The colder days are approaching, and along with purchasing more soup and stew ingredients, most people are adding tissues, elderberry syrup, and over-the-counter cold and flu medications to their carts. You can’t seem to turn a corner or go one commercial break without reading a sign or hearing about ‘flu season’ and how bad it will be this year. Along with the increase in coughs, colds, sniffles, sore throats, and ear aches, the flu and other ‘winter illnesses’ cause more missed work and school days than illnesses commonly contracted in other seasons.
Have you ever wondered why we, as a population, tend to get so sick in the winter? The flu doesn’t magically appear every year when it gets cold outside, it exists year-round, but is generally caught and passed to others easiest throughout the coldest months. The same goes for strep throat, stomach viruses, fevers, and colds.
Research from 2015 shows that 1/4th of our gene activity is impacted by seasonal changes with winter suppressing the gene responsible for warding inflammation. This, of course, effects the cells that make up the immune system. It also impacts our blood composition and adipose tissue (fat cells), making us more susceptible to weight gain and pain, along with increasing our chances of getting sick. You can see that researchers found a cyclical trend in healthy individuals’ genes over a year’s time, which identifies the body’s natural ability to stay healthier throughout the summer as compared to the winter.
When you pair this gene activity with the cold, dry air that presents in the winter, and the decreasing Vitamin D levels due to less sun exposure, you have the perfect environment for viruses to attack. Viruses enter the body through the nose, and when you have a runny nose, a virus has the ability to ‘hang out’ in that mucus longer than it would be able to in a clean nose. Everything that mucus touches then becomes contaminated with the germs it contains. It may seem impossible to prevent a runny nose, so keeping tissues nearby and using soap to wash your hands well will prove to be your best defense.
The winter generally keeps you indoors, whether at home, work, or school, with windows sealed tight and the heater running. This also presents the perfect environment for viruses to spread. Having the same air continually circulate weakens the already impacted immune system. While turning up the heat is a necessity, you need to pay attention to the humidity levels as you do so. The dry air caused by your heater and outdoor weather not only increases illness probability by allowing germs from a sneeze to survive longer, but it also causes dry, cracked skin, sore throats, and headaches. Research shows that running a whole-house humidifier, or having versions in the rooms most commonly used, can help you stay healthier throughout the sickest season of the year, killing up to 30% of the influenza virus in the air and promoting more restful sleep.
One thing to note: humidifiers must be cleaned out at least two times a week to prevent build up.
The greatest way to ward off illnesses year-round is of course proper hand-washing, regular exercise, eating a whole food diet, and getting proper rest. Throughout the winter, however, supplementing with Vitamin D3 has been shown to decrease the probability of contracting flu symptoms, especially in school-aged children. It can prevent or lessen joint pain caused by inflammation, too. You can also aid your body by taking daily probiotics, keeping your gut health at an optimal level.
Commercially raised meat and dairy, cosmetics, food preservatives, pesticides, paints, brake fluids, non-stick cookware, drinking water, nail polish, cleaning supplies, plastic, tampons, toilet paper, soap, perfume, baby bottles, food containers, the list of products containing life-altering chemicals could fill a book. We are drowning in a world consumed with chemicals, and the latest research is enough to scare us even more.
Xenoestrogens are a sub-category of the endocrine disruptor group that have estrogen-like effects. But to understand this, you must understand the purpose of estrogen within our bodies. It is a natural hormone that is vital for several things including bone growth and fertility. Our bodies should regulate estrogen naturally. However, xenoestrgoens enter the body and trigger an estrogen dominance. They cannot be broken down and are stored in our fat cells. This then causes a myriad of possible health issues.
There are over 160 types of xenoestrogens currently known, with an unknown amount still to be uncovered. These toxic elements are are linked to the following:
- Brain development
- Blood abnormalities
- Female infertility
- Male infertility
- Testicle shrinkage
- Lower sperm counts
- Low birth weight
- Kidney disease
- Thyroid disease
- High cholesterol
- Skin cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Lung cancer
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Pancreas cancer
- Brain cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Early onset of puberty
They also interfer with the way testosterone communicates with cells, lowering testosterone and altering thyroid hormone levels. They are found in 99% of Americans, and are traceable in the womb and breastmilk.
Xenoestrogens can be either naturally derived or synthetic, with the most common natural presence occurring in a variety of foods. This does not make them safe to consume. Soy is the most well-known food to contain xenoestrogens. The problem becomes worse when considering that most of our soy production is also genetically modified and non-organic. Synthetic xenoestrogens are molecules produced by chemical synthesis, which are used in industrial products and pharmaceutical estrogens, and are known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).
