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.

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.

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.

Is canned tuna too high in mercury for pregnant women?

Advice given to women on the amount of fish they should consume while pregnant may be flawed, researchers contend.

Experts agree that fish is a good source of protein and healthy fats, but these health benefits must be balanced with significant downsides. Fish species like tuna and carp, can contain high levels of mercury, which are absorbed from polluted waters.

Previous studies have shown that mercury, a heavy metal, can be toxic to neurons in the brain, and in 2014 U.S. federal agencies issued draft guidelines advising pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant, to avoid high-mercury fish altogether.

However, scientists at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) argue that even if women follow the guidelines on which types of fish to eat, they may be exposing themselves and unborn babies to unsafe levels of mercury and not gaining the necessary benefits from the healthy omega-3 fats in the fish.

The EWG claims the list of high-mercury fish is incomplete or inaccurate. Specifically, canned light tuna is listed as a lower-mercury fish even though some previous studies have found it high in mercury.

“It’s misleading to name canned light tuna as one of the low-mercury species that women are encouraged to eat,” says Sonya Lunder, senior analyst at EWG.

EWG asked 254 women of child-bearing age who ate more than the U.S. government’s recommended amount of fish to record their seafood consumption and submit hair samples for mercury testing.

Among women following this preliminary advice of two to three servings of different types of fish a week, 30 per cent of the women were exposed to levels of mercury deemed unhealthy by the EPA.

Much of their exposure was tied to fish species like tuna steaks and sushi that are not included in the government’s warning.

The FDA guidelines, which aren’t final and still in draft form, only mention swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and shark as species for pregnant women to avoid, and suggest limiting albacore tuna to six ounces per week.

To avoid mercury exposure, the guidelines provide a list of low mercury seafood, which include salmon, anchovies, herring, shad, sardines, Pacific oysters, and trout.

Get fruity and veg out

Everyone knows fruit and vegetables are an essential part of a daily diet, and yet even the healthiest among us often find it a chore to gobble up the goodness we need.

But there is a cheat sheet that can help you get the greens you need without really knowing it.

It can start with the best smoothie known to man for breakfast and continue with some clever ways around meal presentation – using fruit and veg as bowls and eating tools!

That smoothie, by the way, is simple and cheap – and really good for you. Simply grab a handful of kale, a chopped up banana, a peeled pear or apple and a little soy or almond milk and blend to a texture that works for you, adding less or more milk. Then pour into a see-through travel cup, so everyone can see you’re a person who cares about health – and enjoy! It tastes much better than it looks.

But don’t stop there!

Take fruit and vegetables like peppers, avocados – the world’s healthiest food, tomatoes and prepare meals using them as bowls, filled with yummy ingredients using the flesh you scoop out. No waste and what a wonderful way to lunch.

Then for dinner, pick up fresh fruit and vegetables on the way home and challenge yourself with weird and wacky recipes using the goodness in your basket.

If you’re a working mom, get the kids to help out, so they know what good food looks like and feels like. Children do like to eat what they cook, so get them involved.

And if you must cheat with a weekly pizza, dress it up with roasted brussel sprouts, broccoli or cauliflower or add a delicious salad that’s a little different from the norm using at least two fruits and two vegetables. A good salad book is a must for any self-respecting health guru. Recommended reading: The Vegetarian Guide to Diet & Salad by Dr Norman Walker, Lisa Brown’s Salad of The Week: 52 Amazing Salad Recipes For Healthy Eating & Weight Loss, and Don Orwell’s Healthy Salads.

It’s also a great idea to have a vegan week once a month, when you cut dairy and meat from your diet completely. It might seem like quite the challenge at first, but you’ll quickly enjoy the detective work as you shop for what you can eat, discovering interesting food facts as you go. Plus, you’ll quickly enjoy the energy boost and the way you feel and look.

Breast cancer can be more aggressive in obese women

Breast cancer is more common and aggressive in obese people, researchers claim.

While prior studies have drawn the link, experts haven’t been able to pinpoint why overweight women are more prone to the disease.

Now, an international team of researchers believe their findings can shed more light on the association.

Researchers from the University of Miami in the U.S. and Granada’s University Hospital Center found that fat around a tumor (peritumoral fat) allows the expansion and invasion of cancer stem cells (CSCs) which are responsible of the onset and growth of the tumor.

They also claimed that obesity-related fat causes local inflammation and prevents adipocytes, the cells forming that fat, from maturing.

Cancer stem cells are found in tumors in small quantities, and they are responsible for the metastasis or spreading in parts of the body far from the original tumor.

Conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments are not capable of eliminating these cells.

As a result, it is common that, after the first response to treatment, many cancer patients suffer a relapse, the researchers said.

Accordingly, they warn that the consequences of the obesity epidemic on cancer morbidity and mortality are very serious.

In fact, it is estimated that, nowadays, up to 20 per cent of cancer-related deaths may be attributable to obesity.

The researchers added that obese women have a greater risk of suffering breast cancer after going through the menopause.

And, the disease progresses much faster in those women – regardless of their age.

However, the researchers admit that the mechanisms by which obesity contributes to the development and progression of cancer are not absolutely yet clear.

The findings were first published in the journal Cancer Research.

Blueberries cut dementia risk

Blueberries for weight loss, blueberries to fight cancer and now blueberries have been found to stop dementias developing. Is there anything the tiny blue fruit can’t do?! If you’re not already tucking into the superfood, and no, blueberry muffins do not count, then surely now is the time to start – especially if you’re middle aged as scientists from the University of Cincinnati found consuming them at this life point could stop dementia developing decades later.

Lead researcher Robert Krikorian looked at 47 men and women aged 68-plus who had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (trouble remembering something). People with MCI are more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

The test group was each given a powder to take every day for four months, either made up of freeze-dried blueberries or a placebo alternative. The freeze-dried powder was made especially for the study, and was the equivalent to a small teacupful of berries.

Participants also had to complete a series of mental tests, focusing on the memory and thinking skills that are eroded by dementia.

Results clearly showed that the fruit boosted the brain’s ability and made it more active.

“There was a significant improvement in cognitive function in those who had the blueberry powder, compared with those who took the placebo,” Dr. Krikorian explained, adding he believes it’s to do with the anthocyanins found in blueberries.

The chemical is what gives blueberries their color, and has been linked to boosting blood flow, cutting inflammation, and enhancing the passage of information between cells.

Blueberries also helped people who hadn’t been diagnosed with memory problems, but just felt they were becoming more forgetful.

“Our findings corroborate those of previous animal studies and preliminary human studies, adding further support to the notion that blueberries can have a real benefit in improving memory and cognitive function in older adults,” Dr. Krikorian added