Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Healthy Hair on Youtube: Lala

Lala is another type 4 natural with healthy, waistlength hair (when stretched).  In the video below, hear her discuss her simple bi-weekly regimen:

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REVIEW #14: Carol's Daughter Macadamia Heat Protection Serum

NOTE:  I am not paid to review this product.

Purpose: Frizz-fighting, smoothing gloss with thermal protection

Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Dimethiconol, Phenyl Trimethicone, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Alcohol Denat., Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Hydrolyzed Silk, Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sprout Extract, Panthenol (Pro-vitamin B5), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum).

Number of trials: 1

How I used it:
Applied to freshly washed and conditioned hair that was dried.  Hair was then flat ironed.


This product is amazing all around.  Compared to other heat protectants I've tried in the past (e.g., Redken and Proclaim), Carol's Daughter Macadamia Heat Protection Serum left my hair shinier and feeling smoother and lighter.  There was no added weight or stiffness due to application of the product.  Additionally, it functioned well as a protectant; my hair reverted after a wash and didn't suffer heat damage.  Could I ask for anything more?  Well, I got more.  This product also has a very pleasant, natural scent leaving your tresses smelling divine.  The scent is almost addictive.  Additionally, the combination of Carol's Daughter, dry weather, and good heat styling allowed my hair to stay frizz-free for up to two weeks.  Aside from all of these positives, the only downside to this product is the cost of $18.  However, I think it's worth the price.

PROS: addictive pleasant smell, adds nice shine to hair, leaves hair feeling smooth and lightweight, provides sufficient thermal protection
CONS: expensive ($18)

RATING: Overall, I give the Carol's Daughter Macadamia Heat Protection Serum 5 out of 5 stars.  

This product is ideal for those who frequently:
- flat-iron
- blow dry

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jojoba oil, Wax, & Relaxers

According to one study, most conditioning agents in relaxer kits break down and have no effect by the time the consumer uses them. This finding implies that using some level of added conditioning while relaxing may minimize damage. What is the best conditioner? According to a second study, jojoba oil is amongst the best at protecting the hair while relaxing (with thioglycolate-based relaxers). Polymethylene wax (in conjunction with other substances) is beneficial for the traditional NaOH- and LiOH-based relaxers.  For further reading, check out the links below.

Originally posted as part of the "Retaining the Hair You Grow" series.



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Oldies, But Goodies

Amodimethicone, Castor Oil for Sheen?
Homemade Spa Treatment
Household Makeup Removers
Oh Honey, Honey ... Deep Conditioners
Nape Breakage?
Healthy Hairstyling: The Twistout

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Simple, Healthy Recipes for a Busy Schedule

By Stephanie of Infinite Life Fitness

The second I wake up in the morning, the first thing that runs through my mind is the long list of things that I need to try to get done that day. That includes fitting in my working out and trying to eat/snack on HEALTHY things.

With busy schedules, that may be tough some days. What are some suggestions to help with this problem? Plan a cooking day. I have one (or two days depending on the week) that I will cook a few things and divide them up into the right portion sizes and put them in Tupperware in my refrigerator. This helps me out by allowing me the option to have several things ready when I am in a hurry and need to grab dinner or lunch. If you make two or three recipes (and most recipes have a serving size of 4-6) this will give you PLENTY of meals for that week. I also make a few so that I am not eating the same thing each day. I will also try to make things that I can slightly change from meal to meal. By adding pasta, rice, a salad, or something else I can give the meal a slightly different look and taste.

Here are a few examples of some simple, healthy, and non-expensive meals that you can make for your menu:

Chicken Piccata with Pasta & Mushrooms

4 servings
Active Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Read more »

Citrus Fruits and Stroke

Sixteen years ago, my mother collapsed onto the hallway carpet of our apartment.  My sisters and I thought she had fainted, not realizing that she had just suffered a stroke.  Fortunately, she survived and recovered after months of hospitalization and therapy.  The catalyst of her stroke was high blood pressure.

A recently published study states that "citrus fruit consumption may be associated with a reduction in the risk of ischemic stroke."  It is the flavonoid, a substance found in citrus fruits, that is of interest in this association.  Further research is needed to confirm this connection, but in the mean time, you can read more about the current study in the links below.  Please consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet; certain foods (e.g., grapefruit) can react with stroke medications. 


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New Thoughts in Public Health and Head for the Hills...

Last Friday 24th February the Centre for Public Health at MMU hosted a talk by Dr Ruth Hussey OBE, entitled Public Health England: A New Approach to 21st Century Public Health Challenges. It was a significant and interesting presentation as it is a critical time in public health development in the UK, and her work entails the smooth transition from the existing model to an emerging, and as yet, not fully formed vision.

Citing the work of mid Victorian physician, John Snow, and his emerging understanding of cholera, Dr Hussey illustrated how, over 100 years later, we are still learning from these experiences, as she explained the Fifth Wave in public health, where we adapt to societal and political changes that impact on population and individual health.

