A Day In The Life Of… Jane Lu

Each week SHE‘SAID’ features an inspiring woman who has been kind enough to share her story with our readers. She might be a leader in her chosen field, someone still on their own path striving to make a difference or simply someone with a remarkable story to tell. These women contribute their own knowledge, expertise and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.

Jane Lu is the young founder of Australian fashion e-tailer Showpo. When I first met Jane, it was clear she wasn’t your typical CEO. Dressed in denim cut-offs – her signature look – with long hair out and that beaming smile she’s known for, Jane is as much a customer of Showpo as she is the owner.

Formally from accounting giant Ernst & Young, Lu tired of corporate life and launched Showpo (formally Showpony) in 2010. In five short years, she’s proven that hardwork and a bit of fun is the key to creating a thriving, not to mention truly satisfying business.

The company’s Instagram account @ILoveShowpo has amassed a whopping 539,000 followers, while Lu herself (aka @TheLazyCEO) is nearing 100,000. Last April, Showpo did $800,000 of sales and projected continual growth month-on-month. Not bad for a local Sydney girl who admits to having “no business pan” in her late-20’s.

Here, she invites SHESAID into the world of Showpo to share what a typical work day looks like for one of Australia’s brightest young stars.

8:15am: Rise and Shine

While most entrepreneurs brag about waking up at the crack of dawn to get started on work, Jane Lu bucks the trend. “I get up as late as possible because I always go to bed way too late- normally watching TV or playing on my phone in bed!” she tells SHESAID.

Lu then jumps in her Jeep and heads straight to Showpo HQ, a chic warehouse office space in Sydney’s creative hub, Surry Hills.

9am: Coffee fix!

“Coffee first thing in the morning is a must, and as much as I would love to start being productive first thing in the morning, I spend most of it checking my emails and chatting with the team,” Lu admits. When we sat down with the business whizz, she even ran a tab at her local hot spot, Le Monde, a bustling cafe in Surry Hills.

Lu does a quick email check in the morning, but limits her use throughout the day. To avoid constantly checking her inbox, Jane sets a bounce back that asks colleagues to email ‘URGENT’ in the subject line, otherwise she responds to messages intermittently.

As for a typical schedule, Lu says normal doesn’t exist in the world of Showpo. “Every day is different for me – some days we have photoshoots, some days I’m in back-to-back meetings. I like to jump between the little divisions within our office and give my two cents and see how to improve our current systems and processes.”

Showpo, Inspirational Women, Career, Fashion, Entrepreneur

Midday: Team time

“Team lunch! This is the highlight of the day! It’s great being located in Surry Hills – we’ve got heaps of yummy places to choose from to buy our lunch. We always bring it back to the office all sit around our ‘family dining table,'” says Jane.

It’s clear that the SHOWPO team is a close one. As the founder, Jane fosters time for the crew of young, passionate staffers- all of whom are SHOWPO poster girls on social media. And it shows- Jane and her team are clearly more than colleagues. There’s mutual respect and a willingness to drive the business as a team.

6pm: Cram time

As the boss of her own burgeoning business, Jane sets the pace for her work day and admits that she’ll often stay back to work late. “I’m really the most efficient from 8pm to midnight- I’m a crammer!” she laughs.

And while that might not be a conventional work day, it’s clear that steering away from normality has been a secret to success for this young entrepreneur. Given the dramatic growth of Showpo, and thriving culture of Showpo’s resident ‘ponies,’ it’s obvious Jane Lu’s doing something right.

May 20, 2015

Do You Live in the World’s Happiest Country?

The World Happiness Report has been released this month crowning the world’s happiest country, and boy has it caused some rivalry. Launched in 2012 by the United Nations, the report gives 158 countries around the world a definitive placing based on a number of factors, such as earnings, living standards and perceived freedom.

RELATED: What Makes Australians Happy?

Think your home country should top this list? The winner might surprise you.

No, it’s not the United States of America, home of the brave. It’s not Australia, great southern land of the tanned surfer and carefree attitude. And the United Kingdom didn’t even make it to the top five (no, the arrival of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge didn’t factor into their happiness rank).

Coming in at number one is Switzerland. The European country boasts an average life expectancy of 82.8 (precise, huh!) and most citizens are multilingual, speaking German, French and English. Cold climate countries took out the top five spots, with Iceland ranking second on the list, followed by Denmark, Norway and Canada.

“This report gives evidence on how to achieve societal well-being,” says Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University. “It’s not by money alone, but also by fairness, honesty, trust, and good health.”

Other countries that made the World Happiness Report 2015 top ten include Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia. The United States claimed the fifteenth spot, while Britain crept in at number 21.

On the other end of the scale were war-torn countries and developing nations, most of which were sub-Saharan African countries. Afghanistan and Syria joined the likes of Rwanda, Chad and Ivory Coast at the tail end of the list.

Researchers say they hope the report will be used for good. “As the science of happiness advances, we are getting to the heart of what factors define quality of life for citizens,” says one of the report editors Professor John F. Helliwell of the Univeristy of British Colombia. “We are encouraged that more and more governments around the world are listening and responding with policies that put wellbeing first.”

Three ways to boost your happiness (without moving country)

1. Say thank you

Research in The Journal of Positive Psychology reveals that money and material goods won’t boost our long-term sustainable happiness, but gratitude will. Study leads from Baylor University looked into the relationship between materialism and life satisfaction.

Their conclusion that your pay packet won’t increase happiness wasn’t groundbreaking, but their findings about the impact of gratitude may well be.

Researchers found that feelings of gratitude act as a buffer from the negative effects of materialism. The take home message? At the end of each day practice reflecting on the good that happened that day, whether that be a new purchase or a great meal with friends – cultivating positive thoughts is key.

2. Get out there

Education and social-economic status are often linked to a better level of wellbeing, but research by the University of Warwick suggests that’s not the case. The study, which interviewed over 17,000 participants, found that getting a good education had no correlation to leading a happier life. So on this basis, focus on building life experiences to better your odds for a happier, more balanced life.

3. Have kids

Yep, that’s right. A study by the London School of Economics has found that having two children increases a person’s chance of happiness. What’s more, those who have children later in life have a particularly positive response to building a family. Interestingly, having a third child saw no boost in happiness.

Images via Sprout

May 13, 2015

Would You Eat Algae?

As a health writer, I’ve tried my fair share of fitness and nutrition trends. Aerial yoga? Yep. Ancient healing herbs. Uh-ha. But when word of the latest super food landed in my inbox I was taken aback- algae.

RELATED: Top 9 Vitamins For Women At Every Age

Yes, algae. I’m not talking about the slimy, green kind though. Companies such as Queensland-based business Divinita have brought the health benefits of brown algae to Australian shores in the form of a small, odourless and tasteless pill.

Algae supplements are trending globally. Celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow are all said to be fans, thanks to its nutrient dense profile. Britney Spears reportedly eats algae raw (urgh). So, what is this odd health trend and should you try it?

“People can turn up their nose at first, but ocean foods and greens like spirulina and chlorella are becoming much more accessible,” says Adam Danielli, General Manager of Divinita – one of the first companies to introduce organic brown algae supplements to the Australian market.

Brown algae is extremely high in iodine, an element said to be crucial in maintaining a healthy weight that helps regulate the thyroid gland. A recent study found that many Australians are deficient in iodine, which is found naturally in wild fish, seaweed and iodized salt. What’s more, brown algae is also high in nutrients such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron. A study by Queensland University’s School of Agriculture and Food Science suggests this superfood is a nutrient cocktail.

