My Passion

This is my favourite time of the year as we start to see all sorts of fresh and local produce at the farmers’ markets.

Wild leeks, asparagus and, soon, fresh berries – to name a few.

 

Buying local has become a religion, I cannot bring myself to buying any of these items,if they come from lands far and beyond, at any other time of year. They just don’t have the same taste, texture or nutritive value.

As a mid-20th century child, born in Baghdad, fresh and local was the only way to eat. For example, I did not taste celery or mushrooms until we moved to Canada.

When we moved to Canada in 1966 most of the fresh food my mother bought, from various markets, was local.

But as farmlands were turned into suburban subdivisions (my parents bought a house in one of those subdivisions), and transportation networks increased, more and more of our foods came from further and further away. 

When I went to live in Paris I was reintroduced to the concept of buying local. There were regular farmers’ markets held in specific locations on any day of the week. I loved the idea of buying vegetables that had just been picked the day before or that morning, directly from the farmer that grew them. Going to the farmer’s markets was also a social outing, as I got several marriage proposals from farmers … but I digress.

Now in 2018 I still strive to buy local produce – as you will see if you take a look at my previous posts. 

We in Southern Ontario are lucky to live near the some of Canada’s best farmlands and many small farms have cropped up (excuse the pun), producing great organic produce. These endeavours, like those located in other provinces and even the territories, are working very hard to produce good quality vegetables, meats and dairy and we need to support them.

How about you?

Are you as passionate as I am about where your food comes from? 

Asparagus is a good source of: 

Beta carotene (pro vitamin. A), Folic acid, Fibre and Potassium and has a low glycemic index.

Wild leeks are a good source of:

Pro- Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Selenium and Chromium

Improve your community and your nutrition with local produce!

 

Dirty Thoughts

Spring is here!

I am feeling frisky and having dirty thoughts.

I am thinking about the soil our food grows in.

I am thinking about the  decomposed matter, microbes (bacterial), fungi and mycorrhiza in the soil.

I am thinking of the earthworms that slowly churn the the soil, break down the organic matter and leave behind castings that provide natural fertilizers for the soil.

 

This lovely dirty chemical free soil provides us with the nutrients needed to produce the healthy and delicious vegetables we eat.

No chemicals required!

Thinking dirty thoughts is good for you!

Beauty from Within

Many of us are obsessed about aging:

Some will go to the extent of injecting toxins into their face.
Some will waste a lot of money on products that make unrealistic promises.
Some will maintain unhealthy lifestyles while complaining that they are getting old or looking old.

In my practice I have seen the gamut.

Hopefully, we are all going to age, because IT IS BETTER THAN THE ALTERNATIVE!!!!!

How we age is an option open to all:

As an Esthetician and Holistic Nutritionist, it’s obvious that I would advocate taking an inside/outside approach along with lifestyle choices.

Our aging process is accelerated by chemical irritants from pollution, smoking (including second hand cigarette smoke), pesticides as well as excessive consumption of alcohol and medications. A diet high in refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, preservatives and additives from processed foods can result in deficiencies in the essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and EFAs needed to support the body and adds to this acceleration. Poor digestion and elimination also contributes by building up toxins within the body and inhibiting the assimilation of nutrients.

The fact that the skin can show signs of internal disease is now a generally an accepted concept in medicine- a good clinician takes this into consideration when making a diagnosis.

The nutrients you consume first go to the tissues and organs of the body before they get to the skin, hair and nails. Cleaning up your act in terms of diet takes time and has to become part of your lifestyle – you can’t expect to get quick results.

A Holistic Nutritional consultant can provide education and guidance regarding diet, nutritional support and lifestyle changes, based on one’s unique nutritional needs to achieve a state of optimal health. A well-nourished body can handle stress better, be more vibrant and active. Is that not what youthfulness is all about?

To keep this post short, I will not list the sources of these nutrients, since I have covered foods in past blogs and will cover more in the future.

Enough to say, there are no super foods! If you consume a well-balanced diet with a variety of vegetables, fruits, berries, whole grains, meat and fish (unless you are vegetarian or vegan) you will get all of these nutrients.

Here are some signs of poor nourishment along with their possible causes:

Dry flaky skin:
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Not consuming enough EFA
  • Deficient in Vit. A
  • Deficient in Vit B3
  • Hypothyroid – have your thyroid checked to see if you need thyroid medication,
  • Sulphur deficiency
Eczema, Psoriasis, Dermatitis (sometimes accompanied with Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis):
  • Not consuming enough EFA
  • Allergies – get checked for both allergies and sensitivities
  • Deficient in Vit B3
  • Low selenium levels
  • Smoking
Erythema (intermittent redness), Dilated Capillaries, tiny red spots and Rosacea
  • Often a result of poor digestion
  • Not consuming enough EFA – there it is again!
  • Deficient in Vit C
  • Not consuming enough Fibre
Loss of Firmness and wrinkles
  • Deficiency in Silicon
  • Deficiency in B2
  • Deficiency in Vit C
  • Deficient in Bioflavonoids – they stop the action of hyaluronidase, an enzyme that degrades Hyaluronic acid and allow pathogens into the cell. Hyaluronic acid is part of the connective tissue. A healthy connective tissue keeps the skin firm.
  • Vit. C – needed to build collagen in all tissues of the body
  • Excess sugar
  • Smoking
Dull complexion, dark circles under eyes
  • Smoking
  • Liver issues – not necessarily disease but weakness and digestive issues.

