March, 2015

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Dandruff Relief: Diet & Lifestyle Tips

Do you suffer from persistent dandruff?

Have you tried countless shampoos and creams while reaching no long-term solutions?  Dandruff is a common chronic scalp condition marked by flaking of the skin on your scalp. Although dandruff isn’t serious, it can be embarrassing and sometimes difficult to treat.

The good news is that dandruff usually can be improved through diet and natural remedies.

Check out my top 3 tips which may help reduce dandruff:

Dandruff may be a sign that circulation is blocked, so you could try massaging the scalp with sesame oil (available in most health food stores) for five to ten minutes once a week. Wash it out in the shower.

Take one to two teaspoons a day of Flaxseed oil. This can be found in health food stores and is also sold in capsule form. Flaxseed oil helps to minimize dandruff problems and maximises hair strength and shine. I would also recommend that you increase the number of good fats in your diet from oily fish, nuts, seeds and avocadoes. These good fats lubricate the skin preventing dryness and can relieve an itchy scalp.

Also, if you have a shortage of the minerals zinc, selenium, vitamin E, vitamin C or B vitamins in your diet, then that can also contribute to dandruff, so a balanced diet is essential. Take a good quality multi vitamin and mineral that contains all of the above including biotin which is a significant anti-dandruff vitamin. Food sources of Biotin (vitamin B7) include garlic, eggs and liver.



Stress Management: Diet & Lifestyle Tips

If you do one thing for your health…De-Stress!

Easier said than done, right? I couldn’t agree more especially as I’m certainly no stranger to stress myself! However, it’s so important that we find ways to at least manage our stress levels so that it doesn’t start impacting upon our health and wellbeing. As always, prevention is better than cure!

Often making small changes to your diet and lifestyle can go a long way towards keeping your stress levels under control, below are my top tips:

 1: Avoid Stress Promoting Foods:

Our diet plays a huge role in how our body manages stress. A diet that is high in stimulants and processed foods and low in protein and whole foods leads to a chain of events that deplete serotonin, the feel good hormone that helps us feel calm and relaxed. Certain food and drinks rev up stress hormones which in turn wreak havoc on our nervous system, throw our blood sugar levels off balance and ultimately lead to weight gain. These foods include: caffeine, sugary foods, alcohol, soft drinks, refined carbohydrates e.g. white flour foods.

2: Fight Back With Stress Busting Foods:

Prolonged stress literally drains and depletes vitamins and mineral from our bodies which is why it is so important to eat regularly and well in order to replenish these stores. The main vitamins and minerals affected are the B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc. The following foods will help build your body’s resistance to stress and should be eaten regularly: nuts & seeds, whole grains, beans & lentils, green leafy vegetables, berry fruits, oily fish, eggs and plenty of water.

3: Practise stress management techniques

Often we can’t change the causes of stress but we can work on our reactions to them. Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Certain techniques which have been proven to help keep stress hormones in balance include: meditation/mindfulness, yoga, moderate exercise and breath work. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is also excellent to combat anxiety, this can be done with a therapist or individually by following a book or online programme, it depends on the individuals needs. ‘Change Your Thinking With CBT’ by Dr. Edelman is a book I’d highly recommend.

Invest a little time to experiment with different techniques until you find one or two that make a difference to you, sometimes you only have to change a little to change a lot!

Chick Pea Curry In A Hurry

 chickpea curryHealthy, tasty, filling and quick – my kinda dinner :)

Chick peas are bursting with key vitamins and minerals that help build our bodies resistance to stress and are useful for maintaining hormone balance. They’re also an excellent source of plant protein and fibre so they’ll keep you full and satisfied for hours.

1 tbsp of oil of choice

1 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 large white onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 stick celery, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, quartered then finely diced

1 tablespoon tomato purée

1pt (570ml) vegetable stock

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ tsp mild/medium curry powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

A handful of fresh coriander to garnish (optional)

Gently heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the garlic for a minute. Add the onion and spices and cook for a further 2 minutes. Toss in the vegetables and steam-fry in 2 tablespoons of the stock for a couple of minutes. Add the chickpeas, tomato purée and the rest of the stock and let the curry simmer uncovered until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened slightly (around 15 minutes) Serve with brown basmati rice and garnish with fresh coriander.

Stop Eating Plastic!

Stop eating plasticIf you do one thing for your health…stop eating plastic!

So, I know what you’re thinking, who eats plastic? Well, newsflash, you do. In fact you drink it too. If you take a moment to think about it, you’ll realise that nearly all of what you eat and drink every day is packaged in plastic….the take away coffee you drank this morning, the container of soup you microwaved at lunch, the bottle of water on your desk, the boil in the bag rice you’ll cook for dinner along with the tub of yogurt you’ll have for dessert.

But what’s that got to do with you ingesting plastic? Well, the reality is that recent scientific studies have proven that plastic used to house everyday food products, gradually leaches a toxic chemical called bisphenol-A (BPA) into the foods and liquids stored within. In fact, more than 90% of us have BPA in our system right now which gets inside our bodies through the food and drinks that have been exposed to plastic.

And when plastics are exposed to high temperatures they leak even more. So, for example, microwaving food in plastic containers or leaving water bottles in the sun increases BPA transfer.

BPA’s main job is to make plastic shatterproof, so, in the world of plastic manufacturing, it’s an unbelievably useful ingredient. Trouble is, scientists have linked it to a host of health problems. BPA is considered an endocrine disruptor. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with human hormones. Research is still ongoing, but, so far, studies have linked BPA to numerous health issues including breast cancer, infertility, heart disease as well as adverse effects on the brain, kidneys, liver and nervous system. Babies and young children appear to be most at risk.

By now most countries have already banned BPA use in baby bottles. So far, France is the only country in the world that has banned BPA from all food packaging. To date, the European Food Safety Authority has maintained that BPA exposure only poses a low risk to consumers. However, it is currently undertaking a full re-evaluation of this. In the meantime, the agency has recommended that the current tolerable daily intake (TDI) for BPA be reduced as a precautionary measure.

So, while food safety authorities reach their conclusion on whether BPA is safe or not, what should you do? Personally, I’m not waiting around to find out. I’ve already started to take small measures to limit my own exposure and that of my family. Because BPA is in so many products that we encounter every day, completely eliminating it from your life is virtually impossible. But, limiting your exposure is possible. And it doesn’t require big changes, just small ones.

So, if you’re concerned, you can do simple things like avoid drinking out of plastic re-useable water bottles or take away coffee cups. Buy a stainless steel portable bottle or mug instead. For storing food, use non plastic options – those made of porcelain, glass or stainless steel do not contain BPA. Avoid cooking or heating food in plastic containers or using roasting/steaming bags and never wrap food in cling film, particularly if it’s hot.

Most of all, you could reduce your intake of processed meals, tinned food and canned drinks (all of which are lined with BPA) and try using more fresh produce instead. Regardless of whether the dangers of plastic are real or exaggerated, such changes can only do you good.

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