Gut Bacteria

Bacteria is everywhere. We are hyper-aware of the dangers of E. coli, Staphylococcus, Listeria, and Salmonella, so we try to make our world as healthy as possible by sanitizing and bleaching them away.

However, bacteria doesn’t only exist in the world around us; it’s inside of us all. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

From birth, every one of us will acquire more than 1000 unique species of bacteria in our gastrointestinal systems, or guts. We get our personal mix of gut bacteria from vaginal vs. caesarian section births; breast milk vs. formula; the bacteria on our family members and in our homes, schools, parks, etc.; and the foods we eat. Basically, we gather our gut bacteria from the world around us. Though most people share some of the same organisms, each one of us has a unique cocktail of gut bacteria that can work for and against our personal health throughout our lives. (1, 2)

The Good and the Bad

Our good bacteria is a wondrous thing. At its most basic function, bacteria aids in food digestion, produces vitamins B and K, and acts as a barrier in the immune system to boost health. (1, 3)

Ninety-five percent of the serotonin in our bodies is produced in the gut, keeping an open line of communication with the brain. Pain, anxiety, mood, hunger, and illness are among the things constantly communicated between brain and gut via serotonin. (4, 5)

Gut bacteria is also seen to have an impact on weight. Recent evidence has shown that the gut bacteria in people of a healthy weight is more varied than that of obese people. A study performed on mice shed a bit more light on the phenomenon: Gut bacteria from sets of human twins with one obese and one lean twin were given to baby mice. When the mice were in separate cages and eating the same diet, those with the obese twin’s bacteria gained more weight. However, when the mice were placed in a cage together, the obese mice began to lose weight as they ingested the lean mice’s feces and acquired their beneficial gut bacteria. (6)

Healthy Gut

The best way to have a healthy gut is to promote a wide variety of bacteria… but how?

Fiber. A great way to boost healthy bacteria in your gut is to eat foods with lots of fiber, which can be digested by certain gut bacteria, causing them to reproduce. High-fiber foods to include in your diet could include raspberries, bananas, pears, whole wheats, barley, bran, split peas, lentils, a variety of beans, artichokes, green peas, and turnip greens. (7) Bonus: Eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies can halt the growth of some bad bacteria. (8)

PRObiotics. Probiotics are the good guys! We can feed our guts the good bacteria through probiotic-rich foods as well as with over-the-counter supplements. Some probiotic-rich foods are kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt and other fermented dairy products, and pickles. (9)

PREbiotic Foods. Prebiotics are “selectively fermented” foods that can boost healthy gut bacteria. (10) Basically, prebiotics feed probiotics so that they can multiply in your gut. Some prebiotic foods are Jerusalem artichokes; dandelion greens; raw garlic, onion, and leeks; avocadoes; peas; and apple cider vinegar. (11)

Feed Your Bacteria. We’ve seen that certain foods, like fiber-rich foods and prebiotics, are better at promoting good bacteria because or bodies don’t digest them. But eating these foods, we are feeding the good bacteria in our guts. Alternatively, when we eat foods that are easily digested by our bodies, we are starving our gut bacteria and they need to find other things to eat… like the lining of our guts, which can lead to inflammation and discomfort. Foods to avoid include sugars, simple carbohydrates, and processed foods. (12)

 

References:

  1. http://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/about-gut-microbiota-info/
  2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-gut-bacteria-help-make-us-fat-and-thin/
  3. http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/news/20140820/your-gut-bacteria#1
  4. http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/health/digestive-system-health/
  5. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=5468
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3829625/
  7. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/high-fiber-foods/art-20050948
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26757793
  9. http://www.drperlmutter.com/learn/resources/probiotics-five-core-species/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17311983
  11. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-18746/18-prebiotic-rich-foods-for-a-gut-friendly-diet.html
  12. http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/ways-cultivate-good-gut-bacteria-reduce-depression/

Fascinating Fascia

A Google image search for “musculoskeletal system” will provide seemingly endless drawings of skeletons and pink muscles.

