Archive for July, 2011

Question– Last week you recommended mussels because they were high in omega 3 fatty acids. How much omega 3 should I be getting?

Answer– I’ve received  several similar questions this week  and it actually took a bit of digging  to find an accurate answer.  Unlike nutrients like vitamin C or minerals like iron, there are no universal standards   to support a recommended daily allowance ( RDA).  Rather  boards of scientists have looked at  different nutritional studies to come up with a number  where they can say  offers health benefits.  In most cases, doctors examined  heart disease trials  to see how much omega 3  is needed to protect against cardiac problems.  Most of the experts established that the daily minimum for  health benefits of omega 3 is about 400mg/day.  At the other end,  they recommended  a maximum of 3000mg og daily omega 3, with no more  then 2ooomg coming from supplements.

In terms of real food,  3 ounces of mussels provides 700mg of omega 3, about two days worth– which is the number behind recommendations of 2-3 servings of  fish a week.   I also have new respect for salmon which has 1,800 mg of omega 3 in a modest 3 ounce portion.  Since  most servings of salmon are more  like 6-8 ounces, a single weekly serving of salmon  more than meets  your omega 3 needs for a week.  Done!

Omega 3 supplements provide 500-  1000mg per capsule and certainly get the job done, but I  am concerned about their  potential contaminents.  Some studies have shown  presence of mercury and PCB’s  ( two known cancer causing agents)  in popular brands of  fish oil capsules.  Omega 3 capsules made from  cod and shark livers  seem to have  the highest levels.  This has led some people to focus on the benefits of omega 3 from tiny fish  like Krill.   Another approach has been to  try  to establish  manufacturing guidelines  such as Certificate of Analysis  or International Fish Oil Standards, but  it gets pretty confusing pretty fast. 

For now I’m going to get the  health and beauty benefits of omega 3  from a couple of  servings of  fish a week. Its safe and delicious and I don’t need a degree in chemistry to make the right choice.


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Big Girl Botox

I’ve already dipped my toe into Botox treatments with “baby botox” injections into the marionette lines on the sides of my mouth. I was very happy with the results, but not convinced that Botox could offer me more benefits. After all, my bangs hid any forehead wrinkles and I didn’t see crows feet at the corner of my eyes. But when Dr Marmur gently suggested that the Botox could make my eyes look bigger, I was in. First she had me make angry clenched faces to see where my muscles contracted. Then she pressed an ice bag against different areas of my face and injected selected areas. As before, I LOVED the feeling of relaxation that comes with Botox. In fact, I had been struggling with a headache for the past few days ( I get occasional migraines) and within seconds of the “tox shot” I could feel the pain totally fade away. Nice bonus.

It can take up to a week to see full results of the treatment, but I saw amazing changes within three days. I did not think that I had crows feet at the corners of my eyes, but I was looking in the mirror when my face was at rest. In the pre-shot photo (above), Dr Marmur had me smile and there they were, deep and numerous creases and wrinkles, also known as “crinkles” After Botox– no crinkles. (right)
I especially valued the fact that Dr Marmur did not point out all of my sags and wrinkles, but let me appraoch anti-aging at my own speed.
I also treated had the areas between my eyes and under my chin and will be sharing those results in the next few weeks.

The effects of Botox lasts 3-6 months. Its no surprise that good Botox results depend heavily on your doctor’s skills. Dr Marmur actually teaches physicians how to use Botox and fillers. One of the best ways to find a talented doctor is from recommendations of friends who have had good results. You can also check the credentials of a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon who is offering anti-aging options. Look at their education ( medical school, post grad training), hospital affiliations and publications.

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Its Fashion Flash Monday!

This week the host of Fashion Flash is Geri of Fabulous Over Fifty. This  has been one of my favorite sites and I put it on my blogroll when  it first appeared about eight months ago.  It’s  filled with  original information from both readers and experts and has, IMO, the best giveaways on the web. Geri is a seasoned journalist who worked for Fairchild publications for twenty years ( they  publish Woman’s Wear Daily and W).   She  sees great stories everywhere and every morning there are  numerous  new posts to explore. Where once I started the day with The New York Times, now  I click on Fabulous Over Fifty.  It’s that good.

