Padma & Lonneke at the 4th annual Blossom Ball

Women's Health - Endometriosis

Padma Lakshmi & Lonneke Engel

March 15th 2012, I went to the 4th Annual Blossom Ball to benefit the Endometriosis Foundation of America. This event was hosted by Padma Lakshmi, who has openly spoken about suffering from this disease. It was a great night with a lot of attention to women's health. Tyra Banks spoke, as well as Padma herself, and the doctors who initiated this foundation. I was part of the Honorary Committee. It made me think of writing more blogs about womens health, as I find that very important. Let's focus on this disease, which about approximately 176 (!) million women and girls worldwide suffer from, 8.5 million in the USA alone.

Blossom Ball invitation 2012

 

As you can see, many other celebrities attended, like Susan Sarandon, Debbie Harry and and models Alek Wek and Genevieve Morton. I was even mistaken for Dita von Teese by someone haha!

So first of all: what is endometriosis exactly?

Endometriosis is a disease where the tissue that lines the uterus and the womb, has spread outside of the uterus and grows in different places in the body, mostly in the:

  • Ovaries
  • Fallopian tubes
  • Tissues that hold the uterus in place
  • Outer surface of the uterus
  • Lining of the pelvic cavity
It can also grow in other parts of the body.

Result is pain and discomfort in pelvic area, lower  back pain mostly around the time these women have their period, or during sex , bowel movement or urinating.

To read more about what endometriosis is, what symptoms you can have, and what you can do about it, go to the Women's Health page from the USA government here.

To donate or learn more about the Endometriosis Foundation of America, go here. And read their fact sheet on Endometriosis and read stories from women who suffer from endometriosis here.

If you have any of these symptoms, you should go to your doctor and get checked out if you suffer from endometriosis. As I have some symptoms of pain as well, I have been checked too. At first sight it seems I don't have endometriosis. I am happy to hear that but the symptoms are not gone yet and I have to get more checks done. I urge every woman to get checked regularly anyway, but especially when you suffer from pain or discomfort, go to the doctor as that is not normal. Since so many women have issues, it is not a taboo. We can talk about it, and it is good that you share with your friends there experiences. I will update you on my condition too!

Love, Lonneke

The Daily Mail UK did a little feature on this event, read it here.

the IMG crew at 4th Annual Blossom Ball

p.s. my table with IMG models and agents was so much fun! I also have to say that Padma did a great job creating the nice ambiance in the NY Public Library. She even took care of the fragrances in the room. Eye for detail I would say. It was nice that a great cause like this gets attention by a beautiful event like the Blossom Ball. See you next year!


My new discovery of Vitamin E oil!

We all know Vitamin E has a whole host of benefits and can be found in many foods that we eat everyday, like:

almonds, olives, spinach, blueberries, sunflower seeds, vegetable oils, tomatoes, wheat germ, avocado and the list goes on and on.

To begin with here are some important key facts to keep in mind:

Vitamin E is essential to life -- we cannot live without it.
How much vitamin E is enough? Prominent researchers believe that to perform at its best, the body needs more than the US Daily Value (DV) of 30 IU vitamin E daily. Average healthy females should have 400 IU a day, and average healthy males 600 IU a day.
Vitamin E should be taken at mealtime -- it is absorbed better when taken with meals rather than an on an empty stomach.
Inorganic Iron can DESTROY vitamin E. According to the Shute Institute, the two should be separated in the stomach by an 8-9 hour interval. However, organic iron, found in spinach, and other iron rich foods can be taken at the same time as vitamin E.

What I have recently discovered though is Vitamin E oil for my skin & nails. I had purchased some vitamin E capsules a few months ago, and after hearing the many great benefits of it, decided to put it to good use... but I wasn't going to take it in pill form (although for some individuals this is necessary, assess accordingly). What I have started to do is topically apply the oil to my skin and nails !!!

To begin with I started to put it on blemish marks as I had read about it through researching, and came up with vitamin E oil and its healing properties with scarring. Even though no proven research exists regarding this oil and its effects on scarring, I was willing to take the risk and see what would happen.

