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    7 Foods I’m Adding to My Diet To Combat Chronic Inflammation

    As someone with lactose intolerance and celiac disease, I am well-versed in the art of dealing with a sensitive stomach. But when I woke up with a pain in my back last May that wouldn’t go away, I knew it was more than my run-of-the-mill stomach problems and I went to the ER. Six hours and many tests later, the doctors told me the culprit of my pain was likely inflammation in my GI tract, and that I should change my diet and see a gastroenterologist. Let’s just say, between the months-long waiting list just to get seen and my aversion to “dieting,” the last eight months have been filled with stress, pain, and tears. Which is why I’ve decided to transform my diet and focus on eating foods that combat chronic inflammation. Spoiler: Thanks to these changes, my stomach has never felt better, and (bonus!) I’ve seen major improvement in my skin and eczema.
    A brief disclosure: The right anti-inflammatory diet will vary from person to person, and this list isn’t a substitute for medical or professional advice. If you think you’re struggling with inflammation, it’s vital that you consult a healthcare professional. Likewise, we can all benefit from properly nourishing ourselves, and the foods below are jam-packed with healthy, body-loving ingredients. Keep reading to learn the top seven anti-inflammatory foods that my doctor recommended I add to my diet to combat chronic inflammation, and how I’m incorporating them into my life.
    1. Salmon
    The Mediterranean Diet has long been regarded as the healthiest diet there is, and it’s also one of the best for reducing inflammation. “The Mediterranean Diet has been shown to be anti-inflammatory because of its focus on whole foods and omega-3 fatty acids,” Julia Zumpano, a registered and licensed dietitian, told the Cleveland Clinic. This claim is backed up by science: Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids dampen the reaction of macrophages, which are immune cells that live in the tissue of the organs and play a key role in triggering inflammation.
    A good source of omega-3 fatty acids is fatty fish, and salmon is one of the best sources out there. I love all seafood, but as far as fish is concerned, salmon is one of my faves and go-to foods these days. It pairs well with anything: in a BLT for lunch, tossed with a pasta, on top of a salad, with rice and avocado or oven roasted potatoes, and so on. Plus, eating salmon regularly—regardless of whether or not you’re struggling with chronic inflammation—can help boost heart and eye health, aid in digestion, and support your immune system and fertility. 
    2. Olive oil
    I’m swapping out my dairy-free and vegan buttery spreads in favor of olive oil because it is packed with anti-inflammatory properties. There’s a plethora of healthy monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, but the most notable one is oleic acid. Research has shown that oleic acid can suppress inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin (IL)-6. When these markers are triggered, they essentially tell your body to go into overdrive, and thus inflammation is created. Olive oil also contains oleocanthal, a powerful antioxidant that has been found to diminish or lessen inflammation.
    3. Nuts
    Nuts are one of the healthiest snacks out there, but I’m a sweets girl through and through, which is probably why I’ve been sleeping on everyone’s favorite salty snack. Of course, that’s all about to change: I’m filling my pantry with walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, and cashews. According to The Mayo Clinic, nuts are a great source of protein and are rich in substances that promote a healthy heart and battle inflammation. These substances include monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids and fiber—another ingredient proven to help lower inflammation. So while I will occasionally miss my sweet treats, my gut and digestive system will thank me for reaching for nuts when I get that pang of hunger in between meals.

    4. Avocados
    The internet’s favorite fruit can in fact also help lower inflammation. Avocados are loaded with nutrients as well as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, such as vitamins C and E, carotenoids, and phenolic compounds. These substances have been found to have major antioxidant, neuroprotective, and cardioprotective benefits. Additionally, an article published on Healthline speculates that regularly eating avocados may help improve the body’s natural antioxidant defenses and better combat inflammation. Whether you spread it on toast, DIY avocado pudding, or use it to enhance a meal, rest assured we can all enjoy avocados, knowing they taste good and are good for us too.

    5. Berries
    I tend to only reach for berries in the warm weather, but it’s time to break that habit and enjoy the health benefits of these fruits all year long. According to a study published on PubMed, berries are loaded with polyphenol compounds that have shown natural anti-inflammatory effects in humans. Additionally, berries that have distinctive colors of red, blue, and purple contain anthocyanins, a powerful polyphenol compound and natural antioxidant. There are tons of berries out there that can fight inflammation, but the ones I’m leaning on include strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and grapes. I’m keeping them stocked in my fridge so I can reach for them whenever I need a snack or am in the mood for a homemade smoothie.

    6. Spinach
    Incorporating greens into your diet is essential, but not all greens are created equal. When it comes to reducing inflammation, dark leafy greens like spinach are the right move. Spinach is rich in beta-carotene—a powerful antioxidant known for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to make skin glow. “Studies have linked higher amounts of beta-carotene in the blood with lower levels of a marker of inflammation called C-reactive protein (CRP),” Kim Yawitz, a registered dietician and gym owner, explained to Eat This Not That. The good news about spinach is that it pairs nicely with all kinds of food so it’s easy to incorporate into your diet. I love putting raw spinach in sandwiches or salads or sautéing it with banana peppers in olive oil and using it as a side dish for dinner or as an addition to pasta.

    7. Raw garlic
    Garlic is more than just a flavorful addition to your pasta dishes, it’s also a proven anti-inflammatory food. Research has shown that sulfur compounds in garlic have the ability to reduce inflammatory markers, better protect the immune system, and boost antioxidants. Furthermore, garlic also contains quercetin—a member of the flavonoid family and powerful antioxidant—that can naturally help the body battle inflammation.
    I’ll admit that learning all of this was music to my Italian ears—I already put garlic in everything! But this year, I’m focusing on eating more raw garlic to get it in its most natural form and absorb all the benefits it has to offer. I’m going to add raw garlic to salads, pair it with my favorite dairy-free cheese, put it in tuna or chicken salad, and so on. Don’t sleep on raw garlic, people—it’s actually quite delicious and the perfect complement to any meal.

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    14 Ways to Eat Healthier This Year Without Going on a Diet

    From rotating diet fads to misconceptions about how to eat healthier to achieve impossible body goals, numerous factors make nutrition seem complicated (and maybe even impossible), but healthy eating shouldn’t be so confusing. Rest assured, there is no miracle diet. There is no one method or magical list of guidelines to automatically get us all to achieve health goals, feel more energy, clear up the skin, and lose weight. Because while one way of eating might cure one person, it could be limiting to another. Plus, dieting is never sustainable—when we’re eating from a place of restriction, we will never feel satisfied. Food is meant to be as enjoyable as it is nourishing. Ditch your diets and try these 15 ways to eat healthier this year that you can stick to for your whole life (and not one of them is to restrict an entire food group).

