How to Determine if a Supplement is Right for You

A doctor consults with a patient to determine is a supplement is right.

According to a Harris poll, 86 percent of Americans take vitamins or supplements. From our experience, most do so with little concern. They read somewhere that a certain supplement cures all sorts of health conditions, so they rush out to buy it. Then they start popping pills in hopes for the best outcome. The fact is, supplements have risks, along with rewards. Another little-known fact is that the government doesn’t regulate the supplement industry. Unlike the pharmaceutical industry, there is no standard testing, trials, and labeling requirements for supplements. So before you reach for the supplement bottle, read this article. You will learn how to determine if a supplement is right for you.

The Wild West

The FDA doesn’t have the authority to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness. Manufacturers bear the responsibility for their own products. That means they can market them without any government oversight. Keep in mind the manufacturers are in business to make a profit. While many manufacturers are highly ethical and trustworthy, some may not report dangers associated with their products. Therefore, it’s up to you to do your own product research before starting any supplement regimen. 

The first thing to do is to consult with your doctor. Your doctor can confirm supplements you are considering won’t interact negatively with any prescribed medications. After that, it’s time to start your research.

The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Adverse Event Reporting (CAERS) is a reporting agency that documents cases when using the products resulted in bad outcomes. Additionally, it reports complaints filed by consumers and health care practitioners. This database is submitted to the FDA for dietary supplements, foods, and cosmetics, and is where consumers can report possible harm caused by a supplement. This database is completely voluntary. Therefore, complaints registered here could be the tip of the iceberg.

Three Things to Consider

Two young women talking while sharing coffee.

When researching supplements, two questions should be front and center.  First off, do they work? Check with the National Institute of Health Institute of Health for the dietary supplement fact sheet. Look for case studies of people who use the supplement. Talk to friends for anecdotal evidence. And of course, consult with reputable health care professionals. After you have thoroughly investigated the effectiveness of the supplement, you are ready to decide if it’s right for you. If you decide to try it, give it about a month to see results.  Keep a written log of how you feel during that month and review it to spot trends in your health and wellness. Supplements, like prescription medications, can affect individuals differently, so it’s important to determine if it’s working for you. If it isn’t, stop taking it.    

Another question to ask should be, is it safe? Just because something is labeled “natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe. Many prescription and illegal drugs are developed from plants, which are natural, so safety should be a concern. Your doctor keeps your health records and knows if any underlying health problems exist. So, we recommend keeping your doctor up to date while using any supplement.

Additionally, third-party testing is important. Third-party lab testing provides unbiased reports on effectiveness and safety, so be sure to look for them. Independent testing is important for all supplements, especially CBD. Reputable manufacturers provide complete transparency and often publish these results on their website. These considerations will ensure you determine if a supplement is right for you.

Purity Matters

A single drop of water falls into a pool to symbolize purity.  This is one of the ways how to determine if a supplement is right for you.

What’s in this product? That is another question to ask. Make sure your supplements are as pure as possible, without added fillers, colors, and contaminants. Not all supplements have all the ingredients they claim to have. They may contain ingredients not listed on the label, and these ingredients can be unsafe. Specific, individual vitamins, like C or D, usually have only one effective ingredient. But herbal or botanical supplements often contain a blend of active ingredients not fully disclosed on labels. The independent group USP, or US Pharmacopeia, is a non-profit organization that sets the most widely accepted standards for purity. NSF International is another non-profit organization that sets similar standards. It’s also important to obtain your vitamins and supplements from a trusted source and look for third-party testing.

Supplements can be an effective and safe way to treat health conditions, but use them only if you have to. As discussed in my last blog, Healthy Food Can Be The Best Medicine, nothing beats the nutrient power of a healthy diet. Do not use supplements as a substitute for good nutrition. Turn to them after you’ve made changes to your diet and still suffer from a health condition, and always with the advice and consent of your health care practitioner. Finding the right supplements can be a challenge, but if you use the tools provided above, you can determine if a supplement is right for you. For more information on supplements and the six keys to optimal health, visit our website. There you can learn about our full line of CBD products and start a live chat with us. Our mission is to help you feel great and live your best life, naturally.

Healthy Food Can Be the Best Medicine

Fruits and vegetables in a heart-shaped bowl wrapped by a stethascope.  Symbols of how healthy food can be the best medicine.

Many people suffer from infections, feel tired, and experience conditions related to skin, hair, and nails. Sometimes these conditions need to be treated with prescription medications. But sometimes they are a sign of a vitamin deficiency and can be treated by adding specific foods to a person’s diet. Healthy food can be the best medicine. Food is effective, affordable, and readily available. Best of all it doesn’t have harmful side effects associated with some prescription medications. 

This article is part of a series focusing on diet and supplementation. In part one, we discussed the right food proportions, the ideal dinner plate, and portion size. Today, in part two, we will give examples of how foods can treat common health conditions. Plus, we scratch the surface of supplements and explore the benefits and risks that come along with them.  

Vitamin and Nutrient Deficiency

If your diet does not supply a sufficient quantity of vitamins or nutrients, a deficiency will develop. You can develop a deficiency for any individual vitamin or nutrient. According to Healthline, among the most common deficiencies are iron, calcium, iodine, and vitamins D, B12, and A. Deficiencies can result in a wide range of conditions. If left untreated, they can cause serious medical conditions. It’s easy to test for vitamin deficiencies. Blood tests can determine the level of vitamins and nutrients found in your body. So if you suspect you may have a deficiency, contact your doctor to schedule a test soon.

