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Spotlight Ingredient: Tumeric

 

 Tumeric facts for beauty and beyond

Tumeric comes in different forms, but there appears to be no distinct health benefit of choosing fresh over powdered. 
Credit: David Murray/Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley

From sneaking into frothy lattés to refreshing juice elixirs and mouthwatering curries, turmeric has quickly become 2017’s ingredient du-jour. But does the golden spice live up to the hype? In a word: yes. A member of the ginger family and a long beloved staple in Indian and Asian cuisines, the vibrant orange-yellow superfood is revered for its health promoting properties and makes a common appearance in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. 

Turmeric possesses strong anti-inflammatory qualities and considering chronic inflammation is a key factor in many of today’s widespread diseases – including heart disease, obesity, and diabetes – the fragrant spice can improve a person’s overall health.

Still not convinced? We present to you five reasons why you should add an extra dash of the turmeric to your diet.

  1. ANTICANCER EFFECTS

Curcumin, a phytochemical and the primary healing agent found in turmeric has strong antioxidant properties that prevent the formation of and neutralize free radicals. According to Phyllis A. Balch, author of Prescription for Nutritional Healing, “It [curcumin] stops precancerous changes within DNA and interferes with enzymes necessary for cancer progression.”   A 2013 international laboratory study looked at the effects of combined treatment with curcumin and chemotherapy on bowel cancer cells. The researchers concluded that the combined treatment shows better results than chemotherapy alone.

  1. PROTECTS THE LIVER

The liver is one of the body’s most important organs. It is responsible for converting food to energy, ridding your body of toxins, and producing bile, a liquid that aids digestion.  Turmeric contains chemical compounds that have been shown to protect the liver from damage, improve its ability to detoxify, and support the regeneration of new liver cells. 

  1. IMPROVED DIGESTION

Turmeric helps to stimulate the production of bile, which in-turn assists the breakdown and absorption of fats from your food. It also reduces the symptoms of gas and bloating for people susceptible to indigestion. In fact, in Germany, turmeric supplements are sometimes prescribed for digestive problems.

  1. IMPROVED MENTAL HEALTH

Studies have shown that curcumin can increase levels of the brain chemical BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) in animal models. Low BDNF is associated with a host of mental disorders, including depression and anxiety. An increase in BDNF is thought to improve mental health, well-being, and mood. BDNF also stimulates the growth of new neurons in the brain, which could lead to enhanced memory. Studies show that extracts of turmeric contain a number of natural agents that block the formation of beta-amyloid, the substance responsible for the plaques that slowly obstruct cerebral function in Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. LOWERS CHOLESTEROL & IMPROVES BLOOD VESSEL HEALTH

Curcumin stops the oxidation of cholesterol, thus protecting against the formation of plaque in the arteries and the progression of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries due to cholesterol and plaque build-up), which can lead to stroke or heart attack.

  1. TREATS ARTHRITIS

Because curcumin is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing characteristics, a study was conducted on 45 rheumatoid arthritis patients to compare the benefits of curcumin in turmeric to the arthritis drug Diclofenac sodium, which put people at risk of developing leaky gut and heart disease. The curcumin group showed the highest percentage of improvement in overall [Disease Activity Score] scores and these scores were significantly better than the patients in the diclofenac sodium group. More importantly, curcumin treatment was found to be safe and did not relate to any adverse effects. 

  Written by Sofia Sosunov

Eyes Wide Shut: A Guide to Better Sleep

Irving Penn for Vogue, 1991

Irving Penn for Vogue, 1991

Though often overlooked in our caffeinated existence, the importance of adequate sleep goes beyond its power to banish under-eye circles. A good night’s rest is as vital to our health as proper nutrition, hydration, and air. Sleep allows our bodies to repair themselves and our brains to process information. In fact, your mind is surprisingly busy while you’re dozing off; during sleep, you consolidate your memories and skills you have learned while you were awake.

On the flip side, sleeplessness poses a real risk to our health and well-being. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, people suffering from sleep debt (which means less than seven hours of sleep a night for adults) face a higher risk of suffering from obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and weakened immune function. According to Dr. Jim Horne, author of “Sleeplessness: Assessing Sleep Need in Society Today,” one of the most important factors to improve one’s sleep is peace of mind at bedtime. The reason why many people have insomnia in our frantically paced modern life is that our minds are constantly racing. The issues, problems, tasks and to-do lists in our waking life tend to creep in and intrude our sleep. And life in the smart phone is age is not helping. Quick glimpses of incessant notifications trigger agitated, nervous systems to release floods of hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, causing blood pressure to spike and muscles to tighten.

8 Habits for Better Sleep

We’ve composed eight ways to help you develop a relaxing routine. Remember, by repeating a regular pattern, you condition your body and mind to realize that it’s time to go to sleep. Many activities people do in the evening can be overstimulating. So a bedtime ritual can help you to unwind before hitting the pillow. Snooze away, dear friends.

