Monthly Archives: March 2013

Hair Treatment – Do You Do It?

Today, I went for a hair cut… yeah, finally, when I could no longer tolerate my long hair almost touching my waist. It is darn irritating to have a bunch of hair brushing on my shoulders and my back when I run in the morning. So after dropping off Sherilyn at the ballet centre, hubs and I went to have our hair cut.  During the hair wash, the hair stylist applied some hair treatment emollient on my hair and scalp. Oh my, that was just so, so refreshing on my scalp. And the smell of mint was invigorating and uplifting. After a period of 5 minutes, my entire scalp felt so cool and light.  I was lying down on the reclining chair at the hair wash room and I really wished that I could lie there with the cooling mint on my head forever!

Next was the hair cut and hair drying process.  I asked the hair stylist about rebonding and he recommended that I try keratin hair treatment instead. When he mentioned that it would cost a whopping RM800+ before discount, I almost fell off the chair *cough*!!  What, I ain’t going to spend almost a thousand bucks (plus hair cut and hair wash) on a keratin hair treatment even if I were a millionaire’s wife.  And it is simply  because I do not like to have chemicals on my scalp, which can be absorbed into my body. So never mind that I have frizzy hair and that the hair stylist tells me that my hair lacks protein, shine and what nots. I do not care for I love my health more.  I do not even put any gel or hair spray or any kind of tonic to so call ‘nourish’ my scalp. They are all harmful chemicals unless the solution is organic and have no harsh chemicals.

And whether it is purely coincidental or as a result of chemical overload, the hair stylist who had keratin hair treatment and had tried a whole array of hair and scalp treatment on herself is battling infertility.

What is Keratin Hair Treatment?
Keratin hair treatment or famously called ‘miracle straightening treatment’, is widely popular for removing frizz and curls. It is considered as a natural method of straightening hair, since no harsh chemicals are used. However, the pitfalls of this treatment became apparent when many unsatisfied customers started reporting the numerous side effects of keratin for hair. Before discovering the side effects of keratin treatment, let us first know what this treatment actually is.

Keratin Hair Treatment
Keratin is a natural protein found in hair, teeth, nails etc. It adds soft, silky, shiny texture to the hair. In case of curly, frizzy hair, the natural keratin is not sufficient to add smooth texture to the hair. The keratin hair treatment mainly aims at replenishing the keratin content in the hair. The keratin that is required for this treatment, is obtained from animal sources or other natural sources. During the treatment, this keratin product is applied on hair, followed by hot ironing. This hair straightening technique is necessary to cover the hair cuticle with keratin and trap the moisture within the hair. The product is then rinsed off, to reveal pin straight hair.

Side Effects
Side effects surface only after the first wash, which is recommended after 72 hours of treatment. The various short term and long term side effects of keratin hair treatment are as follows.

Excessive Hair Loss
This is one of the most immediate aftermath of keratin hair treatment. Many customers who have had the treatment done report heavy hair loss as a side effect of this treatment. The hair start falling from its root after the first wash itself, even if you wash with recommended hair care products only. Moreover, the amount of hair fall is so overwhelming that a prominent thinning pattern can be observed within weeks of treatment. However, your dermatologist might want you to undergo a few tests to rule out other causes, before treating you for hair loss due to keratin treatment.

Potential to Induce Cancer
Formaldehyde, a carcinogenic substance is the major component of almost every keratin hair treatment product, including Brazilian keratin hair treatment. Thus, long term use of these products is associated with increased risk of cancer. Although, most salons make use of masks to escape the fumes of formaldehyde, there is no way of preventing the small amounts of formaldehyde from getting absorbed in the skin. To avoid this risk, one can make use of formaldehyde free products that are now widely available. However, these products may not give you the desired results, as the straightening effect is mainly due to formaldehyde.

Deterioration of Hair Texture
You may find your hair full of luster, immediately after the treatment. But, do not stay under the impression that your hair will remain so forever. In fact, you’ll notice your hair texture degrading within 2 – 3 weeks of treatment. The hair becomes dry, fade and all messed up. Also, it is likely that your hair will stay pin straight even after washing twice. This can be particularly frustrating if your hair stylist told you to expect relaxed and natural looking hair in a day or two.

