Go Natural in 90 Days
Want to live more naturally and feel better? In this second of our three-part series, here are 30 more ways to overhaul your diet, beauty routine, home environment, and lifestyle.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
If you missed the first installment in our June issue, Part 1: Go Natural in 90 Days.
Day 1. Slay Your Sugar Dragon
If you’ve ever tried to cut back on sugar, you know how incredibly difficult it is. Turns out, there’s a reason. According to researchers at Princeton University, sugar hijacks your brain, affecting the natural reward centers and making it just as addictive as cocaine and heroin. Start gradually—going “cold turkey” can result in cravings and binges. Also, know all of the names for sugar:
FORMS OF SUGAR
To reduce sugar cravings, try L-glutamine. You can safely take 500 mg three or four times per day.
Day 2. Make Your Own Chia Pudding
“Chia pudding is packed with nutrients, has the texture of pudding (yes, please!), and is totally customizable to whatever flavor you are in the mood for,” says Alexis Kornblum Davidson, author of Lexi’s Clean Kitchen and creator of the blog lexiscleankitchen.com. Here’s her basic Chia Pudding recipe:
- 1 cup nondairy milk of your choice
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- 2 tsp. honey or pure maple syrup
- 1 cup diced or sliced fresh fruit of choice
Combine milk, chia seeds, and honey in a container, and refrigerate for a minimum three hours and up to 24 hours. Remove from fridge and add fruit topping or layer pudding and fruit in a serving jar or glass.
Day 3. Show Yourself Some Love
Many of us walk through life a prisoner of our inner critic (e.g., “I hate my body,” “My thighs are too big”). A constant barrage of negative thoughts can affect mental and even physical health. How can you start being kinder to yourself? According to Shannon Kaiser, author of The Self-Love Experiment (playwiththeworld.com), most adults don’t know how to love themselves. Based on her own journey, Kaiser started the Self-Love Experiment, which “involves agreeing in your heart and in your actions to following new ways of being in the world.” Here are a few thought-provoking tenants of Kaiser’s approach to consider when it comes to accepting and loving yourself:
- I will speak kindly to myself, no more criticism.
- I will stop judging myself, no more complaining.
- I will stop feeling guilty for just doing things I really want to do.
- I will start to care for myself in ways that cherish and appreciate my being.
- I will show up for myself.
- I will express myself and say what I need to say.
- I will let go of the habits, fears, and beliefs blocking me from feeling content.
Day 4. Eat More Salt for Sexual Health & Fertility
Yes, you read that right—more salt. “One of salt’s most intriguing properties is its importance for many facets of reproduction —from sexual desire and procreation to gestation and lactation—and this connection has been known at least since the time of the ancient Greeks,” says James DiNicolantonio, PharmD, author of The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got It All Wrong—and How Eating More Might Save Your Life. How should you eat more salt? Start eating real food and salt it to taste, says DiNicolantonio.
Day 5. Combat Hypertension with Celery
Have high blood pressure? Here’s a remedy you may not know about—celery seed extract. This small but mighty seed contains an important compound known as 3-n-butylphthalide (3nB). A human study looked at the ability of 3nB in celery seed extract to decrease blood pressure in 30 patients with mild-to-moderate hypertension. The results showed that those taking the extract experienced an 8.2 mmHg drop in their systolic pressure and an 8.5 mmHg decline in their diastolic blood pressure after six weeks of supplementation. Other research suggests that 3nB also helps to minimize the flow of calcium into the muscle cells that line blood vessels.
Day 6. Get Vitamin D Naturally
“I encourage sensible sun exposure,” says Michael Holick, PhD, MD, professor at Boston University School of Medicine, author of The Vitamin D Solution, and a leading international expert on vitamin D. He recommends 1,500–2,000 IU daily of vitamin D, year-round, and getting some sun—not enough to get a burn—for additional benefits. Sun triggers production of beta-endorphins (natural feel-good chemicals), relaxes blood vessels, and may help to reduce blood pressure.
To calculate your optimum sun time anywhere in the world, check out the vitamin D app at dminder.ontometrics.com.
