Lunchbox-ideas for the whole family

The internationally acclaimed chef, writer and restauranteur, Jamie Oliver, set out on a mission a few years back to transform the food served at schools all over the UK.  In 2005, the School Food Trust was born, with its motto, “Eat better. Do better.”  It paid off!

In South Africa, as in the UK and the USA, obesity amongst young children is getting worse.  The increase of children and young adults developing Type 2 diabetes, is both alarming and shocking.  Parents and teachers alike, must set an example and teach the children that healthy food is not only better, but it has a huge impact on our mood, behaviour, health, growth, and ability to concentrate.  The last thing a growing child needs is to be eating junk food and processed meals almost every day; not to mention adding soft drinks to it!  Did you know that, if a child starts to drink soda at an early age while they are still growing, it not only affects their weight, mood or behaviour, but it also affects their teeth (especially if they are under the age of 12). 

Joy Bauer, MS, RD, CDN and best-selling author of Joy Bauer’s Food Cures: Treat Common Health Concerns, Look Younger and Live Longer, agrees with Jamie.  “Without a doubt, balanced nutrition is key for kids to maintain concentration academically. Every school lunch should offer both complex carbohydrates and lean proteins – a turkey-breast sandwich on whole wheat bread is a simple and perfect example of this. It will boost your brain– and staying power, level your moods and keep your blood sugars on an even keel. In other words, a plain bagel or slices of white bread, with nothing else (but butter and jam, for example), can produce volatile spikes in blood sugars and can set up kids for a crash.”

A healthy sandwich with low-fat mayo is just a start, says Bauer. “Fibre in produce is also extremely important because it slows the absorption of carbohydrates into the system, which also keeps blood sugars level. There should be at least one fruit or vegetable in every school lunch or lunchbox, and preferably both.”

Here are some ideas for packing lunchboxes for the whole family:

Monday:  Canned salmon or tuna, mixed with low-fat mayo, with whole-grain bread or crackers; 

Tuesday:  Cold whole-grain / durum wheat semolina pasta salad with roasted or grilled veggies and/or cold chicken / turkey;

Wednesday:  Sandwich with cheese, lettuce, cucumber and tomato.  Add some nuts on the side, for added protein and fibre;

Thursday:  Grilled or roasted chicken breast tenders, sliced red peppers, and low-fat cheese on whole-grain pita (try spinach pita as a kid-friendly alternative);

Friday:  Cold boiled eggs (if someone doesn’t like eggs, replace them with cheese or cold meat, e.g. mini sosaties or mini frikadelles), salad and crackers.

Add some fruit / berries and yoghurt daily to the above ideas.  Also remember to make sure there is a bottle of water to drink as well. 

Unless someone is allergic or intolerant to one of the above-mentioned foods, the key is balance.  Make sure there is carbs, protein, fruit and/or vegetables, in the lunch.  During our summer months it can get very hot and/or humid. 

I would suggest staying clear of chicken and fish when it is so hot and rather opt for other cold meats like cervelat, salami or smoked beef, or plain cheese (gouda or cheddar instead of spreads).  Dried fruit like raisins, are high in iron, and is also a nice snack (with or without nuts).  Just be careful about nuts when it is very hot; and if you are allergic or intolerant, stay clear of peanuts an

Ready, set go! Spring is in the air – are you gearing up?

It is that time of year when the Southern Hemisphere is gearing up for warmer days and more sunshine.  Spring has begun and everyone and everything in nature, has a “spring” in their step (or chirp)!  Many of us have started to spring-clean our homes, closets, cars and offices…are we spring-cleaning our health- and exercise routine?

Here are a few tips to get us “in the mood again;” off the couch and back into routine!

As the days get warmer and the sleeves get shorter, more skin is being exposed.  Time to exfoliate!  There are a number of products in the shops or you can make your own scrub (for example: 1/2 cup ground coffee beans, 1/2 cup fine ground Himalayan Salt, 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted), 2 drops peppermint essential oil.  This scrub will boost circulation and detoxify your body).  Rub in small, circular moves taking care of the sensitive skin and working a bit longer on areas like your elbows, knees and ankles.  It is always best to start on your right side, moving up towards your head and then down the left side.  Why?  Because your lymphatic system flows in that direction towards and passed the heart!  (more on this in a later article).

Keep your skin moisturized.  During winter we just wanted to get out of the hot shower or bath and into our warm beds.  Now when you are finished with your shower or bath, put a good moisturizer on your whole body. Ladies, just be careful if you have shaved your legs.  Often you can get a rash if you put body lotion on straight-away.

