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The Biggest Health And Beauty Trends Of The Decade

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As we slide into 2020 we wanted to take a look back over the trends and movements that have shaped the Twenty-Tens. Over the past 10 years, wellness has come into its own with more of us becoming increasingly conscious of what we’re putting on and in our bodies. Kale has become a mainstream vegetable that’s boiled, steamed, fried and dished up in restaurants across the country, while our skincare routines have become more robust thanks to the rise of serums and masks. 

Of course, there have been plenty of micro trends and fads that have failed to breakthrough, but what are the biggest innovations and movements that have changed our approach to health and beauty?

Gut health

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you would have been hard-pressed to have missed the flurry of headlines flagging up gut health. Studies have continued to highlight the link between our gut and our overall health. Earlier this year, a review of recent studies was published in the journal General Psychiatry found  that anxiety could be alleviated by regulating intestinal microbiota via food and supplements. 

Scientists have also linked the bacteria balance in our gut to the strength of our immune system. Research by Brown University in the US just last year concluded that gut microbiota could regulate our immune system. Shabir, who has been championing gut health for years, has written countless articles on the importance of taking a good quality probiotic, including What Can’t Probiotics Do?.

#SelfcareSundays

The phenomenal rise of ‘self-care’ is showing no sign of slowing as we move into the new decade. For the past three years, everything from taking a rooftop yoga class and guzzling green juice to booking a massage and enjoying a glass of wine has fallen under the realms of self-care. It’s about taking time out – be it 10 minutes or an entire day, to focus on yourself. Unsurprisingly, in an era where the tagline ‘did it even happen if it’s not on Instagram’ is said all too often, self-care even has its own hashtag: #selfcaresunday. Considering the versatility of this all-encompassing trend, we’re predicting that self-care will be something we’ll be seeing a lot more too. 

K Beauty & Sheet Masks

Following on nicely from self-care, is the incredible rise of K Beauty (Korean inspired beauty) and most notably the sheet mask. What started as K Beauty has evolved into an appreciation of J Beauty (Japanese) and C Beauty (Chinese) skincare rituals over the years with the help of Instagram and YouTube. While few of us have incorporated all 14 steps into our skincare routine, we have moved on from the traditional three-step approach. 

Serums and sheet masks have become staples in our routines. The latter have evolved as well with technology paving the way for dry textures to replace gloppy wet ones. We might not have the time or patience for too many steps, but the Asian influence is showing no sign of waning and you can expect to see plenty of brands introducing lighter lotions and essences into their ranges in the next year or so.

Skincare Ingredients

K Beauty might have ignited a love for skincare, but the rise of single ingredient formulas has also helped expand our understanding of what products can do for our skin and perhaps most importantly, what our skin needs. The likes of vitamin C, retinol and salicylic acid no longer baffle us and instead we’re mixing and matching depending on what our skin needs on a week-by-week, month-by-month basis. 

Facebook groups, Reddit forums and Instagram accounts have helped spread the word about which ingredients to use depending on your skin type or concern – Shabir has also written a comprehensive guide, here.

While we’re predicting that single ingredient formulations will evolve and become more sophisticated, the days of lotions and potions being jam-packed with endless ‘fillers’ and unnecessary ingredients is long gone. Customers are savvier than ever and want hard-working, effective products that deliver the promises on their packaging.

Liquid vs tablets

The popularity of tinctures may have dwindled since the Victorian times in favour of capsules and pills, but recent technical advances have put liquids back on top. Liposomal vitamins have become increasingly popular due to their higher absorption ability. What are liposomal vitamins? ‘Liposomal Encapsulation Technology consists of microscopic healthy fat particles called phospholipids along with vitamins. This technology has been used for many years to deliver certain drugs to specific tissues within the body without affecting the other parts of the body,’ Shabir writes. You call read his full paper, here

The stress epidemic 

Smartphones can’t be blamed solely for the ongoing stress epidemic that has taken hold in the Twenty-Tens, but they have ensured that we are continuously connected to newsfeeds and emails. So much so, it’s thought we check our phones on average every 12 minutes. 

With stress and anxiety comes sleep issues, and sleep has become a multi-billion dollar business. In 2017, McKinsey predicted the sleep-health industry (including bedding, sleep consultants, sleeping pills et cetera) was worth between $30 and $40 billion. While smartphones might be part of the problem, there are plenty of apps on hand that promise to help reduce your stress levels, calm a whirling mind and help you sleep.

This is another topic that Shabir has covered extensively and if you have problems sleeping, it is worth checking out Herbal Sleep PM.

How To Embrace The Most Stressful Time Of The Year

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Edward Pola and George Wyle might have called it ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, but new research suggests that over 45 percent of us feel more stressed and anxious in December than any other time of the year. So much so, 16 percent of Brits would rather submit a tax return than see family at this time of the year and just over a quarter find Christmas Day more mentally draining than a job interview, according to a poll by Deichmann.