    1. Have leafy greens with two meals a day
    If you make one change to your diet in 2023, consider it be eating more leafy greens. From spinach to arugula to watercress to romaine, leafy greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Plus, they’re so easy to sneak into meals—there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be eating multiple cups of greens a day. Try adding spinach to your smoothie, putting kale in a pasta dish or sauce, or ordering a side salad when you’re eating out. If all else fails, try these delicious ways to eat more greens. 

    2. Find plant-based alternatives of your favorite foods
    Listen, if you don’t like salads, don’t eat salads! Forcing yourself to eat bland meals and boring dishes will lead to binges, excessive cravings, and, worst of all, an unsatisfying life. Instead of eating foods you don’t like, get creative with healthier versions of your favorite foods. Try adding in more veggies or making simple swaps like opting for cauliflower pizza crust or chickpea pasta. For recipe ideas, check out these healthy alternatives to your favorite comfort foods and plant-based recipes for every craving.

    3. Make mealtimes sacred
    Healthy eating is not just about what you eat but also how. In a world where meals are often on the go and fast food is on every corner, we forget that food is not just about surviving—or even about enjoying the taste. Mealtime serves as a reminder to pause, slow down, and enjoy. Consider taking a break from work, turning off the TV, putting your phone away, and making each meal an opportunity to relax and be mindful. Whether you enjoy meals with the people you love or use it as an act of meditation to take a break from the busyness of your day, every meal should be about slowing down and mindfully enjoying your food.

    4. Load up on good-for-you beverages
    You already know to drink water and avoid sugary beverages like soda or sweetened coffee drinks as much as possible, so now it’s time to hack your hydration and include even more good-for-you beverages (in addition to your reusable bottle of water). For example, tea (like green, white, or hibiscus) has lots of health benefits, thanks to health-boosting components like polyphenols. You can also try sipping on green juice or replacing your typical soda with sparkling water, mint, and lemon. Bottom line: In addition to drinking water throughout the day, get creative with nutrient-rich drinks to sip on to increase health benefits and hydration.

    5. Eat fruit with breakfast
    Your mom used to give you orange slices and bananas with your Cheerios when you were a kid, but do you still keep up with your fruit intake? Maybe you’re good at adding veggies to your diet but forget about fruit, maybe you grab a breakfast sandwich from a coffee shop in the a.m., or maybe you’ve heard the myth that fruit isn’t good for you. The truth is that fruits are full of antioxidants, minerals, and fiber. They come from the earth; our bodies are meant to eat them. Whether your breakfast of choice is an omelet, avocado toast, or a bowl of Cheerios (old habits die hard), consider eating some berries or grapefruit on the side. 

    6. Add herbs to every meal
    Another easy way to sneak in fresh produce (are you sensing a theme here?) is by adding herbs to every meal. While herbs are typically considered a garnish, they’re actually leafy greens packed with nutrients and a variety of health benefits. Plus, they make everything taste more delicious. Try putting basil leafs on homemade pizzas, adding cilantro to stir-fries and sushi rolls, or chopping parsley into salads. Bonus points for starting your own herb garden at home.

    7. Listen to hunger cues
    So long, intermittent fasting trends and outdated “three meals a day” rules! 2023 is about ditching rules about when we should or shouldn’t eat food (and how much we’re supposed to eat). Instead of forcing yourself to eat three meals a day or five small meals a day (or whatever the latest trend is), simply eat when you’re hungry. Give yourself nourishing meals and focus on feeding your body with enough energy to get through the day, whatever that looks like to you. Likewise, rather than eating a portion that someone else recommends (whether it’s your mom, a restaurant, or the recommendations on the box), eat until you’re satisfied and not overstuffed. Find the amount, time, and method of eating that works best for your body and lifestyle. 

    8. Sprinkle seeds on everything
    If you haven’t been utilizing the seed food group, you are seriously missing out. Seeds like chia, flaxseed, and pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses, containing a wide variety of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals like calcium, zinc, and magnesium. I sprinkle ground flaxseed on basically anything (yes, even dishes like pasta and salads), but you can also try adding chia seeds to your smoothie, snacking on roasted pumpkin seeds, and sprinkling sesame seeds on stir-fries. 

    9. Include more water-rich foods in your diet
    Drinking water is so 2022 (but, like, also crucially important, so please keep that up); you can eat your water too. Eating foods that are high in water content is the secret to long-term, lasting hydration (and a lit-from-within glow). Call in some backup for your water bottle by loading up on plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, and berries, which are all high in water. Watermelon is one of the most hydrating foods you can eat (no surprise where it gets its name), with a water content of 92%. Water-rich foods will hydrate your body like good ol’ H2O but will also add in the extra nutrients that come from fruits and veggies. 

    10. Try one new vegetable every week
    You probably have the same grocery list that you know, love, and revert to every single week when you head to your local Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. While having a go-to list is necessary for us busy girls (and my other lazy girls out there), it doesn’t always set you up for the most inventive meals or greatest variety of nutrients. Challenge yourself to try one different veggie that you’ve never tried before. Maybe you saw a delicious butternut squash recipe and have never cooked butternut squash, maybe you see beets at the grocery store and Google how to prepare them, or maybe you come across a new leafy green at the farmer’s market that you’ve never tried. Trying (or cooking) something new will not only make your meals more exciting, but a bigger variety of foods also means a bigger variety of nutrients. Plus, you might like something so much, it ends up on your go-to grocery list. 

    11. Fill the majority of your plate with foods from the earth
    Instead of the 80/20 rule or limiting yourself to a plant-only diet if it feels too restrictive to you, think about eating “plant-foward.” While that title definitely sounds a little hokey, the idea is that you can emphasize and celebrate nutritious foods, but you don’t have to be limited to them. Instead of measuring, tracking, or limiting, simply make sure that the majority of your plate comes from the earth (instead of a factory), whether that looks like fruits, vegetables, whole grains (like oats, rice, and quinoa), or nuts and seeds. You’ll load up on the foods that make you feel good without restricting yourself from the foods that you enjoy. 

    12. Add more fiber to your diet
    While fiber is not the sexiest nutrient (protein and fats get all the attention!), it is one of the most important. And yet, only about 5% of the country’s population meets daily fiber recommendations. Fiber is the part of foods that the body can’t break down, so it passes through your entire digestive system and helps keep it healthy. But fiber has benefits other than just gut health and regularity (though those would be good enough). You can find fiber in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and seeds.

    13. Eat the rainbow
    No, I’m not talking about Skittles. You learned in middle school science class that plants get their colors from antioxidants, so it only makes sense to eat all the colors to provide your body with all the antioxidants, right? Incorporating all the colors—reds (tomatoes, apples, red pepper), blues (blueberries, blackberries, blue potatoes), oranges (sweet potato, butternut squash, tangerines), greens (leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, zucchini), yellows (spaghetti squash, bananas, corn), and purples (purple cabbage, eggplant, grapes)—is the easiest (and prettiest) way to ensure you’re getting an abundance of phytonutrients and the full spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. As an easy hack, try to add at least three different colors to each meal or include each color of the rainbow while grocery shopping.

