How to Get Cancer - Part I

We all know someone who has cancer. And maybe even someone that has died from cancer.

If it seems like cancer is everywhere that’s because it is. Roughly 15 million new cancer cases are diagnosed worldwide each year.

While cancer treatment has improved tremendously in the last decade, still there is no absolute cure. You probably already knew that.

But did you know one third of cancer could be avoided by changing lifestyle and diet habits?


That’s right. What I just said is cancer is preventable in many cases. Really and truly.

Because I would prefer to prevent cancer, I’ve done the research and incorporated the evidence into my life. And today I’m starting a cancer prevention series just for you. Over the next few weeks I will lay out the evidence and offer simple and sustainable ways for you to make lifestyle changes to prevent cancer.

I’m always shocked when people I work with don’t realize that some cancers can be prevented. Knowledge is power and cancer prevention is one of my passions. If you have a friend, family member, or other loved one that you want to help, please refer them here.

Each week, I will offer you one or two action-oriented methods to prevent cancer and the evidence to back it up. In return, you will use the next week to take action and make changes.

Without further adieu, let’s dive in and get started!

How to Get Cancer: Eat Ultra-Processed Food

processed foods.jpeg

It should come as no surprise that processed foods are bad news. We know they are linked to obesity, increase blood pressure, and heart failure exacerbations.

Now we know consumption of processed foods increases the risk of cancer.

A little over a month ago, a study was published that assessed the association between ultra-processed food and cancer. This study include over 100,000 participants that were followed for six years. The results were startling.

A 10% increase in ultra-processed food intake was associated wth greater than 10% increase risk in overall cancer and breast cancer.

Why? First of all, processed foods are high in total fat, saturated fat, added sugar and salt. Secondly, processed foods contain contaminants that are carcinogenic (such as acrylamide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Third, processed foods often are packaged in materials that are carcinogenic or endocrine-disrupting (such as bisphenol A). Lastly, processed foods often contain nitrites, which are hypothesized to be carcinogens.

Which foods were considered to be ultra-processed this the study?

  • Mass produced packaged breads and buns
  • Sweet and savory packaged sweets
  • Mass produced confectionery and desserts
  • Sodas and sweetened beverages
  • Meat products with preservatives other than salt (such as meatballs, chicken nuggets, and fish sticks)
  • Instant noodles and soups
  • Frozen or shelf stable meals
  • Food products made mostly from sugar, oils, fats, and processed oils

Action of the Week: Ditch Ultra-Processed Foods. Immediately, If Not Sooner.

What does this study mean for you? It means that if you want to decrease your risk of cancer (overall and breast), you must decrease your consumption of ultra-processed foods.

So take an inventory. Do you eat any of the ultra-processed foods mentioned above? If so, say sayonara to them. Instead, replace the ultra-processed foods with organic vegetables and fruit. Drink water, sparkling water, or tea instead of sodas and sweetened beverages.

Give it a try this week! And stay tuned for more on the cancer prevention series!

In health and happiness,


How to Skip a Hangover — An Evidence-Based Approach

So . . . Saint Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. And in America, we basically use this as an excuse to don green, crack out our worst and most offensive Irish accents, and give our livers some exercise.

It’s a holiday that precipitates celebratory libations of the alcoholic variety, really.

You know what comes after that?

The dreaded hangover. You know. The pounding headache. The dry mouth. Generally feeling like total poop.

Obviously, the best way to prevent a hangover is to abstain or only drink a bit. But despite your best intentions, every now and then the celebrating may get away from you. And boom. Hang over.

What can you do that can REALLY help a hangover? This a topic where old wives tales abound. But guess what? There is actually scientific data on this.

And I’m giving you five evidence-based ways to help you skip a hangover.

1. Hydrate.


Water, water, and more water. Before you drink, while you drink, and most certainly after.

Hydrating before and during drinking can actually help curb the amount of alcohol you consume. Chugging water AFTER can make a huge difference in the dehydrating effects of alcohol.

2. If You Love the Grapes, Go Organic


If you drink wine, choose organic. Not only are you keeping your system clear of pesticides, you are guaranteeing what you’re imbibing in is free of added sulfites. Sulfites are notorious for making you feel bad.

