Enhance Your Immune Response, Ease Your Symptoms & Have Better Long-Term Immune Health

Enhance Your Immune Response, Ease Your Symptoms & Have Better Long-Term Immune Health

This is the second video in a series about immune health. If you missed the one from last week, I encourage you to check it out: The Power of Your Choices for Preventing Colds and Flu.

Our immune system, why we get sick and how to support your body through an illness, are controversial topics loaded with misinformation. My intention is to simplify it as much as possible and help you find tools to strengthen your body and your immune response.


Your Time in the Sun is Vital: How to Find Safe Sunscreen & Maximize your Vitamin D Production

Your Time in the Sun is Vital: How to Find Safe Sunscreen & Maximize your Vitamin D Production

We’ve been taught to believe that the sun is going to create cancer and kill us, and that sunscreen will protect us. But sunscreen can be loaded with toxins, and anything that you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body. Toxins interfere with proper bodily functions and build up over time, so the more exposure to toxins you have, the more likely you are to develop problems.

Sun exposure is vital for making the type of vitamin D that your body can store, and sunscreen blocks your body’s ability to make it. A fear of the sun, and living indoors more often than not, has created widespread vitamin D deficiency. This is cheating us of adequate levels of a nutrient that is essential to every function of our bodies.

While supplementing is helpful and important, it cannot replace the vitamin D production that you get from the sun. Supplementation should be in addition to sun exposure, which is why it’s called a supplement and not a replacement.

Given the sun’s role in creating adequate levels of vitamin D, I can’t encourage you enough to get some sun exposure without sunscreen. But do it in a safe way that avoids burning, and use a non-toxic sunscreen for times when you’ll be out in the sun longer.

The Guide to Healthy Sunscreens, published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) every spring, is a great resource to help you find a safe sunscreen. It’s something I always rely on, and their 2019 guide has just been released. I check my previous favorites against the guide every year and then order accordingly. I tend to purchase sunscreen online to access the wider variety of options available.

Vacations are often when my family needs sunscreen the most. We’re typically going to be outside a lot, and in a warmer environment than usual. We always plan for some sun exposure without sunscreen, which often means at the beginning or end of the day, or waiting a bit to apply sunscreen. And we always have plenty of non-toxic sunscreen on hand so we can use it as much and as often as needed to prevent sunburn.

Tips & Tricks for Tackling Dry Winter Skin & Indoor Air

​Do you suffer from dry skin and irritated sinuses in the winter months? If so, you’re not alone! I’ve got some tips and tricks you can start using right away to alleviate these problems. Some may even surprise you!

Click to watch the video below or scroll down to read the written transcript.

Hey there, it’s Elaine Gardner. One thing that I’ve been noticing a lot, from my private clients to my family members, is that people are starting to complain about dry skin. I live in the Northeast so one of the challenges for us has been that we went very, very quickly and dramatically from months and months of heat and humidity, to much, much colder temperatures and really no humidity. So it got super dry really fast. And that kind of quick transition can be really hard on your body and your skin.

Dry skin is something that I see many people deal with all year, but it tends to worsen as the winter months come along. This is partially because of the cold air, but also because of the low humidity and dryness of the indoor air, and just the unnaturalness of being indoors all the time with heating systems. All heating systems are different so some are much more irritating than others. Forced hot air systems can kick up a lot of dust and be super drying. And then there’s the chemicals in our water. Of course we’re exposed to chemicals in our water all year round, but when you add that into the mix of things we’re faced with this time of year, it can cause us a lot of skin challenges.

Dry skin can be really, really uncomfortable but there are some tips and tricks you can use to help! Obviously when you’re outside, dress appropriately so you don’t have a lot of exposed areas. Cover up as much as possible, including gloves, so that you don’t get that cold air exposure as much as you would if you weren’t properly dressed. And I know that really seems like common sense, but sometimes younger people don’t like to wear coats or hats, or have to think about those kinds of things. And sometimes even I don’t like to wear a coat outdoors in the winter. I will if I’m going out walking, but if I’m just going to the car to go to my office or to the store, sometimes I’ll just throw on a big heavy sweater instead. So it’s something that I need to keep in mind too. Sometimes I forget to bring my gloves and I’m pumping gas at the gas station and really wishing I had remembered to put my gloves in the car. So just a reminder because sometimes it’s not on our radar to consider those things.

Another solution is to improve the indoor air. When the indoor air is so dry, it can be really uncomfortable because, again, we’re spending most our time indoors during the winter. So adding a humidifier or a vaporizer can be really helpful. I have a small vaporizer that I just added to my work space a few weeks ago and it makes a huge difference in the comfort of my office. The air was super dry and was irritating to my nose until I got it. And I just turned on my humidifier at home, which I probably should have done a week or two ago. My nose was starting to feel funny while I was sleeping and made me realize how dry it was in the house. The humidity has only gone up a couple percentage points since starting it up, but it’s much more comfortable in the house and my nose doesn’t have that funny feeling overnight.

