This blog post really doesn’t need much of an introduction – we all know that while sugar makes our daily lives better in so many ways by satisfying our taste buds and sweet teeth cravings, it is bad for us. We’ve been lectured from an early age on how bad it is for our teeth, mainly – but did you know that it suppresses our immune systems, degrades our skin’s health, and even fuels cancer cells?
1: It is key to start actively avoiding sugar by paying attention to nutrition labels, because while you will definitely be lowering your intake, you are still undoubtedly getting more than you realize. Sugar is literally in everything. It’s in processed breads, it’s in sauces (have you ever looked at the sugar content of a bottle of fish sauce at your favorite Pho restaurant?!), salad dressing, practically every soft drink in the grocery store, and it’s in those so-called “healthy” granola bars (yes, even Nature Valley).
2: Dental work is expensive. Believe me – I’ve had more cavities than I care to say, and they’re already becoming problematic. Sugar is so damaging to our teeth that it can begin to deteriorate them within twenty minutes! What exactly is it doing? Dissolving enamel. Which you cannot rebuild. Rule of thumb: definitely, definitely brush or even floss during the day if you are snacking on sugary treats. The longer the sugar sits on your teeth, the greater your chances are of cavities and other problems. Yikes.
3: Energy spikes…. and crashes. We all know the feeling: that absolute high when you’ve just consumed a Frappuccino (did you know there are 86 grams of sugar in a Venti Green Tea Frappuccino – without whipped cream?!) and you are feelin’ good. But sugar is empty energy – it lacks real nutrition and anything that’s valuable, long-term, for the body, so while our body processes it initially we feel high on life but as soon as it’s passed we crash. This is not a sustainable pattern for a healthy, productive work day – let alone life – so it’s best to go for long-term energy sustaining foods like veggies, beans n’ rice, or anything with healthy grains.
4: “Inflammation.” This is a bit of a buzz word in the health world right now – simply because everyone is discovering that inflammation can cause many, many problems. It’s a very general term for a wide range of issues. According to an article by Dr. Weil, “whole-body inflammation refers to chronic, imperceptible, low-level inflammation. Mounting evidence suggests that over time this kind of inflammation sets the foundation for many serious, age-related diseases including heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.” Sugar promotes inflammation in our bodies.
5. High blood sugar fuels cancer cell growth. This is a scary statement, but in a study outlined in this article, mice were injected with a strain of breast cancer and then were fed diets to lead to either high or low blood sugar. The higher the blood sugar, the lower the survival rate, which “suggests that regulating sugar intake is key to slowing breast tumor growth.” While this finding may sound like it is only applicable to those fighting cancer, I find this to be meaningful as it truly suggests that sugar helps our body hurt itself, and speeds that process up.
6: Sugar consumption speeds up our skin’s aging process and leads to wrinkles and fine lines. Prevention.com offers this helpful explanation of how exactly this works: “At blame is a natural process that’s known as glycation, in which the sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form harmful new molecules called advanced glycation end products…The more sugar you eat, the more AGEs you develop…Most vulnerable to damage: collagen and elastin, the protein fibers that keep skin firm and elastic.” Our skincare products are all about promoting the health and strength of these two protein fibers, and yet here is one invisible way that they are attacked on the daily! Collagen becomes dry and brittle when damaged, causing wrinkles and fine lines.
What’s your philosophy on sugar intake? In moderation, or not at all?
Slow, mindful breathing is often associated with meditation and yoga techniques for helping to relax the mind and body, where it is an essential part of the process of finding mental peace. But incorporating conscious, mindful breathing techniques into your everyday routine can be helpful and even healing on a number of fronts. Personally, I like to practice the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique on my commute home from work, when I can focus on exhaling my day and inhaling peace. Tata practices breathing techniques daily, as they’re a central part of her approach to stress management.
According to Dr. Andrew Wiel, “Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.”
