make lemonade. In fact, whenever you need a concentration or a confidence boost, why not make a glass of fresh lemonade?

Aaand, problem solved. Maybe.

In addition, you can use the calming properties of the scent of lemon when you’re feeling angry, nervous or simply tired.

Orange

It seems like we have somehow found our way to the fruit section. But even though fruit scents may seem simple, their impact can be huge.

According to certain studies, the scent of oranges has a relaxing effect, bringing about positivity and calm in the participants of the studies.

Halved orange with a vial of oil

Also, the scent of oranges has been linked with reduced aggression.

So, whenever you feel anxious and a bit tense, it might be a good idea to take an orange-scented lotion and take a shower.

Also, you can extract oil from orange peels and find yourself with a generous supply of it for future use.

Peppermint

Good news for everyone that likes gum or tea!

The health benefits of peppermint have been widely known since ancient Egyptian times, since it’s been used for medicinal purposes since then.

The scent of peppermint is incredibly useful when you’re trying to concentrate. Also, it has mood-elevating properties which are efficient in combating anxiety and, in some cases, even depression. It’s been proven that it can relieve feelings of sadness effectively.

Peppermint is also useful when you’re feeling distracted when you should be studying or even driving. Some studies have shown that sniffing peppermint can improve typing accuracy and make drivers more alert.

Athletes that smelled peppermint during exercise actually outperformed those who did not.

So, you know what you need to do before you hit the gym next time.

Simply dab a few drops of peppermint oil on your temples or you can burn the oil in an aromatherapy burner for long-lasting effects.

If you don’t have the oil available, making tea or chewing gum can provide you with some relief, as well.

Coffee

Can we all agree that coffee is the best thing that’s ever happened to mankind?

Its power is so incredible, that the mere scent of coffee can affect your brain chemistry.

That is great news for those suffering from high blood pressure, who cannot drink that much coffee on a daily basis.

Even smelling coffee can boost your brain power, a study found. So, if you can’t drink too much of it, you can definitely at least sniff coffee beans.

And we all know how good they smell.

So, the next time you need a bit of a boost before an exam, coffee will do you good. Just make sure you don’t go overboard.

A sniff or two just for you should be enough.

Lavender

Not to sound too New Age-y, but dude, if you need to chill out, perhaps try lavender?

Lavender slows the heart rate and calms the nervous system.

Sounds good?

Yeah, we also think so.

Essential oil experts will tell you that lavender is used in all sorts of ways. Lavender oil can be used to treat insomnia, anxiety and it can even help with nausea. Also, it can help with allergies and menstrual cramps.

It truly is a very versatile oil.

It has quite the soothing effect on nerves and can relieve tension. This is exactly what most modern day workers need. Amid the stress of the working day, you can find a sanctuary in the form of lavender, to help you ease your mind and relax.

So, to reiterate, dude, feel free to chill with lavender.

Another important use of lavender is that it helps people who suffer from insomnia. A study actually found that lavender, combined with sleep hygiene, improved sleep quality for students who had sleep issues. In another study, it was found that the scent of lavender can improve the quality and duration of sleep.

Now, if you’ve ever suffered from insomnia, you know that every little bit helps when fighting the good fight.

That is why you might want to try some alternative routes and hop on the lavender train.

Rosemary

There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember;

and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts

This brief line from Hamlet shows that even in Shakespeare’s time, rosemary was known for its link to memory.

But, if we go even further, we’ll find that its benefits were known even in ancient times – ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Romans and Hebrews used it to improve memory and even for protection.

It was even considered sacred.

Woman enjoying the scent of rosemary in her garden

The Greeks would wear rosemary garlands around their heads while studying. Now, if you’re a student running out of ideas on how to learn a whole book in a week, well, there’s your answer.

Rosemary garlands FTW, as the young would say.

Several studies have been conducted and proved that there is increase in memory retention when the scent of rosemary is included in the equation. However, not much is known on just how rosemary seems to give incredible results.

The main effects that the scent of rosemary can have include:

  • Reducing stress and tension
  • Fighting mental fatigue
  • Boosting mental activity
  • Encouraging clarity
  • Improving alertness
  • Improving your general mood

Another of the benefits of the scent is that it can boost your entire immune system. It does so by stimulating internal anti-oxidant activity.

In addition, it can eliminate headaches, which will surely improve your mood significantly. Also, if you’re suffering from throat and nasal congestion, rosemary’s your man.

Well, your plant.

It is widely used in aromatherapy in the form of essential oil, but you can also use it in the form of tea in the morning, when every one of us needs a little bit of help to start the day.

Cinnamon

Aside from being great in every possible form of pastry you can imagine, cinnamon also has numerous health benefits.

Have you ever wondered why you feel happier simply by smelling the delicious baked goods full of cinnamon? Have you stopped and simply lingered, letting the scent flow over you and bring you to a simpler time?

Well, that’s the beauty of cinnamon. In all its baked glory.

Now, that doesn’t mean you should start baking (and especially not eating) 10 cinnamon buns a day.

Well, you could, but that wouldn’t be too healthy, now would it?

No, that simply means that there are other ways you can reap the benefits cinnamon has to offer, and one of them is through its scent.

When sniffed, cinnamon can reduce drowsiness and irritability. So it may be your perfect choice when you need that extra pick-me-up during the day.

Especially, and we all know this very well, if your head feels like it’s made of lead and it’s dragging you down for a nap.

A nap you can’t possibly take, since, you know, you’re at your place of work.

Cinnamon can also help you concentrate and perform better, which, in turn, can significantly help you with your job.

It is especially useful during those days, ladies, when your menstrual cramps are proving to be another nuisance on the road to a productive day. It can alleviate certain types of headaches and even various other types of pain.

Frankly, out of all aforementioned scents, cinnamon may be the easiest to use. It does not even need heat to harvest its aroma. You can simply put it in sachets and hang them where there is a slight breeze – for instance, above doorways or near windows. You can even scatter cinnamon powder over the soil of your house plants.

Another, quite useful way to use cinnamon and to get its aroma in a quick way is to boil it. You simply need to sprinkle a bit of powdered cinnamon into uncovered water and let it simmer for a while.

Apple

This might come as a surprise, but the scent of the common apple can be quite beneficial for you.

And this includes the most delicious pastry of all – apple pie.

Simply put, there’s nothing that a good apple pie cannot fix.

But, in all seriousness, apples in general are great for easing pain and alleviating tension.

It’s been proven that green apple scent can soothe migraines and even ease head and neck muscle spasms.

Also, it can reduce general anxiety and stress.

That will definitely leave you in a much better mood than you were before.

Especially if you’ve made pie.

Jasmine

But when I’m way up here, it’s crystal clear, that now I’m in a whole new world…

If you haven’t caught that reference, then the pun is pointless and it needs further explanation.

Which brings us to the main benefit of the scent of jasmine – namely, its uplifting capabilities.

You get it?

Jasmine sings a song about flying high in the sky, and jasmine has uplifting qualities?

Well, that pun’s ruined.

But what is not ruined is the fact that the scent of jasmine can produce a feeling of optimism, revitalized energy and a feeling of confidence.

Everything that we need from time to time.

Fresh, blooming jasmine flowers

Aside from that, jasmine can also be used to calm nerves.

Now, it’s a good thing that, due to its sweet fragrance, jasmine is actually used in some of the most famous perfumes, such as Chanel No. 5.

Also, it’s a common ingredient in desserts.

(There’s been too much talk about desserts, but that simply goes to show how much our senses of taste and smell are connected.)

A study has found that jasmine essential oil increases alertness and behavioral arousal. This also means that it can be useful in relieving symptoms of depression, and that it can improve your mood in general.

When inhaled, another study found, jasmine oil could affect brain activity, leaving participants feeling more energetic, more positive, and even more romantic.

So, if you’re trying to create the perfect atmosphere for wooing – you know what to do.

Use that jasmine perfume liberally or simply use a diffuser for a more permanent effect.

Three women clasping their hands together, in a gym setting

9 Easy Yoga Poses for Beginners

So, you’re thinking about taking up yoga?

Maybe you feel a bit overwhelmed by seeing experienced yogis twist this way and bend that way and you’re not sure if you can pull it off?

