Thursday, September 28, 2017

Tips for beauty sleep

Sleep face up if you can. Sleeping on your face or cheek can cause loss of collagen and elastin on that side, due to the amount of pressure placed on it for the entire night and the resultant moisture loss. For your duvet, I’d recommend sleeping on silk pillowcases as cotton sucks moisture out of the skin. Furthermore, it prevents skin from creasing - and the effects of ‘bedhead’ too from a hair perspective. Be sure to wash your pillowcases at least once or twice a week!
Don’t go to bed without a serum. The skin rejuvenates at night so opt for high tech reparative product. Oils and moisturisers can tend to be clogging or just sit on the skin, impeding skin turnover and increasing premature ageing.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Traditional Chinese Medicine: Dark Areas

This is a sign of stagnation or blockages in the organs represented by that part of the face- for example, dark circles under the eyes often mean the kidneys or bladder are under pressure; a darker patch of skin around the chin means your bowels need some stimulation.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Listen to your body

Embrace Eastern, Western and naturopathic medicine. Each of us is unique and how much we need of anything in life depends on our own personal constitution. Your body is like a fine-tuned machine and it will tell you when something is wrong or if you’re eating something that doesn’t agree with you if you just listen. Its displeasure might manifest in clear symptoms in the gut, signs upon the skin or other health issues appearing elsewhere in the body. Face-mapping can also help you pinpoint any changes before they actually develop into symptoms. I recommend doing a regular face-mapping once every few months just to see if there’s anything you need to pay attention to.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Follow this Kirtan Kriya meditation exercise for just 12 minutes a day for mindfulness

Kirtan Kriya meditation is a very effective and quick (just 12 minutes a day!) method of relaxing and strengthening the mind and staying young. Sit comfortably with your spine straight and your arms in front of you, palms upward. Repeat the following sounds out loud for two minutes in our normal voice. As you make each sound, touch your fingers in turn with the tip of your thumb, as in the images. When the first two minutes are over, repeat the exercise for two minutes but this time in a whisper, then for four minutes in silence, then two minutes in a whisper again, and finally two minutes out loud. To finish, inhale deeply as you stretch your arms over your head and shake your hands, then bring them down in a sweeping motion as you exhale.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Mimi ❤️

Hi everyone, thanks for your support. I've decided to be silent for a short while in honour of Mimi who was the love of my life. ❤️

Losing Mimi has been incredibly sad. The only thing that keeps me going is hearing her whisper this to me:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Paleness in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Paleness to the skin is often associated with problems in the lung or colon - asthmatics often have much paler faces than my other clients, as do those for whom dairy causes lung congestion. If lung problems get worse or someone develops a more serious condition, such as emphysema, the skin may take on a gray or ashy tone. Paleness is also associated with excessive stress as the blood diverts to the more important organs.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Smoking and Premature Aging

This is one of the primary ways to trigger premature aging in skin. In fact, it’s my experience that the average smoker can look up to 10 years older than a non-smoker, and studies have shown that if one twin smokes and the other doesn’t, the damage is so obvious that 57 percent of plastic surgeons can spot a smoking twin from a picture of their face. I can do exactly the same thing- smokers have more bags under their eyes, more wrinkles, particularly around their lips, and less firm skin, particularly around the jawline, than non-smokers. Smoking also causes free radical damage and triggers the release of a protein called MMP-1, both of which directly attack collagen and elastin levels- and it also directly triggers inflammation. Every time smoke enters your lungs, it irritates the delicate cells within them; those cells see this irritation as an attack and, as with so many other factors that I’ve talked about here, that irritation triggers an inflammatory response. If you do smoke, quitting is one of the most important things you can do for your health and looks.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Know your ABCs- Vitamin C

This significantly lowers levels of C-reactive protein in the body. It’s also an effective antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s particularly effective when combined with vitamin E. Good sources of vitamin C include bell peppers, blueberries and kiwi fruit. Vitamin E can be found in nuts, seeds and avocados.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Know your ABCs- B Vitamins

I always give my patients B vitamins to help them with the “it is” conditions and to help fight gut-inflammation generally. The B vitamins also helps counteract an extremely inflammatory substance called homocysteine that can build up in the body. Particularly important are B6, B9 and B12. Whole grains are excellent sources of the B vitamins, except B12, which is found in meat and eggs, so vegans need to supplement with this. You need 1.5 mcg a day.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Know your ABCs- Vitamin A

