Allison Fletcher, Author at Wakunaga of America - Page 2 of 15

How to Evaluate Supplements

These days there seems to be a dizzying number of supplements offering practically any nutrient you can think of, from vitamins and minerals to probiotics and amino acids. While that can be a boon to your health, it can also be a headache trying figure out which supplement is right for you. But you don’t have to feel like you’re reading a foreign language when looking at supplement labels any longer. Here’s how to decode  the Supplement Facts labels so you know exactly what you’re getting.

Supplements Soaring in Popularity 

Over the last couple of decades, supplement use has seen a steady increase with multivitamins, calcium, protein, and vitamin D leading the pack. 2 According to the National Center for Health Statistics, from 2007–2008 to 2017–2018, the use of dietary supplements among American adults rose from 48.4 percent to 56.1 percent. Women tend to be more likely to make them a part of their daily regimen than men do (63.8 percent to 50.8 percent). And almost one-quarter of adults aged 60 and over report taking four or more dietary supplements.1 With stats like these, it’s no wonder that the global dietary supplement market was valued at more than $150 billion in 2021!3

Flashy Labels

When you’re in the market for a supplement, it can be difficult to determine if a product is any good by just looking at the label on the front. That’s because the bright and flashy front labels are often splashed with marketing techniques designed to get you to buy a company’s products. Claims like “#1 Doctor Recommended,” “Advanced Formula,” or “High Absorption” all sound good but they are subjective and don’t necessarily mean that a product will work for you. Instead, it’s the back label that you should be focusing on.

supplement fact panel image

How to Review the Supplement Facts Label

Every dietary-supplement company is required to place a Supplement Facts label on their product. And all Supplement Facts labels must include some basic info. The FDA mandates that five statements be listed:4

  • The name of the dietary supplement
  • The serving size and servings per container
  • The quantity of each nutrient
  • A full and accurate list of ingredients
  • The name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor

A good place to start is with the serving size. Usually the first thing listed on the Supplement Facts label, this will let you know how much you should take to get a full dose.

Then you’ll want to pore over the nutrients listed. Depending on what type of supplement you’re looking at, this may be a single item or a laundry list. A basic magnesium supplement will typically only contain magnesium. But a multivitamin will list dozens of nutrients.

To the right of these nutrients, you’ll see the quantity of each nutrient, usually presented in grams (g), milligrams (mg), or micrograms (mcg), as well as the Percent Daily Value (%DV). This tells you what percentage of your daily need of a particular vitamin or mineral is provided in the supplement, based on the average 2,000-calorie diet. If a product contains 25% of the DV for a certain nutrient, say calcium, then that means the supplement will supply 25% of your daily recommended calcium, and you should get the remaining 75% from other sources, ideally from the foods you eat. Oftentimes, supplements will offer much more than 100% of the Daily Value.

What Else to Look For

In addition to those basic requirements, there are a few more items to consider:

Suggested usage. Even though the serving size will be listed under Supplement Facts, that may not be the amount that you’ll be recommended to take. Be sure to look for the “suggested use” instructions to get an idea of how many times per day you’ll need to take a particular supplement for maximinum benefit.

Other Ingredients. These are typically the ingredients used to bind the nutrients together so that they’re consumable. Cellulose, gelatin, magnesium stearate, calcium carbonate, silicon dioxide are common to see in this section.

If you are vegan or vegetarian, you’ll want to pay special attention to these additional ingredients. Unless it says otherwise, you can bet that many of them are animal based. Most capsules are made of gelatin, which is derived from animal body parts. But other animal byproducts can fly under the radar, too. With names such as pepsin, lipase, collagen, glycerin, they can be easy to miss.

Free of. Some supplements won’t just tell you what’s in them; they may also tell you what’s not. From “no artificial flavors” to “gluten free,” these claims can be listed anywhere on the packaging. Manufacturers may also warn that, even though foods such as wheat, gluten, soy, milk, egg, fish or shellfish are not used in the supplement, trace levels may be present due to their being produced in the same facility. This is critical info if you have food allergies.

There are certain symbols to look out for as well. The letter “K” in a triangle signifies that it’s kosher. “Non-GMO” means that a product doesn’t use genetically modified ingredients. And “DNA Sequencing Verified” indicates that a probiotic supplement’s bacterial strains have been confirmed.

Ingredient names. Most ingredients are pretty easy to identify, whereas others can be a bit more tricky. For instance, vitamin C could be listed as ascorbic acid or ascorbate. And then there are probiotics, which typically have not only two names but also a strain code: for instance Lactobacillus (genus) gasseri (species) KS-13 (strain code). While these differences may seem minor on the surface, they can mean the difference between getting the relief you’re expecting and wasting your money.

