All posts by Caroline Scott-Lees

Beauty

Five Sustainable Zero Waste Beauty Swaps

Five Sustainable Beauty Swaps with Zero Waste

Optiat believe that you shouldn’t have to choose between doing the right thing and getting the best results. Nature gives us lots of wonderful ingredients that make our skin healthier and more radiant – like used coffee grounds and hemp seed husks. But often, they end up going to landfill. Why should all that good stuff go to waste? It shouldn’t. That’s why, at Optiat, they give leftover natural ingredients a new lease of life, turning them into beauty products your skin will love.

They’re saving coffee grounds from landfill, one espresso at a time. Optiat go to London’s finest cafes and restaurants collecting up their used coffee grounds and giving them a new lease of life in the form of their sustainable coffee body and face scrubs. Optiat’s organic face mask range is also made using hemp seed husks, a natural by-product of the manufacture of hemp. So you get to enjoy the benefits of nature’s own skin rejuvenators – and do the planet some good, too.

1. Rummage Through Your Kitchen Cupboards!

You would be amazed what everyday kitchen ingredients can be used to vamp up your beauty regime. So, if you ever run out of your favourite Optiat coffee scrub, rest assured that your kitchen will most likely contain ingredients that when combined will serve your exfoliating needs. Your porridge oats might be the perfect solution, or the coffee grounds from your morning cuppa. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous go for seeds like kiwi seeds or poppy seeds – all of these make wonderful exfoliants. Similarly, if you’ve got a tired bouquet of flowers in your home then use the petals to create your own rose water toner or simply sprinkle them into your next bath!

2. Find Your Favourite Oil

Once you’ve found an oil that works for your skin you can really start to get creative, replacing all your products with your own much simpler concoctions. Take coconut oil for example, add water and you’ve got yourself an amazing makeup remover / makeup brush cleaner. Add avocado or cacao and you’ve got a moisture-rich face mask, whip with shea butter and you’ve got a body butter – the possibilities are endless – get experimenting!

3. Packaging Matters Too!

Try to make sure that the packaging of your products is recyclable and made with responsibly sourced ingredients. Sadly, this can be trickier than you might realise at first glance, with lots of paper or aluminium packaging lined with thin plastic films which make them even harder to recycle. The easiest thing to do is to look for packaging which is as minimal as possible – no need for a game of Pass The Parcel, unwrapping layer after layer to reveal your product buried deep within.

4. The Return Of Bar Soap

Not so long ago bar soap was largely associated with being the old fashioned option, but this is certainly not the case anymore! Bar soap has made a comeback. It’s a more sustainable option than liquid soap (when done right), so it’s a win win! Soap bars last much longer and tend to have a lot less packaging than liquid soap, meaning you get a lot more usage from your purchase. Optiat are excited to be bringing out a new range of organic palm oil free soap bars this November, made from repurposed chai spices. The chai spices have been used to brew tea, but they still smell amazing, so rather than them going in the bin they have used them in their brand new soaps!

5. Microbeads? No need

Thankfully microbeads are by and large now a thing of the past. Remember the days where you’d crack open a product and within it you’d see hundreds of tiny blue specks? It didn’t seem to matter what it was either: face-scrub, check. Body wash, check. Toothpaste, yep. Those were the heady glory days of the microbead, thankfully banned in the UK since January 2018. But what if you still need a deep exfoliating fix – are there organic replacements available?

The short answer is yes, loads! Scrubs with coarse sugar or salt can help to scrape away those layers of dirt and unsightly dead skin, dissolving away when done. Try brown sugar or himalayan salt as good starting points or, if you really want to help the environment, consider a coffee scrub – made from the leftover grounds of your favourite midday pick-me-up!

In a nutshell, the longer you have an item, the more uses it gets, the more you drive a circular economy. And if you can create your own quality skincare product from ingredients that you already own then why not give it a go? Take pride in what you choose to put on your skin and if you can extend the life of a natural ingredient then that can only be a good thing!

Blog post provided by Optiat.

