Creating The Perfect Sleep Formula

We all want it, need it, and could probably use a lot more of it. Getting the recommended eight hours of shut-eye every night means spending a third of our lives sleeping, so it’s no wonder we’re obsessed with it. Companies have lunged on the opportunity to sell sleep, prompting all kinds of products ranging the gamut from foam pillows to inflatable hoodies. We recirculate myths all the time about turkey putting us to sleep and six hours a night being perfectly acceptable. As the sleep debate rages on, there are a few tried and true methods that will beat out the latest harebrained trend. Here’s what the experts have to say:

A Sleep Expert On Creating A Bedroom Oasis

We all know that eating a pile of street tacos after a night of heavy drinking never ends with a great night of sleep, but what about a single nightcap? Peter Fontaine, president and CEO of Epoch Sleep Centers, says it’s all about timing. Have that glass of wine with dinner, says Fontaine, but don’t bring another glass to bed with you. Drinking right before turning in for the night—even just one glass—can disrupt natural sleep patterns.

In this modern world, however, a glass of pinot might be the least of your problems. As Fontaine explains,

“If you think about it, the natural light we get from the sun is the only light we’ve had for years up until the early 1800s. So the brain is still in its infancy in relationship to the development of artificial light … especially blue light from computers and phones. (Blue light) causes melatonin—which is a natural sleep aid produced by the brain—to be suppressed if too much is introduced.”

Fontaine cites this overstimulation as the major cause of the modern sleep epidemic, a problem that leaves about a third of Americans sleep deprived. There are clear links between sleep deprivation and “a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. In this sense, getting regular sleep isn’t just about feeling energized, but about taking control of your overall health as well.

Dr. Fontaine’s top tips for getting a restful night of sleep include sticking to a regular bedtime, taking a nighttime bath, setting your devices on silent, turning the lights down low, and avoiding negative material right before bed. In the same way parents don’t let kids watch scary movies right before bed, adults should follow their own advice if they want to sleep through the night. “Adults have the ability to not have nightmares or suppress it,” says Fontaine, “but many adults just can’t fall asleep after watching something negative.” Take it from someone who thought it was a good idea to watch Blackfish right before bed—stick to some optimistic reading instead. Fontaine calls these tips “sleep hygiene,” and we should all do our best to develop good sleep hygiene by reducing external stimuli in the hours before we settle into bed.

But what if you’ve tried every tip known to man and still nothing seems to work? At that point, Fontaine says, it might be good to consider having your sleep patterns studied by an expert. With many of his patients, the culprit is usually sleep apnea, which causes sufferers to repeatedly choke throughout the night. In cases of moderate to severe sleep apnea, medical intervention is required.

A Scientist On Creating The Perfect Formula For Sleep

Time named Hmbldt’s vaporizer pen one of the 25 best inventions of 2016 for good reason. The pens combine science, technology, and good design to deliver controlled hits of cannabis oil to relieve specific symptoms. Whether you’re looking to reduce pain, feel calm, or get a good night’s sleep, there’s a vape pen for that very purpose. Hmbldt’s Chief Science Officer, Samantha Miller, explained the complex process behind creating the perfect formula for sleep.

To address the variety of problems related to sleeplessness with one formula, Miller looked at combining THC, the psychoactive compound, with its nonpsychoactive cousin, CBD. For Miller, the choice to create a THC-dominant formula was an obvious one. CBD, while having excellent pain-relieving qualities, causes many people to experience alertness or wakefulness. Despite this surprising effect, CBD still has a big role to play in guaranteeing good sleep. As Sam explains,

“CBD helps prolong the effects of THC, so when we get to the problem of staying asleep or having the pain relief long enough so you’re able to get several hours of sleep, that’s where the balance of the CBD comes in. The balance was to find the right ratio between THC and CBD, so that you affect those things in the direction you want, but not overdo the CBD and have a wakefulness issue.”

Complement that ratio with a balanced terpene profile, and you have a winning combination for a good night’s sleep. After testing out seven different formulas, Miller and her team arrived at a perfect blend that helps more than 85 percent of consumers get a good night’s sleep.

Obviously, this process is a little more scientific than scouring Leafly for sleepy strains of cannabis. While loading up on Sour Diesel and smoking yourself to sleep might do the trick one night, there’s no guarantee you’ll have the same experience the next. The problem lies in organic variability, says Miller. As she explains,

“There’s a lot of variation even within one batch of flowers in terms of the terpene content and the cannabinoid content. So, from flower to flower you can have variation, and you certainly have more variation from batch to batch. It’s difficult to have a reliable and consistent experience.”

As with most medications, there is the possibility of building a tolerance over time, making cannabis less effective. To prevent that, Miller suggests mixing up your routine once a week with a different strain. “Every individual is a little bit different so it’s good to listen to your body and be aware of your experience,” says Miller, “You can make small adjustments that can really give you an overall successful wellness regimen on cannabis.”

A Narcoleptic On The Research We Still Need To Do

Product manager Morgan Cohn knows firsthand that all the tips in the world can’t help when you have a chronic sleep disorder. At first, she assumed she was your average insomniac—considering she had a difficult time falling asleep at night and would fall asleep during the day as a result. Doing a little bit of research for a college paper helped Cohn discover that she actually had narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that causes excessive daytime drowsiness. Some of the symptoms include hallucinations, sleep paralysis, excessive fatigue, and immediate REM sleep. While treatments often range from natural supplements and regular exercise to antidepressants and stimulants, researchers have yet to find a cure.

