Posts Tagged ‘Health tip’

EFAs: Some things are better FATTY!

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What is an Essential Fatty Acid and what makes it essential?

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are substances that are absolutely necessary for the body to function. These substances are not produced by the body yet they are needed by every cell, as such we are required to supply the body with these substances in required amounts. The membrane of each skin cell consists of substances that are derived mainly from EFAs, which assist in making protaglandins, which are involved in inflammation and healing. 

EFAs have been associated with imparting that ‘healthy glow’ to skin, as well as maintaining soft, supple, more youthful looking skin.

There are two (2) types of EFAs

- Omega – 6 Fatty Acid 
- Omega – 3 Fatty Acid

 Omega – 6 Fatty Acid, or Linoleic Acid,  is an EFA that is involved in:
- Growth
- Skin integrity and strength
- Injury response, for example blood pressure regulation and blood clot formation.

On average we have higher levels of omega-6 FAs than we do of omega -3 FAs since Omega -6 FAs are found in are found primarily in nuts, seeds and plant oils. Common sources of Omega-6 FAs include safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, peanut oils and margarines made with these oils. Walnuts and seeds such as pumpkin, sesame and poppy are also great sources of Omega-6 FAs

Omega- 3 Fatty Acid, or Alpha Linolenic Acid, is an EFA that is involved in the:
-  Formation of healthy cell membrane
- Development of eye and brain tissue
- Assistance with injury response

Although research is ongoing, omega – 3 FAs are also believed to:
- Lower triglyceride levels, which are important risk factors in coronary heart disease
- Improve blood vessel elasticity
- Keep the heart rhythm beating normally
- Thin the blood, which makes it less sticky and less likely to clot
- Reduce inflammation and support the immune system
- Reduce blood pressure
- Possibly play a role in preventing and treating depression
- Contribute to the normal development of the foetal brain.

Omega-3 FAs are found in both plant and marine foods, although it is the omega-3 fats from marine sources that have the strongest evidence for health benefits (including reducing the risk of heart disease). 

Sources of omega-3 Fatty Acids  include:
- Green and leafy veges like spinach, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, bok choi and collards.
- Flaxseeds, canola and soy oils and canola-based margarines
- Cold water fish like Atlantic salmon, mackerel, Southern blue fin tuna, trevally and sardine, halibut and snapper.
- Foods fortified with omega-3 FAs like some types of eggs. 

The recommended intake of omega-3 FAs is 1.1 – 4 grams per day. Just for a general idea:

100g of salmon contains approx 1.5g omega-3  FA
100 g of sardines contains about 3 g
100 g of halibut contains less than 1 g

with respect to omega -3 enriched/ fortified foods
113 g yogurt contains 0.3 g omega -3 FA
1 egg contains 0.4 g  and
250 ml milk contains 0.02 – 0.03 g 


Works consulted:
Smolin, L. & Grosvenor, M. (2007)
Nutrition Science and Applications. John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
Foundation for Integrated Medicine: Fatty Acids
Better Health



Health | Best foods
All-in-One Meals
Maintaining the flab
I’ll drink to that!
Fats | Don’t hate. Discriminate 

I'll drink to that

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It is said that 50% – 70% of the human body is composed of water, where muscle tissue holds more water than fat tissue.

splash water Water is needed for many bodily functions including, to:

-Digest food and dissolve nutrients
- Send electrical messages between cells e.g. to move muscles
- Move waste out of the body
- Provide a place where metabolic reactions can occur 
- Regulate body temperature
- Lubricate moving parts like knees and elbows

Thirst is the first signal our body gives us that we are dehydrated, caused by the loss of water from the cells in our gums, tongue and cheeks. Usually by the time we feel thirsty it’s too late, and our body is already dehydrated. 

The second signal is reduced urination. Urine becomes very concentrated, and shows a dark, yellow colour. Here, the brain recognizes that the blood needs more water and secretes a hormone, ADH, that helps the body conserve the water.

