basket of wild yams and sweet potatoes to show the difference

Sweet Potatoes, Sweet Potato Yams, Wild Yams: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between sweet potatoes and yams? It seems like one of those age-old questions, kind like "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" The more relevant question this time of year might be "What’s on my Thanksgiving table? Sweet potatoes or yams?" 

Sweet potatoes and yams are one of Autumn's greatest food staples

roasted sweet potatoes with rosemarySweet potato pie, candied yams, mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato soufflé, roasted yams--they all kind of taste the same, don’t they? When you go to the grocery store, do you look for sweet potatoes or yams? If your recipe calls for sweet potatoes but you can only find garnet yams or jewel yams, what do you do? Do you scrap the recipe or do you substitute the yams for the sweet potato?

When it comes to the sweet potato and yam side dishes and desserts we typically think of, it really makes no difference. The sweet potatoes and yams you see in a regular grocery store are really just different varieties of the same sweet vegetable: they are all sweet potatoes. In fact, the term "sweet potato yam" really should be called "yam sweet potato."

So are sweet potatoes and yams really all the same?

No. Yams are not just varieties of sweet potatoes. True yams are actually a completely different category of vegetable and have no relation to potatoes or sweet potatoes. Let's learn more about what actual yams are.

When you see the term "Chinese yam" or "wild yam," these are actually referring to this different type of yam which is in the Dioscoreae family. This family has about 200 different varieties, which are different sizes and colors, and they are native to Africa, Asia, and can also be found in the tropical regions of North and South America.

Like sweet potatoes, the flesh may range in color from white, ivory, or yellow to purple. But unlike sweet potatoes, a yam has a thick, rough, scaly (even sometimes "hairy") skin which can be white, pink or brownish-black. Their shape is long and cylindrical (oftentimes having offshoots referred to as “toes”), and they can grow to be several feet long.

Yams have played a central role in the diets of many different countries for thousands of years. They are used in stir fry and roasted vegetable dishes, and have an earthy NOT too sweet taste.

Yams have several health benefits and contain many nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, fiber, and potassium. They also contain a storage protein called discorin, which may benefit those with certain cardiovascular issues.

Wild yam and hormonal activity

Wild yam cross sectionWild yams and wild yam extract are also considered by many alternative or herbal healing practitioners to help balance out women's hormones and relieve symptoms during menopause. Women across cultures in which wild yams grow have managed their symptoms using them as food and topically for thousands of years.

Some of the published clinical research warns that consuming wild yam or wild yam extract can cause harm (especially if taken while the woman is already taking a pharmaceutical synthetic hormone prescription). If you are considering adding wild yam to your diet or regimen to manage symptoms of menopause or other hormonal imbalances, we highly recommend that you do your own research and see what makes sense to you. Talk to a couple of different healthcare providers from different modalities about it and get different perspectives. It is your decision whether to add hormones or possible hormone precursors to your regimen or not. Whatever your decision, make sure it is an informed one.

There are many topical wild yam creams available on the market. Be sure to read the labels, since many of them contain endocrine disrupting chemicals like parabens and synthetic fragrances. Also ask about the source of the wild yam extract in the cream itself to make sure it is natural and from the right type of yam.

What about sweet potatoes?

Sweet potatoes, on the other hand are members of the Convolvulaceae family. FYI, neither sweet potatoes nor yams are related to common potatoes, which are in the Solanaceae family. Did you know that there are approximately 400 different varieties of sweet potatoes? Some may look like common potatoes on the outside, some may be much larger with smooth skin and tapered ends. The flesh of the sweet potato may be almost white, cream, yellow, orange, pink, or deep purple, although white/cream and yellow-orange flesh are most common.

Sweet potatoes are healthy to eat year ’round, not just for the holidays, if they are prepared in a healthy way--meaning not candied! Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet enough as it is--there is no need to add any form of sugar to make them taste delicious. 

Whole and cubed sweet potatoesIf you are a person with sugar cravings, try eating sautéed or roasted sweet potatoes more often and see if your cravings decrease. We love them sautéed or roasted with ghee or coconut oil, and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, and ginger. Sweet potatoes also are known to help support healthy blood sugar.

Sweet potatoes are an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich food. They contain anthocyanins and beta-carotene (bioavailable precursor of Vitamin A). They also contain storage proteins called sporamins, and naturally occuring antifungal and antibacterial properties. Research continues to reveal more specific anti-inflammatory benefits--even though sweet potatoes are not the same as yams, they are still a very healthy food.

Why the confusion between sweet potatoes and yams?

Since sweet potatoes and yams are clearly two very different and unrelated foods, why are they even associated with each other?

According to The World's Healthiest Foods:

"When the moist-fleshed orange-colored sweet potato was introduced into the United States in the mid-20th century, producers wanted to distinguish it from the white-fleshed sweet potato that most people were used to. They adopted the word 'yam' from nyami, the African word for the root of the Dioscoreae genus of plants. While there are attempts to distinguish between the two, such as the U.S. Deparment of Agriculture’s labeling requirement that the moist-fleshed, orange-colored sweet potatoes that are labeled as 'yams' also be accompanied by the label 'sweet potato,' for many people this does not help to clarify the distinction between the two very different root vegetables."

True yams aren’t even widely available in most parts of the United States; you’d have to go to a very specialized health food or African/South American/Asian specialty store to find them. So go ahead and enjoy the many beautiful and delicious varieties of sweet potatoes not just this Thanksgiving, but all year 'round. 

What's your favorite way to enjoy sweet potatoes or wild yams?

Please share with us in the comments!