Your Fork to the Rescue

If you test positive for a mild to moderate vitamin deficiency, the first treatment can be to change your diet. It’s as simple as adding a few extra items to your grocery list. After that, you have to eat them regularly. Here are some common issues and vitamin deficiencies that may be to blame. We also provide suggestions on foods that may help.

A stalk of broccoli pieced by the tines of a fork, islolated on a white background.
  1. Brittle hair and nails. This could be caused by taking prescription antibiotics and could indicate a biotin deficiency. Foods rich in biotin include egg yolks, fish, meat, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.
  2. Pale Skin, Jaundice, Sensations of Pins and Needles. These conditions could be a Vitamin B12 deficiency. Consume meats, fish, poultry, eggs to treat ad B12 to your diet.  Additionally, look for foods fortified with B12, such as some varieties of bread and plant-based milk can help.
  3. Bleeding Gums. You might be brushing your teeth too hard, or you might be suffering from a Vitamin C deficiency.  Find foods that contain Vitamin C in the produce department of your local supermarket.  So grab a basket and fill it up with broccoli, brussels sprouts, red peppers, spinach, leafy greens, and tomatoes.
  4. Red or White Bumps on the Skin. This condition is also known as keratosis pilaris. It is an indication of low levels of both vitamins A and C. Treat it by eating more dairy, eggs, fish, dark leafy green veggies, and yellow-orange colored fruits and vegetables. 
  5. Restless Leg Syndrome. RLS is a sign of iron deficiency. Iron-rich foods include meat, poultry, fish, legumes, dark leafy greens, nuts, and seeds.
  6. Infections, Fatigue, Back and Bone pain. These issues could indicate a Vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D keeps your immune system strong and is found in some types of fish, white mushrooms, whole milk, swiss cheese, and eggs.

Grocery Store Guide

As you can see, many nutritional deficiencies can be combated by eating some of the same variety of foods. One thing in common is that they can all be found in the healthy sections of the grocery store.  These sections include dairy, meat, and especially produce.

You will find them along the perimeter of the store. That’s because they are perishable and require refrigeration. The items found on the aisles in the center of the store are often processed to keep the shelf-stable for long periods. Processing often strips vitamins and nutrients from foods, leaving them with little or no nutritional value.

When Food is Not Enough

Supplements tumbling out a jar,

Sometimes, treating vitamin and nutrient deficiencies with food is not effective. For instance, strict vegans and people taking certain prescription drugs cannot absorb some vitamins, like B12, from their diet. An over-the-counter supplement may be another option to help with these nutritional deficiencies. Before starting a supplementation regimen, it’s important that you talk to your doctor about it to make sure it doesn’t interfere with any current treatment protocols.

A Common Misconception

Vitamins and supplements are usually a safe way to improve health and wellness.  Some people think taking vitamins and supplements can make them healthier and certainly can’t hurt them. That’s not exactly true. The fact is, under certain conditions, taking vitamins and supplements, if improperly dosed, appear to be harmful, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Healthy food can be the best medicine if you know which foods treat which conditions. When the right foods don’t work, supplements, if taken properly, might be the right treatment. In part three of this series, we will explore the risks and rewards of taking vitamin supplements and provide dosing guidelines to make sure you are taking them properly. Until then, visit the Naturally. . . You website for more information on eating a healthy diet and the five other keys to optimal health. There you can find recommended reading materials and links to buy them. You can also start a live chat to discuss this or any other health-related question.  I look forward to chatting with you soon!  

Your Path to Feeling Great Starts Here

A table filled with healthy foods and portions.  The Path to Healthy Eating Starts Here.

Many Americans eat an unhealthy diet, which can lead to all sorts of nutritional deficiencies and medical conditions.  Developing good eating habits is the first step to a healthy lifestyle and feeling good. In this multi-part series, we will discuss eating a healthy diet, tips for weight control, the perils of vitamin deficiency, and supplementation. The dinner table is where we begin and your path to feeling great starts here.

The Ideal Dinner Plate

Naturally…You believes in a macronutrient-dense diet with a balance of healthy carbs, proteins, and fats. Our dinner plates, when filled with food, should contain 40 percent vegetables, 30% lean protein, 15% starches, and 15% fat. The typical American dinner plate contains more protein and starches, so adjust your plate composition to follow these guidelines when possible.

Portion Control

Controlling portion size is important if you want to maintain a healthy weight level. There are several factors that influence the amount of food consumed at a meal, including plate size. Believe it or not, the size of a plate or bowl, as well as the size of the utensil used, has a big impact on how much will be eaten. Large plates can make food appear smaller, often leading to overeating. In a study cited by Healthline, people using a large bowl ate 77% more pasta than those using a medium-sized bowl. Using smaller plates helps keep portions smaller and prevents overeating.

A man lifting a fork full of spaghetti toward his mouth.
Use smaller plates, serve smaller portions and eat slowly to control the amount of food you eat.

Another factor is the amount of food served. People eat more food when larger portions are served. When you are eating at home, serve smaller portions, trying to follow the plate composition guidelines above. Do not serve yourself more food until your entire plate is clean. Then wait 10 minutes.  If you are still hungry, serve yourself half of the size of the original portions. 

Restaurant portions tend to be larger than average. Restaurant serving sizes are, on average, about 2.5 times larger than standard serving sizes.  To avoid overeating, ask for a to-go box when you place your order, then when your food arrives, put half of it into the box and close it up.  Not only will you eat a proper portion, but you will have dinner for the next day! 