This helps my patients who have gut-inflammation the intestines, the lungs and the skin. Those with inflammatory bowel disease, acne and chronic asthma, and lung issues all improve if I spruce up their vitamin A levels for a short time. Good dietary sources include liver, but as you can consume too much of pure vitamin A, it’s better to get it from green, orange or yellow vegetables as these convert the betacarotene they contain to vitamin A. It’s particularly important not to supplement or consume too much pure vitamin A if you are pregnant or trying to conceive, and no one should exceed more than 1.5 mg daily via food, supplements or a combination of the two.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Your BMI

It’s not a perfect measure of you are an athlete or naturally carry a high muscle mass, but for the general population, Body Mass Index (BMI) does give a good basic idea of whether your weight is healthy or not, especially in conjunction with waits measurement. To find your BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. Now check your result against the below:

18.4 or under: you are underweight
18.5 - 24.9: you are a healthy weight
25 - 29.9: you are overweight
30 or over - you are obese

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Cortisol - the stress hormone

Released when you are under stress, cortisol is another of the hormones produced by the adrenal glands. Its normal jobs include vital functions, such as shuttling sugar into the muscles during stress and shutting off the inflammatory response that occurs at this time. Released as and when we need it, cortisol is an extremely helpful hormone to the body- and actually fights aging because it switches off inflammation. The problem is that our stressful lifestyles mean our bodies are now often in a state of near cortisol production.
Cortisol is the Goldilocks of hormones- your levels have to be just right. Too low and you develop adrenal fatigue (which triggers aging), too high and you’ll also age faster as cortisol loves to damage skin, attacking it up to 10 times faster than any other tissue in the body.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Try my Sweet Potato Cakes Recipe

400g (14oz) sweet potato, peeled
1 egg
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

1. Grate the sweet potato
2. Whisk the egg, then add the sweet potato, turmeric and salt, and a grinding of pepper
3. Split the mixture into 4 and form patties using your hands
4. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the patties for 2-3 minutes until they start to brown. Flip and fry for another 1-2 minutes.

Image: Jessica O'Dwyer

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Analysing your food diary

After keeping a food diary for a while you’ll hopefully start to see patterns form. For example, you always get a headache around 3pm on a Wednesday following a work meeting on Tuesday lunchtime where sandwiches are served. If that’s the only day you eat bread, then perhaps something in bread is a trigger food for you. Similarly, you get a runny nose on a Sunday morning- and Friday night is always white wine night. Things can be a little harder when it’s foods you eat every day that are causing your problems as your symptoms are more or less constant. In that case it’s when the problems don’t appear that might give you a clue to their cause; what didn’t you eat in the preceding days? If you are getting stuck identifying any clear patterns, then seeking professional advice might help you spot things you can’t see. Or, you might want to try IgG testing to find your answer.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

How to keep a good food diary

Trying to spot a food intolerance isn’t always easy. While some, such as lactose intolerance, make themselves known quite quickly (sufferers usually need to rush to the bathroom soon after eating dairy), most intolerances hide very well and you’ll need to tease out the signs that show you what’s behind them. Keeping a good food diary is therefore very important.

Remember to:

Fill it as you go so you don’t forget anything;
Write down everything you consume, including chewing gums, vitamins, bites of your partner’s food etc.
For processed food, write down the brand name & ingredients (or photograph the label and keep it on your phone). It might be a single preservative that causes problems, which you’ll only spot if you know exactly what is in each food.
Don’t forget drinks - you can be intolerant to them too.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Don’t tell your body it’s getting old

Sighing as you sit down, grunting as you stand up as if it’s a big effort, or blaming the fact that you can’t find your car keys on your age, rather than the fact that you were talking on the phone when you came home and threw them somewhere different, tells your body you are expecting it to underperform with age. Your brain likes to please you in life - if it thinks you’re expecting your body to slow down, the brain will make that happen. Again, our proof comes from Yale: in a trial published in the journal ‘Psychology and Aging’, seniors reading words such as “forgetful” responded worse on memory tests than those given more positive words to read, such as “wise”. Tell your body it’s aging well, and it will.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Is your face older than you are?