Low and behold it worked WONDERS ! Now I don't apply it all over like a lotion. I take a clean needle point, prick the capsule, squeeze out the oil on the back of my hand and carefully apply it to any blemish, or mark that has been left over from a breakout. I usually do this in the morning, and sometimes let it soak in for hours, and just leave it. Or I put it on for just a little bit and pat is slightly. The key is consistency (everyday) you could do it at night as well, but I swear marks heal 100 times faster, and the whole cycle is cut in half.

I don't want to guarantee anything as everyone's skin is different, but honestly it does not hurt to try ! See it as an experiment and proceed cautiously as with any new topical treatment.

Now what to do with the leftover oil on your hand? (as you only need a little bit), use it as a hand moisturizer! I swear to you my hands, nails cuticles, everything have never looked better. My nails have a glistening sheen (no need for nail polish/hardener), and my hands are SO soft. Oh and my nails grow now at a warp speed. It is actually quite crazy, and you truly have to see it with your own eyes to believe it.

So next time you are at the store, pick up some Vitamin E capsules! All natural, healthy, and so extremely versatile. Just make sure you do a patch test first, as everyone has different skin types and bodies.


The wonders of Peppermint Oil

Stressed? Have a headache? IBS? Nausea? Respiratory problems?

Peppermint oil has been cultivated since ancient times, having been found in Egyptian tombs as far back as 1000 BC. It can assist in nervous disorders, the respiratory tract, for muscle aches and pains and for skin problems.

I am a huge fan of lavender, rose hip, tea tree and ylang-ylang, but peppermint oil is my go to.

I discovered it when I moved to Cape Town, South Africa over five years ago. Those long haul flights left me fatigued, prone to headaches and parched in every way. After searching my local health food store, the beautiful woman working there suggested peppermint oil. Not only is it economical (I moved away from Cape Town a year and a half ago, and bought it way before then and I still have the same tiny bottle here with me in New York!) but it is an oil that is both miraculous and refreshing.

Now whenever I feel tired or am plagued by a headache (who likes popping pills? Not me!), I reach for my peppermint oil and slather it all over my temples (or where you experience pain), on the back of my ears, wrists and neck. When I fly I've actually shared my peppermint oil more then once, as my fellow passengers instantly smell the calming effects of the oil and we strike up a conversation about its wonders. I let them have a go, and they are forever a convert.

Here are a few more health benefits:

  • Indigestion: Often people put a few drops of peppermint oil in a glass of water and drink it after their meal due to its digestive properties. It also helps during motion sickness and upset stomach (Perfect for people who travel a lot, with all modes of transport)
  • Dental Care: Due to its antiseptic properties, it's useful for dental care. It removes bad breath and helps teeth and gums deal with germs (The reason why most toothpastes are minty)
  • Respiratory Problems: Menthol, which is present in abundance in peppermint oil, helps in clearing the respiratory tract.
  • Nausea and Headache: It is a good home remedy for nausea and headache. Applying peppermint oil in diluted form on the forehead is known to remove headache (My favorite way to use it!)
  • Stress: Like most other essential oils, peppermint is able to provide relief from stress, depression and mental exhaustion due to its refreshing nature
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome: The muscle relaxing property of peppermint oil has been found to ease irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Pain Relief
  • Immune System: Increases your immunity to diseases and therefore helps you in preventing a number of diseases.
  • Hair Care: Very useful for hair care as it gives a cooling effect to the head, and removes dandruff and lice. (Place a couple of drops in either your shampoo or conditioner)
  • Skin Care: It gives a cooling effect. Further it nourishes dull skin and improves oily skin. (Steam a sink of hot water and place 8-10 drops, place a towel over your head and allow the oil and steam to refresh your face/neck)

You can find it at Whole Foods or any local health food store for under $10, and trust me when I say it will last you for years!

The perfect way to refresh, enliven and de-stress.