I can help you beautify your skin, from within, as well as without. 

How do I Choose products?

As an esthetician I can use and retail whatever product I want and I have a lot to choose from!

Friends and clients have often said “you should make your own products”! Well, it is not as easy as people think. In order to create a product, that is going to actually have an effect on the skin other than simply moisturizing, a chemist’s and a chemical engineer’s knowledge is needed.

I do not have the funds to hire them!

The Beginning:

In order to tell you about how I have made my choices over the years I have to go back to the very beginning:

It all started with working at Eaton’s department store, selling cosmetics, where I learned that each company had their “shtick”, their marketing gimmick.

Hence, when I was looking for an aesthetic school to attend in Paris, one of my first criteria was that they did not have their own line, or promote a single line, of skin care products.

I lucked out big time because, not only was I able to find such a school (L’Ecole Internationale d’Estheticienne Technicienne de Beauty, on Rue Marbeuf in Paris), but the theory classes were all taught by doctors.

Dr. Renaud, a dermatologist, was our cosmetics chemistry instructor. Although he had his own line of skin care products, he never promoted it or referred to it. He not only taught us the basic chemistry ( and I mean basic) of cosmetics but he went further – to teach us how to be creative with products and ingredients, how to blend and mix them into a personalized treatment routine.

Research:

After setting up my practice, I continued my research through professional journals and books on the chemistry of cosmetics, dermatology, and plastic surgery, along with pharmacology and chemical engineering.

I was looking into:

  • How do ingredients penetrate the skin?  Most of the initial research was done in the pharmacology field as companies were trying to figure out how to administer medication topically (through the skin).
  • The efficacy and safety of anti-aging active ingredients. The cosmetic and toiletry, dermatology and plastic surgery journals, and  sometimes  the chemical engineering journals, had these articles.

That brings me to the next factor. I also looked for:

  • Products that are going to actually do something on a cellular level.

 

Investigation:

Over the last couple of decades, great strides have been made in skin care products and ingredients.

But, what you should also know is that skin care companies are not required to back any of the claims they make. You have seen the commercials about the wrinkles disappearing, or the skin getting miraculously firmer, all using scientific jargon.

I am only interested in working with professional product lines. That is, products that are manufactured for estheticians, because these companies would provide me not only with products to retail but also products to use in skin treatments. To blend and personalize the treatment and achieve the results that both the client and I require, I need concentrates or actives.

Once I have developed an interest in the product line I ask to see a full ingredients list, sorted according to relative quantities, to see if the active ingredient(s) they are touting is/are somewhere in the beginning of the list or towards the bottom.

If they provide samples, I try the samples to see, first, how the product feels, smells and wether it absorbs easily or just sits on the surface.

If I am interested in the line, I will purchase the products that are compatible with my skin and give it a proper 2-week trial. This way I can watch for results. 

Results:

Over the years I have spent a lot of money on products as well as entire lines. Those that I work with now have stood the test of time while others I have rejected for a variety of reasons. I do not consider this expense a waste because I have always either learned something new or the line has brought a new client to my door. Clients that have stayed clients because I have honestly expressed my views on the products.

At the moment I work with nine different lines. This gives me a range of products to pick and choose from to provide the best results.

Do you want to find out what is the best for your skin issues?

Get in touch with me and … Let’s talk about your skin, baby!

 

Talking the Walk

In the winter I do a lot of walking, both for exercise and to get around. For me walking isn’t just a physical exercise, it is also mindful meditation.

I try to go through parks as often as I can; one of my favourite routes is Philosopher’s Walk on the U of T campus

Earlier this winter I went to the New Balance store at Yonge and St. Clair  in Toronto and, with the help of Ken Bower, I purchased these fabulous water proof walking shoes. They give me proper arch support and I am able to articulate my ankle as I walk, for proper gait and posture.

In order to be able to walk long distances comfortably, your feet, knees and hips have to be in good shape.

Various foot issues that could impede walking or effect one’s gait and posture can later cause other problems in other parts of the body. Some can be easily remedied by a well-trained pedicurist/aesthetician, using a pedi-drill; some need to be looked after by a chiropodist; others need medical attention and nutritional/ supplementation help. 

In the beginning of my Esthetics career, I was seeing a lot of people, with various foot problems that were beyond my expertise, so I took a course to learn how to use a drill for treating some of them.

There is plenty of information on the net regarding foot issues, so I will not bore you. Instead, I will cover just a few of them. And, as a holistic nutritionist, I will touch on the nutritional aspects but will not go into detail as I do not believe in giving out generic information, without knowing everything else that is going on in the body. That is why it is called holistic nutrition!