Member on A Mission: Angie Uhle

We’re incredibly proud of NAA members and Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner students, and the unique ways that they apply the Nutritional Aesthetics® philosophy in their personal and professional lives. It’s our goal to support them and share their wisdom by highlighting their stories with you in a periodic ‘Member on a Mission’ feature. Our latest featured member, Angie Uhle, of Nourished Holistic has successfully brought together her passion for holistic aesthetics, massage therapy, energy work, lymphatic drainage, to her community through her private practice, and online through the forthcoming Reset the Clock on Aging: Powerful New Ways Your Body Can Create Luminous Skin Masterclass Series. Angie truly takes an integrative approach to healthy skin.

Angie is obsessed with helping stressed out mamas find calm, get healthy glowing skin, and a tension free body. As a dancer for 14 years, she was fascinated with how the body works; so in 1998, she began as a massage therapist and then in 2004, was licensed as an aesthetician.

Growing up, Angie never had great skin. She tended towards breakouts and extremely congested skin, as well as very reactive skin. As she grew older, she began noticing some digestive issues; so to help herself and her clients, she decided to embark on the journey of Nutrition Consulting.

She still wasn't seeing lasting changes in my client’s skin, and she really felt there were some pieces missing. Enter Holistic Aesthetics! All of a sudden, clients were experiencing long lasting changes--not only to their skin, but to their whole person as well. That’s how she knew she was on to something.

And the real magic began when Angie learned to create my own skincare line (she trained directly with Rachael Pontillo in the Create Your Skincare Pro course). Angie decided to create her own skincare line because so many of her clients are stressed out mamas who didn’t want to have ALL the steps and a ton of products. They needed products that are simple and minimal, but still clean, effective, and affordable. So Angie created a clean, effective and affordable skincare line, with her minimalist--yet intentional approach.

We spoke to Lifetime NAA Member, Angie Uhle, about the role that Nutritional Aesthetics® plays in her business and her integrative approach to skin health:

Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance:

What excites you the most about the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance?

Lifetime NAA Member, Angie Uhle, shares her integrative approach to healthy skin

Angie Uhle:

What excites me about the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance is the mission to create awareness around an integrative approach to healthy skin. By combining healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices, you can bridge the gap between internal and external wellness.


How do you apply Nutritional Aesthetics® principles to your work?

Angie Uhle:

As a Holistic Aesthetician, Massage Therapist, Nutrition Consultant and Skincare Designer, I definitely have an integrated approach. For me I really embrace the holistic approach to skin health. Though nutrition and clean products are incredibly important, I believe it is about so much more: sleep, calming the nervous system, fixing possible gut issues, mindfulness, lymphatic health…the list goes on.  But ALL of these things are important not only for whole body health but to cultivate that vibrancy and a healthful glow from within.

Being shut down since March due to the pandemic, I had a strong feeling of missing the work I do, so I created an online series (launching September 21) to bridge the gap between internal and external wellness so that women can cultivate that healthy glow from within. I handpicked 30+ top experts and influencers to help women learn how to cultivate a youthful glow while embracing aging from the inside out by using wellness methods for internal health, environment, mindset, fascial and lymphatic health, toxic free living, self-care and massage too.

If you want to join the free series you can grab your seat here Reset the Clock on Aging: Powerful new ways your body can create luminous skin Masterclass Series.


Please complete this sentence, and elaborate as much as you wish: “For optimal skin health, I wish people would do more of ___________________, and less of ___________________.”

Angie Uhle:

For optimal skin health, I wish people would do more of loving the skin they are in, and less of just thinking that products are what will create lasting changes.

We are so grateful to Angie for being a dedicated Lifetime Member of the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance!

Connect with Angie Uhle:

Learn more about NAA Membership HERE, and our Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program HERE. We’d love to feature YOU as an upcoming Member on a Mission!

Leave a comment about aromatherapy in the spa!

We want to hear from you!

How do you apply Nutritional Aesthetics® principles to your own work? Please share in the comments below!

oil on a tablespoon next to toothbrushes for oil pulling

Should Oil Pulling Be Part of Your Detox Toolbox?

Oil pulling is a great example of something that appears to be a trendy new wellness practice, but is actually rooted in the ancient tradition, Ayurveda. Like the other integrative approaches we cover in the first Pillar of our Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program, oil pulling may seem a bit out-of-the-box at first, but has the potential to give your skin health routine a big boost.

What is oil pulling?

oil pulling as part of oral care regimenThe act of oil pulling is actually really simple. You take a tablespoon of oil (traditionally sesame or sunflower, but many people use olive or other edible carrier oils they have on hand in the kitchen) and swish it around in your mouth thoroughly for several minutes, and then spit it out. The theory is that the oils will "pull" the toxins from your body out of the mouth tissue, teeth, saliva, etc., which will are then eliminated when you spit it all out. After 6 to 8 weeks of doing this daily, you should experience results, though some report positive results sooner.

There are some pretty lofty health claims associated with oil pulling.

Some of the most common health issues oil pulling has been claimed to improve are:

  • Mouth and gum disease
  • Stiff joints and arthritis
  • Respiratory issues such as allergies, asthma, and bronchitis
  • High blood sugar and diabetes
  • Constipation
  • Migraines
  • Skin issues like eczema and dry, cracked heels
  • Heart, kidney, lung diseases
  • Leukemia and other forms of cancer
  • Meningitis
  • Insomnia
  • Menopause (hormonal issues)
  • AIDS
  • Chronic infections
  • Cardiovascular issues like varicose veins and high blood pressure
  • Polio

That covers pretty much everything, doesn’t it? At the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance, we shy away from making claims like these, because different practices work differently for different people. We don't like to give people false hope that they will experience a miraculous result just because other people have. And in all honestly, there's very little evidence--anecdotally or clinically--that can prove that oil pulling is the ONLY practice that people who experienced dramatic results were doing.

