Category Archives: Urban Health

The Recovery Process – A Secret Weapon

Recently I listened to a podcast with LeBron James and his trainer Mike Mancias. LeBron James is one of THE best basketball players of all time. Mark, his trainer and recovery specialist, is sometime referred to as his secret weapon. They’ve been working together for more than 14 years. What really stood out to me in this podcast, is how much emphasis LeBron and Mike puts into the Process of recovery, every single day. In order to stay injury-free,  and be able to play consistently at an extremely high level.

“Recovery never ends, recovery never stops.”
-Mike Mancias

When we look up to athletes that we think are awesome, we pretty much only focus on how hard and intense their work-outs are. It’s easy then to do a quick copy and paste on some kind of version of that, for our lives.

Meaning we focus almost exclusively on what kind of training we should be doing. It makes sense since the main focus on athletes are when they are competing in their Arena, and we see their incredible performance.

The thing that not a lot of people see though, is the work behind the Arena. Just like LeBron, the top athletes that I have worked with over the years are all consistent performers on behind the scenes stuff, in particular recovery. It might not be the sexiest part of living an athletic lifestyle, but as Mike says “it’s a never ending process…that’s the approach we must take, in order for us to be successful and provide longevity for these guys.”

“it’s a never ending process…that’s the approach we must take, in order for us to be successful and provide longevity for these guys.”
-Mike Mancias

 

LeBron who already has had a long and amazing career, is still playing, and is not planning on quitting anytime soon. He contributes his success to being consistent with the Process. The Process of his recovery work, hydration, eating clean and training.

When it comes to Nutrition, Mike and LeBron work along the lines of “less is more, keep it simple, eat organic, no artificial ingredients”. They make a conscious decision of eating clean and staying away from artificial drinks, artificial sugars and fried foods consistently during the 9 months of basketball season.

-Ok, sure. But, that’s their job. I’m not an Athlete, why do I have to care about this? If it takes all that work to play continuously at a top level in sports, don’t you think you need to do some work in order to “play well” in your life? If you want to have a life of quality – whatever that means to you – you are going to have to put in some work. Period.

So what can you do for your recovery work? The easiest place to start is to plan in some kind of mobility work daily. Make a conscious effort of when and where you are going to do it. Here is a good place to start.

I often suggest to sit on the floor and do some mobility exercises during the first 10 minutes of watching Netflix, TV or similar. It’s easy because it’s time that you already have. It’s just a conscious decision of doing a few simple moves on the floor, instead of flopping onto the couch immediately.

Start thinking about what you can you do in your life to create a Process that helps you being fitter and more energizedHow would that Process look like in terms of Hydration, Nutrition and Recovery work?

Work on implementing that plan, and have a great weekend!
😉

"A good plan implemented 
today 
is better than 
a perfect plan implemented 
tomorrow."
-George Patton

 

 


Listen to the full podcast of #349 of the Tim Ferriss show here.
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Crush the Ski Holiday – Not Your Body

What if, out of the blue, you found out that you were going to an outdoors sports-camp for 3-4 days. You would be doing movements you haven’t done for ages, maybe years even, for 6-8 hours a day.

Would you get a bit nervous about the whole thing? Maybe you would start worrying about injuring yourself? What are you going to do about that troublesome knee? What about keeping the energy up all day?

In this case scenario, starting with warming up the major joints in your body, to reduce potential injury is a very good idea. Making sure that you are properly hydrated before, during and after the work-outs is also an important piece. Do you think drinking alcohol would benefit you? Do you think the food you eat might have an impact on your performance? What about the amount of sleep?

Reading this you probably think – ja, ja, ja I’ve heard it all before. Of course it makes sense.

Why then, does all of this logical thinking seem to go straight out the window when it comes to a Ski Holiday? It’s like because we are on Holiday, we don’t really need to pay attention, or something?!

A ski holiday is very different from a beach holiday, so it would be a good idea to tackle it differently. Not many people come back from beach vacations with broken bones and torn ligaments, now do they?

 

The very, very least that you can do to minimize damage is the following. First, make sure that you are properly hydrated. Bring a small back-pack so you always have easy access. Minimize the coffee, sodas and definitely the alcohol.

