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The Anti-Ageing Acai Berry

Acai BerryYou have probably heard much about the Acai Berry of late, but is it really a super berry or super hype? Well some recent medical studies have shown that Acai Berry has potent antioxidants that can be absorbed by the human body and have a very positive effect on our health.

The Acai Berry (pronounced ah-sigh-ee)  is a small, round, dark purple berry, the size of a small grape. The Acai Berry grows in clusters on the Acai Palm Tree, and is native to tropical Central and South America. The prime commercial source of Acai Berry comes from the area where several rivers converge within the Amazon estuary. The people of Brazil refer to Acai as “The Milk of the Amazon“.

Harvesting the Acai Berry doesn’t harm the Rainforest (something that concerned me), in fact the Acai Palm Tree will continue to thrive once the berries are picked, and it is an incentive for the natives to preserve the tree.

For centuries, the people of the Amazon have loved this unique fruit for its health boosting properties and prized it as a source of health and vitality. It seems modern science is beginning to document the many beneficial properties of the Acai Berry. It has extraordinary antioxidant levels and nutrient content, and is becoming one of the world’s top superfoods.

Why is Acai Berry so good?

The Acai Berry contains concentrated levels of Anthocyanins – a powerful family of antioxidants that assist in neutralizing the harmful effects that Free Radicals have on the body. Acai has an ORAC score (a measurement of antioxidant power) higher than any other fruit and vegetable to date, in fact it has twice the antioxidants of Blueberries and 10 – 30 times the anthocyanins of Red Wine.

 Acai Berries are rich in …

  • Antioxidants
  • Phytonutrients
  • Amino Acids
  • Vitamins
  • Trace Minerals
  • Omega fats – 3, 6 & 9

The Claimed health benefits of Acai Berry are….

  • Healthy and more Youthful Skin!
  • Slowing of the Ageing Process
  • Promotion of weight loss
  • Increased energy
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved eye sight
  • Improved circulation
  • Preventing age related degenerative diseases – it has shown anti-cancer activity in a cell culture model.

There is a lot of claims being made about Acai Berry, and it seems that medical research is proving many of them true. Acai Berry may not be the answer to all diseases, and is not the only Super Food to eat, but consumed regularly will boost your health as part of a well balanced diet and Anti-Ageing strategy. For more information read Amherst College’s special Acai Berry Report.

Super Berry with Acai

There are many Acai Berry Supplements available today, one of the best is Dr. Perricones Super Berry Powder with Acai. If you would rather drink the juice, then Monavie has a Premier Acai Berry Blend, which has recently launched in the UK –  I take an egg cup full of this juice everyday – it’s delicious.

Turmeric – Your Skin’s Friend

Turmeric Root and Turmeric PowderTurmeric is definitely one Age-Defying spice to add to your shopping list.

 This brilliant Yellow spice has been in culinary use for thousands of years and is what gives curries their characteristic bright Yellow colour. This amazing spice is derived from the root of the Curcuma Longa plant, which has a tough brown skin and deep orange flesh. Turmeric is a member of the ginger family and contains potent Antioxidant Polyphenol substances called curcuminoids.

The Curcumin compound is a potent Anti-inflammatory Antioxidant, and extremely good for us and our skin. Try to include some Turmeric in your meals as part of an Anti-inflammatory diet and reap the benefits of this yellow skin friend…

The Benefits of Turmeric

  • Potent Antioxidant that prevents Free Radical formation and helps neutralise existing Free Radicals
  • May reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • It has anti-viral and anti-cancer effects
  • Helps lower bad cholesterol
  • Protects the Liver
  • Many say that it helps with joint pain and inflammation
  • Used in india’s Ayruvedic medicine as a stomach tonic and also for cuts, wounds, poor vision, rheumatic pains, coughs, liver disease
  • May improve Psoriasis and inflammatory skin conditions

My family laugh now when I cook something and it’s Yellow, again! It’s very easy to include Turmeric in your food, I am fond of roasting vegetables in Olive Oil with 1 teaspoon of Turmeric powder, then mix until everything is well coated. Roast potatoes are also very nice with  a coating of Turmeric, add a pinch to an egg salad for a rich Yellow colour and a nice taste, and of course curries! If anyone has any wonderful recipes with Turmeric then please share in the comments.

You can also use Turmeric in an in-expensive anti-inflammatory, hydrating face mask –  just mix a pinch with a little Yoghurt and leave on your face until dry – then rinse well.

Turmeric is also available in high strength supplements from good health shops.

Chlorella the Green Superfood

Chlorella SupplementsChlorella is one of the most ancient living organisms, and is a green algae,  found in water.  Chlorella is an extremely nutritious food, mostly because of the abundance of “Chlorophyll” .

