A Better You Day Spa

A Better You Day Spa

The link between soda and telomere length

by A Better You Day Spa on 07/20/15

No one would mistake sugary soda for a health food, but a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health just found that a daily soda habit can age your immune cells almost two years.

Senior study author Elissa Epel, PhD, professor of psychiatry at University of California San Francisco, wanted to look at the mechanisms behind soda’s storied link to conditions like diabetes, heart attack, obesity, and even higher rates of death. She studied telomeres, the caps at the end of chromosomes in every cell in our body, from white blood cells. Shorter telomeres have been linked to health detriments like shorter lifespans and more stress, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, the study notes.

Epel and her team analyzed data from 5,309 adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from about 14 years ago. They found that people who drank more sugary soda tended to have shorter telomeres. Drinking an 8-ounce daily serving of soda corresponded to 1.9 years of additional aging, and drinking a daily 20-ounce serving was linked to 4.6 more years of aging. The latter, the authors point out, is exactly the same association found between telomere length and smoking.

Only the sugary, bubbly stuff showed this effect. Epel didn’t see any association between telomere length and diet soda intake. “The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism,” she says.

She also didn’t see a significant link between non-carbonated sugary beverages, like fruit juice, which Epel says surprised her. But she thinks the results might be different if the data were more modern. “We think that the jury’s still out on sugared beverages—theoretically they’re just as bad,” she says. “But 14 years ago people were drinking a lot less sugared beverages…they were mostly drinking soda.” At the time of the study, 21% of adults in the study reported consuming 20 ounces or more of sugar-sweetened soda each day, but soda consumption has been on the decline for years.

Telomere length dwindles naturally as we age, but it may not be an irreversible process. Previous research shows that it’s possible to increase telomere length by as much as 10% over 5 years by stressing less and eating a healthy diet—no soda included.

Read more at time.com

Skin 101, pH Level!

by A Better You Day Spa on 07/20/15

For those of us who are not chemistry majors, you may be asking...What are pH levels anyway? And how does this affect my skin? Well according to "How Stuff Works" when it comes to skin cleansers, pH levels do make a difference.

"Your skin has a pH level of about 5.5. Skin -- or at least the outermost layer of it -- is slightly acidic [source: University of California Newsroom]. The acidic layer helps your skin retain moisture and keep germs out. To help maintain the skin's fatty protective layer, use a cleanser with a pH level similar to that of the skin itself. If you use a soap that's too alkaline, it will break up the acid in your skin, causing dryness.

The pH level of most skin cleansers is slightly higher than 5.5, so the cleanser can break down dirt and oil on your skin. However, soap -- especially bar soap -- typically has a pH level of 9 to 12, which is too high if you're trying to keep your skin moist. Cleansers with lower pH levels leave your skin intact instead of breaking down the fatty tissue [source: Draelos].

So, it must be important to use a skin cleanser that says it's pH-balanced, right? Yes and no. Most soap-free cleansers on the market today have balanced pH levels. Therefore, the words "pH-balanced" on a cleanser are more of a marketing ploy than anything else [source: Monroe].
Now that you're clear on what pH balanced means to you and your skin, you can be savvy in the skin care aisle."

See chart below for a visual on pH levels!

Self-Massage Techniques for Hands and Headaches

by A Better You Day Spa on 07/20/15

Here are several stretches that can help relieve stress in your hands and wrists from using a keyboard all day.

Stretch your hands and fingers out. Rub each finger from the base to the tip, gently pulling and twisting each finger as you go.

Next, rest your left hand, palm upward, on your lap. Squeeze the fleshy part of your palm between your right thumb and index finger, moving from your wrist to the base of your thumb.
Now squeeze that webbing between your left index finger and thumb several times, looking for any tender points.

Then rub the entire palm with your right thumb, applying firm pressure and using gliding strokes from the wrist to the base of each finger.

Repeat this process on your right hand.

"Massaging the hands is not only great for the hands but can help to relieve headaches as well," Grust says. The hands, like the feet, contain reflexology points that correspond to the entire body, including the head, neck, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and sinuses.

GNC, Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreens accused of selling adulterated ‘herbals’

by A Better You Day Spa on 07/20/15

A warning to herbal supplement users: Those store-brand ginkgo biloba tablets you bought may contain mustard, wheat, radish and other substances decidedly non-herbal in nature, but they’re not likely to contain any actual ginkgo biloba.

