Category Archives: skin

Sensitive Skin

Living Nature: Looking After Sensitive Skin

How to Look After Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is thought to affect millions of people worldwide. A recent report by the American Academy of Dermatology indicated at least 50% of the US population experience some kind of skin sensitivity, with increasing concern over this situation.

Here in the UK, incidences of skin sensitivity are also widely reported as being on the rise, with sensitive skin now viewed as a common skin condition. It’s also more likely to affect women than men, with about 50% of women and 30% of men suffering from sensitive skin. So what exactly is sensitive skin and why do people suffer from it?

What is Sensitive Skin?

Sensitive skin is described as skin that has reduced tolerance to cosmetics or personal care products. This is an everyday term rather than a medical diagnosis and is characterised by reactiveness, redness or blotchy appearance, burning, tight or dry sensation, blushing or permanent flushing, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis or rosacea.

It should be noted that allergic skin is different from sensitive skin. Allergic skin will react immediately to a specific ingredient, whereas sensitive skin may simply show a little irritation or redness. This can build up over time or come and go depending on lifestyle and other factors.

Why is Skin Sensitive?

Skin sensitivity can be caused by numerous factors, including genetic predisposition, diet (for instance a lack of essential fatty acids), hormonal fluctuations, smoking, medication, excessive shaving, compromised immunity, the use of irritant skincare products or ingredients, or other products such as washing detergents, fabric softeners, fabrics, etc. that come into contact with the skin.

Skin that is constantly exposed to the elements, air conditioning or heaters can also become sensitive due to dehydration, moisture loss or sun exposure.

Living Nature Certified Natural Sensitive Skin Range
Living Nature Certified Natural                  Sensitive Skin Range

Caring for Sensitive Skin

Our skin reflects our inner health as well as the care we give it, so it’s important to look after your skin from the inside and the outside.

From the inside:

  • Drink lots of water to help flush away toxins and rehydrate
  • Avoid excess caffeine and alcohol as both are very dehydrating
  • Eat lots of nutrient rich vegetables, especially green, leafy vegetables and Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids
  • Manage stress levels as stress can compromise the immune system and make skin more sensitive
  • Avoid smoking as it damages collagen and elastin fibre, contributing to wrinkles and decreased circulation, making skin dull and lifeless

From the outside:

  • Cleanse and moisturise morning and night to help keep skin clean, clear and nourished
  • Always remove makeup before going to sleep to allow the skin to breathe and renew
  • Minimise the risk of sun damage by wearing a large hat or protective clothing
Living Nature Gentle Makeup Remover
Living Nature Gentle Makeup           Remover

What to Use

As stated above, skin sensitivity and allergic reactions can be caused by the synthetic and chemical ingredients used in many popular skincare and makeup brands. Often it’s difficult to isolate the exact ingredient that’s causing the sensitivity, especially since we are estimated to place 168 different chemicals on our skin each and every day!

However, here are some of the main culprits to avoid:

  • Parabens – an estimated 70% of makeup as well as skincare and other cosmetic products contain parabens . They prevent spoilage and inhibit bacterial and fungal growth. These synthetic ingredients have been directly linked to incidences of skin irritation and dermatitis.
  • Methylisothiazolinone (MI) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone/Methylisothiazolinone (MCI/MI) – there is concern these chemical preservatives are causing an ‘epidemic’ of contact dermatitis. Both are found in moist tissue wipes, cleansers, shower gels, deodorants and shaving foams, as well as household products such as washing up liquid.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) – these cleansing and foaming agents have been linked to incidences of irritation of the skin and eyes. Many mainstream cleansing products contain SLS and/or SLES, such as shampoos, shower gels, soaps and facial cleansers.
  • Oxybenzone – this chemical sunscreen agent is used in some foundations and is a known skin irritant.

Anyone with sensitive or reactive skin should also avoid products containing the following:

  • Harsh surfactants
  • Petrochemicals
  • Silicones
  • Mineral oils
  • Artificial fragrances
  • Grain alcohols
  • Chemical sun protection filters
  • Irradiated or genetically modified ingredients

What to Use on Sensitive Skin?

For reassurance, opt for certified natural and organic skincare products using only natural preservatives, fragrances and ingredients. They are gentle and safe to use on sensitive skin and work in harmony with skin’s natural processes, so they are good for the beauty and health of your skin and body.

