The Power of Being Mindful

There’s an art to being mindful. It can be extremely challenging to take a step back and be focused on the present, however, the present is the only promised moment and worrying about the past/future only takes away from the beauty of our current moments. Being mindful allows us to soak in what’s going on around us while also allowing us to appreciate 

While it isn’t the easiest to unplug, taking a break from social media can help us focus on our own lives and become more conscious of our surroundings. Meditation is also one of the most common ways to refocus our minds on what is important and what should be let go of. It helps to release any anxiety from the past or any worries for the future. There are many meditation apps like Simple Habit, Headspace, Calm, and Sleepiest, however, there are also free guided meditations on YouTube. 

Reading books, spending time in nature, and journaling can also help with becoming more aware. While there are many books on mindfulness, any book that captures your attention will work as it’ll successfully shift your focus to whatever you’re reading. Lastly, spending time in nature and journaling are two other common ways to refocus the mind. There are journals that have prompts that are meant to invoke feelings of calmness or happiness. The most popular ones are called 52 Lists for Calm and 52 Lists for Happiness.

Seasonal Depression

Winters can be taxing on not only our bodies but also our minds. The shorter and colder days cause many of us to retreat and feel depleted the majority of the time. While many individuals feel alone in this, it is actually is a common struggle that is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder and it affects over 10 million Americans. 

Caring for something like a pet or plants can also help us feel a sense of responsibility and love. Indoor plants bring nature indoors and caring for something small allows us to shift our attention elsewhere even if it is only for a few minutes. Embracing Hygge and bringing coziness indoors helps us feel a sense of warmth and togetherness. Turning on the fireplace, lighting candles, eating or baking a delicious treat, having thought-provoking conversations with loved ones, and reading can all help take our minds off of the gloomy weather. 

Many physicians also believe that vitamin D deficiencies can further worsen the feelings of depression. It is easier to get our daily dose of vitamin D in warmer weather, but our bodies don’t get enough when we spend so much time indoors during the winter. Vitamin D is responsible for maintaining strong bones and strengthening our immune systems, but most importantly it protects our brains and boosts cognitive function. This has a direct correlation with how we feel mentally. Physicians can test for vitamin D deficiencies through simple lab work and often will recommend taking a vitamin D supplement from a company like Douglas Laboratories or Life Extension. 


Post-Holiday Detox

As the celebrations wind down, our attention shifts to health and wellness. Many of us become more conscious of what we are putting in our bodies. After consuming an excess of foods with carbs and sugar, the likelihood of feeling bloated and inflamed is higher. As usual, there are natural approaches to these symptoms.

The turmeric plant is one of the best ways to cut down inflammation as the turmeric root contains properties known for numerous health benefits such as boosting cellular and immune health, promoting healthy blood circulation, improving brain health, and supporting mood. 

Turmeric also provides antioxidants that help to neutralize free radicals. Neutralizing free radicals fights the consequences of oxidative stress. This is vital because we are exposed to oxidative stress every day due to things like pollution, toxins, a poor diet, inadequate sleep, and not enough exercise. Oxidative stress combined with chronic inflammation can be very detrimental to the body, so it is important to combat those consequences with natural foods. It also boosts brain health as it has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. This is extremely rare for most supplements and medications, so turmeric has been proven to prevent the buildup of plaques, protect against neurodegenerative diseases, and enhance memory while protecting the brain. The brain health benefits go hand in hand with supporting mood because it has been shown to improve symptoms of depression, support the production of the “happy” neurotransmitters, and prevent mental fatigue. 

Turmeric can be consumed through supplementation or through various additions in our diets, such as soups or curries, smoothies, or herbal tea. The most common way to consume it in the homeland of turmeric is through chicken curries or lentil soup. Here are some basic recipes for that:

·      Red Lentil Dal

·      Turmeric Chicken and Rice

Neuroscience – The Effect of Sugar on the Brain

It is recommended to keep sugar intake below 25 grams every day. However, when looking at nutrition labels, it can be extremely easy to go over the allotted 25 grams a day. Not only can an excess of sugar consumption lead to chronic diseases like diabetes but it has been proven to be detrimental to the brain as well. 

Excess consumption of sugar damages the brain. The hippocampus shrinks and becomes significantly smaller which is harmful because the hippocampus is an important part of the brain that regulates emotion, learning, memory, and motivation. Sugar also shrinks the brain as a whole which further deteriorates memory. A shocking finding is that individuals who replace sugary drinks with “diet” drinks like Diet Coke are almost three times more likely to suffer from a stroke or develop dementia. 

What can be used in place of sugary drinks? Although it can be a difficult adjustment at first, replacing sugary drinks with water, infused water (lemons, herbs, or fruits), sparkling water, kombucha, herbal tea, or smoothies can be very beneficial to the body. It is important to note that artificial sugars can destroy the microbiome as well and change the balance of bacteria found in the gut. This means that artificial sweeteners are essentially toxic to the gut and can leave an individual with more health problems. All in all, anything that has an effect on the gut has an effect on the brain due to the gut-brain axis, so it is important to recognize the connection and steer clear from anything that damages one or the other. 


Laughing During Finals Season? That’s so Punny!

Laughter has many proven health benefits but sometimes that’s the last thing on our minds when our to-do lists are never-ending and there are many deadlines to meet. Taking a few minutes to be mindful and be happy can never hurt.

According to the Mayo Clinic, laughing has proven to relieve stress by stimulating organs, soothe tension, relieve pain, improve mood, and boost the immune system. Positive thoughts can boost our sense of satisfaction and can also lessen the chance of feeling depressed or anxious. It might not seem natural to schedule laughter into our days, but it can remind us to be more present and live life to the fullest. Sometimes we can get into a rut and forget about all the things that bring us joy, however, forgetting this can be harmful to our minds and bodies in the long run. 

How should laughter be scheduled into our everyday lives? Find a comedian that makes you laugh your heart out, befriend someone funny, spend more time with a friend that has the same sense of humor as you, watch a silly sitcom, read a funny book, read comics, follow a meme account on social media, or simply just read some light-hearted puns online! Talking to Siri, reminiscing about a time that made you laugh a ton, or trying a laughing meditation can also help lighten up the mood. 


Supplementing with Sarsaparilla

Sarsaparilla is not a common supplement, but it has some noteworthy health benefits. It has a distinct taste and can be found as an ingredient in old-fashioned root beer. It grows in tropical and subtropical regions and has different variations. Some are known to grow in Jamaica, while others grow in Mexico, and others are native to Africa.  

As for health benefits, sarsaparilla has been proven to encourage cell growth while simultaneously preventing or reducing the occurrence of cell mutations. It also has the ability to reduce the amount of harmful inflammation in the body and can help the body recover from high blood sugar levels. This can prevent many chronic diseases as the leading cause of chronic diseases is detrimental amounts of inflammation. One huge benefit is that it supports joints and can reduce the amount of achiness while even mimicking the benefits of conventional arthritis drugs. The last notable benefit has to do with boosting the number of antioxidants in the body. It can encourage healthy skin growth even after UV light exposure, boost gut-health, encourage detoxification in the liver, and increase energy levels.

Sarsaparilla can be found in sodas, mixed in with other supplements, or even as a tea. As always, use caution and consult a physician before adding anything to your diet to ensure there are not any negative interactions with medications. 


The Benefits of Collagen

Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins found in our blood, bones, muscles, skin, and tendons. It makes up around 30% of the protein found in our bodies, but the amount of collagen is reduced by half once an individual is around 60 years old. Collagen has received a lot of recognition lately for supporting healthy, glowing skin, and slowing down the effects of aging. It also has received acknowledgment for healing the gut and proving to be extremely beneficial to individuals with autoimmune diseases. 

However, before adding it to your diet, it is important to be able to differentiate between the types of collagen and pick which one is best for you. There are three types – Type I, Type II, and Type III. Type I is responsible for promoting skin elasticity and may help to speed up the healing process for wounds. Type II is responsible for supporting joints and helping with achy joints. It can be especially beneficial for individuals dealing with arthritis. Type III promotes healthy nails, skin, hair, and strengthens the bones in our body. With that being said, Types I and III are best for individuals looking to get healthier skin, hair, and nails or promote muscle/bone health. Type II is best for individuals struggling with joint pain in their knees, back, jaw, or wrists. 

The easiest ways to get a boost of collagen is through supplementation, bone broth, or the addition of collagen powder to smoothies or lattes. Here are some ideas:

·      Collagen Matcha Latte

·      Chocolate Collagen Smoothie

·      Vital Proteins Cinnamon Vanilla Latte

·      Homemade Collagen Bone Broth Recipe

Tips for Finishing the Semester

As this semester is starting to wrap up, it is common to feel a little overwhelmed and exhausted. With that being said, many factors can help with managing this stress and calming the mind. It is important to remember that feeling stress is very normal, but you should still be able to maintain balance and never compromise your well-being too much. Knowing when to reach out to friends, family, or qualified professionals is extremely important, but if that isn’t possible right now, consider some of these suggestions that you can do on your own: 


  • No amount of coffee can ever make up for quality sleep, as sleeping is one of the primary ways the body and brain get a chance to recharge. Not only does sleep improve the retention of what you learn, but it has also been shown to aid your overall memorization abilities. 

Nourishing the Body and Brain

  • Nourishing the body and brain can often be overlooked during hectic times. However, it is during these times that the body and brain need an extra boost. Snacking on things like nuts, fruits, and veggies, while drinking lots of water, can provide sustainable energy levels. 

Meditating and Deep-Breathing

  • Meditating with apps like Simple Habit, Calm, or Headspace are great for helping with this!


  • Something as simple as taking a quick walk or dancing to your favorite tunes can count as exercise, get the blood flowing, and release stress-relieving endorphins. 


  • Journaling can help calm the mind and allow it to be more present/mindful. It can help to put things into perspective and prioritize pending tasks. 


Defying Stress with Nature

As the end of the semester approaches, things are starting to pick up and get a little hectic. This post will go over some quick and easy tips on how to defy stress with nature. 

Things like taking a walk or going for a run outside can boost the release of endorphins and allow the mind to ease up a little. Taking a bath with Epsom salt, making a cup of adaptogenic tea and watch a movie, or getting a massage with essential oils can also help relieve a significant amount of stress. 

Supplements with things like L-Theanine, 5-HTP, ashwagandha, Reishi mushrooms, and magnesium can also calm the mind naturally and promote a feeling of relaxation. Irwin Naturals Stress-Defy Extra with Ashwagandha combines all these amino acids, herbs, and vitamins to 

L-Theanine naturally occurs in our body and the primary function is to stimulate alpha brain waves to produce a general feeling of calmness and alert focus. 5-HTP is responsible for boosting the production of serotonin as it has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. Ashwagandha can provide support against the negative ramifications of stress. Reishi mushrooms are also known as the queen of mushrooms and it has received a lot of attention for the mind and body balancing properties it has. Finally, magnesium plays an integral role in calming the body all while reducing aches and pains.  


Self-Care: Baths

Baths can be one of the coziest ways to indulge in self-care during stressful times. Epsom salt baths have recently been in the spotlight for various health benefits as they have the ability to relieve rough and dry skin of eczema, provide pain relief for sore and aching muscles, promote detoxification, reduce anxiety and stress levels, and promote deeper sleep. 

You might be wondering what’s so special about Epsom salt and how it differs from normal salt. Epsom salts stand out because they are extremely rich in magnesium which is the primary reason it has been shown to improve mood while reducing stress and anxiety. It has been found that magnesium boosts the production of serotonin (the happy neurotransmitter) in our brains. This can allow the body to rest and recharge and encourage a good night’s sleep. 

The most common way to use Epsom salt is to pour one to two scoops in the bathwater with warm water. The water should not be excessively hot as that can cause a feeling of dizziness or weakness. It is important to also drink water and rest afterward as the body will be in a very calm state. Furthermore, since the pores in the skin are open after a warm bath, it is best to use a natural moisturizer like coconut oil or so that nothing harmful goes into the body.  

Bath salts can be found from companies like 100% Pure or Dr. Teals. Here are some common Epsom salt detox bath combinations: 

·      Green Tea Bath

·      Clay Detox Bath

·      6 Detox Bath Recipes

·      DIY Epsom Salt Detox Bath

·      Relaxing Epsom Salt Bath with Lavender Oil



With the holidays right around the corner, many individuals usually feel the need to detox either before or after. Detoxing does not have to be extreme. It is as simple as giving the body a break and not overburdening it. This post will go over a few gentle ways to detox.

  • Water, Water, Water

This is probably the most repeated thing on health blogs, but water makes up 60% of the human body. It is vital for optimal functioning and helps the body excrete toxins. Flavoring water with herbs, lemon, or fruits can be a fun way to switch it up. 

  • Exercise

Simple movements like stretching or trying to reach 10,000 steps a day can be enough to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and reduce harmful inflammation in the body. 

  • Sweating in the Sauna

Saunas promote detoxification in many ways. They have been known to reduce the burden on the body, inhibit the growth of viruses and bacteria, and to promote the excretion of harmful toxins such as heavy metals. 

  • Limiting Alcohol

Limiting alcohol allows the liver enzymes to take a break for metabolizing alcohol and allows it to focus on eliminating other harmful waste instead.

  • Sleep

Sleep allows the body to restore and recharge. It allows the parasympathetic nervous system to take over and the body shifts focus to resting and digestion. Naturally, this is a very crucial part of the natural detoxification process in the body. 

  • Being Conscious About Your Diet

Limiting Processed Foods: Foods that are high in sugar and preservatives are known to place stress on the body as the body starts to filter these substances instead of focusing on other toxins that need to be removed. 

Consuming Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Making berry smoothies or having berries for snacks can be a great way to get an antioxidant boost. 

Focusing on Sulfur-Rich Foods: Foods like eggs, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and potatoes are very high in an antioxidant called glutathione that plays a key role in eliminating unwanted material from the body. 

  • Taking Supplements

It is important to consult a physician before taking supplements to ensure that they will not have an adverse effect with medications. Supplements like the “Basic Detox Nutrients” from Thorne Research can be beneficial in aiding the detoxification process. 


