Debating Titanium Dioxide

Element Titanium

Sometime ago, a young woman came into the supplement store looking for a titanium dioxide free iron supplement. She began telling me about the research on this ingredient and the reports that it was carcinogenic. She then went on to ask why a vitamin maker would use a whitening agent only to then turn around and dye the supplement another color. The absurdity behind this process was so conspicuous; I admittedly felt a little dumbfounded. I honestly had no answer for her other than the possibility of market research leading manufacturers to believe we consumers prefer pretty colored pills to naturally hued, and whitening a substance’s natural color probably allowed another color to take better. We both had to tilt our heads and roll our eyes as the words tumbled out and over themselves, but in that moment I decided to look into the meat of the issue and find out the deal with TD.

From the research I’ve read so far, much of the studies done on the carcinogenicity of titanium dioxide have been performed on rats, not unusual, and with powdered TD. Many of these studies did find that prolonged and excessive – six hours per day, five days per week, for two years- exposure of lab rats to TD dust did result in lung tumor development. And some of these studies did acknowledge the marked difference between the ways the body of a rat processes powders and dust particles in comparison to those of larger mammals like primates and humans. There are also studies, dating as far back as the 1960’s and conducted on larger mammals and humans, that tested the amounts of titanium dioxide present in the body after ingesting the substance through the diet over extended periods of time. These studies stated that no detectable amounts of TD were found in the urine, blood, kidneys or liver, giving way to the determination that dietary consumption of titanium dioxide did not lead to its absorption and thus accumulation within the human body.

So, surprise surprise, it’s a mixed bag. Findings like these enable the FDA to deem it safe for use and consumption. And boy oh boy is it used.

If you’ve become the diligent ingredient label reader I’ve encouraged, then you know what I’m talking about. TD can be found in everything from our multi colored multi vitamins to our body lotions and cosmetics. And because it occurs naturally in several minerals, it is widely used in mineral based make-up, especially the powdered foundations, bronzers, eye shadows and blushes.

So are there any benefits? Probably the more pointed question is whether the substance serves any function, has any use?

Titanium dioxide results from oxygenation of the widely present element titanium. Its strength and resistance to breakdown, along with its pigmentation make it a successful thickening and whitening agent for a variety of products like paints, inks, pills, toothpastes, cosmetics, foods and beverages. In addition, it is an able ultra violet light absorber and thus popular component of sunscreens and blocks. But is it truly, ultimately safe; and if so, then why the fuss?

Titanium_Dioxide_43Well it turns out that the nano-sized, ultra small particle form of TD is of concern to researchers. And many of them view the synthesized state as the real threat because this form is more susceptible to collisions/reactions with other particles and can potentially infiltrate otherwise protected areas of the body. It is these traits that make for an unpredictable agent with unforeseeable consequences, and thus no definitive answer to the question of long term safety.

Given the particular concern being powdered titanium dioxide and its impact on our lungs, the greater danger may be in our exposure to the inhalable forms and not the ingestible. Only time will tell for sure, but it is certainly our prerogative to play it safe. These manufacturers may provide some effective alternatives to their TD containing counterparts.

For titanium dioxide free mineral cosmetics:
For nanoparticle free sunscreens and blocks:

As for ingestible products containing titanium dioxide, opting for clear veggie gel capped supplements or color free pills and tablets is a relatively easy adjustment. New Chapter, NOW and Source Naturals all offer TD free vitamin and mineral options in their supplement lines. Finding a medication that is free of titanium dioxide is probably more challenging; but when faced with the need for immediate care, healing in the now naturally takes priority over questions of future challenges. For those needing to take medications over an extended period of time, there should be no hesitation in asking about any additional ingredients or additives that cause concern. Let us remember that these are our bodies, nourished by our minds and without peace of that mind, health cannot truly be obtained.

Until next time…

Be Informed, Be Selective



Reinventing the Will

Walk to Health

Poor health resulting from disease of body or mind; sickness

March 6, 2012 began the most enduring healing process of my life, to date.
On that day I woke with symptoms I assumed were signs of the flu, and two mornings later I was greeted with the most excruciating physical pain I’ve yet to experience. Between then and now, I’ve worked with a fair share of doctors, visited quite a few medical facilities, underwent numerous assessments and confronted some frightening possibilities.
Eventually and thankfully, I was determined to have acute septic rheumatoid arthritis of the sternoclavicular joint, a torn rotator cuff and subsequent frozen shoulder. The infection slowly cleared, and the shoulder required no surgery, just a long bout of physical therapy. So by force or choice, I started removing the obstacles between my existing life and the elusive well life I needed and desired.