    14. Let yourself enjoy foods you love
    You may think that deprivation helps you avoid “bad” foods, but in reality, deprivation is causing a lack mentality, meaning you’re more likely to binge said food when you do eat it or, more importantly, not truly enjoy your life. This isn’t just a warm and fuzzy body positivity tip—it’s a physical health hack that will help your body feel its best. When we remove “good” and “bad” labels around foods, we can listen to what the body really wants. We start craving the foods that help us live while mindfully enjoying the foods we never want to live without.

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    This Stress Management Method Is Extreme—But the Benefits Speak for Themselves

    Chances are you’ve seen celebrities, athletes, and that one diehard wellness friend who will try just about any trend (it’s me, hi) documenting their ice bath experiences on TikTok or Instagram in the name of overall well-being (teeth chattering and all). From repairing sore muscles to boosting energy, cold water plunges seem to be what all the cool kids are doing. But submerging in cold water for its health-promoting properties is nothing new—it dates back centuries with Hippocrates recorded as an OG stan, documenting the use of cold water for medicinal purposes and pain relief in fourth century BC. (He went so far as stating that “the water can cure everything.”) Today’s biggest proponent of cold water immersion is arguably the cold-embracing Dutch, Wim Hof. 
    Aptly nicknamed “The Iceman,” Hof is an athlete with seemingly superhuman abilities and an intriguing leader in the world of health and wellness all in one. Case in point: He has set over 20 Guinness World Records, including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and Everest wearing just shorts, running a half marathon above the Arctic Circle barefoot and in shorts (sense the theme?), and standing in a container while covered with ice cubes for more than 112 minutes. Impressive feats aside, he’s perhaps best known as the creator of the Wim Hof Method and the guy who made the cold plunge a modern global phenomenon (you might recognize him from Netflix’s The Goop Lab or BBC’s Freeze the Fear with Wim Hof).
    From the likes of Oprah, Lizzo, and Kendall Jenner to wellness-seeking enthusiasts all over the world, Hof has amassed millions of devotees who swear by his three-pronged method for its physical and mental health benefits. Read on for what the Wim Hof Method is, its advantages, why everyone’s getting their cold on, and whether it’s worth giving the practice a go, according to experts. 

    In this article

    What is the Wim Hof Method? 
    After decades of self-exploration and scientific studies, Hof created the Wim Hof Method to stimulate the body to develop a higher level of control over the autonomic nervous system (AKA the system that controls the body’s “fight-or-flight” response and the “rest-and-digest” body processes), thereby controlling its pain and stress response, using a foundation of breathing, cold therapy, and a commitment to master your own body and mind. In other words, think of it as stress management for modern life. “The Wim Hof Method is a systematic approach to nervous system regulation and stress resilience,” summarized Dr. Kelly Kessler, a licensed physical therapist, wellness coach, and owner of Optimal You Health and Wellness, LLC.
    According to the Wim Hof Method website, the first pillar of the method—breathing—is “the easiest and most instrumental part of the autonomic nervous system to control and navigate.” In fact, breathing has been scientifically proven to affect the heart, the brain, digestion, and the immune system. “Conscious breathing involves taking 30-40 deep breaths, an exhalation hold, and then a recovery breath,” Dr. Kessler explained. The second pillar—cold therapy—is just as it sounds: exposing your body to the cold, which can be done using various techniques—from ice baths to cold showers to cryotherapy. Lastly, the third pillar—commitment—comes down to increasing your willpower and self-control in order to fully master both conscious breathing and cold exposure. “Commitment involves training self-control, improving discipline, and overriding impulses, and initial emotional responses,” Dr. Kessler elaborated. 

    What are the benefits of the Wim Hof Method?
    While breaking a sweat, taking a long soak, or getting a mani pedi may be stress management standbys, you’d be hard-pressed to find an activity that single-handedly touts as many health benefits as the Wim Hof Method: strengthened immune system, better sleep, increased energy, heightened metabolism, decreased inflammation, enhanced happiness, regulated stress levels, boosted mind-body connection, just to name a few.
    “One of the more profound benefits to the Wim Hof Method is reducing stress and anxiety,” Dr. Kessler said. “Stress and anxiety are a result of the brain’s perception of a potential threat to the system. The Wim Hof Method trains a ‘top-down’ approach in which we can train our brains to not respond as impulsively, thus increasing our overall resilience to stress.” Dr. Carolina Estevez, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist at Infinite Recovery, agreed: “With regular practice, the Wim Hof Method can help strengthen the body’s response to stress and increase its ability to cope with challenging situations. This improved resilience helps practitioners stay calm and focused in difficult times, leading to better decision-making and problem-solving skills.”
    Still think it’s all just woo-woo? In a 2014 study, subjects trained by Wim Hof practiced meditation, exposure to cold, and breathing techniques for over a week, and results showed that the sympathetic nervous system (read: stress response) and immune system can in fact be voluntarily influenced. The main takeaway? By utilizing the Wim Hof Method, you can help keep stress at bay and aid in improving the immune system. 
    Why is cold water therapy all the rage?
    Cold water therapy–namely cold water immersion–has been in the spotlight in its own right, and for good reason. Researchers in Finland who studied the effect of regular winter swimming (four times a week for four months) discovered a significant decrease in tension and fatigue and an improvement in mood and memory in the study’s participants. What’s more, those who suffered from rheumatism, asthma, and fibromyalgia expressed pain relief. Although further research is needed to prove that other factors of the study (i.e. exercising, socializing, being outdoors, placebo effect) didn’t play a role in the reported effects on mental health, there’s science to back up why cold water immersion, simply put, makes you feel great.
    “Cold water therapy induces a number of changes and reactions in the human body that are beneficial across physical, cognitive, and mental health,” described Dr. Holly Schiff, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist. “Exposure to cold activates the sympathetic nervous system, which increases the brain release of norepinephrine—an adrenal hormone that helps people feel more ‘up’ naturally. During whole body cold exposure, the spontaneous release of opioids and cannabinoids in the brain are promoted, which has the potential to create a feeling of well-being, mood control, and reduced anxiety.”
    Dr. Sony Sherpa, a holistic physician and writer at Nature’s Rise, affirmed that exposure to cold water can help alleviate stress and anxiety by soothing the vagus nerve. “The vagus nerve is a part of your parasympathetic nervous system, the system that’s responsible for relaxing your body after experiencing danger or stress,” Dr. Sherpa described. “When you expose yourself to cold temperatures, such as taking a cold shower or washing your face with cold water, you slow down your sympathetic nervous system that’s activated when you’re under stress or anxiety. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, your heart rate slows down, your breathing stabilizes, and your blood pressure decreases. In short, your body relaxes.”

