5 Foods for Healthier Hair

Hey Everyone!

Hope you are all doing well!

Usually when we discuss hair care there is a lot of emphasis on shampoos, hair oils and serums and a wide range of other topical products are mentioned along with their pros and cons.

Their is a lot less emphasis on what we eat and how it can benefit our hair. Interestingly, research shows that overtime a healthy and nutrient rich diet may help lead to thicker and shinier hair.

The following are a few options to consider:

Broccoli:

Usually, when we think of Vitamin C we think of Oranges but interestingly broccoli is also packed with Vitamin C and it is also rich in Vitamin A. The Vitamin C in broccoli helps promote hair follicle growth and the Vitamin A helps control scalp sebum production to ensure shiny and healthy hair.

Eggs:

Eggs are high in biotin which is a B vitamin that is associated with stronger and thicker hair. Many people swear by Biotin supplements but eggs are a more natural option for those that are wary of supplements. Also, eggs can definitely help if you feel that you are suffering from low levels of biotin. One egg has 25 percent of the daily recommended intake of biotin and it is important to eat the whole egg because most of the biotin is in the yolk. Although eggs are high in cholesterol most people can safely eat one egg a day but its always good to consult with your doctor first.

Green Beans:

The secret behind the hair benefits of green beans is a mineral called silica. Silica works with Keratin, a natural protein found in hair, to make hair stronger and more resistant to damage.  One particular research study found that the type of silica found in green beans was much more absorbable than the silica found in other produce options.

Peas:

Peas are rich in protein and they contain 10 percent of your daily recommended intake of iron. Protein, the building block of all cells, is perhaps one of the most important nutrients for healthy and shiny hair. One cup of peas has about 8 grams of protein. Additionally, the combo of iron and protein in peas helps prevent the thinning and breakage of hair.

Yoghurt:

With the exception of Greek yoghurt, many different types of Yoghurt are fortified with Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a important nutrient that helps to stimulate and strengthen hair follicles. Are you experiencing abnormal hair loss? One possible reason may be low levels of Vitamin D. One study showed that among women between the ages of 18 to 45 who faced hair loss they were three to four times more likely to have Vitamin D deficiency.

Its also important to mention that abnormal hair loss can have many different causes and you should definitely discuss this with a doctor.

Having a healthy diet that includes the above options is most likely not going to produce dramatic results overnight however, over time you are definitely likely to see benefits not only in your hair but hopefully in your overall well-being as well!

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

4 Things You Can Do to Make This Year a Bit Better

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well and Happy New Year!

Many people use this time of the year to reflect on their current life situation and they often look towards what they can do to improve their lives.

Here are four tips that can hopefully make 2019 a happy and healthy year for you:

Laugh a Little:

Without a doubt, for many people life is filled with stress and anxiety. However, laughter has powerful health benefits. Laughter enables our brain to produce mood boosting endorphins and it can stimulate blood circulation to our hearts, lungs, and muscles. In addition to all of the above benefits laughter can help improve memory and lower stress.

Perhaps one way to add more laughter to our lives is to change our perspective and view the more “embarrassing” moments of our lives as comical moments worthy of laughter rather than anguish.

For example, a few summers ago I was attending my younger brothers’ elementary school graduation and I was wearing a beautiful summer dress and as I was walking out of the building many people were staring at me and I thought it was because the dress was so pretty. However, I later discovered that people were likely staring because my dress had a huge tear in the middle and my belly was unintentionally showing!

Immediately afterwards I was extremely horrified and embarrassed but nowadays I laugh every time I remember that incident.

Alternatively, my favorite way to get a good laugh is to spend 20 minutes or so a day watching my favorite comedy sitcom.

View the Cup as Half Full:

With all that is going on in our modern world it is easy to become pessimistic and have a more negative outlook on life. However, time after time, research has shown that people that are the more happy and healthy, view the world from an optimistic perspective. For example, research shows that adults who have a positive attitude toward aging live longer than those with a more negative outlook.

I know that becoming more optimistic is much easier said than done. However, as with any other skill practice makes perfect. The next time something doesn’t go as planned or if something bad happens try to change your perspective and try to view the situation from a more positive angle.