And when you’ve explored Fabulous Over Fifty and  our other informative Fashion Flash  posts, you  might  want to look up  one of my favorite  health and beauty books, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall.  It was written by  Gaylord Hauser, one of the first celebrity nutritionists.  Born at the turn of the century, Hauser was health and beauty advisor to  the great stars of  his time including Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow and  his  lifetime BFF Greta Garbo.  I discovered my first Gaylord Hauser book  in a dusty junk shop  when I was  15, and I was mesmerized by  his approach to diet and skin care.  He described what he called  the “beautyfarm diet” which featured lean meats and lightly cooked fresh vegetables and fruits.  In an era  when people ate fried and canned everything, Hauser  believed in  healing  power of fresh natural foods.   Following  his suggestions I lost  my baby fat and  my skin calmed down. Last week, I just found another copy of his book in yet another second hand bookstore and its also available   on Amazon.  In an era of  magic fixes and strange scientific claims,  his books  still  have some of the best info around.  Mirror Mirror on the Wall   includes exercises, diet plans, and  even recipes for beauty oils and masks.  Its worth  hunting for.

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I like mussels and I was  so psyched to learn how much of a nutritional punch they packed.  One 3 ounce serving of shelled mussels contains  an entire daily supply of selenium and 3X  the RDA for vitamin B12.  But wait there’s  more .  That little serving  offers 10 grams of  protein at a mere 70 calories and mussels  have less cholesterol than  any other shellfish.  And I’ve saved the best for last–  3 ounces of mussels  have almost a gram of those anti-aging omega-3 fatty acids–  2-3x the amount of  most  fish including sole, haibut, cod, shrimp and clams.    And then there is the price.  Mussels are  just about the most affordable of all fish, currently just $3.99/lb at the new Fairway that just opened in my hood. 

Mussels can be steamed in a seasoned  broth, added to soups or served  over pasta.  They are really simple to cook, but there are a few things you should know before you start:

1. Make sure that the shells are closed and intact when you buy them. Broken and/or open  shells can mean that the mussel is dead-  and dead mussels can  make  you sick.

2. Buy about 3/4 pound of mussels  per serving

3. When you get them home, rinse  them off  in cool water, gently transfer to a deep bowl, cover with plastic wrap and poke about a dozen air holes in the plastic.  This will allow them to breathe so they won’t die  before you will cook them that night.

Here’s a super easy recipe that I adapted from “Barefoot in Paris”  by Ina Garten.  In addition to the mussels, its packed with  antioxidants from olive oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes and wine.


2 pounds of mussels

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 cup canned plum tomatoes, drained

1/4 cup parsley

1 cup white wine


1. Heat  olive oil in a large pot  and saute  onions for 5 minutes.  Then add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes

2.  Add the tomatoes, parsley,  wine and a few turns of freshly grated black pepper.

3.  Add mussels, stir, cover pot and cook for 8 minutes– until all the mussels have opened.  ( toss  any that remain shut).  Pour the mussels and that incredible broth into bowls  and serve with a big chunk of  whole wheat italian bread.  Serves two hungry people.  How easy it that?

Note:  There is no added  salt to the recipe.  Mussels in their natural state have  about 250 mg of sodium  per serving —  more than enough to flavor it and just about the limit for a healthy serving.

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I’ve really bought into the daily sunscreen routinue for  my face, neck and hands, but I just can’t deal with  my ghostly white legs.  In past years I would find the nearest  park bench and toast my legs for a little natural color.  Now that I  know about risks for melanoma, skin cancer and that the sun makes my legs wrinkled and baggy, I’m always looking for a safe, affordable and easy solution.  I’ve tried so  many– moisturizers with self tanners, self tanning sprays, tinted moisturizers and   whole body air brush tan.  I liked this one but  it cost $65 and lasted only a week– not a regular option.

This week I think  finally found a great solution.    The winner is– Sally Hansen Salon Airbrush Legs.  It’s super simple to apply, doesn’t make a mess and produces a natural even color.  Check out the  pix.  The leg on the right is my untreated limb. Is it really that pale?  The leg on the left has been treated with a quick coat of  Sally Hansen Spray in ‘Tan Glow” shade.