How does oil pulling actually work?

close-up on woman's beautiful smileThere are many differing views on whether or not oil pulling actually works by pulling toxins out through the mouth. Many detox experts and practitioners of various holistic modalities argue that you cannot detoxify the entire body just through one area.

Yet there are too many people who have seen dramatic improvements to dismiss this practice as simple good luck or even label it as a placebo effect. Jon Barron, of the Baseline of Health Foundation, notes that poor dental health (varying degrees of gum disease and tooth decay) caused by inadequate hygiene and poor diets is also responsible for causing many of the aforementioned ailments. In fact, "about 75 percent of Americans have gum disease and don’t know it."


What oil pulling can and can't do

Barron's thought is that oil pulling probably does not actually pull toxins from the body and cure diseases, but it can definitely help remove harmful bacteria, yeasts, and other germs from the mouth that contribute to gum disease. This happens because the oils themselves have naturally occurring antimicrobial properties. Also, since oil is slippery in nature, it can get into places where toothbrushes, floss, even more advanced tools like Water Piks and dental scrapers, cannot; such as the pockets that form in the gums around the roots of the teeth.

These pockets form naturally with age, but are made worse when pathogens and undigested food collect in them and cause inflammation, which ultimate leads to disease. Swishing with oil for 20 minutes daily can help clean out these pockets and help to keep the bacteria out by providing lubrication which may prevent future accumulation.

The mouth is the beginning of the digestive system; and we know that majority of the body's immune function is rooted in the digestive tract. We also know that the root cause of most skin issues such as acne, rosacea, eczema can be traced back to imbalances or dysfunction in the digestive tract. If there is dysbiosis (imbalance or lack of biodiversity within the microbiota) in the digestive system, then dysbisis is likely present in the mouth and gums as well. Conversely, if there is dysbiosis in the mouth and gums, it is likely that there are also issues in the other organs and tissues of the digestive system.

Oil pulling best practices

oil for oil pulling with copper tongue scraperAlthough the act of oil pulling itself is simple, there are some "rules" to abide by:

  1. Do your oil pulling first thing in the morning before eating, drinking, or brushing your teeth.
  2. Swish for 20 minutes. This may seem like a REALLY long time, especially in the morning! We encourage you to use these 20 minutes for your morning tasks such as writing your morning pages, getting the kids ready for school; or checking your own appointment or task list for the day. It can be done!
  3. No swallowing! The theory is that if you swallow, you are re-ingesting the very toxins you are trying to get rid of. Very small amounts swallowed by accident won’t hurt, but if you feel your mouth is getting too full, you should either spit out a small amount and keep swishing or spit it out and put fresh oil in for the duration of the time.
  4. Don’t gargle it. You don’t want to risk swallowing or choking by pulling up any excess mucus. Just swish really thoroughly through the teeth, top and bottom, and side to side to clean out every nook and cranny.
  5. Once you are finished, make sure clean out your mouth. You don’t want any lingering germs or residue left behind. Use a tongue scraper (your tongue will most likely be coated), brush your teeth thoroughly, and swish or gargle with warm salt water.

Please note: oil pulling is a substitute for brushing, flossing, and getting regular dental cleanings/check-ups.

Oil pulling likely won't perform a detox miracle on its own.

However, we love it because it is a simple and affordable practice that can easily be implemented into one's daily routine that is known to provide some sort of benefit, without harm. It is something about your routine that you can control. Small changes, done consistently are often what lead to the most significant outcomes!

Do you have experience with oil pulling?

Is it something you do personally, or recommend to your clients? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below!


assorted vegetables

How to Prepare Vegetables Even Picky Eaters Will Love

If you were to ask just about any client one thing they *should* do to improve their skin (from the inside out) and overall well being, "eat more vegetables" is a likely response. Though more people are now in tune with the many healthy benefits associated with eating vegetables (particularly greens) daily, only about one in 10 adults actually eats enough veggies daily. Why is this? While there is no shortage of vegetables available at every price range (even fast food establishments serve fresh salads), one of the main reasons why people don't eat enough is because they don't know how to properly prepare vegetables for optimal taste and texture.

It's important to know how to prepare vegetables properly to avoid overcooking them!

Another reason why people don't eat enough vegetables is because they don't think they like them. Just about everyone has a story about mushy broccoli or limp green beans.

However, most of the distaste clients express about their worst encounters with vegetables are really not about the vegetable itself. The problem is that the vegetables were either not prepared correctly (overcooking is the most common veggie offense), or they were bland. Fortunately, these two problems--how to prepare vegetables properly, and season them to please any palate--are easy to solve!

Here are our top tips for how to prepare vegetables and season them for maximum taste and texture:

Don't overcook your veggies!

The whole point of eating vegetables every day is to gain the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and other key phytonutrients that only come from plants. In order for those nutrients to be intact, the vegetables need to be prepared properly! Some are better raw (like salad greens, celery, or carrots), while others are more nutritious when gently cooked (beets, sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale).

sautéed kale

Aside from being colorless, tasteless and textureless, overcooked vegetables also have had most of their nutrients destroyed. By eating vegetables raw, steamed, or lightly sautéed, you not only retain the color, flavor, and texture (which is crucial for the pleasure of the meal), but you also retain the nutritional value of the food.

Lightly steaming or sautéing vegetables (in a healthy, heat-safe fat like coconut oil, sesame oil, or ghee) to the point where the vegetables brighten in color and soften a bit, while still retaining their "bite" is what to look for. Lightly grilling or oven-roasting is also a better option than boiling, though it's important to watch the time so you don't over-char or completely dry out the vegetables.

Stock up on herbs, spices, and healthy condiments

Seasoning your vegetables with an assortment of healthy condiments, herbs, and spices is a wonderful way to not only make the veggie taste its best, but also to adjust the flavor profile of the entire meal to keep things interesting.

