15th Jun 2013 No Comments »
A study from Australia shows that applying sunscreen to exposed skin most days will reduce the signs of aging. Ever since the report was released, the media has continually repeated the mantra: wear your sunscreen. But, is wearing sunscreen the healthiest thing you can do for your body?
Most skin cancers are only partially related to sun exposure. And while sunscreen sales are approaching $1 billion a year, skin cancer rates continue to climb.1
The truth is that we need some sunlight to keep us healthy, and there are ways to get some rays and still protect our skin.
Why we need sunlight
When you wear sunscreen all day every day, you block out your essential daily dose of vitamin D. This essential nutrient strengthens teeth and bones, keeps muscles strong, and helps you grow. Sunlight also helps stimulate hormones that balance your sleep/wake cycles, hunger, and happiness. Without vitamin D, you’re at risk for getting brittle bones, rickets, depression, and worse.
While you can get vitamin D from some fortified foods, the absolute best source is from the sun.
How to get healthy doses of sun? Here are 3 simple tips:
Expose: Spend about 20 minutes per day outside without sunscreen. You want your body to absorb the sun’s rays, so you have to be unprotected. But if you do this in the morning or later in the afternoon (not midday), the sun will be weaker.
Protect: You can “eat” your sunscreen. Not the lotion, silly. Increase your intake of antioxidants. Astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant, protects against sun damage.2 Start taking an astaxanthin supplement as soon as you can, as it takes a few weeks for the internal sunscreen effect to start working.
Research: Don’t just use any old sunscreen you have in your medicine cabinet. Many of the common ones have toxic chemicals in them that can actually increase your risk for certain cancers! The Environmental Working Group’s website has a good list of healthier sunscreen brands.3
Beware of labels. Just because the Skin Cancer Foundation gives a brand its “seal of approval” doesn’t mean that it’s good for your body – the seal is only given to manufacturers who have donated $10,000 to become a member of the organization.
How much do you expose yourself to the sun?
19th Sep 2011 No Comments »
I just finished up a weekend surrounded by 4000 health coaching colleagues, friends and family. It was so cool to be around this group of healthy, happy people and to have that experience again like I did when I first started my journey as a health coach.
My school, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, had a massive wellness conference called Fall IINto Action! on Saturday and Sunday, and it included many of the leaders in the nutrition and wellness field. You can get a little peek into what it was like in this video:
Some of my favorite moments:
- Joshua Rosenthal, the founder of the school, gave lessons on how to be a better coach, building your dream life, and stepping up as a leader.
- Deepak Chopra, author of Ageless Body, Timeless Mind: The Quantum Alternative to Growing Old, shared his wisdom on consciousness and leadership. My favorite part of his speech? The part about where your soul is located, and the quote he used – “I’m not in my body, my body is in me.”
- Dr. Mark Hyman, Author of Ultrametabolism, talked about food as pharmacology and how healing at the cellular level can happen in a matter of days if given the right nutrients.
- Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
And of course, all of the amazing graduates who have gone on to build wellness centers, write books, even create healthy chocolates.
Each and every speaker contributed so much interesting information. It was truly inspiring. And I was so happy to have a few guests be able to come with me to see Deepak Chopra and experience what it’s like to study at Integrative Nutrition. If you’re curious to learn more, send me an email. I’d be happy to tell you about my experience and how it changed my life.
In fact, I just started writing down my story of my health journey, and I’m slowly adding it to my blog and into my video series. The last video I did was about how 9/11 changed my life – that’s really the beginning of my journey.
11th Sep 2011 No Comments »
I’ve been thinking about my life 10 years ago a lot lately. It’s that time of year in New York, and it’s amplified this year with the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. I remember that I didn’t have much direction back then. It’s funny to look back and see the path that you’ve traveled, and realize that you were going in the right direction all along – you just couldn’t see it.
In this video, I’m remembering my experience on 9/11, which, unfortunately was up close and personal for me. If you feel moved by my story, I would love to hear from you – please leave a comment and let me know what you think.
27th Aug 2011 No Comments »
We’re awaiting Hurricane Irene here in New York City, and everything is starting to shut down. All of my weekend plans have changed, and we are preparing for the worst while hoping for the best. The subway system has been shut down, and so have many of the local businesses. So, what do you do in a situation like this where something like weather turns your world upside down temporarily? In this video, I share what I plan to do to make the most of it.
7th Mar 2011 No Comments »
Think you know the difference between healthy eating myths and reality? You just might, though many people are walking around misinformed. It’s not their fault – so much misinformation is out there on purpose so that you’ll buy certain products and think you’re doing the right thing for your body. BUT the very thing that you’re eating that you think will help could be causing the problem.
Here are a couple of common myths:
Fat makes you fat
This is part of the low-fat myth that has Americans getting fatter than ever. We’ve been living under the assumption that cutting fat and eating more carbohydrates will make you thin. Obviously that hasn’t worked out so well since obesity rates are higher than ever for both adults and children.
