What It’s Like Staying Fit With An Autoimmune Disorder

In the past year, I’ve become super-fitness-focused (did I just write that?)—because I was tired of the old, high-blood-pressure-me, and because I have an inflammatory disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis. In short, it’s degenerative, and it can cause my spine to fuse, leaving me with no mobility. It can also affect my heart, eyes, lungs, and stomach. Let’s just say, it seriously sucks.

If this disease were a vampire, it would feed on the sedentary. It looooves the sedentary. Sitting for 20 minutes? Not stretching all day? Not exercising? It’s all like porn to this disease. But that’s just me—there are plenty of other autoimmune diseases that don’t have the same effect, of course. However, research shows that many of these diseases (and remember, there’s over 100 of them!) respond really well to clean eating and tailored fitness regimens.

That’s because people with autoimmune diseases have some obstacles. Many of us are plagued with constant fatigue (you can go to the gym at 5 a.m., but I’m good, thanks), deal with some range of chronic pain or mobility loss (my inflamed joints have banned burpees for life), or deal with complications that prevent us from simply hitting the gym like everyone else.

But this isn’t a sob story! This is a victory story. This is what I’ve learned about staying fit, despite my limitations—and hopefully, no matter your current state of health, there’s something here that may apply to you.

1. Understand what an autoimmune disease does to you.

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked, “What is an autoimmune disease?” I’d be rich. Just kidding—but I’d probably have about $50 bucks, which is not bad at all for a hypothetical situation.

It’s one thing to explain to someone the mechanics of an autoimmune disease (inflammation in the body runs rampant, attacking itself and making the body sick), but it’s another to contextualize what this means for you.

Related: Millions Of Americans Have Autoimmune Diseases—Could You?

Because inflammation is at the core of these diseases, you can know that it’s the culprit behind many of your symptoms. Inflammation makes us tired because the body is fighting its own healthy cells. Inflammation can also cause pain. (Anyone who doesn’t believe in chronic fatigue or pain should stop and look up “Science” in the dictionary, please.)

Which leads me to number two…

2. Listen to your body.

This mantra is often tossed around—but the fact is, it can come off as a mindless platitude. You can trust me, though, that I’m not blowing smoke: You need to listen to your body. Learning to understand when your body needs rest—versus when it could use a healthy dose of movement (whatever that means to you!)—is key. Become a psychic to your poor, ailing body. It will thank you. Ignore its needs, and you will feel worse.

Here’s why you need be more vigilant: People with autoimmune diseases often deal with flare-ups. This word is like uttering “Voldemort” to us autoimmunies—it means a whole slew of things, and none of them are good. Flares are what we avoid at literally all costs, be it taking medicine, getting enough sleep, exercising, eating right, or keeping stress at bay.

Related: I Won’t Let My Thyroid Disease Stop Me From Staying Fit

Healthy people can go hard or skimp on some sleep and still be more or less OK. But for us, going too hard—or not moving enough—can result in a flare. I love my 7:30 p.m. aqua plyometics class (water is divine for anyone with joint issues, since it’s so low-impact!), but there are days when my body feels like it’s got nothing left. Gas tank empty. And I have learned to listen in order to prevent a flare.

Because you don’t always know when you’ll be too tired to muster a workout, it can be smart to take advantage of the times you do feel well enough. That could mean breaking into a spontaneous stretch, yoga, or plyo session—or rerouting your weekend plans to include a quick lap swim. I’m not saying this is easy or doable—and it’s a luxury to be able to make room for movement—but it’s something to consider!

Featured Products

3. Small victories matter.

If you can’t get in a full 30 minutes or an hour at the gym, that’s OK. When I can’t, I try to do a variety of stretch sessions or short walks. Treating my body like it is capable is what matters. This might mean I do five minutes of yoga mid-day, or that you take the stairs instead of the elevator.

The point is, you can do something (anything!). For many autoimmunies, feeling out of control—like the disease is your boss—is the reality. When you can’t predict flare-ups or your reaction to a certain medicine, it’s important to do what you can to reclaim autonomy over your body. Don’t think you need to be an athlete or overcome disease by running three miles every morning despite the pain. Those victories are incredible, but so are the smaller ones.

You’ve got this dumb monster raging inside you, so be a friend to yourself!

4. Use fitness as mental therapy.

Obviously, there’s no complimentary therapy that can take the place of professional mental health care. However, there are ways to augment your mental health rituals—and fitness is totally one of them. Autoimmune diseases are basically free passes to the local pity party: You feel tired all the time, your body hurts, your friends don’t get it, your job doesn’t get it, and your spouse is tired of hearing you complain.

This is why, for me, I like to use fitness to get my endorphins rolling. I feel like I am making strides to feel better, and sometimes this is a key that unlocks that coveted sense of okay-ness. Suddenly, with all those post-exercise feel-good hormones flooding my body, it’s a little easier to feel celebratory and joyful. With time, it’s even made me feel like the disease takes up a just a sliver of my life—and not all of it. Feeling strong, capable, flexible, and in control reduces the number of times I feel badly.

Related: How Fitness Became My Drug Of Choice

But maybe you’re not in a position to get a rush of endorphins from working out—there are other ways to up your happiness levels: meditation, slowly walking in nature, journaling about your gratitude, or simply laughing (seriously, making time to laugh can change your physiology). Taking the time to slow down and care for yourself—in any way—can make a big difference.

5. Make fitness part of your wellness routine.

Maybe this seems insanely obvious by this point, but fitness isn’t an extracurricular to wellness. To me, it’s a part of the wellness pie-chart (which includes eating well and supplementing, engaging in pleasurable activities, using de-stressing tools daily, managing illness (medication, physical therapy), meaningful social interaction, and exercise). Making the conscious effort, day in and out, to move and strengthen your body, can be extremely empowering.

Just having the option to move your body is a privilege, especially to someone with disabilities. For example, when my disease is at its worst, people can become wheelchair or bed-bound, unable to move, turn, or even walk. I recognize that this could be me, so while I have the time to use my body, I do!

I swim or aqua cycle four or five times a week, and it impacts my overall wellness in a variety of ways: It lowers my blood pressure, it strengthens my body, it raises my good cholesterol, and it decreases my pain. (And, not going to lie, because I work out in water I get to buy bunch of awesome, neon-colored bathing suits that freak everyone else in the pool out.)

6. Ask the disease what it wants to eat for dinner.

I have never looked at food like an enemy, and I don’t believe food should be used as a tool for punishment or shame. We are pleasure beings and we like wine, cheese, fatty meats, and sugar. And that’s OK. But these pleasures must be indulged in in moderation, especially with an autoimmune disease.

In fact, research shows that many autoimmune diseases are deeply rooted in gut health, according to a study in Autoimmune Diseases. I know, for a fact, that eating cheese and most grains disturbs my gut flora and can trigger a flare-up.

Related: Shop probiotics to keep your gut healthy. 

There’s a two-fold benefit to eating well and eating for your body: One, it keeps you fit so that you can stay moving. Two, it keeps you energized and feeling good. Three, it keeps you from feeling shackled to frustrating digestive and disease symptoms.

If I ask my Ankylosing Spondylitis what it wants for dinner, it says salmon, avocado, arugula, and cauliflower. If I ask myself, Myself says pizza and cookies. You have to get in between them and figure it out!

7. Supplement for you.

People always say “take your vitamins and supplements!” and there’s a great reason for it. Whether you’ve eliminated food groups (something us autoimmunies do a lot in search of the least inflammatory diet) or are simply looking to increase health by getting more of the good stuff, supplements can make a big difference.

Research what works for you. I know that fish oil has been found helpful in patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis, for example. Start with a multivitamin to fill in any nutritional gaps, and work with a functional medicine practitioner, if possible, to identify what else might work for your body and your autoimmune disease.

Related: Shop joint health supplements to keep your body feeling its best. 

What Is African Black Soap—And Why Does Everyone Swear By It?

There are plenty of trendy health and natural skin-care products on the market (hello, apple cider vinegar!) these days—and black soap (a.k.a. African black soap) is now emerging as the latest star. Purported to provide ultra-deep cleansing of the skin and praised by people with skin conditions like rosacea and eczema, black soap is quickly accumulating super-fans, with beauty experts extolling its virtues.

A quick scan of the beauty-care aisle will tell you that black soaps, like Shea Moisture’s Organic African Black Soap, contain a few leading ingredients: plant ash (such as cocoa pod ash), shea butter, and various oils. Each brand may carry products with slightly different ingredients, but it’s the ash that plays a core role due to its skin-cleansing abilities.

Originating in West Africa, black soap comes from something called agro-waste—or, parts of plants (ashes from shells, husks or barks of plantain, palm, cocoa pod, or shea trees) left out in the sun to dry. The ash from these parts is mixed with water, shea butter, and oils (like coconut oil or palm oil), and is then cooked, saponofied (made hard, like sap), and cooled.

Featured Products

Though more conclusive studies are needed on African black soap’s seemingly magical skin-cleansing properties, research in the Journal of Bioresource Technology found that the ash in black soap, which gently exfoliates the skin due to its makeup from dried plants, offers “excellent solubility, consistency, cleansing, and lathering abilities.”

On top of its skin-cleansing properties, the shea butter in African black soap is lauded for its moisturizing abilities. “Shea butter can help soften cracked dry skin on heels, elbows, and knees,” says Brian Tanzer, Manager of Scientific Affairs at The Vitamin Shoppe. “It also contains essential fatty acids, along with vitamins A and E, which help maintain your skin’s elasticity and suppleness.”

The oils found in black soap, which can vary by the region in which the soap was made, are also highly moisturizing.

Who Should Use It?

Most people can use African black soap on their face and body for general skin cleansing. And according to a survey published by the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, people also use it for minimizing acne, dark spots, and razor bumps. This could be due to its deep-cleansing abilities, although more research is needed to validate its mechanisms and its effectiveness on specific skin conditions.

10 Things That Will Help You Get Your Hygge On

If your favorite thing to do during the wintertime is drink a warm cup of cinnamon tea by the window, tucked under a baby-soft blanket—or if you’ve decorated your whole apartment with distressed wood and tiny candles, chances are you’ve probably already fallen in love with the trendy concept of hygge.

Hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”) is a Danish word that can’t exactly be translated into English—although it’s both a noun and an adjective that falls somewhere in between cozy and content, especially as it relates to mindfully indulging in simple pleasures (think: listening to the rain fall, or reading a good book in bed while still in your pajamas). Fun fact: The Germans have their own version of this word (gemütlichkeit) and the Dutch do, too (gezelligheid). To the Norwegians, it translates to “well-being.”

Want to conjure some hygge for yourself? It’s more than a mindset—you’ve got to set up your space for ultimate warmth and comfort, and we’re here to help you do just that.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Himalayan Crystal Salt Lamp

Beloved for their supposed air-clarifying properties, salt lamps are probably the most hygge light source of all—aside from the actual sun on a snowy day. With their natural, orange glow, even small salt lamps can fill a room with magic and calm.

Related: Should You Jump On The Bandwagon And Buy A Himalayan Salt Lamp?

2. Golden Milk

A nice cup of chamomile tea or a mug of hot cocoa are both superbly hygge, but Golden Milk takes the award for coziest of all. First off, its scent is enchanting, as it’s blended with spicy turmeric, ginger, honey, cinnamon, and cardamom. On top of that, the turmeric promotes a sense of well-being. Simply mix with warm coconut milk or any other milk base, and you’ve got a saffron-colored winter-weather concoction that’s good for the soul.

3. Pumpkin Banana Bread

If you take a moment to google “hygge,” you’ll find loads of gorgeous food blogs out there, brimming with delectable treats displayed on candle-covered long wooden tables. Now you can make your very own hygge dessert—one that is both tasty and Instagrammable. #hygge.

4. No Cow’s Fluffbutter

This brownie batter-flavored fluffbutter is the equivalent of eating a pink cloud. Step one: Wrap yourself up in a big, wool blanket. Step 2: Eat this stuff by the spoonful. Infused with both pea and rice proteins, you’ll have yourself a delicious and healthy hygge snack.

5. Ashwagandha Extract

Beyond décor and Instagram-friendly hygge aesthetic is the core concept of self-care via simplicity and coziness. Basically, if hygge were a supplement, it’d be ashwagandha—and that’s because this popular and powerful adaptogen promotes natural feelings of energy, vitality, and emotional well-being. Used to adapt to stress, sooth the nervous system, and support sleep, you can bet this little herb will inspire hygge from the inside.

