In a Coconut Shell

I’m always researching and trying out new product for my skin, hair and nutritional needs.  What girl doesn’t? I’m a true believer that nature is the best medicine. I use products that are all natural and organic whenever possible. My latest obsession is coconut oil!  I’ve used it over the years but never knew all of its benefits ‘til I became hooked on those raw brownie bites this summer. Commonly used in tropical and Asian countries, coconut oil has the most medicinal and nutritional properties of all other oils.

For your skin: Use it as a body butter and/or facial moisturizer. Mix a couple drops of essential oil of lavender and apply on blemishes. Less is more.

  • Antibacterial and antifungal properties reduce symptoms of psoriasis, eczema, acne, and other skin problems
  • Balances the skin
  • Moisturizes all skin types especially dry skin
  • Keeps skin youthful and healthy looking

For your hair: Rub into your hands and apply it to damp clean hair. Follow with your daily hair routine or massage it into your scalp and use as a leave-in conditioning treatment.  Just a dab will do.

  •  Antibacterial and antifungal properties control dandruff
  • Provides proteins needed for nourishing damaged hair
  • Helps with growth of hair
  • Leaves a smooth shine and feel

For your tummy: Where the real magic occurs. The nutritional value of coconut oil blows the other cooking oils out of the water (and kitchen). Use it the same way you would any other cooking oil. The nutty flavor is also perfect for baking.

  • Antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties and contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) that improve health in many ways
  • Fewer calories than other oils
  • Converts into energy immediately
  • Increases metabolism and digestion
  • Improves cholesterol ratio
  • Reduces risk of heart disease
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Prevents hardened arteries (Arteriosclerosis)
  • Improves insulin secretion

Younger skin, healthier hair, super healthy for your body and it keeps weight off? I’ll take it.  I may be a yogi but let’s not get it twisted, I’m still a girl. It’s best to buy organic coconut oil because it assures that it contains no added chemicals or genetically modified additives.  You’ll know that you are getting nothing more than pure coconut from the shell. The oil stores as a solid at 76 degrees and below and should be pure white in color. It melts in the palm of your hand or with heat and becomes a colorless liquid. You can find it at most grocery stores too. I fill a small mason jar to add to my toiletries and the rest lives in the kitchen cupboard.

Take care,
Gina

Flippin’ Stress

It’s no coincidence that the word ‘stressed’ spells ‘desserts’ backwards. Lately, I’ve been realizing how stress has been a big factor of why I’ve flipped myself upside down, metaphorically and literally. It isn’t just some hippy sh**t– this healing stuff. There is science to back up the countless hours spent meditating, yoga’ing and receiving massage. The proof is in the pudding.

Stress is linked to the leading causes of death-heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide, (American Psychological Association). It takes less than a millisecond for us to “flip out” activating the “fight or flight” response, or in technical terms the sympathetic nervous system. Our heart rate, blood pressure, mental alertness and muscle tension all go up to serve our survival needs. The body shuts down digestion, elimination, growth, repair and reproduction systems so that we have the energy to defend.

Although we’re not hunting and gathering in the jungle these days, our genetic makeup is still wired the same. Instead of running from predators, we are now set off in an instant in our cars, in the office, on the web and in our own living rooms. These stress hormones; cortisol and adrenaline, are what allow a mom to lift a car off a baby. Stress hormones are useful at times but not always. Unlike other hormones that decline with age, cortisol is one that increases as you get older. It works against your body inhibiting maintenance and repair, which accelerates aging” (Dr. Al Sears). In chronic states of stress, our bodies begin to go “haywire”, our health diminishes and disease finds a place to live. The good hormones become diminished by the bad…

The “anti stress hormones” are the DHEA in the body. We secrete DHEA when we’re happy, secure and free of stress. The more DHEA in our body, the less effect stress will have on us. People with higher levels of DHEA experience “enhanced energy, better immunity, reduced body fat, sharper memory, and a reverse on physical aging,” (Dr. Rosenberg, The Anti-Stress Hormone). But, we lose DHEA during moments of chaos.  People that suffer from chronic stress have a DHEA deficiency.

Discovered by Dr. Herbert Benson, the relaxation response is a shift from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic system or the “rest in digest”. It moves the body toward a state of rest by lowering blood pressure, decreasing respiration, relaxing muscle tension, increasing blood flow to organs and shifts the good hormones to feel a sense of ease. Moving from the “flight or fight” to “rest and digest” takes 20 minutes. Seems kind of unfair that in less than a millisecond we are “flipping out” yet it takes much longer to calm down. But, that’s how we’ve survived.

Stress trumps mindfulness, we can’t help it; it’s in our genetic makeup. It’s  important to manage. Staying committed to a practice of easing is essential to keeping stress and it’s effects at bay. Give the body some yummy dessert with meditation, yoga and other relaxing techniques. Rest, digest, and just feel better.