Monthly Archives: May 2012

Carotenoids: Protect Your Skin From The Inside

Hopefully you have all been having a great time in the beautiful sunshine these last few days – it’s a great opportunity to spend more time outdoors. Whether that be pottering in the garden or going for long walks, having picnics in the park or barbeques with friends or sunbathing and enjoying everything else these warmer climes have to offer.

It is also a time when people start to think about their body shape and appearance as they dig out their summer clothes and dare to bare more skin. This is generally a very positive time for most people as our “winter blues” are improved and we begin to get more vitamin D from the sun and feel more energised. However, it is also a time when individuals can suffer from the negative effects from the sun such as prickly heat, sun stroke and sun burn. Damage to the skin from excessive sun exposure may not be a priority for those in their youth, however skin damage at any age is extremely detrimental and over time the harmful and ageing effects of the sun can become more apparent.

The skin is our largest organ and it provides us with a barrier against damaging pathogens entering our bodies such as bacteria and free radicals from our environment. In order to prevent these factors from entering our bodies, we need a high level of protection as they not only impact on our immune systems but they can also significantly contribute to ageing.

Tomatoes contain lycopene
Tomatoes contain high level of the antioxidant lycopene which can help towards anti-ageing

A recent review (1.) published by the journal Molecules analysed research findings available in the area of skin health and the effects of powerful antioxidant carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene. These free-radical scavengers are found in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables  such as carrots, tomatoes and sweet potato.

The authors reported that these antioxidants enhance the skins ability to protect itself from oxidative stress as they act to mop up and destroy the free radicals that attempt to attack our skin and cause signs of ageing. However, the levels of these carotenoids are significantly affected by detrimental lifestyle factors. These include smoking or stress, poor diet, illness and exposure to the sun (especially  sunburn) and were reported to significantly reduce the levels of concentrations of antioxidant carotenoids in human skin.

These factors can result in skin damage as they reduce our level of protection and speed up the ageing process which can result in sun spots, pigmentation, lines and wrinkles and sagging of the skin. The authors reported that increasing levels of carotenoids in dietary and supplemental forms was reportedly one of the best defensive approaches against ageing.

Therefore to help keep looking and feeling young, youthful and radiant, make sure you top up your levels of carotenoids and limit your exposure to the sun to keep your levels of these antioxidants high. Raw carrots dipped in hummus, tomato salads or roasted butternut squash are some ways of incorporating higher levels of these antioxidants into your diet. If you can’t stand vegetables or want to supplement your diet with an extra boost, then a high quality carotenoid supplement could be considered.

As well as protecting your skin from the inside, it is also important to protect your skin on the outside with good quality, high factor natural sun protection cream. You can find more blog posts about natural sunscreens here.

Written by Lauren Foster

Refererences
1. Darvin, M.E., Sterry, W., Lademann, J. and Vergou, T. (2011) The Role of Carotenoids in Human Skin. Molecules 16, 10491-10506.

2. Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane

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Everybody loves the sunshine!

The sun has finally got its hat on across the country this week, and with temperatures reaching well over 20° C, many of us will be rushing outside to make the most of it while it lasts.

Sunshine is a great mood booster as well as being a fantastic energiser, so we feel more inclined to get out and about. Walking the dog doesn’t seem like quite the chore it sometimes might and jobs like sweeping the drive or mowing the lawn somehow have more of an appeal.

The sun is the key place our bodies get our vitamin D stores from, so if we don’t get out in the sunshine very much, we’re likely to be deficient during the winter months and then again into the following summer time period. It’s been drilled into us to wear sun protection throughout the year now and especially in the sunnier months. Whilst it’s crucial to protect our skin from burning to help avoid diseases like Cancer, a little bit of sunshine is actually very beneficial for the skin and the body’s vitamin D reserves.

Vitamin D is beneficial in many ways, such as for the prevention of rickets, supporting eye and bone health, immunity and a healthy pregnancy. Getting outside in the sunshine for a good few minutes without sunscreen on is a great way to supplement your vitamin D stores. However, depending on your skin colour, the time of day and the longitude of your location also depends on the levels of vitamins D your body can make. A great way to supplement your vitamin D stores is by taking a vitamin D supplement, such a BetterYou DLUX which is a sublingual spray and available from 400iu right up to 3000iu in strength.

