Saturday, June 24, 2017

9 Ways to Naturally Improve Your Immune System (Plus a Free Workshop)

Original post from NaturalHealth365

The lymphatic system is responsible for neutralizing toxins and purifying the body, all while transporting a precious cargo of infection-fighting cells. It is an integral part of the immune system yet, this life-sustaining group of nodes, glands and organs, is often overlooked or taken for granted.

The truth is: a variety of factors—including poor diet, exposure to toxins, food allergies and sedentary lifestyle—can create an excess of waste and debris in the lymph, or lymphatic system fluid. The result is a sluggish or congested lymphatic system, which can set the stage for respiratory infections, ear and sinus infections, edema and swollen glands—which can affect the overall health of your immune system.

Improve Your Lymphatic System – Naturally

Fortunately, the holistic techniques – which will be highlighted in this article – can help you unclog, stimulate and purify your lymph system naturally.

Rebounding

Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system lacks a propulsive center, or pump. Instead, lymph is moved via the relaxation and contraction of muscles and joints. You can stimulate circulation and help propel lymph throughout the body by jumping on a trampoline for 10 to 30 minutes.

If you don’t have access to a trampoline, never fear: using a jump rope or doing jumping jacks is also effective. You’ll notice that the jumping up and down (in a relaxed fashion) will really energize your entire body. (that’s the benefit of moving your lymph.)

Eat Raw, Organic Foods

You can help clear a congested lymphatic system by raising your consumption of raw foods—particularly fruits and vegetables, which have naturally-occurring enzymes that help clear toxins and promote their exit from the body.

Fruits and vegetables also raise the water level in the body and help to hydrate it, while their healthy amounts of fiber promote intestinal function, making it easier for intestinal fluids to migrate to lymph nodes. Also, raw foods tend to be alkaline, helping to neutralize pathogens and relieve the burden on the lymph. (of course, try to remember to chew well)

In addition, at the same time, try to reduce consumption of lymph-clogging dairy, sugar, gluten and processed foods. You’ll probably notice a nice surge in your energy level.

Stay Hydrated

As the lymphatic system is 95 percent water, it is important to avoid becoming dehydrated. Experts advise drinking half your weight in ounces of water a day. Remember, not all water is created equal—so (if possible) drink pure spring water or purified water to reduce your toxic burden.

For added health benefits, use fresh (organic) lemon juice to flavor the water, and take advantage of this citrus fruit’s amazing benefits, along with its vitamin C content.

Turn Things Upside Down

Use an inversion table, which allows you to be suspended upside down while strapped in by the feet.

Being in this unusual position can help promote free-flowing lymph. Use a quality inversion table with a safety strap to control the angle of inversion and safety locks to hold it in place.

Herbal Assistance

Herbs can enhance the lymphatic system by improving lymphatic flow and drainage and facilitating removal of toxins. Galium aparine—also known as cleavers—is a safe and time-honored lymphatic tonic, valued for removing and draining trapped bacteria from lymph glands when taking internally. Talk to a holistic practitioner about the right herbal lymphatic for your body.

Dry Brushing

Using a brush with coarse bristles, gently brush the skin in the direction of the heart. Although you may feel silly doing this, experts say it stimulates circulation and encourages the movement of lymph.

By the way, dry brushing can be particularly helpful in breaking down deposits of cellulite caused by a sluggish lymphatic system.

Proteolytic Enzymes

Utilized in the body to break down proteins and aid in digestion and metabolism, enzymes can help dissolve and clear away toxic accumulations in both the lymph and the blood, promoting lymphatic drainage and stimulating the immune system.

You can take them as a supplement or obtain them through diet by eating foods like papaya, which contains the enzyme papain, and pineapple, which contains bromelain.

Lymphatic Massage

Designed to stimulate the flow of lymph and drainage of toxins, specialized lymphatic massage uses gentle pressure and rhythmic circular motions. You can also perform a do-it-yourself version by gently massaging the lymph nodes under your jaw.

