6 Possible Reasons Why Your Teeth Are Yellowing

If recent toothpaste commercials prompted you to try the ‘tissue test’ and hold a bright white tissue up against your smile, chances are your suddenly lackluster-looking chompers made you feel self-conscious. After all, most of us aim for pearly whites—especially since research shows someone’s teeth influence our first impressions of them. But before you spend your paycheck on laser or at-home treatments, you should probably figure out what’s yellowing your teeth in the first place—because prevention is much cheaper!

It’s most likely one of these six culprits.

1. Medication Mayhem

That’s right, the very medicine you trust to support your health could actually be standing in between you and whiter teeth.

“Medications such as anti-histamines and anti-hypertensives can leave people with a dry mouth, which leads to staining,” says Mazen Chehab, D.M.D., of Town Center Family Dentistry. (Being on multiple medications at once can also have this effect.) You see, your saliva actually helps protect your teeth from stain-causing bacteria, acids, and leftover food—and without enough, your teeth are left unprotected.

Since giving up medicine isn’t always an option, the Mayo Clinic recommends drinking plenty of water—but not coffee or soft drinks, which also dry out your mouth—and chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production.

2. You Are What You Eat (And Drink)

If you’re a connoisseur of tea, coffee, soda, wine, curry, or literally any food or drink that has some color to it (processed foods included), chances are you’re staining your teeth. Even those innocent-looking blueberries in your morning oatmeal can contribute to discoloration!

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No one expects you to give up your nightly glass of Pinot Noir, but you should rinse your mouth out with water after eating or drinking anything particularly pigmented, says Gene A. Sambataro, D.D.S., F.A.G.D., of Julian Center Dentistry. You can also try a whitening activated charcoal toothpaste like My Magic Mud to ward off some inevitable food and drink staining, he says.

Related: I Brushed My Teeth With Charcoal For 2 Weeks—Here’s What Happened

3. Reflux Redux

As if the discomfort of acid reflux isn’t crummy enough, that gurgly acid can also discolor your teeth.

“Acid reflux, bulemia, and even vomiting during pregnancy, lead to acid erosion of the outer white enamel layer of our teeth, exposing the naturally-yellow inner dentin layer,” says Chehab. (Drinking a lot of soda can also have this unfortunate effect.)

Unlike food-, drink-, or dry mouth-related stains, a yellow smile caused by acid erosion is difficult to correct because you can’t bleach the inner layer of your teeth. “Some companies have developed pastes and gels using ingredients like tri-calcium phosphate to try to re-mineralize the white enamel layer, but that’s as close as we can get to ‘reversing’ the process,” Chehab says.

4. Wear and Tear

If you brush with a firm toothbrush, handle with care; all that extra elbow grease in the name of clean, shiny teeth can do more harm than good. In fact, many of our seemingly harmless day-to-day behaviors can contribute to unwanted stains over time. Grinding or clenching your teeth, using abrasive teeth-whitening remedies too often, and brushing too vigorously with a hard-bristled brush can wear down your enamel, revealing more and more of that yellowy inner tooth layer, says Chehab.

Treasure your chompers by brushing gently with a soft toothbrush, seeing your dentist if you clench or grind, and avoiding DIY teeth-whitening treatments that use abrasive ingredients, like baking soda, he recommends.

5. Age Effects

Like it or not, we all get older—and each passing birthday affects the state of our chompers. “As we age, the nerves in our teeth shrink and the teeth become darker,” says Scott Asnis, D.D.S., CEO and founder of dentistry franchise Dental365.

Since we can’t stop the clock, Asnis strongly recommends consistent dental cleanings to help your teeth stand the test of time. “Regular dental visits and professional-strength whitening products can help with yellowing, and your dentist can help you find the care options specifically catered to your needs,” he says.

6. Smoke

Any dentist will tell you that if you smoke, you’re going to end up with stained teeth. In fact, one study found that 81 percent of daily smokers reported having oral health issues within the last six months, with discoloration being their greatest concern (followed by dry mouth).

Do your smile—and overall health—a favor, and avoid nicotine and tobacco. But if the damage is already done, professional teeth whitening can help restore your smile.

How To Stay Fit And Flexible When You Work An Office 9-To-5

When you have one of those 9-to-5 (or 9-to-6, 9-to-7…) jobs that has you chained to a desk all day, it’s easy to fall into a stiff pose that leaves you feeling mangled and sore. It’s also pretty easy to fall out of shape—after all, no one ever broke a sweat at the copy machine.

The pitfalls of a sedentary lifestyle and the havoc sitting for long periods of time can wreak on your health have been the subject of many scientific studies, with each conclusion seemingly scarier than the next. For instance, a study published in the Journal of Lifestyle Medicine looked at the adverse effects of prolonged sitting on the general health of 447 office workers who spent an average of 6.29 hours sitting out of an eight-hour workday. The findings? “Our results indicated that long sitting times were associated with exhaustion during the working day, decreased job satisfaction, hypertension, and musculoskeletal disorder symptoms in the shoulders, lower back, thighs, and knees of office workers,” concluded the study’s authors.

Considering that precisely nothing about that conclusion sounds appealing, we asked experts how best to combat the adverse effects of a desk job—particularly if a standing desk isn’t an option in your workspace environment.

Flex in Five

When a lunchtime yoga session isn’t in the cards (and, really, is it for most of us?), Sherrell Moore-Tucker, a natural health and wellness professional who specializes in yoga and meditation, has a quick fix. She recommends incorporating the following few movements into your day, five times a day:

“Enjoy a nice mid-day inversion by bending forward holding onto your chair for support, or place your hands on your shins or touch your toes while releasing the head and neck (hold for 30 seconds),” she instructs. “Reversing gravity, begin to shake the head side to side and up and down as if you’re gesturing yes and no (for another 30 seconds).”

Related: Shop for joint health supporting supplements.

Moore-Tucker then suggests standing while rolling your shoulders slowly forward and back a few times, adding your arms by circling forward and back for one minute. Next, while holding onto your desk for support, step one leg back into a lunge to stretch your legs (for 30 seconds on each side).

