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The benefits of aloe vera for skin
The benefits of aloe vera for skin

The aloe vera cactus may not seem like the obvious beauty treat, but this succulent has an unprecedented healing effect on skin and body. Read on to discover its healthful benefits, both inside and out.

 

Why a spiky cactus plant holds the secret to beautiful skin?

Aloe vera is a bona fide super ingredient, with a long list of health benefits and a celebrity following that dates right back to Egyptian times. Cleopatra used the plant in her beauty regime, selecting it to treat everything from burns to infections and parasites.

But it’s not only the rich and famous who reap the benefits of aloe vera for skin, it’s well known among health and beauty aficionados who seek out the medicinal wonder ingredient in everything from food supplements, drinks and smoothies to cleansers, masks and after sun care. Why? The jelly-like substance found inside the thick spiky leaves of the aloe vera cactus is laden with an impressive list of nutrients, including 20 minerals, 12 vitamins, 18 amino acids and 200 active plant compounds or phytonutrients.

There’s a myriad of health benefits attributed to the plant. As well as being a potent antioxidant, aloe vera is said to boost immune function, reduce high blood pressure and aid digestion.

 

Aloe vera gel benefits for skin

Applied topically, the gel is purported to be outstanding for skin health. The high water content (99.5 per cent) means it’s very hydrating, soothing and cooling (that’s why it’s a common ingredient in after sun products). It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory and can treat skin conditions including psoriasis, sunburn, acne, dry skin and frostbite. Furthermore, it makes a very effective make-up remover.

 

Drink to health

Aloe vera has a slightly bitter flavor so is not the most pleasant tasting plant. However, blended into a smoothie with other ingredients such as berries, coconut milk and green vegetables like cucumber and spinach, it provides a nutrient-rich super drink that will cleanse your system and benefit your skin.

Tip: When using fresh aloe vera leaves, allow them to drain before cutting out the gel-like flesh from skin. Stand the leaf in a glass leaving the cut end down. A yellow substance should leak out after a while. This is a latex found just beneath the skin and is what gives the aloe vera its bitter taste. It’s also a common ingredient in laxatives.

So whether you’re ingesting it or applying it to your skin, harvesting it from a plant or buying it in products, this natural plant ingredient will soothe, hydrate and repair stressed skin, for a newly radiant look.

Signs you’re suffering from low iron
Signs you’re suffering from low iron

We are all likely to know someone who has needed an iron supplement, or we may have taken one ourselves, and this is because iron deficiency is the top nutritional deficiency in the world.

 

Iron is an essential element which is required for numerous cellular metabolic functions, however most importantly it is needed by the body to create red blood cells which transport oxygen throughout the body.

 

As many as 80% of us do not have enough iron in our bodies, so to help combat this we are looking at the four most common signs that may indicate you have low iron levels.

 

·         Tiredness and Fatigue

A feeling of fatigue and tiredness that does not go away with rest is one of the most common signs you may have low iron levels. Iron is a component of haemoglobin which is required by the body to carry oxygen from the lungs and transport it throughout the body. Without enough iron the body is unable to make enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells, ultimately affecting your energy levels.

 

·         Pale Skin

Paleness throughout the body, including skin, eyelids, nails or any other area can indicate low levels of iron. This is due to low levels of haemoglobin which gives the blood its red colour and consequently our skin its rosy colour. If haemoglobin levels are low, the red blood cells become smaller and paler meaning our skin also becomes paler.

 

·         Shortness of breath

Difficulty breathing can be a regular occurrence if you have low levels of iron, especially if you undertake regular physical activity. This is because the lack of iron present means that the body is unable to move oxygen from the lungs around the body, thus reducing oxygen levels and increasing your breathing rate as your body tries to get more oxygen.

 

Why so many symptoms?

Looking at these symptoms you may wonder why low levels of iron can present itself in so many ways, this is because iron plays a fundamental role in so many functions within the body, each producing a symptom which manifests itself in a different way.

 

Experiencing these symptoms may indicate you have an iron deficiency, if this is the case, consider testing your levels and consult your GP.

What to eat for a better night’s sleep?
What to eat for a better night’s sleep?

