Monthly Archives: June 2016

Why you can not sleep at night

There’s nothing worse than crawling into bed feeling so tired you swear you could sleep for a decade, only to find yourself physically unable to fall asleep. All day long, you looked forward to the moment you could head home and go to sleep, and now that you’re finally in bed with the lights off, you somehow can’t? Life can be so very cruel.

But here at Byrdie, we’re in the business of helping you learn how to live your healthiest, most beautiful life, and that includes falling asleep at a reasonable hour. We’re just as committed as you are to finding out why in the world you can’t fall asleep, so we got in touch with three top sleep experts to learn 10 common but little-known factors contributing to your insomnia. Meet the three people here to help you get some shut-eye: Rebecca Robbins, Ph.D.; Rachel Wong, OSO sleep research expert; and Anna Persaud, Ph.D. and CEO of This Works. Keep reading to learn the most likely but often overlooked reasons you can’t fall asleep.

Dangerous food that you need to avoid it

images-19When trying to eat healthy, there are some obvious no-nos we avoid. Categories like junk food, fast food, and candy are no-brainers to steer clear of, but even when we cut them out from our diets, harmful ingredients can still enter our bodies through foods we don’t necessarily consider unhealthy.

Eat This, Not That rounded up a list of the 50 unhealthiest foods, and a good number of them are surprising. You’ll be surprised by just how many of the foods we consume daily make the list for reasons much more serious than extra sugars and carbohydrates. Some of our everyday foods are loaded with harmful ingredients, chemicals, and additives. Here are five of the most surprising unhealthy foods that made the list.

Coffee creamer: The product you use every morning is actually scary stuff. Coffee creamer contains titanium dioxide, the same ultraviolet radiation blocker that’s in sunscreen. Studies surrounding the additive prove it causes liver and tissue damage in mice and has negative health implications for humans. Furthermore, most grocery store creamers are also packed with trans fats associated with diminished memory in adults under 45.

Fruit juice: While many of us were raised on it and still see it as a relatively natural option when it comes to beverages in a market saturated with sodas and energy drinks, it turns out that fruit juice should actually be avoided. Even 100% natural fruit juice contains up to 36 grams of sugar per cup (equal to four Krispy Kreme doughnuts, to put things in perspective). To make matters worse, fruit juice contains fructose, which is associated with the development of visceral adipose tissue, or belly fat.

Microwave popcorn: Though popcorn is often touted as a “healthy” snack option, microwave popcorn is best avoided. Many of the go-to brands for the microwave variety use heart-harming trans fats and diacetyl (DA), a chemical that breaks down the cells that protect our brains. Furthermore, the bags are often lined with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), the same toxic material found in Teflon. So stick to air-pop kernels the next time you curl up for a movie night.

Salad dressing: While salads are a popular “healthy” meal option, what’s lurking in the dressing may negate it all. The thickening agent sodium carboxymethyl cellulose used in salad dressings can cause cancer. Next time, top off your salad with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or lemon juice to avoid this dangerous chemical.

Restaurant desserts: We’re not surprised this one made the list, but we are surprised as to why. It’s not just the sugar, calories, and fat in outrageously proportioned restaurant desserts that make them dangerous—but also their sodium. Yes, restaurant desserts with calorie counts up in the thousands also boast alarming amounts of sodium, which increases blood pressure as well as your risk of stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.


Your immune system’s not a muscle, but you should treat it like one. The same things you focus on when it comes to bulking up, like diet, exercise, and sleep, also play a big role in fending off colds and the flu. But, unlike the radical diet you might adopt to help speed up the six-pack process, the trick to using food to keep your immune system strong is balance, says Heidi Skolnik, a sports nutritionist and author of Nutrient Timing for Peak Performance.

While restrictive, evolution-inspired eating plans, like intermittent fasting, may help you bulk up or trim down, if your goal is to not get sick, you’ll benefit from eating regular meals throughout the day and including plenty of nutrients in those meals, says Skolnik, who works with New York-based sports teams such as the Giants, Knicks, and Mets. Why? Immune-boosting vitamins, like C and B6, don’t hang around in the body for very long.

“The vitamin C you have in the morning isn’t there for your body to use at night,” says Skolnik. “It’s water-soluble, so you need it throughout the day.”

So, this means chew on vitamin C tablets all day, right? Actually, there’s no real proof that swallowing supplements all winter will keep you cold-free, so working C-rich foods in at every meal is a better bet. But you don’t need to gulp glasses of orange juice around the clock. Instead, swap OJ into easy recipes at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Here’s how to do it.