3. Rosé (and White) All Day  


A study conducted in 1973 (you know, before medical study ethics were a thing) discovered which alcoholic beverages were most and least likely to cause a hangover.

The worst wine? Red.

If you want to avoid a hangover, try white or rose.

4. For Spirits, Lighter is Better


This has actually been studied.

A study published in BMJ in the 1970s looked at hangover risk associated with bourbon and vodka (each group drank 1.5 g/kg of body weight of alcohol). The result? Three percent of the vodka drinkers experienced hangover while 33 percent of the bourbon drinkers did.

Do you prefer spirits? If so, vodka (which just contains alcohol and water) is probably your best bet. Other spirits such as rum and bourbon contain congeners, which are toxic byproducts of the fermentation process that add flavor and color. Congeners are associated with hangover symptoms.

5. Skip the Pre-Celebratory Pain Relievers


I know the idea of taking a pre-drinking aspirin, acetaminophen (generic for Tylenol), or ibuprofen (generic for Advil or Motrin) can be tempting.

But don’t.

When you mix aspirin or ibuprofen with alcohol, you can increase your risk of a stomach (GI) bleed. Trust me, you don’t want that.

And the seemingly innocent Tylenol? It can precipitate liver damage if you drink too much.

If you really want to do something pre-emptive, drink a glass of water and eat a good meal.


Now you know the evidence on hangover prevention. Next time you celebrate, remember to hydrate, go organic, go for lighter wines and spirits, and skip the pre-drink pain reliever. Wishing you a happy and healthier St. Patty’s Day!

In health,


THIS Snack Food Can Help You Lose Weight

Do you snack? If you said “yes”, you are in the majority. Most of us snack — nearly a third of calories in the average American diet comes from snack food. Which is a problem because most snacks are low in nutrition and high in salt, fat, and sugar. Basically our snacks are full of empty calories that pack on the pounds.

But not all snacks have to sabotage your health.

And if you are trying to lose weight, there is one snack that can actually help you LOSE weight.

This weight shedding snack isn’t some expensive bar or protein powder. Nor does it taste like cardboard and give you indigestion.

The snack food that can help you lose weight is simple and comes straight from nature. It tastes delicious and is definitively nutritious.

So what is this secret snack?


Let me tell you more.

The Evidence

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity first shed light on the weight loss accolades of almonds.

All the study participants were overweight and were given the same liquid diet for the majority of their calories. However, one group received almonds as their daily snack while the other group ate complex carbohydrates (such as whole wheat crackers, baked potatoes, or air-popped popcorn).

Old school thinking would make you guess both groups lost the same amount of weight. However, this study blasted the “all calories are equal” theory. Because both groups had the exact same number of calories and protein each day. But one group lost significantly more weight than the other — on average nearly 20 pounds more. That same group also had a greater reduction on waist circumference.

It was the almond group.

Why Almonds Help You Lose Weight


Why do almonds decrease weight and fat?

The mechanism is not fully elucidated. However, there are some compelling theories.

The first has do with fat absorption. Other theories are almonds make you feel fuller and can reduce feelings of hunger. And still more theories think insulin may have a role.

How to Add Almonds to Your Life

Now that you know almonds can help you lose weight (especially if you’re snacking on grain-based carbohydrates), how would you add almonds to your life?

The study I referred to above had people eating 3 oz of almonds, which is around 375 calories worth. Specifically, whole, unblanched, unsalted almonds were used.

Translation for you: three ounces of whole, raw, and unsalted almonds instead of carbohydrate-based snacks.

From Knowledge to Action

Now you know the snack food can help you lose weight. If you’re looking to lose weight and are ready to revamp your snack routine, almonds may be the answer.

Are you looking for more information on the health benefits of almonds? Check out this post.

I challenge you to made a difference — either make a change yourself or share this information with someone you think it could help.

Happy Snacking,

Which Food Gets the Gold Medal?

It’s Winter Olympics time. You’ve likely been watching athletes from around the world ski, skate, curl, and snowboard their way to gold, silver, and bronze glory.

