Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Green Tea with Honey

Green Tea with Honey - An Anti-aging Concoction

Do you love drinking green or black tea? If you do because you’re aware of its health benefits, good for you! Green teas have ten times the amount of antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. With the number of times I have mentioned the word antioxidant in terms of anti aging, you may have already picked up exactly what I’m getting at. Antioxidants are your best defense against a host of health problems including premature aging! Who wouldn’t want to look and feel young for a very long time?

Having originated from China, green tea has been used by Asians as an alternative medicine to prevent and treat diseases for thousands of years. It contains large amounts of catechin polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that are responsible for providing those numerous wonderful health benefits. Unlike black and oolong teas, green tea is minimally processed thereby preventing those potent polyphenols from being oxidized. This makes green tea the best choice out of all caffeinated beverages for those caffeine drinkers who are serious about fighting free radical damage.  

Several studies concluded that green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells including those in esophageal cancer without harming healthy tissue. A large percentage of Japanese men are smokers but it is believed that because they are among the biggest consumers of green tea, their risk of heart disease is amazingly low. Green tea can also help lower one’s risk of stroke, infection, hypercholesterolemia or hyperlipidemia, and obesity. It has also been found to be helpful in treating rheumatoid arthritis.      

There have also been studies suggesting that green tea applied to the skin can be as effective as drinking it in terms of treating skin ailments like acne and premature signs of aging. It is not that easy to find a natural skin care product with green tea so making your own concoction in your kitchen may be just as effective if not better. Do you have Manuka honey or any raw honey? Due to its antiseptic or antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties, honey can be a perfect addition to a homemade toner if you are prone to acne or eczema and psoriasis, all of which involve inflammatory processes that result in a disturbance to the epidermal barrier. Honey is also thought to stimulate production of special cells that can help repair tissue damaged by infection. Produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native manuka bush, Manuka honey is believed to be 100 times more potent than regular honey because of its high concentration of methylglyoxal (MG), a compound that gives honey its antibacterial property. Other regular types of honey still contain this compound although in less concentrations but if you’d rather use what you have in your kitchen, you may still benefit from honey’s amazing skin care benefits. Having said all that, let’s create a recipe you can add to your skin care regimen. You won’t regret it! Just make sure you are not allergic to honey.

Get yourself a package of 100% all natural green tea, raw honey (or Manuka honey which can be very expensive depending on its UMF or Unique Manuka Factor, a measure of its antibacterial strength), and purified water (or deionized water) from the store if you don’t have any in your kitchen. You will also need a small glass or plastic container with lid to put the toner in. Boil half a cup of purified water and add in a tea bag. Wait about 3-5 minutes then remove the tea bag. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of (Manuka) honey with the tea and transfer to a container with lid. Refrigerate toner for 1 week and apply generously on cleansed skin with a cotton ball twice a day before your moisturizer. Make a new batch every week. You should feel a difference in how your skin looks and feels in about a week or two.     
Ancient Skin Care Remedies

Monday, April 8, 2013

It's Monday! It's Zumba

It's Monday! It's Zumba Fitness Day!

Have you heard of exercise being great not only to control weight; combat stress and depression; tone muscles and boost endurance; promote better sleep; treat or relieve pain; prevent heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, and other health problems; but also to maintain healthy skin?

Exercise helps increase blood flow thereby nourishing skin cells. Blood carries oxygen and other nutrients to the body’s cells and helps remove waste products that include free radicals from those cells. We have talked about the skin being the largest elimination organ. In case of exercise, cellular debris is flushed out of the body via the skin. In other words, exercise helps cleanse our skin from the inside out. I have also discussed how insulin can cause inflammation and trigger acne breakouts in a previous article. By exercising, normal blood glucose levels can be maintained which correlates with achieving clear healthy skin.  

Just make sure to shower before and after exercise to prevent clogged pores that can lead to acne breakouts. Avoid wearing makeup but apply moisturizer to your skin after shower. To prevent excessive sweating or perspiration that can result in skin irritation, try to exercise in a cool environment and wear moisture-wicking workout clothing. Wear sunscreen if working out outdoors and remember that it’s extremely important to hydrate yourself by drinking a lot of water throughout your exercise routine.

