Beautiful skin is from within…

I have been seeing a few patients recently who are concerned about their skin. They are either suffering with break out’s, dry skin, sensitive skin, inflamed skin,or they have generally unhealthy looking skin that bothers them cosmetically.

I am a huge fan of ‘Tailor Made Solutions’ as we all know, no two people are alike. Every individual is unique. Our bodies also work in systems, meaning one system is not in isolation, especially concerning our skin. Our skin is greatly influenced by what we eat and drink, how well we eliminate our toxins, hormonal function, what we breath, stress levels, and certain diseases. That’s a lot to keep under control!

Here are some basic tips to help bring out the best looking skin for you:

  1. Water
  • Water is best source to eliminate toxins, as well as prevent dehydration. This sounds obvious, but many of us don’t consider this when looking at skin changes. 70% of our body content is water based.
  • Also remember that caffeine (tea and coffee) and alcohol dehydrate the skin. for every cup of caffeine or alcohol you drink, you dehydrate your body by two cups. Do the scary maths!
  • Try avoid flavored water as they contain unnecessary flavourants/ artificial sweeteners/  sugar. I water is too ‘boring’, add a few slices of lemon, cucumber or strawberries. I also love adding torn up fresh Rose Geranium leaves or fresh mint leaves.



2. Raw Fruit and vegetables


  • Our bodies crave fresh, raw fruit and vegetables as they provide essential nutrients to the body. Besides vital vitamins and minerals, they provide essential phytonutrients, especially antioxidants.
  • Fruit and veggies that are red, blue, yellow, orange and green provide lots of nutrients. The richer and deeper the colours, the more the antioxidant content! Strive for organic produce, but if you’re getting it from a normal grocer, always rinse thoroughly with salt water and bicarb solution
  • I recommend we should be getting in at least 7- 10 serving a day, in order to bolster skin healing and rejuvenatation. I like to start or end my day with a smoothie. Its an easy way to get at least 5 serving in! Here is an example of what I had this morning:
    • 1 small yellow plum, 1 large celery stick, 1 large crunch pear, 1/2 cup of cucumber, 2 tablespoons of pomegranite seeds, 1 cm slice of fresh ginger root, 3 tablespoons of raw, organic plain yoghurt, water for consistency.
  • Try having at least 4 smoothies a week, and you will see the difference in skin texture and quality!

3. Protein and healthy fats

  • Our skin cells are made up of protein and fats. We must supplement our diets with these in order to maintain the integrity of the skin barrier. An easy way to supplement with them is by  eating foods that contain both!
  • Healthy fat and protein sources:
    • Raw nuts and seeds
    • Raw Coconut
    • Avocado
    • Raw dairy (milk, yoghurt, amasi, butter)
    • Eggs (free range/ organic)
    • Meat- fish (low heavy metal tested), chicken (free range/ organic), red meat (grass fed)

4. Supplementation

  • This is only recommended if the you are not getting enough in your diet. Speak to a health professional about more personalised guidance.
  • Skin essentials:
    • Antioxidant vitamins: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E
    • Minerals: Zinc and Sulphur

5. Organic Skin care

  • Natural skin care can have some blurry lines. The main ingredients to avoid in natural skincare are:
    • Alcohol (this is extremely dehydrating)
    • Petroleum jelly
    • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
    • Parabens
  • I’m a HUGE fan of organic and natural skincare. I personally use a beautiful range called Esse Organic Skincare. It is South African developed and is COMPLETELY chemical/alcohol free. Its so natural, you could eat it! It’s an international exported range. The difference in my skin texture has been amazing, and many of my patients that use this range agree. I love having it as part of my natural brand.

Remember, your health is in your hands. Start healing your skin from the inside and you will soon see the rewards!


How junk food and sugar affects weight gain

It is now a well known fact (though there are many in denial about this) that junk foods and sugar are the most addictive ‘foods’ in our society today.

 Here are some ways to check if you or someone you know is addicted:

  • You accumulate fat around the abdominal area, and battle to get rid of it,
  • You crave sugar, refined carbohydrates (white flour based foods) and junk food,
  • You can’t control when and what you eat,
  • You feel irritable and annoyed when you don’t have a quick fix of sugar in close range,
  • You hide your addiction, and eat when no one is around.

