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Maintaining a healthy blood flow is crucial for optimal health and healing, particularly cardiovascular and brain health. We picked 9 supplements that have been clinically shown to enhance circulation and help maintain healthy arteries, veins, and capillaries.

Do You Have Poor Circulation?

Some of the most common signs of sluggish circulation include:

  • Numbness in hands or feet 
  • Muscle cramping 
  • Cold hands and feet 
  • Pain your legs when walking 
  • Muscle cramping
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Pain in your legs when walking
  • Swelling in your legs and ankles
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Brain fog
  • Slow or delayed wound healing
  • Low sex drive
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
8 Best Supplements for Circulation1. Omega-7 Fatty Acids

Palmitoleic acid is a purified and concentrated form of one specific omega-7. Initial human studies have found that palmitoleic acid helps lower unhealthy triglycerides, reduce harmful LDL cholesterol, and raise beneficial HDL cholesterol-all of which benefits circulation and heart health. Sea buckthorn oil is one of the richest sources of omega-7 fats.

2. Coenzyme Q10

(CoQ10) supports circulation by inhibiting the formation of blood clots. Findings in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry show that CoQ10 protects arteries by preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Unfortunately, the body's natural stores of CoQ10 decline with age (especially after age 40), but taking supplements helps restore levels. Statin drugs deplete CoQ10 further, so taking a supplement is important if you are on cholesterol medication. Use 100–200 mg daily. For optimal absorption, use the Ubiquinol form of CoQ10 (instead of ubiquinone). 

3. Fish Oil

Fish oil protects blood vessels thanks to two omega-3 fats—docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Studies show that they help lower high blood pressure and triglyceride levels. They also modulate mechanisms of atherosclerosis, including inflammation, blood clotting, and platelet aggregation. Fish oils have also been shown to help treat depression. Look for a product that is third-party test for purity. For best results, use a formula that contains at least 1,000 mg total of omega-3s. 

4. L-arginine

L-arginine is an artery-protecting amino acid that boosts nitric oxide levels. This causes blood vessels to relax, permitting improved blood flow. As you get older, you may need more of this nutrient than your body and diet can supply. Food sources include turkey, chicken, pork, pumpkin seeds, and soybeans. Fortunately, you can boost your intake of L-arginine with supplements. While safe under most circumstances, it's wise to avoid L-arginine if you suffer from low blood pressure. A standard dosage for L-arginine is 500–1,000 mg daily.

You may want to consider combining L-arginine with Aged Garlic Extract (AGE): A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found that AGE, when combined with L-arginine and certain B vitamins, can reduce coronary artery calcification. Researchers used Kyolic Formula 108 in the study, which was conducted at the UCLA Biomedical Research Institute.

5. Nattokinase

Nattokinase is an enzyme in fermented soybeans that helps reduce blood pressure. According to research in Nutrition Research, nattokinase dissolves excess fibrin in blood vessels, which improves circulation. It can also reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol; reduce blood viscosity; and improve blood flow. A word of caution: Since nattokinase can increase bleeding tendencies, talk with your doctor if you take warfarin (Coumadin) or an antiplatelet drug such as aspirin or Plavix. The dosage for nattokinase supplements is often listed in “fibrinolytic units,” or FUs. A standard dose is 2,000 FUs or 100 mg. 

6. Niacin

Niacin is a B vitamin best known for its ability to raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. But niacin is also a valuable tool to dilate blood vessels and enhance microcirculation. This is indicated by the well-known "flush" that can occur after taking a niacin supplement. This flush can create an uncomfortable tingling sensation and a feeling of warmth. You can help prevent this reaction by taking niacin at bedtime with a dose of stinging nettles (250–275 mg). It's also wise to work with your doctor if you opt to take this supplement, since it may affect liver function at therapeutic doses. A standard dosage ranges from 100 to 500 mg. Avoid the “no-flush” form niacin, as it does not work as well as regular niacin for cardiovascular health.

7. Resveratrol

Resveratrol, a compound that is found in red wine and red grapes, affects the health of the cells lining blood vessels. It also triggers the release of nitric oxide, which plays a key role in the relaxation of blood vessels. If that weren't enough, resveratrol helps lower LDL cholesterol and prevents blood platelets from clumping together. This suggests that resveratrol can improve vascular function. Use 200–500 mg of trans resveratrol (the easiest-to-absorb form). For added antioxidant protection, look for formulas that combine resveratrol with grape seed extract.

8. Systemic Enzymes

Systemic enzymes are similar to digestive enzymes with one big difference—they work within the bloodstream rather than the digestive system. Systemic enzymes, such as protease and serrapeptase, support overall health, but they are best known for their anti-inflammatory and circulation-boosting powers. They can also help thin excess mucus and support the breakdown of toxins, allergens, and unhealthy levels of fibrin in the blood (a substance related to clotting). Systemic enzymes are best taken on an empty stomach. Use in place of NSAIDs such as ibuprofen for pain relief. Follow dosage guidelines for best results.

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Like a drug, sugar can be addictive, causing weight gain and multiple health issues. Here’s how to say goodbye to the sweet stuff for good.

Based on this research, some people—or perhaps many people—simply can’t have just a little sugar. Due to their addiction to sugar, these individuals are repeatedly unsuccessful when they try moderation, according to Avena, coauthor of Why Diets Fail (Because You’re Addicted to Sugar). Just like alcoholics must completely avoid alcohol, these individuals need to completely avoid simple sugars, including natural sweeteners such as agave nectar and honey, and greatly reduce all complex carbohydrates, such as bread, cereals, and pasta, that are quickly converted to sugar. Here’s what you can do now to stop cravings and kick your sugar addition.

Breaking the Sugar Habit

The World Health Organization recommends limiting calories from added sugar to less than 10 percent of daily caloric total. About 71 percent of U.S. adults get more than 10 percent of their calories from added sugar, primarily from sugar-sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, and candy. One in 10 Americans get a full 25 percent of their calories from added sugar.

How do we cut sugar from the diet? One way is to eliminate all sugars and flours, and sometimes even grains, which convert to sugars, all at once. This is initially difficult: People tend to experience withdrawal symptoms, such as cravings, headaches, and/or irritability, for the better part of a week when they cut sugar cold turkey. However, if they can get through them, the unpleasant symptoms typically disappear.

