Search Term: " Lenghen "
Animal Study Finds Monounsaturated Fats in Olive Oil May Extend Life
June 10, 2017 12:14 PM
A recent genetic study on metabolic changes has discovered an unexpected finding: accumulation of monounsaturated fats may lengthen one's lifespan. Though the study was conducted among roundworms rather than humans, it is interesting to note since researchers previously thought that decreased caloric intake would increase longevity. Rather, it appears that this particular build-up of fat and calories can be beneficial. The researchers discovered this by blocking certain DNA-modifying proteins to increase lifespan among worms, and then noted that these worms displayed higher levels of monounsaturated fatty acids.
"Prior research shows the type of fat consumed has a much greater influence on health than the quantity, and the recent experiment builds upon what is known on the topic."
Read more: https://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-health-news/animal-study-finds-monounsaturated-fats-olive-oil-may-extend-life/56292
You Might Live Longer If You Eat Hot Peppers (Science-Backed Evidence)
April 16, 2017 09:14 AM
Hot peppers are not for everyone, but they are undoubtedly very good for you and provide numerous health benefits. They can actually increase your lifespan. A study has linked the use of hot peppers to a decrease in mortality from all causes by an impressive 13 percent. The root of these health benefits lies in capsaicin, the compound that gives spice to hot peppers. Furthermore, peppers are known to contain high levels of antioxidants, protect the eyes, help with digestion and increase metabolism. If you have never tried peppers, this article provides many excellent reasons to give them a try.
"You can probably find at least a couple varieties of hot sauce in their kitchen and perhaps a few varieties of fresh chiles, as well."
Read more: http://www.thealternativedaily.com/eat-spicy-peppers-for-a-longer-healthier-life/
Link between dietary restriction, longevity examined
February 09, 2017 12:59 PM
The link between dietary restriction and longevity has been examined. Research has been done and shows that cutting back on calories can actually expand the life span of roundworms. This is important because it shows that we can enhance our health and not have to put huge dietary restrictions on ourselves.
"The life-prolonging effects of dietary restriction, or calorie restriction, occur in just about every animal tested."
What Is L-Carnosine And What Does It Do?
March 30, 2012 08:28 AM
What Is L-Carnosine
L-Carnosine is basically a combination of 2 vital amino acids-L-histidine and beta-alanine. It is naturally present in the body, mainly in the muscle, and in many animals too. Carnosine can be broken down easily into the two amino acids, but it is good to know that these amino acids work much better when combined to form L-Carnosine. L-Carnosine has the remarkable ability to revitalize, that is, to make older cells younger and lengthen their life cycle. This compound is commercially available and is the only one that has the rare and distinctive ability to rejuvenate cells.
What does L-Carnosine do?
In simple language, L-carnosine is able to transform itself into so many compounds with each performing or enhancing a number of crucial body functions such as:
May bind to dangerous metal compounds to make them inactive.
Turning the resultant metal compound/carnosine into useful antioxidants which in turn can be anti-ulcer agents
Protecting and stabilizing cell membranes, keeping cells safe from dangerous free radicals
Protecting healthy cells from damage caused by radiation
Enhances blood flow to the brain
Acts like a neurotransmitter, helping messages move from one nerve to the other. This helps fight dementia, as in Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, and boost memory.
Blocks guanylate cyclase activation, an enzyme associated with cancer, migraine, asthma, and septic shock.
Special derivatives of carnosine can help get rid of the accumulation of sugar compounds and abnormal protein in the eye. A variety of these compounds may cause glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.
Carnosine works like a catalyst to boost the work of so many other compounds and nutrients.
Benefits of using L-carnosine
Although L-carnosine benefits haven't been extensively researched, according to initial studies it may help in:
Dealing with complications related to cataracts, diabetes, neuropathy, and kidney failure.
It may also help in slowing down aging in skin, minimizing wrinkles as well as breakdown of elasticity in skin.
It can help to prevent joint inflammation, atherosclerosis, and formation of cataract.
