Three things you didn’t know about yoghurt

As you already know, yoghurt is a dairy wonder that’s beneficial for your health in many ways.

Rich in calcium and an excellent source of high-quality protein, this nutrient-rich, all-star food is delicious no matter how you eat it – whether it’s on its own or in smoothies.

However, there are a couple of facts about yoghurt I bet you didn’t know – I’m letting you in on three of them.

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Three surprising health benefits of yoghurt

#1: Yoghurt improves your digestion

That’s right – this creamy stuff can easy all of your tummy troubles! The probiotics AKA friendly bacteria in yoghurt helps balance the microflora in your gut, which in turn helps with digestion and keeps you regular, according to culinary and nutrition expert Robin Plotkin (RD). Considering 80% of your immunity lies in your gut, it goes without saying that maintaining optimal gut health is key to a strong immune system and excellent overall health.

#2: Yoghurt is great for your heart

One of the most surprising reasons to heart yoghurt? It keeps your ticker healthy! According to associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health Alvaro Alonso, eating low-fat and fat-free yoghurt may also help lower your risk of developing high blood pressure. The special proteins, calcium, magnesium and potassium in yoghurt contribute to this blood pressure-lowering effect.

#3: Yoghurt can do wonders for your skin

Forget those pricy skin treatments to perfect your problem skin. According to dermatologist Hema Sundaram, yoghurt is rich in lactic acid, which is a component in some in-office chemical peels. Lactic acid is a super-gentle exfoliator that sloughs dead cells of the top layers of the epidermis, which helps clear up blemishes and discolourations as well as smooth out wrinkles.

And there you have it – three awesome health facts about yoghurt! Do you know of any others?

Try out this sweet and soothing carrot and cantaloupe smoothie!

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean that you have to swap out smoothies for soups. I personally love sipping on sweet, warming smoothies during the chilly months – especially when I’m feeling as gloomy as the weather and am in need of a little pick-me-up.

The carrot and cantaloupe smoothie recipe I’m about to share is both soothing and nutrient-dense, making it just what you need to survive the miserable cold weather! The next time you’re feeling flu-ish or run down, give this health-enhancing blend a try – you wont regret it!

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Why carrots and cantaloupe?

You might avoid carrots because of their high sugar content, but this is in fact a misconception. You see, because carrots also pack loads of fibre, they have a low glycaemic load.

However, this means that you have to eat the whole carrot (or use it in a smoothie) to maintain its fibre content. Juicing removes the fibre, which increases the glycaemic load. Therefore, the bottom line is that carrots are packed with incredible health benefits, not sugar!

Furthermore, both carrots and cantaloupe are very rich in the essential carotenoid beta-carotene, making them beneficial for your skin and eyes. They’re also both powerful natural anti-inflammatories.

Cantaloupe in particular is great for your insulin levels and blood sugar metabolism. Rich in vitamins A and C, this delicious fruit possesses an array of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, which actually makes it a superfood – bet you didn’t know that!

Lastly, the hint of ginger in the recipe adds a great little immune-boosting kick, while the natural sweetness of cinnamon provides blood sugar-balancing benefits. The combination as a whole is a soothing, anti-inflammatory and ever-so-yummy blend!

Carrot and cantaloupe anti-inflammatory smoothie recipe

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup carrots, chopped into small chunks
  • 2 cups cantaloupe, cubed
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger root, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon

Preparation:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to your blender and blend on high-speed for one minute.
  2. Pour the mixture into two glasses and garnish with a sprinkling of cinnamon if desired.
  3. Serve immediately and enjoy tremendously!

Tip: Remember to try and chew your smoothie to increase your saliva, which aids digestion. You’ll feel more satisfied! After all, smoothies aren’t drinks, but rather liquid snacks and meals.

What did you think of this recipe? Leave your comments below!

Eight healthy lifestyle goals for the Cape Town girl for 2016

With the start of a fresh new year comes an intense feeling of motivation and determination … am I right? Now is the perfect time to set yourself some healthy lifestyle goals for the year ahead! I’ve rounded eight of my top healthy lifestyle goals for the Cape Town girl for 2016 to help you get your list started!

