Can plant Omega-3 reduce heart attacks more than fish oil? Yes!

Omega_3_Fatty

I have always been a great follower of Flaxseed oil over Fish oil for greater nutritional value, so I had to share  this article by Naturopath Case Adams

Two large research reviews by medical scientists have determined that omega-3 fatty acid from plants reduce the incidence of heart disease and heart attacks while fish oil has only a slight (“insignificant”) effect.

The most recent study focusing on the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) comes from researchers at Harvard Medical School along with several other prestigious universities. The researchers analyzed 27 clinical trials that studied 251,049 human subjects. The studies included over 15,000 heart attacks and other cardiovascular events.

The cardiovascular events were cross-referenced against either supplementation or blood levels of ALA. In total, increased consumption of alpha-linolenic acid omega-3 fatty acids resulted in a 14% total reduction of heart attacks and associated cardiovascular events. And as trends were pooled and examined with ALA blood biomarkers, the reduction in cardiovascular events was as high as 20%.

These results are contrasted with another large review of research, published in September’s Journal of the American Medical Association. The research comes from medical researchers from Greece’s Ioannina University Medical School and Hospital. In this study, researchers utilized the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials of research for fish oil and cardiovascular events research through August of 2012.

The researchers analyzed 20 studies involving 68,680 human subjects. Among these, there were 3,993 deaths from heart attacks and cardiovascular events, 1,150 sudden deaths, 1,837 heart attacks and 1,490 strokes. Against these were cross-referenced marine-sourced (fish) omega-3 fatty acids, which include DHA and EPA, along with saturated fats (yes, fish oil typically contains saturated fats).

The research found that fish oil supplementation did slightly reduce the incidence of heart attacks by 11% and heart attack deaths by 9%. However, given the scale of the margin of error, the researchers concluded that fish oil supplementation, “was not associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, cardiac death, sudden death, myocardial infarction, or stroke based on relative and absolute measures of association.” In other words, there wasn’t enough of a difference from the margin of error to claim fish oil reduces heart attacks or cardiovascular events.

Supporting the conflicting evidence, the researchers also stated:

“Treatment with marine-derived omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) for the prevention of major cardiovascular adverse outcomes has been supported by a number of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) and refuted by others.”

The research on plant-based alpha-linolenic acid omega-3s has not been so controversial because research over the years has consistently shown ALA’s ability to help prevent cardiovascular events and cardiovascular disease. And this is illustrated with the size of the study analysis (totalling 251,049 humans).

Alpha-linolenic acid is one of the primary fatty acids found in various seeds, nuts and grains. Some of the highest levels are found in chia seeds (64%), kiwi fruit seeds (62%), flaxseeds  (55%) and hemp seed (20%). Other good sources include walnuts, pumpkin seeds,sesame seeds, olives, canola, kale, spiriulina, spinach and others.

In addition to being well utilized by the body, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is also converted to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid 9EPA) and other important omega-3s within the body. The primary liver enzyme used in the conversion of ALA to DHA is delta-6 desaturase. DHA converts to EPA in the body as needed. A healthy person will convert ALA to DHA at a rate of from 7% to 15% according to research.

For those who convert ALA to DHA at a slower rate, algal DHA provides the purest form of DHA. DHA is produced by algae and travels up the sealife food chain. Algal DHA does not contain saturated fats as many fish do. DHA-producing algae is farmed in tanks in the absence of mercury, PCBs and dioxins that have been known to bioaccumulate within fish.

DHA and EPA are the central fatty acids in fish oil besides saturated fat. It also should be noted that fatty fish such as salmon also contain a considerable amount of arachidonic acid. Foods rich in arachidonic acids have been shown to increase inflammation in the body.

Managing the madness of Menopause

In my last blog post I wrote about Perimenopause and what its symptoms were. I am sure, like me, many girls were surprised to find that all of their lack of wellness was in fact Perimenopause and quite normal.

For those of you who did not read the article, or have quite understandably forgotten it, especially likely if you are pre or post menopausal – the following are all of the symptoms which you may or may not have started seeing some of from around 37 to 38 years of age.

  • Hot flashes, hot flushes, night sweats, cold flashes or a clammy feeling – most of these do not start till around the mid 40s for most.
  • Irregular heart beat, this can be just like a flutter, or you can feel as if you are having a heart attack!
  • Irritability, who called me irritable! There is nothing wrong with me – someone hand me a sharp knife!
  • Mood swings with sudden tears, I am not moody, you are just so horrid and inconsiderate……..
  • Trouble sleeping through the night.
  • Irregular periods, shorter lighter periods, heavier periods, flooding, phantom periods, shorter or longer cycles.
  • Loss of libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Crashing fatigue, this can come with a aching body.
  • Anxiety or depression, feeling ill at ease, feelings of doom and blackness. Feeling as if you just cannot cope with either small things or big things. Generally a feeling of great unhappiness.
  • Aching sore joints – feeling as if you are an old woman. Back aches, legs and arms etc. Increased tension in the muscles
  • Difficultly concentrating, mental confusion, disorientated. Foggy brain, with memory lapses, which can be highly embarrassing! Who are you? Oh one of my clients?
  • Incontinence, especially when sneezing, laughing or running.
  • Breast tenderness
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort including gas, indigestion, flatulence, pain, nausea and bloating
  • Allergies which used to be intolerances, become full blown allergies
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss, everywhere except on the upper lip and what’s this? Hair on my chin?
  • Dizziness, vertigo, light headedness and loss of balance, sometimes with Tinnitus (ringing or whooshing or buzzing sound in the ears)
  • Change in body odor, as well as a terrible awareness of other people’s body odor (especially your teenage kids and that man in front of you in the supermarket cue).
  • Changes in fingernails, they become thinner, as does the skin on your face. A noticeable sag starts to occur around the jawline and neck, stomach, thighs and bottom. The skin on your body and face thins and lines become prominent, as does pigmentation. Cellulite seems to spring up all over in areas where it never existed before, even with a strict exercise routine and diet.
  • Sugar cravings, must have sugar, or else……..
  • Gum problems, bleeding gums, plus bad taste in mouth, change in breath odor and burning tongue and roof of mouth

I found until my mid 40s, a healthy diet, plenty of sleep and exercise kept me more or less mentally on the straight and narrow. But my weight gain bothered me, I upped the exercise, but found that I could just never get down to the same weight as when I was 37 years old. I had always been vague, but some days, honestly, hello, anybody home? The most annoying thing was the periods. I would loose my bladder for a week before, menstruate, and all would be well for another two weeks.

I had always suffered from anxiety, but it did worsen, and unfortunately has not improved since.

When I reached my late 40s that is when all of it went out of control. The hardest part I found, was that although I now knew what was wrong with me, I could not find a solution.

I must have tried everything! But it was only when confronted with severe hot flashes during a very hot January, where I found myself nearly fainting every time I turned the steamer on, that I took to resolving all of my “ailments” as my husband calls them.

Like all of us, I was hoping to find the solution in a pill. I went from one natural menopause pill to the next. Nothing worked. I slowly and progressively became more agitated and harder to live with. I could not stand dealing with brides anymore, my adorable sweet natured contractor used to have to work her rear end off trying to keep weddings at a even keel, whilst I slowly and steadily became more and more anxious and agitated.

My crisis point came when one day I noticed Emma (my contractor) looking at me during a wedding with a look of such stress, that I knew it was me sending her mad, not the bride!

I came home to find my husband missing as usual and it dawned on me he had taken to hiding most evenings in the garden. I confronted him on this (I was so confrontational at that time), and he said stepping slowly backwards that I had been challenging to live with. At this time I was trying the last of the off the shelf menopause tablets I could buy, which made me highly aggressive due to the addition of Tribulus Terrestris added to increase sex drive, which also increases your testosterone levels.

This jar of tablets, like all the others went straight into the bin.

So now I had wasted hundreds of dollars, yet had not found a solution. Some of them had caused me to gain fluid, others to become exhausted, and others, made me quite crazy, I was lost. What was I to do? I was not going to give into this, I was going to find a solution, so I could go through this stage of my life feeling a lot more normal.

Like with everything, there are solutions, but even the best are effected by stress and fatigue. The truth is, at this stage in our lives, we need to take care of ourselves. Just as teenagers need more sleep, and we allow them to do so, we need more rest, or at least more down time. Super woman needs to put her cape away in a draw or hand it down to her daughter, it is time for sensible, healthy, well exercised happy woman to put her walking shoes on, plug into her meditation sounds on her ipod and start walking. Ideally she will do two or three yoga sessions per week.