A few tried & true breathing and relaxation techniques are below with step-by-step instructions. The first 2 are ones that Tata personally recommends for dealing with the pressures and stresses of daily life. It’s helpful to, with each one, mentally remove yourself from your present place, close your eyes, and focus on the process of calming down.
(I’ve taken these instructions directly from the health and wellness experts on Dr. Weil’s website, you can visit the full article if you’d like here.)
The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing) Breath: This exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
- Exhale fully out of your mouth, making a whooshing sound
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to the mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely out of your mouth, making a whooshing sound to the count of eight.
- This is one breath – Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
If you find that holding your breath for seven counts is difficult, you can speed up the entire process, but maintaining the 4 – 7 – 8 ratio is important. You’ll find as you continue the practice that your breath improves and that you can hold it for longer and slow down the process. According to Dr. Weil’s article, this breathing technique has powerful tranquilizing effects and its effectiveness improves over time, as you get better at it. Try to practice it twice a day any time you need to relax – after a stressful meeting, before bed, early in the day as you head to work.
The Stimulating Breath: The Stimulating Breath is adapted from a yogic breathing technique. Its aim is to raise vital energy and increase alertness.
- Inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose, keeping your mouth closed but relaxed. Your breaths in and out should be equal in duration, but as short as possible. This is a noisy breathing exercise.
- Try for three in-and-out breath cycles per second. This produces a quick movement of the diaphragm, suggesting a bellows. Breathe normally after each cycle.
- Do not do for more than 15 seconds on your first try. Each time you practice the Stimulating Breath, you can increase your time by five seconds or so, until you reach a full minute.
Breath Counting: Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight and head inclined slightly forward. Gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then let the breath come naturally without trying to influence it. Ideally it will be quiet and slow, but depth and rhythm may vary.
- To begin the exercise, count “one” to yourself as you exhale.
- The next time you exhale, count “two”, and so on up to “five”.
- Then begin a new cycle, counting “one” on the next exhalation.
Never count higher than “five”, and count only when you exhale. You will know your attention has wandered when you find yourself up to “eight”, “12″ and even “19.” Try to do 10 minutes of this meditation.
Again, head to Dr. Andrew Weil’s site (which is full of other helpful health tips and guidance) to see this original article – I felt his description of the techniques was so easy to understand I just thought I’d share it here.
Do you have any relaxation techniques that you practice daily to help with daily craziness? If so, share below!
NYC is a city of contradictions: it’s probably one of the most hectic, busy and stressful places in America – and yet it there are wellness, relaxation, exercise and green-eating destinations around every corner, a million little health havens where one can rejuvenate and press Restart.
Here at Tata Harper, we strive to strike that happy balance between busy and bliss, and bring that mindset of finding wellness everywhere into everyday practice. New York City is one place we find it easy to do so, if we stick to Tata’s list of favorites. Having kept NYC as a home-base for years, Tata has her key spots for a healthy, energizing bite to eat, a heavenly spa treatment, or a yoga session – and here they are below, for your health and enjoyment!
For a revitalizing Yoga session, Tata recommends Exhale Spa, a wellness center for the mind and body. They have locations all over New York, including in Soho, Central Park South and Gramercy, so you won’t have to go far – Tata recommends their Exhale Power Yoga classes for how fun and physically challenging it is. After a busy day, their Exhale Chill classes are divine – super restorative and balancing for a session of mental and physical centering.
In fact – we’ve teamed up with some spas to organize Yoga Glow events, an evening of Yoga + Tata Harper Skincare. How does a yoga session (with poses that increase blood flow to the face to revitalize the skin), a period of meditation and then a Tata Harper Masterclass with mini facials sound?? Stay tuned on our Blog and Facebook to find out when a Yoga Glow is coming to you!
There’s nothing like a fresh-pressed juice to kickstart your mood and energy in the middle of the day, just when you’re ready to go home and take a nap. Tata’s a huge fan of Organic Avenue - they are true experts at the art of creating the healthiest, cold pressed and raw juices and cleansing programs. If you ever have a really indulgent weekend and feel like your system needs a restart, head straight to one of their many stores (or their website) and load up. Your body will thank you.