Carnosine has been known to prevent and reduce cell damage occasioned by beta amyloid-the substance found in Alzheimer's patent's brain.
Additionally, carnosine appears able to help get rid of the helicobacter pylori bacterium, the organism associated with stomach cancer and peptic cancer. Therefore, it can significantly help protect and heal both peptic and gastric ulcers.
Other possible L-carnosine benefits
Increase muscle endurance and strength
Improves heart function
Speeds healing of wound
A powerful antioxidant that can deal with even the worst free radicals
Reduces inflammation and boosts immunity
It helps pull out or chelate some heavy metals from your body
May help autistic children
Act as anti-cancer agent in the body
Stabilizes cell membranes and slows down lipid peroxidation to protect the process of aging of the brain
L-carnosine can help in preventing or even treating age-related conditions like:
Cell aging/cellular senescence
Cross-linking of eye lens
Build up of damaged proteins
Brain circulatory deficit
Cross-linking of collagen in the skin
DNA chromosome damage
LDL cholesterol oxidation
Formation of AGEs i.e. advanced glycation end-products.
What is stopping you from taking L-Carnosine today?
Digestive Enzymes, Acid Reflux, Cholesterol, Heartburn, IBS, Diabetes, And Blood Pressure
June 13, 2011 02:24 PM
Digestive Enzymes - Can Enzymes Help Me Feel Better?
Irregular bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disease many people suffer from and basically causes your bowels to move irregularly leaving you bloated and in pain. This is mainly due to the average diet of today (too little fiber) but is also caused by genetic reasons and an unhealthy diet. A great way to treat this problem healthily is by taking digestive enzymes supplements.
The first question we should probably ask is what are digestive enzymes? Shortly put – digestive enzymes are live proteins present in all living organisms. Digestive enzymes are secreted along your digestive track and it extracts nutrients from the food and your body passes the rest as waste. The reason why some foods are hard on your digestive system is because we eat most of our food cooked and this process of cooking kills all the live enzymes in the food, leaving it to your digestive system to digest the whole portion, whilst uncooked food breaks 40% – 60% down itself.
Your body isn’t designed to digest mostly cooked food, and this causes almost every digestive problem you might have. A great way to get rid of this problem is drinking digestive enzymes supplements. Before your food moves from your stomach to the next process of digesting the extra digestive enzymes can help to completely digest all the food as so making it much easier on your body to break down.
Making sure your body has enough digestive enzymes is crucial – not only for your digestive health. If your body produces less digestive enzymes than it uses, it may cause damage to your pancreas because you’re overworking it. Remember that it is the pancreas that produces your body’s digestive enzymes. Eventually damage to your pancreas will also lower your immune system and also lower metabolic enzymes and having a constantly depleted level of digestive enzymes will eventually catch up with you. So get yourself some supplements – even if you are a vegetarian Yogi!
Not having enough digestive enzymes, your body can be in deathly dangers. Some of the problems due to a lack of enzymes include acid reflux, high cholesterol, heartburn, IBS, diabetes, high blood pressure and circulatory problems. If you are prone to any of these problems you should consider talking to your doctor about taking some digestive enzymes, they are readily available, not too expensive and they may lengthen your life another decade or two.
To avoid any of these health problems you should look after your body because, evidently, it will make you feel better for longer. Exercise regularly, eat as much raw food as possible, and try to drink digestive enzymes supplements when you eat cooked food and to visit your doctor for a check-up once a year. With the right balance, diet and digestive enzymes you can go a long way to assure yourself a long, healthy life.
What is the Amino Acid Taurine and How Does It Boost My Health
April 26, 2011 02:26 PM
Taurine is a nutrient that improves cellular processes by regulating mineral salts in the human body. Many people consider it as an amino acid as it is derived from seafood and meats. It is not an amino acid in the strictest sense, but a naturally occurring sulfonic acid. It is pivotal to removing the water in the bile. Bile acids are produced in the liver in the presence of taurine and stored in the gallbladder.
