Back Pain: When Is It Time to See a Doctor?

The occasional sore back, especially after a long day doing any kind of physical labor, is common and not a cause for concern. However, if you find yourself frequently complaining about a stiff or sore back, or if the pain is severe and coupled with other symptoms, it could be time to see a doctor.

Chronic back pain is common and it’s notoriously hard to fix, but it’s not always cause for immediate concern. Visits to your chiropractor can go a long way in managing these problems and improve them over time. However, there are some occasions when back pain is an indicator of a larger problem. Here are a few things you should look out for.

Fever and Back Pain

Back pain coupled with a fever can indicate a serious infection. If you have an achy back and fever during the flu, you may not need to worry. But if the fever does not break, you may be dealing with something more serious than the flu. Be sure to see your doctor immediately if you experience an unresponsive fever and back pain.

Trauma and Back Pain

This may be obvious, but if you are experiencing back pain as a result of trauma (a car accident, for example) you should see a doctor. The problem may be a simple fix, or it may need a more comprehensive course of treatment. Be sure to get this taken care of quickly so the problem does not get worse.

Numbness or Tingling

If that “pins-and-needles” feeling won’t go away, it could indicate some pretty significant back problems. The presence of numbness and tingling is a sign of nerve damage. This means you should have a herniated disc or spinal stenosis causing pressure on the nerves in your back. Be sure to report these feelings to a specialist.

Night Back Pain

If you are experiencing no back pain during the day but find yourself woken up by back pain in the night, you could be dealing with disc degeneration or a sprain. In some cases, this can be a sign of a serious problem like a tumor or cancer. Be sure to get this problem checked out by a specialist.

Unexplained Weight Loss

Unexpected or unexplained weight loss coupled with back pain could indicate possible infection or cancer in your back. Be sure to get this problem looked at immediately.

Are you experiencing chronic back pain? Here at Heritage Integrative Healthcare, we employ a number of treatments and management methods to help you get back to your life – without back pain. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with our chiropractors here at Heritage IHC, contact our Falmouth office today!

3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Health in 2018

Sneaking in small improvements can sometimes be more successful than trying to make large changes all at once. It is well known that breaking large goals into smaller, more manageable chunks makes the large goal look less daunting and intimidating. So, we compiled a list of things to get you closer to that big goal of living a healthier life – without feeling intimidated.

Take Up Running and Walking

If you are not used to running on a regular basis, it can seem like a bit much. But you don’t need to start running 5Ks on the weekend right away! Start with a quick jog around a track, and walk if you need to. You’ll find that the more often you do this, the easier it becomes to run further and push yourself more. If you need something lower-impact because of joint problems, a few minutes on an elliptical may be better for you. Just make sure to get your heart rate up!

Stop Dieting

Diets don’t work. You have to change your lifestyle. For a lot of people, this mindset can actually be a lot easier to achieve. Because you are not placing unnecessary restrictions on yourself and just changing your mindset and lifestyle, you may find that your new “diet” is more sustainable and successful long-term. This is not something you do if you want to lose 10 pounds in a week (which we do not recommend), but if you want to live a healthy life and maintain a healthy body weight.

Drink (More) Water

If you’re like most people, you aren’t properly hydrated on a daily basis. When drinking the amount of water you are supposed to be drinking each day, it can seem like a bit too much. But it’s not! Drinking the right amount of water can give you more energy, promote urinary health, and help you avoid a lot of different diseases.

If you are interested in other ways you can improve your everyday health, contact Heritage Integrative Healthcare. If you are living with the after-effects of an injury or another health issue and you are having trouble finding ways to get active, contact us. Contact us to schedule an appointment and get back to living the life you want!

What Is Tendinitis?


If you’re an adult that prides themselves on living an active lifestyle, chances are you’re no stranger to the injuries that physical activity can cause. Physical activity and exercise are very important to keep you healthy and happy, but as with everything in life, balance is key. Too much of a good thing can cause issues down the line. One example of this is the overuse of certain joints, which can cause tendinitis.

What Is Tendinitis?

Tendinitis is a condition that causes inflammation in the tendons, which connect muscle to bone. Tendons work with muscles and exert a pulling force. Tendons are tough and can withstand a lot of tension. However, when tendons are overused, they can become inflamed and painful. This is known as tendinitis, or tendonitis.

Tendinitis can occur as a result of an injury, but most often occurs as a result of a repeated movement over time. Most people develop tendinitis as a result of a repetitive motion required by a job or a hobby. Those with jobs that involve repetitive motions, awkward positions, frequent overhead reaching, and forceful exertion are more likely to develop tendinitis. Those whose hobbies include sports such as basketball, golf, tennis, bowling and running are more likely to develop tendinitis.

Symptoms of Tendinitis

There are many types of tendinitis that occur in different parts of the body. Symptoms are typically the same wherever tendinitis occurs. Symptoms are often described as a dull ache and tenderness, especially when moving the affected joint. Mild swelling around the joint can also occur.

Tendinitis Treatments

Doctors are typically able to diagnose tendinitis through a physical exam alone. Occasionally, an X-ray may be taken to help diagnose tendinitis. Once diagnosed, there are a number of medical and self-care treatments that can be used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Medications that can help relieve pain and inflammation include over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen, steroid injections and platelet-rich plasma injections. If those treatments do not work, physical therapy or surgery may help.

At home self-treatments are key to keeping tendinitis symptoms under control. Resting the affected joint, as well as using ice, elevation and compression to reduce swelling can be helpful.

Do you suspect that you have tendinitis? Contact Heritage Integrative Healthcare to schedule your appointment today!

What Are Hormones?

What are hormones? Falmouth, ME

Ever find yourself blaming “hormones” when you’re feeling particularly moody or emotional one day? While some hormones can certainly make you feel out of sorts, your hormones do a lot more good than bad! Turns out, many people blame hormones when they aren’t entirely sure where they come from or what they do. So, what are hormones, and what is the endocrine system?

What Is the Endocrine System?

The endocrine system is the network of glands that are responsible for producing and dispersing hormones. Your endocrine system is responsible for regulating some pretty important bodily functions including body temperature, metabolism, body growth and sexual development.

The endocrine system is made up of primary and secondary organs. The primary organs include the pancreas, hypothalamus and the pituitary, thyroid, pineal, and parathyroid and adrenal glands. The secondary organs include the kidneys, heart, gonads, and thymus.

What Are Hormones?

Hormones are essentially chemical messengers. Hormones are secreted by the endocrine system and travel through your bloodstream. These hormones only stick to cells that have receptors for them, which explains why certain hormones only affect certain systems. Once received, the hormones affect the behavior of the cells. If one type of hormone binds to enough cells, it will cause a change in body and organ function.

How Do Hormones Get Released?

Like most bodily functions, it all starts in the brain. Located in your brain are the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands, which are the command centers of your endocrine system. The hypothalamus receives signals from other parts of the brain and translates them into endocrine language: hormones (which then travel to the pituitary gland). Once these signals are set in motion, other signals decide whether to inhibit or release certain hormones. Some of these hormones will act directly, affecting muscular development or starting processes such as birth and nurturing. Others will send signals indirectly to secondary organs.

What Do Hormones Do?

Well, a lot. As we mentioned above, your hormones are essential to many different bodily functions and changes. Your hormones play a huge part in everything from puberty and childbearing to feeling sleepy or happy. They can make you gain or lose weight, trigger the “fight-or-flight” response, and regulate ovulation and menstruation. The list of functions affected by hormones is almost endless.
The health of your hormone-producing glands can have a huge impact on your life. For instance, if a part of your endocrine system isn’t working, you can expect to see a significant impact in your life. Symptoms will vary depending on which organs or glands are affected.

Interested in learning more about your endocrine system and the various issues surrounding it? Contact Heritage Integrative Healthcare in Falmouth or Bridgton to schedule an appointment today!

Why Sitting Is Bad For You

We all know that a sedentary lifestyle can wreak havoc on the body. If you’re like a large amount of Americans, you spend at least 8 hours a day sitting down. If your job requires you to sit at a desk, you may be at risk for a host of conditions as you age.

While sitting is not inherently bad for you, the amount of time that Americans spend in front of their computers or on the couch is a huge contributor to disease. Why is that the case?

Why do we sit so much?

Unfortunately, our society is set up in a way that makes sitting for long periods of time less of a choice and more of a necessity. If you hold a job where you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day, it’s difficult to get up and move as much as you should. Standing desks are a start, but are no replacement for exercise. Studies show that even with exercise, sitting for long periods every day can greatly increase your risk of disease.

The role inactivity plays in our health

Like most things, sitting is not harmful if done in moderation. Sitting is so ingrained into our culture that it seems like seconds nature. Work, socializing, studying and travelling are all typically done from a seated position. So, how can one of our most natural positions be so harmful to our health?

It’s like eating. It’s a necessary part of your life, but if you do too much of it, you pose a serious risk to your health.

Inactivity in general is linked to obesity. Longer sitting hours mean less physical activity, which means less calorie burning and more weight gain.  With obesity comes a host of other problems. Obesity is a known cause of conditions like heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. All of these conditions can lead to shorter lives.

What can you do?

We get it. If your job requires you to sit for long periods of time, there isn’t too much you can do to eliminate the issue altogether. However, you do have control of what you do outside of work. If you get home from work every day and plop down on the couch to watch TV, that’s a problem too.

Be sure to incorporate plenty of exercise into your after-work routine. If you can, go on a walk during your lunch break. Get up and move as frequently as you can.

If you would like more advice on how to minimize your risk, or if you would like to schedule an appointment with us, contact Heritage Integrative HealthCare at our Falmouth, Maine location.


Why Sports Drinks are a Bad Idea

Most people believe that sports drinks are the best alternative to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes when exercising, but that’s simply not true. Many sports drinks contain as much as two-thirds the sugar of sodas. They also typically contain high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), artificial flavors and food coloring, none of which contribute to optimal health.

Sugar After Exercise

Furthermore, consuming sugar after exercise will negatively affect both your insulin sensitivity and your human growth hormone (HGH) production.  Ironically, while these drinks are often referred to as “energy” drinks, in the long run the sugar they contain does just the opposite. After causing a quick explosion of energy, your energy plummets as your pancreas and other glands do all they can to balance out the toxic stimulation to your blood sugar.

Too Much Sodium

Most also contain high amounts of sodium (processed salt), which is meant to replenish the electrolytes you lose while sweating. However, a far better option is to simply add a small amount of natural, unprocessed sea salt to your water. Contrary to processed salt, this natural salt contains 84 different minerals and trace minerals that your body needs for optimal function.

Coconut Water as an Alternative

Another excellent option when you’re sweating profusely is pure coconut water. It’s one of the highest sources of electrolytes known to man. Some remote areas of the world even use coconut juice intravenously, short-term, to help hydrate critically ill patients and in emergency situations.

And, if your sports drink is low-calorie and sugar-free, be warned that it likely contains an artificial sweetener, which is even worse for you than fructose.

The Truth about Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are necessary to your health, because every cell in your body uses them for energy. In fact, your brain can only use carbohydrates for energy.  With the popularity of low-carb diets, many people are afraid to eat any carbohydrates, but it’s important to distinguish between the health-robbing effects of simple sugars and other carbs, and the health-giving properties of complex carbohydrates.

Complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are high-fiber foods, which improve your digestion; they help stabilize the blood sugar, keep your energy at an even level, and help you feel satisfied longer after your meal. The healthiest foods are high in fiber, and contain complex carbohydrates along with many other vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. They will also contain other nutrients, such as protein and fats, in moderation. These foods will not be highly refined.

Some examples of healthy foods containing complex carbohydrates are:

Spinach Whole Barley Grapefruit
Turnip Greens Buckwheat Apples
Lettuce Whole wheat bread Prunes
Water Cress Oat bran bread Apricots
Zucchini Oatmeal(steel-cut oats) Pears
Asparagus Oat bran Plums
Artichokes Muesli Strawberries
Okra Wild rice Oranges
Cabbage Brown rice Yams
Celery Multi-grain bread Carrots
Cucumbers Pinto beans Potatoes
Dill Pickles Navy beans Soybeans (tofu)
Radishes Rice milk Lentils
Broccoli Almond milk Garbanzos (chickpeas)
Brussels Sprouts Plain Yogurt Kidney beans
Eggplant Whole mealspelt bread Split peas
Onions Cauliflower
Tomatoes Hummus


Simple carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are more refined, are usually found in foods with fewer nutrients, and tend to be less satisfying and more fattening.  They can alter your mood, lead to cravings and compulsive eating, cause wide swings in your blood-sugar levels, and cause weight gain in most people.  In addition, a high consumption of sugar can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when you finally decide to improve your diet and forgo the sweets. Unfortunately, over-consumption of sugar and other highly refined carbohydrates has been associated with a higher incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even breast cancer.  Sugars and other simple carbohydrates are also a leading factor in the worldwide obesity epidemic.

Some examples of foods containing simple carbohydrates are:

Table sugar
Corn syrup (high fructose corn syrup)
Fruit juice
Snack foods
Bread made with white flour
Pasta made with white flour / rice mixes
Soda pop, such as Coke®, Pepsi®, Mountain Dew®, etc.
Junk food / Fast food
All baked goods made with white flour
Most packaged cereals


If you are trying to eliminate simple sugars and carbohydrates from your diet, but you don’t want to refer to a list all the time, here are some suggestions:

  • Read the labels – If the label reads sugar, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, white or “wheat flour,” these foods contain simple carbohydrates.  If these ingredients are at the top of the list, they contain mostly simple carbs and little less and should be avoided.
  • Look for foods that have not been highly processed or refined – Choose a piece of fruit instead of fruit juice, which is high in naturally occurring simple sugars and fiber.  Choose 100% whole grain breads instead of white bread.  Choose whole grain oatmeal instead of instant oatmeal or packaged cold cereals.  The closer you get to nature, the closer you get to health.

The Importance of Proper Hydration

Water is life.  You need water to eliminate toxic substances, produce digestive enzymes, maintain healthy skin, hair and organs, and to help your body absorb essential vitamins, minerals and natural sugars.  Water also regulates body temperature, stimulates metabolism and helps promote regularity.  Fluids other than pure water don’t act the same as water in your body, and they don’t meet your needs for hydration like water does.  Most people are slightly dehydrated from relying on other fluids besides water for their fluid intake.  Coffee, tea, alcohol, sodas (or any other caffeinated beverages) don’t count; they’re diuretics, which means they actually remove water and nutrients from the body.

Chronic dehydration

Chronic dehydration has been linked to the following symptoms and disease processes:  Fatigue, constipation, headaches, indigestion, muscle and joint aches and pains, high blood pressure, depression, allergies, lack of mental clarity, skin issues and excess weight.

Whenever you’re thirsty or hungry, reach for water first to see if it satisfies you.   At Heritage IHC, we recommend drinking spring water—Evian or Fiji bottled water is preferred (due to proper pH levels).  Drink as many ounces of water every day as are equal to half your body weight in pounds (e.g., body weight 150 pounds = 75 ounces of water a day).  Use more water in hot weather or after strenuous exercise.  When you’re actually drinking enough water, your urine will be essentially clear.

Many digestive problems, joint and muscle issues, problems with fatigue and even your complexion will clear up with the use of more water, especially when you limit or eliminate fluids that actually dehydrate your body (sodas/caffeinated beverages/alcohol).

It’s okay to drink some water with meals because digestive enzymes are hydrolytic (they are activated by water).  So drinking a little water with meals is fine .  The bulk of the water you drink throughout the day, however, is best taken between meals.

Nutrition 101 for High School Athletes

The Importance of a Healthy Diet:

The food you eat supplies much more than just fuel for your body to function properly.  It provides the raw materials from which your skin, hair, muscle, bone, and all other tissues are made.  Your diet provides nutrients that are necessary to manufacture hormones and enzymes that control the function of every cell in your body.  Your body also uses these nutrients to make neurotransmitters that regulate how you think and feel.  Therefore, ensuring a proper balance of nutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals) is essential to your overall health, muscle development and performance.  You really are what you eat, and that’s why a balanced diet is SO important.

Eating three meals daily (starting with a hearty breakfast, as breakfast sets your metabolism for the day), and 2-3 snacks daily is the best way to keep you properly energized and satisfied.  Eating or not eating affects hormone levels that can cause muscle loss as well, so it is extremely important NOT to skip meals.  Healthy snacking, especially before practices or games, is also important.  This will provide the energy you need for optimal performance, and more importantly will help guard against injuries and help with recovery time.  You should develop good, consistent eating habits, even during the off-season, as this will provide a solid foundation during times of competition.  Remember, the best fueled athlete is the better athlete…

The quality and quantity of the food you consume is important.  The metabolic requirements for active teens can be as high as 3,500 calories a day, for example, which means your body requires this amount of calories to function properly.  Also, the less processed the food, the more nutritious it is.


Carbohydrates provide our main source of energy (they are the body’s preferred source of energy) and are found in unrefined whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.  They are also good sources of fiber (the indigestible portion of our diet that helps with the absorption of nutrients into the body), vitamins and minerals, and are essential for optimal health.

Nature provides many sources of good carbohydrates:

  • Organic fruits and vegetables
  • Beans and lentils (also known as legumes)
  • Unrefined whole grains (some examples include 100% whole grain bread, brown rice, unprocessed oatmeal such as steel-cut oats, and barley).

Foods that are high in refined (highly processed) carbohydrates or sugars should be avoided, as they do not provide the body with optimal nutrition and over time can lead to excess fat storage, low energy levels, muscle loss, and increased risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease as you age.  These foods include the following:

  • Sodas (both sweetened and diet)
  • Candy
  • Baked goods (cakes, cookies, etc.) made with white flour
  • White bread
  • Sugary breakfast cereals (including instant oatmeal)
  • White rice and pasta
  • Junk food
  • French fries and potato chips

Strive to increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables (eating twice as many vegetables as fruits daily is recommended), whole grains and legumes, which will give your body the energy it needs for optimal health and athletic performance.


Protein is a key component of muscle, skin, hair, and other tissues of the body.  You also need protein to manufacture the enzymes and hormones that are involved in digestion, metabolism (how your body produces energy from the food you eat), tissue growth and repair, which is why protein should be added to every meal.  Good sources of protein include:

  • Lean meats (beef, chicken, pork, lamb and fish)
  • eggs
  • Organic dairy products (such as cheese and plain yogurt)
  • Raw nuts (avoid peanuts)
  • Natural nut butters (peanut and almond butter)
  • Fermented soy products (such as miso, tamari and tempeh
  • Legumes (beans, peas and lentils)


Fats are needed for your body to function properly.  Besides being an energy source, fat is used in the protection of cell membranes and helps regulate blood pressure, heart rate, blood clotting and the nervous system (especially important with proper brain functioning).  Fats also help maintain healthy hair and nails, and carry fat-soluble vitamins from the food you eat into your body.  There are two types of healthy fats:  Saturated (usually from animal fats such as butter and cheese) and Unsaturated (from raw nuts, seeds, fish and plant oils).  Look for foods low in saturated fats and avoid bad fats (trans fats or hydrogenated fats that are chemically processed), found in fried foods, junk food, and some cooking oils.  Good sources of healthy fats include avocados, cold water fish (tuna, salmon, and mackerel), raw nuts (except peanuts), nut butters, seeds, and cooking oils (Coconut, Olive, Safflower and Sesame Oil).


Minerals are critical to normal body function; they are not produced in the body and must be obtained through the food we eat and by proper supplementation.  The BIG 4 include calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium.  Calcium and magnesium help build healthy bones, especially important for stress prevention (such as stress fractures).  Sodium and potassium are important in maintaining proper fluid balance (electrolytes) and muscle functioning.  Good sources of these nutrients include dairy products, green leafy vegetables, beans/lentils, fish, nuts/seeds, whole grains, bananas, potatoes, beets, oranges and peppers.


Vitamins play an important role in our overall health and nutritional status as well and also must be obtained through the food we eat and proper supplementation.  There are two types—fat-soluble (which are stored in the body) and water-soluble (which cannot be stored and need to be replenished often).  Good vitamin sources include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats, nuts, dairy products and plant oils.


Water is also essential to proper body function.  It helps regulate and maintain body temperature, transports nutrients and oxygen to the bloodstream, removes waste products (toxins), and helps maintain proper fluid balance and muscle functioning, especially crucial during times of strenuous activity such as sporting events.  It’s important to drink water throughout the day, but especially before, during, and after periods of extended physical activity to avoid dehydration, which can zap strength, energy and coordination, and lead to other health problems and injuries.  Experts recommend that young athletes drink approximately 1 cup (240 milliliters) of water for every 20-30 minutes of physical activity.  Shorter competitions may not require drinking during the activity, but it’s important to drink afterwards to restore fluid lost through sweat.  Although many sports drinks are available, plain water is usually enough to hydrate the body.  Gatorade and other sports drinks available have added sugar, which should be avoided.

Game Day

It’s important to eat well on game days, but you should eat at least 2 hours before the event — early enough to digest the food before game time.  The meal itself should not be very different from what you’ve eaten throughout training. It should have plenty of carbs and lean protein and be low in fat, because fat is harder to digest and can cause an upset stomach.  After the game or event, have a well-balanced meal. Your body will be rebuilding muscle tissue and restoring carbs and fluids for up to 24 hours after the competition, so it’s important that you get plenty of protein, fat, and carbs in the postgame hours.  Also, don’t forget to drink plenty of water before, during and after games.  Most of all, it’s important to eat healthy meals and snacks consistently, even during the off-season, as this will provide a solid foundation during times of competition.

As well as adequate water intake pre and post activity, good healthy snacks should be encouraged—which provide the energy needed before and after sporting activities.  If it’s going to be a long practice or game, pack a healthy snack — a small tuna or natural peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread, a handful of nuts and a small piece of fruit are all good options.  Always avoid candy and soda; while the sugar may give you a quick energy boost, it will fade quickly, and you won’t have enough energy to finish the fourth quarter!

Instead of having a Powerbar or Gatorade, try some of these healthier snacks that will provide the nutrients you need to keep up your energy and have a great game:

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Whole grain pita with hummus; raw veggies and hummus
  • Whole grain bread with natural peanut butter and banana
  • Whole grain crackers and cheese
  • Fruit and a handful of nuts
  • Plain yogurt with fruit and nuts
  • Fruit smoothies (blend 6-8 oz of rice or almond milk with a medium banana, ½ cup berries and 1-2 ice cubes for a nutrient-rich and energizing snack).
  • Tuna sandwich on whole grain bread
  •  *Paleo Bars and *Whey Protein (*offered at Heritage Integrative Healthcare)

Foods high in potassium are also recommended, especially post-exercise, to replace electrolytes lost from perspiration.  Bananas, yogurt, melons, oranges, strawberries, pears, peaches, grapes, sunflower seeds and walnuts are good choices and easy snacks to pack.

Label Reading Tips

The first thing you’ll see is the label on the front of the food package. Manufacturers can say most anything they want on the front label (to get the real story, see the Nutrition Facts panel on the back, especially the Ingredients). Here are some terms you may see there, and what they really mean:

  • Fortified, enriched, added, extra, and plus. This means nutrients such as minerals and fiber have been removed and synthetic vitamins added in processing. Look for 100% whole-wheat or 100% whole grain bread for example.
  • Fruit drink. This means there’s probably little or no real fruit, and lots of sugar. Look for products that say “100% Fruit Juice,” or better yet, have the piece of fruit instead, which is better for blood sugar balance.
  • Made with wheat, rye, or multigrain. These products may have very little whole grain. Look for the word “whole” before the grain to ensure you’re getting a 100% whole grain product (wheat flour is just another name for white flour).
  • Natural. The manufacturer started with a natural source, but once it’s processed, the food may not resemble anything natural. Look for “100% All Natural” and “No Preservatives.”
  • Organically grown, pesticide-free, or no artificial ingredients. Trust only labels that say “Certified Organically Grown.”
  • Sugar-free or fat-free. Don’t assume the product is low-calorie. The manufacturer may have compensated with unhealthy ingredients — and have no fewer calories than the real thing.

As a general guideline, ingredients are listed in descending order—the main ingredient is listed first and the smallest ingredient is listed last; usually, fewer ingredients are best, and always avoid products with words you can’t pronounce.