Thursday, August 22, 2013

Colorful Plates

Hey Scholars! What's on your plate? When eating your meals your foods should be colorful. Have you ever wondered why fruits and vegetables are the colors they are? Did you know that they help to battle/prevent diseases, keep you beautiful, and help you to live longer? One day while on the internet I came across a picture with the caption "Eating Colors for Health." There were six different colors that each serve a purpose in keeping the human body healthy:

White: Immune support and reduce stroke risk



Green: Detoxification, help with vision problems, and lower risk for cancer



Yellow: Beauty, benefit the Nervous System, and aid in digestion



Orange: Cancer prevention and reduce risk of heart disease



Red: Heart health, reduce risk for stroke, macular degeneration, and memory problems


Purple: Longevity, reduce risk for stroke, macular degeneration, memory problems and brain health



So eat up and enjoy!

My Favorite Stylers

     Hey Scholars! Building a moisturizing regimen is essential to your hair holding onto moisture so as not to cause dryness. If your curls are tightly coiled, look for thick/creamy moisturizers. Although moisturizing will not help your hair grow, it will mitigate damage during handling (for example, combing, detangling, styling, etc.), which will result in length retention. Let’s face it, moisturized hair looks way better than dry hair. You know when our hair looks and feels good, we look and feel good!
     So let's get started:

1. Carol's Daughter Healthy Hair Butter: I often use this when putting my Marley twists in. I find that I do not have to use a lot to get the desired results. My curls are tightly coiled in some places, and this product does a great job in moisturizing my hair without weighing it down and making it a sticky, gooey mess. The smell of the rosemary oil comes out quite strong but I have gotten used to it.



2. Cantu Shea Butter Grow Strong Strengthening Treatment : I love this product. When I take my twists down to give my hair a rest, I use this treatment. It is gentle and restores the moisture to my hair.



3. Elasta QP Olive Oil and Mango Butter Curl Defining Pudding- Intensive Treatment: You can not go wrong with this product. The olive oil and mango butter are a dynamic duo. Olive oil is a great oil for any hair type, relaxed or natural. When my hair was relaxed I used Organic Root Stimulator products and I loved how they made my hair and scalp look and feel. As a natural, olive oil really has become one of my hair's best friends.  


4. Homemade Whipped Mango Butter (click here for the link to how I make mine): Mango butter is a great alternative for those allergic to certain products such as coconut oil and cocoa butter. The best benefit of making your own mixture is that you know exactly what is in it. You control what goes into and onto your hair. There are so many butters and oils out there; you are free to make whatever you want and find that special mix that works especially for you!


5. Shea Moisture Curl and Style Milk: This is a thirst quencher for my curls. I just love it! It is great for wash and gos, twists, braids, or however you decide to rock your hair.


6. Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie: This is a permanent staple in my collection. My curls drink this stuff up! I can not stress how amazing this smoothie is.



     There are also other methods you can use to make sure you hair is retaining moisture such as drinking plenty of water every day, sleeping in a satin bonnet, scarf, or on a satin pillow case, and keeping your hands out of your hair. What works for others may not work for you. Experiment with products to find what works for you. Also, moisturize as often as you need to.
         It is important to remember that after moisturizing your hair, seal in the moisture using butters or oils. Click here for my essential oils.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Foods for a Healthy Heart

Hey scholars! I have been on a mission to clean up the way I eat. I do not think that I eat crap but I know that I could work to eat cleaner. So, in this post I will discuss foods that should be a staple in your diet (diet= way of eating, not starving to lose weight). I will discuss 18 foods that can lead to a healthier lifestyle and a healthier heart.

Fresh Herbs:

When added to other foods, fresh herbs make dishes healthier because they replace trans fats, sugar, and salt. Fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano, sage, and rosemary are helpful because they contain antioxidants. According to the National Cancer Institute, “Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Free radical damage may lead to cancer. Antioxidants interact with and stabilize free radicals and may prevent some of the damage free radicals might otherwise cause.” see Nation Cancer Institute

                                             
                                                                         Thyme




                                                                       Oregano


                                                                        Sage


                                                                    Rosemary

Fruits:

Oranges contain the cholesterol-fighting fiber pectin as well as potassium, which helps control blood pressure. It is said that orange juice may improve blood vessel function and modestly lower blood pressure through the antioxidant hesperidin.


