Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.

Mark's Daily Apple

11 May

My, You’ve Got Beautiful Skin!

Have you noticed the flood of moisturizers for use in the shower? These lotions come in several formulas, from moisturizing washes to rinse-off lotions. The latter confuses me a bit: is it conditioner for skin, or is it creating a protective barrier that clings even when the goop is washed away? And do I want anything that durable anywhere near my living, breathing skin? And what is with the sparkles?

Lotion: the thing we use to replace the moisture we just removed with soap. Soap dries our skin out, and moisturizer – depending on the ingredients – can both replenish the moisture and form a protective barrier.

While I admire the brilliant marketing – even better than meeting a need is creating one – I’m not fooled by the in-showerness of this new product category. Most of these new products contain very cheap ingredients. Despite the pennies that go into production, once they hit the shelves, these products come with some serious sticker shock. They range between $5-9. (Caress is around $5, Dove around $7.) While five bucks may not seem like much, and my healthy alternative is in the same price range, a major difference is that these in-shower moisturizers only provide a handful of uses and mine will last you all month. That is, unless you’re a person who actually follows the “quarter-sized dollop” recommendation. (Does anyone really do this? It’s like the seven chip or two Oreo serving size. Right!)

And with Gatsby Ice Deodorant Shower Lotion, the guys aren’t in the clear, either. (I’m ignoring Nivea on principle.)

Moisturizing on either side of the shower curtain is a bright idea. The key is to moisturize healthily. Despite the “newness” of in-shower lotions, you’ll notice they contain the same ingredients found in most lotions, soaps, bath washes, conditioners and shampoos. These ingredients are typically derived from petroleum or rendered animal fat. Shower lotions are gunked up with mineral oil, a friendly-sounding euphemism for the same stuff that makes plastic and runs cars. Naturally, I’m just dying to get this all over my skin and into my pores. Yum! I bet you are, too! Other petroleum-based products include “baby oil” and “bath oil”.

There’s an alternative that is:

– luxurious

– healthy for you

– healthy for the planet

– natural

– rich in vitamins, antioxidants and beneficial fatty acids

– naturally cleansing and exfoliating

– edible

– inexpensive

– completely customizable!

Apples, I present, for your savings, health and shower time enjoyment: almond oil.

Almond oil is excellent for your skin. Just a few tablespoons post-soapage will leave your skin glowing and soft all day long. You’ll smell wonderful, too – and naturally so, rather than adding to the office or store potpourri of artificial shampoo, conditioner, lotion, perfume, cologne, deodorant, detergent and aftershave fragrances.

On top of saving money, using something really healthy for you, and looking great, here’s the best part: the personalization factor.

Purchase a few different essential oils at any beauty supply or natural health store (they last forever). Lavender, peppermint, lemon, sandalwood, and cedar are some of the most therapeutic, and are completely sparkle-free. Add a few drops to your almond oil and enjoy!

Great for the girls: floral and food scents (especially citrus and vanilla)

Great for the boys: natural and herbacious scents (but no patchouli, pulllllease!)

And, for a natural, extra-rich skin scrub, try coarse sea salt. It might seem odd at first, but I think slathering the body with all kinds of surfactants and chemicals is really the odd thing. Salt draws out toxins and stress naturally. It can be a little drying, so if you have very dry skin, try fresh shredded coconut instead. I learned these natural tension-busting tips from a masseuse I used to go to after the fast-paced, intense production days on the set of Responsible Health. (Thanks, Brooke!) Whether you’re active all day on a whirling set, logging lots of focused computer-hunching time, or chasing after an energetic toddler, the satisfying rush of productivity becomes stressful to your body as the hours fly by. The salt really melts the stress away!

Note: Don’t bother with the pricey almond oils in beauty stores. Just pick up the one hanging out right next to the olive oil at your grocery store. I also suggest buying vegetable glycerin soaps so your skin doesn’t need so much moisturizer to begin with.

Let me know how you customize your moisturizer. Do you have any natural cosmetic health tips you’d like to share? Tell us!

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10 May

School Serves Veggies & Kids Eat Them: Scientists Prepare for Porcine Wing Epidemic

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

This is the last FDA news bite for a while*. Be sure to read the school lunch clickativity – it’s an encouraging sign of progress!