Bitter Greens for Health & Beauty

Something I love almost as much as my chocolate ~ is BITTER GREENS.

Why you ask!?

These powerful healing leaves actually become quite delicious the more you eat them, PLUS they are amazing for promoting beautiful skin, detoxifying the liver, & encouraging sluggish digestion.  Pictured is a fresh crop of dandelion leaves from my small herb garden... also marinated BITTER GREENS.

Bitter Greens

Bitter Greens for Health & Beauty
A nice healthy recipe by Abigal O'Neill

Author:
Cuisine: healthy kitchin
Recipe type: side dish/topping
Serves: 4

Prep time: 
Total time: 

Ingredients
  • 1 bunch dandelion leaves
  • 1 small bunch radicchio (very bitter!)
  • 4 tablespoons cold pressed organic olive oil
  • ½ teas celtic salt
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • half a lemon - squeezed.
  • I sprinkled over a few marigolds to serve.

Instructions
  1. Cut out stems as far up as you can using a sharp knife to cut leafy bits off or remove manually
  2. Chop finely
  3. add oil, lemon, salt & agave.

YUMMM! Honestly so good. Enjoy a small spoonful with your next tasty vegetarian dish (such as the stuffed mushrooms & rice in Issue # 7)  for all the blessings they bestow!

Love & chocolate xxx Abigail

 


Glycemic Index 101

Chemical Structure of Glucose

Don't let the science jargon intimidate you- the concept is easy to understand for the purposes of choosing the right foods to eat.

What is it?

Glycemic Index is a carbohydrate ranking system based on a scale of 0-100.  Foods are assigned GI numbers that quantify the degree to which these carbs influence the body's blood glucose levels.  When the GI number is large it means that your body metabolizes the sugar rapidly and as a result, the glucose content in the bloodstream jumps.  A GI score of 100 equates pure glucose.

High Glycemic-Index Foods (> 70)

Habitual consumption of high glycemic-index foods such as white flour based and highly processed products, is more stressful on the pancreas because it over-stimulates insulin secretion.  Increased production can lead to precipitous drops in blood glucose levels within a few hours after metabolizing. You want to avoid this because of the associated deleterious health effects. A high glycemic-index diet has been linked weight gain and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In colloquial terms, sugar highs and lows are stressful to your body physically and emotionally.  A recent research study conducted by Loyola University correlated glycemic variability with anxiety, negative mood and a "lower quality of life."

Low Glycemic-Index Foods (<55)

Lower glycemic-index foods are metabolized more gradually. A low GI diet makes for more sustained blood glucose levels and lessens insulin demands on the pancreas. Eating this way helps you maintain a healthy weight. You feel fuller for a longer duration and won't experience the hunger urges resultant of sugar lows that you do after eating more rapidly digested high-glycemic index foods.

Using Common Sense

Low glycemic index does not always mean healthier. For instance, pound cake has a lower glycemic index than some legumes, but obliviously lacks any nutritional value.  However, simple changes to your diet like preparing your pasta al dente or eating your bananas before they ripen too much can significantly cut the glycemic index count according to  Rachel Johnson, professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont.

Smart Low Glycemic-Index Food Choices

Agave Nectar

Grapefruit

Eggplant

Barley

Celery

Apples

Zucchini

Spinach

Cauliflower

Whole grain

Greek Yogurt

Please visit this link to start searching the glycemic index of your favorite foods.


ProBiotics: The importance of a good bacteria

What are probiotics? Probiotics are good bacterias that everyone has in  their bodies. Their role is to fight "bad guys" who enter in our body from the outside such as  toxins, antibiotics, pharmaceutical drugs, viruses, E.Coli, fungus to name a few. If we dont have enough good bacterias, we fell sick and all sorts of problems start to resurface such:

  • feeling bloated
  • indigestion
  • infections
  • chronic fatigue
  • depression
  • loss of memory
  • irritability

That's why probiotics play essential role in our health and overall feeling. I personally take my probiotics every morning with a glass of water with lemon. Over a years I've been trying and testing different brands. So, I'm very happy to finally found one that I really love and seems to work wonders.