Those with extreme sensitivity or those suffering from eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and other allergies, should also take extra precaution by using natural skincare products that are fragrance-free. This is because some natural fragrances can irritate those with severe sensitivity. Those experiencing sensitivity around the eyes should also opt for fragrance-free skincare products and cosmetics.

Living Nature Firming Eye Cream
Living Nature Firming Eye Cream

Look out for these key features and benefits when sourcing a natural and organic skincare and cosmetics range that’s suitable for your sensitive skin:

  • Certified by a recognised certification body such as BDIH Germany, Soil Association, Eco-Cert and Cosmos amongst others
  • Clinically proven to be non-irritating
  • Dermal tested
  • Hypoallergenic
  • No added fragrance or allergens
Living Nature Mascara
              Living Nature Mascara
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Spiezia Organics Facial Ritual

A five step guide to feeling fabulous!

Follow these five simple steps to achieve beautiful healthy skin the natural way. These 100% organic products, made only from natural ingredients are a joy to use and will last for ages – a little of each product goes a long way.

STEP 1 – FACIAL CLEANSER

Spiezia facial cleanser Gently massage a pea size amount in circular movements onto the face. Start around the mouth and jaw line and work up over the forehead to the scalp line. Leave to absorb into the skin for 2-3 minutes. This is a good time to put the kettle on and have an organic tea!

STEP 2 – FLORAL SKIN TONER

Spiezia Floral Skin Toner Shake the bottle to blend the essential oils and floral waters. Apply toner to some cotton wool and gently remove the facial cleanser using upward sweeping motions. Alternatively, apply to a damp muslin flannel and press over the face for a revitalising effect.

STEP 3 – ROSE & VANILLA FACE OIL

Spiezia Rose & Vanilla Face Oil For a lighter treatment. Pour a very small amount of oil into your hand and allow to warm. Clasp the fingers together under the chin and draw the fingers outwards to the angle of the jaw bone. Stroke up the face towards the forehead to apply. Then, using a series of light circular movements with the finger tips, gently massage into the skin, beginning at the base of the neck and finishing at the forehead. Allow the oil to completely absorb into the skin before applying make-up.

STEP 4 – INTENSIVE MOISTURISER

Spiezia Intensive Moisturiser For a deeper, hydrating treatment. Take a pea sized amount and warm between the fingers. Clasp the fingers together under the chin and draw the fingers outwards to the angle of the jaw bone. Stroke up the face towards the forehead. Then, using a series of light circular movements with the finger tips, gently massage into the skin, beginning at the base of the neck and finishing at the forehead. Allow the moisturiser to completely soak into the skin before applying make-up.

STEP 5 – WEEKLY – ROSE & CHAMOMILE GENTLE FACE SCRUB

Spiezia Rose & Chamomile Face Scrub Apply a small amount to the fingertips and, working from the neck up, slowly circle the fingertips all over the face to encourage gentle exfoliation for a minute or two. Softly brush the residue away with finger tips or gently remove with a warm damp cloth.

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7 Health Benefits of Using Pure Oxygen

Pure oxygen has been used by hospitals to improve our health for over 200 years and has been recorded to improve our exercise performance since as early as 1928, although the first famous figure was Sir Roger Bannister, who published a research paper about the benefits of using pure oxygen in 1954 (the same year he broke the 4 minute mile).

Whilst not new, the use of pure oxygen is becoming more widely accepted and more widely understood for the health benefits it can provide. Air contains 21% oxygen and canned oxygen is normally 95%.

Here are 7 Health benefits of using pure oxygen:

1. Slow down ageing skin

From wrinkle creams to moisturising gels to facials, we all want to slow the ageing process. Getting rid of those crow’s feet, laughter lines or frowning tell tale marks, the beauty industry offers every type of product and solution that our heart’s desire. Pure oxygen is starting to break onto the scene to help us in the fight against ageing. Try canned oxygen as part of your daily beauty regime.

2. Stressful lives

The 9 to 5 is a challenge for all of us. Trying to get more done in the same amount of hours is best described by the ‘Carrot and Donkey’ fable. From getting to work, wanting to achieve more, dealing with more than one person should, followed by trying to fit enough house time, family time, and me time, can have us at breaking point several times per week. We all know that when we are stressed someone normally suggests ‘taking a deep breath’. Pure oxygen can help you take a moment, get pure oxygen into your bloodstream and help you tackle the road ahead with a little more ease because pure oxygen can help to reduce stress.

