Showing posts with label Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Health. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Reviewing ImmunityFizz Vitamin C Fizz Sticks

ImmunityFizz to support your immune system
ImmunityFizz by Arbonne

This year I have started to take ImmunityFizz every day and I love it. The taste is amazing and I love the feeling that I am doing something to improve my immune system. The fact that the drink it makes is a gorgeous purple colour has nothing to do with my enjoyment, despite what my daughter says!

So what's so special about ImmunityFizz, well it is a delicious drink that is designed to support your immune system.

It comes in a box of 30 stick packs that you add to water (just like the fizz sticks I also enjoy). Personally, I also add a few ice cubes and enjoy it as my favourtie after-work drink (I already have my morning drink sorted with my greens).

The ingredients include Arabinogalactin which is from the North American Larch Tree and has been clinically studied to support immune response. It also includes Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc and Elderberry Extract.

You only take one stick a day so a box gives you a month's supply. I have been taking it religiously every day and so far I've avoided the viruses that are doing the rounds here in Australia as we head into winter. I don't know if I can thank ImmunityFizz for the fact that I've avoided these viruses, but I do know that it makes me feel good to be proactive about supporting my immune system.

Another thing that I really love is that I take the ImmunityFizz in a glass with 600ml of water so that's adding to my water intake for the day (something that I have to remind myself about during winter).

I used to take a tablet daily to boost my immune system, but I definitely prefer enjoying this drink instead. Do you think you'd prefer a tablet or a drink to support your immunity?

Delicious and good for supporting your immune system - ImmunityFizz

Don't you think it looks lovely? It has been strongly suggested by my daughter that maybe I love it because it's purple and I'll admit the colour doesn't hurt LOL!

If you'd like more information about these, please contact me or click on this link for the meet the product sheet




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Best Low Carb, High Protein, Gluten-Free Pasta

Kaizen Low Carb Pasta made with lupin flour is a health-conscious alternative to traditional pasta made with wheat flour and semolina. It is the best pasta I have found for those of us who follow a low-carb diet, such as keto enthusiasts, diabetics, or anyone looking to reduce their carbohydrate intake. It is also a great option for people who follow a gluten-free diet.

This product review will cover Kaizen pasta’s taste, texture, nutritional value, preparation, and overall value. As a bonus, I will also share a simple recipe I developed that uses Kaizen fusilli.

Kaizen low carb, high protein, gluten-free pasta

Taste and Texture

One of the most critical aspects of any pasta product is its taste and texture. Kaizen low carb pasta aims to mimic the familiar experience of traditional pasta, and it does a commendable job.

Taste

The pasta has a mild, slightly nutty flavor that pairs well with a variety of sauces. It reminds me of chickpea pasta. 

While it doesn't have the same taste as pasta made from wheat flour and semolina, it is quite enjoyable when combined with robust sauces like marinara or Alfredo. 

Texture

The texture is pleasantly firm, though slightly different from traditional pasta. It is a bit chewier, which can take some getting used to, but it holds up well in both hot and cold dishes. 

Nutritional Value

Kaizen low carb pasta shines in its nutritional profile, making it an attractive option for health-conscious consumers.

Low in Carbohydrates

This pasta is significantly lower in carbs compared to regular pasta, making it suitable for low-carb and keto diets. Each serving contains only 6 grams of net carbs, depending on the specific variety. 

The company has also come out with an even lower-carb pasta line, which I have ordered and will review after I have tried it.

High in Protein

With 20 grams of protein per serving, this pasta helps in meeting daily protein requirements, which is beneficial for muscle maintenance and overall health. 

High in Fiber

The pasta has 15 grams of dietary fiber per serving, contributing to better digestive health and helping to keep you full for longer.

Gluten-Free

Kaizen pasta has been reformulated with a gluten-free recipe, so more people can enjoy it.

No Artificial Ingredients

Kaizen prides itself on using natural ingredients, which is a big plus for those avoiding artificial additives and preservatives. 

Preparation

Preparing Kaizen Low Carb Pasta is straightforward and similar to traditional pasta. Just bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, cook the pasta for about 5–6 minutes (to the desired texture), drain, and use as desired, with a sauce or in recipes. 

Although the texture is different than traditional pasta made from wheat and semolina flours and cannot be cooked al dente, it's crucial to monitor the pasta closely to avoid overcooking so it does not become mushy.

Versatility

Kaizen Low Carb Pasta is versatile and, at the time of this post's publication, is available in four shapes: Fusilli, ziti, radiatore, and cavatappi. This makes it suitable for a variety of dishes.

It works well in classic hot pasta dishes like spaghetti Bolognese, carbonara, lasagna, and baked casseroles.

I used it to make a low-carb, high-protein, high-fiber version of a traditional Jewish sweet noodle kugel (a sweet egg, cottage cheese, and noodle casserole) and it was absolutely delicious!

It also holds up well in cold pasta salads, providing a hearty base for a variety of fresh ingredients. 

Overall Value

Considering its health benefits, Kaizen low carb pasta offers good value for money. Although it is more expensive than conventional pasta made with wheat flour and semolina, the added nutritional benefits will justify the higher price point for many consumers.