According to a 2009 review published in The Journal of Manual Manipulative Therapy, lymphatic drainage massage facilitated removal of waste products in the lymphatic system and helped to reduce edema.

Avoid Constrictive Clothing

This applies particularly to underwire bras, which can significantly interfere with lymphatic flow and drainage from lymph nodes located in the armpit and upper chest. Possible consequences of long-term use of constrictive clothing could include impairment of lymphatic function, fibrocystic breast tissue and even breast cancer. Better to be safe (and comfortable).

BONUS TIP: Yoga

Yoga is a boon to the lymphatic system, as doing headstands, handstands and shoulder stands significantly stimulate flow. If these aren’t practical for you, raising your legs and placing them to the wall are a good alternate option.

The general contraction and relaxation of muscles in yoga poses promotes beneficial flow of lymph. Yoga poses that involve rotation of the abdomen can be particularly effective, as twisting the abdomen squeezes organs and muscles and causes lymph to flow from the tissues.

Obviously, these are all just suggestions. Find what feels good to you and get started today. Your body (and mind) will thank you for it.

Immune Health Summit from Natural Health 365

If this information is interesting to you and you would like to know more, check out the Immune Defense Summit!
Beginning on July 24 2017, this 7-day, FREE online event, hosted by Jonathan Landsman will forever change the way we view disease and healthcare. The summit will feature 36 world-class experts in integrative medicine and science.

Click here to reserve your FREE spot today!

Have you signed up for the Defense Summit? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

The following post 9 Ways to Naturally Improve Your Immune System (Plus a Free Workshop) was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Joy Challenge Day 5: Laughter

Guest Post by Kaia Roman of The Joy Plan

We’re doing a 5-day #JoyChallenge this week here at Annmarie Skin Care. Each day, you’ll find a new challenge up on the blog. These practices are described in more detail in my new book The Joy Plan (coming July 11, pre-order here).

On my 30-day Joy Plan, I had to come to grips with something. I’m quite a serious person. I like to ponder and discuss deep and meaningful topics, geek out about science, learn new things, and solve problems. Those activities aren’t exactly humorous unless, of course, you have a great sense of humor. Which I actually think I have. I crack myself up all the time. But the only people that usually witnessed my comedic side were my children.

Day 5: Laughter

Laughter floods your brain and body with mood-boosting serotonin.

I was often silly with my kids, so I knew I had it in me. To laugh more, I just had to start being silly with other people too. I set a goal to make at least one person laugh every day, and so I started joking around with the teachers and other parents when I picked the kids up at school.

My husband came home from work a couple of times and asked, “Have you been drinking?” when he found me trying to juggle oranges in the kitchen or only speaking by singing—but I told him I was just trying to lighten up. My kids were also surprised to see me joking around more with other people besides them, and they loved it.

The Challenge:

Today, your challenge is simple: laugh as often as possible. Look around you for opportunities to laugh, and go out of your way to seek them out.

Watch a funny movie, steer the conversation to humorous topics with your friends, and do your best to stop taking yourself so seriously. Consider checking out “laughter yoga” videos, or silly cat videos for that matter, on YouTube. Crack a joke in conversations, and see what witty responses people come back with.

You’ll find that laughter becomes kind of a habit. It can be challenging if you’re not used to it (like me), but I bet you’ll like it.
Laughing releases endorphins, the brain’s “feel good” hormones that activate the body’s opiate receptors, reducing pain while increasing pleasure.

Endorphins are behind the light-headed, giddy feeling you can get from laughing. They reduce the body’s stress response and relax the muscles. Full belly laughs, in particular, also release oxytocin, which bathes our nervous system in a warm, fuzzy glow.

And to add to the good news, your laughter will likely spread. You know those people who always make you feel better when you’re around them? The ones with the infectious smile and bright eyes and bold laugh? It might be the person at the grocery checkout counter, or your own best friend, but I’m sure you know someone whose joy spreads to everyone they meet.

I can think of quite a few people I’ve been blessed to know like this. I always feel joyful, even after the briefest of interactions with them. Because of the mirror neurons in our brains related to imitation, joy (and every other emotion, too) is literally contagious. Go ahead, pass it on!