Second, do a targeted warm-up to open up your joints. Remember, if something doesn’t move very well, something else has to move a lot more. And this is often the area that gets injured because it has to overcompensate.

Accidents happen all the time, and never at the “right time”.

Thinking that you’re going to warm up on the slope is a bad idea. Accidents happen all the time, and never at the “right time”. For extra recovery go into the sauna in the evening, if you have the opportunity. If you only have time for one stretch in the evening, then I suggest you do the Couch Stretch.

Check out the video below. If it seems too technical for you, just give it a go anyways. Otherwise, do something similar for the same amount of time. Get those joints moving and warmed up!

If you think a 10min investment in your body and your health is too much in exchange for 6-8 hrs of problem free skiing a day, then don’t complain when your knees are hurting. Or when you can hardly get out of the car after driving home. Or when you are in the emergency room instead of enjoying the day with your friends.

I suggest starting with these exercises even before your holidays. Get yourself ready, so you can enjoy every day in the snow. For targeted mobility work for your hips and back after long car drives, check this out. Don’t know your Hydration Formula yet?

Take care of your body, and it will take care of you!
😉

 

 

 

 



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Friday After Work and Sugar Free Drinks

Yeah, that title is an oxymoron! But, lets see what we can do. The easiest way to be sugar free in the bar, is of course, to not drink any alcohol at all. Stick with water instead. Pick a fancy sparkly water and spice it up with mint leaves, lime, lemon, cucumber etc.

Otherwise these are your sugar free options:
Tequila
Mescal
Gin
Whiskey
Rum
Vodka

Choose the best quality that you can find and work on the fine art of sipping. Add ice and lime or lemon. Make sure the citrus is actually a slice, because bars will often have lime or lemon juice at hand, but you can assume that they have already added sugar to it.

Sugar cubes for estimation

When looking at food labels it can sometimes be hard to understand just how much sugar X amount of grams are. First, make sure that the amount of sugar that is listed is based on 100g. Sometimes the food companies are sneaky and will use portion sizes instead for labeling. According to them a portion size might only be 30g, but if you eat the whole package, maybe you just ate 4 portions!

One Sugar Cube equals more or less 4grams of sugar. So whenever you read a label, try to convert it into sugar cubes. It makes it much more easier to visualize.

According to WHO (World Health Organization) the maximum intake of sugar a day should not reach 50g for a woman or 60g for a man. That would be about 12.5 sugar cubes for the ladies and 15 for the men. Keep in mind that this is the recommended maximum.

We should aim for a max of 6-7 sugar cubes total in a day, for optimal health.

Exploration time: How many sugar cubes does your favorite foods contain? Is your healthy snack still healthy?

 

Gin and Tonic

GT’s are often talked about as if they are a healthy alternative in the bar. Well… The Gin in itself does not contain any added sugar, so that’s good. But, the Tonic is loaded with sugar. There is almost as much sugar in a tonic as there is in a coca-cola. I know people who have sworn off soft drinks years ago, but were still drinking tonics. It’s just one of those things we don’t think about.

So, as you can see on the label – 100ml tonic contains 8g sugar. In a coca-cola, 100ml contains 10.6g of sugar. Now here’s the second part. Typically you will have about 200ml Tonic in a Gin and Tonic.

Remember the sugar cubes? We wanted to strive for 6-7 “sugar cubes” a day, with 12 being the absolute maximum. With one Gin and Tonic you have just had 4 sugar cubes! And GT’s are not even the most sugar laden drinks from the bar.

 

Plan ahead for your bar evening

If you are on the Team for the NO Sugar Challenge week, then your choice is no drinks or the ones mentioned above, in order to stay sugar free.  For the future, and for those that are not in the Challenge, I recommend that you inform yourself about your favorite drinks, beer and wine.Make a better choice.

How much sugar is there in one bottle or glass? Maybe there is a different option you would be OK with in case your favorite drink is super sugar laden.

Also, when you choose to drink alcohol, I would suggest that you skip dessert. Dessert and alcohol is sugar upon sugar. Choose either / or, in order to minimize the total intake of sugar.

I wish you all a great weekend!
And, respect to my awesome sugar-free Team heading into Day 5!
You guys are awesome!