6. SpaRoom Aromascape Diffuser & Essential Oils 

Hygge is all about the sensory. From the feeling of a fluffy puppy to the pitter-patter sounds of rain, you want to settle down and take it all in. And with this SpaRoom Aromascape diffuser, you can do just that in a scent-sational space. Its glass-blown sculpture is super-pretty to look at, since its spectral color-changing ability adds major ambience. You can pick any scent you want—but we recommend lavender or vanilla oil for a truly hygge vibe.

7. Nubian Heritage’s Patchouli Body Wash

Pour yourself a very hygge bath with Nubian Heritage’s patchouli and rosehip body wash. Simply pour a bit under the water, sink into the bubbles, and enjoy the skin-softening goodness of this calming, aromatic wash.

8. Natural HBC’s Peace Pearl Pillar Candle

This lavender-and-tangerine-scented candle has been hand-crafted in small batches—and ain’t it darling? The combination of these aromas is sure to leave you feeling relaxed and soothed, while the candle itself will pretty up any living space.

9. Love My Coloring Books’ Love Is…

Coloring books aren’t just for kids! This beautiful little book is made for anyone looking to get creative. Settle in for a weekend evening with a few Crayolas—and prepare to escape.

For any cat lovers out there, we’ve also got you covered.

10. Gaiam’s 3MM Purple Mat

Hygge isn’t just about cozying up under the blankets. For you, it might mean pulling out the yoga mat, putting on some soft music, lighting a few candles, and moving through the poses. Make your yoga experience more comfortable—and much more pretty—by using this comfy mat by trusted brand Gaiam.

Featured Products

Who’s Good: Meet Yoga Guru And Best-Selling Author Sara DiVello

These days, all you need is a basic knowledge of superfoods and an iPhone upgrade to be deemed a social media influencer. So how do you distinguish between the people on Instagram who can provide solid info, inspiring ideas, and encouragement along your own health and wellness journey and the many one-trick ponies filling feeds with butt selfies? We can help you cut through all the noise (and smoothie bowls).

Welcome to Who’s Good, a regular interview series from the editors of What’s Good that catches up with the best, brightest, and boldest social media has to offer.

Up this week: We talked to Sara DiVello, yoga instructor, Athleta brand ambassador, and author of the best-selling book, Where in the OM Am I? One Woman’s Journey from the Corporate World to the Yoga Mat. You may have seen her work in the The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Marie Claire, or MindBodyGreen, where she shares inspiring, friendly advice on how to bring Zen to a busy lifestyle. (More on that below!)

Sara, thanks for chatting with us! Let’s start with your yoga practice. How did you come into it, and what are your focuses as a yoga instructor?

Tuesday Truth: an Open heart is a brave heart. 💙

A post shared by Writer • Speaker •Yoga Teacher (@saradivello) on

So happy to chat! I love The Vitamin Shoppe and find myself in-store a healthy number of times per week. I started doing yoga because my heart was broken—I continued because it gave me tools to manage my anxiety and insomnia, which totally changed my life. The full story is, my boyfriend at the time dumped me, and shortly thereafter, I got laid off when my company was acquired by a much-larger one. Talk about a personal-professional double-whammy! I felt rejected in both spheres of my life and plummeted into depression—and the fact that it was a dark, dreary, freezing cold winter in Boston probably didn’t help. The post-practice peacefulness I felt after yoga helped me through that. I then stayed with my practice for next 17 years because of the ways yoga changed my life. It helps me feel calm, grounded, and centered, which is literally life-changing for a chronically anxious person like me!

My focus now as a teacher is to share the same tools that helped me. I lead a slow, mindful, therapeutic-oriented practice, and I set a tone that is warm, welcoming, and accepting of ALL, regardless of age, ability, or experience. I have people in their 70s and 80s in my classes and I also have super-flexible professional dancers. Often, I have people who tell me they hate yoga but somehow like what I teach. But they’re all there because something resonates with them in some way.


My theory is that when you set a tone of welcoming acceptance, and give people the tools to slow down, tune in to the deepest parts of themselves, and—in the process—connect to something sacred, you provide a key that they can use for their unique journey and healing.

I don’t teach, preach, or practice any of the “cool stuff” you may see on Instagram (like headstands or arm balances). I’m here to give myself and others the tools to slow down, connect, and heal anxiety, insomnia, and the terrible sense of being chronically overbooked and undernourished when it comes to time, energy, and resources.

Tell us a little about your book, Where in the OM Am I?One Woman’s Journey from the Corporate World to the Yoga Mat. It was an NIEA winner for Best Memoir and Shape Magazine selected itas a best book. Who is this book for?  

OM is for anyone wondering where they are in their life, what the heck is going on, and if this is all there is. It’s for people feeling stuck, who have a gnawing sense of deep-down dissatisfaction, or a gentle yearning for more. It’s also for people who just need a good laugh. One of my favorite reviews said it’s “The Devil Wears Prada meets Eat, Pray, Love….” And, I would add, “with some humor from The Office thrown in on the side.”

All kidding aside, the book is about finding what you want to do in life, as told through my transition from working in financial services to teaching yoga, and all of the super-crazy “characters” in both worlds. It also addresses how women can be so mean to other women both in the workplace AND in the yoga world (and let me tell you—the yoga mean girls really caught me off guard!).

Overall, I wanted readers to know that they’re not alone, that this is their one glorious life and they deserve to pursue what would make them extraordinarily happy. And, that if I can make a shift, anyone can.

Tell us about your work as a brand ambassador for Athleta.

✨I'm taking over @athleta's National Instagram Stories today! 🙌🏼✨ And to celebrate I'm also launching a Power of She Absolute SelfCare Challenge! Swipe left 👈🏼 ✨ For 10 days I'll be sharing my top wellness tips, tricks, hacks, and recipes to enhance your Absolute SelfCare starting with food today (scroll left for recipes and details)✨ To Enter: 1: Follow me (obv) 2: Comment below with questions or what you're excited to try (or even just a ☺️ to let me know you're here) 3: Follow along Daily for my tips (and to see new prizes added). Winner will be picked on Day 10! #powerofshe #absoluteselfcare . . . . . . . . #athleta #athletaambassador #athletanewbury #sponsored #athletaxsorel #YogaJourney #YogaJunkie #YogaLifestyle #YogaGram #YogaLife #YogaGirl #Author #AuthorLife #AuthorsOfInstagram #Wellness #Health #MindBodySpirit #HealthyLiving #Bewell #Inspiration #Empowerment #HealthAndWellness #HiVibeTribe #GoodVibesOnly #GirlBoss

A post shared by Writer • Speaker •Yoga Teacher (@saradivello) on

I was incredibly honored when Athleta chose me as one of seven U.S. yoga ambassadors when they launched their ambassador program in 2015. I continue in this role today. As an ambassador, I provide free health and wellness events to the Boston community, which is super-important to me. I fully believe in Athleta’s mission to support and empower ALL women—of all ages, sizes, abilities, and backgrounds. Athleta also provides educational opportunities to the women who manufacture and sew their clothes, and that is equally important to me.

You recently spoke at the WELL Summit, an event series aimed toward self-improvement. As a keynote speaker, what did that mean to you—and what did your speech revolve around?

Even though I do it all the time, I’m actually a very nervous public speaker, so to get up in front of 500 people and share an intimate story is vulnerable and scary for me, but it’s also deeply meaningful. I passionately believe in the power of storytelling—in each person’s ability to positively impact someone else’s life. It’s the same foundational belief I have about writing a book—if you have a story and are called to share it, you probably should. Because if you can open someone else’s eyes, heart, and mind, you can change their life–and that is one of the best and most powerful things we can do in our lifetime.

Featured Products

My speech was about creating and embracing your best life. I focused on how my mother’s terminal breast cancer diagnosis made me committed to living each day fully, to dreaming big dreams and pursuing them with unyielding focus and unrelenting dedication, because to do so is to honor the gift that we have each been given and that is the gift of another day. That commitment is part of what motivated me to leave my “safe” career in financial services and risk going after my dream to be an author.

You do a lot of free events and workshops. Can you tell us about why you offer communities services like these?

I grew up poor and consequently didn’t have access to a lot of opportunities that I would’ve wished for. I was the first in my family to go to college and I worked my way through. I’m so grateful to have had that opportunity and for all the opportunities that came about as a result of it. So now I’m committed to doing what I can to give back.

Yoga, health, and wellness can get pretty pricey, which can squeeze out a lot of people. So as an Athleta ambassador (and in other volunteer/donation capacities), I provide complimentary yoga, meditation, mindful eating, and other health and wellness events and classes to the community, in an effort to make these accessible to ALL.

I’m really excited because I just completed my fourth year of teaching Yoga on the Charles for the Esplanade Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to maintaining green spaces in Boston, where they then host free health and fitness classes for the community.

It’s one of my favorite things to do. We gather between 300 to 600 people each week, and it’s so wonderful to be outside, breathe fresh air, and do yoga together as the sun sets over the Charles River. The sunsets are spectacular and the classes, while always wonderful, are also always unique. One time the mounted police rode two horses past the class and we all kind of paused to laugh (and take photos)!

But whether I get 600 people, or 16 at a more-intimate event, what really matters to me is seeing that spark of awareness click on. That “Ohhhh…Yes! This feels good! I can do this!”

Speaking of horses, you recently talked to Elite Daily about a new trend called HORSE YOGA (we didn’t know that was a thing). We actually published an article on eight adventurous yoga styles, but this is a new one. You must give us the scoop.

That was so fun. I love Elite Daily and the writer who interviewed me is hilarious. But when it comes to horse yoga, my take is this: I love horses and I love yoga. I also love spaghetti and ice cream, but I do not love these things smooshed together.

I’m a yoga traditionalist. My focus is on getting people out of pain and in that state of profound stillness, where they can connect to the deepest parts of themselves. In that stillness and connection, they can calm, ground, restore their energy, and rejuvenate.

Again, I don’t teach, preach, or practice any of the “cool stuff” you may see on Instagram, like horse yoga or balancing on one pinky over a ravine. I don’t need it. I’m here to relax, rest, and recharge (and to share those tools with others).

What are your top three tips for living a well-balanced life, especially for the busy folks out there?

1.    Don’t try to do it all as defined by anyone else. Do what feels good for you.

2.   Take time for the deep breaths every day.

3.   Get enough sleep and eat well. I know I’m a wreck without sleep and I need to eat every few hours—sort of like a two-year-old (but taller). If you’re well-rested and well-fed, everything else is possible. But you’ve GOT to have that strong foundation.

Do you have any go-to vits, supps, or smoothie recipes that keep you feeling high-energy?

Yes! I take a women’s multivitamin every day, as well as fish oil, and vitamin D supplements (again—I live in Boston. It gets dark a 4:30 p.m. during the winter! I need extra vitamin D!). And I start every day with a cup of green tea and honey, followed by a protein-packed, fiber-filled smoothie.

What can we expect to see from you as the year goes on?  

I’ve got a ton of awesome events coming up. From the Nantucket Yoga Festival July 9-10, to Yoga on the Charles in Boston every Wednesday July through September (free!), Day of WELLness in Boston in April, WELL Summit 2018 in NYC, and many more events up and down the east coast and around the country. Come hang with me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or my website where you can sign up for my mailing list and be the first to learn about what I’ve got cooking (not to mention—you can get my friends and family discounts!).

When I’m home, I’m working on my next book—it’s actually a true crime murder mystery, so stay tuned! All this and more is on my social media and newsletter so follow me if you like healthy recipes, yoga you can do at your desk, restful sleep hacks, and other tips, tricks, and tools you can weave into your day to help live your best life. I also do a lot of giveaways.

Lastly, I truly LOVE what I do so if you’ve got questions, send me a message! As you may have noticed, I like to chat.

Millions Of Americans Have Autoimmune Diseases—Could You?

You probably hear people talking about autoimmune diseases a lot these days—and that’s because there’s much more awareness around the millions of Americans who live with them. In fact, they’re a leading cause of death in young and middle-aged women, according to research published in the The American Journal of Public Health.

Understanding autoimmune diseases isn’t easy, though—especially since they’re not all common (and there are over 100 of them!), many aren’t well-researched, and some of the diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis) don’t look anything like others (such as psoriasis, lupus, or type 1 diabetes).