To set right; repair
To restore to health or soundness; cure
To become whole and sound; return to health

Why so long? I always thank my lucky stars and ancestors that I am a willful child, yet the gravity of both the blessing and curse of this trait was never as clearly laid out as it was during this time in my life. What I’ve experienced is a lot. But make no mistakes; I’m not playing my mini violin in search of sympathy. We all have our challenges to lament; some last for days or weeks, but for many, they last years. And while working to pull through the worst of mine, physically unable to throw the tantrum I so desired. I thought and wondered about those that suffered years, waited months for accurate diagnosis and went around countless times feeling ok, then not great, then a little better and then even worse than before. Members of my family, friends and loved ones, we’d had these conversations and I’d looked into their eyes as they shunned this round of that treatment with those potential effects and that other option’s predicted prognosis. Brave, obviously; faithful, probably; but willful, without a doubt.

Without our will, our willingness to pursue health at all costs, we are suspended in a state of vulnerability. But how many times have we set up unhealthy scenarios in our lives by that same shear will? Perhaps we were misguided by our ambitions, or what we perceived must be done to survive or sustain the ones that rely on us? These are the questions I’ve been mulling around lately. How do we assert our will to improve and secure our health? What exactly should this entail?


The quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort
An approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseasesWell Wheel

In the science world there is the concept of dynamic equilibrium. This state is reached when the gains of a physical system stay equal to its losses. In wellness speak this is an ongoing pursuit of balance inside and out of the body, mind and spirit. Fittingly, it is often illustrated as a wheel with spokes that represent each area of our lives from physical activity to love, spirit and even finance. The goal is to keep a watchful eye on the state of each. It is both the proactive and creatively reactive participation of an individual in the design and construction of a life that promotes and perpetuates their wellness-wholeness, soundness. This is the true work. Work that acknowledges our reality that sometimes even the best efforts don’t prevent an illness, that a crisis when not avoided should then be quickly and effectively contained; and if our first attempts fail, then we must try again with more concentrated efforts. Of course this was not my thought process while sitting in the thick of it. By no means was I that objective or proactive. Hindsight is 20/20. And as I read my interpretation, it is “matteroffactish”, never mind debatable in its efficacy. But it does bring me straight to the heart of my question, perhaps even into the realm of its answer. How can we better use our will? How far back should we sit to gain perspective? How do we determine the direction in which we should steer?

Maybe it’s a matter of drafting a new outline, a new covenant that specifies the willingness to:
1. ask for help
2. go to the deepest root of the problem
3. set clearer health and wellness goals
4. objectively look at our ambitions, intentions, behaviors and subsequent choices
5. be honest about the impact of these choices on our emotional and physical wellness
6. let go and lose all things incongruent with our goals
7. follow the intrinsic flow and progression of our lives
8. commit to the process with persistence and patience
9. surrender the minutia of reaching those goals to a higher will
10. go through the growing pains that accompany progress toward our goals
11. adjust our pace and approach as needed
12. forgive our past mistakes
13. trust ourselves and our judgment


To decree
A desire, purpose, or determination, especially of one in authority
The mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action

Happy Easter, Happy Resurrection, and As Always…BeWell

Tis the Season to Love the Ones We’re With

My joy during the holiday season most definitely comes from the infectious loving spirit floating round. Nothing beats those vibrations, so warming and deeply elating. We are reminded of the blessings to be found in the simple things, and we seemingly find it easier to stay present and soak up every morsel and drop of the good times.
I think most would agree that 2012 has been a doosey, and we could all use this moment. So let’s let the love poor in, freely open ourselves up to receive, and generously give it forward. Happy holidays and a sincere thank you for your continued reads, likes and comments. Celebrate, Be Loved and BeWell!

Feeling Shot ByYour Energy Drink?