Another approach is Avena’s Sugar Freedom Plan, a five-phase program to gradually reduce and eliminate sugars and carbohydrates fueling addiction. It starts with a period of a few weeks of getting rid of sugary beverages, followed by periods of cutting sugar-rich junk foods, complex carbs that quickly turn into sugars, and hidden sugars, such as those found in salad dressings and marinades. Protein such as lean meats, nuts,
seeds, eggs, and beans, and non-starchy vegetables should be emphasized, and a little whole fruit often can be eaten because the fiber offsets the effects of
the natural fruit sugars.

Seven ways to kick sugar for good

Sweetness is a compelling and powerful taste sensation. You aren’t weak, craven, or a bad person because you enjoy the taste of sugar. But, like a drug, sugar can be addictive. When you eat sugary foods, your blood sugar spikes, and then crashes, which makes you crave even more sugar. What’s more, sugar that is not burned as fuel by the body gets stored as fat—triglycerides specifically, which have a predilection for your midsection. To conquer sugar cravings, lose weight, and reclaim your health, try these interventions:

1. Stop buying it.

An easy rule of thumb—don’t keep food in your home that comes in a box, as it will likely
be processed and contain added sugars. Focus on fresh, low-glycemic fruits
and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

2. Plan your meals ahead.

It’s a lot easier than you might think. Experiment with healthy foods that you’ve never cooked before. For recipe ideas, try the following websites: cookusinterruptus.com; heartofcooking.com; nourishingmeals.com; and nowheatnodairynoproblem.com. 

3. Be sure to stay well hydrated.

Whenever you experience sugar cravings, immediately drink some water. It will help stifle the sugar urge. If water doesn’t do the trick, try eating a spoonful of protein: egg, tuna fish, chicken, or organic tofu. If that still doesn’t work, try apples, pickles, or grated cabbage (kimchi is also fine). You need to build up your resistance to sugar. If you blow it
occasionally, that’s OK.

4. Take Supplements. 

The trace mineral chromium (use the picolinate form) can also help reduce sugar cravings for most people, usually within a week. Take 200–300 mcg every morning. Chromium works because it helps insulin get glucose into your cells—where sugar can produce energy, not love handles. Most health food stores carry “sugar balancing” formulas that combine chromium with other helpful ingredients, such as vanadium (another trace mineral) and the herbs Gymnema sylvestre and cinnamon.

According to Kat James, author of The Truth About Beauty, blood sugar-stabilizing nutrients help counterbalance blood sugar changes that create cravings and mood swings (not to mention weight problems). In addition to chromium and gymnema, cinnamon, alpha-lipoic acid, and maitake SX fraction also help the body use insulin and metabolize sugar more efficiently. Zinc, another blood sugar-stabilizing mineral, can actually resensitize the taste buds, reducing the need for sugar and salt in order to taste real food, says James. Abstaining from sugar itself reduces cravings of all kinds dramatically.

James adds: Sugar and carb cravings, as well as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and even compulsions such as bulimia and gambling, have been linked to imbalances in the “feel-good” brain chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine. Supplementing with the amino acid L-tryptophan or its derivative, 5-HTP, as well as L-tyrosine, has been shown in numerous studies to increase serotonin and dopamine, respectively, without side effects.

 5. Sweeten Smartly.

Completely ditching processed white sugar as soon as possible is a good idea for everyone. Don’t spoon it into your coffee, and don’t buy or eat foods that contain sugar, glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, and/or dextrose—especially if they’re listed as one of the top five ingredients on the label.

On the other hand, unless you are diabetic or prediabetic and your doctor advises otherwise, it’s OK to have about 1 Tbs. per day of other sweeteners that have nutritional value (mostly due to their high mineral content). These include honey, maple syrup (use only real Grade B stuff), and traditionally extracted agave, which is hard to find. (Most agave syrup is just as bad for you as high fructose corn syrup.)

6. Save Sweets for Saturdays.

Michael Pollan, author of Food Rules and several other books, recommends eating sugar or sweets only on days that begin with “S,” and that’s a good idea. You simply don’t need dessert after every meal. And we’re talking one dessert here—it’s not a license to consume sugar all day. 

7. Get Moving.

In addition to altering your diet, try to exercise a little bit every day, and ramp it up 2–3 times a week. Find movement you enjoy. 

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Transform your skin with probiotic-infused beauty products

The “friendly” bacteria that are good for your gut, can also ease skin conditions, including acne, rosacea, and eczema. A healthy balance of bacteria in your digestive tract has an anti-inflammatory effect on your entire body—including your skin. And since your skin is actually its own complex microbiome, just like your gut, it benefits from topically applied probiotics. Here are 4 ways these microbes can deliver miracles when it comes to beautiful skin.

Fight Bacteria on Your Skin

Antimicrobial peptides in probiotics that are applied topically act like natural antibiotics to kill off harmful germs. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, topical probiotics can cause “bacterial interference” by obstructing bacteria and parasites that can cause inflammation, redness, or bumps. Researchers continue to determine which of the many probiotics have the strongest antimicrobial properties. 

Reduce Signs of Aging on Your Skin

They can shield against pollution and UV rays and help hydrate skin, reduce wrinkles, and improve skin’s elasticity. 

Boost Skin’s Radiance from the Inside Out 

Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so it’s best to be proactive and double up on probiotics by combining topical products with supplements. Make them part of your diet and your skin care. You can also improve the balance of bacteria in your gut by eating probiotics in yogurt, kefir, tempeh, miso, kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut (in addition to taking probiotic supplements). 

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He helped millions trim their waistlines with his popular SHRED diet books. Now Ian K. Smith, MD, is advising people to clean up their plates.

 “People report increased mental clarity, their skin is better, and they talk about their blood sugars, cholesterol levels, and blood pressures dropping,” says Smith of his Clean 20 plan.   

Bestselling author Ian K. Smith, MD, has cooked up a smart program for people looking to eliminate processed fare in favor of nutrient-rich food. And The Clean 20: 20 Foods, 20 Days, Total Transformation! promises long-term results.

While researching the sugar content of various foods for his book Blast the Sugar Out, “I also found all of the other artificial ingredients that are in our foods—things like coloring, dyes, and quote-unquote natural flavors, preservatives, and additives,” Smith says.