Expanding on the importance of telling the emerging public health story, and generating a shared vision through new relationships, it was clear that there was an emerging role in the public health lexicon for the arts. In the search for new ways of tackling old problems and engaging with communities in ways that are relevant to them, creative approaches should be central to our shared future. Describing her own experience of working with diverse communities, she hit the nail on the head when she reflected that one community member commented, ‘We’ve all got knowledge, but it’s different kinds of knowledge.’

In the drive to understand the impact and reach of public health interventions, the arts/health community is increasingly defining itself in similar language. Similarities can be drawn both in the need to have new ways of understanding our value and our impact through models like Social Return On Investment, and the understanding that focusing on assets over deficits, enables the co-design of practice. This is very much an arts/health model, and the move from illness to wellness is emphasised in the NHS Confederation publication of the same name, which illustrates the place of culture and the arts in the ‘wellness’ movement.

Significantly, Arts for Health at MMU featured explicitly a couple of times during her presentation, which she astutely described as a growing movement, and I would suggest that by engaging at a national and local level, and embedding thinking around the impact of creativity, culture and the arts alongside the scientific model, we will develop a robust approach to 21st Century public health that moves away from narrow reductivism and embraces a more genuinely holistic approach to health and well-being.

Professor John Ashton CBE is Joint Director of Public Health for Cumbria Primary Care Trust and Cumbria County Council. John is well known for his work on planned parenthood, Healthy Cities and for his personal advocacy of public health.  He was also a member of the British delegation to Macedonia during the Kosovo emergency and played a prominent role in resolving the fuel dispute. He has played an active part in developing government policies for public health and under his leadership, the North West became regarded as a centre for pioneering initiatives, including his consistent support of Arts for Health, and whilst he was Regional Director of Public Health, he was the Department of Health sponsor for the Invest to Save Arts in Health Project. He has been instrumental in the development of part one of the manifesto for arts and health.

Earlier this month, Prof John Ashton co-signed a letter in the Independent defending the Royal College of GPs' chair, who opposes reform in the NHS. NHS Cumbria said in a letter to Prof Ashton that he should not express his personal views and told him his actions were ‘inappropriate’’ asking him to attend a meeting planned for last Friday.

John featured prominently in the broadcast media and printed press last week, commenting, “As a public health director and as the advisor for public health to the county of Cumbria... I have the freedom to speak out on matters of interest...I am not acting politically, I am acting professionally, drawing on the evidence of what will happen if we go down the road to private health insurance.”

Whilst John wasn’t acting politically, this is a critical agenda for us all to be engaged in, and regardless of our political allegiances, our health is political and the arts are political too.

Please click on John's photograph to go to his article in the Lancet: The Art of Medicine, Defending Democracy and the National Health Service.

For the last couple of years I have had some engagement with the Asia Europe Foundation (ASEF) and have actively worked with them on Scenario Planning around possible future pandemics. The work is gathering momentum and ASEF have produced a number of films to tell the story. They are also developing strategy for delivering this work. More information and short films can be found by clicking on the logo above.

And, purely for ironic entertainment...

Manchester Histories Festival 
Arts for Health’s Archive goes public for the first time this weekend with a small exhibition and a talk by Dr Langley Brown at the Manchester Histories Festival’s Celebration Day on Saturday, 3 March.

The Arts for Health exhibition is one of 80 displays on local histories that will take place in the Main Hall of Manchester’s magnificent Town Hall. It will introduce the Archive, and present ‘work-in-progress’ towards a larger exhibition that is to be a centrepiece of celebrations this April of the 80th anniversary of the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass, an event which helped pave the way towards the formation of the British National Parks and the steady growth of public access to wild countryside.  

This ‘work-in-progress’ previews Head for the Hills, a small-scale replica of a mosaic mural that was opened in 1986 by countryside access campaigner the late Benny Rothman. The mural was designed and made by users and staff of Manchester’s mental health services with artists of Hospital Arts (now Lime), but demolished in 2006 during rebuilding at Manchester Royal Infirmary. It was envisaged as celebration of and a lasting monument to the shared experiences, in wild landscapes, of a disparate group of people embodying a kaleidoscope of experience and skills who had only come together through the adverse circumstances of mental distress.

This project is not just the overdue resuscitation of a monument to a kaleidoscope of shared experiences from over a quarter of a century ago; it is also a potential catalyst for innovative approaches in art, wellbeing and ecology that will draw on lessons learnt from history.

The original Head for the Hills project ran during the time that the arts and mental health organisation START in Manchester evolved from Hospital Arts. START went on to inspire further developments including START in Salford, ARC in Stockport, and Connected in Oldham.