Find an exercise program that suits you well and talk to your doctor before starting a program if you have health concerns. 

Zumba is an exhilarating, highly energetic, calorie-burning dance and aerobic fitness program led by an instructor and is performed to international music including Latin, hip hop, and even Bollywood music. It has become a very popular fitness program with millions of people joining in the party worldwide. This program is a great way to become fit and toned and is highly recommended for those who want to have a real blast while exercising. It really is like partying with the added benefits of getting in great shape.

Yoga is a stress-relieving, disciplined method performed on a mat that focuses on learning physical poses, breathing techniques, meditation and relaxation. It is known as an effective complementary intervention for various medical conditions including cancer, asthma, heart disease, musculoskeletal problems, and mental illness. If you like to relax and meditate and at the same time develop flexibility, strength and balance, yoga may be for you. 

Pilates is a program that helps build flexibility, muscle strength, endurance, coordination and balance. It involves the use of either an exercise mat or a variety of equipment. By practicing Pilates regularly, a sleek, toned body with slender thighs and a flat abdomen can be yours. It is increasingly becoming popular with millions of participants all over the world. 

Aerobics is similar to Zumba that can be done with or without music and focuses on stretching and strength training routines. Participants perform different dance-like routines of varying levels of intensity and complexity. While performing an aerobic activity, the heart beats faster which in turn increases blood flow to the muscles and then back to the lungs. Endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, are released resulting in an increased sense of well being.

There are other exercise programs that are available to everyone. Depending on your goals, getting at least thirty minutes of physical activity through exercise 3 to 5 times a week is recommended to maximize its benefits. As you progress your exercise routine, try to work harder and longer than your normal comfort zone. And remember, doing it regularly is key to enjoying those benefits.    
Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dry, Oily, or a Combination

Dry, Oily, or a Combination - They Are Obsolete Skin Type Definitions  

Natural and holistic treatments have been found to be extremely beneficial for maintaining healthy skin and supporting the natural healing and regenerative processes of the skin. Treatments such as herbal and homeopathic remedies are a safe and gentle alternative without the harmful side effects of synthetic chemicals often found in over-the-counter products and prescription medications.

It's time to do away with outdated definitions of skin type. By limiting the field to dry, oily, or a combination, - then we do not take into account many crucial factors. Let's look at the four parameters that really define your skin type:

• Dry (D) vs. Oily (O)

Dry skin may appear dull and rough - dry skin types find moisturizer soothing and gravitate toward creamy makeup. Many people assume this parameter is solely affected by oil production, but the condition of your skin barrier - the moisture-retaining outer layer of skin - is equally important. Oily skin appears shiny, and those who have it may prefer gel or powder-based cosmetic products, as moisturizers tend to feel greasy.

• Sensitive (S) vs. Resistant (R)

Sensitive skin flushes easily and may become red and irritated at the slightest deviation from its standard routine - it may also be prone to acne and eczema. While resistant skin sounds like an unqualified blessing, people with this type often need to use stronger products to penetrate their skin and achieve the desired effect.

• Pigmented (P) vs. Non-Pigmented (N)

Some people believe that pigmented types are always dark-skinned, which is absolutely not the case. Anyone who experiences unwanted dark spots (melasma, sun spots, or freckles, for example) is a pigmented type - in fact, 21 percent of visits to the dermatologist are for treatment of dark spots.

• Wrinkled (W) vs. Tight (T)

Short of a crystal ball, this parameter is the best indication of how your skin will age, based on both genetic tendencies and lifestyle. You can't do much about your genes, of course, but your daily routine can significantly affect your score on the wrinkled-tight scale - sun exposure, smoking, and poor nutrition, for example, all contribute to skin aging.

Put them together, and you get 16 skin types - a far more realistic picture. (For example, my skin type is DSNT, which means that my treatment focuses not only on moisturizing my dry skin, but on preventing irritation. 