😉

 


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Peekaboo! Who’s There? Senza Zucchero!

Hello, all of you awesome people reading this!
I am so excited that so many of you decided to join in on the No Sugar Challenge in your busy lives. Good for you! If you missed the news, you can read about it here and still join us. We start on Monday the 19th.

A couple of things before we get started on Monday. Yes, we call it a challenge and it might be especially challenging for some of you, if you have never done anything like this before. But, it is not a pass or fail! A challenge is supposed to test you, so you can learn more about where you are right now, and where there is room for improvement. So, try to be in the mindset of curiosity and observation. For example, it could look like the following.

Potential incident: After one day of no sugar, your patience is at an all time low, you’re irritated and you just chewed the head off of one of your colleges. “That person had it coming anyway!”

Potential immediate thinking after potential incident: “I can’t do this S**t! This is no fun and I’m not doing this stupid challenge anymore!!!” while reaching for the nearest candy bar or sugary drink.

Better potential immediate thinking – using observation and curiosity: “WOW! Holy S**t. I just turned into the Super Grinch Monster after just a day of no sugar. I didn’t know that not eating sugar would affect me this much. That’s interesting. I wonder why it’s like that? I will have an apple and then apologize to my college (even though that person had it coming!) I guess there’s more room for improvement than I thought.”

Pay attention to patterns and emotions when it comes to sugar. Write down when you have your strongest cravings. Is there a specific pattern? Is it always with [fill in the blank] or after [ x ]? Also writing down your feelings at that time can be a clue. We are such creatures of habit that we might not even realize which patterns that we are in.

"Before anything else, preparation is the key to success."
-Alexander Graham Bell

Writing things down for a week, could highlight some habits and give you valuable feedback. Then you can make a plan, and be prepared with healthy snacks for when your strongest craving usually show up.

When in doubt – eat fruit. Roughly 75% of all the packaged food in supermarkets contain added sugar. (1)

Have a sweet weekend!
And for those of you joining, until Monday.
😉


*(hungry+anger) = hangry
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23102182
www.suiker-challenge.nl
https://www.diabetesfonds.nl/home

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No Sugar Daddy! Are you in for the week?

Last week I was in walking into a local cafe, here in Haarlem, where I saw these postcards. Curiosity made me wonder what it was about. (Well done, marketing team at Boomerang!) “No Sugar Daddy” is just one of many postcards being distributed to promote a National Sugar Challenge here in Holland. It starts on Monday the 19th of November, and finishes one week later, on Sunday the 25th. What an awesome initiative!

Eating too much sugar or refined carbs puts your blood sugar out of whack. When that goes on for a longer time, it puts an extra burden on the pancreas. This in turn paves the road for Type 2 Diabetes.

Did you know that Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes? They changed the name since increasingly younger and younger kids are being diagnosed with it.  And, if you read the blog post from two weeks ago you know that the latest research in cancer is showing that sugar plays a huge part..

So, join me in the Sugar Challenge! If you understand Dutch, (or feel handy with google translate), you can sign up for the Sugar Challenge here. Every day that week you will get some handy tips into your mailbox.

You say “Great idea, but I don’t speak Dutch.” No problemo! I will create a similar style of short messages for every day during the Sugar Challenge week. You can join me here by signing up for the newsletter, or simply by sending me an email with the title “Sugar Challenge – add me”.

Let’s learn a bit about the hidden sugars in our foods, how to read a food label, what happens to blood sugar when we eat, better options to drink in the bar, what is really insulin resistance and why should you care?

December is usually a month over-filled with sweets and candy, so why not take a week to re-set our taste buds before it starts. We often think about doing something like “eating healthier”, but rarely do we put it into action. Here is the perfect opportunity! Grab a college, partner and/or a friend, and let’s do this together.

"Where there is sugar, there are ants."
- Indonesian Proverb

If not eating any refined sugar for a week sounds like too big of a jump right now, sign up anyway! Learn some cool stuff and aim to decrease your consumption for that week. Win-win situation.

