Can you change how you look in under a minute?

articlesChange how you look

Change how you look loulanatural

Internet marketing bombards our feeds and screens. Countless numbers of before and after images to prompt us and cajole us to buy something. I see these all the time and knowing what is in most of the products, it makes me so cross. I very rarely wear any make up- have very little skincare routine and always use natural products on my skin. I have good skin and I think it is a combination of clean eating and living.

change before and after loulanatural

So I decided to do an experiment. What if I took two photos, different intensions and different compositions to see if I could manipulate perception. I sat down in a chair and I had a set of thoughts, made my facial expression neutral and took a picture. I then simply turned my head away from the light had a different set of thoughts, a neutral facial expression and took another picture. Put them together and posted them asking you to guess. Well it worked!

People instantly wanted to know whatever it was I did, were eager to know just what I had done to “look so good”. I had more comments on this post  in a matter of minutes then any other in the same time period. Everyone asking what and how!

Nothing, I did nothing, except change how I spoke to myself and how I presented myself. I even reversed the images (I actually took the after picture first!)

Yes thats it!

Guess what it worked! Transforming this experiment into a bit of a profound experience for me. Not only was I chuffed that people obviously know me well, many of you expected that what I did was completely natural and probably something fermented! Also so many of you chose to communicate with me, I had your attention. I also received dozen of personal messages from friends asking me for the answer.

All of you collectively came up with the real secrets to good skin, methods I do actually use!;

Water (drinking and directly on the skin)

Sleep

Natural products like clay masks, vinegar, kombucha (I also use rose and neroli water)

Oil cleansing (I also use oils with essential oils on my face and take my make-up off  if I wear it with oil)

Massage (I also love my facials with natural products)

Lots of you, of course, realised that beauty comes from within and of course know that I always talk about the vibrancy and nourishment you get from fresh, real and fermented foods. I was once told you could tell someones health by looking at the whites of their eyes and mine were bright white!

I was amazed how many people actually created changes in the photos, looking one to the other- expecting the before to be terrible and the after to be so much better. “Plucked my eyebrows?” was popular. Another change was had I had botox and my eyes were visibly lifted. It made me question, does how we frame ourselves make people see us differently. When we frame ourselves positively and declare ourselves beautiful- is that what we direct others to see? Try it for yourself- instead of saying to your friends that you want to change something; lose weight, I hate my skin, I have bad/sallow complexion, reduce lines, change hair etc. Try saying how pleased you are with something; I really like this shirt, I love my body shape at the moment, my skin is glowing. See what the other person says, more importantly how you actually see yourself. Do it in front of a mirror.

However, the single biggest thing that makes you gorgeous is the “you” that comes shining through. The person you believe you are, will always come through. Good or bad.

In the “before” picture I told myself how tired and old I was looking. You can see this in my eyes and mouth, a little sadness and despondency.

Before loulanatural

In the “after” picture I told myself how wonderful I am, how amazing my skin was and how happy and grateful I am to be me. So many of you remarked how young and amazing my skin looked.

after loulanatural

Sure I changed the light, but my eyes and mouth are different in both pictures. I really tried to stay neutral to keep the angle and position the same (this cannot be said with most before and after images of course). I wonder what the reaction would have been had the pictures been in the reverse?

other way loulanatural

So whats the point? Well how many of us buy into this way of advertising? All of us I would say- why else would it be so damn popular! How many of us buy this miracle worker, use it and think- oh its a little better but not the same as the pictures I saw, and look for the next thing? Maybe actually all you need to change is your perception, of yourself. There are many ways you can do this and its been a huge leap for me.

Thank you for helping me come to this conclusion, this experiment actually went in a different way than expected and I have learnt a huge amount about myself in a very short period of time. I would love to know what you think?!

Change how you look loulanatural pin

Coconut

Nutrient Fact File coconut Loula Natural

Coconuts are one of my favourite foods on the planet. They contain all of the nutrients required to grow and develop new life. Plus they taste so delicious! Known as a functional food- the health properties far outweigh their nutritional constituents. Not surprising it is referred to as “The Tree of Life”, a little like eggs, I like to refer to them as one of nature’s perfect packages. 

