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A time for renewal and change, spring is the perfect time to start fresh when it comes to taking better care of your health and home.  Need a little motivation and inspiration? Here are 8 things you can do to start making healthy changes in your life this spring!

1. Take Time To Destress

One of the most important things you can do for your health this spring is to take time to relieve stress.  According to medical and scientific studies:

  • Stress is the cause of 60% of all illnesses
  • 3 out of 4 doctors visits are related to stress
  • Stress increases your risk of heart attack by 40%, heart disease by 25% and stroke by 50%

So what are some steps we can take to reduce stress? Simply start doing things that relax your mind and body. Find and set aside time to do some of the things you love. Maybe go out with friends, take a long bath or cultivate a meditation practice. You can also:

Spend More Time In Nature: Many doctors and scientists from around the world are exploring the numerous health benefits of spending time in nature, forests and green spaces.  Researchers aren’t exactly sure what it is about taking a walk through the woods or sitting by a lake that effectively reduces our stress, but it does. In 1982, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries recognized this and gave it its own name: shinrin-yoku. Defined as “forest bathing,” the ministry encourages the visitation of forests in order to relieve stress and improve health.  Connecting with nature has been shown in numerous studies to effectively lower the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, as well as blood pressure and heart rate while boosting our immune systems.

Exercise: According to the Mayo Clinic, “Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever.”  Physical activity helps increase the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Regular exercise can also improve your sleep, increase self-confidence and reduce symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. Even just five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to ease the effects of anxiety.

Try Holy Basil: Also known as Tulsi, Holy Basil is a sacred Indian herb belonging to the mint family and has been used in Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine, for thousands of years. What makes Holy Basil so special is its adaptogenic properties.  This means once taken, Holy Basil can elevate your energy when you are tired, promote serenity when you feel anxious, and boost your immunity when needed.  It helps your body adapt and balances your system when needed.

I’ve taken Holy Basil for a few years now and always have it on hand. I began taking it because I was having trouble staying asleep at night. I would wake up 3 or 4 times during the night only to wake up the next morning feeling like I’d had no sleep at all. Holy Basil was my godsend. It actually worked! If I take one capsule at night right before bed I sleep like a rock until morning.  Holy Basil can also be taken during the day to relieve tension, stress, and anxiety. To this day it is one of my favorite and most effective herbal remedies. You should try Holy Basil/Tulsi if you:

  •         Suffer from anxiety
  •         Feel stressed most of the time.
  •         Rely on caffeine to get you through the day
  •         Have trouble winding down at night
  •         Have trouble sleeping or staying asleep

Holy Basil is available in capsules or tea form. If you would like to try Holy Basil/Tulsi I would suggest trying the tea first. See how you feel. You can drink it throughout the day to keep you calm and balanced or just before bed for a restful night’s sleep. If you don’t notice much of a difference I suggest switching to the capsule form. Everyone’s body is different and sometimes it takes a little experimenting to find what works best for you.  

When I buy Tulsi/Holy Basil Organic India is the brand I stick with. They make a variety of blended Holy Basil Teas including flavors like Sweet Rose, Lemon-Ginger,  and Tulsi Sleep. The flavor of tulsi/holy basil itself resembles a blend of mint, licorice, and clove. It’s very pleasing and the leaves of the plant contain essential oils that give it an exotic fragrance and refreshing flavor. You can find all the Organic India tea flavors here at iHerb.com.

2. Switch To A Natural Deodorant

In recent years some of the active ingredients in traditional deodorants and antiperspirants used to prevent body odor have been linked to breast cancer. One such synthetic ingredient, Aluminium Chlorohydrate, acts by plugging the skin’s pores in order to prevent sweat from forming.  Chemical preservatives called parabens are also contained within most traditional deodorants. Parabens are considered to be xenoestrogens and can imitate estrogen in the body.  This effect is known as “estrogen disruption” has also been linked to breast cancer and other issues such as hormone imbalances like estrogen dominance.

In 2004 British cancer researcher Philippa Darbre, Ph.D. found parabens present in malignant breast tumors. Now experts are recommending limiting the amounts of parabens allowed in cosmetic products. Triclosan another common deodorant ingredient has been linked to liver toxicity and fibrosis in several studies.  Triclosan is currently being investigated by the FDA due to reports that it can cause hormonal disruption and impair muscle contraction.

Some of you may have tried “natural” deodorants and well… they didn’t do such a great job. Like at all. As someone who’s gone through my fair share of deodorants, I can say Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant actually works and it works really well. They’re award-winning formulas effectively zap body odor with plant and mineral-derived ingredients like shea butter, arrowroot powder, and baking soda. Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant comes in little jars or the traditional stick form. I have the jar and would say for convenience go with the stick. Give it a try and I think you might love it.  They come in great scents like bergamot + lime, rose + vanilla, cedarwood + juniper and lavender + sage. I use the bergamot + lime and it’s super refreshing. 

