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It can be downright confusing trying to navigate through the world of supplements. There is literally a pill, potion, or powder for everything! Each herb, vitamin, mineral, and superfood is sold as a way to increase your vitality and improve your health. But which ones are effective and are they necessary? 

There are certainly contradictory studies out there, some in support of supplements while others negate them. From my perspective, they are necessary and vital. 

In today’s world we don’t eat a varied enough diet and our soils are depleted and so while eating a balanced diet is the best way to boost your health, it’s not always possible to get everything that we need in food alone. This is why I believe in supplementation. 

When buying supplements research ones that are from organic, non-GMO sources. Also look for vitamins that are derived from whole foods whenever possible. While some drugstore brands are okay, often it pays to invest in a quality product that has a good reputation from a company with a strong track record. 

While each person’s health profile is unique and so too are their vitamin requirements, there are certain supplements that I recommend to almost everyone in my wellness coaching practice. 

Here is a list of some of the vitamins, minerals, herbs, and superfoods that I suggest to people who are seeking to turn back the clock, increase their vitality, and for those interested in improving the odds of living a longer life: 

Multivitamin with Minerals - I liken a multivitamin to an insurance policy. We take it just in case. It’s difficult to know where we are lacking in terms of vitamins and minerals and it is rare that blood tests will give us a full breakdown. Therefore taking a potent multivitamin with minerals from whole food sources is a great option. Ensure that your multivitamin has adequate Vitamin D3 levels, approximately 5,000 IU per day and a significant level of antioxidants. 

Probiotic - Our gut is our second brain. Everything that occurs in our body including our brain function, digestion, and immunity begins in our stomach. Therefore, taking a probiotic supplement daily is a great way to build up the vital stomach flora, which acts to strengthen our overall system. Look for one with numerous strains of probiotic and at least 30 billion live cultures. 

Krill Oil/Omega Oils - Many of us receive an abundance of Omega 6 oils from food but less Omega 3 fatty acids. We require a balance of both in order to support proper brain and heart health and to reduce overall inflammation in the body. Krill oil in particular contains a high level of Omega 3 oils and Astaxanthin, which works to reduce sunspots and provides an extra layer of sun protection. Krill oil is found to be the most potent and absorbable version of these healthy Omega 3 oils. For vegetarians or vegans, consume flax, hemp, or walnut oil daily. 

Turmeric/Curcumin - One of the most researched herbs for anti-aging is Turmeric. There is a long list of benefits from daily consumption of it’s active ingredient Curcumin including a possible lowering of Alzheimer’s risk, a reduction in joint inflammation, and increased immunity. This potent spice can be taken in powder or supplement form and for the most protection 3-4 grams per day is recommended. 

Oil of Oregano - This powerful herb works to boost immunity especially during cold and flu season. People with asthma, allergies, sinusitis, and bronchitis have noticed impressive results using oil of Oregano. 3-5 drops under your tongue followed by some water provides maximum antioxidant and antifungal protection. 

Raw Greens Superfood - It’s a challenge to eat enough fruits and vegetables throughout our day which is why a raw, greens superfood powder is an amazing alternate. One scoop normally provides anywhere from 15-40 servings of fresh fruit and vegetable extracts along with numerous other immune-supporting vitamins, minerals, herbs, phytonutrients, prebiotics, probiotics, and fiber. 

Green Tea - Green Tea is known for it’s powerful anti-cancer benefits. The potent Polyphenols and Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) in Green Tea make it an ideal antioxidant, which fights free radicals in our body. Green Tea is also a thermogenic meaning that it can help to speed up the metabolism leading to increased fat burning effects. 

Mushroom Medley - Mushrooms contain powerful compounds known to boost immunity. For those interested in extra cell protection, consider taking a powder or supplement containing Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, Reishi, Maitake and other medicinal mushrooms. 

