Understanding “Clean Beauty” in the Cosmetics Industry

Natural, organic, chemical-free; all are terms used to describe cosmetics brands at one time or another. However, it wasn’t until companies started labeling their products as clean that consumers jumped aboard the trend.

The consumer interest is shocking because there is no real definition of the term “clean” when used in cosmetics, and there is no regulatory authorization needed to advertise products in such a way. Yet, for some reason, consumers have put complete faith in these supposed “clean” beauty products and brands. The question: is there any real merit to these brands and the growing “clean” trend?

What Does “Clean” Mean

As stated, there is no regulatory definition when using the term “clean” on beauty products. However, according to industry leaders, the term refers to beauty products that might incorporate safe synthetics but favor natural ingredients.

This is a significant shift from the chemical-free and natural cosmetics of the past. Before, there seemed to be a consensus that chemicals were bad, even when science suggested otherwise. Today, it appears that beauty brands are accepting the science that some synthetics are safe for people and the planet.

There are still several ingredients that most brands stay away from, including formaldehyde-releasing agents and parabens. In other words, producers tend to shy away from ingredients with a controversial past, but even that is not definitive because not every brand agrees on the dangers of specific ingredients.

The only entity that can help clarify the “clean” movement is the Food and Drug Administration. Unfortunately, the FDA does not have a definition or rules pertaining to the term. Additionally, under current regulations, a cosmetics company is not required to test or seek preapproval for the majority of its ingredients, further blurring the lines of what is or isn’t “clean.”

The Motivation Behind the Clean Movement

In recent years, consumers have become increasingly aware of the number of chemicals they expose themselves to on a daily basis, especially in the United States. Currently, the U.S. only bans or restricts 11 chemicals in cosmetics as opposed to the EU, which bans approximately 1,300.

The growing awareness has led to an increased demand for so-called clean cosmetics, which most brands were happy to oblige. Unfortunately, without the support of the FDA or other regulatory agencies, cosmetics brands can still use a vast amount of chemicals, even in “clean” products.

While most popular brands likely act in good faith, the lack of definition and regulation still presents a significant problem for overtly trusting consumers, especially when bombarded with a growing pool of profit-motivated competition.

The cosmetic and beauty industry is a $19 billion market, and that number is only expected to grow. While no one argues that cosmetic companies have a right to earn a profit, there is hesitancy to support the “clean” claims and misleading advertising campaigns.

Consumers have a right to be informed about what they are applying to the skin, especially when the average woman uses a minimum of 11 skincare and makeup products per day. While the beauty industry is a for-profit industry, it is crucial that the U.S. government, like other governments, steps up and begins regulating chemicals and defining terms within the cosmetics industry.

What do you think of the “clean” beauty movement? Do you think the U.S. government should play a more significant role? Leave a comment below.

6 Amazing (Natural) Remedies for IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is more common than you may think. Anywhere from 25 million to 45 million people in the U.S. have it. That means around 1 in 10 Americans may have IBS symptoms! What can you do about it? 

Tip 1: Stop Listening to Family Members

One of the most important ways to deal with the symptoms of IBS is to ignore what other people tell you. There will always be a well-meaning family member offering to share the "secret" to curing bowel problems. The thing is, IBS is very different from other digestive problems, and some “common-sense” diet tips can make things worse.

Let me give you an example: fiber. Everyone knows that you need more fiber to help ease digestive discomfort, right? Well, with IBS, that’s not always the case. Yes, you need dietary fiber, but too much can actually trigger bloating, gas or constipation issues.

Tip 2: Go for a Walk

One of the worst triggers for IBS isn’t a food at all. It’s stress. There’s a direct connection between how you feel emotionally and how your colon works. Depression, anxiety or stressful events can trigger bowel problems.

Want a great solution for stress and IBS at the same time? Exercise! Working out is good for your body both physically and emotionally. It relieves stress, encourages healthy bowel movements, improves your self-esteem and even benefits your sleep quality — all of which are great for IBS symptoms.

Choose moderate-intensity exercises that get your heart rate up but feel relaxing:

  • Walking

  • Going for a calm bike ride

  • Doing low-impact aerobics

  • Swimming

  • Stretching

Pro tip: Exercising also makes it easier to pass gas, especially if you’re outdoors. You didn’t hear it from me!