When it comes to getting a decent night’s sleep, there are some obvious rules to follow. Not using your phone or computer right before bedtime, having a regular bedtime routine and having relaxation rituals to wind down before you go to bed are all good ideas. But the foods you’re eating can also have a big impact on your sleep, so if you’re struggling to get eight hours, try making these changes to your diet.

 

Cut the caffeine

We all love a cup of coffee or tea in the morning, but your caffeine habit could be keeping you up at night. Gradually reduce your caffeine intake throughout the day, and have your last cup of tea or coffee (or other caffeinated drink) no later than lunchtime.

 

Tea before bed

Since you’ve cut out your afternoon cuppa, replace it with a nice soothing cup of chamomile tea. It contains apigenin, which is an antioxidant that has been linked with promoting sleepiness. In studies, participants fell asleep faster and experienced improved sleep quality.

 

Eat your evening meal earlier

If you’re eating too late in the day you may struggle to get off to sleep, so try to time your evening meal at least three hours before bedtime. This meal should also be free from starchy carbs like pasta, rice and bread, which can cause a peak in sugar levels and then reactive hypoglycaemia, or a ‘sugar crash’. The resultant release of stress hormones can wake you in the night, so instead, opt for a meal that isn’t too big eaten nice and early.

 

Melatonin boosters

For that evening meal opt for foods rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which is needed to produce the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Nuts such as almonds, seeds, chicken and turkey are all good sources of this. Supplementing tryptophan in the form of 5HTP can also help to boost your levels of this sleep-supporting amino acid.

 

Magnesium

Magnesium is a natural relaxant as it has been linked to lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It is also a smooth muscle relaxant; so make sure your diet includes foods that are rich in the nutrient. Spinach, kale, avocados, chickpeas, salmon and figs are all great options. It can be tricky to get enough magnesium from our diet alone, so it’s worth considering a supplement.

 

Say no to sugar

It may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many people opt for a sugary drink with dinner or have a sugary treat like a chocolate biscuit right before bedtime. Keep your daily sugar intake to a minimum and ensure that it is coming from natural sources such as fruit rather than refined sugars, fizzy drinks and sweets. Swap your pudding after your evening meal for a digestive-aiding peppermint tea for a better night’s sleep.

Comment reconnaître une crème certifiée bio ?
Comment reconnaître une crème certifiée bio ?

Difficile de savoir à qui se vouer quand de plus en plus de marques se revendiquent biologiques, dans une cacophonie de labels.

 

Le doute émerge alors dans nos esprits sur les vrais engagements et sur la sincérité de la démarche des entreprises qui se cachent derrière de belles paroles.

 

Alors si on démêlait le vrai du faux pour vous permettre de choisir en toute conscience ce que vous appliquez sur votre peau ?

 

De quoi se compose une crème certifiée bio ?

  • Une crème certifiée bio contient au minimum 95% d’ingrédients d’origine naturelle :

Parmi ces 95% d’ingrédients naturels, le label bio français exige 20% d’ingrédients bio dans les crèmes, c’est-à-dire des ingrédients cultivés sans engrais chimiques ni pesticides.

 

  • 20% minimum d’ingrédients bio au total :

Si cela vous paraît peu c’est parce qu’une crème est composée en grande partie d’eau (à 60 à 80% en général), qui, bien que naturelle, n’est pas issue du végétal et ne peut donc pas être certifiée bio.

Car si l’on recalcule ce taux sans l’eau, on atteint au minimum 95% de bio ! Les 5% restants sont des ingrédients de synthèse, principalement des conservateurs.

5 cancer risk factors
5 cancer risk factors

Between 30-50% of all cancer cases are preventable. Prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer. National policies and programmes should be implemented to raise awareness, to reduce exposure to cancer risk factors and to ensure that people are provided with the information and support they need to adopt healthy lifestyles.

 

Tobacco

Worldwide, tobacco use is the single greatest avoidable risk factor for cancer mortality and kills approximately 6 million people each year, from cancer and other diseases. Tobacco smoke has more than 7000 chemicals, at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer.

Tobacco smoking causes many types of cancer, including cancers of the lung, oesophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach and cervix. Second-hand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke, has been proven to cause lung cancer in non-smoking adults. Smokeless tobacco (eg chewing tobacco) causes oral, oesophageal and pancreatic cancer. Nearly 80% of the 1 billion smokers in the world live in low- and middle-income countries.

