Safe & Sustainable Sunscreens

Sunscreen is supposed to protect our skin, but not all of them truly prevent damage from UV rays--some sunscreens even have ingredients that can cause other issues, like hormone and fertility problems over time. 

Do you know what ingredients are in your sunscreen? Make sure that you're using a sunscreen that actually protects you from ultraviolet rays, keeps you healthy, and helps preserve our oceans.

Every year since 2007, the EWG releases a sunscreen guide based on their evaluation of about 650 beach and sport sunscreens. This year, they found that 2/3 of the sunscreens evaluated still contained troublesome ingredients and offered inferior sun protection.

We've summarized their main findings for you here. 

What You May Not Know About Sunscreen:

There is little scientific evidence that suggests that sunscreen alone reduces the risk of cancer, particularly melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. Melanoma rates have tripled in the past three decades. It's important that you fully understand what exactly sunscreen does, and how to keep yourself safe from ultraviolet rays otherwise. 

Higher SPF Doesn't Mean Better

Higher SPF, or sunburn protection factor, doesn't necessarily mean greater protection from UV-related skin damage, especially UVA. In 2011, the FDA determined that SPF claims were "inherently misleading" and proposed to join other industrialized nations in capping the SPF values at 50. The agency never finalized this rule, and you can still see many sunscreens marketed at high SPF values. 

You Can Still Damage Your Skin When Wearing Sunscreen

Most sunscreens don't sufficiently protect your skin from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburns and pre-cancerous DNA mutations, and UVA rays cause tanning and subtler damage. UVB rays are high-energy but only makes up 3-5% of the radiation hitting the earth. 

UVA rays have less energy but penetrate deeper into skin tissue and are most responsible for generating free radicals that damage DNA and skin cells. This can contribute to skin cancer, accelerate skin aging, suppress the immune system and  can contribute to the development of melanoma.

SPF prevents sunburn and can block UVB rays, but does not necessarily prevent or reduce the damage caused by UVA rays. 

Sunscreens in Europe have higher UVA protection than sunscreens produced in the US, due to the FDA's limitation on ingredients. Only two of the FDA approved ingredients filter UVA rays, while Europe has seven ingredients that can do so.

Here are some study results gathered by the EWG:

"Stanford University dermatologists who reviewed CDC national survey data concluded that people who relied solely on sunscreens for sun protection had more sunburns than people who reported infrequent sunscreen use but wore hats and clothing to shield themselves from the sun (Linos 2011).

In Sweden, increased use of sunscreen by children was linked to more sunburns (Rodvall 2010). Several other studies of real-world sunscreen use found that people who use sunscreen for skin protection during periods of intense UV exposure had more sunburns (Koster 2010, Autier 2007)."

Staying in the shade and covering skin with clothing is suggested as an effective way to protect from skin damage.  Although sunscreen-use can mitigate damage, it does not thoroughly protect your skin, especially during long periods under the sun. 

Spray Sunscreens are Not As Effective

The EWG and FDA have raised concerns with spray-on sunscreen because it poses an inhalation risk and does not coat evenly on the skin to protect it. However, the FDA has not taken action to ban sprays yet. 

Sunscreen Blocks Your Ability To Absorb Vitamin D

Vitamin D is critical for your health-- it helps to reduce your risk of disease, and also is essential for absorption of calcium and bone growth. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, depression, weight gain, and more.

Unfortunately, about "8 percent of the population has a serious vitamin D deficiency, and another 25 percent is considered at risk of a deficiency (CDC 2011)."

Vitamin D from the sun comes from UVB rays, which most sunscreens block out. 

You can only absorb Vitamin D when you are not wearing sunscreen, and only at certain times of the day depending on your location. You can use the app Dminder to see when you can absorb Vitamin D, and a safe amount of time that you can stay in the sun while minimizing skin damage. 

It is likely that you still have low Vitamin D levels even if you do get sun and eat foods with Vitamin D. You may want to have your Vitamin D levels checked through a blood test. You can check with Dr. Johnson if you may need to start Vitamin D supplements.

Ingredients to Avoid:

These ingredients are still common in many sunscreens, and are legally allowed in the US despite potential health risks. 

Oxybenzone

This ingredient is used in most sunscreens and is an allergen and hormone disruptor

Here are just a few of the issues and health risks associated with oxybenzone, as compiled by the EWG:

Exposure & Absorption

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found oxybenzone routinely in more than 96 percent of the American population. Study participants who reported using sunscreen had higher oxybenzone exposures (Zamoiski 2015).

Margaret Schlumpf of the University of Zurich detected oxybenzone and four other sunscreen filters in Swiss women’s breast milk, indicating that the developing fetus and newborns may be exposed to these substances (Schlumpf 2008, Schlumpf 2010). She detected at least one sunscreen chemical in 85 percent of milk samples."

Hormone & Fertility Disruption

"The National Institutes of Health and The State University of New York, Albany, suggest a link between higher concentrations of benzophenones and poorer reproductive success in men seeking assistance at a fertility clinic. Men with greater exposures to benzophenone-2 and/or 4-hydroxyoxybenzone had poorer sperm quality (Louis 2015), and reported that it took longer for their partners to conceive (Buck-Louis 2014). Female exposures to oxybenzone and related chemicals have been linked to increased risk of endometriosis (Kunisue 2012)."

Environmental Toxin

Oxybenzone is also damaging to coral reefs-- it is toxic to coral and creates viral infections that can bleach coral and even result in coral death. It is estimated that up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen is deposited in the world's oceans each year.  To protect its coral and marine life, Hawaii recently passed a bill to ban the sale of oxybenzone-containing sunscreen.

Retinyl Palmitate (form of Vitamin A)

Other names: retinyl acetate, retinyl linoleate and retinol.

EWG found that this form of Vitamin A can harm skin. Government test data indicate that it may trigger development of skin tumors and lesions when used on skin in the presence of sunlight. Other governments warn that certain cosmetics may contribute to unsafe amounts of vitamin A, and recommend against using them.

Methylisothiazolinone

Methylisothiazolinone is a preservative and inactive ingredient in sunscreens. Inactive ingredients usually make up 50-70% of a sunscreen product. Methylisothiazolinone is known as a skin sensitizer, and in 2013, the American Contact Dermatitis Society named methylisothiazolinone its “allergen of the year”.

"In a study published in 2014, researchers at Baylor University surveyed the ingredients in 152 children’s body care products labeled “hypoallergenic” and found methylisothiazolinone in 30 of them (Schlichte 2014)."

Although it is still legal in the U.S., this ingredient is not allowed in European products. "In March 2015, the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety concluded that no concentration of the chemical could be considered safe in leave-on cosmetic products (EU SCCS 2014)."