And when a friend who had trouble losing weight followed Smith’s clean-eating ideas—within 10 days she reported weight loss and “energy levels through the roof,” he adds—“I thought, geez, maybe I need to write a book teaching people how to eat clean in a way that isn’t intimidating.”

The Clean 20 guides readers to incorporate health-boosting foods into 60 simple recipes. Smith’s Facebook group, TheClean20, offers advice from readers with varying incomes. “I want people to realize that clean eating isn’t reserved for the upper echelon of society. All of us can eat clean if we think about it and prepare.” 

What is the Clean 20 program’s basic premise?

The idea is that for 20 days you choose 20 foods that work for you. Everyone can have a different Clean 20 list, but it will come from the same list of clean foods. There are also “basket buddies” you can swap in and out. What people have told me they love about the program is that whether they’re vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, carnivorous, gluten-free, or diabetic, the plan’s flexibility allows them to customize it for themselves. And by the way, the average weight loss (among my Facebook followers) is about 10 lbs.

What other health benefits does this way of eating offer?

I’m not advocating for anyone to eat perfectly, but given how processed most of our food is, giving the body a break from this kind of artificial stress is very cleansing. Not just physically but also mentally. People report increased mental clarity, their skin is better, and they talk about their blood sugars, cholesterol levels, and blood pressures dropping. Hitting that reset button allows our body to clear the canvas and reintroduce powerful natural foods that are full of fiber, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Once you reset, you will drift into areas that aren’t the healthiest, but I think the drift is less because people want to make better choices.

Where do dairy and grains fit in?

Dairy and grains aren’t inherently unclean. A whole grain is very clean. And dairy that doesn’t have antibiotics and hormones in it is also very clean.

But when we age, we have inflammatory responses to dairy and to grains. And if you have a response to either, then it shouldn’t be on your list. But to automatically delete it and say it isn’t clean food is incorrect. My simple tip is if a packaged food has more than five ingredients, it’s unlikely to be clean. It’s probably full of a lot of additives.

What are your favorite Clean 20 breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Oatmeal with fresh berries and bananas is a tremendous way to start the day. I get my sweetness from the fruit but also get my whole grains, including with 100 percent whole-grain toast. Lunch is a grilled chicken sandwich with sliced avocados and tomatoes. The book has recipes for homemade condiments. For dinner, I like whole-grain or whole-wheat pasta with seafood or chicken. I believe you should put protein in as many meals as you can.

You allow foods like cheeseburgers to be slowly reintroduced after Day 20. What if someone opts for drive-thru convenience before then?

This is a very forgiving, understanding program. These foods can be found almost everywhere. And they’re affordable. The minute you see the words “clean eating,” you might think, ‘Oh, I have to be a foodie.’ But there’s real food on this.

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Better Nutrition Magazine by Jonny Bowden, Ph.d., Cns - 2w ago

One day fat is bad; the next it’s good. What is the real deal on dietary fat?

Once upon a time there was no confusion about healthy eating. We all knew the rules, even if we didn’t always follow them. High-complex carbs, heavy on the grains, moderate fish and chicken. Low calorie—even lower fat.

But that was then. Emerging science suggests that we were not only wrong about fat, we were spectacularly, embarrassingly wrong.

It’s clear that our knowledge of what fat is, what it does, and what it does not do needs a serious update. Let’s start by looking at three of the biggest myths related to fat and disease.

Myth 1: Saturated Fat Causes Heart Disease

Actually, it doesn’t. There have been several major, peer-reviewed meta-analyses in the past decade completely debunking the notion that saturated fat is a causal factor in heart disease. In 2010, researchers reviewed 21 studies looking for the relationship of dietary saturated fat to the risk of coronary heart disease. They couldn’t find one. “There is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD (coronary heart disease) or CVD (cardiovascular disease),” they concluded.

This lack of association was confirmed in several other studies, notably a 2014 review in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which found no link between saturated fat consumption and the risk of heart disease or death.

Myth 2: Vegetable Oils Are Good

Well, not always. Vegetable oils don’t actually come from vegetables. They’re processed from grains such as corn, or from plants such as soybeans. Those we commonly use—corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil—are frequently derived from GMO crops, unless they’re organic. They’re processed at high heat, often with harsh chemicals, so by the time they end up on the shelf, there’s little nutritional value left. What’s more, they are mostly made up of omega-6 fats, which—in the absence of sufficient omega-3s—are pro-inflammatory.

Myth 3: Animal Products Are Unhealthy and Don’t Belong in a “Clean” Diet

It’s true that toxic animal products are unhealthy and don’t belong in your diet. But note the word “toxic.” Toxic animal products come from animals that have been raised in unspeakable conditions, fed an inflammatory diet, given massive amounts of antibiotics, injected with hormones and steroids, and fed grain sprayed with chemicals. Most of this meat comes from “factory farms” or CAFOs (confined animal feedlot operations).

Beef that is 100 percent grass-fed and organic is the opposite of toxic meat. The cows graze on their natural diet of pasture. Their omega-3 content is higher, their (pro-inflammatory) omega-6 content lower. They tend to have high concentrations of CLA (conjugated linolenic acid), which has anticancer and anti-obesity properties. [Read more about grass-fed meat and try our recipe for Balsamic Blackstrap Steak Salad].

Did You Know?

Macadamia nut oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and it’s packed with immune-boosting antioxidants.

A New Way of Looking at Fat

So the old way of classifying fat—animal fat “bad,” vegetable fat “good”—turns out to be pretty useless. In our 2016 book, Smart Fat, Steven Masley, MD, and I suggest dividing fat into two categories—toxic and nontoxic.

The simple take-away? Avoid toxic fat, and don’t worry about the rest. Welcome clean fat back into your diet. It really shouldn’t have left.

Take our Fats Quiz.

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Sick has become the new normal for children. But the authors of a new book say that it’s possible to change that trend and dramatically improve kids’ health.

Q: My son has digestive issues, multiple food and environmental allergies, chronic sinus congestion, and behavioral problems. He was recently diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Is it normal to have so many health problems at just 10 years old, and is there anything that can be done to address these different conditions?

—Barbara M., Bridgeport, Conn.

