Monthly Archives: June 2013

Seasonal allergies and natural remedies

Ahhh summer’s finally here…sun is shinin, flowers are bloomin, grills are cookin, and noses are runnin. If you’re like the millions of other allergy sufferers out there, seasonal allergens can put quite the damper on your warm weather. Ready or not, they’re coming. And if you’re like me, meds are the last resort to recovery. Medication can temporarily ease your symptoms, but you eventually pay the price by taking them; figuratively and literally. Instead of helping your immune system build up a tolerance to the allergen, your body instead builds up a resistance to the medication. This means you’ll need larger and larger doses, until eventually your body isn’t even affected by the meds.

The definition of an allergic reaction is “an inappropriate response by the body’s immune system to a substance that is not normally harmful. [Allergens] all contain protein antigens that stimulate an antibody response. Histamine and other chemicals are released into the system, causing an inflammatory reaction.” Some people respond to these antigens and some lucky individuals don’t. For those of you noisy noses, we’ve got some at home cures.

You’ll be amazed by some of these natural allergy remedies that are just as good as the unnatural ones that come in a paper box.

Apple Cider Vinegar

What does this magic drink NOT do? From helping with weight loss to claims of killing cancer cells, it’s no surprise apple cider vinegar is known to help fight allergies. It’s said to help reduce mucous production and cleanse the lymphatic system. Just be careful, it is acidic and can be rough on your stomach if taken in excess. Add just a teaspoon to eight ounces of water. A little goes a long way. If you simply can’t stand the bitterness, sometimes a little bit of honey helps it to go down better.

Hair Products

Beauty really is pain in this case. Pollen is a sticky little sucker and hair spray, gel, and other hair products attract it. If you must use these products, just be sure to wash your hair before you hit the pillow at night so you don’t transfer the allergen to your pillowcase and bed sheets. Your hair may be an allergy issue, but don’t forget about your four legged friend’s either. Perhaps it’s not your pooch you’re allergic to. If you get sniffly around certain dogs just during the warm seasons, it may not be an allergy to animals, but rather the pollen and other allergens they’re carrying on their fur. Make sure to wipe Fido down when he comes into the house, and especially if he’s sharing the bed with you at night.

Summer hats and sunglasses outside wouldn’t hurt either. Aside from being fashionable and protection from harmful rays, these will help keep the allergens out of your hair and eyes.

Lemon Peel

Citrus Peels (lemon, lime, and orange skins) are natural antihistamines and an anti-inflammatory. It provides allergy relief within minutes and the Vitamin C is an extra boost for your immune system.

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint helps to clear up congestion, reduce inflammation, and even prevent infection with antibacterial properties. Plus, your breath gets to smell like Christmas in the middle of July. Echinacea can also be a great go-to drink during allergy season due to its immunity enhancing properties.

Spicy Foods

Speaking of appealing breath, spicy foods like wasabi, curry, hot peppers, and tabasco can help to fight off stuffy symptoms too. When your nose and eyes water after a spicy meal, there’s an actual chemical reaction going on. Capsaicin, an element found in these foods, helps your membranes to produce more mucus, causing natural drainage so those allergens can better find their way out.

Quercetin

A plant-derived compound called quercetin helps to stabilize mast cells, preventing them from releasing histamine. This element is known to contain anti-allergen, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-viral properties. It helps to clear your system of free radicals as well, which can cause cell damage as well as impair your immunity. Certain foods contain high amounts of quercetin, such as citrus fruits, apples, parsley, onions, lettuce, broccoli, and tomatoes.  It’s recommended to consume about 1,ooo mg a day to ward off allergies.

Hopefully in trying some of these natural cures, your allergy symptoms will lessen if not completely go away. Summertime will finally be spent for the things that make it so great, like water slides and barbecues instead of watery eyes and tissues. You couldn’t notice pollen if it hit you straight in the nose.

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In a Gym Jam?

Love hitting the gym for that burst of energy? Having a vast selection of equipment to use in order to get just the workout you need? Waiting in line for a chance to run just fifteen minutes on the treadmill next to the guy who is drenched in that always pleasant body odor? Paying for 24-hour access when you always come at 5:00 in the afternoon?
Maybe it’s time for a different type of gym experience. Boutique gyms may be a better fit than the typical local gym for some. Boutique gyms are more like a studio, smaller and individualized, in order to give a more personal experience. When walking through the doors, expect them to give you a pleasant welcome using your name without having to look at the computer screen first. They are usually for a specific workout, like yoga or kickboxing, instead of a general whatever-you’re-feeling workout. Often there are other perks inside as well, like a spa or juice bar. Boutique gyms generally are by appointment or have set times for classes, making it easier to say no to the inviting couch and yes to the running shoes. And since it is more one-on-one, it may give you that push to tough through that last five minutes.
But before you go sprinting to your nearest boutique gym, consider some of these disadvantages. Boutique gyms may charge more for their use than a commercial gym since they usually have a fraction of the amount of members. If you like the freedom of choice with your workouts, boutique gyms could be too restricting. You won’t be able to go from treadmill, to weights, to basketball court, to indoor pool. If your only time to hit the gym is at two o’clock in the morning, boutique gyms have set times for appointments and classes. And mostly, if you want to hide away from the gym for a week or two, you won’t be the only one who knows.
Big box gyms and boutique gyms both have their pros and cons. It’s just a matter of personal preference when picking out the one that’s right for you.

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Milk vs. Milk

With so many alternatives to milk out there, what are the differences and which ones are the healthiest?

Soymilk, made from water and soybeans, has almost as much protein as regular cow’s milk. However, there have been studies done claiming that excessive soy intake may be linked to digestive issues and reproductive disorders. With 60 calories, 1.5g fat, 6g protein, and 0mg cholesterol, soymilk is the most heart healthy option.

Although more difficult to digest for the 13 percent of Americans with lactose intolerance, regular cow’s milk is the highest in calcium, protein, and potassium. Skim milk, the low-fat version, has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis. Normally consisting of rather high amounts of added hormones and antibiotics, there are organic brands that are produced from grass-fed cows only. Skim cow’s milk contains 83 calories, .2g fat (8g in whole milk), 8g protein, and 5mg cholesterol.

Almond milk, perhaps the sweetest tasting of all the milks, holds 60 calories, 2.5g fat, 1g protein, and 0mg cholesterol. Also lactose-free, being that it’s made from almonds, it has a high amount of the skin friendly antioxidant, vitamin E (+cancer fighting). With its rich, nutty flavor, it is a great complement to your morning coffee or cereal. Almond milk is less starchy than soymilk, therefore may be more advantageous for dieters. Both contain your brain boosting omegas and metabolism moving B-vitamins. Soymilk has much higher amounts of protein to build strong muscle, but also generally contains more sugar than almond milk.

~Rice milk contains the highest amount of calories (120 and 2.5 from fat) and about twice as many carbs as skim milk. Coconut milk, one of the newest milk crazes contains 5g of fat, all being from unhealthy saturated fat, so drink in moderation.

All in all, it comes down to personal preference. All “milks” will have different benefits; it’s just a matter of what you’re looking for. Just be sure to stick with the ‘light’ versions.

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