That’s according to an investigation by the New York State attorney general’s office into store-brand supplements at four national retailers — GNC, Target, Walgreens and Wal-Mart. All four have received cease-and-desist letters demanding that they stop selling a number of their dietary supplements, few of which were found to contain the herbs shown on their labels and many of which included potential allergens not identified in the ingredients list.

“Contamination, substitution and falsely labeling herbal products constitute deceptive business practices and, more importantly, present considerable health risks for consumers,” said the letters, first reported today by the New York Times.

The tests were conducted using a process called DNA barcoding, which identifies individual ingredients through a kind of “genetic fingerprinting.” The investigators tested 24 products claiming to be seven different types of herb — echinacea, garlic, gingko biloba, ginseng, saw palmetto, St. John’s wort and valerian root. All but five of the products contained DNA that was either unrecognizable or from a plant other than what the product claimed to be.

Additionally, five of the 24 contained wheat and two contained beans without identifying them on the labels — both substances are known to cause allergic reactions in some people.

Of the four retailers, Wal-Mart was the worst offender: None of its six supplements that were tested was found to contain purely the ingredient advertised. Target’s supplements were the least misleading of the lot — though that isn’t saying much, since tests on six of the brand’s products resulted in only one unqualified positive. Two of Target’s other supplements contained DNA from other plants alongside their purported ingredients, while the remaining three tested negative.

Harvard Medical School assistant professor Pieter Cohen, who is an expert on supplement safety, told the New York Times that the test results were so extreme he found them hard to accept. He suggested that the manufacturing process may have destroyed some of the ingredients’ DNA, rendering the DNA barcode test ineffective.

On the other hand, he said, “if this data is accurate, then it is an unbelievably devastating indictment of the industry.”

This investigation is just the latest in a series of blows against the dietary supplement industry. Supplements are not considered food or drugs, so they have long been only loosely regulated. Federal guidelines require companies to ensure that their products are safe and accurately labeled, but the FDA has little power to enforce that rule.

A 2012 paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association warned that this lack of regulation of the supplement industry could lead to “adverse events.” In the past five years, tainted supplements have been associated with kidney failure, hepatitis and other problems.

Ginkgo biloba capsules. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Also in 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services released a report saying that supplements’ claims about their structure and function often lack scientific support. HHS recommended that the FDA seek “explicit statutory authority to review substantiation for structure/function claims” — essentially, it should subject the health claims made by supplement manufacturers to the same kind of scrutiny that drugs must undergo.

The New York attorney general’s letters also cited a 2013 Canadian study of 44 common supplements, in which one-third of herbal supplements that were tested contained no trace of the plant advertised on the bottle.

The Canadian study “alerted the dietary supplement industry to the fact that it is not providing the public with authentic products without substitution, contamination or fillers. It is disappointing that over a year later the attorney general’s researcher reached similar conclusions,” the letters chastised, sounding like a frustrated parent.

Fruit-Infused Water for Glowing Skin

by A Better You Day Spa on 07/20/15

Hydrated skin means beautiful skin. Although a good moisturizer is a must for glowing complexions - so is hydrating your skin from the inside"

Hydrated skin means beautiful skin. Although a good moisturizer is a must for glowing complexions - so is hydrating your skin from the inside Hydrated skin means beautiful skin. Although a good moisturizer is a must for glowing complexions - so is hydrating your skin from the inside. Staying well-hydrated means drinking plenty of water as well as eating lots of water-dense fruits and veggies like watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit, cucumbers and celery (BestHealth).

Not only is water great for your skin - it’s also vital for your overall health. Water helps your body’s natural digestion and detoxification functions; a lack of water is linked to headaches, pain and tension in muscles and joints (MindBodyGreen).

We realize that drinking water can be boring, especially when more tasty, thirst quenching options are on offer, like sports drinks, soft drinks or even a chilled glass of rosé . In order to compete with the less-healthy summer beverages, we’re adding a little flair and flavor to your H2O with these quick and easy recipes for fruit- and herb-infused water.

Strawberry, Lime, Cucumber and Mint Water

Total Time: 10 minutes

Serving Size: 1/2 gallon

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup sliced cucumbers
  • 2 limes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • Ice cubes
  • Water

Instructions

  1. In a half-gallon jar, or a 2 quart pitcher, layer the strawberries, cucumbers, lime slices, and mint leaves with the ice cubes. Fill jar or pitcher with water. Let chill for 10 minutes, and then enjoy!


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