But what holds our muscles together? What connects them to each other, to organs, and to bones?

Picture an orange. When the skin is torn away, we see the white fibrous material that holds skin to flesh. We also see the segments of the orange are encased in a membrane-like sac and connected by the same white material. Furthermore, when we break open a segment, we see that it is comprised of many tiny sacs, all stuck together.

Like the orange, the muscles and organs in our bodies are both divided and connected by fascia. Fascia runs through us: a web of connective tissue beneath our skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and groups of muscles and organs. (1, 2)

 When our fascia isn’t healthy, we feel it throughout our bodies.

Chronic strain and pain in our muscles and nerves can be caused by unhealthy fascia. Injuries, stress, age, habitual movement patterns (such as poor posture), as well as over- and misuse of body structures and long periods of inactivity are just some of the factors leading to unhealthy fascia, which is dehydrated, glue-like, hard, and tight. Unhealthy fascia can feel stiff and can be the cause of chronic pain and tension. (2, 34)

 Healthy fascia feels GOOD.

Healthy fascia is hydrated, smooth and slippery, elastic and pliable. (4, 5) Healthy fascia is painless and fluid: no stiff muscles, no pinched nerves, no tension.

So, how do we keep our fascia healthy? Here are three simple things you can do:

Hydrate. It’s not only important to drink plenty of water, but also to get the water to your thirsty fascia. Try yoga, Pilates, a roller, or cardio to get your blood pumping!

Varied Movement. Yoga, Pilates, and cardio are also great because they offer a variety of movement. Repetitive movement strains fascia over time; it’s better to change it up as often as possible. If you use exercise machines, make sure to change tempo or weight from time to time and mix in some other activities such as barre or cycling. Also, make sure to give your fascia a rest from time to time.

Relax and De-stress. Massage, acupuncture, a walk in the park; anything that relieves stress and tension will promote healthy fascia. (6)

References:

  1. http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/fascia\
  2. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17936/understanding-fascia-what-it-is-why-you-should-care.html
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eva-norlyk-smith-phd/fascia_b_1207768.html
  4. http://structuralintegration.massagetherapy.com/what-is-fascia-and-how-does-it-work
  5. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4283/Metaphors-in-Motion-Freeing-the-Fascia.html
  6. http://mobilitymastery.com/how-diet-affects-fascia-3-best-foods-for-healthy-connective-tissue/

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are creating a lot of positive buzz lately. It seems everyone is touting their benefits, but how can we tell if the fermented foods craze is more than just a fad?

Foods like dairy, fruit, and vegetables can be preserved by fermentation, which is the chemical process that breaks down glucose molecules when the foods are exposed to bacteria and yeasts. Beneficial microorganisms feed on the carbohydrates in the foods and reproduce and kill off harmful bacteria. The carbon dioxide gas given off during this process causes the frothing usually associated with fermentation, as in beer. (1, 2)

Some common fermented foods are:

  • Yogurt is essentially milk fermented with bacteria; the word means “tart, thick milk” in Turkish. (3) Cottage cheese, kefir, and sour cream are also fermented milk products.
  • Unpasteurized, “Raw” Sauerkraut is cabbage that has traditionally been fermented by salting and leaving in a de-oxygenated environment for several weeks. (4)
  • Kimchi is a Korean dish made primarily of fermented cabbage, but can also include radish, cucumber, lettuce, and mustard leaves. Most varieties are spicy. (5)
  • Some coffees can be fermented if processed through the “washed process”, wherein coffee beans are fermented in tanks of water. (6)
  • Chocolate and Vanilla are both fermented. To make chocolate, cocoa beans are stored together so that the pulp around the beans can be fermented. The beans can be wrapped in plantain or banana leaves, or stored in wooden boxes, for 5-7 days. (7)

Unpasteurized vinegar can be made from carbohydrate-rich foods such as grapes, apples, and rice. (9)

  • Sourdough bread is fermented with a “starter” (the base for sourdough bread created through a fermentation process in order to cultivate wild yeast from flour) for 12-15 hours, which breaks down gluten in the flour. (10, 15)
  • SOME “Pickles” are fermented, while others aren’t. As long as the foods are preserved through fermentation, rather than simply brined in vinegar. (11)

What health benefits can they provide?

