Oct
04
2014

It’s that time of year again – I can feel the sun’s intensity on my skin and my skin burns easily so I have been reaching for the sunscreen bottle with greater frequency. The good news is that the quality of natural sunscreens has improved so much over the last few years, from oily, gluggy goop or vampire look alike whiteness to a wide range of effective, very wearable products. Speaking of goop, a few years ago I used of the early natural sunscreens when I was in Cambodia. After one day particularly hot day on a boat, despite applying this natural sunscreen hourly, my legs were very burnt and very goopy. Over the next few days they swelled up (yes, cankles), blistered and I looked like I had a serious communicable disease…of the legs. Funnily enough it meant that I had a very peaceful, albeit slight painful time in Angkor Wat as none of the spruikers were game to approach me.

My particular favourite sunscreen has again this year been listed as one of the top safe sunscreens by EWG in 2014. Go Devita! It is also our most popular sunscreen as it tends to be matte rather than shiny which makes it perfect as an every day product. This product is from the US and as such is not as useful for extended intense sun exposure e.g. a day at the beach. Australian sunscreens tend to be thicker and as such are not as ideal for every day use but ideal for extended time in the sun. Two great natural brands are Ecological and Wot Not.

So before you venture out, choose a good natural sunscreen and remember to slather it on. N.B. serious sunburn isn’t an ideal way to avoid spruikers :-)

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Jun
05
2014

Keeping a clear head

Posted by: vitale in Categories: Natural Skin Care Ingredients, Wellness.

It is end of semester and I have been marking nutrition papers for a subject I teach – they are 2500 words each. It is a marathon effort, not only for me but also for my my colleagues. So we joke around a bit to relieve any built up “staring at a screen too long” tension. Despite this, I find at the end of a long day of marking I can experience both brain and eye fatigue.  But I think I have found a solution – over the last 2 days I have used Spirit of Woman Clarity Mist 3 or 4 times a day. It smells uplifting and I have found I can totally focus on what I am doing for a couple of hours after each use. No wondering when lunch is or trying to annoy someone into distracting me. I have been a marking machine! Not only that, but I also completed various ‘tedious’ jobs I had been putting off – I am at the top of my nerdy excel spreadsheet creating game! Fortunately I have a day in clinic tomorrow and so will be able to tap into a creative, personable space.

Spirit of Woman Goddess Sprays have combined Spirit of Woman Australian Wild Flower Essences, Sacred Earth Crystal Essences and selected organic essential oils that work on the emotions and thoughts, helping to bring you back into awareness. Each spray mist resonates with one of the seven major chakras, working to restore harmony and balance in whatever circumstance is required at the time (e.g. marking papers). They act powerfully yet subtly to bring the highest consciousness to the present moment, so that a person’s thoughts and behaviours, moods and feelings, responses and reactions are mindfully of the highest order in dealing with whatever they are handling at the time.

I have used both the Clarity and Clear Space at various times to great effect. Please tell me dear readers if you have had experiences with essence mists and which circumstances you use them.

Click here to view all Spirit of Woman Spray Mists

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May
04
2014

Component X

Posted by: vitale in Categories: Education, Slow Aging.
Using Tags: ,

This week I read a great article by Glenn Cardwell called “Component X will kill you”. Glenn is a well respected nutitionist (http://glenn-glenncardwell.blogspot.com.au) and his article really sparked my interest as it made me consider how many “diet trends” just don’t sit well with me. Glenn writes: “So what should you really worry about on your plate? Saturated fat? Trans fatty acids? Gluten? Sugar? Fructose? Or carbohydrates in general? Now, possibly more than any other time, self-proclaimed experts are in your ear telling you how bad a certain component of your diet is for your health. In fact, if you completely eliminate Component X you will avoid heart disease, cancer and in-growing toenails.