    ♬ original sound – lizzo

    Are there downsides to the Wim Hof Method?
    There’s no denying the myriad of benefits the Wim Hof Method offers, but it does come with some potential risks. “The Wim Hof Method intentionally activates the sympathetic (fight, flight, freeze) response of the autonomic nervous system, which can lead to hyperventilation and potentially fainting,” Dr. Kessler pointed out. “It is important to consult with a medical professional prior to starting the Wim Hof Method, especially for anyone with a heart condition. This is a method where proper implementation and training are essential for safety.”
    Then, there are the possible dangers that come specifically with cold water therapy. “Cold water immersion can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, which could be dangerous for people with certain health conditions,” Dr. Estevez illustrated. “Additionally, inexperienced practitioners [of the Wim Hof Method] may not be aware of the proper technique and could potentially cause harm by trying to push too hard or too fast.” Other probable negative side effects include frostbite, hypothermia, and heart arrhythmias. Bottom line: As with any health and wellness trend, speak with a healthcare professional before taking the plunge. 

    Should you try the Wim Hof Method?
    It’s hard not to be intrigued by the purported natural high supporters of the method claim and what it evidently does for stress management, but is it right for you? “Wim Hof breathing is definitely worth trying if you are interested in building resilience in the face of stressors, and if you’re able to engage in it safely,” conveyed Aubry Alvarez-Bakker, Ph.D., a licensed and board-certified clinician and a neuropsychology researcher at the Yes Supply Institute. “Because some practitioners report that it can take a few months of consistent practice before they notice the maximum benefits, you may have a better experience if you go into it being open-minded about focusing less on the outcome, and more on enjoying the process. If you can do that, after a few months, or perhaps sooner, you will likely feel more at peace each day.”
    The best part of the Wim Hof Method other than the supposed benefits? It’s accessible and doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg (looking at you, $13K cold plunge). “The Wim Hof method has provided many people with an alternative way to take control of their health and promote overall well-being,” Dr. Kessler expressed. “The beauty of it is that it does not require fancy equipment and it can be done right at your own home. Changing the stress of the world is not in your control, however improving your ability to be more resilient to stress through the Wim Hof Method is a powerful way to be a healthier version of yourself.” 
    To get a taste of the Wim Hof Method, start with the breathing exercises laid out on the Wim Hof Method website while taking a cold shower: Adjust the temperature to the absolute coldest you can tolerate for a minimum of ten seconds and work your way up to one minute or end your shower with 10-60 seconds of cold water.
    Please consult a doctor or a mental health professional before beginning any treatments. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. If you think you may be experiencing mental health symptoms, please seek help from your doctor, a mental health professional, and/or a trusted friend or family member. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.

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    6 Holistic Experts Share Their Most Powerful Tip To Boost Libido

    So you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling (cue Tom Cruise, AKA “Maverick,” singing in Top Gun). That’s OK—being in a sexual rut is totally normal (and you’re not a failure for experiencing it). Not convinced? According to a survey conducted by Headspace and Peanut, 75% of women have experienced low sex drive. What’s more, another study found that only 10% of women easily reach the “Big O” on a regular basis. But let’s be real: Being in good company doesn’t help the situation when all you want is to get in the mood and get down to (horizontal) business. The good news is there are simple and natural ways to help kick your sex drive in high gear. I sought the advice of a range of holistic experts—from a doctor of Chinese medicine to a certified sexological bodyworker—on how to have better orgasms and libido. Ahead, they share their most powerful, orgasm-guaranteed tips for improving libido. Goodbye, dry spell. Hello, mojo.  

    1. Dr. Taz Bhatia, M.D.

    Meet the expert
    Dr. Taz Bhatia, M.D.
    Integrative Health Expert, Founder of CentreSpringMD, PBS Host, and TEDX Speaker
    Dr. Taz is a board-certified integrative and holistic medicine physician who gained national recognition as a best-selling author of the books, “What Doctors Eat” and “Super Woman RX.” She also has her own PBS special, “Super Woman RX with Dr. Taz.”

    “While there may not be scientific evidence on their effect, certain foods are known to get a rise out of your libido. And who doesn’t need an excuse to indulge in a little chocolate? Chocolates, oysters, figs and hot peppers are said to have aphrodisiacal powers. While tomatoes and broccoli aren’t the sexiest foods in the fridge, they are known to excite your libido as well. You can also try pomegranate juice; its deep sultry color is stimulating and can give you a boost in the bedroom. But be sure to toss out the baked goods and the cheese plate, as refined carbs like white bread are libido killers.”

    2. Kiana Reeves

    Meet the expert
    Kiana Reeves
    Sex Educator, Sexological Bodyworker, Pelvic Care Practitioner, and Certified Doula
    Kiana Reeves has been practicing in the field of sexual wellness and female reproductive health for over 10 years. Her career began in birth work as a full spectrum doula, working with mothers and families during birth, postpartum, abortion, and miscarriage. Her background in pleasure, intimacy, and sexuality is informed by her work as a certified somatic sex educator.

    “Get clear on what you want your sex life to look like and become dedicated to it. We’re creatures of habit and sometimes our habits don’t support the type of passion and sexual connection we actually want. Ask yourself (and your partner if you have one) how many times a week you want to spend connecting sexually and then put it on the calendar. This will prepare you mentally to set that time aside, and then commit to using all of your tools to awaken and stir your own desire. This can look like sensually massaging each other, dancing together, taking a bath with aphrodisiac herbs before you connect, and using all-natural supportive sexual wellness products to help activate the process of arousal and pleasure so that when you do engage sexually, you really are able to feel the pleasure you desire.”

    3. Sarah Donner

    Meet the expert
    Sarah Donner
    Integrative Hypnotherapist, Holistic Health Coach, and Founder of Siva Wellness
    Sarah Donner is the founder of Siva Wellness, a brand that focuses on improving mental health through integrative hypnotherapy and holistic health coaching. Donner is a certified expert in Reiki, holistic health coaching, and hypnotherapy.

    “Balancing your hormones is key to better libido and life in general. Getting a full hormone panel done and making educated decisions from there is an amazing start. Building a relationship with your body and observing how you feel during the different stages of your cycle, after a stressful month at work or when you are on vacation, can give you a lot of clues already. The key here is to listen and take notes. There are great natural remedies, like ashwagandha, seed cycling, reducing caffeine consumption, and decreasing stress, that help balance your hormones.”

