Supplements for Skin Care

Since we are in the midst of summer, I thought it would be a good time to focus on skin care and how to keep your skin protected. As we all know, it is ideal to wear sunblock all year round, even when the sun is not shining. Research has found that taking certain supplements can help improve the quality of your skin and slow down aging. The connection between nutrition and the strength of your skin is a very interesting topic that many people do not know about or think to look into. Internal factors do affect the aging of skin, similar to the aging patterns of internal organs.

Research has shown that the most effective way to work against internal skin aging is eating a nutritious diet, getting the correct amount of sleep and consuming a diet rich in antioxidants.

The following supplements are ideal for skin health:

Vitamin C and E: Vitamin C is not naturally synthesized in the body, so it is important to consume it daily. It is found in many fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C stabilizes collagen and plays an important role in collagen synthesis (collagen is the most abundant protein in your skin). It is found in many topical skin products that prevents aging and sun protection. Vitamin C and E work together to help rebuild and protect the skin. They may reverse some of the discoloration and wrinkles associated with aging, because they have been shown to speed up the skin’s natural repair system.

Fish oil: Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids which support collagen growth. It also helps regulate the oil production in your skin to boost hydration and prevent acne. It also delays the skins aging process.

Coenzyme Q10: Co Q10 is a fat soluble vitamin that is stored in the fat-tissues of our bodies. It is a powerful antioxidant compound and is found in the epidermis in the skin. It has been shown to help the cells grow and has been shown to minimize the appearance of wrinkles if applied to the skin topically.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A is a highly effective antioxidant. The human skin is enriched by lycopene and beta-carotene (both forms of vitamin A). Vitamin A also increases cell reproduction and stimulates collagen production.  It treats fine wrinkles, age spots and rough skin from sun exposure.

 

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Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are the key to better digestion and absorption. They assist in the chemical breakdown of food into macro and micronutrients, so they can be absorbed into the body. Digestive enzymes are essential in the breakdown of foods. They help in the process of amino acids being extracted from proteins, fatty acids and cholesterol from fats and simple sugars from carbohydrates. All of these steps to break down food help make DNA and boost metabolism.

There are many different digestive enzymes in the body, starting with salivary amylase in the mouth. Salivary amylase helps breakdown food into smaller molecules before the food enters the stomach. Then the gastric amylase helps break down partially digested food into chyme. Chyme is the mass of digested food that flows through your gut. Once the chyme enters the small intestines, the hormone secretin is released. This then notifies the pancreas to release bicarbonate, bile and other pancreatic enzyme, like amylase, lipase, trypsin and nuclease. Bicarbonate changes the acidity of the chime, so the food can be degraded and broken down further.

Taking a digestive enzyme supplement can help maximize digestion, prevent gas, bloating and indigestion and help promote a healthy intestinal environment. As we know, your gut helps improve many other areas of your health, so taking a digestive enzyme may have other health benefits like the ones below:

Stress: anything and everything can affect your stress levels. Since stress is important to handle right away, your body will trigger hormones to deal with your mood. This can put pressure on your digestive health and slow down digestion.

Leaky Gut/ food sensitivities: When you have a food sensitivity or leaky gut, your digestive enzymes are not as healthy as they should be. Taking a digestive enzyme supplement may help improve your immune system and protect your body from inflammation in your gut.

Fatigue, migraines: When you have overgrowing bacteria and inflammation in your gut, it can send inflammatory signals to other areas of your body, like your joints and head. This can impair digestion and lead to nutrient shortages, and in turn cause migraines and fatigue.

Anxiety, low mood, sleep issues: inflammation in the gut can lead to anxiety, low mood and sleep issues. Without digestive enzymes, amino acids can not be derived from proteins. Neurotransmitters are made from amino acids and are responsible for alertness, happiness and having a good mood all around.

 

Sore Muscles? You May Need to Take Magnesium

Magnesium has certainly become more popular in the recent years, and for good reasons. Magnesium deficiency is one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in adults. Magnesium is vital for helping keep your heart and muscles working correctly, blood pressure in a normal range and keeping your bones strong. It also assists in regulating your body’s temperature.

When your body is low in magnesium, you are certain to feel various negative symptoms. Some symptoms include, muscle aches or spasms, poor digestion, anxiety and trouble sleeping. It can then lead to more serious symptoms, including hypertension and cardiovascular disease, and kidney and liver damage.

Magnesium is not naturally produced in the body, so you need to consume it daily. The daily-recommended allowance for magnesium is 400-420 mg/day for men and 310-320 mg/day for women. Magnesium is found in many foods, such as dark leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Fortified breakfast cereals and grains, flax seeds and sesame seeds are also good sources of the mineral.

Magnesium is beneficial for various common day-to-day ailments:

Ease Sore Muscles: Magnesium reduces lactic acid, which is somewhat responsible for sore muscles. It can help your muscles relax.

Better Sleep: Since magnesium has a calming effect, it has been shown to improve sleep and promote a more restful sleep. It may be beneficial to take a magnesium sleep supplement before bed with other calming herbs.