Finding a remedy is going to require not just diligent work from sleep scientists but awareness from the general public as well. As Cohn explains,

I don’t think we understand enough about sleep disorders to cure any of them and, unfortunately, there really isn’t really a lot of interest in sleep disorders like narcolepsy, especially since so many cases go undiagnosed.

So, if you’ve tried everything and your sleep troubles still keep you up at night, consider participating in a sleep study. You could be part of the solution to end chronic sleep disorders for good.



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How to Treat High Cholesterol and Blood Pressure Naturally

High blood pressure and high cholesterol are dangerous health conditions. These health conditions affect your overall health and make a healthy living harder for you.

High Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure

There are two types of cholesterol

HDL Good

If you have a higher level of bad cholesterol, you are at a greater risk of developing heart diseases. When cholesterol is high, oxygenated blood does not find its way to your heart. Also, high blood pressure has an effect on the flow of blood and it reduces the blood flow towards different parts of your body.

How to Treat High Cholesterol and Blood Pressure Naturally

Small Meals

It is important to know that how to eat and what to eat. It is better to take six to seven smaller meals a day as compared to three larger meals. Taking small meals reduces bad cholesterol. Also, it reduces the risk of heart diseases 10 to 20 percent.

Consume Whole Grains

As compared to consuming white grains, consume whole grains as whole grains give a boost to body fiber. Whole grains help in increasing the level of healthy cholesterol in your body.

Foods High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids assist in lowering bad cholesterol level. Use foods such as salmon, almond and walnuts as all of these are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.


For reducing cholesterol, this spice is very useful. Add it to your morning coffee and you will be able to say goodbye to bad cholesterol.


People with high blood pressure need potassium as they have a limited salt intake. One way to lower blood pressure is to increase your potassium intake.

Avoid Processed Foods

To treat high cholesterol and blood pressure naturally, another way is to avoid the use of processed foods as these foods are a major source of sodium.


Grind dried watermelon seeds and take one tsp of these seeds on an empty stomach in the morning. This is an effective remedy as watermelon seeds widen the blood capillaries and help in lowering high blood pressure.


Lemon controls high blood pressure and high cholesterol. For this, take one glass of warm water and add in it juice of on lemon and consume it as you wake up.

If you are suffering from high blood pressure and high cholesterol, follow these easy ways to treat high cholesterol and blood pressure naturally and stay healthy and active.



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Keeping Your Gut Happy

The bacteria in our gut has become a very hot topic in both the eye of the public and under the microscope of researchers. Doctors and scientists are beginning to realize that our gut flora is responsible for more actions in the body than we ever imagined, and research shows that even the bacteria in our gut have their own microbial communities living within them.

Our microbiome is constantly working to protect us.

For now, let’s keep it simple and focus on the best ways to keep our own gut flora happy so that they can help us in the following areas:

1. Vitamin synthesis and nutrient absorption

One of the earliest known functions of gut microbes is the production of vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting and healthy blood circulation. Bacteria live in the gut, feed off of our undigested food, and in turn produce vitamin K for the body to use. The bacteria also help to produce B vitamins, which help the body generate and maintain energy. Studies also point out that these microbes help promote the absorption of antioxidants, which are important compounds with anti-inflammatory effects in the body.

2. Immune system regulation

Research shows that our gut flora is responsible for the development and regulation of the immune system—80 percent of it, to be more exact! Babies born via C-section have a much different colonization of gut bacteria than babies born vaginally, and therefore their immune system development is different. Autoimmune disorders like IBS, type 1 diabetes, lupus, celiac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis are also associated with a dysfunctional microbiome.

3. Mental health and brain function

One of the most profound ways the microbiome affects our well-being is by assisting in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter and hormone responsible for moods and feelings of positivity. Gut microbes work in conjunction with human cells in the gastrointestinal tract to produce over 90 percent of the body’s serotonin. The gut flora may influence the body’s stress response, sleep regulation, and even pain sensitivity. More research is needed to understand the complex relationship between the gut and the brain.

4. Weight status

Research shows that the microbiome of obese individuals is markedly different from those of lean individuals. And studies in mice show that when changes are made to the microbiome in mice, weight status is greatly affected; gut microbes also seem to have the ability to influence appetite regulation.

Diet, stress, sleep, exercise, and environment all affect the health of your microbiome. Diet plays a huge role in the type of bacteria that colonize in the gut, affecting everything from weight to mood, energy levels, and immune health.

We should nourish our gut bacteria so that they continue to nourish us.

1. Probiotic-rich foods

These foods include yogurt, kefir, kimchee, sauerkraut, miso, kombucha, and other cultured and fermented foods. Probiotic-rich foods help to boost the microbiome by increasing the number of bacteria in the gut. The gut is colonized by over 400 different species of bacteria. It is important to eat a variety of cultured foods as a means of ingesting a variety of bacteria strains.

2. Prebiotics and fiber

One of the best and easiest ways to increase the health of your microbiome is through fructooligosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides—also known as fiber. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that humans cannot digest because we lack the enzymes to break it down. However, our gut bacteria have these necessary enzymes and can break down and utilize fiber for their own energy and health.