“Bring the legs back together and stand tall with the arms overhead,” she says. “Lean the body to the right and then to the left a few times (for 1 minute).  Place the hands on the low back and stretch and lift the chest up and slightly back for a gentle back bend like the ones that we do early in the morning.”

For your final move, Moore-Tucker advises to finish with a seated twist by twisting your chest, shoulders, neck and head to the right and then the left (for 30 seconds on each side).

Energize Early

If you aren’t a morning person, the idea of setting your alarm even earlier than usual might seem like a punishment, but Tiffany Cruikshank, L.A.C., MAOM, RYT, founder of Yoga Medicine, recommends giving yourself a burst of exercise before you head to the office.

“So many of my patients and students are usually a bit burnt out and stressed out,” she says. “I prefer to try to get them to do something quick in the morning—when you want your cortisol higher. This helps support the natural circadian rhythm, which is helpful for so many things from fatigue to insomnia, and really helpful for supporting the adrenals, which tend to take the brunt of long-term stress.”

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There are a plethora of apps that provide short, simple morning-jumpstart workouts you can do from home. Cruikshankl recommends the meditation and yoga app and site YogaGlo.com, which is “a great resource since you can choose from a variety of classes to suit your needs.” She also likes 8fit for people who want to build a habit of doing simple, exercise-based movements in the morning or during a break.

Skip the Shortcuts

Yes, that meeting is starting in a few minutes and, sure, it might seem more practical to take the elevator—but don’t. Embrace those moments when you’re moving through your office to the bathroom, to a meeting, or on the way to a lunch.

“Don’t take shortcuts or use labor-saving devices such as elevators (unless you need to!),” says Marshall Weber, fitness coach at Jack City Fitness. “Walk a few blocks for an errand rather than starting the car.”

Weber also recommends extending this into your life outside of work to combat the sitting you’re doing all day Monday through Friday.

“If you’re parking in a mall or grocery lot, park further from the door rather than circling the lot for a closer spot,” he says. “You’ll get more exercise and save gas. When you’re cleaning the house, put some music on and do some dance moves while doing your cleaning routine. It’s a small amount of expended calories, but every little bit helps. Do a yard project with the children such as plant a garden or a tree.”

Of course, when you’re working all week, it may be hard to hit the gym—but everyone should aim to do some form of cardio about four times per week, along with strength training about two times per week. HIIT workouts are helpful for people who want to make the most out of their time, since they’re short but explosive.

Posture Plus

As Michelle Golla, a personal trainer at Boost 180 Fitness in Denver, CO points out, the body was not designed to sit still.

“A good rule of thumb is for every 50 minutes you sit, walk for the next 10,” she says. “Not only does this help get your blood flowing to your muscles, but also to your brain, increasing productivity.”

Golla also notes that if you have to sit, it’s important to make sure the way you’re sitting is good for you: “A focus on good posture will also help combat the effects of sitting at a desk all day,” she says. “If you have the option not to use a standard desk chair, exercise balls are a great alternative for keeping your core engaged throughout the day. Furthermore, if you have the option for a flexible desk option that converts to a standing desk, that’s another great way to change the dynamics of your physicality during the work day.”

Related: Bad Posture Can Lead To Big Problems—Here’s How To Fix It

4 Daily Habits That Are The Fountain Of Youth For Your Face

In a time when we’re all busy going, going, going, it’s tempting to look for quick fixes—especially when it comes to anti-aging and healthy skin. Nowadays, it seems like there’s a procedure to remedy just about any cosmetic grievance—but there are equally as many simple, scientifically-proven ways to slow down the hands of the clock. 

Maintaining that youthful glow doesn’t necessarily mean you need to splurge on expensive procedures or products. There are a bevy of daily habits that you can incorporate into your routine that actually provide great benefit to your skin. 

1. Wear sunscreen.

There’s a reason why you feel like you’re constantly being hit over the head with the directive to apply SPF: It works.

Sunscreen is probably more important than any nighttime moisturizing crème or pre-makeup oil, since wrinkles, freckles, and sun spots (and skin cancer) come from the sun. “Everyone must use a sunblock every day,” says Dr. Khalil Khatri of Skin & Laser Surgery Center of New England. “UV rays of sun can make changes in collagen in the second layer of skin, which leads to loose skin and wrinkles.”

It’s not just the summer sun putting you at risk—sunscreen should be used all year round.

Another pro tip: Just because your moisturizer says it contains SPF, it isn’t enough to protect you all day long without reapplication. According to the Mayo Clinic, we can get the most protection from sunscreen by applying it frequently, and with gusto. They advise that using two tablespoons of sun protection (about the equivalent of a shot glass) will adequately cover your face, neck, and the back of your hands. More is necessary to cover the rest of your body. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours if you’re outdoors.

Related: How To Choose The Best Sunscreen For You

2. Seriously, get some sleep.

Even if it feels impossible to hit the hay at a reasonable hour, your skin will thank you for it.

A study published in the journal Sleep focused on the “facial cues” a person may display when they are sleep-deprived. The results are enough to make all of us get under the covers earlier: “The faces of sleep-deprived individuals were perceived as having more hanging eyelids, redder eyes, more swollen eyes, darker circles under the eyes, paler skin, more wrinkles and fine lines, and more droopy corners of the mouth,” read the study results.

The observers involved also noted the sleep-deprived participants looked “sadder” than those who got seven-eight hours of sleep per night. So get your zzz’s—and cheer up!

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3. Stop scrubbing so hard.

Washing greasy dishes may require steel wool and elbow grease, but cleaning one’s face does not. Instinctively, it may feel as though the better we scrub, the cleaner our pores, but not so fast! That abrasiveness, even if using a seemingly soft washcloth, can damage the skin.

“One should keep the skin clean with mild, gentle soaps and apply light moisturizers immediately after taking a shower,” says Dr. Khatri.

Additionally, you’ll want to take care not to dry your face by rubbing it with a towel. Dr. Khatri recommends patting it dry instead of creating friction with rubbing. This gentle approach results in less irritated skin and a smoother, more youthful, appearance.