EDCs are defined as compounds that “interfere with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in the body that are responsible for the development, behavior, fertility and maintenance of homeostasis”
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that endocrine disrupters are associated with “altered reproductive function in males and females, increased incidence of breast cancer, abnormal growth patterns and neurodevelopmental delays in children, as well as changes in immune function.” This should be a wake-up call. It is not just a simple study that has been buried and is easily overlooked. The WHO continues to describe how human exposure to EDCs occur through everything from ingesting foods, drinking tap water, and inhaling dust particles and gases through the skin. They can be transferred during pregnancy to a fetus through the placenta, and are also passed while breastfeeding.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) states that it is now “widely known that most humans are continually exposed to these potentially dangerous substances. This is proven by the increasing incidence of many endocrine related disorders, comprising genital malformation, neurobehavioral disorders and the increased global rates of endocrine-related cancers.”
The risk is real – and is involves everyone from infants to adults, and all genders and races. Women seem more susceptible due to their exposure to cosmetics, etc, but xenoestrogens can impact everyone. It has been shown that exposure to EDCs while in the womb or throughout the earliest years of life may manifest only later in life or even lay dormant and be passed down to future generations.
What can you do?
- Do not take birth control pills or select conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- Skip the tap water
- Eat organic, locally grown foods
- Peel non-organic fruits and veggies after washing
- Shop the outside of the grocery store and avoid processed items or anything containing additives
- Avoid soy and soy protein
- Do not use dryer sheets (they are full of xenoestrogens)
- Avoid non-organic menstrual products
- Read cosmetic labels
- Avoid all pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
- Buy hormone-free meats and dairy
- Do not microwave plastic
- Use glass instead of plastic
- Use a chlorine filter on shower heads and filter drinking water
- Use chemical free soaps and toothpastes
- Read the labels on condoms
Postmenopausal women with higher risk of developing breast cancer should avoid xenoestrogen intake due to their possible capacity to stimulate proliferation in sensible tissue.
Synthetic Xenoestrogens Activities Sources 4-tert-Octylphenol Negatively affects pregnancy and development Generally found in plastic and, consequently, as contaminants in foodstuff, fruits and vegetables. Benzylbutylphtalate Negatively affects pregnancy and development Bisphenol A (BPA) Correlated with hormone related cancer Alteration neuroendocrine system Altered development observed in aquatic species Negatively affects pregnancy and development Bisphenol A glucuronide Generates adipogenesis (in vivo) Bisphenol S Cardiotoxicity Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate Negatively affects pregnancy and development Dibutyl phtalate Negatively affects pregnancy and development Terephtalic acid In vitro estrogenic effect Tetrachlorobisphenol A More toxic than BPA, Potentially carginogenic Ethynil estradiol Reduced fertility and fecundity Pharmaceuticals (found in aquatic environment) Behavior changes in aquatic species Bytylparaben Personal care products1 Ethylparaben In vitro estrogenic activity Methylparaben Increased breast cancer risk Butylated hydroxyanisole In vitro estrogenic/antiestrogenic activity Food preservatives Benzophenone-2 In vitro estrogenic activity UV Filters in cosmetic and topical sunscreens1 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor Highly diffused in aquatic environment Polychlorinated biphenyls Neurological and hormonal diseases Used as coolant, plasticizers and pesticides and found in several food supplies Chlordecone Associated with hormone related cancer Pesticides (fruits and vegetables) Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane Negatively affects pregnancy and development Hydroxyphenyltrichloroethane Methoxychlor TCDD Carcinogenicity, hepatotoxicity, immunotoxicity reproductive and developmental toxicity Synthetic Xenoestrogens Activities Sources 4-tert-Octylphenol Negatively affects pregnancy and development Generally found in plastic and, consequently, as contaminants in foodstuff, fruits and vegetables. Benzylbutylphtalate Negatively affects pregnancy and development Bisphenol A (BPA) Correlated with hormone related cancer Alteration neuroendocrine system Altered development observed in aquatic species Negatively affects pregnancy and development Bisphenol A glucuronide Generates adipogenesis (in vivo) Bisphenol S Cardiotoxicity Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate Negatively affects pregnancy and development Dibutyl phtalate Negatively affects pregnancy and development Terephtalic acid In vitro estrogenic effect Tetrachlorobisphenol A More toxic than BPA, Potentially carginogenic Ethynil estradiol Reduced fertility and fecundity Pharmaceuticals (found in aquatic environment) Behavior changes in aquatic species Bytylparaben Personal care products1 Ethylparaben In vitro estrogenic activity Methylparaben Increased breast cancer risk Butylated hydroxyanisole In vitro estrogenic/antiestrogenic activity Food preservatives Benzophenone-2 In vitro estrogenic activity UV Filters in cosmetic and topical sunscreens1 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor Highly diffused in aquatic environment Polychlorinated biphenyls Neurological and hormonal diseases Used as coolant, plasticizers and pesticides and found in several food supplies Chlordecone Associated with hormone related cancer Pesticides (fruits and vegetables) Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane Negatively affects pregnancy and development Hydroxyphenyltrichloroethane Methoxychlor TCDD Carcinogenicity, hepatotoxicity, immunotoxicity reproductive and developmental toxicity Environmental contaminant
The season of giving is quickly approaching. It becomes a motto that everyone chants, and generally, it is a way of life that betters our society. Charitable giving boosts spirits and possibly health and wellness, but what happens when a person over-gives? What does it even mean to give too much?