Well, just remember, they had to start somewhere. And there’s no better way to start than at the beginning. So, take your yoga mat and let’s get going!

There are over 300 positions in yoga, and we’re sure you’ll master them all at some point. But, for now, be content with the simple poses that every beginner should learn. Here is our pick of the best yoga poses for a beginner.

The Benefits of Yoga

In general, and everyone will tell you this – yoga is a way of life. Not only does it help you work on your body, but it also helps soothe your mind. It is a culture of well-being that can truly improve your life in many ways.

Now, this makes it seem like yoga is some kind of superman among various practices.

And you know what?

It kind of is.  

While it can’t, admittedly, fly you to the moon or save you from a villain (unless we count the metaphorical sense), there are great many things yoga can do:

  • Reduce stress.  Many yoga methods are interlinked with meditation, helping you “quiet down” the incessant clamoring of your mind. In turn, yoga relieves stress and relaxes even the most stressed individual.
  • Increase flexibility. One of the main points of yoga is that it gradually stretches your muscles, ligaments, and tendons, increasing the range of motion in your joints. This allows you to practice further poses and, who knows, become a yogi yourself one day!
  • Help with weight loss. In general, while the main purpose of yoga is not to lose weight, it is, however, one of its main benefits. As you balance your mind, you will also learn ways to balance your body, helping you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Improve posture. Because of all of the above, another great advantage of yoga is that now, your abdominal and back muscles can support your weight. As a result, your posture will greatly improve.

Yoga Poses for Beginners

As previously said, when you start doing yoga, your body will start undergoing change which will improve your overall agility.

Agility, that you can later use to increase the difficulty of your yoga poses.

But, for now, here are the easiest ones, perfect for beginners.

The Easy Pose (Sukhasana)

Calm woman in sukhasana pose

It makes sense to start here.

The easy pose is great for beginners and, even though it’s easy, it has plenty of benefits. It’s simply divine for your peace of mind and, also, for your back muscles and your spine.

  • Sit with your buttocks firmly on the floor.
  • Cross your legs, but make sure to place your feet directly below your knees.
  • Put your hands on your knees.
  • Press your hips down into the floor and drop your shoulders down and back. Press your chest forward.
  • You should also relax your face, jaw and stomach.
  • Breathe deeply through the nose and hold for as many breaths as you like.

If you have knee or back injuries, you should sit on a folded blanket to remove the strain. In 

general, yoga is recommended for dealing with back pain. If some poses are too difficult, they can always be modified.

Another great way to remove the strain this pose can cause to beginners is to lean back on a wall or, possibly, lean slightly forward.

The Mountain (Tadasana)

Woman in standing pose

This is the basic pose for all standing poses. It is perfect for beginners, because it represents a foray into the point of yoga – learning how to ground yourself.

It may seem easy, but it’s important that you do it right.

While doing the mountain pose, keep the idea of balance in mind, since this is an essential part of yoga.

  • Stand with your feet together, press down with your toes and spread them open. Draw your abdominal muscles in to engage your core.
  • Then, lift your chest and roll your shoulders back and down, all the while keeping them relaxed. Drop your tailbone a bit to lengthen your lower back
  • You should always take slow and deep breaths through your nose. Hold the pose for as many breaths as you like.

Precisely because it is such an easy pose to do, you can do it practically anywhere and anytime, whenever you feel like you could benefit from the balance the pose brings.

The Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Downward-facing dog pose

One of the biggest benefits of this pose is that it strengthens your entire body, while also stretching it. This is easily one of most widely recognized yoga poses.

However, it’s vital to do it right.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Get down on your hands and knees. Your knees should be directly below your hips, and your hands should be slightly forward from your shoulders.
  • Spread your palms and turn your toes under.
  • While you exhale, you should lift your knees away from the floor. Keep your hips back and try to straighten your legs as much as you can. If your hamstrings are too tight, keep your knees bent a bit. If needed, you can also walk your hands forward. This will give you additional length.
  • Press your palms firmly on the floor and rotate your inner elbows towards each other.
  • Take long and deep breaths through your nose and, if you can, hold for 5 breaths.

The Tree (Vrksasana)

Woman in yoga tree pose

Another pose which aims at improving the balance of any beginner. It seems fairly simple – standing on one leg, right?

Well, not quite.

Even though it is easy to learn, it can be challenging for your hips, ankles and feet.

That is why you should always do everything at your pace and set realistic goals.

It is said that a good tree pose in the morning does wonder for curbing anxiety and stress, as well as increasing concentration.

  • Start in mountain pose. Keep your toes together and your heels slightly apart.
  • Then, shift your weight onto the left foot. Keep that foot firmly on the floor.
  • Bring your right foot up to the inner thigh and squeeze them together. If you’re having trouble drawing your foot up, simply reach down with your right hand and help it along the way. Toes of your right foot should be facing downwards, while the knee should be turned out.
  • When you’ve found your balance, press your hands together in front of your chest and keep your gaze at a fixed point about 5 feet away from you.
  • You should hold this pose for about 5 breaths, or more, if you have no problem.

If you can’t seem to find your balance at first, place your right foot on your shin, instead of the thigh.

The Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)

Woman in seated forward fold pose

Another great pose for beginners, simply because – you most likely already know, at least partially, how to do it.

That is, if you’ve ever stretched in your life.

It is perfect for unwinding after an intense workout, and it is perfect for unwinding after an intense day.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Simply sit on the floor and extend your legs right in front of you.
  • Keep your feet firmly flexed. Don’t turn them in or out. Keep your hands by your hips.
  • Then, lift your chest and bend forward from the waist. Make sure to engage your lower abdominals.
  • Once you’ve bent as far as you can, simply stop and breathe for about 10 breaths. Make sure you are relaxed throughout the pose.

Should you feel any sharp pain at any point, stop. However, if it’s tension that you’re feeling when you bend forward and, more importantly, you can continue to breathe unhindered, your body will gradually loosen up. Tension is normal when doing yoga, but pain is not.

Another option is to keep knees bent, but your feet should remain flexed and together throughout the pose.

The Bridge (Setu Bandhasana)

Woman doing the bridge pose

The opposite of the forward bend is the back bend. This pose effectively stretches the front part of your body, while also strengthening your back.

Again, you’ve probably seen it in some form or another. However, this is a good basis for later, more complicated poses.

  • First, lie flat on your back.
  • Then, bend your knees. Put your feet on the floor, but make sure they’re hip-width apart and that your knees and ankles are placed in a straight line.
  • Your arms should rest beside your body and your palms should be facing downwards.
  • When you inhale, lift your back. Try to roll in your shoulders so that your chin touches your chest. Your arms, feet and shoulders should support your weight.
  • Interlace your fingers. You should also push your hands harder to the ground.
  • You can hold this pose for 10 breaths. Lower your hips then and repeat for two or three times.

The Plank (Kumbhakasana)

Athletic woman in plank position

Let’s face it. Many of us are familiar with the infamous plank pose.

Simply because it’s easy to form, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to do.

When it comes to torture in the form of physical exercise, many will testify that planking is right there with pulling a truck with your bare teeth.

However.

Don’t be dissuaded.

Planking is actually so beneficial, that it should be included in every beginner’s routine. It is also the basis for many other more challenging poses that you’ll learn later on.

Now, some prefer going into plank from the downward-facing dog, while others like to keep it simple.

We’re all about simplicity here. (At least until you feel you’re ready for more.)

So, here’s how to do the plank:

  • Start on the ground, on all fours. Your knees should be directly under your hips and your hands should be directly under your shoulders.
  • Tuck your toes under and lift your knees off the mat. Extend your legs behind you. Your body should form one long line.
  • Keep your palms on the floor and core engaged. Your neck and spine should be in neutral position.
  • If you can, hold this position for about 5 breaths.

Again, while this may seem like it’s too difficult to hold, start small. Begin with 15 seconds and work from there. You will gradually feel your body strengthening and you will be able to increase its duration to 1 minute.

The Cobra (Bhujangasana)

Athletic woman in cobra pose

A simply spectacular pose for beginners. This is when you can feel the stretch, but also give your body a bit of a rest.