Fermented foods are a great source of vitamins such as K2, which distributes calcium throughout your body, and B vitamins, which help to convert food into fuel. Additionally, the good bacteria in fermented foods help detoxify our bodies. (12, 16)

Fermented foods are also a great natural source of healthy bacteria and contain up to 100 times the probiotics as an over-the-counter probiotic supplement. Strains of good bacteria in fermented foods have been seen to destroy or inhibit the growth of bad bacteria: Lactic acid found in sourdough bread by German scientists was observed to kill microbes that are resistant to most antibiotics. (12, 13)

Too much of a good thing?

While there are many benefits to eating fermented foods, we should always look for the risks. In a 2011 study, researchers found that eating fermented soy products lead to a higher rate gastric cancer while unfermented soy contributed to a reduced rate of the same disease. (14)

People who do their own fermentation should also be aware of the threat of botulism from contaminated food. (14)

Here are a few ways to include fermented foods in your diet:

https://www.fermentedfoodlab.com/apple-cider-vinegar-and-honey-drink/

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/kefir-oats-nuts-maple-breakfast-jar

http://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/recipe/lacto-fermentation-recipes/lacto-fermented-kosher-dill-pickles/

Fermented Food
A set of fermented food great for gut health – cucumber pickles, coconut milk yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, red beets, apple cider vinegar

References

  1. https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/54958/that-coffees-rotten/
  2. https://www.britannica.com/science/fermentation
  3. http://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/yogurt/what-is-yogurt-history/
  4. http://pickledplanet.com/faqs
  5. https://cultureglaze.com/what-is-kimchi-fadfa73fe5cd
  6. http://www.thekitchn.com/yes-coffee-is-a-fermented-food-208726
  7. https://www.icco.org/faq/59-fermentation-a-drying/132-how-does-the-fermentation-process-work-on-the-cocoa-bean-and-how-long-does-it-take.html
  8. https://paleoleap.com/what-about-vinegar/
  9. http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-your-own-sourdough-starter-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-47337
  10. http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/the-crucial-difference-between-pickled-and-fermented/
  11. http://articles.mercola.com/fermented-foods.aspx
  12. https://www.drdavidwilliams.com/gut-health-and-the-benefits-of-traditional-fermented-foods
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21070479
  14. http://www.dietnutritionadvisor.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-fermented-foods
  15. http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/cooking-tips/article/long-fermented-breads-for-the-gluten-sensitive-taste-great
  16. https://authoritynutrition.com/vitamin-k2/

 

Winter Blues

Mondays are usually synonymous with “blah.” No one ever really seems pumped when Sunday is over and the new week is beginning, and everyone knows Mondays have a bad rap. But what if you had a whole month of Mondays? Or several months? For some, winter is made up of an endless string of Mondays, each one more “blah” than the next. This month we’d like to talk about depression, and more specifically, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of seasonal depression that occurs most often during the winter months, usually beginning around the fall and ending in the spring [i]. It saps your energy, can make you feel moody or irritable, and can be more than just a “funk” that happens around the wintertime. We all know holidays can be stressful, but sometimes it’s more than that. When the days grow shorter, colder, and gloomier, it can make you feel hopeless, sad, or even trapped.

If you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone. This seasonal depression is common among women and those who live in places that don’t get a lot of daylight, or for those of us who are between the ages of 15-55, and for those who have a family history of depression and SAD [ii]. Symptoms of seasonal depression often include feeling anxious, tiredness or low energy no matter how much sleep you get, appetite changes especially with craving carbohydrate-heavy foods, weight gain, and moodiness [i].