Chlorophyll is often described as the life force of plants, a little bit like our blood, but the difference being that our blood contains iron and Chlorophyll is rich in magnesium.

Chlorella is packed with various vitamins and minerals as well as the amino acids from the Chlorophyll (pure plant protein), it can boost our immune system and fight Free Radical Damage.

Other benefits of Chlorella are the detoxifying effect it can have on your liver, it also improves digestion and constipation. Chlorella can combat inflammation by reducing the amount of acid in your body, making it a more alkaline place, which is less friendly to bacteria.

Chlorella benefits your skin by repairing damage and promoting healthy new cells. When you take Chlorella regularly you may see a big improvement in the tone and texture of your skin, plus it gives you energy and vitality!

The Japanese brand “Sun Chlorella” seems to be one of the best quality for pure Chlorella (in a tablet form), but I also like Dr. Schulze’s Superfood Plus, this is a mixture of other potent algae’s as well as grasses, seaweed and other super ingredients –  this is a powder that you mix into juice and drink, 1 glass a day for optimum benefits.

Come on then, eat your greens!

You can  buy Sun Chlorella in our online Skincare Shop.

Pomegranate Power

PomegranateThe beautiful Pomegranate is actually classed as a berry and can be between the size of a lemon and a grapefruit, it is native to southwest Asia but is now cultivated widely for it’s juice production.  The name  is derived from Latin – Pomum (Apple) and Granatus (Seeded), The seeded apple!

The important bits of a Pomegranate are the seeds inside, which are called “Arils“, these can range in colour, but most are a bright red colour. Scoop them all out and nibble on them throughout the day, or alternatively juice them for the ruby red coloured juice –  you will need at least 2-3 to get a decent cup of juice.

Pomegranate juice provides about 16% of an adults Vitamin C requirements, it’s also a good source of Vitamin B5, Potassium and potent Antioxidant Polyphenols.  It is a good source of Beta-Carotene and Polyphenol Catechins, and studies have shown it has been effective in reducing heart disease risk factors and boost Prostate health for men.

PomegreatI personally prefer the beautiful coloured juice as it’s easier than picking out all the seeds and it tastes amazing. I like “Pomegreat” juice and you can find this in most supermarkets, it also comes in different combinations like Pomegranate and Blueberry/Acai.

Remember to drink fruit juice through a straw to protect your tooth enamel!

For more information on Pomegranates, visit PomWonderful.com

Antioxidants to the Rescue!

You have probably heard the word “Antioxidant” used lots of times in regards to skincare and nutrition, but you may not exactly understand exactly what they are or how to get enough of them! They have amazing health benefits and help prevent heart disease, liver disease and some cancers, they can also offer protection against other age related conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Antioxidants are also know as Free Radical Scavengers and are the best defence against oxidative damage and will help prevent wrinkles! That is enough reason to start guzzling the Pomegranate Juice!!
To understand what Antioxidants do, we must first understand oxidation, this is easy – imagine an apple that has fallen from its tree and laid on the ground in the sun – it soon goes brown and shrivels up! Our skin, unlike the apple has a constant supply of nourishment from within (as long as we eat well and hydrate ourselves!) but the effects of the environment will eventually take their toll. As our outermost layer, our skin is constantly exposed to environmental factors which influence its health and appearance. Ironically most of the oxidants in the body are actually toxic forms of one of our most essential elements – Oxygen.
Oxidants – also known as Free Radicals and Reactive Oxygen Species, are the body’s equivalent of nuclear waste which must be disposed of to remove the danger! Think of them as sparks being generated by our bodies burning glucose to make energy in our cells, or by pollution, UV and smoking. These sparks or oxidants, cause damage to cells and need to be put out! This is where Antioxidants play their part! they are like the fire extinguishers for the sparks.

Without being too technical (or boring!), here is a brief explanation of how oxidants wreak their havoc – first imagine millions of atoms in our bodies, and in the chemicals in the environment. Each atom has a paired positive and negative charge (electrons) which keep it nice and balanced. An oxidant is, in contrast unbalanced and highly reactive. It is an atom with one of its electrons missing, so it causes chaos by trying to steal one from a nearby atom. As you can imagine, the theft of an electron itself creates another oxidant and so the process continues in a cascade of damage to vital skin components (not to mention your internal bits as well). Oxidants are very destructive overall because they damage fats, proteins, connective tissue and DNA.

