Warm weather and longer days have many people spending more time outside. But you can forget an important step to truly enjoy this precious time outside—protecting your skin from the sun. Practicing healthy sun exposure can keep your skin happy, and is a habit that will serve you well into the future.

Sunburns lead to blistered and peeling skin. They can also create more serious health problems. But there are many ways to protect you and your little ones from the sun. The first step is understanding how and why you need to protect your skin.

UV Radiation Overview

Much can be gained from spending time outside on a sunny day, but there are many risks associated with sun exposure. The sun’s rays allow us to manufacture vitamin D and can lift our spirits after a long period of cloudy weather.

However, ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the culprit behind painful sunburns and peeling skin. UV radiation is known to cause damage to oxygen-carrying cells in the body and to DNA. Understanding how UV radiation can be dangerous for your health starts with an explanation of the two types of dangerous UV rays.

Both UVA and UVB radiation penetrate the skin, but UVB is more harmful than UVA radiation. UVA and UVB rays are differentiated by their wavelengths, with UVB being the shorter of the two. UV radiation causes damage to DNA, which leads to genetic mutation.

Sun Exposure Behavior

A 2001 study in the journal Preventative Medicine found that less than one-third of youths in the US practiced regular sun-protection behavior. Sun protection considered in this study included:

  • wearing long pants
  • wearing sunglasses
  • staying in the shade
  • wearing sunscreen.

While these results may be dated, it is clear that children between the ages of 11 and 18 struggle to protect themselves effectively from prolonged exposure to the sun.

This extended time in the sun without proper protection leads to painful sunburns and blisters, and the increased risk of DNA damage from UV radiation. Children need to learn safe sun exposure early and practice it often. It can be difficult to understand when you need to wear a hat or stay in the shade. That’s why sunscreen should be used daily to safe-guard children and adults from the sun.

Parental Role Modeling

Ample evidence suggests that setting a good example for children can increase their likelihood of practicing healthy sun exposure. Parents who practice frequent sun protection are less likely to get sunburnt while outside and are more likely to have children who also practice frequent sun protection.

A study in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2001, used survey data to find that nearly half of all parents and children in the US were sunburnt during the previous summer. With sunburns occurring on such a large scale, it is imperative that parents teach their children through example how to best protect their skin from the sun.

Sunscreen Application

Wearing sunscreen is by far one of the most popular and effective methods of protecting your skin from the sun. Sunscreen is virtually non-restrictive, so wearing sunscreen won’t keep you from being active while outside.

Sunscreen’s efficacy against UV radiation is measured by a sun protection factor (SPF) index. With SPF, the higher the number, the more sun protection the sunscreen offers.

But these SPF indices can be misleading. They imply that one application of a sunscreen with high SPF will keep you from being sunburnt. This is not the case.

Sunscreen must be applied early, and often, to maximize its protective effects. Many people don’t know how much sunscreen they need to apply to be protected from the sun. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology published the results of a study in 2012 that suggest most people who use sunscreen don’t apply nearly enough to be protected.

To reach the SPF coverage displayed on a bottle, the recommended two mg/cm3 (two milligrams per cubic centimeter) must be applied all over the exposed skin. This exact volume is hard to measure, so the researchers suggest a double application of sunscreen is best before playing outside. By applying a double layer of sunscreen and reapplying every couple of hours you can be confident your skin will be prepared for a day in the sun.  


They call it fun in the sun, but in reality, playing outside without proper sun protection can be dangerous. Sun protection can take many forms—from sunscreen to wearing long-sleeved shirts and hats to cover sensitive skin from UV radiation. All of these methods can be helpful in preventing sunburn. But they are most effective when practiced correctly and used often. Practice healthy sun exposure by using defensive sun-protection methods today, and safely enjoy time outside for years to come.

That’s an old adage. But what does it really mean?

Basically, everything that makes up your physical body came in through your mouth. You are literally made-up of the things you consume—the good, the bad, and the ugly. So the sum of your diet, the water you drink, and your nutritional supplements make up you.