Green People Sunscreens
Green People natural sunscreens contain no nasties

If you do intend on being out in the sun for a while, especially in the middle of the day, then a natural sunscreen in your daily facial moisturiser and over the rest of your body should be considered. Some popular “mass” sunscreens contain chemical filters that can actually trigger free-radical damage (which is bad for ageing and cancer) as well as synthetic preservatives which can seep through the epidermis of the skin. Natural sunscreens such as those from Green People and lavera work by reflecting UV radiation off the skin like a mirror and contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients such as vitamins A, C & E and Green Tea and Avocado. They definitely don’t include any nasty chemicals such as parabens, phthalates or artificial ingredients which can be harmful to our health and this is something that is becoming increasingly important to the population.

So, take advantage of the lovely weather this week (it may not last long) and remember the benefits the sunshine can have on our overall health, wellbeing, mind and mood – Enjoy!

Written by Katie Guest

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Food Revolution Day

May 19th marked the first ever Food Revolution Day. The aim of this global event, headed by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, is to promote healthy eating and nutrition education, to inspire change in people’s eating habits and to curb the rise in obesity that is sweeping the western world.

The event has been spreading awareness through local activities at schools, restaurants, businesses, dinner parties, street parties and farmers’ markets. Anybody can get involved where we saw people create & attend local food events or hosting dinner parties.

Food Revolution Day
Food Revolution Day is to promote healthy eating and nutrition education, to inspire change in people’s eating habits and to curb the rise in obesity that is sweeping the western world.

The heart of Food Revolution Day is encouraging people to cook from scratch at home. Eating fresh, healthy meals helps protect from diet-related diseases. Cooking together at home brings the family together. It helps to learn about healthy eating, and teaches them valuable cooking skills which they can then to pass down to their own family later on.

To support families in making these healthful changes, the Jamie Oliver Foundation has created a Family Toolkit, filled with ideas to get started. Follow these ideas to create your own Food Revolution at home:

Make a grocery list and stick to it
Plan ahead and prepare a list of what you would like to cook for the week. You’re less likely to resort to ready meals or tempting junk food in the supermarket isles.

Get children involved in the shopping
Bringing your children along on the weekly food shop gets them involved, so they are more likely to eat the foods you prepare. It’s also a great opportunity for them to learn about different fresh foods, and to teach them how to read food labels.

Grown Your Own
You don’t need a huge garden to grow your own food. Reconnect with real food by keeping some pots of herbs on the kitchen window sill, or growing a tomato plant. It helps children to understand where food comes from and teaches them the basics about natural ingredients and flavours.

Learn to cook and get the whole family in the kitchen
There are hundreds of books to help you to learn to cook from scratch. And there are plenty of easy and fun ways to get your kids involved too. Kids love making their own fruit smoothies. You could also make your own probiotic fruit yoghurt for the whole family. It’s also cheap and easy to sprout your own seeds, and children love watching them grow.

and finally….Persevere!

Changing our eating habits isn’t always easy. Habits can be hard to break and familiar food is comforting. Research shows that it might take as many as 8-10 attempts before a child will like a new food. Start with small changes, and begin with small portions and tasters. The Food Revolution starts with small steps. Celebrate small victories and don’t give up!
For more information on the Food Revolution, visit their website.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

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Vitamin B12 – the modern day deficiency

Simon Cowell, Katy Perry and Madonna all apparently have injections of B12, the nutrient which helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent a type of anaemia called megaloblastic anaemia that makes people tired and weak.

The total amount of vitamin B12 stored in body is about 5mg in adults with around 50 per cent of this being stored in the liver – for several years if needed.

This sounds positive – and it’s fair to say that nutritional deficiency of this vitamin should be rare. But as approximately 0.5 per cent of this is lost per day by secretions into the gut, and not all these secretions are reabsorbed, deficiency is becoming more predominant than ever.

How fast B12 levels change in the body depends on the balance between how much is obtained from the diet and the amount lost.

However the vitamin is very poorly absorbed and the rate of absorption is decreasing rapidly as our modern Western diet moves from one of fresh meats and seasonal vegetables to more processed foods, resulting in our digestive efficiency reducing.

BetterYou B12 Boost Spray
BetterYou B12 Boost Spray is an excellent supplement that increases absorption rates through the lining of the mouth

A healthy digestive system will absorb only one per cent of the B12 from our diet. However our ability to produce the acids necessary for absorption is reducing dramatically and deficiency is now being reported more and more, even amongst the most seemingly healthy. Worryingly deficiency in infants appears to be becoming even more prevalent than amongst adults.