It's particularly valuable for those who need to manage their carbohydrate intake, follow a gluten-free diet, or want a higher protein alternative to standard pasta.

Kaizen low carb pasta is an excellent product for anyone seeking a healthier alternative to traditional pasta without compromising on taste and texture. Its high protein and fiber content, combined with its low carbohydrate profile, make it a standout option for low-carb dieters and health-conscious individuals. While it may require a slight adjustment in cooking and texture expectations, its versatility and nutritional benefits make it a worthwhile addition to your pantry.


Low Carb Fusilli With Pork and Mushroom Ragu

I whip up this delicious, low carb pasta dish often because it's quick and easy to make and my husband and I both enjoy it.

I usually serve it with a side salad and, sometimes, with garlic bread made with Hero bread (expensive but 0 net carbs and exceptional taste and texture for a keto-friendly bread).

I hope you and your family enjoy it.

Buon appetito!

Servings: 4

Ingredients

Boiling water

Salt

1 pound ground pork

8 oz. portabello mushrooms

1/4 cup wine (red is traditional but white is good, too)

Chopped fresh or dried Italian herbs (optional)

15.5 oz. jar Rao's Homemade Marinara sauce

8 oz. box Kaizen Fusilli low carb pasta

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Romano cheese

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil while you make the pork and mushroom ragu (meat sauce).
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, crumble and lightly brown the ground pork over medium-high heat.
  3. Slice the mushrooms and add them to the browned pork. Stir occasionally until the mushrooms are soft.
  4. Stir in the wine and the optional seasonings and cook until the wine is reduced by about half.
  5. Stir in the marinara sauce and turn the heat to a low simmer.
  6. Stir the fusilli into the boiling salted water (some foaming is normal) and boil for 5 minutes.
  7. Drain and stir the cooked pasta into the pork and mushroom ragu. Turn the heat down to low and let the pasta "marry" with the sauce for 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Divide into four portions and grate some Parmigiano-Romano cheese over the top just before serving.


The Best Low Carb, High Protein, Gluten-Free Pasta by Margaret Schindel


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Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Reviewing Wellbeing Benefits Of Nature Reserves


Wetland nature reserve view of lake and reeds through trees

 Life can be busy and stressful and I find it is necessary to take time out whenever I can to connect with nature. Being in a nature reserve like the one near us is really grounding and brings a sense of peace and serenity.

 Nature reserves, more than any other place for me are a beautiful experience. The scenery is stunning and peaceful, I love the changing seasons and wildlife and being both an observer and a part of nature. Often quiet and free from traffic noise with only the lovely sounds of bird calls and wind in the trees it is a chance to clear my mind, rejuvinate and relax.

 There are many significant benefits for our mental and physical health by spending time each week, or as often as we can in this environment

Wetlands nature reserves water and reeds and close up tree


 Emotional Wellbeing And Mindfulness 


 As soon as we enter the nature reserve I feel a sense of relaxation, of letting go. We generally do not take any tech with us except for a mobile phone which is for use only in an emergency. Otherwise we do not look at it. Spending this time in a natural setting reduces stress and raises our spirits. I think the combination of exercise, fresh air and relaxing, peaceful scenery all helps to calm and clear the mind and improve mood. 

 In addition the beauty and wonder of being connected to nature that is something greater than ourselves gives us a deep appreciation for life and there is always at least one unexpected surprise or amazement on each nature walk that make us us feel a sense of wonderment being alive and inspired. On our last walk we saw a gorgeous woodpecker, heard the bitterns booming and found a rare orchid which the wardens had fenced off to protect it for example.


Physical Health Benefits Of Walking In A Nature Reserve.


 When we visit the nature reserves we walk for miles, much farther than when we walk around our town for exercise. We try to walk for an hour a day but when we go to a nature reserve we easily walk two or three hours without even thinking about it. 

Walking can be done at a gentle pace or a good hike. You can in our reserve stay on the wide main flat paths which are good for people who like or need a steady safe walk or are using a mobility aid or vehicle. There are also more narrow sloping winding paths or more challenging routes through the reserve. It can easily be a steady low impact exercise to a good workout. 

This is beneficial for us on many levels such as heart health, muscular strength, and improving general fitness levels. The fresh air free from traffic is great for our lungs and bodies and all our senses are stimulated and relaxed at the same time.


 Conservation Of Nature Reserves


 The nature reserve we visit is a result of human intervention. The wetland area used to be where heavy chemical industry was with awful pollution and toxic waste. When the industry was closed down the authorities wanted to use the space for waste disposal.

Only due to the proactive local people and nature conservation groups having a vision of a beautiful natural rescource for nature and people was the area gradually converted over years into a gorgeous nature reserve. Even before it was finished birds and mammals started to move in!

It is now so rich in birds, mammals, trees, wetland and flowers and a wonderful resource for people to enjoy and learn about nature. 

 Many people go there for exercise, photography and to learn about wild flora and fauna. They run childrens outdoor classes so the next generation can learn and hopefully preserve our beautiful wetlands. to hopefully inspire a love of wildlife and the protection and maintenance of these amazing natural resources.

