This Is the Year of Zucchini!

Zucchini isn’t exactly America’s favorite veggie, but there are plenty of things to love about it. This slender, tender variety of squash provides many healthy nutrients. It also packs lots of flavor and freshness — if you know how to use it in dishes the right way.

A Source of Amazing Vitamins and Nutrients

The list of vitamins and minerals in a cup of zucchini reads like the label on a multivitamin bottle:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Thiamine
  • Copper

Just one cup of zucchini can give you around 10–15% of your daily needs for these vitamins. That’s pretty impressive for a relatively inexpensive veggie!

Heaven for Your Gut

Zucchini has plenty of water, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, which is excellent for gut health. Adding it to meals can make them easier for your body to digest. For some people, zucchini and other green veggies can alleviate the pain and inflammation of ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and other chronic digestive problems.

The Green (and Yellow) Antioxidant Powerhouse

Another reason to love zucchini’s nutrients is that many of them provide important antioxidants. For example, green and yellow zucchini are rich in carotenoids — the same family of antioxidants found in carrots. These compounds support and protect the body:

  • Eyes: Like carrots, zucchini are a great veggie for protecting your eyesight. This isn’t a myth. Beta-carotene and vitamin C can significantly reduce the risk of age-related vision loss and cataracts.
  • Bones: Vitamin K, magnesium and antioxidants in zucchini all work together to help you have stronger bones.
  • Prostate: While more research is needed, some studies suggest that zucchini seeds may help limit prostate enlargement.
  • Thyroid: Some scientists think that extracts from zucchini peels may support balanced thyroid hormones. If true, it could help your metabolism, energy levels and mood.
  • Cells: Some studies point to zucchini for helping prevent the growth of cancer or even destroying cancerous cells. A lot more research is needed to confirm this, but it’s a pretty impressive potential benefit for just adding colorful vegetables to your diet!

A Perfect Carb Replacer

Now for one of the biggest reasons why this is the year of the zucchini: low-carb lifestyles! Zucchini has a firm texture and smooth taste that work great as a substitute for traditional carb-heavy staples. Instead of pasta, you can spiralize zucchini in seconds for flavorful Italian dishes.

Easy Veggies From Your Garden

Growing zucchini is a breeze. Just plant some seeds in a sunny spot, give them at least two inches of water each week, and enjoy the fruits… er, veggies of your labor in about 45 days. A good harvest will give you plenty of zucchini to share with friends, too.

Awesome Ways To Use Zucchini

If you’ve never eaten zucchini raw in salads, you don’t know what you’ve been missing. Here are other irresistible meal ideas:

  • Tomato and zucchini salad with olive oil vinaigrette
  • Zucchini, carrot and cabbage slaw
  • Grilled halibut with lemon zucchini noodles
  • Grilled zucchini slices with olive oil and basil (side dish)
  • Sauteed shrimp and zucchini stir fry
  • Spicy zucchini with turmeric-ginger chicken
  • No-noodle zucchini lasagna
  • Zucchini au gratin with garlic, parmesan and pecorino

A word of advice: Don’t overcook! Just toss the zucchini in at the last minute, like you would with herbs or green onions.

Carbonation and Gut Health

Over the past several years, research and studies provided insight into the gut-brain connection and the importance of gut health. A balanced microbiome can not only improve digestion and GI function, but it can also improve mental health and overall biological function.

Most people understand that water is the most beneficial beverage for their diet. The human body needs water to operate. Still, people like variety, and water is not the most diverse beverage on the planet. Many people turn to teas, coffee, and sodas for variety.

However, a new trend suggests drinking carbonated beverages for improved gut health. Some people even promote carbonated sodas. Is carbonation a solution for improved gut health, or is it only a fad and a pipe dream?

Carbonation and Gut Health

There are many benefits to drinking carbonated or sparkling water. According to some experts, carbonated water can improve digestion, swallowing, and feelings of fullness while reducing constipation.

Unfortunately, carbonated beverages can also result in bloating and belching. The drinks are made from dissolved carbon dioxide. The compound expands to a gas when it reaches the warm temperatures of the stomach and GI tract. The stomach expands to accommodate the gas, and belching occurs to release it.

