How Do I Look?

The media tells us all the time that beauty and youth are important and that, as we get older we must, therefore, be losing something important but is that really so?

“My greatest beauty secret is being happy with myself. I don’t use special creams or treatments – I’ll use a little bit of everything. It’s a mistake to think you are what you put on yourself. I believe that a lot of how you look is to do with how you feel about yourself and your life. Happiness is the greatest beauty secret” Tina Turner.

Many people freak out, when they hit a certain age, about what to wear. Why? You’re all grown up, you don’t have to please anyone other than yourself so wear whatever the hell you please, if it’s just a question of age that is. It’s more likely that your body shape has changed and you don’t know how to style it or that you’re not happy with the way that you look and therefore you lack confidence. Really the problems we may think we have with fashion are no different than when we were in our 20’s; how many times did you think (or ask) ‘does my bum look big in this?’ when you were in your 20’s or your 30’s come to that? Very few of us are ever completely happy with the way we look and maybe that’s what we need  to change – our attitude rather than our wardrobe, it would certainly be cheaper.

This is Winnie Harlow and she suffers from a severe form of the skin condition vitiligo. b4b21eebb2a1df3228ff0c2d842e9ea5 (1)

However she is also a model and a brand ambassador for clothing label Desigual.

Some people might have chosen to hide themselves away because they looked different to everyone else but looking different has made Winnie’s career.

What we see in the mirror is not necessarily what everybody else sees so, before you look at the clothes you’re wearing or your make-up really look at you and focus on what makes you special.

What emotions do these two pictures stir in you?e15018d22ddb31681d760c20776bc2c2--beautiful-smile-beautiful-peopleo-ANGRY-facebook One woman is, undoubtedly, old and the other is young and quite beautiful but which image makes you feel good?

If you think about those people that you like to spend time with, those who are closest to you, are they miserable or happy? Kind and considerate or critical and angry? Now think about why those people like to spend time with you……

The media tells us all the time that beauty and youth are important and that, as we get older we must, therefore, be losing something important but is that really so?

The happier we are on the inside the more we will smile, relax and be comfortable in our own skins and the more other people will want to spend time with us – isn’t that a wonderfully simple way to make friends and enjoy life?


You are what you eat but what the hell are you eating?

Well, while it’s not true of all additives, some are included in processed or refined foods to make them more desirable to the consumer in much the same way as nicotine was added to cigarettes to make them more desirable or, in other words, addictive.

“Antibiotics and growth hormone are other additives being excessively pumped into the animals we are eating, which means we’re then consuming these excess antibiotics and hormones. And some processed foods actually contain toxic chemicals, often used to prevent spoilage and enhance flavour”  Kristin Cavallari

Have you ever wondered what goes into the food that we all eat on a regular basis? What makes all those bright colours and the sweet creamy taste? Well, quite simply it’s chemicals that are added as part of the manufacturing process and they are designed to make the food last longer, change its colour, flavour or texture; the question is why?

Well, while it’s not true of all additives, some are included in processed or refined foods to make them more desirable to the consumer in much the same way as nicotine was added to cigarettes to make them more desirable or, in other words, addictive. There is even something called the Yale Food Addiction Scale which measures the predisposition for addiction to high fat and sugary foods. Unfortunately, as well as the addiction side of food additives there is also the ‘this can seriously damage your health side of things!

For example, when manufacturers cottoned on to the fact that people were looking for a quick fix to weight gain, they introduced ‘diet’ sodas and used chemicals to produce the sweet taste that consumers craved. This is the ingredients list for one diet soda that’s drunk world-wide:

Carbonated Water, Caramel Color, Phosphoric Acid, Potassium Benzoate (To Protect Taste), Aspartame, Natural Flavors, Acesulfame Potassium, Caffeine.

Let’s break down some of these ingredients to see what they actually are:

Caramel colour is, as it says, a food colouring and one that the State of California has classified as a potential carcinogen (i.e. a substance capable of causing cancer). This study concludes that “Given that a sizable fraction of the U.S. population consumes these beverages, and high consumption by some persons, a substantial cancer burden may persist even if exposures are reduced”

Phosphoric acid is used to add the fizzy tang; as a chemical substance it’s not really something that you want to be coming into contact with as your skin, eyes and breathing can be adversely affected by the fumes. Added to that, studies have shown that one of the most popular sodas containing phosphoric acid can have a negative effect on bone density in older women.

