Spring clean detox methods that actually work

Now spring has officially sprung it’s time to give our bodies a cleansing overhaul.

Whether you want to shed those excess pounds gained indulging in comfort foods over the winter, or simply put a little spring in your step, there’s a detox method that can work for you.

What to eat for Spring

It’s often as simple as making the right choices about what to eat and key to this is choosing seasonal fresh produce packed with natural nutrient goodness.

A top tip is to look for the season’s best asparagus, cherries, and artichokes from your local market, all of which help boost the bodies liver function to help you detox naturally.

Similarly eliminating processed foods containing refined carbohydrates and sugars can let you feel energized and less bloated.

Why not try the popular Elimination Diet?

While it’s difficult to eliminate all foods, it’s proven that by cutting out allergy triggering foods such as sugar, alcohol, gluten, dairy and soy milk, caffeine, and factory-farmed meat for a few weeks, then slowly reintroducing them into your diet, can help you uncover any negative hidden effects.

If you suffer from common illnesses it is helpful to note down if changing your diet has elevated your symptoms of conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), fatigue, acid reflux or eczema which are all associated with excessive dairy, gluten and caffeine consumption.

What to drink

Staying properly hydrated is essential to aiding concentration and maintaining healthy organ function. It also plays an important role in eliminating free-radical waste essential for a good detox.

More than half your body weight is made up of water, but we often don’t get enough, leading to headaches, water retention, fatigue or lightheadedness.

By swapping calorie rich coffees and fizzy drinks for water you can also cut out empty calories and help eliminate bloating.

To ensure you get your recommended two liters a day why not:

– Keep a bottle of water by your desk at work.

– If you find water too boring, try adding slices of fresh lemon or lime.

– Or swap plain water for herbal teas or vegetable juices which have the added benefit of being rich in anti-oxidants.

– Make sure to drink water before you eat, as thirst is often confused with hunger.

Turmeric: The wonder spice?

Turmeric, the bright yellow of the spice rainbow, is well known for its health properties. But the humble spice may be even more powerful than first thought, with a new study claiming that it may be able to help fight drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB).

A group of experts from Colorado and China have discovered that a compound responsible for the yellow-orange color of turmeric called curcumin, a polyphenol, can kill the bacteria that causes TB.

Scientists found that by stimulating human immune cells called macrophages, curcumin was able to successfully remove mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis, from experimentally infected cells in culture.

Tubercluosis is one of the leading causes of death worldwide by an infectious agent, and is spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person.

TB mainly affects the lungs but it can also affect any part of the body, including the glands, bones and nervous system. According to the World Health Organization, one-third of the world’s population is infected with TB and in 2014 alone, 9.6 million became sick with the disease – and 1.5 million died from TB.

In Asia, turmeric, which comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, is used as anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, toothache, bruises, chest pain and colic.

The new findings could lead to potential new TB treatments that would be less prone to the development of drug resistance.

Lead study author Dr Xiyuan Bai, of the University of Colorado, Denver admitted that the protective role of curcumin to fight drug-resistant tuberculosis still needs confirmation.

However, Dr Bai feels confident that if “if validated, curcumin may become a novel treatment to modulate the host immune response to overcome drug-resistant tuberculosis”.

The research was first published in the journal Respirology.

Control your bangs

When getting a short fringe in it’ll either take a lifetime to grow out, or you’ll find yourself blowing hair out of your eyes after two weeks.

What’s most important is that you go for a style which won’t go out of fashion quickly, which is where senior hair stylist Michaela Galvin of Jo Hansford comes in with some of her expert tips.

“With fringes, it is important to blow dry them regularly to keep them tame and in shape,” she told Cover Media. “To keep your fringe updated, try varying the width or adding some rounding at the edges. You can revitalize a heavy fringe by taking weight out and creating a textured look. For the more adventurous, short fringes that sit above the eyebrows are becoming increasingly popular.”

And if you’re having trouble keeping your bangs at bay during the awkward in-between stage, where it’s too long to wear down but not long enough to ignore, we have some quick and easy fixes for you.

Twist it out

Rocking a side parting at the moment? Now’s the time to get central, as you can pin both sides of your fringe back effortlessly. Simply split your hair down the middle, bunch together and twist at the roots with strands from the rest of your hair then secure with a pin or clip. Use neutral toned accessories if you want to blend the hair in, or pick statement pieces for a cute touch.