Want to put on a pair of shorts or a new dress, but are worried about your very white legs after the winter?  Why not opt for tinting or a fake tan?  Some body lotions have a tinted moisturizer in, otherwise stop at your local spa or DisChem and get a fake spray-tan!  Sunbeds are also popular, but be careful not to overdo it.  It has been proven by many that it can cause skin cancer.

Tired of your look but don’t want to break the bank to buy a new wardrobe – yet?  Go for a haircut – whether you change your style, colour or just opt for trimming the dead-ends, your hair needs a bit of tlc after the cold.  If your hair is dry buy a shampoo and conditioner with added ingredients that feed the hair and scalp (ask your hairdresser to recommend a good brand).  A hair mask is another good product to use.  It nourishes your hair the same way as a facial mask.  Another good change is to air dry your hair instead of using the hairdryer all the time.  Sitting in the sun is also a great way to add a natural tint to your hair.

Getting back into an exercise-routine can be daunting for some.  So, what to do?  Start by using the stairs at work and at the mall instead of the escalator.  Go for an early morning or afternoon walk or jog.  Join a Pilates, Yoga, Splash- or other group exercise-class at gym.  Many people are more motivated when exercising in a group instead of on their own (unless you book a personal training session!).  Not keen on going to or joining a gym?  Then look out for a private studio in your area; they teach anything from Pilates, Yoga, Dancing and other conditioning classes.  There are also numerous walking and/or running-clubs that one can join over the weekend to “get going again.”  Regardless what you do, start with 30 minutes a day and once you’ve gotten into your routine again, you can aim for an hour 3 – 5 times per week.

Start to look at your diet – as the days get warmer it is a good time to add more salads, fruits and raw food to the menu.  If you find that you did pick up a little bit of weight during the winter months, don’t beat yourself up!  Instead start to cut back on the rich food, the ready-made meals, the refined sugars and starches, and replace these with the above-mentioned produce.  Remember to drink plenty of water to help the body to flush out toxins and stay hydrated.

Lastly, remember to spring-clean your mind as well.  Stay positive and stay focused on your goal.  Whether it is to lose weight, get back into exercising, eating more healthily or just being happier in general, know that, as the season of change is here, anything you set your mind to can be done – one step at a time! 

Spring, in many ways, are ringing in a “new” beginning.  New flowers and leaves are starting to bloom, the birds are starting to court each other, some are starting to build new nests…all in all, it is time to throw of the heavy clothes and blankets, open the windows and breathe the fresh air in!  Enjoy the season everyone!

To my readers in the North, have no worries. As you are gearing up for autumn, you can still continue and maintain a positive outlook, keep working at your goals and enjoy the beautiful autumn colours in nature!

Using tissue salts

In my previous blog posts I explained what tissue salts are and why it is a good, natural remedy to use, either as an extra boost, or to help relieve allergies and/or illnesses.

In this clip, courtesy of Natura (the South African-brand of tissue salts) and Natural-magazine, it indicates what the different tissue salts are used for.

Tissue salts are the natural salts inside the body; it is not harmful and can be used often. However, when in doubt – best to ask your health practitioner!

Tissue salts explained

The word biochemistry comes from the Greek word “bios” (meaning life) and “chemistry.”  Biochemistry refers to the natural chemical changes that are carried out by life processes.  These changes are affected by the union of organic substances with inorganic elements, whereby different tissues of the body are formed. 

Energy is then obtained so that the body can carry out the vital processes like breathing, moving, thinking, blood-circulation, and so forth.  Dr. Schüβler, a German-born doctor was most probably one of the first doctors to use the term “biochemistry.”  He was also a physiological chemist and a physicist.  He was ahead of his time when it came to science and, by putting his theories to the test as a medical doctor, he achieved great results.  And so, Biochemistry was born!  Years later, a well-known scientist Rudolph Virchow, discovered that the human body is composed of a tremendous amount of living cells, each one made up of a very small, but balanced quantity of 3 classes of materials, namely water, organic substances and inorganic substances.  Water and organic matter like sugar and albuminous, fatty substances, make up the greater portion, whilst inorganic / mineral substances, are vital (although less than the others).  These mineral substances are the “active workers” that utilise the inactive substances in building the millions of cells of which the body is composed.

So; what is the use and reason for using and prescribing tissue salts?  In a nutshell; if your blood lacks any of the necessary quantities of inorganic substances, then the rebuilding process cannot carry on in an optimum way, thus resulting in a disturbance in the cells that causes “disease,” or a dis-ease.  When there is a shortage or deficiency of one or more vital mineral substances, injuries, self-poisoning, and so on, can occur.  For example, if you don’t have enough calcium and magnesium in your body (or if your body doesn’t absorb enough of these minerals), you get cramps, spasms, and even headaches! 