Want to read more about ingredients? Click here.

Recommended Sunscreens

Have a sunscreen that you really like? Check here to see if it is safe under EWG standards. 

Need to find a new sunscreen that is healthy and safe? Check this guide for recommendations. Two brands that we like are All Good and Badger.

 

If you want to help ban oxybenzone from sunscreens, take a minute to sign this petition

Why Am I Always Tired? Potential Adrenal Fatigue

Could my fatigue be my adrenals?

Top 10 Signs of Adrenal Fatigue

1.     Decreased ability to handle stress

2.     Fatigue or lack of energy, especially in the early morning and late afternoon

3.     Brain Fog

4.     Craving Salt

5.     Need to snack or eat frequently to maintain normal blood sugar

6.     Dizziness upon standing

7.     Mild anxiety or depression

8.     Insomnia

9.     Decreased Immune Function

10. Gaining weight around the midsection

What causes Adrenal Fatigue?

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Prolonged Stress

One of the MAIN functions of the adrenal glands is to mount a response to stress by secreting cortisol and adrenaline hormones. This is often referred to as you “fight or flight response,” which is a healthy and necessary response to help us appropriately manage those acute periods of stress. The issue arises when stress becomes prolonged, as this adaptive response becomes maladaptive.

Excessive Exercise

This may be one of the most commonly overlooked areas in healthcare. Just like anything else, too much of a “good thing” can be a bad thing. With the emergence of unrealistic social media-created ideals, the epidemic of excessive exercise and burnout is on the rise. Exercise is indeed a stress to the body, which causes a release of catecholamines and cortisol. A degree of stress through exercise is healthy and necessary for growth and adaptation; however, chronic over-exercise turns this anabolic activity into a catabolic one. Not only can over-exercise lead to muscle breakdown, but it can also wreak havoc on your endocrine and immune systems, leaving you victim to increased fatigue, decreased stress resilience, hormone imbalances, and lowered immune function.

Lack of Sleep

During a restful night of sleep, cortisol is at its lowest and your adrenal glands essentially get a rest. With a normal cortisol/melatonin rhythm, melatonin (your sleepy hormone) starts to make a sharp rise and cortisol (your awake hormone) takes a deep dip just before 9 pm. This 9 pm mark is thus the IDEAL time to start winding down for bed. This reverse of this pattern, where cortisol begins to spike and melatonin dips low occurs just before 6 am. The further your sleep pattern deviates from this innate cortisol/melatonin rhythm, the greater the distress on the health of the adrenal glands.

Chronic Pain

Severe pain has a profound impact on the health of the adrenals. Severe pain, whether acute or chronic, is viewed as an acute stressor by the endocrine system. Initially, the increased demand on the adrenals causes a large rise in cortisol. Over time, however, the adrenal glands are unable to keep up with demand and cortisol often drops below the normal range.

Poor Diet (Crash Dieting, Fasting, Insufficient Intake) 

One of cortisol’s main roles is to keep blood sugar stable. It does so by taking blood sugar out of stores when blood glucose starts to drop below acceptable levels. With crash dieting, fasting, or insufficient nutrient intake, the demand for cortisol increases, which places an additional stress on the adrenal glands.

Top 5 Tips to Reset Your Adrenals and Recover from Adrenal Fatigue:

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1. Get Enough Sleep

Aim to get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep each night. Some individual’s recovering from adrenal fatigue may need more, so listen to your body! Each hour before midnight counts as double, so aim to get to bed by 9 pm!

2. Know Your Limits

Set time limits on exercise.

Exercise is healthy, right? Well, it can be a detriment to your health if you are consistently overdoing it. When recovering from adrenal fatigue, it is extremely important to keep exercise at a moderate level. I typically recommend patients to keep exercise to a maximum of 1 hour of moderate exercise (such as: light cardio, resistance training, and yoga). This is not the time to do intense spin classes, cross-fit, HIIT workouts, or Bikram yoga.

Dial back your work commitments. 

For many individuals, work is a significant source of stress. This may especially be the case if you consider yourself “type A” or a people-pleaser. Make sure that you are not taking on more tasks than you can handle. Consistently working overtime, working in an emotionally toxic environment, working under high pressure of time or significance, and making long commutes can all contribute to burnout. It’s a good practice to pull out your contract and evaluate whether you are going above and beyond the job duties for which you were originally hired.

3. Reset Your Adrenals Through Diet

The main goal of an adrenal reset diet is to use macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) to promote a healthy cortisol/melatonin rhythm through blood sugar modulation.

Three Principles to Keep in Mind:

1.  We want cortisol around — but at the right time. Cortisol, your “stress hormone” gets a bad rap. In excess and for prolonged periods of time, cortisol can indeed be bad; however, cortisol has many IMPORTANT beneficial roles in our body including: blood sugar regulation, blood pressure regulation, anti-inflammatory actions, and energy!

2.  Cortisol and Melatonin are in opposition. When Cortisol is high, melatonin is low. The reverse is also true.

3. Cortisol and Blood Sugar are in opposition. One of cortisol’s roles is to regulate blood sugar by taking sugar out of its storage form and putting it into the bloodstream when blood glucose is low. This means that when blood glucose is low, cortisol will rise in order to achieve this act. This is one reason why cortisol levels RISE after exercising.

Promoting a Healthy Rhythm With Structured Meals:

Breakfast: Breakfast should consist of a healthy protein, healthy fat, and good amount of vegetables with adequate fiber. This type of breakfast will keep morning cortisol high, as it should be.

Example: 2 Eggs (whole) + 2 pieces bacon + ½ avocado + sautéed kale

Lunch: Mid-day is the time where cortisol begins its decline. To maintain a relatively high level of cortisol, eat a lunch high in protein.  If your body is already at a point of “adrenal fatigue,” it may not be able to meet these demands, and could result in some irritability. Alternatively, eat about ½ cup of carbohydrates to encourage a natural decline in cortisol.

Example: 6 oz Chicken + salad greens + oil vinegar dressing + ¼ cup pistachios + ½ cup blueberries

Dinner: It’s finally time to start dampening that cortisol response and stimulating melatonin production! This is accomplished with a healthy portion (about 1 cup) of carbohydrates. If your meal is too low in carbohydrates, more cortisol will be released to help balance blood sugar, which could prevent you from falling asleep!

Example: 6 oz grass-fed burger lettuce wrapped with avocado, mayo, and mustard + 1 cup sweet potato wedges + asparagus

Snacks: Snacks are important, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you are in the stage of adrenal fatigue where your body is unable to mount an appropriate cortisol response, keeping your blood sugar stable can become quite difficult. For this reason, I usually recommend eating a high protein snack between meals, such as an Epic Bar, protein shake, or plain Kite Hill Greek yogurt!