PMS Symptoms: Magnesium may help reduce cramping without any significant adverse events. It works by relaxing the smooth muscle of the uterus and reducing the prostaglandins.

Types of Magnesium and how they are absorbed in the body:

Magnesium Chelate: highly absorbable by the body and found in foods naturally

Magnesium Citrate: magnesium combined with citric acid. It may cause a laxative effect in some cases.

Magnesium Glycinate: highly absorbable. Less likely to cause a laxative effect

Ingredients to Watch Out For as a Veggie

Many companies use animal derived ingredients in supplements, packaged goods and more. It is best to aware of the ingredients, so you do not accidently consume them, even though accidents do happen, (especially at restaurants). I am usually aware with packaged good and supplements, but I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I have accident consumed something with meat in it at a restaurant. They love to sneak bacon or anchovies in dressings and other special sauces and it always gets me. I do not get upset though, because accidents happen and it’s not a big deal.

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Ingredients in Supplements to watch out for:

Gelatin: many capsule supplements are made from gelatin, which is usually a blend of pork and bovine (pig and cow). It is easy to forget to check the label. To ensure that you do not consume this type of capsule, look for supplements labeled vegan or free of animal derivatives. You can also look for veggie capsules. Veggie capsules are made from cellulose or polysaccharides, which is an insoluble fiber found in fruits and plants. You can also take a tablet to avoid gelatin as well.

Amino Acids: Amino acids are the building blocks of protein in all animals and plants. In supplements, they are usually derived from animals. It ideal to look for vegan amino acids when purchasing them or look for supplements that state “no animal derivatives.”

Vitamin D3: Some vitamin D3 is sourced from lanolin (sheep’s wool), animal hides or fish oil. Vegan vitamin D3 products are available in many stores.

Vitamin B12: This vitamin is usually made synthetically so it does not contain animal derivatives, however, it can be made from microorganisms found in animals.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A can be made from egg yolks or fish oil. They do make this vitamin with no animal derivatives.

Magnesium Stearate: This ingredient is an excipient that can be derived from pork, butter, chicken, beef, etc. However, many companies are no longer making the supplement from animal derivatives and now making it from vegan sources. You can always look for vegan supplements or ask the manufacturer what it is derived from.

To be safe, look for vegan supplements or supplements that state no animal derivatives. You can always ask the manufacturer what the supplement is derived from and they will be happy to give you some information.

 

References:

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/special-diet/vegetarian
https://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/sneaky-animal-ingredients-to-watch-out-for-in-supplements/

Powers of Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is a type of honey that comes from New Zealand and Southeastern Australia. The bees gather nectar and pollen from the flowers of the Manuka tree, hence where the honey got its name. As many of us know, honey is known for its antibacterial properties; however, this specific honey has even stronger benefits.

Some studies show that Manuka honey contains methyglyoxal, which lends the honey its antibacterial properties. This agent is not effected by heat, light or any substance bin the human body, giving this type of honey a special power. It has also been assumed that the honey has an osmotic effect, drawing moisture from the environment and dehydrating bacteria (Kasprowicz, 2015). Likewise, it has an acidic natural which inhibits the growth of microorganisms.

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So what is this honey used for?

Healing minor cuts and burns

Honey has the ability to absorb moisture from wounds, sucking the impurities and protecting the body against infection. It also prevents bacteria from growing on the wound.

Soothing coughs and symptoms of the common cold

Due to the honeys anti-bacterial properties, adding a spoon full of Manuka honey to a cup of tea can improve common cold symptoms or a cough. It has been shown to be more effective than regular honey. A study reported that when the colonies of strep throat were treated with Manuka honey, the bacteria count fell by up to 85 percent, while other studies have reported that it can help inhibit staph, pneumonia, and salmonella (Battis, 2014).

Digestion

Manuka honey has been shown to reduce bloating, digestive upsets, indigestion and gastric reflux. It has also been helpful for people with IBS. You can add Manuka honey to your diet in many ways, like adding it to your yogurt or spreading it on toast.

Beauty

Other than Manuka honey boosting energy and making you feel good during the day, but its nutrient-dense nature can help improve skin tone and texture. It has anti-inflammatory properties to calm redness or other skin issues. You can make an exfoliating face wash, to improve your complexion by decreasing the bacteria, or make a hair mask to enhance the natural shine of your hair.

Face wash recipe:
1/3 cup castile soap
1/3 cup Manuka honey
3 tbsp distilled water
2 tbsp jojoba oil

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References

Kasprowicz, S., M.D., & Siegel, Daniel Mark,M.D., M.S. (2015). A honey of a healing agent. Dermatology Times, 36(10), 14. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.montclair.edu:2048/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.montclair.edu/docview/1805206909?accountid=12536
Tweed, V. (2016). Super honey. Better Nutrition, 78(9), 26-26,28. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.montclair.edu:2048/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.montclair.edu/docview/1820269732?accountid=12536
Battis, L. (2014, 11). Don’t get sick this season. Men’s Health, 29, 111-112, 114, 116. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.montclair.edu:2048/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.montclair.edu/docview/1679938631?accountid=12536

Aloe Vera – Why do we need it?