Mindful Techniques

With everyone being constantly connected through texting or social media, it can be difficult to be mindful and take a break. While disconnecting can be challenging, it can be worth it in terms of mental clarity and happiness. 

The first tip would be turning off your phone for at least thirty minutes to an hour each day. This can help boost productivity by allowing you to fully focus on the task that is in front of you. Putting a time limit on apps like Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram can allow us to become more mindful of the time spent mindlessly scrolling through those apps. The next tip is probably the most common, but meditating has been found to relieve many symptoms that come along with stress. Apps like “Simple Habit” or “Headspace” have guided meditations that can help beginners to take even five minutes out of their day to be more conscious.

Spending time in nature and connecting to your five senses can be another way to take a break from the daily rat race and focus on your breath. Reading books like the Abundance of Less by Andy Couturier or the 5 a.m. Club by Robin Sharma can give new ideas of how to be happy with less while kick starting your day earlier to be as productive as possible. Lastly, writing down thoughts about life, goals, stressors, or dreams allows the brain to see everything down on paper and plan accordingly. Many individuals report feeling lighter after journaling because their thoughts become more cohesive and they can see the patterns that they couldn’t see before.

All in all, even incorporating one of these tips can significantly boost efficiency and happiness. When making a lifestyle change, it is best to start slowly so that they become habits instead of phases. 


Natural Ways to Decrease Stress Levels During Midterms

As midterms exams approach, it never hurts to be reminded of some self-care and organization tips. This post will quickly go over ways to feel calmer and content as you prep for exams.

1.     Writing a to-do list the night before can be very helpful. It has been proven that “brain-dumps” can help clear the mind and prioritize what work that is the most important. 

2.     Using online flashcard websites like Anki or Quizlet. These sites can be very helpful because you can see sets that other students have made and practice with those if you do not have time to make your own set. 

3.     Breaking it up and studying a little bit every day can make studying for many different classes a little more manageable. It can take any overwhelming pressure off.

4.     Tidying up your study space has been shown to significantly improve productivity. Burning candles or diffusing essential oils like the ones from Plant Therapy can make the environment more peaceful. Scents like peppermint and eucalyptus are invigorating and can have the ability to improve memory and concentration.

5.     Playing calming study music can ease the mind, improve memory, help with visualizing concepts better, and it also activates both the left and right hemispheres of the brain at the same time!

6.     As always, it is important to make sure the body and mind are getting adequate rest and nutritious foods. Taking a break to exercise or simply going for a walk can help break up the monotony. 

Best of luck on exams!


The Many Benefits of Vitamin E

Vitamin E receives a lot of hype in the skincare industry for its numerous benefits. Not only that, it is also and essential nutrient that provides antioxidant support in the body. Vitamin E makes the skin look radiant, it is also known to boost the cardiovascular system and strengthen the immune system. It combats the negative effects of free radicals which is a major benefit as free radicals can prematurely age cells. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, research has shown that Vitamin E has the ability to delay the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. This vitamin also has support liver health, preeclampsia, and a healthy prostate. It may also help with symptoms of neuropathy. 

The intake of vitamin E can be increased through foods like avocado, peanuts, almonds, almond or peanut butter, sunflower seeds, spinach, swiss chard, tuna, and salmon. Snacking on almonds or sunflower seeds, eating apples with peanut butter, adding avocados to sandwiches, or making spinach and salmon salads can also help to increase your vitamin E intake. Caution should be taken before supplementation as many individuals receive enough vitamin E through their diet, however, if a vitamin E deficiency is confirmed, then supplementation can be helpful. There are many brands that carry vitamin E, but it is important to find a brand that does not have any preservatives. Source Naturals is known to carry supplements that are free of gluten, dairy, yeast, sugar, artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, and color. 


Tips for Boosting Immunity During a Flu Season

As colder weather approaches, the chance of getting sick increases. This post will go over some quick and easy ways to boost immunity and ward off any pesky flu symptoms. 

Let’s start with a refresher on the basics. The best way to prevent these symptoms is to stay home whenever you feel sick, cover your mouth when sneezing to prevent germs from getting everywhere, wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer, avoiding rubbing your eyes/mouth/nose, drink lots of fluids, get quality rest, and stay away from junk food.

As for boosting your immunity naturally, things like drinking lemon water, reducing sugar intake, and drinking green tea can help significantly. Lemons are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants so they can help fight off infections. Reducing your intake of sugar is extremely important because refined sugars can easily prolong illness and promote an excessive amount of inflammation. Green tea has been found to have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Other natural remedies include consuming fresh ginger, garlic, bone broth, honey, turmeric, and elderberry. As for supplements, vitamins D and C have the ability to ward off infections and fight against viruses. 

Below are some ideas on ways to incorporate the foods mentioned above into your diet:

Homemade Flu Bomb

Flu Fighting Tea Recipe

Cold and Flu Turmeric Tonic

Flu-Fighting Chicken Noodle Soup

Cold Fighting Chicken Noodle Soup

Quick and Easy Ginger Tea from Scratch

Bone Broth Recipe (How to Make Bone Broth)


Nourishing the Brain with Blueberries

With neurodegenerative diseases on the rise, more research is being conducted on what can be done to keep the brain at an optimal state of health for as long as possible. Many of us have heard of the common brain foods like salmon, dark chocolate, nuts, olive oil, and berries. However, it has been found that berries, specifically blueberries, can have quite significant healing properties. 

It has been found that the flavonoids in blueberries have the ability to fight off any negative consequences that oxidative stress may have on the brain. According to a study, blueberries can also increase brain activity, promote blood flow to the brain, and improve memory. Each one of these is noteworthy because a decrease in brain activity, blood flow, or impaired cognitive function can show up in neurodegenerative cases. Blueberries can also reduce the amount of harmful inflammation, boost the immune system, and fight against the plaque known to be present in diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. 

The best way to increase your intake of berries is to snack on them. They can be added to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, or salads. However, capsules are a lot more concentrated and can be considerably more effective. Pure Encapsulations has a mix of curcumin and the polyphenols found in blueberries. This mixture is known to enhance mood and significantly promote mental clarity. Life Extension also carries blueberry capsules.

Although the risk of neurodegenerative diseases is on the rise, there are steps that can be taken to decrease the risk in the long-term. Factors like nutrition, sleep, and exercise play a huge role in repairing the brain and encourage crucial processes like neuroplasticity. Mindful practices like reading or meditating can help avoid the harmful effects of stress as well. 


Healthy Study Snacks for the School Year

It can be a challenge to stay healthy and fit when everything becomes hectic during the school year. It is important to maintain balance and to also have cheat days, but there are plenty of snacks you can eat that are quick and healthy.

Here are some fresh and healthy snack ideas:

  • Nuts
    • Almonds, Pistachios, Cashews, etc. 
  • Cheese and Crackers
    • This is a fun snack because it is also versatile! There are many different kinds of flavored cheeses that can help switch it up. 
  • Protein Shakes
    • Standard ProcessWhey Protein Shakes or Orgain Plant-Based Protein Shakes 
      • These shakes can be made with fruits and leafy greens to ensure that they are healthy and nutritious. They can also be an easy on-the-go snack. 
  • Granola Bars or Nut Bars
    • My current go-to snack is a grain-free nut bar by Autumn’s Gold made with almonds, pecans maple syrup, honey, coconut, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, sea salt, and vanilla. It is a very simple, satiating, and healthy snack.
  • String Cheese
    • String cheese can be a convenient and filling snacks when combined with things like fruit or nuts. 
  • Yogurt
    • Yogurt is another suitable snack as it is high in calcium, probiotics, and protein. 
  • Veggies and Hummus
    • Vegetables like baby carrots or celery taste great with hummus.
    • Hummus can either be bought readymade or it can easily be made with a quick recipe.
  • Popcorn
    • Popcorn is a low-calorie and high fiber snack. Companies like Skinny Pop have portion-sized bags which can easily go in your backpack for whenever you’re hungry. 

More snack and meal ideas can be found on Pinterest or blogs like Wholesome Yum. 


Cognitive Support​

With the school year back in full swing, it can feel like all assignments and exams come up at the same time. This can cause many students to become extremely overwhelmed and prevent them from doing their best. This post will go over several tips to ease some of the stress associated with these deadlines. 

  • Proper Nourishment
    • According to Harvard Health, there are foods that are linked to increased brainpower. Consuming nutrient-dense foods like green vegetables, fatty fish, berries, nuts, and tea or coffee can improve brain health. Optimal brain health can also mean having a better memory which can always help when it comes to school.
  • Taking Vitamins 
    • It is important to have regular checkups with a physician to ensure that all vitamin levels are in check and that the body is not suffering any preventable side effects from deficiencies. Vitamin D is a common deficiency and it is a crucial vitamin for the brain as it supports neurogenesis and can slow down cognitive impairment. If deficiencies are detected, Metagenicsand Life Extension are two reputable supplement companies.
  • Quality Rest 
    • As always, there is no replacement for adequate sleep. It is vital to lowering levels of stress/anxiety and promoting excellent cognitive function. 
  • Taking a Break
    • Taking a minute to pause and be mindful is the best way to reduce stress levels. It can be as simple as taking a quick nap, going for a walk, or talking to a friend but it can help break up a monotonous study routine and allow one to go back to their work feeling refreshed. 
  • Writing Things Down
    • Writing things down can help to prioritize assignments or tasks. It can be helpful to start with the smallest thing first to get the ball rolling.


Study Tips for Another School Year

As soon as the semester starts, it always feels like the first exam isn’t too far away. It can also be hard adjusting to long days of classes after a relaxing summer full of warm and sunny days. Nonetheless, there are tips to help ease the change and help students get back into the flow of things.

The first tip would be to have a very clean environment. This can especially help when feeling overwhelmed as the messiness can prevent students from wanting to complete any tasks. Everything can seem daunting. It can help to organize clothes, vacuum or dust, do laundry, and wash the bedsheets. This ensures that there is a calm and peaceful environment to rest in. 

It can be of help to make the desk area bright and cheerful. Restocking any school supplies in drawers, making sure that there is proper lighting, and adding something cozy like a plant can be encouraging. 

Another tip would be to print out syllabi, stock the backpack up (pens, pencils, clickers, snacks, hand sanitizer, notebooks, chargers), and either buying or finding online versions of textbooks. 

As for actual study tips, it has been proven beneficial to use a technique like studying for thirty minutes and then taking a five-minute break to rest the mind. It can help to exercise and get the blood flowing to the brain in between breaks as this allows the brain chemistry to change. The next major study tip has to do with effectively planning study time and assignments out. This is a vital tip as cramming never helps and can create an excess amount of stress and pressure. Writing assignments out or trying to break up assignments ahead of time can help to alleviate any of those unwanted emotions. 

All things considered, it is extremely important to sleep, take breaks, and properly eat. Best of luck with this upcoming school year!


A Natural Approach to Beauty

The skin is the largest organ which means that many toxic chemicals can also enter the body when applied to the skin. Many conventional products contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful when absorbed. This is why natural beauty products have been receiving more and more attention. While it can be difficult to make the adjustment initially, there are various high-quality products out there that can be used in place of these typical beauty products. This post will go over some alternatives to the basic beauty staples. 

Many drugstore face masks are loaded with many chemicals; however, it is relatively easy to make just as effective face masks at home.

·     Cocoa Dream Hydration Mask

·     Nourishing Honey Mask

·     An Otherworldly Glow

·     DIY Charcoal Face Mask

There are many simple and cheaper do-it-yourself ideas for natural alternatives with makeup removers and face washes

The most difficult switch is usually makeup as a lot However, as many individuals are becoming more and more conscious of what they are putting on their bodies, there have been brands like Jane Iredale that have a wide-range of products that can be used in place of the typical products. 

Moving on, it can be really fun to make bath products at home as baths can be extremely calming. Some fun do-it-yourself ideas are listed below:

·     DIY Bath Bombs

·     DIY Lush Bath Bombs

·     Lavender Mint Bath Salts

·     15 Soothing DIY Bath Salts

·     DIY Peppermint Bath Salts

·     DIY Calming Detoxing Bath Salts

·     6 Aromatherapy Blends for DIY Bath Salts

All in all, it can take some time to adjust but there are definitely companies like Jane Iredale and other resources are there to ease the change! 

Easing Stress with Essential Oils

As the school year approaches, learning about natural stress-relieving tips can never hurt! Essentials oils have gained a lot of attention because there are many individuals in the holistic world that truly believe in the ability that they have to ease various symptoms or ailments. It can never hurt to try a more functional approach as well since the side-effects tend to be minimal.

Chronic stress can leave an individual with common symptoms like headaches, respiratory issues, and digestive issues. All of these are unwanted symptoms and can hinder daily activities, especially as a student with many demanding commitments. There is science-backed evidence that states essential oils can have a positive effect on heart rate, immunity, breathing, stress levels, and blood pressure. It has been found that the molecules can cross the blood-brain barrier. This has a clear impact on the areas of the brain that control overwhelming feelings of panic and depression. 

While essential oils are not a cure, they can certainly help ease tension related symptoms like headaches. The most common scents that help with easing stress are lemon, lavender, yuzu, bergamot, ylang ylang, clary sage, and jasmine. Dr. Mercola, NOW Foods, and doTERRA are some high-quality essential brands that carry these specific ones. 

Essential oils can be applied topically but they also can be blended and be diffused through a diffuser:

5 Essential Oil Blends for Stress

Aromatherapy Recipes for Stress Relief

Roll On Essential Oil Blend for Stress Relief

57 Essential Oil Blend Diffuser Recipes for the Mind, Body, and Soul

It can take some time to find the right combination of scents but there is a lot of inspiration on websites like Pinterest. 


The Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet has been increasingly receiving hype over the past few years. This lifestyle essentially focuses on incorporating healthy fats, a lot of protein, and a minimal amount of carbs. The goal is for the body to enter “ketosis”, which allows the body to burn fat and use ketones for energy. Ketosis is a natural state that occurs when the body does not have enough carbs to burn for fuel. However, this state can be mimicked when following the guidelines above (high fat, protein, low carbs). 