 

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#1: Do a juice cleanse

I don’t know about you, but I’m seriously guilty of stuffing my face with all things sugary and processed over the holidays! The best way to eliminate toxins and clean out your system is by doing a juice cleanse. You’ll be amazed at how fresh and energised you’ll be left feeling at the end of your green juice binge! One-Juice and Orchard on Long both offer some fantastic and affordable juice cleanse programmes. To read about my latest juice cleanse experience, go here.

#2: Go on hikes

Our city has an abundance of natural beauty to offer … and what better way to take it all in than by going on a hike? Make it your goal to hike a new trail once every two or three months. What better way to get fit than by breathing in all of Cape Town’s beauty at the same time? Start with a hiking trail that’s not too intense, such as Lion’s Head or Elephant’s Eye, and then move onto more serious trails, such as Table Mountain.

#3: Stock up on healthy eats

Contrary to popular belief, healthy food can actually be delicious! Put it this way … I’ve never met a jar of nut butter or a frozen fruit smoothie I didn’t like. Stock your cupboards with some delicious and nutritious treats from some of our local heath food stores like Wellness Warehouse and you’ll see for yourself how easy it is to get into a healthy eating routine!

#4: Visit a farmer’s market

Looking for fresh, organic produce to create healthy meals? Then your local farmer’s market is just the place to visit. Markets like the Oranjezicht City Farm Market and Root 44 market both have loads of fresh and flavourful fruits, vegetables, meats, jams and baked goods on offer. And, yes, you can be totally sure that everything is 100% organic or grass-fed.

#5: Invest in a blender

While a quality blender can be pricy, it’ll help you whip up delicious and nutritious drinks up in a snap. You can pack pretty much anything into a smoothie … kale, broccoli, celery, or anything you don’t quite enjoy the taste of in solid form. Sipping on a smoothie is the quickest and easiest way of taking in all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs function optimally. And, yes, green smoothies taste better than they look – I promise.

#6: Try high-intensity interval training

Strong is the new skinny, isn’t it? And that’s exactly why you must try high-intensity interval training (HIIT)! This intense yet ever-so-rewarding form of exercise helps build a healthy heart, increase your metabolism, burn fat and build muscle. Plus, it’s loads of fun! Simply find a friend to tag along and hit one of our local studios, such as SWITCH Playground or SWEAT 1000.

#7: Meditate

Meditation is a wonderful way of relaxing your mind and body while becoming more in tune with your spiritual self. Until you try it, you won’t believe the incredible benefits that it brings to your health, such as lowered stress levels, improved core strength and promotion of heart health. You can practise yoga in your home, at the gym, at a yoga studio, or even on Sea Point Promenade. Join the Yoga on the Prom by Greenpop Facebook group here for more details.

#8: Eat at a healthy café

Our city is practically littered with fabulous fresh and healthy eateries … and if you aren’t eating at them, you can be sure you’re missing out! For a list of some of Cape Town’s best healthy spots to grab some grub, go here. Ditch the fast food for juices, smoothies, salads and wraps, and soon enough you’ll be hooked on the healthy stuff … take my word!

Ten simple tips to maintain a healthy lifestyle in 2016

So this is the year you’re finally going to do it: Go to the gym five times a week, cut out sugar and processed foods, prepare clean meals every evening for the next day, shed a few kilos, achieve radiant skin, and eliminate stressors from your life.

 

Whatever your goals are for 2016, right now you’re probably feeling motivated and determined to stick to them … am I right? But the sad truth is this: The vast majority of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned within a few weeks. So, to help you keep yours all year long, I’ve put together ten handy tips for crafting and carrying out healthy lifestyle changes!

 

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#1: Commit your goals to paper

Writing your goals down and keeping them in view – say, on a post-it note on your computer monitor or car dashboard – makes them feel tangible and official. Therefore, you’ll be less likely to fall off track. Keep the wording focused and short – the clearer, the more motivating. For example: “Swap out coffee for green tea” or “go to three yoga classes each week”. Update your goals as you go along.