Allergic Reactions
Just like any other hair treatment, this treatment is also capable of inducing allergic reactions in a few people. The symptoms include itching, rash etc., which are typical allergy symptoms. Skin disorders such as eczema are also associated with keratin hair treatment. To avoid allergic problems resulting from this treatment, your hair stylist should first identify your hair texture so as to choose an appropriate product for your hair and scalp type. Also, you should clearly mention, if you have a history of allergic reactions.

Keratin hair treatment side effects are many and that too pretty serious. You definitely do not want to let go of your precious hair (no matter how curly or frizzy it may be) for smooth, straight hair which won’t last for more than a couple of months. Hence, think twice before you are ready to take the plunge.

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Lovey Dovey Sisters

Rascal #2 had tummy ache and lay on the bed.  Rascal #3 ran to her sister and hugged her tummy. I told #3 to massage some T36 C5 Melaleuca tea tree oil on her che che’s tummy. She did and gave her che che a good 5-minute tummy massage.  I don’t think I have the patience to rub her tummy for 5 minutes but Cass did!  Now the pain is gone! They may fight and bicker all the time but they still care for each other very much 🙂

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Coconut Oil Health Benefits

Of late, there has been so much hype on the health benefits of coconut oil. The other day, a friend gave us a bottle of expensive pure coconut oil and my mil used it for the first time to stir-fry some green leafy veggie (the leaves of sweet potato to be exact). For someone who is nuts over coconuts, I was really surprised that my first bite onto the veggie stir-fried with coconut oil made my tummy churn! The taste of the nutty oil was overpowering and it just did not go well with the sweet potato leaves veggie. Since it was only my first try, I guess I would require  lots of exposure to coconut oil in order for me to acquire the taste. Coming from someone who can never get enough of coconut water and coconut meat, I was puzzled that I found the smell of the coconut oil too strong and pungent for my liking. If I could gulp down a cup of fresh coconut milk and then have freshly grated coconut meat sandwich for breakfast, why do I find the taste of coconut oil so revolting?

Never mind about how chockfull of nutrients and beneficial coconut oil is,  everyone else in the family just cannot tolerate food cooked with coconut oil.

Food For Thought:

Conventional thought used to consider fats like coconut oil to be unhealthy and contribute to heart disease. We now know that this isn’t true. In fact, coconut oil is actually a heart healthy food that can keep your body running smoother in a few different ways.

What are the health benefits of coconut oil?
Studies have show that intake of coconut oil can help our bodies mount resistance to both viruses and bacteria that can cause illness. Even more, it also can help to fight off yeast, fungus and candida.

Coconut oil can also positively affect our hormones for thyroid and blood sugar control. People who take coconut oil also tend to have improvements in how they handle blood sugar since coconut can help improve insulin use within the body. Coconut oil can boost thyroid function helping to increase metabolism, energy and endurance. It increases digestion and helps to absorb fat-soluble vitamins.

Can coconut oil reduce cholesterol?
Coconut oil has a saturated fat called lauric acid, a type of MCT. It has been shown that lauric acid increases the good HDL cholesterol in the blood to help improve cholesterol ratio levels. Coconut oil lowers cholesterol by promoting its conversion to pregnenolone, a molecule that is a precursor to many of the hormones our bodies need. Coconut can help restore normal thyroid function. When the thyroid does not function optimally, it can contribute to higher levels of bad cholesterol.

How does coconut help keep weight balanced?
Coconut fats have special fats called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). It has been shown that breaking down these types of healthy fats in the liver leads to efficient burning of energy. One 2009 study found that women who consumed 30 milliliters (about 2 tablespoons) of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks not only did not gain more weight, but actually had lowered amounts of abdominal fat, a type of fat that is difficult to lose, and contributes to more heart problems.

Is it true coconut can help with aging?
The oils found in the coconut have a positive antioxidant action in the body. This means they help our body stop the damage to other healthy fats and tissues in our body. Oxidation is considered a major contributor to cardiovascular problems and skin aging. Coconut oil can actually help our bodies reduce the need for antioxidant intake.

Is coconut oil good for my skin and hair?
We tell our patients that from the time of infancy through the senior years, coconut oil is a wonderful moisturizer for skin and hair. It has good amounts of the antioxidant vitamin E, which is very protective. If you are using on the skin regularly, it is best to try to find an organic coconut oil, to reduce the absorption of toxins and pesticides through your skin.

We even recommend new parents massage infants with coconut oil after a bath. One 2005 study of 120 babies showed that a coconut oil massage is safe and has health benefits.