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Supplements

Supplements For Travelling Abroad

Supplements You Should Take When Travelling Abroad

For many people summer also brings holiday time, time to rest, relax and regenerate. However, holidays can sometimes bring with them some unwanted issues.

The most common and most well-known holiday health problem is obviously the dreaded ‘holiday tummy’. Reactions to change in diet, water and issues with seafood and bacteria all have a role to play in this. The other most common problems are sunburn, and insect bites. On top of this we have an increased risk of ‘over-indulgence’. Apart from wrapping ourselves in cotton wool and cancelling all holiday plans to avoid these issues, there are some natural remedies which could be used to help prevent all these problems.

Avoiding Holiday Tummy

One of the key precautions would be to start taking a good, high strength probiotic before setting off and to carry on taking it whilst away. The bacteria which live in our gut are responsible for keeping the immune response healthy – helping to fight off infections. They also help to keep nasty, pathogenic bacteria under control and can stop them from causing havoc with our guts. Topping up our good bacteria whilst we are away can therefore help to stop tummy bugs in their tracks. For the best results ensure that the product you choose is heat stable and has proven colonisation – you need to be sure the supplements you buy are not going to die off in the heat, and that they will make it to your tummy intact. Important strains to look out for include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacteria lactis and Streptococcus thermophilus, as these may be particularly helpful in helping to prevent the development of diarrhoea. In terms of strength – the higher the bacterial count the better, aim for around 20-30 billion good guys per capsule for the best results.

Preventing Insect Bites

Adding Vitamin B1 to our daily holiday routine could also be helpful for those people who find themselves under attack from ‘biting beasties’. Used alongside an insect repellent, it is thought that taking vitamin B1 internally can help to make our skin smell less attractive to mosquitos. Not to panic – humans can’t detect the smell, but those biting bugs may well find us less attractive if we are taking 100mg B1 each day.

Dealing with ‘Over-Indulgence’

This will not be relevant to everyone, but for some the holidays are a time to relax and enjoy yourself. This combined with the heat can result in feeling lethargic. Therefore, holiday season is also the time to invest in some milk thistle. Milk Thistle has been used by herbalists for years to support the health of the liver.

Blog post provided by Natures Aid.

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Antioxidant

Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory. What’s the Difference?

Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory. What’s the Difference Between the Two?

Anti-inflammatory

Our body reacts to tissue injury or an invasion of pathogens or toxins, through a specific inflammatory response, which increases our immune activity to reduce their impact on us.

We need inflammation to help our body to protect itself against pathogens or injury. When our body undergoes an inflammatory response, there are 4 signs which show inflammation is occurring:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Heat

The immune cells stay activated until either the tissue has been repaired, or the pathogen has been removed. When this has been achieved, anti-inflammatory signals are sent out to stop the inflammation so that the body can return to its normal state and reduce the inflammation that has occurred, with the 4 signs that demonstrate inflammation going away.

This is known as acute inflammation, where the defence inflammatory state is shortly resolved. If the inflammatory state is not resolved and the site remains inflamed, this inflammation will begin to damage the tissue surrounding the site and then eventually the whole body.

Our immune cells, even in states where there is no injury or invasion, circulate through our body in case there is damage. Chronic inflammation is caused when whatever has induced the inflammation has not been removed(1).

So, we can see that we do need inflammation to help protect and repair any damaged tissue or to protect us from pathogens. However, being able to bring our body back to its normal state is also important, which is where we have the anti-inflammatory responses.

By consuming omega 3 fatty acids, we are able to produce an anti-inflammatory response which brings our body back to its normal state(2). Interestingly foods can have properties which are either pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory.

Pro-inflammatory foods include:

  • Sugar
  • Trans fats
  • High processed foods
  • Alcohol
  • Omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids are
    essential fatty acids which we can only obtain from our diet and are involved
    in the inflammatory process which helps to protect our body. However, it is
    important to maintain a balance with omega 3 fatty acids. You can read more about these essential fatty acids here.