Day 7. Refresh with an Easy Desk Stretch
“You’re only as young as your spine is flexible and your mind is open,” says Christopher Harrison, founder of AntiGravity Fitness. For a quick stretch at your desk, he recommends a spinal twist: Cross your right leg over your left. Twist your chest to the right so that your left elbow is above your right knee, and reach your right arm behind your chair. Look over your right shoulder and take three deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Day 8. Get on the Bone Broth Bandwagon
If you haven’t taken part yet in the bone broth craze, it’s time. “Simmering causes the bones and ligaments [in meats and poultry] to release healing compounds like collagen, proline, glycine, and glutamine that have the power to transform your health,” says Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, who recommends daily consumption of bone broths. Bone broth offers inside-out health benefits, including healthier hair, skin, and nails, less joint pain, stronger immune function, and better gut health.
See our Roasted Bone Broth recipe.
Day 9. Let Your Brain Fire on all Cylinders
Sharpening your mental power requires giving your brain what it needs nutrient-wise. There are several herbs, vitamins, and minerals that help boost blood flow and antioxidant levels in the brain while protecting it from inflammation. This translates to better mental clarity, memory, focus, information retention, and mood. Not sure which smart supplement to take? Start with ginkgo—it’s one herb that lives up to the hype. There are a multitude of studies showing that ginkgo is effective for improving cognition and memory. It works by improving blood flow to the brain. Many herbalists also prescribe ginkgo for patients with depression and tinnitus.
Day 10. Find the Most Natural Sunscreen
Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are two nontoxic ingredients in many natural sunscreens that block both UVA and UVB rays. But of the two, zinc oxide is the more natural ingredient, and many personal care companies are now making products with zinc oxide as the sole ingredient. For protection from within, studies have found that supplements of astaxanthin, Pycnogenol, and Lyc-O-Mato (a patented tomato extract) can help reduce UV damage to skin if taken daily for at least a few weeks. However, they don’t replace the need for sunscreen.
Day 11. Discover an Easy Way to Sleep Better
“We get more restorative sleep in cooler environments,” says Joe Colella, MD, author of The Appetite Solution. He recommends turning down the thermostat to keep your bedroom temperature no warmer than 69 degrees.
Day 12. Think Beyond Just Calcium for Strong Bones
While calcium plays an important role in bone health, it’s not everything. Vitamins D and K and the mineral magnesium are also important, working with calcium to strengthen bones. For example, vitamin D is key to healthy calcium absorption. Supplementing with a ombination of calcium and vitamin D can reduce the risk of falling by 49 percent. Vitamin K plays a critical role in maintaining bone density by helping shuttle calcium from the bloodstream into the bone. Magnesium is necessary for the conversion of vitamin D into its active form, and low levels can result in the formation of abnormal bone crystals. Even a mild deficiency of magnesium is reported to be a leading risk factor for osteoporosis.
Day 13. Promote Whole-Body Healing with Garlic
Most of us know that garlic supports heart health in a variety of ways, including lowering blood pressure and improving artery health. But you might not realize the many other health-giving attributes of the stinking rose. For example, Aged Garlic Extract (AGE), a proprietary supplement form of garlic, has been shown to enhance memory retention and improve learning deficits. It’s also been shown to fortify liver function and protect against drug and chemical toxicity. You can turn to garlic year-round for immune support—the herb has broad antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and other antimicrobial
actions. Increase the dose if you’ve got a cold or the flu to speed recovery.
Day 14. Brighten Up Your Skin with a Coconut Oil Mask
Lucy Bee, author of Natural Beauty with Coconut Oil, has developed endless beauty recipes using coconut oil. Most of them sound good enough to eat. Here’s one to try from Bee’s collection:
Maca and Cacao Brightening Face Mask
- 2 tsp. coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp. maca powder
- 1 tsp. cacao powder
- 1 tsp. bentonite clay powder.
- Pour coconut oil into a small mixing bowl.
- Stir in all other ingredients until a paste forms.