At the core of every autoimmune disease is inflammation—which is why the terminology “autoimmune diseases” is sometimes used interchangeably with “autoinflammatory diseases.” There is a slight difference between the two, however, which is identified by the underlying cause of the disease. In short, autoinflammatory diseases are thought to stem from a malfunction in the innate immune system (which attacks antigens immediately and without a specific course of attack), whereas autoimmune diseases are thought to stem from a malfunction in the adaptive immune system (which reacts to specific antigens with specific courses of attack).

Fortunately, more and more research is being done around inflammation’s massive effects on our health.

The Deal With Inflammation

Quick science lesson: We all have immune systems—they keep us healthy by shielding our bodies from diseases and infections. When your body comes into contact with harm, your immune system sends out its troops (a.k.a. our white blood cells), which rush to surround the effected area. This is called acute inflammation.

Featured Products

So, does that mean inflammation is a good thing? Yes and no. Although acute inflammation is necessary for our health, its bad rap isn’t entirely undeserved. In the case of people with autoimmune diseases, the issue is chronic inflammation.

“Autoimmune diseases arise when the immune system is triggered to produce antibodies [inflammation], which, rather than defending the body, instead begin attacking the body’s tissues,” says Hospital for Special Surgery rheumatologist Medha Barbhaiya, MD. It’s sort of akin to going into battle when there is no enemy. Those inflammatory responses create diseases that affect many parts of our bodies (everything from our eyes to our joints to our kidneys and hearts).

The diseases are all different and require varying modes of treatment, depending on the disease itself, the person, and the symptoms.

Why do people have autoimmune diseases?

Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast answer. “Extensive research efforts are currently being dedicated to identifying potential underlying mechanisms that trigger such an abnormal response of the immune system,” says Dr. Barbhaiya.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 23 million Americans suffer from an autoimmune disease. However, statistics from the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association put that number at around 50 million. What gives? “While we do not know why the prevalence is so high, both hereditary and environment-lifestyle factors may play an important role in determining who develops an autoimmune disease,” says Dr. Barbhaiya. “In fact, the current disease paradigm being investigated is one of a ‘two-hit’ hypothesis, suggesting that an environmental and lifestyle exposure may trigger disease in those with an underlying genetic predisposition.”

Related: What It’s Like To Have Arthritis In Your 20s

According to Dr. Kimberly Sanders, a licensed Naturopathic Physician at Arthrowell, some of those lifestyle and environmental triggers may include ”poor digestion, digestive tract infections, blood infections, toxins, hormone imbalances, stress, and more.” Sanders says that the accumulation of all of these triggers is enough to set a person’s disease-carrying genes off—leading to symptoms.

Could you have an autoimmune disease?

The short answer: It’s hard to know. If you think understanding the reason why people get autoimmune disease is complicated, you should know that getting a proper diagnosis isn’t always easy either.

According to an article published by the University of Virginia, many people—including some doctors—downplay autoimmune disease pain or symptoms. In fact, plenty of people with autoimmune disease convince themselves that what they’re experiencing is “all in their heads”. On top of that, it’s common to have a few autoimmune disease at the same time. And some people’s autoimmune diseases masquerade as other illnesses and are misdiagnosed.

According to the NIH, the classic physical sign is inflammation, which can present as pain, swelling joint pain, digestive issues, fatigue, or recurring fever. The problem? This might seem like the flu, or general muscle aches, or simply feeling run down. People with autoimmune diseases may also experience unpredictable flare-up periods and total remission periods.

To further complicate things, most autoimmune disease don’t have reliable screening tests, Dr. Barbhaiya explains. This means that by the time the sickness disrupts your lifestyle, you wouldn’t even know it was there. “What complicates things further is that there is a subset of the population who may test positive for certain disease-specific antibodies, but never actually go on to develop any clinical manifestations,” Dr. Barbhaiya says.

Related: Shop our whole range of immune support products.

If you do have a family history of autoimmune disease or suspect that something isn’t right—like you’ve had joint pain and fatigue for months—see your primary care physician first, and ask for a referral to a rheumatologist.

Dr. Sanders also suggests you find a “naturopathic autoimmune expert to run blood tests and catch the early expression of autoimmune diseases.” While many doctors treat the symptoms, it’s important to seek the cause or root of the issue—and see a doctor who practices functional medicine, which addresses the underlying causes.

Is there a cure?

There is no official cure for autoimmune diseases and each disease must be treated differently, but doctors may prescribe medications like corticosteroids, NSAIDS, biologics, immunosuppressants, and chemotherapy. In some cases, as with lupus, kidney transplants have been necessary.

Additionally, supplements, diets, exercise, stress-reduction techniques, and physical therapy can help people manage their symptoms. There is evidence, for example, that some diets are beneficial to people with certain autoimmune diseases, according to an article published in Current Allergy and Asthma Reports. Other autoimmune diseases may benefit from certain types of exercise.

“There is much work to be done to better understand the underlying biology and risk factors for autoimmune diseases in order to improve prevention strategies and ultimately help find a cure,” says Dr. Barbhaiya.

 

Who’s Good: Q&A With MNDFL Meditation

These days, all you need is a basic knowledge of superfoods and an iPhone upgrade to be deemed a social media influencer. So how do you distinguish between the people on Instagram who can provide solid info, inspiring ideas, and encouragement along your own health and wellness journey and the many one-trick ponies filling feeds with butt selfies? We can help you cut through all the noise (and smoothie bowls). Welcome to Who’s Good, a regular interview series from the editors of What’s Good that catches up with the best, brightest, and boldest social media has to offer.

Up this week: We spoke with Lodro Rinzler, chief spiritual officer at MNDFL Meditation. The meditation studio has three locations in New York City and also runs a separate non-profit, MNDFL Ed, dedicated to making meditation accessible and meaningful, especially for youth.

Thanks for joining us, Lodro! Let’s start with some basics: What is meditation, and why would someone want to do it?

Meditation is, quite simply, substituting your discursive mind for an object—like the breath, a mantra, or a contemplation. Science is now proving what some spiritual traditions have been saying for thousands of years. It’s no longer a monk in robes on the other side of the world telling you that mindfulness and meditation are good for you. Instead, it’s The New York Times, academic papers, your doctor, boss, neighbors, or friends!

A little bit of mindfulness meditation every day over the period of two months leads to increased gray matter in the hippocampus and more activity in the anterior cingulate cortex [which controls high-level thinking, like ethics, morality, and decision-making]—meaning drastically reduced stress levels, better sleep, a boosted immune system, and increased productivity overall. For me, showing up for something as simple as the breath allows me to show up more fully and authentically for the rest of my life.

How can the average person begin getting into meditation? 

While there’s a lot of great resources online, I often recommend working with someone who is a certified meditation teacher and really knows their stuff. It’s important to study with someone who can hold your hand a bit as you get going and answer questions that you have along the way. If you’re not near a meditation center you can go online and check out MNDFL Video, which also has access to those really special teachers.

(Note: Everyone’s first class at MNDFL is $10—and they have 35 expert teachers on-hand.)

How does MNDFL work? We love the idea of a community of meditators. What are some of the values and missions you have?

M N D F L exists to enable humans to feel good. We are New York City’s premier meditation studio, and recently expanded to three locations (Greenwich Village, Upper East Side, and Williamsburg). Each week we have over 150 30- and 45-minute classes featuring expert teachers from a variety of traditions, offering simple techniques in an accessible manner. When classes are not in session, the space is open for self-guided practice. The mission is to make meditation accessible to all.

How can meditation be helpful in an age of high stress, social change, and political turmoil?

Since November 2016, we have seen a spike in attendance for our MNDFL Emotions classes. People are definitely grappling with some strong emotions since the transition in presidency. Meditation allows us to feel how we feel, to express our own innate peace and humanity, and form more authentic (and often offline) connections with others.

What are some of qualities you look for in an instructor?

Great question. I look for a mix of someone who is very well-trained in their lineage, who will offer time-tested techniques (as all too often people call themselves meditation teachers and offer stuff they made up last week, which is pretty harmful).

In addition to excellent training and certification as a teacher, the other thing I look for in a meditation instructor is kindness—someone who has an open heart and genuinely cares about other people.

What does the average person get wrong about meditation? How do we bust those “I can’t do it” myths?

My teacher always says that any meditation is good meditation; there’s no getting it wrong so long as we attempt to do it. I would say that most people think they should sit once and feel instant peace. That’s a bit like expecting meditation to be a massage instead of a training. For example, you wouldn’t expect to be able to pick up a guitar and immediately play Free Bird. We need to train in meditation in the same way, doing a little of it regularly and—over time—we get better at it and see the benefits first-hand. So, the number one thing I advise is to get consistent with your practice over a few weeks and be patient with yourself along the way.

How Meditation Helped Me Overcome My OCD

When I used to hear the term “OCD,” the first thoughts that popped into my head were always of super-organized sock drawers and Monica Gellar-level cleanliness (thanks, pop culture depictions of mental illness).

But that, of course, was before I was diagnosed.

I have a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder called Pure O (or Pure Obsessional OCD), which means that all of my obsessions and compulsions take place inside my head.

Here’s how OCD works: In an effort to control the severe anxiety caused by their obsessions, people with OCD perform compulsions (also known as “rituals”) to calm themselves down. Most people with OCD perform outward (or physical) compulsions, so things like hand washing, flipping a light switch on and off, or other repetitive behaviors.

But with Pure O, it’s a bit different. I deal with the same obsessive thought patterns, but my compulsions fly under the radar because my entire obsessive-compulsive cycle takes place internally. So, instead of performing an outwardly observable compulsion, like hand-washing, I perform a mental compulsion, like scanning my memories to look for evidence that my intrusive thought isn’t true. You might not be able to see it, but at times it’s like I’m at war with my own mind.

All of this information is fairly new to me. Before I was diagnosed, I had no idea what was going on inside my brain. I’ve always been a fairly anxious person, and I have a tendency to attach myself to disturbing-yet-completely-illogical thoughts. Like at work: If any two people walked into an office and closed the door, I would be 100 percent convinced that this was because I was about to get fired. I would spend hours sitting at my desk, terrified that I was going to be let go, racking my brain to figure out what I might have done that would cause me to get the ax.

You might not be able to see it, but at times it’s like I’m at war with my own mind.

I knew there was no logic behind my thought (I’ve never even come close to being fired), but it was like I couldn’t help myself. A thought came, I attached to it, and down the rabbit hole I went.

These thought patterns manifested themselves in all sorts of ways: fears about my weight, about my relationships, about my future. But for the most part, I just rolled with it. Did I hate the times I felt worried, anxious, and afraid for no reason? Of course. But, for the most part, they were temporary and didn’t interfere with my life in any significant way.

Until one day they did.

About a year ago, I had an intrusive thought that completely took over my life. I became obsessed with the idea that I had committed a crime and somehow forgotten about it. It sounds silly, but once it entered my psyche, I couldn’t let it go.

Featured Products

Logically, I knew it wasn’t true. But I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about it. I would spend hours reviewing my memories, searching for evidence of a crime. I read an encyclopedia’s worth of articles on the standard profile of violent criminals to see if I fit the bill. It consumed my every waking moment, and the more I tried to reassure myself that I wasn’t some sort of amnesiac criminal mastermind, the stronger the thought became. And the stronger the thought, the more I was convinced it had to be true.

It was a vicious cycle, and by the end, I was hanging on by a thread, convinced I was losing my mind.

That was, by far, the scariest time of my life, but it was also the catalyst I needed to get some help. I started working with an amazing therapist who immediately recognized what was going on and started working with me to help me manage my obsessions, intrusive thoughts, and anxiety.
There were a lot of techniques we explored to get my anxiety under control, but there was only one that ended up changing my life: meditation.

When my therapist suggested meditation as a way to help deal with my Pure O symptoms, I wasn’t exactly enthused. I had tried meditation in the past, and while I thought it was great in theory, I’d never had any success with it. I believed my mind was too stormy to be tamed.

Still, at that point, I was willing to try anything to get my life back. So I decided to give it a shot.

When thoughts pop into my consciousness or I find my mind starting to wander, I acknowledge the thought with gentleness and compassion, let it go, and refocus my attention on the breath.

I started a Buddhist-style practice of meditation called Vipassana. It’s the simple practice of sitting in silence and focusing on the breath. When thoughts pop into my consciousness or I find my mind starting to wander, I acknowledge the thought with gentleness and compassion, let it go, and refocus my attention on the breath.

At first, meditation was painfully hard. I would find myself overwhelmed with intrusive thoughts every single time I closed my eyes. But I stuck to the practice. I acknowledged each thought, and with as much self-love and compassion as I could muster, I let them go and brought my attention back to the breath.