“Extensive research shows that brown algae seaweed is more rich in antioxidants than acai berry and contain more vitamin A than tomatoes and pumpkin,” says Peer Schenk, professor at the University of Queensland.

While its benefit list reads longer than a queue at Press Juices, accredited practicing dietician Katherine Baqleh isn’t convinced this fad has staying-power. “I don’t believe in extracting nutrients and taking them in capsule form. Whole foods are best, especially because they contain a whole range of other nutritents,” she points out. “Fish, for example, is high in iodine, but eating real fish provides you with healthy fats, poteins and Vitamin D.”

She also stresses that iodine deficiency should first be diagnosed by a health professional. “Iodine is not a magic bullet for weight loss, unless you have a genuinely diagnosed issue,” she says.

Professor Peer Schenk notes that aside from iodine, brown algae is also high in protein. He says it even contains more than eggs. “This is particularly important because it allows the body to slowly digest the contents, which may help with the feeling of satiety and allow for better absorption,” he says.

So will this irksome-sounding supplement make it to superfood status? That remains to be seen. Anything that promises to combat those 3pm cravings and keep weight in check has our attention.

Images via Swiish

May 5, 2015

Smartphones Are Making You Dumb: How To Combat It

Bad news for phone addicts – a new study shows that the device in the palm of your hand is killing your IQ. If you’re ever guilty of watching TV while browsing Facebook and using Google to answer every life question, research suggests it could be making you, ah… Dumb.

RELATED: Is Technology A Buzz Kill In The Bedroom?

A study by the University of Copenhagen has found that digital multitasking – having one eye on the telly and the other on your Instagram feed – is having a serious impact on your brain. Researchers found that using multiple devices releases a hormone that is likened to being high on drugs. That’s not all: Every time you multitask, you’re rewiring your brain. Flicking between gadgets causes information to be stored in another part of the brain, establishing new cognitive habits.

“Our brains could, thanks to our reliance and overuse of technology, be heading for the scrap heap,” one of the researchers told the Daily Mail. And to top it off, scientists at the University of Waterloo believe resorting to Google to answer life’s questions is lowering our IQ. Nice.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Here, we speak to tech queen Megan Iemma of Tech Coach HQ about the four best ways to take control.

  1. Don’t Google Everything

To Google or not to Google? Megan Iemma says it’s important to develop “digital resilience,” and be discerning about when, and how you use search engines. A recent study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, found that most humans will opt to exert as little mental effort as possible. This can result in an over-reliance on search engines (we’ve all Googled questions we could solve ourselves).

“I think the bigger issue is critical thinking skills,” says Iemma. She believes that truly productive people know how to use search engines properly and aren’t ‘trigger happy.’ “Go beyond the first page of Google and try a combination of keywords, rather than just typing the question straight in,” she says.

  1. Have a Zen Inbox

Guilty of checking your emails every 10 minutes, and jumping when you hear the ping of a new message? It’s time for an inbox overhaul. Creating a zen inbox is simple: Write an ‘out of office’ message that lets friends and colleagues know exactly when you will check your inbox. Be specific and set two times – 8am and 2pm are ideal so you have time to action any tasks. Add to the message that any urgent notes can be directed to your mobile or receptionist.

It might seem stressful at first, but changing your email habits will cause you to be more task-focused, rather than reactive as new messages come through. “It’s a more productive way to check and respond to emails,” says Iemma. “Research has shown we are less stressed when we stick to about twice a day rather than constantly checking it.”

  1. Try the 7til7 Challenge

Headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation has launched the 7Til7 Challenge, which asks Australians to ‘disconnect to reconnect.’ Participants are encouraged to take time out from technology between 7am and 7pm, to reflect on our relationship with devices. Sure, that might not be realistic if you hold down a full time job, but start small by switching off social media notifications during the day. You’ll be surprised by the results.

  1. Use One Screen at a Time

For years we’ve been told how important it is to hone the art of multitasking, but new research suggests that when it comes to devices, screen-on-screen action should be avoided. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that more than 80 per cent of mobile users are guilty of using multiple screens at once.

The answer? When you arrive home, dock your mobile on the charger in a separate room. At work, try to turn off Facebook notifications so you don’t have too many devices vying for your attention. It’s a tough habit to break, but your future self will thank you.

Image via Twitter

May 2, 2015

Is This Diet The Answer To Alzheimer’s Disease?

A new promising study suggests a simple diet known as MIND could significantly lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. What’s better, even participants who didn’t follow the diet meticulously still reaped the benefits.

RELATED: Seven Ways To Maintain A Healthy Brain

Sound too good to be true? These findings could have huge implications on the relationship between diet and brain health.

Developed by nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, the MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diet. The name MIND is an acronym for ‘Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay’ diet (phew- that was a mouthful!).

What’s really surprising are the raw figures. The study found that participants who followed the MIND diet lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s Disease by as much as 53 per cent. Even those who didn’t adhere to all the rules reduced their risk by about 35 per cent.

“One of the more exciting things about this is that people who adhere even moderately to the MIND diet had a reduction in their risk,” Morris told Science Daily. “I think that will motivate people.”

Want to try the MIND diet yourself? Here are five simple ways to try this diet at home:

1. Up your grain game

Health, Diet, Alzheimer's Disease, Wellbeing, Brain health

The MIND diet has 15 components, many of which focus on foods shown to assist in brain health. Whole grains are recommended three times per week, a recommendation that might seem controversial amid claims by neuroscientist Dr David Perlmutter that grains can lead to dementia and chronic headaches.

Nutritionist Melanie Eager admits this topic can lead to consumer confusion, but believes grains can be positive for brain health. “Whole grains have a low GI which will release glucose slowly into the blood providing a supply of energy and allowing you to stay mentally alert throughout your day,” she says.

2. Snack on nuts and berries

Health, Diet, Alzheimer's Disease, Wellbeing, Brain health

Nuts and berries are regular favourites on the list of brain boosting superfoods, so it’s no surprise they feature heavily in the MIND diet. Diet developer Martha Claire Morris says that blueberries in particular are best. “Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” she says.

Studies have shown diets rich in blueberries have a significant link to improved learning capacity and motor skills. Eager notes it’s better to opt for organic berries as produce can be heavily sprayed. Likewise, nuts are recommended as a great daily snack on this diet. Nuts and seeds are a great source of Vitamin E, which has been shown to correspond with less cognitive decline in ageing.

“The best nuts for brain health are walnuts- they even look like a brain!” says Eager, who calls them Mother Nature’s brain booster. “They contain high amounts of antioxidants and Omega 3 which is great for brain health,” she says. Other nuts to add to your snack list include almonds, pistachios and macadamias.

 3. Drink up

Health, Diet, Alzheimer's Disease, Wellbeing, Brain health

The link between drinking wine and boosting your brain health is often debated, but according to the MIND diet, the occasional glass of vino is perfectly fine. It is believed that resveratrol, found in abundance in red wine and dark chocolate may improve memory. A study of adults who took a resveratrol supplement for six months found those who had the active ingredient had better short-term memory recall than those who took a placebo.

On the other hand, a 2012 study by Rutgers University in the US found that drinking just two glasses of wine a day could almost halve the number of brain cells we produce. While more research is needed to define the link between wine and brain health, the take-home message is clear: sip in moderation.

4. Say goodbye to fast food

Health, Diet, Alzheimer's Disease, Wellbeing, Brain health

To reap the full benefits of the MIND diet, participants had to limit their intake of specific unhealthy foods. Butter, cheese and fast food all made the hit list with researchers recommending less than a serving per week of any of the three.

“Foods such as pastries and fried food are high in saturated and trans-fats which cause inflammation in the body – including the brain – due to the amount of free radicals that are released,” Eager explains.