In the spirit of gold, silver, and bronze, I’m going to share the winners in health promoting and wellness boosting foods.

Because, why not?

Drum roll, please! Here are the gold medal winners in the categories of:

  • Seeds & Nuts
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Protein




First off, almonds are nutrient heavy hitters and contain significant amounts of fiber, protein, vitamin E, magnesium (which most of us are deficient in), and manganese.

Secondly, they are antioxidant powerhouses and eating almonds can reduce markers of oxidative damage.

Third, they may protect your cells from damage via vitamin E. Almonds are incredibly rich in vitamin E and studies support a correlation between vitamin E intake and lower rates of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Fourth, almonds may help you lower your cholesterol AND lose belly fat.

Fifth, almonds reduce hunger and can decrease your overall caloric intake.

Bottom line: Almonds contain healthy fat, fiber, protein, and important vitamins and minerals. They may whittle your waistline, lower your cholesterol, and help you lose weight. They take the gold in the nuts and seeds category!



Lentils take the silver.

Full disclosure, I hail from the Lentil capital of the US. In fact, my hometown has an annual Lentil Festival complete with a parade (which I was in), mascot (named Taste E. Lentil, of course), community size pot of lentil chili (free to all!), and lentil ice cream (which actually tastes good). I say this so you understand I may be a little biased about the lentils.

Lentils are a fantastic source of protein, fiber, folate, and other minerals.

Furthermore, studies show those who eat lentils:

  • Have lower rates of diabetes
  • Feel the need to eat less

How? It is thought lentils actually improve the gut be slowing the rate the stomach empties and improving digestion.

Bottom line: Lentils are a good source of protein, fiber, and vitamins. Eating them may help lower your risk of diabetes and help you eat less.




Broccoli belongs to the Brassica family and has long been touted a health favorite. Not only does broccoli score highly for best appearance (who doesn’t love the cute florets?), but also for nutrient density. So much so that broccoli is known as a “Super Veggie.”

Broccoli is high in fiber, protein (really!), and vitamins C and K. Not to mention iron.

Broccoli is thought to:

  • Decrease cancer risk (particularly breast, pancreatic, lung, and colorectal)
  • Lower cholesterol levels

Broccoli’s weakness? High amounts may have harmful effects on the thyroid. Typically cooking can alleviate this side effect.

Bottom line: Broccoli is full of nutrients as well as fiber and protein. You can count on it to decrease cholesterol levels and your risk of cancer.




Blueberries take the gold this year in the all important fruit category!


Blueberries are seriously nutrient dense. They are rich in fiber, vitamin C, and manganese. They do this while still being low in calories and relatively low in natural sugar.

Blueberries get high marks for their serious antioxidant composition. In fact, they are thought to have the highest antioxidant capacity of all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables.

What do all these antioxidants do? They help prevent cancer and keep your cholesterol from harmful oxidation.

Blueberries may also lower blood pressure and the risk of heart attack. They may also help your body maintain better glucose levels.

Bottom line: In the fruit Olympics blueberries are all around winners.




This one may be a surprise gold medal winner.

Because eggs have gotten bad press in the last ten years are so.

But eggs are packed full of goodness. They contain a plethora of vitamins (including A, B, D, E, and K). Eggs also contain significant amounts of protein.

Eggs are incredibly filling and can make you automatically eat fewer calories and lose weight.

Eggs increase your HDL (otherwise known as the “good” cholesterol). Furthermore, they help convert your LDL (known as the “bad” cholesterol) from dangerous small and dense particles to healthier larger particles. Omega-3 eggs may even lower triglyceride levels.

Bottom line: In the ever popular protein category, eggs take the gold for their nutrient density and ability to lower cholesterol and help you lose weight.

There you have it! In the Olympics of food, gold medal winners in every category. Next time you plan a meal, consider almonds, lentils, broccoli, blueberries, and eggs.

In health & happiness,


Should You Shop at Trader Joe's? And My Current Favorite Picks.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been teaching on nutrition. I’ve been working with my group on food basics and dietary myth-busting. Basically I’m helping people make realistic, delicious, and wellness-giving diet makeovers.