Ashwaganda - Ashwaganda is part of the adaptogen herb family. It works to boost overall energy and vitality, increase libido, lower the overall stress responses within the body, and helps many people to get a deeper and more restful sleep. 

*Always consult with your physician before starting any supplement regimen as some may interfere with current medications or pre-existing health conditions.

 

(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert Living in Los Angeles.  http://www.JayBradleyLifestyle.com.  He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!)

 

WELLNESS-Living a healthy and balanced life can feel overwhelming at times. Where do we begin? What aspects are the most important? With so many issues in our environment can really we make a difference in our lives and the lives of those around us? 

What we do on a day-to-day basis does in fact make an impact on a grand scale. When we care for our family, and ourselves and we make incremental and consistent positive changes towards living a healthier life, we in turn affect the entire world. 

Beginning at home is the most important place to start. Here are some immediate yet simple changes that you can make in order to protect your family from harmful toxins and chemicals along with creating a healthier body and home: 

Water - Our skin is our largest organ and everything that we put onto our skin absorbs deep into our system including our bath and shower water. Find a water filtration system that will block toxic chemicals and one that provides clean, purified water for your shower. Remember that we breathe steam from our shower too, which can be equally harmful. Along with your bath, purchase a home purifying system or portable water filter for your drinking water and use a non-BPA plastic or stainless steel bottle for your water storage. 

Personal Care Products - Learn to read labels and research companies that are creating chemical free, non-GMO, and organic skin and hair care. Dispose of products that contain Parabens, Phthalates, Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate, Formaldehyde, synthetic fragrance, and other potentially harmful ingredients. For a full list of what to avoid, see my book LIVE LOOK FEEL

Organic - Our fruit and vegetable supply is being highly affected by decreased soil nutrients, pesticides, and other environmental chemicals. Buying organic is your best option to protect your family from consuming an overload of toxins. To learn which fruits and vegetables are worse than others, see my WEBSITE under the Wellness section for a full list of the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen. 

Cleaning Products - One of the best ways to clear your home of toxins is to replace all chemical cleaners with natural, environmentally safe ones. There are plenty of quality and effective products on the market. You can also learn quick and easy recipes online to create your own. By doing this you are reducing the amount of chemical waste that goes directly back into our environment and your body. 

Air - The air we breathe in our homes often contains irritants, allergens, and chemicals. We normally don’t notice the particles that we’re breathing in but over time, they can negatively affect our health. Research a quality HEPA air filter that will help to clean your home’s air, creating a healthier environment for you and your family. 

Re-Use/Recycle - Become more conscious of tossing away plastic containers. If using plastic, re-use them or better yet, switch to environmentally safe food storage containers made of glass. Avoid plastic and foil wrap whenever possible. Make sure to keep a recycling bin under your sink and teach your kids the importance of reducing waste made of materials that NEVER biodegrade and will only pile up in our garbage sites, oceans, and lakes. 

Biodegradable - Today more than ever companies are striving towards creating biodegradable packaging. Learn more about the recycle symbols online and look for products that are packaged in biodegradable boxes and containers. Many are created from natural sources that will eventually dissolve into the earth leaving absolutely no toxic residue.

 

(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert Living in Los Angeles.  http://www.JayBradleyLifestyle.com. He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!) –cw

WELLNESS - It’s that time of year again when cold and flu germs seem to run rampant. There are theories as to why the cold and flu virus is worse during the winter months and the main one is because the virus prefers cold, dry temperatures. Also, we tend to get less Vitamin D during this time, which may lower our immune defense even further. We also spend excessive time indoors with windows closed and that may just feed the virus even more. 

There are certainly many debates as to whether or not the flu shot is a good option, and I personally have not had a flu shot in over 25 years. But wherever you stand, there are numerous natural remedies which work well to help you remain healthy and to give that potential cold and flu the boot! 