Other Tips:

Avoid Stimulants: Such as coffee and energy drinks. If you need caffeine, I recommend drinking green tea, which also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that helps calm the mind by mimicking GABA.

Eat Plenty of Sea Salt: Many individuals with adrenal fatigue will crave salt due to low aldosterone, another steroid hormone produced by the adrenals. Aldosterone’s main role is to help control blood pressure through the regulation of salt content within the body. With declining aldosterone, dehydration and lowered blood pressure ensues. Increasing your intake of sea salt and trace minerals is a good way to offset some of the symptoms of lethargy, headaches, lightheadedness, irregular heartbeat, and muscle weakness.

4. Make Relaxation and Mindfulness Activities a Daily Practice

·      Meditate and/or Pray More

·      Start a Journal

·      Take Deep Breaths

·      Laugh More

·      Ground Yourself in Nature

5. Support Your Adrenals with Herbs, Nutrients, and Glandulars

** WE RECOMMEND THIS ONLY UNDER THE SUPPORT OF A TRAINED CLINICIAN**

·  B Vitamins play a big role in the stress-response and can become depleted over time with chronic stress.

·  Vitamin C has been shown to increase stress-resiliency

·  DHEA is not for everyone, and can have serious consequences if used inappropriately. However, DHEA, a pro-hormone to both testosterone and estrogen, is very helpful in those that have reached complete adrenal exhaustion, where DHEA has also begun to drop.

·  Phosphatidylserine reduces cortisol. This can be extremely helpful with a disrupted cortisol rhythm that is keeping you from sleeping!

·   Adaptogenic Herbs have been found to help the body adapt to stress and move you towards a greater state of balance. I’ve listed some of my favorite adaptogens below:

o   Holy Basil

o   Ashwaghanda

o   Astragalus

o   Glycyrhiza (Licorice)

o   Avena Sativa

o   Scutellaria

o   Schisandra

o   Eleuthrococcus senticosus (Ginseng)

o   Rhodiola

·      Glandulars are the glands of other animals. Relying on the hormones of another animal’s adrenal glands is not a long-term solution, but can be taken to help get you through the day when you are not able to create sufficient amounts of your own adrenal hormones.

This article was written by our Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Ari Kasprowicz.

Do you believe you may be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue?

Make an appointment with Dr. Kasprowicz to get your adrenals tested today and have a plan created that is right for your individual state.

How Your Menstrual Products Can Affect Your Health

U.S. women spend about $3 billion a year on menstrual products and sanitary protection. And most of the generic and essential menstrual products contain a slew of harmful materials and ingredients. 

If you are still using conventional or "normal" tampons and pads, here's why you should rethink about it. 

The Dirty Secret

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Tampon and pad brands try to make their products look the best-- attractive or discreet covers, bright "clean" white products, scented products, and other misleadingly appealing attributes. 

But the process that these companies go through to make the products look like this is appalling for something that women use for their most intimate part of the body. 

It's also frightening that these companies are not required to list ingredients for their products on their packaging.

Check out this list of the most common and problematic ingredients found in everyday feminine care products. 

Chlorine Dioxin

To look nice, white, and clean, tampon and pad manufacturers often use chlorine bleach, which can create a toxin called dioxin. In 1994, the EPA issued a report stating that dioxins cause cancer in animals, and probably cause cancer in people. They also determined that those exposed to high levels of dioxins could result in increased risk of damaged immune systems, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and reduced fertility. 

One study even found that 80% of monkeys exposed to dioxins developed endometriosis, a painful disease where uterine tissue is found inside the uterus.

Although the dioxin hazard has been reduced today, dioxin can still be detected in tampons. 

Although it is small amount of dioxin in each tampon, dioxin can come into direct contact with vaginal tissue, which is covered in permeable, mucus membranes leading directly to the reproductive organs. Also, for an average woman's cycle, it is possible that a woman can use 11,000-12,000 tampons per lifetime, which can create a cumulative negative effect. 

Rayon

Highly absorbent viscose rayon makes up the majority of tampons along with a little non-organic or conventional cotton. The use of rayon and leaving tampons in for extended periods of time (as they were intended to be used) increases the risk of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome).

Non-organic cotton

Check out this video on the differences between conventional vs organic pads on how they break down and the fumes that are released.

Cotton is heavily sprayed with many insecticides and pesticides and it is likely that there are still residues on the end-product, which is then inserted into your most intimate part of your body.

According to a 2016 Report by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), herbicides are applied to 92% of planted acres of cotton, other chemicals such as dessicants are applied to 76%, and insecticides are applied to 40%. 

 

Fragrance

Fragrance usually is an umbrella term for many different chemicals and ingredients. Fragrance often causes irritation. 

BPA (Bisphenol-A)

BPA is found in many types of plastics, and is often used in tampon applicators, as well as the lining of the pad and even parts of pads itself. BPA is known to cause hormone imbalance issues, as well as increase your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. 

Alternative Hygiene Products to Try Immediately:

Menstrual Cup

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Menstrual cups are made out of silicon or rubber and are flexible and designed for use inside the vagina during your period to collect the blood. The cup collects the blood as it flows down, rather than absorbing it like tampons and pads. The cup is reusable, and needs to be emptied every 8 -12 hours depending on your flow. After emptying,  wash it carefully and insert back in.

Benefits:

- It's cheaper. Invest in it once and you can use it for 1-3 years, if not more. You no longer have to spend money every month buying tampons and pads. 

- No risk of TSS (toxic shock syndrome).

- Toxin free! The brands we have recommended are BPA free, dioxin-free, latex-free, and more. They are also made of medical-grade silicon.

- Less changes. It doesn't need to be changed as often as pads or tampons. You can safely go without changing for 8-12 hours depending on your flow.

- It's unnoticeable. You can't feel it when it's in place, and you don't have to deal with blood everytime you go to the bathroom (unless you're changing it). 

- Vaginal pH and beneficial bacteria stay in place. Tampons can absorb your vaginal fluid with the blood, which can disrupt your pH and bacteria balance in your vagina. Tampons also can make you feel dry. 

- Less blood clotting.

- Potential to help reduce cramps.

- Less landfill waste. You're reducing your environmental impact by not throwing a week's worth of tampons and pads out every month. 

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*Recommended Brands:

- Diva Cup (Pre-Childbirth or Post-Childbirth)

- Lena Cup (Small or Large) 

- Lunette Cup (Multiple sizes)

- Meluna Cup (Multipe sizes and lengths)

If you are overwhelmed by the different options and sizes and are not sure what's right for you, try using this guide to help you, or reading reviews to see the best option for your body. 

