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Women's Health

  • Top Tips On How To Protect Your Skin From The Sun

    After a long cold winter, all any of us want to do is get outside and enjoy the warmth of the summer sun!  However it is important that we try to protect our skin as best as we can from the sun’s powerful rays. PV-Nov-blog

    Interestingly enough the skin is the body’s largest organ.1 It covers the entire body and comprises of many layers but let’s look at the primary layers specifically, the epidermis and dermis.1

    Epidermis

    The epidermis is the upper layer of our skin which is visible and can be touched. This layer is comprised of multiple layers of skin cells that are constantly shedding to replenish and protect our skin from our external environment.1 This includes providing protection from ultra violet light, infection, damage associated with trauma and creates a barrier to prevent harmful substances from entering into the body.1

    Dermis

    The skin’s second primary layer is known as the dermis which contains sweat and oil glands that balance our skin’s natural oil production to keep our skin hydrated.1  This layer also contains hair follicles, nerve ending and small blood vessels.1   This layer’s main function is to keep our skin strong and firm because it contains collagen and elastin fibres.1  

    Ultraviolet light

    Australian’s are exposed to some of the highest ultraviolet (UV) rays worldwide!  So let’s take a look at the different types of ultraviolet light and what affect they could have on our skin if it is left unprotected. The two types of ultraviolet light that we need to be concerned about are called UVA and UVB.4  UVA is responsible for tanning the skin because it has the ability to penetrate into deeper layers of our skin.4  UVB have shown to be responsible for causing sunburn because it penetrates the first layer of skin.4

    It is important to note that UV rays are always present and completely invisible so even on a cloudy day you still need to be cautious to avoid getting sunburnt!  Prolonged unprotected UV exposure has shown to contribute to premature skin aging leading to wrinkles, fine lines, brown freckles and changes your skin’s natural appearance and feel.6  If this doesn’t sound bad enough UV exposure can also cause sun spots, pigmentation issues, leathery skin, cellular skin damage, eye damage and even skin cancer. These are pretty serious consequences so you need to make sure that you are taking the proper precautions to protect your skin from the sun at all times! This information may make you think twice if that temporary sun kissed glow is really worth it?! Remember no tan is worth dying for.

    So as you now can see it is important to maintain the health of your skin!  So how do we do this?  Follow these top tips adapted from the Australian Cancer Council!

    1. Slip

    If you are going to be outside in direct sunlight make sure that you cover up your skin as best as you can by wearing thin clothing with long sleeves and a collar.  Materials with tightly woven fibres such as cotton, linen or hemp may help to reflect UV rays.  You may also wish to wear lighter coloured fabrics to stay cooler.  If you are going to the beach try using beach wraps and sun safe rash shirts.

    1. Slop

    During the summer months sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes so you need to make sure that you wear sunscreen even if you are going outside for a short time period!9  Apply sunscreen liberally to all areas of the body that are going to be exposed to direct sunlight.  The Australian Government Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency suggests that individuals should apply sunscreen 20 minutes prior to going outside and every 2 hours after that.5 Select a sunscreen formula that will be specific to your needs.  This should not be too difficult because there are a variety of sunscreen formulas available on the market such as sport formulas, infant and children formulas, sensitive skin formulas, water resistant formulas, oil free formulas, sunscreen with insect repellent, tinted foundation formulas and everyday formulas. There are also many types of administration methods such as sprays, roll on, tubes, pump packs and lip balms to suit your needs.

    When selecting a sunscreen make sure that you follow the allocated directions on the bottle and always check the following:

    *Sun Protection Factor (SPF) number. The higher the SPF numbers the greater the sun protection.  The Cancer Council of Australia suggests that individuals purchase sunscreens with SPF numbers between 30+ and 50+.3

    *Provides broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

    *That the sunscreen has a valid expiry date.

    1. Slap

    Wear hats that provide extra coverage for your face, ears, head and neck such as broad brimmed sun hats or bucket hats.

    1. Seek

    Sit in a shaded area or create your own shade!  We all want to be outside in the sun but it is important that we try to stay in the shade as much as possible so that we can protect our skin from UV exposure.  If you are unable to find a shaded area, you may wish to create your own shade by using a sun safe shade tent, small tarp, folding chair with a shade canopy or beach umbrella.  This way you can still enjoy the sunshine and your skin is staying protected!

    1. Slide

    On a sunny day of course sunglasses are a must!  Follow these top tips to protect your eyes!

    *Source sun glasses that fully cover your eyes, wrap around style is best!