Some oxidants arise normally during metabolism, sometimes the body’s immune system’s cells create them on purpose to neutralize viruses and bacteria. Normally the body can handle them, but if Antioxidants are unavailable, or if the Free Radical production becomes excessive (UV damage and smoking!) then damage occurs.
By understanding this process, we can defeat it! and stay healthier and younger looking for longer! Smoking creates something like 500,000 Free Radicals at every puff! that is why smokers age at double the rate, and are at risk of more cancers than non-smokers – very scary!
“The Free Radical is the source for virtually all disease, illness and ageing itself”

Antioxidants to the rescue!!– The most well known antioxidants are Vitamins A, C and E, Beta-Carotene and in the minerals Copper, Zinc and Selenium. Dietary compounds are believed to be even more powderful, these include Lycopene (tomatoes), Anthocyanins (cranberries), Lutein (leafy greens) and Flavanoids ( Green Tea, White Tea, Rooibos Tea and Red Wine). Other excellent sources of antioxidants include Blueberries,Pomegranate and Acai fruits, and herbs like Turmeric, Ginger and Cinnamon. We should aim to get some of these from our diet as they are the most effective sources – however I think a supplement is well worth taking as we don’t always manage the perfect diet! While ingesting Antioxidants can effectively scavenge Free Radicals, our skin is often the last to get its ration of Antioxidants. That is when topically applied cosmetics come into play.
Scientists have been studying an entire host of plant antioxidants that, when applied topically, can help us fight Free Radicals and protect our skin, look our for some of the above ingredients in your skin care formulas and make sure the Vitamins are in a stable form to keep them potent especially in your sun care products – it has been proven that they give you further protection for your skin cells. Look for some of the same Antioxidants as above, especially Vitamins A, C and E, Resveratrol (from red wine) is the new super-antioxidant to watch out for and Green and White Teas are always a great choice. Antioxidants are a preventative measure only, and cannot make your wrinkles you already have go away!
Our body actually creates antioxidant systems as well, some of these are enzyme systems and others are amino acids, like Glutathione, which can stop Free Radicals in their tracks!
We need a healthy balanced diet for our body to do what it can to repair and heal itself, Antioxidants are basically like insurance for our skin and our health! prevention is better than cure!
Make sure you are including loads of Antioxidant rich fruit and veg and get a good Antioxidant supplement just to make sure – start from a young age and you will reap the benefits, but it is never too late too prevent further damage.

Right, I’m off for a cup of Green Tea!

Willie’s Delectable Chocolate

Dark ChocolateLast year I followed Willie Harcourt Cooze on his journey to make a very high quality Cacao, (a very condensed form of Cocoa) – to use in cooking and baking. There was a series of TV programmes on channel four entitled “Willie’s Wonky Chocolate Factory”, and showed his struggle to manufacture his Cacao. Willie has his own Cocoa Bean plantation is Venezuela, where he grows his organic beans for use in his cacao.
Recently there was some follow up programmes, which showed Willie trying (with lots of hiccups along the way) to make his own chocolate bars by 100 year old antique chocolate making machinery. The programme showed him attempting to teach a nation of chocolate lovers (mostly Cadburys or Galaxy) how wonderful and good for you real dark chocolate could be! This man has such a passion for chocolate; he literally puts it in most things he cooks!
Well not everyone is going to enjoy dark chocolate, but it’s not just about gorging yourself on chocolate, the real stuff is actually good for us! Why is chocolate so good for us? – Well here’s the science bit.
Recent research has shown that real dark chocolate can provide natural health-promoting substances called Flavonoids. These flavonoids demonstrate to have powerful antioxidant effects and contain flavanols and procyanids. These two compounds come from the Flavonoid family that includes Resveratrol – found in grape juice and red wine and EGCG found in Green Tea. When we consume these substances in chocolate, the antioxidant status of our blood increases, thus fighting Free Radical damage to our cells – these are destructive molecules that are implicated with a whole host of degenerative diseases including heart disease and cancer. Research has also found dark chocolate can help reduce high blood pressure, but remember the word moderation when you nibble!!
Theobromine is also found in products of the Cocoa Tree (Theobroma Cacao), this is chocolates caffeine cousin and gives you a very mild stimulation and feel good factor when you consume it. This chemical is toxic to dogs and other domestic animals, as they metabolise Theobromine more slowly than us, and this can lead to heart failure, kidney failure and death! Please do not feed your pets chocolate – it isn’t worth it!
Also those who eat chocolate regularly may have a higher sex drive!! Any excuse eh? The Aztec emperor “Montezuma” used to drink a goblet of chocolate before entering his harem each night, leading to the popular legend of chocolates aphrodisiac properties! Well it won’t hurt to try I suppose!
I have made a commitment to eat more of the good chocolate (I have bought some of Willy’s chocolate – it is lovely) I am also going to buy some of the Cacao and Willy’s chocolate recipe book, and try (I am normally rubbish at baking!) to make some lovely cakes and desserts. I do find that just a small piece of the dark stuff, stops me wanting to stuff Galaxy down my throat!, and I feel better about eating it.
Antioxidants are the key to ageing well, and you can never consume too many – make a conscious effort to ingest more and you will possibly prevent disease and premature ageing of your skin!
You can buy Willie’s Cacao and chocolate bars from Waitrose and Selfridges.
 
