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.

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.

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.

Get an early start on fitness

Exercise at any time is always good for you, but you’ll get better results if you tumble out of bed and get going.

Researchers in North Carolina have discovered that those who work-out early not only burn calories ahead of the daily intake of food, but spike their metabolism for up to 14 hours. Plus, a 45-minute pre-breakfast run will help you burn an extra 190 calories – because there are no sugars or treats to get in the way of a good session at the gym or on the trails.

And talking of trails, go canine and get yourself a dog. Offer to take a neighbor’s pooch out or borrow a relative’s pet. Man’s best friend loves the early mornings when the smells are fresh and nature’s waking up to a new day, and a good walk or a run will set you up for the day. The bigger the dog, the more you’ll get out of a power walk or a run – especially if you let Rover take the lead.

You should also consider what you put into your body after a work-out. Don’t pile back the calories you’ve just lost, but make sure you have a healthy breakfast that sets you up for the rest of the day.

Nutritionists suggest women in particular should aim for a 700-calorie first meal of the day. This helps them kill off the hunger hormone ghrelin, which if coupled with a good lunch, should keep the snack attacks at bay, and leave you with plenty of energy left for an evening out or a good walk after work.

And don’t believe all the negatives about a good cup of Joe. Coffee will not only keep you energized, but a shot of caffeine will also help your body burn a few extra calories while you work – often for up to three hours at a time, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Keep your lunch early as well and look for menu items that include dill or basil as these contain kaempferol, which is another metabolism-boosting secret soldier, which attacks the thyroid hormones. An early lunch will then lead to an early dinner allowing the body to power through until bedtime without a calorie wasted.

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

More exercise = less hunger

Next time you’re due for a hardcore work out, feel safe in the knowledge that a strenuous exercise session will leave you feeling less hungry, therefore you won’t be gobbling down too much food.

A new study published in the journal Medicine and Science In Sports and Exercise looked into the link between intense exercise and hunger, noting that a full-throttle workout reduces calorie consumption as well as burning them.

Two groups of people were monitored; one who slashed their food intake, while another took part in moderate-intensity treadmill run for 90 minutes. Both were then given an all-you-can-eat buffet to see how much they ate.

Those who had just worked out consumed around one-third fewer calories than the group who had eaten less all day, at 663 calories rather than 947.

There are two possible reasons behind this; during exercise the hunger hormone gherlin decreases, while the hunger-suppressing hormone peptide YY rises. However, dieting causes the opposite to happen, meaning you may find yourself binging at some point.

“Since ghrelin is produced in cells within the stomach, a reduced blood flow to the stomach might possibly lead to reduced ghrelin in the circulation,” David Stensel, Ph.D., lead author on the study, noted.

This isn’t the first study to support this idea, as previous research by Stensel’s team found that intense exercise like running or a spin class reduced the hunger hormone, but moderate activities like walking didn’t have the same effect.

That’s not to say you can eat unhealthy food, as in order to get through full-on workouts without quitting, you want to be in rather good form. A balanced diet is the key rather than cutting down completely and remember, sometimes you deserve a treat!