Coconut oil,

coconut flour,

coconut milk,

coconut yoghurt,

coconut water (fresh) 

Coconut water and coconut milk Kefir,

coconut ice-cream and

desiccated coconut are always in stock in my house!!

Charcoal is made from the husk 

Palm oil is made from the leaves

I love to add coconut to everything; here’s why;

coconut

The coconut palm grows throughout the tropics. The coconut palm thrives on sandy soils and prefers areas with ample sunlight and rainfall. They also need a daily temperature of around 20 degrees celsius.  The benefits of the coconuts meat and water contents span all the different varieties of the fruit that they yield. Most cultures where they grow use the products from the coconut to heal most ailments, and have done so for generations. Since they are always in season and grow all year round, they are one of the most incredible natural medicines. They are also easy and cheap to buy. Once you know how, they are also easy to open.

Young meat is jelly like and really sweet and more mature meat is whiter, firmer and less sweet. The water creates the flesh in layers, so the more flesh you have in your coconut the less water and vice versa. The flesh and the water have an amazing mixture of beneficial saturated fats, electrolytes (minerals ), vitamins (A, B’s and E) and amino acids (protein). See the full list here. Plus both have an intricate and balanced bacterial environment. All of this combined gives the coconut its wide range of benefits and health giving properties. A full list of all the claims for coconuts is found here and Bruce Fife’s book Coconut Cures is excellent.

coconut cures

Coconut can be eaten and the water can be drunk during pregnancy. Both are  repudiated to nourish mother and baby and may help even help with a ‘quick delivery’. The oil when rubbed into the skin can help prevent and heal stretch marks. It can also be applied direct to nipples to soothe chafing and heal wounds whilst breastfeeding.

The oil is also a safe and effective sunscreen for children and adults alike. The fat acts as a barrier, the bacterial elements are protective and balancing and the other nutrients in the oil can help to repair any damage the sun might have on the skin cells

When dehydrated in the hot summer months coconut water can help. Containing all the necessary electrolytes it can help get you back to balance. Combined with the bacterial properties to be able to absorb those nutrients, coconut water can also help with some digestive ailments and is a great drink to use whilst working out. However the pasteurization process the packaged water goes through kills off the bacteria. This makes the drink no better than any other pasteurized juice. I only advocate fresh coconut water, or consumption of coconut water that has been fermented- like kefir.

Lychee, Coconut Water Kefir

Coconut water also contains antimicrobial properties. It may be better to think of the bacteria as balanced in the body, after consuming fresh coconut. Therefore it is also great when suffering from bacterial imbalance (runny tummy!). It also helps to rehydrate after vomiting or diarrhea. 

The sugar and nectar from the flowers are also full of necessary nutrients to process the sugar (improving blood sugar levels and create energy). See my post on refined sugar to understand how this is beneficial. The fat and protein aspect of coconuts can also help slow down the digestion of sugars and therefore can help to balance sugar levels. The body is looking for fats in the diet to trigger satiety (feeling full). Coconut in recipes can help you to feel fuller for longer whilst having nutrients to nourish, repair and satisfy. 1 tbs Coconut flour can be added to baked goods to raise their nutrient profile. The fibre in coconut also helps to feed our internal bacterial environment– which further strengthens our essential internal bacterial balance.

More and more people are beginning to understand how important the coconut is to stabilizing blood sugar, lowering cholesterol, balancing hormones and generally healing. Because of its amazing natural sugar, fatty acids, amino acids combined with all the other nutrients in perfect ratios it is even used in some countries to replace blood plasma in an emergency and after operations.

oil pulling with coconut oil Loula Natural

Coconuts have been seen to help a diverse range of conditions, mostly due to their Medium Chain fatty acids.  Coconuts packs an eye-opening amount of calories and so many grams of fat (90% saturated). However when people advise you to avoid the product for these reasons their advice is misguided. People who include coconut products daily in their diet actually show a greater weight loss than those who don’t, they also report better skin health, muscle tone, energy levels, hormone balance and better moods. Here is my post on how amazing fats are- try to re-educate yourself  about what are a healthy fats and which ones are unhealthy. Coconut oil also plays a huge role in changing your body shape.