But that is only part of the story.

In a new study done at USANA Health Sciences and published in the journal “Nutrients”, scientists have shown that what you eat (or drink) can have a significant impact. It can actually affect how your genes are regulated—whether they are turned on or turned off.

Advantages of whole fruits and juices

Observational and epidemiological evidence shows consistently that consumption of fruit promotes good health. Eating whole fruits has generally been recommended by health experts as preferable to juice, although juicing and juice products are often seen as a part of a healthy diet plan.

Whole fruit has an advantage in weight control and glucose regulation due to its fiber content, and greater bulk and satiety. Juicing has some advantages as far as convenience, availability year round, rapid rehydration, and variety (people often get more variety in their fruit intake through juicing than they would otherwise get through whole fruits). Even with these differences, it has always been assumed that whole fruits and unprocessed juices are nutritionally equivalent.

New research shows whole fruit and juice affect health in different ways

New research by scientists at USANA Health Sciences, Inc. has uncovered another interesting difference between whole fruits and fruit juices. It turns out they may actually confer different health benefits by influencing health and the immune system in different ways. This study found that subjects who consumed whole fruit versus fruit juice had significantly different chemical signatures (known as methylation or the epigenome) on specific regions of their DNA.

Epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. Epigenetic change is a regular and natural occurrence. But it can also be influenced by several factors including: age, the environment/lifestyle, and disease state.

One way to illustrate the meaning of epigenetics is with identical twins. Both twins possess identical DNA, or genetic code. But, they are not exactly the same, and differences become even more obvious with age. This is due to individual variations in diet, lifestyle, environment, disease state, and other factors that influence the way their cells read the genes.

In this study, the epigenetic signatures (the chemical code that allows genes to be turned off and on) of whole-fruit consumers were enriched in genes near specific pathways. These pathways were those associated with improved immune function, chromosome integrity, and telomere maintenance. But the same signatures of fruit-juice consumers were enriched around genes associated with pro-inflammatory pathways.

The authors point to the fact that whole fruit is rich in natural fiber as a reason for this difference. Fiber is removed during the juicing process.

“The epigenetic differences observed in our study may be attributable to variation in fruit fiber content between fruit and juice,” the study states. “Fiber, a largely indigestible molecule, alters the digestion rate of co-consumed nutrients and thus influences the intestinal location and mechanism by which fruit derived nutrients are absorbed and ultimately processed. Much of this variation in intestinal absorption is likely due to variation in breakdown of nutrients by intestinal microbiota”.


The paper goes on to conclude that, for the first time, juice and fruit consumption are correlated with different influences on gene expression. Additionally, the analysis shines new light on the molecular mechanisms that drive the interactions between our diet, target cell signaling molecules, and epigenetic pathways.

In a follow-up interview, senior author Dr. Robert Sinnott emphatically stated that “clearly eating whole fruit versus consuming fruit juice confers different health benefits. Giving children sippy cups of juice rather than cubed whole fruit are not nutritionally the same.”

Co-author Jessie Johnson, Ph.D. had this to say about the larger implications of the study: “Understanding how nutritional intakes from whole foods, to beverages, to nutritional supplements activate cell signaling pathways, modulate cellular physiology, and ultimately improve human health will be a major breakthrough in further personalizing individual nutritional needs.”

Traditionally, dietary nutrients have been looked at in a few different ways. They’ve been seen as building blocks for a protein, co-factors for enzymes, structural components of the body such as bones, or as individual antioxidants that help quench free radicals. But it is much more complicated than that. Dietary nutrients and compounds also influence the way our cells communicate, and how our genetic code is expressed.

Nicodemus-Johnson J, Sinnott RA. Fruit and Juice Epigenetic Signatures Are Associated with Independent Immunoregulatory Pathways. Nutrients. 2017; 9(7):752.



Exercising and eating right are said to go hand-in-hand, but when you work in a garden, they actually do. Gardening is one way to maintain your health and enjoy time outside. It’s a great way to keep fruits and vegetables in your diet, and get some exercise. Growing your own food is also healthy and sustainable for the environment. See how learning to garden can improve your quality of life.

