Health & Wellness

Sleep Your Way To Better Skin 0

The Science of Sleep graphic

Sleep. We all love it… but are we getting enough of it?

You have probably heard that, ideally, you should be getting about 8 hours of sleep per night. Unfortunately, our busy schedules don’t always agree.

The nervous system is composed of both the sympathetic system and the parasympathetic system. The sympathetic system is in charge during our waking hours, but it’s the parasympathetic system that runs the show while we sleep and allows your body to repair itself on the cellular level.

While we are sleeping, blood flow shifts to the skin meaning the skin is receiving more oxygen thus allowing repair mechanisms to kick into gear. These repair mechanisms a.) deliver amino acids to the skin allowing for collagen synthesis, and b.) drain many of the toxins that were accumulated throughout the day.

Simply stated, during sleep our skin isn’t under attack from the elements. This makes it the perfect time for some TLC.

So what happens if you are not getting enough sleep?

Without enough rest, your body does not have the opportunity to repair and restore itself. You may begin to retain more water because you are not giving your kidneys adequate time to flush this excess fluid. In turn, you may appear puffy, especially around the eye area. Too little sleep can also spark inflammatory responses triggering disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, and other not-so-nice skin conditions.

Furthermore, chronic sleep deprivation compromises the immune system and has a negative impact on more than your outward appearance. It can seriously increase your risk of other, more serious diseases.

What can you do about it? Try to make sleep a priority, a non-negotiable as you would with going to work, picking the kids up from school, eating, breathing. Getting a proper night’s rest is so crucial to your health. Do your best to get 7-8 hours a night, budget your time accordingly, and reap the beautiful benefits of a good night’s sleep.

For more information about sleep and the impact it has on your health please visit the National Sleep Foundation.

Cocoa vs. Cacao… What’s the difference? 0

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As the “superfood” takeover is at a high, chances are you have been hearing a lot about goji berries, chia, dragonfruit, flax, acaihemp seeds, maca powder, and last but not least… cacao. But what is cacao? Is it just a fancy name for chocolate in disguise?

The most common misconception is that cocoa (think hot chocolate, M&M’s, chocolate chips, and the most commonly consumed forms of chocolate) and cacao (an amazing “superfood”) are the same thing, just spelled differently. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Chocolate is made of the beans from the cacao tree, so in essence, cacao is chocolate in it’s purest form. Not only is cacao a tasty treat, it is jam packed with benefits. Cocoa on the other hand, is not…

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Though cocoa does contain small amounts of cacao, it also contains other ingredients such as sugar (and lots of it), fat, unhealthy oils, and artificial flavorings. Yes, it’s delicious, but unfortunately… not so nutritious.

Cacao on it’s own has quite a unique and different flavor and consistency than the chocolate we all know and love. The cacao bean is quite bitter, whereas chocolate is sweet and creamy. This is due to the added sugar, cream, etc. The good news is, there are many types of “healthy” chocolates available to satisfy your sweet tooth.

How can I tell which chocolates are “healthy” you may ask. The easiest way to determine a “healthy” chocolate from a “not so healthy” chocolate is by looking at it’s percentage of cacao. Aim for 70% and higher to ensure your body reaps some of the healthy benefits of cacao including glowing skin and hearth health and avoids the not so healthy pitfalls of sugar, milk-fat, highly processed oils, and other not so nice ingredients found in cocoa. You can also find chocolates sweetened with agave, coconut syrup, palm sugar, and other natural sweeteners.

Remember, moderation is the key! If it is good old-fashioned chocolate you are craving, then indulge yourself and have a bite (or two)… but if you are looking for a sweet treat that may do more good than harm, give cacao a try. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Just My Cup Of Tea 0

tea time

If you’re like most people you find that there is no better way to start your day than with a warm beverage (and most likely some caffeine) in hand. If tea happens to be your beverage of choice than you are in luck! Tea is jam packed with major health benefits (and it’s pretty tasty too). Here are just a few reasons why the best part of waking up might just be a toasty cup of tea.

Benefits of tea:

Black tea is full of antioxidants (aka flavonoids). It helps the body to protect itself from damage caused by free radicals. It has also been know to lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and stroke as well as lowering blood pressure and improving overall cardiovascular health. Black tea also contains caffeine which is accompanied by a plethora of health benefits including liver detoxification, increasing dopamine levels in the brain, and improving memory to name a few.

Green tea has been touted by health gurus the world over. Many people enjoy green tea for it’s thermogenic effects. It is known to boost energy, increase metabolism, and aid in weight loss, but that’s not all green tea is good for. EGCG is a powerful catechin found in green tea. This potent antioxidant is packed with health benefits and is said to aid in the fight against cancer, chronic fatigue, endometriosis, osteoporosis, and high cholesterol. Green tea also acts as a wonderful stress reliever.