The fatty acids contained in coconut have a positive effect on the body as they are easily absorbed, have anti-microbial properties, can boost metabolism , enhance thyroid activity, reduces pain and swelling, improve digestion, boost immune system and improve skin, hair teeth and nails. Is there anything a coconut can’t help? 

You can make your own coconut water, kefirmilk, creamyoghurt , butter and vinegar very easily. I also do oil pulling, use it in my body scrubs (here and here), amazing used directly on the skin from birth (the oil can be absorbed through the skin) I use it in many cosmetics including hair masks, after swimming and sunscreen

Here are my recipes that include coconut; (how to open a coconut)

Oil Pulling

Coconut Milk

Coconut Cream/ Yoghurt

Lychee Coconut water kefir

Coconut Ginger Cookies

Coconut Lemon Thumbprint Cookies

Mint chocolate chip coconut ice-cream

Choco-coco milkshake

Coco-berry milkshake

Bulletproof Smoothie

Choco-coco ice pudding

Sunshine shot

Almond and coconut flour kefir pancakes

Bounty bars

Homemade chocolate

Vanilla butter fudge

Chocolate fudge

Cinnamon salty sweet popcorn

Coconut- oil popcorn

Banoffee Toffee

Real food icing sugar

Spicy Chai tea Concentrate

Beetroot brownies

Chicken and coconut soup

Body Scrubs

The ultimate kefir body scrub/bath salts

Pineapple and Ginger kefir-kolada

Coconut and carrotseed oil natural sunscreen

Indeed all of my Kefir and Kombucha is made from coconut sugar as seen in Culture Your Life

Also all of my recipes contain either coconut oil, flour or sugar. I also use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce and sell Cocobono sugar and oil here in Hong Kong.

Nutrient Fact File coconut Loula Natural Pin

Ultimate Kefir Bath Soak and Body Scrub

Ultimate Kefir Bath Soak and Body Scrub Loula Natural

Ultimate Kefir Bath Soak and Body Scrub

I have loads of homemade cosmetic recipes in my book Culture Your Life. Here is why I love using Kefir on my skin, I wrote this for Thank Your Body. We have been using Kefir and Kombucha inside and ourside our bodies for a couple of years now and I can honestly say I will never go back. Shampoo, laundry detergent, after sun, face masks and many more. I have been using homemade scrubs like my coffee scrub and salt scrub but plain water kefir grains make a great body scrub on their own.

My kids have pink himalayan salt and epsom salt baths every night with various essential oils and sometimes water kefir and coconut oil goes in the bath. It occurred to me to mix all of this together and come up with the Ultimate Bath Soak or Body Scrub! 

Multi-purpose, simple and incredibly effective at nourishing, soothing and healing- this may be my best cosmetic invention yet! It is in the hardback copy of the book out soon!

Here is the basic recipe and underneath some essential oil combinations you may like to try.

Ultimate Kefir Bath Soak and Body Scrub
This blend of water kefir grains, epsom salts and pink himalayan salt is great for all ages.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup epsom salts
  2. 1/2 cup ground pink himalayan salt
  3. 1tbs water kefir grains
  4. 1tbs coconut oil (or here in Hong Kong)
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together. Try adding essential oils.
Notes
  1. Great blends of essential oils to try;
  2. Lavender and Chamomile
  3. Frankincense and Vanilla
  4. Mandarin, Rosemary and Black Pepper
  5. Clary Sage, Marjoram and Juniper Berry
  6. Peppermint and Lemon
  7. Ginger and Lemon
  8. Please check with your Aromatherapist when using oils in pregnancy and for children.
Loula Natural http://loulanatural.com/
Here are some other bath salt recipes;

Ultimate Kefir Bath Soak and Body Scrub Loula Natural Pin

5 Reasons to Make Kefir

 

Grains in the picture are water grains I ferment with Coconut Sugar and Filtered Water  or Coconut Water (hence the colour!)
Grains in the picture are water grains I ferment with Coconut Sugar and Filtered Water or Coconut Water (hence the colour!)

 

Fermentation is the “transformation of food by various bacteria, fungi and enzymes they produce” (The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz- awesome book. The transformation is enormous.

