Dry Skin, Eczema or Both?

Eczema is one of the most common skin conditions in the United States, affecting over 31 million Americans. Despite that huge number, many people don't really understand what eczema is — even people who have it.

What Is Eczema?

Eczema is the medical name for skin inflammation. Chronic eczema is a long-term problem that produces itchy, red and dry skin that never seems to go away.

You may be surprised to learn that eczema doesn’t refer to a single disorder. It’s a group of skin conditions that can have different triggers:

  • Atopic dermatitis: This kind of eczema produces patches of inflamed, dry skin and red, itchy rashes. Some people have trouble sleeping at night because of the constant itching and pain.
  • Contact dermatitis: This condition causes a burning sensation and small blisters. It means your skin is experiencing a negative reaction to some chemical, fabric or metal. The rash that appears when you touch poison ivy is a type of contact dermatitis.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis: This type of eczema is connected to the oil-producing glands in your skin and scalp. It causes scaly, dry skin that flakes off. Dandruff is a symptom of seborrheic dermatitis.
  • Dyshidrotic eczema: This variety of eczema produces itchy, fluid-filled blisters on the fingers, palms and soles of the feet. These blisters can last up to a month before disappearing.

Is Eczema the Same Thing as Dry Skin?

Not really. Dry skin is one of the main symptoms but not the only one. Itching is another sign of eczema.

Many colds cause a runny nose, but that doesn’t mean that every time you have a runny nose it’s caused by a cold. Similarly, dry skin isn’t always the result of eczema.

What Else Can Cause Dry Skin?

There are many reasons why your skin can dry out:

  • Winter weather: Winter does a double whammy on your skin. Cool outdoor air has less moisture, so it dehydrates exposed skin. Indoor heating dries skin even more, frequently causing cracked lips and raw knuckles.
  • Dry climates: If you live in an area known for dry air, you need to up your moisturizing game for your skin.
  • Certain illnesses and medications: People who have diabetes, kidney problems or thyroid disorders may have to fight again severe dry skin. Some medicines, such as diuretics, can also cause dry skin.
  • Frequent hand washing: Each time you wash your hands, you strip away some of the protective layers that keep your skin hydrated.
  • Aging: As people get older, the body doesn’t produce as much of the hydrating oils that nourish skin and keep it soft and supple.
  • Harsh detergents: If you mainly notice extremely dry hands after washing dishes or doing laundry, one of the detergents you use may be too strong for your skin.
  • Vitamin deficiencies: The body depends on vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, iron and niacin to produce healthy, hydrated skin. Low vitamin levels can cause dryness problems.

Is your skin naturally more sensitive? People who get dry skin a lot should make sure to moisturize several times a day.

What Is the Treatment for Eczema?

For minor eczema, the best treatment is often prevention. Try to avoid personal triggers, such as stress, strong fragrances, harsh detergents or overwashing.

If dry skin becomes painful or you have large break-outs, make an appointment with a dermatologist. Your doctor can determine the type of eczema you have and provide treatment that focuses on providing relief.

Do You Drink Your Water Cold or Hot, and Does It Matter?

Drinking enough water daily is paramount to support bodily functions, including digestion. Many people underestimate the importance of drinking water, not realizing that it helps maintain body temperature, keeps tissues and organs healthy, and plays a vital role in the metabolism and getting rid of waste.

While one cannot debate the significance of water, there is some debate over the correct temperature for consumption. Some people argue that cold water is worse for the body than hot or warm water, while others argue temperature is unimportant. Who is right? What does the science say?

Is Cold Water Problematic?

The best temperature for water might have more to do with where you live or how you practice medicine than anything else. Ayurvedic medicine, based on Indian traditions, proposes that cold water can slow down the digestive process and cause an imbalance in the body.

According to the practice, drinking cold water affects the body's temperature, essentially dampening the "fire" or Agni that fuels the body's system and contributes to overall health. The debate is that drinking cold water drops your core temperature and forces your body to expend additional energy to re-establish it.

Western medicine and its practitioners do not hold the same opinions. There is little research to suggest that cold water has an adversarial relationship with the body. According to most practitioners of western medicine, all that matters is that you drink enough water, which most people do not.