Evidence based research has shown that the ketogenic diet can help with neurological disorders like epilepsy, improve cognitive function, boost weight loss, improve insulin sensitivity, protect against neurodegenerative illnesses, reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular diseases, and even acne. In order to jumpstart the process, it is recommended to limit carbs to twenty grams per day. The number can gradually increase to fifty grams, once the individual has become accustomed to the dietary changes. Emphasis is placed on foods like ghee, avocados, MCT oil, seafood, low-carb vegetables, cheese, eggs, meat, yogurt, olive oil, nuts, seeds, olives, butter, and cream. All of these foods have minimal carbs but are either high in protein or fat. It is important to point out that once the body is in ketosis, it can be extremely satiating and not much effort is required in terms of meal prepping. 

Here are some very easy ketogenic recipes to make the adjustment process a little easier:

·     Zucchini Noodles Recipe (Keto Zoodles Alfredo)

·     Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup

·     Spicy Keto Thai Shrimp Lettuce Wrap

·     Baked Avocado Egg Recipe (Egg Stuffed Avocado)

·     Keto Low Carb Milkshake Recipe – Vanilla

·     Low Carb Keto Microwave Bread Recipe with Coconut Flour

·     Low Carb Gluten-Free Keto Soft Pretzels Recipe

·     Easy Low Carb Keto Custard

·     Baked Salmon Foil Packets with Vegetables 

·     The Best Keto Mashed Cauliflower Recipe

These recipes incorporate low-carb alternatives to some classic starchy dishes. With that being said, it is important to exercise caution when implementing such a big dietary change and it should only be done after thorough research. 


The Benefits of Wheatgrass

If you have heard about wheatgrass shots, then you probably have heard that they do not taste the best. Nonetheless, the health benefits most definitely make up for the acquired taste. The good news is that this taste can often be masked by other fruits or vegetables in smoothies!

Wheatgrass is extremely high in nutrients such as chlorophyll, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Around seventeen amino acids, iron, magnesium, calcium, glutathione, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A can be found in a typical wheatgrass shot. This drink is also a good source of antioxidants that help to protect health cells and to remove free radicals from the body. Some individuals will drink a wheatgrass shot in order to detox since it is high in chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is believed to help regulate a healthy inflammation response, has antimicrobial properties, support blood product and the immune system, and help with feelings of vitality.  

Fresh wheatgrass can typically be purchased from various health food stores or the powdered version is also available through companies like Amazing Grass. Here are some different ways to incorporate wheatgrass into meals:

Wheatgrass Shot

Wheatgrass Lemonade

Matcha Wheatgrass Latte

To the Max Green Smoothie

Orange Wheatgrass Smoothie

Wheatgrass Avocado Kiwi Smoothie

Green Tea and Wheatgrass Smoothie

Lime + Avocado + Wheatgrass Smoothie

Baby Spinach, Blueberry, and Wheatgrass Smoothie

Alkalizing Green Mango, Banana, and Wheatgrass Smoothie

All in all, there are other unsubstantiated claims that it can kill cancerous cells, reduce cholesterol, and regulate blood sugar. It is believed that wheatgrass can be beneficial to patients with chronic illnesses as wheatgrass can lower harmful amounts of inflammation. As always, it is important to make sure these claims are scientifically proven before believing them. 


Ways to Get an Adequate Amount of Protein if You’re Vegetarian or Vegan

It used to be believed that there was no real way for vegetarians or vegans to get an appropriate amount of protein without eating meat. However, it feels as if many individuals have switched over to being vegetarian or vegan within the past few years. It is also being recognized that there are plenty of ways to get plant-based protein. This post will go over some of the easiest and healthiest ones. 

Lentils, chickpeas, green peas, almonds, peanuts, spirulina, quinoa, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are some of the most common sources. Soy products like tofu, tempeh, and edamame are also some rich sources of protein. With that being said, it is essential to make sure that the soy is organic and non-GMO as soy is one of the most contaminated products in the United States. 

Another common way is to make protein shakes with a variety of added superfoods. Orgain is a popular brand that is known for their high-quality organic protein powder and they avoid common allergens like gluten and soy. They also sell convenient pre-made protein shakes that include twenty-one vitamins and minerals and can be used as a snack, workout booster, or meal replacement. 

Soups, salads, smoothies, shakes, or hearty Buddha bowls might be some of the easiest ways to incorporate the protein-rich sources mentioned above. Here are some ideas:

Baked Tofu

Green Pea Soup

Asian Garlic Tofu

Vegan Lentil Soup

Spicy Chickpea Salad

1-Pot Vegan Lentil Soup

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Sweet Vanilla Green Smoothie

Protein Packed Berry Smoothie

Simple, Hearty Vegan Lentil Soup

Chickpea Salad with Cucumbers and Tomatoes

Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Fresh Herbs


Evidence-Based Benefits of 5-HTP

There are always new supplements in the spotlight for things like sleep, anxiety, and depression. 5-HTP is one of those supplements that has been around for a while and is known to help individuals that suffer from illnesses related with serotonin-deficiency. 

5-HTP stands for 5-Hydroxytryptophan. It is an amino acid that the body produces, and it is used to produce serotonin. The production of serotonin is vital as it is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for sending signals to nerve cells. It plays an integral role in mood, social behavior, memory, sleep, appetite, and cognitive function. The depletion of serotonin is known to lead to ailments like insomnia, weight gain, anxiety, and depression, so this is where 5-HTP can come in handy. 

It has been found that 5-HTP can aid in weight loss as it can send signals to the brain that tell the body that it has eaten enough. It can also alleviate some symptoms of depression since it increases the levels of serotonin. The role of serotonin in depression is still a little unclear but several studies have found a correlation. While correlation does not mean causation, it does provide some hope to those suffering from mental health illnesses. 5-HTP can also improve the aches and pains caused by fibromyalgia, reduce migraines, and increase melatonin production in the body. 

5-HTP typically only comes in capsule form and can be purchased from a reputable company like Biotics Research. As a side note, Biotics Research does require a consultation with a healthcare practitioner to ensure that the right supplements are being taken. It is important to talk with a professional before taking a supplement like 5-HTP to ensure that the side-effects won’t outweigh the benefits and to also check for any potential interactions with medications. 


Amino Acids: The Benefits of L-Theanine

Let’s start off with some background information on amino acids. Many of us have heard of amino acids in our biology or organic chemistry courses, but why are they so important to our bodies? Amino acids play a significant role in developing proteins within our bodies. They also are crucial for encouraging muscle repair, healthy tissue growth, and regulating immune function. There are twenty-two amino acids, but the spotlight is usually on the nine essential ones. These nine essential amino acids can’t be naturally produced in our bodies and are required from other sources. On the other hand, non-essential amino acids are produced in our bodies on their own and they play a vital role in eliminating toxins or supporting metabolism. 

Now that we have some background information on amino acids in general, let’s dive in deeper to a specific one called L-Theanine. This amino acid is specifically found in tea leaves or mushrooms but it can also be found in supplements. It is most commonly known and used for the relaxation benefits, however, there is a long list of benefits. Studies have shown that it can significantly reduce the negative feelings of stress and relieve anxiety. It has been found to have a synergistic effect when combined with caffeine as it can increase attentiveness. Individuals often feel more alert in thirty minutes or less. L-Theanine can boost immunity, control blood pressure, improve the quality of sleep, give sinusitis relief, and even boost the effectiveness of cancer treatments. 

Here are some links to recipes that have either have L-Theanine in them naturally:

Coconut Matcha Latte

Matcha Chia Seed Pudding

Chocolate Matcha Butter Cups

Matcha Granola with Blueberries

Vanilla Matcha Protein Smoothie

Dark Chocolate Matcha Date Bars

Healthy Matcha Green Tea Coconut Fudge

L-Theanine Packed Matcha Green Smoothie


The Healing Properties of Turmeric

Turmeric has been a prized and extremely treasured herb in India for over 4,000 years now. It was most commonly used for medicinal reasons, in cooking, and in religious ceremonies. Turmeric has also recently become increasingly popular in the United States as many individuals are turning towards more holistic and functional approaches. 

According to studies, turmeric has been proven to increase the antioxidant levels in the body, improve brain function, lower the risk of heart disease, relieve arthritis, and even fight against depression. The main ingredient in turmeric known as curcumin can effectively help you to manage inflammation. It is important to realize that all inflammation is not detrimental and harmful. In fact, it is vital and tremendously important as it helps ward off foreign pathogens and repairs damage. However, that is only if it is acute and short-term.  Chronic inflammation plays a role in many neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and metabolic disorders. Curcumin has been shown to work with a healthy immune system and the regulating factors that may help to maintain normal levels of inflammation in the body.. 

Here are some easy ways to incorporate turmeric into the diet:

Turmeric Chicken and Rice 

4-Ingredient Golden Milk Mix

Ginger Turmeric Orange Juice 

Morning Turmeric Detox Drink 

24 Karat Gold Vanilla Turmeric Latte

Healing 3-Ingredient Turmeric Tonic

Turmeric-Ginger Tonic with Chia Seeds

Inflammation-Busting Pineapple Slushy

Persian Chicken with Turmeric and Lime

Fried Brown Rice with Turmeric and Kale

Overnight Oats with Cashews, Seeds, and Turmeric 

Yellow Pepper and Corn Salad with Turmeric Dressing

Supplementation might be the easiest way to implement a daily incorporation of turmeric and these supplements can be found at health food stores. NOW Foods and Life Extension are reliable brands as their supplements contain the active ingredient, curcumin, in them. 


Mushrooms and Matcha: A Powerful Duo

It has always been apparent that neurodegenerative diseases are extremely crippling but there was never much research on the prevention of these ailments. However, as more and more studies are being done, it has become increasingly evident that certain foods can slow down or prevent the progression of these diseases.

Nature has been a source of inspiration for its potent healing properties with minimal side effects. Yet, only recently have things like matcha and medicinal mushrooms have been extensively studied, and they are some of the two newest superfoods linked to brain health.

Let’s break down the healing properties of each. Matcha is extremely rich in chlorophyll, enhances mood, promotes a feeling of relaxation, lowers blood sugar, gently detoxifies, and has one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants when compared to other foods. Not only is it a neuroprotective superfood but it also has anti-microbial properties. It also contains amino acids and l-theanine that promotes the production of alpha waves in the brain. Alpha waves play a significant role in boosting creativity, alertness, intelligence, and memory.

Medicinal mushrooms have been known to modulate the immune system, improve cardiovascular health, purify blood, detoxify the body, increase energy, improve mental clarity, lessen the symptoms of depression, and support healthy cellular production. That is a very watered-down version of their benefits, but a study recently showed that mushrooms had the ability to cut down mild cognitive impairment in the elderly by fifty percent.  

Matcha can be consumed with water, milk, or nut-milk. There are many reputable brands for matcha such as Encha, Art of Tea, and Matchaful. As for the medicinal mushrooms, Host Defense carries all different varieties of supplements. Finally, Four Sigmatic also carries a matcha latte mix with medicinal mushrooms in it for more of a synergistic effect.  


Neuroscience: Plaque in the Brain

Plaque has been linked to many neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. This might be because it prevents the brain from functioning optimally and can lead to memory loss. The beta-amyloid toxin causes brain inflammation and can prevent neurons from interacting properly. There are some known causes but there are not too many cures yet. As always, prevention is key, and emphasis needs to be placed on preventative healthcare.

Foods like processed meats, cheese, white breads, pasta, and sugar can be extremely detrimental to the brain in the long run. Secondly, beer can be just as harmful since it tends to contain nitrites. Thirdly, microwavable popcorn contains a chemical known as diacetyl and diacetyl has been directly linked to increasing plaque in the brain.

With that being said, some refreshing and positive news has come to light recently. The body’s ability to heal itself is remarkable as it has been found that the brain may also be able to get rid of plaque during quality sleep. Laura Biel from Science News further explains this process with the following paragraph: “One way the brain might clear out waste, including amyloid-beta, is via circulation of cerebrospinal and interstitial fluids. Fluid flows through the spaces in the brain, bathing neurons and eventually carrying debris out of the brain toward the liver. Studies suggest that this “glymphatic” circulation increases during sleep”.

As with almost every health condition, diet plays a huge role. Foods like leafy greens, fatty fishes, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, nuts, berries, beans, and dark chocolate can help the brain fight off these neurotoxins.

It is vital to be health conscious and preemptive as consuming toxins on a daily basis can lead to detrimental inflammation. Impaired neurological function can diminish any individual’s quality of life but being proactive can slow down any harmful buildup of plaque.


The Many Benefits of Matcha

Matcha is a form of green tea that is made from grinding up young and tender green tea leaves. This essentially means that the entire green tea leaf is ingested, and the body is able to reap its potential benefits.

Macha provides “clean energy,” which does not cause anxiousness or jitteriness the way caffeine usually does. Macha also contains an amino acid called L-Theanine that combined with caffeine to help the brain to focus even more while boosting the number of alpha waves.

Moving on, matcha can burn even more calories as the green tea catechins have been studied and found to increase the body’s thermogenic fat burning activity. Matcha has the ability to boost the metabolism and reduce body mass index, if taken on a daily basis. However, one of the most unique benefits is that it has the highest antioxidant rating among superfoods. The antioxidant content is exponentially higher than berries, spinach, and pomegranate.

Matcha has been found to support the brain during aging, and may even help to maintain normal functions, like memory and the ability to complete tasks. The components in matcha have also been shown to support the immune system detoxification.

There are several different ways to enjoy matcha. It is best to make sure that the matcha is organic and pure without any additives. Here are a few recipes:

Matcha Lemonade

Vegan Matcha Ice Cream

Honey Coconut Matcha Latte

Vanilla Coconut Matcha Latte

Matcha Green Tea Energy Bites

Matcha Latte Chia Seed Pudding

Coconut Milk Matcha Latte with Rose Petals

On another note, Jarrows Formula also has L-Theanine gummies that are suitable for children ages 8 and up. The gummies provide all the benefits of L-Theanine while omitting the caffeine content in matcha.