The main type of anti-inflammatory food that we have comes from omega 3 fatty acids and this includes from:

  • Oily fish
  • Walnuts
  • Algae
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds etc.

These contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and are what bring the body back to its normal state after inflammation.

Antioxidant

Antioxidants help to protect cells from damage which is caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and therefore free radicals. Both of these are unstable molecules which cause damage to cell structures. Inflammation within the body can lead to an increase in ROS. These ROS damage the surrounding tissues. At low levels ROS is a signalling molecule for cells, however when in high quantities it can lead to the progression of inflammatory diseases.

Antioxidants help to prevent damage to cells from ROS by neutralising them, preventing the oxidation of molecules. We have an antioxidant system within our body, but we can also get antioxidants from the foods we eat. If our antioxidant system is overwhelmed due to ROS and free radicals, it is known as oxidative stress(3).

What are Sources of Antioxidants?

As previously said, our body has its own antioxidant system which works to help maintain an oxidative balance. However, we can also get antioxidants from foods we eat which can help to protect our body from damage.

Vitamin E: is a fat-soluble vitamin and is made up of a number of compounds called tocopherols. The most potent and bioavailable is called alpha-tocopherol. These act as antioxidants, by preventing the production of ROS when fat undergoes oxidation. Vitamin E also helps to maintain healthy skin and eyes and helps the immune system.

Sources of vitamin E include:

  • Soya
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Wheatgerm
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Spinach

Vitamin C: is also called ascorbic acid and is a water-soluble vitamin. It is involved in the maintenance of both healthy skin and connective tissue and it helps with the absorption of iron in the small intestines. It is also an antioxidant that plays a role in the regeneration of other essential antioxidants, and also protecting again oxidative damage.

Sources of vitamin C include:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Blackcurrants

It is important to note that vitamin C is easily destroyed by light and heat, so it is best to store in a cool dark place and try and avoid cooking at high temperatures for long periods of time. You can also get all the vitamin C you need from a varied diet; due to it being a water-soluble vitamin (excess is not stored in the body). When consumed in excessive amounts as a supplement you will end up excreting the rest out as urine.

Phytochemicals: occur naturally in plants, including fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, beans, seeds and nuts. There are thousands of different phytochemicals that have been identified, and some of these have antioxidant properties, protecting our cells from oxidative damage. Carotenoids act as an antioxidant, and also gives food such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes, mangoes, peppers, oranges, and cantaloupes their yellow, orange and red colour. One carotenoid which you may have heard of is Beta-carotene which can be converted into vitamin A, or as an antioxidant. Polyphenols include red fruits like grapes, onions, coffees, spices, wine, curcumin, and lignins which are found in flax seeds. Flavonoids are found in chickpeas, soybeans, and almost all fruits and vegetables including parsley, blueberries, pomegranates, citrus fruits, kale, brussel sprouts, leeks, tea, cacao and broccoli. Allyl sulphides are also a phytochemical, found in onions, leeks and garlic which have antioxidant properties – so enjoy your garlicky food!

Selenium: is a mineral found within foods. It has been shown to help make sure the immune system is functioning properly, as well as working with an antioxidant enzyme which helps to prevent damage to cells and tissue.

Sources include:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Eggs

Other minerals that we need to include within our diet which help to assist antioxidant activity are copper, manganese, zinc and iron, which all are needed for antioxidant enzymes. Sources for each include:

Manganese:

  • Nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Tea
  • Bread
  • Cacao
  • Cereal
  • Green vegetables

Zinc:

  • Nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Meat
  • Dairy foods
  • Cereals

Iron:

  • Nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Meat
  • beans
  • Wholegrains
  • Fortified foods
  • Dark green leafy vegetables

Blog post provided by Lucy Bee.

References
1. Arulselvan et al., 2016
2. Calder, 2006
3. Rahal et al., 2014

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Toothbrushes

WooBamboo – The Solution to Plastic Toothbrushes

The Solution to Plastic Toothbrushes

The problem with plastic toothbrushes…

  • Every year billions of plastic toothbrushes are thrown away, clogging landfills and polluting oceans
  • In the UK over 150 million plastic toothbrushes are discarded per year
  • Toothbrushes are made up of plastic, rubber and nylon non of which are biodegradable

The solution – bamboo!