Cherries are packed with anthocyanins, an antioxidant believed to help protect blood vessels. 


Blueberries contain anthocyanins which give them their deep blue color and support heart health. These little blue berries are also packed with ellagic acid, beta-carotene, lutein, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. 


Nuts:

Walnuts may lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation in the arteries of the heart if consumed daily (about a small handful). Walnuts are packed with omega-3s, monounsaturated fats, and fiber. 


Almonds are  full of plant sterols, fiber, and heart-healthy fats. Almonds may help lower LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of diabetes. 


Fish:

Salmon is rich in the omega-3s EPA and DHA. Omega-3s may lower risk of rhythm disorders and reduce blood pressure. Salmon also lowers blood triglycerides (cholesterol) and reduces inflammation. The American Heart Association recommends two servings of salmon or other oily fish a week.



Tuna Tuna is a good source of heart-healthy omega-3s. Albacore (white tuna) contains more omega-3s than other tuna varieties, however; these other sources of omega-3s are great too: mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and anchovies.



Beverages: 

Coffee as well as tea may help protect your heart by warding off type 2 diabetes. Studies show that people who drink 3-4 cups a day may cut their risk by 25% (decaffeinated coffee works also). Those who already have diabetes or hypertension should be careful because caffeine can complicate these conditions.



Red Wine may be a heart healthy choice for those who drink alcohol. Resveratrol and catechins, two antioxidants in red wine, may protect artery walls. Alcohol can also boost HDL, the good cholesterol.



Other smart choices:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made from the first press of olives. It is especially rich in heart-healthy antioxidants called polyphenols, as well as healthy monounsaturated fats. When olive oil replaces saturated fat (like butter), it can help lower cholesterol levels. Polyphenols may protect blood vessels.



Oatmeal

Oats in all forms can help your heart by lowering LDL, the bad cholesterol. A warm bowl of oatmeal fills you up for hours, fights snack attacks, and helps keep blood sugar levels stable over time, making it useful for people with diabetes, too.



Flaxseeds:

This shiny, honey-colored seed has three elements that are good for your heart: fiber, phytochemicals called lignans, and ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in plants. The body converts ALA to the more powerful omega-3s, EPA and DHA.



Cayenne Chili Pepper:

Shaking hot chili powder on food may help prevent a spike in insulin levels after meals.



Black Beans: 

Mild, tender black beans are packed with heart-healthy nutrients including folate, antioxidants, magnesium, and fiber which helps control both cholesterol and blood sugar levels.



Here is a mini dictionary for the terms that make you go "what the hell is that?!" 

ALA- Alpha-linolenic acid is an essential omega-3 fatty acid. It is called “essential” because it is needed for normal human growth and development. Nuts, such as walnuts, are good sources of alpha-linolenic acid. It is also found in vegetable oils such as flaxseed (linseed) oil, canola (rapeseed) oil, and soybean oil, as well as in red meat and dairy products.

Anthocyanins- are a type of flavonoid, a class of compounds with antioxidant effects. Found naturally in a number of foods, anthocyanins are the pigments that give berries, red onions, kidney beans, pomegranates, and grapes their rich coloring. In addition to acting as antioxidants and fighting free radicals, anthocyanins may offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits.

Beta-carotene- is a carotenoid, one of a group of plant pigments known to have antioxidant and other effects. This is a substance in plants that's quickly converted into vitamin A inside the body. Beta-carotene is often thought of as a form of vitamin A itself. Having normal levels of vitamin A is key for good vision, strong immunity, and general health.  

Catechins- are a type of flavonoid found in certain foods; several forms exist, but all are potent antioxidants that may help protect you from potentially damaging chemicals called free radicals.