You can go all- or mostly-natural, too, when it comes to caring for the skin on your face. DIY facial toners almost always include apple cider vinegar, while beauty enthusiasts swear by turmeric, honey, and charcoal face masks.

Related: I Tested 8 Different Health And Beauty Uses For Apple Cider Vinegar

4. You are what you eat (and drink).

“There are many daily things that one can do to slow down the visible signs of aging—such as avoiding unhealthy, fatty, fried food,” advises Dr. Khatri. Also, you’ll want to drink tons of water, quit your tobacco vices, and limit your intake of alcohol—all things that dry out and harm our skin.

This brings us to our next point—water. Making hydration a priority in your day will reap endless rewards for your skin. It may sound like a broken record, but before you start rolling your eyes, you’ll want to know about a 2015 study published in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology. The study was designed to measure the impact of water intake on a person’s physical composition, particularly on the body’s largest organ: skin. A group of 49 females were categorized into two groups, with Group 1 consuming less water and Group 2 consuming more.

“Approximately two liters of water were added to the daily diet of Group 2 individuals for one month to quantify the impact of this surplus in their skin physiology,” explained the study authors.

Related: 8 Fun Ways To Drink More Water If You Hate Water

After measuring factors like deep hydration and transepidermal water loss [water loss from inside the body through the skin], researchers feel the results confirm “higher water inputs in one’s regular diet might positively impact normal skin physiology, as expressed by its hydration and biomechanical behavior, and in particular in those individuals with lower daily water consumptions.”

Sure, you can argue with science. But why bother? Pick up a glass of water and drink it—preferably several times a day. Mayo Clinic advises women drink 2.7 liters of water a day (the equivalent of 11.5 cups) and men gulp 3.7 liters (15.5 cups).

What Causes Brain Fog—And What Can You Do About It?

If you’ve ever gone through your day feeling like an extra on The Walking Dead—seemingly zombified as you trudge through the motions of your routine—you might chalk it up to inadequate sleep. Or maybe you’re so stressed at work that every single one of your senses feels fried. But it could be something else—like brain fog.

You’ve likely heard the term and have probably even diagnosed yourself with it—but what exactly is brain fog, and can you do anything to clear the clouds? Here, experts break it down. 

What is brain fog?

Turns out, it’s more than just feeling tired or lackluster: “Brain fog is difficulty finding the right word, short-term memory loss, and slowing of processing of new information,” explains Dr. Susan Levine, former chair of the Federal Chronic Fatigue Advisory Committee. The onset of brain fog can be fairly sudden, with other cognitive issues accompanying it, like fuzzy thinking and trouble concentrating.

According to a study in the journal Clinical Autonomic Research, most people who experience brain fog say it causes forgetfulness, difficulty thinking and focusing, and generally feeling cloudy. Some people also reported feeling lost and sleepy.

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What causes brain fog?

“Brain fog” isn’t an official medical term (it can go by other names, like consciousness clouding or brain fatigue) and is not technically considered a medical condition in itself. It can however, be caused by medical conditions. According to a review in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, one such cause might be chronic orthostatic intolerance, or decreases in cerebral blood flow, which causes brain fog upon standing upright (and is relieved when reclining).

Dr. Nancy Klimas of Nova Southeastern University explains that neuro inflammation could cause brain fog, as well. “The combination of brain inflammation and poor cellular energy production causes the problem, [along with] blood flow problems,” she says.

Ultimately, getting to the bottom of brain fog requires many questions, says Tara Nayak, ND, a naturopathic physician in Philadelphia, PA.: “When someone comes to my office complaining of brain fog, there are a couple of  questions I ask: Is it a constant feeling or is there a worse time of day? Is this interfering with your daily life at work, home, or socially?” 

Dr. Nayak also points out that gut bacteria may be partially responsible: “Studies have shown that the bacteria in our digestive tracts actually release chemical signals that interfere with our nervous system, through the vagus nerve in the stomach, and send signals to the brain,” she explains. “People suffering from dysbiosis, or an imbalance of gut bacteria, may see improvements in brain fog if they replenish their system with beneficial bacteria and remove some of the harmful strains.”

And, of course, the ever-present issue of stress can factor in as well. Stress signals the body to release chemicals, such as adrenaline, and cortisol that can interfere with a person’s ability to remain calm and think clearly, says Nayak.

You think you have brain fog, now what?

If what’s described above sounds like something you’re experiencing, there are a few things you can do to de-fog. 

According to a study in the journal Clinical Autonomic Review, patients with brain fog experienced improvements when drinking water, lying down, exercising, walking, and taking B vitamins. An important note: The same study also found that irregular exercise seemed to trigger brain fog and feelings of fatigue, while regular aerobic exercise seemed to improve it.

First and foremost, Dr. Nayak suggests focusing on fixing the root of the problem. For instance, if you find your fog is stress-related, you might use stress-reduction tools, such as aromatherapy, to give your mind a break.

“Scents can truly awaken the brain,” she explains. “Creating a signature scent of uplifting essential oils such as clary sage, citrus, and rosemary can snap you back to attention! I would suggest carrying your scent with you for a pick-me-up.” (Try The Vitamin Shoppe’s Essential Oils line.)

An array of supplements also exist to help keep your mind sharp, delivering a brain boost when it feels like you’re not running on all cylinders, like Solaray’s SharpMind and Life Seasons’ Clari-T Cognitive Support.

And when it seems as though you simply can’t clear your head of the fog, consider seeking medical attention. You may be experiencing brain fog as a result of something bigger.   

“If it persists for more than one or two weeks the person should see his or her regular physician to evaluate for a systemic problem that could be contributing to it, such as thyroid disease or hepatitis,” says Dr. Levine. “They should take a full drug history and possibly be referred to a neurologist for further evaluation, including MRI of the brain.” It could, says Dr. Levine, also be depression or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

I Tried Meditation Every Day For A Week—Here’s What Happened

As someone who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, and for whom panic attacks never get any easier (do they for anyone?), I have long considered giving meditation a try.