WooBamboo toothbrushes offer a natural and biodegradable option that works just as well and last just as long as a conventional toothbrush. The handle is made from sustainable and organic moso bamboo which is panda friendly (not the bamboo that they eat). The recyclable bristles are Dupont Tynex Nylon, arguably the best quality and most trusted bristle available. So when you’re done using your WooBamboo toothbrush, you could literally pull out and recycle the bristles, and throw the handle into your compost where it will gently biodegrade.

WooBamboo’s newest product, Eco-awesome Floss, was designed to be the most environmentally friendly floss available. The floss itself is natural, biodegradable silk coated in beeswax and flavoured with organic mint. It’s packaged in a unique plant based plastic that converts into its own dispenser, completely eliminating the need for a separate plastic case like other flosses in the market.

All packaging is made from recycled and recyclable materials. Big changes happen if we all make small steps, and these products serve as an inspirational reminder that a small step has been made towards a cleaner planet!

WooBamboo – changing the world one smile at a time!

  • 100% Environmentally-friendly product & packaging:
  • Highly hygienic: bamboo is naturally antimicrobial
  • Last as long as a regular plastic toothbrush
  • Stylish and unique
  • Safe & effective for all the family: Dentist
    approved and recommended

WooBamboo range includes brushes for adults in super soft, medium bristles, kids brushes, Pet brushes and natural dental floss.

Click here to shop the WooBamboo range!

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Vitamin

Fighting Your Vitamin D-Mons with BetterYou

Fight Your Vitamin D-Mons

With winter well on the way, the coughs, headaches and constant tiredness you take for granted may be a symptom of something more serious than just sunlight withdrawal.

So BetterYou, the vitamin oral spray experts, are on hand to explain the importance of vitamin D.

Why is vitamin D so important?

Vitamin D is vital for the development of healthy bones, boosting immunity and helping to fight off colds and flu. Having adequate levels of vitamin D has also been linked to helping prevent cardiovascular diseases, IBS and other auto-immune diseases.

How do I get vitamin D?

We make vitamin D from sunlight, but sadly even during the summer months we miss out on the vital vitamin as we layer on the SPF or head for the shade. So, along with our increasingly indoor lifestyles, by the time it gets to winter we have no chance of maintaining our levels from the sun alone.

Another way of getting vitamin D is through our diet, but unless you plan on eating at least seven eggs or twelve packets of cheese everyday, it is extremely difficult to get the recommended daily allowance, even with a healthy diet.

The easiest way to get the right amount of vitamin D is therefore to use a supplement.

Are you at risk?

The Government now recommends that everyone should take a vitamin D supplement throughout the autumn and winter months, with ‘at risk’ groups being advised to supplement all year round, which include:

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Infants and children
  • People over the age of 65
  • People with darker skin
  • Those who have low or no sun exposure

What are the signs?

It’s not surprising that around one in five adults and around one in six children (that’s more than 10 million of us!) have low vitamin D levels. So how do you know if you are lacking in the sunshine vitamin?

Tiredness & fatigue, bone & teeth problems, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), coughs & colds, and low mood are all symptoms of vitamin D deficiency that are often overlooked.

If you suffer from any of these on a regular basis it could mean you are lacking in vitamin D and now is the time to start fighting off those D-mons!

Sunshine in a spray

Many of us don’t like taking pills – we can find them difficult to swallow and are restricted to when we can take them.

But now, supplementing the sunshine vitamin has never been so simple. BetterYou has created a range of vitamin D oral sprays suitable for the whole family which deliver the nutrient directly into the bloodstream, via the soft tissue of our inner cheeks, which trials have shown is 2.5 times more effective than taking vitamin capsules.

Taking a spray rather than tablets or capsules also means that the vitamin is not lost through the processes of the digestive system, and is easy to use on the go with no need for food or water.