It is time for relaxed happy woman to take a healthy blend of greens every day with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and tablespoon of flaxseed oil to aid her digestion, purify her liver and to sort out her dodgy gut. But also to support her body nutritionally, as it is going through a massive amount of change. It is also time to take probiotics nightly to help support her gut and magnesium to help her sleep and ease any cramps and ease any anxiety.

Yup, so not happening you say – but I am sorry, unless you first take care of you, which I know from experience is easier said than done (I am writing this article after 21 days straight of work with no time off), just implementing any or all of these things will help you stay in a good place. Because, all of the symptoms will keep on happening, no matter what you take to take them away unless you firstly take care of you.

Depending on your time, money and how badly you wish to get things under control, you can start on hormone therapy. I am not speaking about HRT, but natural hormone replacement done by specialist doctors. They take a blood sample to find out how much or little you have of every hormone and prescribe a natural hormone replacement program to ease all of your symptoms. Some of my clients have opted for this and found it successful, but I have also noticed that their stress levels, increase or decrease in exercise will throw their treatment out, and they have to go back and forth rebalancing their hormone levels. It still is the most controlled treatment, and all of them are happy with it.

I am a believer in supporting the body to do its bit, so have not followed that path. I recommend all girls monitor their wellbeing so they actually know why they are getting all of the dodgy symptoms. I know I get all of the hormonal symptoms the moment my immune levels drop, usually caused due to overwork and not enough sleep, so I see them as a reminder to take care of me.

There are many off the shelf natural pills to treat menopause, but as I said earlier, I personally found none of them worked for me.

The most popular ingredients in menopause tablets are Black Cohosh and Chaste tree. For some women one or both of these ingredients work wonders, for others like myself, they cause more problems.

Another thing many menopause tablets contain are isoflavones, they complement the body’s declining estrogen levels during menopause. But if you are someone with excess estrogen and low on progesterone, this will not work for you.

Personally what I have found, as have my and faithful guinea pig clients, is that supporting the body to sort its hormones out works best. Giving the body what it needs to do its bit.

The following have helped all of us.

Pregnenolone – is the precursor to every other hormone. It balances the hormones, improves feelings of wellbeing and improves mood. Reduces depression and the damaging effects of stress, stimulates memory and its storage process.

The cells of both the adrenal gland and the central nervous system synthesize pregnenolone. Human studies show there are much higher concentrations of pregnenolone in the nervous tissue, than in the bloodstream. Animal studies indicate the concentration of pregnenolone in the brain is ten-fold higher than that of other stress-related hormones (including DHEA). Pregnenolone is present in the blood as both free pregnenolone and a more stable form, pregnenolone-sulfate.

It helps with improved sleep, decreases stress levels and alleviates depression.

There are negligible side effects. The only listed are bloating and fluid retention when too much is taken. I take 50 mg daily. And do not find that my bloating or fluid issues are any different than before. I have found that all round, I cope a lot better with life in general.

Unfortunately it can only be ordered online from overseas suppliers. By itself it works well, but does not alleviate the hot flashes.

The following herbs I have found mixed together help a lot;

  • Damiana – is a natural antidepressant. It increases sexual desire, increases energy and eases menstrual problems.
  • Dong Quai – decreases hot flashes, eases cramps and PMS. It increases energy and is a liver tonic.
  • Blessed Thistle – balances hormones, aids liver detoxification, and is a wonderful digestive tonic.
  • Dandelion – detoxes the liver, helps with urinary disorders, aids bone health, clears kidneys of waste, and cleans the gallbladder.
  • Wild Yam – relieves hot flashes and eases menstrual cramps, relaxes muscles, assists circulation, calms, helps with insomnia, headaches and migraines.
  • Withania – is calming and restores energy.

Most of these herbs can be found in a wonderful pill called Herbal Enhancer. Type it into the internet and you will find multiple outlets for it. I have found that as long as I stay on these pills I stay calm and focused. The moment I run out – careful, things go seriously pear shaped! But I still have to do the following;

I highly recommend that you start on a greens blend daily to detox and nutritionally support the body. One tablespoon apple cider vinegar to nutritionally support the immune system. Flaxseed oil or flaxseed oil tablets for its essential fatty acids as well as the omegas. Take a probiotic taken nightly to support the gut, and magnesium powder to help you sleep.

As always drink your 2 litres of filtered water daily and make sure you have a glass next to the bed when you go to sleep. Often when you wake up throughout the night, it is because of dehydration, or if you are having a hot flash, it helps cool you down as well as replacing the fluids you have lost perspiring. If you like chamomile tea, make a big mug with a decent spoonful of honey in it (make sure you place a lid on the mug and allow the tea to brew for 5 minutes to ensure you get all of the essential oils out of the tea). This will hydrate you and relax you all in one go.

If you have time in the morning to meditate, meditate. But if that is another added stress to your day – a soothing meditation tape whilst exercising will drop your blood pressure and help you to start your day on a more peaceful note. Or play a meditation tape as you lie down to go to sleep to take you to a calmer place.

Work out what your triggers are. I notice that when I eat junk food, or just bad food, besides serious indigestion, I get hot flashes and severe anxiety. Whilst the standard foods you are supposed avoid like coffee and chillies have absolutely no side effects.

Due to your digestion failing to do its bit, watch how you react to foods. Do some foods make you bloated, gassy, or burp? Do they make you tired and or nauseous? You may find that you have become intolerant of them for example dairy or gluten. Carry digestive enzymes around with you when you are eating out, it may help you digest a meal, which otherwise could keep you up all night.

The whole menopausal process does not stop the day you go from pre to post menopause, so as soon as you begin to recognize the signs, start to treat yourself. It is not a disease, it is just part of life. Just as we go through our teens, we go through menopause.You have not stopped being a woman, you are now just becoming a wise one.

Am I going mad? The ups and downs of Perimenopause/Menopause

So, you are 37 or 38 and you think Menopause is at least a good 12 – 15 years away. Nothing to worry about. So not going to affect you. You exercise most days, eat well, and generally take good care of yourself.

But annoyingly, you have noticed a slight weight gain around your middle that just will not budge. You have upped your training schedule, but there it still is. Work is driving you mad, not every day, just sometimes, it never used to, but there are days when people make you want to just – well smack them!

PMT anyone? There is nothing wrong with you – its just, well your husband and children – they just need to know the truth about their annoyingness at least for one week of the month! And you just cannot keep your thoughts to yourself anymore!

Take yourself now to 42 or 43. That damn weight is just so irritating! You just cannot budge it! And you are often just too tired to do anything beyond go to work, take care of the children and your husband, well honestly, does he not understand that you are too tired, too anxious and too depressed to want to make love to him.

As you get closer to 50, 46 or 47,you notice your memory is just not as good as it used to be, you may also loose your bladder every time you sneeze no matter how many Kegel exercises you do to tighten downstairs.

If you suffer from any of the below, don’t worry, they are all just perimenopausal symptoms, there is nothing wrong with you (or so the doctor may say) but to live through some of them, or many of them – is pure hell!

  • Hot flashes, hot flushes, night sweats, cold flashes or a clammy feeling – most of these do not start till around the mid 40s for most.
  • Irregular heart beat, this can be just like a flutter, or you can feel as if you are having a heart attack!
  • Irritability, who called me irritable! There is nothing wrong with me – someone hand me a sharp knife!
  • Mood swings with sudden tears, I am not moody, you are just so horrid and inconsiderate……..
  • Trouble sleeping through the night.
  • Irregular periods, shorter lighter periods, heavier periods, flooding, phantom periods, shorter or longer cycles.
  • Loss of libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Crashing fatigue, this can come with an aching body.
  • Anxiety or depression, feeling ill at ease, feelings of doom and blackness. Feeling as if you just cannot cope with either small things or big things. Generally a feeling of great unhappiness.
  • Aching sore joints – feeling as if you are an old woman. Back aches, legs and arms etc. Increased tension in the muscles
  • Difficultly concentrating, mental confusion, disorientated. Foggy brain, with memory lapses, which can be highly embarrassing! Who are you? Oh one of my clients?
  • Incontinence, especially when sneezing, laughing or running.
  • Breast tenderness
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort including gas, indigestion, flatulence, pain, nausea and bloating
  • Allergies which used to be intolerances, become full blown allergies
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss, everywhere except on the upper lip and what’s this? Hair on my chin?
  • Dizziness, vertigo, light headedness and loss of balance, sometimes with Tinnitus (ringing or whooshing or buzzing sound in the ears)
  • Change in body odor, as well as a terrible awareness of other people’s body odor (especially your teenage kids and that man in front of you in the supermarket cue).
  • Changes in fingernails, they become thinner, as does the skin on your face. A noticeable sag starts to occur around the jawline and neck, stomach, thighs and bottom. The skin on your body and face thins and lines become prominent, as does pigmentation. Cellulite seems to spring up all over in areas where it never existed before, even with a strict exercise routine and diet.
  • Sugar cravings, must have sugar, or else……..
  • Gum problems, bleeding gums, plus bad taste in mouth, change in breath odor and burning tongue and roof of mouth

Plus, this will be followed by an increased chance of Osteoporosis in later years. You will not necessarily get all of the symptoms, but if you do, not all at the same time, thank goodness!