3. Think faster

A study by the Human cognitive Neuroscience Unit in Northumbria experimented with pure oxygen and concluded that those breathing pure oxygen remembered up to 20% more words, from a given list, than those that did not breathe pure oxygen. If you are struggling some days to focus, get things done, then breathing pure oxygen can help make those tasks that bit easier and quicker.

4. That jetlag feeling

Flying on long haul is challenging enough with not enough leg room and then arriving to feel as though all your energy has been left on the plane. The reasons for this are to do with the change in time zone, obviously the long travel, and also the increased pressure in the airplane cabin, which means that less oxygen enters your blood stream. Using pure oxygen will help you to overcome jetlag quickly and help you to enjoy your holiday sooner.

5. Speeds up recovery

Footballers, rugby players, and runners, to name a few, are breathing pure oxygen to help them speed up their recovery. Of course, when you earn tens of thousands per week and your team depend on you, or you just want to get back to winning again, speed of recovery is key. Breathing pure oxygen has been prescribed by hospitals for recovery and now breathing pure oxygen can help everyone that is looking to recover more quickly from injury, a minor operation or a period of being unwell.

Untitled-1
Air contains 21% oxygen and canned oxygen is normally 95%.

6. The great detoxer and cleanser

According to many health gurus the great body cleanser and detoxifier is oxygen. Our lifestyle is less physical than our ancestors and so we are not oxygenating our blood as well as they did, which leads to our bodies carrying more toxins than we did generations before us. Breathing pure oxygen can help to reduce those toxins that we carry in our bodies, in turn helping us to be healthier.

7. Booost the immune system

Our immune system helps us to fight infections, diseases, coughs & colds, and helping it do its job is key to living more healthy. There are a number of ways you can maximise your immune system, like eating healthily, exercising regularly, moderating your alcohol, and breathing pure oxygen is another way of helping you to help your immune system to help you.

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Top 5 Benefits of Aloe Vera

Boasting immune boosting, anti-microbial and wound-healing properties, the therapeutic uses of aloe vera are surprisingly diverse. Here are my top 5 uses for this versatile supplement.

1. Digestive Support
Aloe vera is often used by those with digestive complaints. Conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis are marked by long-lasting inflammation within the digestive tract. The natural anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera have led to a number of studies investigating the possible benefit of this plant for these conditions.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of aloe vera in patients with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis demonstrated improved symptoms in patients taking aloe vera compared to those in the placebo group (1). Similar benefits have been reported in patients suffering with ulcerative colitis (2).

2. Immune Support

Aloe vera contains a special type of sugar molecule called acemannan which boosts the activity of macrophages. Macrophages (from the Greek, meaning ‘big eaters’) are white blood cells which function to destroy or ‘eat up’ pathogens. Alongside this action, acemannan also enhances T-cell function and interferon production. This type of immune enhancement is evident in studies which show that consumption of aloe vera gel is effective in combating candida infection (3).

3. Detoxification

The detoxifying effect of aloe vera has been scientifically verified by lab tests of urinary indican levels. Indicans are molecules found in the urine, and they can be used to measure bacterial activity in the small and large intestine. Raised levels of indicans suggest compromised digestive health, including problems such as protein malabsorption and bacterial overgrowth (4). Aloe vera has been found to reduce urinary indican levels after just one week. This suggests that aloe consumption can improve protein digestion and absorption, or improve bacterial balance in the bowel.

Aloe-Vera-Gel
Aloe Vera Gel applied to the skin can help with 1st or 2nd degree burns

4. Skin Benefits
Applied topically, aloe vera can be used to help heal damaged skin. A recent meta-analysis, which examined studies involving a total of 371 patients, concluded that aloe vera may be considered effective in treating first and second degree burns. In fact the studies showed that topical application of aloe vera reduced healing time by an average of 9 days (5). It is thought that naturally occurring substances in aloe help cells to regenerate, speeding up healing.

Aloe is especially useful in the summer months owing to its cooling and soothing properties. A common ingredient in aftersun lotions, aloe vera is believed to act as a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Research is conflicting, although a recent randomised, double-blind trial found aloe vera to be more effective than hydrocortisone cream in reducing sunburn symptoms 48 hours after application (6).