We’ve teamed up with them for the LOVE*Beauty cleanse, a combo of a Tata Harper Deep Skin Cleanse, and an Organic Avenue body detox. Take your pick between 1 and 3 days of wellness, and treat your skin and body to the freshest skin and body care, ever.
What is there not to love about a restaurant that is “passionately committed to offering the freshest organic & local ingredients possible”? Especially in a city, where you really have to dig into the food scene to find locally produced foods – though it seems like the trend is building steam and that those options are becoming more and more available. ABC Kitchen is a restaurant Tata frequents, and their menu is loaded with skin-friendly recipes like roasted beets with homemade yogurt, and roasted carrot and avocado salad.
There aren’t many meals that leave you feeling healthier than fresh Sushi, and for that Tata heads to Nobu New York. Their menu is tantalizingly fresh, and the ambiance is cool and upscale, perfect for a healthy night out on the town.
Tenoverten at Le Parker Meridien offers nontoxic manicures and pedicures - for those that love the luxury of a nail treatment without the weird toxins, like Tata. They have their own line of 5-free nailpolishes in a variety of cute colors, so be sure to shop their shelves while you’re in there.
And for a really good blow-out (in the prettiest, sunniest salon), visit the Dry Bar. Their thing is No Cuts. No Color. Just Blowouts – so, naturally, they’re experts. Oh, and they wash, too, and host awesome parties!
For the ultimate rejuvenating spa experience, Tata heads to the Great Jones Spa. Talk about a balancing experience: their mission is to “inspire health and happiness through wholeness and balance.” Their Water Lounge is Tata’s particular favorite, for its river rock sauna and thermal hot tub – especially for a session that warms one up to the core during the chilly winter months.
Donna Karan’s Urban Zen is a foundation that “creates, connects and collaborates to raise awareness and inspire change in the areas of well-being, preserving cultures, and empowering children in mind, body and spirit.” A powerful mission if there ever was one. Tata, a fan of Donna Karan’s designer line, is especially inspired by their focus on children’s wellness: they incorporate nutrition and yoga into their programs to support healthy growth. Based in New York City, it’s an organization to keep your eye on – they host workshops, lectures and summits annually.
Meditation is a practice that can provide essential stress and anxiety relief from stressful city schedules. Tata heads to the Tibet House, which is an amazing resource for learning to incorporate meditation into your life. They host discussions, film events, traditional Tibetan music events and mediation classes for learning to improve meditation at every level.
What are your favorite wellness places in NYC? Share here so we can all continue to find find peace, beauty in bliss in the city that never sleeps!
One of Tata’s central tenants when it comes to great skin is: you are what you eat. What we put in your bodies has a direct effect on our external appearance, since our skin reflects the health of everything from our gut to our circulatory system to our brain. There are some foods that are incredibly beneficial for the skin, and can help reduce inflammation, toxins and acne-causing bacteria (dark leafy greens! fresh spices! avocados!), and there are others that, when consumed consistently or in large amounts, can wreak havoc on us inside and out.
So, here’s Tata’s list: foods she avoids, and suggests that you do, too. Some of these are unexpected, and it can be difficult to cut out a favorite daily snack. But, if you’re suffering from breakouts, rashes or prematurely-aging skin, cutting down on the below may prove beneficial!