But having gone through most of these symptoms on and off, whilst trying different natural treatments to balance my hormones, I know at 50, I do not wish anyone else to go through them.

Some women are lucky enough to barely notice they are going through the change, others will have a small range of symptoms, whilst unfortunately most women will suffer many of them.

Fair enough – I cannot stop you from going grey or growing hair on your chin, but there are ways to make the change less trying, ideally, a complete non- event!

First of all – lets look at Menopause/Perimenopause so we actually know what is going on.

Each woman experiences Menopause differently than another. The truth be known, the more relaxed you are, the better the transition. But most women work during this time in their life whilst juggling teenage or small children, and stress is an unpleasant part of life.

I could tell you to manage your stress better – but I am the last person to talk, my last 5 years have been so tumultuous, that for me sleeping 8 hours and walking the dog daily are my two serious luxuries in life. So the hormone balancing tricks I will tell you about, having worked for me, I am sure they will give you the balance you wish for.

But that is for later – lets first look at what is going on with your body.

Firstly, menopause is only 1 day – it is the day you go from being a menstruating woman to a non-menstruating woman. So basically, the day you get your last natural period. Every woman will go through menopause, and when the time is right, you will have it.

Just because you stopped menstruating, does not mean you will stop all the hormonal symptoms, they may continue till you are close on 60 years old.

The simple reality is that hormones decline with age. In so saying, hormones are essential to life. They are the connectors to the brain, muscle, sex organs and virtually every part of the body. They are so important to us that without them you would die.

But they are terribly sensitive, a mixed message, a broken connection or an unclear communication from one hormone to another can cause a imbalance, upsetting everything. And you find yourself walking around behaving erratically!

ESTROGEN

Estrogen levels will drop by 30% before you turn 50, with significant fluctuations occurring during your 40s and often well into your early 50s. Most of the drop occurs in the first 5 years of Perimenopause.

Estrogen is the feminine hormone. It is what gives us our curves, shapes our breasts, hips, and thighs as well as affecting our sex organs.

It maintains our blood sugar levels, protects against osteoporosis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, colon cancer, Parkinson’s, incontinence, and tooth loss.

Estrogen receptors are also in the brain, where they help brain cells make connections allowing our minds to stay sharp, memory clear, and maintain emotional balance.

Estrogen levels begin fluctuating at 35 due to us ovulating less as we age. Without ovulation, progesterone levels drop significantly often causing an estrogen spike to compensate. This spiking and then dropping again of estrogen causes abrupt emotional highs and lows, hot flashes and night sweats, insomnia, fatigue and low sex drive.

Dr John Lee coined a term in his book ‘What your doctor may not tell you about Menopause’ called ‘Estrogen dominance’. It is when your body has an estrogen high or low, but has no progesterone to balance it out.

Excess estrogen is linked with breast, ovarian and uterine cancer as well as endometriosis. Uterine fibroids grow larger and fibrocystic breasts become denser.

Besides naturally occurring hormone fluctuations, events outside the body can bring about estrogen dominance such as;

Toxic stress.

Toxic stress occurs when a woman is under excessive stress for long periods of time. It occurs when the adrenal glands send out for back up in the form of cortisol. Cortisol can suppress progesterone allowing for an increase in estrogen.

Diet.

Diets high in sugar and starches cause increased fat storage through the insulin hormone. Fat cells produce enzymes that increase estrogen in the blood. This causes weight gain, sore breast and heavy periods.

Birth control pills.

Birth control pills contain synthetic estrogen which can cause nausea, weight gain and other negative symptoms in women who have high estrogen levels.

Sluggish liver.

A healthy liver eliminates excessive estrogen and sex hormone binding globulin. Ageing, caffeine, sugar, alcohol and medications impair liver function, decreasing the liver’s ability to eliminate excess estrogen.

Illness.

A viral infection can effect the thyroid gland causing a imbalance in thyroid hormones negatively influencing progesterone and estrogen production.

Xenohormones

Xenohormones are a buzzword on most health conscious peoples lips. Today synthetic chemicals are found in foods such as vegetables, oats, and wheat etc due to the huge amount of chemicals sprayed on our foods whilst they are growing them. Even more are found in packaged foods especially processed foods, due to the leakage from the plastic packaging. Preservatives, additives, sugar replacement and fast foods all are loaded with xenohormones. The pollution in the air you breath when you live in a city environment, especially when you live in the inner city suburbs. These ‘fake’ hormones are able to communicate with your cells in a pattern almost exactly like that of estrogen. They are also able to suppress the immune system. The prefix ‘xeno’ means foreign. So xenohormone means an element from outside the body which behaves as a hormone in its communication with the body. These fake hormones are linked to breast cancer and other illness.

Hysterectomy/oophorectomy

When a woman’s uterus and ovaries are removed, progesterone production virtually stops which can create estrogen dominance and result in depression, fatigue, weight gain and loss of sex drive.

PROGESTERONE

Progesterone will drop by 75% from the age of 35 to 50 and then continue to decline from there on.

It is primarily produced by the ovaries and works with estrogen to prepare the uterus for conception. Although it works with estrogen, it is responsible for preventing an excess of estrogen in the body. When both are balanced, the changeover to menopause is smooth.

Progesterone is the mood hormone, and leading up to a period it is important to maintain high levels. A low level paves the way for estrogen dominance creating PMS symptoms and emotional imbalance. The more infrequently a woman ovulates the less progesterone she produces.

Progesterone’s job is:

  • A mood enhancer, therefore working as a natural antidepressant, and natural calmative.
  • It keeps skin hair and nails healthy, also prevents hair loss.
  • It regulates fluid levels working as a natural diuretic
  • It burns fat for energy and provides necessary control for insulin regulation.
  • It protects against endometrial cancer, fibrocystic breasts and breast cancer.
  • Helps support the thyroid
  • May protect against bone loss
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Controls monthly bleeding by normalizing blood clotting.

When progesterone levels drop women start to experience early symptoms of menopause which include nervousness, depression, blue moods, dry skin, hair and brittle nails, insomnia, weight gain and erratic or heavy periods.

Progesterone creams and supplements are often the first step of action taken by holistic practitioners when treating Perimenopause.

TESTOSTERONE

Testosterone declines by 50% from the age of 25 to 50, and another 50% by the age of 80.

This is the forgotten hormone in women. Low testosterone symptoms are fatigue, muscle weakness and atrophy, low libido, and low sexual sensation. This hormone is normally related to men as they produce 50% more than women do, but women still need it and produce it in the adrenal glands and the ovaries.

Women need it for energy, vitality, sex drive and endurance. We also need it for muscle tone and bone strength – therefore protecting us from osteoporosis, and for vaginal elasticity and lubrication.

Most perimenopausal women are low on testosterone, but some have high levels. High levels can be caused due to excessive stress, but is usually related to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). If a woman has facial hair, weight gain, acne and depression it is likely that her testosterone levels are high. If you have had PCOS earlier on in life, you are likely going to have high testosterone levels during perimenopause.

Stress can also reduce testosterone in some women whilst increasing it in others, depending on how they normally deal with stress. Some women move faster and faster, eating less and less whilst loosing huge amounts of weight. Others burn out and curl up in a ball and become sick and puffy and bloated.

Having an understanding of why your body is behaving the way it is, will help you take the first step in dealing with Perimenopause.

For therapists, understanding why their clients are suffering the way they are and why they are not responding to weight loss and facial treatments, will help you think outside the square, if not just helping the client by explaining what is going on with their bodies.

Next blog post, I will go into how we can manage perimenopause, so that the transition is a smooth one!