 

Physical inactivity, obesity and being overweight

Dietary modification is another important approach to cancer control. There is a link between overweight and obesity to many types of cancer such as oesophagus, colorectum, breast, endometrium and kidney. Diets high in fruits and vegetables may have an independent protective effect against many cancers. Regular physical activity and the maintenance of a healthy body weight, along with a healthy diet, considerably reduce cancer risk. In addition, healthy eating habits that prevent the development of diet-associated cancers will also lower the risk of other noncommunicable diseases.

 

Alcohol use

Alcohol use is a risk factor for many cancer types including cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectum and breast. Risk of cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. For several types of cancer, heavy drinking of alcohol combined with tobacco use substantially increases the risks of cancer. In 2010, alcohol-attributable cancers were estimated to be responsible for 337,400 deaths worldwide, predominantly among men.

 

Infections

In 2012, approximately 15% of all cancers were attributable to infectious agents such as helicobacter pylori, human papilloma virus (HPV), hepatitis B and C, and Epstein-Barr virus. The fraction of infection-attributable cancers varied between countries and development status, from less than 5% in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and select countries in western and northern Europe to more than 50% in some countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Two-thirds of infection-attributable cancers occur in less developed countries. Vaccines are available for hepatitis B virus and some types of HPV and can reduce the risk of liver and cervical cancers, respectively.

 

Environmental pollution

Pollution of air, water and soil with carcinogenic chemicals contributes to the cancer burden to differing degrees depending on the geographical settings. Outdoor air pollution is classified as carcinogenic, or cancer-causing, for humans. It has been estimated that outdoor air pollution contributed to 3.2 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012 including more than 200,000 lung cancer deaths. Additionally, over 4 million people die prematurely from illness attributable to the household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels, 6% of these deaths are from lung cancer.

Source: World Health Organization

All you need to know about giving your child antibiotics
All you need to know about giving your child antibiotics

Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed medication for children, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). But while they have saved millions of young lives when correctly used for bacterial infections, they are also often wrongly prescribed for viral infections, against which they are powerless. And the WHO notes that they can cause drug toxicity and harm a child’s gut organisms and enteric immune system. A study in the American Academy of Pediatrics found that around 11.4million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions are written for children and teens each year in the US. And there’s a similar problem here.

 

1. Know the risks

Whenever an antibiotic is prescribed, there’s a risk of a reaction: 

  • Short term risks are immediate side-effects, such as vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, and anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction). 
  • Medium-term risks include developing resistant bacteria, which are harder to treat and may lead to hospitalisation; and an increase in MRSA, a type of staph bacteria that causes skin infection and more serious bone and bloodstream infections.
  • Long-term risks arise because children can carry resistant bacteria for a long time and they can be spread within the family. Also, antibiotics affect the child’s microbiome (gut organisms) by killing not just the bad bacteria targeted, but the good. And good gut bacteria are important, aiding digestion, the absorption of calcium and iron, and the synthesis of certain vitamins and even neurotransmitters such as serotonin, the feel-good hormone. They help control toxic substances and keep the lining of the intestinal tract healthy, boosting the immune system. Another long-term concern is that antibiotics may be associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): in a study of a million patient records in the UK, infants given antibiotics had the highest increase in IBD risk.  

 

2. Know the limits

 

Antibiotics are effective, but only against bacteria, and when truly needed. Among the serious bacterial infections that require antibiotics are pneumonia, meningitis, blood infection and urinary infection. Viruses, not bacteria, almost always cause upper respiratory infections. Acute bronchitis, too, is seldom caused by bacteria. But it can be hard to differentiate viral from bacterial infections in young babies, especially those under three months of age, and identify if they are at risk of serious bacterial infection, so they are often started on antibiotics, then taken off if no bacterial infection is detected. 

 

  • For ear infections: Antibiotics can benefit toddlers with infections in both ears and severe pain, notes the American Academy of Paediatrics. Symptoms often disappear in a few days, though, and for older children not in too much pain, a “wait-and-see” approach may be better.
  • For coughs and runny noses: Antibiotics should be considered only when symptoms are severe, persistent or are getting worse.
  • For a sore throat: Children who have swollen tonsils and lymph nodes and a fever should be tested for strep throat, and only if the results are positive should they be prescribed antibiotics.