How can I use coconut oil?
Coconut oil works in both baked goods like zucchini and banana bread and with vegetables. It is especially tasteful when paired with bitter greens like kale. You can use it as part of the onion and garlic sauté, where it offers a surprisingly different and pleasant full-bodied taste. It is also a wonderful addition to oatmeal to make it even creamier, while staying healthy.

Coconut oil can withstand the heat – making it a better cooking option.

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Insatiable Appetite

Cass has such a huge appetite. During our current stay in Ipoh, she has been eating non-stop, yet she does not seem to get full or satiated. She eats more than her 2 older sisters and even more than me! From a pintsized, sickly baby who weighed a pathetic 7.5kg after her surgeries at 13 months old, her weight has now doubled. Nonetheless, I think she should not overeat. I ought to get her some portion control bowls and plates to control her food portions.

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Broccoli Health Benefits

Broccoli is such a versatile veggie. I can eat it in so many ways. My favorite way of eating it has to be by blanching it till it is slightly soft, yet crunchy.  Once blanched, I can either make it into a 1-pot dish like salad with other veggie and fruits, chicken or turkey breast meat, nuts, seeds and hard boiled eggs.  Or I can steam it with chicken, stir fry it with other veggies, cook it with noodles, fry it with rice and the list goes.  I love eating blanched broccoli with Goma sauce (Japanese sesame salad dressing)  or with mayo. Some people juice it but I have yet to try it.

I was told that broccoli  are heavily sprayed with pesticides. Thus, I normally buy only organic broccoli and organic ones are really taxing on one’s wallet. If our weather permits, I would definitely plant my own broccoli!

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What’s the difference between sea salt and table salt

Sea salt and table salt have the same basic nutritional value, despite the fact that sea salt is often marketed as a more natural and healthy alternative. The most notable differences between sea salt and table salt are in their taste, texture and processing.Sea salt is produced through evaporation of ocean water or water from saltwater lakes, usually with little processing. Depending on the water source, this leaves behind certain trace minerals and elements. The minerals add flavor and color to sea salt, which also comes in a variety of coarseness levels.

Table salt is typically mined from underground salt deposits. Table salt is more heavily processed to eliminate minerals and usually contains an additive to prevent clumping. Most table salt also has added iodine, an essential nutrient that helps maintain a healthy thyroid.

By weight, sea salt and table salt contain the same amount of sodium.

Regardless of which type of salt you prefer, limit total sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams a day — or 1,500 milligrams if you:

Answer from Mayoclinic.com

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How long can you safely keep leftovers in the refrigerator?

Leftovers can be kept for three to four days in the refrigerator. Be sure to eat them within that time. After that the the risk of food poisoning increases. If you don’t think you’ll be able to eat leftovers within four days, freeze them immediately.

Food poisoning — also called foodborne illness — is caused by harmful organisms, such as bacteria in contaminated food. Because bacteria typically don’t change the taste, smell or look of food, you can’t tell whether a food is dangerous to eat. So if you’re in doubt about a food’s safety, it’s best to throw it out.

Fortunately, most cases of food poisoning can be prevented with proper food handling. To practice food safety, quickly refrigerate perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs — don’t let them sit more than two hours at typical room temperature or more than one hour at temperatures above 90 F (32 C).

Uncooked foods, such as cold salads or sandwiches, also should be eaten or refrigerated promptly. Your goal is to minimize the time a food is in the “danger zone” — between 40 and 140 F (4 and 60 C) — when bacteria can quickly multiply.

When you’re ready to eat leftovers, reheat them on the stove, in the oven or in the microwave until the internal temperature reaches 165 F (74 C). Because they may not get hot enough, slow cookers and chafing dishes aren’t recommended for reheating leftovers.

Answer from Mayoclinic.com

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Should Moldy Cheese Be Eaten?

Soft cheeses, such as cottage cheese, cream cheese and ricotta cheese, that have mold should be discarded. The same goes for any kind of cheese that’s shredded, crumbled or sliced.

With these cheeses, the mold can send threads throughout the cheese. In addition, harmful bacteria, such as listeria, brucella, salmonella and E. coli, can grow along with the mold.

Mold generally can’t penetrate far into hard and semisoft cheeses, such as cheddar, colby, Parmesan and Swiss. So you can cut away the moldy part and eat the rest of the cheese. Cut off at least 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) around and below the moldy spot. Be sure to keep the knife out of the mold so it doesn’t contaminate other parts of the cheese.