Fermenting is a natural phenomenon. Very little is actually understood about the make-up of the starters and how they grow, transform and multiply. Some do it spontaneously and some are seemingly indestructible. The trans-formative power of fermentation can produce alcohol, preserve our foods and make them more digestible, less toxic and more delicious.

1. Vibrant is how I tend to describe fermented foods especially Kefir. We would not exist without our bacterial partners. Our digestive systems need them and this system is vital for the procurement, absorption and assimilation of nutrients used to power every other body system. Our immune system depends on it and we could not use or store energy without them. The product is amazing! When using a UHT milk you will get a superior product with more nutrients ready to be absorbed. If you go up the scale and ferment a Raw Milk (sadly impossible for us here in HK) you are getting a true super food. The same goes for your water Kefir- if you use white refined sugar you are getting the bacterial benefit, if you are using a coconut sugar or maple syrup there will be so many more nutrients available within the water

2. Kefir is a natural pro-biotic. Kefir grains, whether water or milk, are essentially cultured beneficial bacteria. It is what they then go onto culture that makes them one or the other (milk or water). However with time and patience they can be used to culture both. If someone gives you ‘milk kefir’ grains you may be able to use them to culture any milk (cows, goats, sheep’s, soy, rice, any nut/seed or coconut). ‘Water Kefir’ grains may be used to culture Water (sugared water, juice or coconut water). This means that grains can produce different results based on where they are from and what they have been used and no two batches will be the same. They feed on the lactose in the milk and the sugar in the water (coconut or juice). 

3. They are cheaper to use then bottled probiotics. They are also alive and not freeze dried like in the capsules so are ready to inhabit and balance the bacteria in your digestive system. Safe for everyone Kefir can be taken while pregnant and is great for babies (not the milk kefir before the age of one) Capsules will help promote good bacteria but will not take up residence like Kefir does (source) Also Kefir has 35 strains of alive bacteria working together in symbiosis. How many strains are listed on the back of your probiotic capsules?

4. Kefir is so easy to make. Liquid (containing sugar), warm environment (room temperature) and grains. Leave for between 12-24 hours strain and go. Other forms of fermenting can take longer and be a bit more tempermental! The Grains are virtually indestructible and can be stored easily in the fridgeThe Kefir community is inclusive and open to all so you should be able to find grains from someone in your area. (The grains are meant to be free but some people may charge postage or a nominal fee- my grains are free to come and collect!) 

5. What to use it in. I add it to a smoothie every morning. However you can also make yoghurt from it, use it as a sourdough starter, pancakes, ice cream, chiaporridge, cereal, raw cookies, green drinks;the possibilities are endless. Use them on your skin and is great for Eczema (in the bath, grains as a face/body mask, in a spray bottle for after swimming and my favourite way is as an alternative to shampoo; the water and coconut water are amazing on hair and the milk kefir is great as a hair mask- try mixing it with a little coconut oil) Come and find my Fermenting Inspiration board on my Pinterest where I also share other great ideas). This post is just addressing the first ferment– with an additional second ferment the possibilities for goodness, nutritional content and taste are virtually endless!

 

If you are in Hong Kong come on one of my Fermenting Workshops to taste and learn Kefir, Kombucha and Coconut Yoghurt within a community! See my events board on my facebook page or subscribe to my newsletter to be kept up to date with all recipes and tips! Learn more buy buying my book;

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Beauty is only skin deep- so look after that skin!

human skin cell

I have had many of you ask me about skin issues. What to use on the skin, how to soothe skin, protect skin, replenish skin and how to heal skin. So here are some insights into nutrients to nourish skin from the inside and some ways to keep it healthy on the outside. Of course everyone is different, this is generalised information. If you want a more personal plan please contact me. Also if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a chronic issue or a condition getting worse, please contact your professional.

Naturopath’s work with Herrings Law of Cure. This essentially means the following;

  • Symptoms of a chronic disease disappear in definite order, going in reverse and taking about one month for every year the symptoms have been present.
  • Symptoms move from the more vital organs to the less vital organs; from the interior of the body towards the skin.
  • Symptoms move from the top of the body downward.