Water is lost through everyday activities/ processes such as through perspiration, breathing and via body waste. It can also be lost:
- During an illness
- Through exercising
- Working in a hot environment
- In an environment with forced heat
- If you are on a high protein diet
- By consuming diuretics, compounds such as coffee and alcohol that cause body to lose water

Therefore it is important to replace water lost during these activities.

In addition to drinking water foods such as fruit and vegetables also contain water, some up to 95%. Juice and soups contain water, but also contain high sugar and salt content respectively.

There is a variety of water available – Still, Sparkling, Mineral. However, lately lots of other types have popped up on the market like flavored and vitamin water… Really?

As can be seen on the labels of these gourmet waters, most of these types of waters carry a high sugar content. Might as well down pop or suck on sugar tablets. How about popping a multivitamin every morning and getting ‘flavour’ from food?

Of course there are the artificial sweeteners that are marketed. Ingest all the sweet you want with no calorie consequence. Hmmm… last time I checked there are very few things in this life that go without some sort of aftermath. It seems odd that artificially sweeting natural water is acceptable marketing.

Aspartame has been around for a minute and we only now understand that is has been shown to penetrate the blood brain barrier, meaning it can enter the brain and create toxins that can literally damage the brain. Okay…

Dieters have now turned to the newer product Splenda, but we have yet to understand the long terms effect of ingesting it. There are some things we do know though; We know that it is a chemical substance and not a naturally occurring sugar product. That alone should raise at least a polka-dotted flag. It is now suggested that ingesting natural sugar is better than ingesting artificial sweeteners. Splenda Info

In terms of something as simple as quenching thirst, is all this ambiguity regarding a sweetener really worth it?

It is estimated that between 1 ml and 1.5 ml of water is needed for every calorie consumed. That roughly calculates to:

6 – 9 cups of water for 1,500 calorie diet
10 – 15 cups of water for a 2,000 calorie diet
12 – 18 cups of water for a 3,000 calorie diet

That’s a lot of sugar/ chemicals to be having daily, don’t you think?

 How about going back to basics and drinking plain ole’ water as a calorie free way to quench your thirst?

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid)

Sometimes simple is better. I’ll drink to that!



Health Tip: Bambu

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Shout out to all my coffee addicts who are looking for a an alternative way to kick the habit without going cold turkey or switching to black tea. Not that there is anything wrong with black tea… love that too but ya’ know… it’s just not coffee.

Or maybe it’s just that caffeine or bromine messes with your system…

My sister recently introduced me to ‘Bambu’, an all natural, no caffeine swiss coffee substitute. It comes in an instant formula so you can take it to work with you without turning it into a production. 

As a coffee addict myself, I’ve tried it and it’s not too bad. Tastes more like coffee than tea, but it’s not as bitter than coffee… so maybe you will have to add less sugar?

It’s made up of
- Rye
- Chicory
- Barley
- Malted barley
- Figs
- Acorns

- it’s Gluten free!
- available in an organic blend

And for my lactose intolerant peeps out there, I haven’t tried it with soy yet, but the flavours work well with original, unsweetened Almond milk. Of course if you like it straight up and black, just add hot water. It can also be enjoyed as a cold drink.

Heard that ‘Dandelion Coffee’ can also be used as a coffee substitute but I haven’t tried that one yet, soon come.

If you have any other coffee alternatives, be sure to pass the word along.

Mmmm…. *Tasty!*


Nutrition | Gluten free breakfast
Health | Best foods
Maintaining the flab
I’ll drink to that 




Aging is inevitable. There are some things that we cannot change; like the effect of environmental pollution our skin for example. Then there are some things that we can change, like kicking that smoking habit. We can also add antioxidants to our diet. 

Antioxidants are nature’s defense against the damaging, aging effects of free radicals. As free radical scavengers, they help prevent against prematurely aging skin. 


Free radicals destroy cells and are produced by exposure to radiation, alcohol, smog and many other pollutants.