Prebiotics help increase the absorption of calcium and magnesium, minerals essential for bone health. Good sources of prebiotics, the food for your gut flora, include onions, garlic, legumes, oatmeal, bananas, apples, berries, leeks, leafy greens, and whole-wheat grains. Consider combining cultured foods with foods rich in prebiotics for a synergistic effect.

To get the leading all-natural prebiotic on the market, email me (fran at  for more information.

3. Avoiding antibiotics

Antibiotics are lifesaving and they absolutely have a time and a place in our health. However, antibiotics tend to be overprescribed especially for things such as the common cold, which is a viral infection and untreatable with antibiotics. A course of antibiotics not only kills the “bad” bacteria causing the infection but also the “good” bacteria that is beneficial to our health. Antibiotics can throw off the delicate balance of bacteria in the gut. It can take months for the microbiome to rebound and rebuild after a course of antibiotics. And this is where No. 4 comes into play.

4. Supplements

Probiotic supplements are a great way to boost gut bacteria variety and amount. However, not all supplements are created equal. Look for a probiotic supplement that is refrigerated and contains at least 30 different strains and 50 billion live cultures. This may seem like a lot, but the gut has trillions of bacteria living in it. Also, not all the probiotics in a supplement will survive the gastrointestinal environment on their way to making a home in the large intestine.

Remember that you are unique, and so is your microbiome.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the health of your gut flora. An individual’s microbiome is as unique as their fingerprint. More research is needed to continue to answer questions on how bacteria, as separate living organisms, can affect the health and well-being of their host. However, we do know that a diet high in fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as consuming cultured and fermented foods can greatly affect the health of the microbes inhabiting your gut. Nourishing these microbes is a vital part of optimizing well-being—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Consult with a registered dietitian or physician for personalized health advice.




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What Are You Putting In Your Ears?

In the event you’re still in the market for a New Year’s resolution, the American Academy of Otolarynology (We’ll just call them the AAO) has one for you…

We’ve been taught that using cotton swabs to clean out our ears is just part of basic hygiene, but the truth is that it does virtually no good and a lot of damage. Let’s start with earwax. Sure, it’s gross, but it serves an important purpose. It traps dust and foreign objects, preventing them from going further into your ear where they can do some serious damage.

“Patients often think that they are preventing earwax from building up by cleaning out their ears with cotton swabs, paper clips, ear candles, or any number of unimaginable things that people put in their ears. The problem is that this effort to eliminate earwax is only creating further issues because the earwax is just getting pushed down and impacted further into the ear canal,” Dr. Schwartz said. “Anything that fits in the ear could cause serious harm to the ear drum and canal with the potential for temporary or even permanent damage.

Impacted earwax can cause symptoms like ear pain, itching, feeling of fullness in the ear, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), hearing loss, discharge coming from the ear, odor coming from the ear, cough, and/or change in hearing aid function.”

In case you glossed over that block quote, the first sentence suggests that enough people are cleaning their ears out with paper clips that a group of doctors has to call the practice out specifically to get the offenders to knock it off.

If you’re a lifelong ear cleaner, you might be wondering what will become of the old earwax if you’re not manually removing it. The body’s a wonderful thing, and the doctors say that it’s got you covered:

Chewing, jaw motion, and growing skin in the ear canal help to move old earwax from inside the ears to the ear opening where it then flakes off or is washed off during bathing. This normal process of making wax and pushing the old wax out is continual.

You’ve likely heard all this advice before from friends, coworkers, or parents. This time, it’s coming from ear doctors. If you were continuing the practice until an authority weighed in, you can stop now. The authorities have weighed in. They want you to stop jamming earwax further into your ear, regardless of how good your intentions are.




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25 Super Foods To Fill Your Shopping Cart

If you’re looking for a handy list to tuck in your pocket before you hit the supermarket this week, you’ve come to the right place. Superfoods are essentially nutritional powerhouses, which give you the most bang for your buck. These goods are loaded with the most vitamins, minerals and overall nutrition per unit, and you’ll learn more about our favourites and why they earn the title here.

Superfoods aren’t just limited to obscure powders, berries and supplements either; in fact, you’ll probably be surprised to learn that many grace the shelves of your pantry and fridge already. We’re looking at quality over quantity here, and these are the top 25 foods you should always reserve a spot for in your shopping basket.


You’ve probably been told how important eating your fruits and veggies is, and it’s true. These colourful plant foods are loaded with micronutrients – vitamins and minerals – we need to provide us with a healthy, balanced diet. Moreover, they contain tons of fibre to optimise digestion and help us feel full. Oh, and they’re tasty! From juicy, ripe fruits for snacks to roasted veggies at dinner, these superfoods have a place in every diet. Some produce really comes in at the top though.



This fruit is an antioxidant powerhouse, helping to combat free radicals in the body. Their nutrients are fantastic for the nervous system, brain health and more. Anthocyanins give blueberries their gorgeous hue, and these antioxidants aren’t just good for colour; they also help protect the body from disease, reduce blood pressure, improve eyesight, and possess anti-inflammatory properties.

This green is another amazing source of antioxidants and other vitamins. It contains the most lutein of any foods which contributes to good eye health. Its antioxidant compounds are also linked to cancer prevention, anti-inflammatory properties and detox. A standard serving provides you with your daily dose of vitamin K (1,180% of it, actually!), vitamin A and most of your vitamin C.