Slow Down and Slim Down

Another trick to reduce the amount of food you eat is to slow down. People who eat quickly tend to eat more food because it takes 20 minutes for the signal that you are full to travel from the stomach to the brain.  A faster eater will eat more during those 20 minutes. Metabolic syndrome is a name given to five risk factors are high blood pressure, high triglycerides, or the fats found in the blood, high blood sugar, low levels of the “good” cholesterol, and a large waistline. A study cited by Medical News Daily “Eating speed was associated with obesity and future prevalence of metabolic syndrome. Eating slowly may therefore […] be a crucial lifestyle factor for preventing metabolic syndrome.”

Mindful Eating Helps You Keep Control

A woman eating a donut and drinking coffee while she is driving.

When people are distracted during a meal they tend to eat more. Distractions can include driving a car, scrolling through social media, responding to email, and watching television. Slowing down and deliberately eating a meal is mindful eating and can prevent overeating.  Here are some tips for eating mindfully, from Harvard University.

  • Set your kitchen timer to 20 minutes, and take that time to eat a normal-sized meal.
  • Try eating with your non-dominant hand; if you’re a righty, hold your fork in your left hand when lifting food to your mouth.
  • Use chopsticks if you don’t normally use them.
  • Take small bites and chew well.
  • Before opening the fridge or cabinet, take a breath and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” If the answer is “No”, then walk away.

Eating properly is the first step to a healthy life. This includes food choices, portion sizes, and eating mindfully. All of these things are within your control. Nutritional deficiencies can arise even in people with healthy diets.  When that happens, physical conditions can occur. Specific foods and supplements may be used to treat those conditions. Learn more about this in our next article, the second part of this series on Eating Well, Nutrition, and Supplementation. Your path to feeling great starts here, and look for our next article. Uuntil then, if you have any questions, visit our website. You can learn more about supplementation and the Six Keys to Optimal Health.  You can also start a live chat with me to discuss this or any natural health topic. Let’s chat soon!

Now is the Time to Indulge in Spring Vegetables

Spring fruits and vegetables including rainbow radishes nestled in a wicker basket.

Springtime is the season of renewal. The weather starts warming up and the flowers are blooming. Perhaps best of all is the abundance of fresh vegetables available.  Vegetables provide a wealth of nutrients that critically important to a healthy diet, one of the Six Keys to Optimal Health. Nutrition research shows that eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits reduces the risk of many chronic diseases. They are normally fat-free, cholesterol-free and a great source of fiber, so now is the time to indulge in spring vegetables.

Why Eating in Season Matters

It’s true, you can often find fresh produce that is out of season. For instance, blueberries grow during summer months, but you can find them in stores all year long. That means they have either been stored for a long time or have been shipped in from a region of the world. Often that region is at the opposite end of the earth. Here is why both situations are not ideal.

  1. Vitamins and nutrients diminish over time, so the longer produce is stored, the less nutritious they are. According to the New York Times, “that many fruits and vegetables experience rapid losses in their nutritional value when stored for more than a few days.
  2. Preserving produce for a long time often requires chemicals to inhibit sprouting and a wax coating to seal in moisture.    
  3. Shipping creates pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, harming the environment.    

The best thing you can do to take advantage of seasonal vegetables is to buy from a local farmer’s market.  Not only will the produce taste better, but you will be consuming it at the peak of its freshness and nutritional value. Plus, you will be supporting local farmers and building better communities. 

Our Favorite Spring Vegetables:

Asparagus

Asparagus has potent diuretic properties which helps to regulate glandular disorders and kidney function. It is high in potassium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K, which helps to prevent blood clotting. It’s typically green in color, but it can also be found in white. White asparagus hasn’t been exposed to sunlight.

Fresh artichokes on a white washed board.

Artichokes  

Like asparagus, artichokes also have diuretic properties and can be useful in treating water retention. Artichokes help to stabilize metabolism and lower both blood cholesterol and sugar. They contain as much as 10 grams of fiber each and since fiber helps you feel full, they can aid in weight control. Choose artichokes that feel firm and heavy, with bright green and sturdy leaves.

Arugula

This peppery lettuce tastes milder in the spring when the leaves are a lighter shade green.  Darker leaves indicate the arugula is older and stronger in taste.  Packed with Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Calcium, Manganese, and Folate, arugula normalizes body acids and treats acidosis.

Broccoli

One serving of broccoli exceeds the recommended daily allowance of Vitamins C and E. Vitamin C is especially important because it protects the body from damaging free radicals. Additionally, it’s high in fiber, which can lower cholesterol and promote a healthy digestive tract. Potassium found in broccoli supports the nervous system.

Carrots

This is one of the best dietary sources of beta carotene, which boosts the immune system and reduces the risk of many cancers. The abundance of vitamin A in carrots helps to improve your vision and improve skin tone. Plus, the lycopene in carrots is also good for your heart.

Be careful when buying baby carrots, if the label says “baby-cut” carrots, they are not really baby carrots. Baby-cut carrots are regular carrots, machine-cut to a small size, peeled, and polished.

Rainbow carrots bundled together and isolated on a white background. They are highly nutritious and one reason why now is the time to indulge in spring fruits and vegetables.
Carrots come in a variety of colors including yellow, white, and purple. But the most popular color is orange.