The Importance of Vitamin D

Many individuals are already aware of the “sunshine vitamin” as vitamin D is one of the most common supplements. It often is assumed that going out in the sun is enough to get a daily dose of this vitamin, but this might not be enough. Not surprisingly, a study concluded that around half of the population in the world is affected by not having nearly enough vitamin D. However, around 1 billion individuals are confirmed to be deficient and experience the side effects that come along with a vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D has different functions in the body. It is crucial for strong bones, neuromuscular function, the immune system, controlling inflammation, cell growth, and fighting against viruses or bacteria. The body can start to have negative reactions once the amount of vitamin D in the body starts to diminish. Symptoms like muscle weakness, aching bones, excess fatigue, hair loss, poor sleep, and headaches can all be signs of a deficiency. It is best to go to a physician if a deficiency is suspected as they can verify it through bloodwork.

Once a deficiency is confirmed, the best way to increase levels of vitamin D3 is to take a supplement. Xymogen has some of the highest quality vitamin D3 but it is important to note that vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and should ideally be taken with healthy fats. The second option is to try to consume more foods like salmon, tuna, or other fatty fishes. Mushrooms, cheese, or eggs yolks also contain relatively small amounts of this crucial vitamin. Fortified foods can provide higher amounts of vitamin D as most foods do not contain it naturally. The third way would be to increase exposure to the sun, but it is important to be conscious of things like sunburn.


Balancing and Replenishing Electrolytes in the Body

With the warm summer months approaching, it is important that the body gets all of the nourishment that it needs. Many of us have heard about the importance of electrolytes, so this post will quickly go over why electrolytes are needed, recipes to make electrolyte drinks at home, and natural food sources that can provide the many nutrients that contribute to a healthy body.

Electrolytes are needed for survival. They conduct electricity when they are combined with water, and inside of the body they intermingle to support healthy functions in nerve cells, tissue, and muscle. Insufficient electrolytes levels can lead to symptoms like muscle twitches, fatigue, and irregular heartbeats. You can avoid these problems by ingesting enough sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, and bicarbonate.

How do you get all of these nutrients? The good news is that electrolyte drinks can be made at home easily without all of the additives found in some products. These drinks can also help fight infections in the body, physical exertion, and dehydration. Here are some recipes that do not require many ingredients:

Food that naturally replenishes electrolytes include:

  • Coconut Water: This refreshing drink is packed with benefits. It has a high potassium content, antioxidant properties, and the ability to lower blood pressure.
  • Leafy Greens: Salads can most definitely give the body an electrolyte boost. Spinach, swiss chard, bok choy, and kale are high in electrolytes and minerals.
  • Lemons: Lemons are known for their ability to become alkaline in the body, balance pH levels, and give a dose of vitamin C. They can also replenish magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
  • Sea Salt: Sodium is lost through sweating but it can be easily replaced by ingesting a pinch of Celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt. Salt is extremely rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Metagenics also has natural lemonade flavored powder that can be taken on the go. It leaves out anything artificial and is formulated to support fluid balance, replenish sodium and potassium levels in the body, and boost exercise performance.


The Many Wonders and Uses of Turmeric and Curcumin

This golden spice has received a lot of hype and for good reason. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is a well-known antioxidant that supports many important systems of the body. These include helping to regulate the immune system and healthy inflammatory responses, the development of new cells, cardiovascular health, temporary relief from occasional pain, the regulation of blood sugar levels, and brain health during normal aging. An important side note is that a compound in black pepper has been found to exponentially increase the absorption rate and effects of turmeric. It is recommended to incorporate some black pepper with the consumption of turmeric.

Here a few different ways to try to integrate turmeric into the diet:

Overall, those are just a few ideas but there are many different ways to take turmeric while still reaping the numerous benefits.


The Mind and Body Approach to Nourishing the Brain

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the brain is the most vital organ in the body. The brain allows us to think, process emotions, connect with our five senses, and make memories. The brain is one of the most complex organs, but it plays a huge role in what classifies us as humans. That is why it is imperative to actively work towards nourishing this essential organ.

Starting with the mind approach, mindfulness can give the brain a much needed break. Things like doing a digital detox for a day can help us detach from the virtual world and be more present. It can help us to focus on what we have in life without feeling the need to compare social status, wealth, or experiences with others. Starting a mindfulness journal can help with organizing thoughts and expressing gratitude. Writing down a list of tasks can also help quiet the mind so that it becomes easier to tackle one thing at a time. Diffusing stress-relieving essential oils, meditating, taking a walk, going to the gym, solving puzzles, or reading books can help distract the mind while simultaneously providing it calming benefits.

As for the body approach, it is crucial to start with a balanced diet to ensure that the brain is getting all the nutrients it needs. Reducing added sugars and an excess carbohydrate intake can be the first step. The second step is to replenish the microbiome with prebiotic and probiotic rich foods. The third step is to incorporate healthy fats and antioxidants to help combat the negative effects that stress may have on the body. Foods like dark chocolate, nuts, oily fish, berries, and green tea can have extremely favorable results.  

In conclusion, it is vital to protect the brain against stress and aging. As with every disease, prevention is key and conscious steps should be taken towards supporting optimal brain health.


Feeding the Gut with Fermented Foods

Many of us are aware of gut-nourishing foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and kombucha because they are supposed to be very good for our health. What exactly do all of these foods have in common? All of them are fermented.

Fermented foods are known for their ability to support digestion, the absorption of nutrients, cognitive function, a healthy tissue response, a healthy inflammation response, and help to balance the microbiome. Essentially, fermented foods give the body a much needed dose of beneficial bacteria and enzymes. These crucial microorganisms can function as adaptogens and ward off any harmful bacteria that may negatively affect the gut or immune system. Almost eighty percent of the immune system is located in the gut which means that an overloaded gut can promote a weakened defense system in the body. It has also been found that gut-related issues can cause an increased risk of many other diseases like neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, allergies, and digestive issues.

Fermented foods can be a little pricey but things like kombucha and kefir can be made at home with the help of a starter kit. The health benefits of fermentation can also be obtained through fermented supplements from New Chapter. They have fermented turmeric, maca, or aloe booster powders that can be added to smoothies, juices, or milk in order to disguise the taste but still receive the benefits of fermentation. An affordable option would also be to make some kind of fermented vegetables at home. A recipe for making fermented carrots with dill can be found at The Real Food Dieticians.

All in all, incorporating fermented foods is only one of the first steps that should be taken towards obtaining optimal gut-health. Checking for allergies, drinking water, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, eating healthier, and adding a prebiotic source are all equally as crucial.


The Effects of Collagen on the GI Tract

Collagen has received a lot of hype lately. As many individuals become more conscious of gut-health, they realize that collagen might be a key ingredient to solving issues related to the microbiome. The good news is that scientific research suggests that the synthesis of collagen is crucial for supporting the health of the intestinal lining. This means that collagen and gut-health are correlated, and you may be able to aid symptoms negative with collagen supplements.

Collagen contains two essential amino acids, glycine and proline. These two amino acids have a profound impact on the central nervous system and may help to ease the negative effects of stress-induced digestive problems. Collagen may also help with heartburn, stomach, ulcers, and digestive problems since it helps to relegate the production and secretion of stomach acid.

Moving on, it may help to support the growth and development of cells in the lining of the intestinal tract. How does it aid in digestion? Collagen is hydrophilic in nature, which means it attracts water and acidic molecules. When taken as a powder or supplement, collagen surrounds itself with water and stomach acid as it makes its way through the GI tract. This helps it breakdown whatever food that might be sitting in the tract. As for repairing the stomach lining, it can help with this task by promoting the production of smooth muscle cells. Smooth muscle cells are produced in the gut in order to help repair the damage that may have been a byproduct of excess inflammation.

Collagen can be found in a capsule or as a powder. Nordic Naturals makes a “Strawberry Marine Collagen Powder” which can disguise the taste. Nordic Naturals is also third party tested which ensures that an independent organization has determined if the product is up to standards.


Eating for Gut-Health

There is a common saying that goes something like “you are what you eat.” Scientifically speaking, that statement holds some truth. A healthy gut starts with what is put into the body. It is crucial to remove anything that could do more harm than good, and then to incorporate nutrients the gut microbiome needs to thrive.

It is important to see how the body reacts to each food that is consumed. Looking out for reactions to the typical allergens like dairy, gluten, soy, corn, lectins, sugars, eggs, and nightshade vegetables can be the first step. Many individuals have a hard time digesting dairy and gluten as this can lead to bloating, gas, and lethargy.

Soy and corn-based foods are one of the most controversial things out there. Soy and corn grown on certain farms may contain pesticides that contain glyphosate. Glyphosate has been found to cause leaky gut and can even prevent the body from absorbing amino acids that are vital to the body.

Lectins and sugars disrupt the gut flora and can contribute to inflammation. This inflammation may trigger an autoimmune response where the body ends up attacking itself.

Eggs and nightshade vegetables do not always cause problems, but they can. Eggs can cause problems if the hens are fed corn or soy-based diets. It is important to buy organic, cage-free, and free-range eggs whenever possible as this mimics the natural diet that hens are supposed to eat.

As for nightshade, they often contain lectins and sugar-binding proteins which can be the root of the problem.

Once steps are taken to avoid unnecessary triggers, it is time to add nutrients that benefit the microbiome. This should include natural prebiotic sources like sweet potatoes, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, seeds, plant-based proteins, organic eggs, and wild-caught fish. Probiotics should also be added in order to replenish the body with good bacteria. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, or kombucha are able to kill off pathogens but it can never hurt to take an extra probiotic supplement with multiple strains.  


Oil-Cleansing for Clearer Complexions

Cleansing the face or body with oil? That sounds pretty counterproductive, right? It actually is not. Many brands on the market advertise their products as “mattifying” or “antibacterial,” but the truth is that these claims can cause the skin to flare up. These products strip the skin of natural oils which then causes the skin to overcorrect by creating even more oil.

The oil-cleansing method runs on the principle that “like dissolves like.” That also means that the oil our skin naturally produces is only to protect, heal, and nourish the skin. Applying more oil can gently get rid of impurities or makeup by dissolving whatever may be on the skin. This reduces the amount of irritation and flare ups caused by harsher products.

The oil-cleansing method should be done in the evenings as the goal is to dissolve any grime that may have accumulated from the day. It is important to not overdo this method by doing it morning and night as that can result in irritation. More detailed steps on how to oil-cleanse can be found here.

Cleansing oil should target specific skin types. For example, 30% castor oil and 70% sunflower oil can be used for oily skin. 60% avocado oil, 30% sunflower oil, and 10% castor oil can be used for dry skin. 80% sunflower oil and 20% castor oil can be used for normal skin. The oil mixture can be bought or made at home. It ultimately depends on the individual but purchasing a premade mixture can be a little more convenient and less time-consuming. The Nourishing Rose Cleansing Oil from Derma E incorporates argan and jojoba oils in order to gently wipe away impurities while providing antioxidants and moisture.

Some general advice is to start nice and slow to see how the skin reacts. It may take time for the skin to adjust and proportions may need to be adjusted even more according to skin type.


Caring for the Mind with Passion Flower

Within the past few years, attention has shifted to natural alternatives for symptoms that would normally be treated through allopathic medications. Many individuals prefer going the natural route first to avoid any long-term side effects. With that being said, there has been a spotlight on natural alternatives to help with ailments like insomnia and anxiety. Individuals know that supplements like melatonin, magnesium, theanine, ashwagandha, and fish oil can help with both of these problems. However, many have not heard about passion flower, so this post will introduce the benefits of this supplement.

Let’s start out with a fun fact. Passion flowers are extremely distinctive since they literally only bloom for one day once a year. This reveals a fruit that can be taken as a supplement or as a tea, tincture, capsule, or herbal blend. It has been researched and concluded that passion flower has a synergistic effect when combined with other natural things like lemon balm, valerian, and kava.

The benefits of this flower include aiding with anxiety, relaxation, sleep, and potentially helping with withdrawal symptoms. According to one study, passion flower can significantly reduce the amount of anxiety individuals face without causing any cognitive impairment. It can be administered for a variety of things such as nervous anxiety, hysteria, restlessness, and irritability. The study found crucial information about passion flower containing a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is ultimately responsible for the communication happening between the brain and the nervous system. Low amounts of GABA can cause depression, anxiety, and insomnia so it is vital to replenish if a deficiency is suspected.

As with everything, exercise caution before trying new combinations of supplementation.


An Introduction to Anti-Inflammatory Foods

The word “inflammation” is tossed around a lot these days. There are many products that are advertised as being “anti-inflammatory” but let’s start off with the basics. What exactly is inflammation? Inflammation is the way the body responds to an irritant. It can be a response to bacteria, fungi, viruses, chemicals, and external or internal injuries. That essentially means that a healthy amount of inflammation is good and can protect the body from nuisances. However, as with everything, an excess amount is never good and balance is key.

What does it feel like when the body is overloaded with an overactive inflammatory response? Many individuals often feel exhausted, feverish, and have blood work results that are all over the place. This tends to be because there is an imbalance in the body and the immune system starts to work extra hard.

It has been found that the root cause of many diseases is inflammation. Ailments like inflammatory bowel diseases, skin conditions, thyroid problems, and arthritis all trace back to the body creating an inflammatory response in excess.

What can be done to naturally reduce excess inflammation? Foods and supplements can provide an excellent defense system. Vegetables like tomatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli, avocados, peppers, and mushrooms should be incorporated into diets. Fruits like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, tart cherries, and oranges provide useful properties. Nuts like walnuts and almonds can also be beneficial. Healthy fats from fatty fish can provide omega-3 fatty acids that can help to regulate a healthy inflammation response, neurological processes, and immune and cardiovascular health. Supplements like cod liver oil from Nordic Naturals may provide optimal amounts of omega-3 fatty acids while simultaneously providing crucial amounts of vitamin A and D.  

Moving on, it is important to recognize that foods like soda, red meat, and refined carbohydrates can also trigger inflammatory responses in the body and should be avoided in large amounts.


Benefits of Different Kinds of Tea

Individuals of all cultures enjoy tea. It is seen as something that is therapeutic and calming all across the world. They can have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. There are many different kinds of tea and each kind has a unique set of benefits but they all tend to have a high antioxidant content.

