Category Archives: health

6 Things That Happen When You Stop Using Nail Polish

nail polish

I gave up biting my nails 3 years ago after seeing my 4-year-old son chewing away at his own digits. How could I encourage him to break his bad habit if I didn’t do the same? But with biting behind me, I became obsessed with polishing my nails to candy-colored perfection. It seemed like a good tradeoff until my youngest son snapped me back to reality: “Ewww, what’s that smell?” he declared, pointing his nose at the polish I was holding. I froze mid-swipe.

That smell was a chemical cocktail of endocrine disruptors and possible carcinogens I wanted nowhere near my kids, let alone my own lungs. After years of slapping on coat after coat of vibrant varnishes, it was time to give my nails a break. Along the way, I discovered a couple of other benefits to letting my nails go naked.

Your Nails Will Get Stronger
Without the glossy distraction, at first it felt like there was a giant spotlight on my finger flaws. My unflattering nail ridges, uneven half-moons, craggy cuticles, and brutally brittle, weak nails glared back at me. But it turns out it wasn’t my naked nails that were to blame for the blemishes; it was all that polish remover. Nails are made of layers of keratin, similar to hair, and although fingernails don’t actually need to breathe, the strong solvents in polish remover dry out the nail and surrounding cuticle, says Dana Stern, a dermatologist and nail specialist in New York City. “With frequent exposure, the nail can become more prone to peeling, splitting, and general surface irregularities.” Gel polishes may be even worse. A study out of the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine used ultrasounds to demonstrate that gel manicures cause nail thinning.

Nails Lose That Yellowish Undertone
Another thing I noticed when I ditched the polish was how yellow my nails looked. According to Stern, continuous polishing can be to blame for this unsightly shade of yellow. Fortunately, just like cutting back on coffee and red wine makes your pearly whites whiter, a varnish vacation lets nails get back to their natural healthy hue. After only 1 week, mine lost that jaundiced look.

Those Rough White Patches Disappear
When you keep polish on for a long time, the keratin granulation can cause white patches and surface irregularities to appear on the nail, notes Stern. Basically, too much polish and remover strips the superficial layers of the nail, leaving a roughed-up mess. Keeping nails free and clear gives those chalky blotches a chance to fade or grow out.

You Lower Your Chemical Load
There’s a reason mommies-to-be skip manicures. A lot of nail polishes are a chemical cocktail of ingredients tied to miscarriages, birth defects, cancer, and lung diseases, and it’s not just the toxic trio of formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate that’s to blame. A joint study by Duke University and the Environmental Working Group found that another common polish chemical, triphenyl phosphate (a hormone disruptor linked to early-onset puberty and obesity), can actually be absorbed by the body.

You Get a More Accurate Window into Your Health
Did you know that nails are like a window into your health? Changes in your nails—think discoloration, thickening, or changes in nail shape—can signal rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, liver problems, heart disease, and even vitamin deficiencies. Polish-free nails give you and your doctor a clearer window into your health.

Naked Nails Can Still Stand Out + Be Stylish

buffed nails

After a week of being annoyed by my exposed, naked nails, I discovered something that changed everything: a buffer. Rubbing back and forth with the four-sided tool (start with the rough side and work your way down) gives nails a high-gloss finish as shiny as any clear polish. Top nails with cuticle oil or a dab of coconut oil and—presto!—natural beauty at its best.

Share Button

8 Secrets Every Nutritionist Knows (And You Should, Too)

Learn these healthy eating secrets that every nutritionist knows.

We asked a panel of nutritionists to disclose their must-know, insider tips about healthy eating. Here’s what they had to say:

1. The one thing that matters more than what you eat is…
“People get fixated on what they eat, but how much you eat matters so much more,” says Lisa Young, PhD, RD, nutrition professor at New York University and author of The Portion Teller. In other words, you can have everything in moderation—but it’s all too easy to overshoot that ¾-cup serving of cereal or 2 tablespoon glug of salad dressing. “Keep a food diary for a week or two and do your best to measure how much you’re having,” Young says. “Measure out one cup of cereal so you don’t pour yourself three cups.”

Another portion control minefield are restaurants. “Don’t expect yourself to control those portions by just putting your knife and fork down,” says Hope Warshaw, RD, author of Eat Out Eat Well. “Practice portion control from the point you place your order. Don’t feel compelled to order an entrée. Choose from healthier appetizers, soups, salads, and small plates instead.”

2. The one food that you should be eating but may not be…
One thing’s for sure: We’ve been bombarded by lots of anti-carb rhetoric over the years. “But not all carbohydrates are evil,” says Gina Consalvo, an RD based in Pennsylvania. “In fact, some are essential. The carbs in fiber-rich whole grains provide your body with its preferred source of energy. They’re also high in phytonutrients, which help fight off disease, and high in fiber, which is filling and helps with portion control and blood sugar management.” Plus, research shows that whole grain fiber may have a unique ability to protect against chronic disease—perhaps even more so than vegetable fiber.

Continue reading

Share Button

Tips for Finding a Good Dentist

Finding a good dentist can be as difficult as, or even more difficult than, finding a good doctor. It can be especially difficult for those of us who have extreme dental fears. At one time, going to a new dentist can be quite terrifying because of the techniques that dentists used to use. Today, there is little need for fear, because modern dentistry can be almost painless. But, before you can get any dental work done, you need to find a dentist. Here are some tips to help you find the best dentist for you and your family, including where to find a dentist and what to look for.