Potassium Benzoate is (apparently) used to protect the taste of the product; unfortunately this chemical is also a known mutagenic i.e. something that will cause mutations in our body’s cells which could then lead to the body producing tumours.

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener which is found in thousands of so called ‘diet’ products. When aspartame is consumed over a long period and in quantity it has a toxic effect on the body as it elevates free radical levels. The authors of this study said “Since aspartame consumption is on the rise among people, it is essential to create awareness regarding the usage of this artificial sweetener”

Acesulfame Potassium (also known as Acesulfame K and E950) is another artificial sweetener which, critics say, has the potential to cause cancer. The FDA looked at the chemical and declared that it is “safe up to an acceptable daily intake”; I don’t know about you but that doesn’t really fill me with confidence!

If you think that drinks are bad, wait until you see what’s in the food that you eat. We had a look at the ingredients list for one of the burgers from a well-known fast food chain

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast with Rib Meat, Water, Salt, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Honey, Onion Powder, Natural Flavor, Dried Vinegar, Rice Starch. Grilled with Clarified Butter (Pasteurized Milk [Butterfat]). Wheat Flour or Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour or Bleached Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Dextrose, Salt, Contains 2% or Less: Natural Flavors, Corn Flour, Soybean Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Mono- and Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid, Calcium Peroxide, Enzymes, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Vegetable Proteins (Pea, Potato, Rice), Sunflower Oil, Turmeric, Paprika, Corn Starch, Wheat Starch, Acetic Acid. Pork Bellies Cured with Water, Salt, Sugar, Natural Smoke Flavor, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite. Water, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Tomato Paste, Distilled Vinegar, Onions, Modified Food Starch, Salt, Contains 2% Or Less; Chili Pepper, Soybean Oil, Onion Powder, Mustard Seed, Natural Flavor, Sodium Benzoate And Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Xanthan Gum, Spices, Citric Acid, Turmeric, Paprika, Garlic Powder. Milk, Water, Cheese Culture, Cream, Sodium Citrate, Contains 2% or Less: Salt, Citric Acid, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), May Contain One or More of: Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Pyrophosphate, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Enzymes, Acetic Acid, Soy Lecithin. Onions, Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sunflower, Safflower and/or Canola Oil, Salt.

That’s a pretty impressive list for a bacon/cheeseburger isn’t it? Let’s have a look at a few of them to see what you are really eating:

Monocalcium phosphate and sodium phosphate the addition of phosphates to our modern diets have been linked to kidney failure and heart problems (Have a look at the number of other ‘phosphates’ there are in this ingredients list.)

Sodium Benzoate (E211) is a food preservative and, when it is mixed with vitamin C, something called benzene is formed which is a known carcinogen.

Potassium Sorbate (E202) is another preservative. Recent studies at universities in Turkey concluded that it should be “labeled as a genotoxic and mutagenic compound because it damages white blood cells.”

Xanthan Gum is an emulsifier and also a highly effective laxative!

Calcium Peroxide (E930) is a flour bleaching agent and has also been labelled as a hazardous substance by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.

Sodium Nitrite (E250) is yet another preservative. According to this article, foods treated with sodium nitrite contain n-nitroso compounds which have been shown, in animal experiments to be “the most broadly acting and the most potent group of carcinogens”

All in all there really is very little in this list that we can recognise as being natural or in its original state which is worrying.

The ingredients we have looked at along with the risks that they present to our health are all contained within one meal – a burger and a soda – that’s it; we haven’t thought about the fries that might go with it or the donut that might come afterwards and the additives that they contain………

Self Repair: ON

there are many natural remedies we can use which have the added benefit of no side-effects, unlike many drug treatments.

“We have finally started to notice that there is real curative value in local herbs and remedies. In fact, we are also becoming aware that there are little or no side effects to most natural remedies, and that they are often more effective than Western medicine”. Anne Wilson Schaef

It’s natural that, as we get older, we may get more aches, pains and ailments but that doesn’t mean that we need to take root in the local doctor’s surgery; there are many natural remedies we can use which have the added benefit of no side-effects, unlike many drug treatments.

