Archive for the 'Beautiful Skin' Category

Reverse Osmosis vs. Selective Filtration – What’s the Difference?

As consumer awareness of contaminated tap water increases, many are looking for water filtration solutions. With many to choose from, it is important to understand the benefits and limitations of the different types of water filtration solutions available.

Here at Aquasana, we are often asked about the difference between reverse osmosis purification systems and selective filtration systems. While both are effective at removing contaminants, the filtration processes are indeed different and there are things you need to know about making an informed decision before your final purchase.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis (RO) is a process of separation that uses water pressure to force the source water through a semi-pervious membrane that retains the solid contaminants on one side while allowing water to pass on to the other side. This membrane is effective at removing anything that is bigger than a water molecule. This process takes place through ion exclusion, where a concentration of ions emerges from a barrier at the membrane to allow water molecules to pass through without letting the contaminants do so. A typical reverse osmosis system will provide approximately 10% purified water, leaving the other 90% as wastewater. Because of this, reverse osmosis systems require a drain. In practical terms, this means it takes 10 gallons of water to make 1 gallon of filtered water.  The remaining 9 gallons is wastewater.

The reverse osmosis process removes fluoride, sodium, sulfate, nitrate, iron, zinc, mercury, lead, arsenic, chloride, and cyanide, along with a few other water contaminants. Because RO systems are effective at removing solids from water, they also demineralize the treated water. RO systems remove healthy minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Without these minerals present, the water can become acidic. Some reverse osmosis systems can be equipped with a re-mineralization system to add back in healthy minerals and balance pH.

Selective Filtration

Many filters use carbon filtration technology to retain contaminants inside the carbon substrate preventing them from flowing through for consumption. Through the process of absorption, contaminants collect on a large surface area where molecules exert force for other molecules to attract to. The longer the water stays in contact with the carbon, the more contaminants can be absorbed from the water.

 Aquasana’s Claryum selective filtration technology uses 4 different filtration technologies to tackle contaminants in unfiltered water.  Activated carbon, catalytic carbon, ion exchange and 0.5 micron mechanical filtration technologies combine to form Aquasana’s Claryum Selective Filtration. The activated carbon reduces organic chemicals while the catalytic carbon targets chlorine and chloramines specifically. The ion exchange process filters heavy metals like lead and mercury and the 0.5 micron mechanical filter captures asbestos and chlorine resistant cysts like cryptosporidium and giardia, making the water safe to drink.

 Aquasana selective filtration is effective at removing over 96% of chlorine and chloramines, and over 99% of lead and mercury.  Additional contaminants the system is tested and certified to reduce include: herbicides, pesticides, cysts, asbestos, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), pharmaceuticals, and a long list of additional water contaminants from the water while leaving in beneficial minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These filters also minimize water waste on the environment.

NSF Standards  

Before making a purchase, it is important to know the health benefits of any drinking water system. It should pass NSF/ANSI standards including NSF #42 for aesthetic effects and NSF #53 for health effects.  NSF standard 42 establishes a minimum requirement for the point-of-use systems to reduce aesthetic contaminants such as chlorine, chlorine taste, odor, and particulates that may be present in drinking water. NSF standard 53 sets the parameters for POU systems designed to remove health-related contaminants such as lead, mercury, Cryptosporidium, Giardia, volatile organic chemicals, methyl tertiary-butyl ether, and other harmful contaminants from drinking water. Note that the NSF 53 certification does not mean that all of these contaminants are tested – manufacturers can choose any of them to test to get this certification, so be sure the list includes VOCs, lead, mercury and any other elements you want to ensure your filter tackles.

System Pros vs. Cons

Pros

Cons

Reverse Osmosis

Fluoride reduction

Arsenic reduction

Sediment reduction

Wastewater

Eliminates minerals

Unstable pH

Drainage system required

Results in acidic water

Oxidation reduction

No VOC reduction

Taste

Claryum Selective Filtration

Chorine & chloramine reduction

50+ other contaminants removed

Healthy minerals

Balanced pH

Low maintenance

Taste

No fluoride reduction

No nitrate reduction

10 Things to Avoid for a Toxin-Free Home

By: Amy Myers, MD, founder and medical director of Austin UltraHealth

Toxins are all around us. For optimal health, it’s important to reduce our exposure to chemicals and toxins. Here are 10 tips to help you keep your home clean and green.