With respect to the skin, free radicals:

- Damage cell function
- Change the DNA in the cell which can lead to cancer
- Activate factors which break down collagen, which causes wrinkles and
- Cause aging which appear on hands, face and neck first.

Antioxidants prevent and repair cell damage that is cause by free radicals. Antioxidants can be found in foods as well as in skin care products. Carotenoids, vitamin E, vitamin C and vitamin E are antioxidant vitamins.

Betacarotene is a provitamin which converts into Vitamin A in the liver, and prevents against damage to cell membrane. 
Food sources are sweet potatoes, carrots, mangoes, spinach, egg yolk and red, orange, deep-yellow and some dark green leafy veges like broccoli.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A is needed for the formation and maintainence of mucus membranes. It is only found in animal products such as liver, butter, milk, cheese and eggs.
Shout out to all my vegetarians. Get up on your betacarotenes! 

Vitamin E
Vitamin E reduces the ability of LDL (bad cholesterol) to form plaque in the arteries.
Common food sources include margarine, salad dressings, peanut butter, whole grain products, nuts, vegetable oil and mayo. These sources are often high in fat and should be used in moderation. It can also be found in some leafy veges.

Vitamin A and E, as well as vitamin D and K are fat soluble (stored in body fat), and can be harmful when taken in excessive amounts.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C protects against heart disease, cancer and stress.
It is usually found in citrus fruits like oranges and tangerines but is also found in sweet peppers, melon and most berries – strawberries, blackberries and blueberries for example. Vitamin C is water soluble and cannot be taken in excess as whatever the body does not use will be passed out in urine. 

Tea also contains antioxidants, white tea containing the strongest content of them all. *Muuuuaaahahahahahah*
Coffee and chocolate also contains antioxidants, but of course you have to factor in the effects on your body of caffeine and sugar respectively.

Sunscreen (SPF) is an antioxidant that guards skin against damaging UV rays and can be found in quite a few moisturizers and other cosmetic products. 


Eat up!

Photo: djcodrin /


Premature aging
10 Top Skin-Care Faux Pas
Sunkissed beauty 

Don’t hate. Discriminate

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Fats get a really bad rep in our society, but not all fat is bad fat. As a matter of fact fat serves some pretty important functions in our body. 

- Provide insulation for the body
- Helps to maintain body temperature (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 36 degrees Celsius)
- Protects the reproductive system
- Stores energy, and provides energy over a longer time than glycogen
- Gives blood cells flexibility
- Stores nutrients (essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins D, E, K and A)


Fat also serves an important barrier function to the skin. Fat molecules in sebum (oil present in skin) attaches to epidermal cells and forms a sealed barrier that keeps water in the body, hereby preventing dehydration and keeping skin hydrated, supple and smoooooooooooth. 


There are different types of fats, saturated fatty acids, unsaturated fatty acids, and trans fatty acids.

Saturated fatty acids (Saturated fats) contribute to the risk of heart disease by raising blood cholesterol levels.

These fats are commonly found in many ‘fast’foods, in commercial products such as biscuits and pastries, in dairy products like cream, ice-cream, sour cream, cheese, butter and in oils which have a tendency to solidify or be solid at room temperature such as coconut and cotton seed oil.

Though cholesterol-rich foods should be limited, ingesting saturated fats raises blood cholesterol level much higher than eating cholesterol-rich foods. Dietary cholesterol can only be found in animal products such as fatty meats, shellfish, egg yolks, full dairy products and liver, kidney and animal brains*side eye*.

Unsaturated fatty acids (Unsaturated fats) are thought to reduce blood cholesterol. There are two types of unsaturated fats – mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated.

Sources of mono-unsaturated fats include margarine spreads such as canola or olive oil based choices, and peanut oils, avocado, and nuts such as peanuts, hazelnuts, cashews and almonds.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids have a slightly greater impact on lowering blood cholesterol than mono-unsaturated fatty acids. Sources include fish, seafood, polyunsaturated margarines, vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, corn or soy oils, nuts such as walnuts and brazil nuts, and seeds.