DHA- Docosahexaenoic acid is an omega-3 that is naturally found throughout the body and is most abundant in the brain, eyes, and heart. DHA ensures that the cells in the brain, retina, heart and other parts of the nervous system develop and function properly through all stages of life. 

Ellagic Acid- is a phytochemical, or plant chemical, found in raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, walnuts, pecans, pomegranates, and other plant foods. 

EPA- eicosapentaenoic acid has the potential to lower inflammation and improve patients’ response to chemotherapy. EPA can also reduce the probability of developing particular kinds of cancer, which includes multiple myeloma. Recent studies have shown that it can reduce depression and suicidal behavior.  

Hesperidin- is a plant chemical that is classified as a “bioflavonoid.” It is found primarily in citrus fruits.  Hesperidin alone, or in combination with other citrus bioflavonoids is most often used for blood vessel conditions such as hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and poor circulation (venous stasis).  

Lignans- are a group of chemical compounds found in plant-based foods including flaxseeds, sesame and pumpkin seeds, and rye. Lignans are also good antioxidants scavenging free radicals that may play a role in some diseases.

Lutein- Lutein is one of two major carotenoids found as a color pigment in the human eye (macula and retina). It is thought to function as a light filter, protecting the eye tissues from sunlight damage. Foods rich in lutein include broccoli, spinach, kale, corn, orange pepper, kiwi fruit, grapes, orange juice, zucchini, and squash.

Phytochemicals- refers to a wide variety of compounds made by plants, but is mainly used to describe those compounds that may affect human health. Phytochemicals are found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains. Phytochemicals are promoted for the prevention and treatment of many health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. There is some evidence that certain phytochemicals may help prevent the formation of potential carcinogens (substances that cause cancer), block the action of carcinogens on their target organs or tissue, or act on cells to suppress cancer development. Many experts suggest that people can reduce their risk of cancer significantly by eating more fruits, vegetables, and other foods from plants that contain phytochemicals.

Resveratrol- is a member of a group of plant compounds called polyphenols. These compounds are thought to have antioxidant properties, protecting the body against the kind of damage linked to increased risk for conditions such as cancer and heart disease. Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes, but other sources include peanuts and berries.



My Favorite Products: Conditioners

     Hey Scholars! This post will cover the conditioners, deep conditioners, and leave-in conditioners that I am currently using. I condition my hair on a daily basis. Although this summer has not exactly been a scorcher where I am, the weather was still hot causing my scalp to become dry and my hair to frizz. Throughout the summer, I kept my hair styled in Marley twists, which causes a lot of scalp to be exposed to the sun. Whenever I wear my hair like this, I make sure to condition and oil my scalp every day. I also make sure to wash my hair so that I am not continuously piling products on top of products. Let’s get into the list.

1. Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner: I have not come across a Shea Moisture product that I did not like. I love this conditioner. When I take down my twists this is my go to conditioner. It instantly removes product build up without causing knots and tangles. I also use it before putting my twists in for added protection from dryness.  



2. Aubrey Organics Glycogen Protein Balancing Conditioner (GPB): I do not always use a protein treatment but when I do this is the one I use. Depending on how long I keep my twists in, I will use this to strengthen my hair after being in the same state for so long.  



3. TRESemmé Naturals- Radiant Volume and Nourishing Moisture: I love these two conditioners. I often use them as leave-ins. For the best results, I use one of these after deep conditioning.  


4. Caviar Curls Velvet Leave- In Detangler: I just received this product in this month's CurlKit. I went about taking my twists down one by one to freshen up my look. Once I removed the twist, I dipped my fingers in water and smoothed the water down my hair shaft. Then I  put some of this conditioner on my fingers and smoothed it down my hair shaft. I worked the product in and the build up broke down and basically slid down my hair allowing me to remove it without snatching or tearing my hair. This leave-in detangler will be a permanent fixture in my collection. A new favorite of mine hands down!  