- Spread mask onto face, and let it sit for 15–20 minutes.
- Rinse with warm water
Day 15. Pick the Right Probiotic
When it comes to probiotics, each group of bacteria has different species, and each species has different strains. Researchers are still studying which strains should be used for which health conditions, but a handful have been demonstrated to help with the following:
Day 19. Make Your Own Air Freshener
It’s time to ditch your conventional air freshener. Many contain chemical fragrances that can irritate air passages and throw hormones out of whack.
Here’s a DIY home mist blend from Georgia-based aromatherapist Cheryl Cromer:
Mix 12 drops each of peppermint, rosemary, and lavender essential oils in a spray bottle filled with 6 oz. distilled water. “Spray often to freshen the air and combat airborne germs and bothersome pollen,” says Cromer.
Always use glass containers for your aromatherapy blends—plastic ones may absorb the oils, and some metals can react with essential oils, tainting the blend.
Day 20. Be Good to Your Thyroid
Iodine is a key nutrient for thyroid health, but anyone who doesn’t eat iodized salt—commercial table salt—may not get enough. Symptoms of low thyroid can include low energy, morning stiffness, sore soles of the feet, weight gain, and depression. In addition, says Nancy Evans, ND, at Holtorf Medical Group, “Achiness is one of the main symptoms of low thyroid.” She recommends taking a multivitamin with iodine and selenium, another nutrient that will help keep your thyroid happy. Sea vegetables, such as kelp, are rich food sources of iodine. Other important nutrients for thyroid health: L-tyrosine, selenium, zinc, and copper.
Day 21. Eat Jicama
Jicama is one of the top sources of prebiotics, food for beneficial gut bacteria. “Prebiotic fibers will nurture the good bacteria to grow in your gut,” says David Perlmutter, MD, author of The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan. “Jicama has a fairly neutral taste and goes well with a lot of stuff,” he adds. It works in coleslaw and salads, and in place of chips with yogurt-based dips.
See our Jicama Waldorf Salad with Yogurt Dressing recipe.
Day 22. Learn How EPA and DHA Differ
The two most studied omega-3 fatty acids are EPA and DHA. According to Daniel G. Amen, noted psychiatrist and author Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, DHA makes up a large portion of the gray matter of the brain. The fat in your brain forms cell membranes and plays a vital role in how our cells function. It’s especially important for optimal brain, mood, and nervous system health. EPA improves blood flow, which boosts overall brain function. EPA is associated with cardiovascular health, joint mobility, proper immune function, and gastrointestinal health.
Day 23. Avoid the Top GMO Foods
- Soy: soybeans, soy protein, and other soy ingredients in many foods
- Canola oil: cooking oil, in many salad dressings and other packaged foods
- Corn: corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn-based cereals, and other corn ingredients
- Cottonseed oil: in many baked and processed foods
- Sugar beets: unless cane sugar is listed specifically on the label, any sugar likely comes from sugar beets
Organic versions of all of these foods are free of GMOs, as organic foods do not contain GMOs.
Day 24. Give Your Brows some TLC
Years of enthusiastic tweezing, threading, and waxing can leave once-full eyebrows thin and ragged; additionally, lightening or even graying of the eyebrow hairs makes brows look that much sparser. And brow hair tends to thin with age. Very sparse outer edges of the brows can also be caused by hormonal shifts and a decrease in thyroid function, also common with age. The result: eyes look tired, old, and droopy. Here are a few youthful solutions: Use a natural pencil, brush, or liner to fill in brows, matching color as closely as possible to your natural hair color or going slightly darker. And try a supplement designed to promote hair health—iron, zinc, silica, and biotin all help strengthen hair follicles and can help prevent brows from getting thinner.
Day 25. Meet Nattokinase
Nattokinase is an enzyme from fermented soybeans that has clot-busting properties, making it extremely beneficial if you are at high risk of heart attack or stroke. Early trials suggest that nattokinase can help lower systolic blood pressure by up to 10.9 percent and diastolic blood pressure by 9.7 percent. But since this unique enzyme acts like a blood thinner, check with your doctor if you are taking an anticoagulant like warfarin or aspirin.