Tip 3: Be Balanced

If you have IBS, try to take things slow and steady when it comes to diet changes. Let’s say you read an article on the health benefits of Greek yogurt. Normally, if you’re like me, you’d rush to the store to buy a couple of gallons right away! To avoid IBS symptoms, however, it’s better to avoid extremes. Start slow and work your way up.

Tip 4: Skip FODMAPs for a While

FODMAPs are carbohydrates that many people with IBS have trouble digesting. Unfortunately, FODMAPs appear in a surprising number of otherwise awesome foods:

  • Wheat

  • Rice

  • Some fruit (mainly watermelon, apples, mangoes, peaches, pears and cherries)

  • Onions

  • Garlic

  • Some vegetables (such as asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mushrooms and snow peas)

  • Beans and lentils

  • Dairy foods with lactose (cow’s milk, soft cheeses and yogurt)

Take note of foods that cause problems for you personally. If you suspect certain grains make irritation worse, ignore Dr. Oz and listen to what your gut is saying. Identifying your personal triggers can be huge for avoiding IBS symptoms.

Tip 5: Try Peppermit Oil (in Capsules)

There's some evidence that taking peppermint oil can help with IBS symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas and bloating. This plant oil appears to help the muscles of your intestines relax while soothing irritated or painful spots from the inside. Go with capsules to avoid problems with heartburn.

Tip 6: Take Care of Your Gut With Probiotics

A healthy gut has a blend of over 300 different types of microorganisms that work together to protect your digestive lining, break down foods, make vitamins for your body, absorb nutrients and even improve your emotions! Getting plenty of probiotics can help with pain, boating, bowel movements and overall intestinal comfort.

You can find probiotics in several foods:

  • Yogurt

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kefir

  • Kimchi

  • Pickles

  • Kombucha

But wait — didn’t I just say that lactose in dairy can make IBS symptoms worse? If you notice that yogurt bothers you, there are several options. You could choose a lactose-free Greek yogurt. Or you can simply take a probiotic supplement and avoid the fuss!

Do Essential Oil Diffusers Actually Do Anything for Your Health or Mood?

Wouldn't it be great if moms could squeeze in little bits of relaxation all day long? That’s what essential oil diffusers promise to do: create a positive, refreshing and energizing ambience that makes you happier and healthier. Do they work?

What Are Essential Oils and Diffusers?

Essential Oils

Essential oils are plant extracts. These natural compounds come from a variety of flowers, herbs, trees and other plants. Some of my favorites are tea tree, lavender, sandalwood, lemon and (of course) rose. Essential oils are often used in aromatherapy to promote wellbeing for body and emotions.

Essential Oil Diffusers

Essential oil diffusers deliver these plant scents into the air as aromatic molecules. That way you can smell relaxing aroma as you’re going about your daily activities. The tiny particles reach your nose’s receptors and send signals to your brain, especially to the area involved with emotions. Today's oil diffusers are similar to the air fresheners of yesteryear, but using comforting natural plant extracts instead of synthetic chemicals.

How Effective Are Essential Oils?

Do essential oils work? To be honest, scientists aren’t completely sure. Some research has shown that essential oils such as lavender can have benefits:

  • Relief from anxiety

  • Help with depression symptoms

  • Sleep quality improvements

  • Calming effects for dementia

  • Pain relief for osteoarthritis

In other words, aromatherapy may help your mood and emotional health, but scientists can’t confirm it. That's why doctors aren't actually writing prescriptions for lavender oil or tea tree oil.

What Are the Best Types of Essential Oil Diffusers?

There are many types of diffusers to choose from. Each has pros and cons, and you should look at the price tag, too:

  • Electric diffusers: You add essential oil to water and an electric fan disperses the air and oil droplets into the air.
  • Reed diffusers: Small sticks absorb essential oils from a jar and release them into the room naturally. This can take a while, but it’s silent. Reed diffusers are my favorites for the bedroom.
  • Ceramic diffusers: Terracotta or ceramic absorb and gradually release essential oil into the surrounding space. These diffusers don’t have much reach, so they’re best for a bathroom countertop, tub, or another small space.
  • Heat diffusers: Heating essential oils can change their chemical properties and take away therapeutic benefits. Skip these diffusers unless you’re only after the scent.
  • Ultrasonic diffusers: These high-tech devices use vibrations to create a fine mist of essential oils and water. These are great all-around diffusers for large spaces, and they can also humidify the air in dry homes.
  • Nebulizer diffusers: For fast dispersion you can smell throughout the house, nebulizers are hard to beat. I don’t like them personally because I’m always afraid of breaking the glass container. They also go through more essential oil than other options.