Despite the differences of opinion, there was a small 2013 study that investigated the effects of water at different temperatures on six people. The participants performed exercises in a hot, humid chamber, effectively dehydrating themselves. Then, each person was given water at different temperatures to test their responses.

The results found that water at 60.8° F was most beneficial, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. The water temperature appeared to encourage more drinking, which resulted in greater hydration and less sweating.

The results of the study are too small to state any universal truth. However, it is interesting that cool water seems to be the most appealing.

Cold Water Versus Hot Water for Digestion

Unfortunately, there is no definitive evidence to suggest that either cold or hot water is best for digestion. However, the primary and conclusive evidence of most research indicates that drinking an adequate amount of water daily is crucial to overall health.

When it comes to water temperature, in most cases, it depends on the preference of the individual. As long as you are drinking enough water to maintain optimum bodily functions, you are Ok.

However, some people might need to avoid drinking cold water for medical reasons. Some studies suggest people with conditions such as achalasia, affecting the esophagus, should avoid drinking cold water because it can affect swallowing.

Ultimately, your water temperature is less important than the amount of water you drink. Many professionals suggest drinking half your body weight in ounces; for example, someone weighing 150 lbs should drink at least 75 oz of water daily.

Water is crucial to bodily functions. While people like to debate the benefits of different temperatures, the important thing is that you drink enough.

What temperature do you like to drink your water? Comment below.

Struggling to Sleep? Acupuncture May Help!

Sleep is essential for survival and optimal mental and physical function. But what if you can’t get the amount or quality of sleep your body needs to look and feel its best? What if you lay in bed for hours at a time and can’t get any shuteye? I’ve been there, and it made me grumpy, tired and discouraged (just ask my kids!)

Finally, I decided to try something crazy to help me sleep. Someone told me that acupuncture can help you get the best sleep of your life, and I decided I had nothing to lose by giving it a try. It changed my life and helped me finally get quality sleep at night. I decided it was shellfish to keep this secret to myself, so I’m sharing it with you. Here’s what you should know about acupuncture, what it is, and how it may help you get the sleep your body and mind need.

What Is Acupuncture?

If you’ve ever seen acupuncture depicted on TV, it might have made your stomach turn a little. Needles sticking out haphazardly from a person’s body isn’t a great look, right? I thought so, too. What I didn’t know is that those needles are very thin and you can barely feel them penetrating your skin. How deep they’re inserted into your body depends on the area being treated. In areas with a lot of fat, the needles can be inserted deeper than in areas with very little fat.

Another myth I believed about acupuncture is that the person administering the treatment randomly sticks needles anywhere they want until you look like a human pincushion. In reality, acupuncture is very purposeful and exact. The acupuncturist targets very specific areas of the body based on the symptoms you’re trying to relieve. It’s a gentle and precise practice.

How Does Acupuncture Help With Sleep?

I have to mention that acupuncture may not help everyone with their sleep issues, but it is an effective treatment for many. Some studies reveal that acupuncture is effective for treating insomnia. This is great news because acupuncture doesn’t have the side effects associated with many of the sedatives prescribed to people with insomnia.

A lot more research needs to happen before we understand exactly how acupuncture helps people sleep. However, it is believed that acupuncture releases melatonin in the body. This is the hormone primarily responsible for regulating the human circadian rhythm and making you sleepy.

Another theory explains that acupuncture may stimulate blood flow to regions of the brain that are associated with sleep. This is more likely when the acupuncture is done on the affected person’s scalp. These are just theories, but it’s clear that acupuncture somehow helps many people achieve deep and restorative sleep when they were at the end of their rope.

Sleep Pressure Points

There are certain pressure points in the body associated with sleep. They include the Shenmen point (located on the wrist, just below the hand on the pinky finger side), the Yongquan point (found near the center point of the sole of the foot), and the Baihui point (the highest point of the head). Good acupuncturists know how to target these points and insert the needles to the appropriate point for your needs.

It may sound crazy, but acupuncture is one of the best things I tried for my sleep issues. If you struggle to get to sleep at night or the quality of your sleep is poor, acupuncture may help. Of course, it’s also important to rule out other problems such as sleep apnea that may be obstructing your oxygen intake at night. But if there is no obvious cause for your sleep issues, you have nothing to lose by trying acupuncture, and you have great sleep to gain!