Dr. Schüβler proved that there are 12 mineral salts in our body’s cells that is crucial in carrying on the functional activities in our cells.  These mineral salts are:

Calcium Fluoride (Calc. Fluor,), Calcium Phosphate (Calc. Phos.), Calcium Sulphate (Calc. Sulp.), Phosphate of Iron (Ferr. Phos.), Potassium Chloride (Kali Mur.), Potassium Phosphate (Kali. Phos.), Potassium Sulphate (Kali. Sulph.), Magnesium Phosphate (Mag. Phos.), Sodiu Chloride (Nat. Mur.), Sodium Phosphate (Nat. Phos.), Sodium Sulphate (Nat. Sulph.), and Silicic Oxide (Silica).

There are 5 principles that underlines the reasons for and the use of tissue salts:

  1. Disease doesn’t occur if cell metabolism is normal;
  2. Cell metabolism is normal if cell nutrition is adequate;
  3. Nutritional substances are either of an organic nature or an inorganic nature, when it comes to the body’s cells;
  4. The ability of the body’s cells to assimilate and excrete, and further utilise, the nutritional material is impaired if there is a deficiency in the inorganic mineral / tissue salt, constituent of cellular tissues;
  5. Adequate cell nutrition can be restored and cellular metabolism can be normalised by supplying the required tissue salts to the organism in a well divided assimilable form.

It should be noted that tissue salts are not pharmaceutical drugs – you do not need a doctor’s prescription for it, nor are there any side-effects or harm done, when using them.  They are vital cell foods and in harmony with the body.  For example, Magnesium Phosphate (Mag. Phos.) can be given to babies that suffer from colic.  Tissue salts can also be taken up to 3 times a day, depending on the severity of the symptoms, and can also be used during pregnancy.  When in doubt – consult your health practitioner!

Let us have a quick look at the use of each of the 12 tissue salts:

  1. Calc. Fluor:  present in the surface of bone, enamel of teeth and in the elastic fibres of the skin, muscular tissue and blood vessels.
  2. Calc. Phos:  a constituent of the bone, teeth, connective tissue, blood corpuscles and gastric juices.  Together with albumin it gives solidity to the bones and building of teeth (bone consists of 57% calcium phosphate).  It uses albumin as cement to build up bone structure (good for children to take)
  3. Calc. Sulp:  a healer and blood purifier; found in the liver where it helps in the removal of waste products from the blood stream.  It has a cleansing and purifying influence throughout the system.
  4. Ferr. Phos:  it is the “biochemic first-aid.”  It carries oxygen, enters into the composition of haemoglobin and takes up oxygen from the air that we inhale via our lungs, and carries it in the blood stream to all parts of the body.  This is a vital force that sustains life and gives strength and toughness to the circular walls of the blood vessels (particularly the arteries).
  5. Kali. Mur:  it is used to treat sluggish conditions.  It combines with fibrin, an organic substance.  Any deficiency causes fibrin to become non-functional and the body then discharges catarrh and other similar symptoms that affect the skin and mucous membrane.
  6. Kali. Phos:  a good nerve nutrient, that is found in the tissues and fluids of the body; notably the brain and nerve cells.  It has an antiseptic action and counteracts decay in the organisms.
  7. Kali. Sulp:  has an affinity with the cells that form the lining of the skin and those forming the internal mucous lining of all internal organs.
  8. Mag. Phos:  known as the “anti-spasmodic” remedy, its main function is connected with the nervous system where it supplements the action of Kali. Phos.  A deficiency of Mag. Phos causes spasms and cramps – therefore it is important to help maintain the rhythmic and coherent movements of muscular tissue.
  9. Nat. Mur:  the “water-distributer.”  It enters into every composition of every fluid and solid substance of the body.  It controls the ebb and flow of the bodily fluids and its prime function is to maintain a proper degree of moisture throughout the system.  If there is a lack of this salt, cell division and normal growth could not proceed.  Nat. Mur is also linked to nutrition and glandular activity.
  10. Nat. Phos:  present in the blood, muscles, nerves and brain cells, as well as in the intercellular fluids.  It neutralises acid and regulates the consistency of bile, as well as promoting the absorption of water. 
  11. Nat. Sulp:  regulates the density of the intercellular fluids (fluids that bathe the tissue cells), by eliminating excess water.  It controls the healthy functioning fo the liver, ensures an adequate supply of free-flowing, healthy bile, and remves poison-charges fluids (a normal result of chemical exchanges constantly taking place).
  12. Silica:  present in the blood, skin, hair and nails; it is a constituent of connective tissue, bones, nerve sheaths and mucous membranes.  Silica’s action is deep and long lasting.  It acts more upon the organic substances of the body, especially the bones, joints, gland and skin, and is indicated wherever there is pus forming or threatened suppuration, like an abscess or boil.