Side sweep it

Turn your full fringe into a side fringe when it’s too long to sit on your forehead. After choosing which direction you want your hair to flow in, create a diagonal parting and using a fine-toothed comb, tease your hair across your forehead. Again, keep in place with a slide or clip – maybe two if you have a lot of tresses to control.

Half-knot

The top knot has become a go-to hairstyle, and it can include your fringe. Gather your hair as though you were to wear it half up, pulling your bangs into the mix, and twist it up starting at the roots. As you twist you’ll see a natural circle/bun finishing beginning to form, and all you need to do is loosely form the shape and secure – keep it messy for a relaxed look! We suggest using spiral pins to keep everything in place as they will also keep the volume to your bun.

Cover it up

Arguably the easiest, but also the boldest. Simply stick a bandanna/hair band on over your bangs – doesn’t matter what they look like underneath, as long as they’re hidden! Or you could wrap and tie a scarf around your hair for a retro vibe.

Don’t reach for the bleach – turn to charcoal for whiter teeth

The properties of charcoal for skin are both well known and wide ranging. From acting as a magnet to pull out impurities to absorbing excess oil; looking like a miner really is great for your face.

However the earthy material works wonders on your teeth too and more and more mouth-related products containing charcoal are now popping up. From off the shelf toothpaste to homemade mouthwash, we have your charcoal teeth needs covered.

Toothpaste

At home whitening kits are more popular than ever and many of us reach for whitening toothpaste during our weekly shop in our quest to get a dazzling smile. However some whitening toothpastes have been known to make teeth darker after use – so maybe going back to black is best.

While squeezing a blob of black toothpaste on to your brush in the morning and evening may look extremely daunting, it actually has major benefits for teeth. Activated charcoal binds to everything in its path, meaning stains, tartar and bacteria are removed. It’s a cheaper and painless way to get your pearlys looking white without having to reach for the bleach.

Curaprox’s White is Black has fast become a cult favorite, and because it uses no bleach it’s a gentle choice for those with sensitive teeth. It also protects from tooth decay and remineralize tooth enamel thanks to its enzymes.

Beverly Hills Perfect White Black and Ecodenta Organic Black Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste are other options to try.

Toothbrush

As charcoal is known for its natural whitening and absorbing powers, adding it to the bristles of a toothbrush means your daily clean just got a lot more effective. Charcoal infused bristles are already common place in South-East Asian countries, and now the Western world is getting on board too. Again the charcoal will draw out impurities, giving you a whiter, brighter and healthier smile.

Mouthwash

Much like the craze for oil pulling, when you swish coconut oil in your mouth, charcoal mouthwash can have similar effects, only this time it targets your teeth rather than your overall health. The ancient technique of oil pulling is intended to draw out toxins, especially in your mouth, but gurgling with charcoal is aimed at those after a whiter smile. Some coconut oil mouthwashes even include activated charcoal to give users a double dose of oral goodness.

It’s easy to make your own, just remember it’s activated charcoal you need, not any old BBQ coal!

Mix 1/8 tsp of activated charcoal with 6 to 8 ounces of distilled water and essential oils (optional). Swirl around and spit.

Extras

Lush’s Boom! Toothy Tabs are little charcoal wonders that will give your mouth an instant hit of freshness. Made from gunpowder tea and charcoal, these tabs are designed to be nibbled between your teeth. They can be used as an alternative to toothpaste, or just pop one in if you’re on the go, chew and then quickly run a toothbrush round for a smile pick-me-up.

Tried and tested: Body exfoliators

Dry, rough skin is normally a by-product of the winter months, especially when your body is soaking up lovely, warm central heating while indoors. There are countless products out there designed to banish and buff dry skin, so we road tested three to see which came out top.

Soap and Glory Pulp Friction – 4/5

First things first, this body scrub smells divine! The witty brand has coined the phrase Fruitigo fragrance, comprised of fig, peppermint oil and a whole load of vitamins. It’s really creamy, which is rare for a scrub, but also full of pumice which exfoliates the skin gently but effectively. I tried this on my right arm so I could compare it with the I Love… sugar scrub used on my left.

Skin is smoother, with bumps and dry patches visibly reduced. Soap and Glory promise smoother skin, and they definitely deliver on that. The smell lasts long after the shower too, making it a real winner.

I love… Lemon Meringue Whipped Sugar Scrub – 3/5

Usually sugar scrubs are really effective at buffering away dead, dry skin but this whipped version from I Love… lacked the power I needed. That’s because the sugar crystals were minimal, but it does only claim to give a gentle exfoliation, and so it stays true to that. However, where it does work well is on the moisturizing front, with the creamy formula quickly foaming on the skin and locking in hydration.