    4. Dr. Janine Mahon 

    Meet the expert
    Dr. Janine Mahon
    Doctor of Chinese Medicine
    A visionary in women’s self-care, Dr. Janine Mahon is a nationally board-certified acupuncturist and herbalist (NCCAOM) and a licensed doctor of Chinese medicine. Dr. Mahon is the founder and creator her own line of restorative oils and elixirs formulated to help support a deeply-connected, intimate sense of wellbeing.

    “What we choose to think about greatly impacts our health (yes, it is easier said than done!). There are always things to worry about and we don’t want to deny those emotions. Taking a brief moment throughout the day and choosing to notice beauty in whatever form inspires you is key in transforming that energy to awaken your libido. Our Qi (life force energy) needs to be abundant and flowing smoothly for us to experience good health. When a person lives under constant stress and pressure from the feelings of worry, anger, and fear, our Qi starts to be consumed, which in turn depletes our sexual energy and libido. When this energy is drained, we do not have enough to feed our spirits and create joy.”

    5. Steph Morris

    Meet the expert
    Steph Morris
    Love, Sex & Relationship Coach and Breathwork Facilitator
    Steph Morris is a sex and relationship coach who works with women to experience the magic within their bodies and own who they are so that they can live a turned-on and turned-up life. She guides women to balance their masculine and feminine energies and unlock their sexual power so that they can feel more pleasure, have better orgasms, and create the intimate and loving relationship of their dreams.

    “By slowing down and bringing in different textures, flavors, smells, temperatures, speeds, and music, you allow yourself to get the mood warmed up, and your body slowly starts to open up. Engaging your senses and savoring in the experience gets you into your body and turned on before you’ve even moved into any sexual activity. This is essential for women as the average time it takes for a woman to warm up and get turned on is between 20 and 40 minutes. Your body has to be a full ‘yes’ before you move into any sexual stimulation, a very important factor in determining whether an orgasm occurs. Light a candle, play some sensual music, and get some essential oils and toys to weave in your senses and warm you up before getting sexual.”

    6. Lisa Bermudez

    Meet the expert
    Lisa Bermudez
    Yoga Teacher and Ayurveda Expert
    Lisa Bermudez is an Ayurvedic coach, yoga teacher, educator, writer, and skydiver. She has completed dozens of certifications across a wide scope of practices in yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, and Reiki. Her credentials in Ayurveda include a 100 hour training from the Sister Science along with several other Ayurvedic coaching certifications.

    “If you’re operating from a place of love at all times, you’ll already be tapped into your self-care and you’ll also understand how important loving communication is.  The way you talk to yourself and to the people in your life directly reflects your quality of life.  When you’re loving and feeling loved, you’ll be more aligned with what you need to have a healthy libido and better orgasms.”

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    Expert-Backed Hacks to Making Any Holiday Party Gut-Friendly

    There’s no denying it: The holidays are synonymous with food—seemingly endless buffets of sugar-heavy, rich foods—often leaving your gut health waiting in the wings until your New Year’s resolution to eat healthy comes knocking on your door. As someone who loves her sweets and deals with one-too-many gut flare-ups, I’m all for finding a happy medium and enjoying the holiday party circuit and its festive eats without worrying about whether my gut is going to pay the price. Because what’s the holiday season without indulging in figgy pudding and mulled wine surrounded by your favorite fellow partygoers (AKA family and friends)? So I asked experts how to bring our health A game throughout the holiday season sans FOMO, bloat, and digestive discomfort. Read on for their gut-friendly tips. 

    1. Avoid common triggers
    There are foods that make you feel really good, then there are eats that can leave you with a miserable microbiome and feeling like blah. It goes without saying that most holiday spreads go heavy on the latter, causing everything from digestive discomfort to skin breakouts to brain fog and low energy. “Common triggers include dairy, refined sugar, gluten, and certain fibrous vegetables,” explained Juliana Tamayo, MS, RDN, a registered and clinical dietitian. Ask the host if there are any dishes that are lactose-free and consider passing on dishes that contain garlic, onions, broccoli, or cauliflower, which often trigger gut problems.
    Better yet, BYOHD (bring your own gut-friendly dish) complete with a lean protein, healthy fats, and veggies, like this ground turkey sweet potato skillet. “Instead of forcing yourself to eat other people’s foods that might be triggering for you or hurt your gut, try making your own dish and bringing it to the party,” Tamayo suggested. “Offering to cook will always appear like a good gesture, and by doing so, you can guarantee that you are going to have something to eat that settles well with your stomach and won’t hurt your gut health.” 

    2. Say “no” to excess alcohol
    What are the holidays without the likes of apple cider cocktails and peppermintinis? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news: “Alcohol is not gut-friendly and can kill off the healthy bacteria in your gut,” Tamayo affirmed. “Instead of drinking alcohol excessively, try focusing on drinking 1-2 drinks at most, do not mix alcohols, and eat well beforehand.” Tamayo also recommended opting for bevvies with recipes that call for probiotics and anti-inflammatory ingredients, like kombucha, yogurt, kefir, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger. “All of these ingredients will help boost your gut health while keeping your microflora (gut-friendly bacteria) alive and happy,” Tamayo conveyed. Emily Brown, an integrative nutrition practitioner and epigenetics expert for rhythm, gave bonus points for drinks with fresh citrus and muddled herbs for their built-in antioxidants and detox support.
    Other drinking tips Brown served up? Reach for healthier drinks, like clean wines or booze-free refreshments, and skip the mixed drinks with added sugars, like syrups or sodas, that leave you with nothing more than a hangover. And try ending the night with a cup of turmeric or nettle tea. Consider it preventive hangover care and essential for healthy digestion, adequate enzymes, and daily elimination.

    3. Start with healthy habits first thing in the morning  
    At the risk of sounding like a broken record (we at The Everygirl don’t take staying hydrated lightly), drink more water, ladies! Baby, it’s cold outside, so you may need an extra nudge to keep up with your water intake. Before you grab your morning coffee or PSL, sip on warm lemon water or tea and keep ’em coming throughout the day. “Enjoy a daily cup of tea with mucilages like aloe, slippery elm, or marshmallow root,” Brown suggested. “These fortify the lining of your gut, like a strong wall preventing inflammation, leaky gut, or irritation.” The best part? “When you stay hydrated, you also feel more energized and satisfied during the day, avoiding overeating and drinking sugary beverages,” Tamayo stated.  
    Brown also advised making exercise your first order of business in the AM: “Something as easy as a 30-minute walk will help set you up for better post-meal blood sugar control all the way to dinner, better circadian rhythm and sleep, and continuity of your healthy habits so that it’s not all ‘on or off’ during the holidays.” To ensure you check fitting in movement off your to-do list? Lay out comfy, casual workout clothes the night before. 