    *Ensure that the sunglasses you choose meet Australian standards by referring to the swing tag that should state AS/NSZ 1067:2003.

    *Ensure that you check your sunglasses eye protection factor rating which protects our eyes from UVA and UVB ray’s.  The highest rating’s in Australia are factor 9 and 10.

    *Source sunglasses that are polarised because they help to reduce glare and may be more suitable while driving.

    1. Look at the UV forecast

    Keep up to date with the UV forecast and certain times of the day that you may require additional sun protection.  This information can be accessed daily by the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology website, see here http://www.bom.gov.au/uv/.7  This way you can ensure that you are prepared for the weather conditions in advance each day to take additional precautions to protect your skin.  You may also wish to make plans to be outside during hours of the day that have lower UV rays!

    1. Get your skin checked regularly

    Have your skin checked regularly by a healthcare professional. Make sure that if you notice any moles, sunspots or pigmentations on your skin to get them checked out by your doctor who will be able to refer you onto a dermatologist if need be.3 It is important to self-monitor your skin and existing markings for any changes in size, shape, colour or texture.3 This way you can ensure that you are staying in tune with your skin health!

    1. What should you do if you do happen to get a sunburn?

    *Apply a cool compress to the affected area or take a cool bath.9

    *Avoid using soaps on the affected area because this may aggravate your sunburn further!9

    *Apply aloe vera gel liberally to the sunburnt area to provide a soothing effect and replenish your skin’s moisture to reduce skin peeling and itchiness.9

    *If your skin is blistered seek medical attention and do not pop sun burn blisters because they may become infected.9

    *Stay out of direct sunlight until your sunburn has completely healed.9

    * Drink water, it is highly important to keep hydrated and the cool the body.

    1. Nutrients that support skin health

    UV light exposure can generate harmful free radicals that can damage skin cells and contribute to premature skin ageing. Let’s take a look at some nutrients that can be used to support our skin health.

    *Collagen- Helps to promote our skin elasticity and suppleness. Collagen may also help to minimise the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.   

    *Vitamin C- When the skin is exposed to UV light it reduces the skin’s vitamin C availability.10  So how can vitamin C help keep your skin healthy?  Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps to rebuild collagen and neutralises free radicals that may have been produced during UV light exposure, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines to reduce premature skin ageing.10

    *Silica- Helps to rebuild and regenerate connective tissue to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.  Silica is also beneficial for the growth of strong hair and nails!

    So now you know how to protect your skin, what measures need to be taken if sunburn occurs and  what nutrients you can use to support your skin health, so now you can get outside and enjoy the weather this summer but stay sun safe!

  • Simple Paleo Diet Tips

    Australia's latest diet craze, the paleo diet, has quickly gained popularity. Based on the dietary intake of people from the Stone Age, the paleo diet focuses on eating healthy fats, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole foods while cutting out processed and refined foods. To some people, this diet may seem too strict; however, the paleo diet has many benefits, and it offers some healthy eating tips that anyone can follow. August-article

    Choose Foods That Have an Expiration Date

    Imagine the life of those who lived several generations ago. These people did not eat greasy potato chips or shelf-stable dessert pastries. If a food comes in modern packaging and can stay good for years, try to avoid buying it. Focus on adding natural, whole foods to your diet.

    Do Not Fear Fats

    Ironically, foods that have a “fat-free” label are usually the foods you should avoid. In moderation, healthy fats are satisfying and beneficial. Healthy fats can include avocado, olive oil and coconut oil. You can also cook with coconut oil, which can be cooked at a high heat without any negative effects. However, if calorie intake is concern, oil does have a lot of calories, so use it sparingly.

    Eliminate Refined Sugar

    In the Stone Age, sweet food made with refined sugar did not exist. In today's world, people everywhere enjoy and even crave these types of food every day. Your body might find it hard to cut out all sugar at once. Instead, slowly decrease your sugar intake by using dried fruit, honey, Stevia and other natural sweeteners.

    Embrace Vegetables

    Paleo is no different from other healthy, sensible diet plan recommendations that tell people to eat plenty of fresh vegetables. Current food guidelines state that everyone should have at least two fruit servings and five vegetable servings each day.

    Exercise Does Not Cancel Out Unhealthy Food Choices

    Some people think that by burning calories on the treadmill, it will be as if the heavy dessert they ate last night never existed. Unfortunately, exercise does not cancel out unhealthy food choices. It is true that proper diet and exercise are crucial to leading a healthy lifestyle, but maintaining weight consists of 20 percent exercise and 80 percent diet. This is the reason many people find the paleo diet to be successful.