How Many Steps Should You Take in a Day?

Everybody needs to move their feet. Walking can improve your blood circulation, protect your heart, reduce pain and improve your mood. According to several studies, people who walk every day spend less time in the hospital, have lower blood pressure and feel less depressed.

If you want to burn calories, you probably need to kick things up a notch to brisk walking, but even going for a calm, relaxed walk is good for you. How many steps should you aim for every day?

“Are You Serious … 10,000 Steps?!”

Many health professionals recommend reaching about 10,000 steps a day. That equals about 5 miles. If you feel a little shocked, you’re not alone. Most Americans only walk 3,000–4,000 steps on average, or around 2 miles.

Good news! A recent study says that you’re OK aiming for between 7,000 and 10,000 steps a day. It’s that 7,000-step marker that’s really important for your heart and your health.

Keep in mind that counting the steps you take looks at your physical activity throughout the day. It includes walking from place to place at work, walking around the store when you’re shopping for groceries and doing activities at home.

The Benefits of Walking More

Any physical exercise has a positive effect on your health, but hitting that range of 7,000–10,000 steps a day can make a major impact:

  • Lower risk of heart problems
  • Reduced risk of developing diabetes
  • Lower overall weight
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Reduced risk of cancer
  • Reduced risk of stroke

All of these benefits add up. People who walk every day are nearly 40% less likely to die compared to people who live a sedentary lifestyle.

Tips for Upping Your Step Count

You don’t need a gym membership or expensive equipment to meet your step count goals. Here are a few tips for success:

  • Use a comfy pair of shoes: Walking shoes can help you enjoy your exercise more. The happier your feet are, the more likely you’ll get into a walking routine.
  • Set smaller goals: You don’t have to reach your magical number from one day to another. If you’re hitting 4,000 a day this week, aim for 5,000 a day next week.
  • Walk at work: Visit co-workers in person instead of sending emails or calling their extension. Physical activity does you good.
  • Go for a walk after lunch: Instead of heading back to your desk right away after lunch, take advantage of your time to go for a short walk outside. Plus, the fresh air is good for mental focus and mood in the afternoon.

Put on some music: An energetic tune gets you in the mood to move your feet without even thinking about it.

Ways To Stay Active During Cold Months

What if you can’t spend much time outdoors because of freezing temps? Instead of counting 7,000–10,000 steps, focus on doing moderate exercise for 150–300 minutes a week (20–40 minutes a day). Riding a bike, jumping rope, vacuuming your house, using an elliptical trainer and following a dance routine are examples of moderate-intensity exercise you can do at home. Remember that the main goal is just to increase your heart rate and get your muscles working!

The Importance of Digestive Enzymes and the Need for Supplementation for Some People

Digestive enzymes are naturally occurring and crucial to your digestive system, helping to break down foods and allowing the absorption of nutrients. Without adequate enzymes, you can become malnourished and start showing signs of gastrointestinal distress, even when consuming a balanced and healthy diet.

Understanding Digestive Enzymes: Natural and Synthetic

The mouth, small intestine, and stomach can produce digestive enzymes; however, the pancreas is the main production factory in the human body. The enzymes are particularly vital in breaking down more complex and nutrient-dense foods and compounds, such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Without digestive enzymes, your food will not provide sufficient nutrients because the body cannot break it down. Therefore, your health can wain.

Most people do not have an issue with enzyme production, but some conditions lead to an inadequate enzyme supply, such as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Thankfully, there are prescription and over-the-counter digestive enzyme replacements. Replacements mimic natural digestive enzymes to counteract the effects of poor production.

Using Digestive Enzyme Replacements

As a replacement for natural digestive enzymes, replacement enzymes need to be consumed before a meal to be effective. The enzymes in the stomach can begin breaking down the food as it enters the stomach and exits to the small intestine, allowing critical nutrients to absorb through the small intestine wall for distribution through the bloodstream.

You can split an enzyme replacement dose to make it more effective, especially for larger and longer meals or if you are a slow eater. For instance, it is usually acceptable to take half the dose at the start of a meal and the rest halfway through it.