The result is that more and more of us now require B12 supplementation.

The tissue lining of the mouth offers a strong alternative for effective absorption of our nutrients. Vitamin sprays like the BetterYou B12 Boost supplement spray is a good option.

Research carried out by Cardiff University investigating sublingual vitamin absorption found that nutrients are absorbed faster through the sub-lingual membrane – below the tongue and soft palate, and the buccal membrane – the inner lip and cheek area, than any other tissue area, other than the lungs.

Absorption rates were found to vary depending upon the type of the nutrient. B12 offers potentially better absorption rates than other nutrients, as this vitamin is water soluble, entering the membrane tissue more readily.

Written by BetterYou

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Treating and Managing Hay Fever With Natural Products

Seasonal allergies affect millions of people in the UK each year with aggravating symptoms such as sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, running nose and itchy skin. These hay fever symptoms are the result of the immune system’s reaction to harmless pollen particles in the same way it would respond to harmful antigens. In this immune response, immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE) detect the pollen ‘antigens’ and activate mast cells and T helper cells (specifically type 2 or Th2 cells). The increase of Th2 cells and the mast cell histamine release in the mucosa and peripheral blood result in inflammation, hay fever symptoms and atopic conditions.

UnBEElievable Bee Products
UnBEElievable Bee Products including MAX Strength and DAILY Defence contain many of the ingredients that helps to support you in the Hay Fever season

Conventionally, hay fever is managed by using anti­-histamine drugs to reduce symptoms. However, a more holistic and curative approach to treating hay fever is to modulate the immune system, reduce the histamine response and to focus on reducing inflammation. Certain nutrients and natural remedies can be helpful in achieving these therapeutic goals and in creating a long term, effective treatment for hay fever and other atopic conditions.

Elderberry has been used medicinally for centuries in the UK and in Europe. Elderberry is widely known for its effective use in treating viral infections. Elderberry is also rich in Vitamin C and the bioflavonoid quercetin, both of which are powerful antioxidant and anti-histamine nutrients. These actions can help to reduce mast cell histamine response and reduce mucosa inflammation. Recent clinical studies have found elderberry effective at treating allergic sinusitis and rhinitis.

Reishi mushroom has been used historically as an immune tonic in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Scientific researchers in the western world are now beginning to understand the active constituents that are responsible for the mushroom’s immune supporting actions. Reishi contains the bioflavonoid triterpene which inhibits histamine release. It also contains oleic acid and cyclooctasulphur compound which have antihistamine actions. In addition to these anti-­-allergic actions, reishi contains antioxidant and anti-­inflammatory phytonutrients which may be helpful in reducing hay fever symptoms.

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid found naturally in algae. Studies have shown that astaxanthin is effective in modulating the immune system, specifically siting its role in balancing the Th1 and Th2 cells. By rebalancing these T helper cells, astaxanthin aids in reducing the hypersensitivity to pollen allergens. Astaxanthin is also a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient. These actions may help to reduce the symptoms related to the inflammation of the mucosa.

Bee propolis contains a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. It also has significant immunomodulating and anti-­inflammatory actions. Propolis is one of nature’s most potent anti-­oxidant substances, exceeding Vitamin E in anti-­oxidant actions. Propolis also has been found to effectively modulate the immune system without over stimulating it. The combination of these actions may be helpful in creating a long term treatment for hay fever.

Written by Erin McCann NT mBANT from UnBEElieveable Health and Being-Balanced

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Rising Pollen Counts – Bad News for Hay Fever Sufferers

Pollen counts are continuing to rise across Europe, predicting months of misery for unprepared hay fever sufferers. A new study has found that pollen counts are rising by around 3% each year in urban areas, and that this rise may be caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (1).

Lead researcher Annette Menzel, from the Technical University of Munich, calls this the “carbon dioxide effect”. Plants use carbon dioxide to thrive, just as we use oxygen. She explains, “we know from experiments in the real world and in climate chambers that CO2 does promote the amount of pollen that trees produce.”

Hay Fever sufferers may find supplementation useful
Hay Fever Sufferers may find probiotics and quercetin & bromelain supplements useful in managing symptoms

In hayfever sufferers, pollen triggers the release of histamine, an inflammatory chemical that causes sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and an increase in mucous production. The condition is often treated with anti-histamine drugs and decongestants such as nasal sprays.