For example, Bifidobacterium longum MM-2 helps manage cholesterol as opposed to Bifidobacterium longum BB536, which support gut immunity.5 6 And since researchers have identified nearly 8,000 of unique bacterial strains in the gut microbiome, it’s important to know which one you’re getting.7

When buying a probiotic, it’s also smart to check the number of CFUs (colony-forming units) it contains. This tells you how many beneficial bacteria you’re getting in each dose. Most doses range from 1 to 10 billion CFUs that you take once or twice a day. Also look for “guaranteed live at expiry” so that you know the probiotics will be viable all the way through the supplement’s shelf life.

CGMP compliance. Current Good Manufacturing Practices, or CGMPs, are standards set by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and all dietary-supplements makers are required to adhere to them.8 These rules cover every aspect of supplement production, from the raw materials, facilities, and equipment to the training and personal hygiene of employees. These regulations ensure that a product is safe for use and that it provides the ingredients and efficacy it claims to provide.9

Certifications. Some supplements are endorsed by a third-party group, such as NSF International, the US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), or These organizations perform independent analyses to certify that what’s on the label is in the bottle. Typically, these include toxicology and contamination tests to ensure the product your purchasing is safe and doesn’t contain any ingredients not listed on the packaging.

Best by date. This one is obvious but it bears acknowledging. Make sure to check that your supplement will still be good by the time you intend to use it; otherwise it may lose its potency and its effectiveness.

Keep In Mind

There’s one more thing you’re sure to notice. Somewhere on the packaging you’ll see the advisory “these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.” Remember that the FDA regulates dietary supplements as food, not as drugs. In fact, supplement companies don’t have to provide FDA with the evidence it relies on to substantiate safety before or after marketing its products.10 Rather, the companies are responsible for ensuring that the dietary supplements it manufactures or distributes are not adulterated or misbranded.

Do Some Digging

Aside from scrutinizing the label itself, it’s also smart look into the manufacturer. While you might be drawn to a certain product for its purported benefits, don’t just take the label’s word for it. Do a quick Google search and check out the manufacturer’s website. Quality supplement manufacturers will highlight the science behind their ingredients and their finished products. This includes randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human trials, which are considered the gold standard in research.

Supplement shopping can be overwhelming. But with a little knowledge of what to look for and how to decipher the ingredients, you’ll be able to translate a Supplements Facts label with ease.

Improve Your Mood with Probiotics

With all the burdens of work, family, and finances combined with a constant 24/7 news cycle and social media pressures, it seems easier than ever to struggle with your mental health. It’s not your imagination either—researchers have found that day-to-day stress and a sense of lower overall well-being are much higher now than compared to just a few decades ago.1

Feeling the Blues

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 10 percent of US adults, aged 18 or older, have experienced some type of mood disorder in the past year. But even though it may seem logical to think that a mood disorder means that something is “off” in the brain, that may not be the case. Instead, there may be something wrong in your gut.

The Gut-Brain Axis

The gut and the brain are connected. In fact, they are constantly talking to each other, with one of the main lines of communication being the vagus nerve. The longest cranial nerve in the body, the vagus nerve extends from the brain all the way down to the gastrointestinal tract, where your gut microbiome resides. And what affects one can affect the other. Disruption of this axis is linked to all kinds of gut issues, including gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcers, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and even food allergies.2 And an imbalance in your gut bacteria can affect your mood and your susceptibility to stress and anxiety by influencing the activity of your vagus nerve.3

Probiotics to the Rescue

Clinical studies have shown that people suffering from depression have an abnormal composition of their gut microbiota compared to those who aren’t depressed.4 Fortunately, boosting the health of your microbiome—and therefore your brain—can be as easy as taking a probiotic supplement. By introducing beneficial bacteria, you can get a handle on your mental well-being by balancing your gut. In fact, probiotics can influence everything from anxiety and depression to obsessive-compulsive disorder and memory.5

And there’s no shortage of recent scientific evidence that shows the positive effect probiotics have on mood:

In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 38 healthy volunteers were given either a daily dose of probiotics or a placebo. After six weeks, researchers noticed a significant improvement in the probiotic group, with participants showing reductions in depression, anger, and fatigue, as well as an improvement in sleep quality.6

In another double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 423 new mothers, a daily probiotic was shown to significantly improve depression and anxiety symptoms from pregnancy to six months after delivery.7

And a four-week trial of people experiencing chronic sadness showed a considerable improvement in rumination and aggressive thoughts among the subjects taking a multispecies probiotic compared to those receiving a placebo.8

What to Look For in a Probiotic

As beneficial as probiotics can be, they aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution for your mental well-being. Since certain probiotic strains are much more effective at regulating your mood than others, it’s important to look for a supplement that provides specific strains based on your needs. You can also opt for a multi-strain supplement that combines benefits for both the body and mind.

It’s also important to check the CFU count. You’ll want a supplement that provides at least one billion colony-forming units (CFUs) to be effective. Although some products on the market can contain 50 billion CFUs or more, that doesn’t necessarily mean all those beneficial bacteria will be alive when you take them. Look for “guaranteed live at expiry” on the label so that you know you’re getting viable probiotics throughout the product’s entire shelf life.

