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.

Echinacea.

echinacea.jpg

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.

xxx,
Skye

How to Buy the Best Multivitamin for YOU

Okay.

Based on the number of questions I’ve received in the last two weeks, I can tell you want more guidance on multivitamins.

So in addition to my intro post on multivitamins and my list of favorite multis, I made you a special treat.

Why? Because I want to make sure you are aren’t wasting your money on a multivitamin that doesn’t work for you. Because it’s the season for giving. Because I want to help you create a life imbued with wellness.

So what’s the special treat? It’s a downloadable Multivitamin Guide that will help you pick the perfect multivitamin.

My exclusive Multivitamin Guide will:

  • Teach you multivitamin basics

  • Cover 6 things you NEED to know before buying a multivitamin

  • Give you a checklist to find a high-quality multivitamin that suits you and your individual needs

This guide is my gift to you as a way to thank you for being part of the A Better Way Wellness community.

All I ask is you share it with friends, family, colleagues, or anyone you think you benefit from the information. Because we’re all about paying it forward around here.

Ready for your gift? Click HERE or the image below to access the Multivitamin Guide for Adults.

Sending you health & happiness,
Skye

Four Foods to Eat NOW

"What foods are good for my health?"


This is one of the most common questions I receive.

It’s also a loaded one. Because with few exceptions, I don’t believe foods are innately good or bad.

A food with a certain nutritional profile can be excellent for you in certain amounts — too much or too little can be a problem.

However, there are four foods that we know can decrease your risk of early death. The bad news is these foods are notoriously under consumed by Americans.

Where does this information come from? It comes from a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

So which foods should you eat to decrease your risk of early death? Read on for the details!
 

Nuts and Seeds

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Low nut and seed consumption is associated with nearly 10 percent of cardiovascular deaths.

That's HUGE.

Especially considering nuts and seeds are delicious.

Aside from eating nuts and seeds plain, there are easy ways to infuse more into your diet.

  • Blend almond butter/cashew butter/sunflower butter into your smoothies
  • Sprinkle ground flaxseed on your steel cut oats
  • Add shelled hemp seeds or chopped nuts to your salads
  • Blend walnuts or cashews into your favorite soups
  • Make homemade trail mix with raw nuts and seeds
  • Make a sunflower butter and fruit sandwich


Vegetables

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If you’re a regular around these parts you know I often sing the praises of vegetables. And for good reason.

Vegetables are one of the most nutrient dense food groups you can eat. Low consumption of veggies is associated with nearly 8 percent of all cardiovascular deaths.

The beauty of vegetables is there is such a wonderful variety and everyone can find ones they love.

A lot of my clients think salads are the only way to get vegetables. This misconception is easy to fix. Here are a few easy (and tasty) ways to get your veggies:

  • Blend fresh greens into your smoothies (spinach is particularly mild tasting when blended with fruit)
  • Roast carrots, sweet potatoes, and Brussel sprouts with rosemary and a small amount of oil
  • Make a succotash with corn, tomatoes, red peppers, and lima beans
  • Spiralize zucchini and carrots and use them with pasta sauce
  • Add shredded cabbage to noodles
  • Stir fry carrots, bamboo shoots, sugar peas, mushrooms, and water chestnuts


Fruit

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Most of my clients come to me thinking fruit has too much sugar so they avoid fruit. But still continue to add lots of sugar to their coffee, eat refined grains, indulge in several sweet snacks a day, and have foods they don’t even realize are loaded with sugar.

While small groups of people may need to limit fruit, it is pretty hard to eat too much fresh whole fruit.

Newsflash: the natural sugar in whole fresh fruit is not the problem. It’s all the added and refined sugar in food that’s the issue.

And low fruit consumption accounts for 8 percent of cardiovascular deaths.

How should you eat fruit?

Eat fruit in the whole and fresh state. This means eating fresh apples instead of apple juice. Or oranges instead of orange juice. And this means NOT adding sugar to your fruit.


Seafood

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Seafood is really getting at omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that are crucial for many bodily processes.

Low omega-3 fatty acid consumption is associated with 8 percent of cardiovascular deaths.

Certain seafood is rich in omega-3s. Typically, it is your fatty fish (like salmon). But there are other ways to get omega-3s. The easiest way is through algae consumption (eaten or taken in supplement form). Algae is an excellent option if you are concerned with fish contamination or you enjoy a vegan diet.

There are other ways to get omega-3s through diet, but they require your body to convert them first. This is less efficient than eating seafood or algae, but you still should consider the following foods:

  • seeds (ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds)
  • soybeans (tofu)
  • walnuts
  • vegetables (spinach, broccoli, tomatoes)


Now What?


I love recommending foods to ADD to people’s diet instead of focusing on what to ELIMINATE.

Now you know the best foods to eat for your health: nuts and seeds, vegetables, fruit, and seafood.

So take an assessment of what you eat and determine where you can add health boosting foods.
 