This means that sometimes in order to ‘cure’ something the symptoms will sometimes come back, or it may need to get worse to get better. If it is a skin problem then you have to promote skin cell and oil production and reduce the external factors potentially affecting the skins environment. So I will be taking about supporting the digestive system in order to acquire the necessary nutrients and excrete toxins, the immune system to help support the skins barrier response to germs and bacteria. and finally the nervous system to help the body’s messages from the skin nerve cells get through to the brain.

The Skin is your largest organ. If laid out flat it is about 1.5-2.0 square metres.. It has many jobs, from temperature regulation; it is sensory organ relaying information to the brain through its massive number of nerves in the dermis layer, synthesises Vitamin D, repels water and  forms an integral barrier between your body and the outside world. It’s health reflects your inner health and is also responsible for maintaining inner health. Environmental, behavioural, emotional and physical factors can largely benefit or disadvantage the Skin’s health. It has protective, absorbing and excretory functions. It excretes sweat and oils. It is very closely linked to the gut and the lungs, other excretory organs.

For Example; Suppression of symptoms in the case of Eczema may then become Asthma. It is a common following condition. Steroids and steroidal creams thin the skin and suppress the actions of the body’s immune system to create inflammation which is crucial to the healing process. Thus making the body more susceptible to further allergies and the skin less able to renew making the next bout of eczema worse and possibly spread to other areas (the body’s way of giving you a sign that the treatment is not working). It also creates a further toxic environment in the body disrupting the liver’s functions and thus creating a vicious circle within the body.

All the Body’s systems work simultaneously.  If something is not being excreted through the gut, it will try to excrete it through the skin. if the Skins functions are somewhat suppressed it then becomes the lungs turn. The body is excreting toxins and by products of the immune system as well as general waste products. If these products are not excreted  by the digestive system they continue to circulate in the body putting excess stress on the liver and immune system making the body’s environment more toxic. Fibre is essential, food such as legumes and fruit and vegetables help to cleanse the colon and prevent re-circulation of toxins therefore reducing tissue toxicity and clearer, brighter skin. A daily green juice can help to add fibre and nutrients such as b vitamins and anti-oxidants (here).

skin pic

Skin is made up of two layers. The surface Epidermis containing nerves, Melatin pigment for skin colour and is regularly replaced. The layer underneath is the Dermis containing closely woven connective tissue, nerve glands, blood vessels, lymph vessels and hair follicles. Health of both layers is paramount. The body needs to be able to excrete oil to keep the hairs (on your head and body) healthy and helps form a barrier to water, suns rays, bacteria, parasites and to protect the glands below. Sweat helps the body maintain body temperature as well as excreting waste. Hence why an anti-perspirant can contribute to the body’s toxic environment. As well as absorbing products from our environment to communicate messages to the body, for example sunlight to communicate the increase of pigment formation to help change the skin colour to protect from the sun’s rays. The Ph of skin is also very important, to help promote the life of the bacteria on the skin providing a service to the body and preventing the proliferation of the bacteria that is threatening the body’s health. Becoming a barrier to germs both physically and Chemically. Several thing can upset this balance.

Environmental such as chemicals in the air or products that we use both skin and cleaning to the addition of chemicals in our foods that can be avoided that then need to be processed and excreted (here to read about reducing chemical overload). Behavioural such as number of times we bathe (too much or too little), how we apply moisturiser (needs to be massaged in) to how hard we scrub out skin (making it too oily or too dry) to the products that we use. Lastly Emotional. We have seen in previous posts, the affect stress has on the digestive system and other systems to absorb and assimilate the nutrients necessary for skin production, oil production and even sweat production. Also those people who let things ‘get under their skin’ also can help remove physical issues by addressing those emotional ones. In particular; repressed anger creating a ‘hot’ environment thus potentially resulting in dry skin. Whatever the issue, you need to repair all of the factors from these areas. Reducing Environmental factors but not addressing the emotional ones may result in a reduction of symptoms, but never a real cure and indeed may push the problem deeper.

Nutrients essential for Skin cell production.

A diet dense in nutrients and water content is necessary for skin healthy. Good fats and Proteins are also integral to this.