#2: Be mindful when you eat

It’s a fast-paced world out there, which makes it all too easy to feel distracted and shovel in more food than you need when you’re hungry. This is why being mindful when you eat is so important. Some things to think about here include avoiding eating when you’re distracted, taking time to taste your food properly, and eating more slowly. One particular thing to focus on is chewing your food thoroughly – not only will this help you savour food, it also assists the digestive process.

#3: Sip on smoothies

Most people don’t consume enough fruits and veggies … and that’s right where smoothies come in. They’re helpful in upping your fruit and veggie intake for optimum nutrition. I’m not referring to those milkshake-like monstrosities that contain sugar and ice-cream, but rather the whole foods smoothies that are packed with fruits and veggies. Invest in a quality blender and start sipping! Smoothies are so quick and easy to whip up for breakfast or lunch, and there are loads of great recipes that you can find online.

#4: Keep your body hydrated

Two-thirds of your body is made up of water, which performs a number of functions, including acting as a solvent, temperature regulator, nutrient carrier and detoxifier. Maintaining hydration can have a profound influence on your vitality and energy levels, including mental alertness. Aim to glug down the recommended eight glasses of water per day. I find that having a water bottle on my desk in the office helps me reach my daily water intake goal.

#5: Soak up the sun

Sunlight, and the vitamin D it can make in your skin, is associated with a wide spectrum of benefits for your body, including a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. Vitamin D is also super for strengthening your immune system. As a rule of thumb, vitamin D is made when your shadow is shorter than your body length. For example: When the sun is high up in the sky. While burning is to be avoided, get as much sunlight exposure as you can for optimal health.

#6: Get your beauty sleep

Sleep has the ability to optimise physical and mental energy. Optimal levels of sleep, which is about eight hours a night, are even linked to longevity and reduced risk of chronic illness. Aim to get to bed by 10pm or 10:30pm every night. This simple strategy is a potentially useful investment in terms of your short- and long-term health and wellbeing. Shutting down all of your devices, such as your cellphone, tablet and laptop, early in the evening will also help create the time and space for a good night’s sleep.

#7: Walk regularly

Aerobic exercise is associated with a variety of benefits for your brain and body, including mood-enhancing and immune-boosting effects. This kind of exercise can be something as uncomplicated as low-impact walking. Aim for a total of about 30 minutes of brisk walking every day. I find that walking regularly helps boost my productivity levels at work, and my energy levels in the gym.

#8: Engage in resistance exercise

Resistance exercise helps you maintain muscle mass and strengthens your body. This has particular relevance as you age. Many highly useful exercises can be done at home, such as sit-ups, press-ups and squats. Invest in dumbbells to extend your home fitness routine to other exercises, too. This kind of exercise will help maintain your body between other workouts such as yoga, running or spinning. I suggest doing resistance exercises for 30 minutes about three times a week.

#9: Practise mindfulness daily

Mindfulness is an incredible way to collect your thoughts, reduce your stress levels, and become more in tune with what’s happening in the present moment. I find that practising it for ten minutes every morning helps me achieve my goals each day. It’s simple to do: On the floor, sit cross-legged. Hold you back up straight and let your shoulders drop, resting your arms in your lap. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. As thoughts enter your mind, simply acknowledge them, then focus back on your breathing. The more often you do this, the easier it becomes to keep your attention where you want it to be.

#10: Let yourself mess up once in a while

Adopting a healthy lifestyle is truly hard work (trust me – I know all about it!) … so don’t allow a one-day fast food binge or a couple of sneaked cigarettes to leave you feeling demoralised and hopeless. If you get derailed, reframe it as a learning experience and get right back on track. Good luck!

Eight foods that feed your skin, hair and nails

It doesn’t matter how many serums you slather on your skin, hair and nails – what goes in your mouth has the strongest influence on what shows up on your face! Here’s a list of my favourite skin, hair and nail superfoods.

 

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Eight foods to eat for beauty benefits

#1: Walnuts

The omega-3 fatty acids help strengthen skin and keep it well-hydrated.

#2: Carrots

Carotenoids protect skin against sun damage.

#3: Kiwis

A rich source of vitamin C that promotes collage growth and prevents free radical damage.