A: Unfortunately, having sick kids is incredibly common today. Close to one out of two children now has a chronic disease—defined as a disease that lasts more than three months and isn’t considered curable by conventional doctors. Digestive problems, food allergies, asthma, autism spectrum disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are all on the rise. According to the Allergy Kids Foundation, one in three American children has ADHD, allergies, autism, or asthma.

Pediatrician Michelle Perro, MD, and medical anthropologist Vincanne Adams, PhD, authors of What’s Making Our Children Sick?, believe that many of these issues can be blamed on an environment that has been made toxic by agrochemical industrialized food production. Kids are exposed to pesticides and other foreign chemical substances both internally, through what they eat and drink, and externally, by exposure to pesticides and other substances sprayed at schools, parks, and daycare centers. And we’re only beginning to understand some of the harmful effects of these toxic chemicals.

Did You Know?

Discover watermelon recipes that can easily be made 100% organic at betternutrition.com. Two favorites: Watermelon & Strawberry Granita and Red Fruit Salad. 

Dangers with glyphosate pesticide

Take, for example, glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. Its use in the U.S. agricultural sector rose 300-fold from 1974 to 2014. It is also used liberally in landscaping and along roadways.

Glyphosate is a patented antibiotic. Because it kills bacteria, it is believed to contribute to the development of dysbiosis, or imbalances in the gut microbiome, the collection of microorganisms that live in our intestines. Research shows that a healthy microbiome plays a vital role in digestive health and immunity. Imbalances in the gut microbiome are linked to a wide range of digestive disorders, as well as conditions, such as autism, allergies, asthma, celiac disease, and ADHD.

Glyphosate is also a metal chelator: It binds minerals such as zinc and magnesium, making them less available. Perro believes that the saturation of metal-chelating glyphosate in our food is responsible for the mineral deficiencies seen commonly in children. Glyphosate in our foods and environment is also of great concern because the weed killer has been declared a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization.

Another chemical hidden in food is Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), found in insecticide-producing, genetically modified foods. Bt breaks open pores and creates small holes in the insects’ guts, and researchers theorize that it may also be promoting intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, in humans.

Perro says that approximately 95 percent of the children she sees with chronic health issues have evidence of dysbiosis and leaky gut, conditions that have been implicated in everything from allergies to autism to mental health disorders. To combat these toxins, she employs a variety of different nutritional strategies to heal the gut and restore a healthy microbiome.

The Healing Power of an Organic Diet

While treatments differ depending on the specifics of each child’s condition, Perro says that the place to start in nearly all cases is a 100 percent organic diet. By law, foods labeled with the USDA Organic seal can’t use genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or synthetic chemical pesticides (such as glyphosate), both of which have been linked to a range of health issues in independent studies conducted on animals. “A cornerstone of any treatment for food-focused medicine is eliminating foods that don’t support gut health; this always means getting rid of foods doused in glyphosate, other pesticides, and those made of Bt,” Perro and Adams write in their book.

Although many parents scoff at the idea of going totally organic, Perro recommends sticking with organics-only food for at least four weeks. Eating organic lightens the toxic load for all members of the family, and typically helps restore the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

In addition to benefitting sick kids, going organic can offer health benefits for all members of the family—some quite dramatically. 

Read All About It

With chronic disorders among American children reaching epidemic levels, parents are desperately seeking solutions. In What’s Making Our Children Sick?, Michelle Perro, MD, an integrative pediatrician with 37 years of clinical experience, and medical anthropologist Vincanne Adams, PhD, offer a path forward to improve the health of our kids, and it begins with food. With pesticide use at an all-time high, and agrochemicals finding their way onto our plates, the authors offer insights on how to heal our kids and reverse the compromised health of our food supply.

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Catch some rays without damaging your skin or clogging it up with chemicals—here are the latest innovations in natural sun protection.

Melanin, which is mostly overlooked in sunscreen science, may be the key to creating protective, nourishing sunscreens. How so? UV rays that damage the skin also activate melanin production, resulting in uneven skin tone, sunspots, and even skin cancer. However, melanin is also your body’s built-in UV protection.

“Modern science is uncovering the molecular benefits of botanicals that effectively treat the melanin pathway and provide robust defense against sun damage,” says Tanuj Nakra, MD, FACS, of TOC Eye and Face in Austin, Texas. He is also cofounder of AVYA Skincare, a product line that addresses the health of the skin’s melanin cycle.

For better skin health, choose sunscreens with nourishing botanicals plus zinc oxide or titanium dioxide for UV protection. These minerals don’t irritate skin like chemical sunscreens—oxybenzone and octinoxate—can. Mineral sunscreens sit on the skin to reflect UV rays, while chemical sunscreens must be absorbed to work.

“Chemical sunscreens rapidly deactivate with sunlight exposure,” says Nakra. “In contrast, physical sunscreens do not deactivate. The two major ways to protect skin from the sun are to apply a full-spectrum, non-chemical sunscreen, and to incorporate molecular antioxidants to reverse ongoing damage.”

Try It!

MyChelle is giving away 25 Sun Protection Sun Shield Sticks to Better Nutrition readers! To enter, email your name and address to community@mychelle.com. Please put “BN Sun” in the subject line.

1. Have more fun in the sun.

With Australian Gold Botanical Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Lotion Sunscreen. It provides non-chemical UVA/UVB protection with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for a powder-like, non-greasy finish. Antioxidant-rich eucalyptus leaf, red algae, and kakadu plum extracts defend skin’s cellular health. It’s water-resistant for 80 minutes.

Australian Gold Botanical Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Lotion Sunscreen2. Soften skin and protect from UV rays.

With DeVita Natural Skin Care Solar Body Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen. This all-in-one sunscreen and body moisturizer is packed with micronized zinc oxide and skin-smoothing aloe, green tea leaf extract, shea butter, olive oil, and hyaluronic acid. Fragrance-free and fast-absorbing for sensitive skin.

DeVita Natural Skin Care Solar Body Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen
3. Soothe and protect sensitive skin.

With Paula’s Choice Skincare CALM Redness Relief SPF 30 Mineral Moisturizer for Normal to Oily Skin. Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and healing antioxidants in this lightweight sunscreen diminish redness while moisturizing and preventing sun damage. The non-greasy lotion is gentle enough for skin with rosacea.

Paula’s Choice Skincare CALM Redness Relief SPF 30 Mineral Moisturizer for Normal to Oily Skin4. Reapply on the go.

With MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Protection Sun Shield Stick Broad Spectrum SPF 50. This tinted zinc oxide sunscreen provides powerful UV protection for your face, while antiaging avocado, jojoba, and vitamin E oils moisturize skin. It glides on smoothly with just enough color to enhance any skin tone—and it won’t sweat off

MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Protection Sun Shield Stick Broad Spectrum SPF 50.
5. Keep delicate skin safe from the sun.

With Alba Botanica Baby Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50+. This hypoallergenic, pediatrician-tested zinc oxide sunscreen is not just for babies. Aloe, coconut oil, shea butter, orange peel oil, and chamomile extract gently soothe sensitive skin and provide water-resistant UV defense for 80 minutes.

Alba Botanica Baby Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50+
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NEM eases joint pain and stiffness, and it can even help prevent joint damage in younger people.

The most common type of joint disorder, osteoarthritis strikes more than 30 million Americans, and many more suffer from less severe joint discomfort. Although risk for osteoarthritis increases with age, joint injuries among young athletes can set the disease in motion quite early in life.

“We found that when 20-year-old women soccer players tore their ACL, you could see arthritis in their knees by age 30,” says Jason Theodosakis, MD, author of The Arthritis Cure. Fortunately, Theodosakis and other researchers have found that Natural Eggshell Membrane (NEM) helps to prevent damage and protects joints.

Combat Cartilage Breakdown at an Early Age

The hallmark of osteoarthritis is a deterioration of cartilage that cushions joints. Damage begins years before symptoms become evident, and cartilage wears away gradually over a long period of time. Eventually, some cases become severe enough to be diagnosed as osteoarthritis.

The latest study of NEM broke new ground by showing that the supplement can combat cartilage deterioration at a very early stage. Joint supplements are usually tested on people who have already developed osteoarthritis, but in this case, NEM was tested in a group of 60 healthy postmenopausal women who did not have a joint disorder.

The study followed a group of women between the ages of 40 and 75 who performed an exercise routine on a stair stepper, every second day for two weeks. Exercise intensity was based on each woman’s fitness level, but was high enough to produce some joint discomfort after a workout. Half the women took NEM, while the others took a placebo.

In addition to tracking joint pain and stiffness, researchers measured a marker of cartilage turnover. Once we reach our 30s, cartilage begins to be continually broken down and rebuilt, explains Theodosakis. Injury, hormonal disorders, rheumatologic diseases, and the aging process can lead to more cartilage breakdown than rebuilding, with a net loss of cartilage. And without that cushioning cartilage, joints can become stiff or painful. 

To track cartilage turnover, researchers used a marker called CTX-II, which is associated with incidence and progression of osteoarthritis. CTX-II was measured in urine samples taken at the start of the study, after the first week, and at the end of the second week. Compared to women taking a placebo, those taking NEM had lower rates of cartilage turnover.

Pain Relief Within Days

Most joint supplements can take weeks or months to noticeably relieve symptoms, but NEM acts more rapidly. In the study of healthy women, those taking NEM started to feel less stiffness after exercise on the fourth day, and less pain after exercise on the eighth day.

Several earlier studies tested NEM on people with osteoarthritis and found that pain and stiffness began to improve after 10 days of daily supplementation. And one study found that NEM even relieved joint problems in dogs.

Cell and animal research has found that NEM reduces inflammation that destroys cartilage. This quick relief can be beneficial not just to your joints, but to your overall health as well. “Anything that helps people exercise is very beneficial,” says Theodosakis. “People give up on exercise and treatments if they don’t have symptom benefits, but if research shows there’s a structure benefit that’s separate, then they should continue with that intervention.” In other words, with or without joint problems, NEM is a good daily supplement to keep your joints in the best possible shape.

How to Use NEM

Theodosakis recommends trying NEM for 2–3 months. Take 500 mg (the dosage used in human trials), once daily with or without food. Safety studies have found no adverse effects, and there are no known drug interactions.

On supplement labels, look for “Natural Eggshell Membrane” or “NEM,” a proprietary form made from chickens raised in the United States. Other eggshell membrane ingredients aren’t produced in the same way and haven’t been as thoroughly studied.

Dr. Axe Multi Collagen Protein Powder Natural Factors NEM Knee & Joint FormulaRedd Remedies Joint Health NEM
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Better Nutrition Magazine by Better Nutrition Editors - 2w ago

30 ways to upgrade your diet, lifestyle, and beauty routines. Try just a few of these tips to look and feel better every day of the year!

Win Big This Summer! Sign up for the Sweepstakes here.

Day 1. Make Your Own Weed Killer

The most “natural” way to get rid of pesky weeds in your lawn or garden is to pull them. But if your back won’t take it, or you just don’t have the time, try this simple recipe instead. Mix 1 gallon of vinegar with 1 Tbs. dishwashing liquid, and spray directly on weeds. The acid in the vinegar will react with sunlight to burn the weeds up, and the dish soap helps the vinegar stick to the leaves. Plain old white vinegar will work, but higher acidity gardening vinegar is also available—just note that it must be handled carefully and isn’t as safe for kids and pets. It is acid, after all.

This mixture won't discriminate between weeds and other plants, so spray carefully. And it won’t penetrate roots or contaminate the ground, so it may take several applications to make weeds completely go away. For areas where you don’t want anything to grow, such as cracks in sidewalks, add 1 cup of salt to the mixture.

Day 2. Feed Your Hair

If your diet is lacking in certain nutrients, you’ll see the effects in hair loss, slower growth, or dull, brittle locks. Collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, strengthens hair follicles and improves hair growth. Zinc, iron, biotin and other B vitamins, and omega-3 fats prevent hair loss, nourish hair, and improve strength and shine.

Day 3. Get a Better Brush

Rough or wiry bristles can cause breakage and damage the scalp. Use a natural bristle brush to help spread natural oils from the scalp down the length of the shaft to make hair smoother and shinier. If your hair is prone to tangles, use a brush designed to slide out knots without breaking hair.

Day 4. Protect Your Tresses from Environmental Damage

Shield your hair from heat styling, sun damage, chlorine, pollution, and dry air with a leave-in conditioner. Use a light, spray-on formula, and apply before blow-drying or styling. For extra protection, spritz hair with a spray sunscreen to protect from sun damage.

