Tips for Staying Hydrated

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

Here in California, this extreme heat wave doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

As many of you know one of the best things that we can do during a heat wave is to stay hydrated.

Here are just a few tips to help you stay hydrated:

Eat to Stay Hydrated…

Normally, when we want to stay hydrated we reach for a bottle or glass of water. However, researchers have found that the water that is found in plants such as certain fruits and vegetables is much more similar to the water that is found in our cells. Thus, researchers have concluded that eating certain fruits and vegetables can be especially effective in helping us stay hydrated.

For example, the following fruits and vegetables are at least 70 percent water and many of them include other vital nutrients as well:

  • Apples
  • Avocadoes
  • Cantaloupe
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Cooked Squash
  • Cooked Brocoli
  • Baked Potatoes
  • Bananas

Do Not Drink…

During extreme heat waves its best to avoid alcoholic beverages and sugary drinks. I don’t drink alcohol, but from what I have read and heard it can cause dehydration in some cases and it certainly is not hydrating.

Cool and sugary drinks feel and taste amazing at first but the excess sugar can make you even more dehydrated later on.

Love Drinking Water to Stay Hydrated? Here are some tips:

Add a (small) pinch of salt:

I know this might sound counterintuitive but adding a pinch of salt makes it easier for your body to absorb the water.

Add some chia seeds:

When chia seeds are soaked in water, the water becomes much more hydrating and its easier for the body to absorb the water. Additionally, chia seeds are rich in omega 3 fatty acids which help move water into our cells.

Add lemon to your water:

Instead of just having plain water, try adding some lemon. Either squeeze some lemon or add a lemon slice. Lemon contains potassium which is an electrolyte that helps you stay hydrated.

What my mom and I love to do is add a lemon slice, some mint, and one or two cucumber slices to our water. Not only does it taste refreshing but you also get some additional nutrients as well.

Whatever you do, do not use a plastic water bottle:

Over a period of time. The chemicals from the plastic water bottle can leak into the water. Also, do not place your water bottle in a very hot environment because the excess heat will cause the chemicals to leak into the water. Just to be safe, if the bottle does not mention that it is reusable do not use it more than once.

Finally, if you’re fancy and you love sparkling water, do not worry research has shown that sparkling water is just as hydrating as regular water.

I hope that you find these tips to be helpful!

With Love,

Yasmin

Six Tips for Better Sleep

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

In my experience, one unhealthy habit that people like to boast about is their lack of sleep, or their ability to get by with very little sleep.

Perhaps this is most common amongst university students who like to “pull all-nighters” in order to study for exams or complete projects and assignments. And its not just students that are getting less sleep.

A report by Gallup showed that Americans are sleeping one hour less per night than they did in the 1950’s.

The average adult human needs between seven to nine hours of sleep each night to survive and thrive. In her book The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time Ariana Huffington argues that sleep is not a luxury rather it is a necessity.

She cites scientific evidence of how sleep is a time for intense neurological activity in which the brain renews and repairs itself.

A lack of sleep is linked with severe health problems such as diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer, obesity, and Alzheimers disease.

According to sleep expert Daniel Gartenberg, humans need sleep to save energy, to help their cells recover, and to help them process and understand their envirnment. Since sleep is so vital to our overall health and well-being, here are a few tips to help you get a better night of sleep.

Ban Screens Before Bedtime:

The very first tip is the one that I struggle with the most and that is to stop using my phone or laptop before bed. It turns out that I am not alone because a 2015 survey showed that 71 percent of Americans sleep with or next to their smartphones. The problem with this habit is that our electronic devices (such as phones and laptops) emitt blue light which can keep us awake at night.

As you know, melatonin is a brain hormone that helps us fall asleep but blue light suppresses our melatonin levels. The effects of blue light do not immediately go away once you stop using your device. It is best to stop using your electronic devices up to an hour or so before bedtime.

If you’re like me and you’re often tempted to check your phone before bedtime, my suggestion would be to completely remove your phone (and other electronic devices) from your bedroom before you go to sleep.

Sleep Consistency:

If possible, try to wake up and go to sleep during the same time each and every day including weekends. This way, your body establishes a routine and its easier to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning. It might be tempting to skim on sleep during the week and then sleep in during the weekends. While the extra few hours of sleep during the weekend may feel good, research has shown that you cannot make up sleep debt because its hard to make up for the REM (Rapid Eye Movement)sleep that you have missed. Also, REM sleep is a vital stage of sleep due to its restorative properties.

