Is switching to aluminium-free deodorant better for your health?

Deodorants and antiperspirants have become staples in our modern day hygiene routines. Just like brushing your teeth, chances are you are applying your deodorant everyday out of habit without even thinking.

Just like any other hygiene/beauty product, deodorants and antiperspirants contain chemicals.

You’ve probably heard of the fears circulating that certain chemicals in deodorants and antiperspirants could lead to breast cancer, kidney diseases or allergies. But is this really the case? Is there evidence to support this? And should we be rushing to change our normal deodorants to an aluminium-free version?

I’ve been scratching my head for a long time on this topic and wanted to find an answer once and for all. So I went on a little mission to try to find as much information as possible and put my mind at ease. And here is what I found.

First things first

There is a difference between deodorants and antiperspirants

Most people use the terms interchangeably, I know I definitely do, but they are actually two very different things.

Deodorants target armpit bacteria that create odours, but they do not stop you from sweating.

Antiperspirants contain ingredients – most commonly an aluminium compound – that prevents sweat glands from releasing sweat.

Most products nowadays contain a mixture of both – stop you from sweating and if there should be even a tiny bit of sweat, cover the odour immediately – win win situation.

Ok, so where’s the concern here?

The main concern is with aluminium being present in antiperspirants. There are two main worries when it comes to aluminium. The first has to do with an old theory that aluminum is in some way associated with Alzheimer’s disease and the second negative association is that it might be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

However, according to the National Cancer Institute, “no scientific evidence links the use of these products to the development of breast cancer.”

Researchers said that “That theory kind of came up because when we think about where we put on deodorant, the closest area of your breast is the right upper quadrant. And what researchers saw was that the majority of breast cancers started in the right upper quadrant.”

As a result, the theory spread that aluminum-based deodorants might be responsible for causing cancer. It was believed that they enter the bloodstream and wreak havoc on breast cells, eventually mutating into cancer.

Very recent research published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information points out that frequent use of antiperspirants can cause aluminum to accumulate in breast tissue, but this doesn’t prove that aluminum salts can cause breast cancer.

In fact, breast cancer tissue doesn’t seem to contain more aluminum than normal breast tissue.

In terms of cancer specifically it was shown that there’s no conclusive evidence demonstrating that aluminum containing deodorants cause breast cancer, even if you have higher prescription-strength aluminum deodorant and even if somebody just shaved and put it in their skin straight after.

Apparently the amount of absorption that somebody is getting from that is negligible and thus we can chill about the whole thing.

Verdict.

Given the most recent research suggesting that we have nothing to worry about, we don’t need to ditch our normal deodorants. But to be plain honest with you the “natural, minimal ingredient, aluminium-free” versions still sound more attractive to me.

All in all, whichever product you decide to use, you can rest assured that you’re not causing yourself any bodily harm.

Tips on how to get started with Intermittent Fasting

Hello my beautiful darlings,

I am absolutely thrilled by the overwhelmingly positive response that I received from my previous post about intermittent fasting. So many of you have expressed interest in trying the 16/8 method that I recommended. So, in an effort to help you get started, I’ve put together a brief post on little tips and tricks that you can try in order to give you the best chance of succeeding with intermittent fasting. Hope you enjoy!

Start here

The first thing I’d like to say to anyone new to fasting is to take it easy. We’ve grown up predominantly in a society which encourages the consumption of three main meals, the first being shortly after we wake up in the morning. Only recently have we began questioning the reasoning and logic behind this. So don’t pressure yourself to master this “new” way of eating. Just like any habit change it will take some time and patience. To make things easier you can try;