Mood-Enhancing Habits

As effective as probiotics can be at improving your mood, they aren’t the only thing that you should focus on to improve your mental health. Here are some lifestyle tips that can also have a big impact:

Exercise. Breaking a sweat can have a huge impact on your mental state. Studies show that moderate-intensity exercise is associated with better mood. And it doesn’t take much—just 10 to 30 minutes of exercise can be enough for a brain boost. For the most benefit, opt for anaerobic exercises like interval training, weight lifting, Pilates, or yoga.9

Meditate. A 2021 review shows that meditation provides a wealth of positive benefits for your mood. It increases self-compassion and results in brain changes in regions related to emotion regulation while decreasing blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol—a hormone known to influence stress.10

Laugh. Laughter is the best medicine. And science backs that up: laughing has in impact on mental health by enhancing positive emotion, stimulating cognition, reducing stress, promoting positive coping skils, and improving interpersonal relationships.11

Be social. Getting together with friends can make a world difference on your mood. Social support is so effective that Australian researchers found that it’s the strongest indicator of depression in older adults.12

Probiotics can do so much more than keep your digestion on track. A wealth of emerging evidence shows that probiotics also play a significant role in mental health. Whether you’re feeling a little blue or you’re suffering from more long-term anxiety or depression, a probiotic supplement may give your mood the boost it needs.

Healthy Arteries, Healthy Heart

Without healthy arteries to carry oxygen and vital nutrients to the rest of your body, you could be at risk for a host of health issues, even death. Unfortunately, clogged arteries, medically known as atherosclerosis, is an all-too-common problem these days.

What Is Atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease in which fatty deposits build up in your arteries.1 Known as plaque, these deposits slowly develop as cholesterol, fats, and other substances accumulate over the years, causing your arteries to narrow and stiffen. This not only reduces blood flow but also decreases the crucial supply of oxygen and other vital nutrients to the rest of your body. Atherosclerosis is the underlying cause of about 50 percent of all deaths in the Western world.2

Are You at Risk?

There’s a decent chance you already have atherosclerosis and don’t even know it. According to the National Institutes of Health, about half of Americans between the ages of 45 and 84 are unaware that they have this potentially deadly disease.

Several factors can contribute to your risk of developing atherosclerosis:

Poor diet. Your eating habits may have the biggest impact on arterial health. The more high-fat foods you eat—especially those found in ultra-processed food—the better chance you have of clogging up your arteries. According to the American Heart Association, chowing down on saturated fats, and especially trans fats, causes your body to produce LDL cholesterol, which can accumulate in the arteries and contribute to blockages. Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol are directly associated with a heightened risk for atherosclerosis development and atherosclerotic cardiovascular events.3 4

If you eat a meat-centric diet, you may be putting your arteries at a higher risk of atherosclerosis. That’s because animal protein can increase the production of an amino acid called homocysteine. And high homocysteine levels have been shown to cause arterial inflammation and atherosclerosis.5

Physical inactivity. If you live life as a couch potato, you aren’t doing your health any favors. Spending your free time in front of the TV not only has a negative effect on your weight; it also has an unhealthy impact on your cholesterol levels.6

Smoking. The danger smoking poses to your lungs is well established. But this harmful habit also creates a serious risk to your cardiovascular health and has been identified as an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis. Tobacco smoke contains nicotine, which can wreak havoc on your arteries by increasing inflammation and stimulating receptors that accelerate the formation of atherosclerosis.7

Other health concerns. You’re more liable to face problems in your arteries if you already suffer from another health issue. For instance, diabetes increases the incidence of coronary artery disease.8 And patients with high blood pressure are also more susceptible to coronary atherosclerosis.9

Love Your Heart

Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom. You can reduce your chances of clogged arteries—and even reverse atherosclerosis—by getting all of the major risk factors under control.10 Here’s how:

Check with your doctor. Because atherosclerosis can fly under the radar, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor to make sure your cardiovascular health and cholesterol levels are up to par. It’s even more important to seek professional medical advice if you’re experiencing common symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and muscle weakness. These are all signs that you may have a blockage in your arteries.

Tweak your diet. Avoid or minimize foods with a high saturated fat content, such as soft cheeses, bacon, fried foods, and commercial baked goods (which are usually loaded with trans fats). That doesn’t mean you have to give up on your favorite fare, though. Use an air fryer instead of traditional frying. Opt for healthy cooking oils that are low in saturated fats, such as olive oil. And incorporate a superfood or two, like avocado, into your meals. In fact, eating an avocado each day can reduce oxidized LDL in overweight and obese adults, according to a 2019 report in The Journal of Nutrition.11 Also, make sure to get plenty of fiber. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream.