1. Conventional flooring

Conventional carpet is made from synthetic, petroleum-based fibers that can emit up to 120 hazardous chemicals linked to asthma, allergies, neurological problems and cancer. Many of the chemicals that are mainly found in the rubber padding and adhesive glues can take years to off-gas. Instead, use cotton or wool rugs or recycled carpet tiles, which do not require adhesive glues. Also consider stained concrete and renewable wood such as bamboo or cork.

2. VOC paints

Be sure to use no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints – many companies advertise that they are no-VOC, but that’s the base white paint only. Once color is added, it’s no longer no-VOC.

3. Filter your water

Our bodies are more than 70% water and designed to run primarily on water and minerals. The water we consume can have a significant impact on our short-and long-term health. A three-year investigation of the country’s drinking water by the Environmental Working Group found that water flowing to about 85% of the population contains 316 contaminants — over 60% of these have no safety standards and are not regulated by the EPA. For the healthiest and best-tasting water possible a filtration system is the best solution. I recommend Aquasana water filters and their new countertop Aquasana Powered Water Filtration System removes ten times the contaminants as the leading filter pitcher and each filter lasts eight times longer.

4. Upholstered Furniture

Upholstered furniture can be filled with polyurethane foams that are petroleum-based and full of chemicals and fire retardants. Look for a piece made with natural latex foam, wool cushions and organic fabrics. Choose solid wood over pressed particle board, which emits formaldehyde.

5. Commercial bedding

Choose organic, untreated sheets, blankets and pillows. Otherwise most commercial materials use fire retardants, pesticides, bleach and dyes.

6. Vinyl shower curtains

Vinyl shower curtains release more than 100 VOCs that can hang around in the air for more than a month. They also contain phthalates, which are hormone and endocrine disruptors. Opt for organic cotton and linen shower curtains instead.

7. Curtains and window treatments

Most curtains contain fire retardants, pesticides, bleach and dyes. Make sure to use organic, untreated cotton or linen, or opt for bamboo.

8. Conventional mattresses

Where you sleep and what you sleep on is one of the most important decisions you can make – I can’t stress this enough. We spend nearly half of our lives asleep, and most of our detox and body repair occurs while we sleep. Conventional mattresses contain harsh chemical and fire retardants, which can out-gas for years! Choose 100% natural latex mattresses and organic wool mattress toppers.

9. Cleaning solutions

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) listed household cleaners as one of the top ten pet poisons in 2009. Levels of brominated flame retardants in cats are up to 23 times higher than those found in human beings, and dogs have an average 2.4 times more perfluorinated chemicals in their bodies than people. These are chemicals that are already found in products you buy, such as fire-proof fabrics and stain-proof rugs – just imagine how susceptible your dog or cat is to the chemicals you readily spray and pour in your home. Look for non-toxic cleaning solutions.

10. Nasty air

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns, “Most people are aware that outdoor air pollution can damage their health but may not know that indoor air pollution can also have significant effects. EPA studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor air levels of many pollutants may be two to five times, and on occasion more than 100 times, higher than outdoor levels. These levels of indoor air pollutants are of particular concern because it is estimated that most people spend as much as 90 percent of their time indoors. In recent years, comparative risk studies performed by the EPA and its Science Advisory Board (SAB) have consistently ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health.” Get an HEPA air filter!

For more tips from Dr. Myers, visit www.AmyMyersMD.com.

About Dr. Amy Myers

Dr. Amy Myers is a medical doctor with extensive training in Functional Medicine, Integrative Medicine and Nutrition. Functional Medicine is a science-based approach to healing that focuses on a patient-centered, not disease-centered, model of care. Dr. Myers is also a contributing writer for Mind Body Green. Austin UltraHealth is located at 5656 Bee Caves Road, Suite D 203, Austin, Texas 78746.