All of the people I’m working with right now lead busy lives — they have ambitious jobs, full family lives, and the stresses of daily living. So helping them live happier and healthier lives needs to flow seamlessly into what they are already doing.

For most of them, this means planning healthy meals that are fast. And one serious way to do this is to grocery shop smartly.

This is what brings me to Trader Joe’s. It’s one of my favorite places to recommend people shop.

Why Do I Recommend Trader Joe’s?


It’s no secret - I personally have a love affair with Trader Joe’s. I love to shop there and I go every week.

First of all, Trader Joe’s has pre-washed, pre-cut, and pre-cooked options that make eating well easier. They have pre-washed organic spinach and mixed greens, pre-cut organic butternut squash, and pre-cooked and frozen organic brown rice. Who doesn’t want that? In my decade of working in health and wellness, I have NEVER had anyone say they didn’t need time-saving in the healthy eating area.

Second, Trader Joe’s has high quality organic produce. I LOVE that. And while I always try to eat local, where I live right now doesn’t grow much in the winter. So I don’t feel bad getting non-local produce. (If you live somewhere with warm winters and lots of fresh local produce, the Trader Joe’s selection probably won’t impress you. But I live in the mountains in a dessert with lots of cold and snow. From where I’m sitting, the produce at TJ’s is strong.)

Third, the prices are fantastic. Especially when you compare them to other high-quality natural grocers. Even national chain ones. Healthy and affordable? What more could you want?

Fourth, Trade Joe’s is unique. They have rare seasonal offerings that can spice up your food repertoire. I love that. Who wants to eat the same old things all the time?

Fifth, the employees seem to genuinely enjoy working there. They smile, joke, and give off good vibes. It makes me feel good knowing I spend my money somewhere that creates and promotes a positive environment for the workers and the shoppers.

Also, did I mention the flowers? Just this week I showed my daughter all the different floral varieties. There were potted hydrangeas, lilies, orchids, succulents, and tulips. Not to mention the wide variety of fresh cut florals.

I should probably pause right now and let you know I have NO financial interest in Trader Joe’s. I don’t hold stock in them or make any money promoting them. I just truly love them.  

What Makes Me Nervous About TJ’s

For complete transparency, there are things I don’t love about Trader Joe’s.

For all the fantastic options, there are an equal number of non-fantastic options. To put it bluntly, there are lots of UNHEALTHY options at Trader Joe’s. In fact, sometimes it's trickier at Trader Joe’s because the unhealthy choices can be cloaked as “healthy.”

For example, I’m not wild about most of their frozen pre-made meals. They are often full of sodium, preservatives, and other wellness sabotagers.

There is TONS of sugar in many of their packaged offerings.

And the meat and seafood sections gross me out.

Why I’m Outlining My Current Picks

Because there are such great and not-so-great options, I made this list for you.

I want you to know the healthy go-to’s — the items you can buy knowing you are doing your health a favor.

So here we go!

Unsulphured Dried Apples

If you find yourself coming home from work famished and rifling though the cupboard for the first snack you can get your paws on, dried apples will be your new best friend. They are a fantastic snack option and superior to chips, crackers, and cookies.

These ones have a good texture (not too mushy, not too dry) and come in a clear package. I love the packaging because you can see them and reach for them right away (before you find the chips). The also obtain no sulfites, which is another bonus in my mind.

Organic Hearts of Romaine Lettuce

Now that the E.coli outbreak with mixed greens is over, I’m a HUGE fan of the organic hearts of romaine at Trader Joe’s. They last much longer than the mixed greens this time of year, taste great, and are a money saving value.

The bags come with three hearts and I typically cut them all at once, regardless of how much I need at the time. Next, I wash and dry them in my trusty salad spinner. Then I store what I don’t use in a glass container in the fridge with a lid. I find when I do this, the cut romaine lasts for a good week (though I eat so much it doesn’t normally stay in the fridge more than a few days).

Organic hearts of romaine are ALWAYS on my weekly shopping list.

Raw Almond Butter and Peanut Butter


Nut butters can be EXPENSIVE. Especially when you venture into the organic and raw domaine (which I highly recommend).