  1. Start gradually: Try fasting for 12 hours and gradually increase your fasting time to 16 hours. So for example, say you finish your evening meal at 9pm, try not having anything (except water, herbal tea or black coffee) until 9am the next day. Then gradually begin delaying the breaking of the fast to 10am then 11am etc.
  2. Drink water: It’s easy to confuse thirst with hunger. Start your day with a large glass or two of plain water. Not only does this kick start your metabolism, hydrate you after the many hours of not consuming liquids but it also gives you a feeling of fullness due to the stretching of the stomach which then suppresses the hunger hormone.
  3. Drink black coffee: Black coffee is an excellent appetite suppressant. Studies have shown that people who drink black coffee on average eat less food, have lower blood sugar levels and are at less risk of developing diabetes. Don’t go overboard with the coffee though, I’d recommend no more than 2 cups per day.
  4. Drink your coffee slowly: I can drink one americano for 4-5 hours! Just keep the cup at your desk and whenever you remember just take a sip of coffee followed by 2-3 sips of water. Call me crazy but this ratio works wonders! The bitter taste of the coffee kills off any appetite for food and the water after that tastes almost sweet.
  5. Do not have absolutely anything that contains calories during the fasting period (not even a bite): This is extremely important. Ever heard of the saying “Appetite comes with the food” ? Well this applies 100% here. For example, say that at around 11 am I ate 2 strawberries. I guarantee that by 11:30 am I will be ravenously hungry. While if I didn’t eat the two strawberries I could go until 4/5pm without even being hungry. So unless you’re having a meal do not eat anything because it will just make you hungry. This means no snacks. Who even invented snacks?
  6. Keep your mind focused (on something other than food):The beauty of fasting is that it frees up so much of your time so that you can focus on your work, studies or hobbies. For those with too much free time it may be a little more difficult. Especially in the beginning, you may find yourself thinking about food which is completely normal, and trying to block out those thoughts is just plain exhausting so the easier way is to just focus on something else, and focus on that something else fully.
  7. Be flexible: What I love about the 16/8 method is that it’s so flexible! As long as you make sure that there 16 hours of fasting every single day you can play around with the exact timings of your meals. For example, say that I have brunch at 11 am on Sunday, in order to make sure I still fast for 16 hours I will finish my evening meal by 7 pm on Saturday night.

 

Hope this has been helpful and feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section below!

 

Happy fasting!

 

The miracle of intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting, prolonged fasting, religious fasting … chances are you’ve heard of fasting before. The topic tends to spark a lot of confusion and perhaps may trigger images of emaciated individuals or yogis meditating on a mountain top in your mind when you think of it. So the aim of this post is to somewhat clear the confusion surrounding the topic, give you the top 5 health benefits of intermittent fasting and provide some solid reasons as to why I think you should try it!

What is intermittent fasting?

In very basic terms, fasting allows you to burn your own excess body fat. Intermittent fasting therefore refers to doing this at set recurring intervals. It is important to know that this is completely natural and that your body does this even without you being aware of it. When you sleep at night you are essentially fasting that’s why the first meal you have when you wake up is called breakfast, you are breaking your fast.

Body fat is merely stored energy from previously eaten food. So when you’re not eating, your body is “eating” its own fat for energy. You can probably already guess some health benefits associated with that! But more on the health benefits a little later, let’s first look at some different fasting styles.

Different intermittent fasting styles

Intermittent fasting is essentially a pattern of eating. The specifics of the pattern vary with each of the different forms however they all have one thing in common and that is a cycle of eating followed by a cycle of not eating. There are many different forms of intermittent fasting but here are a few of the most common ones.

The 16/8 Method: This is by far the most common fasting style. Essentially you have an 8-hour eating window followed by 16 hours of not eating anything (sleeping is included in the fasting hours). This is the method that I use most commonly although I alternate between the warrior diet and this method quite frequently. So, for example, what I do when I follow the 16/8 method is I stop eating at 9pm and have absolutely nothing (except water and black coffee) until 1pm the next day. So basically skipping breakfast. You can play this out however you want, you can skip dinner if you prefer. The key is to have 16 hours of eating absolutely nothing and eating all your meals within an 8-hour period.

For women, this is the preferred method of fasting as it has been shown that women do better on it when compared to the others. This is mainly due to women being more sensitive to ghrelin, the hunger hormone.

For people who are hungry in the morning, this may take some time to get used to while on the other hand, many breakfast skippers will find that this way of eating comes instinctively to them.

The Warrior Diet: This is my next favourite form of intermittent fasting. The warrior diet is basically eating one large meal a day within a 4-hour window. You can eat a small amount of fruit or vegetables during the day and you have one large meal in the evening.

The arrangement is essentially 20 hours fasting and 4 hours feasting.

What I love most about this style of fasting is the mental focus I achieve when I do it. You see, when you eat your body goes into “Rest and digest” mode which means that it’s expending a large amount of your total energy on digesting your food while only a small amount is left to perform other tasks. This is usually why many people feel less productive during the afternoon. So not eating anything, or just having one or two small fruits during the day means that you have the majority of your body’s total energy available to use in productive ways.

The 5:2 Diet: This is when you eat normally for 5 days of the week and fast for 2 days. In the 2 days of fasting, it is recommended that women eat 500 calories, while men 600 calories. This form of fasting was popularised by Michael Mosley, a British journalist and doctor. For example, this can mean that you eat normally on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday while on Tuesday and Thursday you have only two very small meals of 250 calories each.

Alternate-day Fasting: This is where you fast every other day. Some people either fast completely (i.e. eat nothing at all the whole day) while others choose to consume up to 500 calories on fasting days.