Meditation dates back thousands of years, offering benefits like improved concentration, stress reduction, and inner peace. Mayo Clinic even points to research suggesting the practice can help manage symptoms related to pain and digestion. With such a rich history, why had I been procrastinating?

For one, there was the time factor. With a hectic schedule, there are days when I feel too busy to eat—so how could I pull off taking 10 minutes to sit and, essentially, do nothing? I squirm at the salon while waiting for my hair color to process, thinking of the many other things I could be doing. I was doubtful I could sit cross-legged (what I presumed you absolutely must do while meditating) while clearing my mind of all thoughts. Meditating felt like a luxury my to-do list couldn’t afford.

Then, I worried about being able to relax. My concerns over having a panic attack while trying to stay quiet and focused on a meditation class completely freaked me out. What if I have to leave the room and disturb my classmates? I pictured a mugshot of sorts hanging in the local meditation studio classifying me as someone who disturbs the peace (literally). Have I mentioned I have a flair for the dramatic?

I had so many reasons to keep on keepin’ on with my daily grind, without making a single attempt to try something new. Something that, if even slightly successful, could be a gamechanger for me. But then, somehow, I pushed through my fears and committed to trying it for at least one weekI still had that irrational fear of being fidgety in a class, so I reached for my phone and downloaded the Calm app.

Day 1

That first day I began with a simple five-minute Deep Sleep body scan at night. I was suspicious that something so brief could calm my mind, but by the end of it, I found myself wishing I had started with the 10-minute version because it was so relaxing. The voice guiding me through the meditation was soothing and I found myself falling asleep more quickly than usual.

Day 2

The second day of my weeklong experiment was pretty chaotic, and the irony was not lost on me that I needed to stop everything I was doing to practice Calm’s Daily Calm, a 10-minute meditation that changes each day. I squeezed it in midday, and while I can’t say I completely turned off the outside world, I noticed I was a bit more mindful for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Day 3

I decided to take the plunge and sign up for Lunchtime Detox, a 30-minute session at The Den, a neighborhood meditation studio in Los Angeles.

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The classroom was dimly lit by candles and offered a number of different props—from traditional meditation pillows to upright floor chairs to blankets—to make students feel comfortable. Our teacher briefly asked what we hoped to gain from class and asked us to be completely still in three-minute intervals. Most importantly, he asked us to not be critical of ourselves in terms of questioning whether we were meditating “correctly.” There was something really lovely about being reminded that it’s okay to just…be.

I walked out of that class feeling great, jonesing for more.

Day 4

Day 3’s meditation led me back to The Den for Focus, a 45-minute session dedicated to “training the restless mind.” If I’m being totally honest, I don’t remember the specifics of that class because I was so blissed out that I think I dozed off for a period of time.

At that point, I felt hooked.

Day 5

Of course, not every day allows for larger blocks of time to meditate, unfortunately, and on Day 5 I found myself scrambling to squeeze it in with the Calm app. It was 11 p.m. and I realized the entire day had passed without taking even five minutes to chill. I played the 10-minute Deep Sleep meditation but couldn’t get into the right frame of mind for the experience.

Note to self: Don’t force meditation if the result means you’re agitated with yourself for forgetting to do so in the first place.

Day 6

I blocked out 10 minutes for Daily Calm around lunchtime, attempting to combine the experiences I had at The Den with the convenience of listening to a guided meditation on the app in my own home. It served a as a nice little break—as well as a reminder that, yes, I do have 10 minutes in a day to help myself.

Day 7

For my last consecutive day of meditation I headed back to The Den for Reiki, a form of healing and something I had never experienced before. Our teacher asked each person to share what they were trying to heal in very simple terms, like anxiety, grief, stress, or physical pain. While I typically clam up at the thought of having to speak in a roomful of strangers, it was a really unifying experience and, in the end, made the meditation feel more relaxed.

Related: It’s Time To Stop Being So Scared of Meditation


Since I wrapped up my meditative week I’m happy to report I’ve used Calm a few more times, working in some peaceful moments here and there throughout the day. My goal is to get back to The Den, because I think there’s so much to learn about the practice. I really enjoy being in a space designed to maximize the experience of meditating, too.

But more importantly, I’ve learned that there’s always time for me, and I need to stop trying to rationalize reasons to believe otherwise. Whether it’s five minutes or 45, taking that time to just breathe is more impactful than I could have previously imagined. Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s necessary.

Exactly What To Do For A Pulled Muscle

If you’re engaged in any sort of regular exercise regime (that includes you weekend warriors!), you’ve probably experienced a pulled muscle. You know how it goes: You’re on a roll, feeling strong, and then it hits—ouch!

The pain can rate anywhere from a dull (but totally annoying) ache to holy-cow-that-hurts throbbing, with every movement a reminder of the injury. You may even experience limited mobility. With either situation, listening to your body and responding swiftly is key so that you can safely resume your everyday activities.

Understanding the Injury

“When people refer to a ‘pulled muscle,’ what they are really referring to is a muscle strain,” says Chris Falcon, a Chicago-based certified personal trainer and founder of Reactive Performance Enhancement Center.

So what actually happens to the muscle? “Due to a multitude of factors, the muscle tissue has been stressed beyond what it can handle, and different degrees of tearing or damage has been done,” says Falcon.

Not all pulled muscles are created equal, but there are two main kinds of common muscle strain:

“A Grade 1 strain is less severe and requires a couple weeks to heal,” says Falcon. “A Grade 2 strain is more severe, but does not include a complete rupture of the tissue. There are Grade 3 strains, but I don’t classify these as muscle pulls. These are when there is extensive damage, and surgery could be possible.”

Fast Action

So do you hop into a hot shower and hope for the best? Or do you stretch it out? Neither, actually.

Cold is king right after an injury takes place. Mayo Clinic advises using the R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) plan of action, which includes icing the muscle and then resting it (yep, this actually means you need to refrain from using that muscle!).

Immediately, you’ll want to “discontinue the exercise or activity before they do more damage to the muscle,” says Robert Herbst, personal trainer and powerlifter.