Trader Joe’s has a great raw almond butter option without salt. It’s ingredients are top notch, it has a great taste, and the oil doesn’t separate out too much.

Ditto for the peanut butter.

These are typically on my weekly grocery list.

Organic Raw Cashews

Cashews are used weekly in my household. Most commonly, I add them to soups and blend them in the Vitamix for a creamy and rich taste and consistency sans dairy. Or I throw a few in with my smoothies.

Organic and raw nuts can be $$$. It’s nuts, really (sorry, but I can never resist a pun).

That’s why I love to buy them at Trader Joe’s. They tend to be fresh (even fresher than the ones I recently bought at Whole Foods) and at a fair price.

Organic Frozen Brown Rice

With a baby in the house, cooking time is at a premium. That’s why I LOVE these frozen brown rice packets for when I’m in a pinch. They are organic and pre-cooked. You just zap them in the microwave for 3 minutes and voila! You have brown rice ready to go.

I’m usually not thrilled with microwaving, but if time is a true issue I say go for it.

Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats


If you like oatmeal for breakfast, this is a real treat.

If you’re a longtime reader, you know my thoughts on oatmeal and the breakfast mistake most people make. Hint: it involves microwavable oats from packets with added sugar.

Trader Joe’s helps take the time out of cooking steel cut oats. This option takes 8-minutes (instead of the typical 30 to 45) to make on the stove, as well as offering a microwave option.

Are you looking for a delicious oatmeal recipe? Try my Morning Glory oats (pictured above).

10 Minute Barley

This is another time saving savior from Trader Joe’s. Mushroom barley soup is a regular in my household this time of year. And having barley that cooks in 10-minutes is a life saver for me.

The Trader Joe’s 10 Minute Barley is partially pre-cooked. This means the barley still remains a whole grain, but just cooks faster. It cuts 40 minutes off cooking time and still tastes great.

Organic Pomegranate Vinegar


If you want a quick salad dressing, this is it for you. Pomegranate vinegar has a delightful flavor, but is free of oil and added salt. It’s great splashed on a bed of greens or used instead of vinegar in recipes.

What Will You Try?

Now you have a list of Skye-approved Trader Joe’s food choices that can save you time and money.

What will you try next time you’re there?

Or did I forget one of your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Happy grocery shopping,

Three Foods to Get You In the Mood

I know this post is a bit out of my wheel house.

But I get asked this question from friends (and friends of friends) every year around this time. You know — because Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.

“Can certain foods really act as aphrodisiacs or make you fall in love?”


The simple answer: YES.

So even though this goes outside the bounds of my usual topics, I present three foods that can get you in the mood.

Maca Powder

Maca is a Peruvian root vegetable used for centuries. It is most commonly found in the powder form, which has an earthy flavor and warm vanilla-like aroma.

Maca is known to increase energy, boost fertility, and enhance libido. Additionally, maca is rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals.

It’s easy to add a teaspoon of maca powder to your smoothie of choice; alternately, you can sprinkle maca powder into your oatmeal or add it to your favorite bar recipe. Just remember maca powder can be energizing so beware of using it before bedtime unless you know how you react to it.

Tip: Trader Joe’s sells maca powder — you can typically find it near the smoothie protein powders and in the baking section.

Dark Chocolate


You know I’m a HUGE chocolate fan (for the taste and the health benefits).

But did you know dark chocolate can help you fall (or stay) in love? This property is attributed to dark chocolate’s phenylethylamine, an endorphin released when people fall in love.

This — coupled with chocolate’s ability to stimulate production of “feel good” hormones serotonin and and dopamine — helps explain why chocolate is the stereotypical Valentine’s Day food.

Chili Peppers


Chili peppers have special properties that can be exploited for more than just taste.

Chili peppers contain an ingredient called capsaicin. Capsaicin stimulates nerve endings, causing a tingling sensation, and ultimately causes the release of endorphins and adrenaline. In fact, capsaicin is used medicinally in topical products to help reduce pain.

The endorphin release caused from eating chili peppers can increase feeling of happiness and love.