Pursuing Hobbies And Interests


Someone once asked me at the Nature reserve, are you here for the walking, wildlife, flowers or photography?

 It struck me then that people can gain so much in this environment. 

As I took notice some people were clearly serious walkers and took this environment to walk a certain distance or time, gain fitness and enjoy the scenery.

 Others were taking it more sedately, chatting with each other, pointing out beautiful scenes, showing children the wonders of nature. Sitting on the various benches and walking gently with each other taking in the lovely views and having a peaceful lovely time.

Then I noticed the photographers, some with serious pieces of kit, tripods and top of the range camera and zoom lenses to bridge cameras and mobile phones all taking notice of the world around them from the open scenes to a single flower, bird photography to the waves of the river.    

The artists were set up in quiet places sketching out scenery and birds, often to me seeming in deep concentration.

The nature lovers were watching, listening, often with binoculars very quiet, very still, occasionally consulting books or phones for information loving every minute.

Many people of course combine several or many of these interests and we all enjoyed a lovely mug of hot tea or coffee in the centre at some point during our visit there, where we chatted with each other or sat in quiet revery. 
 
I realised that one setting is enjoyed in so many respectful ways and nature gives to each of us in a way that we need it, in ways we individually appreciate it. How beautiful is that!


Fostering A Sense Of Community


 We can visit the nature reserve and be quiet and alone, yet even then be a apart of something special. However if anyone wishes there is also the opportunity to be involved in many levels from casual chatting in the observation centres, joining of walks to full on volunteering.

 Group walks and guided walks to learn about the wildlife are available where you can chat to others who are also interested in nature. More structured classes are held over several weeks or regular walks on certain days where a more regular set of people attend.

You can also do regular volunteering work in the centre or giving talks, raising awareness or helping in the gardens, whatever suits your time available and skillset. In all these ways a common aim of loving and preserving nature providing opportunity for social interaction either casual or committed, can lead to a sense of community and belonging that is sometimes lacking in this modern world and fosters a sense of wellbeing.

 Whether you are alone or in a family or friendship group, young or older we can all benefit from seeing and hearing beautiful wildlife, breathing fresh air, exercise, learning about nature, maybe pursing a hobby like painting or photography  and sharing each others company when we want to. 

The connection with people may be a brief chat about a bird sighting, the shared excitement of seeing a beautiful bird or a precious rare flower, a group of people you get to know on a deeper level via set walks or classes or a belonging as a volunteer, it all helps.

Nature Reserves For General Wellbeing

So in this way walking in a nature reserve can have a range of benefits and opportunities for our mental, emotional and physical health with a sense of belonging and community that can lead to a better quality of life overall. 

We are so appreciative of our wonderful special nature reserve resource and would not be with out it and will protect it as long as we live.











Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Hypochlorous Acid: A Versatile, Innovative Health and Hygiene Solution

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in hypochlorous acid (HOCl) as a naturally occurring yet powerful solution with many applications ranging from promoting wound healing and skincare to household cleaning without toxic chemicals. This colorless, dilute acid solution is gaining recognition for its remarkable benefits and uses, making it a valuable tool in promoting health and maintaining a clean environment

In this review, I’ll share what I have learned about this safe, non-toxic, electrolyzed salt water solution and how I use it.

Hypochlorous Acid Spray for Skincare, Health & Hygiene


How I Discovered Hypochlorous Acid Spray

Last year, the esthetician from whom I buy my medical-grade skincare added a hypochlorous acid spray to the toners she carries. Since she only carries products from brands with meaningful clinical studies that validate the products' effectiveness, I knew that Hydrinity Hyacin Active Purifying Mist was a high-quality product. According to Hydrinity's Hyacin Active Purifying Mist product page, "Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl) is a potent anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory agent that works overtime to treat blemishes, renew compromised skin, and deeply calm even the most stressed and sensitive skin types, including those prone to eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea. Used by dermatologists worldwide, this refreshing purifying mist is renowned for its wound-healing abilities, is free of all chemical irritants, and safe for all skin types."

I decided to order a bottle of the Hydrinity Hyacin Active Purifying Mist from my favorite medical-grade skincare supplier, SkinBEAUTIFUL RX. I have occasional breakouts and, as I have gotten older, tend to heal more slowly from cuts and scrapes, and the hypochlorous acid spray has really helped with both. It also is great for helping to soothe insect bites.

I was really impressed with the effectiveness and versatility of this product, and I also started seeing more ads for other brands of hypochlorous acid spray, such as Magic Molecule. So I did more research into different applications and different brands and discovered there was a lot more to learn.

Understanding the Science Behind Hypochlorous Acid

Hypochlorous acid, often referred to as nature's disinfectant, is a weak acid formed through the electrolysis of salt water. It mirrors the antimicrobial properties of the body's immune system, particularly in fighting bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This naturally occurring compound is colorless, and its ability to effectively combat pathogens makes it a promising candidate for many applications.