Replacing saturated fats in your diet with either mono-unsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, for example replacing butter with olive or canola oil in certain dishes can assist in lowering blood cholesterol. 

Trans fatty Acids (Trans fats) are the real bad boys in this dance. 

Better Health states that:

“Trans fatty acids are considered to behave like saturated fats in the body; they raise LDL (bad) levels and increase the risk of heart disease. Unlike saturated fats, they tend to lower HDL (good) cholesterol, so are potentially even more damaging. It is the trans fats that are produced during food manufacturing that you should be most concerned about, not the trans fats present naturally in certain foods. Look for margarines that have less than one per cent trans fats on the label or choose foods with the Heart Foundation Tick. Limit how much takeaway food and packaged snack foods you eat.”

Trans fatty acids are rare in nature – only created in the rumen of cows and sheep, and are naturally found in small amounts in milk, cheese, beef and lamb.

The bulk of Trans fatty acids are created during the manufacture of some table margarines, hard hydrogenated margarines, shortening and other solid spreads used in the food industry to make baked products such as pies, pastries, cakes, biscuits and buns. Chances are they can be found in those packaged cookies and chips on the supermarket shelf that show an expiry date of 24 August 2415.


Let’s choose our fats wisely


Works consulted
Better Health
Foundation for Integrated Medicine


Munch stress away
Health Tip: Taking Stock
What’s your serving size?
EFAs: Some things are better FATTY!
10 Top Skin-Care Faux Pas 


Munch stress away

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If only it was that easy. Still, our friends at Delish complied a list of the top foods that help alleviate stress. We can all do with a little (a lot) more of these in our diets.



1. Oranges

A German study in Psychopharmacology found that vitamin C helps reduce stress and return blood pressure and cortisol to normal levels after a stressful situation. Vitamin C is also well known for boosting your immune system.

2. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes can be particularly stress-reducing because they can satisfy the urge you get for carbohydrates and sweets when you are under a great deal of stress. They are packed full of beta-carotene and other vitamins, and the fiber helps your body to process the carbohydrates in a slow and steady manner.

3. Almonds, pistachios, walnuts

Almonds are packed with B and E vitamins, which help boost your immune system, and walnuts and pistachios help lower blood pressure.

4. Turkey

Turkey contains an amino acid called L-tryptophan. This amino acid triggers the release of serotonin, which is a feel-good brain chemical. This is the reason why many people who eat turkey feel relaxed, or even tired, after eating it. L-tryptophan has a documented calming effect.

5. Spinach

A deficiency in magnesium can cause migraine headaches and a feeling of fatigue. One cup of spinach provides 40 percent of your daily needs for magnesium.

Other magnesium-rich foods include pumpkin & squash seeds, halibut, dried apricots & black beans

6. Salmon

Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids protect against heart disease. A study from Diabetes & Metabolism found that omega-3s keep the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline from peaking.  

Flaxseed oil is the oil that contains the most omega-3, and it is therefore very heat-sensitive. Don’t use it for cooking and store it in the refrigerator to avoid oxidation. Omega-3 

7. Avocado

The monounsaturated fats and potassium in avocados help lower blood pressure. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says that one of the best ways to lower blood pressure is to consume enough potassium (avocados have more than bananas).

8. Green Vegetables

Broccoli, kale, and other dark green vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins that help replenish our bodies in times of stress.

See full article here. Delish

Happy munching!



Fats | Don’t hate. Discriminate
Health | Best foods
Diet Downfalls
Holiday Food Survival Guide



Health Tip: Taking Stock

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We love ourselves some soup, especially when the temperature dips. Canned soup usually contains a high sodium (salt) content which is a good nutrition no no, especially when trying to lose weight or for health that is otherwise compromised. Making our own soup  is a better idea, but canned stock also contains unreasonably high sodium levels. So what are we to do?