#4: Green tea

An antioxidant powerhouse!

#5: Tomatoes

Full of anti-inflammatory lycopene.

#6: Sweet potatoes

Their vitamin A promotes collagen growth and repair.

#7: Brazil nuts

High in mineral selenium, which prevents premature ageing.

#8: Oysters

Packed with zinc to renew and repair skin and nails.

Quick and easy green tea and honey cleansing mask

If there’s one thing I just love about face masks, it’s making my own at home! In this post, I’m going to explain how you can make a quick and easy cleansing mask using green tea and honey.

 

This mask is one that you can use all over your face or as a spot treatment. The best part is that it’s super-effective at clearing redness, getting rid of and preventing blackheads and brightening your complexion!

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But first – how can green tea and honey help cleanse your skin?

It’s simple: Green tea and honey are both packed full of antioxidants. Together, they work very well to do the following:

  • Calm red or irritated skin
  • Deep-clean pores
  • Get rid of blackheads
  • Even out skin tone

Sounds great, right? It is! I typically use this mask as a spot treatment around my nose and chin, or anywhere else I feel a blemish coming on. It also works really well as an all-over mask, though. It’s especially great for brightening up dull or tired skin!

And now: How to mix up and apply your very own green tea and honey mask

You’ll need:

  • 1 green tea bag
  • Raw honey

How to mix up the mask:

  1. Moisten the tea bag under the tap.
  2. Cut open the tea bag and empty the moistened leaves in a small box.
  3. Mix the leaves with honey to form a paste. Note: You don’t want the paste to be too runny, so don’t use too much honey.

How to apply the mask:

  1. Apply the paste to the problem area or your entire face using your fingertips.
  2. Leave the past on for 15-20 minutes, then rinse with warm water.

Bonus: This all-natural mask smells divine!

Four easy ways to fade hyperpigmentation naturally

Okay, let’s talk about one of life’s greatest annoyances: Hyperpigmentation.

 

Firstly, what is it? Hyperpigmentation is just a fancy name for dark spots on your skin. I’m talking freckles, sunspots and post-acne marks. Freckles and sunspots are a result of, you guessed it, sun exposure. UV damage causes melanin to pool in the upper layers of your skin.

 

Post-acne scars, on the other hand, occur when excess melanin is produced and deposited into the cells of your skin in response to acne inflammation. The worst part? These spots tend to stick around for a long time. Sometimes, they may not even resolve on their own without a little help.

 

So what can you do? Plenty! Let’s dig in…

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Four ways to treat hyperpigmentation

#1: Exfoliation

I’ve covered the basics of exfoliation many times before, but to recap: Manual exfoliation essentially triggers your skin to start repairing itself. Over time, fresh, new cells make their way to the surface while old, pigmented, dulling cells are sloughed away. I’m a big fan of exfoliating at least twice a week with brown sugar on a wedge of pineapple or sea salt and coconut oil.

#2: Fruit enzymes

Think of fruit enzymes as a form of gentle, non-abrasive exfoliation. Fruit enzymes soften and effectively scrub delicate skin to help fade dark spots and dissolve dulling dead skin cells. A few to look out for include papaya seed oil, pineapple enzyme, apple fruit extract and pumpkin extract.

#3: Vitamin C

Vitamin C used topically in a serum is a bit of an overachiever when it comes to hyperpigmentation! Its antioxidant properties help prevent dark spots from forming in the first place. It also helps lighten up surface pigmentation caused by UV damage and acne inflammation. I consider it an indispensable part of my routine – you should too!

#4: Essential oils

Often overlooked and entirely undervalued, certain essential oils harness crazy healing power. Geranium, rose, lavender, frankincense and helichrysum essential oils, for example, are exceptionally adept at fading marks and spots, diminishing scars and reducing inflammation. Helichrysum essential oil in specific contains the highest known amount of beta-diketones, which are reputed to promote the formation of new skin tissue. Consider me impressed!

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these are my favourite all-natural hyperpigmentation fading solutions in a sea crowded with retinol, hydroxy acids and dreaded hydroquinone. Now go on and start fading those pesky spots!