Eating nothing at all every other day is rather extreme so I would not recommend this form of fasting for beginners or for prolonged periods of time.

Eat-stop-Eat method: This method involves doing a 24-hour fast once or twice per week. The way you can play this out is for example by finishing your dinner at 7 pm on Tuesday night and eating nothing again until 7 pm on Wednesday night.

Top 5 Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

  1. Weight-loss and improved fat burning – When you don’t eat your serum insulin levels drop and when this happens your body can tap into your fat storages for energy. This means that you are using your own body fat for energy rather than the food that you eat. As you can imagine, this results in fat loss.
  2. Improved mental clarity and concentration – As mentioned previously, when your body isn’t using its energy to digest food you have access to a large amount of your body’s total energy to use for productive purposes. This for me is one of the most important reasons to fast as I love the feeling of mental clarity.
  3. Reversal of type-2 diabetes – This is major! Science is just beginning to recognise how important fasting can be in preventing and reversing type 2 diabetes.
  4. Increased growth hormone – Many people believe that if you fast you may lose your muscle mass and therefore think they need to eat every 2-3 hours. Research however, says otherwise. Scientific studies suggest that periods of fasting are followed by a surge of increased growth hormone.
  5. Lowered blood sugar and cholesterol levels – When you are in a fasted state your blood sugar levels are maintained at a low level and your cholesterol levels are also lowered.

 

 

 

Recommendation

If you’re new to fasting and want to give it a go I would recommend by starting with the 16/8 method listed above. Alternatively, you can start with a 12 hour fasting period and gradually increase it to 16 hours. This is the most gentle form of intermittent fasting which can be safely maintained over a long period of time.

Also, remember that this isn’t unnatural and you’re not starving yourself. Humans have evolved to thrive on periods of fasting. What’s unnatural is eating every 2 or so hours. Not only is it not good for your health but it also takes so much time of your day just thinking about food, preparing food and eating food that could be used for other purposes.

Give your digestive system and body a break to experience the healing effect of intermittent fasting.

Telomeres: What are they and what is their role in keeping you younger and healthier?

Is there a way of finding out the rate at which your body is ageing? Or more importantly, is there a way of slowing it down, stopping or, dare I say, reversing that rate? Well, telomeres may just be the answer to those questions.

When I talk about ageing, straight away most younger people would picture an elderly person and quickly dismiss the information as irrelevant to them. But, what they may be unaware of is the fact that ageing actually begins the day you’re born. Does that surprise you?

What are telomeres?

You see, every time your cells divide (which happens all the time) the repeating segments of noncoding DNA at the end of your chromosomes, shortens. This last part of the chromosome is known as a telomere, and it sort of resembles the plastic end of shoelaces which helps to keep the shoelace from unravelling.

That may sound a bit depressing, but the good news is that as well as shortening with each cell division, telomeres also have the ability to lengthen. Hence, reverse ageing! Now, what does that mean for a young person? It means; glowing, vibrant and plump skin, it means heaps of energy, it means healthier faster metabolism, stronger immune system. Essentially, it means all the bodily functions will be operating at the optimal level for your body.

There is a finite number of times that a cell can divide before it dies. Just as there is a finite number of base pairs (units of DNA) of telomeres that can be lost before your chromosomes become exposed and begin to unravel, which is where the breakdown of the body begins.

So, here is a typical trajectory for the life of a human’s telomere:

Age

Telomere Length (in base pairs)

Newborn baby

10,000 base pairs

35 years old

7,500 base pairs

65 years old

4,800 base pairs

The shortening of telomeres as the years pass is unfortunately inevitable. However, we do have a lot of control over the rate at which this happens.

The Telomere Effect

In their book, The Telomere Effect, Nobel prize winners Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel discuss some instances that they have discovered which affect the length of our telomeres. Some examples include;

  • Some of us respond to difficult situations by feeling highly threatened – and this response is linked to shorter telomeres. Hence stress is extremely devastating to our telomeres. But we can reframe our view of situations in a more positive way and thus reduce our stress levels.
  • Several mind-body techniques, including meditation and Qigong, have been shown to reduce stress and to increase telomerase, the enzyme that replenishes telomeres.
  • Exercise that promotes cardiovascular fitness is great for telomeres. So, for the folks out there hating on cardio, think again.
  • Telomeres hate processed meats like hot dogs and ham, but fresh, whole foods are good for them.
  • Neighbourhoods that are low in social cohesion – meaning that people don’t know and trust one another are bad for telomeres. This is true no matter what the income level.
  • Children who are exposed to several adverse life events have shorter telomeres. Moving children away from neglectful circumstances (like the notorious Romanian orphanages) can reverse some of the damage.
  • Telomeres on the parents’ chromosomes in the egg and sperm are directly transmitted to the developing baby. Remarkably, this means that if your parents had hard lives that shortened their telomeres, they could have passed those shortened telomeres to you.