Your skin is your body's largest organ. It plays an important role in elimination and detoxification. Your skin reveals what's going on inside you, therefore, it is important to detox for beautiful skin, inside and out. When the colon becomes overloaded, by over eating for example, skin will attempt to compensate and release toxins. If the liver cannot efficiently filter impurities, the skin will try to release the excess toxins.

Poor skin coloring could indicate a build up of wastes in the liver or drug residues. Poor skin tone is a sign of antioxidant deficiency. Free radicals affect skin collagen and elastin proteins causing wrinkled and dry skin. Rashes and Skin Bumps that aren't healing are also a sign of wastes not being properly eliminated. You may have to detox internally, for beautiful skin.

We have all seen the results of dry skin, but what's going on beneath the surface? Your top layer of skin, the epidermis, is actually made of four layers - in the middle, lipids (basically, fats) surround your skin cells and help to retain moisture. When that barrier is disturbed, your skin cells aren't held together as well, and their edges curl up - hence dry skin's rough, scaly, and dull appearance.

So what disturbs your skin barrier - and what can you do about it?

While congenital factors influence some cases, dry skin is typically caused by one or several of the following culprits:

• Harsh Detergents: Anyone with dry skin should avoid products that foam, as they can remove more of your skin's valuable lipids and impair its natural ability to hydrate. Don't just look in your shower - harsh detergents are lurking around your kitchen sink or laundry. Gentle, sulfate free products cleanse effectively and safely without stripping or irritating skin.  

• Low Humidity: Dry environments - desert or wintry climates, for example - draw more moisture from your skin. If you're uncomfortable, invest in a humidifier or at the very least, leave containers of water around the house to rehydrate the air.

• Bathing: Frequent showers limit the skin's ability to replace natural oils. Furthermore, bathing often encompasses two other causes of dry skin - hot water and harsh detergents. After bathing, apply moisturizer while you're still damp to trap moisture on your skin.

• Weather: Particularly the sun plays a major role in damage to the skin so protect your skin accordingly and be sure to use SPF.

Regardless of what skin type we have in our youth - skin becomes drier as we age! Don't hesitate to re-evaluate your skin type and the products you use.

Your mother probably didn't worry about collagen treatments or the right antioxidant serums for her skin type, but she may very well have had glycerine in her medicine cabinet. So what's behind this impressive longevity in a field that's constantly evolving?

Simply put, glycerine is an ingredient that closely resembles your skin's natural moisturizing factor, or NMF. The naturally occurring chemicals of the NMF can absorb large amounts of water, even in low humidity environments. Glycerine, a humectant and an emollient, mimics that super-hydrating effect while smoothing your skin. Not only does glycerine quickly hydrate your skin, there is also evidence to suggest that it increases your skin barrier's ability to hold moisture. In other words, glycerine can actually make your skin more resistant to future drying - more than almost any other ingredient! Many creams, lotions, and even soaps contain glycerine, and there's an option for every skin type.

No element of skin care evokes more questions and claims than anti-aging products. It makes sense, right - If collagen loss causes skin sagging and wrinkles, then replenishing collagen should stop aging in its tracks. But it's not that simple.

There's absolutely no scientific evidence that collagen or elastin, the main components of your dermis - can penetrate the epidermis. Even "nanotechnology" has not proven to be able to return these substances into the skin. The molecules are simply too large. (The epidermis is the topmost layer of skin. The dermis is the next layer of skin where wrinkle-causing changes take place.) Be wary of creams and lotions that claim to topically replace collagen or elastin.

If you're going to spend money on skin care and skin treatments, antioxidant serums are the products to indulge. Look for products in an amber or aluminum tube or jar with a small opening that reduces exposure to the air. Look for ingredients such as Vitamin C and Ferulic Acid. Talk to a dermatologist about a Retinoid Treatment (proven to diminish existing lines, and help prevent new ones from forming).

Skincare and Skin Treatment 

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome (MCS) - What Is It?