In tandem with resting the area, you’ll want to apply ice for 20 minutes to reduce bleeding and inflammation. You can do this every few hours, daily.

You can use an ice pack or even a bag of frozen peas, or you can get into an ice-slush bath. This will relieve swelling while also helping to minimize the pain. Herbst warns to limit icing to 20 minutes, though, as after that amount of time the cold can have the opposite effect on the body—increasing blood flow to the area (painful!) in order to prevent frostbite.

Next, you’ll want to compress the area: “They can wrap the area with a bandage to reduce blood flow to the area and to provide support,” says Herbst, using the example of a person who has pulled a hamstring but still needs to walk.

Lastly, you’ll want to elevate the area. In the event of a pulled calf, for example, lying down with one’s foot up on pillows would be ideal. The strain should be elevated above heart level to continue reducing blood flow.

Treating the Symptoms

To combat discomfort, you may want to use an anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, or you can go the more natural route:

1. Arnica

Homeopathic supplements, like Arnica Montana 30C, are commonly used help relieve symptoms related to muscle aches and swelling. If you prefer a topical approach, Arnica Gel is a fast-absorbing option for the temporary relief of pain, stiffness, and swelling.

2. Tiger Balm

You can also turn to Tiger Balm, which is a centuries-old ointment that utilizes camphor and menthol to send a soothing, icy-hot sensation to the pain point.

3. Movement

“After 24 hours, they can consider, depending on the pain, doing light exercise to flood the area with blood to promote healing, followed by ice,” says Herbst. This might look like a careful stretch or a series of slow, gentle yoga sequences.

4. Castor oil

Mindy Solkin, professional running coach and founder of The Running Center in Philadelphia, PA, uses castor oil for pain reduction. First, she pours the castor oil onto a flannel cloth or paper towel. She then places it over the muscle, wraps it in Saran wrap, places a heating pad on top (medium heat), and leaves it there for about 15-20 minutes.

Note that if the swelling continues, or if there’s a significant loss of mobility, bleeding, or a change in the shape of the muscle, you should head to the doctor. These may all be signs of a more serious issue.

Avoid Future Injury

In terms of prevention, you want to make your warm-up a priority. “Everyone knows that it’s best practice to stretch thoroughly before exercising, but it’s also really important to stretch after you’ve finished your workout,” says Dr. Jae Park, a physical therapist at Advanced Wellness in NJ. “This helps increase blood flow and reduce muscle fatigue, leading to a faster recovery that prevents future injuries.”

It doesn’t need to be overly choreographed, though. Falcon suggests keeping the intensity low and movements simple.

Another way to keep your muscles in tip-top shape: Stay hydrated. “This not only includes drinking water, but also eating nutrient-dense superfoods, to ensure a balance in osmotic pressure at the cellular level,” says Falcon.

5 Easy Ways To Add Meditation To Your Day

In a world where we’re accessible almost all of the time, it can feel nearly impossible to shut down, even for a few minutes, in an effort to engage in a little self-care. Smart phones, for example, are definitely affecting our mental health—and that’s because our texts and emails are always right there, begging us to look, scroll, and respond.

On top of being so digitally connected that we end up feeling disconnected, about 18 percent of Americans also have anxiety or depression, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, which can be caused by any number of factors—including our genetics and lifestyle choices. This is where meditation comes in.

A study published in the journal BMC Complementary Alternative Medicine looked at why people choose to meditate. According to their findings, 92 percent of meditators used their practice for stress management, while other highly-rated reasons included emotional well-being and the promotion of other healthy behaviors.

Meditation can literally change our brains; as a daily practice, it has the potential to increase regions of the brain associated with emotional regulation and response control, according to a study published in the journal NeuroImage.

The fact is, most of us can’t drop everything and go to a meditation class or do an hour-long meditation each day. However, there are tried-and-true ways to incorporate beneficial meditative practices into your everyday life and larger mental health strategies—helping you to connect with yourself and disengage from the overwhelming fast pace of modern life.

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1. Use an app

Sure, your iPhone might be a source of your overwhelm—but it can also be a tool for good. Meditation apps are ideal for anyone looking for a little zen in between zipping (or slogging!) through meetings and deadlines. Whether you’re totally new to meditation or you simply find a guided session makes it easier for you to stay accountable, a slew of digital options exist to help you achieve a little peace.

“Often times, the people who don’t have time to spend 10 minutes a day to meditate are the ones who need it most,” says Michael Acton Smith, co-CEO and co-founder of Calm.com and the app Calm. “It’s less than one percent of your day, but doing so will make the other 99 percent better.”

Acton Smith notes that his company’s “Daily Calm” feature is popular in its simplicity: It offers a new 10-minute meditation each day.

“I find that the best way to make it a habit is to do it before or after something you already do (e.g. brush your teeth, showering, etc),” he says. “It’s a wonderful and healthy way to start the day.”

Other apps include Headspace, Stop, Breath, and Think, and Insight Timer. When using these apps, you’ll typically have the option to choose a guided or unguided meditation for a duration (five, 10, or more minutes) of time that works for you. These apps offer meditation topic choices (for example, gratitude or happiness) or open-ended meditation sessions. You can even set a timer to remind you to step away and find your zen a few times per day. Easy-peasy.

Related: 4 Reasons Why Meditation Can Be Life-Changing (Science Even Says So)

2. Eat your way to Zen

If you’re super-busy, you can even use mealtime as a chance to unwind. Sure, it may seem easier to wolf down a sandwich in your car while en route to a meeting, the office, or home, but really focusing on your meal is a chance to practice meditation.

“If you take a moment and think of each bite—this is a great way to bring mindfulness and an eating meditation into your life,” says Tal Rabinowitz, CEO and founder of The Den Meditation, a neighborhood meditation studio with two Los Angeles locations. “It’s something you would have been doing anyway!”

Focusing on what’s on your plate and eating in a meditative way isn’t only good for the soul, but for your entire body. In an article published in the journal Health Psychology, researchers looked at ways mindful eating could affect otherwise unhealthy food choices. They concluded that “mindful eating is a beneficial strategy to reduce impulsive food choice, at least temporarily, that may impede weight gain.”