Mustard Greens

Mustard greens have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.  A typical serving delivers 500% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin K, 175% of your Vitamin A, and 60% of your Vitamin C. Mustard greens strengthen the immune system, help with anemia, and build strong bones and teeth.

Radishes

Radishes have Vitamin C and are known to control damage to our red blood cells.  They also increase oxygen supply to the blood and cleanse the stomach, gallbladder, and liver. If that wasn’t enough, radishes contain RsAPF2, which is good for treating candida and can ease cold and flu symptoms.

Peas

Peas have a storehouse of vitamins and nutrients, including vitamins A, C, K, B6, Magnesium, and iron. Peas contain an abundant amount of fiber, which has been shown to help the growth of good bacteria in the intestine and provide many benefits for digestive health.

The nutritional value is just one of the reasons why now is the time to indulge in spring vegetables.  For most of us, the main reason is taste.  Many are delicate in texture, nuanced in flavor, and can be prepared in so many ways.  It takes little culinary skill to make them the star of the dinner table. A simple salad with a light vinaigrette can provide the base for grilled seafood. Steamed spring vegetables dressed in butter or olive oil and sesame seeds can steal the show.  And a bowl of nothing but fresh peas and rice is comfort food at its finest.  For more information on diet, the other five keys to optimal health, and the most effective CBD products available, visit our website, naturallyyoufl.  There you can start a chat or find great resources to help guide your journey in health and wellness. 

Fitness Trends for 2020 Mix Fun with Results!

A group of young women practicing yoga together.

The fitness industry is in a constant state of change.  Americans don’t stick to most fitness routines because they become just that, routines. Many people who resolve to workout get bored, lose motivation and quit. For 2020, the trends in fitness and exercise aim to change that.  They include innovative equipment that delivers results, variety, a competitive angle, and workouts that simulate daily activity.  Exercise is one of the Six Keys to Optimal Health, and Naturally…You is excited about what’s new in the industry.  So keep reading to learn how fitness trends for 2020 mix fun with results.     

Pilates Megaformer Workout 

A woman working out on Pilates Megaformer equipment as an example of Fitness Trends in 2020 that mix fun with results.

Pilates fans know about the carriage-like equipment known as a reformer.  It is built with movable platforms, springs, and pulleys.  This year’s trend in Pilates is called a megaformer. And it takes this workout to a whole new level.  Done mostly in Pilates studios, megaformer is a boutique fitness class.  This makes it ideal for people who want a serious workout but don’t like large classes found in big-box gyms.  It focuses on core strength and stability and activates slow-twitch muscles for full-body engagement.  This workout will make you sweat, shake, burn fat, and build muscle with lots of abdominal engagement.  The result is a low-impact workout that strengthens muscles, improves balance and flexibility. Best of all, it challenges your core in a way that a lot of other workouts don’t. 

Virtual Reality Workouts Change the Game

Playing virtual realty tennis means you don’t need a tennis court, or even a human opponent!

The worlds of fitness and technology come together to create simulated workout experiences.  This is taking off in 2020 and will expand in scope and popularity. All you need is a virtual reality headset and some games or apps. These are convenient because they can be done practically anywhere. Plus they eliminate the boredom that typically creeps into gym-based workouts. 

VR workouts can change as often as you’d like.  Try boxing one day, tennis the next, and practice yoga another day.  In one game, Hot Squat, players do as many squats as they can by ducking to navigate a series of virtual tunnels. It combines strength and endurance conditioning while you play to score points.  While some may seem more like a game than a workout, don’t be fooled! VR workouts can be very effective.  Throughout this year and into the future, the development of VR workout opportunities will produce more targeted, effective and fun ways to get fit.

The Mini-Trampoline Bounces Back

That’s right, a favorite in the 1980s, the mini-trampoline, is back. Like virtual reality workouts, this is an activity you want to do versus an obligation like a gym routine you have to do.  Jumping on a mini-trampoline is fun and gives you an effective workout. Mini trampoline classes combine:

  • Cardio
  • Simple choreography
  • Toning
  • Stretching 

The benefits include:

  • Improved cardio function
  • Kicks the lymphatic system into high gear
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Improves balance
  • Builds bone mass

Best of all, it’s fun!  John Porcari, professor of exercise and sport science at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, was quoted in Time Magazine saying “When you’re following along to a video or doing something fun, the enjoyment factor overrides the fact that you’re working hard.  You just focus on having fun.”

Exercise Imitates Life through Functional Workouts

Functional workout classes simulate common movements that you may do at home. You are essentially doing real-life activities in real-life exercise positions, using multiple muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time. The muscles are working together rather than isolating them to work independently. That way, they help control and balance body weight. Classes typically include the use of fitness balls, kettlebells, and weights.  Additionally, they include movements that include several body parts at once, like elbows, shoulders, knees, hips, and the spine. The result is muscle memory that reduces the risk of injury.  This is critically important, especially as a person gets older. Injuries can result in the loss of ability to do simple things and a lower quality of life.  Functional workouts are designed to help people stay as agile and independent for as long as possible. 

The Key to Lasting Fitness

Man on a paddle board in the middle of a lake.
Paddle-boarding effectively combines fun with exercise.

The key to lasting fitness is finding activities that are fun for you, with hard work to burn calories, strengthen muscle and endurance. Exercise is an important piece of the health and wellness puzzle. And constantly finding new workouts will fuel your success.  Start with a variety of activities that take place both indoors and outdoors. Next, mix up group settings and solo efforts.  Finally, keep the equipment light and expenses low. That way you will stay motivated, interested and excited.  Combine that with consistency and a healthy diet and you’ll be fit for life.  Fitness trends for 2020 mix fun with results in ways that will improve your quality of life.  So start now! Find a class nearby or pick up a virtual reality headset and start moving to a whole new groove!