What's the Bottom Line for Essential Oil Diffusers?

My point of view is that you should find out whether essential oils work for you personally. Don’t believe crazy claims or miracle cures you read online. Try your favorite aromatic scents with an essential oil diffuser for a month or two. Write down how you feel at the beginning and compare again at the end. If you notice you feel less stressed or that you’re sleeping better at night, keep going!

The Hidden Danger of Lime Juice and Sun Exposure

By now, you’ve probably figured out that I have a naturally curious mind and like to test new things. From fad diets to natural concoctions for smooth skin, I love experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t.

I also like to pass my knowledge on to my audience whenever I can. That’s why I’ve decided to take a minute to tell you about the hidden dangers of a “new” skin care fad. If you’ve thought about putting lime juice on your skin, don’t do it until you’ve read about the hidden dangers of this practice!

Touted Benefits of Lime Juice for Skin

Mother Nature makes a lot of cool ingredients that offer a lot of benefits. From egg white hair masks to coconut oil lotion, there are a lot of ways you can use natural products in your daily hair care and skincare routines.

Recently, lime juice has made its way into the limelight as a natural skin care product. Check out this list of benefits lime juice can potentially offer you:

  • Treats blemishes and acne due to its antibacterial properties

  • Controls excess skin oil thanks to its acidic nature

  • Has natural skin-lightening properties that can brighten dark spots on your skin

  • Helps slough off dead skin cells to reveal softer, newer skin

  • Acts as an astringent to tighten open pores and provide a smoother complexion

  • Helps neutralize free radicals and prevent premature aging

  • Makes your skin appear to glow

These are just a few of the top claims I found online about how lime juice can help your skin when applied regularly. While it probably does do all of these things, the benefits of using lime juice on your skin come at a substantial cost. If you’re not keen to live your life as a vampire and avoid sun exposure, here’s what you should know about the hidden danger of limes and sunshine.

How Lime Juice and the Sun Interact

Lime juice reacts with sunlight in a harmful way that can lead to chemical burns on your skin. This condition is referred to as phytophotodermatitis, and you only need to look up a few pictures online to see that this is something you absolutely don’t want to experience. It’s a type of skin rash that is very painful and can potentially cause second-degree burns.

As the rashes from lime juice and sunlight interactions begin to fade, they often leave behind itchy brown patches on the skin. The good news is that these patches will usually disappear without intervention, but it can take months for them to fade completely.

The tricky thing about phytophotodermatitis is that it often takes days for symptoms to develop. The delay makes it tricky to pinpoint the cause of the condition. Common symptoms include a burning sensation coupled with inflammation of the skin, fluid-filled bubbles on the skin, and irregularly shaped red patches on the skin.

Be Careful When Cooking With Limes Outdoors

While homemade skincare products with lime should be avoided if you plan to go outside in the summer, it’s also important to avoid cooking or grilling with limes outdoors. If you’re planning a barbeque, wear disposable vinyl gloves when squeezing lime juice onto your steaks or while preparing margaritas. The gloves provide a barrier between the lime juice and your skin.

If you don’t want to wear gloves, that’s OK. Just try not to get any lime juice on yourself while grilling (which is much easier said than done!) If you do get lime juice on your skin, be sure to immediately wash off any lime residue with soap and water before heading outdoors. A few preventative measures can mean the difference between enjoying your carefree summer and having your summer ruined by a painful bout of phytophotodermatitis.

Sugar-Free Gum: Good for Your Child’s Teeth or Not?

As a parent, you want to take good care of your child’s teeth. At the same time, getting them to brush after every meal probably isn’t realistic. Can sugar-free gum help prevent cavities?

Is Chewing Gum Good for Your Kids’ Teeth?

Chewing is a great way to reduce cavities for kids and adults alike. When kids chew, their mouths produce more saliva. This helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing the acid that causes cavities. Saliva also washes away leftover food particles. Sugar-free gum isn’t a replacement for some good old-fashioned brushing, but it’s a nice way provide dental hygiene after lunch or dinner.