    4. Get your probiotics and fiber in 
    The holidays are nothing if not enjoying the butterscotch pudding and creamy whipped potato casserole you wait all year for with the people you love. So if there’s one thing you do to make sure you are feeding your gut what it needs to be happy and healthy, make it taking probiotics. “They’ve been shown to help our system metabolize alcohol along with all the other digestive and mental health benefits,” Brown said. Tamayo encouraged taking a probiotic supplement every morning or having some yogurt, kefir, or a shot of apple cider vinegar. Also, set your gut up for success by loading up on prebiotic nutrients, like bananas, oats, and flaxseeds, that will help provide fuel for said probiotics. 
    Let’s face it: Most of the typical holiday foods are higher in sugar and lower in fiber, which can lead to the all-too-familiar bloating and constipation. “Eat plenty of dietary fiber, which can help keep your gut regular and promote healthy bacterial growth,” Tamayo recommended. The fiber-rich foods to look out for and choose at your Christmas dinner? Sweet potatoes, legumes, berries, and avocado, just to name a few. 

    5. Nourish your body before and at the start of the party
    “Many people will restrict themselves before holiday gatherings thinking that they’re ‘saving up’ for what’s to be consumed,” expressed Erika Fox, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Supergut. The result? You’ll have eyes bigger than your stomach once you greet that holiday feast, AKA you’re more likely to overindulge and ignore fullness cues. “Instead, give your body a good serving of fiber, protein, and healthy fats before a get-together,” Fox continued.  
    “Start any day, or party, with protein and fat,” Brown echoed. “Think of these as life rafts that help your body carry and metabolize simple carbohydrates: gingerbread, sugar cookies, or crackers. Your blood sugar and mood will thank you.” Do yourself and your gut a favor and make some oatmeal with flaxseeds, almond slices, and bananas to start your day off on the right foot, nosh on some nuts before you head out, and help yourself to some hummus and veggies as soon as you settle in at your soirée.  
    6. Enjoy yourself while eating mindfully
    PSA: Having guilt or shame over what you eat is much harder on the body than the actual bubbly and gingerbread cookies you’ve had one too many of. “Your body internalizes your thoughts and emotions, so practice gratitude, grace, compassion, and love to the best of your ability for your body and health, no matter the indulgences,” Brown said.  She also explained that your parasympathetic nervous system signals your body to “rest and digest.” To stimulate it along with your vagus nerve, which delivers information from the gut to the brain and aids in reducing stress, pair your favorite holiday indulgences with a side of mindfulness, deep breaths, and gratitude. Your body will be more relaxed and the pie you finished off will digest more easily (read: no tummy troubles). 
    Bottom line: Instead of passing on every dish that’s calling your name, enjoy every bite on your plate while still tuning into your hunger cues. And don’t sweat the extra calories or sugar—your body has your back and will take care of detoxing on its own.

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    People Are Taping Their Mouth While Sleeping—Here’s Why It’s Not Weird

    Since downloading TikTok a little over a year ago, I think I’ve learned more from one app than I ever did in school. I’ve learned that frost flowers exist (they’re beautiful, look them up), how to do everything better thanks to @brunchwithbabs, and what a day in the life of a sorority girl looks like during #BamaTok. 
    My most recent discovery? Taping your mouth closed while you sleep. I first learned about this hack from Chance Culp in a video where she said she doesn’t remember why she started taping her mouth shut at night but she feels like it’s improved her sleep. I’m lucky enough to usually sleep like a baby without any help (*humble brag*), I was still curious about the benefits of mouth taping. I continued my TikTok scroll to learn why other creators and experts swear by this trick, and it wasn’t long until I was convinced I needed to try it too. Read on to learn more about this wellness trend and why everyone’s including it in their nightly routine. 

    Why tape your mouth while you sleep?
    Before we talk about the benefits of mouth taping, it’s important to understand why it’s being done. And the answer is simple: to avoid breathing through your mouth. But aside from mouth breathing being unflattering and drying out your lips, why is it a problem? 
    According to Dr. Konstantin Pavlovich, who developed a functional breathing technique called the Buteyko Method in 1952, poor breathing can be linked to various physical, neurological, and respiratory conditions. Practicing functional breathing (breathing in and out through the nose into the diaphragm) rather than poor breathing (breathing through the mouth into the chest) has been shown to improve health issues such as asthma, rhinitis, hayfever, anxiety, stress, panic attacks, dental health, craniofacial development, ADHD, insomnia, snoring, and sleep apnea. 
    Founder & CEO of Hostage Tape, Alex Neist echoes this sentiment, saying 25-50% of the population breathes through their mouth during sleep. So if our mouths are opening, taping them shut promotes nose breathing, which then leads to a number of benefits that not only promote better sleep but better overall health. “Mouth taping can reduce or eliminate snoring and apnea for many people, increase oxygen intake and circulation so you have more energy when you wake up, help your diaphragm work properly which relaxes your body for less stress, help reduce inflammation, boost immune system, and reduce bad breath, tooth decay, and dry mouth,” Neist explained. 

    How to tape your mouth
    Before you give it a try, it’s important to learn the do’s and don’ts of taping your mouth. You’re not just sticking Scotch tape over your mouth. There are products specifically for mouth taping so it keeps your mouth closed through the night for your nose to breathe, but doesn’t feel restrictive or hurt to take off. Lalitha Bhowani-McSorley, lead physical therapist and sleep expert at Brentwood Physiotherapy Calgary, said the best type of tape to use when taping your mouth for sleep is a medical adhesive tape, such as surgical or micropore tape. “This type of tape holds firmly without sticking too much to the skin and causing discomfort, while also allowing enough breathability. It is important to note that it should be changed every time,” she said. 
    With mouth taping becoming a more widespread practice, companies are coming out with products to help. “There are companies that sell adhesive strips designed specifically for taping your mouth shut before bed. Other options include hypoallergenic and surgical tapes, which are commonly used on human skin,” says Dr. Katherine Hall, a sleep psychologist at Somnus Therapy. In addition to using the right type of tape to avoid irritation, it’s also important to apply the tape correctly. In this video, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Barrett recommends starting with a small piece of tape right in the center of your lips and gradually increasing the amount of tape used and surface area covered. If you experience difficulty sleeping or other issues related to mouth breathing, talk to your doctor to see if mouth taping may be right for you.

    My experience
    I wish I could say that better sleep and increased oxygen levels were the driving factors for me trying out this technique, but because I am admittedly a little vain, I was mostly influenced to tape my mouth after learning that mouth breathing can change the look and shape of your face. The possibility of it easing my anxiety was also a nice plus, so I was open to giving it a shot.
    As a chronic allergy and asthma sufferer, I was nervous to try taping my mouth shut at first because breathing is already tough for me. I assumed I would end up suffocating in my sleep, and while it was tough to breathe at first, that wasn’t the case. I struggled the first night and had to remove the tape a couple times to take a deep breath through my mouth, but eventually I got comfortable breathing through my nose. By the second night, it already felt natural to fall asleep breathing through my nose, and I continued to sleep well through the night without any of the stuffiness I usually experience. I was also pleasantly surprised that I didn’t find the tape uncomfortable or distracting while I slept. Most mornings I woke up and forgot it was even there. 