Soda and Gut Health

There are many rumors about how soda can improve gut health or ease stomach ailments, but there is little truth to the speculation. Some studies suggest that drinking carbonated soda, such as Sprite, can help with digestion because of PH values.

In truth, carbonated sodas might cause indigestion and promote acid reflux. According to experts, carbonation leads to gastric distention, resulting in more pressure on the esophageal sphincter. Therefore, people who deal with acid reflux or heartburn should stay away from soda and other carbonated beverages.

Drinks That Promote Gut Health

If you are going to drink carbonated beverages, stick to water. If you are looking for beverages to support your overall gut health, consider one of the following:

  • Kombucha
  • Peppermint tea
  • Ginger tea
  • Fennel tea
  • Lemongrass tea
  • Coffee

The above beverages all offer more benefits than sodas. Soda is a sugar-sweetened drink, and it can result in increased risks of heart disease, metabolic disorders, and tooth decay.

Water Is the Superior Beverages

If you are looking for the most beneficial beverage, it is water, hands down. Water is free of any additives and chemicals or potentially damaging compounds.

Carbonated water can also provide benefits for digestion and diet. However, you must also be aware that carbonation can result in an upset stomach, bloating, and unwanted gas.

As for beverages that contribute to gut health, Kombucha — a fermented drink — is likely the most beneficial. However, you will also want to limit your intake of the drink.

Carbonation is not some magical potion that will heal an unhealthy or unbalanced gut microbiome. The carbonation can increase feelings of fullness and prevent constipation, but that does not mean it will improve gut health. As usual, the only way to promote health is with a healthy diet and exercise.

Supplement and Prescription Interactions: 4 Supplements To Avoid

Many people take supplements to ensure they meet nutritional guidelines. Often, you can take supplements, such as a multivitamin, without little concern. Still, many people take supplements while taking prescription medications. While potential interactions are rare, several supplements do not mix well with medications.

Before taking any supplement, you should talk to your doctor, even if you are not on any medications. However, talking with your physician is more crucial when taking a prescription. There are at least four supplements you should avoid when taking specific medications.

1. Turmeric

Turmeric is an ancient spice. Many nutritionists and researchers praise the supplement for a few reasons, including:

  • Improved memory 
  • Reduced inflammation 
  • Decreased risk of heart disease

Unfortunately, turmeric also possesses anticoagulant effects. If you take a blood thinner, you want to avoid turmeric because it can result in internal bleeding. You should also avoid vitamin E and Ginkgo Biloba, two supplements that can also thin the blood.

Still, experts explain that turmeric is still acceptable to use in foods and cooking. Doctors and researchers do not believe herbs and spices have much effect on the body when used in foods.

2. St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort comes from a flowering shrub that is native to Europe. The supplement is often praised for its ability to treat moderate or mild depression. Additionally, many women use it to reduce symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes.

Despite the usefulness and potential effectiveness of the supplement, St. John's Wort does not mix well with many prescriptions. Some of the many medications the supplement interacts with include:

  • omeprazole 
  • alprazolam 
  • Birth control pills 
  • Hormone replacement therapies 
  • Some statins 
  • Some antihistamines 
  • Paxlovid

3. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a common nutrient in various foods. A person can meet all vitamin C requirements by consuming:

  • Broccoli 
  • Strawberries 
  • Tomatoes 
  • Oranges 
  • Kiwi 
  • Bell peppers 
  • Kale 
  • Snow peas

Despite the number of natural sources of vitamin C, many people still take supplements. Supplements are popular because people believe the additional vitamin C can ward off the common cold and reduce the risk of cancer.

Unfortunately, high-dose vitamin C supplements can interfere with some forms of chemotherapy. Additionally, the supplements can disrupt the effectiveness of niacin and statins. Some people will also experience a disruption in estrogen levels.

4. Probiotics

Probiotics are essentially good bacteria that make up the gut microbiome. People take probiotic supplements to restore balance to the microbiome and aid digestion. Still, while probiotic supplements might be good for most people, they can interfere with certain medications, specifically antibiotics.