In recent news, reports have emerged of deaths attributed to energy shots like 5 Hour Energy, and I recently read a report that drinking more than three energy drinks per day may increase the risk of stroke and other life threatening incidents. Though it is hard to fully quantify these claims without knowing the specifics of lifestyle, family history and pre-existing health issues, it is by no means hard to believe them possible having spent years reading and researching the ingredient labels of these performance enhancers. Add to that my own personal trial usage and the claims become completely plausible. But, distinguishing the true culprit from the sometimes lengthy list of suspects is another task all together.

Caffeine and B-vitamins, energizer staples, are in and of themselves hardly hazardous in moderation. Even at their upper limits, the side effects are more easily managed and the possible damage more capable of being repaired and reversed. However when the formulators fall victim to temptation and start tossing in layers upon layers of herbs, amino acids and other ancillary nutrients, watch back! The resulting potions can be potent and seductive when we discover what we can do faster, better and longer with their assistance. I know you recall my declaration of brain buzz indulgence, and I know I am not alone. Life is demanding and the more focused and energized we are, the more confident and capable we feel. So, what’s the harm in drinking a shot or two of these enhancers, right? It’s not like they’re drugs, right? And therein lays the real question being asked by scientists and researchers. Their specific target of focus is the amino acid taurine.

Taurine is a free form amino acid naturally and easily obtained from foods like fish, meat, dairy milk, eggs and even seaweed. With the help of vitamin B6, taurine is also manufactured by the body from other amino acids cysteine and methionine. A safe daily dose of taurine is between 100 and 500 mgs per day and offers health benefits to the brain, eyes and central nervous system. Unfortunately, the amounts found in your typical energy drink can be twice this amount. Possibly even more concerning is that these drinks usually contain synthetic taurine and that combined with the large dosages can have effects on the brain and body similar to those of illicit drugs, causing an unnatural and extreme stimulation of the central nervous system followed by a hard melancholic crash in energy.

Increased blood pressure, disturbances in sleep cycles, moodiness and irritability, seizures, heart palpitations, and manic episodes are some of the reported and observed side effects of excessive taurine intake. The list only grows longer and more dangerous when use of this ingredient is combined with anabolic steroids or alcohol, as in the Red Bull & Vodka cocktail. Consequently, Switzerland and other countries are leading the way and banning taurine containing energy drinks. Although the US FDA doesn’t appear to be firmly decided, it is publicizing consumer reports of adverse reactions to the substance and my advice is to take heed. This does not necessarily mean stopping supplemental use all together, but perhaps pulling back.

  • Start reading the ingredient labels of the sports and energy drinks, checking for the amounts of taurine and caffeine as well as the number of servings in the bottle or can.
  •  Beware of the words “proprietary blend” and note that the ingredients listed first on that list are the most abundant ones.
  • Decrease daily intakes by half, reduce days of use to two per week, and take full breaks from use every four to six weeks.
  • Increase dietary intake of natural taurine according to your lifestyle and eating habits.
  • Increase the body’s production of taurine by making sure that vitamin B6 is also present in the diet.

Most importantly, tune in to your body’s reaction to these drinks pre, during and post use; and be honest with yourself regarding observations of side effects like unpleasant physical sensations, mood swings, energy fluctuations and even your own cravings for the drinks. It’s all relevant and we are all responsible. A friend of mine recently shared his professor’s view on the supplement industry as the “Wild Wild West” and there’s a lot of truth in that. So, I’ll be keeping that in mind as I venture. Til next time, be aware, be wise and…



Break Studios, Evelyn De Matias

Giving Thanks for You

Gobble gobble guys! I just had to take a moment to say thank you for enabling my nutrition and supplement addiction. Because of you, I have reason to explore the endless bounty of new concoctions and healing remedies, and I have the blessing of a lively bunch to bounce about experiences with. It’s a beautiful thing and I look forward to bringing you much more. On this very special day, enjoy your loved ones and all of those delightful thanksgiving dishes.

Feel the love, and as always…


Hopes for a New Breast Cancer Vaccine

English: pink ribbon

In closing out this month of breast cancer awareness I wanted to uncover some new developments in the area of prevention; and, lo and behold, I came across information on an actual breast cancer vaccine that is making good strides in the research and trial phases. Thus far, this vaccine has shown a promising ability to reduce the amount of disease recurrence, and it seems to be well tolerated by its recipients. Presently known as AE37, the vaccine teaches our immune system to identify the prominent tumor promoting cancer protein HER2 as a definitive threat warranting attack by the body.