    Final verdict
    I can’t say that a few nights of taping my lips closed totally transformed my health, but it has reframed the way I think about my body. A majority of the health issues I face on a daily basis—anxiety, asthma, acid reflux, fatigue, and more—are side effects that can come from mouth breathing. While I do feel an improvement in these symptoms, I’m now more aware of how important it is to listen to your body and embrace its natural state, whether that’s focusing on your posture, breath, or gut health. Most often the answer to your health concerns is right under (or in this case, inside of) your nose. 

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    9 All-Natural Ways to Whiten Teeth (Without Sensitivity)

    Julia Roberts, Beyoncé, and Anne Hathaway all have one thing in common: a million dollar smile. Celeb or not, your smile is arguably your best accessory. And while you may not be making appearances on the red carpet, it doesn’t hurt to have those pearly whites at the ready for photo opps, especially when you’re making your way through the holiday circuit that is December. Not feeling quite photo-ready though? Same. 
    If you’re like me and you’ve sworn off the harsh whitening dental procedures (who willingly goes to the dentist?) and products that promise a movie-star smile but come at a cost (literally and figuratively), plus you aren’t ready to kick your caffeine or red wine habit, how do you achieve a white grin? Well, I did my homework and grill-ed (pun intended) dentists on how to whiten teeth sans chemicals. Read on for their best non-toxic DIY methods (spoiler: you likely already have the ingredients in your kitchen) and product recommendations for whitening your teeth safely and effectively. The best part other than a brighter smile in no time? They’re all user and budget-friendly.

    DIY methods to whiten teeth 

    Baking soda
    The kitchen staple that freshens your fridge and is an essential ingredient in your favorite holiday cookie recipe can pull triple duty polishing teeth, thanks to its scrubbing agents. “As a mild abrasive, it can lighten some tooth stains, and it can help scrub away dental plaque,” explained Dr. Selin Kılıç, a dentist at Vera Clinic Cosmetic Dentistry. “To use, first mix equal parts baking soda and water in a small bowl until you’ve created a paste. Dip your toothbrush into the soda mix and brush in gentle circles, making sure you cover each tooth thoroughly with the paste. Thoroughly rinse after.”

    Apple cider vinegar
    Another versatile must-have in the kitchen, apple cider vinegar has long been in the spotlight for its touted health benefits (the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Hilary Duff, and Kourtney Kardashian are obsessed). “Since it’s naturally acidic, it can help break down plaque or other substances stuck to the teeth,” Dr. Kılıç stated. “The pH of apple cider vinegar can remove stains from your teeth, which helps naturally whiten your teeth. To use, simply rinse apple cider vinegar diluted with water, and gently swish it around the mouth for about one minute.”

    Coconut oil
    If you’re familiar with Ayurveda, chances are you’ve heard of oil pulling. “Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that involves swishing a tablespoon of oil, such as coconut or sesame, around your mouth for 20 minutes each day,” described Dr. Cary Goldstein, a dentist and Founder of the Goldstein Dental Center. “This practice helps to draw out toxins and bacteria that cause discoloration.” What’s more, the natural remedy is not only said to whiten teeth, but also rid the body of toxins, freshen breath, and greatly improve oral health.

    Fruits and veggies
    As if we needed another reason to load up on fresh produce, it turns out it does more than just provide our bodies with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. “The compound D-limonene and citric acid, which is found in some citrus fruit peels, is great to help whiten your teeth,” Dr. Kılıç affirmed. “You can do this by gently rubbing the fruit peels from oranges or lemons on your teeth for a few minutes. After, make sure to thoroughly rinse out your mouth and brush your teeth.” While a diet high in fruits and vegetables is no substitute for maintaining good hygiene, Dr. Kılıç confirmed that crunchy, raw varieties (think: apples, celery, and carrots) can help rub plaque away as you chew. Consider your uneaten produce sitch resolved. 

    Non-toxic products to whiten teeth

    Whitening Strips
    Don’t get these confused with the whitening strips of the past. Made with coconut, lemon peel, and sage oils, these strips naturally lift stains and break down tough tartar without the all-too-familiar tooth sensitivity, gum irritation, and unpleasant taste their less-than-natural counterparts leave. 

    Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening Powder
    Among the all-natural teeth whitening products, this activated charcoal powder reigns supreme, and for good reason. Known for its detoxifying properties, activated charcoal binds to and draws out everything from toxins to odors. The result? It can effectively help remove plaque and discoloration from your teeth. Coffee doesn’t stand a chance. 

    Whitening Toothpaste
    Not all teeth whitening toothpastes are created equal. And if there’s one to beat, it’s this hemp oil-derived, fluoride-free alternative. Make it part of your morning and nightly routine and you’ll bid adieu to surface stains and plaque while freshening your breath. It’s no wonder this gem is called “Freakin’ Fresh.”

    Whitening Pen
    Whether you’re looking to remove old stains or keep new ones away, this gentle, yet effective pick delivers a convenient and cost-effective way to give you a gleaming smile. Did I mention it’s free of preservatives, additives, and artificial dyes and flavorings? Never leave home without it, because you never know when you might have a teeth-whitening emergency (think: a hot date or important presentation). 

    Moon Oral Care
    Blue Light Device
    If you’re looking for a fancy device without the fancy price tag, we got you. Blue LED frequency activates hydrogen peroxide in the Dissolving Whitening Strips that come with it to remove tough stains on tooth’s surface. Bonus: the strips contain antioxidants for additional oral health benefits.

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    These Doctors Have the Best Tips for Staying Healthy While Traveling—And They Actually Work

    When I think of traveling, the scene from Home Alone where the McCallister clan is racing through the airport to catch their flight immediately comes to mind. Not to mention worrying about getting sick, letting healthy habits fall by the wayside, the all-too-familiar jet lag, and the nagging AF travel fatigue. Call me a pessimist or realist, traveling is stressful and can do a number on your well-being. While that may be true, it doesn’t have to be—vacationing is about letting loose and giving your mind and body a respite after all. Thanks to the doctors I spoke with, I’ve got all of the must-have on-the-go health tips, wherever your travel plans take you. Spoiler alert: You won’t ever leave home without them again. 