Depending on where you live, winter can be long–as in, Arctic-March-Winds and Snow-in-April long. So what can we do to help relieve the strain of winter and Seasonal Affective Disorder? First, talk to your doctor if you think you may be suffering from Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder. One of the most common treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder is light therapy [iii]. There are bright lights you can buy and use around your house to give the illusion of natural light, which is something our bodies and minds crave. So if you live in a perpetually rainy or snowy place, a little light and sunshine can still be found, even when you can’t book the last-minute-trip to Miami. Practicing self-care, which can be done in many different ways, also helps. Whether it’s taking the time to knit, or meditate, or bake your favorite recipe, spending time doing your favorite activities helps. Physical activity is also a big tool for helping manage Seasonal (or year-round) depression, especially aerobic/cardio exercise that gets your blood flowing, your heart pumping, and your limbs moving [iv]. It can be hard to be motivated to get moving, especially when the temperature is frigid. Luckily, the internet has brought us the gift of streaming and more and more fitness videos are available online, for free. For example, PopSugar Fitness has a seemingly endless list of fitness videos on youtube that cover yoga to cardio dance to strength training and Pilates, all at the click of a button. You can work out in the comfort of your home (in your most favorite, if not mis-matching, workout gear), with a friend or solo at any time of the day.

We all get the blues every once in a while, especially during the winter. If you find that you’re feeling sad or anxious more often than not, it could be a sign that it’s not just a “blah Monday” or a funk. Winter can feel long, cold, and lonely, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Once the holidays start winding down and the length of winter is still on the horizon, it’s hard not to feel depressed or down. But there’s hope and help out there for all of us. Speak to your doctor if you think you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder or depression. He or she can help prescribe the right treatment, whether it be Light Therapy, an antidepressant, more physical activity or any other type of treatment to help you get feeling back on track. If you’re in need of someone to talk to you can speak to someone at the Lifeline at any time at this number: 1-800-273-8255 or if talking on the phone doesn’t work for you, you can text with a counselor via the Crisis Text Line to chat with someone at all hours on any day of the week. Remember that you’re not alone and there is always hope. For those of you reading this after December 21st just think: we’ve passed the winter equinox and the days are already starting to get longer. Spring is coming!

 

 

 

Resources:

[i]http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047

[ii]http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/tc/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad-topic-overview

[iii]http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/sad

[iv]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasonal_affective_disorder

[v] https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

[vi]http://www.crisistextline.org/textline/?gclid=Cj0KEQiAtK3DBRCBxt-Yxduq5p4BEiQAbFiaPeslWDhmR3T_bzSSrAvrgU7Izpf6pyZhg4eC6TpdHMoaAhKK8P8HAQ

Health Benefits of the Golden Spice: Turmeric

It sounds almost like something a witch in a fairy tale would instruct: Just eat this spice and it will cure all manner of ailments! Add it to your food or drink it as a tincture, rub the extract onto your skin, rinse your mouth with it, even use it in an enema — Turmeric, “the golden spice,” will cure what ails you.

Turmeric is a golden yellow spice in the ginger family and is well-known as the main flavor in curry (1). Native to southern Asia, turmeric has been used for thousands of years in cooking (2). In India, use of turmeric in Ayurvedic medicine goes back more than 4500 years, where it was thought to alleviate congestion, wounds, and even diseases like smallpox and chickenpox (3). Today, India produces nearly 90% of the world’s turmeric (4).

Curcumin (not to be confused with cumin) is the active chemical in turmeric that may decrease swelling, making it a useful treatment for conditions related to inflammation (1). Reports suggest that turmeric may aid in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, assist in balancing blood sugar and boosting kidney function, soothe indigestion, help people with ulcerative colitis stay in remission, and lessen the severity of certain forms of arthritis (2,5). Turmeric may also be a natural liver detoxifier, reduce the effects of some forms of heart disease, help wounds to heal, lessen aches and discomfort, and kill bacteria and viruses (5,6,7). Interestingly, studies have shown that turmeric may boost some chemo medicines and may also make cancer cells more vulnerable to chemo and radiotherapy (7). Furthermore, turmeric has been shown to slow the growth and spread of cancers such as melanoma (7) and to help prevent prostate, breast, colon, stomach, and skin cancers in rats exposed to carcinogens (5,8).