The cobra pose is simply perfect if you have a stiff lower back after a day of sitting at the office.

Aside from strengthening your arms and shoulders, it also stimulates your heart, as well as the organs in your abdomen. It also improves circulation of blood and oxygen, which, in turn, has many other benefits.

But how to do it properly?

  • Lie on your stomach and stretch your legs.
  • Then, spread your hands on the floor, but make sure they are directly under your shoulders.
  • Your feet, thighs and pelvis should be firmly pressed into the floor.
  • Lift your chest off the floor, but always maintain your pelvis on the floor.
  • Firm your buttocks and your shoulder blades, but not too much.

Again, you don’t want to push too hard. Should you feel pain at any moment, pull back a bit, you’ve most likely gone too far.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Woman in child's pose, yoga setting

This pose is effective when you need to take a break between two more challenging poses.

It is also great for digestion, and it’s in general calming for the mind.

It can often be neglected on your road to mastering new poses, but it shouldn’t be! You should never push your body without giving it the proper rest it needs.

Remember, it’s all about balance.

So, while you’re striving for those harder ones, make sure to rest now and then.

  • Kneel on the floor. Your big toes should touch together and you should sit on your heels.
  • Separate your knees to the same width as your hips.
  • On the exhale, put your torso between your thighs. Stretch your arms forward and lower your forehead to the floor. Let your body release.

Since this is such a calming pose, you can do it for as many breaths as you feel necessary.

It is great for letting your body recuperate from the stress of the exercise, but also, the stress of life. 

Woman holding head in pain

Avoid These Migraine Food Triggers

There’s possibly nothing worse than getting a migraine.

Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but still – migraines are truly awful! They make you want to simply curl up in a dark room and not leave until sound and light stop causing you pain.

If you’ve suffered from migraines, you know that there can be all sorts of triggers. And truly, the scope of triggers is quite vast. 

Now, there has been research which connects certain types of food with migraines. That means that you should at least reduce the amount of that food in your diet if you want to reduce the frequency and the intensity of your migraine attacks.

What Are Migraines?

Basically, migraines are extremely painful headaches, which can be accompanied by sensory sensitivity. Symptoms can vary from one person to another and can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours, and sometimes even longer.

Some common symptoms of migraines include:

  • Headache
  • Disturbed vision
  • Sensitivity to sensory information (i.e. to light, sound, smells)
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness

However, migraines are usually also preceded and followed by other symptoms, so the impact of a single migraine attack can actually be quite long and debilitating. It can impact your everyday life to a significant extent, especially if you get them often.

Unfortunately, there is no medical cure for migraines currently. They are usually treated with other pain-relieving medication, or, in some cases, with preventive medication taken on a regular basis, which serves to reduce their severity or frequency.

However, there are things you yourself can do to prevent getting migraines. That may not completely eradicate your migraines, but it will certainly help significantly.

Migraine Triggers

Migraines are incredibly complex (they even used to be called complicated migraines). Even though there is plenty of research being done to see what causes them and to improve treatment, it seems that there is a long way to go still.

However, what most experts seem to agree on is that migraines are usually preceded by a specific trigger. The scope of triggers varies from one person to the next. While some triggers cause migraines in some people, they have no effect whatsoever on others, who are also suffering from migraines.

In any case, the scope of triggers is truly astounding. It involves things like hormonal changes, changes in sleep patterns, too much food, too little food, too much sleep, too little sleep, too much time in front of the computer, dehydration, and even the weekend.

Yes, even the weekend is a possible migraine trigger.

Many people suffer migraines due to the change in daily routine, which is why they experience a migraine at the weekend, when they should be relaxing.

Now that’s a pickle.

When it comes to food, there have been some studies that link certain types of food with the onset of migraines. However, because of its truly specific nature, scientists have been unable to find a common thread in all people who suffer from migraines.

That is why everyone should check their specific triggers. Here are some of the common food triggers that have been linked with causing migraines, which you might want to avoid. Now, this doesn’t mean you should stop consuming them completely. You simply need to control your cravings, and you’re on the right path.

Red Wine

Pouring red wine into two glasses

We know, we know.

This one hits home! How else are we supposed to (politely) manage all those boring dinners without getting (politely) tipsy on wine?

Well, if you’re a wine aficionado, we simply don’t know what to tell you.

And it’s not the wine’s fault, per se. Sulfites, which are used in red wine as preservatives, are, sadly, on the list of foods that may trigger migraines.

Additionally, alcohol in general is a major trigger. While you drink it, alcohol increases the blood flow to your brain and that, as you may have guessed, is known to trigger migraines.

Also – hangovers are simply the worst.

Dehydration, which is a common side-effect of the good ol’ hangover, can also cause migraines or, at the very least, a headache.

So, it might be a good idea to quit…

…fooling around and simply reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.

As they say, moderation is key.

Coffee

Woman holding a cup of espresso

Again, no need to completely quit coffee.

In fact, caffeine aids the absorption of many pain-relieving drugs.

However, if you’re used to several cups of coffee a day, when you don’t get the amount you’re used to, that’s when migraines appear.

Look into your daily consumption of caffeine, since it is not particularly healthy overall to drink too much of it. But, if you’re thinking about reducing the amount of coffee you drink, you have to do it gradually. So, no going cold turkey. Your body will not be happy.

According to most experts, daily intake of caffeine should be no more than 200 milligrams. The bad news is – it’s only one cup of coffee.

Chocolate

Dark chocolate truffles

When it comes to chocolate, many people have also said that it triggers their migraines. However, the jury’s still out on chocolate – some people who suffer from migraine headaches claim that chocolate helps ease their headache.

A study conducted at the University of California, San Diego analyzed oral and stool samples and found that people who experience migraines after eating chocolate have higher levels of gut microbes that modify nitrates.

Now, chocolate is full of nitrates.

The bacteria in our gut modifies and then its waste product, nitrites, become nitric oxide in the blood.

Nitric oxide is usually great for many things, including circulation, but it’s not particularly great for people who experience migraines.

So, again, while chocolate itself is not too bad, having too much of it can lead to headaches.

Tyramine

Sliced ham on wooden chopping board

Yeah, we bet you’re thinking you’ve never had tyramine in your life.

But, you have, you definitely have.

Except in other, sneakier (and tastier) forms.

Tyramine can be found in aged foods, as well as fermented foods, such as:

  • Cured meats
  • Aged cheese
  • Smoked fish

Tyramine is also found in some types of beer and even some fruits and veggies.

Food is more likely to have more tyramine if it is stored for long and if it isn’t kept in sufficiently cold environments.

An enzyme in the human body called monoamine oxidase (MAO) actually breaks down monoamines like tyramine. If you do not have enough of it in your system, it’s possible that you’ll get a migraine.

However, because it is such a complex issue, it’s still not completely clear how tyramine exactly triggers migraines.

Now, for some good news. There are actually types of meats and cheese which have higher and lower levels of tyramine. Here are some of them.

Meat/Poultry/Fish

Freshly cooked sausages and tomato dish, still in pan

When it comes to meat, you should avoid processed meat such as sausages, salami, as well as gravy (we know, this one’s hard for us, too). Another thing you should avoid is pickled fish, but we have a feeling not many people are dissatisfied with this one. However, this also includes smoked fish, so that might be a bit more difficult.

On the other hand, there is also meat which doesn’t have that much tyramine, such as fresh meat, fish, and poultry. Also, canned meats or fresh fish are also good for consumption and are not that likely to cause a migraine.

Cheese/Dairy

Freshly grated cheese on chopping board

Unfortunately, some of the best types of cheese are really high in tyramine. These include all sorts of aged cheese, cheddar, blue cheese, Camembert, Swiss cheese, Parmesan, Stilton, and even feta.

This one’s sad as sad can be.

Seriously, how can you have pasta without Parmesan?

But, people with migraines have to cool it with the cheese.

On the other hand, types like cottage cheese, farmer’s cheese and even cream cheese are good. Also, yoghurt, fresh milk and sour cream are low in tyramine, so you can have them whenever you want.