Until next week,
Skye
 

 

To Juice or Not to Juice - Is Juice Really Healthy?

Have you noticed advertisements for juice fasts? Or seen a juice bar pop up in your neighborhood? If so, you’re not alone.

Juice fasts and juice bars are more popular than ever. Juice fasts promise detoxification, weight loss, and even beautifying. And juice bars have morphed from granola establishments to hip and modern hang outs.

So is the hype true? Is juice really healthy for you?

Juice.jpeg

Like most things, the answer isn’t so simple.

First, we have to break down the two most popular types of juice - fruit juice and vegetable juice.  When you juice fruit or vegetables, you remove the solid portions and are left with liquid.

In the case of fruit, this is typically a bad thing.

One reason is because the juicing process removes fiber (a vital part) from fruit. Fiber helps keep your digestive system moving AND helps stabilize the natural sugar found in fruit. When you remove the fiber, you ingest the natural sugar in fruit without the blood sugar stabilizing effects of fiber.

Another reason is when you juice, you often consume much more than you would if you were eating the whole fruit. A glass of orange juice can contain as much as FIVE orange’s worth of liquid and sugar. It is pretty easy to swig a glass of OJ (and five orange’s worth of calories and sugar) and barely notice feeling full from it. If you stuck with solid fruit, you would definitely notice feeling full after eating five oranges.

Bottom line: Steer clear of fruit juices.

If you want to juice, vegetable juice is the safer bet.

While you still miss out on the fiber, vegetable juice is lower in sugar compared to its fruit counterpart while allowing you to ingest important nutrients in a concentrated form.

But I suggest sticking to pure and fresh vegetable juice. Many premade vegetable juice cocktails contain added salt or hidden fruit juice.

To juice or not to juice? Fruit is a nay, but vegetables are a yay.

Do you have a burning health question? Send it my way!

In health,
Skye

 

The Hidden Health Havoc: Part II

Welcome Back

You already know what you put in your body is CRUCIAL to your wellness. And last week we discussed how what goes AROUND or ON your body can also impact your health (because we absorb what’s around us). If this still sounds like hippie mumbo jumbo, check out this post.

So now let’s move on to the nitty gritty details.

Remember the term endocrine disruptor chemicals (EDCs)? As a quick refresher from my last post, EDCs are substances that interfere with the normal functioning of your body’s endocrine system. It should come as no surprise that EDCs pose a threat if you consume them (like eating or drinking them). What is surprising? That being around EDCs or having them in physical contact with your skin also poses a major threat.

How EDCs Harm You

EDCs can harm your body in many tangible ways. The top ways include:

  1. Neurological conditions (including ADHD)

  2. Endometriosis and fibroids (and other female reproductive issues)

  3. Premature death (this one explains itself)

  4. Obesity

  5. Diabetes

  6. Male reproductive problems

It is estimated that EDCs account for $340 BILLION in healthcare costs and lost earnings in the US.

Sources of EDCs

If you are a health conscious kind of person, you’ve probably heard of the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen. These two lists are road maps to help you avoid pesticides and carcinogens in your food. Each year, the Environmental Working Group publishes updated Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists. The Clean 15, as the name suggests, is a list of the 15 foods that are typically safe to buy and eat that are conventionally produced. On the flip side, the Dirty Dozen are the top 12 foods that you should either avoid or buy organic.

The good news is we now have an equivalent list for endocrine disruptor chemicals (EDCs).

The list for EDCs is called the Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors.

The Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors includes the top 12 most offensive hormone-altering chemicals. Please note, there are nearly 1,000 known EDCs and they can be found it:

  • Personal care products
  • Cosmetics
  • Fragrances
  • Contaminated soil, water, and air
  • Food contaminated through chemicals in the food chain
  • Food packaging (such as linings of cans, plastic)
  • Workplace: industrial chemicals, pesticides, fungicides
  • Textiles and clothing (flame retardant fabrics)
  • Medications
  • Antibacterial soaps

The EDC Dirty Dozen

And here are the top 12 hormone-altering chemicals. Drum roll please!

How to Limit Exposure to EDCs

Over the course of this series, I will give you specific advice on how to avoid exposure to ECDs. In the meantime, here are some general tips to help limit exposure to EDCs.

  1. Switch to EDC-free household cleaning products and soaps (see this link for more details)
  2. Use all natural cosmetics and personal care items
  3. Use fragrance-free (or naturally fragranced with essential oils) cosmetics and personal care items
  4. Not microwaving food in plastic covers or covered in plastic wrap
  5. Washing plastic food containers by hand instead of in the dishwasher
  6. Avoid using plastic containers with the numbers 3, 6, or 7
  7. Use more fresh food (versus processed/packaged/fast foods)
  8. Use healthy building materials (https://healthbuilding.net
  9. Eat organic produce on high risk fruits and vegetables
  10. Treat drinking and cooking water

What’s Coming Next

Now you know more about EDCs and where they hide. Next week, the series continues and I’ll be sharing the top 5 products to replace ASAP to help you reduce exposure to carcinogens and EDCs.