Conditions that a trained Esthetician or Chiropodist can determine.

Foot and toenail fungus 

  • There are over the counter antifungal medications.
  • Tea Tree oil, Oil of Oregano and my favourite: Grapefruit seed extract, work very well.
  • Sugar feeds the fungus – so no sugar until it clears up! I am not kidding otherwise it becomes a vicious circle.
  • It is important to keep feet dry and refrain from wearing shoes that make the feet sweat.
  • Keep toe nails short.

Thick toenails 

  • Can be due to age, injury to the toe or nail fungus.
  • If it is a fungus, a good antifungal needs to be used:
    • by prescription, or,
    • Tea Tree oil, Oil of Oregano or grapefruit seed extract, if you want to save your liver,
  • If it is not fungus the nail can be easily filed down to a manageable thickness with a pedi-drill.

Yellow stained toenails

  • Usually caused by wearing polish. In this case it is very easy to file the surface of the nail with a pedi – drill.
  • Sometimes caused by psoriasis, eczema or a more serious illness – the underlying condition needs to be addressed.

Corns and Calluses 

  • They can be easily removed with a pedi-drill and regular pumicing.
  • Using a good quality, rich cream to moisturise the skin is recommended.
  • Corns are often painful because they have a central “eye” that can be quite deep and needs to be dug out.
  • I don’t recommend applying a corn plaster on the corn because it just creates more pressure in the shoe.
  • If the callusing is severe, with cracking, it is often keratosis (abnormal thickening of the skin), or another hidden cause – possibly allergies – which can be misdiagnosed as fungus or eczema. It is imperative to figure out a hidden cause.
  • Calluses can also be a sign of vitamin A deficiency.

Ingrown toenails 

  • Caused by the nail curling into the lateral nail fold. To straighten it, a chiropodist can apply a brace to the sides of the nail, this can take a few weeks and the brace has to be adjusted – just like braces with teeth.
  • Sometimes it is simply due to improper nail cutting (cutting the corners on a slant), the nail hits the nail bed as it grows, causing inflammation.
  • It can also be due to accumulation of dead skin under the lateral nail fold, which causes pressure and pain.
  • A few careful monthly treatments can clear the build-up under the nail and the nail can be trained to grow out properly.

The above conditions also need to be treated, daily, from the outside, with a good nourishing and healing body cream.

My favourite is the YonKa After Sun Cream (get over the name). It is one of the best creams on the market: everything else pales in comparison.

They also need to be treated internally, with a diet that is rich in unsaturated fats, balanced with saturated fats to keep the skin from drying. A diet rich in vitamin A or pro-vitamin A-Carotenoids, helps to inhibit thickening of the skin.

If any are due to allergies, that has to be addressed first and foremost.

Conditions that need to be diagnosed and treated medically and nutritionally:

Arthritis 

  • An inflammatory autoimmune condition.
  • Depending on the severity, medication may be required.
  • An anti-inflammatory diet is essential and one containing fish oils and essential fatty acids is beneficial even if you are on medication.
  • An Alkalizing diet is also very beneficial – the explanation for this is for another blog
  • Regular Manual Lymphatic Drainage treatments are beneficial (see blog on MLD).

Bone Spurs

  • Bony projection that forms where two bones meet, such as a joint or where bone meets tendon.
  • This can be caused by osteoarthritis – also an inflammatory autoimmune condition.
  • It can also be caused by constant rubbing and stress on the bone – like callusing.
  • As with Arthritis, an anti-inflammatory diet is beneficial.
  • Manual manipulation of the joint is helpful.

Hammer Toe

  • Effects the middle toe.
  • Weakening of the muscle causes the tendon to shorten and the toe starts to curl under.
  • Can be hereditary or from wearing ill-fitting shoes – high heels and pointed shoes.
  • A corn forms on the middle joint and is quit painful.
  • A hammer toe pad can be purchased at a drugstore. The pad stretches the toe out.
  • Depending on the severity of pain, surgery may be necessary.

Bunion

  • A bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe, sometimes the little toe.
  • It can be formed if the big toe is pushed towards the next toe due to tight shoes.
  • One cause may be rheumatoid arthritis.
  • It can also be hereditary.
  • The constant rubbing in the shoe causes soreness and inflammation.
  • In the early stages, a toe separator may be used to push the toe straight.
  • To alleviate pain, a wider shoe has to be worn.
  • Anti-inflammatory diet is also beneficial.
  • In severe cases surgery may be required.

Gout

  • A form of arthritis
  • It used to be called “rich man’s disease”
  • Result of the build up of Uric Acid in the body, deposited in the joint of the big toe.
  • Diuretics can cause gout.
  • Very painful.
  • A low protein, alcohol-free diet is recommended.
  • Medication is often needed.
  • When the attack has subsided, Manual Lymphatic Drainage is helpful to address the swelling.