Take A Nap:

The reality is that in this day and age it is difficult to get an adequate amount of sleep each and every night. Taking a quick 30 minute nap during the day can help you feel rejuevenated. Even if you do get enough sleep at night, a nap can help you reenergize your brain. Its best to take your nap anytime before 3 pm so that you don’t confuse your circadian rythm and you don’t disrupt your nightime sleep.

Bonus tip: If you are someone who drinks coffee, consider drinking a cup before your nap and the caffeine will work as a natural alarm clock because it will kick-in, in 30 minutes and wake you up from your nap.

Temperature:

The room temperature can definitely impact the quantity and quality of our sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 65 degrees as the ideal room temperature for sleep. They also argue that anything above 75 degrees our below 54 degrees can disrupt our sleep. Of course, this is just a general estimate and the climate that we are from also influences our temperature preferences.

Food:

Personally, I often feel sleepy after I eat pasta and I know that a lot of people feel sleepy after eating Turkey.

However, when it comes to food and sleep its more about what kind of foods you should avoid rather than what foods to eat. Although different foods may work for different people, they ‘re aren’t many foods that experts believe can really help us fall asleep.

However, there are foods that should be avoided before bedtime:

Foods High in Sugar: If you consume a lot of sugar before bed, your blood sugar levels will become very high and your body has to release hormones to decrease your blood sugar and this process may temporarily disturb your sleep.

Caffeine: We all have a different caffeine sensitivity but a 2013 study showed that people who drank coffee 6 hours before bed lost about an hour of sleep at night. So, its best to stop drinking caffeine way before bedtime.

Late Dinners: Since it can take between two to three hours for our body to digest a meal, it is best to avoid eating a large meal right before bed. This is especially true for those who suffer from acid reflux disease.

Spicy Foods: For some people, spicy foods can cause bloating and heartburn.

High Fat Foods: Its best to avoid high fat foods as much as possible because research has linked high fat foods with excessive sleepiness during the daytime.

Alcohol: At first, alcohol can help you fall asleep faster but it can disrupt the quality of your sleep.

Exercise:

We all know how beneficial exercise is for our overall health and well-being. Now, research has shown that regular exercise can improve the quantity and quality of our sleep. One study from Oregon State University found that 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week can act as a great non-pharmaceutical way of improving our sleep. The only caveat is that it takes time to reap the sleep benefits of exercise. A study from Northwestern University showed that exercise added 45 minutes of extra sleep but it took four months to see results.

Overall, sleep is something that most of us love and all of us need. I really hope that you find some of these tips helpful in getting better sleep!

With Love,

Yasmin

Tips for Staying Cool this Summer

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

I hope you are all having a great summer so far. As amazing as the summertime can be one of the huge downsides is obviously the excessive heat. This past week here in southern California the heat has been absolutely unbearable at times. A few days ago it was like 118 degrees Fahrenheit (about 48 Celsius).

If you are in an area that is going through a heat wave here are a few simple tips to help you stay cool this summer:

Weather App:

I know this sounds very obvious but before heading outside check the weather app on your phone to see how hot it really is. Sometimes you might have the AC on and you might not even realize how hot it is and you might go outside unprepared. But if you know the temperature you might be able to take precautions such as wearing a hat, extra sunscreen, or taking a water bottle with you.

Check up on others:

During extreme heat young children, anyone with heart or lung disease, the elderly, and pets are especially vulnerable so please make sure to check up on them to make sure that they are doing well. Obviously, never leave children or pets in the car because this is dangerous and in many places it is illegal as well.

Enhance Your Fan:

If your like me and you don’t have AC in your house, you might be forced to use a fan. But if the weather is very hot outside the fan will just blow around warm air. A solution is to fill a bowl with ice and place the ice filled bowl right next to the fan so that it blows cool air.

Cover Windows:

Keep your blinds and curtains closed during the daytime. I know that if your going to be at home all day it might feel dark and depressing if all the windows are closed but this can definitely make a difference and help keep the inside of your home significantly cooler.

If you’re lucky and you live in an area where the temperature does cool off a bit at night then consider leaving your windows open at night to let the cool breeze in and then close it in the morning before it gets too hot.