Take a look at how an oral spray can help boost your levels.

Fight your vitamin D-mons with the award-winning DLux Vitamin D Oral Spray range by BetterYou and get 20% with bodykind this Vitamin D Awareness Week.

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skin

3 top tips for glowing skin and beating the bloat

Making waves on the beach – 3 top tips for glowing skin and beating the bloat

Summer is all about feeling good, looking good and hopefully, enjoying a well-earned break. Most of us know the general advice on how to get in shape for the beach, we just need to find the willpower to do it.

However, sometimes no matter how much effort you put in, many of us still feel far from glowing and confident in our bikinis or beach shorts. So, what last minute tips can you employ that might actually make a difference?

3 top tips for glowing skin

  • There’s truth in the saying that great skin starts from within. Boosting intake of essential fats, particularly the omega-3 fats that are often deficient in our diets, can improve skin lustre and reduce inflammation. Try increasing consumption of oily fish such as mackerel or salmon to three portions a week and add a daily snack of a tablespoon of raw unsalted nuts and seeds. These protein rich foods also increase satiation, helping to curb cravings for sugary snacks. If you are not a fish fan, or if you are vegan or vegetarian, try drizzling Udo’s Choice, a plant based omega blend on salads or in smoothies.
  • Hydration really helps improve the skin but remember to sip water throughout the day rather than all in one go.  If you find water too boring, experiment with infusing a jug of water with seasonal fruits and garden herbs such as watermelon and mint. Cucumber water is also deliciously refreshing.
  • You’re not likely to be heading to the Himalayas on holiday but try to make use of some fine grade Himalayan salt crystals in a DIY body scrub to get the skin glowing. Known for their detoxifying properties, these pretty pink crystals have been around for millions of years and contain an impressive 84 minerals including magnesium, calcium, iron and potassium.

3 top tips for beating the bloat

Bloating can falsely change your shape and size, and can make even confident people feel body shy. Depending on the health of your digestion you may also be prone to gaining weight or suffer with food intolerance’s. A dodgy gut can also be the root cause of lethargy, headaches and skin problems.

  • Increase natural, digestion-friendly fibre such as that found in fruit and vegetables. Not only will it improve transit time, but fibrous food also bind to excess oestrogen in the digestive tract, carrying it out of the body. Good sources include brown rice, carrots, cucumbers and celery. However, contrary to good long term advice, don’t overdo plant proteins like beans, pulses or binge on broccoli in the run up to your travels if they are not already in your diet. All can create excessive gas!
  • If you’ve already joined the gut-health trend then you will be familiar with probiotic rich natural foods such as natural yogurt, kefir or sauerkraut. These foods are an ideal way of increasing beneficial bacteria in the gut that help sort tummy issues at source and even help with natural immunity. If you are new to these foods, introduce small amounts daily.
  • How you eat is important too. Mindful is a word that’s becoming ubiquitous for just about anything related to wellbeing but it is fits perfectly when it comes to eating well. Chew slowly and don’t eat when stressed, simple rules that help ease the bloat. And, when a busy day is coming to an end, soak in a magnesium rich Epsom salts to relax muscle stiffness and help promote a restful beauty sleep.
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Turmeric

Can Fermentation Unlock Turmeric’s Health Potential?

Fermentation: The Key to Unlocking Turmeric’s Health Potential?

Turmeric seems to be the current king, and though it’s pronunciation may be up for debate (is it tur-merick, or too-merick?!), it’s potential health benefits certainly aren’t. Though it may be the star of the health and wellbeing movement, currently featuring in everything from turmeric lattes to skincare products, it has been around for a long time and has a history of traditional use as a spice and medicinal herb.

Turmeric is a product of curcuma longa, belonging to the ginger family (1). It has been used for thousands of years across Asia, featuring strongly in traditional medicine, with various cultures globally prising it for its support of inflammatory disorders (1). It is considered to be a potent anti-inflammatory, and with many modern-day diseases linked to chronic inflammation like cardiovascular disease (2), its benefits cannot be understated. Turmeric also has antioxidant properties (1), helping and supporting the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals and supporting the body’s own production of anti-oxidant enzymes.