The completed replica, made by a group of Manchester Metropolitan University History of Art and Design students led by Langley Brown, will be accompanied by additional documentation on the original project and texts on topics arising concerning art, activism, environment, walking, wilderness and wellbeing, and will feature at the Edale Moorland Centre as part of the celebrations of the 80th Anniversary of the Kinder Trespass in April.

Events on Saturday 3 March:
Arts for Health Archive: Head for the Hills ‘work-in-progress’: 10am-5.30pm, Main Hall, Manchester Town Hall

Talk by Dr Langley Brown: 3.30pm, Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St, Manchester M2 5NS 
KInder Trespass 80th anniversary events 20-29 April 
Head for the Hills exhibition: Moorland Centre, Edale (exact dates/times to be announced)
For more information email:
Head for the Hills is supported by Derbyshire County Council.

Gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time: If I can do it, anyone can

The idea of gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time seems impossible because of three widely held misconceptions: (a) to gain muscle you need a calorie surplus; (b) to lose fat you need a calorie deficit; and (c) you cannot achieve a calorie surplus and deficit at the same time.

Not too long ago, unfortunately I was in the right position to do some self-experiments in order to try to gain muscle and concurrently lose fat, without steroids, keeping my weight essentially constant (within a range of a few lbs). This was because I was obese, and then reached a point in the fat loss stage where I could stop losing weight while attempting to lose fat. This is indeed difficult and slow, as muscle gain itself is slow, and it apparently becomes slower as one tries to restrict fat gain. Compounding that is the fact that self-experimentation invariably leads to some mistakes.

The photos below show how I looked toward the end of my transformation from obese to relatively lean (right), and then about 1.5 years after that (left). During this time I gained muscle and lost fat, in equal amounts. How do I know that? It is because my weight is the same in both photos, even though on the left my body fat percentage is approximately 5 points lower. I estimate it to be slightly over 12 percent (on the left). This translates into a difference of about 7.5 lbs, of “fat turning into muscle”, so to speak.

A previous post on my transformation from obese to relatively lean has more measurement details (). Interestingly, I am very close to being overweight, technically speaking, in both photos above! That is, in both photos I have a body mass index that is close to 25. In fact, after putting on even a small amount of muscle, like I did, it is very easy for someone to reach a body mass index of 25. See the table below, from the body mass index article on Wikipedia ().

As someone gains more muscle and remains lean, approaching his or her maximum natural muscular potential, that person will approach the limit between the overweight and obese areas on the figure above. This will happen even though the person may be fairly lean, say with a body fat percentage in the single digits for men and around 14-18 percent for women. This applies primarily to the 5’7’’ – 5’11’’ range; things get somewhat distorted toward the extremes.

Contrast this with true obesity, as in the photo below. This photo was taken when I was obese, at the beach. If I recall it properly, it was taken on the Atlantic City seashore, or a beach nearby. I was holding a bottle of regular soda, which is emblematic of the situation in which many people find themselves in today’s urban societies. It reminds me of a passage in Gary Taubes’s book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” (), where someone who had recently discovered the deliciousness of water sweetened with sugar wondered why anyone “of means” would drink plain water ever again.

Now, you may rightfully say that a body composition change of about 7.5 lbs in 1.5 years is pitiful. Indeed, there are some people, typically young men, who will achieve this in a few months without steroids. But they are relatively rare; Scooby has a good summary of muscle gain expectations (). As for me, I am almost 50 years old, an age where muscle gain is not supposed to happen at all. I tend to gain fat very easily, but not muscle. And I was obese not too long ago. My results should be at the very low end of the scale of accomplishment for most people doing the right things.

By the way, the idea that muscle gain cannot happen after 40 years of age or so is another misconception; even though aging seems to promote muscle loss and fat gain, in part due to natural hormonal changes. There is evidence that many men may experience of low point (i.e., a trough) in their growth hormone and testosterone levels in their mid-40s, possibly due to a combination of modern diet and lifestyle factors. Still, many men in their 50s and 60s have higher levels ().

And what are the right things to do if one wants to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time? In my next post I will discuss the misconceptions mentioned at the beginning of this post, and a simple approach for concurrently gaining muscle and losing fat. The discussion will be based on my own experience and that of several HCE () users. The approach relies heavily on individual customization; so it will probably be easier to understand than to implement. Strength training is part of this simple strategy.

One puzzling aspect of strength training, from an evolutionary perspective, is that people tend to be able to do a lot more of it than is optimal for them. And, when they do even a bit more than they should, muscle gain stalls or even regresses. The minimalists frequently have the best results.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Healthy Hairstyling #6: Braid Extensions

I remember as a little girl sitting in a hard wooden chair while a woman braided my tresses. Tears rolled down my face as each strand on my head was pulled tightly to blend with the extension hair. I remember the final outcome: a head of protected hair with which my Mom and I did not have to bother for the next three months.