5. and 6. Giovanni's- Smooth as Silk and Direct Leave- In: I love these conditioners because they do not weigh my hair down. I love the bounce they give my curls and how soft my curls are after using one or a little of both at the same time. They also work as great stylers by setting the hair and prepping it for twists, braids, or curls.   


7. Beautiful Textures Rapid Repair Deep Conditioner: I go to this conditioner when I need some extra attention to my curls. Not only does it conditions my scalp and hair, it works as a great detangler. I love this because my hair consists of many textures and this product works well with all of them!   


8. Pantene Truly Natural Deep Conditioner: I use this deep conditioner before using the Pantene Co-Wash. This technique is called pre-pooing. I love how this conditioner quenches my curls' thirst without weighing them down making me feel like I need to wash my hair all over again.  


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My Favorite Products: Shampoos and Co-Washes

     Hey Scholars! YouTube has helped me on my journey to natural hair and is still a great source of inspiration for taking care of my hair. Years ago as an undergraduate student I wanted to return to my natural state but I did not have the knowledge and tools to do so correctly. The journey went terribly wrong and ended as quickly as it started. As a graduate student, I again decided that I want to wear my hair naturally. I was determined to be successful this time. On YouTube, I came across someone who quickly became one of my favorite bloggers/vloggers.

     Thanks to Whitney also known as Naptural85, I was able to successfully transition into my natural hair. Her videos are amazing and her tips are priceless. I learned so much from her. I watched her videos about a million times in order to prepare myself for what was ahead. I transitioned for seven months before deciding to do the big chop. I thought that I would be afraid to cut my hair. It turns out that once I started cutting my hair I could not stop. It was an amazing feeling. I also learned that other people were attached to my hair a lot more than I was. I was completely okay with cutting my hair, it was other people who could not let it go. I have been natural since February 2012.

    Since then, it has been fun learning my hair-what it likes, what it does not, and how it responds to styles and products. The last time I was natural was when I was twelve. Back then, my mother was doing my hair, so I had no idea what my hair was like. I could not remember the texture of it or its curl pattern. This journey has been a learning process in so many ways and I have been enjoying every step of the way.

   Since deciding to wear my hair in its natural state, I have amassed quite a bit of products, which makes me a product hoarder. I have come to terms with and am comfortable with this addiction. So, I have decided to discuss my favorites by breaking them up into groups such as shampoos, conditioners, stylers, and oils (this blog is already up, click here).

     I do not shampoo my hair often. I usually shampoo about once a month and co-wash about once a week. So let's get into my favorite shampoos/co-washes.

1. Terressentials Organic Pure Earth Hair Wash in Lavender Garden: I love how my scalp feels after using this. A little bit goes a long way. I will sometimes use an ACV rinse before using this and the results are amazing! The ACV rinse clarifies the hair and scalp, this mud wash cleanses the hair and scalp and together they leave my head feeling so fresh and so clean.

 
2. As I Am Coconut Co-Wash: I absolutely love this co-wash. It works wonders on my curls. It cleanses, conditions, and detangles my curls.


3. and 4. Shea Moisture's Organic Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention and Organic Coconut and Hibiscus Curl and Shine Shampoo: After using these shampoos my hair has not been the same. My hair is tangle free, my scalp feels great, and my curls are full of bounce. I love these shampoos. My hair usually gets tired of products after a while but after using these for over a year, my curls still crave them. I make sure that I have plenty in stock.


5. Pantene Truly Natural Hair Clarifying Shampoo: I use this when I noticed my scalp is drier than usual, especially after taking down my twists. It works really well which is great because I am not always in a place where I can whip up an ACV rinse mix, so this is the next best thing for me.


6. Pantene Truly Natural Hair Co-Wash: I love this co-wash. I keep it in my shower caddy. What I like about this product is that it is really light on my hair and cleanses my scalp really well.

   
 

Travel Bucket List

Hey scholars, I am in the process of renewing my passport. I cannot believe it has been ten years since I got it. Thinking back to when I...