Embrace the Small Moments of Joy:

Many people, myself included, only focus on the larger more obvious moments of joy in our lives. Such epic moments of joy may include weddings, graduations, births, ceremonies, major holidays etc. As much as we should be looking forward to these larger moments of joy, the reality is that such moments are often few and limited and they represent only a small proportion of our lives. Such smaller moments of joy may include a smile, a sweet or loving text message, a hug from a loved one, eating a favorite meal or dessert, wearing comfy clothes and relaxing after a long day, etc.

In order to add more joy into our own lives we should recognize and embrace these small moments of joy as well as the more epic moments.

Learn Without Much Effort:

Throughout the day many of us spend time doing tasks that don’t require much thinking. Such tasks include driving, riding the bus or train, bathing, putting on makeup, and maybe even cooking or preparing a meal.

A very simple way to gain some knowledge without much effort is to listen to a podcast or watch a TEDTalk while doing these other tasks. Listening to a podcast or TED Talk can be a fun and easy way to learn a little bit each day.

I hope that you find these tips to be helpful and I wish you all a happy and healthy 2019!

With Love,

Yasmin

Eat These Three Nutrients for Stronger Bones

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

As many of you already know our bones play a very important role in our body by providing structure, protecting our organs, anchoring our muscles and storing calcium.

After age 30 our bones gradually start to weaken. Maintaining good bone health is especially important for women because as we age women are much more likely to get osteoporosis which is when our bones become very thin and brittle and much more likely to fracture.

This issue is near and dear to me because my lovely grandmother has osteoporosis and her doctor has warned her that even a small fall can be life threatening for her.

While my grandmothers osteoporosis will likely never be cured there are three important nutrients that, along with physical activity, can help you maintain strong and healthy bones.

Calcium

By now we have all heard of the importance of calcium for our bones. The fact that is that calcium is a mineral that is stored in our bones and calcium helps make our bones thick and strong.

The following foods are high in calcium:

  • Plain low fat yoghurt
  • Cheese
  • Sardines
  • Beans and Lentils
  • Almonds

Magnesium:

Just like calcium, magnesium is stored in our bones to keep them strong. Magnesium also controls the parathyroid hormone which helps control the calcium levels in our body. Unfortunately, some research shows that around 50 percent of Americans do not get enough magnesium.

Luckily, the following foods are a great source of magnesium:

  • Edamame
  • Black beans
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Avocadoes
  • Dark chocolate
  • Bananas

Vitamin D

By now we wall know the importance of calcium in regards to bone health. The problem is that our body only absorbs about 30 percent of all of the calcium that we intake. This is why Vitamin D is so important. Vitamin D is the nutrient that helps our blood absorb the calcium that we consume.

Without a doubt, one of the best sources of Vitamin D is the sun. However, the following are the foods that contain Vitamin D:

  • Eggs
  • Maitake Mushrooms
  • Fortified soy milk (there are also other options such as fortified orange juice)
  • Tuna
  • Cheese
  • Yoghurt
  • Beef liver
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Soybeans

While there may not be a guaranteed way to prevent osteoporosis hopefully these tips will help keep your bones healthy and strong for many years to come.

With Love,

Yasmin

Flower Power: 5 Edible and Healthy Flowers

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

Normally, when I think of flowers I think of these incredibly beautiful yet delicate living objects.

Although I love smelling flowers I would never ever consider eating a flower, that is until I came across some very interesting research about the health benefits of certain kinds of flowers.

Since safety is always first please be extra careful before trying anything new to prevent allergies or any other potentially serious complications.

If you do decide to eat any of the flowers listed in this post please make sure that the flowers come from a safe source. Avoid flowers that have grown by the road because pollution from the cars may tamper the safety of the flowers.

Also, avoid flowers that have been sprayed with pesticides. Make sure to completely avoid flowers such as foxglove, potato and sweet pea flowers because these flowers are toxic to human beings.

