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

Resources: 

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321627.php#how-to-take-an-epsom-salt-detox-bath

Detoxing

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. 

Resources:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-detox-your-body#section2

https://www.verywellfit.com/how-many-pedometer-steps-per-day-are-enough-3432827

https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-and-human-body?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects

https://www.verywellfit.com/how-many-pedometer-steps-per-day-are-enough-3432827

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. 

Resources:

https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/6170-be-more-mindful-7-tips-to-improve-your-awareness

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!

Resources:

https://www.fnu.edu/benefits-studying-music/

https://www.youthcentral.vic.gov.au/study-and-training/help-with-study/how-to-study-better/top-10-study-tips

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. 

Resources:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318168.php

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-vitamin-e/art-20364144

https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Vitamins-and-Minerals/What-you-need-to-know-about-Vitamin-E.aspx

Providing Proper Care for Your Furry Friends

With over 65 million households owning at least one pet in the United States, it is fair to say that pets have become an important part of our lives. Just like taking care of ourselves, siblings, and parents, pets also require frequent attention. If you want to learn more about pet care, keep reading to learn a few tips that will help to ensure that your pets are getting the best care possible. 

The first tip has to do with always making sure that pets are living in hygienic conditions. This helps to prevent any illnesses and guarantees that they are exposed to the best quality of life. Secondly, there should always be fresh water and nutritious food available. It is important to buy food that is made for the pet and to refrain from feeding them table food. Animals can’t always process table food as it is not made for them. Feeding them this can burden their organs. Thirdly, they should be getting enough exercise on a daily basis. It can be easy to skip out on exercise, but exercise will help them live a longer and healthier life. 

Moving on, it is important to make sure they are up to date on vaccinations and to schedule visits with their veterinarian. Regular visits to the veterinarian can help to catch any illnesses in the earliest stages. This could significantly improve their prognosis. Companies like Pet Wellbeing carry a variety of supplements for various ailments that can also help relieve any pesky symptoms your pet may be experiencing. 

All in all, taking care of pets is a lot like taking care of ourselves. They require the same basics (exercise, grooming, food, rest, etc.) in order to live a healthy life. Keeping an eye on your pet’s behavior can help with noticing inconsistencies and when they are not feeling their best. 

Resources:

https://www.petfoodindustry.com/articles/6938-north-american-pet-ownership-demographics

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)

Resources:

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/actions-prevent-flu.htm

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. 

Resources:

https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2017/11/blueberries-enhance-brain-blood-flow/page-01

https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2008/2/Maintaining-Youthful-Cognitive-Function-With-Blueberries/Page-01

https://www.lifeextension.com/newsletter/2017/3/trial-finds-blueberry-brain-benefit/page-01

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. 

Resources:

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/20-healthy-snacks-college-students

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.

Resources:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/foods-linked-to-better-brainpower

https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2018/ss/new-way-vitamin-d-protects-the-brain/page-01