Here’s how, according to Harvard Medical School, you might mindfully eat during a meal: You’ll want to start with a small portion. Before eating, silently think about your gratitude for the food and for the experience. Mentally log the color, texture, and scent of the food, taking small bites which you chew 20 to 40 times.

3. Take A Time Out

According to Beth Stone, an Orlando-based yoga instructor who works with the Young Yogi Program, it’s key to make time to press reset.

“We all have busy lifestyles but life on the go doesn’t have to translate into a forfeit of self-care,” she explains. “When we take a few minutes to ground, center, and reset, we are much more likely to think clearly, act from a place of compassion, and act from our highest available vibration.”

She suggests finding a place (that might even be a bathroom stall) where you can sit with your back against a wall—ideally a corner where two walls meet. First, just breathe.

“Take nice, slow inhalations,” she advises. “Connect your physical body to the earth and the space around you.”

Related: Shop aromatic candles to de-stress and beautify your space.

Next, place one hand on the front of your belly and the other hand on your lower back. Continue taking slow, deep breaths into your front hand, filling up all the space you can into your hand.

“Exhale and allow the belly to flatten towards the back of the spinal cord,” instructs Stone. “Breathe into the back hand, filling the back hand up as much as possible.  With the exhale, allow the back of the spine to relax back in toward the spinal cord.  Continue this breathing pattern for three to five cycles.”

Breathing exercises do more than slow you down and force you to disconnect, though. According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Cases, this sort of breathing may “positively impact our compensatory mechanisms to restore functional cognitive reserves.” It goes on to say, “It is very likely that meditation and intentional rhythmic breathing may, in part, reduce the overall physiological strain and mental workload on these human systems.”

4. Imagine a warm light washing over you.

We already know how powerful breathing can be—but couple that with creative visualization and you have a beautiful routine at the ready.

For this exercise, you’ll want to find a place where you can breath and visualize for a for moments—whether that be at your desk or in your bed before falling asleep. “You can wear whatever you want and you can be anywhere,” Rabinowitz says. “Sit in a chair, on the floor, on your bed. Zero props required.”

To do this, “[For the] first breath, breathe in deep and relax your shoulders on the exhale,” says Rabinowitz. “With the second, third and subsequent breaths, picture a warm light washing over you. This can really help you detach from the insanity and calm down. This doesn’t mean your brain is going to shut off, but it can bring you down from a 10 to a three.”

Related: Shop antioxidant and mood-boosting herbs like ashwagandha.

5. Take a walk outside.

Earthing (also known as grounding) is the act of putting your body in direct contact with the earth—whether it be water, soil, sand, or any other natural element. A study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America showed that grounding can have an immense neurological effect on our well-being. In the study, people who walk in a wooded area (for 90 minutes) were less likely to feel stressful and anxious.

While outdoors, you might want to do a simple walking meditation. During this, you’ll want to deliberately notice your steps and pace, you’ll tune in your breathing, and you’ll take note of the sights and sounds—the crunch of leaves, the sound of water—all around you.

All About Your New Favorite Cleanser: Micellar Water

If you’ve shopped for skin-care products any time within the past year, you’ve undoubtedly spotted the beauty industry’s latest darling: micellar water. Just like regular ol’ H20, micellar water is a clear liquid—but what is it, exactly? And how do you even pronounce it?

Have no fear, beauty junkies—we had the experts break it all down for you. (And for the record, it’s my-SELL-ar.)

What is it made of?

Micellar water is made with something called micelles, which are tiny balls of molecules that react to water.

“Micellar water is micelles suspended in soft water, creating microscopic oil molecules that are great for cleaning the face by attaching to dirt, grime, and makeup,” says Dr. Rhonda Klein, a board-certified dermatologist with the Connecticut Dermatology Group. “Unlike soap, micelles dissolve impurities without stripping the skin, and since it has the same viscosity of water, the face feels clean and rejuvenated after treatment.” Also, unlike soap, it doesn’t require water in order to work, so no rinsing is necessary.

The product isn’t a new concept, despite its recent rise in popularity. In fact, its origins trace back to the coveted beauty regimen of a certain European country: “The French have been using micellar water for ages,” says Dr. Klein.

Is it a toner, a cleansing water, or a makeup remover?

There are a lot of cleansing products on the market and it can get confusing! So what’s the difference between cleansing water (another popular item) and micellar water? Micellar water contains those oily micelles, while cleansing water is usually made up of purified water.

Related: Shop skin-loving micellar water products. 

And then there are toners. Toner is usually used after cleansing to refresh and tone the skin (although many contain alcohol and leave skin feeling dry and tight, unlike micellar water). While micellar water is primarily used to cleanse the skin, many beauty enthusiasts happily use it as toner, as well.

Bonus: It can also remove makeup (although heavy makeup is probably best removed with traditional makeup remover).

Should you Try it?

Given that the main ingredient in micellar water is water, it’s a safe option for most people. (Other ingredients might include vitamins, glycerin, and rooibos, like in this Derma E micellar water.)

“Almost all skin types can use micellar water without risk of drying out—even those with acne or oily skin can use micellar water to clean skin thoroughly without inflamed acne pimples,” says Dr. Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. However, if your skin is very oily or covered in extremely thick foundation, micellar water alone may not be strong enough to remove all of the impurities.

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According to Dr. Nazarian, micellar water’s biggest benefit is that its oil droplets are hydrating (but don’t feel oily)—without disrupting the natural pH of skin, a problem that comes with some classic foaming cleansers.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, it was shown that micellar cleansing water “showed lower irritation potential than traditional high-lather face cleansing formats.” The research also noted that the pairing of micellar’s moisturizing benefits and its low potential for irritation makes it a promising option for those with sensitive skin.

Related: The Best Skin-Care Tips And Products For Your 20s, 30s, And 40s

“The fact that it doesn’t require scrubbing makes it great for sensitive skin, which tends to be easily irritated by harsher scrubs or rubbing typically needed to remove makeup,” she says.