3. Give Your Skin Some Love

After a long winter, our skin can really take a beating. The cold, dry weather can leave your skin feeling tight, rough, and even itchy. Did you know that dry skin that cracks can also give germs easy access to cause infection not only on the outside of your skin but inside your body as well? Ew is right. So tending to dry skin is even more important than we thought.

According to celebrity skin guru, Kate Somerville you should exfoliate twice a week. “That’s what’s going to give you that gorgeous glow. It’s going to keep your skin youthful, and it will allow the other products that you spend a lot of money on to work better.” Exfoliating will:

  • Gets rid of dead skin cells
  • Gives skin a deep cleanse
  • Brighten your complexion
  • Kills bacteria and prevent  breakouts
  • Allow skin products to absorb deeper and work better
  • It reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles

If you’re looking for a natural exfoliator for your body we love the Abra Therapeutics, Cellular Detox Body Scrub with Grapefruit & Juniper essential oils. It’s completely free of preservatives, parabens and artificial fragrances or colors. They also don’t test on animals.  All of their ingredients are 100% natural and you can use it in the shower or the bath. Plus it smells heavenly!

All you do is just scoop a small amount into your hand and gently scrub it onto your moist skin in a circular motion to rub away the dried dead skin. Avoid delicate areas and be sure to rinse well. Afterward, your skin will feel as smooth as silk! Abra Therapeutics Body Scrub also comes in a Green Tea & Lemongrass scent (sounds amazing) which can also be found at iHerb.com

Exfoliation will leave your skin feeling silky smooth and looking brand new. Who doesn’t want their skin to glow? But the true health and beauty of our skin will always be revealed from the inside out. In other words, what we put in our body is just as important as what we put on it.

Fish oils and omega-3 fatty acids are known to having amazing effects on your skin. They keep your skin cells strong and full of moisture, which can help to decrease the appearance of fine lines.  But there’s another skin rock-star that’s been stealing the spotlight lately: Collagen

Collagen isn’t exactly a new discovery, but recently has been popping up on beauty lists as the must have skin product of the moment.

So what is Collagen? Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. With 16 different types (types 1,2 and 3 being the most common) it’s what gives our skin structure, elasticity, and strength.  Our body’s ability to produce collagen declines as we age and with it goes our youthful appearance.

But a recent study researching the anti-aging effects of collagen found that 2.5–5 grams of collagen hydrolysate taken by women aged 35–55 once daily for eight weeks significantly improved their skin elasticity, skin moisture, and skin roughness.  This study proves that collagen is one of the most effective natural skin care ingredients available. Collagen has also shown to reduce cellulite and stretch marks. while strengthening nails, hair, and teeth.

If you would like to try Collagen for skin rejuvenation try Youtheory Collagen Advanced Formula. It includes Collagen types 1, 2 and 3 (many formulas only include one type) as well as Collagen’s BFF vitamin C. Collagen synthesis is dependent upon the presence of vitamin C. Many reviewers of Youtheory’s Collagen Advanced have seen noticeable improvements in their complexion within only a week’s time. You can check it out here at iherb.com.

4. Make The Switch To Natural Cleaning Products

Spring is the season for giving your home a deep clean. And there’s nothing better than a freshly cleaned house. But, before you start pulling all those cleaning products out of the cabinet, you may want to think twice. Many commercial cleaning products are filled with dangerous chemicals that are not only toxic to the environment but can also have an ill effect on the health of our families and pets while polluting the air quality inside our homes.

Everyday safe and inexpensive ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide (stain remover, odor eliminator) and lemon juice (whitens and disinfects) can work cleaning wonders in our homes. Adding a few drops of essential oils can add pleasing aromas while also disinfecting, as many are antimicrobial in nature.

Quick Tip:  Try adding 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil to your vacuum cleaner’s filter. As you vacuum, it will disinfect as you vacuum and make your home smell amazing!

5. Energize with Superfoods

You’ve probably seen the term “Superfood” thrown around a lot in the last couple of years. While there’s no official medical or scientific definition of the word, it’s generally accepted in the health and wellness circles as any food that is densely packed with nutrients. Think large doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals.

Not only do Superfoods nourish and energize your body, they also reduce your chance of getting cancer and disease. Foods like broccoli, blueberries, black beans, avocados, kale, sweet potatoes, salmon, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, turmeric and matcha green tea are just a few superfoods you can start putting in your grocery cart and supercharging your body with today  

One of my favorite superfoods just off the mainstream radar is Klamath Lake Blue-green algae. Its scientific name Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) means “invisible living flower of water” in Greek. Not only can a pinch turn my water naturally teal blue (blue water is fun!) it has 12 vitamins, 27 naturally occurring or essential minerals, and is one of the highest known sources of naturally occurring anti-oxidants or free radical scavengers.