FDA: But We Believe Your Food and Drugs Are Safe

If you don’t mind a PG-13 name and some liberal politics, this blog has a hilarious post on the FDA’s “faith-based” initiatives when it comes to contaminated food that’s endangering millions of humans and pets alike. Like Mark always says, when it comes to health, beliefs and facts are not the same thing no matter how much we wish they were.

Healthy School Lunches Stop Obesity!

This town put veggies to the test and has successfully kept their school kids slim. Cool, huh? Share the news with your local school if this is an issue you care about.

Obesity in low-income communities: is it because of the high cost of produce, or the lack of access to grocery stores to begin with? Are these things more perception than reality? Or is it simply that people like their Snickers bars? This controversial news piece asks tough questions.

At the risk of sounding glib, the obesity epidemic is probably a combination of all of these things. People become who they are because of a multitude of environmental and biological factors. It’s reasonable to assert that people choose what they choose because they are influenced by an equally varied set of factors, ranging from education to income to personal preference to parental and social influence. Some factors are within a person’s control, and some aren’t. Combine enough factors and you’re going to get a predictable result. Now, how do we change things, Apples? One town has figured out how. What else can we do?
A balanced obesity epidemic.

This is Hanuman’s Flickr Photo

Bloggy Hangouts

The Fit Shack is a great new blog we’re having fun perusing. We especially love this post about positive motivation. If you think exclusively about your health problems or the areas of your body that are not up to snuff, that sort of negative approach is demoralizing and depressing. Focusing on positive outcomes instead is more likely to get you the results you desire. This doesn’t mean we should ignore our problems or underrate the value of getting fired up, but it is a reminder to stay away from problem thinking and to try outcome thinking instead. (We blogged it: Scroll to the bottom of this post to learn great outcome thinking tips!)

Symptom searchers, this is for you: there’s a handy new interactive site, TauMed, where hypochondriacs with modems can diagnose all their various diseases and conditions to their hearts’ content. Enjoy!

*Fish in a barrel.

10 May

The Solution to the Bottled Water Problem!

How could I forget? Duh! Just Make Every Drop Count!

Smart people drink soda!

An easy solution to the bottled water problem is to slurp soda and sugary drinks. I mean, sparkling beverages. The body gets thirsty, and liquids make it, you know, unthirsty, or something. Being thirsty is bad. Being unthirsty is good! This is healthy, and fortunately, it’s also environmentally friendly, because many of these sparkling beverages come in cans instead of plastic! Did I mention that beverages quench thirst, so this makes all beverages healthy? Because, you know, they quench thirst? Coca-Cola says so, and the American Dietetic Association agrees, so this must be healthy.

Isn’t is great to know that coffee and soda are hydration alternatives to water? Now, if this little pipsqueak would just drink from a metal can instead of a plastic bottle, she’d be showing us how to stay hydrated, healthy and environmentally safe! I was really concerned about what alternatives might be available now that I’m avoiding buying bottled water. Sodas, I mean, sparkling beverages, come in cans, which are better for the environment. But until now, I thought sodas, I mean, sparkling beverages, were unhealthy. That just goes to show, boy, what do I know! All this time, the real health issue has been hydration. Nothing more, nothing less. Thanks, Coca-Cola!

Why Hydrate? Coffee, water, sparkling beverages. Every drop you drink makes a difference.”

A “difference”. That’s one way of putting it, all right.

10 May

Water Scam Alert!

I’ve received many questions about various H2O health issues: reverse osmosis, filtration, distillation and bottled water. I plan to discuss the various concerns throughout the month of May. For the record, I am not in favor of distilled water and I think many of the water fears we have are unfounded. But I’m especially critical of the bottled water scams I see.

In general, I understand the reasons people prefer bottled water – hey, we want to be drinking pure water, not chemicals. I’m right there with you. But there are some major considerations if you are concerned about the environment, about water pollution, about resources and sustainability, and, as a matter of fact, about your health.

For now, I’m going to direct you to Wise Bread’s three-part series on bottled water hype. It’s one of the best investigations of bottled water I’ve ever read. I urge you to read each segment. If you care about your health, your bank account, and your planet, you will.