Recommended Cleaning:

Wash with warm or hot water and a non-irritating natural soap after each use and before re-insertion. To avoid discoloration, soak in hydrogen peroxide every few cycles and then wash well. For more wash and care instructions, see the instructions on your purchased cup. 

 

Organic Pads and Tampons:

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Benefits:

- Lower risk of TSS with organic tampons.

Chemical-free! Reduced or eliminated exposure to harmful chemicals and pesticides used to spray cotton. 

- Reduced risk of irritation such as rashes, redness, itchiness. 

-Chlorine-free or unbleached

- More environmentally friendly (no impact from pesticides).

*Recommended Brands:

Most of these brands are 100% certified organic cotton, BPA-free, plastic or mostly plastic-free, fragrance and dye free, chlorine-free, and rayon and latex free. You can also find many of these brands at your local stores such as Target, Walgreens, and more. 

- NatraCare also see here for list of places to purchase. 

- Seventh Generation

- L. Organic

- Organyc

- The Honest Co. 

 

Other Options

Not thrilled about the above options? There are two other options that we know of.

We haven't personally tested any of these, but maybe you want to!

- Period Panties. Check out this list of different brands. 

- Reusable Cloth Pads

 

* Please note that we are not affiliated with any of these brands, we just like to support good quality and healthy brands. 

Are You Scared to Try Yoga? Don't Be

    Yoga has a variety of benefits for those who practice-- no matter what age, level, strength or flexibility you may be.

    The Benefits of Yoga

    • Increased flexibility 
    • Increased muscle strength and tone
    • Improved respiration
    • Improved digestion
    • Reduced back pain and chronic pain
    • Reduced stress
    • Improved sleep
    • Improved focus and mental acuity 
    • Improved energy
    • Improved self and body awareness

    Yoga Benefits at a Molecular Level 

    Yoga not only benefits our bodies emotionally, physically, and mentally, but also at a molecular level. MBIs (mind-body interventions) such as yoga, meditation, and tai chi can reverse the effects of stress and anxiety on our bodies by changing how our genes are expressed.

    People who practice MBIs have a decreased production of NF-kB and cytokines, which leads to a reversal of the pro-inflammatory gene expression pattern and therefore reduces the risk of diseases and conditions caused by inflammation.

    You can read more about this here. 

    A letter from our yoga teacher, Anna. 

    "Are you new to yoga and a bit worried about coming to class?

    Stepping outside of your comfort zone is challenging for even the bravest of us. Trying new food, moving, changing your appearance or style are just a few examples.

    Going to yoga can be equally daunting, especially when we aren’t sure what to expect or we have painted a certain picture of yoga in our minds that we feel we don’t quite match.

    I often hear people say that they are too stiff to do yoga, can not sit still for so long, don’t have patience, can’t touch their toes, are afraid of passing gas during class, and much more.

    I believe most of these fears are based on myths. In my (almost) 20 years of teaching, I have never come across anybody who is too tight.

    Yes, there are plenty of people who cannot touch their toes, but yoga is not about touching your toes! If you can touch your toes, that just means you have loose and open hamstrings and can reach further down your leg. If you have tight hamstrings, you will benefit and get just as much as a stretch by touching your knees, and maybe eventually your yoga practice could open up your body enough to touch your toes. But that’s not the point.

    The potential students who can not sit still don’t need to worry either. In general, we don’t sit still! We reach, stretch, strengthen, breathe, and sometimes we joke or talk.

    At the end you get a few minutes to lay down in savasana (my kids called it “naptime” when they were younger) to fully relax and feel the difference in your body. This part can be hard in the beginning because we are culturally so wired that we feel that we should be doing something. But often there is a shift in people and they start to look forward to this part of their yoga class.

    There are many different types of yoga, as well as different teaching styles. If you only take one yoga class and don’t like it-- that does NOT mean that yoga is not for you—it just means that you need to find a style and teacher that suits your needs the best. Try a few different styles of yoga, try different teachers, give it a chance.

    Some of my students claim they can not live without it, others do it because they feel it helps their other sport, others come to class for the social aspect, for the physical benefit, the mental benefit, others feel they can sleep better, feel more energized, feel more relaxed etc.

    My favorite reason one lady has been coming to class for the past 7 years is that she feels that: “Yoga is like eating broccoli. I don’t really like it but I know it is good for me”. 

    Hope to see you in class,

    Anna                                                                                                                               "

     

    Friday's Food for Thought: The Importance of Gut Health 

    We need to treat the root cause rather than just the symptoms 

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    Pursuing true health care is not as simple as following a flowchart. We’ve been conditioned to want to control our symptoms with the use of a pill. Unfortunately, fast and easy symptom management WITHOUT also addressing the root cause allows progression of the underlying disorder. It is not enough to give a laxative for constipation, Beano for gas, Imodium for diarrhea, or steroids for inflammation.

    Masking the symptoms does not effect a cure. These medications never address the WHY, nor do they achieve remission. Rather, you are left dependent on a pill to control your symptoms for life, without treating the cause.

    Discussing conventional medicine’s compartmentalized approach vs naturopathic medicine’s integrated systems approach to digestive health

    Naturopathic medicine sees your digestive system as one component of a fascinating integrated system. It does much more than digest your food — it supports your health from your immune system to your mood and your complexion. This is a primer on how we see your tummy.

    The GI tract is not an isolated system

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    In the conventional model of medicine, the body is segmented into its respective parts, and individual specialists focus on diagnosing and treating specific areas. But this specialization can interfere with seeing the bigger picture. The body’s systems do not function in isolation, rather our body functions as a WHOLE, and dysfunction in one area can have drastic impacts on the other systems.

    The gut and your immune system

    When it comes to any health concern, it is important to understand the powerful effects of gut health on the rest of the body. The system most significantly impacted by gut is the immune system.

    Eighty percent of the immune system is wrapped around the intestines, and any sort of infection, inflammation, or food sensitivity can trigger an immune response with consequences such as reduced immunity, chronic inflammation, and autoimmune disorders.

    For this reason, as a Naturopathic Doctor, I feel that the health of the digestive tract should be a primary focus in almost every patient. In addition to the connection with the immune system, the gut has prominent impacts on skin health and mental health.