Braid extensions were painful in those days, but over time I've learned that that does not have to be the case. I've also learned valuable lessons for proper care of the hair while in braids. Some lessons have come with experience. Some with mistakes. Some with advice from others. From Senegalese twists to micros to individuals to kinky twists, whatever braid extension style you choose to wear, it is important to know the truth about maintaining a healthy scalp and hair underneath it all. Let's dispel some myths:

MYTH: Braid extensions pull out the hair.
FACT: It depends on your scalp's condition, the way your braids are done, the duration of wear, and the care you give to your hair while in braids. Extremely tight braids may damage the follicle and also contribute to hair loss. Not properly caring for your hair while in braids may lead to hair breakage and loss. What are other factors? Leaving the extensions in for too long. Roughly removing the braids. Wearing heavy braid extensions. Wearing styles that tug on the hairline. Not re-doing the edges when needed. Avoid these habits and your hair will flourish. However, those with a sensitive scalp/hairline or a history of alopecia may want to refrain from braid extensions altogether.

MYTH: The only way for braid extensions to last long is if they are done excruciatingly tightly.
FACT: A big false on that one. Poorly done braids age quickly. Very loosely done braids age quickly. However, braids that are installed neatly and snugly (but comfortably) close to the scalp will last long. You do not have to go through severe red-blister-forming pain to achieve a long lasting braid style.

MYTH: It is okay to wear braid extensions for 6 months.
FACT: I do not recommend wearing braids for this long.  The length of wear depends on how fast your hair grows, how much your hair sheds, how quickly your hair locs, and other factors. The faster your hair growth rate, the shorter the time frame you can wear the extensions. The more your hair sheds, the shorter the time frame you can wear the braids. The quicker your hair locs, the shorter ... you get the point. Many people generally keep braid extensions in for 2 to 3 months.

MYTH: Deep protein treatments are required before installing braids.
FACT: It depends on what your hair needs. I recommend a deep conditioning session before installing braids, but whether your hair requires protein, moisture, or both is entirely up to your hair. Those with chemically straightened tresses may find a deep protein treatment followed by a moisturizing session most beneficial. Naturals, on the other hand, are a mixed bunch. I (natural) perform a strictly moisturizing deep treatment before installing braids because 1) my hair thrives on moisture and 2) my hair does not require protein. Learn what your hair needs.

MYTH: It is necessary to blow dry your hair before putting in braids.
FACT: It depends on whether you want to avoid heat, your schedule, etc. Before braiding, I stretch my hair via jumbo twists or big braids. Some people may stretch via banding or roller sets. Some people blow dry because it's more efficient, straightens better, etc.. Others simply braid their hair from its shrunken or regular state. Do not assume that blow drying is your only option for stretching your hair. If you want to avoid the heat usage and manipulation of blow drying, there are other methods.

MYTH: I do not have to wash my hair while in braid extensions.
FACT: It is simply good hygiene to cleanse every part of your body on a regular basis -- including your hair. How you cleanse your hair and how often depends on how quickly your hair gets dirty and how much product you use. Understand one thing though: being in braid extensions does not exclude you from having to wash your hair.

MYTH: It is not important to condition regularly while in braid extensions.
FACT: It is important to condition after each wash while in braids. In the past, I have retained length using Pantene Pro-V for about 10-15 minutes after each wash. That was all my hair required at the time. While transitioning, I used protein deep conditioners because my demarcation line and relaxed tresses were weak.  Learn what type of conditioner your hair needs. Some level of conditioning is necessary after washing, if at the very least, to smooth down the cuticles that have become raised during the cleansing process.

MYTH: I do not have to moisturize my hair while in braids.
FACT: Braids, particularly those done with synthetic hair (and even more so those done with yarn), have a tendency to suck the moisture from your hair. For this reason, it is important to moisturize regularly while in braids. Additionally, it is harder for sebum -- our natural conditioner -- to travel down to the ends of your hair. Thus, we must get our moisture from somewhere.

For a braid extension regimen, check out:

Colloquium Offers Introduction to Concepts of Population Health

Tamar Klaiman, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor
Jefferson School of Population Health

On February 27-29, the Jefferson School of Population Health will be hosting the “Population Health and Care Coordination Colloquium” in Philadelphia, PA. I have the privilege of speaking during the pre-conference symposium “Introduction to Population Health.”

We are hopeful that many of our blog readers will be attending both the larger conference and preconference! In case you aren’t able to attend in person, you can participate remotely via the live or archived Internet webcast. (The webcast will be available beginning Monday, February 27.)

This conference brings together numerous stakeholders and experts in the field of population health and care coordination. The preconference session where I will be speaking will focus on introducing participants to the concepts of population health. The session is most appropriate for those new to the field of population health. During this session, participants will learn about how population health is defined and operationalized using a variety of examples from epidemiology, chronic care, health reform, and the patient perspective.

