Category Archives: Did you know?

Natural Delights

For the past three years I can say one of my toughest challenges has been finding and keeping a balance between school/work and having time to properly take care of myself. That means proper sleep, good eating habits, skin care and hair care regimens and also just having time to myself with friends and family.

 The beginning of the semester is usually fine: I have time to dance, do yoga, get some writing done, hang out with friends…everythings all good. And then around the third or fourth week of classes I start looking like a deer in headlights with raccoon eyes. No joke I get delirious often with trying to keep up with a hectic schedule and I’m sure I’m not the only one. But it all comes with the territory of reaching a goal. Anyway, I wanted to share two absolutely amazing natural hair care products (and household ingredients) that have helped me combat the stress placed on my hair over the past three months.

Numero Uno: Virgin (or Extra Virgin) Olive Oil:

My mother has always been committed to using  natural products  and this is one she recommended to me when I was in high school that I never really took advantage of and as usual, she was right. This product literally for me, worked overnight. Olive Oil has  been used for centuries by ancient civilizations to help with hair care. Specifically I use this on my eyebrows to help condition them and keep them growing.

Olive Oil is rich in Vitamins, A, B, D and K. It also contains a good amount of iron when consumed. For conditioned and thicker brows the process is simple: All you need is one cutip dipped in olive oil and to dab it lightly on your brows before bed. I wouldn’t recommend doing it every night but 2-3 times a week should be sufficient.

Numero Dos: Virgin Coconut Oil

Now the way I found out about this one is a bit silly, but I actually read about it in a love story. It was an Indian themed love novel I read  in September that piqued my curiosity about this remedy. The main character used it as a way to keep her hair growing and her scalp conditioned. I tested it out for a week or two and it works well. At first I wasn’t very fond of it because it actually made my hair grow a little too fast, but that’s the point right? Just remember to keep this one in a luke-warm environment, it’s best used while it’s still a bit solid.

I’ve become a fim believer in the importance of giving your hair (and skin) the healthiest treatment possible. (Quality> Quantity!) Both products are edible and can be found at your local grocery store for under ten dollars. For any other hardworking divas out there, here’s another way to keep your hustle up and keep your hair healthy too! 🙂

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Nutrient Spotlight: Good Ole’ Iron

A deficiency in any nutrient or mineral has its consequences, but an iron deficiency can cost you quite a bit. Having a sufficient amount of Iron in your diet is essential to maintaining a healthy and productive lifestyle. It’s especially important for those always-on-the-move-women. Not getting enough Iron more than likely leads to feeling weak, sluggish and  a decreased immunity. Not having enough Iron basically means not getting the proper amount of energy and can lead to anemia. No bueno. 

 And according to what the National Institutes of Health says on Iron:  “Almost two-thirds of iron in the body is found in hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues. Smaller amounts of iron are found in myoglobin, a protein that helps supply oxygen to muscle, and in enzymes that assist biochemical reactions. Iron is also found in proteins that store iron for future needs and that transport iron in blood. Iron stores are regulated by intestinal iron absorption [1,8].”

Recommended Daily Iron Consumption

Age (years) Males (mg/day) Females (mg/day)
7-12 months 11 11
1 – 3 7 7
4 – 8 10 10
9 – 13 8 8
14 – 18 11 15
19 – 50 8 18
51+ years 8 8(Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board.)

So what’s the quickest and easiest way to make sure Iron-deficiency doesn’t happen to you?

Why eating the right foods of course!

Remember Popeye the Sailor Man and all that “I-eat-me-spinach” stuff? Well he definitely had a point, spinach is a great way to consume iron, as well as another dark leaf green, collards. It can also be found in foods such as: red meat, egg yolks, dried fruit (prunes, raisins), turkey or chicken, liver, artichokes, Iron-enriched cereals and grains, mollusks (oysters, clams, scallops) and beans.

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You don’t have to do crazy diets in 2011

It’s no secret that every year, millions of American women make losing “X” amount of weight their top goal for the year. African American women and Latino women (and  even many other women) are especially prone to this train of thought-thinking that we’re overweight or needing to lose weight when in actually it may not be that serious. Most of us come from a lineage of women who are naturally curvacious and larger in body type. Not all of us look like Tyra Banks and not all of us are built like Monique.  We’ve got to love our bodies the way they are and simply improve them for what they are. But the point is that our body types range. Going on crazy diets can actually cause your body more stress than benefit it.