“Blood is to the human body what soil is to the plant.  It is common knowledge that poor, exhausted soil will produce only weak, sickly plants.  In the same way, poor blood, lacking in essential constituents, will produce weak, sickly bodies, prone to disease.  By enriching the soil, the ill-conditioned plant can be made to recover and flourish.  The recovery of the ailing human body can best be achieved by a similar process – by restoring to the blood the constituents in which it is lacking.  This is Biochemistry,” The Chemistry of Living Tissue.

Bach flower remedies, Tissue salts and Astrology?

Bach flower remedies, tissue salts, and other natural medicine, is concerned with the vertical causes of illness.  This means that it looks at the inter relationship between the body, mind and spirit / soul.  Unlike medical medicine, it treats the origin / root cause of the illness / allergy, not just the symptoms, thus helping the user to be cured rather than just “feel better.”

What has this got to do with astrology, you might wonder?  I was reading a recent article by Jacqueline Brook, about the links, who believes there is a definite link / correlation between them.  The essence of healing (being healed) is not just to remove physical suffering.  Instead it is / should be to assist the person to realize what is the cause of the illness on all levels, so that he / she can be healed completely.  Astrology, she believes, is the same, as it offers a natal chart with insights into the physical, emotional, spiritual and deep levels of a person’s being / persona.

Let us explore the remedies.  Bach remedies were discovered and formulated in the 1930s by Dr Edward Bach.  It is a simple and natural healing modality that uses wild flowers.  Instead of treating just the physical illness, Bach remedies treat essence of the illness. 

It must be noted that there are certain illnesses that cannot be treated (Dr Bach recognized 38 conditions that were treatable), and that some people are allergic to flowers and thus this treatment is not the answer. Bach remedies are classified under 7 headings:  mental and emotional states, fear, uncertainty, insufficient interest in the present moment, loneliness, being overly sensitive to influences and ideas, despondency and despair, and over-concern for the welfare of other people.

Jacqueline notes that, in a natal chart, there are 7 planets that influences a person in a strong / not so strong way.  For example, if a person has a weak Mars in their chart, they come across as timid, fearing the unknown and are unable to pursue their dreams and goals (Mars is the natural ruler of aggression / strong will, desire and action).  Astrology is an ancient form of wisdom and the reason they use the planets, are because our solar system, us and our planet, are energy.  The moon influences the ocean when it is full moon – our bodies are made up of 70 – 80& water – what is the possibility that it can influence people?

Now let’s have a look at tissue salts.  Dr WH Scheussler, founder of biochemistry, believed that a disease does not and will not occur if a person’s cell activity is normal.  He presented 5 principles in support of his studies:  your body is made up of tissue salts and any imbalance (too much or too little of a substance), can cause an imbalance.  The body, he concluded, requires both complex and organic compounds, as well as inorganic substances as cell nutrients.  If there is an imbalance, the body’s cells will not be able to assimilate and utilise these compounds. 

There are 12 tissue salts on the market today, as well as combinations.  Numbers 1,2 and 3 are calcium based, no 4 is iron based, no 5,6 and 7 are potassium based, 8 is magnesium based, 9, 10 and 11 are sodium based, and 12 is silicon.  Tissue salts is completely safe.  Even if you take some in excess, your body will simply excrete it!  Mag. Phos, for example, is not just for cramping, but can also be used for babies who suffer from colic; without any harm to the baby!  In a later article I will go into more detail about the different tissue salts and their uses.

Now – what has Bach remedies and Tissue salts got to do with Astrology, you might still wonder?  According to Jacqueline it is twofold.  Tissue salts can be based on the planetary rulers of the body parts being treated, or it can be selected on the basis of the planetary ruler of the mineral of which the tissue salts are composed or derived from.  A weak Saturn in a chart, for example, will require tissue salts no. 1, 2 or 3, as they are calcium based and Saturn is the ruler of the skeletal system and teeth.  He also rules limestone and limestone is a common sedimentary rock which form from the precipitation of calcium carbonate from water.  Another example of astrology’s link to tissue salts is that too much calcium (Saturn) in the body hinders the absorption of iron (Mars).  Is your skin dry and do you get cold easily?  You might just be slow and ponderous, while another person, who has a dry skin but gets hot easily, is faster moving and action orientated…

Alternative medicine treats a person holistically, because they know that we are not just physical beings, but also spiritual, mental and emotional.  Astrology also believes this, therefore in a natal chart, all the different houses, planets, and so forth, are taken into account when a reading is given.