 

There are so many factors that affect your telomeres and therefore your cell’s ability to function optimally. So in brief, what can you do from today to start slowing down or reversing cellular damage, or ageing?

Here’s a few suggestions:

Make sure you read number 7 (it’s my favourite one!)

  1. Think kind and loving thoughts – Your cells are listening to your thoughts. Think only kind thoughts about yourself and others and you will be amazed at how lovingly your cells will respond. This is no new age business here people! This is hard science documented by pioneer researchers who’ve been awarded a Nobel Prize for their findings.
  2. Manage stress- or take a chill pill as they say. Stress takes a toll on the body in ways that is hard to imagine. It increases your risk of almost all known diseases and it shortens your telomeres. So, try to manage your stress levels through the help of meditation, mindfulness or whatever works for you.
  3. Exercise – We hear this all the time. But seriously, exercise is so important. Most of us are guilty of not doing enough. Aerobic exercise appears to be best for cellular health and longer telomeres.
  4. A healthy metabolism- Insulin resistance and belly fat are real enemies of telomeres. Try to maintain a healthy metabolism by not crash dieting and keep your serum insulin levels low by consuming less carbohydrates.
  5. Eat for optimal cell health – Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds along with high-quality sources of protein. Consume sources of omega 3 such as; salmon and tuna, leafy green vegetables and flaxseeds. Minimise red meat (especially processed meat). And avoid sugary foods and drinks.
  6. Rest – Telomeres like at least 7 hours of sleep. With sufficient sleep you will feel less hungry, less emotional and lose fewer telomere base pairs.
  7. The places and faces that support our telomeres – Whether we like it or not, or whether we accept it or not, we are interconnected to the people around us in ways that we cannot see yet our telomeres can reveal. We need each other. We are social creatures. We’re also affected in more subtle ways like by the way we feel in our neighbourhood, by the abundance of green plants and trees and by the emotional and physiological states of those around us. So let’s be nice to each other, let’s create friendly neighbourhoods, let’s plant more trees and let’s spend more time outdoors enjoying nature.

Living a long and healthy life isn’t rocket science, but it does require tuning back into our true nature. Eating real food, moving about, breathing clean, fresh air and loving the people around us. <3

 

Acai Berry Protein Smoothie

This is probably the simplest smoothie recipe ever! I’m a big fan of simplicity and you’ll see quite a few of these coming up.

This Acai Berry Protein Smoothie not only tastes like chocolate berry sorbet but it’ll also give you a health kick with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and keep you feeling full (due to the protein). All this in only 190 kcal! Win win.

Ingredients:

  • Acai berry (1 sachet) I use the brand Sambozan
  • Frozen berries (1 handful)
  • Chocolate protein powder (1 large scoop) I use the Women’s best Slim Body Shake powder
  • Water (varies between 200-400ml depending on how you like the consistency of the smoothie)

What good will this smoothie do for me?

  1. Packed full of antioxidants – Acai berry is known for its high content of antioxidants. It may even contain more antioxidants than any of the other berries. Whats more is that in this smoothie we’re adding a handful of frozen berries, that gives it more antioxidants still! But, why should we care about antioxidants? Well, antioxidants are substances that protect the cell from free radicals. An accumulation of free radicals can lead to oxidative damage, which can then lead to a host of diseases. Which we do not want. So you can view antioxidants are the guardians and protectors of your cells, keeping you healthy and glowing.
  2. High in fibre – Everyone is raving about fibre these days. And for good reason! Anything that doesn’t contain fibre is more or less constipation food. Therefore we want to make sure that we’re eating plenty of fibre. Fibre has so many benefits like regulating the absorption of sugar and thereby reducing the glycaemic index of food, it’s a fuel for the good bacteria in the large intestine and helps to remove toxins and waste from our bodies. In this smoothie, there is fibre in every ingredient (except the water).
  3. High in vitamins C, A, B1, B2, B3 and E –  As we know vitamins are extremely important. Although our bodies do not require them in large quantities, they are absolutely essential for the optimal function of the body. The above-listed vitamins have many health benefits including; supporting the immune system, supporting the nervous system and helping prevent premature ageing.
  4. Source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc and copper – Again these are needed in small amounts but indeed very needed. These minerals help with the regulation of hormones that ensure order in the body. When your hormones are balanced, you are balanced. Simples.

Check out the nutritional facts of the smoothie below and give this baby a try!