    How We Approach Digestive Health:

    Optimization

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    It is not enough to get a patient to a more “manageable state,” especially when it comes to the health of the digestive tract. Because the digestive tract plays such a pivotal role in our overall health, it is essential that it is functioning at its optimum. Therefore, we look at all of the following areas when treating the gut:

    Digestion/Absorption

    Improper digestion and absorption will not only cause GI symptoms, but can also leave the individual with insufficient nutrients. Vitamin and nutrient insufficiency can lead to a number of critical conditions; therefore, it is crucial to address this as soon as possible.

    This can happen for a variety of reasons. The most common are: deficient stomach acid, issues with the release of bile from the gallbladder, insufficient pancreatic enzymes, and blunting of the intestinal villi.

    Inflammation

    Inflammation in our gut can lead to destruction of the intestinal lining, leading to conditions such as Chron’s and Ulcerative Colitis. It can also lead to systemic inflammation (which is the number one risk factor for cardiovascular disease).

    Microbiome

    We have 10x as many bugs in our gut as we do cells in our body! These bugs are crucial to our overall health, and finding the appropriate balance is key. Dysbiosis is the term we use when the microbiome has a higher concentration of pathogenic or “bad bugs” compared with commensals or beneficial bacteria. They each have their function, and the goal is to create a healthy thriving ecosystem. Antibiotic use can have quite drastically negative results on the balance of this ecosystem; therefore, it is quite common in our society to find people with a less than optimal balance.

    Intestinal permeability

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    The gut should be sealed off from the rest of the body. Unfortunately, there is an epidemic of what we call “leaky gut.” Leaky gut is a term that is used to describe the lack of integrity between the tight junctions, which are responsible for holding the cells of the gut lining together. This makes a leaky barrier between what is in the gut and the bloodstream, allowing for large food particles and bacteria to translocate into the bloodstream. Because these particles should NOT be in the bloodstream, the body treats them as pathogens and the immune system is triggered. This is a MAJOR cause of many autoimmune conditions and systemic inflammation.

    Pathogens

    We de-worm our animals, but we never think about de-worming ourselves. Whether it be parasites, pathogenic bacteria, or yeast — we see it ALL the time on stool panels. These guys are tricky to catch and many tests offered in the conventional world don’t have the sensitivity or breadth of information that we offer in our office. If you have an infection in the gut it is CRUCIAL to treat; however, in order to know what to treat, we must conduct proper testing.

     

    Advanced Testing

    Comprehensive Stool Panel

    This is my favorite place to start with a patient specifically coming in for gut dysfunction, as it gives a COMPLETE picture of the above. Our stool panels not only have the highest sensitivity when it comes to testing for pathogens (parasites, yeast, bacteria), but they also evaluate digestive function (ability to properly break down food), inflammation/immune function, gut microbiome, and intestinal permeability.

     SIBO Testing

    Tests for small intestinal overgrowth — a common cause of post-meal belching/flatulence/bloating and what is diagnosed as IBS. It can present with constipation, diarrhea, or both!

    Organic Acid Tests

     Looks at indirect markers of gut health through urine metabolites. This test is particularly helpful in chronic illness with neuro/mental health symptoms or a suspicion of environmental toxicity.

     Food Allergy Panel

    Not often utilized, as elimination diet is the gold standard and FREE, but for those that are data driven, it can be extremely helpful to see which foods your immune system is currently reacting to.

    Address root cause rather than suppress symptoms

    Comprehensive Plan   

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    Effectively addressing gut disorders takes a COMPREHENSIVE plan. One or two supplements isn’t going to cut it.

    We need to consider diet, lifestyle, supplementation, and sometimes medication. Often, treatments will occur in stages, and new things will be introduced and taken away as a patient progresses. The ultimate goal is to get the patient to a place where they are supplement/medication FREE and can enjoy a diverse diet.

    This article was written by our Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Ari Kasprowicz.

     

    Sugar-Free Challenge: How & Why You Should Quit Sugar

    Our 7-Day Sugar Free Challenge begins on April 23rd!

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    That means no processed sugars for one week.

    The purpose of this challenge is to encourage you to be more conscious of what you are feeding your body with. Reading past the labels and reading the actual ingredients on what you purchase. Familiarizing yourself and learning to recognize other names for processed sugars.

    It is to help you realize that you do not need processed sugars in your diet to enjoy your food. It is to help you discover healthier alternatives to meet your sugar cravings.

    And finally, it is learning how to approach nutrition with a balanced mindset. 

    Why you should cut out sugar from your life:

    If you haven't already heard why processed sugar is bad for your health, here's a few reminders. 

    1. Sugar causes weight gain. One study found that people who increased their sugar intake gained about 1.7 pounds in less than 2 months. 

    2. Sugar is addicting. Eating sugar gives your brain a big surge of dopamine, a feel-good chemical. This is what causes the cravings for sugar, because your brain wants more and more sugar to receive the same feeling of pleasure. 

    3. Higher intakes of sugar have been linked to greater risk of depression in adults. 

    4. Sugar causes inflammation in the body, which can cause joint pain. Sugar can also increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis

    5. Sugar ages your skin faster. Sugar attaches to proteins in your bloodstream and creates harmful molecules that can damage collagen and elastin in your skin. This means more wrinkles and saggy skin

    6. Too much sugar can cause your liver to become resistant to insulin, meaning that it can lead to type 2 diabetes

    7. Sugar increases your risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes. 

    8. Sugar can lead to kidney damage if you have diabetes. 

    9. Chronically high levels of sugar in the bloodstream can make men impotent.

    What to avoid:

    For the challenge, avoid any type of processed sugar or substitute. Take a look at all the different kinds and names of sugars. 

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    Please note that stevia is not listed here. Although the plant leaves of stevia itself can be a good substitute for a sweetener, you need to be aware that there are many advertised "stevia" products that are processed, bleached, and can be just as bad for you as normal sugar. 

    If you would like to use stevia, you should find a naturally derived stevia, which is most likely in a liquid form. 

    How to Prepare Yourself for the Challenge:

    1. Eliminate temptations. Check through products you purchase often that are already in your home-- breads, chips, crackers, cereals, sauces, dressings, etc. Unless you are already very conscious about this, you will probably find some form of sugar as listed above in it. 

    Put the foods that you currently have that have sugar in it aside or in the back of your pantry or fridge for the week. Freeze foods like bread if you think it may go bad. And of course, clear out sugary desserts-- cookies, icecream, etc. 

    2. Stock up! With healthy foods of course. You want to keep yourself nourished, satisfied, and happy during the week to help ease the cravings and withdrawals that you will likely experience.

    When you go to the grocery store and are buying products that involve a list of ingredients, take your time to actually read through the ingredients, not just the label. Look for any sugar derivatives and try to avoid that product if possible. Also note that there are many products that claim to be "sugar-free". Most of the time, this is NOT true-- they usually just contain a type of sugar labeled under a different name, so it is very important to read the ingredients!

