8 natural immunity boosters to get you through cold and flu season

February 2, 2017 by  
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Even if you get your flu shot , wash your hands religiously, and try to steer clear of people at home or in the office who are hacking and sneezing, fighting against all the germs and illnesses that seem to proliferate in winter is an uphill battle. While we can’t promise these seven natural immunity boosters will keep you from needing to take a single sick day this winter, incorporating them into your life may improve your chances of a less severe sickness, a quicker recovery time, and even avoiding “catching” a bug in the first place. Some of them (such as getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals) are pretty obviously the basic building blocks of a healthy lifestyle, but its always good to have a little reminder how to stay healhty. Hit the jump to find out how to boost your immune system nature’s way. Image © flickr user planetchopstick 1. Rest up and get some sleep We all know this one, but its easier said than done, right? Instead of fighting long nights with blue screens, Netflix binges, and snacks, try to make an early (or earlier) bedtime a priority. Sleeping does more than feel good: it gives your body a chance to repair itself on a cellular level. Numerous studies have shown that being sleep-deprived makes you more likely to get colds; long-term sleep deprivation may be linked with more serious illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Many of us are pretty exhausted , but if going to sleep is challenging, experiment with a few of the following suggestions: Dim the lights and turn off electronic devices about an hour before bed. Give yourself time to digest before heading to Snoozetown. Falling asleep on a full stomach can be difficult so try to make your last meal or snack a few hours before bedtime. Smell your way to sleep. Dab a bit of lavender essential oil on your pressure points (including wrists and behind the ears) to help your mind relax. 2. Whip up some Golden Milk Golden Milk , a creamy turmeric-spiked drink that has recently been added to menus on coffee and tea shops in the United States, has its origins in Ayurveda. Turmeric ’s active ingredient is curcumin, which has been touted as being anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. You’ll love this drink as a warm and soothing alternative to coffee or tea any time of the day, but we especially adore it when winding down at night. Choose your favorite non-dairy milk as the base; try cashew, which has sleep-inducing and regulating tryptophan. Another healthy turmeric-tinged drink: make a “tea” by mixing lemon juice, slices of ginger, turmeric, and a little liquid sweetener (such as honey) with warm water. Image via Pixabay 3. Eat a vegetable rainbow Incorporating a wide array of veggies and veggie colors is recommended for most healthful and nourishing diets, but it’s especially important for boosting immunity. Vitamins such as C and A have been studied for their ability to fight off illness, so add plenty of dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, and carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes . Actually eating your vitamins in whole veggie form is preferable to supplementing with often unregulated pills and capsules. Selenium, a mineral found in garlic, broccoli, and brazil nuts , also has been touted as an immune system booster. Image © Pixabay 4. Find some magical mushrooms The fungus kingdom is notoriously defensive against bacteria and viruses – after all, it was funguses (specifically the Penicillium mold) which lead to the development of modern day antibiotics. Many funguses produce chemicals that kill viruses and bacteria. Some funguses are believe to have anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties as well. Mushrooms, especially Asian varieties such as shiitake, enoki, and maitake , contain natural anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties including the immune-boosting chemical beta-glucan . Plus, they’re delicious can be added to virtually any meal — breakfast, lunch or dinner. Always make sure you fully cook mushrooms for optimal nutrition and so that you can digest them properly! Image © Aris Setya via Shutterstock 5. Feed your gut flora Speaking of funguses, having a healthy ecosystem of good gut bacteria and fungi is critical for immune health. Did you know that 70-80% of your immune tissue is located in your digestive tract? Traditional foods from a variety of cultures are plentiful sources of probiotics (aka beneficial bacteria) that can feed your gut flora. Cultured yogurts and kefirs, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha , and more provide diverse belly flora, which may help lower levels of inflammation in your gut and boost your immune system. Probiotics are often found in fermented foods; the fermenting process promotes the growth of millions of microorganisms that help break down food. In addition to potentially helping to ward off some illnesses before they attack, probiotics are also used to help replenish the gut microbiome after a course of antibiotics. 6. Sip hot soup A version of Grandma’s healing chicken soup can be found in almost any family lineage, and doctors have figured out that the power of this soup is more than just the nostalgia factor. Soups can deliver easily digestible and nourishing nutrients and keep you hydrated. When you have a cold or sore throat, the steam and humidity of soup can help clear clogged nasal passages as well. Vegetarians and vegans can make up their own version of no-chicken soup or whip up a quick and healthful miso soup instead. 7. Get your blood flowing Exercise and immune function have a slightly contentious relationship: exercising too strenuously has actually been linked with a suppressed immune function, but the benefits of moderate exercise outweigh the potential negatives so don’t throw in the (gym) towel: exercising moderately through brisk walks, cycling, pilates, yoga , dance class, or lifting at the gym can give you an immunity boost. Moving, however it suits you, gets blood circulating, may help flush out bacteria and viruses, lowers stress levels, and helps you sleep better. If you exercise outdoors you can also get the benefit of fresh air and soak in a little Vitamin D from the sun, another key element to a healthy immune system. 8. Get some sunshine Vitamin D is produced naturally in your body when your skin is exposed to UV radiation from the sun. Vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a vitamin, and is thought to play a role in regulating the immune system. It is found in relatively few food products, but it can be found in fortified milk products and mushrooms. Many people have low levels of Vitamin D, so its always helpful to get outside for a 30 minute walk in the sunshine to boost your immune system. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, it is hard in the winter to get enough Vitamin D from the sun alone, so it’s a good idea to drink a Vitamin-D fortified beverage or take a supplement (and/or eat lots of mushrooms!). Image via Shutterstock 8. Herbs and supplements While most of our recommendations can be found in whole foods or through making healthy lifestyle choices, a few potentially powerful immune boosters are best when taken in supplement form, whether as tinctures, capsules, or even as part of a tea. Taking vitamin C and zinc capsules regularly or at the first sign of a cold can work wonders for the immune system. Some herbal remedies have found their way into the mainstream market, including echinacea, astragalus, ginseng, elderberry and reishi mushrooms and can be purchased separately. Visiting a professional, such as a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner who has knowledge of and expertise in prescribing an array of herbs and medicinal roots, may be your best bet for getting the appropriate dosage and most effective combo. While you are there, consider having an acupuncture treatment, which has also been associated with boosting immune function. Lead image via Shutterstock