Turmeric is natural and has no toxic effects on the body, so it is generally considered to be safe. However, turmeric may interfere with drugs that reduce stomach acid and may cause stomach upset and GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) (1,5).  Turmeric may also strengthen diabetes medication, which increases the risk of low blood sugar (5). Gallbladder problems could be exacerbated by the use of turmeric, large amounts of turmeric may reduce iron absorption, and blood clotting may be slowed, so doctors recommend that patients stop use of turmeric two weeks before surgery(1). Men who take turmeric may have lowered testosterone levels and sperm count, which reduces fertility (1).

Take advantage of the health benefits of turmeric! Try some delicious and healthy recipes featuring “the golden spice” and see how it works for you.

Salmon with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce and Carrot Salad 
Turmeric Masala Curry
Turmeric Tea

 

 

References

  1. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-662-turmeric.aspx?activeingred ientid=662
  2. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78
  3. http://www.pbs.org/food/the-history-kitchen/turmeric-history/
  4. http://www.turmeric.co.in/turmeric_spice.htm
  5. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric
  6. http://www.globalhealingcom/natural-health/8-impressive-health-benefits-turmeric/
  7. http://www.mindbodygcom/0-6873/25-Reasons-Why-Turmeric-Can-Heal-You.html
  8. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/turmeric

Vote for Women’s Health

This election, there’s a lot on the line – including your health. Cindy Pearson wrote on this topic for the National Women’s Health Network, a non-partisan organization that focuses on policy. She writes:

“Good health depends on more than just good medical care. Healthy food, clean air, and safe workplaces are just some of the non-medical parts of our lives with a tremendous impact on our health. We know that discrimination can compromise people’s health — whether those attitudes are expressed in the exam room, when a clinician disbelieves a woman’s report of disabling menstrual cycles, or in the workplace…”

At FemmePharma, we couldn’t agree more. The right to health is a fundamental human right, and true health is about holistic wellbeing. Women should not have to overcome discrimination from policymakers that compromises this. We have an absolute right to treatments and options that allow us to safeguard the wellness of our whole selves.

Pearson lists some of the important policies proposed by leading candidates that impact women’s health.  These include:

  • Repealing the ACA [Affordable Care Act]
  • Criminalizing abortion
  • Letting bosses decide whether insurance covers contraception
  • Defunding family planning
  • Banning laws protecting LGBTQ civil rights
  • Allowing approval of new drugs with few or no clinical trials
  • Opposing equal pay laws
  • Allowing political and business interference in decisions that should be based on science.

We have the power to put an end to these discriminatory policies. We can protect our right to health and wellness, for ourselves and every woman we know.

On November 8, stand up for women’s health. Vote.

 

You can find the full-text article here: https://www.nwhn.org/vote-womens-health/

Mindfulness & Neuroplasticity : How You Can Remap Your Brain For Positivity

Mindfulness is magnificently powerful; as undoubtedly the thoughts that cross the mind are. We even see how influential thought can be in medical research: the placebo effect’s ability to measurably improve symptoms has been demonstrated in clinical trials.[i] But what does this mean for us when worry or sadness crosses our mind? And if we’re caught in a negative thought pattern, what can we do about it?

Thoughts Shape Our Reality

We have an estimated 60,000 thoughts per day, with about 95% of them being habitual. Because caution and fear helped keep our ancestors alive, about 80% of these habitual thoughts tend to be more negative than positive – even though in modern society, these anxieties don’t serve the pivotal purpose they once did. [ii]

But this doesn’t mean we have to be victim to these mental habits. Our brains aren’t so hard-wired as we used to think they were: the discovery of neuroplasticity revealed to us that the brain is continually adjusting and reorganizing. Our thought patterns are not set in stone, but rather the brain forms and alters neural connections throughout life, based on environmental conditions. [iii]

This is particularly wonderful because, while we may not be able to control much of what happens in our lives, our thoughts about and approach to what happens absolutely has the capacity to change our experience of life. If you wake up and think, “Today is going to be awful” it probably will be. Conversely, if you start focusing your attention on pleasant experiences throughout your day – the softness of your sweater, the brilliance of the leaves outside – chances are you’re going to feel a bit more content.