    While you are reading through ingredients, you will probably notice other ingredients as well, including preservatives or maybe things you cannot pronounce. Familiarizing yourself with ingredients will help you to become more conscious about what you are feeding your body!

    3. Prepare for cravings. Try to stop cravings with a piece of fruit, or something with healthy fats like nuts or avocado.

    If you really need something sweet, or need to break the challenge, try going for healthier alternatives to sugar. We suggest using these alternatives in general when you are wanting to make or eat something sweet. 

    These are sweeteners that we think are ok in moderation:

    - Honey

    - Agave

    - Natural Stevia

    - Coconut Sugar

    - Coconut Nectar

    - Pure Maple Syrup

    - Monk Fruit Extract 

    - Dates

    * This does not mean you should just replace all other sugars with these alternatives. Try to challenge yourself to make it through the week without any sugars other than the natural sugar from fresh fruit. We listed these alternatives in the event (hopefully after the 7 Day Challenge!) that when you do decide to eat or make something sweet, that you try a healthier alternative. 

    We hope that you make it through the 7 Day Challenge so that you can feel your best! Just remember that in the end, good health is about balance. Try to purchase and eat consciously, but don't beat yourself up about it if you make a few wrong decisions. 

    Preparing for Symptoms of Sugar Withdrawal

    You may experience withdrawal or detox symptoms due to the addictive nature of sugar.

    Take a quick read at this article discussing 9 symptoms you will most likely experience, and how to cope or remedy them. 

    How to Help Curb Cravings

    20 tips on how to ease and eliminate sugar cravings. Read here. 

    Sustainable Seafood Guide

    Eating healthy and sustainably can be challenging for many reasons. One major reason is the lack of easily accessible information. 

    If you eat fish, take a look at this Seafood Guide created by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

    It shows you the "best choices", "good alternatives", and what to avoid. They have made a guide that you can print, easily fold up, and keep in your wallet-- for when you are out grocery shopping or perhaps at a restaurant.

     - If you're in California, use this guide

    - For other states, select your state first then download the guide here.

    OR

    you can download their guide, along with other features using their app here

    For sustainable seafood meals, check out these recipes

    How Electronics are Affecting Your Health

    What is blue light and why is it important to know about?

    Blue light is emitted from most electronics-- phones, TVs, computers, tablets and more. 

    There have been increasing studies released indicating negative health effects caused by blue light exposure. 

    We've written up a quick summary from an article released by Harvard Medical School of some of these effects. 

    How does blue light affect your health?

    Blue light has been found, in multiple studies, to suppress the secretion of melatonin, which is what regulates our circadian rhythm and allows us to have normal sleep schedules. When circadian rhythms are altered, it can increase blood sugar levels and place people in a pre-diabetic state

    Altered circadian rhythms also reduce leptin. Leptin is a hormone that lets people feel full after a meal-- so with reduced leptin, most people eat more in order to feel satisfied. 

    Blue light, especially at night, is one of the reasons why people don't get enough sleep. Lack of sleep increases risk of depression, along with diabetes and cardiovascular problems

    What can you do to prevent the risks associated with blue light exposure?

    1. Get enough natural light during the day (from the sun) if possible. 

    2. Use dim lights at night. 

    3. Avoid looking at bright screens or using electronics 2 - 3 hours before bed, or at least in the last hour before you sleep. 

    4. If you need to use an electronic device at night--- try using a blue light blocker. 
    - For your computer, try downloading a free app called f.lux.
    This app alters the color of the light emitted from your computer. This does not completely shield you from the effects of blue light, but it helps! The app automatically goes on at sundown depending on your time zone, but you can keep the app on all day long if desired. 
    - If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can turn on "Night Shift", which is Apple's built-in version of a blue-light blocker. For instructions on how to do that, click here. 
    - You can use blue light-blocking sunglasses. You can purchase them online, such as on Amazon.



    After recommending the free blue light blocker app (f.lux) to several people, we've been told that it has actually helped some with migraines or headaches for those that use a computer all day long. 

    Remember that your best health involves a variety of factors. Take care of yourself!

    Ditch the Plastic! 10 Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Usage

    It's time. Plastic has inundated too many aspects of our lives, and if you haven't already, now is a good time to ditch it for your health and our environment. 

    Ditching Plastic for Health Reasons

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    Most common plastics contain BPA or bisphenol-A, as well as pthalates. Many studies have been conducted, and are being further researched to discover the effects of these chemicals.

    Researches have found BPA and pthalates present in most people's urine, and have suggested that those with the highest concentration of these chemicals often have hormone imbalance issues. They have also found correlations of these chemicals with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. 

    Everyday plastics are almost everywhere-- in the containers your food comes in, the plastic wrap you store food in, ziploc bags, straws, and more. The more you reduce your plastic usage, the less you are exposed to these harmful chemicals. 

    Ditching Plastic for Environmental Reasons

    Since we live in a coastal community, we can often directly see the effects of what plastic and single-use products do to our beaches and our environment.

    According to a study conducted by UCSB's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS),  8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans EVERY YEAR. That is equivalent to about 5 grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world. That amount was from 2015, and by 2025 it is estimated that the annual input will be twice as much.

    It's time our society ditches plastic, especially single-use plastics (water bottles, to-go containers and cups, plastic utensils, etc) and invests in sustainable options in all areas of life.

    And it all starts with YOU. You have the power to make a difference by changing little aspects of your life.

    How to Ditch Plastic

    Here are a few ways to get started with reducing your plastic usage, if you don't already do them:

    1. Bring your own reusable cup to coffee shops. Many coffee shops even offer a small discount for bringing your own cup.

    2. Invest in a stainless steel or glass water bottle. Quit plastic single-use water bottles!

    3. Bring reusable bags to grocery stores. Stash them in your car or purse so you don't forget them.

    4. Buy in bulk. Try to buy foods in bulk like rice, beans, nuts, etc. When buying in bulk you can reduce or even eliminate waste. Bring your own containers or bags, or if you forget, use paper bags to select bulk items. Buying in bulk is often cheaper as well, and there are bulk sections in stores such as Sprouts, right down the street from us.

    You can also buy things like shampoo and soap in bulk. This way, you don't buy as many small plastic containers for individual soap bottles. 

    5. Say no to straws. Most restaurants automatically give you straws, and they're usually not necessary, not to mention wasteful. Using straws can also affect your health. It can cause bloating, gas, and indigestion issues. When you sip through a straw, you are also sipping in air which can lead to these issues due to extra air getting swallowed into your gut.