Eager points out that studies show long-term neuron damage can occur when a high fat diet is consumed. “When the brain attempts to heal this neuron damage, brain scarring occurs.”

5. Fish and meat in moderation

 Health, Diet, Alzheimer's Disease, Wellbeing, Brain health

Unlike the popular Mediterranean Diet which requires a serving of fish every day, the MIND diet recommends eating poultry at least twice a week and fish only once a week to reap the benefits.

Fish and meat contain Omega 3 fatty acids and there are two active forms in the body-DHA and EPA. DHA is essential for brain development and is found in oily fish and grass fed animal products,” explains Eager.

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, don’t fret. “It is possible to obtain all your essential fatty acids on a vegetarian and vegan diet through chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds [and] green leafy vegetables,” she says.

Images via rebloggy, Tumblr, What To Cook, Bondi Beauty, India Marks

April 29, 2015

Is Coffee The New Teatox?

Coffee addicts rejoice – this is your year! 2015 has been hailed the year of the coffee cleanse, thanks to a new ‘superfood’ ingredient: Green coffee extract. Boasting benefits from weight loss to increased energy levels, we ask: what is this new superfood and should you try it?

RELATED: The Surprise Benefits Your Morning Coffee Gives You

What is green coffee extract?

Before you start doubling your daily coffee intake, take note: Regular coffee and green coffee bean extract are not the same.

Green coffee bean extract is made from unroasted coffee beans. It is believed that the roasting process – done to the beans that make your morning latte – reduces the amount of chlorogenic acid, the active ingredient that is associated with a tonne of health benefits.

Chlorogenic acid has been touted by advocates as the ultimate weight loss tool. It is believed this natural chemical compound might inhibit the body’s uptake of glucose in the intestine and blood, regulating the metabolism and even resulting in weight loss.

What’s more, a handful of Australian companies have started to use green coffee bean in their products, finally bringing it to our shores.

Meet the next generation of coffee

If your daily latte doesn’t aid in weight loss, increase metabolic rate or come packed with superfoods, it’s not working hard enough, according to new Australian company Coffee Not Coffee. The young brand has amassed a cult Instagram following and has appeared in Harpers Bazaar Germany, not to mention on the accounts of the global blogger set.

Their hero range of coffee includes chlorogenic acid and claims to suppress appetite, boost antioxidant intake and decrease blood glucose and insulin levels. Just to name a few.

They’re not the only ones to champion the power of green coffee beans. Starbucks USA offer a range of Starbucks Refreshers, canned drinks and sachets containing the new superfood. Green coffee bean can also be found in supplement form and taken as a daily pill.

Coffee, Superfood, Diet, Weightloss, teatox

Does it live up to the hype?

“Some of the claims being made about chlorogenic acid seem too good to be true,” says accredited practicing dietitian Gloria Cabrera. “It’s important not to believe everything we hear and do a bit of research before buying expensive supplements.”

One of the landmark studies on green coffee beans was recently retracted after researchers acknowledged that they couldn’t validate the headline claims. The study stated that participants who took a green coffee bean supplement lost 16 per cent of their body fat, and was even endorsed by US celebrity health expert Dr Oz, before being revoked.

“Research done on green coffee beans and weight loss have often been on small populations,” Cabrera points out. “The results look promising but more research needs to be done with a larger group of people for a longer time period,” she says.

Should you try it?

While the idea of slimming coffee might sound enticing, dietitian Katherine Baqleh says products that make big weight loss claims should be approached with caution. “It appears to be just another fad setting people up for diet failure,” she says. “There are concerns regarding safety, dosage and adverse side effects. It’s also unclear the type and amount of the extract needed.”

It’s not all doom and gloom though. If you’re a regular coffee drinker and don’t want to give up on your daily mug, Baqleh says there are ways to make healthier coffee choices. “For the lowest energy content, choose an espresso,” she says. “Be careful of milky coffees with sugar, even if they’re skim-based. They’re considered a snack, not just a beverage.”

Gloria Cabrera agrees that if you’re watching your weight, steer clear of milk drinks and opt for no sugar. “People don’t realise about the kilojoules in coffee,” she says. “Choose a large size, add a few sugars and have several daily and you could be consuming the equivalent of a whole meal!”

Cabrera recommends capping your coffee intake to three cups per day and says it’s important to maintain a healthy balanced diet. “Taking green coffee bean extract but consuming an unhealthy diet with little physical activity is unlikely to do much for weight loss.

“It’s essential to focus on the whole approach rather than hoping a magic pill will be the solution.”

We’ll cheers to that.

April 24, 2015

The Ultimate Travel Guide To An Insta-Vacay

Planning your next holiday? We map out 10 of the year’s hottest travel destinations for an Instagram-worthy vacation. Make like a blogger, grab your Canon and Isabel Marant heels and jet off to one of these truly photogenic locations.

RELATED: 10 In-Flight Travel Essentials

Cappadocia, Turkey

Travel, Instagram, Holiday, Blogger

Search #Cappadocia in Instagram hashtags and your feed will be awash with dreamy sunrise shots of hot air balloons drifting above the craggy rock landscape of Turkey. This once-obscure location is located in the Central Anatolia Region in Turkey, a short flight from Istanbul.

Recently shot to social media stardom thanks to Australian travel blogger Tuula Vintage, Cappadocia is fast gaining fame for its honeycomb hills and whimsical, fairytale vibe. Book a hot air balloon at day break and grab your Nikon  it’ll to be the ride of a lifetime.

Maldives

Travel, Instagram, Holiday, Blogger

Famed for it’s milky-turquoise water and iconic sprawling stilt huts, the Maldives is a dreamy luxury holiday destination like no other. Thanks to super bloggers like Jasmine Howell of Friend in Fashion and Nicole Warne of Gary Pepper Girl, the Maldives is a hit destination for travellers who want postcard picturesque scenery and brag-worthy surrounds. Just don’t expect to travel on a budget – the Maldives is home to some of the best (read: most expensive) luxury resorts in the world and it’s worth the splurge.

Chefchaouen, Morocco

Travel, Instagram, Holiday, Blogger

A day trip to the town of Chefchaouen in Northern Morocco will have you seeing blue for days. The small town consists of hundreds of hotels and houses bathed in the same shade of vivid cerulean wash, a tradition credited to its Jewish heritage.

Located a short trip from Tangier on the coast of Africa, Chefchaouen is a perfect stop-over on your way to Fez or Marrakesh. Perhaps don’t wear blue that day.

Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Travel, Instagram, Holiday, Blogger

It sounds like the description of a far-off location in an Indiana Jones film: a cluster of hidden underground lakes surrounded by lush jungle and dripping green vines. No, it’s not fiction. It’s a cenote, an eerily beautiful natural sinkhole found commonly in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.

Cenotes, pronounced ‘se-note-tees,’ are natural pits that occur when limestone bedrock collapses to reveal underground water. Once used by the Mayan people for sacrificial offerings, you can now access many of these sublime pools easily and take a dip.

Cinque Terre, Italy

Travel, Instagram, Holiday, Blogger

Cinque Terre is a #nofilter dream. Imagine row upon row of pastel pink and gelato tangerine buildings, perched over azure water. This iconic destination on the Italian Riviera should be top of anyone’s European bucket list.

To capture an iconic travel shot, pack your hiking gear. This rugged coastline is best seen from the winding, steep trails that dot the cliffs.

Burning Man Festival, Nevada Desert

Travel, Instagram, Holiday, Blogger

Move over Coachella, the must-see event rising to the top of every traveller’s list is Burning Man Festival. Held once a year in Nevada’s desolate Black Rock Desert, this festival isn’t for those who value their creature comforts.