Day 26. Take a Closer Look at Casein
Lactose is well known to cause digestive distress in those with lactase deficiencies. But a dairy protein called casein can often cause similar digestive upsets. So your real digestive culprit could be casein intolerance. The symptoms are similar to lactose intolerance—occasional gas, bloating, indigestion, and diarrhea are very common. Casein is found in dairy products that have a higher protein content, such as milk, yogurt, milk kefir, cheese, and ice cream. Other dairy products that are low in protein, such as butter and cream, contain only small amounts of casein. Elimination diets can be hard because so many foods contain dairy. One option is using an enzyme supplement daily. Lactase supports digestion of lactose, and protease helps break down casein.
Use a formula with a blend of enzymes to cover many digestive issues, and avoid brands that contain unneeded fillers such as magnesium stearate.
Day 27. Use Green Drinks for Optimum Healing
Green drinks contain a healthy mix of nutrient-filled algae such as chlorella and grasses like barley or wheat grass that offer detoxifying amino acids, minerals, and antioxidants. These alkalizing formulas also encourage a healthy pH balance in the body. Taken daily, green drinks can also support immune health, energy, and other aspects of total body wellness. A good green drink supplement should clearly list each ingredient and the amount it contains per serving. There are numerous ways to enjoy green drink powders—try our Matcha & Greens Ice Cream.
Day 28. Soak Away Soreness and Stress
Soaking in Epsom salts (magnesium) is one of the best-known ways to ease muscle soreness, tension, and stress. But there are more natural ways to infuse a bath with healing and pain-relieving powers:
- Powdered vitamin C: Add approximately 2 Tbs. of vitamin C powder or a single-serve vitamin C packet.
- CBD oil: This is especially good for tension and
anxiety; add a few drops before stepping into a bath.
- Essential oils: The top three for sore muscles are lavender, helichrysum, and rosemary; use a few drops of each.
Day 29. Get Fiber in a New Way
Soluble prebiotic fiber is one of the best fiber supplements, says Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, coauthor of Smart Fat and other books. “Soluble prebiotic fiber can be added to a host of foods and beverages. I put a scoop in my shakes—its odorless, tasteless, and mixes well,” he says. One of the most impressive studies involving the relationship between fiber intake and health followed 2,900 healthy subjects for 10 years and looked at the relationship between fiber, cardiovascular disease, weight, and insulin. The results showed that fiber was inversely associated with insulin levels, and weight and low fiber intake turned out to be a better predictor of heart disease than saturated-fat consumption.
Day 30. Ease into a Fitness Program
30. If you don’t already have an effective fitness routine, walking can be a great start. Here’s one way to ease into a fitness program, from the American Council on Exercise:
Stage 1: On 5 days per week, walk each day for:
- Week 1: 20 minutes
- Week 2: 22 minutes
- Week 3: 24 minutes
- Week 4: 26 minutes
After that, keep increasing the daily time by 2 minutes each week until you reach 40 minutes per day, and the following week, increase it to 50 minutes a day.
Stage 2: In the next week, after each 5 minutes of walking, jog or run for one minute. Depending upon your own fitness level, you can shorten the daily time by doing higher-intensity spurts more often.
Welcome to SUMMER!
Get on the road to wellness this summer and rediscover your healthiest self. To help you stay on that path, we’ve partnered with some of today’s leading manufacturers, and together, we’re giving away sun-sational prizes during June, July, and August.
ENTER OUR GO NATURAL IN 90 SWEEPSTAKES
WIN high-quality natural products from our featured sponsors + other cool prizes—including gift cards to your favorite health food store, bestselling books on holistic living, coffee mugs, and T-shirts!
Enter the Go Natural in 90 Sweepstakes here!
Other fun perks include:
- Weekly e-newsletter with tips from today’s top natural health experts, including a step-by-step guide to removing sugar from your diet.
- Recipe e-book, Go Natural in 90: Summer Eats & Treats.
- Interactive posts on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.