Ask Ariele: Natural Remedies for your Health Concerns / What constitutes a healthy lifestyle?

Dear Ariele,

You talk about lifestyle changes and "healthy living" a lot, but I guess I'm not sure what you mean besides exercising and eating well. I guess this is a broad question, but what else do you do to be healthy? - Confused


Dear Confused,

I'm pretty immersed in the "alternative" health community, so I sometimes forget that it's often not so clear to people not in the health industry what other choices they can make. As I went through my week, I noted some things I do that I feel benefit my health. Here are ten things you can implement into your life to promote optimal health.

  1. Sleep. Lately, I've been falling asleep when I put my boys to bed, at around 8:30. I used to wake up at around 10pm and stay up, doing work or watching TV, but I've been making it a point to just stumble into my own bed whenever I wake up. I feel so much more rested and refreshed in the AM, and I'm not a zombie throughout the day. Admittedly, 8:30 is a early and not my ideal bedtime, but I'm a jerk when I'm sleep-deprived, and my kids still often wake me up during the night. My ideal sleeping hours would be between 10pm and 7am. Aim for 7-9 hours a night.
  2. I do drink coffee. I love it. I have given it up during cleanses and at other times, but I've decided that there's enough research that supports that it can be beneficial, and even if it's not, I'm okay with coffee as a vice. I drink it in the morning with organic ½ and ½. I always choose organic, fair-trade. Trader Joe's has some good options.
  3. I love whole coconuts. It's my favorite breakfast, snack and dessert. I don't really like coconut water from anything other than a whole coconut, so I don't buy it any other form. It usually satisfies my sweet craving, and I know it's filled with amazing nutrients.
  4. I also use a lot of coconut oil. I actually tend not to cook with it, as my husband thinks it smells and tastes awful, but I add it into baked goods (I rarely bake with grain flours but use coconut flour and some kind of nut flour). I like to add coarse salt and sugar to coconut oil with a little lavender or other essential oil and make my own exfoliating scrub. I also use coconut oil and lavender as a skin moisturizer. I attempt to do 20 minutes of oil-pulling with coconut oil a few times a week, but usually only last about 5 minutes.
  5. If aforementioned coconut does not satisfy my sweet craving, I turn to 70% dark chocolate. I have a tendency to overdo it on the chocolate, so I try to limit myself to one or two squares.
  6. My new favorite toothpaste is Redmond Earthpaste in Wintergreen. It's got no glycerin, no fluoride, no artificial coloring and no foaming agents. It contains Purified water, Food Grade Redmond Clay (clay is great for drawing out impurities), xylitol, wintergreen essential oil, menthol, redmond sea salt and tea tree oil. Spry also makes a good toothpaste for kids that tastes a little sweeter.
  7. I try to work out at least 3 times a week. While I love yoga, Hoboken seems to have a shortage these days of anything other than Hot Yoga. Most of us acupuncturists will agree that hot-yoga is a "yin-suck," so I've been only doing that once or twice a month. I also love Barre, TRX, spin and weight training.
  8. I love makeup and am a bit of a product junkie, but I've switched out most of my makeup to Poofy Organics. Our skin is our biggest organ, so it's so important to limit the number of toxins we put on it. Here is a great video about all the junk that is in most conventional makeup, including formaldehyde. The only things I'm still having difficulty finding in organic or all-natural are mascara and eye-liner. I just saw this about good mascaras, so I have a few new brands to try.
  9. I also love to use honey. Raw honey is anti-fungal and anti-microbial, so is great to use when you're fighting a cold, soothes burns and rashes and can even help to heal cuts and scrape. I also slather honey all over my face for a beautifying face mask. One spoonful a day of raw, local honey can do wonders for allergy sufferers. Since local pollen is what you're reacting to if you have allergies, your honey should be as local as possible. I use a teaspoon of honey in hot water with a whole lemon in the AM to help detoxify my liver and alkalize my digestive tract. While I love coffee, starting my day with my lemon-honey water diminishes my "need" for caffeine.
  10. I was vegetarian for over 10 years, but I did not feel healthy. I know that I could have been a "healthier" vegetarian, but I was trying to avoid soy, wheat, and dairy, so I was cranky, hungry and puffy most of the time. I am still super conscious about where my animal protein comes from and only eat it if it's organic, local, grass-fed, etc. We tend not to eat out a ton, but unless I'm eating somewhere with super-clean meat, I'll usually go for a vegetarian option.

Remember, the above recommendations are just things that work for me. It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the health advice out there and all the things you "should" do, so my recommendation is to try to incorporate even one new healthy habit or product every month. Before you know it, you'll have your own list of ten (or more) healthy lifestyle tips.


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Ariele Myers is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Certified Herbalist and the owner of Ariele's Apothecary, Hoboken's only acupuncture wellness center. She can often be found in the Apothecary basement/ workshop, hand-blending oils and potions to add to her Artisanal Tea and Essential Oil Line. She is the mother of two boys, ages 3 and 6, and is learning the fine art of only giving health and wellness advice (outside of office hours) when directly asked. When not seeing patients, mixing oils or spotting someone on the monkey-bars, Ariele is probably baking a gluten-free treat and fantasizing about ways to maximize space in her 2 bed/ 1 bath Hoboken apartment, or looking for the best yoga or barre classes around town and trying to find time to go!