    Get Moving

    While you do not need to start a strenuous exercise regime, it is important to include a little bit of exercise in your daily routine. Being more active helps people not only manage their weight, but also improve their mood and digestion.

    Have Sweet Treats in Moderation

    Concentrated sugar sources were rare in the caveman days, so sweet foods were not part of the typical meal. There is no need to eat sweets or desserts every day. Partake in sweet treats every once in awhile during special occasions, such as a birthday parties.

    Stop Counting Calories

    Those who count calories know that it is a frustrating and tiresome task. To get the same result without the hassle of watching your caloric intake, simply focus on eating sensibly portioned, quality foods.

  • Six Supplements That Can Boost Energy

    Six Supplements That Can Boost Energy

    An active life, refreshing sleep and a diet of natural food is a good foundation for high energy levels. However, there are times when the stress of daily life increases or when some extra support is needed. Rather than reaching for a sugary snack or caffeine, give the natural supplements below a try. PV-march-blog

    Begin With a Multivitamin

    The proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in food employ a wide range of nutrients in order to convert them to energy. Deficiency of any of these nutritional factors can impede the production of energy. A broad spectrum multivitamin and mineral formula can insure that these nutrients are there for energy conversion. Be sure to choose a formula that contains the B-complex group, including folic acid, as well as iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc in the mineral group.

    Consider these other supplements to help boost energy levels in times of need:

    B-complex when stress levels are high

    The B group of vitamins are of utmost importance in converting food into energy, and are needed in higher doses during times of stress. Since they are water-soluble they are not stored in the body, and need to be replenished every day.

    Magnesium supports nerve function

    Magnesium is essential for muscle and nerve function. It is also essential for the smooth production of energy. Being under stress increases the body's requirement for this mineral.

    Co-enzyme Q10 for an energy boost

    While Co-enzyme Q10 is a nutrient that is essential for energy production at the cellular level. As we age our bodies produce less of this substance, making supplementation a wise move. It has also been shown to be very important in heart health.

    Iron to combat fatigue

    Many women suffer from low iron level due to menstruation. This may result in fatigue, paleness of the skin and nails and mucous membranes, as well as lack of resistance to infection. Look for iron products that contains folic acid and vitamin B12, which work synergistically with the iron. See your doctor if you suspect your iron levels are low for a quick test to determine if you need to supplement with iron.

    Korean Ginseng for extra stamina

    Korean Ginseng is a traditional medicine herb that supports stamina and vitality. It aids the body and nervous system in adapting to stress, as well as enhancing physical performance. It is used to revitalise and strengthen the body during times of weakness, malaise, fatigue, exhaustion, and stress.

  • New Year, Less Chair

    There's a hidden menace to your health lurking inside every home and office on the globe, even in your friendly neighbourhood coffee shop – chairs! new-year-no-chair

    Recent medical studies have discovered that sitting for long stretches of time can actually change the physiology of your muscle cells and may be detrimental to your health. cause serious illnesses. Two separate reports, one based on a study of 93,000 women who sit up to 11 hours a day and another on 82,000 men who sit for five or more hours a day outside of work, both found results that suggest that too much sitting can signal your body to halt production of important fat and sugar burning enzymes linked directly to your metabolism, causing serious risks to your health and well being.
    .
    All the time that you spend parked at the coffee shop checking your Facebook, crashed on the sofa watching TV or sitting in front of a computer screen at your office, is sending signals to your muscles on a cellular level, halting the activity of the important enzyme lipoprotein lipase and putting your health at risk.

    If you have an office job that requires you to sit a lot, the news that too much sitting can actually have a negative effect on your health and well being may be an unwelcome shock. Fortunately, there are things you can do to counteract the negative effects of sitting for long periods of timethis destructive activity. You can wake your muscles up out of their suspended animation state with just a little bit of basic exercise for two minutes every half hour you spend sitting.

    So set a timer to go off every 30 minutes and try these activities at home and at work to snap your muscles awake and keep your body fit and functioning.

    - Do the plank. More than just a weird internet fad, this simple yoga exercise is one of the most effective ways to strengthen your core, legs and arms all at the same time with minimal movement.
    - Take a walk. Getting up and taking a quick walk to water cooler or taking a bathroom break is enough to get your muscles working and keep your energy up.
    - Stand up for yourself. Just the simple act of standing up for a couple of minutes is enough to fight off the health risks of idle muscles.
    - Embrace the adverts. When watching TV, instead of fast forwarding forward winding through the ad breaks, use them as an opportunity to hop off the couch and get out of your sitting rut.
    - Take the stairs. If you’re fit and able, a quick march up and down the stairs at your work or home will do wonders for kick starting your muscles.