Klamath Lake Blue-Green Algae is a fast, efficient and energizing way to improve your health. Rich in B Vitamins, it also contains the highest vegetable source of Vitamin B12 beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids.

I like the Klamath Blue Green algae powder through Power Organics, certified organic by Oregon Tilth, an organic certifying agency. Their Klamath Blue Green Algae is tested by reputable independent laboratories and they include a Certificate of Analysis on every label so you can be sure you are getting a safe, high-quality Superfood supplement. It mixes easily into water or juice and you only need a ½ teaspoon per serving to start feeding your body what it needs. They also have capsules available if you don’t think you’ll like the green chlorophyll-rich taste. You can get here at iHerb.com.

6. Schedule A Dental Check Up

With so much to do each day, things like routine dental exams can often get pushed aside with intention that we’ll “do it later.” We then forget about it and before we realize it’s a year later and we still haven’t done it.  But getting a dental check-up is not only important to our overall health but can end up saving us money down the road.  Chances are if you wait until you have a problem to go to the dentist it’s going to cost a lot more.  Prevention is always the best medicine. Plus good oral health has been shown in study after study to be associated with a reduced risk of diabetes, arthritis, stroke, and heart disease.

Quick Tip:  Activated Charcoal or Activated Carbon (this is not the stuff from your BBQ) is the newest trend in whitening your teeth naturally and safely.  Whitening results will vary person to person, but it will make your teeth feel cleaner than they’ve ever felt. Activated Charcoal whitens teeth by absorbing plaque and microscopic bits that stain teeth. I’ve brushed with AC and while I’ve noticed a slight whitening effect I’ve also noticed my teeth will feel cleaner for longer periods of time after brushing with charcoal (even overnight).

How To Use: Empty a capsule of activated charcoal into a small bowl or dish. Moisten your toothbrush, dip it in the charcoal, and brush lightly for about 2 minutes.  Rinse your mouth very well.  Activated charcoal powder is very fine and can be a bit messy as it is black, but can be easily wiped down from your counter. It can stain grout and should not be used on caps, crowns or veneers as it may stain them. Always check with your dentist if you’re not sure and discontinue use if sensitivity occurs.

7. Try Cutting Out Sugar

The winter has a lot of holidays. And with a lot of holidays comes a lot of delicious holiday food. And holiday desserts. So if you’re at a point where you find yourself going in for the sweet stuff a little more often than you should, you may want to try limiting or cutting sugar out of your diet.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American eats about 128 pounds of added sugars each year. That’s a lot of sugar! Desserts, soda and alcoholic drinks are obvious sugary culprits. But sugar can hide out in other foods as well.

Flavored yogurts, protein bars, sweet condiments like ketchup and BBQ sauce and even “fat-free” labeled foods can be packing lots of the sweet stuff.  Foods with excess amounts of sugar are also usually very low vitamins and essentials minerals and considered “empty calories.” Lots of empty calories mean lots of extra and unwanted pounds.  Uncontrolled sugar consumption can also lead to type-2 diabetes and has links to a host of other diseases including tooth decay, cancer, obesity and is now being investigated by medical researchers as a main cause of heart disease

Aim to eat whole unprocessed foods and avoid processed or packaged foods. The American Heart Association (AHA), recommends the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day for men are 150 calories per day or 9 teaspoons and for women 100 calories per day or 6 teaspoons.

So what are some of the side effects you can expect when you cut refined sugar from your diet? Weight loss, increased energy, better sleep quality, clearer skin, are just a few benefits reported. Plus you’ll save money on snacks and sweets that are hurting your waistline as well as your wallet. Of course, everyone deserves a treat now and then. Just be mindful of how much sugar you’re eating and how you feel before and after you’ve eaten it.

8. Start a Smoothie Habit

If you know you need to get more fruits and veggies in your diet why not start the day with a fresh smoothie? They are a super healthy substitute for your afternoon coffee habit and great to take on the go.  So what exactly is a smoothie?  A smoothie is a blended combination of fruits and/or veggies with a liquid base such as milk (dairy or non-dairy), yogurt, coconut water, or water.  It all gets thrown in the blender with some ice and pureed to a smooth drinkable consistency. Smoothies are great because you can use frozen fruit like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and mangoes that are easy to always have on hand.  Leafy greens like spinach and kale work best. You know those bananas that are about to get a little too ripe on your counter? Peel, slice and freeze them. They can be added to your smoothie too! For flavor boosts try a little cocoa powder or a few dashes of cinnamon. A tablespoon of peanut or almond butter or a handful of nuts will add a healthy dose of fat keeping you fuller longer.

🌷 Do you have a spring health tip? We want to hear it! Let us know in the comments how you spring into health.

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