Visit Your Local Library or Mall:

If its just unbearably hot inside your home during the daytime please consider visiting your local library or the local shopping center to stay cool. Also, check to see if your local community has any cooling centers that are open to the public during especially hot days.

Cool Compress:

Using a sponge you can easily make a DIY cooling compress. All you have to do is take a sponge, wet it with water and put it in the freezer. After a while take it out of the freezer and simply put it in a zip lock bag. Then you can take it with you wherever you go.

Drink Water:

Its always good to stay hydrated but it is especially vital to stay well hydrated during a heat wave. Make sure to drink water before you actually get thirsty because if you get thirsty your chance of becoming dehydrated increases.

The amount of water each person needs varies based on several factors but as a rough estimate the average male needs about 15 cups of fluid and the average female needs about 11 cup of fluid. This fluid includes the fluid we get from water, food, and other beverages. Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine during extreme heat.

Cool Off Before Bedtime:

If you have trouble sleeping at night due to the heat, try taking out one or two ice packs from the fridge and put them under an extra pillow on the other side of the bed so that you can rest your feet on this cool compress.

Since heat rises, its best to sleep on the ground or as low as possible. If your in a multilevel home, try sleeping on the first floor or the basement if you have one.

Avoid Strenuous Activities:

Avoid exercising outside during the hottest part of the day. Its best to avoid strenuous activities as much as possible.

Wear Light Colors:

Wear relaxed or loose fitting clothing. Avoid dark colors such as black and navy blue, because they absorb so much more heat.

Cooling Sprays:

Its really easy to make a DIY cooling spray or mist to help you stay cool. One option is to make green tea and pour it in a spray bottle and put it in the fridge. Then once its nice and cool you can mist it all over your body especially your face and neck.

Another option is to pour some rose water in a spray bottle and put it in the fridge. Once its cool it feels absolutely amazing to mist it over your face and neck. Not to mention that the scent is absolutely amazing as well. I feel that for something that is not very expensive rose water has a very luxurious feeling to it and it can also be used as a great make-up setting spray.

These are just a few simple tips and I hope that you find them to be helpful!

With Love,

Yasmin

 

A Bit About Suicide

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

As many of you may have heard or read, a few weeks ago fashion designer Kate Spade committed suicide and then just a few days later famous TV chef and host Anthony Bourdain committed suicide.

In the aftermath of these two tragic suicides I came across some very disappointing statistics about suicide here in the United States:

  • According to the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) suicide rates have been rising in almost every state with nearly 45,000 Americans taking their own lives each and every year.
  • Of the top 10 causes of death suicide is only one of three that is rising and not falling.
  • According to the CDC more than half of the people who died by suicide did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of their death. Life issues such as problematic relationships, substance abuse, financial despair, physical health problems or job stress likely played a key role in their suicide.

As if we did not already have enough reasons to ban or severely limit gun control here in the United States, it turns out guns are the most common method of suicide. The more people have access to guns the more chance of suicide because its easier for people to act impulsively.

When it comes to suicide the role of the mass media is also very important. As many of you may have noticed the mass media often over sensationalizes a suicide.

Often when the victim of a suicide is a well-known figure the media reports on the suicide in a very detailed manner and they keep developing and adding to the story as new details emerge.

This type of coverage can potentially be dangerous because studies show that the way a suicide is portrayed can influence other peoples’ behaviors. Suicide can actually become contagious through the spreading of thoughts and ideas.

 

For example, people are more likely to think about or even commit suicide if they can relate to the victim of suicide especially if the media portrays suicide as being that persons means for coping with their problems.

There are a number of different opinions on why the suicide rate has been consistently increasing. Some of the opinions include:

  • Our lifestyle has changed in a drastic way. We are no longer directly connected to people but instead we form and/or maintain most of our relationships digitally through social media.
  • Our life expectations differ greatly from those of our previous generations.
  • We have become less resilient.

Obviously, the exact reason of each persons’ suicide is different. I don’t want to make any generalizations but I feel that in todays’ society one really big problem is loneliness.

Without a doubt, in many ways, we are more connected to others than perhaps we have ever been. But I do agree that many of us are lacking real life human connections with others.

This is especially true for millennials. One particular research report found that millennials are more likely to experience chronic loneliness than any other age group.