5. Diabetes and blood sugar regulation

There have been several studies investigating the efficacy of aloe vera in the treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. One of the first studies involved a group of 3,000 diabetic patients who supplemented their existing treatments with a natural remedy containing aloe gel and psyllium seed husks. In 94% of these patients, fasting blood glucose levels fell to normal levels within two months (7).

In diabetic models, consumption of aloe vera has been found not only to reduce fasting blood sugar levels, but also to reduce levels of liver enzymes (a sign of liver damage), and cholesterol (8). Aloe’s high fibre content, glycoproteins and antioxidant benefits are believed to help the body to regulate blood sugar more effectively.

A further controlled study of 72 diabetic patients supports these benefits, showing that 2 tbsp daily of aloe vera resulted in a significant reduction in blood sugar levels over a period of 42 days (9).

Aloe appears to have a huge number of nutritional benefits and healing properties, making it a versatile nutritional supplement.

References

  1.  Langmead L et al (2004) Anti-inflammatory effects of aloe vera gel in human colorectal mucosa in vitro. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 19:521–527
  2. Langmead L et al (2004) Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral aloe vera gel for active ulcerative colitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 19:739–747.
  1. Jackson JA et al (2000) Urine Indican as an Indicator of Disease. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine Vol. 15, No. 1
  2. Sun-A Im et al (2010) In vivo evident of the immunomodulatory activity of orally administered aloe vera gel. Arch Pharm Res Vol 333:3, pp. 451-456
  3. Maenthaisong R et al (2007) The efficacy of Aloe vera used for burn wound healing: A systematic review. Burns. 33:713–18
  4. Reuter J et al (2008) Investigation of the anti-inflammatory potential of Aloe vera gel (97.5%) in the ultraviolet erythema test. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology 21(2):106-110]
  5. Agarwal 0P (1985) Prevention of Atheromatous Heart Disease. Angiology. 36: 485-92.
  6. Okyar A et al (2001) Effect of Aloe vera leaves on blood glucose level in type I and type II diabetic rat models. Phytother Res.15(2):157-61.
  7. Bunyapraphatsara N (1996) Antidiabetic activity of aloe vera L. juice 11. Clinical trial in diabetes mellitus patients in combination with glibenclamide. Phytomedicine. 3:245-248
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Can chemical-free sunscreen help prickly heat?

Hot summer weather and beach holidays are adored by many but for around 10% of the population they can mean days of itchy misery thanks to a common condition called prickly heat. This tends to affect people year after year but could something as simple as switching to a non-waterproof, chemical-free sunscreen reduce the irritating effects of prickly heat?

What is prickly heat?

Also known as miliaria, it causes bumps or blisters to appear in a rash across areas of skin during a spate of hot weather. The rash can take several days to disappear, even if conditions are much cooler.

Avoid Prickly Heat
Avoid Prickly Heat by staying cool and keeping hydrated in the sunshine.

Prickly heat can appear almost anywhere on the body, especially confined areas such as the armpits, but tends not to affect the face. It often affects areas of the body covered by clothing as there tends to be more sweat produced where the clothing rubs against the skin. This rash is caused by sweat glands in the skin becoming blocked. This stops the sweat from escaping the body and instead leads it to leak into nearby skin, causing redness and rashes. Whilst this does not generally have any serious health consequences, the prickly heat rash can be very irritating and can really put a dampener on holidays to hot countries.

Some people are more prone to prickly heat than others. Babies and children quite commonly suffer from it as their sweat glands are not properly developed yet and can produce sweat too quickly for their skin to cope with. Being overweight can also increase the likelihood of developing a prickly heat rash as this can lead to increased sweating.
5 quick tips for reducing prickly heat

The first way to reduce your prickly heat is to reduce the amount you sweat. This can be achieved by simple measures such as:

• Staying in the shade
• Wearing only loose-fitting, cool clothes
• Showering in cool water regularly
• Avoiding exercise in hot weather
• Drinking more water than usual

It may seem counterproductive to hydrate your body more when you are trying to reduce sweating but in hot climates our bodies need far more water than usual. Drinking more will also help to prevent other consequences of dehydration, such as headaches and fatigue.

