The Best Sunscreens of 2018

You asked and I answered.

After last week’s post on The Best and Worst Sunscreen Ingredients, you had some great questions.

The most common question I received was which sunscreen I personally use. And I usually don’t post about specific products.

But because this is SUCH an important and timely (given the change in seasons and Memorial Day Weekend) topic, I am sharing my favorite sunscreens for 2018.

They vary in price and availability. What they have in common is they all:

  • contain the best active sunscreen ingredient
  • have high concentrations of zinc oxide
  • are free from endocrine disruptors (as of May 2018)
  • are SPF 30 or so.

Disclaimer: I have NO financial relationships with any companies mentioned. These are products I personally buy, use, and recommend.

So I’ll cut to the chase!

Here are my favorite sunscreens for 2018.

Best Face + Body Sunscreen for Your Wallet & the Environment ($)

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Raw Elements makes high quality and affordable sunscreen options for body and face. Their body sunscreens apply like a dream and their tinted facial sunscreen is great if you want your sunscreen to offer some coverage. You can find these products on Amazon or at https://raw-elementsusa.myshopify.com.

Raw Elements uses zinc oxide and is certified as safe for all ages, reef safe, and biodegradable.

Best Spray Sunscreen ($ to $$)

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Spray sunscreens can be quick and convenient to apply. The problem is most options do not contain zinc oxide, the best broad spectrum sunscreen.

Babo Botanicals is a natural line that produces “sheer” zinc oxide sunscreens for adults and babies alike. I prefer their fragrance-free offerings. Babo Botanicals is fairly priced and can be purchased on their website (if you sign up for their newsletter, you can get a coupon code for 25% off your first purchase) and at other retailers (such as Whole Foods and Pharmaca). https://www.babobotanicals.com

Best Baby Sunscreen ($)

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Badger makes a baby sunscreen that is simple and gentle for babies (and adults). This product is 18.75% non-nano zinc oxide and applies easily. It contains moisturizing ingredients and is reef-friendly.

Badger products can be found at some natural grocers. However, you can always find them at https://www.badgerbalm.com/default.aspx.

Happy Sunscreen Purchasing

Good luck finding the perfect sunscreen. You still have a week to find something great before Memorial Day Weekend!

In health and (sunburn-free) happiness,
Skye

The BEST and WORST Sunscreen Ingredients

Why Sunscreen Matters

With Memorial Day just around the corner and summer a stone’s throw away (or already here depending on where you live), your sunshine time is increasing daily.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know sunscreen is important.

What you may NOT know is that your sunscreen choice can make a HUGE difference.

Choose the wrong sunscreen and you increase your chances of skin aging (hello wrinkles and sunspots), sunburn, and skin cancer.

Since nobody wants that, I’m helping you choose the best and most effective sunscreen options.

The Best Sunscreen Ingredient

Not all sunscreens are created equally. Some sunscreens are superior (meaning they contain the best ingredients, are broad spectrum, and clean ingredient-wise) while others have much to be desired.

I’m going to give you the 20,000 foot level on this one. If you want the nitty gritty details, check out this post.

There are two main active ingredients in various sunscreens - chemical and physical.

Chemical sunscreens — as their name suggests — utilize chemicals that absorb UV rays after they enter the skin. Examples of chemical sunscreens include avobenzone, dioxybenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, oxybenzone, and padimate O.

Physical sunscreens, in contrast, form a protective layer on the skin and reflect UV rays before their enter the skin. They form a physical barrier of protection against UV rays. Examples of physical sunscreens include zinc oxide and titanium oxide.

Most people use chemical sunscreens, which is a MISTAKE.

For a sunscreen to be effective, it needs to block UVA and UVB rays. In other words, it needs to be broad spectrum. Even better is to pick a sunscreen that blocks UVA1, UVA2, and UVB rays.

The only FDA approved sunscreen that protects against UVA1, UVA2, and UVB rays is zinc oxide (a PHYSICAL sunscreen).

This means zinc oxide is the most comprehensive sunscreen and the ingredient you should pick (barring the unusual allergy or contraindication).

THE SPF YOU SHOULD PICK

SPF (or sun protection factor) assesses a sunscreen’s ability to protect against UVB rays.

So what do the SPF numbers mean? Different SPF numbers are associated with different percentages of UVB ray blocking.

SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays. Increasing to SPF 30 takes you to 96.7%. And SPF 70 blocks 98.6% of rays.