 

C’mon sweethearts! It’s just 7 days. Let’s Go!
😉

 


www.suiker-challenge.nl
https://www.diabetesfonds.nl/home
www.boomerang.nl

Photo by Nathalie Visser
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Four Songs to Improve Your Knees and Low Back

November is here! I hope you guys had a fun Halloween! Being in the darker months of the year we tend to spend more time sitting indoors. All that sitting makes for stiff muscles. Those stiff muscles can then cascade into more serious problems like back pain. We can all agree that being in pain is not exactly something that improves your daily quality of life. 

So let’s stay ahead of the game, and iron out those stiff muscles before they can start to trouble other areas. 

At my gym this week we did a lot of quad (upper thigh) work and since these muscles also get very stiff when we sit, I thought we should zero in on them quads. 

To loosen things up we are going to start with a smash on the quads. My favorite tool for this is the rumble roller, but of course you can use any foam roller. A lacrosse ball works well too. 

Remember to give yourself a little bit of time as you start out so that you really sink into the muscle. Take a couple of deep breaths and feel the muscle relax a bit as you sink deeper into the roller. From here you want to SLOWLY roll side to side. If you go to fast you will only work on the surface and not get deep into the muscle where all the tightness is. In the video they also use a voodoo band. If you’ve got one, you know what to do. If you’ve never heard of a voodoo band, don’t worry and just go on without it. 

Watch the video (jump to 1:12) and then pick two songs you like. For the length of the first song, smash your right quad. For the length of the second song, smash your left quad. Here are the songs I am currently using for this, number one and number two.

Ok, great. Now we have softened up the tissues a bit. Time to get some length in them with this active couch stretch. If you learn to do this right, this is a life saver of a stretch. It’s really important to pay attention to all the details.

Too often people aim to get their back to the wall. It’s not about reaching the wall- it’s about improving from where you are. You can use a towel instead of an ab-mat if you need to. Start out low, with your upper body at about 45 degrees, tighten your butt and then SLOWLY move your back towards the wall.

If you do not tighten your butt (activating your glutes in technical talk) you will put too much pressure on the disks in your lower back. This is not what you want. So, get into the right position and stay there for as long as you can. If you need to you can come out of it by moving your upper body forward for a few seconds. Then get back at it. Tighten your butt again and move towards the wall once more. 

OK, lets go! Pick a third and a fourth song for the right and left side. 

Four songs later, if you have just done these exercises, well done! You have now opened up your hips, and elongated your quads. Your knees and back will thank you. I think we can even stretch to say that you have improved on your quadity of life!

Pre-hab is much better than re-hab.
Let’s get to work tigers, and have a smashing weekend!

😉


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It’s Time to Look at Cancer Differently

One good thing with being on long flights, is that its perfect for podcasts. I had a couple of them lined up for my New York trip last week. Some podcasts are just good for passing time, but once in a while you get one of those that make you go “holy shit, that’s some eye opening stuff!” The episode on Pursuing Health with Dr. Julie Foucher where she interviews Dr. Thomas Seyfried on cancer treatment is definitely one of those.

In the podcast called “Challenging Conventional Cancer Care” Dr. Thomas definitely will ruffle some old feathers with this new metabolic therapy approach. Based on his research he says that cancer is not a genetic disease, but a metabolic one. That means that if we take away the foods that fuels cancer, we can get rid of it. Now that is changing how we look at this disease altogether! This would also go along with Chris Kesser who says “Genes load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger“.

“The paradigm change has to be, number one, it’s not a genetic disease. Number two, it’s a mitochondrial metabolic disease, and the treatments that you can use can be totally different than the ones used right now”*

According to Dr. Seyfried there are two types of fuel that feeds cancer. Cancer can use either one, or both of them for fuel depending of what type of tumor it is. So, what are the fuels? Glucose (sugars and almost all processed foods) and glutamine (an amino acid mainly found in animal proteins). Therefore by reducing the intake of these foods you are basically starving the cancer. This is why the Ketogenic diet can be very successful as you are restricting glucose, hence lowering your blood sugar levels.

Did you know that the “cancer survival rate” is just 5 years statistically. That means that if a person survives 5 years with cancer, statistically they will always count as a survivor, even if they die after 5 and a half years. I remember how shocked I was when I found this out a couple of years back. I thought that surviving cancer meant being alive more than 5 years! This is good information to have if you are reading up on statistics for a specific treatment.