Chemical-free sunscreens and prickly heat

As well as reducing the amount you sweat, you should try to prevent your sweat glands from becoming blocked. These may become blocked through dead skin cells or bacteria.

Some people find that exfoliation can help as it removes the dead skin cells blocking their pores, allowing the sweat to escape normally. However, it is advisable to exfoliate before you go on holiday as waiting until the prickly heat has started could irritate the skin further.

One further cause of blocked sweat glands is waterproof sunscreen, which can contain pore-clogging ingredients and is like wrapping your skin in cling film! It is possible that these may aggravate your prickly heat, as they reduce the amount of sweat that can escape your skin. The resulting build up of sweat inside the skin can then create prickly heat rash symptoms.

Green People has a range of natural sunscreens which do not contain the pore-clogging ingredients which can aggravate prickly heat and they are especially suitable for people with the condition. Green People sunscreens are also free from PABA, parabens and artificial colours and fragrances.

Soothing prickly heat

If you are prone to prickly heat and you are going on holiday to a hot place then it is best to take a soothing body lotion with you. If you develop prickly heat, it will help to reduce the itching which prickly heat can cause, as well as calming and hydrating sun-exposed skin.

An organic After Sun lotion which contains soothing Aloe Vera, Calendula and/or cooling Mint would be a good addition to your suitcase. Refreshing and calming, it is ideal for using after a day in the sun.

Content kindly provided by Green People

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Echium Seed Oil – Beauty from Within

Composed of several types of tissue, and functioning to protect the body from the everyday environmental barrage of abuse, the skin serves as our largest organ. The outer layer, known as the epidermis, is made up of a fibrous protein called keratin and numerous types of fat, including various omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Some of which are important for skin health and others not so. Though ‘biologically dead’ the epidermis remains active, with its fatty acid composition playing a key role in the health and appearance of the skin’s surface.

The skin lacks important enzymes to reconstruct omega-3 and omega-6 fats from food, so our skin’s makeup is a direct reflection of our diet. This may be good news if you eat plenty of oily fish, nuts, seeds and avocados and avoid refined carbohydrates and vegetable oils. If your plate typically resembles Western diet patterns, your skin will likely contain an abundance of omega-6 fats such as linoleic acid (LA) and arachidonic acid (AA) – the latter being linked directly with inflammation and inflammatory-based skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

Igennus Echiomega
Igennus Echiomega is made from echium seed oil and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Echium seed oil is a natural plant oil renowned for its unique profile of skin-supporting fatty acids. Especially rich in a rare form of omega-3 called stearidonic acid (SDA), as well as anti-inflammatory omega-6 GLA and omega-9, it provides the skin with an ideal balance of fats to regenerate cells and reduce inflammation.

Well known for its anti-ageing potential, echium seed oil is a popular ingredient in many skin creams and beauty products but only recently has it become available in supplement form to nourish the skin from within. Oral supplementation offers enhanced benefits over topical products (though a combination of both would offer synergistic benefits) due to more efficient absorption, enabling the beneficial fatty acids to be incorporated directly into skin cells to target inflammation beneath the skin’s surface.

Each Igennus Echiomega capsule provides 500mg echium seed oil, with just two capsules daily providing ideal levels for skincare. Offered in a capsule shell derived from seaweed, Echiomega is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Written by Dr Nina Bailey from Igennus Healthcare Nutrition

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The antioxidant advantage – introducing a new standard in Rosehip Oil

Trilogy Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+ is here!

Our busy daily lives see us constantly exposed to free radicals – microscopic organic molecules responsible for ageing and tissue damage. Pollution, sun exposure, diet and stress are just some of the sources of free radicals we deal with every day. They attack skin cells, causing them to break down and so affecting the health and the appearance of our skin.

Trilogy Rosehip oil Antioxidant+
Trilogy Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+ is a red berry seed oil blend which provides intensive nourishment.

Antioxidants provide a counter attack, helping stop free radical damage and providing protection for the skin. This ensures the integrity of healthy cells and helps to maintain a youthful, radiant complexion.

While our main source of antioxidants is through diet, the body is so hungry for these useful molecules that most of them are absorbed into our systems before they reach the outer layer of the skin. Choosing skincare with high antioxidant content ensures that the skin receives its own supply.