Digestive enzyme replacements must be taken with food. If you take them without, they will simply work their way through your system without any real benefit.

Assessing Needs for Digestive Enzyme Replacements

While most people do not need digestive enzyme replacements, there are many conditions that can result in a lack of enzymes, such as EPI. Some of the other conditions include:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Diabetes
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatic surgery
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Pancreatic cysts or benign tumors
  • Narrowing or blockage of the biliary or pancreatic duct

EPI is the most common cause for digestive enzyme supplementation, but not everyone realizes they have the condition immediately. EPI leads to uncomfortable and slow digestion, and some of the symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive gas
  • Cramping after meals
  • Foul-smelling stools
  • Yellow, greasy, floating stools
  • Unexpected weight loss

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, talk to your primary care physician. Do not attempt to self-diagnose digestive enzyme disorders. While OTC enzyme replacement options exist, it is always best to consult your physician before dietary changes.

Reviewing the Potential Side Effects

Digestive enzyme replacements are often helpful to those who need them, but there are potential side effects like any other supplement. The most common side effect of enzyme supplements is constipation. Still, there can be more uncomfortable side effects, like diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps.

While the body needs digestive enzymes, not every body creates a sufficient amount, leading to potential digestive and nutritional problems. Before looking for OTC remedies for digestive concerns, talk to your doctor about other possible issues or solutions.

Do you know of any other reasons someone would need to take digestive enzyme replacements, or do you have anything to add to the conversation? Comment below.

Save Your Scalp From Breakouts

Nothing ruins a good hair day like discovering a blemish on your scalp. The abundant oil glands and hair follicles are at the root of acne in this area. Over time, a buildup of oil along with dirt and dead skin cells can clog the pores, leading to pimples. Styling products such as gel, hairspray and mousse compound the problem by leaving residue behind. 

If you regularly experience acne around your hairline and beyond, you know how frustrating it can be. These smart strategies can help you banish scalp breakouts.

Switch Up Your Routine

Start the process of clearing up your scalp with a new hair care routine. Any products you use, including shampoo and conditioner, should be oil-free. Look for labels like anti-acnegenic or non-comedogenic to find formulas that won't clog your pores. This also applies to cosmetics like foundation and powder, as well as moisturizers, lotions and other skincare products.

You can try medicated shampoos with ingredients that help with the causes of scalp breakouts, such as:

  • Benzoyl peroxide and tea tree oil, which fight bacteria that leads to acne
  • Ciclopirox and ketoconazole, which combat fungal causes of acne
  • Glycolic acid and salicylic acid, which remove dead skin cells that clog the pores
  • Jojoba oil, which alleviates inflammation associated with acne

Skip hair products when you plan to stay home and try to use fewer formulas in general. Using multiple cosmetic items increases the chances of irritating and inflaming your scalp.

Step Up Your Schedule

If you tend to go more than a day or two without washing your hair, consider shampooing more frequently to stay on top of breakouts. It's especially important to wash your hair after you work out to get rid of excess sweat, dirt and oil. 

When you shampoo, focus your efforts on your scalp to clear away clogging materials. You can also use a soft-bristled brush to gently exfoliate the area. After washing and conditioning your hair, be sure to rinse completely. Soap and product residue can cause breakouts along the hairline.

Keep It Clean

Contact with bacteria causes acne, so anything that touches your face, neck or head should be washed often. This includes pillowcases, bedding hats, headbands, visors and scarves. Clean phones and headsets frequently with antibacterial wipes.

Let the Scalp Breathe

If you spend several hours wearing a headscarf or hat each day, try to choose a looser garment to let air flow circulate to your scalp. When you're at home, leave your head bare if possible to prevent sweat and oil from becoming trapped.

Support Skin Health

Getting the right nutrients helps maintain the health of your skin, which means you'll experience fewer breakouts. Make sure you consume at least the recommended daily amount of vitamins A, D and E, either in your diet or with an over-the-counter supplement. Eating plenty of fresh fruits, whole grains and veggies supports overall wellness, which in turn keeps the scalp healthy.