Going beyond SPF 30 has very small gains in sun protection. Furthermore, sunscreens with SPF over 30 typically have more negative side effects.

For this reason, most folks are fine with SPF 30. However, if your dermatologist has suggested otherwise, please follow their instruction.


INGREDIENTS TO AVOID IN SUNSCREEN

Now you know the best active sunscreen ingredient (zinc oxide) and most appropriate SPF (usually 30).

So what else should you remember when picking a sunscreen?

You should remember there are some ingredients to avoid.

Sunscreen Ingredients to Avoid

  • Dioxybenzone - this chemical sunscreen has estrogenic effects in the body.
  • Methylisothiazolinone - this is a preservative found in many sunscreens (including those marketed for children). This preservative is highly allergenic and sensitizes skin.
  • Octinoxate - this chemical sunscreen is being banned in Hawaii for harming coral reefs.
  • Oxybenzone - this chemical sunscreen is being banned in Hawaii for harming coral reefs. Also, it has hormonal effects in the body (estrogenic effects in women) and may alter sperm production.

Go Forth & Pick the Best Sunscreen for You

Remember zinc oxide, SPF 30, and my “ingredients to avoid” list. This way when you pick out new sunscreen for your Memorial Day weekend plans, you can make the best choice possible to keep your skin in tip top shape.

In health and happiness,
Skye

You Should Eat These 3 Things to Decrease Your Risk of Cancer

Cancer is terrible. Truly.

What else is terrible? The fact that 1/3 of cancer cases are preventable. This means 5 million cancer cases in the United States each didn’t need to happen.

There are evidence-based ways to decrease cancer. And I feel it’s my duty to share this knowledge with you.

Three foods can really and truly decrease your risk of common cancers.

CANCER PREVENTING FOOD #1: Fruits

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This is good news for you.

Fruit tastes delicious, has great nutritional value, and prevents cancer. Really.

What counts as fruit in these studies? Fresh, frozen, canned, raw and cooked fruits. This doesn’t count nuts, seeds, or dried fruit.

Fruit consumption decreases the risk of esophagus, stomach, and lung cancer.

Fruit probably decreases the risk of other cancers — such as nasopharynx, colon, and rectal cancer.

Fruit works it’s cancer protecting magic through many mechanisms. Polyphenols and carotenoids contained in fruit have antioxidant and antiproliferative effects. Not only do they have these effects, but they also modulate hormone metabolism, immune function, and play an important role in DNA synthesis.

Load up on fruits everyday for cancer protection! Some of my favorites include organic blueberries, mangoes, apples, bananas, and huckleberries.

CANCER PREVENTING FOOD #2: Non-Starchy Vegetables

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Your mom was right. You should eat your vegetables.

Why?

Because vegetables convincingly decrease the risk of several cancers such as mouth, esophagus, and stomach. Furthermore, vegetables probably decrease the risk of other cancers (think nasopharynx, colon, lung, and rectum).

This is great news for several reasons. One, vegetables are more affordable than many other food groups (like dairy and meat). Two, you can grow you own if you want to. And lastly, vegetables have a whole host of other health promoting benefits.

So what counts as vegetables in terms of cancer prevention? Primarily, the non-starchy ones. This means all vegetables excluding potatoes and pulses (beans, lentils, and peas). And it includes fresh, frozen, canned, raw or cooked varieties.

CANCER PREVENTING FOOD #3: Dietary Fiber

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Dietary fiber. Not the sexiest sounding of all the foods. However, dietary fiber can pack a serious cancer preventing punch.

Colon, rectal, and breast cancer can all be prevented by eating sufficient dietary fiber.

Overall, dietary fiber prevents cancer by preventing insulin-resistance, decreasing inflammation, and by optimizing colonic microflora. Specifically, it is hypothesized dietary fiber reduces the levels of circulating steroid hormone, therefore playing a protective role in hormone-dependent cancers. In terms of colorectal cancer, dietary fiber is thought to increase stool bulk and dilute carcinogens through water binding, decrease intestinal transit time and carcinogen activity, as well as having anti proliferative properties.

You may be wondering exactly what counts as dietary fiber. That is an excellent question.

Many different foods contain dietary fiber. Fruit and vegetables contain dietary fiber. So do beans and legumes. Whole grains (wheat, brown rice, quinoa, popcorn, etc.) also count. Nuts, especially almonds, walnuts, and pecans, are higher in dietary fiber. Oat bran is also a source.

How much dietary fiber is considered sufficient? At least 25 grams a day.