Fruit/Vegetables

Halved citrus fruits on wooden board

If you’re not a fan of sour fruit, then you won’t be too affected by this. Oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, limes and pineapple are higher in tyramine.

When it comes to vegetables, you might want to steer clear from beans and sauerkraut. Also, you should avoid fermented food. That doesn’t mean you should completely cut them out. It simply means that you might want to reduce the quantity. Fermented foods are otherwise incredibly healthy and they can have many other health benefits. However, if they trigger your migraines, you might want to cool it on the fermented food.

On the other hand, you can eat most vegetables – fresh, canned or frozen – and it is unlikely that they will cause any migraines.

How to Lower Tyramine in Food

Tyramine actually increases the longer food is held at room temperature. That is why you should store your food in the refrigerator.

When you thaw frozen foods, do it in the refrigerator or, if you have it, a microwave.

Another good tip for lowering tyramine is to cook or eat fresh meat or fish on the day you bought them. Otherwise, it’s best to freeze them.

Also, never ever eat something that has been kept in the fridge for more than a day.

Check Your Triggers

So, if you’re wondering whether food really can be a trigger for migraines, the short answer is – yes.

Your diet alone cannot cause migraines. It’s unlikely that you’ll always get migraines when eating certain food.

However, while there are types of food in general believed to be causing migraines, there is also food that specifically causes your migraine.

The best way to identify your triggers is to write a combined food/migraine diary. If you’re suffering from migraines, you already have a pretty good idea what may trigger yours. Migraines can occur a day after eating triggering food.

You should combine a food diary with a headache diary to see whether some foods cause headaches. Headaches themselves are not too bad. However, combined with other possible triggers, they may cause a full-blown migraine.

Then, the next step is to reduce the food that you’ve noticed has that effect on you. If you really like something, you don’t need to completely cut it out. But, it would be valuable for your overall health if you were to reduce it significantly.

There Are Beneficial Foods Too

Now that we’ve listed all the bad food, it’s time for a look on the other side. It has been proven that certain food is “pain-safe,” that is, it does not trigger any conditions.

Including, you might have guessed it – migraines.

Also, they are overall beneficial in reducing the frequency of your migraines and alleviating pain. The food and drinks that actually cannot trigger your migraines include:

  • Rice (especially brown)
  • Almost all vegetables
  • Fruit (which was not listed above)
  • Green tea, ginger tea
  • Fish
  • Chicken

Making ginger tea

There has even been research to show that a plant-based diet can really benefit people who suffer from migraines. So, if you want to get rid of migraines, you know what to do!

(No, you don’t have to go vegan. Simply adjust your diet a bit and you’ll see an improvement in time.)

Home Remedies for Migraines

There are ways to also naturally reduce the intensity of migraines once you get them. While they may not completely cure your migraines, these are known for helping with the symptoms. There are also cures to treat headaches, and they also might alleviate your pain.

Here is what you should do when you get a migraine:

  • Lie in a dark, quiet room. Due to sensory sensitivity, which can worsen your headache, it is recommended that you simply lie down in a room in which the blinds are drawn shut. If you live in a noisy part of the city, use earplugs to make sure the noise doesn’t bother you.

Woman sleeping soundly in bed

  • Cool your head down. Experts believe that cooling the head reduces the blood flow to the brain, which might lower the pain you’re feeling. When you get a migraine, you should put an ice pack on your forehead or neck. Or, if that’s too cold for you, use a washcloth that has been put under cold water and drained. The only problem is that you will have to rinse it often because it can heat up quite fast.
Woman with a headache

Can Exercise Improve Hypersomnia?

In this hustle and bustle of the 21st century, it almost feels like tiredness is the new normal. That is why it is sometimes difficult to even diagnose disorders such as hypersomnia. Basically, many people write it off as something temporary and something normal, since they have experienced the symptoms of hypersomnia at one point or another.

However, regardless of what modern life tells us, our body’s normal mode is not tiredness. If the feeling’s persistent and occurs frequently enough, it might be time to check whether you have hypersomnia and whether you need professional help.

Also, you might try other ways of alleviating symptoms of hypersomnia.

That is, it might be a good idea to try exercising.

What is Hypersomnia? 

Hypersomnia is a disorder which manifests itself as excessive sleepiness during the day. Also, it can mean that a person is spending too much time sleeping without feeling rested afterwards. If a person is suffering from hypersomnia, they may feel sleepy even after they’ve slept, for instance, ten or even twelve hours.

Now, in general, there truly is nothing wrong with being sleepy from time to time. We have various obligations and duties that simply know how to drain a person.

However, hypersomnia is much more than that.

Hypersomnia is such a pronounced and prolonged sense of fatigue that it almost wears down on your very bones.

Since it mostly manifests itself in constant drowsiness, this disorder may prevent you from doing a number of everyday activities, such as driving, and even your job. It affects not only your energy levels, but also your concentration, making it sometimes difficult to remember even the simplest things.

Some of the possible causes of hypersomnia include:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Prescription drugs
  • Depression
  • Head injury
  • Excessive weight

And some other, related issues. It is important to note that, if you believe you may be suffering from hypersomnia, it necessary to see a doctor for treatment.

Hypersomnia can affect every age group, but it seems that it is more prevalent in people between 15 and 30. Sometimes it takes years for hypersomnia to develop fully, with people feeling intermittent symptoms but writing them off as temporary.

If you’ve ever felt the symptoms of hypersomnia, then you know that this is quite a serious disorder. Aside from affecting your day-to-day life, it can, subsequently, affect your mental state and cause a vicious cycle from which it can be a bit difficult to escape.

Nowadays, awareness is being spread about the disorder by organizations such as the Hypersomnia Foundation, which devotes its effort to researching and fighting the disorder in the hopes of finding a cure.

Types and Symptoms of Hypersomnia

There are two types of hypersomnia – primary and secondary. In the case of primary hypersomnia, the only symptom there is excessive tiredness. That is, the tiredness is not connected to any other condition.

However, secondary hypersomnia is linked with other medical conditions, such as those already mentioned.

Also, it is important to note that hypersomnia is different from narcolepsy. While narcolepsy causes people to fall asleep suddenly, people with hypersomnia are able to stay awake, albeit with difficulty. Namely, while they are awake, they still feel tired as though they need to sleep.

Basic symptoms of hypersomnia include, but are not limited to:

  • Drowsiness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Memory lapse
  • Irritation
  • General slowness and sluggishness

Woman yawning at her desk

If the condition is left untreated, it can make everyday life quite difficult. Someone suffering from hypersomnia can even lose the ability to function normally. That is why it is important to seek help as soon as possible.

Is Exercise Effective in Treating Hypersomnia? 

Aside from being good for your body, exercising is also good for your mind. It’s no wonder many people swear by exercising as a panacea. It truly can do everything.

Well, maybe not everything.

But it can certainly help with a lot of things.

There has been some research that proves the link between exercising and reducing hypersomnia. However, while there is a direct link between them, there are also various other, indirect ways in which exercise can help people suffering from hypersomnia.

After all, the benefits are truly vast.

Here are some of the most common benefits of exercising:

1) Helps with Weight Management

Exercise is definitely important in preventing obesity and helping you maintain a constant weight. However, in most cases, you’re most likely to even lose weight which has the added benefit of making you feel better about your body.

Also, by keeping your weight at a constant level, exercising reduces the risk of many weight-related health issues.

Physical activity done on a regular basis actually activates your metabolism in the best way. If you want your metabolism running like a Swiss watch, well – get to running.

Or doing any type of exercise. Your body’s not too picky, it will be happy with anything you can give. Just start and continue, one day at a time.

2) Increases Dopamine Production

Well, while it can’t provide you with total, forever-kind of happiness, what exercising can do, actually, is boost your happiness levels.

Even a small amount of exercising will improve your mood and relax you. And it does all that with the help of endorphins. Also, while you’re exercising, your brain increases its dopamine production.

It makes a difference even for shorter periods of time, let alone if you do it regularly.

You can do all sorts of exercises, like cycling, running. Doing yoga is known for making people feel more at ease and calmer.

So, grab your yoga mat and devote yourself to your body!