7 Sneaky Ways to Get More Vitamin C:

1. Black Beans: Simmer black beans in orange juice for a zesty punch of flavor. Vitamin C may help increase the absorption of iron from the beans, says Skolnik.
2. Vegetables: Sauté vegetables with a splash of orange juice instead of butter to cut down on saturated fat.
3. Rice: Use orange juice instead of water when preparing rice or other grains.
4. Dip: Skip ranch or sour cream varieties and mix orange juice with plain yogurt instead.
5. Salad Dressing: For a no-fuss salad dressing, fill a mason jar one-third with orange juice, then add balsamic vinegar until the jar is half-full. Add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard and a teaspoon of honey and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
6. Garnish: Try blending avocado, sea salt, orange juice and olive oil for a tasty topping for broiled or grilled fish.
7. Low-Fat Float: Mix orange juice with seltzer, and then add a scoop of low-fat frozen yogurt for a twist on an old-fashioned dessert.

Perfect body tips

The twin goals of building muscle and burning fat are usually tied to workout routines. After all, what you do in the gym or outdoors goes a long way toward transforming your body into a lean, fat-burning machine.

But training regimens usually account for two hours or less of your 24-hour day. What you do during the other 22-plus hours has as much if not more impact. Here are seven ways to build muscle and burn fat—inside and outside the gym.

Pete Williams is a NASM certified personal trainer and the author or co-author of a number of books on performance and training.

Don’t be the person in the gym who checks your phone between every set, breaking any intensity you could have established. Instead, work in a focused, continuous manner that stimulates muscle growth and fat burning. Leave the phone at home or in a locker. Instead of resting between three sets of the same exercise, consider alternating an upper body pull (such as pull-ups) with an upper body push (push-ups) or a lower-body push (squats).  That way you keep yourself moving. There’s a reason CrossFit’s philosophy of performing AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of a workout circuit in the allotted time is so challenging—and effective.


Eating small meals more often regulates blood sugar, promotes muscle mass, and eliminates mood swings and overeating. The key is to plan ahead to make sure you have something healthy on hand at work or on-the-go so that you’re fueled every three hours. Ideally every meal will have a combination of carbs, protein, and fat. But if you’re on the go, at least aim for something healthy such as nuts, seeds, dried fruit, energy bars, or a ready-to-drink protein beverage.

Serious new risk of birth control risk

Since the 1960s, many women in the United States admitted they were not ready for a baby. These women were given the option to take birth control to prevent the unwanted pregnancy.

While family planning has helped women’s progress by leaps and bounds, some methods do come with health risks.

Women have reported feeling depressed while taking oral contraceptives, but finally, a scientific study published in the Journal of The American Medical Association has proven what many have been saying for years.

Researchers from the University of Copenahgen studied the medical records of more than one million women between ages of 15 and 34 years old. These studies showed those taking combination birth control pill were 23 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression.

Women who were prescribed a progesterone only pill were shown to be 34 percent more likely to suffer from depression.

Teenagers have the biggest depression risk. The study showed women between 15 and 19 on the pill were 80 percent more likely to have depression.

Weight gain and mood swings have been listed as possible side effects of the pill. However, this is the first study to officially correlate clinical depression with oral contraceptive use.

Align the Neck Tips

The human head weighs anywhere between 10 to 14 pounds. Since the neck is responsible for keeping the head up, it is important to keep it aligned. A misaligned neck will cause unwanted weight and tension on neck muscles, causing extreme pain in some cases. If you would like to align your neck at home and avoid a trip to the chiropractor, there are a few things to keep in mind.

    • Align your neck by bringing the front of your rib cage up. This will bring your head back over your shoulders to the correct position.
    • Buy a pillow that aligns your neck while you sleep. Many people lay on their neck the wrong way because of their pillow; or they watch television before falling asleep. The neck pillow is designed for back and side sleeping.
    • Perform a simple yoga technique at your desk, if you are crunched for time. Align your neck above your shoulders while sitting in a chair. Inhale, and while you breathe out, bring your ear down to your shoulder. Inhale and exhale several times, before repeating the stretch with the opposite ear and shoulder.
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  • Lay down on the floor and perform chin tucks, to aid in the alignment of your neck. Place a rolled towel under your neck. Bend your knees and keep your arms at your side. Lower your chin towards your chest and hold it there for a count of five. Release the stretch and repeat ten times.
  • Attend a pilates or yoga class, or ask an instructor for one-on-one personal training. You can easily find an instructor by using a yoga search site.