Some of you will have read my previous few blog posts and felt a little hopeless. We live in a society now where it’s being seen as normal to iron out every sign of aging and, as such, reading about the above might fill some of you with dread. But remember: all of us age and we can’t, and shouldn’t, erase every aspect of that; features such as laughter lines and smile lines are a sign that you’ve lived a little, and that your life was filled with love, fun and happiness - you should be proud to show them off. You shouldn’t want to fill or freeze every line on your face, but nor do you want your face filled with other lines not reflective of all those good times.
To know if you’re aging naturally or experiencing the accelerated aging we can’t to fight, you need to know what to expect as you age.

Friday, May 26, 2017

What to expect as you age: 55+

By now the bone structure of the face has also changed, which adds to all of the above problems. The brows droop and the lips start to thin. Pigmentation cells can also start to behave erratically, which can trigger blotchy skin and the appearance of age spots.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What to expect as you age: 45-55

Fat levels continue to fall, but as you approach and then pass menopause it’s the drop in hormone levels that cause the majority of changes. The skin becomes considerably drier, and this alone makes it more likely to crease and wrinkle. As collagen loss speeds up, this accentuates the laxity that begins in your early 40s and jowls can appear as the face starts to sag. You could also notice your skin start to look a little more sallow as circulation becomes less effective.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

What to expect as you age: 35-45

The face starts to lose shape now as you start to lose fat that lies under the skin. Lines and wrinkles become more pronounced, particularly the marionette lines that run from the sides of the mouth to the chin, and nasolabial folds that run from the side of the nose to the mouth. Falling collagen levels also lead to a slight hooding of the eyelids and laxity on the face and neck. Your skin tone might lose some brightness as cell turnover slows down, but the skin texture should still be smooth. You will notice the skin start to feel drier and tighter. Annoyingly this can also be a prime trigger point for adult acne as hormone levels start to become imbalanced in the run up to menopause.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

What to expect as you age: 25-35

It’s normal for some lines to appear by now- particularly under the eyes, off to the sides as so-called crow’s feet, and the side of the mouth. The reason is the 10:10 rule- you lose about 10 percent of your collagen every ten years, so every decade you’ll start to notice a greater increase in wrinkles, lines and sagging skin. The good news is your skin tones should still be even, but you might start to notice that t looks a little duller and your skin might feel dryer.

Friday, April 28, 2017

What to expect as you age: 25 or under

At this age, the skin should look plump and youthful, your skin tone should be even and bright, and lines and wrinkles should be virtually non-existent- unless you have a very expressive face, in which case they might faintly appear around your smile lines, between the brows or across your forehead. One change you might notice is that your pores get a little larger, which is one of the first signs of lowering collagen levels.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Adrenal Fatigue Stage 4: Burnout

The cortisol levels continue to drop, flatlining throughout the day, This is a sign that the body is in real trouble. Your body can no longer manufacture stress hormones- all the symptoms of pre-burnout occur but they’re magnified. In some patients it gets so bad they can’t even get out of bed or do the things they love. At this point, they often visit their doctor and are prescribed antidepressants, which don’t treat the cause at all. If you stay in this burnout phase for more than a year, I’ve found it can take years to restore optimal adrenal function. It’s really important to seek help before this point.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Adrenal Fatigue Stage 3: Pre-Burnout

Both cortisol and DHEA levels have now plunged because the body is using up the DHEA levels to deal with the ongoing stress and the adrenals can no longer secrete high levels of cortisol to compensate. Normally cortisol must be high in the morning to wake us; the fact that it’s not means that at this stage most of my patients really have a hard time getting out of bed and continually reset the alarm to snooze. Your enthusiasm for life and your libido might fall. Your immunity is also likely to suffer, so you could find that you’re picking up more minor bugs. Insomnia is likely as are other mental symptoms, such as anxiety and even depression. This can go on for a long period- and many of us still just think we’re living a normal busy life and power through with the help of coffee, sugar and, probably, by now, the odd energy drink. But remember: every time you feel anxious or tired, this is a cry for help from the adrenal glands. They don’t want more coffee or something sweet in a can; they need TLC. Otherwise you will progress to stage 4.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Adrenal Fatigue- Stage 2: Tired but Wired