Many doctors today are realizing that patients must be treated in a more holistic manner.  Diet, exercise and pills are not the “be all and end all” when it comes to treating the reasons and not just the symptoms. 

“Physicians are agreed that when treatment is possible through diet, there should be no recourse through medicine; and when treatment is possible through a simple, there should be no recourse to a compound.”  This, Jacqueline believes, is a reason why astrologers and holistic / allopathic health care practitioners, can work together.

Yoga and wine

A trend that is popular overseas, is now also starting to take shape in South Africa – doing yoga in the morning, and sipping on a glass of wine afterwards!

Reading an article, written by Sharni Quinn, founder of Follow the Sun, she said the idea to combine the two, came about in 2013.  It was during this time, when she took groups overseas on an “Eat, Play, Yoga journeys” to Bali, that she realized that one can have fun and freedom of mind, while at the same time living more consciously and sustainable.  She started “Yoga & Wine- “weekends in the Cape and says it is a huge success.  In the morning the group does yoga, self-reflect / meditate and relax.  In the afternoon a shuttle takes them to various wine farms, where they learn about wine-making and get a chance to taste it.  Sharni says that, combining the two, is a new way of connecting with like-minded people and forming new friendships.

According to Alex Elman, yoga is an ancient, if not the most ancient, discipline; and wine has a rich history.  Both dates back to 6 000 BC.  He believes that one develops a palate for wine-drinking over time and, during yoga, you stretch your body in order to sit in meditation for prolonged periods.

Going way back into history, we know that wine was used in different, sacred traditions, for example in the Greek Dionysian rites, the Buddhist tantra, as well as the Christian Mass.  When you drink wine, you savour the taste, the smell and the aroma.  You are mindful of the cultivation and making of the wine.  In Yoga you are mindful of your breathing, the way you do each and every pose and the way you centre yourself in meditation.

Another interesting thought of why this trend has taken off, is that they claim that you can achieve a state of relaxation and/or mindfulness with both yoga and drinking wine!  This is partly true.  A big difference (I believe) is that wine helps a person to feel more relaxed once the wine “kicks in” after a glass or 2.  When you do yoga regularly, you automatically start to become more mindful, more relaxed and present, because you learn how to breathe correctly, as well as learn how to meditate / become still. 

Popularity is growing and new ideas are popping up almost every day when it comes to exercising.  Whether doing this as part of an organization’s team-building, or as a birthday- / special occasion-celebration, pairing wine and yoga seems to be working in a positive way.  The key, however, is to remember that life shouldn’t be taken too seriously, and that moderation is key to living a well-balanced life.

Celebrating women

In South Africa, August is women’s month, whereas in the UK and US, women’s month is celebrated in March.  Nonetheless, it is a time to celebrate being a woman, a mother, a spouse, a partner and a friend.  A time when society is reminded to take care and respect a woman; for she is the carrier of life.

It is a great idea to have a month where we can celebrate and acknowledge the role the women play in society.  Yes, it is also a month when violence against women are looked at.  In the end it boils down to respect.  When you respect yourself, you will respect other people, things, animals and nature itself.  When you love yourself, you will love others, because the Divinity is in each and every one (and everything) of us. 

It is always important to have a balance between one’s feminine and masculine side (regardless of your sex), but I can’t help but wonder if men don’t feel “lost” in a sense, because women can / want to proof that they can do what men can do?!

In today’s modern world the material possessions in life started to be more important than love, kindness, trust and humbleness.  It is important to make peace with who we are, to get to a point of balancing our feminine and masculine qualities, to allow other women to be women, and to allow men to be men.  It is a time to get back to our true self, to find out what our true values are, and to not just say things, but do it as well!  Dr. Demartini says your true values are those values that you will always return to – and how you value yourself, will determine how others and the world, value you!

My philosophy is:  if you can change something and/or get rid of a bad habit, then do it.  The sooner the better!  If you cannot change something, then make peace with it and be grateful for what you were given.  So many times, we complain about our legs being too short, for example.  However, be grateful you have legs and that you can walk.

For all my female readers, I’d like to say:  enjoy being you, be grateful for what you have, love yourself, and be true to you!  There is nobody on earth like you, nor is there anybody who can replace you.  Yes, we all have flaws that we don’t like. 

All in all, being women is not always easy.  Life has its ups and downs, but how we look at the world, will change how we feel and think about the world.  And what we think, believe and say to ourselves, will either make us stronger and give us self-confidence, or not. 

To all the women throughout the world; be grateful, love yourself, and know that you are special, you are unique, and society thanks you for being you!