To discuss this or any health or wellness topic, visit naturallyyoufl.com. Just look for the live-chat box in the lower right-hand corner.  You can also check out the Six Keys to Optimal Health and my complete line of CBD products. I look forward to chatting with you soon!

Why Your Brightest Days Start with Water

A young woman stands in a kitchen and starts her day drinking a glass of water.

By the time you wake up, your body is dehydrated.  Over an eight hour stretch of slumber, you are not drinking any water.  You are, however, breathing.  The simple act of breathing expels moisture and takes in dry air.  If you drink alcohol or any diuretic before bedtime you will dehydrate even faster while you sleep.  All this dehydration affects motor and cognitive function.  If you’ve ever had a little trouble moving or your mind is in a fog when you wake up, it’s probably a result of dehydration.  The best thing you can do for your mind and body is to drink a big glass of water the moment you get up.  It’s just the thing your body needs to prepare for the day ahead.  In this article, learn how a tall glass of H-2-O will set you up for success and why your brightest days start with water.  

Fog Lifter

Drinking a glass of water in the morning will lift the fog from your brain.  This is because water stimulates the production of red blood cells and generates more oxygen in your blood.  The more oxygen in your blood, the more alert you will be. According to a study reported in Self Magazine, “Drinking H2O may have another surprising benefit, improved memory and reaction time.” On top of that, brain activity increases with the level of hydration, so you drinking water in the morning makes it easier to speak clearly and complete sentences.  This helps you start your day on the right foot and your morning smoother.

Keeping Sickness at Bay

A woman with a head cold blows her nose while used tissues litter her desk.
Drinking a glass of water in the morning can protect you from sickness spread by co-workers.

You may share your commute with others heading off to work or school.  Public transportation and carpools can be cesspools of viruses.  Once you get to work, things don’t generally get better.  We’ve all worked with people who come to work sick.  They bravely soldier through the day sneezing and coughing all over everything while insisting they are too busy to stay home.  That glass of water you drank when you got up will actually help to balance your immune system and provide it fuel needed to fight off sickness throughout the day. 

Healthy Weight Loss

Along with being more alert, a more effective communicator, and staying healthy, drinking a glass of water in the morning helps to jump-start your metabolism.  That means you will burn more calories during the rest of your day.  According to Medical News Today, it also helps to flush toxins from your body.  The combination of faster metabolism and detoxification helps to reinforce healthy weight loss.  Water helps you put your best foot forward.  It also helps to put your best face forward as well.  Drinking water in the morning hydrates the skin.  As a result, it reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  It promotes healthy skin glow and is another reason why your brightest days start with water.    

Additional Benefits 

Drinking water throughout the day provides additional benefits.  Here are just a few.

A large glass of water depicts why your brightest days start with water.
  • Regulates your body temperature.  Staying hydrated is important to maintaining body temperature.  Your body loses water through sweating during exercise and in hot environments.  As a result, you need the water to replenish the lost fluid from sweat.
  • Aids in digestion.  Drinking water before, during, and after a meal will help your body break down the food you eat more easily.  Water is the lubricant that keeps your digestion going.  Therefore, as the water moves through your stomach and intestines, digestive organs are better hydrated and able to eliminate waste.
  • Dissolves vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from your food.  This makes it possible to deliver these nutrients to the rest of your body.
  • It protects your tissues and bones.  Water keeps the cartilage around our joints hydrated, ensuring that our joints stay lubricated and cushions the joints and spinal cords.  This minimizes the discomfort caused by conditions like arthritis and makes physical activity easier and more enjoyable.  Long term dehydration can lessen the joints shock absorbing ability and result in joint pain. 
  • Improves kidney health and functionality.  Water keeps our kidneys working.  Kidneys filter out waste through urination.  Adequate water intake helps your kidneys work more efficiently and may help prevent the initial formation of kidney stones.

Your Morning Routine Gets Better

Start tomorrow with a large glass of water.  Everything you do after that will reap the benefits.  Whether it’s catching an early morning workout, checking in with social media, or getting an early start on a work project, you will be more focused and perform better.  That’s why your brightest days start with water.  To learn more about water and the other six keys to optimal health, check out our site, naturallyyoufl.com.  While there, you can chat with me live on this topic, see my full line of CBD products, and learn ways to live a natural, healthy life.  I look forward to chatting with you soon.   

Four Unmistakable Signs of Dehydration

Dried roses symbolizing the four unmistakable signs of dehydration.

Chronic dehydration affects 75 percent of the US population.  Yes. . . 75 percent!  That’s three in every four people and chances are, it affects you.  Dehydration is a condition that occurs when your body flushes out more liquid than it takes in.  It can cause serious health issues.  Your mood, attention, memory and motor coordination can be affected with as little as 1 percent dehydration.  On the extreme end of the scale, it compromises your brain and kidney functions. Plus your heart and cardiovascular system work harder that those who are properly hydrated.   While your body provides early warning signs of dehydration, most people mistake them for signs of other issues.  Today Naturally. . .You looks at its causes and four unmistakable signs of dehydration you should look for.

What You Drink Matters. . .