Trilogy Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+ contains red berry super antioxidants, such as lycopene from tomato and phytosterol from acai berry, providing powerful protection from free radicals and helping to prevent visible signs of premature ageing. Combined with Certified Organic Rosehip Oil, which is high in Essential Fatty Acids and delivers intensive nourishment and hydration to replenish softness and elasticity, these ingredients create the perfect skincare product, one which helps to repair yesterday’s damage and protect from tomorrow’s for healthier younger looking skin.

Trilogy Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+ is a 100% natural, certified organic red berry seed oil blend – the ‘everything-your-skin-needs’ beauty oil.

Written by Corinne Morley at Trilogy

About the Author:

Corinne Morley is Global Sales and Marketing Manager for New Zealand natural skincare brand Trilogy. A passionate international industry expert, she has a comprehensive beauty background encompassing marketing, sales, training, research and product development, and management roles.


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Acne Diet Link – New Evidence

A new study has confirmed the important role that diet plays in acne. The link has been a topic of discussion since it was first noted that acne is rare in non-westernized populations such as the Inuit and tribal populations. Genetics alone does not account for this difference. Environmental factors such as diet have therefore long been suspected.

Diet is important for Acne Sufferers
We're all in search of beautiful skin...Recent research suggests that diet is important for acne sufferers (2.)

The study investigated the effect of a Low Glycemic Load diet on participants with acne. Glycemic Load is way of measuring the effect of a food on blood sugar levels.

The Western diet, based around processed foods and refined carbohydrates, has a tendency to stimulate insulin as well as a hormone called insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). These substances trigger off a sequence of hormonal changes, resulting in increased sebum production and changes in skin cell growth.

Participants were divided into two groups. The Low Glycemic Load (LGL) group were instructed to substitute high GI foods with lower GI foods such as barley, wholegrain bread, beans, fruits, vegetables and fish. The control group received no information on Glycemic index, and were instructed to continue their regular diet based on carbohydrate-rich foods.

After 10 weeks of following the programme, those in the LGL group showed decreased inflammation, and a decreased number of both inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions. Sebaceous glands were also reduced in size. The authors concluded “these results show that a reduction in glycemic load can result in a reduction in the level of acne lesions.”

For those who are interested in trying a low GL diet, some simple rules can help get you started:

  • Include plenty of low GL fruit and veg with every meal. Try broccoli, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, yellow and red peppers, berries and cherries.
  • Add a protein rich food – such as fish, chicken, tofu or eggs – to each main meal
  • Use pulses such as beans and lentils, rather than pasta or rice, to accompany your meal
  • Eliminate highly refined High GI foods, such as sweets, crisps, and foods containing white flour and sugar
  • Nutrients such as cinnamon and chromium, such as those in Patrick Holford’s Cinnachrome, can provide additional blood sugar support

All in all, this is great news for all who suffer with acne. It represents a way to take control over a condition that is all too often difficult to treat with prescription drugs and over-the-counter lotions and potions.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

References

(1.) Kwon HH, et al. Preview of article: Clinical and Histological Effect of a Low Glycaemic Load Diet in Treatment of Acne Vulgaris in Korean Patients: A Randomized, Controlled Trial Acta Dermato-Venereologica 2012. DOI: 10.2340/00015555-1346

(2.) Image courtesy of Vikor Habbick

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Probiotics may prevent childhood eczema

Eczema is a dry, itchy skin condition, and childhood eczema can be distressing for both children and their parents. Unfortunately, childhood eczema is becoming increasingly common.

A new study looking at the effects of a probiotic called Lactobacillus Rhamnosus offers a promising new approach to dealing with this troublesome condition (1).

Research published last month in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy found that children who take probiotics in the first two years of life had a decreased incidence of eczema, and were protected against the condition until at least 4 years of age.

The researchers followed 425 infants for 4 years after daily supplementation with the probiotics L. Rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium animalis or placebo.

Probiotics in pregnancy and childhood can prevent eczema
Taking probiotics, specifically Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, during pregnancy and in childhood can prevent childhood eczema (2,3)

The mothers were given a probiotic supplement or a placebo pill at the gestational age of 35 weeks. Each mother continued to take the supplement for 6 months following the birth, while her baby was breastfeeding. After this time, all of the infants were given a probiotic or placebo supplement from birth until the age of 2.

The results showed that the protective effect of the probiotic lasted until the children were at least 4 years of age.