Tell us what made you laugh in the comments below!

Joy is a habit that can be cultivated with practice and repetition. And it’s more fun to do it with friends! I invite you to keep the #JoyChallenge going beyond these five days, and watch how your life transforms!

*This post is partially excerpted from The Joy Plan: How I Took 30 Days to Stop Worrying, Quit Complaining, and Find Ridiculous Happiness. Available everywhere books are sold July 11. Pre-order on Amazon.

The following post Joy Challenge Day 5: Laughter was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Joy Challenge Day 4: No Complaining

Guest Post by Kaia Roman of The Joy Plan

We’re doing a 5-day #JoyChallenge this week at Annmarie Skin Care. Each day, you’ll find a new challenge up on the blog. These practices are described in more detail in my new book The Joy Plan (coming July 11, pre-order here).

In my passionate quest for joy, which started as a 30 days experiment but quickly became a way of life, I needed to take a long, hard look at my negative habits. You see, I used to complain. A lot. Not necessarily because I was dissatisfied with my life. It was more like a nervous habit. I especially complained when I was speaking with someone I didn’t know well.

But then a friend told me, “Your experience of life is shaped by what you say about it.” And I could see that he was right. By complaining all the time, I was missing out on a different story I could be telling, and a different experience of life I could be living. I challenged myself to stop complaining for a week, and the challenge is still going more than two years later.

Day 4: No Complaining

Focus on solutions instead of problems and notice what a difference this subtle shift makes in your life.

Instead of bumming out about not having everything I want yet, I try to focus on how excited I am about it all being on its way. The feeling of wanting something can be harnessed like an internal engine, strongly propelling us in the direction of our desire. Likewise, instead of focusing on what I don’t like (traffic, high prices, etc.) I do my best to shift my focus to what I do like. I transfer my attention from problems to solutions.

The Challenge:

Today, challenge yourself to look for ways to say “YES” instead of “NO. Catch yourself when you feel the urge to complain and ask yourself how you can focus your attention on what you want instead of complaining about what you don’t want.

Complaining doesn’t solve problems, it blocks solutions. Every time you have the urge to complain today, do your best to remind yourself that a complaint is just one viewpoint.

Challenge yourself to take responsibility for the things you can change: your attitude and your perspective.

Focus on solutions instead of problems. Trust that everything is working out, even when you don’t understand it or see the whole picture. Practice looking for the silver lining in every situation like your life depends on it. Because ultimately, your experience of life does depend on it. While there are many things that are beyond your control, your attitude is always up to you.

When we complain, we train our brains to focus on the negative, which then predisposes us to see more negative showing up in our lives. Complaining also releases the stress hormone cortisol, which has a whole cascade of harmful effects on our health.

Whatever we do repetitively, whether it’s biting our nails or making time to exercise, becomes a habit. Thoughts and words are the same. In fact, 90% of our thoughts are repetitive, so they really become a strong habit.

Not long ago, the thoughts on a feedback loop in my mind focused on all the ways I was falling short and failing in life, and I frequently spoke those thoughts out loud as complaints. Until I switched the theme. I practiced thinking joyful thoughts long enough that those thoughts became my new habit. Although this is simple, it’s not necessarily easy. But with practice and perseverance, it does work.

Tell us how it goes in the comments below!

Joy is a habit that can be cultivated with practice and repetition. And it’s more fun to do it with friends! Check back tomorrow for Day 5 of the #JoyChallenge: Laughter.

The following post Joy Challenge Day 4: No Complaining was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Joy Challenge Day 3: Kindness

Guest Post by Kaia Roman of The Joy Plan

We’re doing a 5-day #JoyChallenge this week at Annmarie Skin Care. Each day, you’ll find a new challenge up on the blog. These practices are described in more detail in my new book The Joy Plan (coming July 11, pre-order here).