The logic then goes that if attitude informs reality, and reality informs neural pathways, then our attitude can re-wire our brain. In other words, if we bring our attention to our positive thoughts, gradually, our brain will remap it’s thought patterns to align with this newfound positivity. It’s like our mind can pave a new positive road and the more we take it, the old negative one to becomes overgrown. The natural question that follows is how we can break negative thought patters and create a more positive mindset.

You Are Not Your Thoughts

It’s pretty empowering to realize that we can shape a life of enjoyment – but where we get into trouble is when we mistake the power of our thoughts as being one with them. Mindfulness is meditative philosophy introduced to the western medical community primarily by biomedical scientist Jon Kabat-Zinn, and its steadfastly garnering support from medical research.[iv] Simply put, it encourages focusing on the present in the moment and becoming aware of our thoughts. It teaches us to view thoughts from a position of non-judgmental observation, which helps us to realize that we have thoughts, but we – our innate being, core self, spirit, soul, whatever you want to call it – are not synonymous with these thoughts.

Mindfulness shows us that thoughts are simply experiences that come and go, and we can play an active role in how we engage with them. We can choose to entertain one that comes our way, even obsess over it, or we can choose to let it float on by and make way for the next one to come along. If a thought is negative, we don’t have to try to stuff it down: we can simply observe the experience until it passes (and it will – the mind is great at coming up with new thoughts.) Or even if a thought is pleasant, we can learn to view it in a non-grasping, healthfully unattached way. For even nice thoughts eventually pass.

It is in this way that we can utilize our thoughts to have a positive experience of life – one in which we are content and healthy and fulfilled – by letting go of the thoughts that don’t serve us and appreciating those that do. Over time, fostering this attitude of non-judgment and awareness will encourage psychological flourishing.

Not Everything You Think Is True

One more point worth bringing up as we think about thinking is that our thoughts are not facts, although we may falsely believe they are sometimes. And thank goodness, right? Imagine if every time some terrible self-narrative emerges in your mind (I’m not good enough; I can’t do this; and so on) it was true. Sure some thoughts are truthful, but certainly not all.

This is especially pertinent to those who face mental illness. Imagine, for a moment, someone with anxiety or depression, caught in a spiral of rumination. If thoughts equal truth, then – watch out! – all those fears will happen, just because they popped into their head. Now this person has to feel bad about feeling bad. What nonsense.

With practices like mindfulness (perhaps in conjunction with medicine and therapy, depending on personal needs), we can learn to distinguish fact from fiction, and chose the positive over the negative.[v] We can tame the “monkey mind” as it’s called in Buddhism – named for the notion that thoughts come and go like a monkey swinging wildly through the trees – and have better control over how we think. We can find peace and acceptance, developing a new relationship to our self, our feelings, our experiences, and our life that is filled with positivity and compassion.

 

 

[i]http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/treatmenttypes/placebo-effect
[ii]http://www.clevelandclinicwellness.com/programs/NewSFN/pages/default.aspx?Lesson=3&Topic=2&UserId=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000705
[iii] http://web.stanford.edu/group/hopes/cgi-bin/hopes_test/neuroplasticity/
[iv] http://www.mindful.org/jon-kabat-zinn-defining-mindfulness/
[v] https://www.anxiety.org/mindfulness-meditation-how-it-works-anxiety-depression

Foods That Support Naturally Gorgeous, Glowing Skin

As the cycle of the seasons change, so does our skincare routine. Autumn’s dryer air, cooler temperatures, and whirling gusts of wind calls for seriously upping our moisturizing and exfoliation game. And just as what we put on our bodies affects skin health, what we put in our bodies can make a difference in our complexions as well.