There is Moor to mud

A long time ago, someone, it must have been a young person with problematic acne, because who else but a young person would try something that crazy? Decided to try mud as an acne cure.

Or it could have been a healer who noticed that the mineral mud and peat was used by wounded animals to heal them selves. However we found out, I am grateful they did, otherwise we would not know what we do today about the amazing ability of mud to detoxify and remineralise the body, as well as deep cleanse the skin of impurities?

Thank goodness for the ongoing search for clear healthy skin did not end there. Others looked to the seabed for solutions, obviously after they noticed how clean and clear the skin looked after swimming in the ocean.

Today – after a few decades of using toxic chemicals, we are returning to using the knowledge we have gained over the centuries, instead of trying to find the perfect skin cure in a pot full of man made substances.

For the last 60 years, scientists have been looking closer at natural ways to obtain optimal health. More and more of them looking at preventing ill health and finding the ultimate way to stay younger in body and mind, instead of treating disease to just keep us alive, but not in ultimate good health.

One such doctor has been nick named Doctor Telomere – His real name being Doctor Bill Andrews. He has been researching ways to stop our Telomere’s from shortening. How these telomeres work is a whole other blog – but in simple terms – they are part of our cellular network, and as we age, these telomeres become shorter and shorter, and then we die. The use of chemical skin care speeds up the shortening of these telomeres; so natural skincare is a must.

The ultimate solution would be to find a skincare product that not only treated the skin but also whilst being applied to the skin, treated us internally to keep our bodies healthy.

Something, which has attracted a lot of attention, is Moor Mud from Austria. A plethora of clinical studies later, scientists have agreed that Moor mud possesses a wide range of beneficial properties. So many so, that more holistic physicians now use and recommend Moor mud treatments such as wraps, poultices and baths.

This Austrian Moor is a rare form of nutrient rich peat created by the gradual decomposition of herbs, plants and flowers, which have been underground or submerged for thousands of years. Free from the decaying effects of oxygen and in perfect climatic and biological conditions, the plant matter undergoes a ripening transformation process to produce a wondrous herbal therapeutic substance called Moor.

The mud’s properties are colloidal and in bivalent form, so they are small enough to be easily absorbed by the system.

Moor mud is highly detoxifying. The high level of humic acid and other humus substances enables the Moor to both draw out and absorb toxins trapped in the tissues. When we regularly remove toxins from our bodies, it enables us to stay healthy and keep our appearances youthful. Moor mud wraps or baths are often used to treat toxic exhausted bodies in Spas around the world.

It is anti-inflammatory. Moor mud has been found to calm and sooth inflamed tissues. When the mud is used as a poultice on inflamed joints, the inflammation calms, and the body is better able to heal itself

It contains lignin and bitumen, both of which contain high proportions of phenol substances making it highly antiseptic. The Moor mud is often used as a mask to draw out impurities and calm the inflamed acneic skin.

Micro Algae from the sea and fresh water have been used in so many natural products, and those not so natural for their hydrating and skin strengthening abilities. The purist and most active micro algae comes from Hawaiian fresh water lakes. This micro algae is a natural form of Hyaluronic acid. It helps draw moisture to itself thus helping to moisturize the skin. Micro algae is rich in vitamins B1, B2, B12 and niacin. One company has developed a product called HmA (Micro Algae Factor), which uses Hawaiian micro algae. It supplies the skin with all of the algae’s B vitamins.

Again, wonderful facial masks using this beautiful substance are a wonderful way to gain its benefits.

But in truth – how many of us have time to soak daily in a Moor mud bath to detoxify after a toxic day in the city? Or apply a facial mask nightly? I would so love to find the time to spend this much time on myself!

There is a way we can get the best of the Moor mud and the Micro algae daily in the easiest way possible. There is a wonderful little soap bar called Eumora. I was lucky enough to come across this product, thanks to a lovely gentleman called William sending me a box of them to try. I was very skeptical at first as to the benefits of using a soap as I have always been a cream cleansing girl, and the thought of using a soap block made totally out of Moor mud and micro algae, did not excite me all that much at first. And it was winter, it was cold and I need moisture, not removal of it! The block was also so small – how could this last longer than a week?

I was really surprised that when I used it that it did not strip my skin, it made it feel clean and really healthy. I excitedly gave away all of the sample blocks to girls I thought would love it. I and am now using the last bits of the soap I have left and actually feeling sorry that I was not a stingy scrooge and kept all of it for myself! Ha ha!!

I love the fact that it has lessened the amount of time I have to spend on my skin. It has simplified my skincare routine dramatically. I need less serum than I did before (although being a beauty therapist, I still use everything, just less of it!). When you use it on a pained area – leave it on for 3 minutes and it works as a poultice. Basically it is a cleanser, exfoliator, mask and health poultice all in one. I used it on my cellulite for a few days when I had time – I massaged it in, and stood out of the shower for 3 minutes and rinsed – very impressive decrease in lumpiness (that’s a technical term – not!)

The more research I do on Moor mud – the more excited I become about its health benefits, and I really love the little soaps – so easy to use and so incredibly effective. And all they contain is natural Moor mud and Micro algae, totally natural.

The little blocks of soaps are amazing for treating eczema, rosacea and psoriasis. They do not irritate, and because of the natural mineral content, and soothing anti-inflammatory ability, they actually heal the skin whilst you cleanse. Just leave the soap on the skin for up to 3 minutes each time you use it.

You can get one of these little miracle bars at http://tryeumora.com/freetrial/ I recommend you give it a go!

7 Proven ways to keep your brain young

This is a amazing article written by Margie King, Health Coach

Alzheimer’s disease affects about 5.3 million Americans. It’s the leading cause of dementia and the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.  And it’s growing at an alarming rate.  Already 13% of people over 65 have been diagnosed with the disease.  An astounding 43% of those over the age of 85 are victims.

Alzheimer’s has been called the defining disease of the boomer generation.  Its victims are expected to triple by the year 2050.     

In addition, it’s estimated that 10,000,000 others suffer with severe dementia and Parkinson’s disease. 

But even if you escape these debilitating and life-threatening diseases, you may be among millions more who suffer from mild cognitive impairment (MCI or what is frequently called “age-related cognitive dysfunction”) and normal “age–associated memory impairment.” These conditions are what many of us have experienced as “senior moments.”  The symptoms include memory loss, as well as a decline in the ability to think and reason. 

Some of these problems are a result of the natural aging of our brains.  But others arise from poor nutrition and exposure to environmental toxins.

Drugs have shown little promise and serious side effects.  But here are seven proven methods to keep your brain young and sharp.

  1. Bacopa Boosts Cognition

Bacopa monnieri (L.) is a traditional herb used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine.  It is prescribed as a memory and learning enhancer, a sedative, and anti-epileptic.  In Australia, it is a popular memory aid for people over 60 years old. 

Bacopa grows in the wet tropics and is also commonly known by its English name, water hyssop.

In a rigorous study published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers found that Bacopa has positive effects on several measures of cognitive performance.  In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, they gave participants either 300 mg of Bacopa daily or a placebo pill.  The subjects were 54 volunteers, 65 or older, without clinical signs of dementia.

After 12 weeks, those taking Bacopa improved their delayed recall memory, their reaction times and their ability to ignore irrelevant information.  Placebo recipients saw no change. 

In addition Bacopa recipients showed a decrease in heart rate, depression and anxiety while placebo recipients saw increases.

Three other double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies support Bacopa’s benefits in verbal learning abilities, delayed recall of word pairs, and age-associated memory impairment.

Bacopa’s memory-enhancing effects have been attributed in part to saponins.   Other ways Bacopa may work include its antioxidant effects, protein synthesis in the brain, and modulation of brain stress hormones.

Other studies show Bacopa extracts also ameliorate neurotoxic effects of nicotine and aluminum, and reduce β-amyloid plaque levels in animals.

  1. Ginkgo Biloba Improves Memory

For years Gingko biloba has been linked to memory improvement.  It acts as a free radical scavenger, protecting neurons from oxidation.  It also improves microcirculation in the brain and reduces platelet aggregation. 

Human studies show taking gingko biloba regularly can improve mental health, cognition, motor skills and quality of life. It’s particularly helpful for memory loss, attention, alertness, vigilance, arousal and mental fluidity.

In 2005 researchers put gingko biloba up against Pfizer’s $4 billion a year prescription drug Donepezil (trade name Aricept) in a 24-week randomized, double-blind study. An extract of gingko biloba (160 mg per day) was found to be just as effective as the drug for mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.  The researchers concluded there were no relevant differences in the efficacy of gingko biloba and donepezil, and use of both substances can be justified.

