Wellness Myths & Realities
Wellness is rooted in a whole body approach to health. And while that’s lovely, it can get awfully tricky when it comes to keeping up with the revolving door of healthy dos and don'ts. Eat this, not that. Fast. Don't fast. Fat's good. Fat's evil. It's enough to get you stress-eating that bag of raw cashews in your Yoga bag. So to help you pick out the pearls from the popcorn, here's the lowdown on some popular health myths...
Catch-Up Sleep Is Healthy
If you don't get the amount of sleep needed each night to restore your body, sleeping overtime won't make up for the loss. According to a research study led by Kenneth Wright of the University of Colorado Boulder, makeup sleep is not a reasonable solution. The study involved 2 groups, one with 9 hours per night, and another with only 5 hours, but unrestricted weekend sleep. Researchers found that “muscle and liver-specific insulin sensitivity were worse in subjects who had weekend recovery sleep." They also noted, it wasn't determined yet if occasional catchup sleep could be helpful.
You Need 8 Glasses of Water A Day
8 glasses is fine... But you may not want to stop there. According to inflammation expert, author of the best-selling book “Peace of Cake: The Secret to An Anti-Inflammatory Diet,” Jenny Carr, “We all know H20 is crucial to help us stay healthy and hydrated, yet far fewer people realize the incredible powers it has to detoxify the body. While the amount of water recommended to drink on a daily basis is debated, the most common recommendation is 8 glasses.” Although Jenny believes, it's healthy to drink much more because, “In today’s society, we are chronically inflamed and inundated with toxins – whether it be from diet, stress, the environment or pathogens. Drinking large amounts of water (up to a gallon each day) is an effective method to eliminate toxins in the body,” says Jenny.
You Need to Be Flexible To Do Yoga
Don't let the media's images of women standing on their heads and bending themselves like twisty human pretzels deter you from doing Yoga. The mind/body practice is for all body types. One of the most common misconceptions about Yoga is that you need to be flexible in order to do it. Senior Hatha Yoga teacher, Linda Mangin says, “Many of us think we can’t do yoga if we’re not flexible, or have physical challenges, or are just too old.” Linda says that you’ll want to have a sense of humor, along with a flexible attitude, “Keep an open mind and be willing to explore different styles and teachers,” adds Linda. Yoga help the body create a sense of ease, which naturally increases flexibility, and helps you become more tuned into to your body. It is a gradual process. According to Linda, “The important thing is to keep it fun and playful.” Also, remember that modifications can be made for most poses that adjust to skill and comfort level. So don't wait. Get on the mat!
Organic Produce Means Pesticide Free
The words “certified organic” are deceptive. They do not mean pesticide free. So what does it mean? Organic certifications pass a certain USDA standard, such as no GMOs... And what's not commonly known is, there is a laundry list of allowable chemicals on the USDA Rules & Regulations List, as well as secondary list of Petitioned Substances, from this same list.
So which produce is safe to buy non-organic? Check out the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen, (produce with the highest amounts of pesticides). Likewise, look at the Clean Fifteen (Produce with the lowest amounts of chemical residue). A great way to eat clean fruits and veggies clean is to become familiar with where they're sourced. Oftentimes, local greenmarkets will host farmers who cannot afford the expensive “Organic” price tag, even though they use little to no pesticides on their crops. Yep. That means there may be farmers who have no certifications and are selling cleaner produce than “organic” ones in the green market. One way to determine which farmers don't spray their crops, is to ask the information stand in your market. Alternatively, check their website. Of course, you can also ask the vendors directly, and hope they give you an honest answer.
It's Important to Alternate Skin & Hair Products
We're told we need to regularly change our beauty and hair products. However, according to Dermatologist, Dr. Keira Barr, author of the book The Skin Whisperer, “It’s not that your skin and hair get used to the products, rather your hair and skin are constantly changing due to factors including aging, hormone fluctuations, weather, medications and environmental exposures that make the product less effective.” So instead of randomly changing products, consider your skin wellness, during different times of year. Dr. Barr says, “one of the important roles of your skin is to maintain the water content and balance of your skin. In warmer months when the humidity in the air is higher a lightweight moisturizer may work well, but as temperatures cool down, your skin may become dry, itchy and scaly despite continuing to use the product.”
What kinds of adjustments should you make when your skin becomes drier? Dr Barr suggests, “To maintain a healthy epidermal barrier, you’ll need a more moisturizing formulation (cream or ointment vs. lotion) as well a product with ingredients that both draw moisture in and helps keep it in.”
Myth: SPF Will Tell Me How Much Protection I'm Getting From the Sun
Dr. Barr says, “damaging UV light is comprised primarily of UVA and UVB rays but visible and infrared light can contribute as well. SPF is only a measure of UVB protection.” So what how do we know how much protection we're getting from the label? We don't. Not in the US anyway. Interestingly, Dr. Barr Says, “In the United States we don’t yet have a standard to measure UVA protection and while broad-spectrum sunscreens contain ingredients that can block harmful UV light across the spectrum there is more to the story.”
How much sunscreen is enough? “Studies have shown that of those people that use sunscreen, they are only using on average 25 to 50% of the recommended amount. This means that the actual amount of SPF protection from the product is significantly diminished regardless of what SPF is listed on the bottle.” What kind of sunscreen should you get? Dr. Barr says, “Be sure to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen for UVA/UVB protection and apply the recommended amount (This translates to applying the equivalent of a shot glass (two tablespoons) of sunscreen to the exposed areas of the face and body – a nickel-sized dollop to the face alone).”
You Need to Clear Your Mind In Order to Meditate
Meditation, like yoga, is for everyone. When you start a meditation practice, sitting still can be frustrating. It's natural to fidget and move at first. Instead of resisting, just let the body do its thing until you find a comfortable seated pose. Inevitably, your mind will experience its usual thought patterns. Trying to force the thoughts out of the mind, will only spiral your thoughts and create unease. Instead, begin by noticing your thoughts as they pass, and try not to become caught up in them.
Gluten is Toxic
It's true that gluten (the main protein in wheat) can be an irritant. And it should be avoided if you have Celiac Disease, since gluten can be damaging to the small intestine. Before you cut out all wheat-based products from your diet, though, consider this: if you do not possess a sensitivity to gluten, there are many health benefits to consuming it. Aside from breads and pastas, there’s seitan, made of vital wheat gluten; it’s a super high protein (although not a complete protein) alternative to soy, meat substitute. Note: be cautious with store-bought Seitan, which may contain unhealthy additives.