Enhances Physical Capacity
Many energy drinks describe taurine as an active ingredient. Several groups of researchers believe it affects athletic performance, drawing on its biological roles. For one, taurine is necessary for the upkeep of skeletal muscles, and in athletes appears to lengthen duration of physical exertion. Also, it is implicated in chemical reactions in the nervous system, boosting mental clarity.
There is evidence that taurine has an effect on blood flow. In the circulatory system, taurine is important to regulating the level of water and minerals. It is widely accepted that it modulates the movement of elements and their metabolites in the blood, such as calcium, potassium, and sodium. In fact, taurine has been observed to significantly decrease high blood pressure in hypertensive patients.
Promotes Liver Health
Taurine is especially good for the health. Numerous studies have noted the effects of high levels of taurine on liver cells. It has been proven effective in removing any adiposity in the organ. Clinical trials have published results that emphasize its benefits to people with liver diseases, such as hepatitis and cirrhosis. It has also been observed that high intake of taurine counters hangover.
Lowers Serum Lipid Levels
In the liver, taurine plays an important role in inhibiting the releases of apolipoproteins, a class of proteins that bind with lipids to form lipoproteins. Apolipoprotein B makes up very-low-density lipoproteins and low-density lipoproteins, or what we refer to as bad cholesterol. This is the reason why taurine has been suggested to help people afflicted with cardiovascular diseases.
Normalizes Blood Sugar
It has been postulated that taurine protects the beta cells of the pancreas, the organ responsible for the manufacture of the insulin. Patients diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus have been reported to experience an improvement in insulin levels. Taurine is also helpful for type 2 diabetes as it also appears to enhance glucose sensitivity of cells, thereby decreasing glucose levels in the blood.
Scavenges Free Radicals
Taurine is an antioxidant known for its wide-ranging benefits. It is almost always associated with oxidative stress brought on by physical exertion as it protects the skeletal muscles from the damaging effects of free radicals. More importantly, it protects the liver, the pancreas, and the circulatory system from the toxic by-products of metabolism, notably during oxidation of chemical compounds.
Given the health benefits of Taurine, everybody should be taking some daily!
June 13, 2008 12:18 PM
DL-Phenylalanine has been found to work in conjunction with the body’s natural ability to relieve pain. It helps to lengthen the lifespan of the chemicals in the brain that ease pain. It is especially effective in relieving pain from arthritis and aching muscles.
Some chronic pain can be treated with DL-phenylalanine through the stimulation of nerve pathways in the brain that control pain. Enhanced pain relief has been discovered when D-phenylalanine is used in conjunction with prescribed pain killers. This manufactured form of phenylalanine is used to block an enzyme in the nervous system that increases pain signals. The interruption of pain signals allows the healing mechanisms of the body to begin working faster.
DL-Phenylalanine is a chemical combination of half L-phenylalanine and half D-phenylalanine. L-Phenylalanine is the natural form of phenylalanine found in proteins all over the body. It is found in foods like beef, poultry, pork, fish, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, nuts, seeds and certain soy products. D-Phenylalanine is a synthesized form of the chemical, which means it is produced in a laboratory.
Phenylalanine as an Amino Acid:
Amino acids perform various major functions in the body. They assist in fulfilling the body’s basic needs from minerals and vitamins. They can act as neurotransmitters, which carry signals to and from the brain. They also aid in other parts of the body for communication between nerve cells.
Phenylalanine is one of the essential amino acids found in protein. This means it is required for human health, but cannot be manufactured by the human body. Therefore it has to be supplied through food consumption. It can also be found and taken in the form of powder, capsule, tablet or a topical cream. In the body, phenylalanine is converted into tyrosine, which is another amino acid needed to make protein. It is also needed to make certain brain chemicals and thyroid hormones. Phenylalanine deficiency signs include:
A rare disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU) happens in humans who are missing the enzyme required to metabolize phenylalanine. Symptoms of this disorder tend to appear between the ages of 3-6 months. These include:
If PKU is not treated within the first three weeks of life, it can cause severe and irreversible mental retardation. Women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid taking phenylalanine as a supplement in any form. DL-Phenylalanine may cause hyperactivity, jitteriness and anxiety in children.