Looking for a tea to unwind with? Look no further than rooibos. This delicious red tea is caffeine free, yet rich in iron, potassium, copper, calcium, manganese, zinc, and magnesium. It’s full of antioxidants and is said to slow the aging process, relieve headaches, insomnia, indigestion, and irritability. This tea is also beneficial to those suffering from hay fever, eczema, and asthma.

If any of these sound like your cup of tea drink up and let your body enjoy the bountiful benefits!

Amazing MUFAs 1

meet the mufas

You are probably asking yourself… “What the heck is a MUFA?” We’ll break them down for you and explain why it can be extremely beneficial to your health to incorporate a MUFA into each and every meal.

MUFA stands for monounsaturated fatty acid meaning healthy, plant based fats (the “good” kinds of fats) that are found in some of your favorite foods including nuts and seeds, oils, olives, avocado  and last but certainly not least… dark chocolate!

Not only are MUFAs super tasty, they are also packed with major health benefits. MUFAs enhance satiety, meaning they will fill you up fast and keep you feeling fuller, longer. They also boost heart health, protect against diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and hypertension, keep your skin looking vibrant, and target stubborn belly fat!

It’s easy to incorporate MUFAs into your meals. Use healthy oils for cooking, add avocado to your sandwich or salad, snack on nuts and seeds in between meals, and treat yourself with a little bit of dark chocolate.

What’s The Deal With BPA? 0

BPA Free Mason Jar

BPA… chances are you have heard of it, but do you know what it is? BPA stands for Bisphenol A which is a chemical used to make certain plastics and resins (polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins in particular). Plastic containers such as water bottles are often made of polycarbonate plastics. Epoxy resins are often used to coat the inside of metal containers such as cans. BPA has also been found in the breast-milk of mothers exposed to BPA.

So why is BPA such a big deal? There is no doubt you have heard of BPA free containers and probably own a few. BPA has been show to seep into food and beverages when they are stored in containers containing BPA. Why is this something you want to avoid? Though the jury is still out, BPA may cause negative health effects on the brain and behavior of fetuses, infants, and young children.

What should you do if you want to steer clear of BPA? One of the easiest steps is to purchase BPA-free products such as BPA-free water bottles and plastic containers or use alternatives to plastic such as glass. Another step is to cut down on your canned food consumption as the inside of cans are so often lined with materials containing BPA. Lastly, avoid heating polycarbonate plastic containers by avoiding the microwave and dishwasher. Heat may break down the plastic over time causing it to leach into food and beverages.

Overall, though we may not know the extent of damage due to BPA, it is certainly better to play it safe.

Beauty Blunders 0

beauty blunders

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again… NEVER sleep in your makeup! This isn’t just a myth or something your mother liked to tell you to do. We’ll tell you why sleeping in your makeup is one of the worst things you can do for your skin!

Premature aging: Yes! It’s true. Sleeping with your makeup on can cause premature aging for a number of reasons. If you forgo washing your face before you hit the hay you are essentially sleeping with the enemy. An entire day’s worth of irritants and pollution are being absorbed by your largest organ (your skin) in the form of free radicals. This leads to a breakdown in collagen which results in fine lines, wrinkles, and dull looking skin. Your skin naturally renews itself overnight and leaving your makeup on prevents this natural process from taking place.

Breakouts: This one is fairly self-explanatory. If you don’t allow your skin to breathe your pores will eventually become clogged. Clogged pores = acne and nobody wants that.

Eye irritation: Though sleeping with mascara, eyeliner, and eyeshadow on may not seem quite as bad as sleeping with a full face of foundation on, it is accompanied by a whole new slew of health issues including styes. When oil glands and hair follicles along your lash line become clogged it can result in a stye. Styes can range from minor irritations to something that may require a doctor’s attention.

All in all, shaving five minutes off of your bedtime routine is not worth it. Next time you are thinking about falling into bed without washing your face think again. You may have sweet dreams, but its effects on your skin could be a total nightmare.

The Not So Sweet Side of Sugar 0

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 MmmmmmSUGAR! It seems to make life so sweet… or does it? We all know that though sugar may taste delicious, it can have a negative impact on our health. Sugar can increase cholesterol, contribute to diabetes, weaken eyesight, cause cardiovascular disease, contribute to osteoporosis, interfere with protein absorption, and fuel the growth of cancer, but did you know that it can also wreak havoc on your skin? When simple sugar molecules such as glucose, or fructose attach to fats and proteins rogue molecules begin to form. This process is known as glycation. Glycation causes the onset of wrinkles, can make your skin brittle and inflamed, and destroys both collagen and elastin.