Gardening Improves and Promotes Healthy Nutrition

Gardening is a hobby that can easily and effectively increase your daily access to healthy foods. Nutritious snacks and delicious dinners are only a stone’s throw away when you regularly keep a garden. Whether you garden at home or with your community, regular access to fruits and vegetables improve your nutrition.

Surveys of children whose schools have after-hours gardening programs illuminate how beneficial gardening can be for individual nutrition. Teachers at schools with these programs can utilize the garden in developing health and nutrition curriculum.

A 2005 study of fourth grade classrooms with after-school gardening programs provides a great example. In the study, teachers reported the eating habits of their students had improved with regular access to their school’s garden. Principals reported a nearly two-fold increase in use of the cafeteria salad bar by students.

The students also illuminated the health benefits of the school garden in their personal nutrition. Fourth graders were surveyed before and after the incorporation of the school garden into the curriculum. They answered two yes/no questions: “I eat vegetables every day,” and “I am physically active every day.” There was a significant increase in the proportion of students answering affirmatively after participating in the gardening program.


Gardening Provides Exercise on a Daily Basis

It should be noted that in the study mentioned in the previous section, children who participated in after-school gardening programs increased their daily vegetable intake AND their daily exercise. Gardening gets your body to work and gets you into nature.

Gardens require daily care in order to produce plentiful crops. Harvesting the rewards of a diligently kept garden can motivate gardeners to get up and move. Gardening provides the body with moderate cardiovascular exercise. Regular exercise of any kind, including gardening, reduces the risk of heart disease and can improve strength and stamina.

Older-aged populations can have trouble finding regular exercise regimens for which they feel well-suited. Gardening is great functional exercise for everyone, including the elderly. Functional exercise refers to activities that include: stretching, pushing, pulling, lifting, squatting, etc. These activities all improve muscle tone and flexibility, and improve general well-being.

Gardening Improves Self-Perception of Mental Health

Gardening has been called good for the soul. There are actually several aspects of this hobby that make that description accurate.

Gardening promotes mental and physical health. When you garden, you interact with nature on a regular basis. It also gives you a chance to serve others. Simply put, gardening makes us feel good.

A number of studies have recently reinforced the importance of our relationship with nature. Being immersed in nature, including a garden, opens the door for creativity to bloom. Unplugging from technology and stepping outside to do work in the garden is refreshing for the mind and spirit.

The physical exertion required in gardening helps maintain blood pressure in the normal range and increases your production of endorphins. Endorphins have been referred to as “feel-good” hormones because they help us feel happy and full of life. Endorphins are also crucial in reducing stress. That’s why so many people take up gardening as a stress-relieving hobby.

Gardening Can Establish Community and Boost Civic Engagement

In addition to relieving stress, gardening also provides opportunities to serve others. After working in a community garden, many gardeners give their extra fruits and vegetables to friends and neighbors. This kind of community engagement and service encourages a healthy mental state and helps build strong communities.

Community gardens have been increasingly popular in neighborhoods far from a dependable source of produce, like farmer’s markets and grocery stores. Community gardens are also almost always free to use or require very little in order to participate.

Several communities in the United States and abroad have adopted community garden models. Notably, the California Healthy Cities initiative of 1988 has established fully functional and busy community gardens all over the state. These gardens are funded through grants and city budgets, and are staffed by volunteers and garden experts.

Community members have access to cooking classes, healthy meal-preparation instruction, and gardening help through these local programs. Skill-building opportunities for participants, involvement of volunteers, and commitment of local leadership have made especially successful community gardens.

Community gardens have continued to flourish in cities across the globe because they promote public health and a high quality of life. They encourage healthy living and eating, community engagement, and civic and neighborhood pride. These gardens also promote sustainability and the local environment.