If stress continues in this state, your endocrine system starts to tire. It diverts energy into making cortisol and, as such, your production of DHEA can drop. This is the point when I most commonly see patients. They know something is not right because that combination of high cortisol but low DHEA makes them feel anxious, and some even develop panic attacks. Libido can also lower. If you’re affected you’ll find it difficult to wake up in the morning, and have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep at night, even though you’re tired because your mind is whirring. You may also wake up hungry at about 3-5am, as your blood-sugar level drops. You’re probably easily irritated, feeling more cold as the thyroid gland becomes affected and possibly gaining weight around the middle, despite exercising. Oh, and the local barista knows you by name as you need so many cups of coffee to get through the entire day.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Adrenal Fatigue- Stage 1: Compensation Phase

I call this the “compensation phase” because when you are at the beginning of adrenal fatigue, your cortisol rises in an attempt to compensate for the stressor that affects you. At this point, our mother hormone DHEA also endures the stressors well. Signs that you’re in the “compensation phase” include mild tiredness when you wake up (even after a good night’s sleep). Patients I see at this stage quite often say, “I need a coffee to start my day, otherwise I can’t get going.” Tiredness can also hit mid-afternoon, where again you start to crave sugar or need a coffee to keep you going. These quick fixes help you compensate for the fact that your adrenals are not working optimally. Reversing stress at this stage will reverse symptoms, but many people think this is ‘normal’ and just keep going.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Benefits of Maca

From Peru, this is one of the adaptogen family of herbs, which work to balance your body. This makes it particularly good in conjunction with the reproductive hormones as it won’t raise levels that don’t need alteration. It’s also anti-inflammatory. In studies, maca has been linked with favorable estrogen and testosterone levels, thus preserving your youthful hormones, and is shown to help tackle symptoms of menopause caused by hormonal fluctuation. There’s not a set dose for maca- how much you use depends on your weight, age and how your body reacts to it. Start with 3g daily of powder, adding a little more if you don’t get effects. The maximum dose consumed should be 9g daily. #AskDrNigma

Friday, March 10, 2017

Know your Dairy

Most of us just think about milk, but it’s also yogurt, hard cheese, soft cheese, cottage cheese, crème fraîche, butter, ice cream and Quark. Plus a myriad of processed food items contain dairy products- anything with a creamy taste will have some level of dairy within it, but surprisingly so can foods such as bread, cereal and processed meats. Protein shakes also commonly include whey or casein.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Smoking and Premature Aging

This is one of the primary ways to trigger premature aging in skin. In fact, it’s my experience that the average smoker can look up to 10 years older than a non-smoker, and studies have shown that if one twin smokes and the other doesn’t, the damage is so obvious that 57 percent of plastic surgeons can spot a smoking twin from a picture of their face. I can do exactly the same thing- smokers have more bags under their eyes, more wrinkles, particularly around their lips, and less firm skin, particularly around the jawline, than non-smokers. Smoking also causes free radical damage and triggers the release of a protein called MMP-1, both of which directly attack collagen and elastin levels- and it also directly triggers inflammation. Every time smoke enters your lungs, it irritates the delicate cells within them; those cells see this irritation as an attack and, as with so many other factors that I’ve talked about here, that irritation triggers an inflammatory response. If you do smoke, quitting is one of the most important things you can do for your health and looks.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Skin and Extrinsic Aging

The skin is made up of three main layers, each of which has a different role in keeping it healthy and youthful. In young, healthy skin, all of these functions behave optimally, but as we age, things start to slow or change, altering the way skin acts and looks. This triggers the natural development of signs of aging, such as lines, wrinkles, pigmentation, dull, rough skin, and a mottled or uneven skin tone. This natural body slowdown is known as intrinsic aging, and it happens to everyone. It begins internally in our 20s, starts to show externally for the first time in our 30s or 40s, and nothing in our beauty arsenal so far can stop it completely- although you can slow and reverse it a little. That might sound like very bad news, but it’s not- because intrinsic aging alone actually accounts for very little of the aging we see on our skin.