"Ascended Health" created a wonderful live probiotics that comes in liquid form. Which makes sense to me, since those "guys are alive" it is better to have them in liquid form then in powder or pills. Don't you agree?! Also, since it is in live form , you have to store it in a fridge!

Label says take 1-5 drops in a glass of water. I always test products before I share with you guys, so I found it is better to start with 2 drops in a big glass of water and then SLOWLY  build your way up to 3,  4 and eventually  5 drops.

Other sourse of live probiotis are:

  • wheat grass juice (please, read my post about wheat grass)
  • spirulina
  • kefir
  • sauerkraut
  • kimchi
  • natural yogurt

 

Health benefits of taking probiotics:

  • enhanced immunity
  • better digestive health
  • improves inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, asthma, eczema, heart disease and chronic fatigue
  • in intestines, probiotics produce vitamin B6, niacin, folic acid and vitamin K
  • boost metabolism
  • burn fat
  • stabilize blood sugar

LOVE, VAL


Natural PMS-Muscle Fixer-Upper

CHOCOLATE. The most incredulous PMS 'Fixer-Upper' I know! Why do we (women) crave large doses of it every 30 days or so??? I wonder.

Raw cacao is the ultimate form of CHOCOLATE. Eat it for your health, beauty, anti-aging benefits, it's satisfying taste; OR simply to cure your temporary feeling of gloom, tension & perhaps even pain (at THAT time of the month!) Of course won't do Mr Muscle any harm either...Especially after a good run or some intense exercise.

You see CACAO is rich in the muscle mineral, MAGNESIUM. It is also excellent for boosting your mood, energy levels, & filling your body with some of the most beneficial nutrients available in one food!... Only, I'll leave you to investigate what those are. ;)

At times, I'll take a heaped teaspoon of raw cacao & of maca root together, mix with a little cold water, topping up with hot water, to make a brew of unsweetened medicinal 'hot chocolate.' It's one super-therapeutic drink for sportspeople or desperate women.

Here's a more delicious way to enjoy CACAO in those moments of dire need!!

SIMPLE HOT CACAO RECIPE:

1 dessertspoon raw cacao powder

1 dessertspoon (more if you like it very sweet) coconut sugar, agave, maple syrup or rapadura sugar

2/3 cup boiling water

1/3 cup cold milk - choose from: Freshly made raw almond milk (my recipe here), whole soy milk, organic dairy milk or other milk of your choice.

Choose from flavour options: Pinch of salt, small amounts of organic coffee or cereal coffee (for mocha), cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper (for chilli chocolate), 100% pure essential oil of mint for choc-mint OR orange for jaffa (only 1/4 drop needed be careful!) or natural vanilla extract.

TO PREPARE:

Spoon raw cacao powder & coconut sugar or other sweetener into a mug, pour over your milk option & froth together with an 'aerolatte' frother or simply mix well to combine. Using the cold milk over the cacao preserves its precious nutrients & antioxidants! Add any other flavour options you desire, mix & sprinkle with extra cacao or spices. Now top up with boiling water & ENJOY the slightly bitter but OH SOO GOOD taste of real CHOCOLATE.

There is a very special INSTANT spicy hot cacao recipe in my book!! Can't WAIT to share it with you in time!...

Love & chocolate xxx Abigail

 


Wheat Grass Juice

Wheat grass juice… Here I am, talking about green stuff once again. What can I say?! I love my green juices, green smoothies, green soups, green salads. “Green” represents life, nature, Earth, eco-living . all that I am about. 

To be honest, wheat grass juice is not my favorite thing on this Planet , but the health benefits are worth drinking a shot of it (you don’t need more than that) every single morning before you have your first bite. And here is why:

  • wheat grass is superior to other veggies in its content of B12,
  • wheatgrass contains a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, essential fatty acids and enzymes.
  • more energy and better sleep,
  • increased mental clarity,
  • improved eyesight and night vision (I experience this big time!  my eyesight is getting better the more I drink wheat grass juice),
  • it contains 92 minerals needed by the body,
  • its oxygenate your body,
  • contains 20+ amino acids,
  • it slows down aging process,
  • skin gets clear and has that healthy glow.
 