Here are some tried and true remedies: 

Oil of Oregano - This is one herb that you don’t hear enough about but in my opinion is probably the most potent antibiotic in nature. This stuff works! Oregano has powerful antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, which have been shown to boost the immune system and fight bacteria, parasites, and fungus. Oregano oil contains over 50 active compounds with immune-boosting and germ-fighting properties, along with antioxidants such as Vitamin A and C, and minerals. During cold and flu season, use 3-5 drops of oil of oregano under the tongue once or twice per day followed by water to reduce your chance of getting an infection. It can also be used throughout the year whenever you feel a scratchy throat, cough, or other signs of an illness. It works especially well for those who have asthma, bronchitis, or other chronic chest infections. 

Echinacea - This is probably the most popular of all cold-fighting herbs yet less effective than oregano in my opinion. Research shows that it increases the number of white blood cells, which in turn, fights infection. Although studies don’t show dramatic healing results, it certainly won’t hurt to add this to your cold and flu-fighting arsenal. Using Echinacea drops in room temperature water or juice is best and purchasing an organic version is always suggested. If you have allergies to daisies, ragweed, or marigolds, you may also be allergic to the Echinacea flower so proceed carefully. 

Astragalus - Numerous Chinese studies have shown that astragalus has potent immune and chi-boosting effects and works well during cold season to reduce the number of colds caught and to lessen their duration. Like Echinacea, astragalus can increase the white blood count and help to ward off infection. It is even more potent when used with a Ginseng product. It may also help to increase your energy during the winter months by supporting the adrenal glands. You can boil dried astragalus root to make a soup or tea, or take a capsule, powder, or tincture. 

Mushrooms - I have written about the powerful immune-boosting effects of mushrooms before and this is the perfect time to reference them again. Look for a powder or supplement containing a blend of ancient, healing mushrooms. Maitake, turkey tail, and cordyceps are just a few that contain awesome disease-fighting properties and will work during cold and flu season to give you that extra boost you’ll need to get you through free of illness. 

Zinc - The mineral zinc also increases your production of white blood cells and assists them in fighting infection more effectively. Zinc helps your immune system to release antibodies that may protect you during cold and flu season. Look for a chelated zinc supplement, which may be ideal to take all year but definitely during the fall and winter months. Zinc lozenges may also boost your immunity and help to alleviate sore throats. 

Garlic - While I am not a fan of eating raw garlic and it may not agree with everybody, some version of garlic is a good idea if you want to boost your immunity during cold and flu season. For those who don’t like the taste of garlic, consider taking a kyolic garlic supplement, which is aged garlic that is free of the pungent garlic odor. The immune-boosting effects of allicin, which is a component of garlic, can work wonders on strengthening your system and many people have sworn by its powerful support during the winter months. 

Along with these plants and herbs, make sure to get plenty of rest and exercise, and take time to de-stress with meditation and yoga. Also be sure to carve out creative time for yourself. Drink plenty of fluids, and work on releasing negative thoughts, fears, and emotions on your own or with a therapist or coach. Lastly, make sure to supplement with extra Vitamin C and D to further boost your system and to give those cold and flu germs the boot! 

* Always consult with your physician before taking any of the products listed above as some herbs, plants, and supplements may interfere with your current medications. 

 

(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert Living in Los Angeles. http://www.JayBradleyLifestyle.com.  He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!)

WELLNESS--If you’re like the majority of Americans, you most likely gain weight during the holidays. Not everybody packs on the pounds during this time but it certainly isn’t uncommon for your weight to increase or for your favorite pair of jeans to feel just a bit tighter. Many people also notice less energy and vitality during this time mainly due to overindulging. 

Too much celebrating and not enough discipline can definitely take its toll. While I am ALL for having a good time, especially during the holidays, there are some things to be more conscious of in order to lessen the negative effects of the season and to feel “merry and bright.” 