Get your heart rate up. Physical activity has a huge impact on the health of your arteries. Endurance exercise, like jogging or biking, can reduce early aortic lesion formation.12 Swimming has been shown to activate autophagy and reduce atherosclerotic lesions in the aorta.13 And for those with existing cardiovascular disease, exercise improves vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels) and quality of life, while reducing the inflammation that causes the development of atherosclerosis.14

Break unhealthy habits. Quitting smoking, no matter your age, will have an immediate impact on your health. Not only will your lungs begin to heal, but your blood pressure and circulation will improve, and your risk for heart issues will quickly start to decline. It’s also smart to cut back on alcohol as excessive drinking can lead to all sorts of cardiovascular problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease.15 But don’t worry—you can still enjoy that morning cup of joe. Several studies have shown that a higher coffee intake is associated with a reduced risk of heart failure.16

Add a supplement. You can give your artery health a boost with a targeted supplement. One supplement in particular, Aged Garlic Extract (AGE), is known to have big benefits on the cardiovascular system. AGE has been shown to slow the progression of coronary calcification in those with coronary artery disease.17 It also prevents coronary artery calcification, and lowers blood glucose levels and blood pressure in patients at increased risk of cardiovascular events.18

For general cardiovascular support, look for a high-potency AGE supplement, such as Kyolic Cardiovascular Health One Per Day Formula 250, which helps maintain proper circulation and overall heart health.

But if high cholesterol and homocysteine levels are more your concern, opt for a supplement that combines AGE with the B vitamins. Kyolic Total Heart Health Formula 108 contains a powerful blend of artery-smart Aged Garlic Extract and specific B vitamins, which have been shown to lower homocysteine levels and the risk of cardiovascular disease.19

Atherosclerosis can pose a serious danger to your health. But by taking action early, you can prevent—and even reverse—arterial problems so your cardiovascular system can stay health for many years to come.

Podcast: Dietitian Carolina Schneider Talks Healthy Diet Tips, Including Supplementing with Aged Garlic Extract

She discusses healthy dietary changes everybody can make, her experience going vegan, and how to cover nutritional gaps in your diet – noting that the best way to do so is through supplementation.

One of the supplements she mentions is Aged Garlic Extract – she talks about its aging process and how this process compounds the amount of antioxidants present, how it is great for cardiovascular health, great for supporting healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and more. She first mentions Aged Garlic Extract at the 3:55 minute mark.

Click here to listen to the full segment.

About Carolina Schneider, MS, RD

Carolina Schneider is a Registered Dietitian and nutritional writer, as well as a consultant for health & wellness brands.

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

Make Back to School Healthy

Make Back to School Healthy

That’s because fall also heralds the start of cold and flu season. Although it’s important to make sure the little scholars stay healthy in the classroom, students aren’t the only ones who get sick this time of year. Teachers and parents are also at risk of catching any bug that’s circulating around campus. And the last thing you need right now is to be stuck on the sidelines with an illness. Let’s make back to school healthy!

Back to School Means More Colds and Flu

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, most kids get six to eight colds per year—and children who attend daycare get even more. Most respiratory illnesses have been shown to occur in the fall and winter, when children are indoors and exposed to more germs.1 And that means your exposure goes way up, too! Making matters worse, humidity also drops this time of year, and that makes nasal passages drier, putting you at greater risk for infection.

Tips for a Healthy Back to School

Sidestepping illness isn’t always easy. But following a few proven steps can help to keep your risk of getting sick this year to a minimum.

Wash your hands. Germs live on surfaces—and kids seem to touch everything. That’s why washing your hands can be one of the most effective ways of eliminating any bacteria and viruses you may encounter throughout the school day. The Centers for Disease Control recommends washing with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, which is about how long it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. And remember: hand sanitizer should be used as addition to, not as a substitute for, handwashing.

Make sure that you’re eating healthy. Back-to-school schedules can leave you with little time to focus on eating right. Though the drive-thru or pizza delivery may be crowd-pleasing time-savers, the foods they offer are typically devoid of any meaningful nutrients, and that can create the perfect environment for an illness to take hold. That’s because what you eat has a direct impact on the makeup and activity of your gut microbiota, which affects both your physical and mental health.2 Fast and prepackaged meals are also loaded with unhealthy fats and additives. A recent study showed that a high-fat diet can hinder the activation of T-cells, which help protect the body from infection.3 So instead of leaving your dinner choices to the last minute, take a couple of hours over the weekend to meal prep for the upcoming week. That way, you can make sure you’re eating healthy while saving time when you need it most.