When I dedicated 30 days to joy in hopes it would change my life, I didn’t just want to focus on myself. In addition to being a happier person, I also wanted to be kinder and more generous. As it turns out, practicing acts of kindness is an excellent way to generate joy.

Day 3: Kindness

Acts of kindness increase motivating dopamine in the brain, for both the giver and receiver.

Having compassion and empathy for others can improve your mood, not only by taking your attention off of your own troubles but also by creating a feeling of interconnectedness. When we perform acts of kindness, our brains reward us with a release of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine.

Studies have shown that both givers and receivers of kindness feel more optimistic afterward, and these effects can be long-lasting.

The Challenge:

Today, challenge yourself to do three kind things for someone else. These can be as simple as a smile, or as complex as you can imagine. After yesterday’s Gratitude Challenge, you may be inspired to spread the love by telling others how grateful you are for them. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or difficult to be kind. Here are some ideas:

  • Smile more. Smiling may be the simplest thing you can do to both experience and spread the positive benefits of kindness. Even if you force a smile, it immediately triggers the release of endorphins in your body. A Swedish study found that when people looked at others who were smiling, their facial muscles twitched into smiles involuntarily. It seems that smiling truly is contagious.
  • Give compliments. A simple compliment can make someone feel like a million bucks. Literally. Researchers at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan found that the same area in the brain, the striatum, is activated when a person receives a compliment as when they are given money. Generating more positive energy through the simple act of speaking kind words can be a powerful way to make a difference in the lives of those around you.
  • Volunteer your time, talents, or treasures. Volunteering has been shown to lower depression, increase one’s sense of well-being, lower blood pressure, and extend life expectancy. You may have more time than money on your hands, or vice versa, but there is always something that you can give and people and organizations that will welcome your contribution. Consider cleaning out your closet and taking a donation to your nearest charity thrift store. Offer your time, skills, or financial resources to an organization whose mission you wish to support. Or simply help a person in need the next time you have the opportunity.
  • Reach out in small ways. Most of us are busy, but it doesn’t take much time to send a short message, write a kind note, wish a happy birthday, or let someone know that you’re thinking about them. Small acts of kindness performed frequently will create a regular boost in your own mood as well as improve the days of others.
  • Think big. Your acts of kindness might begin within your small community, but you may soon find yourself wanting to make a bigger contribution to the world. There are endless ways to do this, from connecting with organizations that are doing work you feel passionate about to starting a business with an altruistic aim. There is no limit to what your kindness can do. And since dopamine is released with each act of kindness, you may find it becomes a bit of an addiction.
Tell us what acts of kindness you did in the comments below!

Joy is a habit that can be cultivated with practice and repetition. And it’s more fun to do it with friends! Check back tomorrow for Day 4 of the #JoyChallenge: No Complaining.

*This post is partially excerpted from The Joy Plan: How I Took 30 Days to Stop Worrying, Quit Complaining, and Find Ridiculous Happiness. Available everywhere books are sold July 11. Pre-order on Amazon.

References:
DiSalvo, David. “Study: Receiving a Compliment has Same Positive Effect as Receiving Cash.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 28 Nov. 2012. Web. 15 June 2017.

“Home.” Mindup. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2017.

Kleiman, Karen. “Try Some Smile Therapy.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 01 Aug. 2012. Web. 15 June 2017.

Schonert-Reichl, K. A., E. Oberle, M. S. Lawlor, D. Abbott, K. Thomson, T. F. Oberlander, and A. Diamond. “Enhancing cognitive and social-emotional development through a simple-to-administer mindfulness-based school program for elementary school children: a randomized controlled trial.” Developmental psychology. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2015. Web. 15 June 2017.

Watson, Stephanie. “Volunteering may be good for body and mind.” Harvard Health Blog. N.p., 29 Oct. 2015. Web. 15 June 2017.

The following post Joy Challenge Day 3: Kindness was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Joy Challenge Day 2: Gratitude

Guest Post by Kaia Roman of The Joy Plan

Dear Friends, we’re doing a 5-day #JoyChallenge this week here at Annmarie Skin Care. Each day, you’ll find a new challenge up on the blog. These practices are described in more detail in my new book The Joy Plan (coming July 11, pre-order here).]