That’s right: instead of getting a chemical peel or collagen injection, you may just need to stop by the farmer’s market. As you read on and find out the science-backed ways we can use food to transform our skin from the inside and out, you might want to grab a notebook and start making your grocery list now.

Skincare Culprits

In many ways, the question of if or how diet affects skin is one that has left dermatologists a little stumped. Some studies are inconclusive, calling for more research to fully understand the surprisingly complex relationship before making conclusions. However, the good news is that we aren’t left completely empty-handed, because recent studies are finding more reason to support the link than oppose it.

You may suspect that it’s chocolate that’s the offender identified in these latest studies, but don’t fear – your daily dark indulgence (for heart health of course!) is safe. Lately, it’s dairy and carbs that are drawing the negative dermatological press. [i] More specifically, researchers suspect that the hormones in dairy, especially non-fat milk, may contribute to skincare woes. (Scientists believe the lowered fat content leads to higher relative hormonal content, which is why skim milk is especially exacerbating.)

And as for carbohydrates: the high glycemic impact of certain carbs (think: white bread, instant oatmeal, pretzels, etc.) is being increasingly associated with acne flare-ups. Glycemic impact may sound familiar because of the “low GI” diet plan that has garnered some weight-loss buzz as of late. Nutritionists are quick to point out the complexity of GI ratings and the uncertainty of their role in losing weight,[ii] but the evidence linking them to acne is much more compelling.

Healthy Skin Helpers

Okay, so we can skip the skim and eschew the oats. But using nutrition to promote healthy skin is as much about what we do eat as what we don’t. For example, vitamin A plays an essential role in skin health; particularly it’s moisture balance and integrity.[iii] Additionally, nutrients such as omega- 3 and -6 fatty acids, as well as vitamins D and E are known to be integral to the activities of skin cells, including hydration, inflammation, and metabolism.

Direct evidence linking supplements to improved skin is a bit lacking, so it’s best to get these nutrients straight from the source (i.e. via the foods you eat). To get more omega-3 and -6 you can sprinkle a handful of flax, chia, and sunflower seeds on salads or sandwiches. The sunflower seeds pack a double-skincare-punch because they’re also high in vitamin E. And if you want to eat something that is basically a skincare powerhouse, salmon provides not only omega-3 and -6, but also vitamin D.

Foods That Work Beyond the Plate

Some food is so skin-friendly that in addition to eating it, you can slather it right on your skin to reap the benefits. For example, in Ayurveda (the healthcare system often called the “sister science of yoga”) using plant oils to nourish and moisturize skin is part of a regular skincare routine.[iv] Coconut oil, with its seemingly endless list of health miracles it can perform, is a popular choice for many modern adopters of this practice. So are other natural oils like hemp seed or sunflower oil – which contain skin-loving vitamins and fatty acids to help keep skin youthful and hydrated.

Honey, too, is often touted to have topical benefits for your complexion, due to its antioxidants and natural antibacterial properties.[v] Honey is also classified as a humectant – meaning it traps and locks in moisture – making it a wonderful moisturizer. And did you know that avocado isn’t just healthy and delicious on toast, but also makes a great moisturizing mask? Because of its antioxidant and skin-penetrating oil content,[vi] it promotes smooth, soft skin that may cause you to spread it on your face as much as a slice of whole grain.

The skin is the largest organ we have, protecting the whole rest of our body and weathering the elements for us. It deserves some extra TLC, so why not thank it with a little honey mask or salmon dinner every once in a while?

 

[i]https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/growing-evidence-suggests-possible-link-between-diet-and-acne
[ii]http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/glycemic-index-diet/art-20048478
[iii] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2836431/
[iv] http://www.wellandgood.com/good-looks/ayurvedic-beauty-tips-for-great-skin/
[v] http://www.livestrong.com/article/112833-benefits-honey-skin-care/
[vi] http://www.livestrong.com/article/407893-are-avocados-good-for-your-skin/

Domestic Abuse Is Not Just Physical

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence [i], nearly 10 million men and women are physically abused by an intimate, domestic partner in the span of one year. That boils down to 20 people per minute. This month is dedicated to National Domestic Violence Awareness and we want to help spread the word on signs you or a loved one may be suffering from abuse, and how to help those who are being abused.