3) Helps with Stress Management

Like constant tiredness, it seems like we’ve accepted the fact that stress is a constant in our lives. However, that is not our normal state. Our bodies rebel, and many of its parts seem to simply enter a state of chaos because of that.

Our muscles get strained, our stomachs get upset, our head starts hurting. And that’s just the light problems.

When we’re stressed, cortisol and adrenaline can go into hyper production.

And that, you guessed it, is not good.

Which is where exercise steps in.

Exercise counteracts these hormones with its own, happy hormones. And eases your body’s stress.

Simply put, there’s no better feeling than when you sweat out the day’s stress on a regular basis. Get rid of the excess of those pesky hormones and calm your body down.

Another good thing about exercise is, when you’re physically active, you’re also raising your heart rate and subjecting your body to low-levels of… well, basically, stress.

(But, the good kind!)

And, when you do that regularly, your body will become better equipped at handling other stressors that you may face.

Another good thing is to combine exercise with other things that relax you. If you like bubble baths, essential oils, incense sticks, try them out, as well, often. Enjoying the things that you love will help you deal better with stress.

Woman doing indoor exercises with dumbbells

4) Beneficial for Muscles and Bones 

As we get older, we inevitably lose muscle mass and most people start having bone problems. This, in turn, can lead to various types of disabilities and further stress.

And affect the quality of your sleep in quite a negative way.

Of course, it’s common knowledge that exercise, combined with appropriate protein intake, builds muscles. Also, regular exercise, even slight exercise, is vital to maintaining strength as we grow older.

Also, we bet you didn’t know that exercise can actually build bone density? This is incredibly important when you’re growing. However, it is practically invaluable in preventing osteoporosis when you grow old.

5) Improves General Immunity 

Exercise is known to actually help with a number of ailments.

It even helps with the common cold.

Yes, even with the common cold.

But, exercise can also help with the following chronic diseases:

  • Heart disease. Again, one of the best things you can do if you want to help your heart is to exercise. It is a well-known fact that exercise helps people with chronic heart disease. But, if you suffer from any heart-related illness, make sure to go easy. Don’t overexert yourself.  
  • Cancer. Aside from benefiting people who have had cancer by improving their quality of life, it can also lower the risk of some types of cancer – breast, uterine, lung and colon cancer.
  • Diabetes. It has been proven that physical activity can help insulin lower the sugar level in your blood more effectively.
  • Back pain. With improving muscles, regular physical activity can enhance endurance in your back, helping your chronic back pain.
  • Asthma. Regular exercise lowers the severity of asthma attacks. It can also reduce their frequency.

6) Increases Energy Levels

Research has shown that even 15-20 minutes of low intensity exercise can increase energy levels, making you feel less tired.

If someone who is unaccustomed to exercise starts even a low-level program, that increases the blood flow through their body. This causes more oxygen and nutrients to be delivered to muscle tissue, which, in turn, enhances their ability to produce energy.

Happy woman exercising in the park

That is one of the reasons exercise can help the people diagnosed with primary hypersomnia.

However, as research has shown, exercise can also prove to be counterproductive in these cases. Namely, if people who previously did not exercise at all start doing moderate or high intensity workouts, this can actually further drain their energy levels since they have not developed a good base.

Remember, slow and steady wins the race.

And another thing. This can seem like a huge paradox – but exercising also helps you sleep better. That’s right! It significantly improves the quality of your sleep, making you better-rested.

Now, don’t expect results right away.

The key word here is regular. Regular physical activity is important. However, it is up to you to make your own exercise plan. You are the only one who knows best what your body can and can’t handle.

So, if your regular consists of you hiking two-three days a week, perfect!

If it includes going to the gym four times a week, excellent!

If you’re more inclined to exercise with your family, marvelous!

Remember, everything counts and it is you who sets the pace.

So, Can Exercise Improve Hypersomnia? 

Researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care have found out that exercise can, in fact, alleviate excessive daytime sleepiness, i.e. hypersomnia in patients that suffer from depression.

They identified two biological markers for hypersomnia in the blood of the test subjects. Their research actually demonstrated that regular exercise reduces levels of these biomarker proteins, which, in turn, results in reduced hypersomnia.

Previously, researchers had found that sleep, inflammation and depression interact in “a negative loop,” which simply causes the symptoms to progressively worsen. Apparently, their research has shown, exercise can reset the negative loop.

More than 100 subjects between 18 and 70, who suffered from major depression disorder, were assigned to two types of aerobic exercise, since the researchers wanted to see the effects that exercise had on depression. The research lasted for 12 weeks. They examined their blood for four biomarkers and found that reductions in two biomarkers – BDNF and IL-1β – are connected to reductions in hypersomnia.

However, while the reductions in these two biomarkers caused reductions in hypersomnia, the research did not identify any correlation between them and changes in insomnia. That means that different mechanisms are at play in insomnia and in hypersomnia.

So, basically – yes, exercise can alleviate hypersomnia symptoms in patients suffering from depression. However, further research needs to be done in this area, as many parts of the disorder are still unknown.

That said, it does seem that exercise, as with many other things, can have a positive effect on hypersomnia.

So, it doesn’t hurt to try, right?  

How much should you exercise?

Most health experts recommend at least a 20 minutes of exercise every day to maintain the well-being of your body.

It’s enough to do moderate-intensity exercise, and you’re set.

This can include brisk walks, hiking, swimming and even gardening.

But also remember that this is for people who are not that used to exercising. If you’re already a professional, you can simply slightly increase the intensity of your exercises.

You can do moderate to high level exercises such as running, aerobic dancing, even rock climbing.

Every little bit helps and every little bit is significant for the overall well-being of your body.

Happy smiling woman looking at herself in bathroom mirror

How to Boost Your Blood Circulation for Better Skin

It seems like this is common knowledge, but it definitely bears repeating – blood circulation is truly essential for your body.

Look at it this way – the body’s most ardent soldier, the heart, is fighting for your health by sending tiny, tiny blood cells to every part of your body, giving your cells oxygen and helping them to thrive.

But, did you know that great blood circulation is also beneficial to your skin? If you’re looking to improve your skin, you might want to consider boosting your blood circulation, as it will definitely benefit it!

How the Cardiovascular System Works

The cardiovascular system is essentially made up of the heart and the blood vessels that pump blood to the farthest parts of your body. There are basically two types of vessels:

  •         Arteries, which carry blood away from the heart;
  •         Veins, which bring it back.

Now, basically, the heart is a pump that gets oxygenated blood to our organs. Then, de-oxygenated blood returns to the lungs to get its refill of oxygen. This all happens through the pulmonary circulation (in which the blood is oxygenated) and the systemic circulation (in which the blood goes to the rest of the body to deliver the oxygen).Infographic on blood circulation in the body

That way, all the cells get their necessary fill of oxygen.

The Importance of Good Blood Circulation

Good blood flow is essential to our body, and any problem with it will, in some way or the other, reflect on our general health.

Circulation is pivotal in transporting nutrients to cells and transporting waste from them. That means that it is extremely important for nourishment and detoxification. It is also important for maintaining the body’s pH balance and stabilizing its temperature.

Poor circulation can cause a number of issues – swelling in extremities, numbness and tingling, cold hands and feet, cramps, fatigue, digestive issues, skin problems, and even memory loss and problems with concentration.

That is why boosting your blood circulation will not only have benefits for your skin, but for your general health, as well.

And here’s how to do it!

Start with Exercise

This should be a no-brainer, really.

Basically, in order to increase circulation, you simply need to get the “old ticker” ticking faster.

That’s where exercise steps in.

When your heart contracts at a higher rate, naturally, blood will flow faster and improve your general circulation.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should immediately hit the gym and start working strenuously on your pectorals (although that is an option, too!). Simple exercises will do.

In this day and age, it can be difficult to find the time to exercise and we tend to spend a lot of it sitting behind desks. But, that is not good for our overall health. And, as many other parts of our body, our cardiovascular system gets “lazy,” as well.

That is why any movement is – good movement.

Even walks are exceptionally valuable to getting your blood pumping, especially if that’s not something you tend to do on a regular basis. Just 20-30 minutes of brisk walks will do the trick. You don’t even have to do it every day, every other day will suffice. Walking even strengthens your heart and muscles. You can even do all sorts of exercises with your family and it will be incredibly beneficial for your circulation and, thus, your skin.