Doctors strongly recommend that patients stay away from probiotic supplements when taking antibiotics. More specifically, physicians tell patients not to take a probiotic supplement within two hours of taking their medication.

Supplements can help you maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Still, taking the wrong supplement can result in problematic interactions with your prescriptions. Your primary care physician should know what you are taking, including supplements. If you feel that some nutrients are missing or lacking in your diet, your doctor can point you toward safe and effective supplements or foods that can help without risking your health.

Try This Easy Way To Work Your Glutes Just While Walking

Do you get tired of living with shapeless buns that can barely hold your pants up? The good news is that you don’t have to do endless squats or walking lunges to get some shape to your derriere. Though it may sound too good to be true, you can tone and challenge your glutes just while walking! You just have to focus on how you walk to make sure you get maximum butt-toning benefits. Here’s how I keep my backside in shape during my daily walks.

Step 1: Take Time to Warm Up

I get it, warming up seems like a waste of time when you’re already busy and struggle to fit a workout into your day. But don’t skip it! Warming up primes your muscles for movement and helps you avoid injuring yourself. Though walking isn’t exactly a high-risk exercise, it is still possible to twist an ankle or pull a tendon if your body isn’t sufficiently warmed up before you hit the trails.

Step 2: Find a Slight Incline

It’s pretty easy to walk on flat ground without breaking a sweat. But if you want to tone those glutes, you need to look for an area with a slight incline (or a steep incline, depending on your fitness level). Once you find the ideal destination, it’s time to get your form right so every step helps firm up that booty.

Step 3: Roll Through Your Steps

To recruit your glutes into your walking motions, you need to roll your feet from the heel to the toe with every step. Take this movement slow in the beginning to make sure you get the motion down. Each time you step forward, let your heel be the first part of your foot that makes contact with the ground, then sweep the motion through to the ball of your foot and push off the ball of your foot as you continue forward with the next step.

When your heel contacts the ground, squeeze your glutes together. Imagine someone just gave you a pencil and you have to hold it between your cheeks so you don’t drop it. That’s a strange place to put a pencil, I know, but the visualization really helps keep those glutes firm and strong. Only release the squeeze when you push forward off the ball of your foot into the next step.

When you’re first getting started with your “glute walk,” try to hit a goal of 100 “squeeze” steps during your walk. After that, take a break and see how you feel. If you think you can do more, go for it! Just don’t overdo it or you may not be able to sit down the next day due to soreness.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Small Movements

Right now you’re probably thinking, “This sounds too easy. I doubt it will make much of a difference for my glutes.” But don’t underestimate the power of small, concentrated movements when building muscle and definition. Think about pulse squats, for example. You’re only moving your body an inch or so up and down, but the burning in your muscles is evidence that you’re doing some serious work and can expect great results.

I have no doubt you’ll feel the burn in your muscles when you do regular “glute walks.” In fact, you’ll probably be surprised to discover just how tired your glutes are at the end of each walk. Once your glutes get stronger, you may want to move on to more intense workouts to shape and build your behind. But glute walks are a great way to begin your journey to a more shapely behind. What are you waiting for? Get out there and start walking!

Dealing With Allergies? Try These Springtime Allergy Tips

Spring is one of the most beautiful times of the year. If you live in a climate that gets snow in the winter, you probably welcome the warming temperatures and the drying ground that come in the spring. Other lovely things about spring include the birth of baby animals, birds singing beautifully all around, and trees developing gorgeous blossoms.

Unfortunately, all of these beauties come at a price for many people. If you have allergies, you probably have a love-hate relationship with spring. I understand because I’m right there with you! The good news is that you may have more control over your springtime allergies than you realize. Here is a list of some of my favorite allergy tips. Give them a try and see if they help you enjoy the spring season a little more.

Try Nasal Sprays

If you’re experiencing fun symptoms like post-nasal drip and nasal congestion as part of your seasonal allergies, there are nasal sprays that may help. Nasal steroids such as Flonase® and Nasonex® are non-sedating, so you can use them in the daytime without worrying about unwanted drowsiness. It is important to keep in mind that these types of nasal sprays don’t have immediate effects, so you’ll need to be patient and give them time to work.