Continue reading

Share Button

10 Fitness Hacks to Enhance Your Health and Everyday Life

In our busy, stress-filled lives, the most important thing we can do is take care of ourselves. With all of the craziness in our schedules, it can be hard to find time to do what’s necessary to make sure we are staying healthy and happy.

To help you manage your time, and take care of your most important resource, your body, here are ten fitness hacks that will save you time and energy, while improving the quality of your life. These fitness hacks will help you sleep better, get in better shape, and get more done, without adding unnecessary stress to your schedule.

1. Turn off electronics at least an hour before bed

Continue reading

Share Button

Research Finds Bitter Melon Can Kill Cancer Cells And Treat Diabetes

Diabetes and cancer are two of the most devastating chronic illnesses in America today — and it appears that a small Asian fruit might be able to help treat them both. Read on to find out more about the great benefits you get from bitter melon — and what the latest research is saying.

You Get a Great Combination of Nutrients and Antioxidants

Continue reading

Share Button

8 Reasons Why You Should Start Eating Asparagus!

One of the earliest signs of a new growing season is the presence of asparagus at the supermarket. Asparagus is a tall plant from the lily family whose shoots are edible and considered a health vegetable that is perfect for almost any diet. There are many reasons why everyone should be eating asparagus. Let’s take a look at exactly why you should make this tasty vegetable a part of your diet.

1. Asparagus is Loaded With Nutrients

Continue reading

Share Button

4 Natural Foods That Aren’t Really Natural At All

With no FDA definition or standards for use of the term, it’s easy for companies to create the impression of a straight-from-the-farm product. Here are 4 foods that aren’t as “natural” as they claim to be.

Almond Milk
It seems like a win-win: a low-calorie dairy substitute made from one of nature’s nutritional powerhouses. Except there are actually very few almonds in this mostly water beverage, and pretty much none of their natural goodness—including protein, fiber, healthy fat, and antioxidants—survives the processing into “milk.” Instead, what’s added is a whole bunch of fortified nutrients, thickeners and stabilizers like carrageenan, which scientists warn may cause gastrointestinal inflammation. The same goes for rice milk.
Better choice: Coconut milk or real dairy.

Continue reading

Share Button

Eat This To Prevent Brain Shrinkage

prevent brain shrinkage with food

Like your stash of leftover Halloween candy and your reserve of willpower for the day, there are a few things in life you really don’t want to run out of.

Also at the top of that list: your gray (and white) matter. Obviously your capacity to remember things and process information—abilities bestowed upon us by the robustness of our physical brains—holds a prize spot way higher up than those fun-size Snickers (at least, let’s hope).

For a while now, researchers have known that following a Mediterranean diet—one heavy on whole grains, fresh produce, and fatty fish and lower in red meat and dairy—seems to ward off signs of looming cognitive decline. But in a new study published in the journal Neurology, researchers examined the effect of the diet “on the brain itself,” says lead author Yian Gu, PhD, assistant professor of neuropsychology at Columbia University, “rather than clinical symptoms.” Continue reading

Share Button

How A Half-Hour Run Boosts Motor Skills

By now you’re probably getting a little bored of the steady stream of research showing that running (and exercise in general) makes you smarter, as well as faster. Fair enough. But a slightly different twist is that researchers at Johns Hopkins have just published some neat data in PLOS ONE showing that a half-hour run also boosts “motor skill acquisition.”

What is motor learning? In this case, the task they tested is something called the Sequential Visual Isometric Pinch Task (SVIPT). You pinch a little force sensor between your thumb and index finger, and the harder you pinch, the farther you move a cursor across the screen of a computer. The task involves moving the cursor as quickly and accurately as possible to five different locations on the screen; performance was measured by looking at improvements in the relationship between speed and accuracy of four sets of 30 trials.

The basic result is that subjects got better at the SVIPT if they ran at a moderate pace for 30 minutes immediately before the testing session. If they rested for an hour after running, then they were still better than the no-exercise control, but not as good as the group that was tested immediately after running. The biggest improvements were in how accurately they controlled the cursor, rather than their speed.

Continue reading

Share Button

7 Ways To Prevent Lower Back Pain

5 ways to prevent back pain

If you suffer from lower back pain, you’re certainly not alone. According to the National Institutes of Health, back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the United States (just behind headaches), and Americans spend at least $50 billion a year on treating it. For most of you, bouts go away within a few days, but others may not be so lucky. The good news, though, is that lower back pain is completely avoidable. If you stick to the following tips, you can say goodbye to that nagging lower back for good.

Do Yoga

yoga prevents back pain

All kinds of exercises can promote back pain recovery by improving circulation and reducing stress, but researchers from the University of Washington believe yoga may be the best. They say yoga eases lower-packpain faster than most conventional exercises because it promotes deep breathing and relaxation, as well as stretching and strength. Therefore, yoga can help you with both the emotional and structural triggers of backpain. You can find yoga classes everywhere—at gyms or local studios or you could even start a yoga group with friends at home. But be sure to consult your instructor who can help customize a plan that’ll work best for you and your back pain.

Stand Up To The Pain
Sitting puts 40% more pressure on your spine than standing. So the more time you can spend on your feet, the less back pain you’ll have to endure. If you can’t avoid heavy doses of desk work, sitting back at a 135-degree angle—roughly the position you’d assume in a lounge chair—can reduce compression on the discs of your spine, and so alleviate pain.

Continue reading

Share Button