Bob, trainer on NBCs “The Biggest Loser”, suggests making stock by combining chopped onions, carrots and celery with boiling water, and boil for 20-30 minutes. 

Add to your soup and season, if necessary, as necessary.

Mmmmm. Tasty!


Random music quote of the day: 3oh!

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“… Don’t trust a ho…”

- Don’t trust me, 3oh!

Don’t shoot the messenger.

Have a mind-blowing Monday y’all!


What’s your serving size?

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We are reminded to ‘eat right’ and to have a ‘balanced diet’. Mhmmm…

But what does that really mean? I can have chocolate fudge cake each and everyday bar none; that seems pretty ‘balanced’ to me, and ‘they’ always say consistency is the key, so double kudos I say. Definitely sounds like a plan that I can follow. 

So here’s what our friends over at Health Canada had to say about ‘balanced diet’ and food serving sizes.

Recommended Number of Food Guide Servings per Day











Veges & Fruits





Grain Products





Milk and Alternatives





Meat & Alternatives






While serving sizes are standard, the number of servings recommended for an individual will vary depending on his/her:
~ Age
~ Sex
~ Physical activity
~ Lifestyle for example

Some examples of what a ‘serving size’ of each of the food groups looks like:

Veges and Fruits

- Fresh, frozen or canned vegetables – 125ml (1/2 cup)
- Leafy vegetables
Cooked: 125 ml (1/2)
Raw: 250ml (1 cup)
- Fresh, frozen or canned fruits: 1 fruit or 125ml (1/2 cup) 
- 100% Juice: 125ml (1/2 cup) - Juice cocktail and fruit ‘drinks’ don’t count

  • Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day
    • - Go for dark green veges such as broccoli, romaine lettuce and spinach
    • - Go for orange veges such as carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash
  •  Choose veges that fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt
    • - Enjoy veges steamed, baked or stir-fried instead of deep-fried
  • Have vegetables and fruit more often than juice 

Grain Products

- Bread: 1 slice (35g)
- Bagel:  1/2 bagel (45g)
- Flat breads: 1/2 pita or 1/2 tortilla
- Cooked rice, bulgur or quinoa: 125ml (1/2 cup)
- Cereal
-  Cold: 30g
- Hot: 175ml (3/4 cup)
- Cooked pasta or couscous: 125ml (1/2 cup)  

  Make at least half of your grain products whole grain each day

- Eat a variety of whole grains such as barley, brown rice, oats, quinoa and wild rice
- Enjoy whole grain breads, oatmeal or whole wheat pasta – (not so bad once you try it the whole wheat pasta).

Choose grain products that are lower in fat, sugar or salt.

- Compare the Nutrition Facts on labels to make wise choice

- Enjoy the true taste of grain products. When adding sauces or spreads, use small amounts. 



Milk and Alternatives

- Milk or powdered milk (reconsituted): 250ml (1 cup)
- Canned milk (evaporated): 125ml (1/2 cup)
- Fortified soy beverage: 250ml (1cup)
- Yogurt: 175 g (3/4 cup)
- Kefir: 175 g (3/4 cup)
- Cheese: 50 g (1.5 oz.) – about the size of your thumb

  • Drink skim, 1%, or 2% milk every day
    • - Have 500ml (2 cups) of milk everyday for adequate Vitamin D
    • - Drink fortified soy beverages if you do not drink milk 
  • Select lower fat milk alternatives
    • - Compare the Nutrition Facts table on yogurts or cheeses to make wise choices

*** A disclaimer on this one where it comes to the low fat business. In my experience ‘low fat’ usually means ‘more sugar’ as fat usually is where the flavour is (MMMMmmmmmmmm!). This for me is a bigger issue because sugar is calorie laden and converts itself into fat so, I usually compare the sugar content and go with whichever is lower, usually the one with the higher fat content. A personal decision so you can decide which is more important to you***