This green is often just a garnish, but it’s worth upping your intake for! Like kale, it really packs in the vitamin K, but that’s not all; its powerful blend of magnesium, calcium and potassium can reduce cancer risk and lower blood pressure.

Brussels sprouts
Yet another green veggie that makes our list today, these tiny cabbages are full of nutrients. Steamed sprouts are particularly healthy as the fibre is easily binded with bile acids during digestion, which can help lower cholesterol levels in the body. They’re also fabulous for DNA protection, and they contain more glucosinolate (a phytonutrient that helps protect against cancer) than any other cruciferous veggie.



Although beets are a rather sugary veggie, they contain tons of nutrients you don’t want to miss out on. This veggie is one of the most highly detoxifying considering the betalin pigments that give them their colour. Oh, and don’t toss those greens! They contain even more iron than spinach. It’s also worth noting that beets provide a good source of betaine which helps to protect our cells and enzymes from environmental stressors.

Fungi are amazing for the body due to their immune-boosting properties; they are antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal. Their polysaccharides in mushrooms promote longevity and fight off cancer. Reishi mushrooms, in particular, are also fantastic for neural health.



Avocado is a fantastic source of healthy fats which can help you absorb all those A, E, D and K vitamins! This fruit can help lower cholesterol, is loaded with antioxidants and can even reduce arthritis symptoms. They’re also a good source of potassium – even more than bananas.

Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are our favourite starch for good reasons! They are a great source of beta-carotene – hence the orange colour – which converts to vitamin A in the body when paired with some healthy fats. They’re also low-glycemic compared to most other potato varieties, so they can actually help regulate blood sugar.

Meat, poultry & fish
If we’re looking at our ancestors for advice, you’d see that hunting and gathering animal foods is absolutely part of a healthy diet. Unfortunately, these days, there just isn’t as much widespread emphasis on quality which is where these products gain their superfood status from. If you’re attentive enough, many meats and seafoods are some of the healthiest foods on the planet.

Grass-fed beef


One of the most unique factors of grass-fed beef in comparison to its conventional counterpart is its omega-3 content. There’s no doubt that our omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio is important to overall health and vitality, so choosing a properly sourced beef product can take your meat from ‘food’ to ‘superfood’ in one fell swoop.

These little guys are sustainable for the environment which gives them an upper hand, much like grass-fed beef. Not only does this fish provide some serious omega-3 action, but it’s also one of the best food sources of vitamin D which many people are deficient in. They’re great for the bones with a hefty dose of calcium, and their nutrient profile supports good cardiovascular health. Don’t be afraid to give this superfood a go.

Wild-caught salmon


Fish tops the list when it comes to animal protein’s claim to superfood fame. It’s a unique food source of vitamin B12 (236% of the DV per serving!), plus it contains a powerful amino acid called taurine. It contains one of the highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids in any food. Like sardines, salmon also contains some vitamin D. These things in conjunction promote everything from good mood to bone health, warding off osteoporosis.

While oysters are widely known as a libido-boosting food which is true, there’s more to their superpowers than just that! They are especially high in zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, copper, manganese and selenium. Their zinc content makes them a healing food, both in terms of time it takes for wounds to heal and for immunity considering their anti-microbial properties. Their iron boost can help increase circulation and defend against anemia, too.

Pasture-raised eggs


Forget about the cholesterol myth; starting off your day with eggs is a surefire way to get in some superfoods first thing in the morning. Pasture-raised eggs have huge advantages in nutrition. They contain 2/3 more vitamin A, twice the amount of omega-3 fatty acids, three times more vitamin E, seven times more beta-carotene and a little bit less cholesterol in case you’re worried. Otherwise, they provide a lovely balance of fats and proteins which should keep you both full and focused through the morning!

Pantry staples

What else should you keep handy? The pantry is king at providing bursts of nutrition quickly, even when the fridge is looking a little barren. Don’t let the body go without proper fuel! These are our favourite superfoods to always keep on hand.



One variety of seaweed called dulse provides big flavour in a tiny package, and you can even use it to replace salt. This mineral-rich seaweed contains calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. It’s high in both vitamin A and vitamin C. Lastly, it provides the body with iodine which is important for thyroid health and good hormone behaviour.

Kelp – a brown seaweed – is comparable to both kale and dulse with its own unique set of superfood benefits including high amounts of iodine, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron to name a few noteworthy minerals. Iodine is good for the thyroid, but it also provides some good nutrition for our skin, hair and nails. Consider kelp a beauty food. Check out some of our favourite kelp noodle recipes.

Coconut oil


Overall, coconut is one of the healthiest foods on the planet in almost all of its natural forms. Coconut oil, in particular, is an amazing pantry staple. It’s mostly comprised of saturated fats which take down LDL in the body and convert it into good cholesterols promoting a healthy heart and lessening the risk of heart disease. Its medium-chain fatty acids are easy for the body to digest unlike long-chain fatty acids in vegetable oils. It’s also easily used by the liver as energy, which helps coconut oil not be stored immediately as fat (a common misconception with fats!). It also has tons of immunity benefits.



