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Chlorophyll – the daily detox

That’s chlorophyll, as in the green stuff plants make – not chloroform, you know,  the stuff you knock someone out with if you’re kidnapping them.  But you’re not the only one to do a double take.  If I had a penny for every time someone gave me a strange look when I explain what the green thing I’m drinking is…well money would be growing on trees.

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In the last few years there has been a surge in popularity of green-food supplements such as spirulina, wheatgrass, barley grass and combinations of kale, spinach and broccoli powders etc.  These all have one obvious property in common: chlorophyll, the green pigment found in plants.  Chlorophyll is structurally very similar to our own blood.  The molecules are virtually identical except for their central atoms: the iron in blood is replaced by magnesium in chlorophyll.

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A daily glass of green water  – 1 teaspoon of liquid chlorophyll diluted in water – can give you an extra dose of vegetables and support the removal of toxins.  And as you know, eliminating toxins efficiently from your body is crucial for that “is it strobe cream or is that actually her skin?” glow. (On a side note, if you have never heard of strobe cream by MAC, check it out – dewy skin that looks oh-so-natural in a tube.  You’re welcome.)  One of the big upsides is also the taste: diluted chlorophyll actually tastes nice.  And yes I do take things like Udo’s oil etc despite the taste, but I have objective confirmation from other people that it’s inoffensive – just a clean, slightly minty taste.

I find chlorophyll also helps me recover quicker after a weekend of indulgence (I practically went swimming in the stuff after Glastonbury) and just generally keep me on the straight and narrow.  You can buy it in some health food shops, although it is one of the more difficult things to track down.  You’re looking for a preservative free formulation, and low strength (200mg/ml) as the higher strengths taste disgusting and can stain your teeth.  Some brands will have spearmint oil, alfalfa extract and vegetable oil, which are all fine.  Nature’s Sunshine is my favourite brand, but have used Dynamic Health’s high strength diluted down more when I’m stuck.  Have you ever tried chlorophyll or any other supplement?

 

 

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5 Essentials for Glowing Skin

I am a self-confessed beauty product junkie. Anything that promises to buff, tone, plump or moisturise I have probably tried at some stage. And despite my effort to switch to all natural moisturisers, deodorants etc, there are still a few must haves I haven’t managed to replace. Dermalogica is my go-to brand when it comes to skincare, but there are a few different other bits and pieces that are worth their weight in gold.

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Whitening your teeth – is it bad?

Whiter teeth is something that appeals to most people, and something most of my patients at least mention.  One of the first questions I always get (from the more health conscious patient anyway) is whether it damages your teeth. I suppose kind of like highlights, or getting a tan, the initial instinct can be that it must cause damage of some description.  I always thought this, especially as whitening your teeth can be associated with increased sensitivity to hot, cold etc.

Teeth whitening doesn’t always improve staining, and can have disastrously painful results when used incorrectly.  Unfortunately there are some types of staining that are caused by medications etc that do not respond to whitening, and other options may then need to be explored.  If there is any underlying disease or decay, this can also result in extreme sensitivity or pain – so it is important to check with your dentist that your teeth are healthy, and suitable for whitening.  Prices vary, but generally anything within the EU that actually works is relatively expensive – and you don’t want to find out after payment and possible sensitivity that it’s not going to work for you.

Staining related to antibiotics. Image from www.drchetan.com

Staining related to antibiotics. Image from http://www.drchetan.com

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Secrets to a glowing complexion…all the time

So much emphasis is put on products and diet when it comes to maintaining clear, youthful skin -and of course these are important.  But life (and “just one drink”) sometimes intervenes, and I wake up with panda eyes, a headache, and some seriously neglected skin.  So I have been searching for a back up plan, to avoid scaring the hell out of my neighbour’s children come Sunday morning.

1. A Silk Pillowcase

The tightly woven smooth fibres of silk help keep moisture close to the skin, and help prevent wrinkles.  Silk is also more gentle on your hair, and while I’m not promising a tangle free mane, it apparently helps reduce breakage and split ends.  Washing your pillowcase twice a week also reduces the build up of bacteria, so if the investment of a silk case is beyond your budget this is a more wallet friendly option.

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The Secret to Shiny Hair

Bad hair days…the bane of every girls existence.  Although it’s usually a bad skin day that I freak out about, since moving to Dublin I have experienced a number of bad hair months.  Apparently the hard water here can wreak havoc with hair health -and as a regular runner (and consequently hair washer!) I can attest that this is 100% true.  Despite how many times I “lather, rinse, repeat” I found my hair feeling greasy as I blow-dried it…and dry shampoo became a necessity the day I washed my hair, rather than a lazy fix to get an extra day out of a blow dry.

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And so to Google I ran, looking for any possible remedy or cure.  The “no poo” shampoo method didn’t work (and added a weird coppery tinge), Listerine rinses (very popular!) made some dent in the greasy areas but not for long, rinsing with filtered water (yes I actually tried this with my Britta filter) wasn’t worth the effort and clarifying shampoos marginally improved things -but the ends of my hair suffered hugely.  I began to consider shaving my head for charity.