Sugar and processed carbs make you fat. Many processed foods also use bad fats, the ones that harden your arteries and cause inflammation, which leads to just about every disease imaginable. And this is what we’ve been told is good for us!
Healthy fats helps manage your blood sugar levels, keeping your insulin from spiking when you eat carbohydrates. Fat provides energy, and it is essential in helping in the digestive process. For example, healthy fat with vegetables (think olive oil on salad) helps digest and assimilate the vitamins and nutrients from the plants into your system.
Cutting the healthy fats cuts out vital nutrients – and makes you feel less satisfied. Low fat products usually contain unhealthy fats and added sugar to make them taste better. You would feel more satisfied and eat less if you just ate the full-fat, whole version of the foods that you eat instead of eating processed, sugared products.
A calorie is a calorie
Clearly this isn’t true. You can watch your calories and lose weight, but you won’t have optimal energy – and your body won’t work as well if you’re eating 1200 calories of cake vs. 1200 calories of fruits and vegetables.
Calories are a simple way to measure, but they don’t tell the whole story. It’s the quality of the food that’s important – you can be malnourished and overweight because you’re not feeding your body a variety of vitamins, minerals, healthy carbohydrates proteins and fats.
Milk does a body good
This is a marketing slogan. Low-fat milk is marketed as a health food that promotes weight loss, but it doesn’t actually help you lose weight. In a weight loss study, out of 49 clinical trials, 41 showed no effects of diary or calcium on weight, two showed an increase in body weight with a dairy regimen, and one showed a lower rate of weight gain. Only five showed weight loss – and not necessarily caused by dairy consumption.
Did you know that farmers feed pigs low-fat milk so that they can gain weight faster? And mother’s milk is a food that’s given to babies to help them grow and put on weight quickly.
What do you think it will do for you?
Another point to consider – many people have an intolerance for dairy and don’t even know it. Dairy intolerances cause indigestion and bloating, and interfere with digestive process. If you’ve noticed that you feel bloated or gassy after drinking milk or eating ice cream, I urge you to try a dairy experiment – cut the dairy out for a few weeks. See how you feel. When you’re ready, reintroduce a little bit and then see what happens. You might find that life is better without dairy.
Low-fat milk is also a processed food – i.e. it’s not whole and doesn’t have all the nutrients in it that whole milk contains. Pasteurization kills most of the healthy bacteria in raw milk, leaving behind a product that is nutritionally inferior. Finding real milk is difficult, but if you can, try it sometime and taste the difference. Then also notice how you feel after eating it. Some people can eat real milk but can’t tolerate processed, pasteurized milk.
Thanks to Joshua Margolis for inviting me on as a guest on his Mind Over Matter radio show on Talking Alternative Radio.
21st Feb 2011 No Comments »
I’m really excited to be on the Mind Over Matter radio show from 12 – 1 pm ET tomorrow – February 21. I’ll be talking about the common myths of healthy eating, the biggest mistakes people make when trying to get healthier, and my philosophy on food.
Joshua Margolis, the host of the show, is a fitness trainer who discusses how exercise is about the journey, not the destination. Like any other life-altering discipline, exercise is no exception. Joshua explains how to adopt exercise into your life with the goal of having it last a lifetime.
You can listen to the show at http://www.talkingalternative.com – and call in your questions live at 877-480-4120
30th Aug 2010 2 Comments »
Are your sleep habits hurting your health? And how much sleep do you really need to be healthy?
When I was a child, I was legendary for not wanting to go to sleep. I am pretty sure that I drove my parents to the brink of insanity. As a teenager, I still liked staying up late, but there was always a point where my eyes would slowly…start to … get sleepier as I read. Until I would fall asleep with the light on – and then wake up an hour later and turn it off.
A recent study published in the journal SLEEP suggests there is a correlation between cardiovascular disease and regularly sleeping for either more or less than seven hours per day.
Eight percent of the study population reported sleeping five hours per day or less including naps, and multivariable logistic regression analysis revealed that their risk of any cardiovascular disease was more than two times higher than that of people who reported a daily sleep duration of seven hours (adjusted odds ratio = 2.20). Nine percent of participants reported sleeping nine hours or more per day, and they also had an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease (adjusted OR = 1.57).
When you are sleep deprived, your body becomes more insulin resistant – giving you blood sugar swings and priming your system to store more fat. Lack of sleep is also associated with elevated blood pressure and increased stress which can increase the risk of hardening of the arteries. Oversleeping may relate to a breathing disorder or poor sleep quality.
What seems most important about this study is that it’s not the exact number of hours of sleep that you’re getting, but having regular, consistent sleep each night that matters.
How much sleep you actually need depends on the individual. Some people do well with seven hours, while others need eight. And according to a recent article, some New Yorkers get by on very little – four hours or less.
How well do you sleep? How do you feel if you get more or less than you normally get?