I think that sometimes we take for granted the power of reaching out to others. In the aftermath of these two recent suicides one particular Instagram influencer posted a picture of herself and in the caption, she discussed her battle with depression and she mentioned that in the past she has had some suicidal thoughts.

Her advice to her followers was to simply reach out to a loved one or friend whom you feel is going through a tough time. She mentioned that often after a major suicide story people post the phone numbers of suicide prevention hotlines but they fail to realize that in many cases if a person is truly thinking about suicide they may have already made up their mind and they may not be willing to take the initiative to call a help hotline.

Understandably, often times it is difficult for us to detect the fact that our friend or loved one is going through a tough time.

Occasionally, a friend or loved one who is going through a tough time may reach out to us by just texting or calling us about something trivial and if we are busy and/or we are not aware of the fact that they are going through a tough time, we may simply just ignore their call or text.

I know personally that this has happened to me a number of times in which I was going through a tough time and I was feeling lonely and so I reached out to others by just texting them about something trivial and hoping that they would reply so that I could start a conversation but unfortunately, they never replied.

There is nothing that we can do that is guaranteed to prevent a loved one from committing suicide but in my humble opinion we can do our part to make sure that those around us are not feeling lonely or down because they feel they have no one to talk to.

I know that many of us live very busy and hectic lives but if we occasionally just take a few minutes to talk with a friend or loved one whom we usually don’t talk to, I think that this can go a long way into making that person feel valued and loved.

Please feel free to let me know your thoughts!

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

Tips for Safely Tossing Out Old Medications

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

First of all, I hope you are all in the best of health and that you don’t have to take any prescription medications.

However, I think it is safe to assume that at some point or another, each of us has been prescribed certain medication(s) by a doctor.

Interestingly, statistics show that as much as 40 percent of prescribed medications go unused. Sometimes all of these medications can become a source of clutter in our homes.

Recently, I was cleaning the medicine cabinet in our home and I was tempted to just immediately toss out any expired or unwanted medications directly into the trash.

However, after doing a few minutes of quick research on the subject I learned that there is a quick three step process to properly dispose old or unwanted prescription medications. This three step process ensures that these potentially dangerous medications are not found by young children, animals, and those who are looking to abuse drugs.

Step 1: Take a sealable plastic bag and open it.

Step 2: Pour the pills or liquid into the bag and mix it with something that will make it look unappealing. You can use kitty litter, coffee grounds or even dirt.

Step 3: Seal the bag and toss it into the trash.

Additionally, before you throw out medication bottles make sure that you use a pen or marker to scratch out any personal information that is listed on the bottle.

For more information about drug take back tips feel free to check out the FDA website.

I hope that you found these tips to be helpful.

With Love,

Yasmin

Personal Care Products and Safety: A Quick Guide to Choosing Safe Products

hygiene-870763_640Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

If you’ve ever read the list of ingredients on most of your personal care products (such as make-up, skincare, hair care products, or personal hygiene products) you will likely see a long list of chemicals.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) the average American women uses around 12 personal care products a day which exposes her to around 168 chemicals. Also, the average American man uses 6 personal care products a day which exposes him to around 85 chemicals a day.

Out of all of these chemicals, some of them are likely safe for long term use, however, consumers are reporting adverse reactions to certain products which shows that some of these chemicals may indeed have harmful effects on our health. These negative effects can be as minor as irritation or allergic reaction to more severe long term effects such as asthma or even cancer.

The large number of chemicals in a product makes it difficult for consumers and researchers to pinpoint exactly which chemical is causing the harmful effects.

Some chemicals that are thought to be harmful are parabens and phthalates. It is believed that parabens and phthalates effect the hormonal system of both men and women. They are also believed to effect immune function, metabolism, and thyroid function.

A huge point of concern is that here in the U.S. when consumers do complain about the health effects of a product to the company that made it, the company is not required to share this information with the FDA. Furthermore, companies are not required to list all of the ingredients.

For example, phthalates are often used to create the fragrance of the product but companies simply list fragrance without listing the ingredients that are used to create the fragrance.

In the United States, only 11 cosmetic chemicals have been banned by the government, however, in the European Union 1,328 cosmetic chemicals have been banned.

Although this information may seem discouraging the good news is that there some things that you can do to make sure you are using products with safe ingredients.

Read the Ingredients:

Okay, so I know that earlier in this post I mentioned that in the U.S. companies are not required to list all the ingredients. But in general, they do list the majority of the ingredients somewhere on the packaging of the product.