Over-giving is a term most commonly linked to Empaths; however, it does not solely impact this type of person. Over-giving can be a trait within anyone, and includes any type of giving – physically, mentally, or emotionally. Empaths tend to naturally react to stress physiologically, which can have physical health consequences. Understanding that over-giving is the opposite of giving to yourself (aka ‘filling your own cup’), if you are an empath, you are at an even greater risk of experiencing the negative effects of over-giving.
Multiple studies have linked empathy to over-giving, and these are both linked to ‘burn out.’ Once burn out occurs, the immune system is triggered, depression flares, and a person is at higher risk of illness – both physically and mentally.
Over-givers are generally giving because they are:
- truly thinking they are helping someone or something
- hoping for something in return
- wanting to be appreciated
- wanting to be loved
- needing to feel good about themselves
- wanting to be seen
- thinking nobody else is able
- constantly feeling guilty
When one over-gives, they think they are giving because it is the right thing to do – or worse, that they have to do it, when (whether they know it or not) there is another, deeper routed issue. They go against their own needs and break their own boundaries, causing a downward spiral of personal guilt, shame, and inability to balance life healthily. Of course, this leads to lowered self-esteem.
“Over-giving tends to come not from generosity, but from hidden needs. It is an energetic transaction where we expect a return, even if that is just praise, appreciation, or to stop feeling guilty. And when we give too much, we feel depleted, not energized. We might even feel annoyed at ourselves or with the other person.”
Thanks to recent research, we now understand that military spouses’ empathy for their spouses is a risk factor for their own mental health. However, there has yet to be a call to action for this heightened risk, nor has further research been published on the link between a military spouse over-giving herself through empathy or due to stress. The research also highlights that women have a higher chance of being under empathic concern and personal distress dispositions.
If you are an Empath, you also have great strengths. Reading other’s energy can be exhausting, yes, but with strong boundaries, you can utilize your trait in a healthy and powerful manner. You can become an Empowered Empath. This means that you…
“know you are not responsible for someone else’s destructive behavior; you know how to show compassion from a distance if you need to; and most importantly, you honor yourself enough to cherish and expect reciprocity as a must-have in your relationships. You know how to engage in radical self-care, with the full conviction that the more you learn to care for yourself, the more you’ll have to give to others. You can follow through with your boundaries and are able to cut off toxic interactions before they have a chance to escalate.”
If you are not yet feeling empowered with your boundaries, know that it will take time and practice with implementing them, but boundaries will keep you balanced. Saying no will become easier over time.
If you have found yourself in a relationship where you are over-giving, reevaluate your energy. Chronic fatigue, cold symptoms, frequent stomach pain, depression, anxiety, and weight fluctuation are all signs that your body is not in balance due to a burn out, which all stems from your over-giving. Again, boundaries are needed.
Taking time to fill your own cup and devote your personal energy on your own personal self may seem impossible, but it is needed for you to ever truly find balance – and feel complete.
A healthy lifestyle includes many facets that all enhance the body’s ability to function at peak levels. While most of us are not professional athletes, we are striving to live our best lives. Eating a healthy diet full of whole foods rich in vitamins and protein always ranks at the top of the “Live Smart” list, but the following point is exercise.
The recommended amount of aerobic exercise is 30 minutes each day, but doing this may not seem like it is enough to see desired improvements or maintain previous achievements. There is also the added struggle with common ‘coming of age’ ailments such as lower back pain, joint pain, and inflammation. Many people assume that they cannot perform as desired due to these problems, but instead of giving up or doing less than needed, consider looking at yourself in a bigger picture sort of way. Think about how everything within you works together. By doing this, you will realize that you need more than just high quality foods and a walk around the block.
Studies have proven time and time again that aerobic exercise and strength training are the key components to improving chronic lower back pain and strengthening the back muscles. Alongside of exercise comes regular chiropractic adjustments. The two work together to ensure proper functionings are occurring under the skin. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, January 2012, reports that conservative care, consisting of chiropractic care or exercise, is “more effective than over-the-counter and prescription medication for relieving neck pain.”