 

Healthy Summer Hair

Summer can be tough on hair.  The elements we expose our hair to in the summer can cause it to become dry, brittle, damaged, and overall, unhealthy. Here are a few tips to help prevent hair damage and keep our hair looking healthy and beautiful all summer long!

Wash your hair daily with filtered water:

At the end of the day after exposing yourself to all kinds of elements, you know your skin is extremely dirty. On top of being exposed to the same elements, your hair follicles produce sebum, or oil, as your scalp perspires. Washing your hair every day is the single most effective way you make your hair and scalp healthier. The best thing you can do for your hair (and skin!)  is to use filtered water. Using an Aquasana shower filter, designed to remove over 90% of the harmful chlorine in tap water, is one of the best choices when it comes to making your hair healthy and beautiful!

Treat your hair to tea:

Try an herbal tea rinse for your hair—it’s a great way to boost your hair’s natural highlights! Use lemon or chamomile for blond hair, black tea for brown or black hair, or red zinger for copper or red hair. To do it, boil a gallon of Aquasana filtered water, add four tea bags, and let them steep for three to five minutes in a large bowl. Then let the water cool to room temperature. Lean over the sink, flipping your hair over your head. Pour the tea over your hair and let it drip into the sink. Then put a shower cap over your hair and let the tea sit for 10 minutes before rinsing, shampooing, and conditioning as usual. It’s so easy to do, but gives you big results!

Heat it up:

Use the sun’s heat to your advantage! While you’re poolside or at the beach, treat your hair to a deep conditioning mask, comb your hair into a bun, and let the product go to work while you lounge. This protects hair from salt or chlorinated water and gives you extra softness and shine.

Eat healthy:

Eating a healthy diet, full of omega-3 fatty acids (found in foods such as salmon, spinach, and omega-3 rich eggs) can keep your hair strong and looking healthy and shiny. The nutrients in these foods help nourish your hair and keep it healthier for longer.  Supplements such as flax seed oil can also be added to your diet to boost your intake of essential fatty acids (EFA’s).

Don’t soak up the bad stuff:

Limit the amount of saturation from pool or ocean water by brushing a few drops of natural neem hair oil through your dry locks with a boar-bristle brush, then dousing your hair with fresh water. Hair can absorb only so much liquid, so if you enter chlorinated or salt water with wet hair, you’ll prevent some of the water from penetrating if your hair is already wet. The oil acts as an additional barrier due to the fact that oil and water don’t mix.

Not too cold, not too hot:

Wash your hair with lukewarm water. Some people put ice in the water in which they wash their hair to make it cold, when in reality, the water temperature should neither be too hot nor too cold; it should be balanced. Water that is either very hot or very cold can dry out and damage hair.

Keeping your hair protected during the summer is one of the most important things you can do in order to keep your hair looking great all year long!

Shower Like a Celeb

The Simple Secret Insiders Know for Lustrous Locks and Supple Skin

Austin, TX (June 28, 2013) – It’s rumored that self-indulgent celebs bathe in bottled water to maintain star-quality hair and skin. The secret to the water is actually the lack of one element: beauty enemy chlorine.  Think of how dry skin and hair is after a dip in a chlorinated pool. While tap water doesn’t contain as much chlorine as a pool, levels are high enough to have a drying effect on skin and hair.

 

An easier and less expensive alternative to buying cases of bottled water is a simple shower filter. “One of the most important things you can do for your hair is to wash it with filtered, chlorine-free water,” says celebrity stylist River Lloyd of the John Frieda Salon. “Your hair will be noticeably softer and shinier, your scalp will be healthier and hair color will stay true and last longer.”

 

Aquasana, maker of best-in-class water filtration systems, offers shower filters that reduce chlorine by 90% and retail for as little as $30. The removal of chlorine not only benefits hair, but also reduces harmful effects that can contribute to the premature aging of skin.  Additionally, the filters enhance the performance of beauty products – providing valuable savings on pricey shampoos, conditioners and soaps.