Happy young family walking in the woods

Also, another good exercise to boost your blood circulation is, in fact – yoga! Stretching, headstands and many other yoga poses, paired with deep breaths, do wonders for your blood flow! Just make sure you do it regularly and you’ll notice changes in your overall health, as well as your skin, in no time! If you choose to go outdoors to exercise, then you’ll also have the added benefit of the sun rays, that is, vitamin D, which is vital for your skin.

Some other types of exercise that can improve your blood flow and, with it, your skin, include aerobics and weight lifting. If you’re unaccustomed to exercise, start slow and work your way up! It never fails to get results!

Dry Brush

Dry brushing basically includes massaging your body with a dry, stiff-bristled brush. And there are truly many benefits to dry brushing. This is mainly done to get rid of flaky skin typical of wintertime and to increase circulation. It also unclogs pores while exfoliating and stimulates the nervous system. That way, you get the added benefit of being energized.

It is best to use a natural stiff-bristled brush with a long handle to reach your back. However, when you’re choosing your brush, make sure to choose the one that will be most adequate for your skin. Some people have more sensitive skin than others and brushing with a brush that is too stiff might cause more harm than benefit.

Brush just before you shower for best effect. After brushing, you’ll be able to wash off the dead skin cells and the flaky skin. Just make sure to use a good soap or shower gel and, remember, after showering, make sure to apply lotion.

The most common way of dry brushing is to go from your feet upwards. Use long strokes to brush from your feet towards your torso. Don’t apply too much pressure, especially not where the skin is sensitive, such as your breasts or abdomen.

In general, you want to be gentle when dry brushing, as the brush will “do its thing” mostly. If you’re too rough, you can cause irritation and even bleeding.

It goes without saying that you should never brush already damaged skin. This includes scrapes, sores, cuts, burns (and yes, even sunburnt skin should not be dry brushed). Also, if you have any areas that are inflamed or already irritated, don’t go over them with the dry brush. The same goes for your face – it’s off limits!

Indulge in Cold Showers

Yes, it may not be something you can try when it’s freezing out. However, take advantage of the warmer days that are coming soon and take as many cold showers as you can.

Cold water aids circulation because it tells your blood to go faster to maintain the average body temperature. In a way, a cold shower “shocks” your body, getting your heart to pump faster.

Another great side-effect of that is that you will also feel more energized.

And that is also the reason why many people prefer cold showers in the morning.

In addition, a cold shower tightens your cuticles and pores, which makes your skin look smoother and your hair more shiny.

Young smiling woman taking a shower and using a luffa

If you’re unaccustomed to cold water early on, go with lukewarm and work your way down, so to speak. That way you can gradually get used to the feel of cold water against your skin. You can also alternate between hot and cold showers. Simply shower with hot water for one or two minutes, and then immediately switch to cold water. Do this four or five times to flush out the skin and oxygenate it.

However, if you’re feeling too overwhelmed with such abrupt shifts in temperature, then this switching is not for you. But don’t worry, you can shower with cold water and your skin will still have incredible benefits!

Try a Face Massage

A regular massage is the best way to improve your skin. This goes especially for a face massage. It boosts blood and lymph circulation, thus enhancing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells.

A good face massage also relieves stress and helps with PMS symptoms, if you needed any more convincing.

When you massage your face, make sure that your movements are gentle, that they’re not too harsh, as you can irritate the skin that way, and that is the opposite of what you’re going for. Remember, gentle movements are quite sufficient to get the blood pumping for healthier skin.

Before you massage your face, do the following:

  1. Wash your hands with warm water and an antibacterial soap.
  2. It’s also a good idea to steam your face first.
  3. Then, you should cleanse your face before you start massaging.

These steps will prepare your skin for a great, almost professional massage you’re going to give yourself.

Now, there are various types of massages for your face, but your skin will benefit most from the most common massage there is. It’s easy and you can do it any time of day (or night, whenever you have time!). Here’s how:

  1. Massage your lymph area. With the tips of your fingers, massage under your ears down to your throat and up along your jawline.
  2. Using wide circular motion, massage the side of your jaw, past your mouth, and over your cheekbones. It’s good to always push skin up and out. Never push your skin down, as it can cause it to sag.
  3. Then you should massage your forehead, using both hands. Start massaging your temples and move towards the middle of your forehead.
  4. Using gentle strokes, massage around the eyes to deal with puffy eyes.

You should massage each part of your face for about a minute for the best effect.

Ionize with Clay Masks 

You may not have known this, but certain types of clay can boost your blood circulation. For instance, bentonite has negatively charged ions. When you put it on your skin, it attracts positively charged ions, like environmental pollutants and some bacteria.

That’s what makes your blood rush to the surface, causing a temporary redness of your face. But not to worry, together with all those pollutants that need to be flushed out, it also causes a rush of endorphins.

Woman applying clay mask on skin

That is why you should definitely indulge in a clay mask from time to time. It’s easy to use, and the benefits are really multiple!

Try LED Therapy

LED light therapy was initially invented to accelerate the healing of wounds and scars after surgery. However, as in most things in life, there was another, quite lucky coincidence – the rejuvenation of healthy skin.

When the light energy is the appropriate wavelength, cells convert it into ATP, i.e. the fuel cells in the dermis layer use to do their job. These are called the fibroblast cells and their job is to produce collagen and elastin.

And collagen and elastin are the two greatest things for skin in the entire universe.

Collagen gives the skin its fullness, while elastin is in charge of, you’ve guessed it, the elasticity of the skin.

With the help of the LED light therapy, the fibroblast cells “work overtime” and the main result here is – rejuvenated skin.

According to experts that deal in LED light therapy, it doesn’t have any contra-indications. It can be used with all skin types and conditions, and, it’s even safe for your eyes.

Also, because it was initially discovered in order to treat wounds, one of its main uses is increasing circulation. That is, it increases the body’s healing processes, which later, you’ve guessed it, improves the health of your skin!

Check Your Diet

If this proverb were really true, most of us would likely be giant slices of pizza running around our pizza towns, going about our pizza life.

But, thankfully, the proverb is simply meant to point to the fact that our dietary choices are actually incredibly important for our overall health.

And, you may not have thought about this, but what we eat is vital for our blood circulation.

For instance, trans fats and processed sugar are, you might have guessed it, truly awful when it comes to blood flow. And, another thing you can reduce if you don’t want your circulation to suffer is salt.

However, the following foods are super healthy for blood flow and you should eat them on a regular basis:

Whole garlic and garlic cloves on a wooden chopping board

  1. Onion and garlic. We figured we should put the best news first, as it’s a well-known fact that these two friends are the soul of every dish.
  2. Citrus fruits. As you may know, citrus fruits are full of antioxidants and they reduce stiffness in the arteries, thus improving circulation.
  3. Leafy greens. They dilate blood vessels, which allows your blood to flow more easily.
  4. Various types of spices. This includes cayenne pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, etc.
  5. Tomatoes. They act similarly as leafy greens, as they open up your blood vessels.

These foods are also great for your overall immune system, so you might benefit from eating them in numerous ways.

Woman looking stressed and bored at work

6 Easy Focus Shifters for a Healthier Mind

There are times when you’re faced with a problem or a period in your life that you cannot deal with. When your mind feels like it’s stuck in a bog, and there’s no way out

That’s why it is very important to know when to press pause. To stop. To refocus.

And how are you to do that?

Well, by shifting your focus.

When you shift your focus, you are able to postpone thinking about the problem that causes you stress. As a direct result your stress levels decrease, helping you cope with the hurdles on your path. When you have done that, when you’ve managed to relax, that’s when you’re capable of dealing with the practical side of things. 

So, here are some ways of shifting your focus that will help you in the long run.

Take A Creative Break

Did you know that stepping back for a while can actually increase your chances of finding the answer to your problem? 

As the old saying goes, sometimes you can’t see the forest from the tree. It’s blocking your view and your path to the solution. It’s stopping you mentally, as well as physically.

So take a break from the issue you’re currently having and engage your mind in a different way.