We also have a wood stove so we keep a pan full of water on it. It doesn’t add enough humidity when both the heat and the wood stove are running, so the humidifier adds the extra humidity we need to be comfortable.

Also, using a mild soap can make a huge difference. A lot of people use harsh soaps in the shower or for washing hands, which just further irritate and dry out your skin. My favorite bar soap is Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Bar. It’s very, very gentle and non-toxic (I want everything I use to be non-toxic so I’m not adding chemicals to my body as I go).

My favorite liquid hand soap is P2 Probiotic Power, I Clean Every Inch Face, Hand and Body Wash. It’s antimicrobial and is very different than antibacterial soaps. It cleans in a much more gentle way. I met the woman who owns this company a few years ago when we had a conversation on the phone about her products. I was finishing her sentences and was very excited about this technology that’s meant to disrupt bio-films. These products are not antibacterial, as they don’t have chemical agents. Instead, they disrupt bio-films. Bio-films allow microbes to hide and thrive, so by disrupting them, microbes of all sorts (not just bacteria, but viruses, fungi, parasites, anything like that) are killed because it essentially washes away their protective mechanism. So it’s much more antimicrobial than antibacterial soaps alone, and is non-toxic so it doesn’t have chemicals, antibacterial agents, and things that can be problematic for your body. So this is a great product that I love. We use it as hand soap but you can use it as shower soap too.

Another trick is to only wash what’s needed. This might be surprising to some, but I think we tend to over wash. Years and years and years ago, we would have been bundled up in clothing all winter long and would not have had as much access to showering during those months, the way that we do now. So we would have had a lot of natural oils on our skin that would have protected us from the dryness of this time of the year. Over washing your skin can be a real problem, so only wash what’s necessary. “Pits and bottoms” is my approach! Obviously if you work out a lot and you sweat head to toe, then you’re going to need to be more thorough with your cleanser, but if you’re just going back and forth to work, or doing normal activities, then all of your skin doesn’t need to be washed on a daily basis. So just keep that in mind.

And moisturize too! Some people are funny about moisturizer and feel that it’s “not normal”, but the things that we’re exposed to aren’t normal either. So you can do a head to toe moisturizer if you really feel that it’s necessary, or just use it as needed. My arms and lower legs get super dry if I don’t use moisturizer on a day to day basis when I get out of the shower. And I also use lotion extensively on my hands because I’m in and out of water all day long washing my hands, whether I’m at home cleaning or even more so when I’m at the office and washing hands in between clients. My favorite lotion is California Baby Super Sensitive Everyday Lotion. I love it because it’s non-greasy, it absorbs very quickly and it’s really moisturizing. I’m sure there are lots of other great products on the market as well, those are just my particular favorites.

The other thing that tends to get super dry on me in the winter is my cuticles. When they get dry they get kind of hard and I’ll pick at them mindlessly, which of course will irritate them even further. So I try to be really mindful when I’m putting lotion on, to get it into my cuticles. I’ll try to put some extra heavier cream on them before I go to bed, at least a couple nights a week, and I keep an emery board near where I sit at night to unwind. If they’re starting to get dry, I’ll actually file them down some with the emery board which will keep me from picking at them.

So I hope that your skin isn’t bothering you and that you’ll take measures in order to protect it so that it doesn’t! But if it’s already feeling dry for you, I hope these tips and tricks will be helpful for you.

My Secret to Longer, Lusher Lashes

It’s likely that you rely on multiple personal care products every day – shampoo, soap, deodorant, etc. Many products contain risky ingredients that can accumulate in your body and contribute to health challenges. Personal care products in the U.S. are industry-regulated (my translation = no regulation). Manufacturers can use whatever ingredients they choose, they do not have to test any individual ingredient for safety, nor how each ingredient interacts with the other ingredients, and they don’t even have to list all the ingredients on the product label.

I’ve shared this information before, but I hope you’ll agree that the message is so important that being reminded on occasion is helpful. It’s why I’ve come to rely on the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database from the Environmental Working Group to research my options, and to find healthier, safer personal care products.

I’ve never been part of the crowd that wore a lot of makeup or went to great lengths to “enhance” their physical appearance. I’m a fan of a more natural look and approach, especially since I’ve learned the health risks of many products. But I must admit that long, lush lashes are something I lack and admire on others. Mascara has been a favorite staple since my teens, but I was still curious and drawn to pictures and advertisements that feature long, beautiful eyelashes. I’ve researched false lashes and extensions, and even bought a pair of lashes with non-toxic glue that I never ended up trying. It just didn’t feel like an authentic choice for me.

I tried a non-toxic lash growth product that was well rated on EWG but was disappointed with the results. I think it actually made my lashes less lush and healthy and also caused mild eye irritation. At that point, I was almost ready to give up on my desire to have more lush and dramatic lashes while sticking to my number one priority of maintaining a healthy, non-toxic lifestyle.