The more I practiced, the easier it became to detach from my thoughts and refocus my attention on the breath. And the easier it became to detach from my thoughts, the less scary and significant they seemed. That practice began to bleed into the rest of my life, and slowly but surely, I regained control over my mind.

That was a year ago, and today, as a direct result of my daily meditation practice, my life—and my mind—couldn’t be any more different.

I’m no longer wracked with anxiety around the clock. I don’t spend hours of my day trapped in obsessive thought cycles. I sleep easier. I laugh more. My relationships—with myself and with the people I love—are better than ever. I feel more in tune with myself, my thoughts, and the world around me. In a nutshell, I’m happy.

And all thanks to a little bit of breathing.

Do I still have intrusive thoughts? Yes. And I probably always will. But since I started meditating, they haven’t had any real power over my life. If I find myself caught in a thought cycle, I’m able to acknowledge it, let it go, and refocus my attention, just like I do when I’m in meditation. I’m able to see my intrusive thoughts for what they are—just random, insignificant brain synapses—and I no longer feel the need to attach to them.

I can’t say that I’ll never battle with Pure O again. But I can say, thanks to my meditation practice, I’m getting better—one breath at a time.

Related: Shop aromatherapy to level up your meditation experience. 

Should You Be Drinking Ginger Water?

Ginger is a heavenly-scented, tropical green and purple plant that has a long and illustrious history as a medicinal and culinary herb. Its plant family contains sister herbs cardamom and turmeric—which is unsurprising given its delicious flavor.

Hailing from India and China over 5000 years ago, ginger made its way around the world as a key import and export. Fun fact: In medieval England it was imported from India to make sweet treats—namely, gingerbread men, which you can thank Queen Elizabeth I of England for dreaming up.

But ginger’s benefits run deeper than baked goods. “Ginger may help to relieve nausea….and loss of appetite,” says Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN and author of The Small Change Diet.

Related: Can Drinking Lemon Water Really Help You Lose Weight?

That said, no one should rely on gingerbread cookies to get the benefits of the herb. Easy solution: ginger water. We’ve all heard of lemon water—which is used for weight management, as an immune boost, and to liven up tasteless H20—but hot ginger water is the new water du jour. And research backs it up. 

According to the review Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, ginger’s antiemetic (anti-nausea and vomiting) abilities have been the most widely researched. It’s used for general nausea, as well as pregnancy-related nausea.

The review also cites several studies that looked at ginger’s bioactive compound, gingerol, which, according to The International Journal of Preventative Medicine, may reduce the inflammation that causes post-workout muscle pain. Good to know!

The same review says that ginger boasts strong antioxidant components (one of the most potent ones it contains is called shogaol), which can help fight against free radicals (which cause DNA damage, leading to aging and disease), promote cognitive health, and support healthy blood pressure. And ginger may promote heart health, as well, says the Current Cardiology Reviews.

Ginger is basically safe to ingest, but do speak with your medical practitioner if you have gallstone disease, use blood thinners, or are pregnant. It may, for some, cause abdominal discomfort, says the National Institutes of Health.

Related: Shop ginger products to promote your health.

Besides eating fresh ginger or taking ginger supplements in tablets, capsules, or liquid extracts, you can drink ginger teas or—you got it—make your very own ginger water.

Drinking ginger water provides an opportunity to slow down, be mindful, and nourish your body directly from the herb (rather than a pre-packaged ginger product). Its calming scent adds to the experience, too.

Featured Products

Says Gans: “The water’s effectiveness may depend on how much actual ginger is added it. One thing for certain is that the water itself will aid in hydration, and if adding ginger to it helps you to drink more that’s a win-win.”

It’s recommended that you add ¼ tablespoon of fresh ginger to your water, which you should grate yourself to keep it highly bioactive. Don’t peel the skin off—there’s good stuff in there!

Ready to make your own ginger water? Here’s how:

Who’s Good: A Q&A With Fitness Star @KaisaFit

These days, all you need is a basic knowledge of superfoods and an iPhone upgrade to be deemed a social media influencer. So how do you distinguish between the people on Instagram who can provide solid info, inspiring ideas, and encouragement along your own health and wellness journey and the many one-trick ponies filling feeds with butt selfies? We can help you cut through all the noise (and smoothie bowls).

Welcome to Who’s Good, a regular interview series from the editors of What’s Good that catches up with the best, brightest, and boldest social media has to offer.

Up this week: We talked to Kaisa Keranen—a.k.a. KaisaFit. You (and her half-million other followers—or, as she calls them, “team members”) may have taken inspiration from her supercharged, any-time-any-where KaisaFit workouts. Or maybe you heard of the national #LetsMove campaign—on which she partnered with the Obama administration. (NBD, right?) If not, you’ll want to check her out—and get moving.

Kaisa, you’re a powerhouse personal trainer and fitness instructor (with an M.S. in exercise science!)—with half a million Instagram followers! Can you tell us a little about your journey to the life you have now?

Thank you so much! My story in a nutshell: I grew up playing pretty much any sport I could get my hands on and by the time high school came around I had narrowed it down to soccer and track and field. I ended up doing track at the University of Washington and after I graduated, found myself in the field of training. I had been pretty injured in college so when I graduated I had this desire to learn about my body and to have the education to take better care of it. Long story short, I fell in love with this industry and have been in it ever since.

Can you describe the KaisaFit method? How did you create and refine this method—and who is it best for?

The KaisaFit method is about simply moving. I think it’s less of a method and more of a mindset that hopefully, over time, cultivates a way of life. My mission is really just to encourage people to add more movement to their day, in whatever form that may be. It’s about helping people understand that they don’t need to hit the gym to get a good workout in, they have their body and their living room and sometimes (actually, most of the time) that’s all you need!

You were asked by Michelle Obama (!!!) to be part of her Let’s Move campaign. What was that like?

That was an INSANE moment in my life and I’m not sure if/how or when that could ever be topped. Mrs. Obama asked my friend and I to be the head trainers for her “Let’s Move” digital campaign and it truly was a dream come true. She is an incredible woman whom I admire so much, so to have her recognize us was absolutely surreal.

You created the #JustMove hashtag. How do you think people’s sedentary lifestyles are affecting them? Apart from the gym, what are some interesting, effective ways to get out and get moving? I see you on the beach, on the rocks, on park benches…

Really simply put, our sedentary lives are killing us. I know it sounds harsh but it’s the truth and it’s important that people start wrapping their heads around how awful our sedentary lives truly are for us.

This is the main reason why I started #JustMove. I wanted people to understand that at any moment throughout the day, and any location they might find themselves in, there is a way to #JustMove. It doesn’t always mean that you are lifting weights or even breaking a serious sweat, but it means that you are up and moving your body, making the world around you your gym in that moment.

How has your life changed since cultivating a social media following? How has it impacted your approach to fitness?

Featured Products

My life has changed quite a bit since the moment I decided to share my workouts on social media—and in the best way possible! I get to connect and communicate with so many incredible people on a daily basis, and that is truly a gift. I am constantly motivated and inspired by my team (a.k.a. my followers, but I don’t like using that term). I just feel like we are one big family, and that we’re in this together, trying to support each other to be our best, happiest, and healthiest selves on a daily basis. For that I am constantly thankful!

Do you have a favorite go-to power-up and post-workout snack or recipe? Are there are any vits, herbs, or supplements you take to feel your best—and why?

💥G I V E A W A Y 💥 . In honor of @vitalproteins launching their AMAZING creamer we are doing a little giveaway. . First, it is super important for me to state that my rule about social media is simple. If I wouldn't tell my friends and family about it, I wouldn't tell my team here on Instagram about it. . With that being said, I am a huge fan of @vitalproteins and have been using them for over a year now so I can comfortably tell you about how incredible their product is and how much of a difference it has made in the way I feel. . So in honor of their creamer launching today we are giving a few away! Just comment below and let us know what your morning rituals are. What are some of the absolute necessities you need to start your day off right? Mine include 2 pieces of toast, a huge cup of coffee w/ Vital's creamer and some slow jams playing in the background 🎶😁 . We will randomly pick some winners tomorrow morning and DM you directly 💙

A post shared by Kaisa Keranen (@kaisafit) on

I am a HUGE Vital Proteins fan! My pre-workout is coffee + Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides and two pieces of gluten-free toast with almond butter and honey. I train pretty early in the morning and it’s all that my stomach can handle before I go beast-mode.

During my workout I am sipping on Vital Proteins Beauty Water and post-workout I have my first big meal of the day: anything from an omelette to last night’s dinner. I’m not a picky eater but it needs to be good quality food and I need a lot of it.

What was the single most empowering or inspirational moment you’ve had as a trainer?

Oh maaaaan! That question is nearly impossible to answer. I have been a trainer for over eight years now so there is no way I can narrow it down to a single inspirational or empowering moment. Honestly, working with people day in and down out is inspiring in and of itself. I get to witness first-hand the changes that people make. The things they go through and come out of. The struggles and the triumphs. Everything. I’ve been there through it all and they’ve been there with me. It’s incredible to have a career that truly centers around community and connection, and I am thankful for it every single day!

So, what sort of amazing stuff are you working on these days?

Putting in wooork! 👊💪 #tbt

A post shared by Kaisa Keranen (@kaisafit) on

I am super excited to announce that I am in the process of creating my first monthly movement plan. I have been wanting to venture out on my own for quite some time and create and share content the exact way that I would want to use it if I was on the receiving end. The monthly plans will have varying degrees of difficulty, which means they are suitable for all fitness levels. They plans are basically designed to be everything that I ever wanted in an at home program and I am SO pumped to share them with you all in early 2018. If you want to stay up to date with release information, click here!

6 Healthy Habits You’ll Thank Yourself For Starting 20 Years From Now

For many of us, living a healthy lifestyle in our 20s and 30s is all about the here and now. Eating the right foods to feel and look good today. Or using that trendy sheet mask to get glowing skin for tonight. Rarely do we consider what our bodies will need and want down the road. After all, “future us” seems so far away.

But adopting certain healthy habits at a younger age (read: right this minute) can not only provide benefits for you in the present, but reap major rewards down the road.

Consider this: A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings revealed that exercise capacity is “strongly associated with cognitive function.” Researchers learned that participants who actively worked out a few times per week lowered their risk of cognitive decline issues, such as Alzheimer’s disease. So when you’re hitting the treadmill, you’re keeping yourself looking good today, sure—while doing all you can to safeguard the future.

But this isn’t only about putting in time at the gym. There are plenty of good-for-you habits to incorporate into your everyday that are excellent investments in your future health. And some of them won’t even require you to break a sweat.

1. Turn Off Your Tech

“Try doing a digital “detox”,” says Samir Becic, fitness trainer and author of ReSYNC Your Life. It may sound harsh, but remove the TV from your bedroom in order to have better REM sleep (rapid eye movement, or deep sleep), he explains. “People don’t realize the enormous negative impact technology has on our health if it is used excessively,” he says. “Not only on our joints, but on our eyes, back, cognitive thinking, and mood.”

A 2013 study published in Current Biology determined that modern light exposure contributes to later sleep schedules, which only serves to disrupt our natural sleep and circadian clocks. By removing the presence of the dreaded “blue light” emitted from our phones, TVs, and computers in our bedrooms, we’re giving our bodies a better chance at a more restful, productive sleep.

Related: Is Lutein All It’s Cracked Up To Be?

2. Start flossing.

While daily flossing may seem like a no-brainer, a 2015 Harris Poll conducted on behalf of the American Academy of Periodontology revealed that 27 percent of U.S. adults lie to their dentist about how often they really partake in the activity (we won’t tell if you start flossing today!). For the sake of your mouth, dentists would like to see this number turned around.

“Flossing may seem like a nuisance when you’re young, but later down the line, you’ll be glad you started early as flossing can help avoid periodontal disease,” says Dr. Katia Friedman of Friedman Dental Group in South Florida. “At a later stage in people’s lives, periodontal disease is responsible for bone loss, mobility of teeth and ultimately tooth loss.”

Related: Shop oral health products to give your chompers their best chance. 

Pro-tip: According to Oral Health & Prevention, you want to floss and then brush—not the other way around—to get the most out of the habit. When you floss and then brush, you’re able to get all that gross plaque out of your mouth, instead of lingering there after it was extracted.

3. Wear Sunscreen

This advice probably sounds like a broken record, but consistent sunscreen application is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health and well-being.

“UV damage from the sun is a significant factor in skin aging,” says David Lortscher, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Curology.”