Try to manage stress. Let’s be real: back-to-school stress is unavoidable. No matter how good a planner you are, the sudden flurry of activity that the fall brings can leave you feeling frazzled. Schedules are instantly more hectic, and the constant stress of being pulled in every direction can leave your immune system vulnerable to harmful invaders. If back to school stress becomes chronic, it can wear your immune system down, and open you up to a host of more-serious health issues, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).4

Take five. Blocking out a little time each day to unwind can do wonders for your well-being. Meditation can not only clear your head and reduce stress, it can have an impact on excessive or persistent inflammation that comes with a sluggish immune system.5 If you’re new to this practice, a good place to start is by downloading a meditation app on your phone, such as Calm, Headspace, or Serenity.

Get plenty of sleep. Shifting schedules, extracurricular activities, and late nights can really mess with your sleep routine. But not getting enough shut-eye can negatively affect immune response and lead to increased pro-inflammatory activity, which can increase your risk of catching whatever’s going around. It can also increase your risk of developing an inflammation-related chronic disease over the long run.6 However, if you find that getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night just isn’t in the cards, at least try to keep a consistent sleep schedule. Hit the sack at the same time every night, as a regular sleep schedule may be more important than how many hours you log each night.

Level up your immunity with a supplement. Even if you take precautions this cold and flu season, it may not be enough to ward off every bug you encounter. That’s why it’s smart to give your immune system a little added support with a clinically proven supplement. One supplement that has been shown to be effective at reinforcing your immune response during cold and flu season is Aged Garlic Extract (AGE). Taking AGE can enhance immune-cell function and reduce the severity of colds and flu.7 It’s also been shown to reduce inflammation and improve your gut’s microbial profile.8

Even better, a supplement that pairs AGE with other immune-supporting nutrients can provide you with an extra layer of protection when it’s time to go back to school. Look for a supplement containing not not only the power of aged garlic but also vitamin C, which has been reported to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections.9  But it’s immune-supporting benefits don’t stop there. This unique formula also boasts astragalus, medicinal mushrooms, and oregano—a trio of proven herbs shown to upregulate your defenses.

Going back to school is challenging enough on its own. But adding in cold and flu season requires giving your health a little extra attention this fall. With these steps, you can protect yourself so you and your students won’t miss any time away from school.

Plant-Based Foods for Better Health

The problem is, only about a tenth of American adults get the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day!1 Fortunately, gearing your diet toward more plant-centric foods doesn’t have to involve a huge lifestyle change. Let’s check out some plant-based foods for better health.

The Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

Meat has been the centerpiece of the American diet for years. But over the past couple of decades, eating trends have started to shift away from animal proteins in favor of plant-based foods. And there’s good reason: studies show that consuming a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, the need for drugs as treatment, and all-cause mortality.2 3

A large part of those health benefits comes from the antioxidants that plant-based foods contain. These powerful compounds neutralize damaging free radicals that attack your cells and increase your risk of conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Antioxidants, especially polyphenols, have been shown to improve cardiometabolic health and brain function.4 Good sources include apples, beans, cherries, green tea, nuts, onions, spinach, and even chocolate (who says sweets can’t be good for you?).

The Environmental Impact of Your Food

Another reason to make a move toward a plant-based diet is the harm that factory farming has on the environment. Large-scale livestock operations require substantial resources, and they produce massive amounts of waste that often contaminates the air and water nearby. Worse yet, the animals raised in feedlots and other industrial livestock operations are subjected to inhumane conditions and are routinely given antibiotics, pesticides, and growth hormones—all of which get passed on to you when you eat it.

On the other hand, plant-based foods have a much smaller impact on the planet. This is especially true for regenerative agriculture or organic farming, both of which create healthier, more nutritious food. Another option? Vertical farming, which is an extremely efficient and sustainable food-production method. It uses less water and energy than traditional farming, and since it’s indoors, farmers are shielded from bad weather and pests, so they can produce food year round.

Steps to Increase Your Plant Intake

Increasing the amount of plant-based foods you eat is easier than you might think. Here are some simple ways to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your everyday meals:

Know what a serving is. It’s important to know what you’re aiming for. For fruits like apples and bananas, a whole piece is typically equal to one serving. For smaller fruits like berries and grapes, a few handfuls should do the trick. But skip the fruit juices as they are often riddled with sugar. The same basic principle can apply to vegetables: a whole sweet potato or a large tomato will suffice. Other veggies like broccoli and baby carrots get a couple handfuls. And two to three cups of leafy greens will give you a single serving.

Start Slowly. Good habits don’t form instantly. Start by incorporating a piece of fruit with your morning muffin for a week. Then add a side salad to your lunch order. From there you can work your way up to the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables each day.

Swap out snacks. Popular snack foods like chips and ice cream are packed with sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, and preservatives that can undermine your health. In fact, consuming more than four servings per day has been linked to a 62 percent increased risk for all-cause mortality.5 So ditch the chips for a couple handfuls of nuts or trail mix. And nix the ice cream for a berry smoothie bursting with immune-supporting antioxidants.