The good news is that there a number of flowers that are edible and healthy! Here is just a short list of only a few such flowers:

Roses:

Roses not only smell great but they are also packed with a wide range of health benefits. Rose petals are especially rich in vitamins and antioxidants. The base of the rose (also known as the rose hip) has been used throughout history to help with problems such as arthritis and a number of digestive issues such as indigestion, constipation, and urinary problems.

Marigolds:

Marigolds are light orange colored flowers. There are actually a number of different species of marigolds. However, the Calendula species of marigolds are especially popular for their health benefits. Calendula marigolds can help with a wide range of skin issues such as rashes, allergies, eczema and dermatitis. Calendula marigolds also help with muscle cramps, muscular injuries or sprains, eye inflammation and itchiness caused by conjunctivitis. These also help with fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, candida ear infections, and even ringworm.

Nasturtiums:

These flowers are packed with antibacterial properties and they contain Vitamins A, C, and D. Thanks to their antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Nasturtiums can be used to soothe sore throat and as a first aide ointment for wounds.

Dandelion:

This soft yellow flower can be eaten raw or it can be used as an ingredient for jams and syrups.. Many people love to add these flowers to their salads for a pop of color. Dandelions are super healthy. These flowers are often added to herbal teas to act as a diuretic. Dandelions help with inflammation and liver cleansing and they are a source of prebiotics. Some even claim that dandelions can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Saffron:

Since safety is always first pregnant woman should avoid saffron because it is believed that saffron stimulates the uterus and it can potentially cause a miscarriage.

Saffron is a rich source of a number of different minerals including calcium, iron, copper, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Saffron also contains folic acid, niacin, and vitamins A and C.

Finally, as a side note, saffron is especially near and dear to me because with the help of the United States, people in my parents homeland, Afghanistan, have started growing and selling saffron instead of opium. For those who don’t know unfortunately Afghanistan for many years was the worlds largest producer of opium however, thanks to this initiative opium is gradually being replaced by saffron.  Click here if you would like to read more about this.

With Love,

Yasmin

My Experience with A Pet Cockatiel

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

I know that I haven’t mentioned this before but I have a pet bird, a cockatiel, and her name is Laily! This week marks one year since we brought her into our home. This past year, Laily has brought us so much joy and happiness so I wanted to create this post to share some of my personal tips and experiences of living with a pet cockatiel.

One of Laily’s first pictures!

Please remember that I am not an expert on cockatiels, these are just some of the things that I have learned over the course of this past year. If you are thinking of buying a cockatiel please do your own research first to determine if a cockatiel is a good pet for you.

Why a Cockatiel:

My fascination with cockatiels began about a year and a half ago at a family gathering. We had all gathered at my grandmother’s house and my younger cousin brought over her two pet cockatiels and I got to meet them for the first time! I was really amazed at how cute and friendly the cockatiels were!

My cousins’ female cockatiel!

After going home, I did some research of my own by watching a lot of YouTube videos and reading a few articles and I decided that I really wanted a pet cockatiel as well. Basically, a short while later, my family and I went to our local breeder and that’s how we brought Laily home!

Basic Info:

  • The scientific name for cockatiels is Nymphicus Hollandicus.
  • Cockatiels are originally from the warm semi-arid regions of Australia.
  • On average, the lifespan of the cockatiel is anywhere from 10 to 25 years.
  • Cockatiels are very curious and smart animals. They have the intellect of a two year old child.
  • Cockatiels are the second most common pet birds in the United States, right after the budgie/parakeets
Laily being curious/mischievous!

Pros and Cons:

Without a doubt, cockatiels can be amazing pets. They are adorable and many of them are very sociable as well.

However, in my experience, two of the major cons of having a cockatiel are their messiness and their tendency to make a lot of noise.

Cockatiels are very clean animals, in fact if you sniff them, they smell quite nice. However, they love to make a mess, especially when they are eating.

Everyday, when I clean Laily’s cage, my father sweeps the floor near her cage because she always spills seeds everywhere. This can definitely be an annoyance but I believe that some companies are starting to make spill-proof or mess-proof cages with a special enclosed area for feeding.

