How to Style your Hair without Damaging it

For the 1% who are genetically blessed and can get out of bed looking like they just left the hair salon, this post is not for you. For the rest of us who have to curl, straighten, gel, mousse, comb, tease, condition and style our hair so we don’t scare our family and friends, please continue reading. The more we do to our hair, the more susceptible it becomes to damage, dryness, and breakage because many hair products actually contain chemicals that strip our hair of its natural moisture and many of the styling tools we use involve a great amount of heat. This causes us to enter a vicious cycle in which we have to use more products and waste more time trying to fix our hair that has been damaged from previous styling efforts. However, there are natural products and easier styling methods out there that will keep your hair healthy and looking amazing so that you can avoid this vicious cycle all together.

Many products that claim to rehydrate your hair, repair split ends, prevent frizz, etc. actually contain chemicals that can worsen the condition of your hair over time. Alcohol is one of the main ingredients that most of these hair products use. However, alcohol is actually a drying agent that sucks the moisture out of your hair, which then increases the potential for breakage and split ends down the line. Many shampoos and conditioners contain a chemical called sodium lauryl sulfate, which is what causes that sudsy lather to form when mixed with water. This chemical has been shown to not only cause scalp irritation and hair loss, but has been proven to be carcinogenic as well. Other ingredients to avoid in your shampoo and conditioner include propylene glycol, olefin sulfonate, and ammonium lauryl sulfate, each of which cause hair loss, irritate your scalp, clog oil glands, and deteriorate hair follicles. Organic products are the way to go because they tend to steer clear of harsh chemicals such as the ones mentioned earlier and work just as well.

Along with using organic products, there are natural oils and even foods readily found around the house that can repair and protect damaged hair and give it a sleek, healthy shine. Natural oils such as argan, coconut, jojoba, almond and vitamin E all reduce frizz, restore moisture, increase shine and strengthen your hair all in one. They can be used on wet or dry hair for styling, or even left in over night or used under a heat lamp as a deep conditioning treatment. Some foods around the house that can be used to help restore moisture and nutrients to damaged hair include banana, mayonnaise, olive oil, avocado, and egg yolks. They can be applied to wet or dry hair, but should be left on for at least half an hour to let the oils and nutrients penetrate the hair.

Styling tools such as blow dryers and curling irons can reek havok on your hair over time. However, if you use natural products that work as “heat protectors,” such as the natural oils mentioned earlier, before using these styling tools, your hair will not undergo as much damage. Using ceramic curling and straightening irons are also less damaging than metal ones. Using regular curlers instead of a curling iron is also another effective alternative. Also, styling your hair when it is wet causes more damage than styling it when it is dry because your hair is not as strong when it is wet. So, try waiting until your hair has somewhat dried before styling it or even brushing it to prevent excess damage.

On top of all the tips mentioned earlier, some random things you can do to keep your hair healthy and strong include getting frequent trims, washing your hair every other day instead of every day to prevent drying it out, and massaging your scalp to increase blood flow to your hair follicles. Hope these tips help! Thanks for reading. This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.



Got Milk…Which One?

Milk…it does a body good, but which one is right for you? Before, our only options were  nonfat, low fat or whole. Now, we have the option of getting almond milk, soy milk, or rice milk as well. Some are enhanced with vitamins, made lactose-free, or even flavored for those of us who do not particularly like the taste of regular milk. However, how many of you really know the difference between all these options?

Before getting into which milk is best for you, let’s talk about why milk is an important part of a healthy diet. Milk is an excellent source of protein and calcium, both of which are major factors in maintaining a strong and healthy body. The average sized adult needs about 1,000mg of calcium and at least 45gm of protein a day, which can be met with about 3 to 4 glasses of milk. Some people worry about milk increasing their cholesterol, however, skim (or nonfat) milk doesn’t have the potential to clog your arteries and still delivers the essential nutrients as other types of milk do. According to the National Dairy Council, milk is actually filled with nine essential nutrients that benefit our health:

  • Calcium:Builds healthy bones and teeth; maintains bone mass
  • Protein:Serves as a source of energy; builds/repairs muscle tissue
  • Potassium:Helps maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Phosphorus:Helps strengthen bones and generate energy
  • Vitamin D:Helps maintain bones
  • Vitamin B12:Maintains healthy red blood cells and nerve tissue
  • Vitamin A:Maintains the immune system; helps maintain normal vision  and skin
  • Riboflavin (B2):Converts food into energy
  • Niacin: Metabolizes sugars and fatty acids

Even though milk is an essential part of a healthy diet, there are some issues people have with it other than the possibility of increasing their cholesterol. People who are lactose intolerant lack the enzyme needed to digest lactose, a sugar found in all dairy products including milk. However, there are lactose free alternatives. Milk that is labeled “lactose free” has the enzyme lactase added to it by the manufacturers to predigest the sugar in order to be suitable for those who are intolerant. Almond, soy, and rice milk are also well tolerated since they do not contain any lactose to begin with. There are also supplements found over the counter, such as Lactaid, that contain lactase to help digest dairy products as well.