How can you have your cake and eat it too? There is no need to cut out sugar completely. Sugar naturally occurs in many healthy foods such as fruit. There are also healthy and natural substitutes such as stevia. Honey and agave are other great substitutes as they have a lower glycemic index than sugar. Just remember to steer clear of those nasty chemical substitutes. They don’t come without a price and are accompanied by a whole new slew of health problems.

Another way to fight the glycation process is by upping your intake of antioxidants. Filling up on green tea, berries, and spinach are good ways to keep the nasty side effects of sugar at bay and help protect your skin.

Just remember… 

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The ABCs of UV Rays 1

 UVA UVB

We have all heard about the many dangers of the sun’s rays, along with a few benefits (hello Vitamin D!)… but do you know the difference between UVA and UVB rays? Here’s the low down.

UVA rays are always present during daytime hours, even on a cloudy day. They have the ability to penetrate more deeply than UVB rays. Have you ever gotten a suntan through your car window? You can thank UVA rays for that.

The problem with UVA rays is that we can’t always see or feel them. This gives us a false sense of security. Anyone who has gotten the dreaded ski goggle tan knows that looks can be deceiving. It may be cold and cloudy out, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to use sun protection.

UVA rays damage cells deep beneath the surface of your skin. You may not always notice this damage right away; unfortunately, it may become more evident later on in life in the form of sunspots and wrinkles.

UVB rays are not as prevalent as UVA rays; however, they are quite powerful. These rays are more dominant during the summer months when the sun is shining. They are strongest at mid day, making it extra important to protect your skin during this time.

Sunscreens were originally formulated to protect against UVB rays, as these were originally thought to be the most damaging. Now in days most sunscreens are formulated to protect against both UVA an UVB rays. Just check the label for “UVA/UVB” or “broad spectrum” that way you know you are covered (literally). We love Skin Medica’s Daily Physical Defense SPF 30+. It is sheer, oil free, hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic [<– this means it won’t clog your pores]! This product is perfect for everyday use and is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

For more information on the sun’s rays, potential sun damage, and sun safety please check out the Skin Cancer Foundation’s website.

Oh Honey… How to Beat Those Allergy Blues 0

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People can be allergic to a number of things including food, medications, certain types of metals, animal dander and so forth, however, it is estimated that 36 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from seasonal allergies… are you one of them?

Allergies are actually nothing more than a misdirected immune response. When an allergen (in this case pollen) enters your body, your immune system is triggered and may go into overdrive. Histamine and other chemicals are then released into the body. This is what causes symptoms such as an itchy nose, watery eyes, sneezing, headaches, and congestion among many others.

So what can be done to win the battle against pesky pollen? Of course there are both over the counter and prescription medications that have proven very effective, though many may opt for a different route. If you are looking for a natural allergy remedy, look no further than your local health food store or farmers market.

Local honey is becoming an extremely popular alternative treatment for allergy sufferers everywhere. The school of though behind this is that the honey itself introduces small doses of these allergens in a weakened form (much like a vaccine). Honey contains pollen spores from a variety of plants in the area where the honey is cultivated. These small doses allow your body to get accostumed to these spores without triggering an immune response. This is called immunotherapy.  When eaten regularly, you may be able to gradually “vaccinate” yourself against these allergy offenders.

The key is that the honey must be local (think within the same county that you reside). This way your body will be introduced to the appropriate pollen spores. If you live in San Diego and are using a honey from the central coast, it will not have the same therapeutic effect.

Next time you or a loved one is suffering from allergies reach for the local honey. You (and your immune system) may be in for a sweet surprise.

All About Arnica 0

Arnica Montana

Many of you have probably heard of Arnica Montana, in fact, it is one of the most popular homeopathic remedies throughout the world… but what exactly is it? Arnica Montana is a perennial that grows throughout northern and central Europe as well as Siberia. It is more commonly known as the mountain daisy. St. Hildergard, a 12th century nun, once wrote about the healing properties of this little plant. It has been growing in popularity since the 16th century. Arnica can now be found in almost every health food store as well as many people’s medicine cabinets.

Why is Arnica so popular? It is a natural pain reliever, soothes aches and pains such as sore muscles, relieves stiffness, and reduces bruising. Arnica can be taken internally or used as an ointment. Though Arnica is toxic at full strength, it is completely safe when diluted homeopathically. We recommend Arnica Montana to our patients to relieve post-procedure pain, bruising, and swelling. In fact, Arnica can be taken before elective procedures and injections as a preventive measure.

To learn more about Arnica Montana, including vendors in your area, visit Boiron’s website.