Health and Wellness

  • Skincare: In the realm of skincare, hypochlorous acid has found its place in combating various dermatological issues. From acne treatment to soothing irritated skin, it offers a natural alternative to traditional skincare ingredients, ensuring a healthy complexion without harsh side effects.
  • Wound Healing and Infection Prevention: The innate antimicrobial properties of hypochlorous acid can accelerate wound healing. By reducing the risk of infections, inflammation, and scarring, HOCl is becoming a key component in advanced wound care, offering a gentle yet effective approach to recovery.
  • Oral Health: The incorporation of HOCl into oral care products has shown promising results in reducing bacteria in the oral cavity. This not only contributes to improved oral health but also aids in preventing conditions such as gum disease and halitosis.

Household and Environmental Applications

  • Surface Disinfection: Hypochlorous acid is an effective disinfectant for surfaces within households and in public spaces. Whether it's countertops, kitchen utensils, or bathroom fixtures, HOCl provides a safe and efficient means of maintaining a hygienic living environment.
  • Air Purification: Hypochlorous acid's ability to neutralize airborne pathogens and allergens makes it a valuable tool to promote a healthier indoor atmosphere in enclosed spaces.
  • Fruit and Vegetable Wash: Concerns about pesticide residues and contaminants on fruits and vegetables have led to the adoption of hypochlorous acid as a natural wash. Rinsing produce with an HOCl solution helps eliminate potential threats, ensuring that our produce is not only delicious but also safe.
  • Laundry Disinfection: Adding hypochlorous acid to the laundry cycle enhances the disinfection of clothes, bedding, and towels. This extra layer of protection helps provide peace of mind in a world increasingly concerned with hygiene.

More Economical Hypochlorous Acid Options

Once I started to understand the many uses for this antimicrobial solution, I started thinking of other ways I could benefit from it, such as bringing a TSA-approved spray bottle with me when I travel to disinfect airplane tray tables, public phones, and other surfaces, such as gym equipment.

I wanted to keep a small spray bottle of it in my purse to sanitize my hands after using a public restroom and another bottle next to each bathroom sink, since HOCl is less drying than alcohol hand sanitizers. (I found this article on using hypochlorous acid as an antiseptic in caring for patients with a suspected COVID-19 infection very interesting.)

And, since I use it to help heal cuts and scrapes quicker, I also wanted to keep small spray bottles in the medicine cabinet and in my nightstand.

Since the Hydrinity Hyacin Active Purifying Spray was $60 for 3 fl. oz., I wanted a more economical version for these more widespread uses.

What I discovered is that there are several brands of hypochlorous acid, with more and more coming on the market as the popularity of this product grows.

Initially, I bought some small bottles of Magic Molecule brand hypochlorous acid spray to keep by my nightstand and in my purse. But even on sale, the price was more than I wanted to spend for using it as liberally and frequently as I wanted, for everything from washing my produce to healing and soothing scrapes, cuts, and insect bites and sanitizing my hands. So, I decided to look for a more affordable bulk option that I could use to refill my little spray bottles.

I ended up buying a 1L (32 fl. oz.) refill bottle of e11ement Hypochlorous Acid Face and Skin Spray for $27.50, enough to refill a whole bunch of smaller spray bottles many times over. The e11ement Hypochlorous Acid spray works beautifully, and now I don't have to think twice about how often I use it.

If you don't already have small mister bottles into which you can decant the contents of this quart-size refill bottle, I can recommend the following:

Hypochlorous acid spray has been a great addition to our household. It's excellent to use after shaving (face or body) to soothe the skin. If you have teenagers or family members who are acne-prone, they will also benefit from using it as a facial toner after washing and drying their faces and then allowing the HOCl spray to dry before applying any other topical skincare products such as acne medication, moisturizer, sunscreen, etc.

Hypochlorous Acid: A Versatile, Innovative Health and Hygiene Solution by Margaret Schindel

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Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, December 20, 2023

The Best Ultrasonic Humidifier: Ultra Quiet, Easy to Clean & Fill

We live in New England, where the winters are cold and the indoor air is dry from the heating system. I am also susceptible to respiratory illnesses such as colds, flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia in the winter, so using a humidifier is necessary for both health and comfort.

We have found that ultrasonic humidifiers, which we prefer for reasons I'll go into below, tend to last only a few years. So, we have tried a variety of brands and models. The Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier we purchased a month ago is our favorite by far.

Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier
The Levoit LV600S is the New York Times Wirecutter's top pick as
The Best Humidifier of 2023. We love ours!

How to Choose a Room Humidifier

After purchasing multiple humidifiers over the years and doing a lot of product research before each purchase, we've gotten good at choosing a good one. Here are the key considerations when shopping for a humidifier.

Type

There are four main types of portable room humidifiers we considered, which differ based on how the humidity is generated.

Warm mist humidifiers heat the water to create the vapor, i.e., steam. They're great for cold, dry winter climates like ours, and the heat cuts down on germs and bacterial contamination. We have found that they can create a lot of humidity — sometimes too much if you don't keep an eye on the moisture levels. However, warm mist units tend to be noisy, use more energy, and be more difficult to clean than cool mist models. Also, if you have children or pets, a reservoir filled with boiling water may not be the safest choice.

Cool mist units increase the humidity of the room without raising the temperature, so they're ideal for dry, warm climates. They tend to be pretty energy efficient. The units emit a humming sound that may bother some people, while others may experience it as "white noise" that is acceptable. We have found that they can be prone to developing mold and mildew and need to be cleaned more frequently than other types.

