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June 13
How to suncreen safer
 
 

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The skin is by far the largest organ in the body. It is our barrier to the outside environment—protecting us from potentially harmful chemicals and pathogens. The skin is also a porous filter—allowing us to perspire, regulate body temperature and synthesize Vitamin D. To protect our skin from damaging UV rays and skin cancer, we use sunscreen (1). We’ve been told to do this for over fifty years. But what about the ingredients in these sunscreens? Can they be causing just as much, if not more, harm to our bodies? 

A new study in the peer-reviewed medical journal JAMA (2) found that several active ingredients in different sunscreens are entering the bloodstream at levels that far exceed the FDA's recommended threshold. The FDA raised specific concerns about the substantial skin absorption of oxybenzone and its potential to affect hormone levels, especially in children (3).

Oxybenzone

Although oxybenzone is one of the more thoroughly tested sunscreen ingredients, the FDA’s existing tests raise several health concerns:

·       Oxybenzone is allergenic.

·       It is absorbed through the skin in large amounts.

·       It has been detected in human breast milk, amniotic fluid, urine and blood.

·       It is a potential endocrine disruptor.

·       Children may be more vulnerable to harm from oxybenzone than adults “because of the potential for higher absorption and bioaccumulation.”

In addition, a 2015 study discovered the hazard of oxybenzone on coral reefs (4) and the state of Hawaii passed a law that will take place in 2021 that prohibits the sale of over the counter sunscreens containing this ingredient (5).

What to look for on a sunscreen label:

At present, there are only two ingredients that are generally recognized by the FDA as safe and effective. They are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Besides, oxybenzone, ingredients requiring more data include: avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, cinoxate, dioxybenzone, ensulizole, meradimate, padimate O and sulisobenzone.

Be cautious of SPF values greater than 50

Did you know that properly applied SPF 50 sunscreen blocks 98 percent of UVB rays and that SPF 100 blocks 99 percent?

SPF factors are designed to block UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn and non-melanoma skin cancers. However, high SPF factors are not effective in blocking UVA rays, which can lead to harmful free radicals and higher risk of melanoma. In fact, the balance of protection against UVA than UVB rays is far worse for products with the highest SPF values (6).

So what is the proper way to apply sunscreen?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, here are 4 tips:

1.       Choose a sunscreen that is water resistant and provides broad-spectrum coverage (UVA & UVB rays)

2.       Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you go outside to allow enough time for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and protect you.

3.       Apply sunscreen over all exposed skin. Most adults need about 1 ounce — or enough to fill a shot glass — to fully cover their body. If you have thinning hair, apply sunscreen to your scalp or wear a wide‐brimmed hat. Apply a lip balm with a SPF of at least 15.

4.       Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or immediately after swimming, sweating or toweling off.

Other ways to stay safe in the sun: 

1.       Seek shade, especially during midday

2.       Wear a hat, sunglasses and protective clothing

3.       Hydrate properly and frequently 


See the source image

An environmental awakening in the personal care industry

It’s not just sunscreens gaining attention from consumers. There is concern that mainstream body care and cosmetics manufacturers are also putting harmful chemicals into everyday consumer products.

The FDA first introduced a law allowing the sale of cosmetics under a feeble regulation in 1938. There hasn’t been one passed since.

Fortunately, the SkinDeep database by the Environmental Working Group (7) is a great tool to help consumers navigate the thousands of sunscreens, body care and cosmetic products and their ingredients. If you have a smartphone, simply download the EWG app and while you’re shopping directly scan product barcodes to have instant safety information at your fingertips about each product!

While there are currently no strict rules regulating the sunscreen industry, consumers have an increasing number of tools and access to information to stay safe in the summer sun!

 

Resources:

1.       https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety.htm

2.       https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2733085?guestAccessKey=e1ad4492-fe70-4f53-970d-d63bfa1cdccd&utm_source=For_The_Media&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ftm_links&utm_content=tfl&utm_term=05062019

3.       https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/

4.       https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00244-015-0227-7

5.      https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/05/02/607765760/hawaii-approves-bill-banning-sunscreen-believed-to-kill-coral-reefs

6.      https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/whats-wrong-with-high-spf/

7.      https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

June 13
Charge your way to proper hydration with electrolytes!

Beat the heat with electrolytes and proper hydration!