Built with the values of inclusion and gifting, those who go to Burning Man Festival must bring a gift or service that is used as a currency in place of money.

When it comes to fashion, Burning Man Festival is your chance to go all-out. Latex, sequins, capes and leotards are the norm at the desert event, perfect for dramatic Priscilla Queen of the Desert-like snaps.

Pamukkale, Turkey

Travel, Instagram, Holiday, Blogger

Pamukkale, meaning ‘cotton castle’ in Turkish, certainly lives up to its mysterious name. Located in Southwestern Turkey, this unique city is best known for it’s white hot springs which form in terrace-like pools. The travertines are made from carbon minerals left by the flowing water and was believed to have ancient healing properties.

This site in unlike no other, so pack your best white bikini and relax in the warm turquoise water. Bliss.

The Pink Lake, Western Australia

Travel, Blogger, Holiday, Instagram

Western Australia’s Pink Lake became a dramatic backdrop for a collaboration between blogger Nicole Warne of Gary Pepper Girl and cosmetic giant Lancome. Ever since those stunning images of Warne bathing in the rose-hued water surfaced on social media it’s been short-listed as a dramatic location to visit.

Located in Port Gregory in the State’s mid-west, the vibrant colour of the water is created by bacteria that has become trapped in salt granules not so glamourous. While not worth a long-term stay, the Pink Lake is a good stopover when exploring the state. The odd natural phenomenon is truly breathtaking.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Travel, Instagram, Holiday, Blogger

Nature-lovers should add Plitvice Lakes National Park to the top of their travel to-do list. This stunning destination is located in Central Croatia, a day trip from popular port town Split. Best known for its impossibly clear, aquamarine still lakes and cascading waterfalls, exploring Plitvice is like stepping into an alternate world.

Often confused with Krka National Park, Plitvice is slightly harder to reach, but is well worth the effort. While travellers can swim in the water at Krka, Plitvice forbids any disruption to the serine lakes, which means the ecosystem remains virtually untouched. Wander the winding wooden boardwalks to see an abundance of fish, frogs, lizards and even the odd blue dragonfly.

Images via Sussan Mourad, Tuula Vintage, Gary Peppy Girl, Caravansary, Friend in Fashion, Leahliyah.

April 16, 2015

Meet The New Supermarket Superfoods

Move over kamut and kale- the age of the superfood is dwindling. There’s no need to search for berries from the Amazon or ancient Mayan grains, the best buys are in your local grocery aisle. We take a look at the everyday supermarket buys that are bursting with nutrition benefits, minus the superfood price tag.

RELATED: Zoe Bingley-Pullin’s Top 5 Food Swaps For A Better Diet

Here’s your guide to the best supermarket superfoods:

Beets

Superfood, health, diet, weight loss, vegetables

When world-renown chef Jamie Oliver was asked what his all-time favourite vegetable was, his answer was simple: beets. “I’m obsessed with them at the moment. You can roast them, smash them, cook them in the fireplace… the options are endless,” he said in a recent Australian interview.

Oliver’s not the only one who thinks it’s time for beetroots to return to the limelight. “Beets have strong detoxifying properties as they’re high in chlorine, which assists in cleaning the liver, kidneys and bloodstream,” says nutritionist and chef Samantha Gowing. “They’re also rich in potassium, which balances the metabolism.”

To harness these health properties, Gowing recommends dry roasting them. “Simply scrub them with a vegetable brush – be careful not to break or prick the skin – and cook in a moderate oven until tender. Trim the stalks and roots, carefully peel and slice as required.” Done!

Avocado

Superfood, health, diet, weight loss, vegetables

“Everyone should eat more avocado!” says Larina Robinson, wholefood dietitian and founder of The Body Dietetics. “The healthy fats in avocados help your body to absorb more of the nutrients from other foods you eat. They’re loaded with fibre supporting a healthy gut, possess anti-inflammatory compounds, and are rich in heart healthy oleic acid – the main fatty acid found in olive oil.”

What’s more, a new study by Penn State suggests that an avocado per day may lower bad cholesterol, which can benefit your heart health.

If you’re stumped when choosing the best ripe avocado, Robinson says there’s a fool-proof test. “Pop off the dried little button at the top to check the colour underneath. If it’s green, then it’s good to go. If it’s brown, it’s too ripe.”

Pineapple

Superfood, health, diet, weight loss, vegetables

Nature’s golden fruit is the perfect nutrient-packed sweet snack. “Pineapples contain bromelain, supporting protein digestion, and are rich in vitamin C for healthy eyes and immunity,” says Robinson.

That’s not all though. “Pineapples are also rich in the trace mineral manganese, an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production, antioxidant defenses and maintaining healthy bones,” she says.

Robinson says they’re an ideal fruit to have some fun with. “I usually serve up pineapple icy cold or frozen, in wedges, juice, or made into a frozen sorbet with fresh mint and lime.”

For maximum health benefits, avoid the tinned variety though. “You’re just adding extra sugar to an already sweet food, and most of the juice blends are reconstituted, reducing its vitamin C content and nutritional value,” she explains. Head straight to the markets or grocery aisle and grab one fresh.

Broccoli

Superfood, health, diet, weight loss, vegetables

“Broccoli is one seriously underrated vegetable!” says Robinson. “It’s packed with essential vitamin C, A, K and foliate. Plus it’s also loaded with sulforaphane, a powerful compound that helps to boost the body’s natural detoxification pathways,” she says. Not bad for a simple vegetable sitting in your local grocery aisle.

To get all the goodness from this green plant, be sure to steam it. A study by the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University has found that if broccoli is cooked until it’s too soft, it’s health value takes a dive. Instead, throw it in a steamer or sauté some stems for 2-3 minutes.

Cabbage

Superfood, health, diet, weight loss, vegetables

The humble cabbage might not sound as sexy as kale, but according to chef and nutritionist Samantha Gowing, it packs a seriously healthy punch.

“Cabbages are rich in chlorophyll and Vitamin B9, also known as folic acid. They cleanse and rejuvenate the digestive tract,” she explains. Not all cabbages are equal though. “The darker the outer leaves the more concentrated the chlorophyll and calcium content,” she says. Opt for cabbages with deep green leaves and add them diced to salads or fermented with traditional Chinese food for a twist.

Images via Maryam Makes, Real Fruit Jewelry, Taste, Green Kitchen Stories

April 10, 2015

How To Do A Digital Detox At Home

Australians are more digitally connected then ever, with the average person spending the equivalent of almost an entire day online every week. So is it time to do a digital detox?

RELATED: Has Technology Made us Distracted Parents?

“We live in a notification culture, where we have attention deficiencies and are addicted to the little red notification circles on our media,” says performance coach Vanessa Bennett.

“So much time is wasted letting people know we are constantly plugged in. We want to be the first to respond to an e-mail or a status update,” she says.

Bennett, who founded Inside 80 Performance, believes the answer isn’t necessarily to remove all digital connections, but rather to do a stock take and rethink the way we use technology to live and work more efficiently.

“Denying ourselves the opportunity to be productive just because we’re trying to separate work and life is a bad idea, but ‘disciplining’ our use of digital technologies is great,” she explains. “Discipline is important because it keeps us present.”

Dr John Demartini, a leading expert in human behaviour, believes constant use of our phones and social media accounts can actually lead to feeling disconnected. “Distractions such as smartphones and televisions can prevent us from following – or finding – our calling and making it a priority in our lives.”

