Thursday, May 27, 2010

Top sunscreens for 2010

*If you want to read about the top 5 sunscreens, I put the information at the bottom of the page.  
 If you want to hear why this melanoma survivor (me) rarely wears sunscreen, read on.
The other day my friend asked me what kind of sunscreen do I use.
You might think I dip myself in sunscreen every morning, but it's actually the opposite.
I was diagnosed with melanoma in my 20's so I am always cautious when I'm outside and I try not to put a lot of chemicals on my skin.
A few years ago, a professor told me many suncreens use chemicals to create a barrier between your skin and the sun. Your body asbsorbs those chemicals. Researchers are taking a closer to look to see how those chemicals impact the body.
I posted an earlier story about how the CDC,  Centers for Disease Control also studied sunscreen ingredients found in the bloodstream.
While the jury is out on how these chemicals impact us, I prefer to wear sun protective clothing.
I actually bought a few cover-ups and had them tailored so you can't tell they're sun protective jackets.
I wear them over my swimsuit and I usually hang out in the shade. My husband & I love to go boating so I had to find something that really would protect me.
I do wear a non-chemical, mineral powder sunscreen on my face.
It has a great brush applicator so I can keep it in my purse.  You can also find similar brands at Sephora.
Some of the companies that sell sun protective clothing include:
SPFstore (great cotton t-shirts)
Coolibar (affordable)
Ayana (stylish)
But what about your kids?
My good friend, former TV producer and mom of two, Eve, researched this for us.
She says this non-chemical sunscreen (California Baby) is good for wiggly faces and the same company makes a good one for the rest of them.
 (They also happen to be listed as 2 of the top 10 best sunscreens. Beware, a few years ago I bought the number 1 rated sunscreen but it turned me into a greasy, Casper the ghost! There is a fine balance here. It has to work and you can't scare your friends!)
Eve tries her best to keep their sun protective clothes and hats on their little bodies (but you know how that goes!)
Kids clothes:
Cabana Life (Target)
Now to your sunscreens:
A consumer advocacy group is out with the 2010 safest sunscreens and best UV protectors.
The Environmental Working Group investigated 1572 chemical and non-chemical sunscreens.
The non-profit group found 3 out of 5 sunscreens do not protect your skin from sun damage or they expose you to toxic chemicals, or both.
Read more stories on Heather's Natural Health
You'll notice non-chemical sunscreens made the top of the Environmental Working Group's list.
There are the top rated sunscreens for broad spectrum protection with fewer hazardous ingredients.
The sunscreen screening site, put together by the Environmental Working Group, gives detailed information about all the products and rates them based on chemical exposure and effectiveness.
Product and Score
product imageAll Terrain
Aquasport Performance Sunscreen, SPF 30 TerraSport Performance Sunscreen, SPF 30 KidSport Performance Sunscreen, SPF 30 
product imageBadger
Sunscreen for Face and Body, Unscented, SPF 30 Sunscreen for Face and Body, SPF 30 Lightly Scented Sunscreen for Face and Body, SPF 15 Lightly Scented 
product imageBeyond Coastal
Lip and Face Screen, SPF 30 
product imageCalifornia Baby
Sunblock Stick No Fragrance, SPF 30+ Sunscreen Lotion No Fragrance, SPF 30+ Sunscreen Lotion Everyday/Year-Round, SPF 30+ Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+, Citronella Sunblock Stick Everyday/Year-Round, SPF 30+ 
product imageCaribbean Solutions
Natural/Biodegradable SolGuard, SPF 25 Sol Kid Kare Natural Sunscreen, SPF 25 
product imageDesert Essence
Age Reversal SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen 
product imageEpisencial
Sunny Sunscreen, SPF 35 
product imageEstion
Sunscreen with Zinc, SPF 38 
product imageJason Natural Cosmetics
Sunbrellas: Mineral Based Physical Sunblock, SPF 30+ Sunbrellas: Chemical Free Sunblock, SPF 30+ Earth's Best: Sunblock Mineral Based, SPF 30+ 
product imageKabana Skin Care
Green Screen Organic Sunscreen Fragrance Free, SPF 20 Green Screen Organic Sunscreen, SPF 22, Skin Tone Tinted 
product imageL'uvalla Certified Organic
SPF 20 Sunscreen Face/Body 
According to EWG, when sunscreen ingredients break down, they can penetrate the skin and trigger allergies. The ingredients are actually designed to break down; that's part of the function of absorbing energy and keeping it out of the skin. But some break down more quickly and easily than others.
The two ingredients recommended most include zinc and titanium, which don't break down in sunlight as others do, and offer longer lasting protection as a result. They also work by reflecting sunlight, rather than absorbing it.
You should look for both SPF numbers and zinc and titanium when buying suncreens.High SPF protects best against UVB. Zinc and titanium offer maximum UVA protection. Several ingredients are far less desirable although, depending on how they're blended and what else the products contain, they're not automatically undesirable. They are avobenzone, oxybenzone and padimate O, a relative of PABA, which has come into disrepute in recent years.
You can read more about how a skin cancer exam save my life by clicking here.  I'd love to hear what type of sun protection works best for you.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