Gardening, in your own yard or as a community, is a great exercise in proper health and nutrition. Being active in your garden relieves stress and provides your body with regular exercise. Gardening can also give you the chance to build a deeper relationship with nature, which has been shown to improve mental health. Community engagement and neighborhood pride come as a result of spending quality time in your garden. Take the chance to develop your green thumb and try gardening.




Previous research has shown positive effects of essential fatty acids (omega-3/6) in children with attention and reading difficulties. New research shows that these fats could improve reading ability in mainstream schoolchildren.

Foods high in omega-3 include fish, vegetable oils, nuts, flax seeds, and leafy vegetables. Most omega-6 fatty acids in the diet are obtained from vegetable oils. The modern diet is particularly low in omega-3 fatty acids which are important for signal transmission between nerve cells and the regulation of signaling systems in the brain.

The study group included 154 schoolchildren from western Sweden who were in grade 3 (between 9 and 10 years of age). The researchers then measured their reading skills using a computer-based test, called the Logos test. It measured reading speed, ability to read nonsense words, and vocabulary.

The children were randomly assigned supplements with omega-3/omega-6 or a placebo of palm oil which they took for 3 months (3 capsules per day). The study was double-blinded so neither the researchers nor parents knew which treatment the children were taking. After 3 months all the children received the real omega-3/6 capsules for the remainder of the research study.

Researchers saw a significant improvement in reading skills after the first 3 months in children taking the omega-3/6 acid compared to the placebo. While no children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD were included in the study, those children with mild attention problems achieved greater improvements in certain tests, such as faster reading, after taking the real supplements.

Johnson M, Fransson G, Östlund S, Areskoug B, Gillberg C. Omega 3/6 fatty acids for reading in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 9-year-old mainstream schoolchildren in Sweden. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2017;58(1):83-93.

coconut oil

coconut oil

Science has come a long way since the simplistic admonition in the 1980s for Americans to eat less fat.

It has taken nearly 30 years to officially reverse some recommendations about cholesterol and fat intake, even with relatively strong evidence that the recommendations were not based on current scientific evidence. Also, contrary to our thought process in the 1980s, it isn’t as simple as “saturated fats are bad” and “unsaturated fats are good.”

It was that exact overly simplistic thinking that resulted in the near extinction of tropical oils from the food supply and the explosion of hydrogenated vegetable oils (think trans-fat). The truth of the matter is that not all polyunsaturated fats are healthy, nor are all saturated fats unhealthy.

There has also been a shift in what most experts agree is a healthier macronutrient ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The long-time recommendation to eat low fat and high carbohydrate has now been adjusted to slightly increase fat and decrease carbohydrates to a more moderate level of both.

Although most experts would still agree with the fact that fats derived from plant sources, which are primarily unsaturated fats, should comprise the majority of fat intake, some research has indicated that replacing all saturated fat with carbohydrates may actually worsen heart health and disease risk.

So, as it turns out with most nutrition and health related subjects, the best advice is balance and moderation.

Everything in Moderation

The most recent evidence indicates that replacing saturated fatty acids with MUFAs or carbohydrates does not improve endothelial function, nor does it decrease coronary heart disease risk. Endothelial cells are cells that line the inner blood vessels that mediate coagulation, platelet adhesion, immune function, and control the dilation and narrowing of blood vessels (called vasodilation and vasoconstriction). Endothelial dysfunction is thought to be a key event in the development of atherosclerosis, a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries.

Saturated fats have a big advantage over polyunsaturated fats when it comes to stability. They are much less prone to oxidation and rancidity. Even the healthiest of polyunsaturated fats becomes unhealthy once it is oxidized. This is a real potential concern in processed products that require a fairly long shelf life.

It may take many more years for the official recommendations to catch up with science when it comes to saturated fat, but the evidence is mounting. Until then, our mission is to provide the healthiest and best quality products based on current science. Currently, the science says get a variety of fats from healthy sources such as nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables (avocados, olives), and that our avoidance and fear of saturated fats (especially from tropical plants) has been largely exaggerated and unnecessary.


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adolescentRecent research points to the potential benefits of vitamin D supplementation on executive function in adolescents.