Nail care – the what’s and what to do’s

All of us has, at one or other point, struggled with brittle nails.  More often than none it is due to lack of nutrition, weather, harsh soaps and working with your hands, in water, without wearing gloves.

Our nails are a substructure of the epidermis and are mainly composed of keratin (a type of protein).  Nails grow from approximately 0.05 to 1.2 millimetres (1/500 to 1/20 of an inch) a week and, if you lose a nail, it takes about 7 months to grow out fully. How do you know if your nails are healthy or not? 

I am going to list a few things that you can look at:

  1.  A lack of protein, folic acid and vitamin C, causes hangnails.  These are nails that curve down when they become long.  Another indication of protein deficiency are white bands across the nails;
  2. A lack of vitamin A and calcium causes brittleness and dryness;
  3. A deficiency of the B-vitamins causes fragility, with horizontal and vertical ridges;
  4. Insufficient intake of vitamin B12 leads to excessive dryness, very rounded and/or curved nail ends, and darkened nails;
  5. Iron deficiency causes “spoon” nails (concave shapes) and/or vertical ridges;
  6. Zinc deficiency causes the development of white spots on the nails;
  7. A lack of “friendly” bacteria (lactobacilli) in the body can result in fungus-growth in and around the nails;
  8. A lack of sufficient hydrochloric acid contributes to splitting nails.

Before we look at supplements and dietary changes / add-ons we can use, remember that some of the above conditions can also be due to a skin allergy, for example eczema.  The latter can, if a person had it / has it on his / her hands, can affect the way the nails look.

As stated above, vitamin A, C, B-complex, B12, Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc, (taken with copper to balance out the zinc) are all important.  Vitamin D3 and iron are also essential nutrients.  A good Omega-oil supplement will not only feed the nails and nailbeds, but is also needed to keep our skin supple and moist, but it is also “brain food!”

When we look at what we can add to our daily food intake, things like alfalfa, flaxseed, lemongrass, parsley, pumpkin seed and sage, are good nutrients.  Chamomile, rosemary and turmeric are great to use for circulation and for nourishing the nails.  Eating enough good quality proteins or taking a protein-supplement if you are vegetarian, as well as grains, legumes, oatmeal, nuts, seeds and eggs, are all good.

Eating plenty of fresh fruits and raw vegetables, cutting down or avoiding refined sugars and simple carbohydrates, as well as drinking plenty of water, are all important as well.  Fresh carrot juice is high in calcium and phosphorus – good for strengthening the nails; and as you know, high in vitamin A; so good for our eyes as well!

Eating too many citrus fruits, using too much salt and/or vinegar, can cause an imbalance between the protein/calcium levels in our bodies.  Royal jelly, spirulina or kelp are rich in silica, zinc and the B-vitamins.  Brewer’s yeast or wheat germ oil, taken daily, can help with splitting nails and/or hangnails. 

If your nails’ colour is not what it used to be, or your nails are brittle, mix equal parts of honey, avocado oil, egg yolk and a pinch of salt together.  Rub the mixture into your nails and cuticles.  Leave it on for 30 minutes and rinse off.  Repeat this every day and, after about 2 weeks, you should see changes.  If you’d like to strengthen your nails, soak them in warm olive oil or apple cider vinegar for 10 – 20 minutes every day.

Take care not to use your nails to scrape or pick, for example removing a staple.  Use gloves when you are working in water, in the garden or around the house.  When cutting your nails, make sure that they are warm, as it is easier to cut without splitting – and warm nails will not blunt your nail clippers / scissors either!  Keeping it relatively short is not only easier to maintain and work with, but the longer the nails, the bigger the chance of it breaking and/or bending / curving.

When you are filing your nails, be careful not to file in different directions (this can cause the nails to become brittle and/or split).  Instead file in one direction.  Don’t pull on a cuticle if it is dry or formed a small, loose skin.  Rather cut it off and put some moisturizer on.  Biting your nails?  Firstly; best to get rid of the stress and the reason(s) you are doing it and, if all else fails, put a bitter residue / polish on your nails…but rather stop or don’t start at all!

If you like to wear nail polish often, use a base coat before you put your colour on.  This will protect your nail from discolouring.  Do give your nails time-off as well to breathe, as nail polish can stop oxygen from penetrating the nails.  Before you use any brand’s nail polish remover, make sure that it contains acetate and not acetone.  The latter can be toxic to skins and are much harsher on the nail and skin, than acetate.