Take Notes

Scalp breakouts sometimes result from allergic reactions. When you notice a blemish, write down your recent food and beverage intake. You may begin to see a pattern of acne that occurs when you eat certain ingredients, which will allow you to prevent the issue by avoiding these triggers. 

See a Dermatologist

Some cases of scalp acne require medical treatment. Your dermatologist may prescribe stronger acne medications, light therapy, antibiotics or steroids to resolve serious breakouts that don't respond to self-care at home.

Keep in mind that it can take up to six weeks to notice a difference in your scalp with these strategies. See your doctor if your acne continues with treatment or causes more severe symptoms, such as inflammation, infection and hair loss. 

Surprising Fruits That Have Almost Zero Fiber

Most Americans need to get more fiber in their diets. According to the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, only 1 in 20 people in the U.S. eat enough fiber every day.

There are some people, however, that have the opposite problem. They have to limit certain types of fiber in their diet to prevent painful health problems. This can be very tricky because it means finding a careful balance between nutritious natural foods and low-fiber options.

Why Do Some People Need To Control Fiber Levels?

Fiber plays an important role in gut health and digestion, softening stool, lowering cholesterol levels and balancing blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, some health conditions are sensitive to fiber:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Ulcerative colitis (UC)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diverticulitis (an inflammatory condition of the colon)

Sometimes, your doctor will tell you to follow a low-fiber diet after surgery or before a colonoscopy. Make sure to ask your doctor before reducing the amount of fiber you eat.

What Kind of Fruit Is Low in Fiber?

The purpose of eating less fiber for a while is to give your colon a chance to rest and heal. After that, you can usually go back to eating a normal amount of fiber. Here are the best fruits to eat while following a low-fiber diet:

  • Watermelons: 0.8 g (1 cup)
  • Papayas: 2.5 g (1 cup)
  • Cantaloupes: 1.3 g (1 cup)
  • Peaches: 1.7 g (1 peach)
  • Plums: 1.0 g (1 plum)
  • Cherries: 1.3 g (10 cherries)
  • Nectarines: 2.2 g (1 nectarine)

Real fruit juices (not the concentrated stuff with added sugar) without pulp are another great source of vitamins. These juices have next to no fiber.

What Type of Fiber Should You Limit With IBS?

If you have IBS, you don’t need to rush to cut all fiber from your diet. It’s smart to talk to your doctor first. In reality, you may not need to cut many fruits or veggies out of your diet at all.

Fiber comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It’s there to help your gut and smooth things out. People who have IBS need more soluble fiber, not less. Where can you get it?

  • Low-FODMAP veggies: Broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, fennel, bell peppers, avocados and olives
  • Low-FODMAP fruits: Bananas, blueberries, strawberries, lemons, limes, oranges, pineapples, kiwis, cantaloupes and honeydew melons
  • Cooked/sauteed greens: Bok choy, spinach, arugula, collard greens and cabbage

On the other hand, insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve; it’s the roughage that pushes waste through the intestines. For people who have IBS, insoluble fiber can sometimes trigger symptoms such as pain and bloating.

How Long Should You Follow a Low-Fiber Diet?

Normally, you should only limit fiber intake for as long as your doctor tells you. If you're recovering from a specific surgery, for example, you may follow a low-fiber diet for about a month. After that, go back to eating good levels of fiber so your digestive system stays happy and healthy.

In the case of IBS, it's not a question of following hard and fast rules. You need plenty of fiber normally, but you also want to avoid flareups. Usually, you need to discover which foods trigger problems personally and look for healthy alternatives. If you're sensitive to raspberries, eat cranberries or blueberries instead.

5 of the Biggest Coffee Myths Debunked!

For a long time, coffee was a guilty pleasure. Now, you can raise your head proudly and tell the whole world that you love coffee! Don't let these five coffee myths stop you from enjoying a cup of dark and delicious java.

Myth: Coffee Dehydrates You

Drinking more water is always a good thing, but your morning cup of joe isn’t responsible for dehydration. Coffee is a mild diuretic, which can make you go to the bathroom more, but the effect is so slight that it doesn’t make a noticeable difference. In case you were wondering, the water in coffee does count toward your goal of 2 liters of water per day.