Phenylalanine is the major ingredient in the artificial sweetener known as aspartame. Products containing this sweetener are required by law to carry warnings on their labels for phenylketonurics. People who have PKU can be severely injured by ingesting the sweetener. Products containing this artificial sweetener include diet sodas, sugarless gums and some sugar substitutes. Some sugar-free versions of Jello, puddings, ice creams, candies and various other items also contain aspartame.
Other Phenylalanine Uses:
Some individuals have reported that taking DL-phenylalanine has improved their mood and aided in treating depression. This is the result of a higher rate of production of the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. These chemicals, when out of balance, cause depression, stress and frustration. Elevation of the levels of these chemicals have an anti-depressant effect in the body.
One study suggests that D-phenylalanine has been shown to improve some symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. These include: depression, rigidity, walking problems and speech problems.
The combination of L-phenylalanine and UVA radiation may be used to treat the symptoms of vitiligo. This condition involves de-pigmentation (white patches) of skin. The use of L-phenylalanine may help to re-pigment these patches, but further study is necessary.
DL-Phenylalanine has many uses and benefits if taken correctly. As with any new dietary supplement, consult your physician before beginning a new routine.
NAC could be the ultimate flu and cold fighter this winter
November 07, 2007 02:56 PM
NAC could be the ultimate flu and cold fighter this winter. NAC may work even better than vitamin C and also carries may other health benefits as well. NAC is also known as N-acetyl cysteine known as a sulfur containing antioxidant. NAC is a precursor to glutathione, the most powerful antioxidant made by the body.
Routinely, people go to the hospital for Tylenol overdoses and the hospital administers high doses of NAC to protect the liver. NAC is also used to break up mucus that collects in the lungs. Research suggests that NAC is good for colds and flu. In 1997, a study was published in the European respiratory journal which involved 262 patients. Half of which got NAC and the other received placebo, those that consumed the NAC experienced little or no symptoms of flu even though their blood test confirmed the presence of the flu virus.
Studies have suggested that NAC can help AIDS patients by taking several thousand grams per day can lengthen life expectancy. Researchers suggest that high blood levels of glutathione are better than high levels of immune-cells to predict survival rate. NAC is also a powerful liver detox and can help women with Polycystic ovary syndrome.
Consider NAC as a supplement to be added to your daily supplement regimen.
Vitamin C History
May 28, 2007 11:48 AM
In the mid-18th century, fruits and vegetables—especially lemons and limes—were found to ward off scurvy, a disease that had for centuries plagued sailors on long sea voyages. Vitamin c, of course was the nutrient behind this scurvy protection—but it didn’t get its kudos until it was identified by Hungarian researchers in the 1930s. Soon after, synthesized vitamin C was mass produced, launching the legacy of history’s most popular supplement.
Vitamin C found its champion in the 1960s, when famed chemist Linus Pauling began challenging the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for this nutrient in favor of higher dosages he believed would be more effective in preventing disease. While the RDA hovered between 75 mg to 90 mg daily, Pauling was known to take up to 18,000 mg of vitamin C per day; the Linus Pauling Institute now recommends 400mg daily.
Pauling believed these higher vitamin C doses showed great promise in neutralizing the common cold, supporting cardiovascular health and even treating cancer. When Pauling experimented with giving terminal cancer patients super-high doses of vitamin C intravenously, he found that the nutrient appeared to both mitigate traditional cancer treatments side effects and lengthen lifespan. Despite Pauling’s acclaim, his vitamin C cancer research was largely disregarded.
May 28, 2007 11:34 AM
What is it? A compound found, most famously, in grapes and red wine; Japanese knotweed (polygonum cuspidatum) is a more concentrated source. What does it do? This anti-inflammatory acts against several ailments associated with age, including cancer and cardiovascular disorders; it has also lengthened lifespan in animals.