Day 5. Nourish Your Good Gut Bugs

We’ve all heard about the power of probiotics to promote overall health, but prebiotics are just as important. Essentially, prebiotics are the forms of fiber that encourage the growth of healthy probiotics in your GI system. They encourage your body to produce probiotics—this fiber is the “food” that feeds your microflora. In addition, taking in more fiber promotes health by mitigating insulin release, and it supports body fat reduction and decreases appetite. You can supplement with a prebiotic product and/or boost your consumption of prebiotic foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, and legumes. [Editor’s note: for more on prebiotics, see 3 Ways to feed Your Microbiome]

Day 6. Repair Your Joints with Collagen

Collagen is a peptide (a short chain of amino acids), and it is the most abundant protein in the human body. While we used to consume plenty of collagen in our diets (mostly from less desirable parts of animals), we now consume far less. This makes collagen supplementation especially important.

Collagen promotes mobility and joint health, and many people also supplement with collagen for its benefits in supporting healthy skin, hair, and nails. Getting plenty of collagen also aids the repair and maintenance of connective tissue such as tendons and ligaments. Those who exercise regularly—or those who suffer from joint pain due to torn ligaments or tendons—may benefit from collagen supplementation. This helps provide the raw materials necessary for repair and maintenance before or after injury.

Day 7. Recover with Casein

This fraction of milk protein is digested more slowly than other types of supplemental proteins because it is a much larger molecule that “clumps.” This means that casein provides a slow, steady flow of amino acids that minimizes the spiking of insulin. It also helps prevent the catabolism of lean tissue when you’re trying to maintain muscle. In addition, it provides satiety for those trying to lose weight and/or control type 2 diabetes. Athletes and those trying to recover from activity should consider supplementing with casein shortly before bedtime to encourage muscle protection and growth.

Day 8. Green Your Health with Spirulina

This form of microalgae has been consumed for centuries for its nutritional and health benefits. While it looks like a plant, it’s really a bacterium, even though it has photosynthesis capability. Nutrient-dense in minerals and many B vitamins, spirulina provides benefits for those with diabetes, heart disease, and even ALS. Its amino acid content makes it a good source of protein as well. It’s also used for weight control and to support immunity.

Day 9. Go for CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant also known as ubiquinone because it is prevalent throughout the human body. While it’s found in many foods, most people do not consume an adequate amount of CoQ10. Ubiquinol is a specific form of CoQ10 that is easier to absorb. Found primarily in the mitochondria within your cells, CoQ10 helps your body generate more adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy that fuels short-term intense activity. This is particularly beneficial for those who perform vigorous exercise.

Levels of CoQ10 lessen as you age, and they are often low in people with medical conditions such as heart disease and Parkinson’s, making it a good idea to supplement. CoQ10 helps destroy free radicals generated by disease and other stressors, supporting health as we age.

Day 10. Savor Sardines

These tiny fish are packed with omega-3 fatty acids that lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other types of cardiovascular disease, and can decrease the risk of death from coronary artery disease by as much as 50 percent. Plus they're high in protein, and studies show that eating adequate protein lowers heart disease risk by 26 percent. They’re also high in selenium, a key mineral for thyroid health.

Because they're smaller than most other omega-3-rich fish, including salmon and tuna, sardines are less likely to be contaminated with heavy metals that can accumulate in the tissues of larger fish. Buy the boneless, skinless variety packed in water, and use them like tuna: mixed on top of salads, tossed with cooked pasta, or stuffed in a yummy wrap.

Day 11. Don’t Forget Your Vitamin D

This fat-soluble vitamin can be made by the body in the presence of sunshine and stored for future use. So most of us get adequate amounts in the summertime—although sunscreens block vitamin D production, so supplementation is a good idea all year round. Why? Because vitamin D, particularly the cholecalciferol (D) form, is crucial for the production of hormones necessary for general health and sexual function. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that destroys harmful free radicals, and research shows that vitamin D supplementation helps reduce the risk of colon, breast, and other types of cancer. Vitamin D supplementation can also improve the leanness of muscle tissue (yes, even muscles contain fat), and it may help increase strength.

Day 12. Go Paleo

Arguably the most “natural” diet a human can eat, the Paleo Diet focuses on foods that were available to our pre-agricultural ancestors. A perfectly Paleo kitchen is completely devoid of packaged or processed foods and artificial ingredients, consisting only of fresh foods that are rich in nutrients—including starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, but no (or few) grains, legumes, or dairy.

If you already don’t eat a lot of cereal, bread, and pasta, switching to a Paleo diet should be a snap. Studies have found numerous benefits: more energy, lower levels of inflammation, fewer allergies, healthier aging, and lower risks of diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. Here are the basic Paleo foods:

  • Meat: Game, grass-fed beef, or organic, pasture-raised pork and poultry. Meat raised this way is a source of healthy fats without toxic chemicals.
  • Eggs: Pasture-raised.
  • Fish: Preferably wild.
  • Vegetables and fruits: In-season, local, grown without chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides, and picked and eaten at their prime rather than being harvested early to extend shelf life during shipping and storage.
  • Healthy fats: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, natural fat from grass-fed animals, nuts, seeds, and avocados, and unrefined oils such as walnut, flaxseed, or macadamia.
  • Sugars: No refined sugars, but a small amount of honey, dates, or other natural sweeteners is generally acceptable.
Day 13. Beware of Aging Running Shoes

If you’re a runner, you may have heard that shoes can last for 300–500 miles, but wear and tear depends on body weight, stride, and running style. The tread may be in decent shape, while the cushioning has worn out. If your legs or feet feel more achy than usual, your shoes could be over the hill—and that’s true for everyone, not just runners.

Day 14. Don’t Use Drugs to Push Through Pain

We’ve all heard the phrase “no pain, no gain,” but if you’re using drugs to “push through the pain” of exercise, you’re likely doing more harm than good. Over-the-counter medications can reduce inflammation and pain, but they can also lead to damage if you take them to get through a workout.