Myth: Coffee Isn’t Healthy for You

Coffee is rich in antioxidants, nutrients that help protect your body. Many people get more antioxidants from their daily dose of coffee than from fruits and veggies!

All of these antioxidants can add up to major health benefits. People who drink coffee regularly have a far lower risk of many diseases:

  • Heart disease
  • Liver problems
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

Plus, caffeine from coffee can increase your metabolism and help you burn more fat from exercise. Coffee can improve your energy level, alertness, memory and mood!

That said, you can have too much of a good thing. Excess caffeine can raise your blood pressure. How much is OK? Stick with two to five cups a day and you’ll be fine.

Myth: Dark Roast Has More Caffeine Than Light Roast

Dark roast coffee has a stronger flavor, so it must be higher in caffeine, right? Wrong. Actually, light roasts usually have a bit more caffeine ounce for ounce because the beans are smaller.

Myth: Coffee Is Addictive

Some people have given up drinking coffee because family members say the person is “addicted.” Honestly, this one gets me upset. Comparing coffee to other addictive substances is a real stretch of the imagination. There’s no reason to feel guilty for liking coffee (or dark chocolate or other perfectly natural foods with caffeine).

Why the whole “addicted” shtick? Caffeine is a stimulant, so it can technically produce a tiny amount of physical dependence. If you stop drinking coffee abruptly, you may get a headache or have trouble concentrating for a few days. That’s it.

On the other hand, addiction to alcohol or opioids requires professional rehabilitation and has life-threatening health risks. There’s just no point of comparison between those things and a harmless cup of coffee.

Myth: The Freezer Is the Best Place To Store Coffee

You bought a few bags of your favorite coffee beans from a store you only visit every few months. You want to keep that oh-so-irresistible aroma smelling fresh. Where should you store the beans? Not in your freezer!

For the freshest coffee, keep those magical beans in a cool, dry place. Your freezer may be cool, but it’s not dry. Freezers have a lot of moisture. They can strip your coffee of its delightful freshness and ruin its flavor with weird smells.

The best place to keep coffee beans is in an airtight container in your cupboard. Give each bag its own container and enjoy rich, intense flavors for months!

Flock to Fonio for Whole-Grain Goodness

While few outside West Africa find fonio among their usual fare, this ancient grain is gaining popularity because of its exceptional health benefits. Pierre Thiam, a restaurant owner from Senegal, touted fonio as the next big alternative to quinoa and brought the grain to the menus of his Brooklyn restaurants back in 2008. Today, you might be able to pick up fonio in your neighborhood if you live near Whole Foods or are lucky enough to have a local African food market.

Africans who consume fonio frequently often consider it a celebratory meal, particularly in Togo, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Senegal. If you're curious about this world whole-grain staple, this guide provides the knowledge you need to incorporate it into your diet.

Nutritional Content of Fonio

Half a cup of cooked fonio has just 170 calories and limited fat, salt and cholesterol. It also has 4% of your recommended daily value of both fiber and iron, as well as plenty of nutritious B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper. If you need more calcium in your diet, fonio can deliver with more of this nutrient than any other grain.

Health Benefits of Fonio

First, good news if you're gluten-free; fonio provides a safe alternative for those who can't digest wheat protein. It's also rich in amino acids and micronutrients you won't find in wheat, corn or rice. These compounds help with the growth of new skin, nail and hair cells. Your body cannot make these nutrients, so you must get them from your diet.

The B vitamin content supports the function, growth and development of the body's cells. Iron and copper build connective tissue and red blood cells while magnesium helps the body produce energy. Zinc assists with synthesizing proteins and supporting immunity.

Fonio consists of complex carbohydrates that the body digests all day long, which helps you feel full and keeps blood sugar steady. As a whole grain, it also has the proven ability to reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stomach, pancreatic and colorectal cancer. Research also associates whole-grain consumption with avoiding obesity and keeping the body's gut health in balance. 

Fonio also has a low glycemic index. That means it can help people who have diabetes control their blood sugar levels.