Turmeric is made up of many components, though many supplements are focusing on extracting one of the parts which shows benefits, this is curcumin. The problem with this approach is that by isolating compounds within foods we tend to lose out on the synergistic health effects of the whole plant. More than 100 components in total have been isolated from turmeric, and curcumin is just one part of a greater whole, including the other curcuminoids and volatile oils which have been found to have supporting health benefits(1).

Curcumin is not particularly well-absorbed due to rapid metabolism by the body, and low aqueous solubility (3;4). One solution to this is to use a fermented form of turmeric. Fermentation, like turmeric, has been around for thousands of years, and used traditionally by many cultures to aid nutrition. Fermented foods rich in enzymes, beneficial microorganisms and other nutrients would have been a staple of many cultures traditional diets. However, fermentation has made a big comeback, and it’s becoming easier to buy good quality fermented foods like kefir or sauerkraut. Fermenting herbs and foods is a good way to help to increase their bioavailability and enhance the nutrients and functional properties due to transformation of substrates and formation of highly bioavailable end-products (5). Nothing is extracted or taken away, and you are supporting the nutrients contained within the plants and naturally activating them.

Living Nutrition’s Turmeric Alive uses a kefir-kombucha style fermentation, using 35 microorganisms to deeply ferment the turmeric and create a living matrix rich in enzymes, nutrients and beneficial microorganism. It has a whole profile of curcuminoids, along with other active compounds and phytonutrients that turmeric is naturally rich in. Fermented turmeric is highly bioavailable as it has increased water solubility, and contains a higher level of antioxidants and potent active components like tetrahydro-curcumin which in can be more efficient than its curcumin analogue (3;6;7). The fermented turmeric is combined with non-fermented turmeric which also is considered to support immune systems, alongside ginger as they have a wide range of active nutrients. It is organically certified by the soil association, Vegan friendly, and contains no fillers, binders or excipients.

References
1. Prasad, S. and Aggarwal, BB. 2011. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd Ed. Boca Raton: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/
2. Wang, Z. and Nakayama, T. 2010. Inflammation, a link between obesity and cardiovascular disease. Mediators of Inflammation, Volume 2010: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2010/535918/
3. Epstein, J., Sanderson, IR., MacDonald, TT. 2010. ‘Curcumin as a therapeutic agent: the evidence from in vitro, animal and human studies.’ British Journal of Nutrition, 103 (11), 1545-1557. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/curcumin-as-a-therapeutic-agent-the-evidence-from-in-vitro-animal-and-human-studies/225164D1A70D11C765C147A5CD022200/core-reader
4. Shoba, G. Joy, D. and Joseph, T. et al. 1998. ‘Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers.’ Planta Medica, 64(4), 353-356. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9619120
5. Marco, ML., Heeney, D., Binda, S. et al. 2016. ‘Health benefits of fermented foods: microbiota and beyond.’ Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 44, 94-102. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S095816691630266X
6. Portes, E., Gardrat, C. and Castellan, A. 2007. ‘A comparative study on the antioxidant properties of tetrahydrocurcuminoids and curcuminoids. Tetrahedron, 63, 9092-9099: http://castellan-publicatio.monsite-orange.fr/file/e74b48a4ec9894d6718b424e7583c857.pdf
7. Pianpumepong, P., Kumar Anal, A., Doungchawee, G. et al. 2012. ‘Study on enhanced absorption of lactobacillus-fermented turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn.) beverages in rats.’ International Journal of Food Science and Technology, 47(11), 2380-2387: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2621.2012.03113.x/abstract

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Superfood

The New Superfood Trends for 2017

The Hottest New Superfood Trends for 2017

A great way to make sure you stick to your healthy New Year’s Resolutions is to keep your diet fresh and interesting. Boost your culinary repertoire and stay in tip-top health with three of this year’s hottest new superfood trends.