When I spoke last year, I was struck by the sophistication of my fellow speakers and the audience. The questions and discussions we had were thought provoking and interesting. I look forward to a similar experience this year. I hope blog readers will be able to join us at some or all of the Population Health and Care Colloquium!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Body Wash Recipe: Meadow Milk Bath


  • Powdered Milk, finely sifted--4 oz
  • Citric Acid--2 oz
  • Corn starch--2 oz
  • Vitamin E Oil--One 400 IU Capsule (or Grapefruit Seed Oil--30 drops)
  • Jasmine--60 drops

Blend the powdered milk and corn starch, then sift. Mix vitamin E (or grapefruit seed oil) and Jasmine in CitricAcid. Make sure oils are thoroughly blended in the Citric Acid. Combine the Citric Acid blend with milk/corn starchblend.

Use 3 tablespoons per bath.

FOR MORE: 250 Bath Body Recipes

A Dual Role at the Population Health Colloquium

Rob Lieberthal, PhD
Faculty, Jefferson School of Population Health

This is another in a series of blog posts previewing the Twelfth Population Health & Care Coordination Colloquium, taking place February 27-29 at the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott Hotel.

I am excited to be both a speaker and an attendee at the 2012 Population Health & Care Coordination Colloquium, previously highlighted on this blog This will be my first time at the Colloquium, so I feel like I am jumping in with both feet. It promises to be an amazing three-day program.

First, I will be speaking as part of a four-faculty-member team in the Advanced Applications in Population Health pre-conference “boot camp”. I will lead off the morning with a talk on “The Economics of Personalized Medicine and Genomics.” After my talk, attendees should be able to assess genomic approaches from the point of view of a patient and a population, critique current approaches to assessment of personalized medicine, and evaluate the economic outcomes of genomic medicine for different populations. The complexity of the healthcare system will be a theme of the Advanced Applications pre-conference, where other speakers will discuss why patients need help making healthcare choices, and how population health interventions must invovle a systems approach. I am looking forward to explaining why the economic perspective is a crucial part of the improvement of population health.

Second, I will be attending a number of sessions featuring national leaders in population health. There are two sessions that I am especially looking forward to:
  • The health plan panel on Monday evening will bring in speakers from four major health insurers, who will continue to play a critical, and expanding role, in population health management under health reform.

  • Wednesday morning will feature a closing keynote from Chris McFadden, who I first met as a speaker at the JSPH Health Policy Forum . Chris and his partners are putting real money on the line when it comes to health care, so I am sure that his perspectives will be informed by a keen eye for where the emerging areas of opportunity in health care lie.

I am very much looking forward to the full experience at the Colloquium. I hope that my colleagues will help me to refine my own ideas, give me new ones, and introduce me to new partners. I am also looking forward to having a little fun, both at the Sunday night book club and the group fitness classes I see peppered throughout the program. It will be a packed schedule, and I hope to see you there!

The Twelfth Population Health & Care Coordination Colloquium will be February 27-29 at the Philadelphia Downtown Marriot Hotel. To register, or for further information,, or call 800-503-7439.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

Reader's Question: How to Gain Weight

By Stephanie of Infinite Life Fitness

{Image Source}
Well I know when you think of health and fitness you think of ways to lose weight, but there are some people who desire to gain weight as opposed to losing weight. For some people it is hard to gain weight or they will gain weight but they will quickly lose it again. Here I will list some suggestions that may help those who want to gain weight the RIGHT way.

The main thing that needs to happen if you want to gain weight is that you need to take in more calories than you are burning each day. If you consume more calories than you can burn off, the end result is that you will gain weight. There is a great article HERE to help you learn the minimum of how much you need to eat each day to maintain your current body weight. For those who want to lose weight they would look at that article and consume FEWER calories than the recommended amount. But for those who want to gain weight you will eat MORE calories than the suggested amount.

According to THIS article I found they suggested some of the following tips when wanting to gain weight:

  • Have meals with the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and the right kinds of fat (such as unsaturated and monounsaturated fats, olive oil, canola oil, pistachios, almonds and walnuts).
  • Eat foods higher in calories, vitamins, and minerals, as opposed to higher in fat or sugar.
  • Pack more nutritious calories in each serving. For example, you may add grated cooked eggs to mashed potatoes, ground chicken to soups and gravies, cheese in casseroles, eggs, and soups, and nonfat dried milk in soups, shakes, milk, and mashed potatoes.
  • If you get too full too fast, try having more high-calorie foods or slices of foods as opposed to consuming the whole thing (raisins versus grapes, granola and Grape Nuts versus corn flakes, mango slices versus the whole mango).
  • Limit drinking beverages to a half-hour before and after a meal.
  • Drink mixed juices (apple/berry, peach/orange/banana as opposed to one juice beverages) for a higher calorie intake.
  • IF YOU ARE OF LEGAL DRINKING AGE: Try a small amount of alcohol (4 ounces of wine, 6 ounces of beer, or a half-ounce of liquor with juice) before a meal, as it could stimulate appetite. This recommendation must be cleared with your doctor, especially if you are on any medication. Too much alcohol can be detrimental to health, and could lessen your resolve for eating healthy.
  • With moderation, you may add in good fat sources to meals such as nuts, avocado, olives, and fatty fish (salmon and mackerel).
  • Snack in between meals. Nuts, dried fruits, and yogurt are good options, but it's also important to find nutritious foods that you will enjoy.
  • Have a nutritious snack before bedtime, such as a peanut butter sandwich.