You can bet that any food with a naturally vibrant hue is packing serious nutrition, and turmeric is no exception to the rule. It’s most commonly known for curcumin which provides a natural anti-inflammatory benefit. This medicinal spice is easily added into the diet, and it increases antioxidant capacity which makes it great for taking in all the nutrients in the rest of the foods on our list. It’s also linked to better cognitive functioning, lessened risk of heart disease and cancer prevention.

Almonds are arguably the healthiest nut on the planet, especially if you soak and sprout/dehydrate them prior to consumption. In Ayurvedic medicine, almonds are known for increasing brain power, intellectual ability and contributing to a longer, healthier life. They contain healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, fibre, antioxidants and some solid vitamin E! They’re fantastic for the brain, skin and heart.

Oolong tea


Most teas from black and green to herbal blends contain plenty of health benefits, but oolong is often overlooked. It can cut down on triglycerides due to its enzymes. It can also help the body to burn more fat. Finally, it contains a fair amount of niacin which is good for detox. Oh, and its antioxidants can help your teeth stay strong which is promising if you’re trying to cut back on coffee or black tea.

Fermented foods

Fermented foods are simple to make at home, and you can even buy them most of the time. These foods are ‘cooked’ a.k.a. left out to gather up good bacteria which helps keep our gut flora healthy, boost immunity, improve digestion and more. A little can go a long way in providing probiotics and many other powerful health benefits.



Miso is a fermented soy product with big flavour, and it doesn’t present many of the same problems as non-fermented soy does. Plus, it’s used in small doses, so you’re more likely only to take in the good without overdoing it. Nutrients in miso include copper, manganese and vitamin K with a substantial serving of cancer-fighting probiotics. Fermentation really brings out the good antioxidants in soy, and miso is a tasty addition to broths, stir-fries and more.

This Korean dish is cheap and easy to make at home with superfoods all on their own – cabbage, carrots, ginger, garlic and more come together in this gut-friendly and flavourful ferment. Kimchi contains lactobacilli which is a bacteria that aids in digestion and maintenance of intestinal flora. This bacteria also has potential to clear up skin issues and reduce inflammation.



Kombucha is delicious – especially if you’re trying to kick soda – and it has some stellar health benefits to boot with all of its healthy bacteria strains. It’s simple to make at home with just tea and sugar, too! It can help with digestion, weight loss, boosting energy, detox and immunity. It also contains something called glucosamines which supports collagen preservation in the body, leading to good bone and joint care.


If tolerated and from proper sources, dairy provides excellent nutrition. It’s a real food that often provides a healthy dose of good fats and essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, it tastes good, and there’s no denying it! Here are some of our favourite dairy products to keep handy.

Grass-fed butter


Butter gets a bad rap sometimes, but hear us out. Grass-fed butter makes food taste better, first and foremost. It provides plenty of vitamin K2 which actually helps keep your arteries unclogged. Finally, it’s one of the absolute best sources of butyric acid which is helpful namely for digestion and inflammation.

Quite like yoghurt, kefir is easy to make at home and packed with nutrition. It’s a fermented yoghurt drink, so you can expect a healthy dose of probiotics out of each sip, providing the gut with that good bacteria! It’s also loaded with biotin, B-vitamins, calcium, phosphorous and more. It can help to boost immunity, improve digestion, promote strong bones and improve lactose tolerance.

Raw cheese


Who doesn’t love cheese? Raw milk cheese contains enzymes that break down the fats, sugars and minerals in milk which makes it easier to digest for many. Like any fermented food, it contains those good-for-you bacteria that feed our guts the nutrients they need and make other nutrients more available to us. Lastly, milk contains all essential amino acids. If you are having trouble with dairy, raw milk and raw milk cheese could actually be a good addition.



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The No Excuses 28-Day Squat Challenge

I’m a huge fan of bodyweight exercises for the reason that you can use them for a great workout anywhere. And perhaps the king of all bodyweight exercises, is the squat. Squats are awesome because they provide a great workout for multiple muscle groups, including the butt, thighs, and core.

It’s for that reason that 30-day squat challenges have become increasingly popular over the past year. There are hundreds of variations available online, but generally they all involve squatting almost every day for a month, starting at 50 reps on your first day and finishing at 250 on your last.

As much as I love anything that gets people moving, particularly squatting, that kind of challenge simply won’t help you reach your goals. 50 squats in one day is too difficult for most beginners, and even if you could do 250 squats with perfect form, you will be training for muscular endurance rather than strength (which is what leads to the toned look). It’s the same reason you wouldn’t do 50+ reps of an exercise in the gym.

Instead, the focus should be on fewer, quality reps that get tougher over time (like using heavier weights in the gym). I decided to use this principle to create a different kind of squat challenge that will give you the best possible chance of safely getting a toned butt and thighs, along with improving your technique. Here’s how it works:

  • You will do a different squat variation each week for a month. The variations get more difficult as the month progresses.
  • Each day has a target number or reps for which you should aim. You can do them all in one go or spread them out throughout the day.
  • If you fail to reach the target number of reps with perfect form you must go back to the beginning of that 7 day period.
  • You may not have heard of each variation, so how to do them properly is explained below.


This is the beginner challenge. Once you have mastered the basic bodyweight squat there are two more challenges for intermediate and advanced squatters that you can find on Travel Strong.