  • Is Stress Making You Sick?

    I’m under a fair bit of pressure right now, and frustratingly, I also feel as though I could come down with a cold at any moment.

    Stress Pure Vitamins Is stress making you sick?

    Initially, I put it down to bad luck that these two issues were occurring simultaneously, but I’ve now realised that it’s no coincidence. Being stressed out can have a significant effect on your immune system!

    Stress makes you more susceptible to colds

    In a scientific study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1991, researchers measured the stress levels of 394 healthy people, and then exposed them to either cold viruses or a control preparation that wasn’t infectious. Over the subsequent week, the quarantined participants were checked daily for symptoms such as sneezing, runny eyes, sore throat, and nasal congestion.

    The results of this study confirmed what many of us have always intuitively believed: that when you’re under stress, you’re much more likely to catch colds. On the other hand, when your stress levels are low, you’re less likely to succumb – even when people around you have been infected.

    This phenomenon occurs because the various physiological changes that occur in your body during times of stress have an impact on the immune system, reducing your ability to fight off infectious organisms.

    What can you do?

    As well as maintaining my regular exercise routine and finding time for a few meditation sessions each week, this winter I’ve decided to support my immune system and stress levels by taking a two-pronged approach with herbs and nutrients.

    Firstly I’ll be topping up my levels of B-group vitamins, as they may be needed in increased quantities during stressful periods.

    I’m also taking a multivitamin to help support my immune function and help maintain and improve my general wellbeing . The multivitamin I use has been specially formulated for women, and contains Siberian ginseng, which helps the body cope with the effects of stress.

    Additionally, I’ve decided to take echinacea and andrographis – as they support the body’s natural immune responses and may help relieve symptoms of colds and other mild upper respiratory tract infections. I also take additional vitamin C because it may help reduce the severity and duration of colds, and extra zinc because it’s essential for healthy immune system function.

  • Help Your Brain Stay Active

    My grandmother was affected by dementia in her old age. It was horrible to watch, and must have been even more distressing for her. The whole experience has made me determined to looking after my brain health as best I can - especially as I’ve recently learned that my family history of the condition slightly increases the likelihood of being affected by it myself.  Continue reading

  • Going Vegetarian the Sensible Way

    Health, ethical, environmental, financial or religious reasons may prompt people to follow a vegetarian diet. Although there are many health benefits from following a vegetarian diet, if not adopted wisely it can cause several nutritional problems. But if you plan carefully, it is possible to eat yummy vegetarian food and meet all of your nutritional requirements. The following information can help set you on the right path. Continue reading

  • Summer Holiday Survival Guide

    Summer Holiday Survival Guide Summer Holiday Survival Guide

    It’s coming up to that time of year again where you get the chance to relax, put your feet up and enjoy the festivities with family and friends. But it can be a busy time of year, with parties, late nights, present shopping and other occasions. Diet choices are frequently poor. The following tips might help you take care of particular areas of your health that could experience the strain of the holiday season.

    DIGESTIVE HEALTH

    As socialising comes to a peak at Christmas and New Year, healthy eating habits often go out the window. We easily consume excess alcohol and party foods that wouldn’t normally enter our diet, potentially leading to upset digestion, weight gain and hangovers. During the summer, people might also travel overseas or on family road trips. To help get your digestive system through the festive season, try the following tips:

    • Interchange alcoholic drinks with water.
    • Be food wise: instead of eating chips, lollies and cakes, choose unsalted nuts, cheese on crackers or fruit.
    • To soothe an upset stomach, try Chamomile.
    • Try taking a Probiotic as poor diet and travelling can cause the healthy bowel flora to become imbalanced. A probiotic will help to replenish the normal flora.
    • Milk Thistle can be very beneficial to consume when drinking alcohol and eating rich, fatty foods, as it supports your liver and digestion.
    • Try ginger or travel sickness bands for car or motion sickness.

    EMOTIONAL HEALTH

    The holiday season can be a rather stressful time, with lots to do and seemingly little time. However, try to take 30 minutes of relaxation time for yourself each day which may help to minimise your stress levels. When it comes to stressful holiday events, like Christmas dinner with the relatives and Christmas present shopping, leaving extra time to prepare could help you to reduce your stress levels. Congested roads on public holidays can also be a source of anxiety so if possible, try to avoid travelling at these times.