He explains that 200 hours spent on digital devices per month- the equivalent of almost six hours a day- could be better spent to meaningfully impact our life. “You could have written half a novel or completed a private pilot’s license- four times!” he says.

digital detox, technology, health, wellbeing, social media

Follow these five steps to do a digital cleanse at home:

Step one: Do a shout-out

Going cold turkey and simply switching off every device will likely result in feelings of anxiety as you withdraw from conversations, and confusion from friends and family. Instead, post a simple note on the social media accounts you use most, such as Facebook and Twitter, letting friends know you won’t be online, and when you’ll be back.

This will avoid frustration from friends who are used to receiving instant replies from you and should alleviate some of your anxiety when you decide to switch off.

Step two: Do a social media stock take

“We need to stop being reactive and be conscious of outputting quality, not a speedy string of characters,” says Bennett. She recommends doing a stock take of the social media outlets you use most, and analysing how you use them.

“Grab a notepad and write down each social media site you use in order of frequency,” she says. “Then write down how, and why you use each outlet. Try to assess whether you achieve your goal for each. Ask yourself: ‘can this goal be reached sooner through a more disciplined approach?’”

Dr Demartini says the same applies to watching movies aimlessly or browsing the web without cause. “Whenever you find yourself watching TV, surfing the internet or about to answer the phone, ask yourself: ‘is this the highest priority use of my time I could be doing?’ If so, then continue. If not then get on with what inspires you and what produces the most fulfilment in your life,” he says.

Step three: Switch off notifications

“Technology can help us become incredibly productive but when we are focusing too much on the digital sphere we can get sucked in to click-bait- clicking ‘next’ on YouTube or tiring our thumbs out by endless scrolling,” says Bennett.

Switching off app notifications is an easy way to halt distraction and return the power to the user. Visit ‘Settings’ then ‘Notifications’ and deactivate any apps that trigger a desire to respond.

Bennett believes everyone works to a different natural pace, which should determine how we use notifications. “Slower-paced people can’t regain their focus as quickly and perform really well when they concentrate on one task for longer time frames. They should switch off notifications and access them only between tasks,” she says.

Step four: Make an emergency back-up plan

Make sure you let family and friends know how to reach you in case of an emergency. A good way to do this is to turn your phone on to ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode via the Notification centre. This allows calls to be screened without interruption, and lets you set important phone numbers in your phone who can call through.

Step five: Relax

Now that you’ve done a stock take of your social media accounts and switched off all distractions, use this opportunity for valuable ‘me’ time.

“It is wise to stop periodically and become centred, and inwardly ask yourself if you are truly focusing and acting upon on your most meaningful objectives and highest priorities in your personal or professional life,” says Dr Demartini.

Stop, relax and breath in the serenity!

Images via Pinterest

April 1, 2015

5 DIY Easter Ideas

Five charming do-it-yourself ideas to transform your Easter into the perfect unique event.

RELATED: Enjoy Low Calorie Treats This Easter

Whether you’re time-poor, hunting for craft ideas for the kids or just want a quirky touch to make your house a little bit more festive, we’ve found an awesome Easter idea for you.

1. Ombre Easter eggs

Ombre has been one of the biggest trends in the last 12 months, influencing everything from hair colour to wedding cakes. So naturally, we swooned when we saw this trend applied to an Easter table setting.

Start by lining up six glasses, filled three quarters full of boiling water. Mix two teaspoons of white vinegar in each glass and stir thoroughly. Then, add two drops of coloured food dye to the first glass and double the number of drops in each glass so that the first is a light colour and the last glass is a dark hue.

Submerge a hard boiled egg in each glass for five minutes or until you’re happy with the colour. Dry it off in an empty carton and continue with remaining eggs to make an ombre egg table setting.

Easter, DIY, Craft, Easter Eggs, Bunting

Image via Country Living

 2. Paint card bunting

We love this easy cheat idea to making gorgeous rainbow bunting in ten minutes!

Simply head to your local hardware store for mini sheets of paint colours. If you have left over paint cards from past renovations use those to avoid waste.

Print out an egg shape or use a cookie cutter as a mould. Trace the shape on each paint sheet and carefully cut out each bunting shape. Punch holes at the top and string each egg in order of colour and voila- easy rainbow Easter bunting!

Easter, DIY, Craft, Easter Eggs, Bunting

Image via Modern Parents Messy Kids

3. Rainbow eggs

Using a pin, prick a small hole in an egg and empty out the contents for cooking. Set aside the empty eggs and wash them so they’re ready for display.

Using different shades of embroidery thread, use a hot glue gun to secure the end of the thread at the bottom of the egg and slowly wind the thread around in a circular motion. Brush a thin layer of glue on the egg every now and then to secure the threat so it sticks tightly to the egg base. Change the colours to your liking and display in a bowl with chocolate eggs.

Easter, DIY, Craft, Easter Eggs, Bunting

Image via Craftberry Bush

4. Stylish bunny ears

Who said bunny ears had to be white and fluffy? We love this stylish variation on classic rabbit ears. Twist two long pipe cleaners into the shape of long bunny ears. You might need to use more pipe cleaners and secure them to form one fish-like shape.

Then, wrap tulle around the pipe cleaner ears and glue to secure. Tie the end of the pipe cleaners around a plain headband and decorate the tulle with rhinestones as desired. Done!

Easter, DIY, Craft, Easter Eggs, Bunting

Image via Crave Naked

5. Mini egg planters

Create mini terrarium-like planters using left over egg shells. Use a knife to carefully crack the egg in half, keeping the shell in tact. Simply pour some soil into the shell and position some small succulents or moss in the planter. Arrange your mini succulent pots in the empty cardboard egg carton and there you have it- a quiky DIY easter garden.

Easter, DIY, Craft, Easter Eggs, Bunting

Image via Country Living

March 31, 2015

Is Sleep Making You Gain Weight?

Exciting new research suggests it’s okay to hit your snooze button.

RELATED: 5 Foods for Better Sleep

Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar has found that losing as little as 30 minutes of sleep per day during the week can have serious long-term consequences including weight gain, giving us one more valid reason to sleep in.

The study involved 522 patients who each completed seven day sleep diaries and monitored their weekday sleep debt. Participants who logged fewer hours of sleep during the week were 72 per cent more likely to be obese compared to those getting enough shut-eye.

What’s really frightening is that by the six month mark, sleep debt was significantly associated with obesity and even insulin resistance.

Lead study author Professor Shahrad Taheri believes these findings apply to thousands of people worldwide. “Sleep loss is widespread in modern society, but only in the last decade have we realized its metabolic consequences,” Taheri said.

“Our findings suggest that avoiding sleep debt could have positive benefits for waistlines and metabolism and that incorporating sleep into lifestyle interventions for weight loss and diabetes might improve success.”

Sleep, Weightloss, Health, Diet

Here are five ways to reduce sleep debt for good:

1. Do a tech cleanse

“Blue light emitting devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops have the ability to significantly disrupt our sleep or make falling asleep harder,” says Lana Eyeington, clinical exercise physiologist and sleep scientist. “The illumination throws our biological clock out of whack and suppresses our natural ‘sleepy’ hormone, melatonin.”

While the popular recommendation is to simply remove technology from your sleep zone, Eyeington says it’s best to disconnect at least 90 minutes before you even step into your room.

 2. Set a routine

Studies show that constantly changing your PM schedule can wreak havoc on your ability to reach a deep level of sleep.

To combat crazy schedules, Professor David Hillman, Chair of the Australian Sleep Health Foundation says establishing a night-time routine is paramount. “Read instead of watching TV or try a relaxation exercise to wind down,” he says. “Your internal body clock, which programs your night-day sleep-wake cycle, will thrive on it.”