A word of warning for anyone allergic to surfactants (which is a scientific word for “oil in water” molecules): Avoid micellar water. It’s not dangerous, but someone with an allergy might become red, itchy, or puffy with repeated use.

How Do You Use It?

Using micellar water is just as straightforward as its ingredients.

Dr. Nazarian recommends saturating a cotton ball with the micellar water, then gently swiping it over your skin. Use a second dry cotton pad to wipe over your skin to absorb the micelles, which will have attached themselves to the dirt and oil on your face.

Whatever you do, don’t scrub your skin while using the product. These little work horses take the elbow grease out of washing your face, so just let them do their thing. Simply repeat until the cotton ball appears clean, at any time of day.

Should You Stock Up On Oscillo This Flu Season?

When cold and flu season approaches, we do everything in our power to take cover. Some pile on the scarves, others load up on vitamin C. But despite our best efforts, most of us still fall prey to that same ol’ aching, coughing, and sneezing at some point over the winter.

While rest and hydration are essential when you’ve got cold- and flu-like symptoms, many swear by a homeopathic product called Oscillococcinum (oscillo-what?) to move recovery along quicker.

Despite its intimidating name—for the record, it’s pronounced oh-sill-oh-cox-see-num—the over-the-counter item has developed a cult-like following, especially among people who prefer a homeopathic route to health.

Quick lesson: Homeopathy is an alternative medical system developed in Germany more than 200 years ago. The FDA regulates these products, but doesn’t rate their efficacy. Oscillo’s active ingredient is called Anas Barbariae Hepatis et Cordis Extractum, which is an extremely diluted extract of duck liver and heart.

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According to Dr. Elena Klimenko, MD, who is both board certified in internal medicine and licensed in medical acupuncture and homeopathy, Oscillo is a very commonly used product, sold in over 50 countries throughout the world—especially in France, where it is made and is the bestselling over-the-counter product for flu-like symptoms.

Some of Oscillo’s perks? “It does not cause drowsiness or a foggy feeling, does not interact with other medications, herbs, or supplements, and is not contraindicated with pre-existing conditions,” Klimenko says.

When taking Oscillo, you’ll put the entire contents of one tube under the tongue every six hours, up to three times a day—and time is of the essence, says Klimenko, who recommends taking it at the first sign of symptoms. It’s recommended for children two years and older, whereas decongestants and antihistamines aren’t recommended for anyone under the age of four.

The Bottom Line

A study published in British Homeopathy showed that Oscillo not only shortened the severity of flu symptoms, but the duration of them as well. In the study, 63 percent of participants who took the medicine within 24 hours of the onset of flu symptoms reported either a “clear improvement” or “complete resolution” of the symptoms within 48 hours.

When it comes to prevention, Dr. Klimenko stresses washing your hands often, eating well, and taking a multivitamin each day. But if that doesn’t work—and unfortunately it often doesn’t—she recommends Oscillo.

What Exactly Are EPA And DHA, Really?

We hear a lot about the importance of “healthy fats” like omega-3s—you know, the good stuff typically associated with fish and flaxseed. But two of the most popular omega 3s—DHA and EPA—are rarely broken down into layman’s terms, despite offering an impressive range of health benefits.

It’s time we get to know these powerhouses a bit better.

How Does DHA & EPA Benefit Us?

We already know DHA (a.k.a. docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (a.k.a. eicosapentaenoic acid) are types of omega-3s, but what’s an omega-3? In case you forgot or need a refresher, an omega-3 is a group of polyunsaturated (a.k.a. good) fatty acids that are key for healthy body functions. You can find them in fatty fish, shellfish, algae, flaxseed, nuts, and oils, as well as in supplements.

“[DHA and EPA] are the types of omega-3s that your body most efficiently uses,” explains Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition. “Both DHA and EPA are important for so many aspects of good health—from overall wellness to heart health, brain health, and even eye health.”

But do you really need them both? The short answer: yes. Despite the fact that they are both lumped into one big omega-3 category, they are not the same.

Related: Shop DHA & EPA supplements to boost your omega-3 intake. 

“DHA is the omega-3 found in greatest amounts in the brain and eyes—and is also found structurally in heart tissue,” says Gorin. “EPA is not stored in the brain and eyes in significant amounts but is very important for heart health and other aspects of health.”

According to the journal Nutrients, long-chain omega-3s like DHA and EPA are critical for health, supporting healthy heart, blood vessel, kidney, and blood pressure functions. They also lower the amount of blood fats (lipids) and help combat joint issues. More than just the physical, though, they may also benefit our neuropsychological health—especially DHA. According to Front Aging Neuroscience, DHA may help support cognitive functioning later in life. And, according to Pharmacological Research, DHA deficiency has been linked to feelings of depression.

How Much EPA & DHA Do You Need?

It depends. The Mayo Clinic says that Western diets tend to include 10 times more omega-6 fatty acids (which come from vegetable oils like corn and sunflower) than omega-3s. However, for those who largely eat a Mediterranean diet—one of the healthiest diets, and one that features fish as a staple—EPAs and DHAs may be more abundant.

Take note: Not all DHA and EPA may be as impactful, depending on its delivery system. For example, the Mayo Clinic points out that it hasn’t yet been proven whether plant-based or krill omega-3s are as beneficial to one’s health as, say, fish oil. Vegetarians may need to get their DHA and EPA elsewhere (like nuts or flaxseed), but if you can include fish in your diet, use it as your go-to source.

Related: All The Things You Didn’t Know Omega-3s Could Do For Your Health

And although the amount of DHA and EPA you need is largely individual, Gorsin suggests starting with some general recommendations.

I recommend eating at least two 3.5-ounce servings of cooked fatty fish like salmon and herring weekly to get in the proper amounts of EPA and DHA,” she says. “Or you could take a daily supplement providing at least 250 milligrams of EPA and DHA.” (There is currently no daily recommended amount, according to the National Health Institutes, but most supplements offer up 250-350 milligrams.)

Related: Shop vegan DHA and EPA products for fish oil alternatives.