Featured Products

The hard part is, there’s a delay between when sun exposure occurred and when its effects manifest. For example, it may take decades—yes, you read that correctly—of cumulative sun exposure or indoor tanning to cause skin cancer. It’s reasonable to expect that sun exposure 10 or 15 years ago may result in wrinkles appearing now. So, be sure to use sunscreens with SPF 30 or higher that protect against UVA and UVC rays.

According to The American Academy of Dermatology, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more should be used year-round, not just when the sun is high and hot. The lotion should be reapplied every two hours for continuous coverage, or more frequently if you’re swimming or sweating.

Related: Shop UVA- and UVB-blocking sunscreen to protect your skin. 

4. Add Retinol to Your Routine

Take good care of your skin now to reduce the effects of aging later, says Lortscher. “An over-the-counter cream with retinol offers anti-aging benefits, but prescription-strength tretinoin (the generic name for retinol) offers a potent punch that just can’t be beat.”

What’s tretinoin? It’s considered to be the gold standard in reducing fine lines and wrinkles, as well as boosting collagen growth. And, says Lortscher, “It’s the main anti-aging strategy (after sunscreen) of many dermatologists for their own skin.”

But what is retinol? According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s a vitamin A compound and an antioxidant. It neutralizes free radicals, those pesky unstable oxygen molecules responsible for disrupting skin cells and, inevitably, causing wrinkles.

You can start by adding this Ann Webb Super Retinol Slow Release night crème to your bedtime ritual.

5. Eat Mindfully

How often have you heard a friend or co-worker complain that they were so busy during the day that they “forgot” to eat? In our hectic lives we’ve become conditioned to either eating on the go or while we’re zoning out in front of the TV. But by choosing to eat mindfully we have the opportunity to not only appreciate the food on our plates, but make better choices as well.

“Try not to eat while doing other things like driving, watching TV, working, or another activity,” says Samantha Scruggs, a registered dietitian and blogger at Nutrition to Fruition. “When you actually pay attention to your eating and your food, you feel more full and are more aware of your portion sizes.” Notice how it tastes and smells when you’re eating.

According to a 2016 study published in Health Psychology, mindful eating was proven to reduce impulsive food choices in both adolescents and adults, decreasing the risk of obesity.

6. Eat Good Fats

Omega-3 has been a buzzword in the world of healthy nutrition for some time now, and with good reason. These fatty acids are work horses in your body, and to build a better one for long-term health experts want you to get your omega-3s straight from the source whenever possible.

“One of the healthiest habits to adopt now for major benefits down the road is eating two servings of fatty fish per week,” says Lainey Younkin, MS, RD, LDN, dietitian and founder of Lainey Younkin Nutrition in Boston, MA. Fatty fish, like salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, and sardines, are chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids, “which lower inflammation in the body, leading to a healthier brain and heart, as well as glowing skin. One serving is just three ounces, or the size of a deck of cards, so top your salad with some salmon or swap the chicken in your taco for tuna,” says Younkin.

7. Meditate

Considering the difficulties we face finding the time to eat a meal in peace, you may be wondering when, pray tell, you’re supposed to have the time to sit and meditate. But carving out even just a few minutes for the practice can harvest benefits far beyond clearing your mind.

According to a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine, mindful meditation can actually boost immune function, with researchers finding increases in antibody titers (the way doctors learn if your body is fighting a virus) to the flu vaccine among those who were in the meditation control group.

And don’t worry about being a meditation pro, says positive psychology and coach Dr. Barbara Cox, PhD, who encourages her patients to find a method that works for them.

What works best? “It can be something as simple as focusing on calming music or saying a positive affirmation,” she says. “Meditation is a very helpful tool for stress because by doing it regularly it can prevent stress. And if stress builds, it can help release stress, too.”

Plus, according to Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, meditation may actually improve the cellular aging process and reduce oxidative stress, which can age us and make us sick.

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

Who’s Good: A Q&A With Clean Foodie Sisters @RawAndRoasted

These days, all you need is a basic knowledge of superfoods and an iPhone upgrade to be deemed a social media influencer. So how do you distinguish between the people on Instagram who can provide solid info, inspiring ideas, and encouragement along your own health and wellness journey and the many one-trick ponies filling feeds with butt selfies? We can help you cut through all the noise (and smoothie bowls).

Welcome to Who’s Good, a regular interview series from the editors of What’s Good that catches up with the best, brightest, and boldest social media has to offer.

Up this week: Swiss-American sisters and foodies Isa and Lou a.k.a. @RawAndRoasted. The girls’ colorful posts feature clean, wholesome dishes arranged in delightfully artful ways. But their interests go way beyond #FoodPorn: Between the two of them, they’ve got MUCH knowledge about health, fitness, and nutrition.

Isabella just finished a two-year stint as the Brand Director at Deliciously Ella, a site dedicated to honest, healthy food, and is now heading back to school to study Clinical Nutrition in London.

Louisa volunteers with food organizations like Edible Schoolyard, City Harvest, and Wellness in Schools. She is a certified yoga instructor and was recently working as Anna Wintour’s assistant. (We bet she’s got some stories…)

Get to know them!

I love the idea that two sisters joined up to share their knowledge about nutrition. How’d you get started—and what are your individual passions and focuses?

Growing up on Eastern Long Island, we were fortunate enough to experience farm-to-table culture in our everyday lives. Our father raised his own chickens and bees and had an abundant vegetable and fruit garden. Our Swiss mother instilled in us eating values that celebrated fresh, local, sustainable food, and an enjoyment of the beauty behind a meal—the tastes, smells, and how it makes you feel, whether alone or with family or friends.

Going to school in Boston and later living in various cities (including New York, Zurich, and London) expanded our tastes buds. We were always on the hunt for the best ingredients, new kinds of food, and interesting restaurants. And our friends encouraged us to start sharing!

Being Swiss-American, is there anything you notice about how Americans eat versus the Swiss?

Definitely! The Swiss don’t restrict themselves to certain diets or fads. Instead, the focus is on local, sustainable, in-season foods. Dairy comes from Swiss cows and meat is grass-fed and generally comes from continental Europe. Fruits and vegetables are eaten in-season. The amazing Swiss bakeries use freshly ground flour and natural ingredients, and the bread is eaten fresh and never has preservatives. Desserts, chocolate, and ice cream are enjoyed and savored and always made and sold in the most natural state—these treats don’t last years, but rather days or month because they’re so natural!

The Swiss don’t obsess over what they are or aren’t eating at the moment. Rather, they eat what they love, what’s made fresh, and what makes them feel great.

Related: This New Study Has A Lot To Say About Fat, Carbs, And Our Health

Americans tend to focus on what they are not eating—whether it’s fat, carbs, gluten, dairy, or sugar. America’s food problems don’t come from the underlining food groups themselves (unless you’re actually allergic or have another serious medical condition) but from the additives and preservatives that are put into nearly everything.

As a country, the U.S. is waking up to the problems in our food systems, but one thing we tell all our friends is to never feel guilty, enjoy your food, and to enjoy it with friends. If you eat something that disagrees with you, move on! Life is too short to be only preoccupied with your diet. Also, learn to read food labels and do your research!

Environmental advocacy is important to the both of you, which definitely plays into how we eat and where we get our food from. How can people support the environment, eat healthy, and not over-splurge all at once?

Go to your local farmers markets! Buy your food in bulk—it’s cheaper and uses less packaging. When you buy vegetables in the supermarket, don’t use the little plastic bags (you wash the vegetables at home anyway, so bring your own canvas tote with you!).

Use a refillable metal or glass water bottle. Wash your Ziploc bags after using them and re-use them. Instead of using paper towels for spills, use a sponge and rinse it out! And bring a refillable mug with you to the coffee shop and ask for a discount if you don’t use their cup.

You both work out and do yoga, so let’s talk about sustainably fueling up our bodies. What’s the best pre-workout food you can recommend?

We focus on three full meals a day, so we’re not a big fan of pre-workout food. You should feel satisfied from your last meal, but if we need a snack, we always honor that need. If it’s first thing in the morning and you need something to eat, fruit is great because it digests quickly and gives you a burst of energy. In the afternoon, we will grab a rice cake, a spoonful of nut butter, or carrots and hummus—something that doesn’t leave us too full to work out!

Do you have a powerhouse, energizing smoothie recipe you’d like to share?

Yes, we have so many! Check out our Instagram @rawandroasted for inspirations. One of our favorites is made with spinach, banana, almond butter, and hemp seeds (for protein). You can also put cacao nibs on top for some crunch and an energy boost. It’s so simple, satisfying, and energizing. Another favorite is green apple, romaine, chard, cucumber, lemon, and ice.

Being cross-continental, how do you stay healthy when traveling?

We almost never eat on planes, unless it’s our own food. We always try to get in a smoothie with lots of vegetables or a salad and a liter of water before leaving for the airport. Our favorite trick is bringing whole avocados on the plane (don’t forget plastic utensils!).

Some other travel favorites include rice cakes, apples, nut butter packets, carrots, unsalted mixed nuts, dried dates or figs, or dark chocolate.

Related: Healthy snacks, coming right up!

Bring your own tea bags and you can ask for a cup of hot water anywhere—most places are happy to give it away. Having a mix of snacks like the ones above ensure that you can satisfy any hunger craving—sweet, crunchy, or savory. More is always better, and you can use whatever you don’t eat at your destination.

You often share gorgeous pics of the clean food you’re eating. How can people get started eating clean if they’ve never done so before?

We love to focus on fresh, natural foods full of taste. Eating well is a process, so give yourself time and space to let your taste buds develop. Seasonal produce always has the most flavor, so try eating more apples in fall, tomatoes in the summer, and root vegetables in the winter. A variety of foods (and their nutrients) will serve you best, but don’t force yourself to eat something you don’t like. Try to focus on what you do like and what tastes good to you!

Who’s Good: A Q&A With Yoga Goddess @FitQueenIrene

These days, all you need is a basic knowledge of superfoods and an iPhone upgrade to be deemed a “social media influencer.” So how do you distinguish between Instagrammers who can provide solid info, inspiring ideas, and encouragement along your own health and wellness journey and the many one-trick ponies filling feeds with butt selfies? We can help you cut through all the noise (and smoothie bowls).

Welcome to Who’s Good, a regular interview series from the editors of What’s Good that catches up with the best, brightest, and boldest that social media has to offer.

We’re kicking off the series with a Q&A with Irene Pappas a.k.a.@FitQueenIrene, a yoga guru with 550k IG followers who leads workshops and retreats and offers digital classes.

Hi Irene! Tell us a little bit about who you are, why you do what you do, and what led you down this path.
My name is Irene Pappas and I am from Washington, DC. When I was younger I hated team sports, and was never really into health or fitness. I also struggled with depression and low self-esteem. I seemed to be stuck in negative cycles. I reached a point where I decided that maybe if I could work out enough to have the perfect body, then I would be happy. So, I worked out twice a day, every day, and counted all of my calories, until one day I looked at my body and realized that even though I was “happy” with how my body looked, I still wasn’t happy.

That’s when I found yoga. Fast forward six years and here I am, spreading the same message to my yoga students and the world. Using the discipline of yoga to train my body and my mind, I have become a happier and healthier person.

Now I focus on traveling to teach workshops, as well as retreats, but the most fulfilling part is definitely leading yoga teacher trainings. In these trainings we (myself and the other teachers) are able to provide an environment that allows for tremendous growth that goes beyond yoga as we see it in the western world.

Jungle vibes + practice. @bodhiyogaacademy

A post shared by Irene Pappas (@fitqueenirene) on

As a yoga instructor, you’ve grown a tremendous following (553,000 followers!)—what do you think it is about your page that is resonating so much with people?
I think that people are inspired by my photos, but I truly hope that they take a moment to read my words. I believe in being the love you wish to see in the world, holding space for people to grow, and sharing my own growth in a reflective way.

I want people to know that they are not alone, but that only they have the power to change their lives. This takes time and dedication, and is a never-ending journey that we have to wake up and recommit to daily.

You’ve been vocal about having surgery and being told you’d never use your wrist again. It’s a scary thought, especially for someone whose life (and even spirituality) is entwined with their physical movement. How did you physically overcome that—and how can people who might have similar injuries or arthritis modify yoga poses and the practice as a whole so that they can take part?
My wrist injury was definitely one of the scariest things I have been through in my adult life, mostly because I felt like so much was unknown. I had no idea if I would be able to continue my career as a yoga teacher, and I felt like a stranger in my body.