Make sure that you try to eat every 3-4 hours. Waiting past that will not allow you the chance to consume more calories than your body is burning. You can also look into adding some type of protein supplement/powder to your diet. You can have a “liquid meal” in which you have a smoothie or juice in which you add the protein supplement/powder. It is also suggested that you consume a meal right before you go to bed.

I found an article HERE that lists a few foods to help you gain weight the HEALTHY way:

  • Grains: heavy, thick breads like whole wheat or pumpernickel, dense cereals such as grape nuts, granola, and raisin bran, bran muffins, bagels, wheat germ and flaxseed (add to yogurt or cereal)
  • Fruit: bananas, pineapple, raisins and other dried fruit, fruit juices, avocados
  • Vegetables: peas, corn, potatoes, winter squash
  • Dairy: cheese, ice cream, frozen yogurt; add instant breakfast or powdered milk to low fat milk or yogurt 
  • Meat/Plant proteins: peanut butter and other nut butters, nuts and seeds, hummus
  • Other foods: any kind of instant breakfast or meal replacement drinks, honey, guacamole

Hope that these suggestions will help you give you some ideas to help you start to gain weight the HEALTHY way!

Please do not forget to check out for other health and fitness tips!

Study on Relaxers and Fibroids

The findings of a study at Boston University "raise the hypothesis that hair relaxer use increases" fibroids in women.  So can relaxers cause fibroids?  Further research is necessary, but the study points to a possibility.



Deller and New Evaluation...

Short and Sweet this week, but two things of interest to keep us ticking over...C.P.

Be Creative Be Well: arts, wellbeing and local communities, an evaluation
Over three and a half years, the Well London programme empowered some of the capital’s most deprived communities to take a proactive role in enhancing their health and wellbeing. Within this programme, there were a number of strands of work with Be Creative Be Well representing the importance of art and creativity in health agendas.

This report is an independent evaluation of Be Creative Be Well, looking at the impact that the quality of the arts and cultural activity can have in community engagement and in improving health and wellbeing.

The Hayward Gallery will be holding a retrospective of Jeremy Deller, which starts on Wednesday and runs until 13th May, titled Jeremy Deller: Joy in People, it will bring together documents of past collaborative events, films, books and banners.

The “pork paradox”? National pork consumption and obesity

In my previous post () I discussed some country data linking pork consumption and health, analyzed with WarpPLS (). One of the datasets used, the most complete, contained data from () for the following countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States. That previous post also addressed a study by Bridges (), based on country-level data, suggesting that pork consumption may cause liver disease.

In this post we continue that analysis, but with a much more complex model containing the following country variables: wealth (PPP-adjusted GNP/person), pork consumption (lbs/person/year), alcohol consumption (liters/person/year), obesity (% of population), and life expectancy (years). The model and results, generated by WarpPLS, are shown on the figure below. (See notes at the end of this post.) These results are only for direct effects.

WarpPLS also calculates total effects, which are the effects of each variable on any other variable to which it is linked directly and/or indirectly. Two variables may be linked indirectly, through various paths, even if they are not linked directly (i.e., have an arrow directly connecting them). Another set of outputs generated by the software are effect sizes, which are calculated as Cohen’s f-squared coefficients. The figure below shows the total effects table. The values underlined in red are for total effects that are both statistically significant and also above the effect size threshold recommended by Cohen to be considered relevant (f-squared > 0.02).

As I predicted in my previous post, wealth is positively associated with pork consumption. So is alcohol consumption, and more strongly than wealth; which is consistent with a study by Jeanneret and colleagues showing a strong association between alcohol consumption and protein rich diets (). The inclusion of wealth in the model, compared with the model without wealth in the previous post, renders the direct and total effects of alcohol and pork consumption on life expectancy statistically indistinguishable from zero. (This often happens when a confounder is added to a model.)

Pork consumption is negatively associated with obesity, which is interesting. So is alcohol consumption, but much less strongly than pork consumption. This does not mean that if you eat 20 doughnuts every day, together with 1 lb of pork, you are not going to become obese. What this does suggest is that maybe countries where pork is consumed more heavily are somewhat more resistant to obesity. Here it should be noted that pork is very popular in Asian countries, which are becoming increasingly wealthy, but without the widespread obesity that we see in the USA.