However, you don’t need to stop at 250 milligrams, says Gorsin: “Some individuals could benefit from more than this amount—for instance, 500 milligrams per day has been found to be beneficial for lowering the risk of coronary heart disease in healthy adults, and pregnant or breastfeeding women would want to take in an extra 200 milligrams daily, up to 700 to 1,000 milligrams.” (Both EPA and DHA have been linked to supporting pregnancies carried to term, according to Review of Obstetrics and Gynecology.)

“You can speak with a registered dietitian nutritionist regarding how much you should take in, how to get the proper amount of omega-3s through the diet, and how to make the diet changes to do so,” says Gorin.

7 Unique Yoga Offshoots For Adventure Seekers

Sure, you might know your Chaturanga from your Ardha Chandrasana, but can you execute them while balanced on a slackline or suspended from silks? While bending one’s self into seemingly unnatural poses may feel like an adventure in and of itself, the practice of yoga—which dates back more than 5,000 years to ancient India—is constantly evolving.

Not simply for those looking to find their Zen through a mat-based flow, thrill seekers and out-of-the-box thinkers can get their yoga on in any number of ways, each producing unique personal benefits. Whether you feel more at ease in a farm-like setting where goats roam—yep, goats—or want to engage in some exhilarating primal movements, there’s a yoga class to fit your every need and comfort level.


AcroYoga is the stuff of Instagram dreams, where the hashtag #AcroYoga reveals pics of skilled students showing off their moves against scenic backdrops. This partner-based practice combines beautiful yoga poses and acrobatic lifts, with one member of the duo acting as “the base” and the other as “the flyer.”

Enthusiasts insist it both tones and loosens muscles, opening up the body without a great deal of strain. It’s also considered to be mentally and emotionally therapeutic, since the act of working as a team (versus solo, like most yoga practices) to achieve high-flying poses instills a sense of partnership and human connection.

2. Slackline Yoga

Not for the faint of heart, Slackline Yoga takes even the most accomplished yogis out of their comfort zone by practicing poses—you guessed it—on a slackline (a thin strip of webbing). Hello, Cirque Du Soleil! Students typically start low to the ground on a relatively short line to get a feel for the often shaky elements of this extreme endeavor.

Heather Larsen, a professional slacker, adopted her yoga practice after being inspired by some impressive yogis she saw on social media.

“Practicing on an unstable surface really challenges you in a new way,” she says. “Imagine doing eagle pose, but the ground is moving….that is not an easy task! It, in a sense, is a moving meditation.”

Related: Get all your yoga gear right here, from mats to stability balls to super-comfy pants. 

And, because you risk falling if you err, you will have to breathe, be in the moment and stay calm, she explains. And obviously there are physical benefits: “You can’t cheat in slacklining, so your core is extremely engaged basically the entire time you are on the line.”

3. SUP Yoga

Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) Yoga moves your asana practice onto the water, with an eight- to 14-ft long paddleboard serving as your “mat.” “Some of the most influential Yoga teachers of our generation have encouraged practitioners to practice near water,” says Kaycie Metzelaars, a certified yoga instructor otherwise known as The Chakra Lady. A river, lake, or shore are suitable.

For SUP newcomers, Metzelaars strongly encourages students to simply have fun with it. “Don’t take yourself too seriously,” she says. “You might wobble, you might fall in the water, and that’s OK! You don’t have to be ‘good’ at it to benefit from the experience.”

4. Aerial Yoga

Gravity may not feel like our friend as we age, but Aerial Yoga uses the force to our advantage. Fusing classical yoga with a Cirque du Soleil vibe, circus fabrics are used to help support the body while doing familiar poses in the air.

In essence, the pull of gravity encourages the body to realign in a gentle way, which is particularly beneficial for students who suffer from back pain. Inversion poses (upside down, that is) that may have previously felt impossible for some students are suddenly within reach, adding the benefit of confidence to one’s practice.

5. Goat Yoga

Animal-assisted therapy isn’t a trend but a lifestyle. And with the advent of businesses like cat cafes, it’s only getting more popular. According to a 2012 study published in Frontiers in Psychology, pets and human-animal interactions boast a bevy of health benefits for humans. “The presence of friendly animals, both familiar and unfamiliar, can effectively reduce heart rate and blood pressure or buffer increases in these parameters in anticipation of a stressor,” assert the study authors from the Department of Special Education at the University of Rostock in Germany.

Enter Goat Yoga, the practice of doing yoga among, you guessed it, a bunch of roaming goats. While fun and playful, it’s not entirely practical. As goats are natural-born climbers, they may try to take your Mountain Pose literally, or choose to take a rest on your mat. Still, YouTube videos of animal-loving yogis practicing Downward Dog while getting attention from a goat is enough to put a smile on your face and there’s certainly a positive benefit in that.

6. Laughter Yoga

An old adage does claim laughter is the best medicine, and Laughter Yoga takes the message to heart. “Laughter in combination with gentle yoga is a transformative practice no matter your age, yoga experience, or physical limitation,” says Darrin Zeer, author of Office Yoga, who teaches the practice in both corporate meetings and at resorts. “Your body doesn’t recognize the difference between real and fake laughter—endorphins are released either way.”

Incorporating choreographed belly laughs or giggles might feel, well, silly, but the potential benefits include lower blood pressure and reduced stress, according to Medical Hypothesis.

According to Zeer, his students feel “freed up” after a laughter session. “They state it loosens up their inhibitions and drastically relieves stress,” he says. “Like a euphoric sensation throughout the body and mind as if you had a glass of champagne.”


Related: Foam roll those aches and pains away by shopping rollers right here.

7. BUTI Yoga

Boasting a tagline that reads, “Sweat with intention,” BUTI Yoga pairs vinyasa yoga with primal movements, tribal dance, and plyometrics. Derived from an Indian term, Buti means “the cure to something that’s been hidden away or kept secret.”

The premise of the class, and what keeps students coming back for more, is harnessing your internal power to overcome fear or self-esteem issues. Powering through the challenging workout in a group setting allows both women and men to feed off one another’s energy, unleashing animal-like movements that may initially feel awkward, but become instinctual as one’s practice progresses.