and Willie’s website – http://www.williescacao.com/

 

Green &Blacks Chocolate Recipes  is also a lovely read for the chocolate lover, with lots of chocolatey tips and advice! Yum!

 

The Nutritional Super Berries

Our skin is the bodies largest organ, so it makes sense to keep it nourished from within with a variety of health-giving foods including the wide range of colourful berries available today. Berries are full of Phyto-chemicals in the form of Antioxidants, plant estrogens and vitamins that can boost your health and protect the skin from damage.

Summer wouldn’t be summer without soft fruit – here’s some of the popular super berries and also a few unusual ones! –   The best of a beautiful bunch!

Strawberries

The fruit of Wimbledon and the most popular fruit in the UK,  the Strawberry is one of my favourites and extremely nutritious. Strawberries are found to be higher in Vitamin C than citrus fruits, Vitamin C is essential for Collagen formation and support – it is also a powerful antioxidant. Strawberries also contain Lycopene which gives them their red colour and can protect cells against sun damage, they also contain Vitamin A which is essential for healthy hair and skin. Ellagic Acid is also present in high volumes and is a powerful anti carcinogen, it can reduce damage to cells caused by tobacco smoke and air pollutants. Strawberries also contain natural Salicylates which also found in Aspirin, so could relieve a headache!

Blackberries

Blackberries are an ancient fruit, prescribed by the ancient Greeks to treat Gout! Also eaten by the Native Americans to relieve stomach ailments and digestive disorders, they are also mentioned in the Bible. Blackberries have been shown to contain the highest  level of Phyto-estrogen’s, followed by Strawberries. They also contain Ellagic Acid, which helps neutralize Free Radicals and prevent cancer cells. Blackberries are considered to be an astringent because of their high Tannin content, studies show that tannins tighten tissue, lessen minor bleeding and may help alleviate intestinal inflammation and piles!

The antioxidants that are in Blackberries are Anthocyanin pigments, responsible for the purplish-black colour,  Contains a powerful team of nutrients –  vitamin C and heart protective Vitamin E, also thought to strenthen blood vessels, one handful contains 8 grams of fibre including Cholesterol-lowering Pectin.

Blueberries

Blueberries have a long history of use as a medicinal plant, native to North America where they grow wild throughout the woods and mountainous regions of U.S and Canada. These nutritional super-berries are bursting with goodness, packed with antioxidant phyto-nutrient Anthocyandins, they will help neutralize Free Radical damage to cells and help support Collagen. They contain significant amounts of this compound that gives the fruit its blue and purple colour, they also contain Resveratrol, another powerful antioxidant. In addition Blueberries contain Ellagic Acid, which has shown to prevent cell damage and prevent certain cancers. A rich source of fibre, calcium and vitamins A and C, low in calories and low Glycemic Load.

You can buy Blueberry plants at good garden centres, so you can pick off your own juicy berries throughout the summer! Remember they need an acid soil, so plant in large tubs with Ericaceous soil.

Cranberries

Another of North America’s native fruits, the Cranberry is indeed a super-berry! Cranberries contain the antioxidant compounds Proanthocyandins which have powerful anti-cancer properties, they seem to contain the most antioxidant phenols and are leaders of fruits in phenolic compound content. More well known for it’s effect on Urinary Tract Infections, the reason for this is it’s unique ability to inhibit bacteria, including E-coli, from adhering to the urinary tract. This is why Cranberry juice and supplements are recommended for Cystitis, they also contain Hippuric Acid, which is antibacterial and helpful for warding off urinary tract infections.

Cranberries can also reduce the risk of gum disease and stomach ulcers. Uncooked ripe fruit is the best source of antioxidants (including frozen berries), the next best is dried Cranberries ,then the juice – but watch out for the sugar content! Like Blueberries, you can grow plants in tubs with acid soil and enjoy freshly picked berries.

Raspberries

Raspberries are thought to be  native to Asia and eaten since prehistoric times. They come in various colours – primarily red, but also may be black, purple and even golden! The antioxidants compounds are Anthocyanins and give them their rich colour, the antioxidant activity are 50% higher than Strawberries and also contain Lutein, which is good for vision. High in fibre, Iron, Potassium and Vitamins A & C, plus Beta-Carotene. Raspberries contain Ellagic Acid which has anti-cancer agents and helps neutralize Free Radicals.