What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are the ions in salts. The major electrolytes in the body include: sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, phosphate and sulfate (1).
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Image source: https://www.prokreate.co/electrolytes-charge-your-engine/

 
Why do we need them?
Electrolytes are what our cells use to maintain voltages across cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses that cause muscle contractions. Without proper muscles contractions, digestive issues, muscle spasms, and irregular heart rhythms can incur. Electrolyte balance is also essential in maintaining proper hydration and blood pressure.
How do electrolytes become imbalanced?
We lose electrolytes, specifically sodium and potassium, through sweat. You cannot rehydrate from water alone as your body needs the minerals as much as the fluids (2).

 
Symptoms of dehydration include (3):
·       Thirst
·       Fatigue/exhaustion
·       Headache
·       Muscle weakness
·       Faster than normal heart rate
·       Decline in cognitive performance

 
Proper hydration
1.       It is important to drink water consistently throughout the day, instead of chugging a glass all at once to catch up. A general rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in fluid ounces per day. For example, if you weigh 155 lbs, you would want to aim for 77.5 fluid ounces of water a day—that’s just less than 5 pint glasses, or about 2.3 liters!
2.       Without electrolytes, water can pass through your digestive system without being absorbed. Electrolytes deliver water directly into your bloodstream faster and more efficiently than water alone. Here is the recommended daily value (RDV) of electrolytes.
3.       According to the American College of Sports Medicine, to avoid dehydration, you should drink at least 16- 20 ounces of fluid one to two hours before an outdoor activity. After that, you should consume 6 to 12 ounces of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes that you are outside. When you are finished with the activity, you should at least another 16 to 24 ounces (2- 3 cups) to replace what you have lost (3).
4.       Avoid caffeinated beverages, alcohol, sodas and fruit juices. If you find water too boring to drink, add fresh lemons, limes, cucumber or mint for freshen the flavors! Sports drinks can have undesirable levels of sugar. Coconut water is a great low-sugar drink that is equally as hydrating as sports drinks, at least for the casual exerciser (4).
5.       Eat foods that naturally contain high amounts of electrolytes. Some examples include watermelon, bananas, strawberries, beets, and cherries (1).
 
Recipe
Making your own electrolyte drink is quick, easy, and affordable!
1.       Start with a base: water, coconut water or a blend.
2.       Add sea salt or Himalayan salt (for sodium and other trace minerals)
3.       Add citrus fruits i.e. lemon, lime (for calcium, magnesium, vitamin C)
4.       Add optional sweetener i.e. maple syrup, 100% fruit juice, honey (for flavor and natural energy)  (5)

 
Resources:
1.       https://draxe.com/electrolyte-imbalance/
2.       https://medlineplus.gov/fluidandelectrolytebalance.html
3.       https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/9013-dehydration
4.       https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12056182
5.       https://wellnessmama.com/2575/natural-sports-drink/
May 01
Top 10 Trails close to Charlottesville!

Researchers have found that the energy used for moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease over a six year period. Even just a 12 minute walk can relieve symptoms of anxiety, boost concentration, and increase feelings of joy!Walking in nature, specifically, reduces our tendency to ruminate over negative thoughts. Less negative thoughts overtime can lead to decrease risk of depression. So, check out these ten trails that feature easy access from downtown Charlottesville! top 10.png

February 22
Having trouble getting a good night's sleep? Try these 5 tips!

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Research shows that getting at least 7 hours a night reduces the chance for overall disease. However, nearly half of all Americans have trouble getting a good night's sleep. If you're part of that population, check out these 5 basic tips to help you start hitting the pillow faster!

1. Ask to have a work meeting outside!
A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that access to natural light during the day improves health outcomes, increases physical activity, and results in better nighttime sleep for those of us who spend a lot of time in the office. (1)


2. Cut out screen time before bedtime!
TVs, phones, tablets, computers expose us to artificial blue light that has a higher color temperature than daytime sun. Sitting in bed in a dark room and watching a show on your computer before you hit the pillow feels brighter to your internal circadian clock than being outside in the sun at noon. Instead, replace with a reading a book or journaling! (2)  


3. Practice deep breathing in bed!
Slow, deep breathing helps the body override the sympathetic system, which controls our fight-or-flight response, and lets the parasympathetic system ¬— which controls our ability to relax — take over. When you practice deep breathing, you’re giving the body permission to quit being on high alert and, instead, to relax. Focusing on your breathing forces your mind to concentrate on the task at hand and not on whatever you’re lying in bed thinking about.
(3)


4. Change what you eat (especially at night)!
If you’re consuming too many sugars and refined carbs at night, your body must burn through those first, which prevents you from easily going to sleep. Additionally, eating foods high in potassium, magnesium, B vitamins, Vitamin D and tryptophan will help your body feel relaxed so you can go to sleep.
(4)


5. Exercise more (especially outdoors)!
Exercise is one of the most natural ways to create endorphins, which like serotonin and melatonin affect mood and sleep patterns. Try getting at least 30 minutes of exercise at least three days a week, ideally outdoors! Increasing exposure to the sun increases your body’s own production of Vitamin D. More than half of the world population is deficient in vitamin D, and low levels have been linked to poor sleep.
(5, 6)

For more tips, head over to Dr. Axe’s medically reviewed and fact checked library of health conditions! 