Evaporative humidifiers are a subset of the cool mist category. These units create vapor by using a fan to blow air through a moist filter, speeding up the natural process of evaporation, and that vapor is emitted or blown into the room. Like other cool mist models, evaporative humidifiers are safe for children and pets (because the mist is cool or room temperature), and are energy efficient. The filter needs to be changed regularly.

Ultrasonic humidifiers use high-frequency sound vibrations to break the water into droplets, which are then expelled into the air. These units are very energy efficient and extremely quiet, making them a great choice for bedrooms. Many models offer the option of producing cool or warm mist. They may or may not require a filter.

After having tried several types, we prefer an ultrasonic.

Size of Room

As with choosing an air conditioner or space heater, it's important to choose a model designed for rooms of a similar size to the one for which you are purchasing the unit. The power of whatever is creating the mist determines the volume of space the unit can humidify.

Reservoir Capacity

The size of the reservoir determines how long the unit can produce vapor (not how much it can produce) and, therefore, how often you will need to refill it. For that reason, it's important to make sure the reservoir is at least large enough to continue producing mist throughout the night, while you are sleeping.

I look for a large-capacity reservoir that I can fill only once or twice a day.

Ease of Filling

A top-fill reservoir is much easier to fill than a bottom-fill tank. A top-fill reservoir can be filled without removing it from the base unit, whereas a bottom-fill reservoir must be lifted off the base, carried to a faucet, and inverted under the tap to fill it. This can be messy (the water drips) and, if you have a large tank, heavy after you fill it.

Our last ultrasonic humidifier had a bottom-fill reservoir, and we hated it. The sink in our master bedroom's en-suite bathroom is old and small, and we couldn't get the opening of the reservoir under the faucet. That meant we had to carry the dripping tank to and from the kitchen.

Also, since a humidifier should only be on when the reservoir is in place, we had to remember to turn off the power, remove the tank, fill it, replace it, and turn the unit back on.

Ease of Cleaning

It's important to clean your humidifier frequently to avoid breathing vapor filled with germs, mold, and mildew. So, choosing a model that is easy to clean has become one of our top criteria.

Consider the size of the reservoir opening (can you reach inside easily?), and the size and number of corners, nooks, and crannies in the base and tank.

Controls

Consider whether you want manual or automatic controls or a choice. For example, you might want to manually set the rate at which the unit produces mist (regardless of the ambient humidity level), or you might want to set a target humidity level and let the unit automatically start and stop producing vapor as needed to maintain that humidity.

If you live in a climate where the humidity is fairly constant, manual controls are fine. However, if you live in an area with more variable weather conditions, like New England (where the saying goes, "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute"), a unit with an automatic setting to maintain a target humidity level will be important.

Price of Consumables

Some types and models require water filters, mineral absorption pads, or other consumables, some of which may be optional (like the aroma pads for our new unit) or may depend on whether you have hard or soft water in your house.

It's important to determine which consumables, if any, are required, how often they will need to be replaced, and how much they cost, to help you determine the total cost of ownership over the expected lifetime of the product.

Customer and Expert Product Reviews and Recommendations

When my husband and I are researching products like humidifiers, we always do our due diligence. We comb through Amazon product reviews and look to expert product reviews and recommendations such as those from Consumer Reports and The New York Times Wirecutter to help us narrow our short list of candidates and finalize our product selection.

Levoit LV600S ultrasonic humidifier and filtered water pitcher
The Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier can crank out plenty of humidity when needed, and for a long time, thanks to its powerful output and large-capacity, 6-liter water tank.

Why We Love the Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier

After trying so many different humidifiers over the years, here are the reasons we love our new Levoit LV600S humidifier.

The NYT Wirecutter's Top Pick

This ultrasonic humidifier topped our list of candidates after we read the New York Times Wirecutter article "The 6 Best Humidifiers of 2023" and saw that the Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier was their top pick. That was a compelling expert recommendation, and when we looked at the Amazon customer reviews for this product we were extremely impressed with the overwhelmingly positive feedback.

Hybrid Warm/Cool Mist Ultrasonic

If you're not sure which type to buy, the Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier gives you the best of all worlds. This model defaults to cool mist, but there is a Warm Mist button that cycles through your choice of warm mist settings (low heat, medium heat, high heat, heat off).

For example, if someone is sick and has chest congestion, you can select one of the warm mist options to help them breathe easier.

The brand's "exclusive" Warm Mist mode claims to have improved mist dispersion and a powerful output: "Set at 550ml/h, the warm mist function generates temperature variation, boosting air circulation for 4× faster relief from discomfort" vs. cool mist.

There is also no risk of being scalded by hot vapor, as the mist is released at a safe temperature of 86-120 °F.

Designed for a Large Room

With its powerful 550ml/h output, the Levoit LV600S is designed to humidify an area as large as 753 square feet. 

Large Reservoir

One of the things we love about this model is the large 6-liter capacity reservoir. We keep our humidifier cranking 24/7 during the cold, dry, New England winter months, and although we top up the water daily, the tank is usually still about half full after 24 hours.