Even if you are not suffering from chronic pain, and you are a healthy individual simply looking to become healthier, pairing regular chiropractic care with daily exercise will present many benefits. Regular chiropractic care helps ensure that your body is capable of exercising at your desired level. It optimizes the spinal joint mobility and mobility of other key joints such as the hips, knees, and shoulders, allowing for full flexibility to be attained. These factors all lead to the overall benefit of reducing the risk of or preventing damage and injury through exercise. Chiropractic adjustments work to activate parts of the nerves that are responsible for causing contractions of the muscle. These contractions work the muscle, causing muscle strength to increase, too. So not only are you preparing the body to workout smart, you are allowing it to make gains and perform more intensely.
Consider your chiropractor an additional personal trainer, she has extensive knowledge of the human body and how it works. She has the ability to help your body handle the stress that exercising puts on it by adjusting it post workout, lessening soreness and fatigue. She aligns the joints and bones into the best position possible, making movement easier.
If you aren’t sure if chiropractic care is right for you throughout your quest to a healthier life, consider the professional athletes of our country. One study showed that the performance of athletes improved by 6.12% after having an adjustment. Studies have also shown that 16,320 to 27,200 adjustments are given to NFL players by chiropractors over the course of a football session. Every professional football team employs a chiropractor. Baseball and basketball players all seek regular adjustments, too. The strength of their muscles is greatly enhanced by chiropractic care. Jump distances improve as well as range of motion, speed, and flexibility. One thing is for sure, living a healthy life takes work, so why not add in regular visits to your chiropractor to help make it a bit easier?
Alongside of the backpack, lunchbox, and new shoes should also be a reminder list of how to keep the school germs at bay this year. We saw a nationwide increase in illnesses this time last year, no doubt related to the back-to-school rush and ‘unhealthy’ environment our kids are sitting in day after day.
While most classrooms look spotless to the naked eye, there is so much happening that you just aren’t seeing. Generally speaking, classrooms are sprayed and wiped with chemical-filled and artificially-scented cleaners. There can be hidden mold and other growing issues not even known about. Bleach is a janitor’s best friend. I’m not judging because schools are huge cesspools of snot and sickness, so go ahead and get them as clean as possible; however, a completely bleached space does not mean germs are stopped from spreading.
What it means is that all bacteria, both good and bad are eliminated daily. When you add to this foundation a squirt of hand sanitizer a few times each day, you have a recipe for disaster.
Most classrooms have a carpet or rug area, even a couch and/or pillows. These items are rarely cleaned more than a quick vacuum (for the rug). This is what I call the sick-pot. If there are community crayons, pencils, scissors, or other supplies, you can bet they too are holding the sick germs. You see, when your child is void of the healthy bacteria to fight these germs, they get sick easier, and spread the sick germs easier. It is a vicious cycle that most parents and teachers think is par for the course. The biggest myth, though, is when parents state, “It’s just building their immune systems.” When you are preventing your child from being able to fight the illnesses, you aren’t building anything.
So what can you do to help prevent your child from becoming sick this school year?
Preparing for School Sicknesses
Eat Whole Foods
The foods you feed your child are the fuel that power his gut. The link between the brain and the gut continues to raise the importance of eating well.
If the gut bacteria balance is off, there will be stomach aches, headaches, focus issues, and behavior problems. Study after study provides the information needed to support creating a healthy gut environment. To do so, you will need to adjust the diet and introduce high quality supplements. If you have questions on what ‘high quality’ means, head over to this post.
Probiotics – Help balance the gut bacteria with probiotics.
Multi-Vitamin – While most are filled with junk, you want to look for folate (methyl-folate is best) instead of folic acid.
Immune Boosting Tincture – Tinctures are becoming more well-known, and with great reason. Highly concentrated versions of immune boosting herbs are dropped into your child’s water cup each day. They can be found at almost any natural grocery store or ordered online.
Vitamin D3 – Unfortunately, the return to school brings with it less time outside in the sun. As most kids are naturally deficient in Vitamin D, being inside most of the day makes it worse. Liquid or chewable versions works, but drops are the easiest way to get the highest amount in your child.
Vitamin C – A liquid version can be a little fizzy for most kids to tolerate, but there are decent chewable versions out there.
Elderberry – I recommend tinctures over liquid so you skip the extra sugars and get a more concentrated dose.
Echinacea – Again, a tincture form is great. (An immune-boosting tincture will have this in it, but if sickness occurs, you may want to add this in.)
Vitamin A – Read over my Vitamin A research to ensure you have the right amount on hand if a virus is picked up at school!.
Provide Personal Supplies
Send a note if needed, but encourage your child to use his own pencil and other supplies.
Encourage Hand Washing
Hand sanitizer isn’t on my favorite list. Instead, have your child use soap and water regularly.
Get Good Sleep
Sleep is imperative for good health, especially when a body is still growing. Your child’s body and brain need to be on a regular sleep schedule.