Resources:

1. https://draxe.com/not-getting-enough-natural-light/

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5473809/

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21446363

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015038/

5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22583560

6. https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/38/2/251/2416956?searchresult=1​​​

February 13
Are you sick or just thirsty? 10 ways water works for you!

Did you know that just a 1-3% decrease in hydration affects your ability to concentrate? According to research published in the journal Nutrients, mild dehydration interferes with brain processing and breaks down the ability to focus. Just like sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, and getting moderate daily exercise, water is one of the most essential needs of your body!

Unfortunately, water is also the most common nutrient deficiency in the U.S. One study found that a little more than half of American children and adolescents are dehydrated. Another survey determined 75% of all Americans may be suffering from chronic dehydration (1). The Standard American Diet is inundated with diuretics, which not only replace fluids during the day that could be precious H2O, but also excrete the water you've already consumed. You can go weeks without food, but only days without water.

A dry mouth is a sign you’ve already reached dehydration status.

So, before you get to that point, you need to properly hydrate yourself. How do you do that? By sipping water throughout the day and not gulping an 8 oz. glass at once. If you chug water just to catch up on your daily quota, you put pressure on your kidneys to dilute your blood faster and in turn excrete the very water you’re trying to hydrate with--this is why you rush to the restroom 10 minutes later!

Electrolytes are key. You can drink all the water you want, but if you're not also consuming the proper level of electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium) then the water is not being properly assimilated into the body. Furthermore, you lose electrolytes throughout the day, especially through sweat. Try adding a pinch of sea salt and lemon juice to your glass or mixing in coconut water and other natural sources of electrolytes.

How much water should you drink? There are many variables that determine this answer including environmental factors, weight, diet, and exercise. A general rule of thumb is to divide your weight in half and that is the number of fluid ounces of water you should have consumed by the end of the day. If you consume diuretics (coffee, juice, alcohol, caffeinated teas), then you should add 1.5x water. For example, if you drank a 6 oz up of coffee, you would need to add 9 oz of water to your day (6 x 1.5 =9). If you are sweating while exercising or spending time in the heat, you would also want to increase your water quota. 

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Here are 10 ways water works for you! 

1.       Prevents fatigue 

2.       Prevents migraines

3.       Prevents heartburn 

4.       Counteracts arthritis & joint pain 

5.       Prevents asthma attacks & airborne allergies 

6.       Prevents colitis & constipation

7.       Regulates blood pressure 

8.       Prevents kidney stones 

9.       Improves brain function

10.   Metabolizes stored fat and carbohydrates

Resources:

1.       Survey of 3003 Americans, Nutrition Information Center”, New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, April 14, 1998

February 11
Do the Safety Dance!
February 08
Top 10 TEDTalks on Wellness

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Here is a list of 10 TEDTalks to inspire a healthier, happier approach to overall wellness! Hungry for more? Browse the TEDTalks online catalogue for thousands more innovative videos from around the world! 

1.     Matt Cutts: Try Something New for 30 Days
2.     Nilofer Merchant: Got a meeting? Take a walk.
3.     Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work
4.     Dean Ornish: Healing Through Diet
5.     Kelly McGonigal: How to Make Stress Your Friend
7.     Wendy Suzuki: The brain-changing benefits of exercise
8.     Ben Saunders: Why bother leaving the house?
9.     Russell Foster: Why do we sleep?
10.  Nicole Avena: How sugar affects the brain 

 

 

Did you watch a video related to nutrition, stress management, mindfulness, exercise, or general health that should be added to the list? E-mail us  bewell@albemarle.org

February 07
5 Easy Breathing Exercises to Try at Work!

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5 breathing activities you can do anywhere, anytime! (by Dr. Axe)—great for helping you fall asleep, stay focused at work, or unwind and destress!