Post-sundown isn’t the only time you can set a routine to benefit your sleep habits though, says Janella Purcell, nutritionist and Lifestream ambassador. “Make sure you get plenty of natural sunlight during the day. This signals the brain to produce melatonin.”

3. Tweak your diet

Purcell says magnesium is a great supplement to support sleep. “It’s an essential mineral involved in muscle relaxation as well as energy production,” she says. “Signs of magnesium deficiency include difficulty sleeping in and waking up early.”

Experts also agree that minimising caffeine will benefit your chance of getting good shut-eye. Eyeington’s approach is to taper your caffeine intake throughout the day.

“Start with your biggest dose first thing in the morning and taper down by lunchtime,” she says. “Caffeine has a half-life of approximately six hours. That means it takes six hours for only HALF of the caffeine to be metabolised by the body!”

4. Give your bedroom a makeover

We hear it time and time again: make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary! But Eyeington says bedroom faux pas are still quite common.

“Keep your study or desk space separate to your bedroom and use an analogue alarm clock,” she advises.

Hillman agrees and says that small physical changes to your sleep environment can have a powerful impact. “Make sure the bedroom is a comfortable, quiet, dark sanctuary for sleep. The act of going to bed is a powerful cue for the body – the bedroom should be reserved for sleeping and sex.

5. Make a sleep list

If you find you toss and turn at night thinking about all the tasks you need to complete, Purcell recommends starting a sleep list.

Keep a pad and pen next to your bed and incorporate it into your nighttime routine. Write down all the to-do’s you need to unload, plus some points you at grateful for. “It’s a great way to empty the mind,” she says.

If you experience chronic tiredness and lethargy contact your GP for tailored medical advice.

Images via The Telegraph

March 29, 2015

10 Hottest Beach Travel Escapes

It’s beginning to feel like Autumn: the leaves are turning rusty gold colours, the mornings have a crisp bite and that coffee before work has become more of a warm necessity than a choice.

RELATED: Travel Light: 5 Tips For Efficient Packing

As the months get cooler, we take a look at the 10 hottest travel destinations for sun seekers to escape the winter chill. From the dramatic mountainous bays of Budva in Montenegro to kite surfing on the glass-like Aegean Sea in Paros, there’s something for everyone’s travel taste. Be warned: this gallery will make you want to book flights, stat!

  1. The Algarve, Portugal

Boasting breathtaking cliffs and achingly beautiful stretches of sand, The Algarve in Portugal is an unbeatable summer escape. This southernmost region of mainland Portugal is a holidaymaker’s paradise. Relax on a gold sand beach, sip on cocktails at one of the many beach bars or try your hand at watersports.

Travel, Summer, Beach

  1. Budva, Montenegro

Ever since Australian travel blogger Jessica Stein (aka Tuula Vintage) uploaded snaps in Budva, Montenegro we’ve added this stop to our bucket list! Located below Croatia in Southeast Europe, Montenegro boasts jaw-dropping dramatic mountain peaks and stunning crystal clear water.

It’s much more than just a resort town though. Head inland to the rugged mountains and forests for a hike or hire a kayak and explore Montenegro from the water.

Travel, Summer, Beach

  1. Komiza, Croatia

Croatia is often featured on travel hit lists for its jewels Dubrovnik and Hvar. This summer, explore one of the lesser-known towns in Croatia, Komiza. This quaint fishing village sits on the western coast of the island of Vis.

Organised tours such as The Yacht Week do make stops to this Adriatic paradise, but you’ll easily find secluded beaches and quiet lookouts unrivaled by other Croatian towns.

Travel, Summer, Beach

  1. Paros, Greece

Imagine winding cobblestone alleys, exquisite seafood restaurants and azure beaches, and you’ve got a pretty clear picture of Paros. This Greek island sits in the central Aegean Sea, a hydrofoil ride from Athens.

Paros is the ultimate destination for sun seekers who want the restaurants of Mykonos without the crowds. The old town centre contains white washed boutiques and bougainvillea covered balconies. Grab a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants, then quad bike across the island to try your hand at kite surfing or paddleboarding.

Travel, Summer, Beach

  1. Santa Barbara, USA

Dubbed as the ‘American Riviera’ by local Californians, Santa Barbara is the perfect coastal escape for families or loved-up couples. If it’s your first time exploring the West Coast of the United States, take the time to hire a Mustang and drive from San Francisco down the coast, stopping for slow sunsets with the top down!

When you reach Santa Barbara, drop the car off and explore the 20 square miles of boutiques and restaurants by foot. Stop for a wine and take in the surrounding mountains and beach – perfection!

Beach, Summer, Travel

  1. Palma De Mallorca, Spain

This slice of heaven is situated just off the coast of Spain, a short plane ride from Barcelona or Ibiza. Unlike its other famous Spanish counterparts, Mallorca operates on a slower pace.

Famous for its world-class resorts and white sand, turquoise beaches, Mallorca is truly the stuff of dreams. Be sure to book ahead and also hire a car – the island might be small but its transport system is basic and the best beaches are off the bus line.

Summer, Beach, Travel

  1. Upper Yasawa Islands, Fiji

Perfect for Australians fleeing the cooler months, Fiji is only a four-hour flight from Sydney. Don’t get caught in the usual tourist trap – book a boat transfer from Port Denarau to the Yasawa Islands. The upper islands take up to five hours to reach, but believe us, it’s worth it.

Choosing an island will be the hardest decision you’ll make on the trip. Accommodation ranges from locally run huts on the beach to five star resorts with jacuzzis and private beach access. Don’t miss a snorkeling trip to the Blue Lagoon and day trip to the floating bar with a cult Instagram following, Cloud 9.

Travel, Beach, Summer

  1. Positano, Italy

A list of iconic beach destinations wouldn’t be complete without the Italian coastal town of Positano. Nestled between Amalfi and Sorrento, you might recognize Positano’s famous beachfront of pastel-hued houses built at impossible angles into the mountainside. If you can’t get enough of the European boutiques and turquoise water, catch a boat to Capri and visit the legendary Blue Grotto.

Travel, summer, beach

  1. Budapest, Hungary

Budapest might seem like an odd addition to a sun seeker hit list, but this European gem boasts some of the best outdoor pools and thermal spas in the world. In summer, temperatures soar to 30 degrees Celsius and there’s no better way to enjoy the heat than to don a bikini and head straight to the thermal baths.

Unlike our concept of ‘spas’ or ‘baths,’ Budapest’s thermal baths consist of indoor and ourdoor heated pools infused with thermal waters that boast healing qualities. Our top pick is the Szechenyi Baths and Pool. Stay after dark for their world famous night Sparty, a giant club held in the baths!

Summer, Beach, Travel

  1. Port Douglas

Just because it’s winter in Australia doesn’t mean you need to jet set out of the country for a tropical escape. The best time to visit Northern Queensland to swim is between April and October, when the infamous Box Jellyfish doesn’t rule the water.

Soak up Australia’s most famous destinations with a trip to the Great Barrier Reef or Daintree Rainforest and repeat after me: there’s no place like home.

Summer, Beach, Travel

Images via Wikipedia, Tuula Vintage, Greece Tourism, Santa Barbara Home and Lifestyle, Let’s Go Spain, Get Your Guide, Typischich, Szechenyifurdo Info, Diving Port Douglas

March 26, 2015

Could The New Apple Watch Tell You When You’ll Die?

If you’ve ever skipped the gym, indulged in an extra donut or opted for the elevator instead of the stairs then there’s a new app for you.