“It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but this research highlights how incredibly anxious people become in the run up to Christmas,” says Josephine Soei, marketing manager for Deichmann. “So much is expected of us and it’s a busy time of year. It’s ironic that we’re all supposed to be having a ball and yet nearly half of adults say it’s the worst time of the year.”

The spiralling cost of everything is the main source of stress for Brits. However, getting the right food in and making sure everyone is having a good time also add to our anxiety. So, how can you get everything done and keep your stress levels in-check?

Make a list: It’s one of the most simplest things you can do and yet when we’re up against it most of us forget to take a couple of minutes out and write a to-do list. Not only will it help you create a plan of action, but it will also ensure you don’t forget anything… as long as it’s on the list. 

Calm your nerves: In the most stressful moments our nervous system can be sent into overdrive. At this time of the year most of us aren’t getting enough sleep either, which makes us feel more jittery. While Magnolia Rhodiola Complex won’t cure this completely, the clever blend of herbs and extracts will help your body relax and manage spikes in your cortisol. 

Stock-up on magnesium: When we’re stressed and tired our magnesium supply can take a battering. While bathing in magnesium flakes might be one of the best ways to absorb the mineral, you can also take Neuro-Mag by Life Extension supplements or massage Better You’s dreamy Magnesium Oil Original Spray into the soles of your feet before your go to bed.

Embrace self-care Sunday: It’s a word we have heard a lot this year, but engaging in a little self-care each week, especially at this time of year, can really help calm your mind and refocus your thoughts. For this, we love nothing more than slipping on a Spacemask for 10 minutes. It lives up to its tagline and offers ‘interstellar relaxation’. 

How Can You Relieve An Itchy Scalp?

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Having a sore, itchy scalp is never fun, but at this time of the year when we’ve all cranked up the central heating and the weather outside is cold, wet and windy, it can feel even more uncomfortable. Scalp pruritus, or an itchy scalp, is a common issue and is usually caused by psoriasis, dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, which can be caused by stress and seasonal changes.  Read More…

The Benefits Of 43 Minutes Of Extra Sleep

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The NHS recommends anywhere between six and nine hours of sleep a night for adults. Most of us aim for somewhere between seven and eight. While it goes without saying that regularly getting less than six hours of shut-eye a night can leave you feeling bleary eyed, tired and grouchy the next day, there could be other benefits to getting more sleep.

New research from Penn University found that getting 43 minutes of extra sleep has the potential to not only ensure you feel less sleepy the following day, but could also help lower blood pressure. The two week study focused on 53 students. They were deemed the best candidates as it’s thought that over a third of young adults get less than seven hours of sleep a night. The students were asked to wear wrist sensors to monitor their sleep patterns and were tasked with trying to squeeze in an extra hour of sleep every day. Researchers concluded that 43 minutes was the sweet spot in terms of maximising the health benefits, as well as being realistic to fit into busy schedules.

While the results could be more prominent in this age group compared to older generations considering the lower levels of sleep to begin with, it is yet another study highlighting the importance of slowing down and prioritising sleep. As the festive season begins it’s definitely something to keep in mind as your schedule begins to fill up. And for those who struggle to get their forty winks, there are a few things that could help.

How to get more sleep

Sleep is big business – in fact, in the US the market is estimated to be worth $28.6 billion – and unsurprisingly there are plenty of products that promise to help you get more. While some products can make a notable difference, it’s important to look at your lifestyle as a whole if you are someone who rarely gets the full eight hours. Reducing your stress levels, sticking to a regular routine and cutting back on sugar and alcohol are some of the key changes that can help.

Set the scene: There’s a reason why This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray is a bestseller, the clever blend has been shown to help speed up the time it takes you to fall asleep. Simply mist your pillow just before you hit the hay and take a couple of deep breaths. It won’t be instant, but you should drift off more easily than usual. It also helps to block out any natural light in your bedroom, keep the temperature below 21°C and ban any screens and blue light.

Top-up essential minerals: Magnesium is a key mineral and is especially important when it comes to sleep as it helps us to relax. Magnesium deficiencies are surprisingly common and a lot of us can benefit from taking a magnesium supplement regularly. However, it’s thought that bathing in the mineral is one of the best ways to absorb it. Better You’s Magnesium Oil Original Flakes are particularly effective because it contains magnesium chloride, which is easier for your body to absorb.

Sleep aides: There are plenty of sleep specific supplements to help you unwind, relax and drift off. There are two that Shabir recommends time and time again, InsoZia by Viva Nutraceuticals and Viridian’s Cherry Night. The former is a blend of herbal extracts which help to regulate your sleep patterns and calm a whirling mind, while Cherry Night is a natural source of melatonin (sleep hormone) that you mix into milk or water and drink just before bed.

Inflammation Could Be Affecting Your Focus

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From achy joints and sore throats to puffy eyes and acne breakouts, inflammation is often the root cause of many health and beauty issues. This week, a new study revealed that it could also be the reason behind ‘brain fog’. Researchers at the University of Birmingham found that inflammation can essentially block the brain’s ability to reach and maintain a state of alertness. 