That said, the type of gum you choose is very important. The kind of gum your kids want you to buy — bubble gum with fruit fillings — is definitely NOT good for teeth. Instead of preventing tooth decay, bubble gum encourages bacteria to grow. It also pushes the sugar right up against your child’s teeth, easily causing a bunch of cavities.

Is Sugar-Free Gum Safe for Kids?

This is a tricky question because it actually involves two things: if artificial sweeteners are safe for kids and if gum is dangerous as far as choking is concerned. The answers can vary depending on your child and your family.

The Oral Health Foundation recommends not giving gum to kids under the age of seven. At the same time, it acknowledges that parents are the best judges of when children are ready.

As far as the safety of artificial sweeteners goes, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that there’s no evidence these ingredients can hurt children at all (unless you have a rare condition called phenylketonuria). Also, sugar-free gum has relatively tiny levels of artificial sweeteners compared to other products.

To give you an idea of the amount, a stick of chewing gum has around 6–8 milligrams while a can of diet soda has 180 milligrams. Your kids would need to eat the equivalent of 24 sweetener packets to meet the FDA’s max limit. If you’re still concerned, choose gum made with xylitol, erythritol or other natural sugar alcohols.

Is It Bad for Kids To Swallow Gum?

This is part myth and part rare-but-weird concern. First, nothing usually happens if school-age kids swallow gum. It will literally be out of their systems in a day or two. The only exception to this is if children are constipated and swallow a LOT of gum. So, take this urban legend with a grain of salt.

Are There Any Alternatives to Sugar-Free Gum That Kids Like?

Remember, it’s the act of chewing, not sugar-free gum itself, that helps prevent cavities. Depending on the age of your kids, you can offer them naturally crispy or chewy foods instead. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Carrot sticks
  • Apple slices
  • Celery sticks
  • Snap peas
  • Jicama
  • Cucumber sticks
  • Rice cakes
  • Whole grain bagels

My kids love foods with a crunchy texture, so these veggies are a big hit. I also keep a few packs of sugar-free gum around for when we need something quick to chew. I’ve noticed that as long as I have everything already cut in the fridge, they actually go for the fresh fruit and veggies more often than gum.

Can Positive Stress Really Be Good for Your Body?

The idea of stress that is good for you seems weird. You’re probably thinking that the words “positive” and “stress” don’t even belong in the same sentence. But it’s true: certain types of stress produce beneficial effects instead of negative ones.

What Is Positive Stress?

We’re not talking about situations that make you feel terrified or anxious. Instead, healthy stress is associated more with activities that are challenging but also produce excitement, fun and happiness.

Positive stress makes life worth living. It’s about overcoming obstacles. It’s about celebrating accomplishments. It’s about trying new experiences. Positive stress gives every day more zing.

What Are Your Healthy Stress Sources?

Everyone views stress in a different way. Some writers love deadlines and get more done with them (I’m not one.) Do any of these situations get your blood flowing in a good way?

  • Work assignments
  • Fixing your car
  • Flying
  • Having a baby
  • Preparing for vacation
  • Working out
  • Taking care of DIY projects
  • Throwing a party

Someone who loves working on automobiles will probably see taking care of minor repairs as something enjoyable. That’s positive stress.

The same thing goes for dating. Falling in love makes your heart beat in a good way. You stay awake at night, maybe a little anxious, but mostly because you’re excited and can’t wait to see the person again.

What Are the Benefits of Positive Stress?

Unlike chronic stress, which weakens your immune system, gives you headaches and triggers inflammation, positive stress has great effects on your mind and body:

  • It motivates you: Reaching your goals can give you a sensation that’s even better than chocolate. It can give your life meaning. It also improves your self-esteem. Running a business can be stressful, but for entrepreneurs, it’s really rewarding to see their company flourish.
  • It improves your creativity: Feeling excited about a project helps you produce better results. My best work is always with topics that I feel passionate about. A little positive stress can help you come up with incredible ideas and solutions, too.
  • It feels amazing: If you’ve ever heard about sports enthusiasts talking about the “adrenaline rush,” that’s what positive stress is. Whether you’re into skydiving, rock climbing, skiing or snowmobiling, adrenaline makes your brain happy.
  • It helps your immune system: Excitement is good for your body’s defenses. Science has shown that good stress activates your immune cells and even helps your body heal faster after injuries. That’s one reason why doctors often recommend that people who are depressed take the time to exercise regularly.
  • It gives you energy: When you have a goal you’re trying to reach, your body literally feels more energized. Imagining yourself fitting into that tight red dress can give you the energy you need to swim, bike, hike or Zumba like never before.