1: Milk. For someone who had a glass of milk with dinner every night until adulthood, I know that milk can seem impossible to give up, but here’s why it’s questionable for the skin: most milk in the US contains growth hormones, many of which are naturally in the milk because it’s produced by pregnant cows, or are added to keep the cows producing milk year-round. These growth hormones have been linked to acne as well as estrogen imbalances in both men and women, which can lead to a variety of weird effects. Plus, milk has been linked to excess mucus production in our systems, aka it causes the perfect breeding ground for inflammation-causing bacteria. (One dairy product that’s actually great for skin: yogurt! This is because the fermentation process kills off those growth hormones, and breeds healthy bacteria instead)
2: Excess Sugar. This is an obvious one, but it takes daily diligence and attention. Too much sugar weakens the immune system and can contribute directly to a bad breakout, since bad bacteria breeds on sweets. It also causes internal inflammation and, over time, causes our skin to age prematurely by attacking healthy collagen structures… in other words, explore sugar alternatives like Stevia, Honey or Maple Syrup!
3: Packaged Foods. Packaged foods are indeed easy, convenient and quick. But here’s why they’re really no good: they’re always cooked or processed before getting packaged, and both of those processes kill nutrients and living enzymes that supply our body with everything it needs to… well, live. A diet that is full of packaged food can lead to nutrient deficiencies, and deficiencies often show up in the skin by weakening and dulling it. While packaged food can supply our body with calories at a hungry moment, it’s not suppling our bodies with the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc. it needs to really thrive. Cut these foods out of your diet and you may find your skin clearer and glowing.
4: Caffeine! I know, bummer. But here’s why you may want to limit caffeine intake if you’re experiencing skin problems: it triggers the adrenaline glands that produce stress hormones, and of course, too much stress is bad for the skin. Caffeine in moderation isn’t a problem, but four cups a day plus dark chocolate, soda and the odd energy drink may be too much. Also, caffeine disrupts healthy sleep patterns: a tired, stressed body is a body with a weak immune system, which feeds the bad-skin cycle.
5: Fried Foods. Again, this one seems like it’s an obvious one to avoid, especially if you’re prone to oily skin. Fried food is of course pretty oily, and when oil is heated to high temperatures it chemically changes and becomes really hard for our bodies to process and detoxify. A diet with lots of fried foods can contribute to heart problems and poor circulation, which leads directly to poor skin, as our skin is fed fresh nutrients and oxygen daily with a healthy circulatory system.
Which of these would be the biggest challenge for you – or, have you already endeavored to cut some items out of your diets for your skin?
(Featured image via livestrong.com)
One of the fabulous perks of being a part of this ever-growing, evolving world of natural beauty is that we’ve gotten the chance to meet and learn from some pretty amazing individuals. From fellow entrepreneurs, women on a mission, or even devoted Tata customers who share with us how living naturally and thoughtfully is changing their everyday reality – we’re always inspired.
Our company has crossed paths a few times with Randi Zinn, a yoga teacher, entrepreneur, new mother and writer who is exploring the tricky territory of wellness and motherhood in New York City. We felt that she would have a lot to say that would ring relevant for many of you dear readers, so we sent along some questions. Below are her answers, and I can just say that, as I expected to be, I’m inspired!
You’re a yoga instructor and have a background in dance and movement – what has yoga brought to your adult life that you can’t imagine giving up?
Yoga has brought me so many things- a deep connection to my body (which proved to be very useful during pregnancy and birth) as well as an overall appreciation for my body that many women lack. Through a steady yoga practice, you begin to judge the body less and appreciate what it can do more! But most importantly, yoga has given me “Tools” to handle life. Now, I’m not perfect, that’s for sure, but the simple ability to pause, take a deep breath, calm anxiety and worry well, this is the difference between a life out of control and a life with purpose. It’s these simple but profound tools that I can’t imagine giving up.
What do you think is most challenging for modern day mothers, especially those in cities, in terms of finding health and balance every day?
Time! We have no lack of access to healthy habits- yoga, spinning, meditation groups, boot camp, health food stores, vegan restaurants, organic cafes, the list goes on and on. For me, it’s finding the time to cook that meal, to meditate, to get to class! As New Yorkers we tend to PACK IT IN, leaving little time for ourselves. What I do and always recommend to people trying to grab that extra bit of time is to calendar your intentions in and to make those intentions every bit as important as a business meeting. So if you go to spin class, make your weekly class a repeat part of what you do, no questions asked. If you make a healthy soup for your family once a week, calendar soup time. I love using my phone for this kind of stuff because you can even “remind” yourself that soup time is coming up in a few hours. Get my point? You have to make yourself an equally important part of your schedule and stick to it.