In a more recent double-blind trial gingko biloba was found to be significantly better than placebo in improving cognitive function and behavioural symptoms in 400 patients with Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia.

  1. Tea, Wine and Chocolate Improve Thinking Skills

As we get older, a diet high in some flavonoid-rich foods may help with better thinking skills. 

Researchers examined the relation between 3 common foods that contain flavonoids (chocolate, wine, and tea) and cognitive performance. They followed 2,031 participants aged 70 to 74 years from the Hordaland Health Study in Norway.

People who consumed chocolate wine, or tea had significantly better scores on cognitive tests and lower rates of poor cognitive performance.

Those who ate all three foods had the best test scores and the lowest risks for poor test performance.

The good results were dose dependent.  The best performance maxed out at 10 grams per day of chocolate and 75-100 ml per day of wine.  The effect was most pronounced for wine and modestly weaker for chocolate.

Other research shows that resveratrol found in wine and chocolate, has the ability to neutralize the toxic effects of proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

In a study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry researchers showed that resveratrol selectively targets and neutralizes clumps of peptides or proteins that are bad and have been linked to Alzheimer’s, but leaves alone those that are benign.

Resveratrol is a chemical compound in plants that acts as an antibiotic to fight off both bacteria and fungus.  Besides grapes and cacao, it is found in raspberries, mulberries, blueberries and cranberries. It’s also in peanuts, pine trees and Japanese knotweed, the source of most resveratrol supplements.

  1. Antioxidants Decelerate Brain-Aging

It’s clear that people eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables have fewer age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s. Eating more high-antioxidant foods such as berries, Concord grapes, and walnuts may enhance cognitive and motor function in older people.

Studies show supplementing with fruit or vegetable extracts high in antioxidants (e.g. blueberries, strawberries, walnuts, and Concord grape juice) helps decrease the vulnerability to oxidative stress that occurs in aging.  That can lead to improvements in behaviour.

Fruits and vegetables can also enhance communication between neurons and decrease stress signals induced by oxidation and inflammation. 

Other studies indicate that blueberry or Concord grape juice supplementation in humans with mild cognitive impairment increases verbal memory performance. 

  1. Intermittent Fasting Regenerates Brain

Overeating is a risk factor for many age-related diseases including cognitive impairment. 

Experimental models of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and stroke show that dietary restriction (reduced calorie intake) can beef up the resistance of neurons in the brain to dysfunction and death. 

How?  Dietary restriction stimulates the expression of ‘stress proteins’ and neurotropic factors. Neurotropic factors may protect neurons by increasing production of proteins that suppress oxidation and free radicals. 

In addition, dietary restriction increases the number of newly generated neural cells in the adult brain.  In other words, it may increase the brain’s capacity for plasticity and self-repair.

Researchers suggest that limiting calories may reduce both the incidence and severity of neurodegenerative disorders in humans.

Intermittent fasting is not as difficult as it sounds.  It doesn’t involve just drinking water.  Most intermittent fasting plans cut calories to 25% of normal amounts.  That’s about 600 calories for men and 500 calories for women on one or two days of the week. 

  1. Sleep Cleans Out Brain Toxins

A University of Oregon study shows middle-aged or older people who get six to nine hours of sleep a night think better than those sleeping either fewer or more hours.

Researchers used data involving more than 30,000 subjects in six countries. They found that individuals sleeping less than six hours and more than nine hours had significantly lower cognitive scores compared to those in the intermediate group. 

The researchers used five standard cognitive tests involving immediate recall of a list of words, delayed recall of those words later, forward and backward recall of long lists of numbers, and a verbal fluency test in which they listed as many animals as possible without repetition, the use of proper nouns or descriptors.

One reason a good night’s sleep works is the brain’s trash removal system.  During sleep the brain works 10 times as hard to remove toxic proteins like the ones responsible for Alzheimer’s damage. If you’re not asleep, the brain can’t get rid of plaques so easily.   

  1. Curcumin Clears Alzheimer’s Plaques

The incidence of Alzheimer’s among adults in India is about 4.4 times less than that of Americans.

Researchers in Singapore suggest the reason might be curry and the spice turmeric.  They looked at curry consumption and brain performance in 1,010 Asians between 60 and 93 years of age. Those who ate curry occasionally (less than once a month) and often (more than once a month) performed better than those who rarely or never ate curry.

Over 30 studies in the GreenMedInfo data base deal with the promise of curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, in the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.  According to one study, turmeric showed great results in Alzheimer’s patients.

A 2006 UCLA study found curcumin may help clear the amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease. One way it works is by boosting the work of macrophages.  These cells in the immune system help the body fight foreign proteins.  

Researchers took macrophages from the blood of Alzheimer’s patients and healthy controls. They treated some of the macrophages with curcumin.  The treated macrophages showed improved ingestion of the beta-amyloid proteins. The researchers concluded that curcumin may support the immune system to clear amyloid plaques.

And in animal studies low doses of curcumin led to 40% less beta-amyloid than in those not given the spice.

Studies indicate low doses of turmeric over a long period of time are most effective.  That’s a good reason to add turmeric to your daily diet.  It’s great in curry sauces, scrambled eggs, devilled eggs, mustard sauces or salad dressings.  

There are many other natural ways to keep the brain young including coconut oil, ginger, B-vitamins, and saffron.

For much more information on healthy brain aging visit GreenMedInfo page on the aging brain

 

 

Why must we improve our collagen levels? Not for a younger face alone!

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There is more to collagen than a smooth skin. Collagen also improves hair and nail follicles, improves mobility in joints and preserves, builds and replenishes lean muscle mass.

Some skincare companies still sell the myth that collagen cream will increase and support the collagen in our skins. But the truth is, that applying collagen to the skin as a cream, gel, or mask does nothing for it, bar plumping up the epidermis (top skin layer) to make it look smoother.

We can use needling, light therapy, micro-current, radio frequency, and peels to stimulate the collagen in the skin – usually on the face, but all of these treatments are only short lived if we are not supporting the collagen from the inside out.

So what is collagen?

Collagen is the fibrous structural protein that makes up the white fibres known as collagenous fibres, found in the skin, tendons, bone, cartilage, and all other connective tissues. It is also found in certain parts of the body to add strength such as in the vitreous humour of the eye. It is the natural protein that composes most of the body’s structural support and is the primary substance of connective tissue (this tissue is what connects, supports, binds and or separates all of our tissues and organs). It is the fibrous tissue that holds our body together.

Collagen gives our organs and tissues their strength and elastic properties. Twenty-five percent of the dry protein weight of the human body is collagen. Seventy-five percent of our skin is made of it, and in total – some thirty percent of our entire body is collagen. Collagen is part of the natural make-up of tendons, ligaments, joints, muscles, hair, skin, and vital organs.

The body’s production of collagen slows dramatically with ageing. This slowing process is stealth-like and rather insidious. It starts slowing in our mid-twenties, picks up speed in our thirties and forties, and the losses are even more pronounced through our fifties and sixties. Lack of collagen, or the body’s improper use of collagen, is what causes the ageing process. Besides its many structural properties, collagen serves as the major catalyst for growth and repair of nearly all the body’s tissues. Many different ageing diseases are related to the body’s supply of this vital protein and to disorders in the collagen itself.

One of these is Arthritis.Collagen protects joint cartilage by supporting and enhancing the synthesis of synovial fluid, which is required to lubricate the joint. It also inhibits free radical enzymes and auto-immune processes that degrade joint cartilage, it also works by removing blockages in blood vessels leading to the joint, therefore allowing better blood flow and regeneration.

So if our goal is to stay looking and feeling younger, just stimulating the collagen on our faces is just not going to cut it, we need to work at improving our collagen internally.

There are three ways of doing this, and I recommend if you really want to turn the clock back, you need to attack all three areas at the same time. But remember, it took you a long time to loose all of that collagen, it is not going to improve instantaneously! It is like going on a diet, you may not see major changes till approximately 12 weeks.

Step one – Eat to restore and keep collagen.

Certain foods will naturally increase collagen formation, by adding these to your diet, preferably organic versions of them (this again is another article) will start your body on the path to improving its collagen levels 

Soy – soy products such as tofu, soymilk and soy cheese contain an element known as genistein. Genistein is a phytoestrogen and belongs to the category of isoflavones which produces collagen.