The first tea is white tea. It is made from the unopened buds of the tea plant. It is minimally processed and the purest. The buds are simply dried and packaged. This form of tea has a pale-yellow color and a mild taste. The benefits range from a high dose of polyphenols, flavonoids, and antioxidants. It has been suggested that it can have antibacterial effects, lower the bad form of cholesterol (LDL), protect the skin, and reduce the risk of cavities.

The second tea is green tea. This type of tea is known for having high and extremely beneficial amounts of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). This compound can boost metabolism, combat age related problems, improve skin, protect the brain, reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems, decrease inflammation, and even protect against cancer growth. There are many different kinds of green tea but matcha is the most popular. It has the most amount of EGCG and defeats all other kinds of fruits and vegetables in the number of antioxidants it contains. Matcha contains caffeine but it also has an amino acid called L-Theanine. This balances it out and allows the body to experience the effects of caffeine without the jittery feeling. It allows the brain to stay balanced but more alert.

The third tea is black tea. Black tea is typically made from withering leaves, is oxidized, and has more caffeine than any other kind of tea. The taste is stronger, but it can be prepared in many different ways. This kind of tea is the best for individuals who want the higher levels of caffeine but still want the health benefits as well. It contains the tannins, catechins, and polyphenols that can boost the immune system and fight against many inflammatory diseases.

Each tea is prepared in a different way and has a distinct taste but each one has beneficial and healing properties. This is why it is recommended to incorporate tea into a self-care routine.


Natural Nail Care

As touched upon in many of the blog posts, it is best to go natural whenever possible. It is recommended to avoid exposure to unnecessary chemical and additives. Many individuals have become aware that many of the products in the beauty industry are full of chemicals. The good news is that there are more natural alternatives with less toxic ingredients.

Here are some basic tips for stronger and healthier nails:

  • Avoid cutting cuticles.
    • Many dermatologists frown upon messing with the cuticles as the cuticles act as a barrier to bacteria and fungus. It is important to keep the nail bed protected.
  • Try to not use nail hardeners.
    • It has become a fact that nail hardeners are usually filled with excess chemicals and can make the nails even more fragile once it is taken off.
  • Moisturize the nails and cuticles with a cuticle oil.
    • This can reduce the chances of breakage.
  • Take a biotin supplement.
    • It has been studied and results shows that biotin can increase nail thickness and prevent it from fragilely breaking.
  • Try to avoid getting too many manicures.
    • A study concluded that individuals that got manicures regularly suffered from fragile, weak, and broken nails more often. They became dependent on getting manicures. The study believed that this was due to all the harsh chemicals and shared tools.
  • Avoid acetone-based nail polish removers and nail polishes with harsh chemicals.
    • Acetone-based nail polish removers do work but they literally strip the nail and lead to nails becoming delicate. Zoya is the number one brand in making nail polishes and nail polish removers without the harsh chemicals like toluene.   
  • Avoid rough emery boards and limit the amount of hand washing.
    • Emery boards used at professional manicure places often are too rough and can cause tiny fissures. It is necessary to wash hands to prevent spreading germs but is it also important to moisturize afterwards so that the nail bed does not become frail.


Natural Hair Care

The harsh winter weather is notorious for drying out hair. There are many hair products available, but the problem is that a lot of them use ingredients that do not actually repair hair. There are a few natural solutions for these problems.

The first is to make sure that the body is getting all the vitamins and minerals it needs from either food sources or supplementation. Vitamin A is essential for all cell growth. B vitamins are responsible for bringing oxygen to the scalp and hair loss can become a serious problem if there are not enough B vitamins in the body. Biotin can be effective as a hair growth treatment as a deficiency can cause hair loss. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that blocks free radical damage and vitamin D can help generate new follicles. Vitamin E is responsible for preventing oxidative stress and iron brings oxygen and blood flow to the scalp.

The second is to nourish the hair with all-natural hair masks as it is best to avoid putting chemicals on the hair whenever possible. Here are a few hair masks listed below.

  • Clarifying Hair Treatment:
    • 2 Tablespoons Sea Salt
    • 1-2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
    • 1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Extra Conditioning/Repairing:
    • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
    • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • Hair Growth:
    • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
    • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • Dandruff Treatment:
    • Coconut Oil
    • Lemon Juice
  • Hair Growth:
    • Coconut Oil
    • Aloe Vera
  • Hair Repair:
    • Coconut Oil
    • Egg

As for why some of these ingredients work:

Coconut Oil –

Coconuts are very rich in healthy fats, so coconut oil is able to penetrate the hair shaft to keep it strong, healthy, and soft. It can prevent breakage and nourish the scalp. Nourishing the scalp can lead to hair growth.

Honey –

Honey is known for being a humectant. This means it retains moisture and provides nourishment. It can also smooth the hair shaft and make hair appear shinier.

Cinnamon –

Cinnamon will help tackle hair loss and dandruff since it has antimicrobial properties. It also is very powerful and can stimulate hair growth by bringing blood flow to the follicles.

Lemons –

Lemons are a holy grail for oily scalps. They are acidic in nature, have antifungal properties, and will clean the scalp of any impurities.

Eggs –

Eggs are known to be a rich source of vitamins, protein, and fatty acids. All three are necessary for healthy hair growth.

The third is to make sure that a shampoo without harsh chemicals is used. The harsh chemicals can strip the hair of shine and can leave hair looking lifeless. Andalou Naturals makes many different kinds of shampoos that are tailored to different hair types.


The Gut Microbiome

Many of us fail to realize that numerous symptoms we may experience stem from the gut microbiome. Indigestion problems, headaches, anxiety, joint pain, skin issues, allergies, and weight gain can all be signs of a gut imbalance.

As touched upon in the “Neuroscience: The Mind-Gut Connection” post, there is most definitely a connection between stress, gut imbalances, and mood. With that being said, facing stress is almost inevitable so it is extremely important to prevent harm to the microbiome. The microbiome is very fragile and requires frequent maintenance since everyday things like eating processed food, aging, traveling, becoming ill, drinking, taking pharmaceutical medications, and chronic stress can all affect the delicate system.

Things like eating well, exercising, sleeping enough, replenishing good bacteria, and taking care of digestive issues can help protect the microbiome. Nutrition plays an essential role as many vitamins like vitamin K and vitamin B are made and absorbed by the gut. Vitamin K is crucial for bone health and blood coagulation while vitamin B is necessary for brain and heart health. It is recommended to avoid processed foods and to consume foods rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. This can help take some of the burden off of the body.

Exercising and sleeping well are always important to optimal health. Many recent studies have concluded that exercise can boost the amount of useful microbial species and encourage more microflora diversity. As for sleep, it is known that the microbiome communicates with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in order to regulate sleep. That also means that a damaged microbiome can negatively affect sleep which can lead to other problems.

It is especially important to replenish the body with good bacteria after being on medications like antibiotics or undergoing immense amounts of stress. Probiotics can be an easy fix, but it is very important to get a probiotic with multiple strains of bacteria. The more diverse it is, the more beneficial it is. Moving on, solving indigestion issues can also take the stress off of the gut and can allow the microbiome to thrive. Things like probiotics, Blessed Thistle, and glutamine can aid digestion problems.

Overall, protecting the gut is key to preventing many unwanted symptoms or illnesses. It can be a challenge but should be made a top priority.


A Natural Alternative to Conventional Toxic Candles

Many individuals are not aware of the toxins that go into making conventional candles. This might be because a lot of us are attracted to the amazing and different smells they give off. We tend to not think of what goes into making those different smells.

The problem is that a lot of candles are made from paraffin wax. Paraffin wax turns into two extremely toxic carcinogens when they are burnt, benzene and toluene. There are various other potent and powerful toxins that are found in candles. Not only that, it has been found that most of the wicks contain heavy metals. This means that burning candles for a few hours can lead to airborne heavy metals. All of that affects the air that we breathe in and can make it harder for sensitive groups to breathe properly.

There are natural alternatives that are made out of either soy or beeswax. Beeswax candles are very efficient at neutralizing pollutants since they produce negative ions as they burn, and those negative ions attract any irritants that might be floating in the air. It can help get rid of mold, airborne allergies, dust, and odors. Another benefit is that toxic byproducts or heavy soot are not produced as these candles are burned. This ensures that the air is not contaminated with carcinogens.

Just like with beeswax, soy candles do not produce the byproducts that paraffin wax candles do. This makes soy candles non-toxic and they tend to have a longer burn time. They burn cleaner and have a stronger scent. The only thing downside would be that they do not have the air purifying qualities the way that beeswax does.

Overall, it is important to be conscious of what is going into the air that we breathe in as poor air quality can lead to a decline in health and wellness.   


Recharging with Essential Oils

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that may provide a medicinal benefit when diffused into the air or applied to the skin. They are extremely potent, and it is important to remember that a little can go a long way. There are several different uses for essential oils and each specific kind has its own set of benefits or recommended uses. The benefits can range from improving sleep quality, reducing anxiety, promoting energy, to reducing pain or inflammation. This post will focus on how to use essential oils to ensure deep, rejuvenating sleep.

Moving on, it is important to point out a common misconception. It is often believed that essential oils are always natural and generally harmless. This is untrue. First, some oils may contain synthetic ingredients, fillers, or fragrances; avoid these and look for brands that only sell blends that are 100% pure. Second, these oils are very strong and should always be diluted with a carrier oil before applying them to the skin. Essential oils actually work better after being diluted as the carrier oil makes it harder for the essential oil molecules to evaporate. Carrier oils like olive oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, and almond oil are neutral and thicker bases.

To promote restful sleep, the most common essential oils are lavender, bergamot, ylang-ylang, and neroli. Lavender is the most popular one as it is known to promote sleepiness and have anxiolytic effects. There has been evidence-based research done on the sedative effects of lavender oil. Here are some common essential oil mixes for peaceful sleep:

  • Blissful Sleep:
    • 3 drops of Lavender
    • 3 drops of Cedarwood
    • 3 drops of Wild Orange
    • 2 drops of Marjoram
  • Great REM Sleep:
    • 2 drops of Bergamot
    • 2 drops of Cedarwood
  • Calm Deep Sleep:
    • 3 drops of Clary Sage
    • 2 drops of Bergamot
    • 2 drops of Cypress
  • Sleep Tight:
    • 5 drops of Cedarwood
    • 3 drops of Orange
  • Heavenly Dreams:
    • 3 drops of Lemongrass
    • 3 drops of Vetiver
    • 1 drop of Ylang-Ylang
  • Nighty Night:
    • 3 drops of Cedarwood
    • 3 drops of Eucalyptus
    • 3 drops of Frankincense
    • 3 drops of Orange
  • Lights Out:
    • 2 drops of Lavender
    • 2 drops of Cedarwood
    • 2 drops of Vetiver
    • 2 drops of Ylang-Ylang
  • Serene Sleep:
    • 4 drops of Lavender
    • 4 drops of Bergamot
    • 3 drops of Frankincense
    • 2 drops of Juniper
  • Drifting Off:
    • 4 drops of Lavender
    • 3 drops of Jasmine
    • 3 drops of Sandalwood
    • 2 drops of Cypress
  • Effortless Sleep:
    • 6 drops of Lavender
    • 6 drops of Cedarwood
    • 6 drops of Frankincense
    • 4 drops of Eucalyptus

These ten mixtures can either be diluted with a carrier oil and rubbed onto the skin, used in a diffuser, added to an Epsom salt bath, or made into a “pillow spray” mist. To make the pillow spray mist, diluted with water, add to a spray bottle, and spritz onto the pillow or even the air right before sleeping.

As for purchasing essential oils, Plant Therapy is one of the most common and well-known brands.


The Importance of Green Cleaning

Many individuals have become more conscious of the things they put in their bodies. They now strive to eat healthier foods with organic ingredients that are free of preservatives. A significant portion of individuals also recognizes the dangers of using household products loaded with chemicals. Many cleaning products have warning labels like “Toxic!” or “Flammable!”. This is usually an indication that the components are harmful to humans, pets, and the environment.

Household cleaning supplies contain substances that can be harmful to little kids. Not surprisingly, household cleaning supplies are in the top five reasons for calls to the National Poison Control center. It’s also important to safeguard the skin when using chemicals. Skin is the largest organ and can absorb good or bad things that makes contact with. The bad things can contain endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins, carcinogens, and mutagens. This can also be easily avoided by making the switch to natural cleaning supplies.

Harsh cleaning supplies pollute the indoor air that we continuously breathe in. This can mess with the nervous system, liver, and kidneys. It can worsen respiratory conditions and cause various symptoms like headaches and coughing.

Natural alternatives are non-toxic, safe, and made with biodegradable compounds that do not affect the environment in an undesirable way. Moving on, it sounds like natural cleaning supplies will cost a lot more. However, many natural cleaning supplies can easily be made. There are also multi-purpose products so it is not necessary to buy different products.

The brand, Mrs. Meyers, has various and affordable products that can have many purposes and last a while. As pointed out earlier, the best part is that natural alternatives are that they can be made at home for an easy and cheap alternative to conventional products. An easy “Clean Everything Lemon-Lime” spray can be made from one lemon, one lime, one cup distilled white vinegar, and one cup water. Essential oils can also be added to a mixture of things like castile soap, water, and vinegar in order to make fresh-smelling products. The top five essential oils for cleaning are lemon, tea tree, lavender, peppermint, and orange.


New Year’s Resolutions for Health and Wellness

The New Year can be a good time to reflect on things that are working and things that are not. It is important to take a step back from the daily rat race and recognize what can be done to help mental and physical health. It can also be a nice fresh start and the right time to ease into some lifestyle changes. With that being said, this post will go over some tips that can be implemented without being too drastic or hard to keep up with.

The most important thing one can do for their health is get enough sleep. Emphasis is usually placed on getting a certain number of hours every night. However, the quality is just as important as the quantity. Quality sleep can help ward off viruses, common illnesses, decrease the risk of heart disease, and improve metabolism. Reading a book before bed instead of watching television, avoiding food for two hours before sleeping, not drinking caffeine after mid-afternoon, and making the bedroom a comfortable place can all improve the quality of sleep.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, metabolism is the highest around 10 in the morning and the lowest in the night. It is recommended to eat around 75 percent of allotted calories before 2 p.m. as it is easier on the body and ensures that there is enough time to properly digest everything.