The Truth - There Are Foods that Stimulate Love & More

Maca, dark chocolate, and chili are three foods that can stimulate good feelings and love.

Do you want even more good feelings for Valentine’s Day this year?  Try combining these feel good foods together for your special someone.

The flavors of chocolate and maca go together nicely. In fact, one of my favorite smoothie recipes utilizes them both.

If you prefer something you can buy premade, Theo chocolate makes a dark chocolate and chili bar. Three different chili peppers are combined with 70% dark chocolate in a delightful tasting way.

Sending you x’s and o’s,


Supplements to Prevent the Flu

We all know the flu this year is bad.

In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.

So how can you prevent the flu?

First off, there are some easy and free things you can do (see this post).

There are also natural products that help prevent flu.

How do you know which supplements actually prevent flu versus those that claim to prevent flu, but don’t really work?

You can tell the difference between what works (and what doesn’t) by reviewing the scientific evidence.  But my guess is you don’t really have the time to sift through dozens of scientific articles.

So I’ve done the research for you — I’ve read and assessed the studies so you don’t have to.

Here are the details on the most popular supplements used to prevent flu — I’m telling you if they are effective and safe.

American Ginseng

American ginseng (Panax ginseng) is used for various medical purposes.

Studies show American ginseng may decrease the risk of developing the flu or common cold in adults. Evidence also suggests American ginseng may reduce symptom severity if you get the flu or common cold.

American ginseng is considered likely safe when used orally and short-term. The most common side effect is headache. American ginseng can decrease blood glucose and those with diabetes; high doses are associated with insomnia and schizophrenia. American ginseng can interact with prescription medications — especially warfarin — so be cautious.

Bottomline: American ginseng may keep you from getting the flu or common cold. However, you need to make sure you discuss using ginseng with your healthcare provider due to drug interactions and medical condition reactions.


Echinacea .jpg

Echinacea is used for treating and preventing the flu, the common cold, and other respiratory infections.

There is plenty of evidence for echinacea in treating colds (see this post for more info). 

However, there is less evidence to support using echinacea to prevent flu. In fact, the most compelling evidence suggests echinacea may improve immune response to influenza vaccine.

Echinacea is considered likely safe when taken orally and used short-term.

Echinacea species are related to the ragweed family. If you have a ragweed allergy, echinacea is not for you. Because echinacea stimulates immune function, it may not be appropriate for those with autoimmune diseases.

Bottomline: Echinacea may help you once you get sick. However, it’s effectiveness in presently flu is questionable.



You are likely most familiar with garlic as a culinary herb. However, garlic is also used medicinally for conditions such as blood pressure, dyslipidemia, and infections.

Garlic has evidence to show it reduces illness severity if you get a cold or flu. There is also evidence to suggest garlic helps prevent colds. The evidence for influenza is less compelling.

Garlic is considered safe when used orally and appropriately.

Bottomline: If you get sick with a cold or flu, garlic may reduce your illness severity. As of now, there isn’t strong evidence to suggest garlic will prevent flu. Garlic may prevent the common cold.

Now You Know

You are armed with the evidence behind the most popular supplements to prevent the flu and common cold.

Now you can navigate the supplement aisles with confidence and make an evidence-based decision that is right for you.

In health,



So You Don’t Want to Catch the Flu . . .

You’ve seen the headlines and heard the news.

This year’s flu season is the worst in over a decade. And even though the season is just peaking, it has already caused the deaths of more children than we normally expect.

This is serious business. And if you or a loved one have the flu, my heart goes out to you.

If you haven’t gotten flu yet, I have excellent news for you.

There are simple and evidence-based things you can do to prevent getting the flu.

So get ready to take some notes, take a screenshot, or save this url. I’m going to give you six free and easy tips to prevent the flu this year.

Wash Your Hands


I know . . . this isn’t very sexy.

But it works. Really.

You can become infected with flu from merely touching a surface where a sick person has been up to 8 hours ago. Think tables, counters, doorknobs, water faucets, and handrails. Imagine a person with flu touched the cart you selected at the grocery store. You then touch the cart with your hands. Then you get an itch in your eye or a tickle on your nose and you rub. Bingo — you just brought the flu virus into your body.