  • Refrain - I am certainly not here to lecture and trust me, I allow myself plenty of indulgences during the holidays. But this year why not pay closer attention to how much you’re eating and more importantly, why? Often we gorge ourselves without much thought because that is just what we do this time of year. We are bombarded with awesome desserts and goodies that we don’t normally see and so we feel somehow obliged to get our fill before they’re no longer around. Prior to taking that next bite of Nanaimo bar, buttery shortbread or Christmas cake, take a breath. Ask yourself do I really want this? Am I truly craving more? If the answer is yes then by all means, ENJOY! If you answer no, put it down. It’s really simple. Most of us tend to eat out of habit and not with our intuitive senses. By becoming more conscious, you’ll find yourself eating less and in turn, feeling better. 
  • Re-Hydrate - Most of us will drink more alcohol during the holidays but one of the best ways to slow things down is to make a decision to sip a soda or water between alcoholic beverages. This simple rule will give your system a break, fight dehydration, and will work on cleansing some of the alcohol from your system. You will probably also become aware that you don’t desire as much alcohol as you may have in the past. Also, try drinking more slowly and take time to thoroughly enjoy each sip. 
  • Routine - A lot of people tend to neglect their exercise routine during the holidays. This is actually the worst time of year to do that. Our bodies desperately need physical activity to offset holiday stress and to assist our bodies in detoxing from the extra sugar and alcohol. It’s okay to workout less and socialize more but don’t skip it completely or it will be that much harder to get back into it in the New Year. 
  • Rest - Because most of us are consuming more sugar and alcohol it’s vital that we get more rest. The holidays are meant for you to relax and take a break from routine. So although you’ll still be doing regular workouts, make sure to allow extra naptime as well, and give yourself permission to fully rest. The stress of the holidays can cause our cortisol to rise and in turn, may cause weight gain. Naps are similar to meditation in a way that they allow our body and mind to shut off leaving us feeling more centered.
  • Re-Ignite - The end of the year offers you a wonderful opportunity to go inward and contemplate your next steps. A new year always represents fresh new dreams, ideas, and goals that we would like to accomplish in the next 12 months. When we overdo our eating, drinking, and stress levels, we diminish this amazing time to look deeper and to re-ignite our spirits. After a year of running around and busyness, you owe it to yourself to use the holidays for greater good and to ensure that the year ahead is your BEST YEAR EVER!

 

 

(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Coach living in Los Angeles. http://www.jaybradleylifestyle.com. He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!)

-cw

WELLNESS--Everyone wants to get in shape, but what if you’re one of those people that is totally out of shape and hasn’t worked out in months or even years? There is hope. We all get off track, and quite frankly, some people are just not as physically inclined as others. Even since childhood there are those of us that never felt especially excited about gym class in school or any other physical activity. No matter how many times certain people try to get excited about working out, they simply can’t. 

The good news is you don’t have to love to work out in order to get into better shape. While exercise in some form does need to be a part of your life, it doesn’t need to take center stage. With all the new apps and gizmos available to us these days, strategizing exercise and diet in a well planned thought out way can help to bring up our fitness and wellness levels without cutting into our quality of life. It’s time to make technology your ally. 

Activity trackers like FitBit, Under Armor, Apple watch, are just a few of the many activity trackers available to help us track our calories and the amount of exercise we get. While most doctors and fitness experts still suggest a consistent 15 minutes or more of brisk cardio, sometimes we need to start with less. Simply having this tracker tell you how many steps you take each day can be plenty of motivation to up that number even by a small margin each day until you reach the desired amount of 10,000 steps. 

Using apps like MyFitnessPal, Loseit! or a number of other calorie counting apps, we are able to count the amount of calories we consume on a daily basis as well. While it may sound tedious, these apps make it simple. In the beginning there is some data entry required, but most of us don’t stray that much day to day from what we eat, so within a few days the majority of the entries are repeats and therefore already in the system. For packaged foods, the apps generally access a barcode scanner so one simply has to scan the package and then enter how many servings were consumed. 