As always, it is important to stay active. Staying active keeps inflammation levels at bay, encourages brain plasticity, releases endorphins, reduce stress, and can help with anxiety.  It is essential to replenish the body with nutrients after a workout. This can be done via vitamins, meals, or protein powders. Some recommended brands are Garden of Life, Life Extension, and Metagenics.

As for mental health, it is extremely vital to build up face-to-face relationships in a predominantly social media era. It was found that individuals that do not hang out with friends are 1.5 times more likely to suffer from poor health. This is because isolation can lead to depression, anxiety, and heighten already high stress levels. It also important to try and reduce stress. Things like meal prepping over the weekend, deep breathing, walking outside, playing with a pet, or taking naps can help during hectic weeks.

It can be hard to take care of physical and mental health with demanding schedules, but it is just as important to schedule in self-care every week. Everyone has their own definition of self-care. It can be anything that makes one feel refreshed, recharged, and genuinely happy.


Hygge – The Danish Way of Life

The Danish way of life, Hygge (HOO-gah), has made its way into the spotlight within the past year or two. However, a lot of the general public is still not aware of what it means to practice the art of Hygge. According to the 2016 World Happiness Report, Denmark was acknowledged as the world’s happiest country. Many believe this is due to the lifestyle they encourage.

Hygge is referred to as an art that illuminates the soul. It is a way of life that embraces peace, harmony, and happiness. It is a way of practicing self-care in a way that lasts and becomes a definite lifestyle change. There are several combinations of activities that are supposed to encourage complete bliss and this article will go over some ways to implement those changes.  

There are ten main points to the Hygge manifesto. The first and most important step is to create an ambient atmosphere. The easiest way to do that is by turning down the lights and lighting a lot of candles (unscented or scented). This ensures a calm and serene environment. The second step involves stepping back from electronics and being mindful in every situation. It ensures that one is present with their loved ones and can take part in relaxing alone time.

The third part has to do with indulging in favorite foods responsibly. This can take emphasize the importance of balance and moderation. It can take away the stresses of dieting and can encourage a more wholesome approach. The fourth part stresses the importance of equality. It emphasizes the “we” over “me” mentality. It takes the pressure off of one person and ensures that tasks are divided in a fair manner. It also creates a sense of security and an environment where everyone feels supported.

The fifth practice has to do with expressing gratitude. To always be thankful for each and every moment and to realize that this might be as good as it gets. The sixth practice involves creating a harmonious environment. Bragging about achievements is looked down upon. The environment should be welcoming to everyone and should be uplifting.  

The seventh and eighth part has to do with inspiring “comfort” and “truce”. Comfort encourages relaxation and self-care practices like washing sheets, getting cozy with a big fluffy blanket, taking a warm bath, etc. The truce part encourages no drama or negative vibes. It keeps the environment light and airy and assures that no one gets into fights.

Finally, the ninth and tenth part focus on togetherness and shelter. Togetherness and shelter concentrate on building relationships and starting narratives that bring back happy memories. Finally, all of these points ensure that the home is welcoming and full of genuine happiness.


The Neurological Benefits of Curcumin

Curcumin is a very powerful inflammation fighting herb. There has been a lot of research done on curcumin and the benefits it has on brain health. It has been found that curcumin has the ability to protect the brain and keep it at an optimal functioning state despite other factors.

It has the power to stimulate the activity of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). This can be very beneficial since BDNF encourages neuronal survival in an adult brain. It has been found that individuals with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s have a decreased expression of BDNF. This plays a role in the neuro-degenerative nature of these diseases.

Curcumin strengthens neural networks in the brain and encourages neuroplasticity. That leads to greater cognitive and memory skills. This is very important information since there are five major neurological diseases that impair the lives of millions of Americans every year. The five diseases are depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, and brain cancer. Each one of these diseases can be connected back to two main sources, oxidative stress and inflammation. More research is being done on the correct dose of curcumin for each of those illnesses.

It is also important to note that turmeric and curcumin are not the same things. Curcumin is a compound that is found in turmeric and has a higher bioavailability in the body. This means the body actually absorbs it and it does not just pass through the body the way turmeric does. Curcumin can be found in capsule form from places like Life Extension or CuraMed.

Curcumin can also take care of other problems in the body. It can fix digestive health problems, promote healthy eyesight, support cardiovascular health, and support other internal health challenges. This means that it has a plethora of benefits and taking it daily does not only benefit the brain. It has the capability to boost overall health.



Glutathione – “The Mother of All Antioxidants”

Antioxidants protect cells against the detrimental effects of free radicals. All of us are exposed to free radicals on a daily basis and it can become too much for the body. The body naturally fights against free radicals with naturally occurring antioxidants (flavonoids, tannins, phenols, and lignans). However, the levels of antioxidants can easily be depleted if the body is under too much of a burden. This is why it is important to replenish the body with antioxidants through foods or supplements.

Glutathione is often referred to as “the mother of all antioxidants”. It is the greatest free radical fighter and has the ability to promote the detoxification process in the body. It is also vital in fighting against mental illnesses and various neurological disorders. Glutathione helps to regenerate and maintain immune cells. It guards the body against oxidative stress and acts as a trap to anything harmful in the body.

Poor diets can lead to a depletion in glutathione. Many of the foods available today are made to taste good but may not necessarily provide the nutritional needs the body requires. Constant consumption of toxins, chemicals, and preservatives causes the body to go into a toxin overload.

Immense amounts of stress, chronic illnesses, or aging can cause the levels of glutathione to plummet. Natural sources of glutathione can be found in sulfur-rich foods. The main easily attainable sources would be onions, garlic, broccoli, kale, collard greens, cauliflower, and cabbage. The reason it is found in sulfur-rich foods is because sulfur has sticky and smelly properties. It essentially traps free radicals, toxins, and heavy metals. This reduces the amount of stress on the body.

Exercise has also been found to boost levels as well. This has a direct effect on boosting the immune system and activating the body’s natural antioxidants defenses. Finally, glutathione can be bought in a capsule form or a liposomal form. “Thorne Research” has it in the capsule form and “Readisorb” has it available in the liposomal form.



The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

As the end of the semester approaches, a lot of students tend to rely on things like coffee and pulling all-nighters in order to get their work done. Many have trouble sleeping or getting enough restorative sleep as they tend to be so stressed out. As a result, they turn to sleep medications. However, these sleep medications can leave the body feeling more drained and tired. Most importantly, they can mess with mental clarity and focus. That is the last thing anyone wants before an exam.

The body relies heavily on sleep in order to restore itself and prepare itself for each day. Sleep is the one chance the body gets to “shut down” and focus on itself. Naturally, there are many dangers of sleep deprivation. The risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, or diabetes increases. Not enough sleep also leads to irritability, learning impairments, anxiety, and depression.

The number one tip given out to students is usually “manage your time so you can get enough sleep”. However, that is not always possible as each student has many other different commitments besides school. The good news is that there are natural options available. Many students have heard of melatonin. However, taking melatonin can increase the amount of REM sleep every night. The deep REM sleep can lead to very vivid and lucid dreams which do bother some individuals. That being said, there are other options available.

There are other supplements that typically do not cause the same kind of lucid dreams. Kavinace is a company that offers around four different products that are sleep aids. The original formula blends ingredients, like vitamin B6 and taurine, that help promote the synthesis and activity of GABA. GABA is a neurotransmitter in our brain that is very important for sleep. It calms the body down and helps to manage stress. However, stress can alter the activity of GABA which is why a boost from supplements is sometimes needed.

Melatonin, 5-HTP, magnesium, and theanine are the other supplements that can help promote sleep during stressful times. Taking time to listen to calm ambient music, taking an Epsom salt bath, or drinking an herbal tea can also help calm the nervous system down enough to drift off to sleep.

As always, it is important to do research and make sure that any of these supplements do not have interactions with medications.



The Pillars of Brain Health

Caring for the brain is extremely important as it is the most important organ in our lives. It regulates our quality of life and a healthy brain can ensure personal wellness. There are around six main pillars of caring for brain health. Those six pillars include physical exercise, nutrition, medical health, sleep and relaxation, mental fitness, and social interaction.

Physical exercise can help with maintaining a healthy weight, keeping bones and the brain healthy, and reduce the risk of heart disease or cancer. It is important to note that some exercise is better than no exercise. Regular exercise can generate brain cell growth and make vital changes to the brain. It has been found that regular exercise can boost the size of the hippocampus. This is extremely important as the hippocampus is involved in verbal memory, learning, and thinking. Ultimately, exercise plays a role in the health of brain cells, the production of new blood vessels in the brain, and maintains optimal health of current brain cells.

Nutrition also plays a vital role in brain health. Some research supports the Mediterranean diet as it is rich in whole grains, greens, fish, healthy fats, and nuts. All of those foods can keep the brain healthy and reduce the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease. It has also been found that foods high in saturated fats (red meat, butter, and other dairy products) can cause the development of neurodegenerative diseases to progress further. As always, fruits and veggies are extremely important for a healthy body. Leafy green vegetables and berries are exceptionally rich in brain health nutrients as they can slow down aging. Dark chocolate can increase the blood flow to the brain and decrease inflammation. Spices like ginger and turmeric can also decrease potentially harmful inflammation in the brain.

It is always important to get an annual checkup done in order to ensure that there are no imminent risks. Following the other 5 pillars of brain health can help keep blood pressure and body weight at a normal and healthy level. It is important to take supplements or medications as prescribed, cut down on things like processed food and sugar, and to stay active.

Cutting down stress leads to more sleep and relaxation. A healthy amount of sleep and relaxation cuts down the risk of depression, sharpens memory, manages stress, and allows the brain to stay in tip-top shape. It can be hard to destress, but it is important to think positively and allow events to unfold naturally instead of reliving it twice and being consumed with anxiety. It can also help to focus on the specific problem at hand.

Mental fitness can be improved by studying or learning a new hobby or task as it can fight mental decline. Listening to music while working out, playing an instrument, or finding some form of art that is appealing can improve mental fitness. Crossword puzzles, chess, card games, or online brain games can also help maintain a quick reaction time and it can improve the ability to solve problems

Finally, social interaction has many benefits. It is a source of support, can combat depression, cut down stress, and slow down age-related cognitive impairment. Pets can also provide the benefits of social interaction as they boost immunity, keep us active, calm us, and improve our social lives.



The Benefits of Natural Skincare

The spotlight has recently been on natural skincare and the benefits of using all-natural ingredients on the body. There are many benefits as a lot of the skincare products on the market that sometimes contain harsh and toxic ingredients. To put this in perspective, women put an average of 150-200 chemicals on their body every day. Men tend to put on around 85 chemicals on their bodies.

It is important to understand that some of what is put on your skin, lips, and around the eyes can pass through the skin and enter the body. This can put unnecessary stress on the natural detoxification systems in the body. Parabens, triclosan, oxybenzone, talc, petrochemicals, and phthalates have all been found to be endocrine disruptors and may affect the normal function of the thyroid. This can affect hormone production, may contribute to developmental and reproductive toxins, may affect fertility, worsen allergies, and contribute to metabolic disorders.

Skincare products made from natural ingredients can clear breakouts, protect from sun damage, soothe irritations, and even ease conditions like eczema. A lot of natural ingredients have antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties that can do the exact same thing chemicals can but without the damage. They are gentle and can protect against adverse reactions.

Another benefit is that natural skincare is actually better for the environment. Normal beauty products require tons of mining for lead, aluminum, and petroleum. These ingredients all harm wildlife and are not any better for our health as these materials have been linked to things like breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

A few well-known organic or natural brands include Acure Organics, Nardo’s Natural, and Avalon Organics. As always, it is important to do a patch test to ensure that an allergic reaction does not occur.



The Role of the Gut Microbiome in Optimal Health

The microbiome is extremely important for optimal health as it has been found that the microbiome plays a crucial role in either health or disease. The body is home to trillions of microorganisms. These microorganisms include bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi. These trillions of microbes can coexist happily in a healthy person and ensure that everything in the body is functioning normally. However, problems start to arise when chaos erupts in the microbiome. Most of the microbes in the microbiome have a symbiotic relationship with the body but some of them also can be pathogenic and promote disease. As with everything, balance is key. The body remains healthy as long as there is a balance, but the balance can be broken by anything. The most common disturbances include infectious illnesses, excessive use of antibiotics, insomnia, and some diets.

Steps can be taken to ensure that the body remains at homeostasis and there is a balance of microbes in the body. Supplements that promote gastrointestinal health can also be used. It is especially important to replenish good bacteria when on antibiotics. Some recommended brands include Terry Naturally, DaVinci Labs, Life Extension, and Designs for Health. It is also important to eat a diverse range of foods so that the body receives the nutrients it needs. A diverse range of food can lead to a diverse microbiome which can enhance health. Eating fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, and yogurt can provide the body with probiotics and help it reduce the number of disease-causing bacteria in the body. It has also been found that artificial sweeteners can raise blood sugars and then have a negative effect on the gut. Finally, eating foods rich in polyphenols can reduce the effects of oxidative stress and inflammation on the body. This leads to the gut effectively breaking down the polyphenols and providing a boost to the microbiome.

It is also important to note that every person has their own unique microbiome. The microbiome is determined by DNA and can be influenced by a number of factors. This also means that not every product will work the same in every body so it is important to listen to your body and recognize what is helping and what is causing harm.



A Natural Approach: Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurvedic medicine originated in India but has become increasingly popular in the United States. The beauty of Ayurvedic medicine is that it aims to heal the whole body of all ailments by creating harmony between the mind, body, and spirit. It emphasizes the importance of preventing diseases through lifestyle choices. Ayurveda medicine aims to internally purify the body and then maintain that level of purification through lifestyle changes. It stresses the importance of maintaining health and wellness through practices like yoga, meditation, massage, and dietary changes.