“They do not speed healing,” says Alan Shih, DPM, director of podiatry at Head to Toe Healthcare in Tucson, Ariz., “and they allow you to overstress damaged tissue.” Instead, try these supplements for healthy exercise:

  • Magnesium: The mineral relaxes muscles and may help to prevent cramping. Take 500 mg daily.
  • Ribose: Also called d-ribose, this natural sugar that’s produced by the body fuels energy production in muscles, helps them relax, and improves sleep. Take a powdered form, 5 grams three times daily for three weeks to increase cellular levels, then 5 grams twice daily for maintenance.
Day 15. Focus on One Exercise Goal

No matter what kind of exercise you do, it pays to concentrate on one goal at a time. If you’re a runner, aim to increase speed or distance at any given time. If you’re strength training, increase reps or weight, but not both. Focusing on only one goal will be more effective and is much less likely to cause injury.

Day 16. Don’t Ignore Exercise Pain

The classic treatment is RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. To relieve pain and inflammation, use an ice pack for no more than 20 minutes, every 4–6 hours. After 48–72 hours, heat does a better job at promoting healing.

Day 17. Take Protein Supplements at Mealtime

People looking to manage their weight with strength training and protein supplements should consume their supplements during a meal, according to a research review by scientists at Purdue University. “It may matter when you take your supplements in relation to when you eat, so people who consume protein supplements in between meals as snacks may be less likely to be successful in managing their body weight,” says Wayne Campbell, professor of nutrition science and senior author of the study, which was published in Nutrition Reviews.

The analysis found that while protein supplementation effectively increased lean mass for all groups, consuming protein supplements with meals helped maintain body weight while decreasing fat mass. In contrast, consuming protein supplements between meals promoted weight gain. The timing likely makes a difference because a person may tend to adjust their calories at mealtime to include the protein supplement.

Day 18. Guys, Get Over the Grill

These days, more and more men are taking responsibility for planning and preparing meals. But many lack basic cooking skills that go beyond grilling burgers. Cliff Pelloni, founder of Kitchen Dads, is out to change all that. Pelloni’s new book, Kitchen Dads the Basics: Have Fun in the Kitchen with Family and Friends Cooking Real Food, aims to help more dads learn the basics of cooking and have fun in the process. It focuses on using real food ingredients and dishes that can be made in a short amount of time and be put on the table quickly, and covers all the essentials, including pantry staples, equipment, basic knife skills, common cooking terms, and shopping tips—plus, more than 100 easy-to-make and delicious recipes.

Day 19. Be Aware of Keto Side Effects

A ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, is well known for being a low-carb, high-fat eating plan that prompts the body to produce ketones in the liver to be used as energy. According to Dr. Neal Malik, of Bastyr University, this diet was originally used in the 1900s to treat epilepsy, and today it’s used to treat a number of different health conditions. In the short term, it appears to be safe for otherwise healthy individuals. But, when switching from a standard American diet, which consists mostly of carbohydrates, there can be some side effects. Complaints range from:

  • Fatigue (which could be the result of having low blood sugar due to the decreased intake of carbohydrates)
  • Constipation (also due to reduced carbohydrate intake)
  • Diarrhea (due to increased fat intake)
  • Gallstones
  • Vitamin deficiencies

If you’re considering trying the keto diet for weight-loss, or any other reason, do so only under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care professional.

Day 20. Use Essential Oils to Enhance Workouts

For an energizing blend (and great workout motivator!), start with essential oil of grapefruit, which has a subtle sweetness that belies its powerful metabolism-boosting properties. Then add mood-brightening and immunity-building lemon, and invigorating peppermint; the latter contains natural compounds that support respiratory function. In addition to opening airways for maximum oxygen exchange, peppermint’s refreshing scent has also been proven to reduce perceived effort while exercising and will help you eke out a few more reps. Blend equal amounts of the oils with a carrier oil, such as sweet almond or coconut oil, and apply under the nose, breathing deeply throughout your session to maintain focus and energy output.

Day 21. Get Lean with Whey Protein

The benefits of whey for male bodybuilders have long been known, but many women avoid the supplement for fear of “bulking up.” But that simply isn’t the case, according to a review of 13 different studies, which found that supplementing with whey promoted a modest increase in lean mass of less than 1 percent in women, without influencing fat mass.

“Although more research is needed to specifically assess the effects of varying states of energy sufficiency and exercise training,” says study leader Robert Bergia, “the overall findings show that consuming whey protein supplements may aid women seeking to modestly improve body composition, especially when they are reducing energy intake to lose body weight.”

Day 22. Keep Your Color

To prevent hair color from fading and keep your tresses shining all summer long, look for products containing these natural ingredients.

  • Olive and Macadamia Oils, to instantly brighten all hair colors.
  • Vitamin E to protect hair from environmental aggression.
  • Panthenol and Xylitol to add strength and moisture to hair and retain vibrancy of hair color.
  • Castor Oil to make hair more manageable and prevent color fading.
Day 23. Pick Your Own Fruit

Shopping at a farmers’ market is a great way to find locally grown, wholesome produce. But if you want to get even closer to the source of your food, look for a pick-your-own farm in your area. Also known as PYO or U-pick farms, these trendy agricultural establishments generally charge less than you would pay for prepicked produce, and also provide a great excuse to get outside and enjoy the weather. Many also host seasonal festivals, hayrides, and other fun activities. To find a PYO farm in your area—as well as information on what’s in season, canning and storing, and recipes—visit pickyourown.org.

Day 24. Bye-Bye Body Odor

Zinc supplements can help body odor disappear. The more you sweat or exercise, the more you lose of this important mineral. Signs that you might need more include poor immune function (e.g., frequent colds and flu), diarrhea, allergies, neurological symptoms, thinning hair, and acne. Zinc may also help reduce perspiration and sweaty feet. Try 30–50 mg daily.

Day 25. Go Ahead and Eat an Egg

For many years, eggs got a bad rap in the world of nutrition due to (often overblown) concerns about cholesterol. But a new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, finds that eating up to 12 eggs per week for a year didn’t increase cardiovascular risk in people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

While eggs are high in fat, they’re also full of vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy omega-3s. The yolk is packed with nutrients, so there’s no need to opt for egg whites only. Also, eggs do not significantly raise cholesterol in the blood, the Mayo Clinic reports, and people who replace a grain-based breakfast with eggs have been found to eat fewer calories throughout the day.

Day 26. Reduce Stroke Risk in the Sauna

According to a recently published study in the journal Neurology, regularly taking saunas can substantially lower risk for stroke among middle-aged and elderly people. Most of us spend our days in climate-controlled spaces with air conditioning or heat, but there’s evidence that this may not be good for us.