Identify with any of those? I know I used to. The sugar craving is a vicious circle.You feel compelled to eat junk and sweets on a regular basis. The problem with these foods is the impact it has on our insulin level- as well the long term consequences to that.

Interestingly- research shows that there is a huge challenge in overcoming refined carbohydrate consumption. Apparently humans want to eat these foods and seem unable to stop based on the growing obesity epidemic. This has been proven in many studies whereby we have developed an overwhelming desire to consume unhealthy food, no matter how hard our intellect tries to avoid it.  It is now known that the limbic reward/pleasure system is activated by refined carbohydrates. So basically, we consume comfort foods for their hedonic purposes, because it has a drug like effect on our body, similar to recreational drugs.  It is the most exhilarating feeling for all our cells- which leads to the addiction.

The weight gain/ science part to it all:

Insulin Resistance

Everything we eat is able to be used to create glucose in our bodies. Carbohydrates, by definition, are sugars, and all sugars are easily converted to glucose. The amino acids that make up proteins can be converted to glucose via an enzymatic process called gluconeogenesis. Fats can also be converted to glucose-  glycerol. So, no matter where it comes from, the glucose from our meals then ends up in our blood to travel around our bodies to the tissues that need it.

Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. It is released into the blood whenever blood levels of glucose become elevated (eg. after you have eaten a meal). Insulin unlocks the door of the cell for glucose to be used by the body cells to produce energy.  When the cells can’t open in response to glucose, the glucose remains in the bloodstream, causing high blood glucose levels, despite insulin in the bloodstream.  The pancreas is actually working overtime to produce more insulin because the body’s cells are resistant to the effects of insulin. Without insulin, cells will literally starve to death due to no glucose.

Other conditions associated with Insulin resistance are:

  • Abdominal obesity
  • Fatty Liver syndrome
  • Diabetes Type 2
  • Acanthosis nigricans
  • Skin tags

 Weight gain or Obesity

It is common knowledge that excess glucose from refined carbohydrates is  converted into fat. One of the ways the body keeps this mechanism going is through shifting the gut flora. Before grains became refined , our gut flora was exposed only to lean meat, vegetables, fruit, tubers, nuts, and thereafter whole grains and legumes. When the gut is exposed to refined carbohydrates and excess processed fats, an inflammatory response begins. After the meal, there is an inflammatory response caused by the over absorption of food by the gut bacteria.  One of the types of gut bacteria has an outer covering called the endotoxin- this is what the body ‘inflames’ over, which may lead to insulin resistance. Another finding is that over time, this gut bacteria flourishes when exposed to continuous refined carbohydrate consumption, which means greater absorption of calories as well as an increased risk of insulin resistance and obesity.

Studies have shown that  obese individuals demonstrate increased activation of brain reward circuitries in response to junk food.  This means that in obese individuals, their brain gets more excited than the average person, when exposed to junk foods. Weight gain or obesity is inevitable unless the pleasure factor- food-seeking behaviour is somehow resisted.

One can’t disregard the obvious sedentary lifestyle many lead. Most South Africans are couch potatoes. A survey revealed in 2003, 62% of men and 48% of women 15 years or older  followed a sedentary lifestyle. This lifestyle has also been associated with breast cancer, colon cancer, osteoporosis, stress, anxiety, depression and ageing less healthily. In South Africa, nutritional surveys have also shown that urban dwellers  frequently consume a diet that is high in trans fats, refined carbohydrates and added sugar. However, people living in  rural areas tend to  follow a more traditional diet.

The following trends have often been found in the typical urban diet:

  • A low  intake of  fresh fruit and vegetables
  • A high intake of processed animal fat, eg. high trans fatty acids
  • Overall increases in the calorie  intake, which leads to obesity and weight gain
  • A high and increasing alcohol intake
  • A low fibre intake because of a low intake of fruit, vegetables and legumes

A diet make-over is really needed in our country. Education about food choices are vital in changing the weight gain epidemic .

I will be writing a new article soon about food choices  and how we can make small changes to better health.

Weight loss habits to adopt into your lifestyle

When starting to adopt lifestyle habits into your daily life, it’s better to start slowly and up the tempo gradually! Here are some ways to start those small changes:

When eating out:

  • Don’t pig out: Figure out what you are going to eat in advance. Avoid starters, and choose veg as a side. Try avoid potato, chips, mash or bread as a side. If you take rice, half maximum 6 tablespoons of the portion.
  • Get salad dressing on the side: Restaurants usually put about a quarter cup of dressing on a salad, which is often too many calories. Best to stick with 1 to 2 tablespoons. Dip your fork into the dressing and then into the salad. Otherwise, have a tablespoon of olive oil and two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.