Aloe Vera comes from the Liliaceal family, where there are about 360 species. It is a cactus-like plant with yellow flowers that grows in hot, dry climates. It originated in Africa, and is now grown in warm climates around the world, like Asia, Europe and America. It is used in cosmetics, as well as for its medicinal properties. These products are made from the mucilaginous tissue in the center of the aloe vera leaf. The center of the leaf is bitter, yellow and commonly known as the sap, or juice of the aloe vera plant.

The medicinal uses of Aloe Vera include anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic activity, as well as, antibacterial and hypogylcaemic effects (Vogler, 1999). It contains many active elements, including, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, sugars, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids and amino acids. The gel contains vitamins like, Vitamin A, C, and E, as well as Vitamin B1, niacin, B2, choline and folic acid (Nazir, 2017). The gel is used in the preparation of health drinks, and food products, like milk and ice cream. It is also used as a flavoring component or a preservative for various foods.

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Due to the plants high nutrient content, it has been shown to be very beneficial for the body. Here are a few of some of the valuable properties:

Arthritis:

Aloe Vera has been shown to repair arthritis-damaged tissue, since it contains analgesic, an anti-inflammatory agent (Nazir, 2017). It can be taken orally applied externally to help repair the damaged tissue and detoxify the area.  Likewise, it can help reduce pain associated with arthritis and swelling.

Heals Wounds:

Since Aloe Vera has many anti-bacterial properties, it has been shown to heal wounds. It has been used to dress wounds for centuries, reducing burns, restoring skin and pain. Research has shown that the juice seals the wounds while drawing blood to the wound, improving the healing properties.

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Immune System:

Aloe Vera has natural detoxifying properties that can cleanse the digestive system and circulatory system. This can help improve the absorption of nutrients and consequently improve the immune system. It has also been shown to inhibit free radicals.

Anti-aging:

Some properties in Aloe Vera helps bind moisture into the skin. Aloe stimulates fibroblast, which produces the collagen and elastin fibers making the skin more elastic, reducing wrinkles (Surjushe, 2008). It helps the skin stay moisturized for longer periods of time, while hardening skin cells and tightening pores. It has also been shown to have an anti-acne effect on the skin, due to the antibacterial properties.

 

 

References

Nazir, A. (2017). Health benefits of aloe vera: A wonder plant. International Journal of Chemical Studies. doi:10.7717/peerj.2589/fig-3
VOGLER, B. K. (october 1999). Aloe vera: A systematic review of its clinical effectiveness. British Journal of General Practice,. Retrieved from http://bjgp.org/content/bjgp/49/447/823.full.pdf
Surjushe, A., Vasani, R., & Saple, D. (2008). Aloe vera: A short review. Indian Journal of Dermatology, 53(4), 163. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.44785

Foods to Boost Memory

It is greatly overlooked how much the foods we eat on a daily basis affects our cognitive function. Living a healthy lifestyle, like improving nutrition and engaging in an active lifestyle, can increase our cognitive function and keep our brains active and functioning properly. Some group B Vitamins, such as folic acid, cyanocobalamine and pyridoxine, as well as antioxidants like vitamin C, E, and Beta Carotene are essential for correct brain function (Requejo, 2003). Likewise, being deficient in these nutrients and having a diet high in saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, has been shown to intensify cognitive decline.

Furthermore, Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA, has been shown to help the brain function properly and efficiently. Studies have shown that long-term consumption of adequate DHA is linked to improved memory, improved learning ability and reduced rates of cognitive decline (Wolfram, 2017).

So what can we eat to boost memory?

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Avocados:

Not only do they taste delicious but they are high in the nutrients that are essential for healthy cognitive function. Avocados contain vitamin K and folate, as well as Vitamin B and Vitamin C. As stated above, these key nutrients are crucial in keeping he brain functioning normally. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps get rid of free radicals, while folate helps prevent blood clots.

Blueberries:

It is widely known that blueberries are high in antioxidants, like vitamin C and Vitamin K. As we know, these vitamins fight blood clots and free radicals. Similarly other dark berries, like blackberries and cherries have similar beneficial properties to boost memory function.

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Fish:

Fish such as salmon, Bluefin tuna and sardines, are high in omega-3 fatty acids and DHA. As previously stated, a diet with adequate DHA levels can help improve memory and improve cognitive function. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can consume Omega-3 fatty acids by eating algae, ground flax seeds, walnuts or chia seeds. Our bodies will naturally convert the Omega-3 fatty acids to DHA to support our brain.

Veggies:

Many vegetables, especially cruciferous veggies, like broccoli, cabbage and dark leafy greens, help improve memory. They contain high amounts of antioxidants, vitamin K and anti-inflammatory properties to help keep your brain working efficiently.

 

 

References

Requejo, A. M., Ortega, R. M., Robles, F., Navia, B., Faci, M., & Aparicio, A. (2003). Influence of nutrition on cognitive function in a group of elderly, independently living people. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 57(S1). doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601816

Wolfram, T. (n.d.). Brain Health and Fish. Retrieved April 03, 2018, from https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/healthy-aging/brain-health-and-fish