FROM KNOWLEDGE TO POWER

Now you know the three foods to eat NOW to prevent cancer. Fruit, vegetables, and dietary fiber.

How do you plan to maximize cancer prevention through diet? Maybe it’s adding a green smoothie to your morning. Or trying my morning glory oatmeal (hint: it contains fruit and dietary fiber sources). Maybe you add up how much dietary fiber you’re getting.

Whatever you decide, may it help you (and your loved ones) prevent cancer.

xo,
Skye

Looking for more cancer prevention? Check out The ONE Thing You Should Do this Weekend to Prevent the Most Common Cancers.

 

The ONE Thing You Should Do this Weekend to Prevent the Most Common Cancers

Do you know someone who has (or had) breast cancer? Or lung cancer?

My guess is you answered yes to one or both of those questions.

According to the National Cancer Institute, lung and breast cancer are the most common in the United States.

Okay . . . this isn’t meant to depress you. So I’m going to turn this discussion around. Over the last few weeks we have covered what you should NOT do in terms of cancer prevention. Now we’re getting to the fun part.

The part where we talk about the FUN (and of course, evidence-based) things you CAN do to prevent cancer.

Because, as you know by now, 5 million cases of cancer can be prevented each year.

So what is the ONE thing you can do this weekend to prevent lung and breast cancer (the most common cancers)?

Physical activity.

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You know, exercise, ejercicio, moving your body. You get it, right?

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY PREVENTS CANCER

It’s true. Physical activity prevents cancer.

How?

Great question.

It is hypothesized that physical activity directly effects levels of various hormones and growth factors in the body. Physical activity also improves your body’s sensitivity to insulin as well as decreasing oxidative stress and inflammatory markers. Furthermore, physical activity indirectly decreases cancer risk by lowering the risk of being obese or overweight.

Bottom line: physical activity both directly and indirectly decreases the risk of breast and lung cancer.

What Counts as Physical Activity?

If thoughts of slaving away on a treadmill are filling you with dread, don’t worry.

Because there are TONS of ways you can get physical activity.

According to the studies showing physical activity reduces cancer risk, any bodily movement that results in increased energy expenditure (above resting) counts.

So if you like treadmills and running, do it! If that’s not your cup of tea, do something else. Go for a hike this weekend. Ride a bike. Take a vigorous walk. Go to a yoga class. Take a spinning, barre, or boot camp class. Dig out your roller blades from the back of the closet. Grab some weights or use your body weight for resistance training. You get the picture. Find something you enjoy, but is also physically challenging, and do it!

And while you’re at it, do it on both weekend days.

OTHER REASONS TO MOVE YOUR BODY

If preventing breast and lung cancer isn’t enough, there are literally hundreds of other reasons to engage in physical activity.

Here are just a few reasons to move your body:

  • Exercise decreases your risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Exercise help keep blood pressure at healthy levels
  • Physical activity is associated with improved mood
  • Physical activity decreases perception of pain

Seriously. It’s hard to argue against exercise.

Even better is physical activity can be free. That’s right —no matter your budget, you can do something.

YOUR TURN

My personal practice is to do something every single day. Some days that means hiking. Other days it’s running, biking, or going to an exercise class.

What do you do? What do you plan to start this weekend? Shoot me a message — I’d love to hear all about it!


In health and happiness,
Skye

The Carcinogen Hiding in Your Garage

Have you ever seen a litigation commercial? These are the ones that ask if you or a loved one have used a product and had a negative outcome. They encourage you to contact their law firm ASAP to see if you are eligible for a settlement.

I’m used to seeing these commercials for adverse effects related to medications (for example blood clots associated with a certain brand of birth control).

But recently I saw a litigation commercial for a different product. A product that most of us have in our garages. A product that almost all Americans have been exposed to on a semi-consistent basis.

Roundup.

You know, the weed killer. The one you spray in your yard that does a really good job at making sure weeds die.

It turns out Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, doesn’t just kill weeds.

Roundup may be killing people.

How? Because glyphosate is a known carcinogen (aka causes cancers). And exposure to glyphosate is associated with other aliments such as steatohepatitis (fatty liver) and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.

While this news is taking many by surprise, I’m not shocked. And if you’re a long time reader, you’re probably not shocked either.

Because I did an entire series on the hidden health havoc of chemical exposures last year. Check out the intro, part II, part III, and part iv (where I share the 5 products you need to change immediately to decrease your exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disruptor chemicals).