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8 natural immunity boosters to get you through cold and flu season

Cutting back sugar in your child’s diet can improve their health dramatically

January 28, 2017 by  
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Last year, a study in the journal Obesity revealed that cutting back on sugar for just 10 days can improve your child’s health. For 10 days, children in the study reduced their sugar intake by 28% without changing anything else in their diet. In just 10 days, diabetes markers, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides were lowered. The American Heart Association has jumped on that message, recommending that children under 2 not eat any sugar at all and kids above the age of 2 stick to just 2 tablespoons. image via Shutterstock

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Cutting back sugar in your child’s diet can improve their health dramatically

Zika may have claimed its first victim in the continental US

July 13, 2016 by  
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Last Friday, health officials announced that the first death related to Zika has occurred in the continental US. An elderly patient in Utah had tested positive for Zika virus after traveling to an affected region, but because of the person’s underlying health conditions, it’s not known if the virus was the sole cause of death, or if it merely contributed. Doctors were unable to confirm the presence of the virus until after the patient had already died. At this time, the Salt Lake County Department of Health is not revealing any further information about the patient, so their identity, and even the location where they contracted Zika, are both currently unknown. While this case is alarming, it shouldn’t be a reason to panic. There are been 1,132 cases of Zika in the US diagnosed so far , but all of the affected patients are believed to have contracted the virus while traveling. So far, there have been no cases of the disease transmitted within US borders . Related: Experimental Zika vaccine to be tested on humans for the first time This death follows that of a Puerto Rican man back in February. Unlike the continental US, there is evidence that the infection has been transmitted by local mosquitos within the territory. The CDC is advising that pregnant women avoid traveling to Puerto Rico, and that all travelers take measures to avoid exposure to mosquitos while there. Via CNN Images via  Shutterstock  and Pixabay