The research team published the initial results of their double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, back in 2008 (2). Here they tested the effects of the probiotic during the first two years of life. They found that the supplement L. Rhamnosus (strain HN001) resulted in a 49% reduction in eczema prevalence – essentially it halved the risk of eczema in the children studied.

The more recent study demonstrates that the benefits of L. Rhamnosus HN001 persisted to age 4 years, despite the fact that probiotic supplementation stopped two years earlier. This suggests that this particular probiotic might work as a protective measure against eczema for high-risk infants.

There is no way of knowing for sure if you baby will have eczema. However, the risk of your baby developing eczema is much greater if someone in your family has already had eczema, asthma and hayfever. If these conditions are present in your family, then probiotic supplementation may offer some degree of protection for your children.

The authors of the study concede that “the precise pathways for effects [of probiotics] on allergic disease remain elusive and require more work”. In light of the distress that this skin condition can cause to both children and parents, I certainly hope that this study paves the way for future research in this area.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

References
1. Wickens, K. et al (2012) A protective effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 against eczema in the first 2 years of life persists to age 4 years. Clinical & Experimental Allergy. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2012.03975

2. Wicken et al (2008) A differential effect of 2 probiotics in the prevention of eczema and atopy: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Allergy & Clin Immunol 122:4, pp. 788-794

3. Image courtesy of Rocknroli.

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Why magnesium is important for health

In our efforts to remain healthy and youthful there is a lot of talk about antioxidants, omega oils, calcium and several other nutrients and yet we may have overlooked the missing link in our diets, the mineral magnesium.

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and can be found in the teeth, bones and red blood cells.  In fact half is found in bone and the rest in soft tissue in the body.  The body jealously maintains about 1% of its magnesium within the blood making blood tests notoriously difficult to identify a deficiency (1).  Magnesium is our most interactive mineral.  It is essential for numerous biochemical reactions carried out within the body (over 350 in fact – more than iron and zinc combined) and interestingly the symptoms of magnesium deficiency are identical to those found in old age and include low energy levels, irregular heartbeat, clogged arteries, migraines and headaches, heavy metals build-up, high blood pressure and insulin resistance (2).

BetterYou Magnesium Oil
Magnesium – our most important mineral that we all overlook

A study published in 2005 (3) showed that a staggering 70% of the US population may be magnesium deficient and 19% didn’t even reach half the Recommended Daily Allowance, which has just been raised to 360mg in the UK.  People at serious risk of magnesium deficiency include the elderly, diabetics, children, those on low calorie diets, those over-indulging in alcohol and those engaged in heavy exercise and stressful lifestyles.

Modern Western diets

Unfortunately modern farming methods have depleted the soils and artificial fertilizer favours certain minerals over others.  Over processing food depletes magnesium levels as does increasing the shelf life of food.  Did you know that we lose over 80% of the magnesium in wholegrain flour when we convert it into white bread?  In fact, magnesium levels in our diet are half what they were hundred years ago.  Foods rich in magnesium include pumpkin seeds, nuts, wholegrains and dark green vegetables but these rarely feature within our daily staple diet.  In addition our calcium intake has never been higher (4).  Asian and African populations have a dramatically lower intake of calcium with little incidence of osteoporosis. Their magnesium intake however is at least double that of Western diets.

Magnesium deficiency develops over time so we often only notice problems when we experience changes due to age, the menopause or when our body is under stress.

Low Energy & Fatigue

Magnesium is a key mineral in the enzyme processes that convert food into energy and several studies show that individuals with low magnesium levels use more energy and therefore tire quickly.  Magnesium is critical for both the synthesis and secretion of insulin so diabetics are often found to be deficient in magnesium (5).

PMS & Hormonal Imbalances

Sufferers of PMS have significantly lower levels of magnesium suggesting a clear association.  In fact research by Dr David Thomas showed sufferers of severe PMS will tend to have common elements within their diet consuming only a quarter of their necessary magnesium but almost 80% more dairy and a staggering 275% more sugar (6)!

Insomnia

The inability to sleep may also be linked to magnesium deficiency.  If you find it difficult to sleep or find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with muscle spasms, cramps or stiffness you may benefit from higher levels of magnesium (7).