How Can You Boost Positive Stress Levels?

Personally, I find that being a mom is my source of positive stress. I’m nervous sometimes, but also excited and happy. Hearing that “I love you Mommy” is irresistible, and according to science, it’s good for my health, too!

Get more positive stress in your life by doing things that are worth it to you, things that are exciting. Set aside more time for family adventures.

Go on a road trip. Ride a roller coaster with your eyes closed. Try new recipes. Make new friends. Visit new places. Zumba. Find something to be excited about every day!

Do Most Coffee Creamers Have Dangerous Chemicals?

I’m a “no sugar, two creams, please” type of girl. So you can imagine my surprise when a friend of mine sent me an article saying that coffee creamers aren’t good for you — more than that, they’re downright dangerous! Every fiber of my being wanted to shout “that’s blasphemy!” Are coffee creamers really bad for you?

What’s In Your Favorite Coffee Creamer?

The first shocker for me is that most coffee creamers are loaded with sugar — more than a teaspoon per serving! But that’s not the worst part by a long shot:

Hydrogenated Oil

This is just another name for trans fats. To make this artificial fat, manufacturers add powdered nickel or other metals to vegetable oil. Hydrogenated oil adds a "creamier" texture. According to the FDA, partially hydrogenated oils are not Generally Recognized as Safe in food. They raise bad cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Cellulose Gel

I’ll give you a hint: cellulose is another name for “wood.” That’s right, some popular coffee creamers add small amounts of wood pulp to help thicken the consistency of cheaper ingredients. Don’t want wood particles in your coffee? Yeah, me either.

Carrageenan

This additive and preservative is technically “natural” because it comes from a type of moss (mmm!). But carrageenan has been linked to a bunch of health problems, from IBS and bloating to colon cancer and arthritis.

Why do companies use these weird ingredients if they’re so bad for you? Because they’re cheap. Some corporations are happy to make a profit whether it hurts you or not.

What Are the Best Alternatives to Coffee Creamer?

Now for the good news. There are a lot of tasty, natural and healthy alternatives you can add to your joe. And the flavor is WAY better:

  • Milk: Simple, heathy and easy. Depending on whether you choose whole or 2%, milk isn’t as thick as other options, but it has less total fat and gives you calcium, vitamin D… the whole shebang.
  • Heavy cream: This has more fat than milk (1 tsp has 50 calories), but you also don’t need to use much. This is my favorite option for “treating myself” for the first cup of coffee in the day, but I don’t use it for other cups.
  • Almond milk: Tons of vitamin B12, a creamy texture and a nutty flavor make almond milk amazing for coffee.
  • Coconut oil: If you’re on a keto diet, coconut oil in your coffee is a must. It gives you a rush of energy, boosts your metabolism and provides healthy MCT oil for burning fat. This is how you make Bulletproof coffee at home.
  • Coconut milk: Some brands add a lot of sugar, but you can find coconut milk that is just pureed coconut and water. Trust me, this option is really creamy and it adds an irresistible aroma to your coffee.
  • Unsweetened nut milk: You don’t need to buy an artificial creamer to enjoy hazelnut, vanilla or macadamia nut in your coffee. Just go straight to the source. Macadamia nut milk has all that delicious flavor you want, and zero weird ingredients.

Some cheapskate companies still try to sneak in carrageenan into these natural alternatives, so look at the label before you buy. It’s perfectly possible to enjoy creamy coffee and stay healthy at the same time. Now I’m going to celebrate with … you know what!

5 Ways To Protect Your Eyes From Screen Glare

If you’re like me, you spend a LOT of time in front of the computer. I work, shop, chat with friends, watch videos and pay bills from the comfort of my desk. Is staring at a computer screen for a long time bad for your eyes?

Can Staring at a Screen Too Long Hurt Your Vision?