We now know glyphosate causes a blood cancer called non-Hodgkins lymphoma. And law firms are encouraging folks with the diagnosis to contact them to see if Roundup was the culprit.

How do you know if you’ve been exposed to Roundup?

It’s safe to assume you’ve been exposed to Roundup. Roundup is the most commonly used herbicide today. And use has increased dramatically in the last twenty years. Roundup is used in commercial farming practices, on the grass in parks, and in most people’s yards.

Instead of asking if you’ve been exposed, the better questions are how to minimize your exposure and protect yourself.

I’m providing three ways to protect yourself and decrease your Roundup exposure.

How to Protect Yourself

1. Eat Organic

Roundup is commonly used as an insecticide in commercial farming. If you you want to decrease your risk of exposure through eating, choose organic foods.

Organic farming practices do not allow for the knowing use of glyphosate. When you buy (or garden) organic, you are drastically decreasing your risk of glyphosate exposure.

2. Buy Foods with the “Glyphosate Residue Free” Label

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While eating organic decreases your risk of consuming foods with glyphosate, this practice does not completely protect you. Why? Because glyphosate use is widespread and may contaminate foods that are not directly exposed to the herbicide. This can include organic crops. Additionally, foods labeled as "organic" can  be up to 5% non-organic.

If you want more certainty, look for the “Glyphosate Residue Free” label. This label indicates a product or crop has undergone further testing to verify it is free of glyphosate.

Do you want to see more foods with the “Glyphosate Residue Free” label? Write to your favorite food companies and let them know! As consumers, we have the power to elicit change.

3. Stop Using Roundup or Other Products that Contain Glyphosate

Even minimal glyphosate exposure is linked to health problems. Avoid using Roundup or similar herbicides in your personal gardens and yards.

A Change is In the Air

The health risks associated with glyphosate are gaining widespread attention. And there is positive forward motion in eliminating exposure.

California now officially lists glyphosate as a known carcinogen.

The French president said he will take all measures necessary to ensure glyphosate is banned within three years.

However, do not wait for government change to protect yourself! Use my tips above to help keep you and your loved ones happy and healthy.

In health and happiness,
Skye

 

Is Your Multivitamin Giving You Cancer? I'll Show You How to Check.

Your multivitamin could be giving you cancer. No joke. I’m serious as cancer.

What part of your multivitamin is the culprit?

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The seemingly innocent vitamin A precursor, beta-carotene, can act as a carcinogen.

Does your multivitamin contain beta-carotene? You’ll have to look on the label for yourself, but my guess is it does. Many mainstream multivitamins utilize beta-carotene for some or ALL of their vitamin A. You may be shocked to learn some of the largest multivitamin companies use beta-carotene.


Why Beta-Carotene Is a Problem

Depending on your personal history, beta-carotene supplementation is associated with several different types of cancers.

If you are a smoker, beta-carotene supplementation at doses greater than 20 mg a day convincingly increases the risk of lung cancer. This is independent from the increased lung cancer risk attributed to smoking itself.

If you don’t smoke, you still may not be safe. If you have been exposed to asbestos, your risk of lung cancer increases convincingly, too. And it’s likely you have been exposed to asbestos.

The tricky thing with asbestos exposure is you may have NO idea if you’ve been exposed. According to The Mesothelioma Center, most everyone in their lifetime has been exposed to asbestos. The most common exposures are due to home or commercial renovation or remodeling and sandblasting. Asbestos exposure is more common than you think. Even though I am extra cautious, I was exposed to asbestos from neighbors doing unauthorized construction and leaving asbestos venting in an open dumpster.

Lung cancer isn’t the only risk. Beta-carotene supplementation in doses greater than 20 mg a day probably increases the risk of stomach cancer in smokers and those exposed to asbestos.

Where does this information come from? Multiple scientific studies reviewed in this article.

How to Check Your Multivitamin

Do you want to check your multivitamin right now? I don’t mind … I’ll still be here when you get back. Look for “beta-carotene” or check the list for vitamin A and see what the source is.

If the source is beta-carotene, you need to do some calculating. Multivitamin labels may list the beta-carotene in micrograms (mcg), milligrams (mg), or even as international units (IU) of vitamin A.

I’ll make this easy for you.

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If your multivitamin lists beta-carotene in milligrams, just make sure your total daily milligrams are less than 20 a day. Keep in mind if you use multiple supplements, more than just your multivitamin may contain beta-carotene.