But it is not the inclusion of Asian countries in the dataset that paints such a positive picture for pork consumption vis-à-vis obesity, and even weakens the association between wealth and obesity so much as to make it statistically non-significant. Denmark is a wealthy country that has very low levels of obesity. And it happens to have the highest level of pork consumption in the whole dataset: 142.6 lbs/person/year. So we are not talking about an “Asian paradox” here.

More like a “pork paradox”.

Finally, as far as life expectancy is concerned, the key factors seem to be wealth and obesity. Wealth has a major positive effect on life expectancy, while obesity has a much weaker negative effect. Well, access to sanitation, medical services, and other amenities of civilization, still trumps obesity in terms of prolonging life; however miserable life may turn out to be. The competing effects of these two variables (i.e., wealth and obesity) were taken into consideration, or controlled for, in the calculation of total effects and effect sizes.

The fact that pork consumption is negatively associated with obesity goes somewhat against the idea that pork is inherently unhealthy; even though pork certainly can cause disease if not properly prepared and/or cooked, which is true for many other plant and animal foods. The possible connection with liver problems, alluded to in the previous post, is particularly suspicious in light of these results. Liver diseases often impair that organ’s ability to make glycogen based on carbohydrates and protein; that is, liver diseases frequently lead to liver insulin resistance. And obesity frequently follows from liver insulin resistance.

Given that pork consumption appears to be negatively associated with obesity, it would be surprising if it was causing widespread liver disease, unless its relationship with liver disease was found to be nonlinear. (Alcohol consumption seems to be nonlinearly associated with liver disease.) Still, most studies that suggest the existence of a causal link between pork consumption and liver disease, like Bridges’s (), hint at a linear and dose-dependent relationship.


- Country-level data is inherently problematic, particularly when simple models are used (e.g., a model with only two variables). There are just too many possible confounders that may lead to the appearance of causal associations.

- More complex models ameliorate the above situation somewhat, but bump into another problem associated with country-level data – small sample sizes. We used data from 18 countries in this analysis, which is more than in the Bridges study. Still, the effective sample size here (N=18) is awfully small.

- There were some missing values in this dataset, which were handled by WarpPLS employing the most widely used approach in these cases – i.e., by replacing the missing values with the mean of each column. The percentages of missing values per variable (i.e., column) were: alcohol consumption: 27.78%; life expectancy: 5.56%; and obesity: 33.33%.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Healthy Hair on Youtube: JoStylin

JoStylin is a type 4 natural with healthy waistlength hair (when stretched).  Listen to her hair care routine, which is an easy mix of braids and braidouts.  Keeping it simple is the name of the game!

Friday's Length Retention Tip!

Do you want to reach your goal? Then ...

adopt a low/no comb routine.  Combing the hair is a form of mechanical manipulation and may encourage breakage (Source).  Thus, keep combing to a minimum (e.g., once a month, every few months, or never).  If possible, opt for finger detangling instead.

Other tips:
*Use a wide tooth bone/resin comb instead of a regular comb
*Finger detangle on dry, lubricated, stretched hair
*Comb on damp, conditioner-soaked hair
*Toss out your brushes (denman, tangle teezer, paddle, etc.)

    The VHA Annual Clinical Meeting 2012

    I have been totally immersed in the VHA Annual Clinical Meeting in Miami FL for the past two days. It is one of the most stimulating meetings of the past year. Peter Pronovost did an outstanding job connecting DO NO HARM to the real work of reducing catheter associated infections. He got raucous applause. My panel comments focused on the book WHERE GOOD IDEAS COME FROM by Steven Johnson. I told the audience that our School of Population Health was all about "adjacent timing"---the notion that good ideas really do take a long time to come to fruition. We were ready to go to create our school because of 17 years of previous hard work in health policy!! Steven Johnson himself was stimulating and provocative claiming there really is no eureka moment. Other faculty pointed out how far we still have to go to get the kind of cultural change necessary to improve the quality and safety of care.The final speaker, Tom Goetz, is focusing on his book about prevention and wellness----he believes, as do I, that the patient is the source of control. Tom is the EDITOR of WIRED and he knows at a visceral level what he is talking about as a real leader of on line learning. The VHA is a national leader for improvement and I am confident that they will continue to make great headway in changing how we practice to reduce error and improve outcomes and lower costs, all at the same time. HATS off to the VHA for a job well done. I look forward to learning more about their newly funded Hospital Engagement Network, or HEN---one of 26 CMS funded national networks for improvement. Finally, all the attendees got a copy of my book DEMAND BETTER and I signed copies until my hand hurt. A great policy day all around!! DAVID NASH

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Basic Regimen & Products for HEALTHY Relaxed Hair

    For "Basic Regimen & Products for HEALTHY Natural Hair", check this post.

    Part of perfecting a regimen is learning what your hair likes and dislikes. But before you reach that point ... before you come to know your hair, where do you begin?