    Why do our immune systems suffer while traveling?
    Between the environmental changes, deviation from normal routines (think: sleep, diet, and exercise), and being exposed to more people, it’s no wonder our immunity takes a beating when we’re away from home. “Jet lag, dehydration, grabbing food on the go can decrease our immune response,” explained Dr. Jenny Yu, Head of Medical Affairs at Healthline. “Also, transiting through crowded public spaces exposes our immune system to many germs. The clash of the immune system being down and exposure to more germs cause the entire system to be a bit out of balance.” 
    Dr. Austin Perlmutter, a board-certified internal medicine physician, New York Times bestselling author, and senior director of science and clinical innovation at Big Bold Health, pointed out that one of the most powerful influences on our immune health is stress, followed by sleep quality, exercise, and diet. The stress we put on our bodies, poor sleep, lack of exercise, and limited access to healthy foods when we’re on the road can compound to weaken immune wellness. 

    Doctor-approved tips for staying healthy while traveling

    Book your flights wisely 
    So you booked a red-eye to get the most out of your trip, and you get to your destination without so much as a wink of shuteye, your digestion is off, and you’re disoriented. By now you know that the act of traveling itself can take a toll on your health, but add in a thrown-off sleep schedule, poor eating patterns, and changing time zones to the mix, and you could be compromising your health (and sanity).
    “The connection between proper sleep and immune function is well established in science, so it’s best to opt for travel plans that minimize how many Zzzs you’ll have to forgo,” conveyed Dr. Yael Cooperman, a physician and senior manager of medical content and education at Ro. “Pick a flight that gives you a full night’s rest at either end of your journey, and skip the red-eyes or the wacky layovers whenever possible.” When you go to book your trip, set yourself up for success by choosing the timing of your flights wisely. It’ll pay off in the long run. 

    Regulate your sleep schedule
    Speaking of sleep, catching flights and keeping up with a packed itinerary often means a significant disruption in our circadian rhythms when we travel. “It’s easy to let sleep fall by the wayside when traveling, but getting 7-9 hours of sleep is arguably the most important thing you can do to prevent sickness,” agreed Dr. Abby Kramer, a holistic physician. “To promote sleep, keep your room cool (around 67 degrees) and as dark as possible (I travel with black electrical tape to black out any blinking lights in hotels), and do your best to avoid screens one to two hours before bed.”
    Dr. Kramer also suggested bringing your favorite pillow or pillow case and your most comfortable pajamas to mimic your normal bedtime routine as much as possible. To prevent further compromising your sleep, Dr. Perlmutter stressed minimizing caffeine consumption after 2 p.m. at the latest, as well as avoiding excessive alcohol, especially in the afternoon and evening.

    Mind your hygiene 
    TSA security bins, airplane tray tables, and toilet handles in hotel rooms are breeding grounds for germs. While you can’t avoid touching every surface or object you encounter en route to and at your final stop, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from picking up and transmitting germs (speaking as a true germophobe), because the last thing you want on vacation is to be stuck in bed sick. “Wash hands often and don’t touch your face—the T-zone, your eyes, nose, and mouth are all ways for germs to enter the body,” Dr. Yu recommended. Dr. Cooperman agreed: “Wash your hands well with soap and warm water, especially before you eat or drink and after (and even before!) you use the restroom. Keep your hands out of your mouth and keep some hand sanitizer on hand just in case.”

    Nourish your body 
    One of the first good-for-you rituals to go when globe-trotting is maintaining a well-rounded, nutritious diet, but good news: There are simple tricks to help you keep it up. “Planning ahead and bringing healthy snacks on your trip can dramatically reduce the chances that you eat the junk food which is so prevalent in airports and on planes,” Dr. Perlmutter suggested. His go-tos? Nuts, dark chocolate, and blueberries. “Consider traveling with protein powders and electrolytes to help keep you full and hydrated (and decrease your chances of buying soda or other sugary junk that may damage immune wellness), and bring your own reusable water bottle so all you have to do is fill up at a water fountain.”
    Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C and zinc while avoiding processed foods before and during your trip can not only help fight off viruses, but also reduce inflammation and your risk of illness. Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, Dr. Yu encouraged exploring local cuisine that fits your lifestyle and diet preferences, rather than eating processed snacks. And to fill in any nutritional gaps, she advised having supplements such as probiotics and vitamin C, vitamin D3, and zinc handy (all good for immune support!). 

    Stay hydrated
    You’ve heard it time and time again, but it bears repeating: Water is your best friend, especially when you’re adventure hopping. And there’s nothing worse than the low-humidity airplane cabin air to dehydrate you. “Dehydration affects many systems in your body, but particularly important are your mucous membranes (the delicate tissues in your nose and mouth that act as an important barrier to viruses and bacteria),” Dr. Cooperman explained. “When your mucous membranes dry out (which is more common when you’re being blasted with airplane air conditioning), they’re more likely to be permeable to germs.”
    So before you order that wine, soda, or coffee when drink service comes around, think twice. Instead, opt for water or herbal teas like peppermint and ginger which are good for digestion. And remember to put the reusable water bottle you packed to good use and fill it up once you’ve gone through security.  

    Prioritize movement
    There’s no getting around it: Working out is essential for your well-being. Dr. Kramer added that exercise not only helps boost your mood, but also regulates your circadian rhythms and increases your immune function. Sure, you’re out of your normal workout regimen, and a yoga mat–much less a gym–may be hard to come by while you’re traveling, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get movement in. “If you’re waiting for your plane, train, or automobile, try some simple stretches, lunges, or squats (you’ll get some weird looks but it’s definitely worth it!),” Dr. Perlmutter suggested. “Bring movement onto the plane by doing ankle circles, foot pumps, and neck rolls.”
    Once you’re reached your vacay or work spot, make sure you get moving to balance out the sedentary time you spent on the way. Whether it’s a 15-minute stretch, bodyweight exercises, or yoga poses, getting your heart pumping is just what Dr. Kramer ordered. Bonus points if you can take it outside (think: a long stroll taking in the sights), because vitamin D does your body and immune defenses good. And don’t forget to listen to your body, do what feels good, and go easy on yourself as your body adjusts to a new environment. 

    Boost your mental health
    Let’s be real: Traveling is an additional stress on the mind and body (travel anxiety is real), and your immune system bears the brunt of it. Dr. Kramer recommended adopting a regular stress relief practice, especially while traveling. Her personal favorite? Guided meditation. Download a meditation app pre-flight and pull it up during the day for a quick mental reset or at night to promote deep sleep. Start out with 2-5 minutes per day and build up from there. Whatever is on tap for your trip, Dr. Cooperman emphasized making room for yourself and fitting in activities that make you feel good. Try out a workout class at a local studio, drop in for a mani-pedi, walk to a nearby coffee shop and treat yourself to a matcha, read the book you’ve been dying to get into, or take a catnap. That’s what we like to call jet-setting stress-free. 
    It’s worth noting that getting away, and even just looking forward to an excursion, also relieves stress and builds up your mental health. Swapping the daily grind and mundane to-dos back home for new sights, food, and people can give us a fresh perspective and make us more present. How’s that for expanding your horizons! 

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