6 Strategies For Restful Sleep

restful sleepRestful sleep is a key component of optimum health. Unfortunately, few Americans get enough sleep and the quality of sleep is lacking. Try these six strategies to boost the quality of your sleep.

Lower the lights before bed

Electric light between dusk and bedtime can impact sleep because it suppresses melatonin levels, a hormone that regulates sleep and waking cycles. Although it is difficult to avoid electric light from dusk to bedtime, especially in the summer, it is helpful to be mindful of this to some extent. This is a natural way to start winding your body down to prepare for sleep. Continue reading

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5 Ways To Reduce Your Exposure To Cell Phone Radiation

With more than 6 billion subscribers globally, cell phones have become extremely widespread. Despite how common they are, there is little evidence that has proven the technology safe. Depending on how close you are to the antenna on your phone, between 20% and 60% of the radiation from your phone is transmitted into your head and cell phones are proven tochange brain activity. Thankfully, there are a few simple steps you can take to protect your health.

Use a cell phone with a low radiation level

The SAR or Specific Absorption Rate is a measure of the quantity of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body when using the phone. Although all phones emit a radio frequency, you will receive less radiation if you use a cell phone with a low SAR rating. By law, cell phones in the US need a SAR level below 1.6 watts per kilogram to receive FCC certification. The SAR rating of phones varies widely, with phones available that are as low as .3 watts per kilogram. Purchasing a cell phone with a low SAR rating does involve doing some homework. The FCC has a list of manufacturer websites with relevant information and there are also lists on the internet of low SAR cell phones.

Hold the phone away from your body

The greater the distance, the less radiation you will receive. If your handset has a speakerphone feature, utilize it as much as possible. Using the speakerphone keeps the phone, and therefore the radiation away from your body. Headsets can also be helpful for achieving this, but unfortunately results vary. Some handsets can actually boost radiation levels as they can emit a signal.

Don’t allow young children to use cell phones

cell phone radiationBecause their brains are still forming and the skull around the brain is thinner, cell phone radiation is especially concerning for children. Although it may be convenient, don’t allow young children to use a cell phone. The bone marrow of a child absorbs 10 times more radiation than an adult from a cell phone. The exact health impacts are not completely understood, but it is known that children are more sensitive to radiation and absorb higher levels of it.

Make calls when the cell phone signal is strong

The radiation levels from your cell phone actually vary in different settings. When your phone has a low signal, your phone has to work harder for you to have a clear conversation. This results in higher levels of radiation. Your cell phone signal will typically be strongest when you are outside and near a cell phone tower. Check your cell phone to determine how strong your signal is, especially before making long calls. Continue reading

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2 Food Additives to Avoid

food additivesDeciphering food labels can be a difficult task. Many additives are found in foods to enhance flavors, shelf life, or to make foods visually appealing. Thiamin mononitrate or citric acid may sound concerning, but are merely vitamins B1 and C. Knowing what food additives to avoid can make label reading a bit easier. Here are two easy additives to spot and remove from your diet.


Hydrogenated Oils

When oils are hydrogenated, they take what was originally a healthy oil and change the molecular structure. This process makes oil take on a solid state at room temperature instead of a liquid one. Food manufacturers use such oils because they increase the shelf life of the product, but unfortunately they cause havoc in your body.

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Traveling with Young Children in Istanbul

travel with toddlerMy son and I are on an adventure in Istanbul, Turkey. We rode the overnight train from Bulgaria and arrived ready to explore! We’ve had a wonderful time and I’ve found the city to be a relatively kid-friendly destination.

There are a smattering of parks around the city, with Gulhane Park being one of the nicest. Not all of the parks have soft surfaces under the equipment and my son did take a spill on a cement surface and managed to fall on his forehead.

We have walked quite a bit around the old city, but it has been a bit difficult with a stroller. There are lots of cobblestone streets and narrow or non-existent stretches of sidewalk with streets filled with cars and buses that don’t yield to pedestrians. The streets in the old town can be crowded, but that can make them more interesting and safe. There were a number of outdoor staircases, requiring me to carry the stroller. I would recommend using a baby carrier if you have a younger child (and a strong/healthy back).

We have enjoyed eating in restaurants and most have had at least a handful of vegetarian and vegan options. Some of the cooked veggie and white rice dishes have quite a bit of oil unfortunately, but the lentil soup, salads, and hummus dishes have been great. Most of the grains are refined (white bread, white rice, etc), but I did find cooked bulgar in some restaurants. A few restaurants that catered to tourists did have high chairs, but most did not.

They have a nice selections of raw nuts and fresh and dried fruits available at the markets (in the summer at least) and many vendors sell fresh squeezed orange juice for as little as $1 a cup and fresh pomegranate juice for a bit more.

istanbul tourismWe stayed in a hotel in old town, so we would be within walking distance of the Blue Masque, Hagia Sophia, and other major attractions. It made it easier to visit some sites between naps and dinner. There is a decent public transportation system, but it is often quite full (and thus difficult to bring a stroller on).

There are a bunch of different boat tours available on the Bospherus, with excellent views of the European and Asian sides of the city. We also took a day trip to the Black Sea and enjoyed playing on the beach.

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Eating Well While Traveling

eating disorder awarenessThis post was written by guest author Cole Millen.

You have been diligent to eat right and exercise well for months in order to establish a healthy lifestyle. You’ve lost weight, gained muscle tone, and lowered your cholesterol. You are headed off to a well-deserved vacation and wonder if you will have to succumb to seemingly inevitable weight gain and exercise setback. The fact is, you do not! You can take your diet on vacation. Here are some helpful ways to retain the important progress you have worked so hard for.

Navigating Your Flight

Avoid the pitfalls of airport food. Eat a healthy, satisfying meal prior to leaving for the airport. While on layovers, walk around to get some brief exercise and fresh air. If you do need to sit, avoid the food court and its dangerous smells! Plan to pack some low calorie, protein rich, healthy snacks in your carry on bag or purse that will tide you over. This could be an organic nutrition bar, dried fruit, nuts, or a controlled sugar protein shake. Drink bottled water rather than a highly caloric coffee creation. If you are forced to eat a meal at the airport, look for a salad with grilled chicken or turkey and ask for the dressing on the side. Continue reading

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Creating a Sacred Sleep Practice

I often go to bed without winding down first. It seems creating a restful sleep practice is paramount for good quality sleep. Although I’ve implemented some of these practices with my kids, such as lowering the lights, turning off computers, and having low-key discussions, I’m just now creating this for myself.

I’ve decided to start doing the Bandhana Kriya before bed every night for 40 days and chant Kirtan Sohila. I found the words to the chant written phonetically, for people who aren’t fluent in Gurmukhi. If you’re new to Kundalini Yoga, reading the description here about mulabhanda (mentioned at the end of the Bandhana Kriya) is helpful for understanding the end of the meditation.

I’m curious what restful and regenerative practices you have before bed.

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Fun Winter Activity: Ice Sculptures & Mobile

art activity kidsAlthough I like to play outside with my kids each day, it is hard to keep my daughter’s interest on super cold days. I’ve discovered that making a project is a fun way to engage her.

We made winter ice sculptures yesterday with found objects. Leona collected twigs, leaves, pieces of fallen tree branches, icicles, and more. We placed them into baking pans and ice cube trays and poured water on top. We then pushed a piece of ribbon into each section of the ice cube tray, making a mobile once it was frozen. Continue reading

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