When I dedicated 30 days to the singular pursuit of joy, I went after it from all angles—from the scientific to the spiritual, and everything in between.

Day 2: Gratitude

Find appreciation for as much as you can, as often as you can, and watch how negativity melts away.

I’d read that having a regular gratitude practice can increase happiness, but I didn’t really know why. Although it did seem obvious that if I could shift my focus from my problems to what I’m grateful for, I’d likely realize that my troubles aren’t as bad as they seem.

I believe gratitude helped pull me out of one of the lowest times in my life. And as it turns out, gratitude mostly works because of the effect it has on the brain. When I started my Joy Plan, my default thoughts were usually of the worry or fear variety. Switching my internal chatter to thoughts of appreciation and enthusiasm didn’t happen overnight, but with practice, it did eventually become a new habit.

Thoughts and words of gratitude are registered in the brain as optimism, regular positive thoughts and reactions to life’s challenges. Optimism lowers the stress hormone cortisol and calms and soothes the amygdala, the part of the brain that sounds the stress alarm.

When these thoughts are repeated frequently, the brain eventually forms new neural pathways—like well-worn highways your brain uses habitually because they are familiar. This happens with any type of repetitive thinking, but can be harnessed for positivity with a regular gratitude practice.

The Challenge:

Today, find a notebook or even just a piece of paper. Set aside five to fifteen minutes to write what you are grateful for. You can write in list form, you can compose paragraphs, you can even draw pictures. No one else will see this, so just do what comes naturally to you.

Focus on the people, possessions, and surroundings in your life. Maybe you’re grateful for your health, family, home, job, or faith. Perhaps you’re just really thankful for that warm cup of peppermint tea in your hands. There are no right or wrong entries here. You’ll likely find that this exercise sends warm fuzzies to your brain. That’s because thoughts of gratitude release the pleasure-inducing neurotransmitter dopamine.

You may want to incorporate a gratitude practice into your daily routine. I set aside time every morning to write in my gratitude notebook, even if I’m writing the same thing over and over again. This helps start my day with a positive focus. And when I don’t have time to write it down, I know that making a mental list can be just as effective as a written list.

Even in the midst of challenging times, gratitude is always an option. A shift in perspective can sometimes change everything. While some days will be harder than others, no matter how hard or scary it feels, there is always something to be grateful for. And gratitude is a powerful antidote for fear.

What are you grateful for? Feel free to share some of the things you’re grateful for in the comments below!

Joy is a habit that can be cultivated with practice and repetition. And it’s more fun to do it with friends! Check back tomorrow for Day 3 of the #JoyChallenge: Kindness.

The following post Joy Challenge Day 2: Gratitude was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Joy Challenge Day 1: Mindful Meditation

Guest Post by Kaia Roman of The Joy Plan

Dear Friends, we’re doing a 5-day #JoyChallenge this week here at Annmarie Skin Care. Each day, you’ll find a new challenge up on the blog. These practices are described in more detail in my new book The Joy Plan (coming July 11, pre-order here).

The Joy Plan describes a 30-day science experiment I conducted in the laboratory of my own life with the hopes of shedding my ingrained habits of stress and anxiety. I tried every recommendation in every self-help book I could get my hands on, and it was fascinating to see what worked and what didn’t.

Day 1: Mindfulness

Bring your awareness to the present moment, and away from your stressful thoughts.

I didn’t really even know what “mindfulness” was before, although I’d been hearing the term more and more. It turns out, it’s pretty simple: mindfulness is merely the act of bringing your awareness to the present moment—including your thoughts, feelings, and sensations—without judgment.

Although it may sound far too basic to be helpful, mindfulness has been shown to foster a myriad of positive health benefits, including reduced stress, improved immune function, increased happiness, and even slower aging.