Just read through the list of ingredients and if you don’t recognize most of the ingredients you might want to think twice before you purchase the product.

If you want to be extra safe, visit the EWG’s Skin Deep database (ewg.org/skindeep) to type the name of the product into the EWG search engine to learn more about the safety of the product. The EWG Skin Deep database has rating and safety information for over 74,000 personal care products.

“Natural” May Not Really Be Natural:

After reading this post you might be inspired to only purchase products that are natural. Unfortunately, “natural” is not an FDA approved term so if a product claims that it is natural there is no guarantee that it won’t cause harm and there is no guarantee that the product contains all natural ingredients.

A safer bet is to look for products that have the USDA organic label. But if you have sensitive skin do a patch test of the product because some organic products contain common allergens.

Stop Using Premoistened Wipes:

Premoistened wipes (such as make-up removers wipes) contain a preservative chemical (methylisothiazolinome) which has been labeled as being completely unsafe by the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Public Safety.

Minimize Products:

Its a good idea to go through all of your personal care products and see if you can stop using certain products. Sometimes without even realizing it, we use two or more products with the same purpose or benefit. By getting rid of a few products we can reduce the number of chemicals we are being exposed to.

Is the Scent Really Important?

On certain products, if the scent is not important, consider choosing a fragrance free product. By doing so, you can limit your exposure to parabens and phthalates.

Buy From Safe Sources:

Trust me, I am all for looking for deals and trying to find the cheapest option. However, when it comes to personal care items, there is nothing wrong with finding a deal but make sure that if you’re shopping online, you only buy from authorized sellers on large websites such as Amazon or eBay. Research has shown that certain products sold online by unauthorized sellers have dangerous ingredients such as lead.

Stay Informed:

If you are interested in finding out about product recalls and warnings that have been  issued by the FDA you may want to consider signing up for the FDA’s Cosmetics News email updates. Click here to sign up for updates.

Make Your Voice Heard:

If you do ever experience any adverse effects from a product make sure to report it to both the manufacturer of the product and the FDA . To report to the FDA, you can call them by phone (800)-332-1088) or you can report online by visiting http://www.fda.gov/safety/mediawatch and click on “Report a Problem”.

I hope that you find these tips to be helpful!

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

Quick Guide to Layering Your Skincare

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

During my free time I love learning about (and then implementing)  new skincare regimens. I feel that lately the idea of layering skincare products has really been trending and I definitely think that this trend has been inspired by Korean beauty.

As a side note, the university that I attended had a large Korean population and I was always mesmerized by their flawless and glowing skin. So, late last summer after graduating, I learned about Korean skincare and I got a little too excited and I ordered a bunch of random Korean skincare products.

The products that I ordered (from Amazon) were all nice products with good quality. However, I have acne prone skin so some of the products were a little too moisturizing for me and they caused me to breakout. I know this sounds really obvious but make sure to buy products that will actually benefit your particular skin.

For those that are interested in layering their skincare products or they just use a number of different skincare products and they’re curious about the correct order of applying their products, here is a very brief guide:

  • The first and foremost step to any skincare regimen should be to wash your face with a gentle cleanser. The reason behind this is that most skincare products need to penetrate into the skin and they cannot do this if there is bacteria, natural oils, or other forms of impurities on the skin.
  • It is also a good idea to go from the thinnest to the thickest textures. Start off with liquids such as toners and then work your way up to the heavier and creamier products. If you do use a face oil, that should be applied last.
  • The exception to the above rule is products that have acids or retinol. These are active ingredients and they should be applied on clean skin so they can penetrate properly. Be sure to wait a minute or two before applying another product to allow it to penetrate.
  • Don’t forget about your eye area! The skin around our eyes is especially sensitive so it is often the first area that shows signs of aging. If your moisturizer is gentle enough you may be able to use it around the eyes as well. However, if you have a specific eye cream that is a serum or gel make sure to apply it before your general moisturizer so it can better penetrate the skin.
  • Finally, the last step to any skincare routine should be a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.

The above guide is a very ideal skincare regimen and to be completely honest I rarely follow all the steps because I can get really lazy. However, one thing that I learned about Korean skincare is that for many people who follow the lengthy Korean skincare regimen, they view taking care of their skin as a therapeutic and almost meditative act and I admire this mindset!

With Love,

Yasmin