June 10, 2005 09:44 PM
Breast Cancer by Joseph L. Mayo,MD Mary Ann Mayo, MA Energy Times, May 2, 1999
What do you fear most? Bankruptcy? Floods? Heart disease? If you're like many women, breast cancer stands near the top of that dreaded list.
But that fear doesn't permeate other cultures the way it does ours.
A woman like Mariko Mori, for instance, 52 years old, Japanese, worries about intense pressures beginning to burden her toddler grandson. But worry about breast cancer? Hardly.
In Indiana, Mary Lou Marks, 50, has similar family frets, mulling over her 28-year-old daughter's career choice.
But on top of that, when Mary Lou tabulates her other worries, she recoils at the thought of breast cancer. She's heard about her lifetime risk: 1 in 8. Meanwhile, Mariko's is merely 1 in 40, according to Bob Arnot's Breast Cancer Prevention Diet (Little, Brown).
New studies have found the effect of carrying the gene linked to breast cancer, which is responsible for only 5 to 10% of breast cancer incidence, is not as great as first suspected. Earlier estimates that the gene reflects an 80% chance of incurring breast cancer by age 70 has been recalculated to be only 37% (The Lancet, 1998;352:1337-1339).
Complex Causesbr> Researchers agree: No one factor is solely responsible for breast cancer. Risk depends on many factors, including diet, weight, smoking, alcohol consumption, activity level and, of course, those genes.
Regardless of their actual chance of getting breast cancer, women worry. Mary Lou faces no factors that would place her in particular jeopardy. But her anxieties about radical therapies and medical expenses paralyze her: She forgets to visit her health care provider and skips her annual mammogram appointments. Mary Lou's daughter, perhaps in reaction to her mother's gripping fears, campaigns ardently for cancer prevention, educating herself and mobilizing against the cumulative effects of known cancer risks. Smart young woman: A malignancy, after all, can take years to develop. A tumor must swell to one billion cells before it is detectable by a mammogram.
The soy-rich regimen of Japanese women like Mariko Mori, for example, helps to explain the low breast cancer rates in Asian countries (see box at center of the page).
Tomatoes, because of their high quotient of the carotenoid lycopene, have been found to protect cells from the corrosive clutches of oxidants that have been linked with cancer in 57 out of 72 studies (The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, February 17, 1999, page A6, reporting on a Harvard Medical School study). For more on tomatoes see page 16.
But there's no one magic anti-cancer food or diet. Eating to prevent breast cancer requires a balanced menu with fiber, healthy fats, phytoestrogens and antioxidants, all fresh and free of chemical additives.
Modifying the balance and type of estrogen, the female sex hormone produced by the ovaries, offers an important breast cancer safeguard. Fat cells, adrenal glands and, before menopause, the ovaries, produce three "flavors" of estrogen, the strongest of which, estradiol, is believed to be carcinogenic when too plentiful or persistent in the body.
Estrogen does its work by attaching to estrogen receptors. Receptors are particularly numerous in the epithelial cells that line milk sacs and ducts in the breasts.
A receptor site is like a designated parking spot: Once estrogen is parked there it triggers one of its 400 functions in the body, from preparation of the uterus for pregnancy to intensifying nerve synapses in the brain.
The food we eat can be a source of estrogen; plant estrogens, called phytoestrogens, are much weaker than the body's estrogens, but they fit the same receptors. Phytoestrogens exert a milder estrogenic effect than bodily estrogen and are capable of blocking the more potent, damaging versions.
Soy also contains genistein, an "isoflavone" very similar in molecular form to estrogen but only 1/100,000 as potent. Because of its structure, genistein can attach to cells just as estrogen does; it also helps build carriers needed for binding estrogen and removing it from the body (Journal of Nutrition 125, no.3 :757S-770S). It acts as an antioxidant to counteract free radicals.