But the real challenge was mental—not giving up on myself even though I had no guarantee that my wrist would heal. I still have days where my wrist pain is so bad that I can barely put weight on my hands, but on most days I can handstand. And for that I am beyond grateful.

This continues to be one of my greatest lessons and gifts as a yoga teacher, because of the patience and commitment that rehabbing required. People with similar injuries (or arthritis) might explore slower moving styles of yoga, working their way up to the vinyasa style, depending on their specific needs. For stretching and calming the mind, yoga is amazing. But if it is stability that they need, finding someone who specializes in rehabbing injuries is best—second to Pilates and weight training.

What sort of lifestyle habits do you maintain that also support your yoga practice? Are there supplements or foods you eat and swear by to power up and stay healthy?
My lifestyle habits tend to fluctuate depending on the seasons and where I am in the world, but there are a few things that I swear by: In the winter and while recovering from surgery, I would drink homemade grass-fed beef bone broth.

In the summer I use collagen peptides in my smoothies. I maintain a mostly vegetarian diet, but I think these are important sources of amino acids and proteins.

You’ve talked about pushing yourself too hard and it not actually being good for the body, and I find that really interesting—how do we achieve balance as we strive to grow?
That is the question, isn’t it? I think that the key is learning to stay present, in order to know what my body needs in each moment. Some days I feel strong and I am able to push pretty hard, and other days I just need to relax. I can’t assume that every day I will be strong, or every day I will be weak- so I have to listen to my body so that I can practice accordingly. The same is true in life I suppose.

What is some advice for people who have no idea how to get started in yoga? And for people who love cardio and the go-go-go of fitness, how can yoga fit into their exercise regimens?
I usually say that the best way to learn about yoga is to try local classes. Especially in the beginning, because it’s important to learn from a teacher who can see your body and make sure that you are doing the movements correctly.

I know this is hard, because many people are self-conscious when starting something new (especially something like yoga), but finding a beginner’s class is a great place to start. Also, don’t be afraid to shop around.

Not every style or teacher is right for every person. For the people who love the intense aspect of working out, the most enjoyable class would likely be a power flow vinyasa, for example. But I would encourage them to also seek out more relaxing styles of yoga, as this will bring more balance into their lives—even if the slow pace is hard at first.

Travel is such an eye-opening adventure at times—because we’re out of our comfort zones and learning so many new things. What are some the things you’ve learned about yoga (and the self) while traveling and teaching?
I’ve learned so much from both! Traveling has taught me how to create elements of consistency for myself and my sanity, how to appreciate other cultures and differences, and how to be grateful for everything in my life. To me, all of this is yoga. It is the ultimate practice for dealing with different people and environments, and allowing  myself to move fluidly through it all, without getting stressed or losing myself. I’m still working on it. Teaching has taught me just how much there is left to learn, and that we are all students and teachers in different ways.

What is the most resonant piece of health advice you’ve gotten over the years?
I don’t know who said it first but it goes like this: “Yoga is strong medicine, but a slow medicine.” And I think this is true in many areas of life. It is in our nature to seek quick fixes, but most things take time to change.

This quote reaffirms one piece of health advice that will never get old: Be consistent and loving to yourself over a long period of time, as this is how all things are changed for good.

6 Life-Changing Things I Learned When I Started Working Out Regularly

Confession: Before I started working out, I was confused by people who willingly woke up early and went straight to the gym. My god, I thought, that sounds terrible.

I truly thought most gym-goers were shallow and superficial. Scrolling through my Instagram feed only cemented my ideas: People lauding body “transformations” hinged on nearly-disorded eating. They bought into the idea of “bikini bodies” sold by the Dalai Lamas of fitstagram. And they paid a premium for cultish studio classes where competition mattered more than health. I wanted no part of it.

You get the point. I was all vitriol—as judgmental as the people I deemed judgmental. My mind was filled with tropes and stereotypes. Now, the reality is that while there are some damaging ideas proliferated by the wellness industry, there’s also a LOT of awesomeness out there. Take it from me, because I’m now one of those people who wakes up at 7 a.m. to work out.

Three months ago I had high cholesterol and blood pressure, I was overweight, and I was uncomfortable. I have arthritis and the extra weight was putting a lot of pressure on my joints. I needed to get fit.

I am by no means a fitness expert after a few months, but here’s what I learned when I started working out regularly (four-five times per week, every week).

1. Don’t let aesthetics guide your workout.

Obviously there is an aesthetic component to any fitness regimen, but obsessing on the inches and numbers will only drive you crazy. (A watched pot never boils, and all that.) We all want to look our best, but letting looks lead you entirely probably won’t get you anywhere but stuck in an obsessive rut. You’ll definitely want to hop on the scale every day, clinging to some iota of physical progress—I get it. But don’t.

If you work out with discipline and regularity—without checking the scale every day—you will eventually start to feel and see the changes. The number one most important thing I realized is that change happens when you’re not looking for it, so enjoy the process. Work out because it does good things for your mind and body, and know that you’re buying yourself years of better health. Your midsection will follow suit (and if it doesn’t, it’s OK; the way we feel is key).

2. Exercise changes your psyche.

Flat abs and the ability to wear cute yoga pants are fine goals, okay? They’re totally FINE. But the real benefit to working out is found in its transformative effects to your psyche—your relationship to yourself, your mood, and the way you move through the world. Going from feeling tired, lazy, overwhelmed, and out of touch with my body to feeling confident, strong, energized, and self-loving was a major emotional process for me. It may sound woo-woo (I totally recognize my soap box here, but I’m on it because I want others to be happy), but this transformative process is so much more intense than I ever imagined.

I’m talking life-changing. These days, I’ve got toned legs, strong arms, and killer endurance, but I’ve also got a sense of self-sufficiency and pride. This colors the way I approach the world. I feel capable, in-touch, and totally alive. I give thanks to all those wonderful little endorphins that flood my system when I work out.

Related: Shop protein to amp up your workouts.

You can have the good feels, too. According to the British Journal of Pharmacology, exercise creates its own kind of euphoria—it elevates endorphins (happiness chemicals), stabilizes your mood, favorably influences cognitive functions, facilitates recovery from depression, and mitigates psychological stress. I can vouch for each and every one of these benefits (and remember—I was the exercise-hating curmudgeon).

3. You might not lose weight.

When I started working out, I dropped 10 pounds within a month. I thought, success! (My doctor had recommended I lose about 15 pounds to be in a healthier range.) But guess what? I checked my weight a week or so later—without having changed my eating or workout routine—and it had gone up a bit.

Newsflash: Unless you’re working with a medical professional, nutritionist, or fitness coach on a major body transformation (where, say, your goal is to lose a great deal of weight), your weight fluctuations may elude you. Water, sodium, and whether or not you’ve gone to the bathroom—all of these might change your weight from day to day or hour to hour.

Related: Why You’re Losing Inches But Gaining Weight

I went from wearing a size 12 to wearing an 8, but my weight hasn’t changed all that much. What gives? I lost some body fat but mostly I increased lean muscle tissue. It’s not that muscle weighs less or more than fat (it doesn’t, a pound is a pound)—it’s that muscle takes up less space. Muscle is more compact and tight, and (bonus!) it’s more metabolically active (which means having more muscle helps you burn more calories and feel more energized). In short, don’t let your weight guide you.

That’s also why BMI isn’t everything. According to the World Health Organization, a normal or ‘healthy’ BMI would fall between 18.5-24.99, an overweight BMI would be between 25-29.99, and an obese BMI would be anything 30 and above. But your BMI doesn’t count muscle, bbone mass or other metabolic factors.

In short, numbers around weight and fat aren’t everything. When you’re exercising and eating healthy, checking your blood pressure, cholesterol, and insulin resistance levels is probably more effective a marker for your success. Your progress is so much more than a number.

4. Fitness can be super-expensive—or super-cheap. Whatever gets you going is what matters.

I used to think it was ridiculous for people to spend hundreds of dollars at fancy boutique studios. It felt excessive, especially when running is free. Why go for pricey gyms when low-cost alternatives like Blink exist? Well, it’s personal (and obviously contingent upon your finances). I decided that I didn’t love the grunt-y, smelly, dude-bro-filled gym, and that I loathed everything about running. To top it off, I wasn’t disciplined enough to do HIIT routines on my own in my house. (And when you hate a workout, it’s really hard to motivate yourself to do it.)

However, I did fall in love with swimming and aqua cycling—both of which were expensive to a stupid degree. But I decided, since the water got me moving, that I’d budget for it. And I’m glad I did.

All day mermaiding 🌊water is transformative from the inside out.

A post shared by Lisa Marie Basile (@lisamariebasile) on

On the flipside, I do the occasional Blogilates routine at home, for free. Basically, whatever gets you moving is key—and free YouTube videos absolutely have the ability to get you in shape. You have to find the workout that works for you; sometimes that requires challenging sacrifices—and a little money management. But again, the Internet offers a treasure trove of free workouts.

I think of it this way: It’s definitely a privilege worth recognizing, but spending a little more now may help me save money later on when I might be knee-deep in medical bills due to health negligence.

5. Promoting body positivity is SO important.

Fitness is an incredibly loaded topic, and the people around you in the gym or in the pool are each on their own journey. When I felt down on myself, weak, and overwhelmed, I surrounded myself with people and instructors who made me feel good.

It’s a challenge, but don’t talk badly about yourself or others—at the gym or outside it. I’ve overheard people say things like, “I hate my body” or ” she’s fat.” These comments (and they happen a lot) only serve to greenlight self-hate and judgement. Fitness and healthfulness is a process—at times an emotional one—and treating yourself and others with respect is key.

Make space for all bodies and fitness levels and never beat yourself up. If you hear people making fun of someone at the gym, or if you think an instructor is guilty of inappropriate behavior, don’t stay quiet. Finding gratitude is key, too. Some people with disabilities don’t have the option to work out, while others may find the gym intolerable due to chronic illnesses.

6. One day you will magically become more powerful than you think.

I remember my first week at Aqua Studio, a studio that lets you cycle in water AKA oh-my-god-this-burns. It’s intense—the water provides tons of resistance and really ups the ante. On the bike, there are two standing positions—with my butt hovering just over the seat I felt like I would actually just explode. I couldn’t do it, I thought. Lactic Acid became my mortal enemy, and I was convinced that I wasn’t strong enough! So I sat down. And then I’d stand up for a few seconds before sitting down again. I gripped the bike like I was falling down into the depths of hell, and my breathing sounded like a medical emergency.

Then one day I did it. I didn’t sit down. I stayed up. My posture was tight and strong. And I killed it. But this happens—it takes time and work—without you even noticing. Enjoy the process, whether that means you need to take several breaks or not. There’s no speed you need to meet, no one you need to compete with, and nothing more important than your happiness.

These New Probiotics Promote Good Health Beyond Your Belly

Ever wish you could simplify your morning routine by combining your supplements into one capsule? Well, we’re getting closer to making that a reality.

ProBioCare now features something called DUOCAP technology. (Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds.) Essentially, the brand offers six different probiotic products that have dual supplement release systems, meaning that in one capsule you get an inner supplement—the probiotic—along with an outer supp of your choice, depending on your health goals. Gut and mood support all in one? Sign. Us. Up. 

Check out the video below to learn more:

I Tried Clean Eating For A Week—And It Wasn’t Actually Awful

I’ve always experienced an almost visceral reaction to diet and food trends. Despite my desire to eat healthfully and intelligently, I don’t believe that restricting myself or limiting the scope of my life (I’m Italian—the food is the life!) is worth it in the end. So, my food rules are simple: Eat healthy as often as I can, enjoy all foods in moderation, and have waffles after midnight every once in a while just because.

When I first heard about the “clean eating” trend, I was a little put off. Not only can it come off elitist (not everyone can shop at a farmers market or afford healthy foods all the time), there are also links between healthy eating trends and orthorexia, a kind of disordered eating that hinges on an obsession with eating healthy foods, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. Still, I couldn’t help but be intrigued: Clean-eating advocates (they’re all over Instagram, where the #CleanEating and #EatClean hashtags reign) do have a point. Clean eating is all about mindfully eating and eliminating the stuff we already know is bad for us: processed, packaged, nutritionally-lacking foods. The goal is to eat whole foods, lean proteins, legumes, whole grains, greens, and fruit. (You can learn more about which foods count here.)

Other clean-eating tenets include eating locally, eating more plant-based foods, and adopting a cleaner lifestyle in general.