That sounds a little too technical but is self explanatory. It basically means a group of symptoms caused by a hypersensitivity to environmental chemicals or substances that may include synthetic fragrance or scented products like perfumes, agricultural chemicals, petroleum, ammonia and bleach in cleaning products, fabric softeners, laundry or dishwashing detergents, air fresheners, hair care products, and even food additives like MSG (Monosodium Glutamate).  

In the field of Medicine, this chronic condition does not have a valid diagnosis and remains highly controversial. It is, in fact, regarded as a psychological illness or just plain hypersensitivity issue despite a large number of sufferers who report unpleasant symptoms that can range in severity from nausea and/or vomiting, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, weakness, memory loss, skin rash and itching or irritation, runny nose, palpitations, upset stomach or abdominal cramping, difficulty breathing and, possibly, seizure. Several medical associations do not recognize MCS as a disease because of the lack of scientific evidence that supports a cause-and-effect relationship between exposure to those chemical compunds and the widely varying symptoms reported by sufferers. With the absence of pertinent studies on this syndrome, it is quite challenging to explain its pathophysiology especially with the involvement of multiple organ systems. It is, sadly, highly unlikely that this syndrome would receive more medical attention that it deserves with its increasing incidence because of the lack of financial funding from federal agencies for further research. It has been causing occupational health hazards among some employees who are subject to persistent exposure but are unable to file disability claims or demand proper medical treatment.

Most people who complain of the above chronic symptoms have not had prior problems when exposed to those chemicals which are commonly used in the household, for personal care, in public facilities, medical buildings including hospitals and clinics, and in the workplace. With constant exposure to those substances, over time, some people start presenting with symptoms that vary from individual to individual and may be either mildly, moderately, or severely disabling.  

Getting medical treatment may include psychotherapy and/or a prescription for antidepressants since this syndrome is often diagnosed as an anxiety or depressive disorder. Antidepressants, like a lot of prescription drugs, pose some risks because of the potential for adverse effects. You may also go see an Allergist to be tested for specific allergies that may be treated with antihistamines and/or corticosteroids. Because symptoms always manifest after an exposure to certain substances, there are ways to prevent or to manage symptoms. While symptoms may not completely be eliminated, your suffering may decrease significantly if you regularly practice self care by limiting exposure to known triggers.   

1. At home - Avoid buying and using cleaning, laundry and dishwashing products with dyes, fragrance, bleach and ammonia. There are all natural alternatives that do the job just as effectively. Fabric softeners are a big culprit and even unscented ones may potentially cause health risks especially to the respiratory system so if you can do without them, don't use them. Choose unscented, green, and sustainable soy candles if you like lighting them in your home. 

2. In public places - A lot of liquid hand soaps and lotions you find in public facilities contain harsh chemicals including fragrance. It may be a good idea to carry your own fragrance free sanitizers or a tiny bottle of soap and lotion in your purse wherever you go. If unsure of the level of pollution in a place where you're going, keep a mask on hand. It will be a lifesaver. If MSG in food is a problem, always ask food servers if they cook with or without it. A lot of Asian restaurants particularly Vietnamese and Chinese add MSG to their dishes. 

3. In skin care/hair care - Choose fragrance free personal care products. When buying perfumes or colognes, look at the ingredient list and select ones with essential oils versus synthetic fragrance. A lot of times, you may not know how you would react to a perfume until after having it on your skin for hours. Most department stores provide samples so it is recommended to test out some mild ones while at the store and take home samples that you can try individually so you will have sufficient amount of time to check yourself for reactions that may include respiratory and neurological symptoms and then decide which one(s) to purchase after making this determination. 

4. In the workplace -  This is the most challenging situation especially if your occupation requires handling substances that are problematic for you. If it is absolutely impossible for you to transfer to another department within your organization or to change career where exposure wouldn't be an issue, wear a mask to work everyday. This may be against facility policy but advocate for yourself by talking with supervisors and those that have the authority to permit its use. It is your health that is at risk, not theirs, so protect yourself before protecting organizational policies.