Leading researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Department of Surgical Oncology believe the best way to develop the vaccine is to introduce it to women who have already had breast cancer. Like other vaccines, the AE37 actually contains a small portion of the offensive HER2 protein along with other proteins. And in studies the vaccine has been uniquely paired with an immune system stimulant that is rapidly recognized by the human body’s most aggressive defenders, the CD4+T cells, that ” prompt components of the immune system to seek and destroy tumor cells.”*

As with so many other clinical trials of experimental cancer treatments, the initial studies were done on groups where the disease had already progressed and metastasized. Though it was not expected to yield dramatic improvements in these cases, it could be an effective way to gauge the vaccine’s potential and limitations and determine any possible side effects. And in AE37’s case, as anticipated, it proved to be more beneficial as a preventive measure to disease recurrence than as a treatment for an active and progressing cancer. Subsequent trials supported this, with data results indicating a possible 40% reduction in the risk of disease recurrence along with the vaccine’s ability to be effective against various levels of the HER2 protein. Additionally, the side effects experienced were as minimal as pain and redness at the injection site and only as extreme as bone pain and flu-like symptoms.

These preliminary results are of the caliber needed to advance to the later phase trials and studies, and that certainly offers a ray of hope, not only to those researching ways to enhance cancer immunity, but for all current and future survivors. No doubt much work still needs to be done, but thankfully some very thoughtful and innovative science is being practiced so that the notion of preventing this disease may actually become a reality. It can never ease the pain felt as we reflect on the plight of those loved ones lost too soon; but maybe, when we find ourselves worn by the grief, it can pick our heads up and reset our sights on all that is still possible in the world of prevention and healing.

To read more about the progress of this and other potential breast cancer vaccines, please visit:


Until Next Time,

Be Hopeful and BeWell

Arming Ourselves in the Fight for a Cure

Hypnotically Pink for the Cure (1488505615)
Hypnotically Pink for the Cure (1488505615) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

October marks one of several moments we stop to reflect on the health and mortality of not only our individual selves but of all the women in our lives. This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the race towards a cure is still far from being won. Too many of us have sat dissecting and combing through our family’s medical histories, tensely awaited the biopsy results, contemplated treatment options, and said farewell to loved ones lost too soon. Though progress has occurred, when one we love is taken it hardly seems enough. But as painful and frightening as it is, we cannot get stuck and must bravely continue on, arming ourselves with new information in detection, treatment and prevention.Over the next few posts we’ll look over the horizon at the latest developments and determinations recent research provides. Our first focus will be the newer guidelines for and methods to breast cancer screening. The below outlines the American Cancer Society’s current guidelines for early detection in low to average risked women*. Women younger than age 40, with no personal or family history of the disease are considered at low to average risk, depending on their individual lifestyle habits.

Age 20-39

Clinical breast examination at least every 3 years

Breast self-examination (optional)

Age 40 and over:

• Annual mammogram

• Annual clinical breast examination (preferably prior to mammogram)

• Breast self-examination (optional)

Recently, the need for women to begin annual mammograms at age 40 has come under question. Many doctors and researchers still consider age the greatest risk factor in healthy asymptomatic women and continue to encourage women to start mammogram screening at 40 years.

Those who challenge this approach cite the unnecessary exposure to chest x-rays-thought to increase breast cancer risk- that more often result in the discovery of benign lumps or fail to detect existing lumps all together. As a compromise between these two positions, some doctors recommend digital mammograms for low to average risked women between 40 and 50 years of age. This form of mammogram is thought to better detect cancer in the denser breast tissue of younger women.**

For women of higher risk,***

  • 50 years of age and older
  • Having a personal and or family history of the disease
  • Having inherited the BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 gene
  • Having received chest radiation treatments as a child or younger adult
  • Having begun menstruating before the age of 12
  • Having had their first child after the age of 35

a chest MRI that uses magnetic fields to produce a highly defined and detailed image of the breast may be recommended along with the annual clinical breast exam and mammogram. For all risk groups, the clinical breast exams performed by our physicians have superseded self examinations. The reason being is that more cases of breast cancer have been discovered outside of the structured self examinations, like while bathing or changing clothes, than within. All agree that early detection is key, but more medical professionals are encouraging the development of awareness and familiarity with one’s own body beyond just its size, shape and feel but deeper in to more subtle changes in appearance and sensation. Most agree that yearly mammograms from the age of 50 and on are essential to maintaining breast health.