 

3. Ask these 3 questions 

  • Does my child really need this antibiotic? What are the benefits and the risks of taking it?
  • Can you prescribe a narrow spectrum antibiotic that targets just the bacteria causing this infection, rather than broad-spectrum, which kills good bacteria too?
  • Can my child take probiotics (capsules or sachets of “good bacteria”) along with the antibiotics?
What is gingivitis and periodontitis?
What is gingivitis and periodontitis?

Gingivitis and periodontitis, also known as gum disease, is very common but can be prevented through good oral hygiene. In simple words, gingivitis refers to gum inflammation and periodontitis is the loss of the bone that support the teeth.

 

What is gum inflammation (gingivitis)?

Healthy gums are pale, pink and firm. The gum tissue acts as a barrier and fits firmly around the tooth. Healthy gums do not bleed when you brush or clean between your teeth. Red, swollen and bleeding gums are a sign of gingivitis (gum inflammation) and if left untreated, can lead to periodontitis, loss of bone around the tooth. Around 40% of adults suffer from periodontitis – often without knowing it. Gingivitis and periodontitis can develop slowly and often without pain. The sooner the diseases are diagnosed and treated, the better.

 

What causes gingivitis?

A sticky film called dental plaque constantly forms on your teeth. If you don't clean properly, plaque will be left behind, especially between the teeth and along the gum line. When plaque accumulates in these areas, it causes inflamed gums (gingivitis), with redness and swelling. Inflamed gums may bleed when you clean your teeth.

 

Prevent gum inflammation

If you suspect that you have gum inflammation, contact your dental professional. Taking note of the advice that your dental practitioner offers is of utmost importance for a successful result, even after treatment is completed. Regular check-ups in combination with your own home care are crucial to prevent the problems from returning.

 

Signs of gingivitis

  • Red and swollen gums
  • Bleeding when brushing

 

Periodontitis

If plaque is not removed, it continues to grow in between the tooth and gums. On the root surface of the tooth, the plaque can harden into tartar which has a rough surface where new bacteria can attach with ease . These bacteria contribute to the loss of bone around the tooth. The gum inflammation has developed into periodontitis.

 

If plaque is not removed, it continues to grow in between the tooth and gums. On the root surface of the tooth, the plaque can harden into tartar which has a rough surface where new bacteria can attach with ease . These bacteria contribute to the loss of bone around the tooth. The gum inflammation has developed into periodontitis.

 

Gingivitis can be prevented

You can do a lot yourself to prevent and reverse periodontal disease through proper oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day. Once a day, also clean between the teeth using interdental brushes, Mini Flosser or dental floss. A special toothbrush for cleaning hard-to-reach areas may also be needed.

 

Click here for a selection of dental accessories. 

Ask your dentist or dental hygienist for advice and instruction.

Pregnancy and acne – good habits to adopt
Pregnancy and acne – good habits to adopt

4 out of 60 expecting moms have acne during their pregnancies. Acne is not just for teenagers. During pregnancy, pregnant women may see their acne problems come back. Hormones are to blame! It even affects 4 out of 60 expectant moms. 

 

Learn more about the advice of Brigitte Letombe, gynecologist at the CHRU in Lille to say goodbye to these pimples. Brigitte’s first observation: it is generally women who had acne during adolescence who will see the trend reappear while they are expecting. So as soon as the good news is announced, stay vigilant and adapt your regimen as a result.

 

Acne during pregnancy: good habits to adopt

Whether your plan is to avoid the appearance of pimples and imperfections or to get rid of them, certain habits are essential. Brigitte Letombe reveals the keys to beautiful skin for expectant moms:

 

  • Limit sweets
  • Avoid sun exposure
  • Use cosmetics formulated for acne-prone skin that for example contain salicylic acid for treating pimples
Menopause and hot flashes – understanding how and why
Menopause and hot flashes – understanding how and why