I buy wheatgrass at Wholefoods. Its organic and fresh, the packaging always says the expiration date, so I know when it's fresh or not. You can grow your own wheat grass at home. I know some people do, and it suppose to be “super easy” but I’m not that good with plants (my orchids never blossom, no matter what I do).  

In case you wondering how it tastes, it is sweet. Perhaps, too sweet, so I always add lemon. But It’s definitely not horrible. Plus, some people love the idea of a shot.  Cheers!

 

 LOVE, VAL

photo credit Valentina Zelyaeva


OYL healthy drink tasting!

Antoniette (our newest OYL contributor) and I, did a healthy drink tasting at Wholefoods with a few drinks we found. We noticed there are so many new health drinks on the market! We wondered: how do they taste, which are the "healthiest" in our opinion, and which ones are our favorites? There wasn't really a bad drink we tried, but below are the 5 ones that made our cut.

Coconut water.

Harmless Harvest raw coconut water

There are so many more coconut brands that are available now at Wholefoods. But we like Harmless Harvest 100% raw coconutwater. They say they are "raw" and not processed. Sounded interesting! We really liked the taste of freshness, it was tasting maybe a bit more like coconut water straight from fresh coconuts. Cute little bottle, but a little too little for me I love me some coconut water!

Probiotics.

Kevita coconut drink

We also tried Kevitacoconut probioticdrink, and that was very interesting. It taste like coconut water far away, but a bit more watery, with a fizz to it. probiotics are supposed to be very good for the health of your intestines. Some swear by it.I thought it was nice but not my favorite. Organic, vegan,diary, gluten- and soy free, made in California.

Health drinks.

Mama Chia

Mama Chia "Seed your Soul". This drink gives you a funny feeling in your mouth, but taste great! I actually loved the feeling of the chia seeds in my mouth.Antoniette even bought more of it after our tasting. Chia seeds are considered Superfoods, because they contain a lot of nutrients, like antioxidants, Omega-3, fibers. Found by Janie Hoffman in San Diego, this drink is also gluten free & vegan, pasteurized, . USDA organic.

Energy drinks.

Sambazon Jungle Love Energy Drink

We sometimes need a pick-me-up during the day of course! I tried Sambazonall natural Amazon Energy Jungle Love drink. It has 140 calories, 80mg natural caffeine and 460% vitamin C from acerola, he flavor was Acai passionfruit. Acai is an amazing purple berry from the Amazon. Other ingredients to bring you up include maca, guarana, yerba mate, guarana, catuaba. All USDA organic. I like this one a lot!

Super food drinks.

Cell-Nique

Cell-Nique. This drink some like the taste, some don't. It contains 31 Superfoods. And it is low glycerin, gluten free, vegan protein. It is supposed to energize, alkaline and detox your body, and it's low in calories too! You should shake this drink before drinking to mix the drink well and get all the benefits. I like the colors of the design of this brand's bottles!

So tell me now: What's your favorite drink to quench your thirst?

p.s. buy Antoniette's latest single: "Void of a Legend" here.

Video Void of a Legend.


Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

When it comes to this month, a lot of emotions are stirred within me.

It hits home, as I lost both my precious Mother & Grandmother to this devastating disease. It literally leaves me speechless.

I don't want to ramble on about the importance of prevention and easy detection. But as women, it is a MUST.

Feeling sexy and feminine is a huge gift we have as women, so let's celebrate it & make sure we are doing all we can to stay our sexy selves.

There are SO many Breast Cancer foundations, associations, merchandise and campaigns around the World. I know we can all do our part, and see this disease eliminated during our lifetime! Keep your eye out for the PINK RIBBON this month...I know it will be everywhere.

Leading a happy, healthy life is a gift, and we make choices each day to contribute to that! Choose health & life.