The gains? Plenty! You nourish your body by eliminating extra sodium, totally unnecessary extra sugars, unhealthy fats, and empty carbs. After all, so many of our favorite foods contain so much crap. A trip through the grocery store is legitimately like a gut health horror movie: packaged pizza loaded with saturated fats and processed dough, juices jam-packed with added sugars and syrups you can’t pronounce, and bleached pastas.

As someone with an autoimmune condition that comes with its side of gastrointestinal issues, becoming more aware of my food intake—as I’d begun to do lately by reading labels and balancing my macros—was like winning the gut lottery. I spent a lot more time eating well and a lot less time worrying if I’d end up feeling bloated all day.

So, after a friend of mine did a month of clean eating and loved it, I decided to try it myself, for one week, to expand my healthy-eating habits…and to see if the trend would really interfere with my attitude about living life to the fullest. Here’s the list I used when shopping.

Day 1:

I found myself googling things like, “Can I drink wine?” (YES, thank god, but only a little.) Another one:  “What kind of snacks can I have?” (There are definitely some—but that heavily depends on your definition of “snack.”)

All in all, nothing else surprised me. I was supposed to eat whole foods and loads of fruits, veggies, and legumes. Easy! Right?

Breakfast was a veggie scramble (with a little olive oil) and lunch was a tuna salad with arugula, chickpeas, and tomatoes. Dinner was from an organic food chain called Sweet Green. It was a warm Portobello bowl with veggies and lean chicken. I went to bed itching for a snack (I was hungry all day)—but ended up popping some (well, like, 50) grapes.

I’d cut out a few things: cereal, the candy I sometimes eat, healthy snack bars (like Clif Bars), sardines and most canned foods (apparently canned foods are off-limits because they contain aluminum). Many fresh “clean” foods also contain aluminum.

Days 2 & 3:

I was invested by now—so I went ahead and started bringing my own breakfast to work: yogurt with fruit. I REALLY wanted to add Muesli for a little kick, but it’s boxed and I decided against it. I remembered how hungry I was the day before, so I made about a thousand pounds of boiled eggs and ate 2-3 throughout the day. Lunch and dinner were salads—with chicken, sliced avocado, and lots and lots of cannellini beans (beans are great because they promote heart health and are loaded with antioxidants and other goodies, according to Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism).

Days 4 & 5:

I woke up and made myself a smoothie with almond milk, bananas, cinnamon and a half teaspoon of peanut butter (apparently, the jury is out on whether some peanut butters are clean eats or not; I decided to live on the edge).

Related: Here’s What A Day Of Clean Eating Actually Looks Like

As the day went on, I would want something hot and delicious, like mashed potatoes and fried chicken, and I also wanted peanut butter cups. The desire was REAL. But I stuck it out and ate salads for lunch (I added a bunch of tofu to bulk them up).

I made myself a huge, clean meal for dinner: a warm spicy (olive oil and jalapeno) quinoa bowl with chicken breast, lentils, peas, carrots. It was amazing.

Days 6 & 7:

These days got a lot easier, and I had food left over from the days before. Lots of places cater to clean eating, I realized, but they can get pricy. You really need to get creative and make lots of food at home so you can feel full and have options all day long.

The Bottom Line

I felt really good eating clean. I was rarely bloated, I was energetic and not deprived nutritionally (my taste buds would beg to differ), and I felt confident in my food choices. It’s not the sort of diet you can’t get the hang of, especially if you already eat well, but I imagine those whose lives are filled with fast food or packaged meals might have a harder time.

What’s not so fun? Standing in the grocery store aisle manically googling “clean eating” foods. (You’d be surprised what’s not allowed: Goodbye, smoked salmon!). It’s also really hard to eliminate canned foods.

And I won’t lie to you, dear reader: I definitely had a slip-up. I ate a dish of gnocchi (from a bag) and I attacked a bag of fruity wafers (also from a bag). These two things were so beautiful I feel no regret.

Related: 7 ‘Shrooms You Should Be Eating For Major Health Benefits

However, it does underscore the idea that, to me, clean eating is a goal one should work toward most of the time. It can function well as a sort of quick nutrition detox, but it seems unsustainable as a long-term habit for most people. For me, enjoying a few processed things here and there is what makes life delicious—and doing so every once in a while allows us to be mindful about our indulgences without feeling restricted or self-punishing. Also, some processed foods, like whole grain breads, can still be ok for you in moderation.

I won’t hop on the clean-eating lifestyle any time soon, but I will adopt some of its tenets, say, 80 percent of my time. 80/20 rule! Eat healthy 80 percent of the time and enjoy anything 20 percent of the time. Because I will never give up my late-night waffles.

Should Your Kids Be Drinking Fruit Juice?

You’re probably hearing it more and more these days: Don’t drink fruit juice—it’s loaded with sugar! But is fruit juice really that bad for your health? Well, it’s not as black and white as critics may suggest, especially when it comes to kids’ consumption.

Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics released its May 2017 policy statement, Fruit Juice in Infants, Children, and Adolescents: CurrentRecommendations, which said that fruit juice and fruit drinks offer no nutritional benefits for kids under one year of age. Previously, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended four to six ounces daily for kids under one.

As for current suggestions regarding kids over the age of one, the policy states that only 100 percent fresh fruit juice (made purely from the juice of natural fruits, without any added sugars, preservatives, or additives) should be consumed, and only if it’s part of a balanced diet.

But not everyone agrees with the AAP’s recommendations.

According to Taylor C. Wallace, PhD, CFS, FACN, kids under the age of one should be consuming 100 percent fruit juice. Wallace co-wrote a July 2017 review (Satisfying American’s Fruit Gap: Summary of an Expert Roundtable on the Role of 100% Fruit Juice) that was published in the Journal of Food Science, which stated that 100 percent fruit juice:

  • Offers essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Does not compromise fiber intake.
  • Contains health-supporting antioxidants.
  • Does not lead to weight gain when consumed in accordance to the AAP’s prior recommendations for children under one year—four to six ounces daily.

Other research backs up this claim: According to Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition,
the consumption of 100 percent fruit juice can provide beneficial nutrients without contributing to pediatric obesity.

Wallace believes 100 percent fruit juice should be consumed by kids of all ages: “Kids lack nutrients that fruit juice provides, like potassium, vitamin C, and magnesium,” Wallace says. For many kids, especially those in lower-income families, 100 percent fruit juice helps to comprise a healthy diet, according Wallace.

For parents worried about sugar intake, the polyphenols (antioxidants) found in 100 percent fruit juice may help to block up to 40 percent of the sugar from being absorbed, Wallace says.

So, what, technically, is a fruit juice? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandates that a product must contain 100 percent fruit juice in order to be labeled “fruit juice.” Other juices, like those made from concentrate or those containing less than 100 percent fruit juice, must be labeled a “drink,” “beverage,” or “cocktail.”

Although national guidelines suggest kids get one to 1.5 cups and adults get two cups of fruit per day, dietary patterns in the U.S. reflect a deficit (up to 80 percent of the country fall below fruit goals), according to the Satisfying American’s Fruit Gap: Summary of an Expert Roundtable on the Role of 100% Fruit Juice. Hence why Wallace believes fruit juice offers a valuable and affordable way to meet those dietary needs for everyone.

The benefits of 100 percent fruit juice are plenty: The Journal of Food Science study found that children who consume moderate amounts of 100 percent fruit juice are less likely to consume soda, and that the antioxidants within it may have health-promoting effects, especially as it relates to cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. Adults and kids who drink 100 percent fruit juice usually meet their daily fruit needs, too, on top of having an improved overall diet and nutrient intake.

The bottom line

According to American Heart Association, kids should be getting less than 25 grams (that’s six teaspoons) of added sugars (like those found in fruit drinks that don’t come from 100 percent fruit juice) daily. Adult women should aim for less than 25 grams and adult men should aim for less than 36 grams per day.

Read drink and food labels, and reach for 100 percent fruit juice over other juice products. Even better? Consume fresh fruit over drinking fruit juice when possible.

Here’s Why Everyone Swears By Oil Of Oregano

Sure, oregano might be one of your go-to herbs when making a deliciously cheesy pasta (we heart cheat day!), but it offers a lot more than just flavor. In fact, this tasty herb can have major health and wellness benefits. Move over, Rosemary—your Italian cousin Oregano deserves some of the spotlight, too.

Oregano’s Origins

Oregano originates in southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region. It’s super-popular in Italy, especially in the south, and it’s used in a wide variety of foods across global cuisines. It’s probably known to most as a spice, but it’s also a medicinal herb.

Oregano is filled with plenty of health-promoting goodies, like thymol (which has immune-boosting properties), antioxidants (vitamin A, carotenes, lutein, and more), potassium, vitamin C, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, and fiber.

Its benefits are wide-reaching:

Immune System

According to a study done by Pharmacognosy Research, supplementing with oregano can improve immune system functions. Oregano, especially oil of oregano, boasts bioactive phytochemicals (good, plant-based compounds) with health-promoting properties. The antioxidant activity helps to stimulate kick our immune system into overdrive.

Cholesterol

According to Taylor C. Wallace, PhD, CFS, FACN, the herb may also help boost healthy cholesterol: “Emerging clinical research suggests that taking oregano after each meal for three months can reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol in people with high cholesterol.”

Related: Adaptogens 101: These Herbs Are Trending For A Reason

Gut Health

There is evidence to suggest that taking oil of oregano for six weeks can bolster the immune-boosting capabilities of our gut, says Wallace. And that’s backed up by a study published in Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease.

In fact, a study by Global Advances in Health and Medicine found that oil of oregano promotes a gut environment that’s friendly to healthy bacteria.

Skin & Gums

The oil can also be used to help promote skin health, according to the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.

And since we already know oregano offers a lot in the way of antioxidant activity (which fights skin-damaging free radicals), it can be placed in your toolkit for maintaining youthful skin, according to Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine.

Because of its cleansing properties, some people even include a few drops of oil of oregano when oil pulling, in order to support healthy gums.

Related: Shop oregano products for healthy skin

Protection Against Insects

One unexpected usage? Oregano can help ward away insects! You can thank its main active ingredient, the antioxidant carvacol, for that. According to the Journal of Insect Science, oregano can help ward off pests. To use, place a few drops of oil of oregano on your outdoor furniture (or on your skin, near your ankles, wrists, and neck).

Want in on some oregano stat? You can drink oregano tea, use oregano oil topically (be sure to mix with a carrier oil like coconut oil to prevent irritation) or internally (it should be diluted to one to four drops in a glass of water), or supplement with oil of oregano capsules.

Note: Most oregano oils are “standardized to 70 percent carvacol,” so be on the lookout for that on the label.

I Biked Under Water For 30 Days—And Here’s What Happened

I’ve always loved to swim, but about two months ago I started doing it pretty regularly. The impetus: I was in the midst of a minor health crisis. A metabolic test had shown that I was about 20 pounds overweight, my blood pressure was a bit high, and my HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein a.k.a. the “good” cholesterol) was low. The extra weight was putting pressure on my bones and joints—the last thing I needed as someone already dealing with chronic autoimmune arthritic symptoms.

It was time to make a change for my wellbeing and my future.

I didn’t need scientific proof of water’s benefits, but there are plenty: Water exercises improve body fat percentage, increase physical strength, and decrease blood lipids (fatty substances found in the blood), according to the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation. Plus, I hated the gym. So when a friend who learned of my newly-minted mermaid status told me about Aqua Studio, a breezy, chic “wellness sanctuary” in New York City, I felt a magnetic pull. The boutique studio offers salt water aqua cycling classes (yes, you bike under water, where the bottom half of you is submerged) in addition to “land” classes (like yoga on the mat), health coaching, and boutique-y goodies like creams and turquoise swim gear.

Related: I Drank Collagen For 30 Days—Here’s How It Turned Out

The studio is a haven. The scent of mint wafts throughout, and it’s immaculate, airy, and stunningly beautiful. Oh, and it’s the only studio of its kind in NYC (we can thank the French for inventing this workout, as well as Aqua Studio’s owner, Esther, for bringing it to NYC; merci!). Did I mention yet that the classes can burn up to 800 calories?

I decided to do a 30-day challenge (I managed 18 45-minute classes in one month), not only because I am an insane person, but because if you’re going to take care of yourself, you might as well go hard.

My First Class

I took the Blend class first (composed of three of their popular classes: Power, an utterly intense, legs-only class; Interval, an arms-and-legs class; and Restore, a calming, stretch-focused class). The instructor, Ed, was thoughtful, enthusiastic, kind, and nurturing. He helped me adjust my seat and figure out the four bike positions (one sitting, two standing, and one in the water), and I felt super at ease. P.S. They dim the lights, line the room with candles, and play great music—like a cocktail party!