 

Vanity isn’t the only reason to install a filter. Shower filters also improve air quality by reducing vaporized chlorine and many users with skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema see improvements after only a few weeks of use. More information can be found at Aquasana.com.

 

About Aquasana

Aquasana is a leading water filtration company with the sole focus of providing best-in-class water filtration products so everyone can enjoy great-tasting, healthy water. Based in Austin, Texas, the company markets drinking water filters, shower filters, and whole-home water filter systems that remove over 60 harmful contaminants from water including chlorine, chloramines, herbicides, pesticides, industrial solvents, lead, and mercury. Aquasana water filters are engineered to preserve the healthy minerals in water, which include calcium, magnesium and potassium resulting in healthy, great-tasting water.  For more information visit www.aquasana.com.

What is THAT?! …Psoriasis?

Psoriasis?

With all the hype lately about Kim Kardashian and her psoriasis, it’s becoming a hot topic. The paparazzi went a little haywire there for a couple weeks, trying to get pictures of her legs or arms and the red bumps and scales. This is what you get for being in the spotlight and broadcasting such intimate medical details, I guess, but such exploitation makes me feel sick.

Unlike some of the other skin conditions we’ve discussed on this blog, psoriasis is a chronic condition. Once identified and treated with medication and/or lifestyle changes, it can go into remission, but it’s a disorder people have to live with forever. Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease, which means that some faulty wiring in a person’s immune systems puts skin cell production into overdrive. Dead cells don’t slough off the skin’s surface as fast as new cells are produced, and gather and become patches or rashes, and can become quite painful.

The good news: it’s not communicable. (Remember this if you try to call in sick to work with psoriasis!)

The bad news: most doctors agree that it’s hereditary. So by saying “it’s not communicable” does not mean you didn’t get it from SOMEone.

Recognizing it

There are several different ways psoriasis afflicts people:

• Red, patchy skin covered in flaky white scales (most common) (Plaque)
• Very intense redness that covers large portions of skin (Erythrodermic)
• Small pink dots on the skin (Guttate)
• Skin redness in places where skin touches skin: groin, armpits and behind the knees, etc (Inverse)
• White blisters with red skin (Pustular)

In general, consult a doctor for any persistent rash or skin irritation, and you might suspect psoriasis if there’s a family history of it and you see flaky, scaly skin.

Causes

Most experts agree that the cause of psoriasis is simple genetics. It comes on sometime between the ages 15 and 35, showing up as a rash or red, flaky skin. An outbreak can appear because of a variety of factors:

• Inadequate sunlight
• Overexposure to sunlight (there’s just no winning, I guess)
• Excessive alcohol consumption
• Stress
• Some kinds of medicine (see also “Your Prozac might be making you scratch”)
• Infections (bacterial or viral)
• Excessive dryness (both environmental—air—and physical—skin)

Treatments: the clinical and the wild

Sadly, there’s no getting rid of it; we just have to learn to cope and be as comfortable as possible. There are a wide variety of creams and ointments available that could help (cortisone is commonly used), pills and injections, and even phototherapy. If you feel like stress is one of your outbreak triggers, you might consider taking yoga or getting acupuncture to help you relax. Or lay back in a nice, soothing oatmeal bath (there are several brands out there for bath supplements you just sprinkle in).

There are a number of wild claims on the Internet about cures, but take them with a grain of salt and big fat suitcase of skepticism. Before embarking on any treatment, discuss it with a dermatologist you trust (not just your GP), and if you don’t like what she says, seek a second opinion.

Are there any horror stories out there about dealing with psoriasis? What treatments have you tried, and how did they work? Any advice on what to ask a dermatologist regarding treatments or research on cures? Let us know in the comments!

 

What is THAT? …My baby can get eczema?