Something happens to your soul when your bare feet are buried in the sand while the ocean waves crash nearby. This same feeling can also be found as your feet walk over fresh soil, through a wild meadow, and over the river rock rubbed smooth from decades of moving water. The truth is that your body experiences a connection to the earth when you walk barefoot, and this connection may be an essential element to our health that most people are lacking.
‘Environmental medicine generally addresses environmental factors with a negative impact on human health. However, emerging scientific research has revealed a surprisingly positive and overlooked environmental factor on health: Direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the earth.’
Our society’s current lifestyle naturally pulls us away from such contact with the earth. As a whole, we are grossly sedentary, overly shoe-wearing, and unadventurous. Research has found that this disconnect may be a major contributor to physiological dysfunction and unwellness. Reconnection with the earth’s electrons has been found to promote physiological changes and an overall healthier well-being.
What is Grounding?
Grounding, also called ‘Earthing,’ is the act of putting the body in direct and uninterrupted contact with the earth. Grounding refers to contact with the earth’s surface electrons by ‘walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems that transfer the energy from the ground into the body.’
You can accomplish grounding through:
- Sleeping on a conductive mattress pad
- Sleeping with a conductive sheet
- Using a small conductive pad for your feet while sitting
- Walking barefoot outside on the earth (the most official and easiest)
The direct transfer of the earth’s electrons through grounding has the potential of neutralizing electrical voltage the body absorbs through the immense exposure that we are living our lives in. One study showed that when the body is grounded, its electrical potential becomes equalized with the earth’s electrical potential through a transfer of electrons from the earth to the body.
Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman said that when the body’s potential is the same as the Earth’s electric potential (being grounded), it becomes an extension of the earth’s gigantic electric system. This means that the energy of the earth can work to cancel, reduce, or push away electric fields from the body.
Utilizing thermography, researchers have been able to find fascinating links to lessening inflammation with grounding. The natural process of metabolism produces what most people know as ‘free radicals’ in the body. Free radicals play a large role in healing the body, as they trigger inflammation, which is needed during the recovery process. However, too many free radicals are linked to low levels of inflammation throughout the body and cause chronic pain and discomfort.
There has been an increase in the number of people suffering from autoimmune diseases, which are caused by inflammation throughout the body. Fifty million people in the U.S (at least) are suffering from diseases including:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Inflammatory bowel disorders
- Rheumatoid arthritis
How does grounding effect free radicals, you may be wondering?
Free radicals lack the electrons needed to neutralize their effects in the body. Researchers have discovered that through grounding, the earth’s electrons attach to the free radicals and produce the spark of energy to cause balance. Could grounding then positively effect those suffering daily from pain and autoimmune diseases? Absolutely.
Being grounded immediately impacts you in the following ways. It makes you feel:
- Less tense
- Less stressed
How often do you feel overwhelmed? Work, family, friends, health, and life in general has a way of throwing your mind down the rabbit hole. Taking time to reconnect with yourself and the earth will help you refocus and reprioritize – keeping yourself above the demands of life.
About 30% of the adult population complains of sleep disruption, while about 10% have symptoms of daytime functional impairment consistent with the diagnosis of insomnia. Insomnia often pairs with major depression, generalized anxiety, substance abuse, dementia, and a variety of pain and physical problems. Research has found that grounding the body at night during sleep positively affects morning fatigue levels, daytime energy, and nighttime pain levels. Investing in a conductive sheet may change your life.
Grounding the body to the earth substantially decreases red blood cell clustering, resulting in a reduction of blood viscosity. The association between earthing and the immune response has been documented by several studies, all of which provided accounts of positive impacts. These impacts include:
- Reducing inflammation
- Lessening depression
- Lessening irritability
- Reducing or eliminating chronic pain
- Improving sleep
- Increasing deeper sleep
- Relaxing the nervous system
- Increasing energy
- Increase happiness
- Reducing stress
- Reducing anxiety
- Promoting calmness
- Normalizing biological rhythms (including circadian rhythm)
- Normalizing blood pressure and blood flow
- Relieving muscle tension
- Relieving headache
- Improving menstrual cramps
- Speeding healing
- Healing and preventing bedsores
- Protecting the body from effects of EMFs
- Shortening recovery time from injury
- Speeding recovery from athletic activity
- Reducing snoring
- Reducing jet lag
- Helping to support adrenal health
Evidence shows that being outside barefoot or indoors connected to grounding conductive systems creates a contact with the earth that is a natural, easy, and extremely effective way to lead a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps it’s time for us to join our kids outside and regain the freedom, confidence, and happiness that a healthy life provides.