We have all seen the news headlines, Woman killed by husband had been planning to leave him [ii] or, Celebrity accused of assaulting his girlfriend [iii], and it happens all of the time, even when it’s not being reported. Some abuse can be physically violent, but some can be more subtle, either with emotional or psychological abuse. Domestic abuse doesn’t look the same in every relationship, and not all relationships start out with abuse. The Hotline.org defines abuse as a “repetitive pattern of behaviors to maintain power and control over an intimate partner. These are behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want. Abuse includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Many of these different forms of abuse can be going on at any one time.” [iv]

Here are some of the signs of abuse in a relationship:

  • Jealousy: this may begin at the start of a relationship. It could mean that a boyfriend is constantly calling to check on where you are and what you’re doing. It could be a girlfriend accusing you of flirting with another or spending too much time without her. [v]
  • Isolation: a partner who tries to isolate you from your friends, family, and coworkers so you have to rely on them. The abusive partner may try to prevent access to a vehicle or from leaving the house. [v]
  • A partner who tries to belittle or control you, verbally berating you or judging your actions. [v]
  • A partner who has a hot-and-cold personality and may fly off the handle and then become apologetic. [v]
  • Talks of punishing or threats of violence. [v]
  • Physical harm no matter how mild or “accidental” it may seem [v]
  • Economic or Financial intervention: preventing you from holding a job, taking or withholding your money, controlling your finances or restricting you to an allowance. [vi]

The most telling sign is if you fear your partner. If you feel that you are constantly walking on eggshells to avoid upsetting your partner, or if you’re constantly worried that your partner’s demeanor may change at any moment and you’re afraid of what may happen, you may be experiencing abuse. [vi]

So what can you do to help a loved one or to help yourself?

If your loved one is showing signs of being in an abusive relationship, show that you are available to talk, that you love and support them, and you want them to be happy and healthy [vii]. Speaking about domestic violence helps end the stigma surrounding those who may have been abused, and helps spread awareness to those in need. There are organizations where you can volunteer, every town, county, and state have shelter for women and children escaping abuse, and there are communities online devoted to ending domestic abuse. For more information about getting involved, visit the National Network to End Domestic Violence. [vii]

If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, seek help. If you don’t have a trusted family member or friend to turn to, you can call an anonymous helpline. In the U.S, thehotline.org is a website and helpline available 24/7, and a guide to anonymous helplines available worldwide can be found here [vi].

There is hope and there is help. We can break the cycle of domestic abuse and help those who need it. For more information, take a look at some of the resources below, and please share your thoughts with us!

Resources:

[i] http://ncadv.org/learn-more/statistics
[ii] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/slain-family-mass-shooting-domestic-violence_us_57a8c63ce4b0aae2a5a0a8f7?utm_hp_ref=domestic-violence
[iii] http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/269279/chris-brown-charged-with-assault-on-rihanna
[iv] http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/
[v] http://www.newhopeforwomen.org/abuser-tricks
[vi ]http://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/domestic-violence-and-abuse.htm
[vii]http://nnedv.org/getinvolved/dvam.html

 

Will High Cholesterol Cause Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

High cholesterol alone is not thought to cause erectile dysfunction, but plaque-clogged arteries can, because blood flow is essential to an erection, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

“High cholesterol is atherogenic [causes atherosclerosis] and can cause erectile dysfunction on that basis,” says Seth J. Baum, MD, president of the American Society for Preventive Cardiology and director of women’s preventive cardiology at the Boca Raton Regional Hospital in Florida. “When we see patients with ED, we have to consider not only cholesterol disorders, but also that other parts of the body might be afflicted with atherosclerotic plaque. The heart, lower extremities, and brain are the areas we typically examine to look for such disease.”

For the full article click here.