Is this a controversial topic? You bet! But, I think it needs to be. Almost everyone has someone close to them affected by cancer these days. “…if we have a solution that’s working, why is the obituary page [in the newspaper] full of people dying from cancer?”.** It’s time to open up the conversation and look at other possibilities as well.

 

Here is the link on i-tunes if you want to download it. If you are short on time and want to skip to the intro of Dr. Seyfried it starts at 05:35, and the actual interview starts at 09:02.

 

If you think this seems impossible, well… the planet used to be flat at one time, and lobotomies were still performed in the 60’s, so let’s keep an open mind and start a real conversation about this.
I wish you all a round weekend! 😉

 

P.S. I passed both of my Exams last week and am now officially an NTP(Nutritional Therapy Practitioner)! [feelings of happiness and relief are inserted here]

Also, if this blog post interests you, take a look at this previous blog “Eat your brain into better wellth” and this excellent TED talk by William Li: Can we eat to starve cancer?




The book by Dr. Thomas Seyfried, Cancer as a Metabolic Disease
Mentioned in the podcast, book by Travis Christofferson, Tripping Over the Truth
*in the podcast at 1:05:31
**in the podcast at 34:45

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Three Nutritional Seasons in New York City

Hello everyone!
I have just arrived to New York City once again for my Nutritional Studies! The city is showing off its famous backdrop against the beautiful fall colors. I am excited to be back, but I’m also a bit nervous. The reason I am here this time is to take my Final Exams to become an NTP (Nutritional Therapy Practitioner).*

“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.”
– Thomas Edison

I truly believe that we can heal ourselves from the inside out from almost anything, if we set the right circumstances and provide the body with good nutrients. What I love about that, is that it puts people back into the drivers seat. Rather than just getting tagged along in the pharmaceutical world as a backseat passenger. Don’t get me wrong, there certainly are times when it makes a lot of sense to use medication.

But, I think that nutrition should always be a huge part of the prescription package, if not supersede it. What Tomas Edison and Dr. Norman Walker says makes a lot of sense to me. So lets all keep working on it, however we can!

“Except for accidents, all the repair and regeneration of our body must come from within. ”
– Dr. Norman Walker

I am very excited about the future, and I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge in this field with you. Our bodies are just the coolest thing!
OK, time to go. While I am making the final preparations to be ready for my Exams, I will leave you with some laughter of how NOT to take an Exam.

If you have never seen this before, it’ll be a treat!
Wishing you a relaxed weekend, wherever you are.
😉

 


*As an NTP I have even more skills added to my toolbox, compared to my current NTC (Nutritional Therapy Counselor) diploma.
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Failing? -Not Just Yet!

As I am in my 4th Year of Osteopathic Medicine Studies at the same time as I am finishing up my second degree in Nutritional Therapy (to become an NTP – Nutritional Therapy Practitioner) the “seemed like a good idea at the time” feels more like “what the *beep*was I thinking, doing this at the same time?!”

The pressure of passing all the exams, does indeed get to me. Being an A-type personality who feels  the need to do everything (very) well, it does take its toll. Failing is like the worst case scenario that is just not allowed to happen. Sometimes the pressure builds up so much that I don’t even want to start on a project because I am so worried about failing. Right then it seems better not to do it at all. Does anyone recognize this?

What if there was a way to take down this pressure and anxiety of failing a notch? And, what if, in doing so, we could remove a couple of stones in that barrier of “I will not start because then I cannot fail”.

So, when I came across this TED talk by Carol Dweck, it really resonated with me. What if, instead of just using pass/fail, we could allow ourselves to add in “not yet”.

I really thought about this and played out a couple of scenarios in my mind where I imagined myself getting a big fat FAIL slapped in my face – and then changing it to a NOT YET instead.

It is just a tiny word play, but I could feel how my brain relaxed immediately. “Not yet” has air around it. “Not yet” means that there is plenty of room to improve, to evolve, to work on things. OK, so you were not as awesome as you would have liked to be in this very moment, but you are allowed to work on it. Where as FAIL is just a dead end, on a long one way street. No fun going down that road again, is there.