One of the main reasons that mindfulness is so beneficial is that is can help us separate our thoughts, especially stressful thoughts, from reality. Unless it’s missing what it needs for survival, the body is rarely anxious without the input of the mind but stressful thoughts activate the amygdala, the brain’s danger sensor, and switch on the fight-or-flight response even when there’s no physical danger present.

Being able to separate our stressful thoughts and amygdala-based reactions from the less-dramatic reality of the present moment is a skill that can be mastered with practice.

The Challenge:

Today, set a timer for five to fifteen minutes. Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and your eyes closed. You can place your hands on your lap or place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Bring your attention to your breath. As you inhale, slowly count to five, and as you exhale, slowly count to five again. Keep this up.

Your mind will probably be flooded with thoughts. That’s totally normal. Do your best to notice the thoughts without engaging in them. Try imagining each thought turning into a bubble and floating away. This is the basic practice of mindfulness meditation and it’s a healthy form of exercise for your brain.

You can also do a mini version of this practice at other times throughout your day. When you’re waiting in line, washing the dishes, or standing in the shower, notice your bodily sensations and your breath. Honing in on your five senses—sound, taste, touch, hearing, and, sight—is a great way to bring your awareness to the present moment.

To calm my mind, I find that nothing works better than shifting my attention to my body and the present moment. I am blessed to teach this important life skill to elementary school children. Ultimately, the practice of mindfulness can help us feel more empowered and in control of our experience of life.

When I’m able to create a micro-suspension in time where all that exists is the here and now, everything else fades away and I find a deep sense of peace. The challenge is finding a way to get there amidst the fast-paced events of my day and swirling thoughts in my head.

That’s our challenge to take on together, my friends! Tell us how it goes for you in the comments below.

Joy is a habit that can be cultivated with practice and repetition. And it’s more fun to do it with friends! Check back tomorrow for Day 2 of the #JoyChallenge: Gratitude.

The following post Joy Challenge Day 1: Mindful Meditation was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

Friday, June 16, 2017

How to Choose the Right Water Filter for Your Lifestyle

Guest Post by Lara Adler

How much thought have you given to the quality of the water you drink?

While the water quality here in the United States is (by many measures) very clean, we have to understand that “clean” in this sense is relative. We may not have widespread issues with things like cholera (which still affects over 170K people a year in Asia & Africa), or dysentery, but that doesn’t mean our water isn’t making us sick.

When water is contaminated with viruses and bacteria – the kind that can leave you running for the bathroom, or worse, to the hospital – the response is pretty acute, immediate, and noticeable.

But what about the kinds of contaminants in our nation’s tap water that can contribute to chronic disease?

What about the low levels of things like pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, estrogens, and cancer-causing chemicals that we consume daily through our “clean” water?

Let’s talk about these contaminants, why water is so important and how to shop for the perfect water filter.


Our Most Essential Nutrient

Water is our most essential nutrient. It is responsible for the transport of oxygen, nutrients, and waste products into and out of all the cells in our body. It’s often called the “universal solvent” because it helps to dissolve minerals in the body and make them accessible to our cells, it helps to regulate body temperature, and it protects your organs and tissues.

Water helps prevent constipation, it eases the burden on the kidneys and liver by flushing out toxins, and it helps to keep your lymphatic fluid flowing.

Up to 60% of the adult human body is water, and babies are almost 80% water!

Unfortunately, our water can also be the source of exposure to contaminants and intentionally present chemicals that can negatively affect our health.

Too Many Chemicals

It used to be that our water treatment plants, intended to deliver fresh, clean water to our homes, only had to deal with bacterial and viral contaminants. Over the decades, as industrial and agricultural activities increased, so too have the number and kinds of chemicals we find in our water.

In 2009 the Environmental Working Group did an analysis of nearly 20 million drinking water tests and discovered that water suppliers identified 316 contaminants in that water, most of which are unregulated.

Our water supplies are now contaminated with pesticides, pharmaceuticals, narcotics, heavy metals, and synthetic estrogens to name a few.

And many of the chemicals that are intentionally added to our water to address bacteria and viruses, like chlorine or chloramine can have negative unintended side effects.