Yes, we all breathe, but are we doing it the right way? By changing the way we breathe, we change the way we feel and how our bodies react to what’s going on around us. You can do breathing exercises anywhere at any time! Like when you’re commuting to work, before a stressful meeting, or during a conflict with a coworker. You can also practice deep breathing while trying to fall asleep by giving your body permission to stop being on alert and, instead, relax. Ready to get started? Here are five easy breathing activities you can try now!
 
1. Pursed lip breathing

With relaxed shoulders, take a normal breath for about 2 counts. Then pucker your lips up (think of your mouth when you’re about to whistle — that’s what your lips should look like!) and exhale for 4 counts. Do this for a few rounds.

 

2. Diaphragmatic breathing

With your shoulders back, keep one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. As you breathe in deeply for about 2 seconds, your belly should stick out a bit. Feel the air expanding your stomach and then breathe out slowly through the lips.

 

3. Yoga breathing

Place your right thumb over your right nostril as you breathe in through the left nostril. Then take your right ring finger and place it over your left nostril as you exhale from the right one.

Leaving your ring finger where it is over the left nostril, inhale from the left, then switch to the right side, putting your thumb over the right nostril and exhaling through the left.

 

4. 4-7-8

Exhale through your mouth and then close it and inhale through your nose for 4 counts. You hold the breath in for 7 counts, then release it in 8 counts, and repeat at least three times.

 

5. Breath counting

Sitting comfortably with your eyes closed, take a few deep breaths, then settle into a pattern of “normal” breathing. When you exhale, count “one.” The next time, count “two.” Do this until you have exhaled (and counted to) five, then start the pattern over. Don’t count past five, and if you find you’ve lost count, start again at one. 

December 14
Fitbits are not just for counting steps – track sleep, set goals and more!
 
BeWell Fitbit store open through Feb. 1, 2019
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 For employees:  preferred pricing plus $25 subsidy

For employee's friends and family:  2 discount codes to share

 Click here for details!!

December 14
You got the flu shot...now what?

                                                                                winterwellnesstips


Just because you got the flu shot, doesn’t mean you’re 100% immune from the flu or other respiratory infections. Here are 10 more ways to stay healthy this season!

1.       Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Disinfect surfaces and objects that may also be contaminated with germs. The flu virus can remain viable without a host for about 24 hours. (1) Keep your hands away from your mouth and nose, and make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.

2.       Stay well hydrated! You should aim to drink half of your body weight in fluid ounces. Your body needs water to produce lymph and to flush out toxins. Without lymph, immune cells would not be able to travel throughout the body to fight disease. (2)

3.       Increase your Vitamin D by supplementing with dietary sources including cod liver oil, wild-caught salmon, tuna, fortified milk, and eggs. Vitamin D levels are lower in the winter due to less sun exposure, and is required to activate disease fighting cells. (3)

4.       Eat the rainbow! Focus on eating antioxidant-rich fruits & veggies. The USDA's Dietary Guidelines recommend adults eat AT LEAST 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Think dark berries, citrus, and green leafy veggies!

5.       Exercise regularly. Moderate activity promotes good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move efficiently through the body! Try taking a 20 minute walk on your break, even if it’s indoors! A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder. Exercise also increases the capacity of the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory, and indirectly improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. (4, 5)

6.       Increase anti-inflammatory, healthy fats including nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, & coconut oil. Essential fats also help increase the absorption of Vitamin D. (6)

7.       Explore stress reduction. Chronic stress weakens the immune system, making you more likely to get a cold or the flu. Tools include meditation, yoga, light exercise, deep breathing, and stress counseling. (7)

8.       Avoid sugar. Refined sugars and artificial sweeteners can invoke stress in the body and suppresses the immune response by destroying white blood cells. (8)

9.       Get enough rest. Sleeping allows your body to focus its energy on fighting infections. The average adult should clock between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. (9)

10.   It’s not too late to get the flu shot! While the flu peaks between November & March, the virus can continue to spread until May. (10) All employees can go to any pharmacy to get a free shot. Click for details. Remember, if you begin to feel sick while at work, go home as soon as possible. Read more on workplace wellness from the CDC.

References:

1.       https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits/index.htm

2.       https://www.cdc.gov/bam/diseases/immune/immunesys.html

3.       http://time.com/4672626/vitamin-d-cold-flu/

4.       https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/5-surprising-benefits-of-walking

5.       https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

6.       https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/

7.       https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/

8.       https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article-abstract/26/11/1180/4732762

9.       https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/

10.   https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/index.html

 

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