Assorted healthy condiments

Some of our favorites are low-sodium tamari (a gluten-free fermented soy product like soy sauce), brown miso, umeboshi plum vinegar, dulse flakes (sea vegetable), raw apple cider vinegar, and oils other than olive like coconut, sesame, grapeseed, and flaxseed. Some of our other seasoning staples include mineral-rich pink Himalayan sea salt, black pepper, garlic, parsley, basil, Adobo seasoning (a blend of garlic and different peppers), Borsari (herbs and spices infused in salt), and gomasio (powdered sea vegetables with sesame seeds and sea salt). You can also stick with healthier versions of familiar favorites such as organic ketchup and mustard with no added sugar or hydrogenated fats.

These herbs, spices, and condiments are available in most health food stores, or the ethnic foods aisle in grocery stores. They can be expensive, we recommend buying a different one each week, and grow your collection over time.

Change it up

We all get stuck in food ruts from time to time, where we feel like we are cooking and eating the same types of foods all the time. This happens for many reasons: convenience, comfort level, cooking ability, tradition, etc.; but it is not healthy to keep eating the same things all the time. Eating should be a fun and even adventurous experience, and changing up favorite foods with different seasonings, flavor profiles, and cooking methods is a great way to keep vegetables interesting.

Assorted grilled vegetables

For example, if you're tired of steamed kale--try sautéing it or making kale chips. If you're tired of stir-fried zucchini, throw them on the grill. If you're used to boiling broccoli but don't want to overcook it, try blanching (submerging it in boiling water just for a few seconds) and then shocking (submerging it in ice water promptly after the boiling water) it instead. If you've had just about all you can take of Mediterranean-inspired flavors like olive oil with garlic and basil, try the same vegetables with Asian flavors. Sesame oil, ginger, and cilantro are great substitutes.

The skin-health benefits of vegetables are immeasurable

Consuming large amounts of fresh, organic vegetables (and fruit too) on a daily basis provides you with many of the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your body needs to heal itself, fend off bacterial and viral infections, maintain its optimal weight, and grow healthy and resilient skin cells. By learning how to prepare vegetables and season them so you like them, you'll definitely find it easier to incorporate them into your daily diet in more ways.

Young woman with clear skin holding fresh vegetables

By eating more fresh vegetables daily, you also increasing hydration, and promote an alkaline environment in the gut--which in turn will support healthy digestion, a healthy microbiome, and cellular function. This can help address the root causes of skin issues like acne, as well as rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis flare-ups.

The nutrients you get from these plant foods are more bioavailable than those you would get from supplements as well, meaning they are more easily absorbed and utilized by the body. If you get the majority of your nutrients from food sources, you spend less money on expensive supplements.

Do you want to learn more about how to support your clients with practical nutrition and lifestyle tips like this?

Check out our Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program!

sunscreen must be reef-friendly

Why the Snorkeling Captain Wouldn't Let Well-Intentioned Americans Use Their "Reef-Friendly" Sunscreen

Today's blog post is a guest contribution from mom of four, former teacher, and healthy kids cooking advocate, Katie Kimball--who is also a self-professed sunscreen geek. In this post, Katie informs us of the importance of using reef-friendly--not just "natural" sunscreen--and also discusses the problem of greenwashing in the sunscreen industry. Katie's also shared links to more helpful information, including a reef-friendly sunscreen guide. Enjoy, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments!

sunscreen must be reef-friendlyThis February, just in time to avoid having our trip foiled by the stay-at-home orders, 13 family members fulfilled my mother-in-law's dream of 40 years and traveled to Hawaii.

As much as I was in awe of the natural beauty and impossible volcanic landscapes, I got even more jazzed up talking about reef-friendly sunscreen with the owner of the Zodiac snorkeling trip.

You see, my family and I have literally been A-B testing mineral sunscreens for review since 2010. We're up at well over 100 now. It's such a passion of mine, that I've interviewed sunscreen formulators, worked with lawyers close to the sunscreen ingredient ban in Hawaii, and even been cited in a press release from the lab that started the whole process of banning oxybenzone and octinoxate for killing the coral reefs.

Greenwashing is hitting sunscreen hard

I was definitely the sunscreen geek cringing when uninformed vacationers were clearly using conventional sunscreen brands that will be illegal in the great state of Hawaii come 2021.

Greenwashing is hitting the sunscreen industry hard.I started offering my natural sunscreens on every excursion in case people needed something safe for humans AND coral reefs. I was at once proud and devastated when I heard a story from another American mainlander who had the best of intentions.

She said she tried to do the right thing and order “reef-friendly” sunscreen on Amazon.

"I read the label," she said. "It said reef-friendly right there. But then when we went snorkeling yesterday, the captain wouldn't let us put it on. He took one look at the back of the bottle and said it's still not safe enough."

I felt proud that marine-life-loving crusaders have gotten the word out that reef-safe sunscreen is necessary!

But let's be honest: even though the captain of the boat didn't allow all the chemical sunscreens, we all know that most people had already applied their first layer before they even got out there. That meant more coral reef killers floating away on the waves.

I’m angry that it's so easy to walk into Costco or log into Amazon Prime and get completely hoodwinked to the detriment of the environment and our children's future reproductive health!

Unfortunately, I’m not surprised. Greenwashing is bound to happen the moment anything goes into effect that threatens the big brands.

Why use reef-friendly sunscreen

Black woman sunbathing on the beachThe new law in Hawaii, which goes into effect in the summer of 2021, bans the two most dangerous ingredients for the coral reefs: oxybenzone and octinoxate.

Haereticus Labs proved that those two harm the coral reefs, but it’s so much more than that.

They're also absolutely not safe for humans, causing serious endocrine disruption and found in 97% of American urine. They're pervasive in our water supply and environment, and they really need to go. (Read more about the FDA’s proposed ban on sunscreen ingredients.)