Lastly, I would like to mention a few other considerations to be aware of…

Exposing our hands and nails to too much water and soap, can cause the nails to loosen from its beds.  Water causes our nails to swell and, when they shrink once dry, it can become loose and/or brittle.  If you smoke, suffer from allergies, are on anticancer medication, is a diabetic, stress or has / had a prolonged illness, your nails can also show one / more of the above-mentioned symptoms.  Speaking to your health practitioner about it, is always a good idea.  Artificial nails might look good, but the chemicals and glue used can cause havoc; especially if it is not done properly and if you don’t take “time-out” from wearing it.  Fungal infections can also occur easier.  In a study done on hospital nurses it was found that they carry twice as many bacteria on their hands! 

In a recent interview on the radio a researcher that researched the difference between using hand sanitizers and warm water and soap, said that hand sanitizers clean our hands from everyday dirt / dust, but it cannot protect you from picking up the E. coli-virus.  However, when you wash your hands with warm water and soap (for 20 seconds; including under the nails), we not only get rid of germs and dirt, but anything else that might cause us to contract an illness.

There are many brands on the market that has different ingredients in; promising to moisturize your hands, lessen the look of ageing, and so forth.  Glycerine, vitamin E and added oil (coconut oil, argan oil or coconut butter), are something to look out for when choosing a product.  A hand serum is another good option to use; especially if your hands are very dry.

Our hands and nails are always on display – so take the time to take care of then too!

Skincare for all seasons

There are many articles and blog posts written on the different product-brands when it comes to looking after our skin.  I am not going to go into detail about it.  What I would like to write about is how to take care of your skin from the inside.

There are different types of skins: sensitive, oily, dry and combination.

A sensitive skin is a skin that doesn’t tan easily, and often breaks out in a rash / allergic reaction if using products that have too many chemicals in.

An oily skin often occurs during puberty, adolescence and teenage years, when the skin is excreting too much oil and breakouts occur.  However, adults can also suffer from an oily skin and get “adult acne.”

A dry skin struggles when it is dry and/or winter (especially when the person is living where the winters are not humid).  The first places to take a knock, so to speak, are the lips, elbows hands and heels. 

A combination skin is often partly dry or normal, and partly oily.  The latter is the area of the forehead, nose and chin. 

For a balanced, healthy skin, a balance between oil and moisture is crucial.  The oil is secreted by the sebaceous glands, which lubricates the skin’s surface.  The moisture is the water present inside the skin cells.  This comes to the cells via the bloodstream and it is the water that keeps the skin plumped-up, healthy and youthful-looking.  It is interesting to note that there are 2 types of dry skin:  a normal dry skin results from a lack of natural oils.  A complex dry skin lacks both oil and moisture; and characteristics include fine lines, brown spots, discolouration, enlarges pores and sagging skin.  If the skin is / has been exposed to prolonged sunlight (or sunbeds), then the proteins (elastin, collagen and keratin), may also be damaged.

Often a dull skin not only looks dull, but it easily develops wrinkles and/or fine lines, and can even become scaly / flaky.  Fair-skinned people are more prone to have or develop a dry skin as they age.

If there is no underlying cause such as eczema or psoriasis, then it can be a combination of heredity, vitamin deficiencies and poor nutrition.  Vitamins A and B play a crucial role and a deficiency of these vitamins, can easily lead to a dry, scaly skin.  Other important vitamins and minerals to add to your diet, are vitamin E, B-complex with extra B12, Zinc and Primrose oil (or any other essential fatty acid-product).  Vitamin C, L-Cysteine and Selenium, are also good choices.

As for looking at your diet, make sure to includes vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds and nuts.  Eat a good quality protein and eat more raw foods.  Eating foods that is high in sulphur, like garlic, onions, eggs and asparagus, are a good way to keep the skin looking smooth and youthful.  Eating lots of orange and yellow vegetables can aid with your intake of beta-carotene (part of vitamin A – also important for good eyesight!).

Try not to eat a lot / avoid completely: friend foods, soft drinks, sugar, junk food and processed foods.  Junk foods are often prepared in oil that has been used over and over again.  If certain vegetable oils are placed on high heat, free radicals are produced, which have a destructive effect on your skin, and your health in general.

Always drink plenty of water.  A good test to see if you are drinking enough water is to gently tuck on the skin on your hand.  If it falls back, you are not dehydrated, but if it stays up, then you need more fluid.  Another signal from the body to let you know that you’re not drinking enough water, is that you are thirsty.  Experts believe when you are thirsty, you are already dehydrating!

Moisturizing our skin with the right products is always best.  As I have said earlier, there are many different products on the market for the different skin types.  Products containing glycerine, vitamin E and panthenol, are good options.

When you wash your face and body use a loofah / scrub 1 – 2 times per week.  Don’t do this more than twice per week, as exfoliation can rid the skin of its natural oils (these oils are not just important for locking-in the moisture but also acts as a barrier against the elements).  A facial mask once / twice per week is another good way to deep-cleanse your face.