Ayurveda states that there are five elements found in nature (air, space, fire, water, and earth). Vatta is represented by air and space. It controls the nervous system and hence has an effect on anxiety, fear, and pain. It also controls muscles, joints, and nerves. Pitta is represented by fire and water. It has control of certain emotions like anger, jealousy, and hate. Pitta controls other bodily functions like digestion, metabolism, and intelligence. Kapha is represented by earth and water. It governs the physical attributes of each body and the immune system.

Moving onto the lifestyle practices, yoga can be extremely beneficial for the mind and body. Physical benefits include increased flexibility, energy, muscle tone, cardiovascular health, and athletic performance. Mental benefits include relieving stress and improving concentration. Meditation benefits include reducing stress, controlling anxiety, promoting mental health, enhancing self-awareness, lengthening attention span, sharpen memory, improve sleep, help control pain, and improve mood. Finally, massages can help with stress, anxiety, digestive disorders, headaches, sleep, and improve circulation.  

Banyan Botanicals is one reputable brand that prides itself on being sustainably sourced as they use fairly traded herbs. Just like with anything else, it is important to exercise caution when using Ayurvedic herbs as it is possible that they can react with prescription medications or have adverse effects. However, Ayurvedic practices like yoga and meditation are safe practices that can be implemented into a healthy lifestyle. It has also been found that Ayurvedic medicine can have the best results when it is combined with standard conventional treatment.



Plant-Based Protein

The number of vegetarians and vegans in the United States has risen over the past 10 years. A considerable amount of people also try to go vegetarian or vegan for a little. This is also another reason that plant-based proteins and nut milks have been in the spotlight. This post will go over some benefits of plant-based proteins, some recipes for protein shakes, and the different kinds of plant protein.

Plant-based protein usually has a lot of fiber, tends to have fewer allergens, has alkalizing properties, provides minerals and vitamins, and is lower in calories.

Here are some links for different plant-based protein shakes:

The most common kinds of plant proteins come from peas, lentils, hemp seeds, soy, chia seeds, brown rice, and pumpkin seeds. All of the plant-based proteins have their own benefits.

Pea protein powder is rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), can lower blood pressure, and help with muscle building. Lentils help burn fat and are generally are a great source of fiber, so they are easy to digest. Hemp seed protein powder has a relatively high protein content and is not too high in calories. It is high in zinc, fiber, and alpha-linolenic acid. Soy is a good source of protein and branched-chain amino acids. However, it is important to avoid genetically modified soy. Chia seed protein powder is low in calories but has a moderate amount of protein and quite a bit of dietary fiber. Brown rice protein powder is usually cheaper, hypoallergenic, and has a good amount of branched-chain amino acids. Finally, pumpkin seed protein powder is a good source of protein but low in fat. It is also rich in a lot of vitamins and minerals.

Some recommended brands are SunWarrior, Nutiva, and Garden of Life.



Neuroscience: Neuroplasticity

The word “neuroplasticity” means that the brain can reorganize or repair itself by forming neural connections throughout our lives. Neuroplasticity is a prime example of the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Due to neuroplasticity, the brain is very resilient and has the ability to function properly even after it has been affected by a disease or injury.

There are a few ways to increase neuroplasticity and heal or protect the brain. It has been proven that even just thirty minutes of mild exercise (cycling or walking) can lead to a rise in neurochemicals which then encourages the development of new brain cells and new neural connections. Meditation can also incite neuroplasticity as it is “exercise” for the brain. It trains the brain to rest and relax and can even encourage stronger neural connections in certain parts of the brain. This is also why meditating has the ability to boost memory, increase attention spans, and improve decision-making.

Food choices also have the ability to affect neuroplasticity. The brain needs nutrients to create, preserve, and protect brain cells. Those nutrients also help with forming neurotransmitters and maintaining homeostasis on the body. It has been found that the flavonoids in dark chocolate and the polyphenols found in berries can encourage brain health. Furthermore, it has been found that blueberries specifically have the capability to increase blood flow to the brain. That can improve cerebral circulation which can prevent neurodegenerative disorders. Blueberries can also enhance brain activation which can combat the negative effects of oxidative stress. Memory tends to be better and cognition improves.

Brain games recently have gained a lot of attention as well. It is important to note that many of these well-known games have not gone through controlled trials. However, BrainHQ is one of the games that did go through a controlled trial. The results showed chances of increasing brain plasticity.

Other suggestions to improve neuroplasticity include reading books, getting quality sleep, and reducing stress. Essentially, the brain can regenerate itself due to neuroplasticity, but things can also be done in order to encourage it.



The Nutritional Needs of a Young Adult

It is often very easy to get caught up in our daily stresses of school and work. Many of us put our health on the back burner and look for easier, usually unhealthier, dinner options while neglecting our nutritional needs. This post will go over some of the nutrients every young adult needs on a daily basis and ways to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into our busy lives.

The 10 main essential vitamins include:

  • Vitamin A
    • Vitamin A has the ability to protect the eyes, support the immune system, reduce the likelihood of acne, support healthy bones, and promote healthy growth.
  • B Vitamins
    • The benefits of B vitamins are numerous. They ensure that nerves stay healthy, protect the brain and immune system, combat everyday stress, and boost energy.
  • Vitamin C
    • Vitamin C is known as the vitamin that boosts the immune system. However, it also is essential for excellent cardiovascular health.
  • Vitamin D
    • Vitamin D is extremely beneficial for the body. A majority of young adults have a deficiency in Vitamin D. It can lower inflammatory markers in the body, prevent certain psychiatric diseases, help with autoimmune disorders, and help with insulin resistance in diabetic individuals.
  • Vitamin E
    • Vitamin E helps the immune system, brain, skin, vision, and reproduction systems in the body. It has vital antioxidant properties. Antioxidants essentially counteract the negative effects of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are created by stress and can cause long-term damage to the body.
  • Vitamin K
    • Vitamin K is extremely important because it plays a role in healthy blood clotting. It helps produce four of the thirteen proteins needed for clotting.
  • Magnesium
    • Magnesium can help calm the nervous system and encourage deep sleep. It also can help alleviate anxiety symptoms and keep the brain healthy.
  • Calcium
    • Calcium is needed for strong bones. The heart also needs satisfactory amounts of calcium in order to function properly.
  • Zinc
    • Zinc is particularly great for the immune system. It encourages proper wound healing and can provide a shorten the span of a cold.
  • Iron
    • Iron plays a huge role in the production of red blood cells. It carries oxygenated blood to the brain and can help with neurotransmitter synthesis.

Figuring out a morning routine can help ensure that vitamins are taken every day. Meal prepping on the weekends can also help with keeping away from unhealthy foods throughout the week. It is also important to find a way to stay active. It can be as simple as dancing in your room for thirty minutes, walking around campus for a set time, finding an at-home workout to follow, or doing some simple yoga poses to stretch your body.

As always, it is crucial to find reputable brands for supplements. It is important to avoid brands that add fillers, dyes, or preservatives. Some recommendations for supplement brands are Douglas Laboratories, Standard Process, and Life Extension.



Medicinal Mushrooms

Mushrooms usually are known as a vegetable that is added to dishes to make them tastier. Interestingly, there are many different types of mushrooms and each one has a variety of benefits for the body. The most talked about mushrooms are Reishi Mushroom, Lion’s Mane, Maitake, Cordyceps, and Chaga. This article will break down the benefits of each and the ways each one can be consumed.

Reishi mushrooms are known to help increase longevity, have anti-cancer properties, can help restore the liver, enhance the immune system, and improve mood. This specific mushroom is also known for the neuroprotective properties it has. Intriguingly, it can protect the brain from neurodegenerative diseases and has properties that increases the nerve growth factor in the brain. The nerve growth factor in the brain is extremely vital for healthy neurological function and controls the way neurons develop and survive. It can be consumed as a supplement or as a tea. It also might be easier to consume it as a latte (Reishi Chocolate Latte).

Lion’s Mane is known as the “mushroom for the brain”. It improves memory and focus, can reduce depression and anxiety, can stop or reverse damage caused to the brain from neurodegenerative diseases, and significantly lower inflammation. Lion’s Mane can also be consumed as a tea, supplement, or a latte (Lion’s Mane Mushroom Matcha Latte).

Maitake is especially beneficial for immunocompromised individuals or with individuals that have sugar resistance problems.  These mushrooms can be roasted and added to soups or be eaten with rice.

Cordyceps can help boost endurance during exercise, prevent the effects aging can have on the brain, fight insulin resistance problems, protect cells from cancer, and can even help with viral infections like strep throat. Like the others, Cordyceps can be consumed as a supplement, tea, smoothie (Cacao Cordyceps Smoothie), or a latte (Cinnamon Vanilla Cordyceps Latte).

Chaga stimulates and regulates the immune system, reduces inflammations, helps with gastritis, normalizes blood pressure, prevents aging, and improves the skin. Chaga can also be consumed in the same way as the others. The most common way to consume it is to drink it as a tea or make it into an elixir so that it is tastier (Spiced Chocolate-Chaga Elixir).

It is extremely important to buy medicinal mushrooms from reputable and certified suppliers. This is because mushrooms tend to mimic the qualities of a sponge. They absorb whatever they are grown in. This means that they can easily absorb toxins and be high in pollutants or heavy metals. Fungi Perfecti is one of the brands that strives to make high-quality supplements. They make various products that provide immune system support, respiratory support, brain and nerve health, heart health, energy levels, and help in aiding stress responses.



Preventing or Treating a Cold by Giving the Immune System a Boost

The flu season is quickly approaching. The good news is that there are many ways that you can help your body out during this season.

  • Sleeping is the best way to heal and repair the body. Many studies have concluded that not enough sleep can compromise the immune system. This can lead to being more susceptible to viruses and bacteria. Lack of sleep can also prevent the body from healing quickly.
  • Hydration
    • Lots of water and tea can ease a sore throat or loosen the congestion.
    • Note: It is important to avoid sugary drinks.
    • Matcha is another option and is excellent for the immune system.
      • Matcha is extremely high in antioxidants and EGCGs. It can help your body produce more T-Cells and fight off viruses more efficiently.
      • Matcha also has a naturally high chlorophyll content. Chlorophyll detoxifies the body and gets rid of any chemicals, toxins, and heavy metals. This ensures that the immune system can focus on fighting off pathogens instead.
      • Matcha has the ability to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation in the body.
      • A recipe for Matcha Ginger Immunity Tea:
        • 1 Teaspoon Matcha Powder
        • 1 Tablespoon Grated Ginger
        • 1 Tablespoon Honey
        • Hot Water or Nut Milk
        • Optional: ½ Lime
  • Try drinking your nutrients by having something like bone broth.
    • It is easy to digest and the vitamins and minerals in it help boost the immune system.
    • More information about the benefits of bone broth.
  • Vitamins for the Immune System
    • Vitamin C
      • Vitamin C helps to strengthen the immune system.
    • Vitamin E
      • An antioxidant that aids the body in fighting infection.
    • Vitamin D
      • A deficiency in Vitamin D can lead to the body being more susceptible to infections.
    • Probiotics
      • Probiotics add good bacteria to the gut and this is crucial because gut bacteria helps to regulate the immune system.
    • Turmeric
      • Turmeric enhances antibody responses in the body.
  • Sauna or Steaming or Sinus Rinses
    • These three options can help flush out the sinus cavities from any allergens or bacteria.
  • Invest in a Humidifier
    • Humidifiers take care of dry indoor air and can ease sinus related problems. Moisture in the air makes it easier to breathe when congested.
  • Essential Oils
    • Eucalyptus, peppermint, and spearmint essential oils are the best for congestion-related sinus headaches.
  • Shower Melts” can also help with congestion and are easy to make.

All of these remedies can help take some stress off of the body and help with getting back to optimal health.



Benefits of Having a Pet and How to Care for Them Properly

There’s no denying that having a pet can be a lot of work. Pets can be very time consuming but the benefits of having one are endless. Dogs are often referred to as “man’s best friend,” and there are many justifiable reasons for this.

Dogs provide companionship, can help with anxiety, relieve stress, make their owners more social, lower blood pressure, and even lower the risk of heart disease in their owners. Intriguingly, a study concluded that there was a correlation between cardiovascular health and dog owners. Dog owners had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases. This conclusion was still found to be true even after accounting for various factors (smoking, socioeconomic status, and body mass index).

Pets can do so much for us but how can we ensure that we are treating them in the best possible way? A lot of “premium” dog food on the market is full of ingredients that furry friends do not need. Many people are not aware that pet food is made up of the waste products from food that is made for human consumption. Pet food advertisements will make it look like the pet is getting top of the line chicken in their food. The truth is that there is barely any chicken in it. It is essentially just what was left over from manufacturers for human consumption. These “premium” pet foods also often consist of corn and soy as their main ingredients. Corn and soy are sprayed heavily with toxic pesticides and a lot of it is genetically modified. Many of us have realized that humans should avoid those two genetically modified ingredients so shouldn’t they also be removed from the diet of our pets? Eating these ingredients may potentially lead to chronic health problems in, pets but it is preventable.

Conscientious pet owners should do their research before buying food for their pets. The internet is a great resource, but a veterinarian can also usually suggest the best pet food options. Many pets will face various ailments throughout their lives and companies like Pet Wellbeing offer gentle and natural options to help with those minor symptoms. It is important to take care of our pets properly. It is our job to ensure that they get the proper nutrition that they need.



Neuroscience: The Mind-Body Connection

I recently read the book “Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself”. The book emphasizes the importance of the mind-body connection. It is said that the mind is a powerful thing, it can play tricks on us, but it can also help us heal ourselves in an essentially natural and more sustainable way.

Thoughts can most definitely affect the body and the book highlights how thoughts can manifest into a reality. The neuroscience explanation for this would be that thoughts have a direct impact on the neurotransmitters in the brain. For example, a state of chronic stress usually leads to negative thoughts. Those thoughts and the state of chronic stress reduces serotonin and increases the hormonal levels of cortisol in the body. Naturally, neurotransmitter depletion and hormonal imbalances have a negative influence on the body. Stress can also deplete the natural killer cells in the body, leading to a decrease in immune system function, which can contribute to chronic illnesses. This sounds overwhelming, but there are ways to conquer the mind and prevent the negative effects it can have on the body.