Another study by Haereticus Labs proved that these ingredients “cause endocrine disruption to reproductive physiology, such as reduced sperm density, reduced prostate in juveniles, changes in the estrous cycle, and reduction in immunity. In one clinical study, boys who were exposed to oxybenzone exhibited lower testosterone levels. Oxybenzone exposure has also been linked to increases in endometriosis, alters lactation expression, as well as some birth defects.” Press release

What does reef-safe sunscreen mean?

We don’t need these toxicants on our skin or in the environment, and it shouldn’t be so hard to avoid them.

There are already hundreds of brands of sunscreen using safe, natural, mineral active ingredients that are 100% safe for coral reefs.

Person snorkeling in coral reefUnfortunately, the big brands have looked at this new law and are following it to the letter.

They’re only getting rid of those two offensive ingredients and slapping “reef-friendly” on the label so travelers can go to Hawaii with their products.

They're still leaving in other chemical actives, which carry with them most of the same problems, just not quite as well proven (yet). That's why the snorkel captain flipped over the tube and immediately told the travelers it wasn't enough. He's so close to the devastation of the coral reefs--we've lost half of the Great Barrier Reef since 2016 alone! Source: National Geographic

Experts know that all of the chemical sunscreen actives are wreaking havoc on marine life, not just the coral reefs. These ingredients, like octocrylene, avobenzone, homosalate, parabens and more can also damage the reproduction and other systems in green algae, dolphins, mussels, fish, and sea urchins. Source

So what can you look for so that you aren't greenwashed by the new "reef-friendly" sunscreen that only follows the letter of the law?

It's actually ridiculously simple. Under the "active ingredients," you want only zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Why zinc oxide only for safe sunscreen

I encourage you to choose zinc oxide only, for a few reasons:

  • There are some potential risks to titanium dioxide being a heavy metal.
  • Zinc oxide is fully broad spectrum all by itself.
  • Zinc oxide is also the only active sunscreen ingredient rated safe for babies under six months old. You may recognize it as the active ingredient in diaper cream as well.

Don’t worry, that doesn't mean you'll look like you've applied diaper cream to your face! The zinc percentage is lower in sunscreen than diaper cream, and formulators are getting pretty good at getting it to blend in clearly or they add tints so that you can't see the white cast on your skin.

Bottom line: good for the environment, safe for humans

For me, there's no contest. Ocean life and my future grandchildren win out every day over a sunscreen that's potentially a little easier to apply.

Don't get greenwashed! Hop on over and I'll share the best zinc oxide, reef-safe sunscreens out there out of 100 brands that my kids have had to endure for the last 10 years.

We know what works! We know what goes on smoothly.

And we can help you cut through all the greenwashed labeling that’s so confusing, whether you get to travel to Hawaii or are just hanging out in your backyard, trying have some safe fun in the sun.

Author bio:

Katie Kimball, expert on reef-friendly sunscreenKatie Kimball, the national voice of healthy kids cooking, is a blogger, former teacher, and mom of 4 kids who founded the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse. Her blog, Kitchen Stewardship helps families stay healthy without going crazy, and she’s on a mission to connect families around healthy food and teach every child in America to cook. She also happens to be a total sunscreen geek, having tested over 100 natural mineral formulas on her hapless children and pale husband.

Was this information about reef-friendly sunscreen new to you?

Did any of the information in today's post surprise you? Or were you already a pro with using zinc oxide-based, reef-safe sunscreen? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Natural skin care products

Member on A Mission: Theresa Tambos

We’re incredibly proud of NAA members and Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner students, and the unique ways that they apply the Nutritional Aesthetics® philosophy in their personal and professional lives. It’s our goal to support them and share their wisdom by highlighting their stories with you in a periodic ‘Member on a Mission’ feature. Our latest featured member, Theresa Tambos, of Glowgirl Skincare has successfully brought together her passion for Mother Earth with holistic nutrition and integrative aesthetics.

As a Culinary school graduate and mom of four, Theresa spent years making everything from scratch, trying to raise the kids on healthy nutritious food. 

Being an avid reader, it didn’t take long to find nutrition books, which led her to going back to school to study nutrition, and change her family's diet to natural, alive, organic foods. Her skin changed too, all thanks to her clean diet. 

Theresa loves walking on the beach, and developed hyperpigmentation as a result of the constant sun exposure. She tried every spa treatment, and it just wouldn’t fade so she enrolled in aesthetics school to learn about the skin and how to treat it. She quickly discovered I had a real passion for the skin too.

After graduating, she decided to put her two passions together and open Glowgirl Skincare in Newmarket, Ontario. She use very few modalities, and includes nutrition in her home-care plan. She's real with people and they respect that. She tells them that healthy skin will come if they are committed to what it takes to get there. 

We spoke to Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner student, Theresa Tambos, about the role that Nutritional Aesthetics® plays in her business and her approach to skin health:

Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance:

What excites you the most about the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance?

Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner student, Theresa Tambos

Theresa Tambos

What excites me about the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance is that the access to information is endless. I know I can trust the information to be sourced, up to date, and relevant. Clients like to be informed; they find information on the Internet and always ask a lot questions. It's important for me to have the most up-to-date information available, to answer questions and be viewed as a professional who can be trusted. 


How do you apply Nutritional Aesthetics® principles to your work?

Theresa Tambos

Incorporating the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance principles is very easy for me because, I already ‘walk the talk.’ My passion for nutrition and skincare is strong. My clients can see that I believe every word I say, and that I’m not just regurgitating someone else’s words. At Glowgirl Skincare, I  advise my clients that the key to healthy skin is not just skincare treatments and topicals; it’s also dependent on a nutrient rich diet. I think it’s an exciting time to be a part of this industry!