There are many homemade-recipes that works just as well as the products you buy in a store.  If you are uncertain about using something, either just dap a small amount on your hand to see if there is any skin reaction, or use a sample first.

Many experts believe that it is good to change your moisturizers and facial creams during the different seasons.  However, I have found that the one I use works well in both summer and winter.  For those suffering from a dry skin; remember to look out for products with plenty of moisturizing factors in.  For oily skins it is best to use creams and make-up that gives a matte finish / look.

At the end of the day; no matter how many lotions and other treatments you use, you cannot stop getting older.  However, you can change the way you age, by changing the way you think about it.  So, why not turn your frown into a smile?

Taking care of your hair

In the Northern Hemisphere it is summer; however, in the Southern Hemisphere we are still in the grips of winter.  Taking care of your hair and skin during the dryer and/or colder months of the year, is quite different to warm, summer days.

Our hair can often become dryer during this time of year; especially if we make use of hairdryers more often than usual.  A good hair mask is a great way to nourish the hair, as well as looking out for a good quality shampoo and conditioner (ask your hairdresser what is the best option for your hair).

Another tip is to look out for products that have something like Argan oil, avocado, or shea butter in.  Using products with added ingredients that will feed, nourish and protect our hair, is always a good choice during these months. 

Home remedies like an avocado mask, egg mask, essential oils, tea, and others, are cheap, natural ways to take care of your hair – whether during the winter months or those warm summer months.  I am going to look at 3 different ways to take care of your hair at home.

An avocado- and egg mask.  According to Stephen Sanna, expert colourist at the Pierre Michel Salon in New York City, using mashed avocado, mixed with an egg, will help to restore your hair’s lustre; as avocados are rich in vitamins, essential fatty acids and minerals and the egg will helps to restore the protein in your hair.

Rinsing your hair with freshly brewed, unsweetened tea, will give dry hair a natural shine.  Use a ¼ cup of tea as a final rinse after your regular shampoo.  It not only gives the hair a natural shine, but will also enhance your hair colour.  Chamomile tea is best for blondes and black tea for brunettes.

Apple cider vinegar is a wonderful thing to use as well.  Especially during the summer months when you are at the beach or swimming a lot.  Using ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar, mixed with ¾ cup of water, will help to get rid of the chemicals and saltiness of the water.  Afterwards you apply your conditioner as normal, and your hair will stay shiny and soft. 

This can also be used during winter, when we blow-dry our hair more often and/or colour our hair.  Apple cider vinegar is also a good way to rid your hair of excess conditioner. 

Whether it is wintertime or summertime; it is always a good idea to “let your hair down” and not to wear it up all the time.  Not only does it damage the hair follicles, but it can also aid in baldness!  According to my hairdresser, wearing your long hair up all day, every day, literally pulls the hair away from the forehead!

If you live in a climate where the air is dry you can use a humidifier.  It is also a good idea to put out a plate / bowl of water if you are in a space with the heater on all the time.  When the air is dry it will not only dry out the skin, but also your eyes and lips.

Other things to remember is nutrition – what you put into your body is just as important, if not more so, than what you put on!  Taking your Omega-oils, drinking enough water (especially when it is cold and/or dry) and eating fresh vegetables and fruits, are all role-players in giving our hair and skin a healthy look.

There is an old folk’s tale that says one should brush your hair 100 strokes each day!  Not only is it great for the scalp but it will also give your hair a shine.  Brushing is not only a natural thing to do, but also a way of distributing the hair’s natural oils and massaging your scalp.  A lovely way to relax and, again, to “oil” your hair with its own oil, is a head massage. 

Many hairdressers believe that it is not good to wash your hair every single day, as you can easily deplete the hair and hair follicles of the natural oils (necessary to feed and keep the hair healthy and nourished).  It is tricky when you are outdoors, for example, or if you exercise and/or sweat.  A light wash (with or without using shampoo or conditioner), can do the trick.  Best to try to have a couple of days in-between washes!

Two other things to remember is not to brush your hair when it is wet; unless you use a comb with big teeth. Best to wrap your wet hair in a towel and towel-dry the excess water / wetness first. Also make sure you use the correct brushes and/or combs. Also try to brush your hair from the scalp towards the roots – this is another tip to distribute the hair’s natural oils.

A last tip is to treat split ends either with a cut, or with some oil or butter!  Yes, you read it – butter!  According to a Reader’s Digest article, using a small amount of butter on the ends can help to protect it and keep it from splitting!

Our head, it is said, is our crown (as it were) …So whether it is wintertime or summertime where you live, remember to nourish and protect your hair as much as you would nourish and protect the rest of your body against the elements.