Soy is most protective for younger women. Postmenopausal women benefit from soy's ability to diminish hot flashes and for cardiovascular protection, especially in combination with vitamin E, fiber and carotene (Contemporary OB/GYN, September 1998, p57-58).
Experts don't know that much about the cumulative effect of combining hormone replacement with soy, herbs and a diet high in phytoestrogens. Menopausal women who boost their estrogen this way should work with their health care providers and monitor their hormonal levels every six to 12 months with salivary testing.
The Vegetable Cart
Fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains reduces insulin levels and suppresses the appetite by making make us feel full, thus helping with weight control, so important to resisting cancer. Fiber also helps build estrogen carriers that keep unbound estrogen from being recirculated and reattached to the breast receptors.
Cellulose, the fruit and vegetable fiber most binding with estrogen, also rounds up free radicals that damage DNA within cells.,p> Feeding the Immune System Despite heightened public awareness and efforts to stick to wholesome, healthful diets, experts increasingly link poor nutrition to depressed immune systems. Many Americans are at least marginally deficient in trace elements and vitamins despite their best attempts to eat well; that's why a good multivitamin/mineral is wise, even mandatory. Vitamins given to people undergoing cancer treatment stimulate greater response, fewer side effects, and increased survival (International Journal of Integrative Medicine, vol. 1, no. 1, January/February 1999).
Nutrients tend to work synergistically on the immune system. They should be taken in balanced proportions, and in consultation with your health care provider.
n Riboflavin (B2), pyridoxine (B6), pantothenic acid (B5), zinc and folate strengthen immunity. Selenium, in lab culture and animal studies, has helped kill tumors and protect normal tissues.
n Beta-carotene and vitamins A, E and C are antioxidants. Vitamin C enhances vitamin E's effects, boosting immunity and protecting against cell damage. The antioxidant isoflavones in green tea, with soy, convey the anticancer effects of the Asian diet. Research shows actions that discourage tumors and gene mutations.
The food you eat influences hormones. Excess sugar raises insulin, which acts as a growth factor for cancer and interferes with vitamin C's stimulation of white blood cells. It may contribute to obesity.
Alcohol is converted to acetaldehyde, which causes cancer in laboratory animals. It affects gene regulation by decreasing the body's ability to use folic acid. It increases estrogen and the amount of free estradiol in the blood. The liver damage that accompanies high alcohol consumption frequently reduces its capacity to filter carcinogenic products, regulate hormones and break down estrogen. Studies of alcohol consumption have caused experts to estimate that drinking more than two alcoholic beverages a day increases breast cancer risk by 63% (OB-GYN News, November 1, 1998, p. 12).
Fat Can be Phat
Fat cells produce estrogen. Excess fat stores carcinogens and limits carriers that can move estrogen out of your system.
Once estrogen has attached itself to a receptor, the health result depends on the type of fat in the breast. Saturated fat, transfatty acids and omega-6 fat from polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as safflower oil, peanut, soybean oil, corn oil and in margarine can increase the estrogen effect and trigger a powerful signal to the breast cell to replicate.
Breast tissue is protected by omega-3 fat chiefly from fish and flaxseed and by omega-9 from olive oil. Salmon once a week or water packed tuna three times a week are particularly beneficial. Fish oil supplements processed to reduce contaminates are available. Cod liver oil isn't recommended: its vitamin A and D levels are too high.
Flaxseed is the richest known plant source of omega-3. Use a coffee grinder to benefit from the seed and oil for the full estrogen effect; sprinkle ground flaxseed over cereal or fold into baked goods. Drizzle flaxseed oil, found in the refrigerator section of your health food store, over salads or cereal. (Store the oil in the refrigerator.)
Olive oil, especially in the context of the so-called Mediterranean diet of vegetables, omega-3-rich fish and fresh fruit (Menopause Management, January-February 1999, p. 16-19), lowers the risk of breast cancer (The Lancet, May 18, 1996;347:1351-1356).