  • With your feet shoulder width apart, keep your chest up and arms out in front of you as a counterbalance.
  • Sit back and down onto a surface, such as a chair or stool. Let your butt touch the surface, but don’t sit down.
  • As you descend make sure your knees are tracking over your toes.
  • Return to the starting position by pushing through your heels and squeezing your glutes.


  • Keeping the tips from above in mind, place your hands behind your head rather than out in front of you.
  • Use a lower chair or stool than before to make sure you are squatting deeper.
  • Over the course of the week keep lowering the surface until your thighs are parallel (or lower) to the ground when in the bottom position.


  • Remove the chair or stool and put your arms out in front of you.
  • Squat down as before, ensuring that your thighs are parallel to the ground (or lower). The deeper you squat the more muscles you activate.
  • Remember to keep your torso as upright as possible by keeping your chest up.


  • Put your hands behind your head once again and continue squatting as low as you can.
  • Remember: chest up, feet shoulder width apart, knees tracking over toes, sit back, and push through your heels.
  • By the end of the month, you should be able to do a basic bodyweight squat with great form.

So what are you waiting for? Take on the challenge and share it with your friends! We can’t wait to see your results!




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9 Amazing Health Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes

Not only are sweet potatoes readily available, inexpensive, and delicious, they have many other benefits for your health. Here are nine:


1. They are high in vitamin B6.

Vitamin B6 helps reduce the chemical homocysteine in our bodies. Homocysteine has been linked with degenerative diseases, including heart attacks.

2. They are a good source of vitamin C

While most people know that vitamin C is important to help ward off cold and flu viruses, few people are aware that this crucial vitamin plays an important role in bone and tooth formation, digestion, and blood cell formation. It helps accelerate wound healing, produces collagen which helps maintain skins youthful elasticity, and is essential to helping us cope with stress. It even appears to help protect our body against toxins that may be linked to cancer.


3. They are a good source of vitamin D, which helps build healthy bones.

Vitamin D is critical for immune system and overall health at this time of year. Both a vitamin and a hormone, vitamin D is primarily made in our bodies as a result of getting adequate sunlight. You may have heard about seasonal affective disorder (or SAD, as it is also called), which is linked to inadequate sunlight and therefore a vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D plays an important role in our energy levels, moods, and helps to build healthy bones, heart, nerves, skin, and teeth, and it supports the thyroid gland.

4. Sweet potatoes contain iron and support a healthy immune system.

Most people are aware that we need the mineral iron to have adequate energy, but iron plays other important roles in our body, including red and white blood cell production, resistance to stress, proper immune functioning, and the metabolizing of protein, among other things.

5. Sweet potatoes are a good source of magnesium
, which is the relaxation and anti-stress mineral.

Magnesium is necessary for healthy artery, blood, bone, heart, muscle, and nerve function, yet experts estimate that approximately 80 percent of the population in North America may be deficient in this important mineral.

6. They are a source of potassium.

Potassium is one of the important electrolytes that help regulate heartbeat and nerve signals. Like the other electrolytes, potassium performs many essential functions, some of which include relaxing muscle contractions, reducing swelling, and protecting and controlling the activity of the kidneys.

7. Sweet potatoes do not cause blood sugar spikes.

Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet-tasting but their natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream, helping to ensure a balanced and regular source of energy, without the blood sugar spikes linked to fatigue and weight gain.

Sauteed Sweet Potatoes

8. Sweet potatoes help ward off cancer and protect against the effects of aging.

Their rich orange color indicates that they are high in carotenoids like beta carotene and other carotenoids, which is the precursor to vitamin A in your body. Carotenoids help strengthen our eyesight and boost our immunity to disease, they are powerful antioxidants that help ward off cancer and protect against the effects of aging.

Studies at Harvard University of more than 124,000 people showed a 32 percent reduction in risk of lung cancer in people who consumed a variety of carotenoid-rich foods as part of their regular diet. Another study of women who had completed treatment for early stage breast cancer conducted by researchers at Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) found that women with the highest blood concentrations of carotenoids had the least likelihood of cancer recurrence.

9. They are versatile.

Try them roasted, pureed, steamed, baked, or grilled. You can add them to soups and stews, or grill and place on top of leafy greens for a delicious salad. I enjoy grilling them with onions and red peppers for amazing sandwich or wrap ingredients. Puree them and add to smoothies and baked goods.



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Essential Oils for Young Children

Essential oils are increasing in popularity. They have myriad uses from stopping headaches in their tracks, deodorizing fabric, to literally zapping away warts. And more.

Whether you’re an experienced user or a beginner, this information will help you know which oils are best avoided and which are safe essential oils for young children

And as you probably know, essential oils are a wonderful and natural way to keep your children healthy. And they can help with many things such as:

– Colic

– Constipation

– Illness

– Croup

– Jaundice

– Cradle Cap

– Crying

– Stress

– Diaper Rash

– Dry Skin

– Earache

– Fever

– Rashes

– Thrush

But if you aren’t too familiar with how to use essential oils on your kids, knowing how to apply them and knowing which are safe to use, is extremely important.

Applying Essential Oils:

When applying essential oils to infants and children, always dilute with a carrier oil. Coconut oil (what I use) is normally recommended but there are other kinds such as almond oil, olive oil, and grapeseed oil.