Most people don’t think they dehydrated.  We seem to be drinking things all the time.  If you’ve ever waited in a line of cars at a Starbucks drive-thru, you can attest to this.  The problem is not the consumption of liquids.  The problem is the consumption of the right kinds of liquids.  Any liquid that contains caffeine or alcohol is a diuretic.  A diuretic is any substance that promotes diuresis, the increased production of urine. They expel water and salt from the body. They are found naturally in a number of foods and drinks.  Coffee, tea, and soft drinks are obvious beverages that contain natural diuretics.  In addition, fruits and vegetables like celery and cucumbers, according to Good Housekeeping, are natural diuretics and can cause water loss. 

You Can Miss the Warning Signs. . .

A lot of people spend their days sipping iced tea, coffee drinks, and sodas.  At night they unwind with a glass of wine.  Their liquid intake seems high. But the diuretic affect of some of these beverages causes a negative water consumption. This can quickly cause dehydration.  Disturbingly, other lifestyle-created issues get the credit for some of the body’s early warning signs of dehydration.

Man suffering from a headache, an early warning sign of dehydration that most people don't recognize.
Headaches, fatigue, and depression are early warning signs of dehydration that are often misdiagnosed.

One of the early warning signs is fatigue.  Almost everyone I know complains about being tired from time to time.  But nobody ever says, “I’m so tired, maybe I’m dehydrated!”  Instead, they point to how busy they are as the cause of their fatigue.  Another early warning sign is headaches.  Often, we assume headaches are the result of stress or anxiety. Finally, another early warning sign of dehydration is depression.  With so many external forces like unrest throughout the world, cultural shifts, and negative news coverage, it’s easy to ignore the internal forces, like dehydration, that can be the cause of depression.

Four Unmistakable Signs of Dehydration

  1. Difficulty going to the bathroom.  Constipation and the lack of urination is an unmistakable early warning sign.  Healthy, hydrated adults should urinate at least every 3 to 4 hours.  If you go eight or more hours without urinating, you are probably dehydrated. 
  2. Urine volume.  The volume of urine varies from person to person depending on their bladder size.  But the amount of your urine is consistent.  In a properly hydrated person, when the bladder is full it signals the brain that it’s time to go.  According to Bladder and Bowel Community, the lack of fluid in dehydrated people results in concentrated urine. This irritates the bladder. It makes you feel the urge to pass urine with urgency or more frequently.  As a result, it causes low urine volume.
  3. Urine color.  Your urine should be clear or light yellow in color.  This is a healthy sign that your body has the proper amount of liquid.  If your urine gets darker in color, it indicates urine concentration and is a telltale sign of dehydration.
  4. Poor Skin Elasticity.  Pinch your skin on the back of your hand.  It should quickly fall back into place.  If not, it means you are dehydrated.  This is the most important of the four unmistakable signs of dehydration. Many doctors and medical professionals use this test to determine dehydration because of it’s reliability.

Easy to Cure and Prevent

A glass of ice water.

The good news is that dehydration is easy to cure and prevent.  If you check off any of the four unmistakable signs of dehydration, drink more water.  Just water.  I’m not saying you have to give up your morning espresso or iced tea at lunch time.  But switch out some beverages containing caffeine and alcohol you would normally consume throughout the day with water.  You will notice the benefits almost immediately.  That, combined with a full body detox from Naturally. . . You can change your life.  You will rid your body of toxins, reset your relationship with food and set your body on a path to abundant health, naturally.  To learn more about the role water plays in our bodies, visit our website.  There you can find useful resources about the subject of water. You can also chat with me on any other health-related topic. Let’s chat soon!

Nutritious Fall Fruits and Vegetables

Pumpkins in a basket represent nutritious fall fruits and vegetables.

For most people around the country, the air is getting cooler. Humidity is dissipating and it won’t be long until autumn leaves cover yards and roads. Right now markets are filled with a bounty of nutritious fall fruits and vegetables. The autumn vegetable color wheel is rich with oranges, reds, and greens and most are packed with both vitamins and antioxidants. This year, Naturally You has created a list of autumn vegetables and juicy fruits that will delight your senses and build your immunity.  So grab your basket and join us at the market!   

Apples

You’ve heard the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  Well, it’s true! The skin contains healthy nutrients and full of antioxidants and contains 4 grams of fiber. Additionally, the antioxidant found in apples, quercetin, is one of only two that keep your brain healthy and memory sharp.  Try using a mix of baking apples in your Thanksgiving pie.  You’ll get a better depth of flavor and a firm texture in every bite!

Brussel Sprouts

We’re not talking about the over-cooked bitter little cabbage heads that you may have eaten.  Made the correct way, these veggies taste great.  They are packed with vitamin K, a good source of iron and folate.  Plus, they contain a high amount of protein, compared to most veggies, with 3.8 grams of protein per serving. 

Try slicing them in half and spreading them on a sheet pan. Add sliced shallots and drizzle everything with olive oil. Roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until tender-crisp. Remove from the oven. Toss with the juice of half of a lemon and some toasted pine nuts.

Cranberries

Cranberries in a bowl.

According to medicalnewstoday.com, the nutrients in cranberries are linked to a lower risk of urinary tract infections. They also prevent certain types of cancer, improve immune function, and decrease blood pressure. 

With all those benefits, you owe it to yourself to drink more sugar-free cranberry juice starting today!

Kale

Kale is so rich in nutrients, the Huffington Post reports that the Centers for Disease Control ranked it number 1 on their list of fall vegetables based on nutrient density.  It’s low in calories and is packed with Vitamins A, K, C, B, calcium, potassium, magnesium and is high in antioxidants.  You can add to salads but also make kale chips.  Here’s how. . .