    Sipping plastic straws also directly exposes you to the chemicals like BPA in plastic. You are sucking directly on a plastic that is made of a variety of chemicals and compounds. 

    If you really want to use straws, check out Amazon for reusable straws made of glass, bamboo, or stainless steel.

    6. Don't buy fruit or produce that come in plastic! Pick your own produce and put it in your reusable bag.

    7. Save old jars. Have leftovers? Use an old jar to store them in, rather than using plastic wrap.

    8. Make food from scratch. Most pre-prepared foods or meals come in tons of packaging. The easiest way to reduce that is to stop buying it! Try to mostly make your meals from scratch-- it will most likely end up being healthier, cheaper, and more sustainable. 

    9. Swap ziploc bags for reusable containers. This doesn't mean you need to go out and buy a bunch of new containers. Save old containers or jars from things like pasta sauce, pickles, applesauce, etc. 

    10. Ditch plastic toothbrushes. Try looking for a sustainable option like bamboo. You can also find these on Amazon. 


    Become a conscious consumer! In general, try to be more aware about what you are purchasing. The more awareness you bring into your life about what you buy, the more you will notice ways you can reduce your plastic usage, better your health, and better the environment!

    How to Maintain a Healthy Home: Non-toxic Cleaning Products

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    We should all be aware now that what we put in our bodies affects our health-- but what about what you are exposed to in your own home?

    Most of the commonly used cleaning products-- what people use to "clean" their kitchens, clothes, home, etc... are full of toxic chemicals! You probably don't directly notice the chemicals in these cleaners because they are covered with artificial fragrances, but you are most likely inhaling them or absorbing them through contact with your skin.

    Although good health starts on the inside, our bodies our sensitive to environmental factors, and it is important that you are aware of what you bring or keep in your home.

    Toxicity in Common Household Cleaners

    The EWG, or Environmental Working Group, reviewed over 2,000 common household cleaning products. Only 7% of cleaning products adequately listed their ingredients, so EWG's staff of scientists spent 14 months reading product labels, looking through company technical documents, and researching ingredients and contaminants toxicity databases.

    Here's a quick summary of the EWG's findings:

    - 53% of researched cleaning products contained ingredients known to harm the lungs. 22% of cleaning products contain chemicals that can cause asthma in healthy individuals.

    - Most cleaning products contained cancer causing ingredients, or carcinogens. They contained carcinogens like formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, and chloroform. 

    - Quaternary ammonium compounds are found in many antibacterial cleaners as well as fabric softeners. Some of these compounds can cause asthma.

    - Sodium borate, or borax or boric acid is also found in most cleaning products, and can disrupt the hormone system.

    - Many brands that were labeled as "green" or "eco-friendly" did not disclose their ingredients adequately.

    So what can you do about it??

    Our Recommendations: 

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    1. Make your own everyday cleaning solutions.

    These are two great cleaning solutions that are easy to make and that you can use for most surfaces in your home. 

    DIY Cleaning Spray #1:

    This is a great spray to use in the kitchen, bathroom, on hard surfaces like tile, marble/granite countertops, stove-top, etc. Clean out an old spray bottle to store your spray in!

    - 1/2 cup white vinegar (distilled)

    - 1/2 cup water (preferably distilled)

    - 12 - 24 drops of essential oil. For cleaning, we like citrus scents like lemongrass, grapefruit, orange, lemon. Or rosemary, peppermint, lavender. You can also mix oils. 

    Pour all ingredients into a bottle, dropping in the essential oils last. Shake well to mix, and shake always before use/spraying. Keep the bottle away from direct sunlight and heat. 

    DIY Cleaning Spray #2:

    This cleaning spray is for lighter cleaning and surfaces, and contains liquid soap instead of vinegar. 

    - 4 cups of water (preferably distilled)

    - 1 1/2 tablespoons of liquid soap (or a few pumps of soap)

    - 10 drops of essential oil

    Pour all ingredients into the bottle, dropping in the essential oils last. 

    Shake well to mix, and shake always before use/spraying. Keep the bottle away from direct sunlight and heat. 

    2. Use the EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning. 

    The EWG rates over 2,500 different household products with grades A - F, based on the safety of their ingredients and the information that they disclose about their contents. You can search for a household product that you currently use to check the grade, look at the EWG's top product recommendations, or research and find new products to test out. 


    Happy Cleaning!!

    Reach out to us on our Facebook page with questions,  let us know if you have a favorite brand that is healthy and eco-friendly, or if you have a recipe for a cleaning solution that you would like to share. 

    Eat Seasonally & Eat Local: Local Farmer's Markets to Explore

    We are big believers in buying and eating local for a variety of reasons:

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    1. To eat seasonally (eating more fruits and vegetables that are currently in harvesting season). Eating seasonally adds good variety to our diets, is beneficial to the environment, often tastes better, is fresher, and is usually more economic. Eating what is currently being grown and harvested is much cheaper to produce and purchase than buying produce that is out of season. Produce that is out of season can be more difficult to grow, must be shipped for long distances, and is usually more expensive. 

    2. To support the local economy. 

    Purchasing from farmer's markets supports local vendors and growers. You can also often meet the farmers who grow your food. This can help cultivate a better relationship and consciousness of what you nourish your body with.  You can also feel that your money is not going to a big and  greedy food corporation, but to hard working people that you can actually meet. Farmer's markets can also be less costly than grocery stores. 

    3. To reduce our environmental footprint/impact. 

    Purchasing local means less carbon emissions since the produce does not have to travel as far. It also means supporting small growers who are often certified organic or use organic practices to grow their produce. Organic practices are more sustainable, less-intensive on the land, and they reduce toxin and pesticide exposure to farmers and yourself. So not only is organic better for the earth, but better for your health. 

    There is usually little to no packaging at farmer's markets, which also makes it less wasteful and less resource-intensive as grocery stores. Just be sure to bring some reusable bags!


    Here are some nearby farmer's markets that are closest to us. The best farmer's markets tend to be on Saturdays and Sundays! For a complete list of all the farmer's markets in Orange County, click on the link at the bottom of the page. 

     

    Wednesdays

    Old Capistrano

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    El Camino Real/ Forster & Yorba St. in SJC

    3:00 pm - 7:00 pm

     

    Saturdays

    The New Dana Point

    Pacific Coast Hwy & Golden Lantern

    9:00 am - 1:00 pm

    Laguna Beach

    Lumberyard parking lot- adj. to City Hall

    8:00 am - 12:00 pm

     

    Sundays

    San Clemente Village

    Avenida Del Mar & Seville

    9:00 AM - 1:00 pm

    Laguna Niguel

    27241 La Paz Rd.

    8:00 am - 12:00 pm

    Newport Beach

    Base of Newport Pier

    McFadden Square

    9:00 am - 1:00 pm

    Great Park

    Sand Canyon/Marine Way in Irvine

    10:00 am - 2:00 pm

     

    For more information and other farmer's market locations in Orange County, click here. 