Eat the rainbow. Although an apple a day may keep the doctor away, eating a wide variety of colorful foods will give your body the key vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy. Vibrantly colored fruits and veggies are loaded with beneficial phytochemicals. And a high dietary intake of phytochemicals is associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular and other diseases.6

Try a supplement. Adding a high-quality supplement can give your body a big boost of green nutrition, particularly if you struggle to eat enough plant-based foods throughout the day. For an immediate impact, go for a powdered green drink mix like Kyo-Green Greens Blend. Loaded with superfoods like barley, wheatgrass, and chlorella, it’s a powerful source of natural nutrients necessary for optimal health in a great tasting, easy-to-use powder.

Stay hydrated. One of the main complaints some people have with plant-forward diets is that their meals just aren’t filling enough.7 But drinking plenty of water will help keep you satiated while aiding metabolism. One study showed that drinking an extra 50 ounces of water everyday worked as an appetite suppressor and even lead to weight loss in overweight women.8 Not only that, gulping down more water will keep your gut happy and your bowels functioning properly.

Animals don’t have to be the center of your food universe. Replacing meats and processed snacks with a colorful array of plant-based foods can have a beneficial effect on your health as well as the health of the planet.

Summer Health and Safety Tips

But with the nicer weather comes the potential for danger. From the sun’s rays to the foods on your plate, summer is full of hazards hidden in plain sight. Since August is Sun Safety Month, it’s the perfect time to shine a light on how to protect your skin from sinister sun damage. We’ll also dive into hydration, food safety, and healthy traveling so you can revel in all of the summer vibes without any setbacks.

Smart Sun Safety

Whether you’re at a ballgame, the beach, or out in the yard, soaking up the sun is one of summer’s great pleasures. But even though you may love how your new tan looks, overexposure to the sun’s damaging ultra violet (UV) rays is the No. 1 cause of most cases of skin cancer. Fortunately, by employing the following sun-safety tips, you can protect against the dark side of the sun while still enjoying all the fun it offers.

Use plenty of sunscreen. Regular sunscreen use doesn’t just prevent a nasty sunburn; it can reduce your risk of skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma.1 In an analysis of 10 studies on the effectiveness of sunscreen, all of the studies showed that its use either reduced or prevented UV radiation damage.2 Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen boasting at least 30 SPF every day (even if it’s cloudy!). And don’t forget the kids! Exposure to high levels of UV radiation during childhood can increase their melanoma risk when they’re older.3

Don’t skimp. Unfortunately, even when people do remember to put on sunscreen, they aren’t putting enough on. And that could actually be reducing the SPF number stated on the bottle.4 Most adults tend to wear between one-quarter and one-half of the recommended thickness, so don’t be shy when lathering up.

Reapply often. A 2018 study showed that putting on two consecutive layers of sunscreen provides the most protection from the sun. That’s because the second application evened out thin areas and hit spots that were missed the first time.5 It’s also a good idea to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours or after spending any time in the pool, lake, or ocean. Even though some lotions claim to be “water-resistant,” getting wet causes a significant reduction in the efficacy of sunscreen.6 And you’ll lose even more if you’ve already applied lotion or other cosmetics prior to putting on sunscreen.7

Stay cool. Direct sun exposure isn’t the only danger that you have to be aware of this summer. Soaring temps cause heat-related hospital visits to spike from May to September, with 65 percent of heat deaths coming in July and August each year.8 But with more severe and longer-lasting heat waves, it’s more essential than ever to stay cool and out of the sun whenever possible.

Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water will help keep your core temperature down. It also fosters better cognition, immunity, and organ function. But while chugging plenty of H20 is great for your health, you can maximize the benefit of your water intake by mixing in a nutrient-dense powdered greens drink mix. Not only are these drink mixes full of natural superfoods that improve overall health, you can opt for a mix specifically targeted to support your energy, immunity, or digestion.

Tips for Eating Outdoors

Picnics, BBQs, cooking over a campfire—nothing says summer like enjoying a meal outside. But cooking and transporting foods outdoors require an extra level of care to ensure that your foods stay safe to eat. Here are a few food safety tips to ensure that your meals fresh and free from damaging microbes.

Handle food properly. Hotter summer temperatures create the perfect environment for pathogens to grow, putting your food in the danger zone. Leaving food out for too long causes bacteria like  Salmonella and E. coli to grow to illness-causing levels. That’s why it’s important to keep cold foods cold until they are to be cooked or eaten. If you’re going on a picnic or  camping trip, don’t take perishable meat or poultry products without proper cold storage to maintain the adequate temperature.

Cook to temperature. Firing up the grill is one the best parts of summer. But that doesn’t mean you should crank it up to full blast. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, foods cooked at high temperatures contain harmful carcinogens. Use medium heat or move food to the cooler spots on the grill. And use a meat thermometer to judge when food is cooked through. This is especially important when you’re cooking chicken or pork, which need to be cooked to higher internal temperatures.