For those interested in a possible future alternative to the mammogram. Breast Thermography, or Digital Infrared Imaging, measures the metabolic activity/generated heat of the examined area based on the theory that this level is always higher in precancerous and cancerous areas than in non-cancerous parts. The resulting image, a thermogram, is used to assess a person’s risk and some believe it offers more accurate information earlier and can therefore offer those determined to be at greater risk more opportunity to make lifestyle changes, take preventive measures and begin treatment options. Currently it is not recommended as a replacement for clinical exams or mammograms, but it can be useful as a complementary assessment approach for those that believe themselves to be at higher risk for the disease. For more information on Breast Thermography, visit

Until next time,

Be Aware, Be Brave and always…





Reformulation Alert!- Methyl Hex 4, 2

First and foremost, Happy Autumn to all and thank you so much for your support, your reads and your comments. It has been an amazing experience writing and publishing this blog and I’m thrilled to step into the second year of BeWellWarrior. I aim to keep you armed with the latest on new supplements and wellness trends. And I welcome any questions or concerns you may want me to explore. For now, take a load off and have a look at this recent change to the beloved Methyl Hex 4, 2.

Several posts ago I wrote about the then new thermogenic Methyl Hex 4, 2. This fat burner claimed to increase our metabolic rates, enhance our focus and boost our mood all in a 1-2 pill per day dose. The ingredient most credited with these capabilities was Methylhexaneamine, a supposedly pharmaceutical grade of Geranium seed extract. I speak in past tense because SEI Pharmaceuticals has recently gone the route of other supplement makers and removed this potent ingredient from the formulation.

As previously posted, Geranium seed extract was revered for its nor epinephrine like behavior (elevation of heart rate, release of glucose, increased blood flow to muscles). The resulting energy earned the herb a reputation second only to the once renowned Ephedra. But, of course, in this age of increasing demands and seemingly ever decreasing time, folks, feeling pressured to keep up, once again went overboard.

When I say, “Folks…” I’m not just referring to the consumers but also to the product producers. They are pressured to create a competitive formula that is worthy of those all too familiar tags-most powerful, strongest, fastest working, longest lasting. Additionally, supplement takers have long been pushing back from the multiple pill doses and leaning towards the ultra concentrated 1-2 pill per day trend. It seems only logical manufacturers would need to push the upper limits of otherwise safe ingredients to achieve this potency and keep their customers.

The result is performance enhancing supplements so stimulating to the system that the body and brain begin to crave and inevitably depend on them to gain advantage, increase activity and ultimately productivity. Once that occurs, so does the supplement abuse and system imbalance, which in time may lead to serious injury and illness. This is usually when sports and other governing agencies start prohibiting the use of an ingredient and effectively pull the rug from beneath it, the apparent fate of this controversial ingredient.

English: Bacopa monnieri (syn. Bramia monnieri...
English: Bacopa monnieri (syn. Bramia monnieri, Gratiola monnieria, Herpestes monnieria, Herpestis fauriei, H. monniera, H. monnieria, Lysimachia monnieri, Moniera euneifolia)- Coastal Waterhyssop, Thyme-leafed gratiola, Water hyssop, Water Hyssop, Indian pennywort, Brahmi ब्राह्मी (Hindi), நீர்ப்pராமி Nirbrahmi (Tamil), Jalanevari (Gujarati)- in Hyderabad, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now Methyl Hex 4,2 relies upon Bacopa Monnieri (famed for its memory boosting capacity), D-Aspartic Acid (known to increase insulin release and fat  burning) and Pilocarpus Pennatifolius/Jaborandi (used to increase the body’s heart rate, perspiration and urination) to elicit its energizing and metabolism enhancing effects. I recently sampled the new formula and definitely noticed the difference. The previous version produced a unique kind of brain buzz and uplifted mood with sustained concentration and energy. It was also very effective at suppressing my appetite. The new formulation did not leave me feeling as focused or energized and there wasn’t any noticeable impact on my mood or appetite. Mind you, I previously tried Methyl Hex for 7 days either with or immediately following a caffeinated beverage; and I only tried the new formulation once, hours after having a cup of coffee. The timing of the coffee is important because its inherent ability to perk up the brain and quickly increase energy definitely acts as a booster shot to any fat burner. None the less, I suspect the real difference is the absence of the Methylhexaneamine.