Of course, not all molds pose a risk. In fact, some types of mold are used to make cheeses, such as Brie and Camembert. These molds are safe to eat.

If you’re not sure what type of cheese you have or what to do if it grows mold, the safe course is to discard it!

Answer from Mayoclinic.com

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coffee and health? Is coffee good or bad for me?

I am a coffee lover. I need my cuppa in the morning to kick start my long day.  Sherilyn and Cass love coffee too.   On days where they need some coffee boost to jump start their mood, I will add a pinch of instant coffee (less than 1/4 teaspoon) into their fresh milk.  That will normally do the trick! And no, they did not get a caffeine rush. Instead, the caffeine will set them in a cheery mood and the milk will be gulped down in just a jiffy.

Food For Thought:

Coffee has a long history of being blamed for many ills — from the humorous “It will stunt your growth” to the not-so-humorous claim that it causes heart disease and cancer. But recent research indicates that coffee may not be so bad after all. So which is it — good or bad? The best answer may be that for most people the health benefits outweigh the risks.

Recent studies have generally found no connection between coffee and an increased risk of cancer or heart disease. Why the apparent reversal in the thinking about coffee? Earlier studies didn’t always take into account that known high-risk behaviors, such as smoking and physical inactivity, tended to be more common among heavy coffee drinkers at that time.

However, the research appears to bear out some risks. High consumption of unfiltered coffee is associated with mild elevations in cholesterol levels. And another study found that two or more cups of coffee a day can increase the risk of heart disease in people with a specific — and fairly common — genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body. So, how quickly you metabolize coffee may affect your health risk.

Newer studies have also shown that coffee may have benefits, such as protecting against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and liver cancer. And it has a high content of antioxidants. But this doesn’t mean you should disregard the old maxim “Everything in moderation.” Although coffee may not be very harmful, other beverages such as milk and juice contain nutrients that coffee does not. Also, keep in mind that coffee accompaniments such as cream and sugar add fat and calories to your diet. Finally, heavy caffeine use — on the order of four to seven cups of coffee a day — can cause problems such as restlessness, anxiety, irritability and sleeplessness, particularly in susceptible individuals.

Article extracted from mayoclinic.com

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Chia Seeds Health Benefits

When I saw a friend drinking tumblers after tumblers of plain water with tiny seeds floating in the water, I asked her what it was. It reminded me of the ‘tadpoles’ drink that my school tuckshop used to sell over 30 years ago.  We used to call the rose syrup drink tadpoles drink as the seeds indeed looked like tiny tadpoles!  My friend then told me that the seeds were Chia seeds and they are a super food.  Chia seeds can be bought from organic shops and they are not very costly. Today I Google searched Chia seeds and the findings I got on it are pretty impressive.  The next time I go to the organic shop, I will definitely get 2 packets of Chia seeds – 1 for our household and another for my parents.

Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. Salvia hispanica seed is often sold under its common name “chia” as well as several trademarked names. Its origin is believed to be in Central America where the seed was a staple in the ancient Aztec diet. The seeds of a related plant, Salvia columbariae (golden chia), were used primarily by Native Americans in the southwestern United States.

Chia seeds have recently gained attention as an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acid. They are also an excellent source of fiber at 10 grams per ounce (about 2 tablespoons), and contain protein and minerals including as iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.

Emerging research suggests that including chia seeds as part of a healthy diet may help improve cardiovascular risk factors such as lowering cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. However, there are not many published studies on the health benefits of consuming chia seeds and much of the available information is based on animal studies or human studies with a small number of research participants.

This fiber content also helps normalize blood glucose levels by slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar.

Chia seeds contain respectable concentrations of potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and manganese.
Chia seeds are extremely nutrient-dense, with one of the highest antioxidant concentrations of any known food!

How to Eat Chia Seeds
Chia seeds can be eaten raw or prepared in a number of dishes. Sprinkle ground or whole chia seeds on cereal, rice, yogurt or vegetables. In Mexico, a dish called chia fresco is made by soaking chia seeds in fruit juice or water. Chia seeds are very absorbent and develop a gelatinous texture when soaked in water making it easy to mix them into cooked cereal or other dishes.
The seeds are not the only important part of the chia plant; the sprouts are also edible. Try adding them to salads, sandwiches and other dishes.

Chia Egg

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