Selecting Organic Food
Buy or grow fresh, organic foods whenever you can. When grilling meat, fish or poultry, reduce the area where carcinogens may accumulate by trimming fat. Charred, well-done meat is known to be carcinogenic. When grilling, marinate meat first and reduce the cooking time on the grill by slightly precooking.
Cancer prevention is an interlocking puzzle requiring the limitation of fat consumption, weight control, exercise, stress reduction and care for psychological and spiritual balance. Possessing more cancer fighting pieces makes you more likely to be able to complete the prevention picture.
Joseph L. Mayo, MD, FACOG and Mary Ann Mayo, MA, are the authors of The Menopause manager: A Safe Path for a Natural Change, an individualized program for managing menopause. The book's advice, in easy-to-understand portions, isolates in-depth explanations with unbiased reviews of conventional and alternative choices. A unique perspective for mid-life women who want to know all their options.
Also from the Mayos - The HOW Health Opportunities For Women quarterly newsletter to help women learn HOW to make informed health choices. Learn HOW to: - Choose nutritional supplements
The Science of Healthy Hair
June 10, 2005 03:44 PM
The Science of Healthy Hair
by Susan Weiner Energy Times, January 5, 2002
From the strength-giving mane of Sampson to the magically long locks of Rapunzel, hair has had the power to captivate since biblical times. Today, its lure is just as compelling and hair remains an important form of self-expression and self-image. A healthy head of hair is more than an asset to your appearance. A hairstyle can reflect a mood, an attitude or a personal style, while unkempt hair may reveal the status of one's emotional or physical health. Even a "good" hair day vs. a "bad" hair day can significantly determine how your frame of mind takes shape. We can't always control the frizz factor or the humid weather that makes our curls fall flat, but many natural approaches are available to allow us to put our best looking follicle forward. Whether your hair is sleek and stylish, long and slinky, spiky punk rock-hip or wash-and-wear, botanical-based products and proper nutrition can bring out the very best in your locks.
Don't Fool Mother Nature
No matter how often you cut, dye, perm or blow-dry your hair, Mother Nature, with the help of your DNA, has blessed you with a quite specific quality and quantity of hair. Styling may work to change the appearance of your hair, but nothing can change your genetics. Every hair on your body, from the soft down on your arms to the coarser, longer hairs on your head, grows from a cell-lined indentation called a follicle. The hair follicle consists of three cylinders; the central cylinder determines whether your hair is straight, wavy or curly. Each hair shaft alternately grows or goes into a dormant phase. "At any one time, approximately fifteen percent of the one hundred thousand or so hairs on the head are resting, while the rest are growing or lengthening," say Arthur Balin, MD, PhD, and Loretta Pratt Balin, MD (The Life of the Skin: What It Hides, What It Reveals, and How It Communicates, Bantam). Hair constantly comes and goes, falling out consistently even when it is healthy. Consequently, a normal head can shed up to one hundred resting-phase hairs a day. When hair is subjected to harsh chemicals and treatment, even more may fall out. If you're concerned with hair loss, gently pull on a small section of hair; if fewer than five hairs come out, hair loss is within normal range.
What's Your Type?
Normal hair is an elusive commodity in these stressed-out days of over-washed, over-dried and chemically treated hair. If your tresses look frizzy, tangle easily or generally lack moisture, they're probably dry. Dry hair lacks the proper oil content to maintain an ample sheen and is usually dull-looking. To gain back a natural shine, cut back on shampooing and use a natural conditioner formulated for dry hair. Look for essential oils such as jojoba, evening primrose, blue chamomile, and white camellia, and B vitamins (such as panthenol) and aloe vera, suggests Aubrey Hampton, founder of Aubrey Organics. Drinking plenty of water, eating a diet that's not ultra-low in fats and using a humidifier may also help improve dull-looking dry hair, points out David E. Bank, MD (Beautiful Skin: Every Woman's Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age, Adams Media). (Excessively dry hair may be a significant sign of metabolic disease. If you don't notice a marked improvement in your scalp after taking measures to improve dry hair, or your hair is abnormally dry, consult your health practitioner to see if stronger cures should be implemented.)