9th Aug 2010 No Comments »
How horrible is this for these young girls? Do you even remembered what it felt like at 11 or 12 when you were starting to “blossom” and had to wear a training bra? It was bad enough then when the boys would try to snap your back bra strap to see if you were wearing one. And how embarrassing it was when you started getting your period, especially if you had no idea that it was happening?
Now imagine the torture of having to go through it in second grade. This is when you’re supposed to be carefree and running around on the playground with no interest in boys. Now you’re a girl who’s developing into a woman and you haven’t even reached your “tween” years.
A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics shows that more girls are maturing earlier than ever before. What’s causing girls to hit puberty at a younger age is currently “unknown” but suspected to be the rise in obesity. Some scientists point to possible environmental factors, such as exposure to estrogens in plastics, chemicals and foods. Raising food the conventional way, with pesticides, herbicides and antibiotics increases this exposure to hormone-disrupting substances.
From an article in MSNBC:
For Kiera… it was all so embarrassing. None of her friends seemed to be experiencing what she was. When they asked about the acne and her expanding chest, Kiera was evasive. “I didn’t want to tell them what was going on,” says the Pittsburgh girl, now age 9. “So I had to kind of lie to them.”
How do you stop this?
Start eating organic foods – insist on high-quality, hormone-free, pesticide-free food. It’s out there – and eating it is the best way to “vote” for it and let producers know that’s what you want. The more frequently you “vote” this way, the better your health, the more will be available and the lower the prices will become. If you think it costs too much, think about the unknown future costs of being obese and having chronic health problems such as diabetes and heart issues.
Get involved – Start a community supported agriculture (CSA) group in your area to get better access to healthy food directly from your local farmer. Sign petitions from the Center for Food Safety. Talk to your congressman and let him/her know that you want them to support greater access to organic foods and fewer bills that keep conventional foods on the shelves.
20th Jul 2010 2 Comments »
Fish oil has been long known to help reduce the risk of heart failure and to promote brain health. And a new study shows that it can also promote breast health, too.
A new study, conducted by a research team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, investigated 35,016 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 76 with no history of breast cancer who were participating in the Vitamins and Lifestyle cohort study.
After six years of follow-up, 880 of these women had been diagnosed with breast cancer. However, those women who reported regularly taking fish oil supplements, which contain high levels of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, were found to have a 32 percent reduced risk of invasive ductal breast cancer — the most common type of breast cancer.
Other ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer:
1. Eat more cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower) – they contain a compound called sulforaphane which kills cancer stem cells and prevents new malignancies
2. Apple a day – keeps the doctor away because the phytochemicals within them inhibits mammary tumors. Just make sure you’re eating organic apples – conventional are loaded with pesticides.
3. Lose weight – studies show that losing body fat can reduce the risk of breast cancer. You can get started by eating more vegetables, lean protein, nuts and seeds, and fruits, and cutting back on refined foods, sugars and unhealthy fats.
Two great ways to get started losing weight:
7th Jul 2010 No Comments »
I’ve been on a healing journey over the past two weeks. The funny thing is that I didn’t realize that was what I was going on when I started out. It’s also part of why I have inadvertently been mostly offline for the past two weeks.
Let me explain…
The weekend before our Independence Day – the July 4th holiday in America, we were celebrating the wedding of two friends. The party was a weekend long fest that that was held just outside of the city at a rustic resort in a valley of a very green and mountainous area. As we drove to our destination, the buildings became shorter, the land was greener, and suddenly I realized I had no working technology at my fingertips.
No cell phone service.
The following weekend was a long one because we took a couple of days off. Again, the same thing happened.
No cell phone service.
At some point during the second weekend, I turned my phone on to check (in vain) to see if I could get anything. And I must have left the phone on by accident, because by the end of the weekend, it was dead.
I have to admit that I freaked out a little bit in the beginning. What was I missing? What if I missed an important phone call or e-mail? What if someone needed to get in touch with me?
And two weekends in a row off – I haven’t had this much time off in about a year, so I was not used to relaxing fully. Yeah, I’m not kidding – I wish I was.
It took a day or so, but I finally started to relax when I realized that, well, I had no choice because there was nothing else to do.
And then finally… I was totally relaxed.
And you know what?
I’m sleeping better. I’m more calm. And while my back is a little stiff from camping, I’m breathing better than I usually do, too.
Then I found this article in the New York Times that talks about the healing power of nature. In studies in Japan, they found that people who took “forest baths” had better health stats than those who stayed in the city – lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rates and lower blood pressure.
Of course, the healing I feel could also be from not sitting still at a desk for 8 or more hours per day. Or from getting eye strain from staring at a computer or a small phone screen.
But the plants and trees do seem to heal in some unquantifiable way as well. The whole calmness of mind, the breathing of fresh air, and the slower pace makes me feel so good.
You don’t even have to go away to get healing on a regular basis. Just take time off to go to a park near you. In New York City, we have Central Park and the green ways that run down the Hudson on the West Side and the East River on the East side. Not to mention the many little green enclaves around town.