Me with Aqua Studio instructor Alexia.

We powered through the different focuses. I was a mess. The water offers a billion times more resistance (take that, SoulCycle), while also massaging your cellulite away, limiting impact on your joints, and increasing circulation.

Because you’re in water, the pressure is on YOU to pedal faster to increase resistance (unlike a normal bike, you don’t set a level—you work for it). This means you use your core to seriously round out each pedal, which, in water, is difficult as hell.

I was like a kid at the beach. Totally intoxicated by the water’s power and fully detached from any worry. I felt alive, I worked hard, and I didn’t feel out of place. Unlike many other studios, there’s no sense of clique or exclusivity here. People of all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels share the pool and work hard together. (This, for me, is key; fitness is personal and shouldn’t be a competition or social status symbol.)

The Next 17 Classes

In the beginning, I sat down a lot. I needed to take a break because I wasn’t strong enough. My body quickly adapted, though. By week two, I started trusting my body and pushing past those awful lactic acid bouts. I cycled harder and harder, working closely on my form.

I cycled through their various classes (you can see them all here) and found that my favorite is Plyo, a full-body class that combines exercises on and off the bike. For folks who want a hardcore workout, I recommend their Boost, Plyo, or Power classes. For yogis who want to stretch and ‘be one with the water’, I recommend Restore. Their schedule also includes classes in French, some live music classes, and some with specific music (like all-90s playlists. Yes, please).

By week 2, I started trusting my body and pushing past those awful lactic acid bouts. I cycled harder and harder, working closely on my form.

Halfway through the month, a death in my family occurred. My natural response was to hide away, but I pushed myself to attend classes, since they gave me a chance to be quiet in my thoughts. I found myself grieving silently while in the water. The grounding effects of exercise allow you to focus on the now, which can you help you find hope and purpose.

Related: How Zumba Helped Me Lose 30 Pounds And Become The Life Of The Party

But it was the kindness of the instructors that actually helped me the most. They didn’t know it, but their encouragement was healing. I took most of my classes with the wonderful Ed; Alexia, who is detailed and calm and caring; Moses, who is fun and fiery while pushing you harder (he calls you a warrior); and JC, who is exceptionally form-focused and super encouraging (he regularly gives you high fives). They are all full of light (yay for non-judgmental instructors!)

I was like a kid at the beach. Totally intoxicated by the water’s power and fully detached from any worry.

The Results

With my mental state as it was, Aqua Cycle became a second home for me. It truly is a wellness sanctuary, and a place where you can work out in a meditative and beautiful setting. I felt I was able to not only work on my body but move through my pain while there, and that’s not something I say lightly.

For anyone who’s unsure of whether this is actually a workout, please let me illuminate you: You absolutely get what you put into it. You could slowly peddle and wiggle your arms about. You could forget your core and overcompensate by jerking around on the saddle. OR you can engage your core, peddle hard, and move your arms through the water with utmost focus on resistance. Your choice. Although, at the risk of sounding like a PR person (Dear Aqua Cycle: Let me please be your PR person), the instructors are so encouraging you will not be left in the dark; they will inspire you. You will leave there having worked really hard, but thanks to the water, you won’t be sore.

On the cash front, Aqua Cycle is a bit pricy (and it should be; it’s worth it!). It’s an investment in your mental and physical health. An intro class is $35, and they offer several packages.

You will leave aqua cycling having worked really hard, but thanks to the water, you won’t be sore.

I know you’re all waiting for the results. I can sense you there, scanning this article. So without further ado: I eat a mostly healthy diet but I do not believe in depriving myself of the finer things in life (I’m the anti-Gwyneth Paltrow, although I bet she’d love this studio). So, combined with a mostly-healthy diet, the physical benefits of these classes were 100 percent measurable.

I lost three inches off my waist, along with about 10 pounds (maybe more? I don’t look to the scale for results). My legs and hips have tightened up, my arms are more toned, my tummy is stronger and flatter, and my butt is noticeably perkier. Verification? An honest mirror and even more honest boyfriend.

Related: Shop products directly related to your health goals

Other important benefits are less physical, which I must impress upon you. Aqua Studio claims its classes can promote better sleep, less stress, increased flexibility, and better cardiovascular performance. I can attest to all of this, and I emphasize better sleep and less stress.

Since I began regularly attending Aqua Cycle classes, I’ve been a happier person. My feel-good hormones are through the roof, and I have connected with my body in a deeply spiritual way. I trust myself, I push myself, and I love myself. Sounds a bit cheese, right? Just wait until you try it. You’re welcome.

Want to locate an aqua cycle class near you? Good news: It’s growing in popularity all over the country. It exists in Los Angeles,   Miami,   Washington DC, New York state, and in plenty of other locations. And if you can’t get onto the bike, you can still find a local pool and experience the proven benefits of water exercise. 

 

What 9 The Vitamin Shoppe Health Enthusiasts Always Pack In Their Beach Bags

We all love a day at the beach—but going unprepared can be a recipe for disaster (or at least a dose of epic sunburn and some unhealthy, last-minute snack attacks). To avoid that lobster-y look, dehydration, and a bad case of the munchies (just say no to under-cooked boardwalk hot dogs!), we asked nine The Vitamin Shoppe Health Enthusiasts to share some of their beach bag must-haves. Because, hey, we know our stuff.

Related: 7 Beach Activities That Double As Great Workouts

1. Lauren Del Turco, Associate Editor
“My beach bag is always stocked with a book, a giant water bottle, an Rx Bar or Garden of Life protein bar, some nuts, an apple, and lip balm that has SPF in it (my lips always get burned!).”

 

 

 


2. Brian Tanzer, Manager of Scientific Affairs
“Since I despise just lying in the sun and usually can’t sit still for more than 10 minutes on the beach, I typically spend my time in the ocean with my daughters. We use Kiss My Face Cool Sports Sunscreen Spray. We also pack plenty of bottled water, fresh fruit, nuts and seeds. If we plan on a long day in the sun, I’ll bring a few packets of BodyTech Electrolyte Fizz (which can easily be mixed in water) to help make sure my family stays well hydrated.

I also enjoy a good beach workout. Once in a while I’ll hit the beach alone and just bring my 35-pound kettlebell (which usually results in a “what the heck is that guy doing?” look), a towel, and a few bottles of water with BPI Sports’  grape-flavored Best BCAAs mixed in.

 


3. Robert Bishop, Category Manager
“I bring Bare Republic‘s mineral-based sunscreen for body and face. It’s non-whitening and is loaded with great plant-derived ingredients like grapeseed and raspberry seed oils. It offers broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection and it’s also scented with coconut and vanilla essential oils!

For post-sun, I bring Alteya Organics‘ after-sun rosewater. It’s great to use as a skin toner and refresher after sun exposure. I also have Goddess Garden‘s after-sun gel. It’s a non-sticky, lightweight, and fast-absorbing moisturizer that helps to soothe sunburned or irritated skin. This product is great for after sun, but also can be used to counter the effects of chlorinated pools or salt water. ”


4. Neha Agarwal, Senior Project Manager
“I always have c20 Coconut Water (with pulp) with me at the beach (although I drink it all the time, especially in warm weather) because my goal is to stay hydrated. I have tried almost every brand of coconut water out there and find this the most natural in taste. What I love about it is that it’s 100 percent all-natural with no artificial ingredients, colors, or preservatives.”

 

 


 

5. Priscilla Segarra, Manager, Distribution Center
“I always bring my towel, water, sunscreen, Badger Lip Balm (I like the cocoa butter one because it’s the best at keeping my lips from getting dry), fruits, snacks and a book!”

 

 

 


6. Lisa Marie Basile, Senior Editor
“I never go to the beach without a few snacks (I like Buddha Bowl’s Himalayan Pink Organic Popcorn) and a couple of huge bottles of water. I’m also a fan of Mad Hippie’s Broad Spectrum SPF. It’s got the cutest packaging, it goes on really nicely, and it has avocado oil!”

 

 


7. Elissa Kaplan, Private Brands Project Manager
“I have hats for the kids, a small tube of Vaseline (Chapstick that won’t melt!), bottled water, baby powder, an extra phone battery (for pics!), suntan lotion, snacks (whole avocados, peanut butter/Ritz sandwiches, grapes) and baby toys.”

 

 

 

 


8. Carl Borman, Social Media Specialist
“I always have a few cans of BANG and ONE bars on me at the beach. I usually go to the beach early in the morning, so the BANG helps me wake up. The bars are for my crazy appetite—I’m always hungry! Both fit easily in my small cooler and are always crowd favorites if I choose to share or bring extra.

 

 

 


9. Rachel Clark, Production Traffic Manager
“I bring sunscreen, earbuds, sunglasses, a book or magazine, fruit snacks for my daughter, and baby powder to get the pesky sand off before heading home.”

Which Type Of Multi Is Right For You?

In a perfect world, we’d get all of our vital nutrients straight from our diet. But the truth is that it can be challenging to squeeze in the one and a half to two cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get every day.

In fact, up to 87 percent of Americans don’t hit their veggie target, and 76 percent are falling behind when it comes to fruit intake, so covering all your bases with a multivitamin may be a wise choice.

Related: Shop multivitamins for all your health needs.

“Maybe you’re constantly on the go, traveling a lot, or just don’t eat a lot—something that’s applicable to smaller people with a lower metabolic rate,” says Serena Goldstein, ND, a naturopathic doctor in New York, NY. “Vitamins and minerals [from food] may [also] be depleted through sweat, stress, caffeine, alcohol, and certain prescriptions, so a multi can give you ‘a little extra.’”

And no matter what kind of multi you take, you’ll want one that supplements—not replaces—a healthy lifestyle, explains Dr. Goldstein. So make sure you’re eating a well-rounded diet on top of taking your multis.

That said, when you start shopping for the best product to fit your needs, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the multitude of options. Here, what you should know about the various types of multis—and how to choose one that’s right for you.

Whole food vitamins

Whole food vitamins contain vitamins and minerals derived from whole foods, versus those that are made in a lab—[which are] synthetic,” says Dr. Goldstein. They’re easier on your stomach, which is why Dr. Goldstein prefers them.

When taking this type of multi, you may want to consider upping your dosage. They have a larger variety of nutrients to offer than other “one-a-day” products, but not necessarily a high enough amount of each to meet your daily requirements. “Generally, if a bottle says ‘take one,’ it’s less likely there’s all that you need, or it’s a lower dosage,” explains Dr. Goldstein. Many whole food vitamins require taking anywhere from two to six pills per day.

Related: Shop PLNT’ Whole Food Multis.

Targeted multivitamins

Many targeted vitamins are made for specific concerns, usually based on age or gender (such as men or women 50+).

[A targeted multi] may have more calcium and vitamin D, like for bone and heart health,” explains Dr. Goldstein. This is great for anyone who wants to hone in on specific health factors. Just make sure your multi meets your goals and provides all the other vits an supps you need on a regular basis.

 Related: Should You Switch To A Whole Food Multivitamin?

Liquid And Powder Multivitamins

If you’re concerned about the timing of absorption, you may want to consider a liquid multi. “Liquids and powders will get absorbed faster,” explains Dr. Goldstein. “[With] capsules…the body has to go through that extra breakdown step.”

While this form is usually easier to ingest than large capsule or tablets, you’ll want to pay special attention to the dosing, which can vary from product to product. Also good to know: Liquid multis often require refrigeration and may be pricier than other multis.

dosage

No matter what type of multi you’re taking, it’s best to make sure that your multi offers roughly the recommended daily value of all the vitamins and minerals, as opposed to one that gives you 500 percent of one vitamin and only 20 percent of another, notes the Mayo Clinic. (The exception is calcium, which you won’t find 100 percent of in any multi, as that would make the supplement too big to swallow.) You can get the full list of recommended daily values at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Related: Should You Be Taking A Multivitamin?

Gummy multivitamins 

We tend to think of gummy multis as go-tos for kids, but there are so many on the market for adults, as well. (It’s not surprising someone would like to nosh on something healthy and delicious over swallowing a capsule!)

However, some gummies do have drawbacks: “Gummies tend to have sugar and other preservatives that counteract why someone is considering a multivitamin,” explains Dr. Goldstein. Want a more natural gummy? Check out The Honest Company’s Multivitamin, made without GMO, gluten, soy, high fructose corn syrup, or gelatin.  Or, try Garden of Life’s MyKind Organic Gummies.