Take something like a touch of arthritis, common in many middle aged people; we get some pain and reach for the nearest bottle of pills, typically an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen. Unfortunately, this group of medicines, known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can have a number of side effects, some quite mild such as headaches, nausea, stomach pain, changes in bowel movements and heartburn but, especially with prolonged use, they can also cause stomach ulcers, blood clots and high blood pressure. Although pills are an easy and quick acting option there are also natural anti-inflammatories that Mother Nature has been kind enough to give to us:

 Curcumin which is found in turmeric is a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory and you can find it easily in big super markets or health food stores. Mix a teaspoonful with hot water to make a tea and drink twice a day; if you’re not keen in the taste, add in a spoonful of honey.  download (16)

Ginger is another natural alternative to ibuprofen. Take a piece of fresh ginger root about half the size of your thumb and then slice, crush the slices a little to break them down and then add to hot water; let it stand for 10 minutes or so and then drink up. If you’re a juicing fan, you can also add raw ginger to orange and carrots……

Adding shitake mushrooms to our diet is another great way to discourage inflammation in our bodies and the same applies to fatty fish such as salmon.Fresh-salmon-with-spices-and-lemons-1030x686

Another common ailment in older people is high blood pressure which can lead to some serious health problems; medicines are available to treat it but side effects can include stomach problems, dizziness and headaches so some dietary changes could be your first port of call:

Increase your intake of potassium, magnesium and calcium by adding white beans, greens such as spinach and kale, fresh milk and bananas to your diet. Scientific studies have also shown that eating garlic regularly can help significantly to help reduce your blood pressure.

High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol put us at risk of serious heart problems and, unfortunately, as we get older, our LDL cholesterol levels rise so we need to do what we can to lower the bad and raise the good (HDL) and food can help with that:

When you cook or make salad dressings use Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Increase your intake of high fibre fruits such as prunes and pears

Eat more avocado and almonds both of which will help raise HDL levels and lower            LDL levels.

Avoid trans fats which are often found in processed and junk food.

Ultimately there will be times when we need to see a doctor and have our medical problems fixed but improving our diets and getting our bodies moving more will mean that our visits will be likely to be less frequent…


Going South

It’s a sad fact of life that, as we get older, various bits of our bodies that used to be bouncy and perky tend to gravitate south…..

“I remember the moment I first became aware of aging. I was 30. I looked down at my knees, and the skin above them had become a little loose. And I thought, ‘And so it begins!’  Kate Christensen

It’s a sad fact of life that, as we get older, various bits of our bodies that used to be bouncy and perky tend to gravitate south; what were once high round globes are now more like the balloons that someone forgot to take down a week after a party!

Fortunately there are things that we can to ‘perk’ ourselves up. Eating the right foods and doing the right exercises won’t give you the body of a 20 year old super model  but they will help you to look as good as you possibly can.

As we get older the collagen in our skin starts to break down and our bodies are just not as good at repairing the damage as when we were younger so we need to think about what we can eat to encourage collagen production. Essentially we need to load up on foods that contain the vitamins which do exactly that, namely, A, C and E. So, from the top:

For foods that are rich in vitamin A think green and orange; we should definitely be adding dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale, to our shopping baskets as well as sweet potatoes and carrots if we want to boost our vitamin A intake. We should also be eating more eggs and, love it or hate it, beef liver.       download (7)

To up vitamin C levels think fruit; citrus fruits, strawberries and kiwi are fantastic sources! almonds-avocado

 Vitamin E is another collagen booster and it’s found in green leafy vegetables and sweet potatoes as well as avocado but, for a real boost, add a small handful of almonds to daily food intake.

Once we’ve sorted out what we can put into our bodies to help our skin retain its elasticity we need to focus on what we can do to firm our muscles so that we have a better chance at fighting gravity……

Walking will certainly to keep the muscles in our lower bodies toned but, if we want to target saggy bums specifically, we need to think about squats, clams and bridges. If it’s an uplift for our boobs that we are looking for then our exercise regime needs to include planks, push ups and bench presses.