    Prior to going natural, I was relaxed for several years.  During that period, I learned what to do and what not to do for my hair to thrive.  In this post, I list the basic "to do's" which I hope can be a good starting point for those who desire healthy relaxed tresses. In time, as you learn your hair, you can tweak these "basics":

    Damage can occur when the hair is relaxed too frequently.  It is important to allow sufficient new growth to accumulate before your next touch up session; this waiting period is called "stretching".  Another benefit to this technique is less exposure to the chemicals associated with relaxing.  The scalp gets a longer "break" between relaxing sessions.
    Many women with healthy relaxed hair "stretch" their relaxers for 3-6 months at a time, and I recommend the same to you.  During that period, do low manipulation styles in order to minimize breakage and tangling.

    A clean scalp is vital for healthy growth. Cleansing the hair is also a product of good hygiene. Start by washing your hair 1x a week and tweak it from there. In between washes, does your scalp or hair feel extra dirty? If so, increase the frequency of your washes. If your new growth is significant, I highly recommend washing in braided sections.
    Choosing a shampoo: It is ideal to invest in a weekly shampoo that lacks Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), which are surfactants that may be too harsh for the hair and scalp. Instead, gravitate towards shampoos containing gentler cleansing agents to be on the safer side.
    Product recommendations: Giovanni Tea Tree, Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Moisturizing Shampoo, Desert Essence Shampoos

    Whether you wash 1x a week or 3x a week, follow it up with a deep conditioning session. Why? Because each wash rinses away the benefits of the previous the deep conditioning session. Deep conditioners are important because they temporarily bind to (and sometimes penetrate into) the hair protecting and smoothing the strand until the next wash. Undo each braid, apply the conditioner, and rebraid. Put on a plastic bag and be sure to allow the conditioner to sit for at least 30 minutes.  Then detangle with a wide tooth comb and rinse.
    Choosing a deep conditioner: Look for one that contains strengthening ingredients, such as hydrolyzed collagen or hydrolyzed keratin, near the top of the list.  The amount/type of the ingredient depends on how much strengthening your hair requires.  I also recommend finding a deep conditioner that has 'slip' and moisture.  This will ease the detangling process and provide a protein-moisture balance, respectively. Deep conditioners like this usually contain an oil and/or a fatty alcohol (e.g., cetyl alcohol) for slip ... and glycerin and other humectants for moisture.
    Product recommendations for strength: Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor; Organic Root Stimulator Hair Mayonnaise; Homemade egg conditioner (recipes here)
    Product recommendations for strength, moisture, & slip: Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Replenishing Pak; Lekair Cholesterol (mixed with olive oil); Aubrey Organics GPB Balancing Conditioner; Egg/mayonnaise/olive oil (recipe here under "Loo's recipe"); 

    Water is the best moisturizer out there for our hair. After a good wash and deep conditioning session, you can follow up with an oil or butter to seal in the water. In between washes, if your hair gets dry, you can apply a bit of water or do a full-on spritz and then re-seal. Another option is to use a water-based spritz or moisturizer.
    Choosing a moisturizer: Go straight for the water or look for water-based moisturizers (where water will be the first ingredient listed).
    Product recommendations: Water, Homemade spritz of rosewater and glycerin (a humectant)
    Choosing a sealant: Look for products that contain oils and/or butters.
    Product recommendations: Homemade whipped shea butter (recipe here), grapeseed oil, olive oil, avocado oil, castor oil, Jane Carter Nourish & Shine

    Get a smooth sleek look while minimizing heat usage by airdrying in a rollerset.  For hair with a lot of new growth, do a ponytail rollerset to avoid puffy roots (video tutorial); just be sure not to apply too much tension via hair ties.  Be sure to wear a silk scarf to bed or use a silk pillow case to protect your cuticles as you sleep.

    Extra steps you may want to include in your regimen:

    If you find that frequent shampooing is drying to your hair, you may want to explore using a conditioner to wash. Just wet your hair, apply conditioner, and massage your scalp and hair as usual. After rinsing the conditioner the out, seal and style.
    Choosing a conditioner: Look for a non-heavy inexpensive conditioner. Heavy conditioners will build up on the hair too quickly.  Avoid protein-based and silicone-based conditioners when it comes to co-washing.
    Product recommendations: Suave Coconut Conditioner, V05 Champagne Kisses, V05 Honeydew Smoothie, V05 Passionfruit Smoothie, V05 Blackberry Sage Tea

    If you find that regular shampooing does not adequately remove product buildup from your hair, you may want to explore clarifying. Start with doing this once a month and then adjust as needed.
    Product recommendations: V05 Kiwi Clarifying Shampoo (not as drying as other clarifying shampoos)

    For more on prepooing, check this post.

    If your internal health is not on point, work on it. Drink sufficient water, get plenty of rest, exercise, and include the hair foods (click here) in your diet! Internal health as just as crucial to hair care as external care.