Understand That Herbs Might Make Things Worse

Listen, I like herbs and think they make great remedies for a lot of conditions. But when it comes to seasonal allergies, some herbs can make your symptoms worse. This makes sense when you consider the fact that in the springtime, it’s pollen from plants that make your allergies flare up. So even if you like to use herbs for other ailments, remember that they are plants as well and you may be allergic to some of them without realizing it!

Take Antihistamines

Antihistamines block histamine release. Histamines are chemicals in your immune system that cause your allergy symptoms when they’re triggered by one or more allergens. While histamines are important, they become highly overactive in people with seasonal allergies. Antihistamines can help calm them down to ease your springtime allergy symptoms.

Stay Indoors on Windy Days

Pollen is airborne, which means that it has an easier time making its way around when the wind is blowing. If you know it’s going to be a windy spring day, do your best to stay indoors as much as possible so you can avoid airborne allergens. You should also track the pollen count so you can avoid being outside on days when the pollen count is high.

Vacuum Often

Vacuuming isn’t my favorite pastime, but when I do it regularly, it helps reduce my springtime allergy symptoms. Vacuuming is a great way to get rid of the pollens and other allergens that make their way into your home on your shoes or clothing. Dusting is also important for the same reasons.

Consider Allergy Shots

If all else fails, you may be a good candidate for allergy shots. Talk to an allergist to find out if this is a good option for your springtime allergies. Allergy shots are also known as immunotherapy. These shots can decrease your sensitivity to pollen and other allergens.

The shots work by exposing you to small amounts of a specific allergen. For example, if tree pollen triggers your allergy symptoms, you would receive an allergy shot containing tree pollen protein. It sounds counterintuitive, but when you receive small amounts of a particular allergen, it helps to desensitize you so your body doesn’t react so strongly to future exposures to that allergen.

Give These Remedies a Try

These remedies may not be a cure for springtime allergies, but they can certainly help minimize your symptoms! Give them all a try until you find out what options work best for reducing your allergy symptoms this spring.

The SPF Debate: Protecting Your Skin Against Blue Light

Research suggests blue light emitted from smartphones and computer screens can damage the skin. It is crazy to think that checking social media or writing a term paper could harm you, but it can.

It seems like every day there is something else that leads people to distrust technology. Still, despite the hoopla, research suggests blue light is not as scary as some make it out to be. Yet, it is still advised that you take necessary precautions to limit your exposure to blue light.

The Dangers of Blue Light 

Like the sun, blue light emits high-energy visible light, but it is not as dangerous. Long-term and unprotected exposure to the sun can cause DNA damage and cancer. You will not fight the same threats sitting in front of your computer screen.

Still, while smartphone or laptop use isn't life-threatening, it is harmful. The HEV light can generate reactive oxygen species — compounds that damage the cellular structure. The compounds hinder collagen production, affecting elasticity in the skin. Long-term exposure to blue light can lead to wrinkling and pigment changes in the skin.

The good news, no current research points to blue light causing skin cancer. Still, the pervasive light can cause harm, including:

  • Collagen breakdown 
  • Hyperpigmentation 
  • Premature aging 
  • Inflammation 
  • Redness 
  • Swelling or Edema 
  • Oxidative stress

Additionally, blue light affects sleep-wake cycles. Sleep interruptions can interfere with hormone production, causing skin problems. Still, more research is necessary to determine the full extent of blue light risks.

The Benefits of Blue Light

Despite the proposed risks of blue light, it does have its benefits. Medical researchers now use controlled blue light to reduce the chances of skin cancer. Controlled blue light can have positive effects. It can boost your energy levels, decrease inflammation, and reduce bacteria.

Uncontrolled blue light is where risks live. Light therapy maintains wavelengths of 415 nanometers — the proven wavelength for benefits. Sitting in front of a screen is not the same as therapeutic light, so you can't claim phone time as therapy (darn).

Protection From Blue Light 

Protection against blue light is essential. Thankfully, you do not have to spend a lot of money to protect against the HEV light. Many computers and portable devices have blue light filtration options. Additionally, you can find several apps to protect your skin and eyes. Physical products, such as blue light glasses and screen protectors, are also available.