So wash your hands now and often.

I’m not talking about running your hands quickly underneath tepid water. I’m talking hot water, soap, and rubbing for at least 20 seconds. Then rinsing well. And don’t forget to go all the way up to your forearms.

If you aren’t around soap and water, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer until you can get to a hand washing station.

Stay Away From Sick Folks


Captain obvious, I know.

But the more time you spend around those that are sick, the more likely you are to BECOME sick.

So if possible, steer clear of those with signs of infection.

Eat for Immunity


I don’t mean buying a pre-packaged sugary drink called Immunity Booster.

I mean eat in a way that nourishes your body and keeps it as healthy as possible.

This means copious amounts of vegetables and fruit. Think lettuces, tomatoes, berries, citrus fruit, and the like. These foods help keep your immune system strong.



If you’re burning the candle at both ends, you’re more likely to get sick.

Getting inadequate sleep puts your body under stress, which can increase your risk of illness.

How much should you sleep? According to sleep experts, almost everybody does best with 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

You can read more about sleep and why it is so incredibly important here.

Move Your Body


Exercise can prevent you from getting flu.


First off exercise may help flush pathogens (like bacteria) out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting flu.

Second, exercise causes beneficial changes to your white blood cells (immune system cells that fight disease). Physical activity makes your white blood cells circulate more rapidly so illness can be detected faster.

Third, your body temperature increases during and after you exercise. This increase may prevent bacterial growth and help the body fight infection better.

Lastly, exercise decreases the release of stress hormones. Lower stress hormones may protect against illness like the flu.

If you are exercising at a gym, be sure sure to sanitize equipment before you use it. Of course, wash your hands when you are done or before touching your eyes, nose, or face.

Quit Smoking


If you smoke, you’ve likely heard you’re increasing your risk of cancer. But did you know smoking makes you more likely to get the flu?

Studies show smokers are more likely to get the flu. Once they have the flu smokers are more likely to have a severe case and an increased risk of death.

Preventing flu is just another reason to quit smoking.

What’s Coming

The flu is serious this year. The good news is there are PLENTY of ways you can prevent infection. Give them a try to help you make it through flu season safe and sound.

Are you interested in supplements to prevent the flu? If so, check back next week for evidence-based information on supplements to prevent flu.

In health,

5 Ways to Prevent a Sinus Infection

We’ve all been there. The snuffy nose that runs like a faucet. Coupled with pain and pressure in the face.

Yep. Sinus infections.

And sinus infections are RAMPANT this time of year.


I used to get two sinus infections a year — one in the winter and one in the summer when my seasonal allergies went berserk.

But then I decided I would really figure out how to prevent them. Using evidence-based and integrative strategies. And voila! Sinus infections no more!

So how do you prevent sinus infections?

Keep reading for my top tips.

1. Avoid Breathing Dry Air


You may be thinking, “Yeah, right. How do I do that in the winter?”

Great question because the combo of cold air and artificial heating is a recipe for dryness.

There are a few things you can do.

One is to use a humidifier, especially while you’re sleeping. These relatively inexpensive devices can be a godsend. They work by infusing the air with moisture, which makes things much more comfortable for your nasal passages and sinuses.

Another is to use saline nasal rinses. You can read more about those here.

2. Savor a Cup of Tea


This is something I can completely get behind.

Tea, particularly of the green variety, has been shown to prevent sinus infections. It is thought the cathechins are responsible for this effect.

If you are new to tea, rest assured green tea tastes delicious. However, how you steep the tea is incredibly important. If you steep green tea for too long or at too high a temperature, it will taste bitter and honestly unpleasant. Be sure to follow steeping instructions to ensure your cup tastes great.

3. Stay Away from Smoke and Pollution


Cigarette smoke is not only bad for your lungs — the smoke also irritates your nasal and sinus membranes.

When your nasal and sinus membranes are irritated, you are much more likely to get a sinus infection.

High pollution levels also have the same effect. So consider exercising indoors when the air quality is subpar or investing in an air purifier. Air purifiers are not cheap, but can make a huge difference if you live in an area with pollution.