Wash and thoroughly dry kale leaves.  Arrange on a sheet pan in a single layer.  Sprinkle with olive oil and salt.  Bake in a 400-degree oven until dry and crispy.  Cool and enjoy!

Parsnips

If you are not familiar with parsnips, they are shaped like carrots but are lighter in color, with a sweeter, nutty flavor.  Add to flavor potatoes or puree in soups.  They are rich in potassium and a good source of fiber.

Pears

Eat these naturally sweet fruits raw, baked, and poached. They are full of Vitamin C, calcium, and potassium.  And if that’s not all, each medium-sized pear contains 6 grams of fiber!  Not only does fiber help you feel full, but high levels of it have been shown to reduce your likelihood of developing colon cancer and reduce cholesterol levels.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate seeds owe their superfood status to polyphenols, powerful antioxidants thought to offer heart health and anti-cancer benefits.  In addition to antioxidants, pomegranates are a source of fiber, B vitamins, vitamins C and K, as well as potassium.  They are just so hard to clean!  Here is an entertaining video on how to open one in six movements.

Pumpkin

It’s rich in potassium and a single serving delivers more than 20% of the daily recommended intake of fiber.  It’s also a good source of B Vitamins. While it’s often used as a base for sweet dishes like pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake, don’t be afraid to roast it and use it in savory dishes like soups and gratins.  

Sweet Potato

Eat this versatile root vegetable more ways than just a sweet casserole topped with marshmallows.  Baked or roasted, it’s more nutritious and an excellent source of Vitamin A.  It’s also a good source or iron and has antioxidant benefits.  You can also slice it, alternated with tart apples and bake it in a shallow dish basted with a little maple syrup!    

Nutritious fall fruits and vegetables should be a big part of your diet.  Diet is so important to your overall health it is one of the Six Keys to Optimal Health.  Vitamins in these autumn treasures can nourish and energize the body with the antioxidants bolster your immune system and help prevent sickness in the cold months ahead. If you want to discuss this or any health and wellness topic, visit our site for a live chat, anytime.  I look forward to speaking with you soon. 

Tips to Improve the Quality of Your Sleep

Tips to Improve the Quality of Your Sleep
A girl sleeping in bed supported by clouds in a blue sky, symbolic of this article on how to improve the quality of your sleep.

Your body needs consistent, quality sleep to function at its best.  From rational thought to your emotional state, your overall health and well being depends on how well you snooze and the consistency of the times you are asleep and awake.  In this third installment of my series on sleep, you will learn about circadian rhythms and how they impact your overall health.  In addition, you will get some easy lifestyle change recommendations and tips to improve the quality of your sleep, and in turn, feel better than ever!

Circadian Rhythms and their Role in Your Health and Wellness

Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. They are found in most living things and respond primarily to light and darkness in the environment. Sleeping at night and being awake during the day is an example of a light-related circadian rhythm. The National Institute for General Medical Science tells us circadian rhythms can influence sleep-wake cycles, hormone and melatonin release, eating habits and digestion, body temperature, and other important bodily functions. For that reason, consistent bed times and wake times are the keys to getting a good night’s sleep and maintaining overall good health.  Disrupted or irregular rhythms have been linked to various chronic health conditions, such as sleep disorders, obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder.  

Sleep Better with These Simple Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle adjustments can greatly improve your quality of sleep.  These are simple adjustments that can have a big impact on your health, so consider the following. . .

Donuts cascading against a white backdrop are an example of what not to eat if you want to improve the quality of your sleep.
Donuts are never a good choice and eating them before bedtime can prevent a good night’s sleep.
  1. Incorporate more fish into your diet.  According to Medical News Today, fatty fish may help improve sleep because they are a good source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, two nutrients that help regulate serotonin.  In a 2014 study, participants who ate 300 g of Atlantic salmon three times a week for 6 months fell asleep more quickly and functioned better during the day than those who ate chicken, beef, or pork with the same nutritional value.
  2. Reduce sugar intakeSleep.org reports the more sugar that you eat during the day, the more often you’re going to wake up in the middle of the night. Even if you don’t fully wake up, the sugar in your system can pull you out of a deep sleep. That can make you feel exhausted the next day.
  3. Get plenty of exercise.  This will reduce stress and anxiety, especially in the morning and early afternoon. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—which reduces stress and improves the ability to sleep.  
  4. Drink less water before bedtime.  You can reduce sleep interruptions if you don’t have to get up to go to the bathroom.
  5. Limit your caffeine intake, especially in the late afternoon or evening.  It’s no secret caffeine is a stimulant and can make it hard to fall asleep.  In additional to that, it can disrupt your circadian rhythm.
  6. Avoid alcohol before bed time.  A glass of wine or a nightcap can help you to fall asleep quickly but it is disruptive to REM sleep. Additionally, it can cause disruptions in breathing.  If you’ve read my article, What Happens to you When You Sleep, you know REM sleep is the dream and restoration phase of the sleep cycle.  According to WebMD, a disruption in REM sleep can lead to daytime drowsiness and poor concentration.  Additionally, disrupted breathing during sleep can lead to the disorder called sleep apnea.  