The bottom line is that we have far more chemicals in our water than we used to, and we don’t have the infrastructure to remove them.

A Failing System

In the US, we assume that because we’re not getting acutely sick, our water is clean and safe and we don’t have to worry about it.

Unfortunately, this is just not true.

The American Society for Civil Engineers, which grades our nation’s infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.) has rated our water infrastructure a D+ in their most recent report.

According to an article in the New York Times from May of 2017 “If you live in the United States, there is a nearly one-in-four chance your tap water is either unsafe to drink or has not been properly monitored for contaminants in accordance with federal law”

The National Resources Defense Counsel in a May 2017 report found that nearly 77 million Americans lived in places where their water systems were in some violation of safety regulations, including the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act.

The water crisis in Flint, MI, while devastating, has re-focused our attention on water quality – something that’s long overdue. In that city, over 100,000 people were exposed, for a significant period of time, to drinking water with dangerously high levels of lead. In some samples, the lead levels were such that the tap water would be classified as toxic waste!

So, Now What?

So, what do we do? We properly filter our water!

The job of producing clean water, free from the harmful chemicals that are commonly present in tap water now fall on the consumer. As an environmental toxins expert and educator, addressing cooking and bathing water is one of the first things I often encourage people to change, because clean water is so important.

The first step towards safer, cleaner water is knowing what contaminants are present in yours. You might think your first step is to run out and buy a filter, but until you know what contaminants you need to deal with, you won’t be clear on what kind of filter to get.

Step 1: Look up Your Local Water Quality Report

This report should give you a snapshot of the contaminants present and whether your water exceeds any of the EPA Drinking Water Standards- look for the MCL or “Maximum Contaminant Level” on your report. If any of the levels in your water are close to, or exceed those standards, you want to be sure to filter them out.

No single filter is perfect; some may not address contaminants that you have (like fluoride), or others may be overkill and more money than you need to spend.

Step 2: Buy a Filter that Fits Your Needs

Basic carbon filtration is a necessary and important component to any filter, but on it’s own won’t do anything to address microbes, fluoride, or do a good enough job reducing lead level.

If an inexpensive pitcher filter is all your budget allows, it’s still better than nothing!

Reverse osmosis is one of the most popular ways to filter water and is indeed one of the most effective, as RO systems are able to reduce or remove nearly all contaminants. But the trade-off is that RO systems strip the water of beneficial minerals and can leave it tasting flat. 

If an RO system is what’s needed to properly filter your water, be sure to re-mineralize your water before drinking! Many RO systems have a final re-mineralization state; don’t skip this!

While I don’t have a favorite brand of filter, here are some companies that make great ones, along with a resources to help you get better, cleaner water!


Great Filters and Resources

  • Berkey. Berkey makes these beautiful steel water canisters that filter your water with various filter cartridges, which you can customize based on the contaminates you’re addressing. Many of my clients love their Berkeys!
  • Aquatrue. This countertop RO system is heavily promoted by a number of people in the online wellness space, and by all accounts it seems to be a good system, save for the plastic container, which I’m not a huge fan of. For a similar price point, you can get an under-sink, multi stage system that doesn’t take up counter space.
  • CleanAirPureWater.com. Run by my personal “water guy” Jim McMahon, this website is where I encourage people to start, as Jim will happily talk you through your water report and help point you to a filtration system that’s appropriate for your situation.
  • EWG Water Filter Guide. Check out the EWG’s Water Filter Guide to help you decide which is the best type of filter technology.

The goal is to have clean, pure water to drink, cook with, and bathe in. While our water is definitely better than in some places in the world, it’s still not ideal. Until we have stronger federal regulations around pollution, and stricter water quality standard, we will need to filter our own water.

Do you have a favorite water filter? Let us know in the comments!

References
Fortin, Jacey. “America’s Tap Water: Too Much Contamination, Not Enough Reporting, Study Finds.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 04 May 2017. Web. May 2017.

The following post How to Choose the Right Water Filter for Your Lifestyle was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.