4. Avoid Your Allergens


When you are exposed to allergens, you often cause inflammation of the nasal and sinus membranes.

If you cannot avoid your allergens, at the very least treat your symptoms.

5. Wash Your Hands . . . Now and Often


Wash your hands. Right now.

If you come into contact with people with colds or other infections, you increase your risk of illness.

The best way to prevent cold transmission is by hand washing. Now and often.

Keep Yourself Healthy & Happy

I’m a true believer in the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So if you suffer from sinus infections, try these tips to keep you (and your sinuses) healthy and happy.


Does Echinancea Really Work?

Picture this.

Your nose is runny. Every time you swallow your throat burns a bit. You feel a touch feverish. Your congested-sounding voice sounds a little pathetic to even your own ears.

Let’s be honest — you feel a bit miserable.

That’s right.

You have a cold.

And you would do anything to feel better fast. Because you have something really important next week (think job interview, date, exam, wedding, etc.).

Suddenly you vaguely recall hearing something about an herb. You open the search engine on your browser and start to enter - e, c, h … wait … you have no idea how to spell it. Thankfully Google supplies the rest.



And you start to wonder if it really works. Or if buying some is a complete and total waste of your hard earned money.

Then you go down the rabbit hole of internet “research.” Fifteen minutes go by and you still aren’t sure if you should get some echinacea or just suck it up and feel sick for the next week.

What do you do?

I’ll tell you what you’ll do — you’ll remember your trusty friend Skye told you all about echinacea. She told you if there were scientific evidence to support using it and, if so, how to use it.

So . . . Does Echinacea Work to Treat Colds?

Yes! There are multiple randomized controlled studies that demonstrate echinacea helps treat colds.

Echinacea can decrease the longevity of the common cold. One study showed using echinacea twice daily decreased cold duration from 9 days to 6 days — a decrease in 33%.

Not only can echinacea decrease the length of your cold, it can also decrease the severity of your symptoms. Another study showed using echinacea significantly decreased cold symptom scores by 23%.

How Does Echinacea Work?

Echinacea is thought to have a lot of ANTI effects. By that, I mean antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral effects. These effects all help echinacea fight off infection.

Echinacea also posses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can also help when you are under the weather.

When Should I Take Echinacea?

To reap the benefits of echinacea, you should start using it AS SOON AS your cold symptoms develop.

As one of my best friends says - immediately if not sooner.

If you wait too long, echinacea probably won’t give you much of a benefit.

What Are the Risks of Echinacea?

Great question.

Everything — absolutely everything — has side effects. And echinacea is no exception.

The good news is echinacea is generally well tolerated. The most common side effects are stomach upset and rash.

And there is a risk of allergic reaction because echinacea is a plant.

If you have a genetic tendency toward allergies, autoimmune conditions, or a skin condition called pemphigus vulgaris, echinacea is probably not for you.

And you should always get your healthcare provider’s blessing before adding anything to your medicine regimen.

Okay . . . I’m Convinced and Want to Try Echinacea. How Much Should I Take?

That is a tricker question for several reasons. One reason is studies that support echinacea used specific proprietary products. Another is echinacea products come in various formulations — capsules, elixirs, tinctures, and tea, to name a few. Furthermore, there are different parts of the echinacea plant that can be used (above the root, below the root, etc.).

So how do you know what to use? I typically go back to the original scientific studies for guidance.

One study used 5 milliliters of an echinacea elixir twice daily for 10 days. Another used 20 drops of echinacea extract in alcohol every two hours on the first day of cold symptoms followed by three times daily for 10 days.

Tea was used in a study. Traditional Medicinals Echinacea Plus tea blend was consumed five or six times on the first day of cold symptoms followed by one cup a day for 5 days.

Bottomline: you need to evaluate the specific product you plan to use for safety, efficacy, and dosage.

I’m Not Sick Right Now. Should I Still Take Echinacea?

That is an excellent question.

If you want to learn how echinacea can be preventive, check out my post on natural ways to prevent colds.

Now you know the 4-1-1 on echinacea. Wishing you health and happiness! And if you do have a cold, I hope you start feeling better fast.