HEATHER'S BLOG: I'm pregnant!

It's official! Mike and I are having a baby! We're almost 5 months into pregnancy and we STILL can't believe we're having a baby girl!

We have been married long enough (10 years!) to see our friends and family go through the major transformation that comes with starting a family. We have been dragging our feet for years.
I wanted to get healthy (I had a melanoma scare in my 20's), we commuted for a while and we really enjoyed just hanging out together.

We travelled a lot, invested in our careers but at the end of the day, we realized the close relationship we have with our parents would never be passed on unless we had a family of our own.

I'm not sure we're ready (are you ever really ready?) but we are really excited!

(Disclaimer: cute baby below is not mine. Mine will have much thicker eyebrows!)

Having a baby is all about change... so I am trying to keep a flexible attitude about EVERYTHING!

As I take this journey, I hope you'll share your baby experiences too (I'm still not sure about where to give birth--just one out of a million questions I still have...).

I am going to BLOG along the way on Heather's Natural Health. That's my webpage where I share how eating clean simple foods, cutting down on exposure to everyday chemicals and finding simple solutions to stay healthy have dramatically changed my life.

So it's probably no surprise that one of my 2010 New Year's resolutions was to try acupuncture.
I figured it could only help reduce stress, increase blood flow and help me figure out WHEN I actually ovulate--something I've never really been able to do.

This is the first time we have "actively" tried to get pregnant. Listen to how crazy this sounds...

I went to see licensed acupuncturist, Carolyn Huffman/Huffman Wellness in South Tampa back in January. She specializes in fertility.
Part of her treatment plan includes nutrition counseling (cutting out caffeine, alcohol and processed foods for at least 3 months. I had to say goodbye to my afternoon shot of coffee) and learning how to chart your cycle.

Every morning she asked me to take my temperature and record it on this chart. I had two acupuncture sessions a week, for two weeks in a row. She helped me figure out when the "time" was right.

I don't like to take herbs (for several reasons--they're usually imported from China or India where lead contamination is a concern, there's no third party independent testing or FDA regulation, and I like to know what I put into my body) but I must admit, she convinced me to give some a try.

You can imagine my surprise when I starting to see my temperature climb after just two weeks!!
I took four pregnancy tests in a row and they all said the same thing-PREGNANT!

Now of course, my husband maintains this has more to do with him than acupuncture (absolutely!) but I have continued to have acupuncture treatments and I am still amazed to say, I had NO MORNING SICKNESS--ZIPPO, NOTHING at all. I didn't call in sick to work once.

I have more energy than I've ever expected and the needle she places in my stomach to help with "digestion" has worked wonders!

I have to be honest... I entered into this plan skeptical. As a former investigative journalist that's just my nature, but I am completely convinced that there is a reason acupuncture is used by many cultures and has been around for 3,000 years.

Here's my only disclaimer: make sure you see an OB/GYN to confirm you don't have any serious underlying problems. Click here to make sure your acupunturist is licensed by the state and see if your insurance covers it (my in-network price is $50 a session) and if you decide to try acupuncture, it's recommended that you stick with it for at least 3 months.