How to Enjoy Fonio at Home

Many describe fonio as combining the texture of quinoa with the nutty earthiness of couscous. If you're familiar with cooking grains, you're ready to cook fonio. The grain is just as versatile as its more common cousins, such as rice, farro and barley. You can use it in place of any of those choices in salads, soups and stews. It also works well in a traditional preparation as a porridge. If you can get your hands on fonio flour, you can even use it in your favorite cakes, muffins, and baked goods.

Aren't sure where to start? Use these simple steps for perfect fonio every time:

  • Boil 1 cup of salted water over high heat.
  • Stir in 1/4 cup of dry fonio and cover tightly.
  • Reduce heat to low.
  • Cook for about 15 minutes or until the grain absorbs all liquid. 
  • Remove lid and fluff with a fork. The fonio is done when it's tender yet firm, without excess moisture.

You can also look for any recipe with millet since fonio is part of the same family and offers a good one-to-one substitute. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that whole grains should make up about half of the bread and grains you eat each day, so spice up your routine by adding fonio to the mix.

How Cutting Out Alcohol Can Impact Your Energy

After a stressful day at work or an evening spent listening to kids fighting, a few big swigs of alcohol can sound pretty appealing. A lot of people think there’s nothing wrong with enjoying booze regularly and watching your worries melt away. Sure, they’ll still be there in the morning, but the brief reprieve can be really nice.

But before you reach for a cold one, you should realize the impact alcohol consumption can have on your overall energy levels. Since we’re at the cusp of another new year, I figured it’s the perfect time to talk about how cutting out alcohol can impact your energy and improve your quality of life.

What Alcohol Does To Your Body

Do you live for Happy Hour? If so, have you ever stopped to wonder why drinking regularly actually causes you to feel less happy and more lifeless? Do you notice a huge slump in energy after a night of partying? That’s because alcohol is a sedative. It can make you drowsy, but it often leads to low-quality, interrupted sleep (which can leave you looking and feeling like a zombie the next day).

If you feel physically drained all the time, it may be time to take a good, hard look at alcohol (just a look, not a drink!) It may be the sneaky villain you didn’t realize was stealthily sabotaging your life while pretending to be your best friend. That’s pretty rotten.

What Happens When You Cut Out Alcohol

If you’re still not convinced that alcohol is the archenemy of your energy levels, here are a few of the amazing things you could experience if you cut it out of your life. Just pretend it’s your ex-boyfriend and there’s no way you’re letting him weasel his way back into your heart. Once you kick alcohol out for good, you’ll likely experience:

  • Increased Energy: Without the constant impact of morning hangovers, you’ll be amazed at how energetic you feel when you wake up. You’ll also experience higher-quality sleep when you don’t drink alcohol.
  • Fewer Food Cravings: Did you know booze can trigger food cravings? It activates AgRP neurons, which trigger intense hunger and can make you crave unhealthy things.
  • Easier Weight Maintenance: Alcohol is not a low-calorie drink, which means you’ll have a harder time maintaining a healthy weight if you consume it regularly. When you stop drinking those extra calories, your waistline will respond in kind.
  • Decreased Risk of Dehydration: Alcohol is dehydrating because it’s a diuretic and flushes water out of your body. Replacing alcohol with a healthier choice (such as fruit-infused water) is a great way to increase hydration.
  • Improved Digestion: One of the surprising drawbacks of alcohol consumption is that it can alter the gastric motility of your stomach. This means it can make it harder for you to digest the food you eat. When you stop drinking alcohol, your digestion will most likely improve.
  • Reduced Risk of Disease: Excess alcohol consumption is linked to diseases such as heart disease and liver disease. When you stop indulging in booze, you reduce your risk of developing these life-threatening health conditions.
  • Healthier Skin: Since alcohol is a diuretic, it can dry out your skin and cause it to look dull and saggy. Fortunately, you can reverse this effect by simply staying away from alcohol. It only takes a few days of abstinence in most cases to notice that the skin looks and feels plumper and more hydrated.

This list is just a small snapshot of how your life could improve if you decided to cut alcohol out of it. Not everyone can quit cold turkey, and that’s OK! As long as you’re consistently making efforts to consume less booze, you’ll eventually find it easier to replace alcohol with healthier options. When things get hard, just remember you’re doing this to improve your health and energy.