It’s interesting to note that prior to the 1920s, pale skin was generally considered desirable and an indication of wealth and sophistication; parasols and large hats protected fashionable ladies from the sun. But in the early part of the 20th century, medical researchers discovered the therapeutic benefits of sunshine and vitamin D, and bronze skin became the standard for summer fashion.
Unfortunately for sun-worshipers, tanning can result in more harm than good, as a growing a body of research has revealed the negative effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Unprotected skin and hair can suffer irreparable damage, as can the eyes, from overexposure to UVA and UVB rays.
Ultraviolet light is electromagnetic radiation emitted by the sun. UVA rays are present throughout the year, even on cloudy and hazy days, and they penetrate deep into the skin causing signs of aging including wrinkles and sunspots. UVB rays, responsible for sunburns, vary in intensity, being stronger in the summer, but they can reflect off snow, so skin protection is important year round. Long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation may damage the skin’s DNA and produce genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancers, including the deadliest form, melanoma.
Our eyes and our hair are also at risk for damage from the sun’s radiation. Overexposure can lead to cataracts, growths on the eyelids, damage to the retina (solar retinopathy) and various types of cancer. Sun-damaged hair can be dull, dry and brittle. Here are some suggestions for protecting your skin, eyes and hair:
- Start with healthy nutrition and ample hydration.
- Use sunscreen daily. Both face and body need protection. Products should be SPF 15 or higher and guard against both UVA and UVB rays. Don’t forget your earlobes, the part in your hair, and your hands and feet. Look for leave-in hair conditioners, sunscreen spray for your scalp, eye creams and lip protectors.
- Wear protective clothing and accessories. A wide-brimmed hat will protect your hair and face, and UV blocking sunglasses will help to keep your eyes healthy. Some contact lenses screen out UV rays, but they shield only the parts that are covered, so it is important to use sunglasses even with your contacts. And shop carefully; don’t be fooled by high prices and dark colors. Not all sunglasses block UV rays equally. Look for those that are rated to block 99 to 100% of UV rays and screen out at least 75% of visible light.
- Remember to balance your dietary and supplement intake of antioxidants to fortify skin, hair, and nails.
- Chlorine in pools can dry out your hair.
- Some medications can make skin sunburn more easily. Ask your doctor if you need to be extra careful to avoid burning.
- Don’t smoke! In addition to cancer, lung damage and heart disease, smoking dries the skin and causes premature wrinkles.
You’re never too young or too old to take good care of your skin, eyes and hair. Always remember the sunscreen and sunglasses and remember to wear protective clothing. You might even take a tip from the fashionistas of the Victorian era, and get a stylish umbrella with UV fabric to help protect you from the sun.
Having a perfect diet does not mean you can adequately protect your body from free radicals, as they enter the body in a variety of ways including environmental pollutants (air, water and pesticides), processed foods and lifestyle habits including cigarette smoking. When you hear about free radicals, it is important to understand that the damage they do to cells is substantial if not controlled or counteracted by your body’s best and only defense against the destruction of healthy cells; antioxidants.
Vitamins such as vitamin E, beta-carotene and vitamin C combat free radicals. Selenium is a trace metal that also has an important role in antioxidant functioning. Vitamin E can be acquired in a natural diet that is rich in nuts, certain vegetables, whole grains, apricots and some fruits. Vitamin C (required for the production of vitamin A in the body) is present in citrus fruits, green peppers and leafy vegetables such as kale. Beta carotene (retinol) is acquired in foods like carrots, broccoli, yams and cantaloupe.
The Link Between Antioxidants and Good Health
Consider your daily diet from an antioxidant perspective. How many of these essential foods and nutrients are you receiving consistently to support the healthy antioxidant functioning that your body needs to combat cellular damage? Health and wellness starts at the cellular level, and high quality nutritional supplements are an effective way to bridge the gap between the nutrients you eat daily and the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals your body needs consistently to combat free radicals and to promote a healthy immune system.
There are other aspects to managing your personal wellness, including hydration and regular exercise, but nutrition is the key to achieving and maintaining health at all ages and in every stage of life. Dr. Robert Keller was passionate about educating others on the key role of antioxidants and healthy aging, and his research formulated a family of supplements designed to work synergistically to provide comprehensive nutritional support and cellular health.
Learn more about Dr. Robert Keller and his research on our website. Start your own personal health revolution by emphasising nutrition and self-care every day. Become an advocate for health and wellness and learn more about becoming an Affiliate with RobKellerMD®.
How The Immune System Works
When something is wrong with your body, you can just feel it. There are many messages that your body sends through a variety of different symptoms to let you know that the immune system is not running at an optimal level. Your immune system is constructed of a network of complex cells, tissues and major organs that work in unison to provide protection from bacterial or viral infection.