What ages us is exposure to external factors, such as sunlight, pollution, poor diet and inadequate hydration. This is called extrinsic aging and it’s the main reason most of us age. Even though they occur internally in the body, all the reactions triggered by poor gut health, excessive inflammation or hormonal changes that I discuss throughout my book are also classified as extrinsic aging. When it comes to aging prematurely, extrinsic aging is what you need to prevent and fight against.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Traditional Chinese Medicine: The Nose

If you have lots of blackheads, you probably also have poor digestion - and specifically may be affected by low stomach acid levels. If your nose is red or has lots of broken capillaries, this can be caused by drinking too many hot drinks, eating excessively spicy food or consuming too much alcohol. All of these cause the capillaries to dilate, and if this happens too frequently, they can remain enlarged.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Antioxidants to Eat: Power-Packed Berries

Berries are one of the best fruits to eat as their slight natural bitterness means they have a lower GI than many fruits. Many people reach for blueberries for anti ageing, but red berries contain a magic ingredient called ellagic acid, a polyphenol that’s been shown to counteract the damage UV light does to skin, triggering wrinkle formation. It actually stops the release of collagen-destroying MMP (matrix metalloproteinase) that normally occurs when UV hits the skin.

Monday, February 6, 2017

What is Rosacea?

I’ve already mentioned this a few times, but it’s a condition you may not have heard of- or may be a little confused by. Rosacea is a skin condition characterized by redness or flushing of the facial skin. It’s often accompanied by blemishes, which is why it used to be called acne rosacea, but it’s not the same as acne itself. Rosacea can also make the face feel hot or sting. The exact cause has not been determined, but in my experience it’s definitely linked to food intolerances, and imbalanced gut bacteria, which leads to high levels of inflammation and leaky gut. Attacks can be triggered by factors including alcohol consumption, spicy foods, sunlight and hot drinks. In my experience, healing the gut can play a huge role in reducing the look of rosacea and the number of flare-ups patients experience.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Detox with calcium d-glucarate

We naturally produce calcium d-glucarate in our bodies and it’s involved in the process of detoxification. When your liver decides to send a substance it classes as harmful out of your system, it does so by packaging it up into a compound called a glucuronide. This is sent to the bowel, where, if all goes well, it leaves your system the next time you visit the bathroom. This process, however, can be interrupted by a few things, including poor gut health and high levels of an enzyme called beta-glucuronide. Calcium d-glucarate reduces production of beta-glucuronide, helping ensure the dirty hormones pass out of your system successfully. Take 500-1,000mg daily if you want to rev up your natural detoxification system. However, because it can speed up liver metabolism, if you’re on prescription medication, particularly statins, the contraceptive pill or antidepressants, such as diazepam, speak to your doctor before using calcium d-glucarate.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Traditional Chinese Medicine - The Chin

The sides of the chin, along the jawline, are associated with the ovaries and the reproductive organs. Outbreaks around this area are often triggered by hormonal changes and it’s the most common place women get blemishes before their period. The middle of the chin, however, reflects bowel health, specifically how well you are eliminating toxins. Congestion here could indicate chronic constipation or incomplete evacuation creating chaos in the gut. Try drinking more water and increasing sources of soluble fiber in your diet to get things moving more efficiently. Some people also find that overdoing gluten can cause slow motility and affect how well your bowels move. Cut back and you might find acne or lines in this area disappear.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Foods to Choose: Antioxidants

Basically fruits and vegetables: eat as many as you can consume at every meal. These should be the mainstay of your meals, taking up at least half of your plate. Also eat as many different types as you can- I personally try to include five or six different varieties at every meal. Do, however, focus mainly on vegetables. While fruit is extremely healthy, too much can raise sugar levels in your diet. Aim for at least twice as many servings of vegetables a day as fruit, if not more.
While raw vegetables are fine during the day, at night it’s best to lightly steam them. Digestion starts to slow at night and steamed vegetables are easier for your system to break down. This might surprise you as it’s often believed that raw vegetables are better for us, but we actually absorb higher levels of nutrients from some vegetables, such as carrots and tomatoes, after they’ve been cooked.
Many of the nutrients in vegetables are found in the peel, so, where possible, I suggest not peeling vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots. Of course you do need to wash everything extra well if you’re not eating organic to reduce exposure to any pesticides left on the skin.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Try my Dairy Face Mask to Reduce Dairy Inflammation on your Skin

Mash 1/4 avocado in a bowl, add 1 egg yolk and 1 tsp yogurt and mix into a smooth paste. Apply to your face with your fingertips, moving upward. Leave for 15 minutes then rinse off with warm water.