An approach known as environmental conditioning centers around the idea that our circulatory systems are designed to help us adapt to different conditions, and a lack of stress on this system could be responsible for diseases such as stroke and hypertension. In the latest study, researchers followed 1,628 men and women between the ages of 53 and 74 for 15 years, tracking their cardiovascular health and stroke incidence. Participants were divided into three groups: those who took saunas once a week, those who took two or three saunas per week, and those who took four to seven saunas a week. That last group, with the highest sauna frequency, had more than a 60 percent reduced risk of stroke compared to the once-per-week group. And the middle group had a 12 percent lower risk of stroke than the low-frequency group.

Day 27. DIY Skin Savers

When temperatures soar and the heat becomes unbearable, our delicate skin needs some extra TLC in addition to sunscreen. If you’re feeling the need to nourish your skin, try out these at-home remedies developed by Omega Juicers:

  • Face Mask for Overheated Skin—Blend 2 cups plain yogurt with 1 medium peeled cucumber, ½ medium potato, ½ cup cold brewed tea, and 2 Tbs. orange juice.
  • Face Mask for Flaky, Sunburnt Skin—Blend 4 slices of fresh pineapple with 2 Tbs. coconut milk.
  • Face Moisturizer—Blend 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup almond oil, 3/4 oz. (by weight) beeswax, and 1 cup aloe vera.
  • Papaya Body Scrub—Blend 1/2 cup sea salt, 1 papaya, and 2 Tbs. olive oil.
Day 28. Eat Outside

The summer weather is calling to you anyway, so why eat indoors? According to a study published in PLOS One, exposure to nature can improve creativity and cognitive functions. “There is a cognitive advantage to be realized if we spend time in a natural setting. We anticipate that this advantage comes from an increase in exposure to natural stimuli and a corresponding decrease in exposure to attention-demanding technology,” the study’s authors wrote.

For best results, try unplugging and getting away for a week. But even eating dinner outdoors can help. Make it special. Spread out a nice tablecloth and place settings, and whip up a favorite dish or two. Then spend an hour (or more) outside, away from TVs, laptops, and other distractions, and take the time to enjoy your food. According to the Slow Food movement, spending more time over a meal can improve digestion and reduce stress—and may help you eat fewer calories.

Day 29. Save Your Nails from the Sun

Sure, you slather sunscreen on your skin, and may even put protective products in your hair. But what about your nails? The fact is, too much sun on nails can cause discoloration and ridges. And it’s even possible to develop skin cancer underneath your nails. The solution? Natural, nontoxic nail polishes. Most polishes already contain some form of protection from UV rays, but for an extra dose of defense, look for a sunscreen topcoat with added UVA and UVB filters.

Day 30. Go Beyond the Water Bottle

We all know the importance of adequate hydration to good health, especially in the summer months. But that omnipresent bottle of water doesn’t have to be your only defense against dehydration. Many fruits and veggies also contain a significant amount of water in their raw, uncooked forms. Watermelon, which is 92 percent water, might seem like the most obvious, but the humble cucumber actually tops the list at a whopping 96 percent. Cucumbers are also high in fiber and low in calories, and they contain a generous amount of vitamin C, polyphenols, flavonoids, and other healthy compounds. Plus, what could be more refreshing on a hot summer’s day than a cool cucumber salad? 

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How Meg Barnhart’s quest to slow down a frantic world led to a unique business that’s all about helping people.

Meg Barnhart and Jane McKay started selling their gourmet spice blends at local farmers’ markets, and the business grew from there. 

Let’s face it: we live in a hurry-up, give-it-to-me-right-now kind of world these days. From business to pleasure, at home or at work, quickness and convenience have become desirable commodities. The days of leisurely anything seem to have become relics of a rapidly disappearing and little-mourned past.

This is especially true in the realm of food. Gone are the days of carefully planned and executed family meals, afternoons spent in the kitchen presiding over bubbling and steaming pots and pans, and evenings taken up with long dinners filled with earnest and inviting conversation. “Fast food” has come to rule the countryside.

The People

Meg Barnhart was caught up in this breakneck world while raising three kids and working in hospitality and event management—and experiencing a bit of “mom guilt.” She remembered the dinners of her childhood, with her mother spending half the day preparing special offerings followed by candlelit meals that brought the family together.

Barnhart was determined to find her own way to replicate that experience, and began to experiment with a slow cooker; ingredients went into the cooker in the morning, and a splendid dinner was available that evening. The process gave her a certain measure of relief, and more time to devote to her family.

The Passion

Some years later, Barnhart was looking to create a business that would provide employment for her developmentally challenged son and others like him. “A friend asked me one simple question, ‘What makes you happy?’ I laughed and said I’m having fun with my slow-cooking journey, and she said, ‘Do that!’”

Shortly thereafter, Barnhart was introduced to Jane McKay, another mom who, at the time, was developing recipes and writing about food. It was the proverbial “match made in heaven,” and they teamed up to explore the possibilities.

The Products

First came the Zen of Slow Cooking blog. In the wake of its runaway success, they crafted a few gourmet-inspired spice mixes and sold them at their local farmers’ market. Email sales followed soon after, and then an online store.

Eventually, they teamed with Planet Access Company, which provides training and employment for adults with developmental disabilities, to work on packaging the spice blends. Barnhart notes that, “in the state of Illinois, only 9 percent of people with developmental disabilities are employed. We wanted to address that employment gap, rooted in our belief that everyone has something positive to contribute to the world.”

They branched out into the community, offering classes at an organic farm, a workshop about the simplicity of slow cooking for a group of young adults with autism, and a program of Slow Cooker Community Boxes that fosters shared communal meals. Recently, the company became B-Corp certified, and Barnhart received the Specialty Food Association’s 2018 Business Leadership Award.

But for Barnhart and McKay, the greatest satisfaction is close to home. Barnhart tells it like this: “Our class was in a deeply depressed area on the south side of Chicago, with a large turnout of moms and dads trying to figure out how to put together a healthy and simple meal for their families. There was so much joy, love, and appreciation for our work that we felt so grateful for the opportunity to spread a little Zen!” And from McKay: “When my 9-year-old year daughter Connie told me, ‘Mom, when I’m older I want to start a spice business,’ I was floored.”

Because with The Zen of Slow Cooking, it’s always first and foremost about family.

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