The leaves of the raspberry plant are also used for medicinal purposes – Raspberry Leaf Tea is reputed to be effective for balancing the menstrual cycle and easing period pains.

Goji Berries

Goji Berries are found in temperate and subtropical regions in China, Mongolia and the Himalayas in Tibet, they are part of the nightshade family, like tomatoes. They are rich in antioxidants – particularly Carotenoids such as Beta-Carotene, which is converted by the body into Vitamin A, vital for healthy skin. Goji’s also contain Zeaxanthin – which helps protect the retina of the eye from deterioration. Goji Berries have been used for 6000 years by herbalists in China and Tibet to promote longevity, help eyesight, boost immune function and improve circulation, they are rich in B vitamins. Numerous health benefits are claimed including protection against heart disease and cancer, also is said to help defend skin against sun-burn (like tomatoes).

They are best eaten fresh, but you won’t find them in the supermarket! so opt for the dried variety – they look red and shriveled like raisins and are found in all health food stores. I include them in a bag of trail mix, with lots of nuts, seeds and other berries, for snacking on during the day. If you want to try them fresh, the best way is to grow a plant and pick off the ripe berries! They are widely available in this country and ideal for a large tub on the patio!

Some of the more unusual Berries available are Acai Berry, Boysenberry, Lingonberry and Honeyberry! but don’t forget your currants as well! black, white and red currants are a great source of vitamins and antioxidants as are black and red cherries and don’t forget black grapes.

I like to have a mixture of some of the berries featured, so you get the best out of all their individual benefits, use them in a trail mix to snack on throughout the day, in a morning smoothie or on top of porridge or cereal. Frozen berries are available in most supermarkets and remarkably freezing doesn’t destroy the vitamins or antioxidants, so it makes them easier to use!

Suttons Seeds sells a good variety of soft fruit plants to grow in tubs, including the unsual super berries, so why not try a few?

If anyone has any berry recipes please share via the comments.

Superoxide Dismutase

Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) is an endogenous antioxidant that the body makes naturally to defend itself against harmful Free Radicals. It is an enzyme that repairs and reduces the damage done to cells by the Superoxide Ion – the most common Free Radical in the body and the most harmful!  SOD is produced by the body in virtually every cell, and is found in the Dermis and Epidermis, it is important in the production of Fibroblasts, which are the skin building cells responsible for Collagen and Elastin fibres.

Studies have shown that SOD is both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory in the body, neutralizing the Free Radicals that lead to ageing and wrinkles and pre-cancerous cell changes – it is potentially a potent anti-ageing treatment since it is now known that SOD levels decline as we get older and Free Radicals increase.

Antioxidant ProtectionTo be truly effective at eliminating Free Radicals we rely on a constant source of dietary antioxidants (exogenous) such as Vitamins C and E and other compounds like Flavonoids and other plant antioxidant systems – these will only act as a secondary buffering system and need to be constantly replenished –  the best antioxidants that literally stop Free Radicals in their tracks are our natural (endogenous) systems. Glutathione Peroxidase, Catalase and Superoxide Dismutase all three are enzymatic eliminators of Free Radicals, SOD being at the forefront and completes the defence system.

SOD is found in Barley Grass, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Wheatgrass  and Broccoli – however it cannot be absorbed by the digestive route as our stomach acid destroys it before it can be absorbed by the body. The body needs plenty of Vitamin C and Copper to make SOD itself – so be sure to get enough!

SOD was first discovered in the body by French scientists McCord & Fridovich in 1968, they discovered it was the first line of defence against oxidative stress. In the early 1990’s a supplement was produced from Bovine SOD, unfortunately they discovered the digestive system breaks it down and was recognised as not effective.

The first orally effective form of SOD is available now in the form of PURE-XP GliSODin, which after decades of research a team of European scientists have finally developed an effective 100% vegetarian product, the SOD is derived from melon and protected during digestion by a wheat protein. Here’s some of the benefits:

  • Antioxidant Primer – stimulates the body to produce it’s own extra strength internal antioxidants
  • Fights the ageing process
  • Reduces Oxidative stress
  • Supports the Immune system
  • Acts as an Anti-Ageing Catalyst
  • Supports and protects skin against UV damage

GliSODin

Boost your fight against premature ageing and age related disease by taking GliSODin supplements, you can buy GliSODin in our Skincare shop.

 For more information visit – http://www.purexpglisodin.com/index.htm