Sound familiar? Sound scary? Yes of course…it’s supposed to make you scared so that you buy their book or sign up to something in order to avoid cancer of the toenail. Don’t get me wrong, if a certain food group is affecting your health or if you have an allergy or intolerance then yes, cut it out but not all foods that are bad for all people and I suspect that it often has more to do with the type or quantity consumed than the food group itself. And look, the proof is in the pudding, if you feel better after cutting out a food group, then continue to listen to your body…but at the same time also be aware of what nutrients you might be missing out on and make them up somewhere else e.g. Kale, sesame seeds and tahini paste are a great plant sources of calcium for those who go dairy free.

I recently received this email from a long time client:

Hi Ananda, are all grains inflammatory in our systems? There is a lot of info around that is suggesting that grains are fairly damaging to our overall health, do you agree with this? Would love to hear you opinion! Always enjoy your blog. Kind regards Janet.

My reply to Janet was as follows:

That is a tough question to answer because it depends on the individual. There are a lot of pro-Paleo blogs etc saying that grains are inflammatory but I also think it has a lot to do with how we eat our grains i.e. generally white and processed. Minimising the quantity of grains we eat and choosing whole, unrefined versions will certainly provide the nutrition needed from grains without necessarily driving inflammation. Unless of course you have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity. Generally I recommend:

  • choosing whole grains e.g. rolled oats instead of instant or microwave oats, brown rice instead of white, wholemeal pasta
  • avoiding all packaged cereals unless based on un-toasted rolled oats i.e. a Birchir Muesli or similar
  • choosing alternative sources of grain e.g. wholemeal spelt bread or brown rice bread
  • choosing alternatives to grains e.g. quinoa, beans and legumes, grated cauliflower, almond meal
  • minimising the daily portion of grains e.g. one to two serves a day instead of with every meal
  • avoiding gluten-free but highly processed products such as rice or corn pasta

You can choose to cut them out entirely but I don’t think it is a good long term solution. In a recent research paper, people with IBS went on a FODMAPs diet which is essentially low grain, fruit, sugar and they showed significant improvement in symptoms at 6 months BUT their bowel flora had also changed and it wasn’t necessarily showing a positive trend. The authors concluded that this diet is good as an acute treatment but gradually the eliminated foods should be reintroduced again, albeit at smaller quantities and that generally this could be done without exacerbating symptoms again.

So there is no cut and dried answer but I will say that white, processed grains are problematic and likely do contribute significantly to inflammation, whether directly or through the promotion of fat deposition around the abdomen (which definitely is inflammatory).

I would love to hear your comments about this article.

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Apr
11
2014

About me (not skincare related)

Posted by: vitale in Categories: Uncategorized.

This blog is about me. Prompted by a blog I read from the Rejuvenation Lounge I realised I write a lot about organic skincare but not much else. Like most beings, my journey to this point has been winding, but mostly fun and I thought I would put it out there…feel free not to read if you only want to know about skincare :-)

Being a naturopath has provided me with so many opportunities to work with different people and follow interesting pathways.

My journey to natural medicine was an easy one and while I completed half a degree in politics, I quickly worked out it wasn’t where my passion lay (although I am still seen yelling at the TV occasionally).  My initial interest in health came from my mother, an acupuncturist and the creator of the most amazing flower essences. My brother and I grew up being poked with acupuncture needles, taking rye, salad and cottage cheese sandwiches to school (and swapping them for something white and likely from a package) and taking essences.

I finished my naturopathy degree when I was 23 and rather than practice went into research and development and essentially “thought up” new products for 8 years for various companies. I loved it, until I decided I wanted a change and so in 2005 I opened an organic skin care store.  This represented a big change in direction for me, going out on my own and into an area that up until this point had been a hobby, not something I knew a lot about.  After 7 years, and lots of hard work I know lots about organic skin care and small business…and burn out. So a change to online only, teaching and clinical practice which sounds like a lot but I manage quite well most of the time! And of course I have help with online.