If you are sensitive to loud noise (especially loud squawking noises) I definitely would not recommend a cockatiel (or most other pet birds). In general, cockatiels can make a lot of noise in the mornings, then once again in the late afternoons/early evenings.

They will also make a lot of noise if they’re bored or if they are in a very bright and sunny environment. The excess light can overstimulate them.

Also, if you leave the room, they will make a lot of noise for you to come back. (I personally find this very endearing but others may find this to be an annoyance)

Male vs. Female:

In most cases, there not many physical differences between males and females. From what I have read males can be a bit noisier than females. However, males are able to whistle and sing while females are generally not able to do so.

My Cockatiel Care Tips:

Every morning I thoroughly clean her cage. I take out the removable bottom tray of the cage and wash and clean it. I then use a damp paper towel and soap to clean any remaining droppings and food particles. I also clean her food and water bowls and replace them with clean food and water.

As you can imagine, diet is essential to a healthy cockatiel.  Cockatiels love seeds but they should have a well balanced diet. Most experts recommend giving your cockatiel pellets. Also, try to give your cockatiel veggies and a little bit of fruit as well. Admittedly, this is something that I have to work on with Laily because I give her a fortified seed diet and I keep trying to introduce her to vegetables but she is a very picky eater!

When it comes to bathing her, I usually just mist her with a spray bottle filled with water. However, now that the weather is very hot I usually hold her under the sink and gently wet her. Most experts recommend only using water to clean cockatiels because their feathers contain a natural dusty powder which helps keep them nice and clean.

In fact, it is very common for cockatiels to preen themselves on a daily basis. When they are preening themselves it looks like they are itching themselves but in reality they are just preening/cleaning themselves.

To Trim or Not to Trim:

Many bird owners have very strong opinons on whether a pet bird should be flighted or should have trimmed feathers.

Obviously, in their natural settings, birds fly freely and this is a great form of excercise. However, in my opinion if you have a pet bird it is best to trim their feathers.

Primarily, this is for their own safety. However this also gives peace of mind to the bird owner (or bird parent) because if a bird accidently flies away it is very difficult to find the bird and the birds’ life may be in danger.

Bonus Tips:

  • When you first bring your cockatiel home, it is very tempting to want to immediately interact with it. However, it is best to give it a day or two to allow it to get used to its new surroudings.
  • Approach the cockatiel very gently: Start by just sitting next to the cage and softly talking with your new bird. As the bird becomes more comfortable you can put your hands inside the cage and gradually work your way up to having the bird perch on your finger. There are many YouTube videos and online articles that teach you how to tame your cockatiel. The best tip that I can give you is to be very gentle and make sure to have some spray millet with you as a treat for the bird.
  • I definitely only reccommend getting one cockatiel rather than two. Its much easier to form a bond with a single cockatiel. However, you must be able to spend at least 30 minutes to an hour of quality time with the cockatiel each day. If you don’t have that much time then I would reccommend getting two so they keep each other company.
  • Buy two or three toys for your cockatiel and alternate them every few weeks so your bird doesn’t get bored. Toys are essential to keep your cockatiel happy and calm and quiet.
  • During the first few weeks try to spend a lot of time with your new cockatiel so you too can form a strong bond. Eventually after the bond has formed it might be a good idea to set up specific time(s) of the day to play with your bird so the cockatiel knows what to expect and this structure can also keep them calm and quiet.
  • Make sure that the cage is not too small. It should be large enough for the bird to move around freely without hitting anything.
  • At nighttime cover the cage with a towel or thin blanket to prevent street lights or the sunrise from waking them up. They need between 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night.
  • If you want your bird to be friendly with other people start having different family members or friends spend time with the bird. The sooner you start the more likely you are to have a friendly and well-socialized bird.
  • Laily, my pet cockatiel, has provided my family and I with an immense amount of joy and happiness. However, a cockatiel may not be the right pet for everyone. Honestly, each cockatiel has its own personality. Some may be more friendly and sociable than others. However, with a little bit of effort and a lot of patience, it is very possible to form a bond with a cockatiel!
Laily and I!