Dark green vegetables – are also excellent collagen producing agents.  Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, cabbage and kale, are packed with an antioxidant called lutein.  You need 10 mg to get results – which equates to about  4oz. of spinach or 2oz. of kale.  These vegetables are also rich in Vitamin C, and consumed daily will help to strengthen the body’s ability to manufacture collagen and to utilize the protein effectively.

Broad beans and butter beans – help your body produce a vital anti-ageing substance called hyaluronic acid.  Aim for at least two tablespoons of beans each day – broad or butter beans make a great substitute for mashed potatoes.

Red fruits and vegetables – contain lycopene an antioxidant compound. It is found abundantly in fresh or cooked tomatoes, red peppers, and beets. It is also found in sweet potatoes and carrots.  Research from Dr Ronald Watson at the University of Arizona found that the antioxidants in red, yellow and orange foods build up under the skin creating natural UV protection. “The effect is so strong that eating six portions a day for about two months will build a natural barrier equivalent to a factor four sunscreen,” says Dr Watson.

Citrus fruits – contain high levels of vitamin C, such as oranges, lemons and strawberries.

Prunes  – contain the highest level of antioxidants, even more so than blueberries, maybe not as appealing! 

Omegas – create an ideal environment for collagen production. Flaxseed is the major source of Omega 3,6 and 9. Fish such as salmon and tuna are also excellent sources of omega fatty acids.  Nuts such as cashews, pecans, almonds and Brazil nuts also contain healthy amounts.

 Foods rich in sulphur content are also important for collagen production. Among these are green and black olives, cucumbers, and celery. Vegetables such as carrots, and sweet potato are high in vitamin A, which increase the effect of the sulphurous foods.

Turkey – contains a vital skin-friendly protein called carnosine that slows down a process in the skin called cross-linking. Cross linking causes fibres to grow into the collagen of the skin making it stiff and inelastic. This stops collagen snapping back when you do things like smile, laugh or frown, causing smile lines or crows feet. 

Chocolate – studies in Germany, found that after drinking a cocoa-packed drink, there was an increase in blood flow to the skin (therefore increasing nutrients and moisture levels). It also increased natural UV protection. Unfortunately only dark chocolate worked, no sweet milky chocolates loaded with sugar!

 Manuka Honey – Manuka honey or organic honey, when used topically or internally, restores and rejuvenates your skin. It supports the skin cell renewal process and assists in the formation of stronger collagen protein. As an added benefit, active Manuka honey is rich in antioxidants and helps to reduce blemishes, and is great for keeping colds and viruses at bay.  

Avocado oil – is high in plant steroids, which help to reduce blemishes and age spots. It also helps to regenerate and rejuvenate skin damaged by free radicals. Avocado oil is scientifically proven to stimulate collagen production and it increases the proportion of soluble collagen in the dermis of your skin. 

Step 2 – Supplement to support and repair collagen. 

I would love to eat all of the correct foods to maintain and restore my collagen levels, but I would have to eat all day every day, so there are some supplements which can be taken daily, or taken on days when the food sources are not available.

Flaxseed oil – as mentioned before as a food source, is high in Omegas 3,6,9 but also high in Essential fatty acids, zinc, B vitamins, potassium, lecithin, magnesium, fibre and protein.

Silica – heals connective tissues. 

Vitamin E – stimulates collagen production.

Vitamin C – helps collagen formation by changing proline into hydroxyproline and lysine into hydroxylysine which is fights free radicals produced by too much sun that lead to prematurely aging skin.

Vitamin A – repairs and acts as an antioxidant.

Selenium – protects skin from sun damage and promotes glutathione production. Glutathione is a super powerful antioxidant that reduces deterioration of collagen and elastin by neutralizing free radicals, which damage cells and age skin.  

Zinc – reduces dry skin, inflammation in the skin and promotes cell growth as well as maintaining collagen and elastin.

Step 3 –Collagen supplementation.

Ok – so this sounds as if you can skip the two steps above – sorry, the collagen supplements work well with the correct diet. They are expensive, and unfortunately do not work well all alone.

Collagen tablets are made out of bovine collagen or fish collagen and are normally listed as collagen type 1&3. Most bottles are marked for joint and ligament support, but if the product contains HA (hyaluronic acid) or vitamin C, you are doing well as hyaluronic acid is highly anti aging and vitamin C also builds collagen as I mentioned before.

Of course all of the internal support needs external support as well. But you will notice better and faster results from your facial treatments and body treatments when supporting the skin from inside.

But the best part is –you will feel better as your joints mobility increases, loose weight faster as your muscle mass improves, and look younger all over, instead of a young face on a sore aging body!

 

 

 

 

 

Why Natural Skincare?

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With people becoming progressively more aware of the harmful side effects caused by chemicals found in skincare creams and sunscreens, many women and men are trying to find active natural solutions that work as well as chemical skincare and deodorants.

Just as there are multiple chemically based skincare products touting miracles, there are just as many natural ones doing the same – frequently they do not actually deliver.

Fortunately in the natural skincare arena, the price tag will give you a guide as to the activeness and effectiveness of the product. Yet, the upside is that when you are buying middle of the range natural products, you will not get any of the nasty side effects you are likely to get when using chemicals. No irritation or redness – and no toxic waste in the body.

The other good thing when you are buying chemical free products is that there is generally no large multinational company spending huge amounts of money urging you to buy – so you are more often likely to purchase the contents of the bottle than a advertising budget, therefore when you spend $50 on a natural skincare cream you are getting $50 worth of skincare, not $10 worth of skincare and $40 worth of advertising and packaging.

Yet there is still an issue when purchasing ‘natural skincare’. There are still no strict rules and regulations defining how much of the product is natural. A company can sell a product as a natural product, yet it may contain nasty ingredients such as Propylene Glycol and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES):It does not have to be 100% natural to say it is natural. This is a massive problem for the average consumer as how are they to know if what they are actually buying is 100% natural or not. Unfortunately many natural companies are not so great at promoting this on their packaging leaving many people walking around scratching their heads.

Another problem is that a company can sell a makeup as a mineral makeup, yet it can contain talc and many other nasty ingredients, so here you are thinking you are doing the right and healthy thing for your skin, and yet, you are in actual fact poisoning your skin and yourself.

The only way around it, is to learn to read labels. I recommend you print off my blog article http://ethixbeautyblog.com/2013/01/31/naturally-beautiful/ and take it shopping with you so you know what not to buy.

Some companies are great, they list their odd sounding named ingredients such as Coco-Glucoside with the explanation of it saying from corn or potato starch and coco water. Or Polyquaternium-10 from cellulose. Products bought from Beauty salons sometimes do not have explanations of each ingredient, but the therapist will have a manual to explain what each ingredient in actual fact is, and or they will have attended stringent product training.

The one question I am often asked is do natural products work as well? They actually work much better. They treat the skin and skin alone. They do not leave toxic residue in the lymph, kidneys, liver and gut. The toxic residue left behind by chemical skincare causes stress on the body, which in turn as any form of stress does, speeds up aging. So you are using chemicals to supposedly improve the skin, yet you are causing the body to age, and since the skin is the largest organ………… you are actually speeding up the aging process!

You often do not see results as quickly from natural products, but the results are more intensive in the long run. Products containing chemical fillers are designed to give your skin that instant feeling that you are doing something good for it, they often make your skin look instantly better, but it is only like applying makeup, once the product comes off, the glow is gone.

So, how do you know which you should buy? I recommend if you are on a budget, you purchase products in the mid price range from a chemist, not the lower range. If not sure what to purchase, speak to one of the full time staff, if they cannot answer your question leaving you feeling confident, then contact the actual company. Ideally you should purchase products from a beauty therapist – they will be able to diagnose your skin and prescribe accordingly. Buying expensive natural products online or from department or specialised makeup stores will leave you with a empty purse and not necessarily with the correct skincare prescription, as the sales girls are trained for sales and seldom beauty therapists, more often than not they are makeup artists or cosmeticians.

My favourite products are;

Purestuf http://www.purestuf.com.au/

natural and organic ingredients, with easy to understand ingredients!

Uskincare http://www.uspa.com.au/

natural and organic ingredients

O’Cosmedics http://www.ocosmedics.com/

chemical free cosmeceuticals

Moo Goohttp://www.moogoo.com.au/

natural fragrance free products originally made to treat eczema and dermatitis

Vitamin D-ficiency

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Photo thanks to Harvard University

Many of my clients have had blood tests and found that they are Vitamin D deficient, not suprising since we live in the Southern Highlands of NSW where bad weather is more likely than good. My Sydney based family then decided to have blood tests to see what their Vitamin D levels were like, and found out due to our Eurasian descent, we do not absorb vitamin D well at all. I am pearly white, but my heritage, the same one that stops me from burning in the sun, also stops me from absorbing as much Vitamin D as my other half who is from the UK.