LUSH body scrub – 4/5

LUSH products never fail and this bar of body scrub is no different. I used it all over and dry, rough skin was quickly eradicated. A great exfoliator for getting rid of old fake tan too, easily buffering it off of elbows and ankles.

Take your exercise outdoors this springtime

The sun is shining and the days are longer, yes springtime has finally arrived! For those of you that turn your back on outside exercise during the colder months, now’s the time to embrace the spring sunshine and take your workout to the great outdoors.

Forest and park runs

Dedicated runners will still have pounded the pavement during the cold, dark winter days while many of us stuck to the gym. Now the weather is milder, take your run to your local forest or park to enjoy nature as well as fitness. Starting your day with a jog in lush green surroundings will invigorate both your mind and body. It will leave you feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead with a smile on your face.

Garden yoga

Yoga is such a versatile activity and can be done anywhere; from in front of the TV to a gym studio. Why not make the most of the sunny weather and move your mat to a nice piece of grass. Whether it’s your own back garden, or a communal class in the park, doing the downward dog outside will add a whole different dimension to your workout.

Sand sprints

If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach, then running on the sand is a must. Keeping fit at the beach gives your body a tougher workout, as sand adds resistance, making exercise more challenging. Running across a beach as opposed to the pavement will see calf circumference increase and keep your lower body engaged at all times. You don’t have to just stick to running though; crab walks, mountain climbers and planks are just a few exercises that will yield impressive results.

Pregnancy skin conditions part 1

Pregnancy can play havoc with your skin, with many women complaining of acne, rosacea, dryness and, of course, stretch marks.

Swollen ankles, tiredness and havoc with your hormones are all anticipated during pregnancy, but your skin can also experience changes. Many women complain of sensitive skin, redness, itching, stretch marks and even acne. With so much going on inside your body it’s no surprise that you skin can suffer, so we’ve spoken to some experts about the issues.

Stretch Marks

It has been claimed that more than half of all pregnant women get stretch marks during pregnancy. While some ladies swear by rubbing hydrating oils and creams on their tummies, butt and thighs, other studies have claimed they are hereditary and therefore unavoidable. Stretch marks are caused by small tears in the connective tissue supporting your skin, and usually occur in the latter stages of pregnancy.

“Keep your belly well hydrated as it grows,” dermatologist Dr Howard Murad told Cover Media. “Look for a lotion that contains shea butter and Vitamin E to help provide hydration, and Vitamin C to help enhance skin’s elasticity. Also, keep your weight in check by gaining the healthy amount recommended by your doctor and try to avoid sudden weight gains.”

Melasma

This skin condition is common during pregnancy, and can be blamed on shifting hormones as well as sun exposure. Typically it appears as discoloration on certain areas of the face and is known as the ‘pregnancy mask’. “Oestrogen and progesterone interact with sunlight giving pigmentation on the skin,” Dr Adam Friedmann, consultant dermatologist at The Harley Street Dermatology Clinic, told Cover Media. “It is typically found on the cheeks, nose, lips and forehead.”

Using SPF and wearing a broad rim hat or baseball cap can reduce the effects of melasma by protecting your skin from sun exposure. Beauty products containing Vitamin C may also help to break down pigmentation, while exfoliators with lactic or glycolic acid can gently lighten skin. Fade Out Extra Care Cream has SPF 25 and may help to brighten and even skin tone.

How to season food without salt

No one wants to tuck into a meal that’s bland and lacking flavor, but smothering it in salt isn’t the answer. Many of us exceed the daily recommendation for sodium without even realizing, which could lead to hypertension, raising the risk of strokes, kidney failure and cardiovascular disease.

Various studies have found links between high sodium intake and obesity in kids, while others discovered reducing salt and increasing fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of health issues later in life.

If you have children to look out for, or need to cut back on salt yourself, read on for alternatives, courtesy of registered dietitian and nutritionist Jennifer Glockner.

Go for whole foods

Processed meals are known to be bad for us, with 70 per cent of salt in our diet added during processing. Jennifer suggests small swaps to lower our sodium intake, such as replacing deli and cured meats with fresh chicken, fish or turkey in sandwiches or salads. Be careful about which cheese and bread you use too, and read packets when you can to keep on track.

The same goes for vegetables and beans; when they’re canned sodium is used to preserve them, so give them a thorough rinse before use. Alternatively, buy fresh or frozen versions as these won’t make a dent in your salt intake.