And then I stumbled upon NYX Big & Loud Lash Primer. It is in the least toxic rating category in the EWG database and I purchased it through Amazon for $7.54. I’ve had it for months with no signs of running low. I don’t put on makeup every day but use it 3-6 times a week. It’s easy to apply and I’ve had no signs of irritation, which is a godsend for my super sensitive eyes. It’s meant to be applied prior to mascara but goes on quickly and greatly enhances the affects of my mascara. I am really happy with it and so pleased to have found an inexpensive, easy, non-toxic option to have the lushest, longest lashes I’ve ever experienced!

White Wash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, & the Corruption of Science

We are constantly being bombarded with information, and it’s hard to know who is telling the truth and what is worthy of your time and attention. When it comes to issues that affect my health and our environment, I prefer to hear news from sources that rarely make mainstream media. Money and power are often synonymous these days, and there appears to be no limit to how skewed stories can become. It’s critical that we are aware of the issues that affect our health so that we can do our best to protect ourselves, and provide ourselves with the best self-care. In order to do so, we need accurate information without political ties and corporate agendas.

There are some brave souls leading the way in delivering such information. I can’t even imagine what they have to muddle through to uncover the truth and get their stories published. But I’m incredibly grateful that they persist. White Wash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science, by Carey Gillam, is a must read. Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Round Up, is the central focus of this book, but other pesticides are also addressed.

Pesticides, and particularly Round Up, are everywhere. It is likely to come as an unpleasant surprise to discover that Round Up is in your food. Yes you read that right – unless you are aware of and actively working to avoid Round Up, you are likely consuming it at every meal you eat! And even those of us who are aware of it and choose otherwise, are still getting it, albeit in smaller quantities. It’s everywhere!!

And why does this matter? The health consequences of pesticides and Round Up have been suppressed. Scientists that have raised concerns over their affects have been ostracized and many have unjustly lost their credibility and livelihoods. My common sense has long told me that any substance designed to kill living creatures, even tiny insects or weeds, is not something that should be in my body or fed to my children. But science proves what I guessed, and seeing the research deepens my desire to avoid these substances and spread the word about their dangers and how to avoid them. I’ve heard pieces of the stories in this book from various resources over the years. Having them all gathered in one resource and expanded upon is such a blessing! It’s far easier for you to get the whole story in one easy read.

My resource suggestions are typically upbeat and intentionally positive. I want you to feel empowered and have the tools you need to develop and maintain excellent health. Sometimes, however, the information you need is deep and dark, and this is one of those times. Knowledge, no matter how upsetting, can set us free to make different choices. And when more and more of us choose a different path, we can change the way things get done. It’s your body and your health. You must be informed in order to make the best possible choices and the information in White Wash is essential for you to be aware of.

Easy Support for Colds, Flu’s & Coughs

Easy Support for Colds, Flu’s & Coughs

I’ve been putting a lot of emphasis on immune function and support lately. I truly want the best for you, and I’d love to see you be actively taking excellent care of yourself. A strong and healthy body is almost always your best defense against health issues. But we all get sick, so I want you to have some easy tools to help manage your symptoms when the inevitable crops up. And this is the time of year when we typically need to be prepared for immune challenges!

When I’m coming down with something, I want safe, easy and effective tools to make myself more comfortable and encourage my immune system to do its job as quickly as possible. Boiron homeopathic products have been on my list of favorites for years, and are something I always aim to have on hand. When I start to feel a cold, flu or cough coming on, especially during busy weeks, I rely on Boiron products to give my immune system an additional boost and soothe any discomfort I am experiencing.

Chestal cough syrup, Oscillococcinum tablets for flu symptoms and Cold Calm tablets for cold symptoms are my three most tried and true favorites. I find them easy to use, pleasant tasting and effective. They enhance my self-care as I always aim to get plenty of sleep, downtime, healthy food and clean water. I don’t expect any product to be a miracle solution that can make up for neglecting my self-care!

Even though my children are big now, there was no coercion or special tactics needed to administer these remedies to them at any age. The tablets and pellets in Oscillococcinum and Cold Calm easily dissolve under the tongue and are mildly sweet. And the cough syrup is honey based and pleasant tasting. Not having to struggle to administer support to a sick child is a godsend!

I check my stock of these items in the fall and order more as needed. While you may be able to find these products in local stores, I typically order them online. Check the Boiron website to find a store near you and to see if they have available coupons. Vitacost and Amazon appear to have similar pricing right now.

Boiron has a whole range of products, so if my tried and true favorites do not meet your typical needs, I encourage you to browse their selection and see if they have something more in line with what challenges you most frequently. Having simple tools on hand to support your body during an immune challenge can make a huge difference in managing your symptoms so you can be more comfortable and recover faster to boot!