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Zika may have claimed its first victim in the continental US

6 cycling accessories every bike commuter needs

July 13, 2016 by  
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Bike commuters enjoy plenty of advantages with their chosen mode of transportation: less impact on the environment, great cardiovascular health, and being able to zip through traffic. But cyclists also run into a variety of dilemmas on the road. Luckily, a variety of companies are creating products and technologies that make bike commutes more comfortable and hassle-free. We’ve lined up six cool cycling accessories that are especially useful for commuters – check them out. 1. Fontus self-filling water bottle Running out of water on a hot and humid ride can be a nightmare for cyclists, but Fontus has taken care of that problem. The solution is a self-filling water bottle . Water droplets are harvested straight out of the air with the system’s two-chambered cooler, which turns condensation into drinkable hydration. The Ryde model can be affixed to bicycles, collecting as much as a half liter of H2O during an hour-long commute. 2. EVELO electric-converting Omni Wheel Unlike cars, you don’t have to trade in your traditional bike for an electric one. EVELO ’s Omni Wheel transforms your ride into an e-bike in just 30 minutes. The wheel contains the battery, electronics, and motor needed to power your cycle electrically and fits to replace most standard cycles’ front wheels. An adjustable pedal assist feature helps to customize your commute and links your travel data to a wireless display. The system is priced at about half the going rate for an entirely new electric bike, and you get to convert your cycle back to its human-powered glory whenever you want. 3. Buca Boot weatherproof bicycle trunk Any rider who has ever wished for spacious and secure storage during their commute would love a Buca Boot . Modeled after car trunks, the versatile storage system attaches to your bicycle and can only be locked or detached with a key. It features expandable side pannier bags and a wooden lid that can open on its hinges to accommodate larger items, like bags of groceries. The weatherproof design is perfect for all climates and riders can choose between three different colors to fit their style. 4. Self-inflating PumpTire tube Say goodbye to the days of over-inflating your bike tires before you hit the road. PumpTire ’s puncture-resistant bike tube uses the rhythmic compression of riding to fill your cycle’s tire during your commute. Once the preset tire pressure level is reached, the mechanism shuts off, completely behind the scenes, so you can enjoy your journey without the worry of going flat. Kits fit any standard, third-party 700c and 26-inch bicycle tires . 5. Bike Lift&Carry shoulder strap Carrying a bike up and down stairs is the bane of cyclists  everywhere, but this shoulder strap helps you transport your ride with ease, all while leaving one hand free to navigate doors or elevators. The Bike Lift&Carry system affixes below the seat, out of sight, until you need it. The strap extends to the handlebars, where a carabine keeps it securely in place for transport. A press of a button rolls the strap back into place until you need it again. The revolutionary product also comes in a variety of colors to match your ride. 6. DIY bamboo Mandy Fenders In less than 30 minutes, Bamboobee ’s innovative Mandy Fender can be installed without mechanical expertise. A special memory film in the design allows users to contour the fender to their desired shape and attach it to the frame. Riders can also switch out the interchangeable fender for each bike they own. The veneers’ bamboo material is not only environmentally sustainable, lightweight, and weather-resistant, but also an attractive addition to any bike. Images via Fontus , EVELO , Buca Boot , PumpTire , Bike Lift&Carry , Bamboobee

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L’Oral’s wearable patch changes color to warn against skin cancer