I find that with my patients, simply getting them to track their caloric intake each day will usually shift what and how much they are eating. Approaching it as simply an experiment can be helpful. You can go into it telling yourself you will only enter what you eat in order to see how many calories and what you are eating each day. It is OK not to have any plans to make changes to your diet; simply enter what you eat so that you can get a clear picture of your daily intake and needs. More often than not, these people end up eating less and making healthier choices simply by becoming aware of the calorie intake. 

If you’re not a fitness person and if you don’t enjoy sweating, there is hope! Start by adding an activity tracker and an app to count calories. Simply track your steps and your calories. Think of it as a fun experiment and see what happens from there!

 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)

-cw

WELLNESS--Chronic pain affects 100 million Americans each year which is more than diabetes, cancer, and heart disease combined. Very often that pain is low back pain. 

What a lot of people don’t realize is that weakness and tightness go hand in hand. Common sense would have us think that along with weakness comes loose flexible muscles, but the opposite is true. The muscles get weak from lack of movement and exercise leading to tight muscles that end up pulling the vertebrae’s out of alignment and causing low back pain. There are other reasons the low back can be painful, and imaging is the best way to know what is causing the pain. There are three steps one can take in order to help alleviate and potentially heal low back pain. 

Step one:

Assess how serious the problem is and see a doctor and get some imaging done. In some cases a simple x-ray may be enough, but know that soft tissue problems don’t show up with x-ray alone. An MRI may be needed. I am a big fan of imaging because no matter how good health care providers may be, no one can see inside the body without the proper diagnostic tools. 

If you see a surgeon for your testing he/she want to perform surgery on your back. While part of staying healthy requires combining western and eastern medicine, look at surgery as a last ditch attempt to get better after all other options have been exhausted. If the doctor wants to do surgery on you it is in your best interest to get a second and maybe even a third opinion before proceeding. 

In addition to more opinions, it would also behoove you to do your research into other people that have had the same surgery performed and read about actual cases and actual outcomes. Be your own primary care provider by researching exhaustively before agreeing to go under the knife. 

Step two:

Assemble your team. For chronic pain you may need more than one healer to help you. Acupuncture and chiropractic are excellent adjuncts to your western medical visits. Many peoples insurance now covers both, but if not, there are student clinics for acupuncture schools that will help to bring the cost of treatment down. If you’re not sure about your coverage call the number on the back of your insurance card to see what kind of coverage you may have. 

Regarding movement it’s important to learn how and what to do to specifically strengthen and add flexibility to the right areas of the body to support the low back while taking the pressure off. If cost for trainers or physical therapists is a limiting factor, finding a good group fitness class or yoga class and talk to an experienced teacher before you start class to get specific guidance on exercises or yoga poses specifically targeted to help alleviate your back pain. I’m not a fan of group classes for people actively in pain unless they talk to the teacher first to let them know your situation. It is possible to make yourself worse with improper movement.  

Step three:

Take action. Many of you have heard that sitting is the new smoking and while I’m not sure sitting is quite that dangerous, there is not doubt that stagnation and lack of movement contribute to low back pain and all other types of pain. Once you know the proper exercises that you need to do and which movements help you, it’s time to start to exercise. Finding a work out buddy that you can walk with or do your exercises with can be helpful for those of you that are less physically inclined. Movement and exercise is a crucial element to any pain reducing regimen and finding that balance of just enough movement without exacerbating the problem can be key. 

Low back pain cuts deep into ones quality of life. With the right plan and the right team in place, there is no reason that low back pain or any other pain needs to dominate your life. Start taking steps today to alleviate your pain so you can get back to life!

 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)

-cw

WELLNESS--Too many times I hear older people or people that have always been out of shape say that it’s too late to get in shape. Some report that they have never been physically active and at this stage it’s too late to start. I’m here to tell you that is not the case. It’s never too late to start taking care of yourself by working out and eating healthy.     