Please Share

If you know anyone that could benefit from this health-changing series, please share this information using the link below. Thank you!

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What You Put ON Your Body Is As Important As What You Put In Your Body

The Hidden Health Havoc

Eeeek! I am pumped for this week’s blog topic (the start of a new series). Because it’s something that I am passionate about. And something that MOST people on a healthier path don’t consider.

Once you learn about it, it’s completely obvious and will change the way you think about self care.

Most of us can agree that what you put in your body (food/drink) has a major impact on your wellness. To put it bluntly: you are what you eat.

What may surprise you is what you put ON your body also has a great impact on your health.

I 100% promise this is evidence-based and not some hippie mumbo jumbo. This is real.

Other Health Experts Agree

A few months back, I attended a seminar on nutrition for elite athletes from a well respected source. The seminar (obviously) focused primarily on food and drink. Then the conversation shifted to the non-food. And I got excited.

I got excited because the experts were FINALLY talking about something I’ve been obsessed with for years. They were talking about what you PUT on your body. Experts now agree that what you put on your body can impact the way the insides of your body functions.

How it Works

You may be wondering how what you put on your body impacts your health (and performance if you are an elite athlete).

NEWSFLASH: It has TONS to do with your health.

The reason? What you put on your body is often ABSORBED into your body.

You may be thinking this sounds like voodoo. Or wondering how what you put on your body can get into your body.

But this is NOT voodoo. Your body really does absorb many things you use on it. Think about it: your skin is a semi-permeable membrane. It’s not a solid steel shield that provides an intense barrier between the inside of your body.

In fact, we actually use the skin to deliver medicines to the entire body. Think about nicotine or birth control patches — these small patches can actually deliver enough medication for the entire body for multiple days. Trust me — I spent a semester in pharmacy school learning about all the ways our body absorbs things.

Why This Matters to You

How does all this matter to YOU?

For one, it matters because of the personal care products you use. Men, on average, use 6 personal care products a day (think antiperspirant, shave gel, tooth paste, lotion, body wash, and sunscreen). These six products contain approximately 85 unique chemical ingredients. Women, on the other hand, use about 12 products a day with roughly 168 unique ingredients.

This means that you are exposing yourself to 85 to 168 extra chemical ingredients each day. Not all of these ingredients are harmful — in fact many may be safe or are minimally absorbed. Others, however, can pose a threat.

How Chemical Exposure Impacts Your Health

How does chemical exposure impact your health? I’ll share the highlights.

1.) Some chemical ingredients are known carcinogens.

This takes little explanation. Carcinogen = cancer causing = bad. Bottom line: you may be (accidentally) exposing yourself to known carcinogens on a daily basis. Yikes!

2.) Other chemical ingredients are endocrine disruptor chemicals (or EDCs).

This one is more complicated.

EDCs are substances that interfere with the normal functioning of your body’s endocrine system. Your endocrine system controls the way your body develops and functions — it produces hormones that travel through your body that maintain your organs, tissues, and participate in your overall health and wellness. EDCs can be found in the environment (water supply, soil), food and beverages, and manufactured products (like personal care items).

This isn’t some hippie, pachouli-wearing mumbo jumbo.

EDCs are well known and described in scientific literature. In fact, an article published in The Lancet (a well respected and traditional medical journal) estimated the financial burden of EDCs in the US is 340 billion dollars. The image below shows how the $340 billion is split between various health problems.

How to Protect Yourself

The bad news is what you put on/expose your body to can impact your health. The good news is you CAN protect yourself from carcinogens and EDCs.  

First of all, you need to know which ingredients are carcinogens and EDCs. Then you need to avoid them.

Sounds easy, right? It can actually be trickier because many carcinogens and EDCs are legally used in the US. Flame retardants, cosmetics, fragrance/perfume/cologne, soaps can contain these dangerous chemicals.

Crazy, right? Well it is.

That’s where I come in. Over the next few weeks, I will teach you about the worst chemical offenders and easy ways to avoid them. Plus I’ll share some homemade personal care substitutes that will save your health and your wallet.

It’s going to be great.

So check back next week where we’ll tackle Part II of this important (and often overlooked) series.

See you soon,

Skye

 

Why I Built A Better Way Wellness

Why I Built A Better Way Wellness

From struggle & experience came the solution

As I rounded out my twenties, I knew there was something off.

On the surface things looked shiny. I lived in a fashionable part of town in a snappy condo with my loving husband, worked as a professor at a top 10 school for my discipline, and had a group of genuinely wonderful friends.

But something felt off. My body felt strange to me. Sure, I thought I was eating the “right” things (boy was I wrong) and completing vigorous exercise almost daily and sometime twice daily. But my weight was creeping up, my arms and stomach felt more than a little doughy, my skin was breaking out, my anxiety level was increasing, and my glow and energetic disposition were dulling. Something was wrong.

Read More