Other supplements expected to reformulate and pull this ingredient include USP Labs’ pre-workout Jack 3d and its extremely popular thermogenic Oxy Elite Pro. Currently you’ll find these products carrying another form of the Geranium extract known as 1,3-Dimethylamylamine HCI. However word on the street is this won’t be for much longer. If you are using any of these products now, I’d suggest pulling back a bit on your daily dosages and use frequency to enable your body to better adjust to the coming formulations. Additionally, these products all recommend a break after 8 weeks of consecutive use. Perhaps now is a good time to take that. In the interim, play it safe out there and as always…

Be Well Warriors!

**Please check out the below links if you have used any of the above supplements and experienced adverse reactions.

Some Supplement Combos to Avoid

Recently I was asked to clarify which herbs could not be safely combined with other supplements. I thought, “sure, no problem,” knowing that there are literally hundreds of thousands of different herbs with countless compounds, properties and actions warranting another encyclopedia set’s worth of break down. And then it occurred to me that it would be of more benefit to just list some resources that I’ve relied upon to help me sift through the herbal options and determine the appropriate combinations to supplement.

Cover of "Prescription for Nutritional He...
Cover via Amazon

My most frequent go to are the books A Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch and Staying Healthy with Nutrition, published by Celestial Arts Publishing. The first provides both quick reference lists of select herbs and more detailed supplement recommendations for various conditions. Staying Healthy…is an A-Z guide of all vitamins and minerals plus a breakdown of different diets with suggested appropriate recipes. For a list of medications and their corresponding restrictions the Physicians’ Desk Reference is a must have, but make sure you are referring to the most updated edition as the pharmaceutical world is an ever-changing one.

As said before, a full list of supplemental conflicts could very well absorb your computer’s memory stores. Let me be clear though, not because they’re so many conflicts, just that many supplements. Generally speaking, herbs, vitamins, minerals and their active compounds are safe when used properly. But when used outside of their recommended dosages and durations, some issues can arise. And more often, these issues are not at all the same types of risks associated with the misuse of prescription drugs. Usually any risks associated with natural substances fall within the following categories:

  • Interference with the absorption of other vital nutrients
  • Development of allergic reactions due to over use and/or too prolonged use
  • Competition with, interference with, or duplication of the actions of other supplements or medications

Below is a brief list of common herbs, courtesy of A Prescription for Nutritional Healing, along with some corresponding condition, supplement, and medication combinations to avoid.

Astragalus fever (condition)
Burdock iron (supplement)
Chamomile other sedatives (medications)
Damiana iron
Dandelion diuretics (medications)
Don Quai diabetes (condition)
Echinacea auto immune disorders (condition)-for   prolonged periods of time
Ephedra anxiety, diabetes, glaucoma, heart disease, hypertension, thyroid   disease (conditions);monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor drugs
Fever Few blood thinners, pain killers (medications)
Garlic anticoagulants (medications)
Ginger anticoagulants
Ginkgo blood thinners, pain killers
Ginseng asthma, heart disorders, high blood pressure, hypoglycemia, insomnia   (conditions)
Hops antidepressants (medications)
Horsetail vitamin B1-Thiamine
Juniper iron and other minerals
Kava Kava alcohol, anti-anxiety, antidepressants (conditions and medications)
Lady’s Mantle iron and other minerals
Peppermint iron
Uva Ursi pregnancy (condition)

Though the above should certainly not be used as a means of self medicating, it can make designing an appropriate and supportive nutritional supplement program a bit easier. Let your physician and health care professionals do the heavy lifting but take some time to do a little extra fact checking on your own.

Until next time…BeWell

3 Little Things to Better Your Vaca

Well it’s officially here folks! And based on the east coast’s starting scorchers, this summer just may be the record breaker.  After months of illness and injury, I’m personally determined to make it just that in the way of joyful and memorable moments. Tis the season! So, I plan on soaking up as many outdoor festivities, beach days and water park adventures as I can, perhaps even a far away excursion. Now if the latter is what you’ve really set your eye on, the following three items can provide insurance in the areas that count the most, providing protection from inside out and making your travel experience unforgettable in all the right ways.