    The body’s adrenal glands release hormones during stressful situations. You can support this response by taking supplementing with some of the key nutrients required to produce these hormones, such as magnesium, B vitamins and vitamin C.

    IMMUNE HEALTH

    Late nights, poor eating habits and stress can make us vulnerable to catching a cold during the summer holidays. The following nutrients and herbs can help to bolster a healthy immune system:

    • Echinacea: it is thought that Echinacea can stimulate the immune system’s “non-specific” defences involved in fighting infections.
    • Garlic may help the immune system to defend the body against upper respiratory tract infections and colds.
    • Vitamins C and E are needed to help maintain the proper functioning of the immune system.
    • Zinc is necessary for healthy immune function.

    SKIN HEALTH

    Your skin will need special care during the summer, as it receives more sun exposure. The following tips may help:

    • To relieve dry, scaly skin, use nourishing body butters, drink 2L of water every day and take essential fatty acids like flaxseed oil.
    • Try to avoid getting sun burn with Slip, Slop and Slap; that is, put on a shirt, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses.
    • When outside, apply a natural insect repellent and burn citronella candles to reduce insect bites.

    You can be happy and healthy all summer long with a little bit of forward planning and having some natural products at the ready. Happy holidays!

  • Benefits of Coenzyme Q10

    What is CoQ10?

    CoQ10 To Improve the Quality of Life

    CoQ10 is a powerful nutrient, vital for heart health & the production of energy, it is a vitamin-like nutrient that is naturally produced by our bodies. It is considered an important nutrient because it’s needed as part of our body’s process of producing energy; a reaction that happens within every cell of our bodies. Because of this, it’s actually considered the spark plug for cellular energy. It enables the production of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which is the compound our bodies use to provide energy for all metabolic processes.

    What are the benefits of CoQ10?

    As well as its role in energy production, CoQ10 also provides powerful antioxidant benefits. It’s free radical scavenging ability helps to decrease the damaging effects of oxidative stress and helps regenerate vitamin E to its antioxidant form by transforming it from the oxidised form back to the reduced form, to further enhance the body’s antioxidant activity.

    These antioxidant effects of CoQ10 also extend to helping protect LDL cholesterol – commonly referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’ - from the potential damage of oxidation.

    This heart-friendly nutrient also has the ability to help support healthy cardiovascular function, and may help support a healthy immune system.

    As we age, our body’s natural production of CoQ10 begins to decline, and as such, supplementation may be useful to assist in the maintenance of general wellbeing in the elderly. There are some medications that may lower the body’s natural production of CoQ10. For further advice we recommend that you speak with your healthcare practitioner.

    Features

    • Provides nutritional support for a healthy cardiovascular system
    • Energises at the cellular level
    • Acts as a powerful antioxidant against the effects of harmful free radicals
    • Helps protect LDL cholesterol from damaging oxidation
  • Women and Heart Health

    Men are usually considered the primary targets when it comes to teaching people about heart health. As for women, we’re often more aware of issues such as osteoporosis, menopause, weight management and PMS. The truth is that women should pay more attention to heart health because it is a unisex issue. In fact, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in women.

    Heart Health Women's heart health

    The heart consists of pure muscle and delivers blood throughout the body. This hard-working organ beats nearly 40 million times per year, which is why it deserves adequate care. The media constantly pressures women to lose weight so that they can fit a certain standard of beauty. Instead of losing weight to fit unrealistic beauty standards, women should work on getting fit to protect their heart.

    Many products are available that can help people lose weight. With that said, the ideal way to maintain a healthy heart comes down to diet and exercise. Since the heart is a muscle, exercise can help keep it in shape. In addition, people can add ingredients to their food that are valuable to the heart. For example, some nutrients are beneficial because they help the body produce energy.

    One way in which people can improve their heart health is to eat foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Some possible options that help keep your heart healthy and help maintain balanced triglycerides include salmon, tuna and sardines. Besides omega-3 fatty acids, some other nutrients that promote heart health include vitamin D, magnesium and potassium. Even herbs like garlic, thistle, grape seed and hawthorn can help the heart support efficient heart function.

    Stress is another factor that can have an impact on a person’s heart health. In today’s world, it can feel like women carry the largest load of stress within a family. They must deal with children, health, work and financial issues. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix when it comes to relieving stress. Most women cannot afford to quit their job or take an exotic vacation; therefore, they must find new ways to cope with stressful situations. Those who can manage their stress are more likely to live a long and happy life.

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