RELATED: Why Wearable Tech is Geek Chic Not Stylish

London-based company Rehabstudio have announced a revolutionary new Apple Watch app that might predict when you will die. Life Clock adds and subtracts time from your predicted lifespan according to your health choices and activities.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Life Clock’s developers say the goal of the technology is simple: to make life better. “We saw an opportunity,” Rehabstudo owner Tom Le Bree told Wired. “We thought, ‘OK, if time is really a human construct, how can we play with it?’”

Apple Watch, Technology, Health, Life

Life Clock works alongside Apple’s HealthKit data. Each user’s unique information about their activities and lifestyle choices are converted to time and displayed on the watch. For example, if you got sufficient sleep last night, Life Clock will add time to your overall lifespan, showing the impact each activity and choice has on your total wellbeing.

On the other hand, if you got less than 30 minutes of exercise today, Life Clock will subtract the equivalent impact that activity has on your lifespan. Then, it recommends ways to improve your health and increase your overall lifespan. Talk about the ultimate motivation tool!

While Le Bree admits the science isn’t 100 per cent accurate, he hopes it will make users realise the decisions they make now have a real impact on their future.

“[People think] tomorrow, I’m the guy that goes to the gym, quits smoking, and stops eating fatty foods. But today I’m going to have one last cigarette,” Le Bree says, hoping the app will encourage people to seize the day and make better health choices.

The Apple Watch will be available in Australia on April 24, 2015.

Tell us what you think: Would you ever try an app that tells you how long you’ll live?

March 26, 2015

Alternative Medicine: Is It Time for a Crackdown?

Unless you’ve been on digital hiatus lately, you would have seen the torrent of articles about health stars in the news. From allegations against The Whole Pantry app founder and alternative medicine advocate Belle Gibson to Paleo pin-up Pete Evans, there’s been no escaping these explosive stories.

RELATED: Five New Fitness Trends

Given the increasing frequency of reports of fraud and false claims by social media stars in the health industry, we ask: is it time for a crackdown? Should we reconsider who we ‘follow’?

Why now?

There’s never been an easier time for people to share their views to a mass audience. Shura Ford, founder of natural health clinic Ford Wellness Group, says social media is one of the biggest platforms for creating new health stars, which poses a potential problem. “[Social media] is global and its popularity is dependant on what resonates with the public, not with what is most credible,” she tells SHESAID.

Ford’s Melbourne-based clinic employs both traditional and non-traditional medical experts, ranging from GPs and psychologists to herbalists and kinesiologists. She says all professionals must be qualified and registered with their respective associations, or they can’t practice. In the digital realm however, it’s a different matter.

Belle Gibson, founder of The Whole Pantry app, cultivated an Instagram following of over 200,000 people around the world thanks to her message of ‘clean’ eating and natural therapies, including Ayervedic treatments and oxygen therapy. Gibson, whose cancer claims are currently under investigation, has sparked outrage about how a 26-year-old was able to give advise to so many people, with so few health qualifications.

“While I’m all for people becoming self empowered to look after themselves, taking advice  from someone who isn’t adequately trained nor qualified can be very damaging for that person’s health- not to mention costly,” says Rebecca Warren, lecturer of nutritional medicine at Endeavour College of Natural Health.

Ford agrees, adding, “the unfortunate situation is that there is no recourse of action for unqualified advice and it’s difficult for the public to know what is accurate or correct.”

So, what’s to stop anyone launching a site, gathering a social following and giving advise to an audience of thousands? Nothing.

Alternative medicine, health,  paleo diet, social media

What’s the danger?

When celebrity chef Pete Evans prepared to launch his new cookbook Bubba Yum Yum- The Paleo Way for New Mums, Babies and Toddlers, this year, he had no idea about the backlash it would spark.

“In my view, there’s a very real possibility that a baby may die if this book goes ahead,” the president of the Public Health Association of Australia, Professor Heather Yeatman, told the Australian Women’s Weekly.

Evans, a well-known TV host, chef and cookbook author, came under fire for a Paleo recipe in his new book, which suggested serving bone broth to a young child in place of formula. Despite Pan Macmillan refusing to publish the book, Evans has announced plans to self-publish it, relying on his strong social and digital following to support the venture.

Similarly, Gibson was able to use her reach as a social media sensation to spread information about her experience with using natural therapies for healing. “If you Google ‘natural cancer cure,’ more than 50 million searches claim to have your answer in the form of a herb, fruit, vegetable or tonic!” says accredited practicing dietitian Larina Robinson. “It’s just not that simple.”

“It’s sad because both women [Belle Gibson and Jess Ainscough] have inspired others to take control of their health and wellness with a sense of optimism,” says Ford, who admits she’s disappointed by the negativity shown toward natural medicine as a result of recent press.

“But I do agree with the concern that there may be others who were impressionable and vulnerable to persuasion,” she says. “They may have decided to forgo conventional treatment without being fully informed because they believed so strongly in the ideology of their health heroes.”

Rebecca Warren says she often sees health bloggers advocating ways of eating that aren’t as simple as ‘one size fits all.’ “Many of these bloggers just tell people to stay off gluten and dairy and everything will be fine. This might be true for some people, but if you don’t have a closer look, something really big may be missed.”

Alternative medicine, health,  paleo diet, social media

Who is the Watchdog?

Countless comments bombarded The Whole Pantry’s Facebook page prior to it being taken down, demanding refunds and asking how a potential lie could spiral out of control. “How can people get away with this? Doesn’t someone monitor these kind of claims?” one user posted.

Indeed, it’s a question that many angry followers of The Whole Pantry and Belle Gibson have been asking. Some followers even turned to magazines such as ELLE and Cosmopolitan, who both supported Gibson with inspirational features and even awards.

“When people are distributing irresponsible or harmful advice they should be held accountable,” says Ford. “Whilst the public need to take responsibility for their own health choices, impressionable and vulnerable followers need to be protected.”

Getting back to basics

Both Ford and Robinson agree that recent controversy shouldn’t deter people from alternative medicine and therapies, but should teach us to be more vigilant about where, and from whom, we source information from. “Eating the Paleo diet, despite its poor scientific background for it’s existence, can actually provide a nutrient rich platform for wholefood eating,” says Robinson, who believes stories such as Evans’ push extreme cases, and shouldn’t cast a shadow on wholefood eating.

Ford says the key is to seek professional advice, not the voice from the device in your hand. “Professional practitioners are accountable for what they say and recommend, they have to abide by ethical standards,” she explains. “The average blogger doesn’t have that level of accountability.”

Warren believes we need to be more vigilant about checking the qualifications of health bloggers we follow. “A bachelor degree is a minimum. And not just any degree – it needs to be in the area that they are talking about,” she says, explaining that specific subject degree means that person has undertaken a “rigorous level of education,” which usually takes three to four years.

The key lesson they agree on? As our digital presence and consumption changes, so too does our need to be more alert and aware. We need to be able to discern between voices we can trust, and those we can’t. Those health ‘gurus’ who fill your feed with nutrition advice and diet recipes? It might be time to hit ‘unfollow.’

Images via ELLE magazine, Nine News, The Australian. 

March 24, 2015

Bone Broth: Superfood Or Fad?

The term ‘bone broth’ might conjure up images of witches cackling over a bubbling caldron, but you needn’t be put off; this hearty stock is fast gaining popularity as the next superfood. 

RELATED: 5 Superfoods For Healthy Hair

Far from its strange name, bone broth is actually a very simple, inexpensive and easy-to-make soup. It is made by boiling bones in water for at least 24 hours to extract the natural goodness. Additional vegetables and spices can be added to enhance the flavour, but bone broth is stock in its basic form.

“It’s basically glorified homemade soup that’s having a moment in the spotlight,” says Larina Robinson, wholefood dietitian and founder of The Body Dietetics. But unlike store-bought stock, bone broth leeches key minerals and nutrients from bones to pack a serious superfood punch. 