For those looking for a more natural way to relieve symptoms, there are a number of nutrients that act as anti-histamines. For example, Vitamin C enhances the action of the enzyme histaminase, which breaks down histamine. Quercetin, a natural bioflavonoid, reduces the activity of mast cells – the cells that release histamine and other inflammatory messengers. It is present in onions, shallots and garlic and is available in supplement form. Quercetin is often taken alongside bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples that may help reduce the swelling and inflammation associated with hay fever.

A more holistic way of approaching the condition might be to support the immune system, altering the way that your body’s immune cells respond to pollen. This would help to prevent histamine from being released in the first place. Preliminary research suggests that probiotics may be an effective way of doing this.

For example, a recent double-blind study found that probiotics decreased levels of IgE (an antibody that stimulates histamine) in hay fever sufferers. Researcher Dr Kamal Ivory claims that the probiotic appeared to change the body’s response to grass pollen, “restoring a more balanced immune response” (2).

The pollen study suggests that allergic conditions such as hay fever will continue to rise. Indeed hay fever seems to be increasingly common across Europe. In the UK alone, there has been a 33% increase in allergic rhinitis in recent years (3). Taking steps now to alleviate the condition and to support your immune system could help you to avoid unpleasant symptoms and enjoy the summer months ahead.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

References

1. Ziello et al (2012) Changes to Airborne Pollen Counts across Europe. PLoS ONE, 7 (4): e34076

2. Ivory et al. (2008) Oral delivery of Lactobacillus casei Shirota modifies allergen-induced immune responses in allergic rhinitis. Clinical & Experimental Allergy 38(8):1282-9

3. Hippisley-Cox et al (2007) Primary care epidemiology of allergic disorders: analysis using QRESEARCH database 2001-2006 QResearch June 2007.

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New Evidence for Green Coffee Extract and Weight Loss

A new study suggests that green coffee extract may be an effective supplement in aiding weight loss (1). The supplement was linked with substantial weight loss, decreased body fat, and a decrease in blood pressure over the short study period.

The research, published in the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity, followed a group of 16 adults over a course of 22 weeks.

Green Coffee Extract may help weight
Green Coffee Extract may help weight management (4.)

Each participant was overweight or obese, and aged between 22 and 26 years. The study used a high dose capsule (1050mg), a low dose capsule (700mg) and a placebo. The study was a “cross-over” design, meaning that participants cycled through the dose active doses and the placebo, taking each for 6 weeks. Each person essentially acted as his or her own “control”, meaning that the study results were more likely to be accurate and meaningful.

The diets of the participants were monitored throughout. “Their calories, carbohydrates, fats and protein intake did not change during the study, nor did their exercise regimen change,” study leader Vinson said. On average, the participants were eating around 2400 calories per day.

The subjects lost an average of 17 pounds over the course of the study. This was equal to 10.5% of their overall body weight. Each participant also lost an average of 16% body fat. Telephone interviews conducted 4 months after the study ended found that 14 of the 16 subjects had maintained their weight loss.

The caffeine in the supplement is unlikely to have contributed to the result. In total, the supplements provided up to 20mg caffeine – about the amount in a regular cup of coffee.

The active ingredient in the supplement actually appears to be chlorogenic acid. This is a compound naturally present in green coffee which acts as a strong anti-oxidant, quenching free oxygen radicals. Chlorogenic acid has been found to slow down the absorption of fat from the intestine and to activate fat metabolism in the liver (2). It also inhibits sugar absorption and influences glucose metabolism (3). Chlorogenic acid breaks down when coffee beans are roasted, meaning that drinking regular coffee will not offer the same benefits.

The design of the study used only a short break between each ‘cycle’, where the subjects swapped between supplements, and this may have affected the result. Despite this limitation, the authors concluded that the green coffee supplement may be “an effective neutraceutical in reducing weight in preobese adults, and may be an inexpensive means of preventing obesity in overweight adults.”

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

References

1. Vinson J, Burnham B, Nagendran MV (2012) Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, linear dose, crossover study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a green coffee bean extract in overweight subjects. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 5: 21-27.

2. Shimoda H, Seki E, Aitani M (2006) Inhibitory effect of green coffee bean extract on fat accumulation and body weight gain in mice. BMC Complement Altern Med 17;6:9.

3. Narita Y, Inouye K. (2009) Kinetic analysis and mechanism on the inhibition of chlorogenic acid and its components against porcine pancreas alpha-amylase isozymes I and II. J Agric Food Chem. 14;57(19):9218-25.

4. Image courtesy of Foto76

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