Create Your Own Sanctuary. For many people, interrupted sleep is caused by external factors such as light, discomfort, noise and uncomfortable room temperature. Treat yourself to a tasteful silk sleeping mask, spray a touch of lavender on your pillow, consider blackout blinds, adjust the room temperature (the last thing you want is to wake up either hot and bothered or chilly and shivering) and have earplugs handy. And, if your mattress isn’t up to standard, let that be your next big investment.

Move Your Body. Studies show that exercise such as brisk walking, light biking and yoga can function much like an antidepressant, decrease anxiety, clear the mind, and help bring on a restorative night of sleep. Also, working larger muscle groups such as your legs in your daily workouts helps physically exhaust your body, making it easier to fall asleep.

Take a Bath. Besides being a relaxing activity in itself, a warm bath helps the body to reach a temperature ideal for rest. Amp up the sleeping potential by adding Epsom salts to your bath.  Stress drains the body of magnesium, which helps to promote rest while improving the quality of sleep and concentration; and Epsom salts are rich in this essential mineral. When the salts are dissolved in warm water, the magnesium is absorbed through the skin and can replenish its supplies; the salts also help relieve your body of toxins.

Sip on Chamomile Tea. Not only can drinking a warm drink before bedtime makes you feel drowsier, but the naturally calming caffeine-free tea has also been proved to have a calming effect on the body.

Breathe. If you find it difficult to switch into sleep mode, try meditation or breathing exercises to get you in the mood. Take several long, deep breaths and focus on what you are grateful for today. By simply concentrating your attention on the positive attributes of your life can bring your whole mind and body into balance and eliminate any sense of anxiety. Headspace offers 10-minute-long meditation sessions which you can interact with on your smartphone, providing instant relaxation.

Eat for Sleep. Tart cherries are one of the few natural foods to contain melatonin, the chemical that helps control our body’s internal clock; we suggest eating some with breakfast and at night. Almonds are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that’s necessary for good sleep. Black rice, sesame, and pumpkin seeds are also good sources. Meanwhile, bananas can promote sleep because they contain the natural muscle-relaxants magnesium and potassium, 

Get Some Sunshine. Starting your day with natural light exposure helps reset your biological clock. It also balances your body’s melatonin and cortisol level. 

Maintain a Regular Sleeping Schedule. Keep your circadian rhythms in check by adhering to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible. Yes, even on weekends.

  Written by Sofia Sosunov

Rolling Stones: The Ancient Beauty Tool that Will Instantly Brighten Your Face

Jade Roller image via thehoneycombers.com

(Jade Roller image via thehoneycombers.com)

When it comes to skincare rituals, it’s not just what you put on your skin that counts, but how you apply it. In a world of new and cutting-edge electric beauty gadgets and trends, an age-old Chinese skin-care tool seems to be making all the buzz.

Meet the jade face roller, a time-honored face massager that can be traced as far back as seventh-century China, where the lime green stone constituted an integral part of the Chinese beauty regimes. Also known for its healing and protective properties, jade is closely associated with balancing the chi (or qi), your body’s energetic life force. According to Chinese medicine, any number of physical and mental symptoms from anxiety to fatigue to actual pain can indicate a negative chi, which the stone is believed to have the power to ward off.

But even if that kind of spirituality isn't normally what you’re looking to implement in your skincare routine, you can still experience the more physical, youth boosting benefits of daily jade rolling as a form of a facial massage. Our facial muscles store a lot of tension, which can cause wrinkles and fine lines, especially around our forehead and eyes. Using the jade roller helps to iron out these kinks; in this way, the practice acts as both an immediate skin boost and a means of preventing the appearance of wrinkles.

Like most of the beauty rituals that stand the test of time, the enduring appeal of the ancient roller lies in its utter simplicity. In fact, the mechanism is downright basic, much like a paint roller: It features an oval stone of pure jade, usually an inch to an inch and a half long, that's attached to a handle with a metal frame.

But don't underestimate the tool’s minimalist appearance. Once you master the art of rolling, it can become a real game changer. By moving the smooth stone across your facial muscles, you increase blood circulation, assist lymphatic drainage (which aids drain the body of toxins), reduce puffiness and diminish the appearance of fine lines. Moreover, the rolling motion helps the products you apply to penetrate more deeply into your skin, thus increasing their effectiveness. 

How to Use:

The process is gloriously straightforward. After applying your favorite serum or moisturizer, roll the jade roller in an upward motion, working from your neck toward the forehead. Et Voilà, that’s all, folks. 

Jade rollers can be used as often as daily or weekly, but we recommend using it in the morning to wake up your complexion, which is particularly refreshing in these hot summer months.

Insider Tip: Put the roller in the fridge 15 minutes before you use it for an added cooling effect.

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Written by Sofia Sosunov