Among the reasons that exercise is so important are the reduction in stroke, heart attacks, and diabetes; but why else must we exercise? Newer research points to a region in the brain that is affected by cardio. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that controls verbal memory and learning. Cardio that gets the heart pumping and the body sweating is what is required to stimulate hippocampal growth.  

Besides the brain boost, research indicates that people who work out regularly and do at least 2 hours total of cardio a week actually extend their lives by 3 to 7 years. The heart benefits and anti-cancer effects of cancer also speak for themselves. People who get their hearts pumping and the sweat flowing have a significant reduction in developing colon, and breast cancer. 

Now that we have reviewed the known benefits of working out, let’s talk about why people resist doing cardio. For starters, everyones’ body is different. Some bodies take to physical activity more naturally than others. There are those people that have always worked out since a young age and it just comes naturally to them. Then we have the athletes of the world that are so passionate about a particular sport that they can’t imagine not doing it. These previously mentioned people are lucky that fitness comes with little effort. 

You may be one of the groups of people that simply never had a regular exercise routine in your life, or you may be the type that used to do sports and without that group participation, fitness has fallen to the wayside. Many people can look back and remember a time when they participated in a group activity and therefore were in great shape. If this is you, then it may be necessary to join some type of fitness group. If socializing is more important than fitness, I suggest you blend the two together by doing group hikes, or fitness classes. Taking a dance class or purchasing a monthly pass to a yoga studio might do the trick. Some people simply do not want to work out alone. 

The gym culture can be intimidating and it’s quite possible to get in shape without joining a gym. If you live somewhere warm all year round you can get on MeetUp.com and look for a group of people that are also getting in shape together. Could be a class taught in the park each week or simply a walking or hiking group. If those options are not around you can join other types of studios besides a gym. Most places offer yoga studios or Pilates or dance studios and these can be far less intimidating than a gym, and sometimes more social. Of course a walking buddy that you can find at work and do a brisk 30 minute walk each day during lunch is also a fun and free way to get the heart pumping! 

Whatever you decide to do, the trick is to make it a habit. You want to break that 2 hours a week minimum with your cardio and ideally you will do that every week. Once it’s a habit your brain will love it and you will start to as well. Look at it as a time that you set aside that is for you. Self-care can be fun and rewarding and once you start to look and feel better, keeping it going will get even easier.  

 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)

-cw

WELLNESS--Vitamin E is an antioxidant and right after vitamin C was one of the very first compounds to be turned into a supplement. It can only be found in food or supplements and is an important factor in protecting the body against pollutants, toxicity, eye disease, heart disease, and even neurological disorders. There are also studies showing that vitamin E can be helpful in keeping cancer at bay and that it can be beneficial in treating and preventing certain types of dementia. 

It is a fat-soluble vitamin meaning it dissolves in fat and can be found naturally in meat, fruit, vegetables, wheat germ, and eggs. If you feel your diet isn’t including enough vitamin E, you can supplement. Studies show that 400 IU’s a day seems to be beneficial and safe. Anything over 400 IU’s and there is some evidence that with certain patients with a history of heart issues, there can be complications. Most people however will be fine with 400 IU’s a day. As always, it is best to discuss with your primary care provider before you start taking supplements. This goes double for people with serious pre-existing conditions or for people that are taking blood thinners. 

When purchasing a vitamin E supplement it may seem confusing. The trick is to find a vitamin E complex that includes all 4 tocopherols and not just one or two. We especially don’t want to purchase products with dl-alpha-tocopherol. Not all supplements are created equally, so talk to your health and wellness providers before undergoing major changes to your diet and lifestyle. Health and wellness is a moving target, and even those of us with our fingers on the pulse of health are under constant pressure to keep up with research and the ever changing landscape of wellness. 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 310.909.6956 twitter: Cristiano_heals.)

-cw

 

 

 

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