Depending on the settings, the manufacturer claims the unit can produce humidifying mist for up to 50 hours on a single tank of water.

Easy to Fill

The Levoit LV600S is a top-fill model. So, instead of having to turn off the power, remove the water tank, carry it to the sink, turn it over, unscrew the cap, maneuver it under the tap, fill it, replace and tighten the cap, carry it back to the base, and seat it properly before turning the power on again, as we did with our previous model, we can just lift the lid, top up the tank with filtered water from our Brita pitcher, and replace the lid. Easy peasy!

Easy to Clean

This is by far the easiest-to-clean ultrasonic humidifier we have owned. The large opening in the tank makes it easy to reach inside, and the interior corners of both the base and the water tank are very accessible. The cleaning brush that comes with this model is also larger than those from our previous units.

Ease of Operation

The Levoit LV600S has simple, intuitively labeled buttons on the front control panel and a large, easy-to-read, digital display (which is turned off automatically in Sleep Mode).

Automatic Humidity Control

Since we live in New England, the ability to have the unit adjust the volume of mist output automatically to maintain a desired target humidity level is essential. We love this set-it-and-foreget-it mode. However, you can also set the mist output level manually, if you prefer.

Reasonably Priced Consumables

The Levoit Replacement Mineral Absorption Pads should be replaced every 2–4 weeks depending on the hardness of your tap water. A pack of 10 costs $9.99 on Amazon at the time of this post's publication. You can also find less expensive replacement pads that claim to be compatible with this model.

The Levoit Water Filter Sponges should be changed about once a month, depending on the water hardness in your area. At the time of this article's publication, a 10-pack costs $9.99 on Amazon.

There are also optional Levoit Aroma Pads that can be used with essential oils and placed in the Aroma Box compartment at the back of the base. The mist will diffuse the aroma when the humidifier is in use. A pack of 16 costs $9.99 on Amazon as of this writing.

Extremely Quiet

At a noise level of less than 28dB, the default unheated, cool mist mode is practically silent, which we love. The sound increases when the Warm Mist settings are used to heat the water, but this model is still extremely quiet compared to our previous humidifiers.

Sleep Mode

The Sleep Mode turns off the lighted controls display and changes the mist setting from a manual mode (if applicable) to an automatic mode and uses the humidity sensor to automatically adjust the mist level to maintain 50-60% relative humidity. 

Sleep Mode also turns off the warm mist, if applicable, to reduce noise, but you can press the Warm Mist button to turn it back on if desired.

My husband can't sleep well unless our bedroom is completely dark, so being able to keep the display turned off is a great feature for us. We keep our set to Sleep Mode all the time unless we need to change a setting manually, which makes this appliance much more unobtrusive.

Minimal "White Dust"

After running our Levoit LV600S nonstop for the past month and filling it with filtered tap water from our Brita pitcher, we still haven't seen any sign of the dreaded mineral residue on our furniture or floors.

Timer

Although we have not yet needed to use it, you can set a timer to automatically shut off the unit after a preset interval (between one and 12 hours).

Memory Function

This model will remember your Mist Level, Humidity Level, Warm Mist, and Wi-Fi settings even when the unit is turned off or unplugged. It will not remember your Sleep or Timer settings, however, and the display will turn on automatically when the unit is turned back on.

Aroma Box

At the back of the base, there is a compartment called the Aroma Box. You can pull it out, put 8–10 drops of essential oil onto an Aroma Pad, place the scented pad into the compartment, and replace it. This will lightly scent the water vapor. We have not tried this yet.

“No Water” Indicator With Auto-Shutoff

If there is no water in the tank, this indicator will blink 10 times and the humidifier will shut off automatically. The indicator lights up when the water tank is removed and remains on until the tank is re-seated on the base.

Mobile App

What makes the Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier "smart" is that it is Bluetooth- and VeSync-enabled. VeSync is a smart home app that allows you to control connected devices remotely from anywhere.

https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/the-best-humidifier/
Screenshot of the VeSync smart home mobile app on my iPhone. The app lets you
control your humidifier and other VeSync-enabled devices from your smartphone.

We only started using the app this week, and it's a great option with an extremely intuitive, easy-to-use interface. It's also nice to know that we will be able to control our humidifier remotely when we travel.

The app allows also you to access additional smart functions including a sophisticated Plant Mode and is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice commands.

Sleek Design

Although appearance is less important to us than function and features when we choose an ultrasonic humidifier, this one has the advantage of looking streamlined and unobtrusive and doesn't detract from our home decor. A nice bonus!

Helpful Humidifier Tips

Optimize the Humidity Level

If you live in a climate with cold winters, keep the humidity level low enough so the mist doesn't condense on your windows (and potentially rot the wood window frames).

Consider a Standalone Indoor Hygrometer

A humidifier's built-in humidity sensor (humidistat) measures the humidity in the immediate vicinity. For a more accurate measure of the room's humidity, we put an inexpensive indoor hygrometer on the far side of the room and set the humidifier's target humidity so that our desired humidity level displays on the hygrometer.