Getting There

One of the biggest challenges in traveling far is avoiding the jet lag set back. Our bodies are literally rhythm reliant and, for some, changes in time zone can be very disruptive to the waking and sleeping cycles. The body has a hard time adjusting to the time difference and finds itself wanting to sleep when it should be awake and unable to sleep at its new bedtime. Much of our ability to sleep and thus the quality of our sleep is determined by the body’s production and release of the hormone Melatonin. A.K.A the “nighttime hormone”, Melatonin’s release is triggered by darkness and regulated by how much or little daylight we’re exposed to. Supplementing with 1-3 mg of Melatonin before and during your trip may help you get past the dreaded lag.

Be aware though that timing and dosage are critical when using Melatonin to counteract the sleeplessness of jet lag. Those traveling east into time zones with earlier bed times will likely have more success than those traveling further west where they’ll find themselves needing to retire later. West bounders might find Melatonin most helpful if and when they wake during their night’s sleep. And east bound travelers may find that taking Melatonin and going to bed earlier in the few days before their trip will help them adjust to the earlier bedtime of their destination.

Melatonin can be taken in pill, sublingual, quick dissolving and liquid forms. The latter will go to work more quickly and all should be used only as directed by the product’s instructions. This usually includes taking the supplement 30-60 minutes before the desired bedtime and not combining it with alcohol and/ or other sleep aids.

For the Foodies

If you’re anything like me and my friends, you’re all about indulging in good food and drinks when you travel and really diving in to the local cuisine. And if you are truly a foodie, you know that daring spirit isn’t without its obstacles, namely the gastro upset while adjusting to the food and water born bacteria native to your destination. The milder versions can amount to no more than a brief bout of travelers’ diarrhea, while the more extreme of these can come in the form of dysentery and even more troublesome, salmonella and/or staphylococcus exposure.

Symptoms of these infections can range from nausea and abdominal pain to fever, diarrhea and dehydration. But maintaining a healthy level of competing beneficial intestinal bacteria can increase your defenses against these illnesses. Increased defenses in turn aid the immune system and boost our resistance to all sorts of environmental irritants.

Multi strain probiotic supplements come in many forms including yogurts, enriched baked goods and beverages and more travel friendly options like capsules, chews and powders. A daily diet that includes a probiotic count of 5 to 25 billion culture forming units (CFUs) will help prepare the body for far away travel and exotic cuisine, but once you’ve arrived observation and sound judgment may offer the best protection. Salmonella is most commonly found in egg, chicken, beef and pork products. Local yogurts may help your system adjust to the types of bacteria native to your destination, but if you find yourself uncomfortable with the ways food and beverages are prepared then, simply say ,”no thank you”. Better safe than sick and sorry.

And the Beach Bums

One of my new favorite things is the super anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory supplement Astaxanthin. Asta zwhat? Yep Astaxanthin, the carotenoid responsible for the pink pigmentation of salmon and lobster, is on the rise in the preventive nutrition world. Not only is it cardio protective through its ability to relax the heart vessels and thus promote overall circulation and blood flow, it is also gaining a positive reputation for benefitting blood pressure, diabetes and even dementia. But none of these assets are qualifying qualities for our vaca- bring- along list. That, my dears, would be its inside and out sun-blocking super powers.

In clinical studies, Astaxanthin exhibited a unique ability to stand up to the sun’s more damaging UV rays. Consequently it’s recently made its way into the exclusive anti-aging sect of the beauty biz. Astaxanthin, as both a dietary and topical supplement:

  • reduces the signs of UV damage
  • protects against UV skin lesions
  • helps maintain healthy levels of inherent antioxidants like glutathione and superoxide dismutase
  • slows the onset of sun wrinkle development
  • increases skin cell regeneration

The above benefits were experienced after three weeks of supplementing 4mg of Astaxanthin each day. For more serious health benefits some wellness professionals recommend supplementing 8-12 mg/ day of Astaxanthin for 4-6 weeks and then shifting to 4mg daily for the long term. My suggestion for travel to sunny and tropical climates is 8-12 mg/day for the three weeks leading up to the trip and then 4-8mg daily while traveling. After returning, maintaining with 4mg/day should be sufficient.

Until next time, enjoy your travels, play it safe and as always…



Phyllis A. Balch. Prescription for Nutritional Healing.The Penguin Group. NY, NY, 2006