Please complete this sentence, and elaborate as much as you wish: “For optimal skin health, I wish people would do more of ___________________, and less of ___________________.”

Theresa Tambos:

For optimal skin health, I wish people would would understand that no amount of skincare topicals or treatments can replace a healthy, nutrient-dense diet. I wish people would do less of letting the Internet or skincare “influencers” sell them on the next trend to healthy skin or diet. Healthy skin is a lifestyle choice--not a quick fix.

We are so grateful to Theresa Tambos for being a dedicated Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® student, and member of the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance!

Connect with Glowgirl Skincare:

Learn more about NAA Membership HERE, and our Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program HERE. We’d love to feature YOU as an upcoming Member on a Mission!

Leave a comment about aromatherapy in the spa!

We want to hear from you!

How do you apply Nutritional Aesthetics® principles to your own work? Please share in the comments below!

Luxury spa setting

Member on A Mission: Tara Swagger

We’re incredibly proud of NAA members and CNAP students, and the unique ways that they apply Nutritional Aesthetics® in their personal and professional lives. It’s our goal to support them and share their wisdom by highlighting their stories with you in a periodic ‘Member on a Mission’ feature. Our latest featured member, Tara Swagger, of Taraesthetics has successfully brought together her passion for a multitude of different modalities including aesthetics, brow artistry, permanent makeup, massage, reflexology, and wellness.

Tara has been in the spa industry for for over 20 years and is dedicated to providing the highest quality services for those who are looking to have treatments that provide results. She is a Licensed and Certified Nail Technician, Aesthetician, Massage Therapist, Reflexologist, Lash and Brow Artist, and CT Licensed tattoo artist offering permanent cosmetics. She is the owner of Taraesthetics in the beautiful and historic Downtown Putnam, Connecticut.

We spoke to Member on a Mission, Tara Swagger, about the role that Nutritional Aesthetics® plays in her business and her approach to skin health:

CNAP Student and Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance Member on a Mission, Tara Swagger, of Taraesthetics.

Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance:

What excites you the most about the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance?

Tara Swagger:

What excites me about the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance is the support it can provide for those in the industry that are working hard to help their clients achieve their skin health goals. I have worked more than 20 years in this industry, and it occurred to me very early on how important and valuable diet and lifestyle is in reaching those goals.

For years I worked in tandem with this concept, really spending hours and hours researching this on my own. The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance is really cultivating a place for practitioners to learn this fundamental concept in one place, and support you through new concepts in the field of holistic skin health.


How do you apply Nutritional Aesthetics® principles to your work?

Tara Swagger:

I utilize Nutritional Aesthetics® principles in my work with every single skincare client. It is essential to discuss their diet and lifestyle habits regarding their health, to truly assist them in the skincare goals as we move forward.

Many people experience inflammation that is signaled through their skin as really a response of something greater occurring in their overall health. Sometimes simple changes in this category can be the exact remedy they need to achieve their goal.


Please complete this sentence, and elaborate as much as you wish: “For optimal skin health, I wish people would do more of ___________________, and less of ___________________.”

Tara Swagger:

For optimal skin health, I wish people would spend more time seeking health from within to achieve their goals as opposed to scouring the planet for “the miracle product” that’ll give them all their skin answers. 

We are so grateful to Tara Swagger for being a dedicated Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® student, and member of the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance!

Connect with Taraesthetics:

Learn more about NAA Membership HERE, and our Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program HERE. We’d love to feature YOU as an upcoming Member on a Mission!

Leave a comment about aromatherapy in the spa!

We want to hear from you!

How do you apply Nutritional Aesthetics® principles to your own work? Please share in the comments below!

Woman thinking about toxic mold

Is Toxic Mold Responsible for Your Skin Problems?

All skin problems, be it acne, rosacea, eczema, hyperpigmentation, premature lines and wrinkles, and even more advanced conditions have a root cause. Sometimes that root cause is the person using topical skincare products with the wrong ingredients for their skin. Other extrinsic causes include sun damage and overexposure to environmental pollutants and irritant substances. Internally, the root cause might be due to poor gut health, dysbiosis, or liver dysfunction.

But what happens if a person cleans up their diet, protects their skin from the sun, and takes additional measures to address these factors; yet STILL struggles with skin symptoms? This is when we have to look at the potential root causes that often stay hidden, or go unnoticed in one's day to day life. One common, overlooked potential cause is fluoride in water. Another that is equally as problematic and may be even more hidden is toxic mold.

Mold exists everywhere--in our homes and offices, in our outdoor environments, in foods we eat, and even inside our bodies. If we maintain a healthy and diverse microbiome, and take measures to make our home and work environments less habitable to toxic mold, it doesn't have to be problematic. However for many people--especially people who struggle with high stress, chronic illness, or autoimmune disease--that is not the case.

Molds and other fungi produce mycotoxins.

Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by microfungi that are capable of causing disease and death in humans and other animals. Some mycotoxins or mycotoxin derivatives have been found to have useful properties, and are used as antibiotics and other kinds of drugs. Others, however, are the opposite of helpful, and have even been implicated as chemical warfare agents. On people, mycotoxins can cause local skin infections such as athlete's foot or jock itch. However mycotoxins can cause spread systemically, causing more serious infections and conditions when it enters the body either via the respiratory tract, or through direct contact with the skin.

Toxic mold on the ceiling and wall

In addition to causing local and systemic infections, mold exposure also affects the appearance of the skin. According to mold expert and naturopathic physician, Dr. Jill Crista, mold mycotoxins stop our bodies from making all of our youth-preserving proteins, like keratin and elastin for skin and hair; and actin and myosin for muscles.

Toxic mold prematurely ages the skin.

Mycotoxins can also trigger rosacea, hyperpigmentation, and eczema flares, as well as certain types of acne. If you have persistent skin or health issues check to see if you’ve been exposed to a water-damaged, damp, or a musty smelling building. If you have, mold could be the culprit, and mold treatment could eradicate the problem for good.

Want to learn more about how toxic mold affects the skin, and what you can do about it?

The Appearance of Mold webinar

Dr. Crista is presenting a live webinar called The "Appearance" of Mold to the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance community on Wednesday, 3/18/2020 at 1pm EDT. The live presentation is free and is open to the public.

Register HERE to attend.

About Dr. Jill Crista:

Break the Mold by Dr Jill Crista

Dr. Jill Crista is a naturopathic doctor, bestselling author, and nationally recognized health educator on mold-related illness. She helps people recover their health after exposure to toxic mold.

Her book, Break The Mold, provides tools for anyone wanting actionable steps to conquer health challenges related to mold exposure.


Has your skin or health suffered due to toxic mold exposure?

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Please share your experience in the comments below!

Please note:

Only the live webinar presentation is free and open to the public. The recording is available exclusively to Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance members and Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® students.

* "IMG_0992" by nusitegroup is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 

**This post contains affiliate links.


Jennifer Fugo

NAA Advisory Board Highlight: Jennifer Fugo

We are so excited to welcome Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS to the NAA Advisory Board! Not only is Jennifer an incredibly knowledgeable and experienced nutritionist, but she also has specialized knowledge on helping people reclaim healthy skin by overcoming chronic skin issues such as eczema and psoriasis in a truly integrative way.

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is a clinical nutritionist empowering women who’ve been failed by conventional medicine to beat chronic skin and unending gut challenges. Because she’s overcome a long history of gut issues and eczema, Jennifer has empathy and insight to help her clients discover missing pieces and create doable integrative plans.

She has a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport and is a Certified Nutrition Specialist. Her work has been featured on Dr. Oz, Reuters, Yahoo!, CNN, and many podcasts and summits. Jennifer is an Amazon best-selling author and the host of the Healthy Skin Show.

As we do with all our Advisory Board members, we asked Jennifer to share why she wanted to be part of the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance:

The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance:

What excites you the most about The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance?

Jennifer Fugo:

I'm incredibly excited to be a part of an organization that is pairing the much-needed conversation connecting skin quality and issues with deeper parts of health.

Jennifer Fugo

Nutrition plays such a HUGE role in the body's ability to build healthy skin, yet it's often ignored. Instead, topical products have been the go-to options because of convenience and a lack of knowledge about how we truly support healthy skin throughout the ages.

Ultimately I believe the NAA is a changemaker in an industry awash in toxic ingredients and quick fixes to move the conversation away from beauty for beauty's sake and towards the idea that true health is mirrored through our skin from the inside out. 

The NAA:

How has Nutritional Aesthetics® (integrating nutrition and lifestyle changes with skincare and self-care) impacted your practice and/or work?

Jennifer Fugo:

I really take a deep dive into people's skin stories and journeys because I work with a clientele dealing with chronic skin rash conditions like eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, dandruff, lichen sclerosus, and tinea versicolor. The standard "here's another steroid cream" isn't cutting it and these people have a deep desire to look beyond just the topical options to see what disturbances are lurking under the surface. I consider sixteen different root causes in my clinical practice which helps me better (and more holistically) meet someone where they are AND to take meaningful steps forward.

Skin is ultimately connected to so many other organs and systems in the body, and when things are off, it's not surprising that you end up with blemished, problem, or rashed skin. I literally learned this the hard way when I ended up with eczema during grad school that seemed to come out of nowhere! Though I initially tried the conventional route (which really only gave me steroid creams), even the "natural remedies" failed to truly fix my skin. As I read more and more, I began to realize that there had to be something else I was missing. 

The Healthy Skin Show with Jennifer Fugo

Applying these principles literally changed my life and gave me back healthy clear skin, so I know all too well how important this work is!

I began my podcast The Healthy Skin Show, because I agree that we collectively need to pool our knowledge and research from all different fields. This way we can help people who are struggling with skin issues find answers that impact their skin, but also their health as a whole.

The NAA:

Complete the sentence: “For optimal skin health, I wish people would do more of ___________________, and less of ___________________.”

Jennifer Fugo:

For optimal skin health, I wish people would do more critical thinking and less assuming that information online is correct and accurate. That's truly how the "coconut oil is good for skin" came into being. It was written about on big websites without much expert opinion and data shared about it. Thanks to the work of Rachael Pontillo and the NAA, we know that isn't true.

When someone writes an article, we need to ask for reference and then take the time to look at that before sharing something as #truth because it's on a website with 100,000 followers. There is plenty of junk science out there used to prop up ideas (and even some trends in the health and wellness industry) that do not hold water at the end of the day. But unless you really take the time to look at WHERE the idea is coming from and consider the angles, you can end up believing that something like coconut oil is magical when that's simply not the case. 

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We could not agree more!

We'd love to hear from you too! What do you wish people would do more of and less of in pursuit of clear, smooth, healthy skin? Please share in the comments!

Connect with Jennifer:

Health supplements

Do Skincare Supplements Really Work?

Although the skin is one of the only organs visible on the outside of the body, it shouldn’t be nourished only from the outside. More than ever, science supports the fact that nutrition has a lot to do with the health and appearance of skin. The reason is that all skin cells are formed with nutrients that are obtained far beneath the surface. To remain in top shape, your skin needs the right nutrients: antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins C, E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, and other key nutrients.

Most nutrients can be obtained sufficiently from the food you eat. However, due to factors such as busyness or some other reason, sometimes it's hard to regularly feed your skin the way you should. Supplements should never be considered a substitute for a healthy, balanced diet. However, they may help support our nutritional needs when our bodies need a little extra support. There is a lot of discussion about the validity of skincare supplements, and whether they're really necessary. Just how safe are they, and do they work? Let’s find out.