For more information about the studies covered, please read through Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons
In a positive turn of events, the Food and Drug Administration has recently released a ‘rule’ to declare mineral sunscreen ingredients as safe, specifically zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The FDA said 12 other chemicals used in common sunscreens need more research to determine if they can be officially listed as safe. If these chemicals are deemed unsafe by the FDA, our U.S. regulations will be more in line with European rules about sunscreen, which would ban about 90% of the sunscreen products available here.
The EWG assessed over 13,000 SPF products and found that two-thirds contain potentially toxic ingredients or offer inferior protection. 84% of the over 800 sunscreens the EWG studied did not pass health and environmental testing. Many contained potentially harmful chemicals like oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate, which are known to copy naturally occurring bodily hormones, throwing the body’s systems off balance. Some sunscreens also contained Padimate-0 and parsol 1789 (also known as avobenzone), which are linked to DNA damage when exposed to sunlight. The EWG also discovered that over half of the sunscreens available in the U.S. are potentially lying about their product claims on longevity, water resistance, and UV protection.
Two of the twelve chemicals being called into question include oxybenzone and octinoxate, which many of us have known for years to be unsafe and actually dangerous to our bodies and the environment. There have been people championing the fight against these chemicals for over a decade now. However, a recent study has found that the chemicals in sunscreen can be absorbed not only into the skin, but through to the bloodstream. The most common of these two sunscreen chemicals, oxybenzone, was found in 96% of the population by a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This is especially alarming since oxybenzone is considered an endocrine disruptor, can reduce sperm count in men, and may contribute to endometriosis in women. It’s scary to think that it is being rubbed on anyone’s body, especially a body belonging to a baby, toddler, child, or pregnant/breastfeeding woman.
These hormone disruptors, toxins, carcinogens, and preservatives can negatively impact people, corals, aquatic, and marine life. In fact, they are so dangerous to our ocean life that Hawaii passed a ban on sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate that goes into effect in 2021. Do you know what is frustrating though? The FDA is allowing these chemicals to still be available until more research has been performed. Instead of recalling these sunscreens and taking them from the shelves, they will still be sold to the masses for pennies.
Sunscreen use has risen in the past decade, as people are trying to protect themselves against sunburns and skin cancer. While usage is on the rise, so are skin cancer rates. These new reports are presenting the probable link between the two. Sunscreen increases risk of overexposure to the UV rays produced by the sun. Ultraviolet radiation is made up of 90% Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays that are not absorbed by the ozone layer and penetrate deep into our skin – and Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which are partially absorbed by the ozone layer and stick to the top layers of our skin, causing sunburns. Both types of UV rays are thought to cause skin cancer. Most sunscreens claim to block some UVB radiation, but many don’t screen UVA rays at all.
A 2019 study has verified that “mineral-based skincare products provide environmental protection, are ecologically safe, and can replace chemical-based sunscreen ingredients.” The EWG has recognized only two ingredients as being adequately tested for safety and efficacy: zinc oxide and titanium oxide. It is vital to choose a mineral-based sunscreen when applying to yourself or your family.
Best Mineral Sunscreens According to EWG:
- Badger Mineral Sunscreen
- Babyganics Sunscreen
- All Terrain KidSport SPF30 Oxybenzone-Free Natural Sunscreen
- Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen
- Bull Frog Sunscreen
- Burt’s Bees Sunscreen Stick
- California Baby Hypoallergenic Sunscreen
- JASON Mineral Sunscreen
- Naked Turtle Mineral Sunscreen with Aloe
- Sunology Natural Sunscreen
- Raw Elements Sunscreen
- The Honest Company Sunscreen
- Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen
Something to consider:
Even though mineral-based sunscreens are safe to use, they (as well as chemical-based versions) prevent Vitamin D production, especially when used daily. I have previously discussed the importance of Vitamin D, and you understand the need for your body to naturally produce it. By creating a barrier, you prevent the one true benefit that the sun’s rays provide. This is one of the reasons our society has become completely deficient of Vitamin D, which in turn increases the risk of the most common cancers today. It can then be said that we are utilizing sunscreen in hopes of preventing one type cancer, while we are increasing our risks of developing numerous other types of cancer.
Perhaps instead of avoiding sun without being slathered in sunscreen, we should concentrate on non-burning sun exposure, granting us the benefits of the sun without the cancer risks. This can be done by being “sun smart” with our clothing, time of day exposed, consuming an anti-inflammatory diet, and staying in the shade.
I was asked an interesting question the other day during an appointment. I had a client ask me if Epsom Salt baths were something she should be taking regularly. Before even blinking, I told her that they were a wonderful addition to life, and that they were a great way to relax, detox, and soothe muscles. I moved on with my day without much of a second thought. However, I realized that, while Epsom Baths are typically recommended, and that the magnesium has to be helpful for all logical reasons, I had never done the research myself.