The good news is that using your laptop, tablet or smartphone isn’t going to hurt your eyes. You don’t have to worry about a screen ruining your vision or making you need a stronger prescription. Those are all myths.

It’s still important to take good care of your eyes, though. Bright screens can cause dry eyes. Many people experience eyestrain, or tired eyes, after a long workday. Some people even get headaches from this. There are times when my eyes feel like sore grapes!

Why Can Staring at a Screen Cause Eyestrain and Dryness?

One reason screens make your eyes feel uncomfortable is that they slow down your blinking. Blinking is essential for keeping your eyes hydrated and clean. Normally, you should blink at least 15–20 times per minute. But when you’re staring intently at a screen, you only blink half that much! This can make your eyes really dry, especially after using a computer for hours.

Bright screens can also make your eyes exhausted — literally. Whether you’re absorbed in a book or shopping online, the tiny muscles around your eyeballs are constantly moving. Your eyes have to focus over and over, similar to how a photographer adjusts a camera lens.

Like any other muscle, eye muscles can get tired, too. After a while, focusing gets harder and concentrating on words requires a ton of effort. That’s a sign you’ve pushed your eyes too far. They need a break, just like how your feet want to kick back and relax after standing all day.

How Can You Prevent Eyestrain?

Follow these tips to protect your eyes:

  1. Avoid screen glare: Some newer screens have an anti-glare coating. For extra protection, you can buy a cheap ($10) matte screen filter for your computer. If you wear glasses, another option is to get an anti-reflective coating for your eyeglasses.
  2. Turn down screen brightness: A screen that’s too bright can tire your eyes out more quickly. Turn down brightness as much as possible while making sure reading is still comfortable.
  3. Increase the text size: Most apps let you adjust the size of words on the screen. Making text bigger doesn’t have anything to do with age. It’s about reducing eyestrain. Larger text is just more comfortable. Trust me, I kicked the settings up a few notches and it made a huge difference for my day.
  4. Take a break every 30 minutes: If possible, stop what you’re doing every 15–30 minutes so your eyes can rest and rehydrate. Get up, grab some water, eat a handful of almonds or check on your pot roast. Then, go back to writing your novel or working.
  5. Don’t sit too close: For a computer screen, position your chair so your eyes are about two feet away. For a tablet, hold it at the distance you would a book.

The solution to dry eyes and eyestrain isn’t to use eyedrops constantly. That's actually a bad idea. Prevent CVS instead by making life easier on your eyes. You can still use your laptop or tablet whenever you want; just remember to blink more and take more (healthy) snack breaks!

Can a Healthy Gut Really Help With Arthritis, Depression and Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Do you have problems with inflammation, anxiety or depression? Do you get sick a lot? It turns out that the real solution is to fix your gut, not to take endless pills.

Your Body Has a “Second Brain” — And It’s in Your Gut!

The expression “going with your gut” is more accurate than scientists ever suspected. Your digestive system has a staggering network of over 100 million nerve cells! This “second brain” is called the enteric nervous system (ENS) and it surrounds your entire gastrointestinal tract.

The ENS doesn’t help you play chess or calculate your taxes, but it does play a large role in emotional health. If something makes your digestive system feel bad, scientists believe the ENS triggers mood changes, such as depression, anxiety or irritability.

This is a huge discovery; it explains why so many people who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) also have depression. Protecting your gut health may go a long way towards helping you feel happier, and lowering stress may help you avoid digestive problems.

The Key to a Stronger Immune System? That’s Right — Excellent Gut Health!

Have you ever thought of taking probiotics to boost your immune system? That’s exactly what you should be doing, according to many experts.

Healthy gut bacteria can improve immune cells throughout the body, increasing the amount of natural antibodies you have and strengthening mucus membranes that help trap invaders. One study found that Lactobacillus, a type of probiotic found in yogurt, helped reduce the amount of respiratory infections in children by almost 20%!

The Connection Between a "Leaky Gut" and Inflammation

In a healthy gut, positive microorganisms form a kind of protective wall over the lining of your GI tract. This helps in two big ways: lowering levels of inflammation-causing bacteria and preventing them from getting into your blood stream.