Take care. Cooking outdoors comes with its own set of hazards. Things like lighter fluid and sharp cooking tools can instantly elevate the risk of injury. If you’re grilling, always make sure that coals are extinguished or the gas has been turned off after cooking. And be sure to keep sharp cooking objects out of the reach of children.

Staying Healthy While Traveling

Summer means exploring far off locations and going on new adventures. It also means that you won’t have access to the conveniences of home. But a little preparation can help you can stay on track.

Store supplements safely. Just because you’re on vacation, it doesn’t mean your supplement routine should be. But how should you store supplements safely while traveling? The first step is to prepare beforehand by organizing the supplements you’ll need for the entire trip. Then set calendar reminders so you don’t forget to take them. Never leave them in a hot vehicle or suitcase. And opt for shelf-stable probiotics like Kyo-Dophilus so you don’t have to worry about refrigeration.

Be cautious. People tend to be more carefree on vacation. And with all the fun excursions and  activities you’re more likely to suffer a sprain, strain, or broken bone on your summer getaway. Remember to practice good safety habits by following all precautions. It’s also important to know your limits so if it’s a new activity, don’t overdo it.

Summer is the season for experiencing the great outdoors. By following these tips, you can enjoy everything this time of year has to offer without compromising your health.

Increase Your Health Span for a Longer, Happier Life

Instead of spending time playing with your grandchildren or gallivanting across the globe, you could be spending time at the doctor’s office, managing a chronic illness. That’s why it’s imperative to take care of your health now. Think of it as another insurance policy on your golden years. Here are five tips to increase your health span for a longer happier life.

Health Span vs. Life Span

The attention paid to life expectancy statistics is understandable. In just the last century, the average life span in the United States has risen from about 53 years in 1920 to the 78.8 it is today.1 While that’s a  pretty dramatic increase, those extra years aren’t the whole story. A more telling stat is health span, or how many of those years are lived free from disease and debilitating health problems. Yet, according to the World Health Organization, the average health span for an American is just 66.1 years.2 That means people are spending about 16 percent of their lives dealing with chronic health issues rather than living their days to the fullest.

What’s Undermining Your Health Span?

Two of the biggest culprits responsible for shortening your health span are chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Not only do they contribute to the development of many serious conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and liver disease, inflammation and oxidative stress are also related to many age-related concerns, such as Alzheimer’s disease, sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss), and frailty.3 They can take years of your health span and will probably take years off your life as well.

5 Ways to Increase Your Health Span

Fortunately, there are steps you can take now to narrow the gap between your health and life spans so you can get the most out of your years on this planet. By focusing on the following five lifestyle hacks, you can effectively reverse the damage caused by inflammation and oxidative stress,4 adding time to your health span.

Tweak your diet. Fighting off inflammation and oxidative stress starts with what you eat. If your meals typically consist of highly processed foods that are loaded with fats, sugar, and salt, you’re creating the perfect environment for inflammation and oxidative stress to thrive. But swapping these foods out for a minimally processed, whole-foods diet can have a huge impact on your health span. Be sure to include plenty of foods containing polyphenols. Found in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, spices, and teas, polyphenols are powerful compounds that improve your antioxidant defenses while reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.5

Increase your antioxidant intake. Antioxidants play a crucial role in protecting your health. Consuming them in high quantities is a smart move if you want to combat oxidative stress. One way to ensure you’re getting enough antioxidants is with a daily dose of Aged Garlic Extract (AGE). An AGE supplement fights oxidative stress while also putting a damper on inflammation. Studies show that, taken consistently, AGE may prevent the development of chronic diseases associated with low-grade inflammation.6 It does this in part by inhibiting the formation of advanced glycation end-products7—harmful compounds that contribute to the development of life-shortening vascular problems such as atherosclerosis.

While supplementing with AGE alone can be a beneficial tool for boosting your health span, Kyolic Detox and Anti-Aging combines AGE with a combination of vitamins and herbs that protect against cell damage and aid in detoxification. Kyolic Healthy Inflammation and Response, on the other hand, takes AGE and then harnesses the anti-inflammatory might of curcumin to provide support for joint function and cardiovascular health.

Kick the habit. Indulging in destructive habits such as smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol is sure to take years off your health span, not to mention your life. Cigarette smoke has been shown to contain multiple inducers of inflammation.8 And several studies have linked alcohol consumption to oxidative stress.9 10 But whatever your vice, taking steps to curb unhealthy behaviors will work to lengthen your health span.

Break a sweat. Exercise is one of the most effective ways of improving your quality of life and extending your health span.11 That’s because exercise activates an anti-inflammatory immune response, which has been shown to be especially effective for individuals with chronic diseases linked to high levels of inflammation.12 Getting your heart rate up consistently can also improve metabolism and weight control, as well as strengthen muscles and bones. Even hitting the gym or walking the dog a few times a week can provide trigger a beneficial response.