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(Okay it wasn’t actually this bad-this photo was just after the ALS ice bucket challenge)

I was doing my best to adjust to my new way of life, (while spending a small fortune on dry shampoo) when I happened to mention my problem to an Aveda sales assistant. She first recommended their “Damage Remedy” for the gnarled frizz masquerading as my hair…SUCCESS! Unlike most leave-in conditioner type things, Damage Remedy can be applied to the roots without any fear of looking like you had a run-in with a bottle of olive oil.  (The Dry Remedy mask is a favourite of mine on sun holidays, but can be overdone – think post-indian head massage look).  And the shine, seriously, the shine! If (like me) you don’t have trims as regularly as your hairdresser recommends (does anyone actually get their hair cut every 6-8weeks?) Damage Remedy is something that can hide this for a few weeks or even months.

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So shiny hair was back, but I still was having issues with the slick mess that would give Fonzie a run for his money.  So back to the Aveda counter I went, looking for another miracle product.  Once again, they came up trumps.  Their “Scalp Benefits” took on the grease monster and won.  Although among the pricier shampoos, I found I was using half the amount of all the other ones I’d tried -and at this stage it was working, so I really didn’t care if I had to sell my phone to buy it.

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So finally, an end to the saga of the grease.  Everyone working on the Aveda counter in BTs possibly thinks I’m a looper, but most definitely worth it.  Has anyone else had problems with hard water?  What worked for you?

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Good fats and great guacamole

Avocado is possibly my most favourite food ever.  It beats chocolate at times (yes, that’s how much I love them). Apparently even when I was a tot I would eat anything, provided it was mashed up with avocado.  We lived in Oregon at the time, and perfectly ripe avocados were easy to find.  Unfortunately finding them in Dublin takes determination and patience.  Finding that “just soft enough” but not  “blackened and spotty on the inside” balance is a skill that has to be cultivated. I have been known to buy 5 or 6 at a time -which makes me feel like some sort of addict when I’m only cooking for one…and eat at work for breakfast and lunch.  I do seem to use them up before they have gone off -quite an achievement if you have any experience with avocados.

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Avocados have become more popular over the last few years (I no longer have to explain the green stuff in my lunchbox like I did when I was 6 years old) and even neared the realm of the ever increasing “super foods”.  Avocados contain more fat than virtually any other fruit -and have classically been avoided by anyone trying to lose weight.  However avocado is a nutrient dense food and and one of the “good fats” – high in monounsaturated fatty acids -and can actually help you lose weight, and is fantastic for moisturising your skin from the inside out. Continue reading

Milk Kefir

Milk kefir -homemade probiotics

So you’ve tried the paleo diet, going gluten-free, cutting back on sugar and are munching on superfoods like it’s going out of fashion.  You’re feeling much better than before, but maybe not quite as good as you would expect.  Why? You are what you eat, right?  Well kinda…you are what you eat -and your gut can absorb and digest.  You can be eating all the super foods and green smoothies you like but if you can’t absorb the nutrients in them, you might be wasting you time. Continue reading

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Gluten Free Granola

Gluten free is everywhere these days -it’s almost becoming a cult obsession.  Although I wouldn’t have thought it would benefit anyone except coeliacs or those with a proven allergy, that may not actually be the case.  Well known Australian journalist and blogger, Sarah Wilson, has advocated a gluten free diet for anyone with an autoimmune disorder for years now.  She herself suffers from an autoimmune disorder that affects her thyroid, and attributes increased control of the disease and improved quality of life to quitting sugar and gluten.  She helps explain the recent phenomenon of the world and it’s mother suddenly developing allergies to gluten.

I have also seen a friend of mine benefit hugely from cutting out gluten completely. Continue reading

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Almond milk custard

So this dairy free experiment was recently tested by a trip home to see my parents. My family love good food. My mum is a great cook and my dad likes to bake. This makes for a reasonably healthy household, with very little store bought, processed foods. However…there is an abundance of milk, butter, cream and everything you can make or bake containing these ingredients. And we were going away for the weekend- so I wouldn’t have the back up of a fully stocked kitchen to make my own meals.  Cue anxiety about what I was going to eat and a serious skin flare-up!!

Impossible to resist!

Impossible to resist!

By Saturday morning, after a breakfast of rice flake muesli and almond milk, I had resorted to experimenting with whatever I could get my hands on…which was not a whole lot.   Continue reading

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The Healthy Skin Diet

I have been troubled by my skin for years now. It may not be the most obvious, as when my skin is good, it is great…but I have suffered from eczema, dry skin, red patches, acne, sensitivity and food-related flare ups. Most tend to be related to changing climate, hormone imbalance (I have PCOS) and most of all stress. During one study month in college I spent two weeks attempting to study at home instead of the library because a red rash appeared all over my face, due to drinking coffee – which was one thing I certainly couldn’t live without while studying.   Another time, while on holiday in Spain, I got a rash of red spots all over my back and arms from using a chlorinated swimming pool and had to avoid the pool for the rest of the week. When I’m very stressed I also tend to get a weird type of eczema on my face that stings and only goes away with a prescription cream. Such fun. But through all of these trials and tribulations, I have learned to understand my skin, and deal with it to a certain extent. Continue reading