There are two types of white blood cells at work every minute within your body to seek out and destroy antigens and other threats to health. Leukocytes are stored in the thymus, bone marrow and the spleen. These white blood cells exist in two forms; the phagocytes and the lymphocytes. The Phagocytes are aggressive cells that find and eradicate any bacteria or virus that enters the body. The soldiers of the immune system literally chew up and destroy foreign organisms. The second type of white blood cell are lymphocytes, which act as a learning and memory center for the immune system. These remarkable cells remember the markers of viruses and bacteria, which help trigger an earlier response next time your body is exposed to invading organisms. The two pronged approach of the white blood cells are critical to the healthy functioning of your immune system, and are essential to remove infection (thereby reducing the length of time you are sick) and recognize the pattern of bacteria and virus to prevent future infections.
The Sweet Dilemma
Craving sweets is one way that your body compensates for a lack of energy. As the days get shorter and the weather changes in the fall, naturally we begin to crave higher carbohydrate foods. How we eat changes as a result with less fruits and vegetables, and more potatoes, thick creamy soups, bread and rich gravy saturated meats. There is nothing wrong with healthy comfort food options incorporated into a balanced diet, but overloading on carbohydrates can create other problems for your health.
Did you know that a large amount of carbohydrate (sugar) can impede the ability of white blood cells to fight bacteria for up to five hours after consuming something sweet and sugary? Every time you load up on sweets, consider that you are disabling the efficiency of your immune system for hours afterward, leaving you susceptible to viral or bacterial infection and moderate your intake, particularly during the cold and flu season.
Dehydration and Health
In the summer it seems habitually easier to remember to drink a sufficient amount of water; after all, the hot weather inspires us to stay hydrated. But the truth of the matter is that your body requires the same level of hydration throughout the year, regardless of the season. Trading fresh water for other hot beverages like hot chocolate, tea or coffee contribute to dehydration. When you feel tired, do you reach for a retail energy drink? They are generally loaded with salt which contributes to further dehydration. Your cells need water, and dehydration directly impacts the ability of white blood cells to function, making you more susceptible to viral and bacterial infection.
Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Immune System
- Reduce caffeine intake
- Reduce high carbohydrate meals and snacks (and replace them with high fiber and protein options for more sustained energy without the ‘carb crash’).
- Exercise regularly.
- Ensure you are drinking an adequate amount of fresh water daily. Remember that by the time you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrated.
- Wash your hands frequently and use antibacterial wipes or gels to reduce your viral or bacterial load on hands and your chance of infection.
- Get sufficient rest. Naps are not just for kids (you are allowed to have one too).
- Ensure you take a quality daily multivitamin and probiotic to fill in the gaps between your dietary nutrition and what your body needs daily for healthy functioning.
There are a number of contributing factors that increase your risk for developing hypertension (high blood pressure), but lifestyle is by far the strongest influence. What you eat, how often you exercise and your habits either support healthy blood pressure or contribute to elevated hypertension. We’ll talk about some of the causes and what you (with the supervision of your family doctor) can do to manage it.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Essential hypertension can be an inherited problem where mostly men experience non-lifestyle related high blood pressure. Individuals who are black have twice the risk of essential hypertension than white peers in similar age groups. Black women over the age of 65 develop a higher incidence of hypertension than men. Lifestyle or chronic hypertension is related to diet, fitness, weight and age as well as ethnic background. Two numbers are provided to measure hypertension; the first being the systolic and the second the diastolic. The universal ranges for blood pressure are:
- Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80.
- Prehypertension is measured at 120-139/80-89
- Stage 1 of hypertension is: 140-159/90-99
- Stage 2 of hypertension is: 160/100+
- High blood pressure for seniors over 60 years of age is: 150+/90+
Changes that Support Healthy Blood Pressure
It should be noted that hypertension is a serious health concern that requires the ongoing medical supervision of a trained physician. In addition to supervision by a medical doctor, there are some known lifestyle changes proven to support the regulation of healthy blood pressure.
- Reduce Sodium Intake
- Reduce Caffeine
- Manage Stress Levels
- Exercise More Often
- Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
- Check Blood Pressure Regularly
- Reduce High Fat Foods
A consultation with a wellness practitioner can help identify individual lifestyle habits and routines that may be contributing to hypertension. Working in conjunction with a family doctor and medication, most individuals can restore their body to a healthy blood pressure. Remember that healthy changes maintained over time result in better health and wellness. Persistence is the key (making the changes stick for the long term) and a positive outlook that makes your personal health and wellness a priority.
Vitamins are all natural substances that your body needs in order to stay healthy and function normally. However, your body isn’t able to generate most of them, so they need to be obtained from food and supplements. The vitamins most essential to your health are vitamins A, C, D, E, K, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folic acid (folate). Each of these vitamins has an important part to play in the proper functioning of your body, and the majority of them cannot be stored in your body; therefore, you need to replenish your body’s supply of these vitamins daily.