Wise Bread – Part 1

Wise Bread – Part 2

Wise Bread – Part 3

Truth time: I like having bottled water on hand, especially that Fiji…am I falling for great marketing or what? But now that I’ve read Wise Bread’s series, I’m done with Fiji. It’s possibly the very last thing we should be drinking if we care about our health or want a future that includes clean water.

I’m not saying no to bottled water entirely. It’s a must for health and fitness. I keep a bottle in the car and I always grab one when I head out for a run, and it would be unreasonable and unhealthy to stop these habits. But I think it’s a good idea to buy a low-cost filter for the kitchen faucet as well as to refill those water bottles instead of contributing to the Pacific Ocean’s Texas-sized carpet of trash Sara discussed last week.

Here’s something serious to think about: how healthy is it to drink something stored in plastic?

Especially considering the enormous amount of pollution that’s dumped into our waterways and pumped into our skies just to make that plastic bottle? This isn’t about being an environmentalist; this is about fighting for our health. Our air and our water are nearing toxic soup status thanks to plastic that has to be refined and produced and then shipped on fuel-hungry boats and trucks just to get to us. I don’t think this makes me some nutty tree-hugger (although I really don’t get why, like vegetarians, nice people in general are deemed so threatening). I think this is a critical health issue, and I believe we’re being snookered by the bottled water industry. Someone’s sure enjoying the private jet.

I’m not fooling myself into believing the water that comes to us via the city pipes is ideal, but taking that same city water, sloshing it into a toxic, inefficient plastic package and dragging it thousands of expensive miles away to a different city to be chugged exotically strikes me as a pretty profitable scam.

This brings me to my favorite quote from Wise Bread’s debunkery:

“I’d argue that they’re [people who buy bottled water] probably health-conscious people who have bought into an idea sold by the water bottling companies – that their clean, pure water cleanses your body and flushes out toxins. The irony of this is that people who are concerned about environmental toxins in their systems are only helping to perpetuate the pollution and enviromental degradation by buying bottled water, the production of which just makes everything worse off in the long run.”

Bottled water – we drink it with the best of intentions for health and wellness. Water does nourish and cleanse our bodies. I’m certainly in favor of that. But bottled water comes with many problems, and the more I research, the more the quackery red flags begin to fly. I want this blog to exist in service of the truth, even when it goes against our assumptions and what we’re comfortable with telling ourselves. As I’ve said many times before, I think we owe it to ourselves – and our children – to critically examine all our health beliefs. Change can be mighty annoying – I thought I was doing myself a favor, and maybe you did, too. When it comes to bottled water, I am increasingly inclined to believe much of the issue boils down to some very successful marketing:

1) “Safety“: Turns out, it’s rarely any “better” than tap water. (Which is quite drinkable – at least in this country – contrary to popular opinion.) Drinkable doesn’t mean perfect, but bottled water purity standards are often identical to tap standards, and much of the bottled water we buy comes from the tap, anyway. Moreover, buying bottled water only makes the entire water problem worse. It’s a short-term fix that isn’t even a fix in most, er, cases (pardon the pun). And I have serious reservations about consuming any substance housed in plastic for any length of time.

2) “Purity“: As Wise Bread points out, no water is completely pure, anywhere, anymore. You’re better off filtering the water at home and saving yourself a lot of money, sparing the rest of the world some much-needed resources, and keeping the planet clean. I’ll still keep a few bottles around for guests and my Santa Monica mountain hikes, but that’s it.

3) “Marketing“: Just check out the Starbucks Ethos scam. Think you’re helping kids get pure water? Think again. I’m livid. What’s really sad is that, while our water isn’t perfect, it’s a lot healthier and safer than the water the rest of the world has access to, and our bottled water addiction only worsens their plight.

4) “Environment“: Think about the massive resources required to get a few ounces of questionably “pure” water into your hands from thousands of miles away. That’s a lot of fuel, shipping cost, electricity, water, plastic packaging, and pollution. Again with that irony: our waterways have become so polluted by fuel and chemical runoff, we pay to drink water that is supposedly free of these pollutants. Yet why do these pollutants increasingly seep into our waters? Bottled water is one big reason. We’re treating a very real problem with a solution that only worsens the problem – dramatically so.

The truth is often inconvenient and discomforting. Fortunately, this is offset considerably by one other characteristic: it’s inexpensive.

What do you think?

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