Protect Against Possible Leaks

The only time we had an ultrasonic humidifier leak, it was the result of user error. (It had a bottom-fill tank and when we refilled and replaced it on the base, we didn't seat the reservoir correctly, so the water leaked onto the table.) So, as a precaution, we now put our ultrasonic humidifiers on an old plastic cutting board on top of a sturdy plastic 12-gallon lidded storage container. The cutting board provides a stable surface for the unit to sit on, and the interlocking flaps at the top of the crate are not water-tight, so if there is ever a leak, the water would fall through the interlocking flaps and be contained inside the crate with no risk of damaging our hardwood floors.

If you want to keep the humidifier manual and consumable supplies (e.g., filters) next to the humidifier, as we do, put them in a zippered plastic freezer bag to keep them dry and protect against possible leaks.

Use Distilled or Filtered Tap Water

If your tap water is hard, you can cut down significantly on the dreaded white mineral dust (the residue from the minerals in the water after the emitted mist evaporates) by using distilled or filtered water. We keep a Brita water filter pitcher next to our humidifier and use the filtered water to refill the reservoir.

In fact, the manufacturer of our model recommends that all users use distilled water or filtered water to fill the Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier instead of tap water, which they say "might leave white dust and grow mold."

Give the Gift of Health and Comfort

If you know someone who lives in a cold or dry climate, has respiratory issues, or gets colds easily, the Levoit LV600S Smart Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier would make a great gift!


The Best Ultrasonic Humidifier: Ultra Quiet, Easy to Clean & Fill by Margaret Schindel

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Wednesday, October 11, 2023

How to Soften Dry, Callused, Cracked Heels the Easy Way

As we age, we're more prone to developing dry, cracked heels that can be painful as well as unsightly. There are many contributing factors, some within our control and others not. However, if you suffer from cracked heels, you know they can be challenging to treat effectively.

I've tried many different treatments for this annoying condition. In today's review, I recommend some simple tips that have helped me the most. Here's to healing our dry, cracked heels!

How to Heal & Soften Dry, Callused, Cracked Heels

Background photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

What Causes Cracked Heels?

The helpful WebMD article "What to Know About Cracked Heels" explains that cracked heels can develop "When the skin around your heels becomes dry and thick...Extra pressure on the fat pad of your heels can cause dry, thick skin to form cracks, or heel fissures."

According to the article, contributing factors may include:

  • Wearing sandals, clogs, or other open-heeled footwear
  • Taking hot baths or hot showers
  • Using soaps with harsh ingredients
  • Standing for long stretches of time
  • Cold, dry weather
  • Medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, athlete's foot, heel spurs, Sj√∂gren's syndrome, or juvenile plantar dermatosis

How to Treat and Repair Dry, Callused, Cracked Heels at Home

After consulting multiple reliable sources, here are the at-home foot care steps I have followed to heal my dry, cracked heels successfully. I repeat these steps periodically, as needed, to prevent and heal my heel cracks.

The best time to do these steps is just before bed to allow the healing foot cream or ointment to soak into the skin and do its work while you're sleeping.

Caveat: The WebMD article explains that "Occasionally, severely cracked heels can get infected and lead to a skin infection called cellulitis" and advises talking to your doctor "if your heels are severely cracked or don’t improve after you’ve treated them for a week."

Step 1: Use a diamond foot rasp to remove the top layer of thick calluses.

If your calluses aren't too thick and your heel cracks aren't deep, you can use a pumice stone after soaking your feet in warm, soapy water (see step 2). However, if your heels are extremely dry and have thick calluses, use either a Diamancel Diamond Foot Buffer #11 Medium Rasp or, for even thicker calluses, a Diamancel Diamond Foot Buffer #22 Coarse Rasp followed by the #11 Medium Rasp.

These files are an investment, but they will last for many years and can be easily washed in hot, soapy water and then dried and disinfected with isopropyl alcohol after each use.

Note: I have tried but do not recommend the "cheese grater" style metal foot file. It removes a lot of skin quickly and has sharp "teeth" that make it easy to accidentally remove too much callus and possibly cut into your skin, which could lead to infection. This type of foot file also leaves the surface very rough and requires a lot of effort to smooth with a pumice stone or fine diamond foot buffer.

Step 2: Soak your feet in warm, soapy water for 20 minutes.

Use gentle soap and warm, not hot water, in a tub or, if you prefer, a dedicated foot bath. Consider the affordable HoMedics Bubble Mate Foot Spa, a splash-proof, heated foot bath with water jets and raised massage nodes to pamper your tired feet. This is on my holiday wish list and would make a great gift, especially as part of a spa gift basket! 

(My mom had a heated foot bath many years ago that she used to bring with her to the nail salon when she got a pedicure since she was extremely conscious about good hygiene at the salon. She also loved using it at home to soothe her aching feet after a long day.)

After soaking your feet for 20 minutes, use a pumice stone to smooth away any calluses or, if you used a diamond foot rasp in step 1, to smooth any roughness left by the rasp(a).

Step 3: Towel-dry your feet well.

Use a clean, absorbent towel to dry your feet very thoroughly, especially in between your toes to help prevent athlete's foot.

Step 4: Apply a healing ointment or moisturizing cream.