Hormones are also an issue for milk drinkers. Hormones are often injected into young livestock to make them grow larger in order to provide more meat and milk. These hormones can come out in their milk and enter our bodies when we drink it. It is said that the amount of hormones that enter our body is very minimal compared to the amount our bodies produce, however the issue is debatable. Organic milk that has the claim “rBST-free” is your safest bet when it comes to trying to avoid this issue as a whole because the milk is collected from cows who are organically fed and not injected with any growth hormones.

Almond milk is one of the most nutritious, dairy free, milk substitutes available today. Unlike soy or rice milk, almond milk doesn’t need to be fortified with additional vitamins since it already provides omega-3, vitamin E, manganese, potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, calcium, protein and plant flavanoids. Also, almond milk is naturally low in fat and calories making it safe for people with high cholesterol. Lastly, as mentioned before, almond milk doesn’t contain lactose so it is compatible with those who are lactose intolerant.

Soy milk is another great substitute for cow’s milk that is very high in protein. Although soy milk doesn’t naturally provide as many vitamins as almond milk, it does provide about 3 to 4 more grams of protein per serving. Soy milk also provides more fiber, which is very beneficial to the heart and can help lower cholesterol. For premenopausal women who suffer from lower levels of estrogen, soy milk helps replace lost estrogen and alleviate symptoms associated with menopause. However, for those who do not need extra estrogen, like women below the age of 40 or men of all ages, drinking soy milk on a regular basis may not be the best option since it could elevate the body’s estrogen levels above the norm.

Rice milk is also a popular dairy free alternative for cow’s milk, but may not provide as much nutrition as the other options. It is a good option for those who are allergic to soy and who are lactose intolerant, but contains more carbohydrates and less protein than both soy and almond milk. This is because rice milk is made from boiled rice, brown rice syrup and brown rice starch. People usually prefer rice milk because it is sweet on its own and doesn’t need to be enhanced with additional sweeteners or flavors. However, it does usually have to be fortified with niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D, and iron along with other nutrients to give it more of a nutritional value since it doesn’t have much to offer on its own.

Who knew there would be so much to think about when choosing milk? Times have definitely changed since going out and filling up a bucket with milk from the local cow before breakfast. Personally, I am an almond milk drinker even though it isn’t the tastiest choice because I am lactose intolerant and like the natural nutritional value it brings. However, now that you know more about your options, pick one that is right for you and make it part of your daily diet. Thanks for reading, this has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.



Coconut Oil and its Long List of Benefits

From cooking, to massaging, to styling your hair, it seems as though coconut oil does it all. Coconut oil has a wide range of health benefits and can be used for aesthetic purposes as well! It has been used by those who live in native, tropical areas for thousands of years now and has been proven to be one of the primary contributors to their great shape and health. Coconut oil consists of naturally occurring, saturated fats that have been shunned by health professionals for years now. However, with all the benefits that have been shown to come along with using coconut oil, we are slowly realizing that not all saturated fats are bad.

Coconut oil mainly consists of a naturally occurring saturated fat called lauric acid. We have constantly been told that saturated fats are unhealthy and should be avoided at all costs. However, the saturated fat they are referring to is man made by a process known as hydrogenation. This process is used by manufacturers to improve the shelf life of their products even though it is detrimental to our health. However, lauric acid is a rare, naturally occurring saturated fat that does not share the same properties as man made fats. Lauric acid does not clog your arteries, increase cholesterol, cause heart disease, nor contribute to obesity. In fact, it does the complete opposite and more.

Coconut oil can help improve your health in many ways. Lauric acid is metabolized by the body into monolaurin, which is known to have anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. This helps boost your immune system and protect you against such common diseases as herpes, influenza, H. Pylori and even HIV. Lauric acid also helps increase HDL, which is known as “good cholesterol.” HDL helps remove the “bad cholesterol” in the body known as LDL, which then lowers the chances of a heart attack or stroke. Coconut oil is also very useful in reducing weight since it helps support healthy thyroid functioning and digestion. It also helps improve the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids so you get the most out of the food you eat. Coconut oil also helps regulate blood sugar by improving the secretion of insulin, thus lowering the chances of developing diabetes. Last, but not least, it is a great source of energy since coconut oil is also made up of medium chain triglycerides, which are quickly and easily metabolized by the liver.

Coconut oil can also benefit you on the outside as well as the inside. Coconut oil consists of essential proteins that help repair damaged hair and improve hair growth. It can be used on the scalp to reduce dryness and itchiness as well as dandruff. It has also been shown to be effective in killing hair lice and their eggs. Coconut oil can also be used on the skin as a moisturizer. It helps treat dry, flaky skin and even improves the skin’s elasticity to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Coconut oil can also be used to help treat various skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and other skin infections. Most importantly, it can help alleviate stress and loosen your muscles when massaged into the skin, which I’m sure all of us need from time to time.

Now that the secret is out, go take advantage of it. Not all saturated fats are created equal! Replace your cooking oil, your moisturizers and your conditioners with coconut oil and you will see and feel the difference soon after. Hope these tips help! Thanks for reading, this has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas.