Archive for Health

Walking Group @ The Melbourne Botanical Gardens AKA ‘The Tan’eal

Hello Ladies…

As part of my plan to stay in shape this winter I’ve decided to start a walking group around the beautiful botanical gardens of Melbourne to keep fit by walking around the ‘Tan’. Anyone interested please contact me. Walks will take place Monday to Friday, Mornings and evenings, time to be confirmed.

rbg-melbourne

 

This is free! Just turn up and we can go for walk. Bring your runners please!

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Buying Natural Oils and Butters For Skin & Hair

Recently I commented on how great Tropical Coconut Oil from Kenya was for my hair. Now I finally get the whole hype behind the so called benefits of this miracle oil which was the inspiration for the this blog. I’ve fallen absolutely in love with it and I’m already wondering what I will do when this magical elixir runs out.

Buying natural oils and butters

You’d think it would be simple, walk into shop, grab the bottle that says coconut oil and you’re set. Think again again. Not all brands of coconut oil or any other product for that matter are the same. Whether you like it or not you need to be more diligent and read the labels of what you are buying.

Reading the ingredient list

When you’re unfamiliar with a particular product and want to know what it’s made of, first check the ingredient list. The ingredient list should list all the ingredients in a product in from the highest ingredient to the lowest ingredient.

With most hair oils and products, you may find that the ingredient that you’re after is the fifth in line. This means that this particular ingredient is not the biggest component of the oil or hair product and you must make a decision before you purchase whether this meets your needs. If I am buying an oil I want that oil to be the first ingredient on the list not the last. The same goes for herbal products.

Most manufactures may call something coconut oil but the first ingredient on the product list is soya bean oil (because it’s cheaper), or paraffin, or petroleum, or glycerin.

How The Product Is Manufactured

On some product labels companies will state the way an oil or butter has been extracted (taken from the plant). Some will say cold pressed and most will say nothing. The truth is it’s not easy to extract oils or butters from plants. As a matter of fact it’s a very involved process but I wont bore you with it. You need to know that if an oil hasn’t been cold pressed then it most likely has been extracted through other processes such as heating or chemically extracted. I try to buy cold pressed oil when ever possible because it’s one of the safest methods of extracting oils from plants that doesn’t destroy some of the chemical properties of the oil.

The best way to find out how a product is manufactured is to go on the company’s website (ie do a little research about the product online before spending any money).

Most companies, especially those that sell base ingredients for the cosmetics industry will mention some of their oil/butter extraction methods. They will also mention where the oil is sourced and grown and whether or not it’s grown organically or whether the company is involved in fair trade.

Refined/Unrefined/Raw

The words refined/unrefined/raw will sometimes appear on most pure oils or butters. Refined means that the oil has undergone some chemical processing to make it acceptable for use in the cosmetics industry. If you’re using natural oils and butters, remember that you’re not the primary or largest consumer of the oils and you are not the customer that the manufacturer was thinking about when they are manufacturing the oils.

Not sure if most of you have noticed the consistently white appearance of most of our face, body, and hair products. This is not a coincidence. Someone bleaches the hell out of the natural oils extracted so that your beauty products can have that clinically white look that we have come to take for granted.

The oils that we purchase are mainly sold to large cosmetic companies for the manufacturing of all the beauty products that we are so used to seeing in shops. The cosmetic companies require that some if not most of the oils that they use be bleached white, have some of the natural plant smells removed and so forth. For this reason most of the oils and butters we buy have had some form of refinement to meet with the expectations of the cosmetics industry.

Unrefined and raw refer to oils that have had minimal processing. These oils may have a funny smell to them, be strangely colored, and have a strange texture. Some of the chemical treatments that oils undergo is so that they can mix in better with other cosmetic formulations, retain a long shelf life (notice most cosmetics don’t seem to have an end date or a use by or best before date). Another thing to note is that these oils in their pure form can be very reactive and volatile so some of them unfortunately have to have some processing done to them.

Effect Of Processing on Product Quality and Functionality?

One of the reasons some of us are using natural hair care products is not just because we want to have the best hair care or skin care our money can buy, it’s also because we want to live healthier lifestyles that are kind to our planet and our bodies.

Just like with food the more processing a product has undergone, the less of there is of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and other beneficial goodies that we read about and that led us to seek the product out in the first place. Most heavily processed products are inferior to their purer non processed cousins. And though most cosmetic companies are constantly isolating plant constituents to add to their chemical concoctions, what we know about nature is that things work together not singularly. Vitamin C is better absorbed in the body with bioflavinoids rather than on just on it’s own.

The same could be extrapolated to the benefits of it for skin. Vitamin C for skin is great but the juice of an orange is even greater. In the case of oils and butters for hair most of the time the whole ingredient rather than isolated components of the ingredient are being used. We can safely assume that if some of the colors and the odors of the oils are being removed to make it more acceptable to consumers, then we are also likely losing some of the functionality of the product.

Organic vs Non-organic

The word organic has evolved to symbolize high quality, naturally grown products that should be free from pesticides, fertilizers, and are not genetically modified. Organic products generally cost a little more than non organic and sometimes can cost almost twice as much. Not all organic products are equal and you should always check to make sure that the products you’re buying are certified by the appropriate regulatory bodies in your country or state.

That brings me back to my experience with coconut oils. I have tried three brands of coconut oil. One is raw, bleached white, and scentless. It seemed to remain had most of the time. The second oil I bought was from somewhere in the pacific. Smells like coconut and can apparently be used in cooking. It was okay but not great. I certainly never wrote about it. The Kenyan Tropical Coconut oil was different. The conditioning effects where immediate. I felt as if the dryness was melted out of my hair. The product looks like it’s undergone a minimal processing, has retained most of the goodness that coconut is renowned for.

Good luck with your product purchases.

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Detoxing Via The Skin

I think we’re all familiar with the word detoxing. Detoxing for most people tends to be the first step to weightloss and for other a holistic way of reducing toxin levels in the body and to improve general health.

Detoxing is so popular that there are many detoxing programs and diets run by various health clinics. Nowadays you can even find a detox kit being sold through your local chemist or your health food store.

While many of the detox techniques that are popular are based on extreme diets of either raw foods or fruit juices, there are many ways in which the toxins from the body can be removed without severe dieting or eating loads of raw vegetables that for some people can sometimes cause more harm than good.

Although most people don’t often think about what area of their body they are actually cleansing when they choose a detox system, there are several areas of which you can focus your detox on. That’s assuming you understand your health well enough to work out what area of your body requires the most detoxification.

Basically toxins can exist your body via the body’s organs.

Gastrointestinal track (GI), skin, liver, kidney/bladder, and lungs.

Detoxifying through your skin can be a quick, simple and easy way of detoxing. Depending on what method you choose, can be done on a regular basis to maintain your health and beauty.

Drinking 6-8 glasses of water. You’ve all read this one and you will probably read it again. Water cleanses period. Think of drinking water (that is water, not soft drinks not cola) has a way of washing your insides the way you wash your outside. I mean you wouldn’t shower with orange juice, it would defeat the purpose.

Skin Brushing – The simplest thing you can do to get healthier radiant skin all over. All you need is a natural body brush and your skin the same way you would brush your hair.

Sweating – You can sweat it out at the sauna, spa, or steam room or via a work out. The choice is yours and this can be done on a regular basis with little money or effort. Sweating out can be quite relaxing whether sitting in a spa or working out. You should consult your doctor if you have heart problems, suffer from any other chronic illness. Saunas, steam rooms and spas are not recommended for pregnant women.

Baths – Haven’t heard of a woman who hates a bath yet and just as well because they are a great way to treat yourself once a week, not only for relaxation purposes but to also detox. Healthy stores sell special salts that disolvve in water and some may even choose to add essential oils such as lavender for soothing and calming. The choice is yours.

Body Scrubs and mud wraps- Great way to stimulate the skin and detox. This will live your skin feeling great and looking great. Many body scrubs and mud scrubs. A quick one to make at home is using brown sugar and olive oil.  Caution, the shower will be oily and slippery

There are other more complex and demanding methods but including these in your daily beauty routine will help your health and stress levels


				

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Dreaming of A Flat Tummy

Dreaming of a flat tummy? Here are a few tips from Melbourne’s Function Force, Personal Trainer, Craig Moir.

According to Craig Moir, personal trainer and my personal torturer, flat tummy and killer abs have nothing to do with stomach crunches. For him (and he’s got the eight pack to prove it! That’s right, not six but eight!), exercises that strengthen the core are the key to a tummy worth showing off. The 39 year old, former bowl cancer survivor credits his physic and strong abs to maintaining a good posture throughout his day and activating his tummy muscles during all exercises including running.

According to Craig you can do all the crunches you like but it wont mean that you will get a hard rock tummy. Unfortunately most people when performing abdominal exercises fail to activate the correct muscle groups. Most focus sorely on the rectus abdomus which are the muscles worked mostly during sit up. They tend to leave out the Transverse Abdominal muscles, obliques and the erectus spina. The lower back is also part of the core. There are many muscles involved in attaining what we call the six pack of flat abs. They form part of the core.

The diagram below is from  Go Senior Fitness http://www.goseniorfitness.com/blog-by-ben.htm

In the olden days it was all about people walking straight and maintaining a tall posture. Maintaining a straight posture throughout the day could be more beneficial than doing stomach crunches because when you’re walking straight or standing or sitting straight you’re forced to activate the core muscles giving you a stronger core.

Besides a flat stomach having a strong core also means less back pain, especially for those who spend hours behind a desk.

 

 

Here are some of the core exercise that are part of the circuit and boxing training at Function Force Gym Brunswick

The above image is from No Iron Fitness http://www.no-iron-fitness.com/the-plank.html.

Image from Riverside Online,  http://www.riversideonline.com/health_reference/Fitness/SM00047.cfm.

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Quinoa

There’s a little South American grain that’s currently on the menu of a few chick Melbourne restaurants and has been a favorite for vegans and vegetarians alike for it’s amazing properties for quite some time. Quinoa is the only grain known in the west to contain all the essential amino acids therefore it’s a great source of proteins for vegetarians.

A great food to improve your general health and help you maintain your waistline!

Quick Facts

Native to the Andean regions of Peru, Bolivia and Chile in South America

Gluten Free

185g of cooked Quinoa will yield

Calories – 222

Quinoa Recipes

Carbohydrates – 39.4

Protein – 8.1 g

Fat – 3.6

Fibre – 5.2 g

High in the minerals  manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium

Quinoa is a great food for dieters, people with blood sugar problems as it doesn’t have a great impact on your blood sugar (has a low  Glycemic Index) and is low in fat. Good source of complex carbohydrates and fibre.

Google ‘quinoa’ recipes for sweet and savory dishes. Instead of rice or pasta use quinoa as alternative.

For a complete nutritional profile please click on link Quinoa and find out more.

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Foods for Weight Loss – Stevia, The Sugar Substitute

The word may mean absolutely nothing to you but this darling herb is the new kid on the block in the health industry. I’ve tried the commercially produced Stevia and also bought the plant. It’s freaky but the leaves actually taste sweet!) is the new sugar alternative.

Unlike it’s other sugar substitutes on the weight loss circuit, it’s not manufactured in a laboratory and hasn’t yet been found to cause cancer in rats or mice. You can grow this one in your herb garden!

Stevia is thirty times sweeter than sugar, has no calories. The body cannot breakdown the glycosides, the natural compound responsible for the sweetness, therefore you get zero calories.

It’s not bad tasting. Eating green leaves that tasted sweet was a little weird.

For recipes using Stevia, check out the Stevia Website http://www.stevia.com/Stevia_Recipes.aspx?RCId=1

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Probiotics – Could these germs stop you from bloating?

If you thought then only way to a flat stomach was through exercise and painful crunches the you’re wrong. Most women have their flat stomachs hijacked by bloating. And I used to be one of them. I work and I’m fairly fit and most mornings I would wake up with a tummy that I could be proud. After breakfast, it was allover. My tummy would grow and grow with every meal that I ate and by night time I looked like I had a three month baby bump… til I re-discovered probiotics.

No. Probiotics have nothing to do with robots or robotics. Also known as ‘friendly bacteria or good bacteria’ . The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, defines probiotics as “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”

Microorganisms are tiny living organisms, which include bacteria, viruses, and yeasts, that can be seen only under a microscope. In the case of Pro-biotics, they are mostly bacteria and although you’ve all probably been freaked out by all the recent talks of germs and it seems soap and detergent manufactures are currently running a scare campaign against germs (every soap, wipe or hand wash seems to be have an anti-microbial agent in it!).

above diagram has been taken from Ecology Healthy Centre.net. Click on diagram to view sight.

Micro-organisms have been around longer than we have (sorry for the side track, I’m a qualified food technologist and I love talking about bacteria) and they live inside us and form part of the gut flora (this just means that there’s a lot of bacteria in your gut and some of them are good and some of them can cause a few issues if their numbers get too high) and are on our skin and in our nasal cavities. You can also find groups of bacteria in your private parts.

You can also find bacteria and other micro-organisms in our foods like yoghurt, small goods (think salamis and smoked goods) and other dairy products which rely on the action on the action of bacteria to impart certain cheese flavors that some people take for granted

Of course there’s always dispute about the so called benefits of ‘friendly bacteria or good bacteria’. As with everything, so called experts can’t seem to agree.

‘Friendly bacteria are vital to proper development of the immune system, to protection against microorganisms that could cause disease, and to the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients. Each person’s mix of bacteria varies. Interactions between a person and the microorganisms in his body, and among the microorganisms themselves, can be crucial to the person’s health and well-being’ http://www.medicinenet.com/probiotics/page2.htm.

Above are some of the reason’s that I take probiotics. The other main reason is bloating. Bloating has always been a nightmare for me and the only way I’ve been able to control bloating is by cutting down on fruits and taking probiotics. This may sound disgusting  but probiotics also helped the consistency of my poo. It’s made it firmer.

Although I’m daily intolerant I take two table spoons of drinking yoghurt every morning on an empty stomach. The reason I take it on an empty stomach is so that my food doesn’t interfere with the bacteria. Bacteria are sensitive to things like acids, salt, sugar, and heat, amongst other things in food. I want to give the bacteria that I’m drinking the best chance to colonize my insides so I make sure I don’t eat anything that will affect it for at least half an hour. This is just me!

The reason why I take a probiotic that is milk based in the form of a drinking yoghurt is because I have tried capsules and powders. Capsules and powders made my poo runny. Another thing about the types of bacteria and yeasts found in probiotics is that a lot of them grow better in certain environment For example, if I wanted to grow Lactobacillus acidophilus (which is one of the main types of bacteria found in probiotics)in the laboratory,  I would grow it in milk because the milk proteins will promote the bacteria growth better. And I can always tell how viable probiotics are in liquid form by smelling the liquid. In short I’ve gotten better results from drinking probiotics in liquid form than I have in powder or capsule.

Want more information on Probiotics? Here’s a list of articles that might be helpful

David Wolfson, N.D.Probiotics, A Primer’, 1999, Nutrition News

http://www.chiro.org/nutrition/FULL/Probiotics_Primer.shtml

Jeanne A. Drisko, Cheryl K. Giles, Bette J. Bischoff, 'Probiotics in Health Maintenance and Disease Prevention',2003 
Alternative Medicine Review, volume 8, Number 2

http://www.thorne.com/altmedrev/.fulltext/8/2/143.pdf

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