The study consisted of 20 young men, who were given a salmonella typhoid vaccine to cause temporary inflammation and then two hours later their concentration levels were measured as they looked at simple images on a computer screen.

The men were injected with water on a different day and put through the same cognitive tests. On both days, their blood was taken to assess inflammation levels too. While our ability to prioritise and select when to pay attention and when not to was not impacted by inflammation, the results found that staying alert was. “These results show quite clearly that there’s a very specific part of the brain network that’s affected by inflammation,” says Dr Ali Mazaheri, a senior author of the study. “This could explain ‘brain fog’.”

Co-author of the study, Professor Jane Raymond adds: “This research finding is a major step forward in understanding the links between physical, cognitive, and mental health and tells us that even the mildest of illnesses may reduce alertness.” With around 12 million people in the UK suffering from a chronic medical condition and a lot of them reporting feeling mentally sluggish, this study could offer a new potential line of treatment.

What about those who don’t necessarily suffer with a chronic medical condition, but do suffer with ‘brain fog’ from time to time? Well, taking steps to reduce any inflammation and support your cognitive functions could help.

How can you reduce inflammation?

Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries and is regularly championed today for its anti-inflammatory powers. It is the curcumin in turmeric that is particularly good. While it helps to reduce inflammation throughout your body, research has pinpointed curcumin as a particularly good compound to supporting brain functions too.

“Curcumin’s potent anti-inflammatory properties are theorised to offer protection against cognitive decline which occurs with age,” explains Shabir Daya, co-founder of Victoria Health and registered pharmacist. “The incidences of cognitive decline are markedly lower in populations whose diet includes turmeric and although full blown clinical studies need to be carried out to confirm this, it does nevertheless appear that there is a link between the ingestion of turmeric and brain protection.”

Shabir recommends Curcumin Elite by Life Extension as it has been shown to be absorbed more efficiently than other curcumin supplements – you can read more about this here.

How can you boost your brain’s alertness?

Omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to healthy brain function, including concentration and memory for years. Shabir recommends that taking Lion Heart Pure Omega 3 Fish Oil from your 20s onwards to help support your cognitive functions (just one of the many benefits of omega 3!). If you’re vegan or vegetarian, try Echiomega as a great alternative. 

It goes without saying that getting a better night’s sleep will not only help your body reduce inflammation and relax, but it also ensures you’re more alert and focused during the day. It’s worth making sure your magnesium levels are topped up. Magnesium is a vital mineral for many functions across our body, yet a lot of us run of low levels without realising. Neuro-Mag by Life Extensions is worth the investment if you’re concerned about your levels.

If your sleep patterns are regular ad sufficient and you just need something to help power you through the afternoons, try Limitless Plus by VH. This is Shabir’s natural nootropic formulation and utilises a patented extract derived from a special non-GMO tomato plant called Noomato™, which helps not only speed up the time it takes you to mentally process information, but also aids your recall. The supplement contains another patented complex, Neumentix™ which helps reduce oxidative stress.

While more research needs to be done to fully understand the link between inflammation and our cognitive functions, trying to reduce any inflammation in your body is rarely a bad thing.

Exercise Could Help Ease SAD This Winter

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Darker mornings and longer evenings mean that a lot of us rarely catch much daylight during the week. According to YouGov, around 29 percent of the UK battle with debilitating SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), while almost two thirds of us feel noticeably less happy during the winter months compared to the summer. The lack of sunlight throughout the colder months can affect your melatonin and serotonin levels, and leave you feeling tired, lethargic, anxious and depressed.  

Spring might feel like a long way away, but if you have suffered with symptoms of SAD previously there are a few tricks you can employ to help lift your mood. Earlier this month, a study highlighted how exercise can help alleviate depression and anxiety. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital looked over data from over 8000 people and concluded that regular exercise can help reduce depressive episodes.

“Our findings strongly suggest that, when it comes to depression, genes are not destiny and that being physically active has the potential to neutralize the added risk of future episodes in individuals who are genetically vulnerable,” says Karmel Choi, PhD, of MGH and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and lead author of the study. “On average, about 35 additional minutes of physical activity each day may help people to reduce their risk and protect against future depression episodes.”

This isn’t the first study to outline the benefits exercise can have on our mood. For years, experts have been championing that well-established idea that working out releases mood-boosting endorphins. What makes this study particularly interesting is that the researchers discovered that both high-intensity activities, such as aerobics and dances, and low-intensity forms, including yoga and stretching, can help reduce your chances of having a depressive episode. In fact, the researchers concluded that by adding four hours of exercise into your week can reduce it by 17 percent.

What does four hours of exercise look like? Well, it could be four hours of cardio in the gym, or a weekly 1.5 hour yoga class paired with 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week. If that feels like too much of a commitment but SAD is something you’ve struggled with previously, Shabir has a couple of tricks to help, including two fast-acting supplements – read more, here.