The best route to go if you are looking to lose some healthy weight is to follow what fits your body type. A healthy weight is usually measured by your height and the natural width of your body.

In addition to changing some lifestyle and eating choices, you may just need a revamp of your wardrobe. Many curvy women feel the need to hide their curves-embrace them! This doesn’t mean wearing clothes five sizes larger, it means finding a cut and style that flatters your figure.  Writer and blogger Kathryn Finney of The BudgetFashionista.com has a great advice column for finding the right clothing and accessories for this. Finney’s book The Budget Fashionista in addition to saving you money, shows you how to make your wardrobe tailor to YOU  in a stylish and savvy way, and not just the trends of the day.

In terms of eating choices and diet: There’s one piece of advice my mentor gave me two years ago when she began her quest to lose weight in preperation for her wedding (and  to run a marathon yowzah!) and it was this- it is a lifestyle change. Dieting alone won’t work. If you’re planning to lose weight and keep it there, you need to change your lifestyle as well. That includes constant (but not crazy) exercising, changing your diet permanantly and limiting your intake of junk food. Yes ladies that means, swearing off those treat foods in exchange for baked, organic and low in salt, grease or sugar. And trust me (because I LOVE some good junk food) it’s hard but it is NOT impossible, it simply takes time to become a HABIT.

Keep a journal: Another great way to treat your body right in losing weight would be keeping a journal. Keeping a written record of your progress will not only motivate you but it will also be a place to vent on your frustrations, basque in your joys and right down all the ideas you come across in finding ways to keep a healthy weight.

Remember the goal is to embrace yourself as you are, it is to  transform into a healthier you physically and mentally and  that begins with loving the body your in and making those beautiful curves work for you .

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February 7th: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Upon my daily scroll through blogs this morning I came across a feature on Black Voices Wellness personally sent in by HIV/AIDS activist  Hydeia Broadbent. Some of you may remember Hydeia’s name as she was often appearing on radio and television shows as early as 12 years old, promoting safe sex and education on the HIV/AIDS disease. But Broadbent didn’t contract the disease through promiscuous acts or drug use; she was born HIV positive to a drug addicted mother, and diagnosed at the age of four with the disease. For over a decade Broadbent has been a teen age and young adult activist, speaking out on the dangers of HIV.

Broadbent who is now 26 years old  has faced many physical and mental challenges in living with HIV but she’s remained strong in her fight for people to protect themselves and be aware of the risks. Today on many websites Hydeia’s message about today’s significance was posted, she noted that:

  “Yes, we have our own day during Black History Month. While people never think they are at risk for contracting HIV, that it’s above them, that it is a dirty person’s disease, or is only contracted by those who are gay, I am here to tell you that anyone who is negative is at risk for contracting HIV if they don’t educate themselves on the disease.
America has become very complacent when it comes to AIDS. We think AIDS is only a problem in third world countries. However, the total number of people living with an HIV infection in the U.S. is thought to be around 1.1 million, and of the more than 1 million people living with HIV in the United States of America today, around half are black.” (Via BlackVoicesWellness)

The first AIDS case reported and thus beginning the epidemic was  in 1981 in Los Angeles. The first strain of HIV is reported have entered the United States around 1969  and has since spread throughout the world. As of this year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that African-Americans while making up only 13% of the overall population, are nearly half of the new cases of HIV each year. That means 1 in every 16 black men, and 1 in 30 for black women. In 2006 HIV was the ninth leading cause of blacks and the third leading cause of death for both black men and women aging  35-44.

African-Americans continue to be the leading numbers in cases for STD’s as well, which subsequently causes a higher risk factor in contracting HIV. So what can we do?

EDUCATE EDUCATE EDUCATE. The number one way to prevent HIV/AIDS is not to protect yourself- it is to educate yourself and others. That’s where it starts. If we’re educated and educating those around us we can thus protect ourselves.

Although Broadbent has recently dealt with a change in medications because of brain damage she’s recovered well and continues to be a warrior in her fight.

When it comes to HIV we are all on an equal playing field; this disease does not discriminate.

The H in HIV stands for human.” -Hydeia Broadbent

To learn your status on HIV and find a testing site near you text your zip code to 566948 (KNOWIT) or visit HIVtest.org

(Photo credit GettyImagesEntertainment, Dario Cantatore)

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