With Love,

Yasmin

Six Tips for Better Sleep

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

In my experience, one unhealthy habit that people like to boast about is their lack of sleep, or their ability to get by with very little sleep.

Perhaps this is most common amongst university students who like to “pull all-nighters” in order to study for exams or complete projects and assignments. And its not just students that are getting less sleep.

A report by Gallup showed that Americans are sleeping one hour less per night than they did in the 1950’s.

The average adult human needs between seven to nine hours of sleep each night to survive and thrive. In her book The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time Ariana Huffington argues that sleep is not a luxury rather it is a necessity.

She cites scientific evidence of how sleep is a time for intense neurological activity in which the brain renews and repairs itself.

A lack of sleep is linked with severe health problems such as diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer, obesity, and Alzheimers disease.

According to sleep expert Daniel Gartenberg, humans need sleep to save energy, to help their cells recover, and to help them process and understand their envirnment. Since sleep is so vital to our overall health and well-being, here are a few tips to help you get a better night of sleep.

Ban Screens Before Bedtime:

The very first tip is the one that I struggle with the most and that is to stop using my phone or laptop before bed. It turns out that I am not alone because a 2015 survey showed that 71 percent of Americans sleep with or next to their smartphones. The problem with this habit is that our electronic devices (such as phones and laptops) emitt blue light which can keep us awake at night.

As you know, melatonin is a brain hormone that helps us fall asleep but blue light suppresses our melatonin levels. The effects of blue light do not immediately go away once you stop using your device. It is best to stop using your electronic devices up to an hour or so before bedtime.

If you’re like me and you’re often tempted to check your phone before bedtime, my suggestion would be to completely remove your phone (and other electronic devices) from your bedroom before you go to sleep.

Sleep Consistency:

If possible, try to wake up and go to sleep during the same time each and every day including weekends. This way, your body establishes a routine and its easier to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning. It might be tempting to skim on sleep during the week and then sleep in during the weekends. While the extra few hours of sleep during the weekend may feel good, research has shown that you cannot make up sleep debt because its hard to make up for the REM (Rapid Eye Movement)sleep that you have missed. Also, REM sleep is a vital stage of sleep due to its restorative properties.

Take A Nap:

The reality is that in this day and age it is difficult to get an adequate amount of sleep each and every night. Taking a quick 30 minute nap during the day can help you feel rejuevenated. Even if you do get enough sleep at night, a nap can help you reenergize your brain. Its best to take your nap anytime before 3 pm so that you don’t confuse your circadian rythm and you don’t disrupt your nightime sleep.

Bonus tip: If you are someone who drinks coffee, consider drinking a cup before your nap and the caffeine will work as a natural alarm clock because it will kick-in, in 30 minutes and wake you up from your nap.

Temperature:

The room temperature can definitely impact the quantity and quality of our sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 65 degrees as the ideal room temperature for sleep. They also argue that anything above 75 degrees our below 54 degrees can disrupt our sleep. Of course, this is just a general estimate and the climate that we are from also influences our temperature preferences.

Food:

Personally, I often feel sleepy after I eat pasta and I know that a lot of people feel sleepy after eating Turkey.

However, when it comes to food and sleep its more about what kind of foods you should avoid rather than what foods to eat. Although different foods may work for different people, they ‘re aren’t many foods that experts believe can really help us fall asleep.

However, there are foods that should be avoided before bedtime:

Foods High in Sugar: If you consume a lot of sugar before bed, your blood sugar levels will become very high and your body has to release hormones to decrease your blood sugar and this process may temporarily disturb your sleep.

Caffeine: We all have a different caffeine sensitivity but a 2013 study showed that people who drank coffee 6 hours before bed lost about an hour of sleep at night. So, its best to stop drinking caffeine way before bedtime.

Late Dinners: Since it can take between two to three hours for our body to digest a meal, it is best to avoid eating a large meal right before bed. This is especially true for those who suffer from acid reflux disease.

Spicy Foods: For some people, spicy foods can cause bloating and heartburn.