Adolescence is a critical period for brain development and reorganization of many regulatory systems, like the body’s hormonal system. These kinds of developmental changes contribute to a teen’s working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control. It is imperative to protect the brain during these critical years of growth.

Recent research points to the potential benefits of vitamin D supplementation on executive function in adolescents. Vitamin D is usually acquired in the diet and through sun exposure. But for adolescents living in high-latitude countries, like Norway, this daily nutrient requirement is often not met.

Researchers from the University of Bergen and their colleagues from nearby universities and government institutes conducted an experiment in the winter of 2016. They tested several hypotheses on the relationship between adolescent’s vitamin D levels and executive function. The link between vitamin D levels and self-reported mental health was also researched. This experiment tested the relationship between vitamin D supplementation and quality of performance on two executive function tests.  To account for self-perceived mental health, a survey was given to all participants.

The study subjects were 52 Norwegian adolescents who participated in the experiment after school. The study was a randomized double-blind placebo control trial. All subjects were given a pill to take every day for the duration of the study, but only half were given pills containing a vitamin D supplement. A blood draw and three online pre-tests helped researchers establish a baseline for vitamin D levels and executive function performance.

The first two tests were called the Tower of London, and the Tower of Hanoi, respectively. The purpose of these tests was to observe the teenager’s ability to plan and “look ahead” by predicting how many steps would be required to solve a complex problem. The final pre-test was a self-report of the adolescent’s mental health. There is a well-established link between mental health and vitamin D. So the researchers wanted to support their experiment with this standard.

executive function

Towers of Hanoi Test

Performance on each of the two executive function test and self-report of mental health were evaluated for each subject at the beginning of the study and 4-5 months later. With half of the participants supplementing with vitamin D pearls on a daily basis, the experimenters had three predictions to test:

  1. Vitamin D supplementation would be beneficial on both executive function tests
  2. Vitamin D supplementation during winter would improve self-perceived mental health
  3. Vitamin D supplementation would increase overall levels of vitamin D in adolescents

The results supported researchers’ initial predictions —with the exception of self-perceived mental health.  Contrary to expectations, no change in self-perceived mental health was reported by any of the participants. An overall improvement of score between pre- and post-test was demonstrated by all participants in the Tower of London test, regardless of vitamin D intervention.

It was later concluded by the researchers that there was a considerable difference in difficulty between the Tower of London and Tower of Hanoi tests. The variations between scores on the Tower of Hanoi test were far greater. The intervention group exceeded their pre-test scores on the most difficult of the Tower of Hanoi tasks, while no remarkable improvement was noted in the control group.

What can be gathered from the results of this study?  It is clear that there is a possible link between vitamin D supplementation and executive function. More studies should be conducted to determine the strength of this relationship. Although this study was conducted in Norway, the results can be extrapolated and applied to adolescents all over the world.

For adolescents who are looking for a dietary solution to support healthy executive function, this study indicates that meeting daily recommendations of  vitamin D can help reach that goal.  Supplementation of this essential vitamin may be the most practical way to increase the daily intake of vitamin D for teens – particularly those living at high latitudes.

“Executive Function & Self-Regulation.” Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. Harvard University, 2017. Web. 18 May 2017.

Grung, Bjørn, Asle M. Sandvik, Kay Hjelle, Lisbeth Dahl, Livar Frøyland, Irene Nygård, and Anita L. Hansen. “Linking vitamin D status, executive functioning and self-perceived mental health in adolescents through multivariate analysis: A randomized double-blind placebo control trial.” Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 58.2 (2017): 123-30. Web.

Your body can’t wait for a specific cleaning day to roll around. It’s constantly repairing, maintaining, and recycling. That happens on a large scale with life-essential proteins everywhere in your body. And that continual cycle happens in each human cell, because they all do their own form of cellular damage control, too. Two of the most important cleanup processes are autophagy and mitophagy.So, let’s figure out why these cleaning processes are important. Then talk about how your cells deal with recycling, renewing, and dealing with cell damage and cellular cleanup.