Tips to Improve the Quality of Your Sleep

Girl sleeping in the middle of the day at her workstation.  This is not an example of quality sleep.
Probably not the best conditions for good quality sleep.
  • Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day.  That’s the sweet spot for most adults.  Sleeping less or more can make you feel sluggish and lethargic.
  • Keep a consistent bedtime and wake time every night, including weekends.  This strengthens your circadian rhythms and trains your body for quality sleep.
  • Get a good mattress and replace it at least every 10 years.  Test it out so you know your preference.  This isn’t the time to shop online.
  • Make sure room temperature is right for you.  Usually, a dark, cool, and quiet room is best.
  • Decompress from work and other stress triggers. Start this process about an hour before you go to bed. It will clear your mind of thoughts that prevent you from falling asleep.
  • Meditation and breathing exercises may help with anxiety prior to falling asleep.
  • Turn off your mobile phone or leave it in another room.
  • Block out external noise by avoiding television, computer time, work emails and tense conversations.
  • Avoid large meals before bed that will be hard to digest. 
  • Chamomile Tea and CBD-infused tea, like the varieties available from Naturally. . .You, can help calm a body for sleep.  As always, we recommend consulting with your doctor before starting a new herbal remedy.

When you are feeling your best, you have the energy and confidence to be your best.  Learning about the role sleep plays in your overall health and how it impacts the way you feel is important to living the best life you can.  We’ve covered a lot in this series of articles and given you the information to understand the process and impact it has.  From the cycle, to disorders, to tips to improve the quality of sleep, Naturally. . . You is here with all the knowledge and tools needed to sleep better and improve your life.  If you want to discuss this or any health and wellness topic, visit our site for a live chat, anytime.  I look forward to speaking with you soon. 

Wake up to the Problems of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep is the single activity humans do more of than anything else.  It is critical to our very survival and one of my Six Keys to Optimal Health.  Yet millions of Americans suffer from sleep deprivation, disorders, and serious health issues that result.  In my last article, What Happens When You Sleep, we learned about the sleep cycle.  This article is a follow up and focuses on quality and quantity of sleep needed.  We also explore the negative impacts and health issues from the lack of snooze time.  When we are children, all we want to do is stay up.  By the time we are in our 40s, all we want to do is sleep longer!   

How Much is Enough?

Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep but according to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult sleeps less than seven hours per night. The Wall Street Journal reports 35.2% of adults don’t get 7 hours of sleep per night.  I know you’re busy and if you get a night of six or seven hours of sleep every once in while, I understand.  But if you are continually getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night, over time, your physical and mental well being will suffer. Children, teens, and babies need even more slumber.  Even though our sleep usually decreases with age, most older people still need about 7 hours of sleep to stay healthy and avoid sleep deprivation. 

A chart of how much sleep is need at different age spans in life.

Problems Caused by Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation causes several minor issues and serious health problems.  Feeling tired, being irritable, and not being able to focus are minor issues and are often the precursors to more serious problems if you don’t  get more sleep.  Over the long run health issues get more serious.  They include memory loss, weight gain, and heart disease.

Memory Loss

While you’re asleep, your brain is processing all the things that its learned throughout the day.  Lack of sleep has a negative impact on short term memory, and you may struggle to concentrate the next day.

Weight Gain

A young lady eating ice cream watching television late at night.
A sad movie, a recent breakup or sleep deprivation?

Too little sleep promotes hormone-induced changes that stimulate your appetite.  The ebb and flow of these hormones create cravings that occur and often result in snacking in the evening.  Let’s face it, when you want a nighttime snack, are you reaching for ice cream or celery sticks?  If your like most people I know, you’re reaching for the bowl and scoop.  Also, if you are tired, you may not want to exercise which also contributes to weight gain.

Heart Disease

The stress of being awake for extended periods of time will cause your body to produce more chemicals keeping muscle and brain activity on high alert.  The body requires rest, especially those always on the go.  Too much stress and not enough rest can lead to heart disease for those who sleep less than 6 hours a night. According to tusk.com, Short sleepers (people who slept fewer than 6 hours) had nearly a 50% higher risk of dying from coronary heart disease.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are pretty common and is defined as anything that affects the ability to sleep well on a regular basis.  Most people occasionally experience sleeping problems due to stress, crazy schedules, and other issues.  But when they begin to occur on a regular basis and interfere with daily life, it may be a sign that a sleeping disorder exists.  Here are a few of the major sleeping disorders:

  • Insomnia is the inability to fall or stay asleep.  Stress, anxiety, hormones, and digestive issues can be the cause.  This is the most common sleep disorder in America.
  • Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that interrupts breathing during sleep.  It can cause the body to take in less oxygen and can cause you to wake up during the night.
  • Narcolepsy is a sleep attack that occurs during the day.  You suddenly feel extremely tired and fall asleep without warning.
  • Parasomnias cause abnormal movements and behaviors during sleep and include sleepwalking, sleep talking, nightmares, teeth grinding or jaw clenching.

Sleep disorders are diagnosed by physical exam and testing via sleep studies, assessing electrical activity in the brain and genetic blood testing.  Treatments vary and it’s always best to discuss medical treatments with your physician.

More to come

If you had trouble sleeping last night, you are not alone.  You were just one of the 164 million Americans that have trouble falling and staying asleep every night.  The health impacts on those with chronic sleep deprivation can be serious and lead to long term health problems.  In my next article, I will explore the role of circadian rhythms has on triggering sleep and tips to snooze the night away.  Until then, if you have any questions about this or any health and wellness topic, visit my site and hit me up with a live chat.  You can also call me at 813.505.9815 anytime.  I look forward to talking with you soon.