Fats are essential for skin health. Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) help to naturally reduce inflammation and are necessary for cell production. They form the cell wall along with protein which gives each cell a strong protective layer. When producing skin cells in the case of eczema this is paramount. Fats also help form a barrier on the skin to stop outside stresses such as detergents, cosmetics, dust etc from crossing into the bloodstream adding further stress to the immune system. Oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel), Flax seed oil, borage oil and olive oil are key oils along with coconut oil for skin health. Dont forget sea vegetables.

Coconut or Medium chain fatty acids also help by providing a protective layer (coconut oil used frequently on the skin may help protect from the sun’s harmful rays- but also stay in the shade and use layers for protection so to never get burnt). They also strengthen skin cells and can help speed up healing. It also has an antibacterial and anti microbial effect to help the skin protect from germs. 1 tsp massaged in from top to bottom every day should suffice. 1tbs Taken internally will also have an effect on skin cell production. It can also be massaged into moles, bruises and dry parts including cuticles.

Proteins. Having a diet rich in protein will help provide a strong cell wall. Protein provides the body’s building blocks.    

Probiotics are essential to balance gut health and to promote the colonisation of good bacteria to help with digestion and to kill off the over proliferation of ‘bad’ bacteria. This will boost the immune system. Kefir is a great source of beneficial bacteria. Also adding prebiotic’s into the diet daily

Vit A and Betacarotene:  Absolutely necessary for skin production and a powerful antioxidant necessary for skin cell health.apricots, barley grass, butter, carrots, fish liver oils, green leafy veg, egg yolk and liver (soak the apricots and either add to porridge or give as a finger food- also add liver to mince and make burgers. Use organic lambs liver if possible (most nutrient dense as sheep are still able to graze and eat grass)

Vit D:  Also helps the immune system to differentiate cells. Sources include synthesis through sunlight on skin (10 mins of 40% of body naturally exposed to sunlight without burn-before applying sunscreen). Good sources are fish liver oils, butter, egg yolk and sprouted seeds- good finger foods look into sprouting chickpeas, lentils and can use alfalfa also

Vit E: stops cell proliferation by stabilising normal growth maintenance. Also improves blood flow. Sources include almonds, apricot oil, beef, egg yolk, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and wheat germ.. Otherwise you can also use almond oil either topically or in porridge. Vit E can be absorbed through the skin and can be bought in capsules.

Zinc: Absolutely necessary for skin health. In cell production to enzyme production in the digestive system to the immune system.Found in beef, egg yolk, ginger, lamb, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, seafood, whole grains.

Mag: Sources include: Almonds, cashews, cocoa, cod, eggs, seeds, parsnips, molasses, kelp and figs .

Bioflavenoids: Build connective tissues Sources; apricots, apples, blue, red and black berries, cherries, citrus fruits, green growing shoots of veg, onions, garlic, rosehips.

Cabbage, cabbage juice and the pith from oranges and grapefruit are really good for maintaining skin structure and elasticity.

Watermelon is great for added vitamins and essential water content.

Herbal teas work well both as nourishing and soothing tonics but also boost hydration levels. Oat Straw teaHigh in Silicon which is essential for skin tone. Comfrey tea is also very soothing and nourishing for skin, particularly during outbreaks. Nettle tea good for irritated conditions especially children’s eczema (breastfeeding mothers can drink it or children over 6 months can have a little diluted in some water or milk), Alfalfa tea, Burdook root is excellent for dry scaly eruptions, Chamomile tea, Tulsi tea both for soothing emotions in stressful times and Rosehip tea. Calendula is one of my top 5 healing, calming and nourishing teas.

Some Skin conditions and their potential origins:

Dry Skin; may result from dehydration, poor nourishment (diet low in efa’s or the ability to digest and absorb them), change in weather/humidity, soap or chemical exposure, hormonal unbalance.

Dandruff; can be bacterial or a form of dermatitis. Diet high in saturated fats and low in efa’s, dehydration, food allergies, bacterial imbalance in the gut and chemical irritant from shampoos etc.

Acne; Various reasons for acne include poor nutrient profile, hormonal disruptions, allergies, bacterial dysbiosis, dehydration, poor fat intake.

Eczema and psoriasis; allergies, poor nutrient intake and absorption, hormone disruption (particularly in stressful situations) bacteria dysbiosis

see here for what to use on the outside…

skin

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