What are skincare supplements?

Various skincare supplements spilling from bottle and in blister pack

Vitamins, minerals, and other supplements are taken as a dietary boost to improve overall health or to support a specific organ or system. Beauty or skincare supplements contain the vitamins and minerals, and other micronutrients that are known to specifically benefit skin health.

While many beauty and skincare supplement companies claim that their products are more potent because they are "nutricosmetics" or "nutriceuticals." Know that these two terms are marketing terms only--they have no meaning in terms of actual efficacy, and are not recognized by the FDA. So, if you’re already taking supplements that contain the nutrients found in products marketed for skin health, you don’t probably don't need to replace it with “beauty pills.” 

Do skincare supplements work?

This is the question you came to see answered. However, the answer is not that simple. 

There are many factors to consider in order to understand how supplements affect your health and appearance. Most skincare supplements on the market can be split into two main categories: those intended to reduce or improve visible signs of skin aging, and those intended to improve the appearance of acne. Though all skincare supplements claim to make your skin more youthful and clear, some products are superior to others in terms of quality.

There are some things you should look for to determine whether or not the supplement is safe and effective:

  • Bioavailability – the factor determining the how well the nutrients from the supplement are able to be absorbed and utilized by the body after ingestion
  • The stability of the compounds--they must be properly formulated in order to prevent degradation or oxidation
  • Delivery system--some nutrients are better in liquid form, others powdered, and others are fine as pressed tablets or in capsules
  • Third-party GMP (good manufacturing practice) certification
  • Evidence-based research behind the nutrients
Skincare supplements should be formulated correctly and in the correct delivery system for maximum bioavailability.

All of this means that you need to read labels very carefully--not only the main vitamins listed on the front, but also all the other ingredients and information on the back.

Unless the supplement contains whole food ingredients or drugs, they do not qualify for FDA approval. Similar to cosmetics, the FDA requires that supplement manufacturers ensure product safety and that the products are not adulterated. However, they do not oversee them or have an approval process like they do with food and drugs.

Because supplement safety can be hard to determine, many people decide to use capsule fillers to make supplements at home using herbs and other natural ingredients. While this can be a very affordable and convenient option, it is important to know what you're doing if you do decide to go this route.

Skincare supplement ingredients to look for

Here are some of the micronutrients you are likely to see in a product marketed as a skincare supplement or beauty pill:

  • Beta carotene and other carotenoid antioxidants. Vitamin A is an essential skin vitamin because it boosts cell and collagen production. However, Vitamin A itself can be harmful to overall health when taken in its final form, in large amounts. Therefore, its precursors are safer and more effective, since they can be stored and converted by the body when needed.
  • Even though many skincare companies are trying to convince you that vitamin E is the best ingredient for youthful skin, we recommend caution when taking it in supplements. Since Vitamin E is so abundant in the foods we eat, supplementation with it is often unnecessary. Over-supplementing with Vitamin E may cause issues with blood clotting and other health risks, so be cautious with how much you take.
  • Biotin (Vitamin B7) is usually found in traditional hair, nails, and skincare supplements, but it can be bought as a stand-alone pill as well. There is evidence of Biotin’s effectiveness. Studies suggest that this ingredient can promote hair growth and strengthen nails. However, too much can lead to reactions like skin rashes, digestive distress, insulin release and kidney problems, and other health issues.
  • Hyaluronic acid is often used for topical application, but it can also be taken in the form of a pill. Although it’s getting quite a lot of buzz lately, and is well researched for overall connective tissue support, quality and bioavailability can be an issue. Most hyaluronic acid on the supplement market is derived from GMO sugar beets, which is not as bioavailable as the pharmaceutical grade version, which is derived from rooster combs.
  • Collagen has made quite a name for itself when it comes to products intended to promote a youthful appearance. Some studies show that it improves laxity in aged skin, however the jury is still out with how effective supplementing with collagen actually is for helping the body actually produce more collagen on its own. We recommend choosing collagen sourced from organic, grass-fed cows whenever possible, and taking it with a high quality Vitamin C.
Sardines and other small wild caught fish are preferred sources for fish oil supplements.
  • Fish oil seems to be the champion of skincare supplements, with research linking it to improved skin hydration, which leads to a glowing complexion. There is also evidence that it helps with acne management. Be sure the supplement you choose is sourced from wild caught small fish such as anchovies and sardines, rather than farmed salmon or other larger fish. You also want to check that the supplement contains a healthy essential fatty acid balance. (Learn more about this as a NAA Member or CNAP Student)
  • Coenzyme Q10 is believed to have positive effects on the skin. A 2005 study has shown it helps reduce the signs of aging, while a 2011 research concluded that it combats free radicals and plays a significant role in preventing damage to proteins, lipids, and DNA.

Bottom line

Skin is an organ of equal relevance as any other, and it needs to be taken care of just as seriously as you'd care for your heart or other internal organs. That’s why you can’t just apply any product or take any skincare supplement to nourish it. Look beyond the marketing buzzwords and do your due diligence when shopping for skincare supplements.

Skincare supplements are not a substitute for fresh fruits and veggies!

And always remember--skincare supplements are NOT a substitute for a healthy diet, rich with fresh fruits and vegetables and other whole foods!

It's also always best to consult with your licensed natural health provider before adding supplements to your regimen, and for personalized recommendations.

Do you want more education on how to talk to your clients about nutrition topics like this (and still stay within your scope of practice)?

Our Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program teaches you just that. Learn more about the structure and curriculum, and start today here.

About the author:

Guest author Caitlin Evans

Caitlin Evans is a bookworm, writer and recreational dancer. When she is not trying to find the meaning of life and the Universe, Cate is researching and writing about various health and well-being related topics. Connect with Caitlin on Twitter


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