Unfortunately, studies and records show that eczema, particularly in babies and children, is becoming a more common and widespread problem. The good news is that it’s not always a life-long affliction for kids (they often outgrow it by 5 years old), but it’s still painful and frustrating to treat as a parent (and no picnic for your wee one, either). Baby eczema

 

Many cases remain of undetermined origin, but there are some environmental and genetic variables that can play a part:

• Skin too dry (dehydrated or not enough natural oils, excessive sweating)
• Diet
• Exposure to physical allergens and irritants
• Plain old bad luck (genetics)

 

Recognizing it

In babies and young children, eczema shows up initially as red or swollen—sometimes pebbly or rough—skin, especially in skin folds that tend to stay damp: armpits, behind the knees, and in the groin area. Sometimes there are blisters or raised red bumps, and sometimes the scratching and dryness can get so bad the skin cracks and leaves open sores. Fussy, irritable babies with tender skin who dislike bath time might have a problem with eczema.

 

Treatments

Treatment invariably depends on the cause, which is not always obvious. Please consult your pediatrician or a dermatologist in order to get direction on the proper course of treatment.Your doctor will evaluate your kiddo, and ask a lot of questions about his or her environment. Why? If your child’s skin reacts to the laundry detergent you use, resolving the issue could be as simple as switching brands or going to a “free and clear” version. Children’s skin often responds to diet changes as well; removing things like dairy, nuts or soy can improve eczema symptoms a surprising amount. There are lotions and creams, acupuncture and other homeopathic treatments, and even UV light treatments. Here are the biggies:

Filter your child’s bath water (I can personally attest that this does help, as I have adult eczema, and it helps me!)
Change laundry detergent, and dress your wee babe in 100% cotton clothing to allow the skin to breathe
• Perform an allergy test and identify possible contact or internal allergens (we’re looking at you, cow’s milk!)
• Remove certain Big Allergens from your kid’s diet (or stop eating them yourself, if you’re breastfeeding): cow’s milk, soy, nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, and wheat
• Try keep your baby in a warm (not hot!), dry environment to minimize sweating (sorry, fellow Texans, you will fail this one)
• Try OTC hydrocortisone cream (though I’m not a huge fan of chemicals)

 

Those are just some of the remedies available. There are a lot of them out there on the web, but please be careful when trying them out! Always test first on yourself, and if there’s no reaction, a small part of your baby (with something handy to wipe/remove the solution if it’s not well received).

 

Does your child have eczema? What have you found works to help alleviate the symptoms? Share in the comments!

 

What is THAT?…Oh, I’m sixteen again.

The pimple. The zit. The third eye. You go to bed thirty-something and wake up a teenager. You scream to yourself, “Why do I still have acne?” and that snarky little guy on your face just smiles back. Well, take comfort in the fact that you’re not the only one that seemed to have taken a swim in the hot tub time machine. Adult acne is very common. It affects 25 percent of adult men and 50 percent of adult women. Dermatologists are seeing more adult acne patients than ever before given a recent study that shows it’s increasing and lasting longer . Although the causes are unknown, possibilities include hormones, cosmetics, stress and an increase of resistant bacteria. But which treatment is the best one for you to keep your skin looking beautiful?

1. “Acne surgery.” It’s basically squeezing pimples. You get immediate results, but without the risk of infection, scarring or spreading.
2. Skin care products. But which do you buy without gawking down a whole aisle having to spend an hour reading every product on shelves? That depends on the type of acne you have. A trip to your dermatologist may save you time and money. Why spend a fortune trying different over-the-counter products when one prescription will do?
3. Topical retinoic acid. It’s a form of vitamin A and a safe alternative to Accutane. New slow-release forms have greatly reduced irritation.
4. Other treatments include: azelaic acid cream, alpha-hydroxy acids, benzoyl peroxide, topical antibiotics and birth control pills.

Not a stranger to these treatments? Why not try these…if you’re brave.

1. Number One Plus. It’s a sexual lubricant used in Cambodia for condoms. When applied, it dries out acne lesions.
2. Toothpaste. Be sure to use a white paste, not blue, clear or a gel.
3. Nightingale droppings. This is an ingredient used for facials and is performed by an Asian-inspired salon.
4. Egg white mask. Just rub on your face, let dry, then rinse. It leaves your skin smooth and supposed to have soothing, therapeutic effects on the skin.

Not that brave? Try this daily regimen:

What are your favorite acne treatments and regimens?

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