If your multivitamin lists beta-carotene in micrograms, you need to do a little math. Divide the number of micrograms by 1000 to get the number of milligrams. For example, if your multivitamin contains 3000 micrograms of beta-carotene, divide 3000 by 1000. 3000 divided by 1000 is 3. Therefore, your multivitamin contains 3 milligrams of  beta-carotene. So long as your total daily exposure is less 20 milligrams, you should be okay. Remember, if you use multiple supplements, more than just your multivitamin may contain beta-carotene.

If your multivitamin lists beta-carotene in international until (IU) of vitamin A, the calculation gets trickier. You need to convert IU’s to milligrams. You do this by multiplying the number of IU’s by 0.0006. This will give you the number of milligrams of beta-carotene, which you want to be below 20 from all sources. Again, keep in mind if you use multiple supplements, more than just your multivitamin may contain beta-carotene.

Which Multivitamin Should You Take?

That’s a great question.

You may NOT even need a multivitamin. But if you do want to take one (because you’re pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or exclude entire food groups, for example), there are things you can do to pick the best and safest option.

Check out my Multivitamin Buying Guide and My Favorite Multivitamins.

Spread the Word

Do you have a friend or family member that uses a multivitamin or other supplements? You probably do.

Please, please, please send them this post so they can make sure they’re not inadvertently increasing their risk of cancer.

Or share this post on Facebook, Instagram, or other social media. Because many cases of cancer can be prevented and we need to get the word out.

In health and happiness,
Skye

Is Happy Hour Giving You Cancer?

Don’t get mad at me, please.

Alcohol is a tricky subject and a rather polarizing one. You may love your drinks, totally oppose drinking, or fall somewhere in the middle.

Regardless of your personal (and likely valid) opinion, there is evidence about alcohol and cancer. Even though I know you may be mad about this post, I truly feel it’s my duty to share it with you.

Because, as we covered last week, cancer is preventable. Approximately 5 million (you know . . . the number five with six zeroes after it) cases of cancer can be prevented each year from lifestyle changes alone.

As one of my readers, you know I am absolutely passionate about preventing illness. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing I hadn’t shared an important part of the cancer prevention picture.

So today’s cancer prevention is all about alcohol.

How to Get Cancer: Drink Alcohol

Eek. I may have just caused you major stress/annoyance/incredulousness. But hear me out.

Alcohol can act as a carcinogen. It’s true. The mechanism of alcohol-mediated carcinogenesis has to do with the metabolites of ethanol. When you consume an alcoholic drink, the ethanol is changed into several metabolites. Acetaldehyde, one to the main metabolites, is a carcinogen. Further effects of alcohol consumption that are thought to contribute to cancer are redox changes, formation of free radicals, liver injury, elevation of sex hormones, folate deficiency, and an interaction with smoking.

There is compelling evidence to suggest alcohol consumption increases the risk of several specific cancers.  One of these cancers is breast. That’s right. Alcohol consumption is associated with a probable increased risk of breast cancer. See my chart below for specifics.

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You may be wondering where this data came from. It came from over 100 scientific studies and meta-analyses. References can be found in this review article from 2016.  

So . . . What counts as an alcoholic beverage?

Good question. According to the studies used to correlate cancer and alcohol consumption, the following beverages were considered alcoholic:

  • Wine
  • Beer
  • Spirits
  • Ciders (alcoholic)
  • Local drinks (such as sake and mead)

Action of the Week: Decrease Your Alcohol Intake or Abstain

What does this information mean for you? It means that if you want to decrease your risk of cancer (specifically breast, mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophageal, liver, and colorectal), you want to limit your alcohol intake.

And studies show no alcohol is even better for some cancers.

How do you feel about this? Shocked? Annoyed? Onboard? Enlightened?

Whatever you are feeling, it’s okay.

And what you do next is entirely up to you.

But at least you can go forward armed with the scientific evidence.

If you drink and are open to cutting back, I have some ideas for you. Try a mocktail (cocktail without alcohol) instead of your normal cocktail. Have a shrub. Experiment with various sparkling waters. Add fresh fruit or herbs to your water. Get crazy. Have fun!

If you drink to relax, brainstorm other activities to help you destress. Maybe it’s meditation, taking an exercise class, baking, cooking, reading a book, or making a relaxing cup of tea. Trial things out and see what works for you.

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

In health and happiness,
Skye

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?”

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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

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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

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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,
Skye

 

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

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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.

Garlic

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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,

Skye

 

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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

xo,
Skye