Conventional medicine often diminishes the fact that the mind-body connection is very powerful. Little things are overlooked and missed. Not enough time is spent with patients to realize that other natural approaches can be integrated along with medication. This approach would ensure that the body does not get dependent solely on the medication and that the ease in symptoms is more long-term. As mentioned in the “Neuroscience: The Mind-Gut Connection” post, the gut will always tell the mind when something is wrong or imbalanced in the body. I do believe that allopathic medicine is a wonderful thing, but I also think it can cause serious side effects or other problems if it is not necessary.

The body is a miraculous thing that often has the ability to heal itself naturally with a little bit of help. Practices like concentration meditation, heart-centered meditation, mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation, Tai Chi, yoga, visualization, positive thinking, acupuncture, reflexology, and massage therapy can help restore the body. These practices can also help the body respond better to allopathic treatments. In essence, taking care of the mind will help with taking care of the body and vice versa.



Kicking off the Semester Right

Classes have started again, and things have already started to get hectic for a lot of us. It is extremely important to start off the semester right so this post will go over some tips in order to ensure a successful semester.

  • Try to sleep a little earlier and wake up earlier.
    • Apps like Sleep Cycle can help make waking up a little easier.
      • The Sleep Cycle app monitors your sleep cycle and wakes you up when you are in the lightest sleep phase. This ensures that you wake up feeling refreshed. It can tell when you are awake, sleeping, or in deep sleep. It can also detect if you snore and will notify you in the morning.
      • Establish a morning routine that works for you.
    • Drink at least 8 ounces of water.
    • Try to plan out your outfit the night before so that time is saved in the morning.
  • Find a light workout routine, do some simple stretches, meditate, or go to a sauna.
  • Make a healthy and easy breakfast.
    • There are a lot of easy recipes on Pinterest.
      • Smoothies can be a very easy way to get nutrients in. It is even easier if you cut up your favorite fruits or veggies and freeze them in baggies ahead of time. This saves time and effort in the morning. All you have to do is add water, milk, or a nut milk.
    • Make a to-do list or write a journal post.
      • Can write this on an agenda, on a calendar whiteboard, or on an app like the 5 Minute Journal.
    • Take your vitamins.
      • It is important to make sure that you are taking your vitamins from a reputable brand. Many brands will add preservatives and many extra ingredients that are not needed.
      • Organize your supplies and write down the important dates for each class.
      • Use one notebook for lectures. This notebook can be messy and all over the place. Use another notebook to neatly write notes out and work out practice problems after class.
        • This makes it easier to study when it comes time for exams and also ensures that you have seen the material more than once. The retention of the information will be even higher if this is done within a few hours of class.
      • Utilize tutoring sessions and office hours.
      • Make a friend in every class in case you have to miss a day.






Healing the Body Naturally

It’s true that our lives have become a rat’s race. There’s constantly something to do and we do it all but that can result in our mind and bodies becoming overwhelmed. Finding a balance in life can be hard but it is most definitely achievable. Taking care of our mind and bodies should be a top priority since it can hinder all of our other goals in life.

Establishing a morning and nighttime routine can be extremely beneficial. A set routine is important for the mind and body. The body will slowly get used to the bedtime routine and will start to unwind because it will recognize that it is time to sleep. The nervous system will slowly start to calm down and that can ensure a good night’s sleep.

Examples of things that can be added to a morning routine:

  • Stretching
  • Showering
  • Meditating
  • Drinking Lemon Water
    • Lemon water has many benefits including hydration, providing a dose of Vitamin C, clearing skin, and aids in digestion.
  • Taking supplements or medications
  • Eating a healthy and nutritious breakfast
  • Listening to upbeat music to start the day off on a right note

Example of things that can be added to a nighttime routine:

  • Meditation
  • Taking a bath
  • Bedtime Yoga
  • Reading a book
  • Journal/Brain Dump
  • Making a cup of Tea
  • Listening to relaxing music
  • No electronics before bedtime
    • The blue light in phones and laptops causes a surge of cortisol in the body. Cortisol depletes and inhibits the production of melatonin. A loss of melatonin messes with the sleep/wake cycle of the body.
  • Turning on an essential oil diffuser
  • Setting out clothes for the next day
  • Writing a To-Do list for the following day
  • Deep Breathing
    • 4-7-8 Breathing Technique. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds.

There are other ways to relax and take care of the body too. As pointed out in the last post, listening to your gut is super important as the body will tell you what it needs. It’ll guide you in the right direction. Lots of sleep, engaging in a hobby, getting away for the weekend, catching up on chores, cleaning the space around you, and exercising can all help an individual reset. Sleep will help the body recharge, engaging in a hobby will help distract the mind, and exercise will give the body a boost of endorphins.

It is crucial to take care of the body and the mind.  Helping it out as much as possible is the key to preventing illnesses.

Neuroscience: The Mind-Gut Connection

The correlation between the gut and brain has recently been brought into the spotlight. It has been found that there is a direct communication system between the gut and brain known as the gut-brain axis. The gut-brain axis consists of the central and enteric nervous systems and links the emotional and cognitive parts of the brain to peripheral intestinal functions. There are around 100 billion neurons in the brain and around 500 million neurons in the gut. Those 500 million neurons in the gut are connected to the brain and this is noteworthy because neurons are responsible for conveying information throughout the body.

This is also why it has been found that the gut-brain connection can contribute to anxiety and many digestion problems. Emotions like sadness, happiness, and anxiousness can elicit symptoms in the gut. There are many feelings and expressions that also allude to this like feeling nauseous, having a gut-wrenching/gut feeling, or having butterflies in your stomach. These expressions have some truth behind them as there is a direct connection between the brain and the gut. Our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode as soon as a fear of danger is perceived, and the enteric nervous system responds by slowing down or stopping digestion to conserve energy.  The gut is also known as the “second brain” since the gut sends signals to the brain. This is what allows us to make decisions based off of our gut. It also means that nervousness and anger can cause our bodies to produce unwanted symptoms like heart palpitations or stomach problems.

There are trillions of microbes in our bodies. These microbes make up our microbiome. A microbiome is an ecosystem of bacteria that helps out the cells in our body. A lot of these microbes are in our gut and help to balance blood sugar, absorb nutrients, combat inflammation, aid in digestion, and control the immune system. Gut health has a direct effect on the brain, so this also means that things like probiotics can have an effect on memory. The good bacteria in the gut produce a bulk of the neurotransmitters in the body and those neurotransmitters send signals to the rest of the body. Naturally, that can have an effect on brain health.


Caring for the Body with Carotenoids

Carotenoids have been researched for a while now and are known for their incredible benefits. Carotenoids are essentially the pigments that give foods their color. For example, they give sweet potatoes their orange color and blueberries their bright blue color.

Dietary carotenoids are known to protect the body against cancer. They are thought to be very beneficial because of their ability to function as antioxidants in the body. The most well-known carotenoids are beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and astaxanthin.

Beta-Carotene is known as a carotenoid that has the ability to be converted to vitamin A in non-toxic doses. This is great news since a supplement of vitamin A usually gives the body more vitamin A than it can handle and can damage the liver. Since beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A, it has the same benefits of vitamin A. These benefits include the ability to protect the brain from cognitive decline, keep the eyes and lungs healthy, and replenish the antioxidants in the body. Some natural sources of beta-carotene are apricots, broccoli, asparagus, kale, spinach, peppers, carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes.

Lycopene is an antioxidant in fruits that are red or pink. It is one of the most powerful antioxidants, has numerous benefits for the skin, helps prevent cancer, helps keep the eyes and heart healthy, is beneficial for the brain, can lessen neuropathic pain, and can lessen oxidative stress in our bones. Some natural sources of lycopene include tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, asparagus, red cabbage, grapefruit, guava, and mango.

Lutein is an antioxidant found in the eye and can be found in yellow or orange foods. It helps protect the eyes against macular degeneration and cataracts. Natural sources of lycopene include mangoes, corn, sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, squash, collards, and bok choy.

Astaxanthin is a dark red color and can support the muscles, nerves, skin, and eye health. It can also protect the brain, digestive system, and can support exercise recovery. Astaxanthin can protect the nervous and immune system from oxidative stress. It is seven times stronger than vitamin E and suppresses DNA damage. It is also different from the other carotenoids because astaxanthin is primarily found only in seafood. Common sources include krill, shrimp, crab, lobster, crawfish, and salmon.

Overall, carotenoids are very beneficial in protecting the body against oxidative stress. It is very important to keep the levels in the body balanced since a decrease in antioxidants and an increase in free radicals is a critical factor of the pathogenic processes to chronic illnesses.


Ashwagandha for Anxiety

Ashwagandha is a herb that is native to India. It has been used for many years in order to reduce the effects of stress on the body. It encourages a healthy stress response and can also help with anxiety, adrenal fatigue, inflammation, thyroid problems, and joint pain.

Anxiety and panic attacks cause the brain to release stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol continuously. Naturally, this can lead to headaches, dizziness, and a strain on the central nervous system.

Ashwagandha helps because it has very powerful protective effects on the nervous system and can prevent neural damage. Preventing neural damage is crucial for protecting the brain and nervous system against neurodegenerative diseases. The stress, environmental toxins, and lack of healthy food that we are constantly exposed to impacts our nervous system. Since ashwagandha can protect brain cells, it has the ability to be used as a tranquilizer or antidepressant. It can protect individuals exposed to chronic stress or chronic nervous tension.

Ashwagandha creates a “stress-response modifier” which is also known as an adaptogen. Adaptogens help manage the hormones in the body and the response to tension. Adaptogens are essentially a group of herbs that improve the health of the adrenal system by enhancing the body’s capability to cope with stresses and anxiety. They prevent the body from being in a constant fight-or-flight mode. They normalize the hormonal imbalances in the body and they create a more stable source of energy for the cells in our body.

As mentioned earlier, ashwagandha can help with inflammation in the body by regulating inflammatory factors in the immune system. A common misunderstanding is that all inflammation is harmful to the body. The truth is that the immune system uses inflammation in order to protect and heal cells from injury. However, an excess of inflammation can have adverse effects on the body, so it is important to manage the amount of inflammation in the body. Helping with inflammation can also help ease joint pain and mobility problems.

Ashwagandha can help with hormonal imbalances so it also naturally affects thyroid health. It contains antioxidants that encourage thyroid activity and shield hepatic tissue from impairment. Ashwagandha has a direct effect on the adrenal glands and HPA axis in our bodies. This means that it can prevent the aches and pains that are associated with adrenal fatigue.

Lastly, sleep can help the body recover in miraculous ways. It can calm the mind and body down and allow cells to repair. Ashwagandha, GABA, and melatonin supplements can all naturally support the body to ensure that it self-repairs.





Neuroscience: Rewiring the Brain with Meditation

Meditation has the ability to rewire the brain as mindfulness-based practices can help encourage neuroplasticity in the brain. Neuroplasticity essentially emphasizes the fact that the brain is also a muscle that can be strengthened and improved throughout our lives.

In addition to the ability to affect neuroplasticity, it can also increase the amount of gray matter in the brain. The tissue in the brain is made up of gray matter and white matter. Gray matter controls memory, speech, impulsiveness, decision-making, and emotions. A loss in gray matter can also lead to numerous illnesses like psychosis or schizophrenia. The amount of gray matter also naturally decreases as the brain ages. The brain shrinks as an individual gets older but it can be retrained and the good news is that the damage usually can be reversed with care. Meditation can prevent gray matter losses associated with aging and can protect the maturing brain.

Meditation enhances brain activity and promotes new growth of neural pathways in the brain. It can rewire the prefrontal cortex which plays a significant role in mindfulness and self-awareness. The prefrontal cortex helps with cognitive behavior, decision-making, and expression of emotions. It has the capability to control thoughts and actions. This can bring significant improvements in the ability to concentrate and memorize so it can dramatically increase the amount of work an individual can do.

Like mentioned earlier, meditation can literally change the structure of the brain. It can increase the volume of the brain in certain parts and the biggest increase is usually found in the hippocampus. The hippocampus primarily controls memory and learning. It promotes faster learning, creativity, and better focus. Naturally, that means that meditation can enhance performance at work and in school. It can also decrease the volume in certain parts as it has the power to shrink the amygdala. The amygdala is known as the reptilian part of the brain and is responsible for stress, anxiety, and fear. A smaller amygdala means that symptoms of PTSD, stress, and trauma can be reduced. The brain can feel calmer, balanced, and happier. All of these benefits can significantly reduce depression and anxiety symptoms.

Other benefits include:

  • An increase in immunity
  • A decrease in inflammation
  • A decrease in pain
  • A decrease in loneliness

There are numerous ways to combat the amount of stress placed on the brain every single day. It is important to remember that the brain shrinks with age but can be strengthened with mindfulness-based practices like meditation. These practices can significantly help heal and support the brain.




Combatting Stress in an Effective Way

With school starting up again, it is common to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. However, there are ways to tackle that feeling to remain calmer and in charge of our lives. While the usual suggestions have to do with eating right, sleeping well, and working ahead in classes, the shape of our environment is often overlooked. Our environments tend to be reflections of how we feel inside, so when our environments become disorganized and messy, we start to feel burdened and burnt out. Having a clean environment to work in can boost productivity and reduce anxiety about upcoming deadlines. 

The first step would be to clear surfaces, put items in their designated places, and dust/disinfect commonly touched areas. Things like doing a load of laundry, putting on clean bed sheets, or taking out the trash can be done next. Little things like diffusing essential oils (peppermint, spearmint, or lavender) or burning non-toxic candles can help freshen up the air. More specifically, according to a recent study, peppermint essential oil has been shown to improve the outcomes on tasks related to attentional processes, recognition, and working memory. This can prove to be extremely beneficial when studying for exams or preparing for presentations. Oils can also be mixed in order to boost their effects and combat the negative effects of stress. Here are a few ideas: 

·      Calming Diffuser Blends for Stress

·      5 Essential Diffuser Blends for Stress

After cleaning up our surroundings, it can be worthwhile to do a “brain-dump” and prioritize remaining tasks that need to be done. It can be soothing to visually look at what is taking up space in our brains and allows us to slowly tackle any daunting tasks. Best of luck with the semester!