For infants, dilute 1-2 drops of the essential oil in 2 Tablespoons of carrier oil (and it’s usually best to apply essential oils to an infant’s feet).

For children ages 2-6, use 1-2 drops of the essential oil to 1 teaspoon of carrier oil.

And for children ages 7-11, dilute 1-2 drops of the essential oil in ½ teaspoon of carrier oil.

If you’re diffusing essential oils in a child’s bedroom, add a few less drops to the diffuser than is normally recommended.

Generally Safe Essential Oils for Young Children:

– Orange

– Sandalwood

– Ylang Ylang

– Cypress


– Ginger


– Geranium

– Melaleuca (Tea Tree)

– Melissa


– Coriander


– Helichrysum

Oils to Avoid/Use with Caution:

– Sage

– Black Pepper

– Cassia

– Oregano

– Thyme

– Wintergreen

– Eucalyptus (avoid under age 10)

– Birch

– Douglas Fir

– Peppermint (avoid under age 6)

– Rosemary (avoid under age 10)

Essential oils have many benefits. But it's important to know which are best avoided and which are safe essential oils for young children. +a FREE Printable |

Safety Information: ALWAYS keep essential oils out of children’s reach. If you’ve discovered that your child has ingested any type of essential oil have them drink an oil-soluble liquid like milk, half & half, or cream and then call poison control or seek medical attention. While ingesting a few drops of an essential oil wouldn’t be life-threatening, it’s best to take these steps especially if you don’t know how much your child ingested. And if you have questions, I recommend finding a naturopathic physician near you who is experienced with the use of essential oils.




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Health Secrets of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs

The best entrepreneurs know that in order to crush business, your body needs to be bulletproof. These members of The Oracles have engineered their bodies to feel half their age and perform at the highest levels. Here are their secrets.

Grant Cardone
Image Credit: The Oracles

1. Juice up.

Get yourself a good juicing machine. There are more people drinking a sugary Big Gulp today than drinking 32 ounces of vegetable and fruits. Juicing daily is an investment in your greatest asset—your body. I want control over my vehicle (body) and that starts with my diet. Lean meats, salads and workouts help me stay energetic all day long. Grant Cardone, top sales expert who has built a $500 million real estate empire, NYT bestselling author of Be Obsessed or Be Average, and founder of 10X Growth Con 2017; follow Grant on Facebook or YouTube

Tai Lopez
Image Credit: The Oracles

2. Focus on the most important 80 percent.

My mom used to say: it’s not what you eat 20 percent of the time that kills you, it’s what you eat 80 percent of the time. Friends who aren’t entrepreneurs probably have more time than you do to go to the gym seven days a week. Focus on 80 percent of that, which is five days a week. If they never eat junk food because they’re trying to get steel abs, just try to eat 80 percent of the day’s meals correctly.

Bradley Martyn, one of the top fitness guys in the world, told me that the best diet is the one you’ll actually stick to. If a diet says only eat salmon all day, but you hate salmon, even if it gets you in great shape, you’re not going to stick to it. Tai Lopez, investor and advisor to many multimillion-dollar businesses who has built an eight-figure online empire; connect with Tai on Facebook or Snapchat

Mark Sisson
Image Credit: The Oracles

3. Compress your eating window.

I eat in a compressed eating window between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. daily to remain in a fasted state for 18 hours virtually every day. My Primal Big Ass salad at midday is my go-to dietary centerpiece. It has an assortment of veggies, nuts and meat, and of course Primal Kitchen salad dressing. I eat whatever I want and I never eat anything I don’t like.

I only make supplement products that I need and use myself—that’s the driving principle of my business. Hence, I take the specialized products in my product line: a comprehensive multivitamin/mineral/antioxidant formula, an omega-3 supplement, a probiotic, a high-protein, low-carb meal replacement powder, a phosphatidylserine supplement when I’m under heavy stress, and Vitamin D in the wintertime. Being “strict” is highly overrated; I allow for tremendous flexibility in my daily routine. Mark Sisson, founder of Primal Blueprint, bestselling author of The New Primal Blueprint, and publisher of, the world’s most visited blog on paleo, primal, and ancestral health

Com Mirza
Image Credit: The Oracles

4. Attack your health from all angles.

I start everyday with morning cardio, then a green shake, four to six high-protein meals, and weight training four to five times a week. I also try intermittent fasting once or twice a week for around 16 hours a day. I regularly take BCAAs (branched-chain amino acid supplements), a multivitamin, and fish oil. I believe what we become is more important than what we have. An incredible mind only gets stronger when it’s synced with a healthy body full of stamina and endurance to crush life. Com Mirza, CEO of Mirza Holdings and “The $500 Million Man”; failed in eight companies back-to-back and today runs a nine-figure empire with over 600 employees

James Swanwick
Image Credit: The Oracles

5. Fuel your productivity. Prioritize sleep.

I usually skip breakfast, so I can fulfill my 16-hour fast to help me burn fat and stay energized. I’ll have the occasional black coffee—high-altitude Arabica beans are better than instant coffee. Lunch and dinner typically comprise of lean meats like chicken with vegetables or salads. I’ll snack good fats like raw almonds and avocados to balance my blood sugar and maintain concentration. In the evening, I wear Swannies blue-light blocking glasses. That way, I can work or socialize in the evening and still get a great night’s sleep. (Artificial blue light from electronics or bright light disrupts your sleep.) This rejuvenates my brain so I can wake up with focus and clarity, which enables me to work efficiently in the morning. James Swanwick, entrepreneur, author, and CEO of Swanwick Sleep and the 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge

Josh Black
Image Credit: The Oracles

6. Discipline your diet, discipline your life.

The biggest shift in my life occurred when I stopped looking at food as filler and started thinking about food as fuel. You have to put nutritional value before convenience. Stop filling your shopping trolley with stuff that is packaged or processed. Instead, reach for leafy greens packed with dense nutritional value. You can get all the vitamins and nutrients you need naturally without having to reach for a supplement. If you can find discipline in your diet, you will be amazed at the discipline you can unlock in the rest of your life. Josh Black, entrepreneur, author of Personal Best, and CEO of GroupM Content in Asia; GroupM is a media investment group with more than $100 billion in billings

Nick Zyrowski
Image Credit: The Oracles

7. Engineer energy and focus.

I have the lives of my patients in my hands every day. I need to be focused. Every morning starts with a full glass of water to hydrate myself, and then it is coffee time. In my organic coffee, I blend MCT oil, collagen peptides and an almond milk creamer. My breakfast usually includes coconut yogurt parfaits, chicken sausages and smoothies. Every morning, I take a multivitamin with minerals, fish oil, probiotic, CoQ10 Ubiquinol, and vitamin D. My supplement regiment takes into consideration that I am a competitive athlete with a challenging workout regimen.

I eat a light breakfast and lunch, then I crush dinner. Eating large meals activates the parasympathetic part of your nervous system, which makes you tired. Eating light during the day with a larger meal in the evening allows me to be energized during the day and tired at night. I stick to my diet 90 percent, because it’s impossible (or impractical) to be perfect. Dr. Nick Zyrowski, founder of NuVision Excel

Ian Clark
Image Credit: The Oracles

8. Eat light and drink phytoplankton.

Upon waking, I drink a liter of micronized water with two droppers of Oceans Alive Marine Phytoplankton to flush the body with nutrients. Then, I use 30 sprays of EASE Magnesium on my abdomen and lower back after I shower. I repeat it all again 12 hours later. No stimulants (coffee, chocolate, caffeine teas) ever. These are fake energy, and you’ll have far more short- and long-term energy without them. Ian Clark, founder and CEO of Activation Products

Jay Georgi
Image Credit: The Oracles

9. Everything in moderation.

I don’t have fatty foods often. I stay away from gluten. I make sure I have small meals throughout the day. If I decide to eat chips (my favorite), I grab a handful and put them in a bowl. I never put the whole bag in. Everything in moderation. —Jay Georgi, founder of Nadvia and operations / management / profits-retention coach

Brian Swan
Image Credit: The Oracles

10. Get outside first thing.

At first light, I surf or exercise on the beach. Exercising in nature starts my day in the most positive way. On the way back home, I pick flowers for my wife. That ritual of making yourself and your partner happy creates an unstoppable day. Brian Swan, co-founder of Unstoppable Family



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Weight Loss And Fat Loss – What’s The Difference?

Although many people seem to think that weight loss and fat loss are one and the same thing, there is a world of difference between these two. When you start dieting and exercising, you don’t automatically lose fat. Sometimes you end up losing muscles, which is something you want to avoid. In order to start losing fat, you need to understand that losing weight is not as same as burning fat.

You often hear people that say they want to lose weight when what they really want to do is lose fat. As a result of this mental approach to the problem, they start their journey on the wrong foot. Although they know how much they weigh, most of them don’t know how much of that is lean muscle mass, and how much is the body fat percentage. The get up on the scale thinking that if they lose 50 pounds they will be fine. As a result, they go on dieting, cutting down the calories and doing a lot of cardio exercises. However, as a result they just look smaller, but with high percentage of body fat.

Include Heavy Resistance Training…

If you want to trim your physique, looking smaller and in better form, you cannot simply rely on cardio. The best way to melt those fat layers is to include heavy resistance training in your routine. Although it’s true that cardio exercises can turn your body into a great calorie furnaces, you also need to tone your muscles and increase their size.When you tone the muscles, they start showing under your skin. By reducing the fat and water quantity between your skin and your muscles, you emphasize the muscles

Tailor Your Diet…

Of course, proper dieting is very important factor of your fat losing process. When dieting many people choose to completely cut out an important food group, thinking that in that way they are reducing the calorie intake. The truth is that this can do more damage to your body. When you drastically decrease your calorie intake while doing excessive amount of cardio exercises, you may end up losing muscles instead of fat. When you’re not providing your body with fuel for the muscles, they can’t build up. And, as we have stressed out before, you don’t want your weight loss to be muscle loss.


You want to shed the fat. The number of the scale are really not important. OK, they are important to some extent, but what matters more is what is your body fat percentage. What matters is how much lean muscle mass you have. That’s why, next time you want to shed some pounds from your body, don’t think about that as weight losing process, but as fat losing process. Your training and dieting should be tailored to help you in melting down fat. Include weight lifting training in your routine, take it easy on the cardio and eat balanced diet. Carbs, protein and fats must be included in your diet. Only by balancing these three ingredients you can achieve stable and thorough weight loss.


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