Too Much Oil
Hair that appears greasy within 24 hours after shampooing is oily. In that case, try gentle shampoos and herbal rinses with essential oils including quillaya bark, amino acids mixed with saponins, non-coloring henna and peppermint. For an oily scalp and dry ends, condition only the ends. Styling products should be oil-free. For thin or flyaway hair, products with natural thickening agents such as panthenol can help pump up the volume. Color treated and damaged hair can benefit from sulfur-containing amino acids; check your natural foods store for hair care products that contain horsetail, coltsfoot and cysteine. Tea tree oil products are effective when you are trying to control dandruff and a problem scalp.
If the label lists sodium lauryl sulfate, steer clear, warns Hampton. And, says Dr. Bank, sodium C-14-16 olefin sulfonate, a harsh chemical found in cheap shampoos, is the worst of the worst when it comes to offensive hair care ingredients. "You also need to watch out for sodium chloride-table salt-in the ingredient list. It's a cheap ingredient to thicken shampoo and strips the hair of oils."
Feed Your Head
To optimize shine and fullness, improve your nutrition, says Bruce Miller, MD, author of The Nutrition Guarantee (Summit Publishing Group). "Good nutrition is as essential to healthy, attractive hair as it is to clear, glowing skin," notes Dr. Miller. "Your hair directly reflects your care and feeding of it." Your hair consists of about 97% protein, containing nineteen of the twenty-two amino acids that form protein, explains Dr. Miller. If you skimp on quality protein, your hair may reflect this amino acid imbalance by breaking, cracking and splitting. Hair follicles pass on the nutrients you consume, nourishing the new cells that form the growing hair shaft. As the hair gradually pushes upward, the shaft is continually lubricated by the busy sebaceous glands. For a smoother transition through the shaft and undamaged hair, lecithin provides a welcome dose of lubrication, as well as the important B vitamins choline and inositol, vital to healthy hair. In fact, the B vitamins are crucial to the growth of full bodied, healthy hair. The B complex strengthens, forms and smoothes the hair shafts, and helps maintain an even hair color, even warding off the beginning of gray hair. For thick and shiny hair, vitamin A works in conjunction with the B vitamins. Zinc can strengthen the hair shafts by thickening them. Thicker and stronger hair shafts increase your chances of holding on to your hair and suffering fewer lost hairs. When it comes to hair retention, genetics count. The more hair your parents retained, the greater your chance of keeping yours.
If you're interested in optimal hair health, think nutrition. Eating for the sake of your curls is a lot like eating for overall health: plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy grains and lean sources of protein, including tofu and other soy-based foodstuffs. To support healthy hair, some experts advocate foods high in biotin, including brown rice, brewer's yeast, bulgur, green peas, lentils, oats, soybeans, sunflower seeds and walnuts. The natural phytochemicals in green tea may aid hair, while ginkgo biloba improves circulation to the scalp. Don't forget your daily vitamins and be sure to take an iron and B12 supplement.
Herbs from China show great promise for helping hair. He Shou Wu, made from Polygoni multiflori (the eastern wild rose), is reputed by devotees to restore color, slow hair loss, and help hair grow back. In Chinese medicine, this botanical has been used as an adaptogen to boost overall health and longevity. Within the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), He Shou Wu is supposed to strengthen the liver and kidney meridians and support healthy blood. Many Asians use the herb to promote higher levels of qi, the TCM concept that encompasses your life's overall energy.
Show a Little Tenderness
Long-term exposure to sunlight and seawater can damage hair, as can combing or brushing wet hair. Treat your hair with kid gloves, use natural products that are gentle on hair, and avoid chemical treatments. If you're looking to lose weight, avoid crash diets; a sudden drop in nutrition can cause deficiencies and lead to hair damage and loss. Keeping a wonderful head of hair means staying ahead of the curve with proper nutrition, the right supplements and a continuous program of TLC. In that way, you can maintain the crowning head of hair you've always coveted.