When hormone levels are altered, the entire balance of the body changes. As well as the end of menstrual cycles, women see other menopausal symptoms and effects affect their everyday lives. One of the most widespread concerns? Hot flashes. As many as 80% of women have hot flashes and they are one of the biggest causes for discomfort. Hot flashes occur in the five years prior to menopause, throughout peri-menopause and up to ten years after. What exactly are hot flashes? A hot flash is a sudden, uncontrollable and spontaneous sensation of heat in the neck and face often accompanied by redness, as well as sweating. Chills are often reported immediately after. The phenomenon also occurs at night, taking the shape of the infamous night sweats. Why do hot flashes happen? The decrease in oestrogen levels disrupts the mechanisms regulating the body’s temperature. It all starts in the hypothalamus, the body’s natural “thermostat”. When this gland is disrupted, it wrongly sends out the message that the body is too hot, triggering acceleration in heart rate, dilation of the blood vessels and activation of perspiration – all natural mechanisms designed to cool us down. This is very useful in the summertime when we’re exercising but it’s much less appreciated when it happens out of the blue, catching us unawares. Can I reduce hot flashes? These peaks of heat can be made worse by a number of factors, such as intense emotion, stress or alcohol. Steering clear of caffeine, spicy food and stress, as well as cigarettes can help reduce the flashes.

 

To optimise your comfort, wear loose clothing and breathable fabrics. To try to pin down your triggers, keep a journal of your symptoms and write down your food and drink intake and note when hot flashes occur. Keeping a diary may help establish a pattern, and help you find a way to avoid these unwanted episodes. More tips to manage my hot flashes Did you know soya-derived products have been found to help combat hot flashes? Indeed, soya derivatives contain high levels of isoflavones, oestrogen-like phyto-hormones that help regulate menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. Tofu may seem a bit bland, but when cooked properly this soya-derived “cheese” is delicious. It’s worth a try! Tofu also contains iron and calcium, which are key minerals for good health. Why not try having soya milk with your breakfast cereal instead of your usual, or pan-fried soya with seasonal vegetables for lunch or dinner? Edamame beans – young soybeans in the pod – are also a great option, with a pinch of salt as a healthy snack or appetizer.

 

Which supplements can I take? Try oestrogen-like plants: evening primrose, chaste tree, soya, hops or even red clover. Rhodolia and magnesium can also be added to regulate mood. As for the dosage, it depends widely on each individual. It is essential to ask your pharmacist, naturopath or micro-nutritionist for advice so that you can get the right treatment that works for you.

Understanding dry eyes
Understanding dry eyes

Dry eye is the loss or reduction of the eye's ability to produce normal tears. It is one of the most frequent causes of visits to an eye care professional. A variety of factors may cause or contribute to this problem; some are age-related, some are related to the environment. It is a common and treatable condition.

 

Causes of Dry Eye

Dry eye can come from a number of causes, both physical and environmental. One common cause is when tear glands slow down tear production – a normal occurrence that happens with age, especially in women going through menopause.

 

Tear quality may also be the cause of dry eyes. In a normal tear, there are three components – water, mucous, and oil. These three components work together to provide the proper amount of moisture, distribute moisture evenly across the ocular surface, and prevent evaporation that can cause eyes to become dry. If any of the three components is compromised, the eye may not get the nourishment and protection it needs. Most commonly, there is not enough oil in the tears, leading to the evaporation that causes dry eye.

 

Diminished tear production may be associated with certain medications, such as antihistamines, birth control pills, diuretics, high blood pressure medicines, heart medicines, pain relievers, and anti-inflammatories, and certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or thyroid problems.

 

Signs and Symptoms of Dry Eye

Regardless of the cause of dry eye, the signs and symptoms are similar. An eye care professional can diagnose dry eye through a comprehensive exam, observing tear flow and quality, as well as examining the ocular surface and eyelids for the following:

  • Eye redness
  • Eye irritation
  • Watery eyes
  • Eye stinging or burning
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses

Your eye care professional will evaluate your eye condition to determine if you have dry eye and what may be causing it.

 

Treatment for Dry Eye

Dry eye is treated in a number of ways, to help soothe the symptoms or treat the underlying cause. The most common forms of treatment for dry eye include:

  • Minimize drying: avoid dry situations, such as an overheated room, wind or smoke. Outdoors, wear wraparound glasses to reduce drying effect of the wind.
  • Artificial tears: comforts eyes by supplementing natural tears, commonly used for mild cases of dry eye
  • Prescription eye drops: stimulates the production of natural tears, or inhibit ocular surface inflammation