June 3, 2016 by  
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When most of us hear the name L’Oréal, we think of makeup and hair products, not tech innovation. That may soon be changing . Many don’t realize it, but the cosmetics giant has been pouring its efforts in recent years into celebrating and supporting women in science and running its very own technology incubator. Now, those efforts seem to be coming to fruition as the company unveils its first wearable device , a skin patch designed to help prevent cancer. Named ” My UV Patch ,” the device is a wearable skin patch just a few centimeters in size and half the thickness of a human hair. The sticky, transparent film is meant to be worn for several days, absorbing sunlight whenever the wearer goes outside. The adhesive is loaded with light-sensitive dyes that change color when exposed to UV light, so it allows the wearer to see if they’re being exposed to too many damaging UV rays over time. Related: L’Oreal to begin 3D-printing human skin The color changes can be hard to decode, which is why the patch also comes with an Android or iOS app , which uses a mobile device’s camera to scan the patch, compare it to the user’s baseline skin tone, and then tracks how much sun the users have been exposed to over time. Since the patch is looking at long-term exposure to the sun, it isn’t intended to serve as a warning when the time comes to reapply sunscreen . The patch will be completely free and is set to launch in 16 different countries worldwide sometime this summer. Via IFLScience Photos via L’Oreal and Shutterstock   Save

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Norway becomes the first country in world to commit to a zero deforestation supply chain

June 3, 2016 by  
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Norway has become the first country in the world to commit to zero deforestation . The Norwegian parliament’s  Standing Committee on Energy and the Environment made the pledge in a recommendation on the government’s Action Plan on Nature Diversity. The committee requested that the government “impose requirements to ensure that public procurements do not contribute to deforestation of the rainforest.” The committee also requested that the government protect biodiversity  through a new policy and the investments made by the Norges Bank Investment Management, which manages Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global. Related: Norway is spending almost $1 billion to build ten bicycle superhighways “This is an important victory in the fight to protect the rainforest. Over the last few years, a number of companies have committed to cease the procurement of goods that can be linked to destruction of the rainforest”, said Nils Hermann Ranum of Rainforest Foundation Norway. “Until now, this has not been matched by similar commitments from governments. Thus, it is highly positive that the Norwegian state is now following suit and making the same demands when it comes to public procurements.” The Rainforest Foundation of Norway called on other countries follow Norway’s lead and commit to zero deforestation, particularly Germany and the UK, the two nations that in 2014 at the UN Climate Summit in New York made a joint declaration along with Norway stating their intention to “promote national commitments that encourage deforestation-free supply chains, including through public procurement policies to sustainably source commodities such as palm oil, soy, beef and timber.” Via Climate Action News Images via Flickr and Wikipedia

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Norway becomes the first country in world to commit to a zero deforestation supply chain

New labels would show how long it takes to walk off your favorite food

April 8, 2016 by  
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What if instead of counting calories , you could see how many minutes of running or walking it would take to work off your favorite junk food ? Would you think twice about scarfing down a burger? That’s the idea presented by the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) , which suggests “ activity equivalent labeling ” might be a powerful tool to fight obesity . Read the rest of New labels would show how long it takes to walk off your favorite food

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UK’s first solar-powered glazed bus shelter generates enough electricity to power a London home

April 8, 2016 by  
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Why green cleaning is so important for your health

March 11, 2016 by  
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The debate over whether natural cleaning products clean as well as or better than chemically based products is something people have struggled with for years. How do traditional cleaning products and methods compare to commercial cleaning alternatives? Decades ago there was no ‘Mr Clean’ – people found successful ways to make natural solutions work. Yet even though this is known as fact, some are skeptical – can natural products and ingredients really clean as efficiently as chemical based products? Read the rest of Why green cleaning is so important for your health

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Google files patent for blood-sucking smartwatch

December 8, 2015 by  
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Your Apple watch may monitor your heart rate and track your workouts, but there’s one thing it can’t do — monitor your blood sugar levels. Google ‘s looking to change all that with a new smartwatch patent it just filed that for a “needle-free blood draw” device that could be implanted into a wearable. The patent also contains a potential hand-held version of the device. Read the rest of Google files patent for blood-sucking smartwatch

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