Here’s how it works:

I prepped my skin with an exfoliating sponge ( Buff Puff by 3M) and set up a drop cloth in my garage to prevent the spray from coloring the  walls or floor.  So not necessary.  Instead of spraying directly at the legs, directions  told me to spray  it into my palm and apply  the product  with my hand.  I was able to see where I needed more and where I needed to spread  it out for an even color.  And not a drop went on the walls or floor.

Unlike  other self-tanners which had a chemical reaction  that changed skin color,  Sally Hansen Spray was really like a skin  make-up– and easily removed with soap and water.   In  face, water alone did not disturb it– good news since I  got caught in a downpour  a few hours after  I had applied it to my legs. I also tested out the claim   that  the product does not stain clothing.   After waiting  the recommended 60 seconds, I gave this tan  a tough challenge– white pants.  I slipped into a pair of white cropped jeans and was delighted to see– absolutely nothing.   The leg tan spray stayed put.

And to make this product even better, this elegant tanner is just $12 for a 4.4 ounce bottle.  I estimate there are at least  a dozen applications, a super bargain of $1.00/tan.  I will keep using it and will tweet the actual number of tans that I can get out of  a single bottle.    Sally Hansen Airbrush Spray is now a valued  member of my Summer Beauty Basics Kit.

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This week  the host of Fashion Flash is Cat of Obsessed with Shoes.  Recently she  featured  a new style of hybrid shoes  that combines features of  the oxford , sandel and cage shoe.  Edgy and fabulous!  It  made me start thinking about fall even  though my  summer has  just started.

And when you’ve finished reading out  all the  Fashion Flash sites, check out DERM Doctor by Audrey Kunin,MD.  This comprehensive book integrates lots of basic science info with practical advice on topics other than  just aging.  For example, it includes the most comprehensive review of hair loss issues for women- exploring different causes, what your doctor should look for and state of the art treatment options.  Dr Audrey also tackles a  widespread but rarely covered  topic  called keratosis pilaris, aka “chicken skin” .  Turns out that 50% of adults in the US experience some degree of this easily treated problem- once they know what it is.   Equally interesting  are in depth sections on chapped lips and cold sores-  not sexy, but these things happen and need attention.

I  think the book  loses some credibility when Dr Kunn  recommends one of the products in her DERM doctor line as the solution for a particular beauty issue.  I know that   derms have developed   extensive and expensive  product lines and some of them  are pretty good. It  just feels awkward  to do a product  pitch in a  health/beauty book.

But you don’t have to  buy the prodcuts  and the DERM Doctor deserves a spot on your beauty book shelf for its great info and easy to follow  style.

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Question:  Help!  I’ve got a painful sunburn.

Answer:   Despite our best intentions, sunburns  happen.  Its all to easy to forget to reapply  sunscreen  during the day and by the time  the sun goes down,  you’re red and achy.  To deal with the sunburn I suggest   assembling a little sunburn emergency kit in advance.  You need just five affordable and easy to find items:

1.  Aspirin

2.  A real live Aloe Vera plant

3.  A  jar of Shea butter

4. A box of  Quacker’s Oatmeal

5.  Green tea bags

Here’s the drill:   When you realize that you’re fried, take two aspirin.  This will reduce  the inflammation which is  the root of the pain and damge  to your skin.  Then fill a tub with lukewarm water and swish  a handful of oatmeal into the water.  Get in and soak for 20 minutes.  Oatmeal is one of the best  anti-inflammatory remedies we have and the water will draw out some of the heat.  Out of the tub, dry off gently and smooth on  some shea butter.  In the morning, cut open a leaf of  Aloe plant and spread the fresh gel onto your skin.  Be careful with commercial Aloe gels which may contain alcohol that can irritate your skin and increse dyhydration.

During the day make sure to eat plenty of fruit and drink water.  Cold water absorbs better than warm water and iced green tea will also provide much needed anti-oxidants to counteract the free radical storm of a sunburn.  To avoid further irritation use a 30-50SPF sunscreen  for sensitive skin.  These are physical sunscreens with zinc oxides rather  than chemical  protection which may be irritating to tender burned skin. If you’re going  outside, wear a broad brimmed hat for extra protection.

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