Over the next few months, I'll BLOG about where to find a good deal on maternity clothes (not easy!) the natural way to keep your skin clear and any other interesting tips I find along the way.

I hope you will share your advice too!  I have a lot to learn! Thanks to some great girlfriends, my idea of a "natural birth" is out the window right now.

Please email any story ideas to:
Congratulations to those of you expecting too!

I applaud all of the great mommies out there who are tackling the toughest (and most rewarding) job in the world!

Here we go...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Nutrition advice for anyone going through cancer treatment

As a journalist, I am fortunate to interview a variety of people on CBS/10Connects News and also on my web page: Heather's Natural Health.

I personally know the healing power of eating fresh, simple foods and avoiding processed sugary foods -- I made the change 10 years ago and feel so much better -- I can't go back!

When my dad was recently diagnosed with inoperable mesothelioma, I searched all around the country for a realistic, comprehensive treatment plan that included an integrative approach to cancer care. While the major cancer centers we visited all recommended he try chemotherapy, they couldn't offer any nutrition advice. So I kept searching...

"Integrative oncologist" may seem like an oxymoron, but they really do exist!

I also needed to find someone who could be realistic. My dad would never juice 80 carrots a day, but he would be willing to improve his diet while undergoing chemotherapy, something he wanted to do.

I recently interviewed Rebecca Katz, author of The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen.

Rebecca, along with Dr. Andrew Weil and others, all recommended the same person, Dr. Keith Block at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care in Illinois and author of Life Over Cancer.

I had a chance to sit down with Dr. Block and ask him if eating fresh, whole foods really makes a difference in the fight against cancer. He says the simple answer is yes. Everything you eat or drink changes the chemistry of your blood.

For nearly three decades, Dr. Block and his research staff have studied how diet and lifestyle changes (two things patients can control) can slow cancers, ease chemotherapy side effects, improve quality of life and give survivors an edge.

Dr. Block has noticed that nutrition has a profound effect. Patients who take control of their daily choices are in better shape to fight cancer and respond better to treatment.

Dr. Block advises his patients eat more:

•Egg whites

•Legumes (lentil beans, check peas)



•Good fats (olive oil, flaxseed oil, fish oil)

•Cold water fish (wild salmon)

•Whole grains

•Cruciferious vegetables (broccoli, cabbage)

•Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries)

•Green tea

Dr. Block advises his patients avoid:

•Dairy products (promotes inflammation and mucus production)

•Red meat (iron supports cancer cells and too high in bad fats)

•Processed sugary foods (promotes inflammation and fuels cancer)

•Bad fats (trans fats, saturated fats in processed baked goods)

Dr. Block says sugar can give cancer the upper hand.

He sites studies that suggest breast cancer patients who add exercise and cut out processed sugar are able to keep their insulin levels under control and cut their risk of recurrence in half and decrease cancer death by two-thirds.

He adds,"Cancer cells are glucose guzzlers. Think about this, the way a Petscan works is by introducing glucose into a patient to see the cancer cells that would divide more rapidly because of the glucose. There are many studies that show in various cancers that show as you increase blood sugar levels, you speed up growth of cancer. In fact the survival, response to treatment the outcomes are all clearly associated with the ability to maintain or lose control of sugar levels and its impact on insulin."

Dr. Block has also noticed patients who eat nutritious foods and take certain supplements during chemotherapy ease side effects.

Dr. Block advises his patients try these things before chemotherapy:

•Take two 500 mg capsules of ginger root 15 minutes beforehand

•Exercise for 15 minutes an hour before treatment (walk, ride bike)

•Check vitamin D levels in advance (simple blood test)

•Take fish oil (anti-inflammatory)

•Take curcumin (anti-inflammatory)

•Sit outside in morning sun for 15 minutes

Dr. Block has his patients mix powdered glutamine in water before, during and after chemotherapy to prevent mouth sores and neuropathy--tingling of the hands and feet.

Dr. Block says,"What we have our patients do is take 10-20 grams of glutamine in a bottle of water and have them sip it during chemotherapy. It will help prevent mouth sores. It will boost immune function and it will protect from some of the nerve damage that can occur from chemotherapy."