Still, for complete skin protection, dermatologists recommend using a blue-light-blocking sunscreen. You may want to find an SPF product with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide because each is reflective. It is also possible to find newer products with beneficial antioxidants and vitamins.

People might discount the need for sunscreen indoors, but indoor environments are changing. The addition of electronic HEV-producing devices demands extra protection and concern. While indoor blue light is not as intense as environmental wavelengths, it can still harm the skin.

Researchers continue to learn new things about blue light every day. Still, what seems to become clearer is the need for added protection. While you may not be ready for indoor SPF, at least consider downloading an app.

Are All Energy Drinks Bad for You?

Energy drinks have been around for a few decades now, and they’ve exploded in popularity.
They’re a big hit with teens — around 30% of teens drink them regularly — but their biggest
audience is actually people 18–34 years old. It’s pretty obvious that these drinks aren’t “healthy,”
but the billion-dollar question is whether they hurt you or not.

Too Much of Everything

Are energy drinks good, bad or ugly? For the most part, they fall into the “bad” category. Some
take it to the extreme and land squarely on the “ugly” list. The main reason is that have way too
much of things your body doesn’t need:


  • Sugar
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Caffeine

Did you know that most energy drinks are packed with more sugar than a can of cola? The American Heart Association recommends keeping your sugar intake under 25 grams for women and 37 grams for men. How much is in one can of Monster or Rockstar? Over 40 grams.


Now, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying some caffeine. Most adults can have up to 400 mg a day without any negative health effects. A regular cup of coffee has around 100 mg of caffeine,
although tall versions (24 ounces) may have as much as 300 mg. A 16-ounce energy drink clocks in at 160–200 mg.

The Marketing Hype Behind Energy Drinks

Energy drinks are big business. In the U.S., they bring in about 14 billion dollars every year. That means manufacturers are eager to downplay risks and get consumers on their side.

Have you seen ads that make it seem like energy drinks are what cool or creative people drink? It’s pure marketing speak. There’s nothing active or awesome about these sugar-laden drinks. Unless you’re preparing to run a marathon, you’re better off staying hydrated with water.

 What about the talk about ginseng, taurine and L-carnitine in many energy drinks? Well, these amino acids and herbal extracts can be good for mental focus, metabolism and energy. But mixing natural ingredients with junk food doesn’t miraculously make energy drinks healthy. That would be like putting vitamin C in a chocolate cake and saying the cake is good for your immune system.

The Real Effects of Energy Drinks

According to many studies, going overboard with energy drinks can have real consequences for your health:

  • Stress
  • High blood pressure and heart problems
  • Risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Stomach irritation
  • Problems sleeping at night
  • Alcohol dangers
  • Dehydration
 It’s not just the number of cans you drink; it’s also how often you have them. In just one year, energy drinks were connected to over 20,000 visits to the emergency room in the United States. Too much caffeine sends your heart into overdrive. Mixing energy drinks and alcohol is even more dangerous.

Healthy Drinks That Can Boost Energy Levels

The energy drinks mentioned above are bad because they combine excessive levels of caffeine and sugar. Other options for increasing concentration and energy can be perfectly healthy if used in moderation:

  • Brewed coffee
  • Green tea (matcha)
  • Yerba mate
  • Guayusa tea
  • Acai berry smoothies
  • Banana-protein smoothies
  • Turmeric lattes
  • Green juice with leafy greens, apples and oranges
 If you go the smoothie or juice route, choose options that are low in sugar. Some independent brands of energy drinks offer recipes with nutritious fruits and veggies, tea leaves, B vitamins and other energy boosters. Healthy supplements for mental focus give you even more flexibility.

My Favorite Cheap Fitness Items for an Amazing Workout

For a lot of people, constantly chasing the next workout equipment fad turns into an obstacle instead of a solution. It makes exercise seem like a luxury instead of an essential part of your life. Fewer than 25% of people in the U.S. do cardio and strength training every week.

State-of-the-art exercise equipment can be awesome for burning calories, but you don’t need it to enjoy an amazing workout. Here are my favorite fitness items for any budget.