Why Cell Cleanup is Good for Your Overall Health

So many proteins are essential to your life. But amongst the diversity, there is something that’s common. They all must be broken down after fulfilling their assigned tasks. Whether the protein is a liver enzyme, cellular structural support, or a protein protecting your body as part of the immune system, they all eventually become old and have to go.

This normal cellular-quality-control process helps maintain your overall physical wellness. It helps keep you cranking through your daily tasks, enjoying adventures, and generally living your best life.

But if the body’s housekeeping operations are stalled or inefficient, the results can be disastrous. Research has revealed how imbalances between protein production and degradation (another word for breakdown) can lead to accumulations of protein products. And these accumulations have been linked to declining brain health and can adversely affect many other systems in your body.

How Autophagy Helps with Recycling and Renewal

Before getting into the process of autophagy, let’s define what it is. The straight translation of autophagy is “self-eating,” which sounds bad. But it’s an important, normal part of a healthy body.

Basically, autophagy is the formal name for the recycling process your body’s cells go through. It’s where cells recycle damaged or used up parts into their most basic components. Then those small pieces can be reused.

It’s time for the deeper dive into the details of cellular cleanup.

During the process of autophagy, unwanted cellular elements are isolated and walled-off in specialized double-membraned compartments. (These are also known as autophagosomes.) The packaged protein “garbage” then fuses with lysosomes. The lysosomes are a type of cell organelle (or a cell structure) that has digestive enzymes to break down protein components. Recycling is completed when the broken-down protein’s amino acids become the raw material for new proteins.

Autophagy is happening all the time for all your cell structures. It’s a normal part of your cellular cleanup processes. But it also gets cranked up when your cells are stressed. That can come from your lifestyle, free radicals, or other sources. For example, calorie restriction is a common stressor connected to autophagy. The damage done from stress can’t be allowed to pile up. So, it makes sense that autophagy kicks into high gear in stressful times.

What is Mitophagy?

Autophagy is a general term about the recycling process in many parts of the cell. Mitophagy is more specific. It refers to the same type of cleanup process for the mitochondria—the part of your cell responsible for energy production.

The mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell that turn fuel into energy. When they are young and healthy, they are efficient at providing energy with few waste products (free radicals). As mitochondria age or wear out, they’re much less efficient at producing energy. And, in doing so, they give off much higher levels of free radicals.

You can liken this to the engine in a car. When the car is new, it’s efficient and gives off few emissions. As the car ages with use, the engine loses its efficiency and gives off far more emissions. At some point, the check engine light comes on. It indicates the engine may need to be overhauled or replaced for the car to continue to function optimally.

So, the process of mitophagy overhauls your cellular power plants to keep them churning efficiently and effectively. And normally functioning mitochondria play a big role in maintaining your health, vitality, and long-term wellness.

Signaling Cellular Cleanup

All the recycling the human cell does is a good thing. So, why wait until cellular damage stacks up? How come your body doesn’t start autophagy and mitophagy more often?

Basically, because your body is all about survival. While more cleanup might help maintain optimal health, it isn’t necessary to keep you alive. So, the processes are triggered when necessary, but not before.

The survival mentality of your body—enough to stay alive, but not to thrive—is helpful, but not optimal. That’s where targeted nutrition can make a difference.

Under certain conditions, nutrients in your diet mimic cellular stressors like calorie restriction. And instead of cutting out a lot of calories, wouldn’t you rather target specific nutrients in your diet to trigger this process? Incorporating a few nutrients is the easier path. And it’s still effective. These nutrient stressors can signal the cell to renew or replace itself in order to maintain efficiency.

So, you’re essentially tricking your cells into overhauling their engines before the miles of life have totally taken their toll. That means optimal cellular health is maintained. And you have the efficient, effective cells you need to live your life to the fullest.

Many of these stress-inducing nutrients are found in fruits and vegetables—broccoli, tomatoes, kale, turmeric root, grapes, and blueberries to name a few. These new signaling abilities of plant compounds further support eating your fruits and vegetables for good health.