What’s more, this golden elixr is associated with a tonne of health benefits. Advocates claim it boosts the immune system, eases join pain, rebuilds the gut, combats stress and inflammation, aids digestion and is great for hair and nails. 

“Despite its trendiness, there is actually merit to some of the reported benefits,” Robinson admits. With fans like Divergent star Shailene Woodley, pro basketballer Kobe Bryant and celebrity chef Pete Evans, it’s certainly a trend worth a closer look. 

Bone broth, health, super foods, weight loss, women's health

The benefits of bone broth

A simple Google search reveals over 493,000 results for bone broth benefits, but Robinson says we should remain skeptical about some claims. “A good dose of homemade chicken soup has shown promising evidence to help boost the immune system,” she says. “If it helps my hair and skin survive through the cold then that’s a bonus- but it’s not proven.”

Pro-Paleo health professionals believe bone broth can actually be a great source of nutrients. The idea behind it is simple: simmering bones for a long period allows minerals to leach from the bones and into the broth, delivering a potent blend.

“It’s incredibly high in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, boron and phosphorous,” says Cassie Mendoza-Jones, naturopath and founder of Elevate Vitality. “It’s also full of healing gelatin and is readily absorbed and easily digested.”

Bone broth has also gained praise as an ideal replacement of supplements, but Robinson says that’s dubious. “I would always recommend food and natural alternatives before synthetic products, but it’s difficult to measure the dose of nutrients you’re getting in each batch as it’s such a variable product,” she explains. 

Regardless, she agrees that there are clear benefits of making your own stock rather than heading to the supermarket. “A homemade soup stock or ‘bone broth’ will trump any packaged stock cube or ready mix by far in both nutrition and depth of flavour.”

Bone broth, health, super foods, weight loss, women's health

Should you try it?

Personal trainer Cassey Miller first came across bone broth at a women’s health seminar. “There were so many amazing stories about changes in weight loss, skin, hair and digestion that I just had to try it!” she tells SHESAID. 

Now, Miller, who runs Bondi’s Bottoms Up! Fitness, drinks the broth two to three times a week. “My goal is to try to have it every morning. [I’ve heard] it should be the first thing to hit your stomach each day for maximum benefits,” she says. 

Cassey is beaming and believes she can see and feel the benefits. “My skin is now glowing and I just feel so amazing when I start my morning with a steaming mug,” she says.

So, if you’re a Paleo dieter or not, one thing is for sure: nutrition experts agree that making your own meals using natural, whole ingredients is the best way to boost your health. Whether you choose to call it bone broth or just good ‘ol stock soup, this is one trend that’s here to stay. 

Five tips for making bone broth

  1. Source quality produce: “Opt for a butcher who specializes in glass-fed meats,” says Mendoza-Jones. Minimal ingredients mean quality is key. 
  2. Watch the sodium: Adding extra seasoning can tip the nutritional value of this simple broth. “[Soup is] typically high in sodium, which is something we don’t need any more of in our diets,” says Robinson. The beauty of this superfood is its simplicity, so keep the ingredient list basic. 
  3. Everything in moderation: Bone broth isn’t a meal replacement and should not be taken in place of supplements. Robinson recommends consulting your healthcare practitioner if you plan to sip it daily, to make sure it’s right for you.
  4. Waste not, want not: TV presenter Sally Obermeder adds leftover broth to pho soups and casseroles and even uses it in place of oil when cooking. 
  5. Freeze it: I Quit Sugar author Sarah Wilson says bone broth should keep for several days in the fridge or can be poured into ice cube molds and frozen for later.

Images via Swiish.

March 23, 2015

Have You Heard About Catstacam?

Pet food company Whiskas has launched Catstacam, a unique cat camera that gives felines around the world unprecedented access to social media.

Here’s how the invention works: Whiskas have sent out these mini cameras to key celebrity pet owners such as news presenter Deborah Knight and The Daily Telegraph’s Elle Halliwell. Once attached to a cat collar, the camera will live post photos to the pet’s very own Instagram account every 20 seconds.

RELATED: 10 Instagram Accounts for Celebrity Style Inspiration.

What’s more, if you’re unsure why your cat is acting in a certain way, upload a picture of it to Instagram and hashtag #AskWhiskas for a cat expert – or should we say cat whisperer – to explain.

Executive creative director Paul Nagy says the campaign is “absolutely mesmerising” and gives insight into the secret life of cats.

“We all know the internet’s obsessed with cats,” Nagy told Mumbrella. “We wanted to take this a step further by not only giving cats their own Instagram accounts, but the ability to take and upload their own photos, in real time.”

Why? Because… cats.

Here’s what we think Catstacam will reveal about what our pets get up to when we’re not around:

1. They are secret geniuses

Cat, Kitten, Computer, Catstacam

2. They sit on furniture that’s off limits when you’re home

Cat, Instagram, Kitten, Whiskas

3. They show your other pets who’s boss

Cats, kitten, Instagram, Catstacam, Whiskas

4. They sleep in adorable positions

Cats, Kittens, Catstacam, Whiskas, Instagram

5. They’re also seeing the lady next door

Cats, Instagram, Kitten, Catstacam

6. They binge too

Cats, Instagram, Kittens, Catstacam

7. They invite all their friends over when you shut the door

Cats, Instagram, kittens, Catstacam

8. They adhere to the rule: if I fit, I sleep

Cats, Instagram, Kittens, Catstacam

9. That mess you came home to the other day? Yep, that was them

Cats, Instagram, Kittens, Catstacam

10. Like everyone on Instagram, they love a good selfie. #catlyf

Cats, Instagram, Kittens, Catstacam

Images via Zotheysay, Instagram.com/Marcelandpoppy, Buzzfeed, Care 2, Hermandotoday and Catmoji

March 17, 2015

How Your Uber Ride Is Helping Women Worldwide

Your cab ride home can now make a difference.

Ride-sharing app Uber has announced they are teaming up with UN Women to transform the male-dominated driver industry for good.

Uber has pledged to create one million jobs for women by 2020, and make more women feel comfortable to get behind the wheel.

RELATED: New Study Reveals More Johns Are CEOs Than Women

Uber’s communications lead Katie Curran told SHESAID the partnership just made sense. “We’re doing this because we share UN Women’s vision of equality and women’s empowerment,” she said. “The Uber platform makes so much sense as a way to help accomplish this mission.”

While the taxi industry has received criticism for being uninviting to women, Curran says their ride-sharing app is the perfect option for anyone looking for flexible working hours and conditions, be it a working mum or part-time student.

“Over the next five years, we will create one million safe, flexible and equitable earning opportunities for women,” Ms Curran said.

Uber driver Amy says customers are often surprised when she picks them up, but that she doesn’t feel uncomfortable as a female driver. “You don’t pick people up from the street – it’s all logged through the app so they [Uber] know who is in your car,” she told SHESAID.

“The only time I feel uncomfortable is when people sit in the front and don’t talk!”

The move isn’t just a publicity stunt. Ms Curran points out that employing more women is a shrewd business move.

“The International Labour Organization at the UN estimates that 48 per cent of the global productive potential of women remains unutilised – twice as high as the rate among men,” she explains. “This partnership is aimed at helping close that gap.”

The announcement to partner with UN Women comes as Uber tries to gather voter support to loosen government regulations on ride sharing laws in the upcoming Australian state elections.

Whether the rules are loosened or not, Uber is proving to be a game changer that has power well beyond the tech arena. And if our cab ride home helps to economically empower just one women, that’s a ride we’re happy to take.

Image via Good Worldwide Inc

March 17, 2015
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