1. Jump Ropes (Weighted and Regular)

A trusty jump rope can quickly become your best friend for working out on the go. This inexpensive piece of gear has the power to strengthen your glutes, core muscles, legs, shoulders and arms. It gives you a full-body workout with huge cardio benefits.

The speed is entirely up to you. You can take it slow as a warmup to other exercises. When you’re doing upper body strength training, tossing in jumps is a great way to increase your heart rate for maximum fat burning.

Weighted ropes help you exercise your arms even more. On the other hand, lightweight jump ropes are easier to handle for side-to-side and backward jumps. Both types often cost under $10.

2. Battle Ropes

These thick ropes are a lot of fun for getting rid of stress, and they give you a bigger workout than you may think. Battle ropes are huge cords that you move up and down while performing other exercises.

If you want to save even more money, you can go the do-it-yourself route with these bad girls. Walk into the hardware store and ask for 50 feet of 1.5- or 2-inch manila rope or nylon cord. Wrap duct tape around the ends.

For your workout, head to your backyard and wrap the rope around a tree so you have two equal lengths. From there, you’re ready to do unilateral waves, bilateral waves and reversing circles.

3. Wearable Weights

Ankle weights and wrist weights can increase the burn from easy exercises. You can do leg lifts with ankle weights to strengthen your calf muscles and see better results.

For many people, wearable weights are more comfortable than gripping free weights, and they’re safer than swinging a kettlebell around. Using 1- to 3-pound weights can increase your calorie-burning significantly.

If you’re going for a relaxing walk, you can increase the heart benefits by strapping on some arm or leg weights. You shouldn’t use ankle weights for jogging or speed walking, though.

4. Resistance Bands

Another great way to do strength training without investing a lot of money is with a set of resistance bands. These elastic bands come in different pull strengths and sizes. The list of possible exercises is pretty huge:

  • Front and side taps
  • Leg lifts and thigh lifts
  • Squats
  • Lateral leg stretches
  • Triceps stretches
  • Biceps curls
  • Shoulder raises
  • Abdominal crisscrosses with foot band

It doesn’t cost much to have a range of resistance bands for exercises focused on building muscle. They can help you improve your balance and keep your body flexible.

The truth is that cheap fitness gear can give you a workout that's just as intense and effective. Plus, it requires less space and is fast and easy to use.

5 Ways To Add Mindfulness and Meditation Into Your Busy Schedule

Most people know the benefits of meditation or mindfulness; they understand that regular practice can reduce stress and brighten the mood. Unfortunately, too many people cannot find the hours or minutes in their day to begin a new routine, especially one that does not mesh with the concepts of productivity and hustle. 

While work is vital to a successful professional life, if it is not fulfilling, it is not helpful to spiritual or balanced life. No one is saying quit your job. Still, it would be best to find ways to meet mental health needs throughout your day, which is the primary goal of meditation and mindfulness. Thankfully, meditation does not take hours, and there are several ways to fit it into even the busiest schedule. 

1. Create a Morning Time Allowance

When you wake up in the morning, do you need to rush from one activity to the next? Does it seem like your shower, coffee, and morning drop-off routines all blur together? If so, you are trying to accomplish too much in too little time. 

While no one like to hear it, turning back your clock 15 to 30 minutes can work wonders for morning stress. You can savor your breakfast and set aside a few minutes for a gratitude journal or some other meditative exercise with the extra time. 

2. Savor Coffee Breaks

Most businesspeople enjoy a cup of coffee on their morning commute. Do you drive to the office or take public transportation? Riding a subway train or bus to work can allow you to practice a mindfulness exercise without interfering with your day.  

As you ride the bus, put in your headphones and listen to relaxing music. Drink your coffee slowly, taking tiny sips. Take a moment to breathe in the aroma. Let the coffee sit in your mouth and allow the taste to settle on your tongue. Breathe deeply in and slowly out. 

3. Take a Stroll

What do you do on your lunch break? If you spend 30 minutes in a busy lunchroom or break room, consider taking your lunch outside. If you spend the time alone, you will likely eat faster. If you finish your meal in 15 minutes, that leaves you with another 15 minutes to enjoy a stroll outside.  