My lifestyle is one of moderation based on whole foods. When I need to I commit to change but generally I tend to be fairly flexible (giving up dairy was big for me but made the world of difference to my skin). I love coffee and occasionally have wine. I absolutely make sure that my plate contains lots of veggies but I don’t much like fruit and prefer to eat it covered in chocolate. I haven’t always liked cooking but have recently been cooking curries from scratch – I have to say I do a fine vegetable curry. My secret (or not so secret now) pleasure is potato crisps, so they are rarely found at my house.

A selfie – I tried to get both Ed and I in the shot but failed. In any case this does show my updated hair colour.

I teach nutrition and I really enjoy watching students develop their knowledge and skill base. The subjects I teach are based in evidence and research and I like nothing better than discovering a good paper that enhances my understanding. However, I believe in a holistic approach and so I am also interested in the mindset and emotional blocks that can be barriers to real healing, after all, we are much more than just our biochemistry.  This is where I get to use techniques such as Psych K which I have seen effect big change in client’s lives.

I try to have some kind of work life balance, which includes multitasking wherever I can e.g. I ride my bike to College so I get some exercise and sunshine on the way. I find weaving things into my day, not every day but most helps me to feel good about what I am doing.

As you may from previous blogs, I am tragic about skincare. I love it and occasionally get distracted by a shiny new product but essentially, the brands are stocked on Vitale Natural Online are the brands that I love.

Oh and most importantly I am the mother of two furry babies and 3 feathered ones – all of whom I adore.

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Mar
25
2014

Change and the Fertile Body

Posted by: vitale in Categories: Inspiration.
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In his article Change and the Fertile Body, acupuncturist Peter Kington outlines key health and lifestyle related changes that enhance fertility. The concept I particularly embrace (although all Peter’s recommendations have value) is that of “Fill the Tank”. While Peter relates this to fertility, I think this is a concept that can be embraced generally. I find that I can fill my time so easily that I don’t make time to fill the tank, meaning I don’t do this things that support my health as readily as I should.

Recently I have been working with a marvelous practitioner called Michela D’Addario (the practitioner’s practitioner) and we have been working together to identify what nourishes me, primarily so that I can play it forward and help nourish others. Michela has helped me weave these things into my daily life, rather than creating a hard and fast routine (not my strength!). I have noticed that I now have the time for self-nourishing activities precisely because they are part of my every day. To me these include: watering the garden, 5 minutes alone to ponder, walking the dogs (doubles up as exercise!), turning off technology and diving into a great book and being in bed by 9.30pm and asleep by 1opm to name a few. I love it because I don’t feel selfish or time poor but I am looking after myself and ‘filling my tank’ on a daily basis. I encourage you all to ‘fill the tank’ in whatever way works for you :-)

Click here to read Peter’s article

 

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Mar
02
2014

Here is an interesting blog about the Paleo diet from one of our blog-hoppers Sarah George. I love seeing mainstream diets being challenged, not because I don’t think they have value for some, but I certainly don’t think there is ‘one’ solution for all. I value diversity, particularly when it comes to what we eat. Human beings are a diverse bunch and I think we need to embrace it rather than aim for homogeneity.

Take it away Sarah George:

I’m once again lecturing my favourite subject, Chinese dietetics, at Endeavour College of Natural Health this semester. And this has inspired me to write about dietary change for our change-themed Health and Happiness Collective blog hop.

Chinese dietetics is all about the joy of food! And how we can use it for healing according to Chinese Medicine principles. I love that last year some students with no interest in cooking were actually inspired to start cooking at home. That is a win for mankind in my books!

This semester I kicked off Lecture One with this TEDx video: “Debunking The Paleo Diet” by Christina Warrina, an archaeological scientist.

To read more click here

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Feb
23
2014

Change…confessions of a skincare tragic

Posted by: vitale in Categories: Cosmetics, Inspiration.
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As a naturopath change sometimes seems like a mantra; I advise clients to change their diet, habits and sometimes lifestyle all to achieve a greater level of well-being. So when considering the topic of ‘change’ for this blog hop, any of the above could have formed the basis of my article. However when I think back to one of the biggest changes I made in my health it was to change from commercial, synthetically based skincare over to natural and organic products. I have to say at the time the decision was tough because organic skincare had none of the glamour or promise of instant youthfulness of big brands and I have always been a sucker for pretty packaging and instant results (this is a slightly embarrassing admission).