So here I sit, telling you how disappointed I am in the lack of scientific evidence that has been performed on this great product for the bath tub (and in other aspects of life). I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that researchers do not have the funding or the interest in such a small wives’ tale. That does not mean that it is not worth including in your life, though. Plenty of evidence backs its use for overall health!
While my writings won’t be based purely on Epsom Salt Bath studies, they will include research on magnesium and how the skin absorbs and delivers to the blood, cells, and tissue of the body.
Why I Recommend Epsom Salt Baths
‘Epsom salt is different from traditional salt in that it’s actually a mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate, and is technically known as magnesium sulfate. It’s composed of tiny, colorless crystals that look like table salt, but it’s actually a completely different thing, as table salt is made up of sodium chloride. Magnesium sulfate is a mineral that many of us are lacking in, as levels have been decreasing over the last three to four decades around the world.’
While we know magnesium is needed in order to increase our health statistics, there is also research showing its powerful anti-inflammatory benefits and exfoliating capabilities.
Epsom salt baths have many well-documented benefits:
- They should help improve circulation and possibly prevent cardiovascular illnesses by decreasing inflammation and protecting the arteries. Healthier arteries means less risk of blood clots, plaque build-up, and damage to arterial walls.
- Strains, sprains, and swollen areas can be aided with an Epsom soak.
- It can help to repair muscle damage and offset delayed inflammation.
- Magnesium is a natural stress reliever, and a bath improves the mood.
- Epsom Salt baths are known for relieving tension, pain, and cramping.
- It aids in many enzymatic functions, helps to regulate fluid retention in cells, and facilitates the body’s use of calcium to transmit chemical signals throughout the nervous system.
- An Epsom salt bath can promote detoxification all over the skin.
- For women, an Epsom bath can positively impact PMS, hormonal migraines, endometriosis, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
- Epsom salt helps you sleep because the magnesium relaxes muscles, improves digestion, balances blood pressure, and in turn, gives you more energy after more restful sleep.
- According to Dr. Joe Matusic, a pediatrician in Charleston, W.Va., and an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at the Charleston division of the West Virginia University School of Medicine, Epsom salt can help soothe common summer ailments that itch or burn the skin. This includes mosquito bites, bee stings, mild sunburn, poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. To apply, either create a compress with a washcloth, cold water and Epsom salt, or take an Epsom salt bath. Epsom salt works by drawing the moisture out of lesions caused by rashes, and reducing the swelling caused by bites or stings.
Even if it’s a placebo effect, I have never heard of someone not finding benefits with 1-2 cups of Epsom Salt mixed in with their warm bath water. I highly recommend adding this relaxing (and inexpensive) ritual to your life!
Cloth diapers are not what our grandmothers once used- a cloth towel held together by pins. Gone are the days of hand-washing and line drying cloth diapers, too. (Unless of course, you choose to do so.)
We are entering a more environmentally friendly generational wave right now, and one trend is coming back with a new style. Keeping disposable diapers out of landfills can help to lessen your carbon footprint, and it can have significant health benefits for your baby. Choosing cloth diapers over conventional diapers is an easy decision when you understand just what it can mean for your baby.
The Benefits of Cloth Diapering
Keeping the chemicals from disposable diapers off of your baby’s skin should be a priority. Sodium Polyacrylate, Tributyl Tin, Phthalates, and Dioxin are only a few of the most common chemicals found in disposable diapers. These are all linked to lifelong health risks such as endocrine disruption, obesity, and cancer.
By choosing cloth diapers, you also lower the risk of diaper rashes and UTI’s because you will be changing your baby more frequently.
9 in every 10 American babies use disposable diapers. This adds up to 27.4 billion diapers in landfills each year.
- Just for the disposable diapers U.S. babies will wear, over 200,000 trees are cut down every year.
- In one year, 3.4 billion gallons of fuel oil will be used to manufacture disposable diapers.
- Disposables generate over 3.5 million tons of waste each year.
- Those diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose.
Earlier Potty Training:
Because cloth diapered babies can feel when they are wet, they want to potty train earlier than those in disposable diapers. They tend to have less bed wetting issues as they potty train and grow, too. It is easier to notice your baby’s bathroom cues when wearing cloth diapers, making the transition to underwear smooth and easy.
Your Bank Account:
Purchasing disposable diapers will cost you over $800 a year per child, but (depending on how many cloth diapers you purchase) cloth diapers can be bought for $5-20 a piece. You can survive with about 25-30 diapers, easily. (It’s even cheaper if you use prefolds and a cover!) These diapers can be reused on siblings, too.
The Selection of Cloth Diapers
It is an overwhelming world to jump into these days! You can choose between:
But don’t shy away because of the choices, you’ll find your favorites as you start trying them out. The easiest will always be an all-in-one, hybrid, or pocket diaper. They require the least amount of work, but all cloth diapers are pretty easy!