Use vegetables to enhance

Following the veg route again, why not use strong-flavored foods like onion, garlic or celery to give your dish that extra oomph rather than reaching for the salt shaker. This also lowers the fat content of meals, as does swapping meats for mushrooms to keep things bulky but healthier.

Or for a fresh zing, squeeze a lemon or lime into your dish to create a citrus twist, perfect for poultry or fish.

Swap salt for spices

This is often recommended and Jennifer has reminded us how much this small move can improve our overall health. Herbs and spices instead of salt not only lower the problems associated with high sodium levels, but it also boosts the body’s antioxidants. This will prevent disease and keep you in good form, similar to the benefits of fruit and veg.

Previous studies have found that clove, oregano, and caraway boast the highest levels of antioxidant and phenolic properties, so adding these to your food could really work wonders.

There’s so many options with spices, therefore you won’t ever struggle to find one that fits your cuisine. Ginger for Asian influence, cumin for Indian and Middle Eastern meals and paprika for smokiness are just some of the examples you can enjoy.

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

Most would agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The NHS insists that research shows that people who eat breakfast are slimmer because they tend to eat less over the course of the day, and in particular, snack less. Experts have previously warned that missing breakfast is a sure fire way to make people raid the snack drawer and pile on the pounds. Yet it seems there isn’t conclusive evidence to back such claims.

Research conducted by the Bath Breakfast Project at the University of Bath in the U.K. examined breakfast consumption or morning fasting and used assessments of energy balance and health in an obese population. They found that neither obese people who eat breakfast, nor those who miss it, lost weight.

These are similar findings to the group’s earlier study of lean people, who were found to have consumed in excess of 500 calories more a day on average if they ate breakfast.

“Despite strong public belief regarding the role of regular breakfast in human health, most evidence linking the omission of breakfast with negative health outcomes is based on cross-sectional associations and prospective cohort studies,” wrote the authors.

Scientists add the evidence fits in with what others have been finding recently.

“Randomized controlled trials in free-living adults have begun to question the causal nature of these links between breakfast habits, components of energy balance, and health,” they said.

The link between missing breakfast and overeating later is further contradicted by another randomized controlled trial of 283 people that found no difference in weight gain between those who ate breakfast and those who did not.

The breakfast issue is part of the ongoing debate around fasting, and researchers conclude that eating in the morning is a personal choice.

If you are not hungry, and especially if you are overweight, then don’t eat out of some notion that breakfast is essential. Breakfast is of course important for children, athletes, and for people who need to perform at their top capacity.

The research was first published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Emotional eating signs and solutions

Food doesn’t just fuel our body, it also serves our emotional needs. We’ve all been there; going through a breakup so you stuff your face with ice-cream. Pushing your body through a particularly punishing gym workout, and treating yourself to something naughty after. Whatever your reasons, emotional eating affects the majority of us. However, consuming food in this way can be destructive, so it’s important you look out for the tell-tale signs so you can nip it in the bud before it comes a serious issue.

Signs you’re emotionally eating:

Do you eat more when you’re stressed?

Often emotional eating is a completely subconscious action, which can be brought on my stress, anxiety or fear. If you find yourself reaching for food in these situations, then it could be more than just a knee jerk reaction to a hard time.

Do you eat even when you’re full?

Grazing after mealtimes or snacking throughout the day could be another tell-tale sign, especially if you never seem full. Also watch out for piling your plate high and going back for second helpings even if you no longer feel hungry.

Does your hunger come on rapidly?

Hunger actually comes on gradually, so if you keep finding yourself suddenly desperate for food then emotional eating could be at play.

Do you reward yourself with food?

Everybody is probably guilty of this now and again, but if you constantly view food as a reward then it’s time to understand why.

Do you feel guilty after you’ve binged?

When you eat to fuel your body, you should never feel guilty about it. After all hunger is your body’s way of telling you need food, so fulfilling physical hunger should be a satisfying experience. However if you’re reaching for food when you know you’re not actually hungry, it can leave you feeling ashamed and powerless. Viewing food as your friend is another red flag.

If any of these resonate with you, then now is the time to take action. To start with, when hunger strikes ask yourself if you are truly hungry? If in doubt, sip on water, as often our body just needs hydrating.

Identify trigger foods, especially treats like sweet things, and keep a food diary. This way you’ll easily be able to assess when and what you’re eating.

Slow down and savor meal times, as feeling full isn’t an instant process. Enjoy your food, but don’t place your emotions on it.