Despite the average packaging and lack of youthful promise, organic skincare changed not only my skin, but also my life. This is a slightly dramatic claim I know but I did end up quitting my job and opening an organic skincare store so my life literally did change. On a less dramatic note my skin also improved significantly. This was at a time when my skin was chemically sensitive, red and inflamed so as you can imagine, applying a soothing, organic and chemical free serum for the first time was like heaven. That was 10 years ago and my skin still looks better than it did back then.

For many however, when it comes to skincare, change often doesn’t occur so readily.  Brand loyalty is a significant barrier but so are product price; perceptions of quality and advertising spend. As you can imagine for these reasons the organic skincare industry took a while to make an impact on consumers. Fortunately it did and now even the big brands are making attempts to capture the organic skincare consumer dollar.

I think there are many reasons to make the change to organic skincare and I have outlined a few below that are particularly important to me. These reasons are key drivers in my decision-making and so also expand the use of organic products in my life generally e.g. house cleaning products, organic food and even organic clothing when I can find it.

  1. Toxins – from heavy metals in lipstick to hormone disrupting preservatives in baby products, there are just too many unnecessary chemicals in everyday skincare. Women use on average 14 personal care items a day, which adds up to a dizzying array of synthetic ingredients, many of which have toxic potential.  The especially problematic ingredients include formaldehyde, phthalates, artificial fragrances, parabens, Diethanolamine, 1,4-Dioxane, mercury & lead and triclosan but this list is by no means exhaustive.
  2. Animal Testing – according to the RSPCA “there is no testing of cosmetics involving animals conducted in Australia. However, the majority of cosmetic products sold here will contain ingredients that will have been tested on animals at some time.” The good news is that there is a worldwide interest in this area and the European Union has taken a significant step by banning the use of animals in all cosmetic testing. Go Europe! The rest of the world just needs to follow suit. Fortunately to achieve organic status, no animal testing on finished products or ingredients is allowed in any way, shape or form so you can be assured that all certified organic or natural products are humane.
  3. LOHAS or Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability which is essentially a socio-economic term that describes a segment of conscious shoppers i.e. people who not only consider their own personal benefit but the impact on the wider community and planet. Organic and natural products are part of this trend, achieving this by using eco-packaging materials, fair trade ingredients, stopping the use of palm oil, choosing sustainable ingredients and cruelty free products.
  4. Quality – it is especially important to me that the products I use on my skin work and I strongly believe that it isn’t just about active ingredients. For example, as a feature ingredient an anti-ageing peptide may make up 0.5% of a product but I want to know what the other 99.5% of the product is going to do for my skin. I think that organic skincare is more active. Excluding water, organic products often contain up to 95% active ingredients rather than 5% active ingredients in a 95% inert (non-active) base as in many of everyday personal care products and cosmetics.

Occasionally, even now a bright, shiny new product will catch my eye however it takes about a second to remember that I made the change to organic skincare for a reason and the allure quickly fades. And excitingly, there are new bright, shiny organic products being launched these days so really I need look no further :-)

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Feb
20
2014

Well it’s been a while since my last blog entry but my extended summer holiday is over and I have some exciting news! I am participating in a blog hop with a group of health practitioners called The Health & Happiness Collective with the aim of sharing knowledge from a holistic perspective. We are all going to write an article focusing the concept of change. Yep it’s a big topic but by following the collective blog hop, you will see the wide range of views we bring to the collective, with perspectives on change from aromatherapy to acupuncture, naturopathy to horticulture. Personally, I can’t wait to see what comes up.

As each blogger writes, I will let you know so you can ‘hop’ over to their blog, read their perspective on change and if you feel inspired, add your own – we would love to hear from you.

