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.