 At home:

  • Pace you eating: Force yourself to eat more slowly and savor each bite. This allows you to feel fuller, quicker. The faster we eat, the more you will eat in order to feel full
  • Hydrate before meals: Drink two glasses of water before meals may help you eat less.
  • Downsize plates and bowls: Using smaller versions of your serving ware will help you eat less and help with portion control.
  • Adopt the motto “after 8 is too late” for food/snacks after dinner.
  • Sleep: Sleep deprivation alters levels of hormones in the body that regulate hunger, causing an increase in appetite.

Food choices:

  • Spring clean: Start by evaluating the content of you cupboards and fridge. Get rid of all the high calorie food, the highly processsed foods, as well as junk that may sabotage your weight loss journey.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time: for example, if you want to have a salad daily, make a week supply and store in your fridge. That way you’re less likely to make an unhealthy last-minute food choice, and it is easily accessible.
  • Never skip a meal: This causes your body to go into a fat-storing starvation mode, making it harder to burn calories. Eat regular meals and snacks. Make sure you have some protein foods such as yogurt, tuna, beans etc. for most meals. Protein helps you feel full longer.
  • Go hard core: Cut out sugar in your tea, coffee and cereal. Don’t bake with lots of sugar. Cut out liquid calories by eliminate cold drinks and sugary drinks. This includes iced tea, sports drinks and alcoholic beverages. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
  • Treat yourself: Allow yourself one high- calorie snack daily. This means one biscuit, or two blocks of chocolate, and stick to that! When you have met a personal weight loss step (eg. 2-3 kg per month), treat yourself to something — but not food. Buy a CD or DVD you’ve been wanting, by a new piece of clothing or go out to a movie with a friend.

Sustainable lifestyle changes for weight loss

Sustainable lifestyle changes and weight loss

After the holidays, some of us may have indulged, and now, the clothes we wear are just a little too tight… oops! What we have to realise that weight loss is not a quick fix, found in a pill. The honest truth is what we all don’t like to hear/read: Weight loss means good diet, exercise and supplements. What we also need to consider is a mind- body link. When we nourish the body, reduce the physical, mental and emotional stress, and accept ourselves for all that we are, weight loss occurs in a sensible and sustainable way.

Here are some practical lifestyle habits to adopt, long term:

  1. Food choices: Our bodies are designed to process healthy, real food. This may sound obvious, however, many of us are unaware of the fact that modern diets contain ‘dead’ foods. Dead meaning they contain substantially less nutrients than natural foods. These include: Junk and fast foods, pizza’s, pasta’s, chips, sweets and chocolates etc. What we lack from daily eating is live foods, which are fresh and natural. Our bodies crave the foods that are nutrient dense and of superior quality. I always tell patients- an old fashioned diet is the best diet- boiling beans, salad, raw veg, low wheat and more rice/quinoa/millet/amaranth etc.
  2. Probiotics: Absorption of nutrients depends on the health of our intestinal system. The gut needs to be healthy in order to extract the nutrients from the food we eat. This requires the use of a very good probiotic, as well as having cultured foods (yoghurt etc.). This will not only aid in absorption, but also cleanse the colon and allow our bodies to release toxins easily.
  3. Stress: Cortisol and inflammatory hormones run rampant when your body is stressed. These hormones lead to constant cravings and sometimes we make the wrong food choices. This is what causes our bodies to store excess fat. We have to realise the importance of how to reduce stress in our lives. The power of spending quiet time alone, having a soak in the bath, sleeping an extra hour, meditation, gardening, hobbies and exercising are invaluable to stress reduction. What also comes to play with stress is by living a sustainable life. Not overspending, living on what you need, not what you want. Find a way to lower your expenses, and live simpler.
  4. Detoxing: The more excess fat we carry on our bodies, the more toxins we harbour. The body naturally uses fat as a storage tank for toxins it cannot eliminate! It is therefore, vital that we live a detoxifying diet, continuously. This means increasing lots of fresh, raw foods (salads and sprouts), increasing water intake, green juicing, and in general, alkalising the body.