If you could pass one bit of wisdom on to every expecting mother, what would it be? Maybe something you’ve learned so far from motherhood?
I would say to have trust in Mother Nature! Pregnancy and motherhood is probably one of the most natural, biological things we will ever do- therefore, Mother Nature hooks us up! For instance, at three months of pregnancy, labor and delivery seems the most frightening thing EVER- but we’re given nine full months to wrap our mind around the idea and most importantly to get REALLY big and uncomfortable so that you are absolutely READY to do it and get that baby out! It’s amazing how your attitude changes. Similarly, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle the lack of sleep when my son was small, but again, nature takes care. An incredible cocktail of hormones and profound love takes over and somehow the lack of sleep didn’t seem to be as big of a deal as I thought it would be. It was just part of it. So overall advice: worry less, nature helps out!
On your site, your list of causes includes an organization that offers free yoga classes, a suicide prevention foundation, and a dance, choreography & movement theater – a wide variety! What are you focused on right now in terms of giving back to your community?
This year I’m sprinkling in some new and exciting projects! The first is the Lowline- the development of an underground park in the lower east side in an abandoned subway station. The park will use a new solar technology to bring sunlight underground so plants and trees can grow! This will be a game changer in terms of how we use city spaces as well as a huge boost for the lower east side neighborhood. My other project for the year is my involvement in the Season of Cambodia Festival coming to NYC in April 2013. Sponsored by Cambodia Living Arts, this organization looks at how the arts can support and bring to life post-conflict nations. I’m particularly involved in the Khmer Dance Ensembles residence at The Joyce Theater, New York’s premier dance theater. I LOVE being involved in these creative and inspiring projects.
What has been the most inspiring project or partnership that you’ve had the chance to be involved in?
My husband and I designed and built a yoga studio in a portion of the house I grew up, in upstate New York. It started out as a way to improve a portion of the house that needed extra attention but ended up becoming a really exciting experience. I had envisioned my own personal use of the studio but once it was built it was so beautiful and so energetically powerful that I knew I had to share it with others! This past fall I held my first full day yoga retreat there. The day focused on giving a day of relaxation and rejuvenation to mothers- those that need it most! It felt amazing to bring ten amazing women into my childhood home but with a whole new purpose and dedication. I loved sharing this process with my husband- watching how a simple idea of how to improve a space ended up becoming so much more. More retreats to come- stay tuned!
What’s your favorite thing about living in New York City?
The people! I’m always astounded by how I can meet the coolest and creative people anywhere I go- Buy Buy Baby, Madison Square Park, or a coffee shop (where I met my husband!). People are friendly and excited to share their passions. Usually, people aren’t bashful about sharing the projects their working on, so I find it easier to collaborate and network. My husband likes to call it The Proximity of Luck- here in NYC; you’re never too far from someone doing something fascinating.
When it comes to your skincare or beauty routine, what are your essentials for looking and feeling your best?
I admit that I rotate products since I like to try different companies and know what’s out there. But I always look for products that are paraben- free, chemical- free and organic. I grew up with natural skin-care in my home so beauty always had a more conscious approach but there is so much more to choose from these days than from when I was young! I do have a regimen each morning and evening usually involving lots of moisturizer on my face and body. It keeps my skin more glowing and soft. And of course, I pay attention to what I eat. There’s no doubt that when I end up eating out too much I always feel a bit more dull. When I’m cooking salmon and eating dark leafy greens I notice that my skin also looks more alive. The inside and the outside definitely reflect each other!
You can check out Randi’s blog and learn more about what she’s up to at her website here!
Food for thought… If you could interview anyone who ever lived or is currently living, who would it be and what would you hope to learn?