Not sure where to begin? Here are a few ideas:

  • Organize the bookcase that you haven’t come round to
  • Watch an episode of your favorite sitcom 
  • Take a nap. Research shows that taking a nap is a foolproof way of rebooting your brain
  • Solve a different kind problem, like a crossword puzzle or Sudoku

Many people would call this the art of procrastination, but people neglect how it can be useful, as well. While you’re letting your brain gallivant across unimportant things (except the sitcom! That is incredibly important!), you’re actually allowing it to rest.

The point is to do something mind-engaging that you enjoy. To restart your brain while you have fun. To drag it out of the bog long enough to see that the sun is shining and the bog is not the place for it.

Make A Phone Call 

This is a super easy way to shift your attention to something else. It’s quick and immediately effective. In fact, people do it all the time. But instead of calling your friends and loved ones every once in a while to catch up, why not send them a text whenever you need a break?

Not only will this help you re-focus your attention, but it will also have the added benefit of keeping your friends and loved ones regularly in your life.

Middle-age woman working on her computer in a cafe

Are you unsure of what to say in your text or call?

It doesn’t have to be anything long or specific. Just ask them about their day, how their work is going, and have they seen that last episode of Game of Thrones?

Sure winner, really.

Help Someone Else

Sometimes it’s necessary to get out of our own heads and into helping someone else. Not only does this engage our attention in a completely different direction, but it also gives us some perspective. As it turns out, we’re not the only people with problems after all.

So how should you go about helping someone else?

It can be as easy as turning to your co-worker and ask if they need any help. If you’re aware of the projects they’re working on, offer some ideas or suggestions. You can also offer to make them a cup of coffee, or pack some lunch on your way out.

If you don’t feel like reaching out to a co-worker, why not think about those in your immediate social circle? Is your husband trying to find a gluten-free cookie brand that he doesn’t hate? Try researching some reviews online to see what other options are available. Is your best friend looking for a good book to read? Make a list of five different books you think she’ll enjoy, and send the list to her. She’ll appreciate it!

List the Positives

Negativity has a huge impact on our lives. And yes, some people are naturally more prone to think negatively.

It’s a glass-half-empty type of thing.

But in order to shift your focus, you have to shift the driving force of your thoughts.

Out with the negativity, in with the positivity!

While you’re looking at a problem or, even, your life, on a grand scale, stop and focus on the positive things. 

What are the positive things? Well, start by thinking about what good this particular problem can bring in the future, what you will have learnt and what you’re yet to learn. 

If that fails, there are other foolproof ways of shifting your focus to more optimistic dimensions. Consider focusing on these:

  • Your strengths – is it your sensitivity? your social skills? or maybe it’s your ambitious approach in new projects?
  • Your achievements – this may be closing a sales account sooner than expected, reaching your own financial savings goals, or just finishing three different chores on Sunday
  • The things you love – your dog, your sister, your husband, your kids and the thick forest near your home are all fodder for optimistic thought
  • Your environment – the technology you’re using, the bird outside, the change of seasons

Young woman writing in a scheduler, with her laptop and phone, in a cafe

Optimism can aid you significantly, as you will learn. It will lead to greater success, better overall health and, of course, decrease your stress levels.

By focusing on positive thoughts, you can actually live longerIf that’s not a good enough reason to switch to positivity, well, we don’t know what is.

Get Out and Exercise

Not to get all Latin on you, but ancient Romans did know a thing or two about life. Well, we can only imagine, since so many proverbs remain. And there is one particular wisdom that is incredibly useful when trying to shift focus.

Mens sana in corpore sano.

See? Even the ancient Romans knew that a healthy body is the foundation of a healthy mind, its support and enabler. And just like a house is wobbly without a proper foundation, your mind will also suffer without a healthy body.

And one way to change that is to exercise.

Exercising on a regular basis has so many benefits that it is difficult to list them all. And not just when it comes to the physical part.

It is known to reduce stress, to alleviate anxiety symptoms, and even aid with depression. When your body changes and becomes something you consider good, that will also lead to increased self-esteem that can pour into other spheres of life. Truly, the effects of exercising are gargantuan in the long run.

But, did you know that it can also help you at the precise moment you need it?

Let’s go back to the beginning. We mentioned some menial tasks, or even some harder ones, used to relax and shift your focus. Well, exercise can do that, as well. Only here, you also have the added benefit of endorphins making you feel good.

Infographic on endorphins

Once you’re faced with an overwhelming task or an overwhelming period in your life, one of the ways you can shift your focus is to exercise. It doesn’t have to be for too long. You don’t have to slave away at the gym, building muscles. You simply need to dedicate some time to your body.

And your body will show that it’s grateful by providing your mind with solutions and changed perspectives and, simply, contentedness.

Two things come to the fore when you exercise to shift your focus:

  • You step away from the situation, which is, as it has been established, a good thing.
  • You are improving both the state of your body and your mind.

So, the next time you’re feeling stuck, the best idea might be to go for a run or to the gym. Just for a little while, just for a little respite for your mind. Once you return to the problem, your mind will be rested and your body delightfully relaxed.

Act Like It’s Thanksgiving Every Day

No matter what you may think, this is not a utopian idea. And no, it does not include inviting all of your family around to feast every day. Although, that does sound like a nice idea.

In a matter of speaking, Thanksgiving Day is beneficial because it reminds us that we have something to be grateful for. It reminds us to give thanks for having those things. And that is not something we do often.

So, teach yourself to be grateful.

Turning every day into Thanksgiving Day means reminding yourself that life, in all its complexities, is actually an amalgam of many things. Yes, there will be times when there are more bad things. But, there will also be times when you will feel like jumping from joy.

Employ this technique when faced with a hurdle. Instead of letting stress get the best of you, remind yourself that this is just another moment in a sea of moments of varying quality. You’re swimming through a bad one right now, but the good one is just around the corner.

Happy smiling woman looking grateful, with her hands clasped together

Being thankful doesn’t have much to do with anything momentous. It can include something incredibly small, but big to you. You may be grateful that your kid said their first word. You may be grateful that you have a supportive family that helps you achieve your dreams. Or, also, you may be grateful simply because the bus came on time today.

If you want, you can do this on a regular basis. Pick three things that you are grateful for each day and, soon enough, you will see the difference.

Giving thanks gives way to smiles, which gives way to a happier you. And a happier you will be more adept at solving whatever hurdle life has presented before you.

So, change your focus. Clear your goggles.

See the reality of life and its astonishing nature. And that will surely lead to a healthy mind.

Woman preparing kimchi in clear jars

10 Side Dishes That Are Amazing for Your Health

Most people plan their meals around a main dish, not giving too much thought to the side dishes they add in.

But what if your side dishes could provide your body with an even bigger nutritional boost than your main dish?

Here are 10 side dishes to cook up that are amazing for your health, and are also a delicious accompaniment to a wide range of main dishes.

Kimchi

To put it simply, kimchi is basically the Korean version of sauerkraut.

What’s the difference between the two?

When it comes to making them, a few different things, ranging from the time that they take to ferment to the amount of salt used.

In terms of taste, kimchi is much punchier, but that’s usually because it contains a number of other ingredients in addition to the cabbage. Kimchi often boasts several different seasonings to give it more flavor, including garlic, ginger, fish sauce and spring onions.

Try mixing some kimchi through some rice – it will truly transform the rice into such an exciting side dish!

Sauerkraut

Two fresh jars of fermented vegetables

Often referred to as a superfood, sauerkraut is made from sliced cabbage, making it similar in a way to coleslaw.

However, the two are actually quite different…

While coleslaw is full of mayonnaise, sauerkraut is fermented, making it so much better for you.

Here are just a few of the benefits you will experience from eating more sauerkraut:

  • Better antioxidant protection thanks to the vitamins and minerals in sauerkraut. The fact that these are fermented means that your body is able to absorb them much more easily
  • Sauerkraut is full of probiotics, which improves the health of your gut, your brain and your immune system
  • Full of fiber but low in calories, sauerkraut will keep you feeling fuller for longer

Before you run out and buy yourself a jar of sauerkraut, there’s something you should know…

Store-bought sauerkraut is usually pasteurized, meaning that it has been treated with heat. This destroys the beneficial probiotics in the sauerkraut, while also reducing the potency of its vitamins. Store-bought sauerkraut also usually contains preservatives and sugar, neither of which are good for you.