Bone Health

Although calcium is the most abundant skeletal mineral it is very poorly soluble on its own.  It requires sufficient hydrochloric acid (quantity of which reduces as we age) magnesium and vitamin D in order for it to be absorbed into the bone.  Calcium that is not made soluble cannot enter the bone and settles in soft tissue such as joints, muscles and in arteries as cholesterol plaque (8).

Cramps & Spasms

Magnesium is essential for the proper function of muscles.  Calcium is responsible for the contraction phase of muscles whilst magnesium is needed for the relaxation phase.  Cramping at night and irritating twitches in the eyelids are often clear signs of magnesium deficiency.  Restless Leg Syndrome, a poorly understood neurological disorder, responds favourably to magnesium chloride rubbed into the muscles (9).

Headaches

Many studies indicate that there is a relationship between headaches, migraines and low levels of magnesium in the bloodstream.  Magnesium helps to relax blood vessels, encouraging normalised oxygen flow to the brain (10).

Anxiety, Nerves & Irritability

A deficiency in magnesium can result in the symptoms of anxiety and irritability since magnesium is required for the manufacture of adrenal stress hormones.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones, one of the most painful urinary disorders, have beset humans for centuries.  A kidney stone is a hard mass of chemicals from urine.  The most common type of kidney stone contains calcium oxalate.  Studies indicate that magnesium helps prevent recurrence of calcium oxalate kidney stones due to its effects on solubilising calcium in urine (11).

Skin problems

Magnesium is necessary for the elasticity and dermal protection of the skin and low levels will reduce skin cell health (12).

Magnesium absorption through the skin

Our intestines are simply not efficient at absorbing relatively large doses of magnesium from supplements and increasing the intake simply results in diarrhoea.  Absorption is dramatically reduced with poor digestive efficiency, particularly as we age or when unwell.  This is why hospitals will always favour a slow, gradual supply (IV drip) rather than an oral supplement.

Magnesium chloride is the form favoured by our bodies as it is the result of all other magnesium compounds being exposed to the hydrochloric acid in our stomachs.  Magnesium chloride is in fact the result of evaporation of sea water. As pure and as simple as that and it is perfectly suited to absorption through the skin.  Cardiff University has just completed the first clinical trial to produce evidence that magnesium is excellently absorbed through the skin (13).  And an earlier trial in 2010 showed that the body could remineralise five times faster by skin application than by oral supplementation (14).

Written by Andrew Thomas from BetterYou

References

1. Last, W., “Magnesium Chloride for Health & Rejuvenation”.
2. Cargue, Otto, Vital Facts about Foods, 1933, quoted in J.I. Rodale, Magnesium, the Nutrient that could Change your Life, Pyramid Books, New York, 1968; also see “Excessive Calcium causes Osteoporosis”, Sircus, Mark, “Magnesium and Calcium”
3. CSIRO Minerals Report DMR-2378, September 2004.
4. Karpf, Anne, “Dairy Monsters”, The Guardian, UK, 13 December 2003. 
5. Office of Dietary Supplements, “Magnesium”. King, D. et al., “Dietary Magnesium and Creactive Protein Levels”, J. Am. Coll. Nutr. 2005 Jun; 24(3):166-71
6. http://www.mywire.com/a/WorldWatch/Nutrients-declining-food-supply/1632863/
7. Davis, W. and Ziady, F., “The Role of Magnesium in Sleep”, Montreal Symposium 1976,  also see http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/ articles/70832.php
8.12.Sircus, Mark, AC, OCD, Transdermal Magnesium Therapy, Phaelos Books, Chandler, Arizona, 2006, p.199; see http://www. magnesiumforlife.com/ or http://www. magnesiumforlife.com/thebook.shtml
9. Restless legs syndrome is treatable but under-recognised. British Medical Journal. 2 September 2006; 333:457-458 doi:10.1136/bmj.333.7566.457
10. Vergini, R., MD, “Magnesium Chloride in Acute and Chronic Diseases”,  or http://www.industryinet.com/~ruby/ magnesium_chloride.html
11. Piesse, J.W., “Nutritional Factors in Calcium Containing Kidney Stones with Particular Emphasis on Vitamin C” (review article), Int. Clin.
13. National School of Pharmacy, Cardiff University. Pub date TBC.
14. A Pilot Study to determine the impact of Transdermal Magnesium treatment on serum levels and whole body CaMg Ratios, Josling & Watkins.  Date of publication 09/04/2010.

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