High Fat Foods: Its best to avoid high fat foods as much as possible because research has linked high fat foods with excessive sleepiness during the daytime.

Alcohol: At first, alcohol can help you fall asleep faster but it can disrupt the quality of your sleep.

Exercise:

We all know how beneficial exercise is for our overall health and well-being. Now, research has shown that regular exercise can improve the quantity and quality of our sleep. One study from Oregon State University found that 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week can act as a great non-pharmaceutical way of improving our sleep. The only caveat is that it takes time to reap the sleep benefits of exercise. A study from Northwestern University showed that exercise added 45 minutes of extra sleep but it took four months to see results.

Overall, sleep is something that most of us love and all of us need. I really hope that you find some of these tips helpful in getting better sleep!

With Love,

Yasmin

Five Tips for Optimizing Your Smartphone

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

I feel that most people who own a smartphone use it throughout the day every day.

I definitely believe that excessive use of our smartphones can potentially harm our physical and mental well-being.

On the other hand, smartphones often do help us stay connected to our friends and family and the world around us.

Without a doubt, smartphones do have their pros and cons however, in this post I would just like to share a few simple tips for optimizing your smartphone experience.

Cover it:

If you’re clumsy like me I would definitely recommend investing in a good case to make sure that if an accident happens and you drop your phone, its not completely damaged. If you have an iPhone or any other phone with a large glass screen I would also recommend getting a screen protector just to ensure extra protection. I cannot count how many people I have seen who have accidently shattered their screens. The initial investment in a good case and screen protector can definitely be worth it in the long run.

Battery Saving Tips:

In order to make sure that your phone is always charged you can invest in a portable charger, which is basically a battery power bank which you can insert the USB of your charger and charge your phone without an outlet. However, there also a number of free ways to increase the battery life of your phone:

  • Always make sure to close power draining apps and tabs.
  • Even if your phone has 80 or 90 percent charge try to put your phone in low power mode so it increases the battery life.
  • If you’re in a hurry but you do have access to an outlet, put your phone in airplane mode so that it charges faster.

Consider adjusting the settings of your phone. For example, you can tinker the email setting so it doesn’t automatically update and you can adjust the settings so that your apps do not automatically update.

Passwords:

Some apps and websites require us to put in our passwords before being able to access the app or site. However, if you have different passwords for different sites (which you really should because it’s a bad idea to use one password for everything) you might occasionally forget your password.

One possible option is to download a password manager app on your smartphone. You use one password to access this app and this app manages all of your other passwords and it can autofill your passwords whenever you need them.

When you’re trying to create a password, a longer password is often safer than a shorter one. In order to make the password easier to remember choose chunks of data to make it easier to remember. Also, the more crazy or exotic your password is the more likely you will be to remember it.

Tune Down Distractions:

The best solution to avoid the distractions of your smartphone is probably to turn it off completely or hide it far away or even in another room when you are trying to get work done. However, other options include turning on the Do Not Disturb button if you have an iPhone or putting it on airplane mode.

Likewise, if you’re like me and you don’t even turn off your phone at night you can put it in airplane mode, preferably 20 to 30 minutes before bed. This way your sleep will not be disrupted and when you wake up in the morning you will only see the time and you won’t be distracted by a barrage of notifications.

Keep It Clean:

I know this sounds quite gross but studies have found that often times our smartphones have as much as ten times more germs than public toilet seats!

The average adult touches their eyes, noise or mouth an average of 16 times an hour and this could lead to a variety of potentially dangerous germs being transmitted onto their phones. Some of the viruses that can be transmitted are the flu virus, viruses that can lead to the common cold, noroviruses that can lead to diarrhea and vomiting, and the E. Coli virus.

As scary as this sounds, the good news is that the solution is fairly simple and straightforward. All you have to do is clean your smartphone at least once a week to prevent the buildup of nasty germs and viruses. I personally prefer using pre-moistened anti-bacterial wipes however, please do some research to make sure that you do not accidently damage your phone during the cleaning process. Click here for a helpful article.

I am definitely not tech savvy but I do hope you found these tips to be helpful.

With Love,

Yasmin