When your gut is out of whack — sometimes called “leaky gut syndrome” — unhealthy bacteria travel places they shouldn’t, provoking your immune system to attack. The problem appears to be even worse for people who have rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis and osteoarthritis. The combination makes inflammation much more severe than normal.

The opposite is also true. A balanced gut microbiome is good for fighting inflammation. It can make arthritis less painful and give you back a lot of your flexibility and mobility. And for the rest of us, good digestive health reduces the number of aches and pains we wake up with in the morning.

Your Shopping List for Amazing Gut Health

How can you take good care of your gut microbiome? The secret is to increase the amount of probiotics and prebiotics in your diet.

Probiotics are good bacteria. Probiotics add soldiers directly to your gut’s army of healthy microbes. Greek yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented foods have lots of probiotics. I like to take probiotic supplements, too, especially after finishing any kind of antibiotics.

Prebiotics are plant fibers that help good bacteria grow. They support your intestinal soldiers, promoting good digestion and providing food for hungry microbes. My favorite prebiotics are apples, bananas, leafy greens and whole grains.

A healthy gut helps you fight off harmful bacteria, viruses and allergies. It can help you get sick less often, and make symptoms less severe when you do catch a bug. Probiotics may even make vaccines more effective. Make great gut health a priority!

 

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11387176/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006993/

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-brain-gut-connection

Considering the Pros and Cons of a Bidet Before Purchase

How often do you change your bathroom routine? For most people, bathroom habits don’t change much from their early years, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. Recently, there has been a significant rise in interest for the bidet, a bathroom accessory with several variations and benefits.

Understanding Bidet Designs

A bidet is a sanitation tool for personal cleaning. Rather than using toilet paper, a person uses the stream of water produced by the bidet to clean their hindquarters. The bidet comes in three iterations: standalone, modern, and shower.

The standalone bidet resembles a second toilet in the bathroom but without a toilet seat. Also, a traditional design includes a faucet, so a more accurate depiction is a sink toilet. Facing toward or away from the tap, you straddle the bidet and rinse your rear.

Modern bidets are attachments to your existing toilet. You will have several buttons on the side of the seat, and when pressed, a wand will emerge from under the seat to spray your hiney.

Finally, a shower bidet is a toilet attachment resembling a shower wand. Once you do your business, you take the wand down from its wall mount and clean yourself.

Benefits of Using Bidets

Records exist about the bidet as far back as 1726, but despite the history, many people are unfamiliar or feel icky thinking about the device. However, there are several advantages to using a bidet, some that extend the personal experience.

  • Hygiene:

Bidets are undeniably more sanitary than toilet paper or wipes. Even the most hygienic person will likely leave behind particles or bits that can lead to odor, infection, or irritation. A bidet sprays the area, washing away any remnants, making it a fantastic tool for older people or those who do not have the flexibility to clean themselves effectively.

  • Environment:

Over 36 billion rolls of toilet paper go to waste every year. Using a bidet can reduce that number significantly. Bidets limit the number of rolls needed and thereby the number of trees used for creating a product responsible for eliminating an estimated 27,000 trees daily.

  • Plumbing:

If you use a bidet correctly, the device rinses away the waste. Using toilet paper to dry your hind parts is unnecessary; instead, use small cloth towels and put them in the hamper after each use. By eliminating toilet paper usage, you limit environmental impact, and you ensure you have clear and clear pipes in your home.

Negatives of Using Bidets

Bidets have several pros, but that does not mean they are without any cons. Several negatives of using a bidet include:

  • Infections:

For the females out there, wiping is not a willy-nilly process. Cleaning yourself involves limiting exposure to certain sensitive and vulnerable areas. Unfortunately, if a bidet is not measured correctly, it can lead to overspray and the spread of fecal matter, which can lead to feminine infections.

  • Installation:

While some modern bidets install quickly without significant required changes to your existing bathroom or plumbing, others might need a renovation or bathroom overhaul, especially if looking for a standalone system. Make sure your budget can afford the potential costs.

  • Learning curve:

While the bidet is a straightforward and simplistic device, it still requires practice and patience. Bidet noobs will probably experience overspray and wet clothes. The only advice is to practice and have a spare pair of underwear and pants nearby.

The bidet is a useful and, in some respects, a traditional bathroom tool. However, despite its age, not everyone will enjoy the pressure washing of their rear. What do you think? Leave a comment below.