     

    Friday's Food for Thought: How to sneak more greens into you diet (without eating a salad!)

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    We should all know by now that the more leafy greens we eat, the better. However, many people still struggle to meet their daily greens requirement, and many people think that eating a salad is the only way to eat greens. 

    Although we love salads here at HP2 Wellness, we understand that sometimes it can get boring. So here are 5 ways for you to get more greens into your diet (without eating a salad!)

    1. Blend It

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    If you have trouble eating the greens that you know are the best for you, try throwing them into a smoothie. Blending it with organic and naturally-sweet fruit masks the taste while still giving you all the nutrients! Add nutrient-rich greens like organic kale and spinach to your smoothies. Also try adding cleansing greens such as celery and cucumber. Try this recipe if you're new to making green smoothies, or follow these instructions in "The Simple Green Smoothie Formula."

    2. Sautée It

    Sautée leafy greens as a side to whatever dish you're making. Simply chop it up, and season as you like-- an easy seasoning that goes with many dishes is to add fresh minced/crushed garlic and a healthy fat such as coconut oil, olive oil, or ghee (clarified butter), and a pinch of salt and pepper. Here's a simple and quick sautéed greens recipe that can accompany many dishes. You can also make your greens as a main dish-- try creating a stir fry and adding protein and maybe a complex carbohydrate with it!

    3. Drink It Down

    Not sure about blending your greens? Try purchasing a concentrated green superfoods powder. Most have many nutrient-rich and immune boosting vegetables and fruits in a concentrated form that you can add and mix with water, or add it to your smoothie! Check out this awesome green powder.

    4. Roast It

    Roasted green veggies may change the way you think about them. Don't like kale? Maybe you would like it in chip from! Try this recipe for kale chips here.  Also try roasting brussel sprouts and broccoli in the oven! Try this recipe for simple brussel sprouts here and this recipe for broccoli here

    5. Scramble It

    How do you like your eggs? Try throwing some greens in the next time you make scrambled eggs. Are there other ways that you add greens into your diet besides salads? Comment and let us know!

    Wake Up & Sweat! Why You Should Exercise in the Morning

    How Dr. Johnson Starts His Day

    Dr. Johnson typically starts his weekday mornings with some exercise before doing anything else. 

    He wakes up a little earlier and gets in cardio or strength-training circuits for about 30 - 60 minutes. Then he gets ready for his day, has some breakfast, and heads off to work. 

    Why does he wake up extra early so that he can exercise before work? See the five benefits of fasting morning exercise below. 

    A Reminder of Why It Is Important to Exercise

    Before we talk about the specific benefits of exercising in the morning, here are a few reminders of some of the benefits of normal exercise. 

    Regular exercise, as summarized by WebMd, can

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    - Reduce stress

    - Improve sleep

    - Boost self-esteem

    - Keep away anxiety and feelings of depression

    Exercising produces endorphins, which triggers a positive feeling in the body and is linked to more positive moods.

    Another benefit of general exercise is that it makes you sweat! Although sweating may not be good during normal activities, it's actually beneficial to sweat during exercise. Sweating is an effective way to detox your body-- A study published by the journal Archives of Environmental and Contamination Toxicology found that many toxic elements found in the body were excreted through sweat. 

    Benefits of Fasting Morning Exercise: Why You Should Exercise in the Morning (preferably on an empty stomach)

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    These are benefits that have been found after studying fasted exercise. That means not eating food before working out. Fasting exercise works best in the morning-- It is ideal if you wake up somewhat early in your day and exercise soon after waking and before eating breakfast. 

    1. More Effective Fat Burn

    Waking up and exercising soon after on an empty stomach can burn as much as 20% more fat than when a meal is eaten before exercising. This was found by a 2013 study conducted by the British Journal of Nutrition.

    Another study also revealed that fasting exercise improves fat oxidation in comparison to ingestion of carbohydrates prior to exercise. This study also found that the rate of fate oxidation differed depending on the duration and intensity of the exercise, with running and endurance training showing increased fat oxidation.

    Fat oxidation is a process in which giant lipid molecules are broken back down into their smaller parts, triglycerides and fatty acids. Fat oxidation is important, as it is what allows our bodies to turn fat into energy rather than being stored.

    2. Improved Glucose Tolerance and Prevention of Insulin Resistance

    In a study published in the Journal of Physiology, participants who exercised fasting in the morning showed improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity and did not gain weight, in comparison to participants who ate carbohydrates before their workout. Because it can improve glucose tolerance, fasting morning exercise has the potential to help prevent Type 2 Diabetes as well as obesity. 

    3. Decreased Blood Pressure

    People who worked out in the morning reduced their blood pressure by 10 percent, a dip that continued all day and lowered even more ( to 25 percent) at night. This was found in a study conducted by Appalachian State University.

    4. Potential Decrease in Overeating

    A study from the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that women who exercised for 45 minutes in the morning were less responsive to images of food than those who did not exercise in the morning, and the women who exercised did not eat more than their counterparts. 

    The takeaway from the study? The women that exercised in the morning were not as enticed by food, indicating better control over impulsive eating. 

    5.  Higher Likelihood of Consistent Exercise

    A study published by American Physiological Association found that the people who exercised frequently had developed what is called an instigation habit. The research suggests that developing a regular habit that triggers you to exercise is more effective than following a set routine. For example, an alarm clock waking you up in the morning could be your cue that it is time to exercise. 

    *If you are someone who knows that you need to eat before physical activity, then fasted exercise may not be for you. However, exercise is beneficial to everyone, and there are many different ways to do it!

    The Dirty Dozen

    About three-fourths of the 6,953 produce samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2014 contained pesticide residues, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

    The EWG has created a list of the produce that contains the highest amount of pesticides to help consumers shop mindfully and to understand what they are putting in their bodies. Produce on this list should be purchased as organic, due to their high levels of pesticides and the effects it can have on the body and mind.

    This list is known as The Dirty Dozen, which we highly recommend following. 

    The EWG also released a list of produce that has the least amount of pesticides. It is known as the Clean Fifteen. While we advocate for purchasing mostly organic foods, as it is better for your bodies, our earth, and for farmer's health conditions, the produce listed on the Clean Fifteen are suitable to be purchased as conventional.

    For more information, click here to see details on the pesticide usage for these fruits and vegetables.