Studies show that spending even 15 minutes outside can re-energize you. Additionally, breathing in the fresh air can help you relax. Try to focus on the moment: the color of the grass, the feeling of the sun on your face, etc.

4. Practice Mindful Eating

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present moment. The mindfulness ritual can help relieve stress, allowing you to become centered and balanced with your feelings. 

Mindful eating is an extension of mindfulness. You want to sit down for a meal or snack and focus only on the act of eating. Take in the smell of the food, its sight, texture, and taste. Allow yourself the time to explore and savor your meal.  

By focusing entirely on the meal, you can free your mind of other distracting thoughts. Staying in the moment allows stress to dissipate. 

5. Slow Down and Reflect Before Sleep

As in the morning, you want to set aside a few minutes at night for reflection. If possible, it is best to turn off any electronic devices and dim the lights in the hour before bed. Consider making an entry in a gratitude journal or another writing activity during this time. 


Meditation and mindfulness are beneficial practices. Incorporating the above techniques can help you establish a mindfulness routine.

4 Key Skin Benefits of Dietary Vitamin C

If you're like me, you see vitamin C all over the ingredient lists of your favorite skin care products. If this nutrient can give you such an incredible glow through topical application, can consuming foods rich in vitamin C give the skin a similar boost? I reviewed the research to give you the scoop on whether a diet emphasizing citrus and other sources of C can revitalize your complexion.

Skin Benefits of Consuming Vitamin C

These are some of the key benefits of getting enough vitamin C in the foods you eat as well as in your skin care routine.

Supports Collagen Synthesis

Science shows that vitamin C supports skin health by synthesizing collagen, a natural substance that gives us a plump, supple, youthful appearance. This protein makes up most of our connective tissue and appears in muscle and tendon fibers. Collagen naturally decreases as we age, so boosting the body's production can smooth the appearance of fine lines and help blemishes heal more quickly. It's also a critical component of wound healing. When you add extra C to your diet, you may notice that your skin feels firmer and smoother than usual.

Reduces the Appearance of Wrinkles

Speaking of fine lines, studies suggest that oral vitamin C may also have a positive effect on the depth and appearance of facial wrinkles. In research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who had higher vitamin C intake and lower intake of carbs and fatty foods showed fewer signs of aging. The study authors noted improvement in age-related wrinkles, dryness and thinning.

Provides UV Protection

As an antioxidant, Vitamin C helps the body fight off the damaging effects of UV rays on the skin. Consuming this vitamin can also help sunscreen work more effectively, boosting its ability to shield your complexion from these disease-causing free radicals. Vitamin C can actually neutralize toxins and environmental pollutants such as cigarette smoke and remove these harmful substances from your body, shielding your skin from damage and reducing the risk of cancer.

Decreases Hyperpigmentation

Are you distressed by dark spots and patches on the skin? These areas of hyperpigmentation, typically caused by sun damage, can become more pronounced as we age. Research published in the journal Nutrients found that vitamin C can prevent melanin production, which can in turn prevent the appearance of these so-called age spots.

How to Get Enough Vitamin C

Most adults should get at least 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day, with a recommended maximum intake of 2,000 mg daily. Some people need more vitamin C to stay healthy, including individuals who have a limited diet, have chronic health conditions, or smoke or receive exposure to secondhand smoke. You can find this nutrient in a wide variety of fruits and veggies, including oranges, grapefruits, spinach, broccoli and strawberries. You can also take over-the-counter vitamin C supplements.

Although we need more research about exactly how this nutrient can reduce the impact of aging on the skin, we do know getting enough C correlates with a clear, healthy complexion. For best results, most experts emphasize the importance of combining a diet rich in vitamin C with topical application.

In rare cases, people who don't get enough vitamin C develop a deficiency called scurvy that causes fragile skin and slow-healing wounds, along with exhaustion, joint swelling and anemia. Lack of vitamin C can also cause uncomfortable skin problems such as atopic dermatititis, characterized by an itchy rash. Talk to your health care provider if you experience unexplained skin symptoms or have difficulty consuming enough dietary vitamin C.