Perhaps the pattern options may sway your choice, too. Whales, monkeys, plaid, stripes, ice-cream cones, you name it and you can find it on a cloth diaper. Ruffles and bows? No problem. An attachable dragon tail? Yep. You may just find yourself starting a new obsessive collection!
How to Clean Cloth Diapers
If you are breastfeeding, there is literally nothing to do but toss your diapers directly into a diaper bag, and then wash the contents of the bag every other day (empty and toss the bag in, too). You’ll rinse the diapers on a cold cycle, wash them on a hot cycle with minimal soap, and then rinse them again on cold. You can hang them to dry or toss them in the dryer for convenience.
If you are using formula, or after solid foods enter the picture, you can knock the poop into your toilet before throwing the diapers into the wash.
Learn More About the Risks of Disposable Diapers:
Parents are also not aware of the adverse effects of disposable diapers being in contact with their baby’s reproductive organs 24 hours a day for more than two years and the long-term effects it causes.
Disposable diapers have been implicated by diapering proponents like leak proof polymers, super absorbent polymers, and some scented chemicals which are the key factors for everything from chronic diaper rash, respiratory problems like asthma, liver damage, skin diseases, infertility, and even to cancer.
Continue the research:
In a recent article on USA Today, it was announced that “young people are far more likely than senior citizens to report being lonely and in poor health.” After a study including 20,000 Americans was published, the results are causing quite the stir.
“The overall national loneliness score was alarmingly high at 44 on a 20-to-80 scale, but the prevalence of social isolation among those ages 18 to 22 raises even more concern. The younger people, part of Generation Z, had loneliness scores of about 48 compared with nearly 39 for those 72 and older.”
This is predicted to effect overall mortality rates, as loneliness impacts health and increases suicide risks. Loneliness is tied to chronic stress and depression, which both trigger chronic inflammation and risks to numerous diseases. It is a sad and disheartening truth that needs to be talked about.
We want to place blame on social media and technology, which does play a large role. Although, this study discovered that all young Americans felt lonely – not just those attached to screens and online relationships. What if I told you that the root problem was far deeper than this?
The truth is that our society is lacking human touch.
It starts at infancy when parents utilize products to hold or soothe their babies instead of wearing them skin-to-skin or feeding them on demand. From there, the human touch factor continues to dwindle. Throughout childhood, families have the weight of the world on them to keep up with Jones’. There are countless sports, camps, clubs, and activities to somehow schedule into daily life. There is too much homework, not enough sleep, and expectations that are too high. This all leads to very small intervals of actual family time. The constant struggle of going and going restricts the amount of time children receive emotional and comforting interaction.
This trend continues throughout the teenage years and with the pressures of college applications, financial aid worries, and lack of true friendships due to the impending doom that is social media, young adults enter college and the real world as alone as ever.
When was the last time friends hugged one another, or teachers patted students on the back, or coaches high-fived their players? We live in a world where adults are scared to be seen using physical contact on minors and parents are too busy to get more than a handful of hugs in over an extended period of time, and in turn, this world has produced a generation full of under-touched humans.
Why We Need Human Touch
Human Touch Promotes Confidence. One study discovered that students are 3 times more likely to participate in class discussions after a teacher proudly pats their shoulder during class.
Physical connection through touch produces oxytocin. Oxytocin promotes happiness and health.
Physical touch increases levels of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that help regulate mood as well as help the body relieve stress and anxiety.
Physical touch is known to improve the function of your immune system as well as reduce diseases such as those associated with the heart and blood. One study found that receiving more hugs from partners led to lower heart rates and blood pressure.
Less touch as a child leads to greater chances of violence later in life.
Touch helps to bond people together, creating and fostering trust and happiness.
Economic benefits can be linked to physical touch because of the connections and trust it forms. (An example: professional sports teams whose players touch more often -hugs, holding hands in prayer, touching arms, pats on the back- win more games than teams who do not practice such actions.)
Interpersonal touch has a powerful impact on emotions, and it can increase chances of love, connection, and happiness.
How To Increase Physical Touch
See Your Chiropractor. No other doctor connects with patients in such a ‘hands-on’ way. It is one of the reasons there is such a high success rate that comes with included chiropractic care in your life. Physical touch can lead to happiness, but it can also be the key to wellness.
Hug. Hug friends and family and even a stranger if the opportune moment presents itself. (Aim for 8-12 hugs a day, especially with your children!)
Shake Hands. When you meet someone, shake their hand. When greeting someone, shake their hand!
Slap on the Back. Don’t be afraid to do the work-version of a hug and motivate a coworker with a ‘Good Job!’ Pat on the back.
Current research is suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and both physical and mental health. Take time to reach out and physically connect with those around you.