Meat & Alternatives

Cooked fish, shellfish, poultry, lean meat: 75 g (2.5 oz)/  125ml (1/2 cup)
Cooked legumes: 175ml (3/4 cup)
Tofu: 150 g or 175ml(3/4 cup)
Eggs: 2 eggs
Peanut or nut butters: 30ml (2 tbsp)
Shelled nuts and seeds: 60ml (1/4 cup)

  • Have meat alternatives such as beans, lentils and tofu often
  • Eat at least two Food Guide Servings of fish each week (do be careful and limit your exposure to mercury from certain types of fish)
    • - Choose fish such as char, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines and trout

Select lean meat and alternatives prepared with little or no added fat or salt

  • - Trim the visible fat from meats. Remove the skin on poultry
  • - Use cooking methods such as roasting, baking or poaching that require little or no added fat
  • - If you eat luncheon meats, sausages, or prepackaged, chose those lower in sodium (sodium) and fat. 
Obviously, unless it’s a life and death situation, we can’t all be expected to measure each and everything we eat, but I thought it would be good to at least have an idea of what a serving size is when we pay that extra buck to supersize eeeerythang.
Eat well!
For more info Health Canada on how to jump start a healthy eating habit click here
Do consult your doctor or nutritionist to get a nutrition plan most suited to your health needs.

The truth about makeup expiry dates

Saying goodbye to a barely used, safe-looking, I-paid-too-much-for-it eye-shadow may not be in your grand plan but your makeup can harbour bacteria. “Water-based makeup, such as mascara, are the greatest culprits because of the risk of contamination from bacteria which can lead to an infection” says Dr. Jason Rivers, a clinical professor at the University of British Columbia. Symptoms include redness, pain, swelling, pus, pimples or pink eye (ick!). Lynnette DaltonJames of M.A.C. Cosmetics recommends being especially vigilant about eye products.

How you handle your makeup in general can also affect it’s shelf life. If you take care of your products, it may be safe to use them a few extra months beyond the expiry date. 

Health Canada recommends that you keep cosmetics germ-free by:
~ Washing your hands before applying
~ Not sharing makeup
~ Not adding water or saliva to dilute makeup
~ Keeping cosmetics in a dry area, away from direct heat or sunlight.

Some warning signs that tell you that a product has expired include:
~ The product’s smell has changed
~ The product has been exposed to prolonged heat
~ There is an obvious colour or textural change
~ Mould is evident.

In general the following shelf life applies to makeup/ cosmeceuticals 

Mascara - 3 months (some say 6, but 3 months is recommended)

Liquid foundation and concealer - 6 – 12 months. The ones that are dispensed from a tube (with a small opening) rather than a jar or bottle (with a larger opening that facilitates contamination through double dipping of fingers or brushes) are safer to use for the 12 month period. If it contains sunscreen (SPF) in it, definitely do not use for longer than a year.

Cream blush and eyeshadow – 6 – 12 months. 

Powder blush and eyeshadow - 1 year

Eye-liner and lip-pencils – up to 2 years, 6 months for liquid eyeliner which is similar to mascara

Lipstick – 1 year

Moisturizer and skin care - 1 to 2 years. This is usually indicated by either an expiry date or an ‘open tuna’ tin on the packaging that usually shows ’12m’, ’18m’ or ’24m’ on it. This indicates the length of time, in months, the integrity of the ingredient mix is valid for, once opened.

Makeup applicators – 4 weeks max

Makeup brushes – wash with soapy water at least once a week. Lay flat to dry. Do not dry standing up as water can settle at the base where the hairs are attached and compromise the glue, destroying the brush.

This is a shout out to all my product junkies. Cosmetics/ skin care products do not last forever, so you may want to lean back a bit on spending on every new item you stumble across in the department store/ pharmacy. It’s tough I know, trust me! But do try getting through the hundreds that are already piled up under the sink/ in the top cabinet before they all go to waste!

Buy smartly.




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