Below you can see who makes up The Health & Happiness Collective:

I hope you come along for our blog hop!

 

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Oct
08
2013

With the onset hotter, sunnier weather we will all tend to slather on more sunscreen and so what we are putting on our skin becomes even more important. I have pale skin, a history of Basal Cell Carcinomas and I use sunscreen regularly even in winter. I recently came across this excellent series of videos by Dr Oz. He looks at both sides of the sunscreen story and I definitely think they are worth watching:

I have had a close look at this topic and certainly agree with Dr Oz’s experts about choosing micronised zinc oxide based sunscreens. Read more about zinc oxide below:

There are definitely good brands of natural, micronised sunscreen available such as Eco, Wot Not, Devita and UV Naturals. Is is easy to choose a natural safe sunscreen as long as you know what you are looking for…so start looking at the label and find out what you are putting on your skin.

 

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Oct
07
2013

Spring is here and the days are just gorgeous but the sun is hotting up and with summer on the way it is time to prepare your skin. Eating the right foods, topical products and sun practices can all help increase your skin’s resilience and improve health. This article reviews the most significant things you can do to stay sun smart.

The most significant thing you can do to prevent sun damage is to wear sunscreen (natural of course). Research completed in September 2011 (Diffey BL, J Cosmet Dermatol) evaluated the effect of daily application of topical photo-protective products and its effect on facial photo-aging (skin aging due to sun damage). The results show that regular use of topical photo-protective agents (SPF sunscreens) significantly reduces the lifetime exposure to UV. While this may seem logical interestingly, the SPF rating was of lesser importance that beginning regular use early in life. In addition many only use an SPF product in the summer months and this study identified that year-round use was preferable. To sum up this research, start early and use an SPF product daily.

From a dietary perspective there are many good foods that can help your improve your skin’s resilience to sun damage. The phytochemicals found in many foods are powerful antioxidants, which can improve many aspects of skin health by reducing oxidative stress. These benefits include the reduction in UV light sensitivity and therefore long term sun damage. Eaten in high enough quantities, key antioxidants can promote a healthy glow that rivals a tan! Some good examples are outlined below:

  • Caroteniods – not only provide antioxidant benefits but also improve the appearance of your skin. Plant foods rich in carotenoids include carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens and red capsicum. Dark green vegetables are included as they contain carotenoids (yellow) and chlorophyll (green) so overall appear green.
  • Green Tea – daily consumption can help improve skin antioxidant levels and may help reduce inflammation associated with UV damage.
  • Vitamin C rich foods – helps maintain the underlying structure of the skin by promoting collagen production. Foods rich in vitamin C include capsicum, kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, dark green leafy vegetables and paw paw. Topically vitamin C provides photo-protection from ultraviolet A and B and also assists with the reduction of inflammation.
  • Keep up the intake of good fats. Eating plenty of good fats such as omega 3 and good saturated fats will support skin by reducing inflammation and indeed overall health. The anti-inflammatory effect will reduce the likelihood of free radical damage in the skin and reduce moisture loss by promoting the protective oil barrier. Choose foods rich in omega 3 such as deep-sea fish (salmon, sardines, anchovies), green leafy vegetables, flax oil, chia seeds, fish oils and even grass fed meats in moderation.

Other tips include:

  • Get enough sun. This might sound strange but the paler your skin is, particularly after winter, the easier and faster your skin will burn when exposed to the sun. Slowly increase your sun exposure over the hotter months so your skin gradually builds up colour. Some sun exposure is of course essential for vitamin D production as well as improved mood and reduced chronic disease risk. For those that burn and never tan (me) sun exposure is still important. Choose wisely the time of day for exposure and you will avoid burning, which is what causes the most significant sun damage.
  • Apply antioxidants as well as eating them. Green tea and vitamin C are found in many natural sunscreens and anti-ageing products. Research shows that these two ingredients in particular help minimise the effects of sun damage.

Daily Sun Protection

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