The most natural way to receive enough vitamin D is to spend 20 to 40 minutes a day in the sun. Face and arms unprotected by clothing. Sorry, but I am so not sticking my face in the sun, all my training tells me to keep it out! So, I stick my pearly white legs in the sun instead. But, some days, there is no sun, and or, it is too hot!

There are some amazingly good natural sources of Vitamin D which, along with the sun, (the sun is still the best source of D) will help you keep your vitamin D levels up.

But you ask, why do I need vitamin D? Is this some crazy fad like the Atkinson Diet? Unfortunately it is not, there has been a lot of research done since the 1990s  proving that Vitamin D is a major player in many of our health issues.

Lets first look at Vitamin D, I have found there is more to it than we are lead to believe;

Up until the mid-1990’s, the answer to the vitamin D question would have been fairly simple: it is a fat-soluble vitamin needed to prevent a bone disease in children called “rickets.” Previous studies going back to the early 1800’s determined that cod liver oil could help to prevent and cure particular problems with bone development in children. In the early 1900’s, a compound called “fat-soluble factor D” was isolated from cod liver oil, and this factor turned out to be the vitamin that we now refer to as “vitamin D.” Scientific investigation of rickets helped establish the role of sunlight in providing us with vitamin D, and it also helped establish the role of vitamin D in bone health.

In the mid1990’s, they found out that it is not only a fat- soluble vitamin, but it is also a hormone. It regulates our metabolism, allowing it to function properly. It helps to regulate our bone development, our muscle function, our immune function, our insulin activity, our calcium balance, and our phosphorus balance. There are receptors for vitamin D, called VDRs, (vitamin D receptors,) on the cell membranes of most cell types in the body, the same as estrogen and cortisol.

Cholesterol is the basic building block of vitamin D in humans. When ultraviolet light hits the cells of our skin, one form of cholesterol found in our skin cells, called 7-dehydrocholesterol, is converted into cholecalciferol, a form of vitamin D3.

But this is not where the vitamin is useful to our bodies. For our bodies to come up with a fully active form of vitamin D3, further metabolism is required.

The first step involves conversion of cholecalciferol into hydroxyvitamin D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D. Hydroxyvitamin D needs a enzyme called CYP27A1, and is formed in any of the following areas of the body such as the liver, kidneys, lungs, skin, prostate, brain, blood vessel linings, and macrophage cells of the immune system.

The second step involves transforming hydroxyvitamin D into dihydroxyvitamin D. This step needs another enzyme called CYP27B1 and can take place in the lungs, brain, liver, stomach, spleen, kidneys, colon, thymus, lymph nodes, skin, placenta, and in the monocyte and dendritic cells of the immune system.

Ok, after all of that, Dihydroxyvitamin D, which is the only fully active hormonal form of vitamin D, does in actual fact not last for very long in our body. The half-life of this hormone is between 2-3 weeks. For this reason, our vitamin D needs must be met on a fairly regular basis.

And the interesting thing is, we actually need a lot more Vitamin D than we are led to believe.

So what does Vitamin D do?

The hormonal functions of vitamin D include regulation of bone health, muscle health, immune response, insulin and blood sugar, and calcium and phosphorus metabolism.

Lets first look at bone health, with the rising epidemic of osteoporosis, in men as well as women, I think this is one which affects us all.

Our bone is composed of; collagen proteins, keratin proteins, and a variety of minerals including calcium, phosphorus, silicon, boron, and magnesium. But two most critical bone components are calcium and phosphorus. These minerals are the main players in a substance called hydroxyapatite, which accounts for over half of all bone composition.

Hydroxyapatite in bone places a premium on calcium and phosphorus metabolism and their passage in and out of the body. Bone health is regulated by many different substances in the body; growth hormone, testosterone, estrogen, parathyroid hormone (PTH) and vitamin D.

Our parathyroid glands put out PTH whenever our blood calcium levels get too low. PTH then triggers release of calcium from our bones in order to boost our blood level back up to normal. It also triggers our kidneys to retain more calcium for our bloodstream, and excrete more phosphorus to create a more favourable ratio of calcium to phosphorus in our blood. If there is too much PTH released from our parathyroid glands, however, we may end up removing too much calcium from our bones and leaving too much in our blood, compromising both our cardiovascular and our bone health.

Research has shown vitamin D to be associated with healthy parathyroid function. Vitamin D helps the intestines absorb more calcium from our food, and it also helps our kidneys hang on to calcium. But unlike PTH, vitamin D also helps our kidneys retain phosphorus. The two hormones work together in order to assure proper balances of calcium and phosphorus in our bloodstream and in our bones. PTH knows that it must act in partnership with vitamin D because it triggers conversion of hydroxyvitamin D into a hormonally active form dihydroxyvitamin D.

Vitamin D’s role in immune health has reached a point, that whenever researchers are investigating an autoimmune disease, they never do so without considering the possible role of vitamin D. Health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, are just a few that are affected by vitamin D as well as numerous other autoimmune conditions.

Vitamin D receptors (VDRs) exist on the immune system’s macrophage and dendritic cells. Vitamin D, triggers the macrophage cells to release antibacterial peptides (parts of protein) like cathelicidin, which play a critical role in the immune system’s prevention of infection.

In current research on multiple sclerosis, for example, clinicians are experimenting with vitamin D doses up to 40,000 IU, and in research on rheumatoid arthritis, doses up to 100,000 IU are being used in some clinical trials. (To get some perspective on these vitamin D supplementation levels, they can be compared to the current adult Dietary Reference Intake recommendations for vitamin D, which range from 600 – 2000 IU, unless severely deficient, then up to 5000 IU for only 6 – 12 weeks)

Vitamin D also plays a direct role in regulating our blood pressure by inhibiting the activity of a system called the renin-angiotensin system. It’s the job of the renin-angiotensin system to help increase our blood pressure whenever it gets too low. Optimal levels of vitamin D are needed to hold this system in check, so as to prevent it from raising our blood pressure when not needed, causing us to end up with high blood pressure.

Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to be a significant risk factor for high blood pressure, and risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy.

The key role played by vitamin D in regulation of calcium metabolism has opened the door to research about broader cardiovascular benefits of vitamin D. Overloading of cells with calcium is a problem for heart tissue, and it is associated with increased risk of oxidative stress and tissue damage. By triggering unwanted release of PTH, vitamin D deficiency can result. In several studies, the ability of heart tissue to heal after an event like heart attack has been shown improve significantly when patients have optimal vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D plays an important role in the regulation of insulin metabolism and blood sugar balance. Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk factor for development of type 2 diabetes. Vitamin D levels have been associated with insulin secretion by the beta cells of the pancreas as well as insulin activity once released into the bloodstream.

When vitamin D is deficient in the body and parathyroid hormone (PTH) is released in inappropriately large amounts, too much calcium can accumulate in the cells. When too much calcium accumulates in our fat cells, they end up producing too much cortisol, a hormone that counteracts the effectiveness of insulin. Too much calcium in our fat and muscle cells can inhibit the formation of a protein called GLUT-4. Insulin needs GLUT-4 to help carry sugar (glucose) out of our bloodstream and into our cells. When we lack vitamin D, not enough GLUT-4 is formed, and insulin is unable to this.

Vitamin D has been shown to play a key role in prevention of muscle weakness and prevention of falls, especially in older persons. Vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with too much accumulation of fat throughout muscle tissue, in such a way that muscle strength is decreased and physical performance is compromised. Muscle strength is not related to muscle mass. You can have the same size muscles as someone else, but if you are D deficient, you will not have the same strength.

The role of vitamin D in cancer prevention is a major area of research at present. So far studies have shown a clear role for vitamin D in prevention of the following types of cancer: breast, colon, endometrial, esophageal, ovarian, bladder, gallbladder, gastric, pancreatic, prostate, rectal, and renal cancers, as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Indeed, more people die of Vitamin D deficiency-based cancers than from melanoma.

How do you know if you are deficient?

If you have any of the following symptoms you could possibly have vitamin D deficiency.