Turmeric

The healing properties of turmeric are well known amongst medical herbalists, as this spice boasts more than 8,000 peer reviewed articles supporting its health benefits (1).

A powerful anti-inflammatory agent, turmeric has been found effective in relieving a range of inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain, and inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis (2-4). It reduces levels of unhealthy triglycerides in the bloodstream and helps to prevent blood platelets from sticking together, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes (5).

There is growing interest in adding turmeric to the diet in a variety of ways. The ‘golden latte’ – a healthy anti-inflammatory alternative to your usual coffee fix – is predicted to become popular as the year draws on. Simply heat 2 cups of water, 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and a little grated ginger in a pan for 10 minutes. Strain and then add a little honey and 2 tablespoons of coconut milk for the perfect creamy latte.

For those who don’t fancy brewing turmeric tea, this spice can be taken in capsule form. For example, 400mg standardised extract daily, is effective in relieving general and arthritic pain (6), and just one tablet (around 100mg) of turmeric extract daily has been found to improve irritable bowel syndrome (7).

Medicinal Mushrooms

Those who were enjoying green tea in 2016 will soon be quenching their thirst with a mushroom coffee.  Joining functional foods such as acai and cacao, medicinal mushrooms are bursting onto the superfood scene.

Mushrooms are in fact one of the most widely studied superfoods in the world. In natural medicine, their ability to balance blood sugar and reduce inflammation is well known (8). One of the few food sources of vitamin D, mushrooms also contain beta-glucans, compounds that support the immune system by boosting levels of white blood cells. Some varieties of mushrooms even have adaptogenic properties, meaning that they can help the body cope with stress.

Four Sigmatic founder Tero Isokauppila claims that the two varieties to look out for are the Chaga mushroom which “can help to fight pathogens and lower inflammation,” and lion’s mane which is believed to have “brain and nervous system protecting properties.”

The mild, earthy flavour of mushrooms means that they make a delicious healthy pairing for strong flavours such as coffee or chocolate. Mushroom lattes, made with a milk of your choice, or mushroom hot chocolate made with cacao and a healthy sweetener, are good options for those wanting to enjoy the healing benefits of mushrooms.

Prebiotic Foods

Those of us who take probiotics for digestive wellness may be adding prebiotics to boost gut health in 2017. Prebiotic fibres act as fertiliser for healthy bacteria in the gut, and so eating prebiotic foods regularly is a great way to grow your own healthy bacteria. Interest in prebiotic foods and supplements is set to grow this year, and is has been suggested that they may soon become even more popular than probiotics (9).

As well as boosting digestive health, prebiotics offer a host of health benefits including improved bone density, improved digestion, lower levels of inflammation and lower anxiety levels (10).

The king of prebiotic foods is the Jerusalem artichoke. Those who want to boost their own healthy bacteria should also include chicory root, asparagus, carrots, jicama, leeks and onions in their diet. Inulin works well as a healthy sweetener with prebiotic benefits, and snacks such as bananas or crisps made with prebiotic-rich Jerusalem artichoke are an easy way to get a healthy dose of prebiotic fibre.

References
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=curcumin
2. Efficacy and mechanism of action of turmeric supplements in the treatment of experimental arthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2006.
3. Effect of curcumin on diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain: possible involvement of opiod system. Eur J Pharmacol. 2013
4. Therapeutic strategies for the management of ulcerative colitis. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2009
5. Protective effects of Curcuma longa on ischemia-reperfusion induced myocardial injuries and their mechanisms. Life Sci. 2004.
6. Comparative evaluation of the pain-relieving properties of a lecithinized formulation of curcumin, nimesulide, and acetaminophen. J Pain Res. 2013
7. Turmeric extract may improve irritable bowel syndrome symptomology in otherwise healthy adults: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2004.
8. Recent progress of research on medicinal mushrooms, foods, and other herbal products used in traditional Chinese medicine. J Tradit Complement Med. 2012
9. Industry Arc Booming Digestive Health Market to Propel the Usage of Prebiotic Ingredients. Accessed 25/02/2017.

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