On the other hand, homemade versions are packed with probiotics and other potent nutrients. The homemade version also usually tastes better too.

Finely chopped vegetables

Wondering if it’s easy to make sauerkraut at home?

Yes, all you need is some cabbage and salt. There are various recipes online, some with the addition of other ingredients, so take a look at what’s out there to see what appeals to you the most.

Teff Bread

Never heard of teff bread before?

You’re probably also wondering how a bread made it onto this list of healthy side dishes…

Finely milled teff grain

Well, teff bread is pretty different from standard bread.

Teff is a gluten-free grain that is packed with nutrition. It is native to Ethiopia, although it is now being grown in countries around the world, including a couple of states in the USA. 

When it comes to nutrition, teff contains high amounts of:

  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Manganese
  • B Vitamins

All of these nutritional components mean that teff is able to help with everything from circulation to digestion to immune function. It even helps to re-balance hormonal levels, making it useful for treating the symptoms of PMS.

In order to make teff bread, the grain needs to first be fermented, which then gives it probiotic benefits too.

Not keen on bread making?

Teff can be used in other ways too. You can use it as a side dish in the same way that you would quinoa, although teff requires slightly more water when cooking.

Although teff grains are smaller than quinoa, they fluff up beautifully, making for a tasty and filling side dish.

Fresh or Fermented Salsa

A bowl of fresh salsa

Looking for something healthy to eat with the teff bread mentioned above?

Salsa will do the job perfectly.

Salsa is usually served raw, meaning that your body is able to obtain maximum nutrition from each of the ingredients.

It is also such an easy side dish to make, and can store in the refrigerator for a few days, during which time the flavors will only intensify even further.

If you want to make your salsa even healthier…

Try fermenting it!

This will provide the salsa with probiotics and live enzymes, making it even better for your body.

Salad with an Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing

Putting oil on salad

Apple cider vinegar is another fermented food, which is why it is known for having so many health benefits.

How exactly is apple cider vinegar good for you?

In a number of ways, including:

  • It keeps the body’s pH level balanced, enabling the body to function in the best way possible
  • It lowers blood sugar levels
  • It increases good cholesterol in the body
  • It detoxifies the liver
  • It keeps the appetite under control, reducing cravings
  • It protects the bones by improving calcium absorption
  • It contains antioxidants that help to slow down the aging process
  • It contains anti-cancer properties, and can even shrink tumors 

After reading all of that, why wouldn’t you want to be eating more apple cider vinegar?!

The one thing that people struggle with is knowing how to actually make use of this star ingredient…

The easiest way is by turning the apple cider vinegar into a salad dressing. There are several recipes for this out there, each one containing various other healthy ingredients, from garlic to mustard to olive oil. No matter which you choose, the apple cider vinegar will add a beautiful tanginess and brightness to your salad, turning it into an incredible side dish.

Herring Platter

Small sliced herring and pink pickle on bread

This is a popular dish in Sweden, which also happens to be one of the healthiest countries in the world.

What does a herring platter actually consist of?

Well, as you can tell from its name, herring is the star of the dish. Being an oily fish, herring is packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, with both of these being essential fatty acids that your body cannot produce on its own.

A herring platter usually consists of herring in a few different forms, such as raw, pickled and smoked. This already gives you a variety in terms of flavor and texture.

What else should the platter include?

Here are a few other foods to add in:

  • Wholegrain crackers – a healthy source of fiber
  • Raw vegetables – full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
  • Pickled vegetables – these need to be fermented pickles in order to contain probiotic benefits
  • A sauce – the sauce is often made from mayonnaise and fresh herbs. For added benefits, swap the mayonnaise for a creamy sauce made from kefir or yogurt instead. Don’t hold back on the herbs, as these are a fantastic source of antioxidants

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Large stuffed poblano pepper

Have you ever tried poblano peppers before?

They are basically the green version of red Ancho peppers. While some of them can be quite hot and spicy, they are generally quite mild. In fact, a jalapeno is said to be about five times hotter than a poblano.

The fact that they aren’t too spicy means that you can eat more of them when compared to other types of hot peppers, which is something that would be hugely beneficial to your health.

Wondering how poblano peppers are good for you?

They have a number of different health benefits, such as:

  • They contain powerful anti-cancer properties, largely due to their capsaicin and riboflavin content
  • They are packed with antioxidants, with just a single poblano pepper containing almost 100% of your recommended daily allowance for vitamin A
  • They improve the strength and function of the immune system
  • They provide a natural form of pain relief, thanks to their quercetin and capsaicin content
  • They are a powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient 

That’s probably enough to convince you to give them a try, but what do you actually stuff them with?

Well, since you’re trying to be healthy, stay away from fillings with bad fats, such as cream cheese and chorizo.

Instead, give barley a try.

Although barley is a grain, it contains over 80 different nutrients, as well as plenty of fiber.

You could also try stuffing poblano peppers with:

  • Brown rice
  • Pinto beans
  • Quinoa
  • Salsa
  • Cooked vegetables

Try combining a few of those filling ideas for a delicious flavor explosion!

Miso Soup

Wooden bowl of miso soup, with wooden spoon

Looking for a healthy soup to serve alongside a meal?

It doesn’t get much healthier than miso soup!

Miso is a fermented food, and is a traditional ingredient in Japan.

What’s it actually made from?

It basically consists of fermented soybeans, along with fermented grains. As you can imagine, there are so many different types and varieties of miso out there, each one varying depending on region, culture and more.

Here are a few of the more common varieties:

  • White Miso – quite a mild-flavored miso since it is only fermented for less than two months
  • Red Miso – fermented for up to three years, red miso has a deeper flavor and should be used in heartier dishes
  • Barley Miso – this is also quite mild and sweet, although it is fermented for longer than white miso 

Foodies would say that miso provides an exquisite umami flavor to food, and can be added to everything from soups to salads to vegetables to marinades.

In terms of health benefits, miso is packed with vitamins and minerals, along with gut-friendly probiotics.

When making miso soup…

You can add in so many other healthy ingredients too. From chilli, garlic and ginger to onions, chard and tofu, miso soup is an easy dish to personalize and make your own.

Black Beans

Bowl of black beans

You probably already know that beans are good for you. The fact that they contain high amounts of protein and fiber is no secret.

However, black beans, which are also known as turtle beans, have a few other nutritional components that make them even better than the rest…

The minerals within black beans, particularly calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc, play an important role in maintaining the health of your bones and joints.

Black beans are also able to decrease blood pressure, help manage diabetes, protect against cancer and heart disease, and aid with digestion

If all of that wasn’t enough…

Black beans are packed with a wide range of phytonutrients, all of which provide antioxidant properties.

How do you actually cook black beans?

It takes a while to cook dried black beans – you need to begin soaking them the day before.

However, the canned versions are much quicker and easier to cook up.

Try cooking them Mexican-style with onions, garlic, cumin and cilantro. Alternatively, turn them into a chilli or a curry for a heartier side dish.

Roasted Beets

Roasted beetroot and shallots

Roasted beets are simply exquisite. Roasting brings out such a sweet and intense flavor that even those who don’t usually like beets cannot say no to them.

If you have never tried roasted beets, now is the time to do so.

All you need to do is place some whole beets into a baking tray with some olive oil and seasonings. Garlic, onion, thyme, salt and pepper work especially well.

Then, roast them for an hour or so, until they are tender. Their skin will pretty much fall off at this point, making them easy to peel.

Then, either slice them or mash them, and then serve them up!

What makes beets so healthy?

They are full of nutrients but low in calories. They help with:

  • Inflammation
  • Cancer
  • Detoxification
  • Blood pressure
  • Immune function
  • Brain and bone health

Plus so much more!

It is always fun to experiment with new dishes in the kitchen, especially when you know that they are good for you. Whether you opt for a spoonful of sauerkraut, a bowl of miso soup or a beautiful herring platter, these side dishes will really help to give your health a huge boost.