  • Asthma (severe childhood)
  • Bones which break easily
  • Muscular weakness
  • Constant fatigue
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Colon cancer
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Heart attack
  • Hypertension
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Insulin resistance
  • Kidney disease
  • Leprosy
  • Liver disease
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Osteoporosis
  • Periodontal disease
  • Preeclampsia
  • Psoriasis
  • Rectal cancer
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Senile dementia
  • Stroke
  • Tinnitus
  • Tuberculosis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Ulcerative colitis

How do I naturally improve my vitamin D levels?

There are set levels of how much vitamin D you should take daily, but the more I read about using extremely high levels of vitamin D for treatment of diseases, the more I start to feel that we should ingest and absorb as much vitamin D as we possibly can naturally.

I recommend you have a blood test with your doctor to see how low or high your vitamin D levels are before taking on any tablet form of Vitamin D, unless you decide to add Cod liver oil to your diet as part of a health program to up the fish oil factor.

Sunshine;

Getting enough UVB sunlight in the range of 290-300nm daily seems perfectly easy, unfortunately this is not so. There is the fluctuating nature of UVB light. UVB rays are needed for skin synthesis of vitamin D, but they are not always present with the same intensity, all day every day. The intensity of UVB light varies dramatically depending on geographical location (latitude), time of year, time of day, degree of cloud cover, and other factors, unlike UVA rays which are present all year round (our aging rays!). Skin pigmentation also plays an important role in skin synthesis of vitamin D. Darker skin pigmentation means less vitamin D synthesis per minute of exposure to UVB light.

Some lifestyles and occupations provide great amounts of sun exposure. Individuals who work outdoors throughout the day in warmer climates have a greater chance of getting good exposure to UVB light and synthesizing adequate amounts of vitamin D. Under optimal circumstances, our skin can synthesize between 10,000-20,000 IU of vitamin D in 30 minutes, again, depending on the angle of the sun, time of day, degree of cloud cover, etc. At the other end of the spectrum, if someone typically wears clothing that blocks a lot of the skin from exposure to sunlight, or is a regular user of sunblock, or works in a job that keeps them indoors throughout the day, chances of adequate vitamin D synthesis are greatly decreased.

The ideal recommended dose of sunshine to receive enough vitamin D is 20 – 40 minutes per day, preferably before 10 am and after 2 pm (11am and 3pm daylight saving).

Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, a low fat diet, vegan diet, and/or the presence of certain medical conditions that cause a reduction in the ability to absorb dietary fat may cause vitamin D deficiency. These medical conditions include pancreatic enzyme deficiency, Crohn’s disease, celiac sprue, cystic fibrosis, surgical removal of part or all of the stomach, gall bladder disease, and liver disease.

The most frustrating thing is that the production of vitamin D precursors in the skin, decrease with age. Additionally, with age, the kidneys and many other organ systems and cell types are less able to convert vitamin D into its active hormone form.

What foods provide vitamin D?

Vitamin D is oil soluble, so you need to eat healthy fats to absorb it.

The best food sources for Vitamin D are;

  • Cod liver oil

Cod liver oil has been a popular supplement for many years going back to the 1800s when they first found a link to rickets and lack of vitamin D and naturally contains very high levels of vitamin A and vitamin D. Cod liver oil provides 10001IU (1667% DV) per 100 gram serving, or 1360IU (340% DV) in a single tablespoon.

  • Fish

Many types of fish are high in vitamin D. Raw fish contains more vitamin D than cooked, and fatty cuts will contain more than lean cuts. Further, fish canned in oil will have more vitamin D than those canned in water. Raw atlantic herring provides the most vitamin D with 1628IU (271% DV) per 100 gram serving, 2996IU (499% DV) per fillet, and 456IU (76% DV) per ounce. It is followed by pickled herring with 680IU (113% DV) per 100g serving, canned salmon (127% DV), raw mackerel (60% DV), oil packed sardines (45% DV), canned mackerel (42% DV), and oil packed tuna (39% DV).

  • Oysters

In addition to vitamin D, oysters are a great source of vitamin B12, zinc, iron, manganese, selenium and copper. Oysters are high in cholesterol and should be eaten in moderation. Raw wild caught eastern oysters provide 320IU (80% DV) per 100 gram serving, 269IU (67% DV) in six medium oysters.

  • Caviar

Caviar is a common ingredient in sushi and not as expensive as people think. Caviar provides 232IU (58% DV) of vitamin D per 100 gram serving, or 37.1IU (9% DV) per teaspoon.

  • Eggs

Are a good source of Vitamin D, B12 and protein. Eggs provide 37.0IU (9% DV) of vitamin D per 100 gram serving, or 17.0IU (4% DV) in a large fried egg.

  • Mushrooms

More than just a high vitamin D food, mushrooms also provide vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) and copper.  Lightly cooked white button mushrooms provide the most vitamin D with 27.0IU (7% DV) per 100 gram serving, or 7.6IU (2% DV) per ounce.

Well, I am now off to buy a large platter of sashimi to get my vitamin D up, since I have been sitting at my computer since very early this morning. Not that being sunny would have made any difference, but it would have been nice if the sun were out when I went to hang out the washing, but it was over cast again!

What does having beautiful skin and your colon have in common?

This is a newsletter sent to me by  company called Poop Doc, yes all they talk about is the colon, and they supply everything for the colon as well. The only thing I would not purchase from them are their probiotics as I am not sure how well they would travel here to Australia from the US. I have not rewritten their post (just made a few editorial changes) as they sum things up very well.

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What does Beautiful Skin and Your Colon Have in Common?

           EVERYTHING!  While most women deal with some form of constipation and 95% of Americans and Australians are fiber deficient, the health of the colon (directly effecting Your complexion) is almost always overlooked. Fix the root of the problem not the fruit! Don’t keep addressing the symptoms (they will keep coming back) as mainstream medicine does. Fix the root of problem and watch gorgeous skin appear. 

            How do I achieve a healthy colon?? A healthy colon is directly influenced by moving your bowels daily and having adequate fiber in your diet (your poop should float) AND going 1 to 2 times a day (once after each major meal). When your constipated, auto-intoxication begins and the toxicity your body is trying to get rid of begins to be reabsorbed back into your bloodstream. Most people have common sense where they easily conclude that auto-intoxicating is not good. The symptoms of auto-intoxication or self poisoning, will begin showing in symptoms such as headache, lack of energy, acid reflux, abdominal discomfort, indigestion, bloating, Acne, dull unattractive skin tone and the list goes on. 

             Beautiful skin and a healthy colon have a DIRECT CONNECTION. A clean colon will result in a beautiful skin tone and complexion. Do a colon cleanse or colon flush for 3 days and Empty Out. The third day slowly start adding an excellent dietary fiber supplement which is best taken 20-30 minutes before breakfast. Include in your beautiful skin and complexion health plan MORE fresh fruits and fresh vegetables (steamed or raw) on every plate. Exercise daily is another great plus even if its just walking 10 minutes a day. Exercize also helps in moving the bowels and lowering stress, eliminating toxins and better digestion. These are huge pluses to a healthy bowel and constipation relief. If you need more help, find a good constipation relief supplement (don’t use laxatives as they can have severe colon destroying side effects). Remember, your goal is to go twice a day and go productively.

            Probiotics or the colons friendly bacteria, do a MULTITUDE of functions you can’t live without. Everytime we have had antibiotics we have destroyed the good, friendly bacteria in our intestinal tract. The friendly bacteria is a MAJOR part of our immune system and we need them desperately. Probiotics to a person with bowel problems is like giving a fireman water to put out the fire. You’ve got to have it. Water is the other MUST. 95% of people are dehydrated just like they are fiber deficient. Can you imagine if you improved in these areas today what a turn around it would be for your health, your elimination and your return to beautiful skin and An Amazing Complexion? EVERYBODY wants beautiful skin! It’s a sign of Youth and Excellent health!

            In summary, the SECRET to Beautiful Skin is a beautiful, optimally functioning colon. The Bottom Line: drink more water (2 quarts minimum), eat more fresh fruits and fresh vegetables (look at your plate! what’s on it)? Exercise, yes, even a simple walk 10 minutes a day…you’ll like how good you FEEL.  Do a few minutes more as time goes on. Look Good,

 Feel Good! Add to this beautiful complexion plan a colon cleanse for 2 or 3 days every month. Add an excellent Daily Fiber supplement and Probiotics and you will see glowing skin, sparkling eyes and energy in every step. 

           Today IS the FIRST DAY of the rest of your life…the day being Naturally Beautiful happens…AND HAPPENS TO YOU!

http://www.poopdoc.com/