Stay sharp. Exercising your body is key to having a long health span, but exercising your mind may be just as important. Training your brain can enhance cerebral functions such as memory and logical thinking while preventing memory deterioration and dementia.13 So work on a crossword or sudoku puzzle—or learn a new skill or language. Anything that challenges your brain will help to improve and maintain cognitive function.

Living a long life is one thing; living a healthy life for a long time is another. With healthy habits and an antioxidant-rich supplement like AGE, you can extend your health span to better match your life span.

Tips for Better Health During Perimenopause

But for most women, the years leading up to menopause (known as perimenopause) can also be unpleasant ones, full of hot flashes, mood changes, trouble sleeping, and more. The good news is that the symptoms of perimenopause can be managed naturally. By switching up some of your habits and incorporating a some key herbs into your supplement routine, you can get through the transition into menopause with as little suffering as possible. Here are some healthy tips for managing symptoms and maintaining a healthy hormonal balance during perimenopause.

What Happens During Perimenopause

While menopause gets most of the focus, the truth is that many of the signs associated with this change occur in the years leading up to that final menstrual period. Spurred by a drop in estrogen, the main female hormone produced by the ovaries, perimenopause can trigger erratic menstrual cycles, hot flashes, irritability, poor sleep quality, weight gain, and vaginal dryness. And since perimenopause lasts an average of four years for most women, these symptoms can have a negative impact on productivity, intimacy, and overall quality of life.

Lifestyle and Perimenopause

Taking care of your health is important at every stage of life. But as menopause approaches, your body can be even more sensitive to the way you treat it. Activities that you never thought twice about can suddenly have a big effect on how you feel. That’s why now is a critical time to focus on your lifestyle and the impact your habits and behaviors have on your well-being.

Avoid triggers. Cigarettes, alcohol, and caffeine are common agitators that can throw your hormones out of whack, even in the best of times. But their effect on hormones amplifies during perimenopause. What’s more, stress, anxiety—even the climate you live in—can have an impact on the way your body reacts to changing estrogen and progesterone levels.1 Knowing what you’re up against and making healthier choices can play a big role in mediating the severity of your symptoms.2

Eat a targeted diet. Help to balance your estrogen levels by tweaking your diet. Eating more foods containing phytoestrogens may offer protection against menopausal symptoms by reducing the frequency of hot flashes.3 Some of the best sources come from soy-based foods like tofu, tempeh, and edamame. Other foods such as berries, sesame seeds, and garlic are high in phytoestrogens and make for an easy addition to your meals.

Omega-3s are another key nutrient that can reduce the severity of perimenopausal hot flashes.4 They’ve also been shown to decrease depressive symptoms that often occur during the transition to menopause.5 And the benefits don’t stop there—eating plenty of fatty fish like salmon, trout, and halibut will increase not only your omega-3 levels but also your protein levels, which is important as muscle mass can start to deteriorate more rapidly during perimenopause.

Exercise. Staying active has big benefits for women going through perimenopause.6 Getting your heart pumping can improve your mood and enhance cardiovascular function while keeping your bones and muscles strong. It can also help to manage that pesky abdominal weight gain that is common for many women.7 Aerobic activities like jogging or swimming are great ways to keep your weight under control. Weight-bearing exercise can also improve bone health, help you lose body fat, and burn calories more effectively while increasing muscle mass. But if you’re new to exercise, start slow: even a brisk walk around the neighborhood can provide you with benefits.

Perimenopause Relief from Mother Nature

Nature has also provided some powerful herbs to help reduce perimenopause symptoms. Best of all, their use has been shown to be safe as well as effective.

Astragalus. Used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, astragalus holds a wealth of benefits for women during perimenopause. Not only does this herb help to strengthen and regulate the immune system, a recent study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine shows that astragalus can also significantly improve menopausal symptoms.8

Black cohosh. A woodland herb, black cohosh has a long history of use for women’s health. And with good reason: it’s been clinically shown to reduce the severity as well as the number of hot flashes, leading to an improved quality of life.9

Soy isoflavones. If soybeans aren’t really your thing, you can avoid the tofu and still get all of their hormone-balancing benefits by taking a supplement that contains soy isoflavones. These compounds can help to even out hormone levels and improve perimenopause symptoms including hot flashes. They’ve also been shown to have positive effects on systolic blood pressure during perimenopause.10 And that’s critical since women are more prone to cardiovascular issues after menopause.11

Taken individually, these ingredients can help soothe the irritating symptoms of perimenopause. But when combined in a single supplement like Estro-Logic they can have a significantly greater impact on a number of symptoms, including hot flashes, sleep problems, and mood changes when compared to a placebo.12

Even though a decline in estrogen is an inevitable part of life, your body’s response to these changes is well within your control. Making healthy choices and adding supportive nutrients can greatly improve how you feel as you enter a new phase of life. But as always, be sure to talk things over with your doctor before you make any important decisions related to your health.