Did you know that when your brain is in a growth mindset (not yet), there is a tonne of activity going on. Verses almost no activity at all in a fixed mindset (fail). When you are in a growth mindset your neurons are firing up and your brain is developing.(1)

OK, so you were not as awesome as you would have liked to be in this very moment, but you are allowed to work on it. There is air around “not yet”.

Of course it might not be possible to implement this one hundred percent of the time, and that’s not the point. But, I bet you could use this a lot more than you think. I would like to challenge you to use “not just yet” instead of “I’m failing” whenever possible. Do you have a chance to implement this at home, at school or at your work? Why not? No, I’m serious -Why…not?

Check out the video and if it flips a switch for you, your kids, your co-worker, or your partner – how cool would that be?!

Failing? – Not Just Yet!
Wishing you all an amazing weekend!
😉

 



1. https://www.ted.com/talks/carol_dweck_the_power_of_believing_that_you_can_improve

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Cracking the Myth – Moisturizers & Dry Skin

Autumn is here! And as we are quickly heading into winter, and spending more and more time indoors, let’s talk about dry skin. This topic is something that seems to come up in the conversation a lot around this time of the year. Are you using a moisturizer? Do you feel that you have too, or is it just a habit that you have acquired? How do you choose which product to use?

No matter the cost of the moisturizer that you are using, the concept is the same with all of them. And, it’s a pretty basic one. It’s all about trapping water. According to Harvard Health “they supply a little bit of water to the skin and contain a greasy substance that holds it in.”(1)

Did you know that our skin is the largest organ of our body? Part from protecting us, it also has some detox functions, and helps out when the ordinary detox pathways are overloaded.

So if the skin needs water, why not make sure that we are properly hydrated from the inside, rather than trying to add water from the outside. If we are dehydrated, using different types of body lotions and moisturizers just help masking the problem. It would be like trying to add water to dry leaves of a plant instead of feeding the roots the water and nutrients it needs.

Dry air takes away a lot of water from our bodies, because the air needs to be moist before it arrives in our lungs. Less sunlight and darker days often prompts us to drink more coffee and tea, instead of water which can dehydrate us more. When it’s cold we tend to forget about hydrating properly as we are not “feeling thirsty”.

Dry skin is also strongly associated with needing more essential fatty acids in the diet. (2,3,4) There are two components to this part though. Number 1, make sure that the skin has the building blocks it needs by eating a properly prepared whole foods diet, including daily sources of essential fatty acids. Some good examples are flax seed, deep water fish, chia seed, and walnuts. Number 2, work on your digestion so that you can really absorb all the nutrients that you eat. Remember, you are what you absorb, not only what you eat.

When your living space is very dry and you use a lot of heaters, it can be a great idea to use a humidifier. The cheapest version of a humidifier is...hold on to your stand up deska bowl of water – just saying – no need to spend big bucks if you don’t want too.

If you find it hard to go without a moisturizer completely, try these tips to make a gradual change. Only use natural, mild soaps, and use them as sparingly as possible. The soap takes away the natural thin layer of oil that is on our skin, and strips it from its natural protection. The more chemicals and fragrances that are in the soap the more irritating it will be for the skin. Same goes for the moisturizer in terms of irritation. Use the the most natural products you can put your hands on.

Are you using a lot of very fragrant soap and lotions because you feel you stink otherwise? Then it’s a good time to pay more attention to what’s happening on the inside of your body.

Also, if you are always using a lot of moisturizer the skin will get lazy and slow down it’s own production. Try to reduce the amount and frequency of creams and lotions, so the body gets prompted to do the work itself. As the largest organ of the body, you don’t want your skin to get lazy. So, instead of thinking that we need more sophisticated and larger amounts of lotions and moisturizers to make our skin feel good, (like all the big companies wants us to believe) let’s be smarter and feed it from the inside with good nutrition and hydration.

Let’s take a crack at it, for better looking and healthier skin from within.
Wishing you a great weekend!
😉

 

 


1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/moisturizers-do-they-work
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26195090
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21088453
4. Signs and Symptoms Analysis from a Functional Perspective by Dicken Weatherby, N.D.

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