I have tried numerous foot creams to heal dry, cracked heels. Based on my experience, if you have very dry, callused heels with fairly deep cracks, I highly recommend starting with the Kerasal Nighttime Intensive Foot Repair, Skin Healing Ointment for Cracked Heels and Dry Feet. I discovered this fantastic ointment thanks to the recommendation of a well-known and highly respected board-certified dermatologist on social media. I'm very grateful to her for introducing me to this miracle cracked heels treatment!

It contains 5% salicylic acid, 10% urea and soft white petrolatum to exfoliate, soften, and moisturize hard, dry, cracked, and callused heels, and is approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association. It comes in a small tube, but a little goes a long way.

Another good option is Ebanel Urea Cream 40% plus Salicylic Acid 2%. It has a consistency that one Amazon reviewer likened to Elmer's glue, which helps it adhere to the skin while it does its work. It may not be the most cosmetically elegant formulation, but it's extremely effective!

Once your feet are in better shape and your cracks have healed, you can switch to something less heavy-duty and more economical for daily or nightly maintenance. Good choices include Dr. Scholl's Dry, Cracked Foot Repair Ultra Hydrating Foot Cream, Miracle of Aloe Miracle Foot Repair Cream for Dry, Cracked Feet & Heels, or Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula with Vitamin E Foot Magic Moisturizing Foot Cream. All of these are available on Amazon, and most can be found at a well-stocked drugstore.

Whichever cream or ointment you use, make sure to massage it in very well before putting on your heel socks or sleep socks.

Step 5: Put on heel socks or thin, breathable bed socks and wear them overnight.

I prefer wearing thin cotton or bamboo socks to bed if I'm applying my foot cream or ointment to the balls of my feet as well as my heels. Bamboo or cotton bed socks allow the skin to "breathe," and thin socks are less absorbent so your foot cream or ointment stays on the skin of your heels vs. on your socks.

My favorite socks for this purpose (and also my favorite summer or warm weather socks) are the SERISIMPLE Women's Bamboo Ankle Socks. They come in a pack of five pairs for less than $17 (at the time of this post's publication), so $3.40 a pair, and they are excellent quality! They are thin, soft, and lightweight and slip on easily over foot cream or ointment. They also come in a very large selection of pretty pastel, mid-tone, and dark color assortments.

But if my feet are in really rough shape and I'm applying the ointment just to my cracked heels, I'll put on toeless, silicone-lined heel socks before going to bed.

For the latter, I really like the ZenToes Moisturizing Fuzzy Sleep Socks. The outer shell is a soft, fleece material, while the heel is lined with a silicone gel infused with jojoba seed oil, olive oil, and vitamin E to add an extra layer of softening and moisturizing ingredients where they are needed most.

The silicone gel creates a warm, hydrating environment that helps your foot cream or ointment penetrate while you sleep. These open-toed sleep socks are also washable and reusable, and one size fits most. Even after the infused oils are used up, they still work perfectly with your preferred foot cream.

I also love that these are made by a small, woman-owned business based in Wisconsin. Although the socks are not manufactured in the USA, the company prides itself on doing three product quality checks before they are shipped out to customers: before they leave the factory, when they are received at the USA warehouse, and when they are packaged in that USA warehouse.

In addition, ZenToes uses individuals with diverse abilities who work for Opportunities, Inc. in Wisconsin, a Community Rehabilitation Program, to package their products "with dignity and purpose."

For a short-term quick fix, replace steps 4 and 5 with an intensive repair foot mask.

There are Kerasal Nighttime Intensive Repair Foot Masks that can be used instead of steps 4 and 5, although as single-use products they are less economical (and less environmentally responsible). But they're great if you want to try out the Kerasal Nighttime Intensive Foot Repair ointment to see how you like it before investing in heel socks or thin cotton bed socks.

Also, if you want to wear sandals, go to the beach, etc., and notice at the last minute that your heels are cracked, you can use the Kerasal Daytime Intensive Repair Foot Mask (pack of 2 pairs). These won't deliver the same results as steps 1–5, but they can definitely improve the way your feet and heels look and feel in less than half an hour.

To use them, start by washing and drying your feet thoroughly. Then, remove one pair of the foot masks and put them on. Put your feet up and relax (they're too slippery to walk around in) for 20 minutes, then remove the covers and massage any residue of the healing cream into your feet.

Helpful Tips to Prevent Heel Cracks

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To keep your feet and heels soft, smooth and healthy, here are some habits to adopt that can help prevent or reduce calluses and heel cracks:

  • Avoid walking barefoot on hard surfaces
  • Wear closed-heel footwear
  • Take warm, not hot, baths or showers
  • Use mild soaps
  • Dry your feet and in between your toes thoroughly to avoid athlete's foot
  • Keep your skin at a comfortable temperature and moisturize your feet daily and/or nightly with a foot cream after showering or bathing and drying the skin well

Disclaimer

I am not a medical professional and this article should not be construed in any way as medical advice. When in doubt, consult your doctor before attempting to treat your cracked heels at home.

How to Soften Dry, Callused, Cracked Heels the Easy Way by Margaret Schindel

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