Home-made Luxury Lip Balm for 2015!

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At the beginning I said this blog wasn’t going to be just about food since health and wellness go beyond and above food. I hope to diversify a bit more in the new year, looking into other areas of natural healthcare (exciting!) which is why I’m kick starting it all today with my natural lip balm recipe!

You know I like to bore you with the details of how it all began so here goes. This year I wanted to add a personal touch to my Christmas gifts, not that a Louis Vuitton hand bag doesn’t have a personal touch (I will be accepting, if you are giving..lol) but I’m sure you get my drift. I debated with a few options and finally settled with the lip balm.

When it comes to using natural alternatives to everyday beauty products my question isn’t usually, why? but more along the lines of why not? Though I wouldn’t go as far as to say I use ONLY natural beauty products, I do try as much as is feasible and sensible to stick to natural products. My line of thought like I said is more, why not? (the adventurous side of me). If coconut oil or Shea butter (my personal favourites!) are as good at moisturising my face as any of the leading brands, why not use it?

I guess the pertinent issue stems from the word IF, finding out if they do work requires experimentation which is where many of us give up. But then that’s what people like me are here for: guinea pigs (lol) As women (I can speak for them because I am one, but I’m sure men feel the same way) I know we can be particular about what we use on our skins especially those of us with sensitive skins, and it is understandable to want to stick with what is or has been a winning formula. On a side note this is one reason I settled for the lip balm option, it felt like a safe bet as I wasn’t sure my friends were quite yet ready to try my all natural sweet scrub {coming soon to a shop near you! :)}.

No doubt trying natural alternatives can have its pitfalls, I have experienced one or two (like my natural deodorant saga ,lol, story for another day) but if you are like me, you learn from them, repackage and upgrade, simples *winks*. Not to worry though, I won’t be advocating anything weird or dangerous on here.

My aim in this natural beauty series will be to explain (as far as I understand) the reasoning behind some of these natural products and techniques and let you know what has worked for me personally. At the end of the day the decision to try will be yours to make and if you decide to just read about all this ‘interesting’ natural stuff then by all means I’ll be here for your reading and viewing pleasure :). But if on the other hand you decide to try some or all of the techniques be warned that I will not be held responsible for all the admirers and comments you get about how gorgeous your skin looks!

The fun part for me with natural alternatives is that I get to create my own mix and blend based on what I like and what suits me and sometimes simply based on what I have available. Once you understand the basics, it can be a lot of fun especially when it works! Hopefully I will get a you on board this wagon in 2015, till then do have a lovely New Years Eve!

Funmi’s Luxury Lip Balm Recipe

Lips can become dry, chapped and sometimes begin to bleed when exposed to the sun, wind, cold and dry air. The first rule to keeping lips supple is to make sure we drink sufficient water which keeps the skin including lips hydrated. The purpose of a lip balm is primarily to seal in this moisture and keep it from escaping if you like. More moisture is lost from the lips than any other part of the body or face, it is therefore important to use a good lip balm.

A good diet and lots of water is the key to keeping skin and lips well hydrated.

Finally to my Lip Balm Recipe:

You will need

    • 3 tablespoons Coconut Oil
    • 2 tablespoons Shea butter
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons Castor Oil
    • 3 tablespoons of Olive Oil
    • 4 tablespoons beeswax pastilles
    • Few drops of Peppermint Oil

Method

1) Combine all the ingredients into a heat-proof glass jar.

2) Place the jar into a saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a boil. This created a double boiler effect.

3) Once all the everything is melted add the peppermint oil.

4)  Pour the liquid into a lip balm container of your choice and there you have it!

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Funmi’s Natural Luxury Lip Balm

Egusi (Melon seeds) and the Cholesterol Myth

I was inspired to write this post after a few comments I got following my previous post where I added ground Egusi to my smoothie. I had people ask me if Egusi was healthy because it had high cholesterol, a few people actually told me they had stopped eating Egusi because of its high cholesterol content.  At first, I found the notion quite strange because no where had I heard or read that a plant-based food was high in cholesterol. But then I thought cholesterol is needed in the production of bile which is needed for the digestion of fats, so if a seed contained both the fat and the means of digesting it, then surely it was a perfect seed.

This however led to me research further and I think before we answer the question of whether or not Egusi has high cholesterol it is important to lay the proper foundation by explaining what cholesterol is and what it is not.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like (it’s not fat) substance that is found in all the cells of the body, in fact we could not survive without cholesterol. They form a vital part of the cell membrane and are essential for the production of hormones (Estrogen, Testosterone, Progesterone, Cortisol and Aldosterone), Vitamin D, Bile and Brain synapses.

Cholesterol is so important that the body hasn’t left us to decide how much of it gets; the body produces all the cholesterol it needs using anything – carbohydrates, fats, or proteins. This is why eating a diet that is totally cholesterol free doesn’t guarantee you won’t have high blood cholesterol as we will see later.

What foods contain cholesterol?

Cholesterol found in food is often referred to as dietary cholesterol and will typically be found in animal based foods because all animal cells contain cholesterol. Foods such as beef, chicken, eggs, liver, milk, butter etc will have some cholesterol though some will have more than others.  That said dietary cholesterol has been shown to have less of an impact on blood cholesterol levels when compared to the effect saturated fat consumption has on blood cholesterol levels. The reason being the interesting relationship that exists between cholesterol and fat.

Bile which is essential for the digestion of fats is produced in the liver using cholesterol. Therefore if we eat a diet high in saturated fats, the body naturally will produce higher amounts of cholesterol and if for some reason the body is unable to turn this cholesterol into bile and/or other hormones this leads to high cholesterol being found in the blood. This is why those with high blood cholesterol are often advised to reduce their consumption of saturated fats.

What Cholesterol is not

Cholesterol is not fat, it is similar to fat in that it contains the same compounds hydrogen, carbon and oxygen but it is not fatty.

Saturated and Unsaturated Fatty Acid Chains

Cholesterol

Without being scientific I’m sure you can appreciate that the two are very different. Whilst fat consist of a simple long chain, cholesterol is more of a complex combination of hexagon and pentagon rings. A testament to the complex beauty that the human body is capable of producing.

Does Egusi have cholesterol?

Given that cholesterol is found mainly in animals, all plants are technically cholesterol free though they do contain the plant form of cholesterol known as phytosterols, the richest source of which is vegetable oils from seeds such as the Egusi seed. Hence in answer to the question, Egusi does not contain cholesterol but it does contain phytosterols which the body doesn’t assimilate very well, in fact the major part of assimilated phytosterols is directly eliminated via the liver and the biliary system so that, in the end in healthy individuals, less than 1% is retained¹.

Phytosterols have however been shown in many clinical trials to reduce LDL cholesterol, though it is unclear whether phytosterols have a positive effect on cardiovascular disease¹. One such research titled Fatty Acid Composition of Citrullus Lanatus (Egusi Melon) Oil and Its Effect on Serum Lipids and Some Serum Enzymes was carried out in a lab using rats divided into two groups, one group was fed a diet containing 5% cholesterol while the others were fed a diet with 5% cholesterol and 5% Egusi melon oil. At the end of the period, the rats fed with “Egusi melon oil with a rich content of polyunsaturated fatty acid was found to produce a significant reduction (p<0.05) in serum total, free and esterified cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations”².

Now you will notice that this post is about Egusi seed in its natural state and not Egusi soup.While eating Egusi will not increase blood cholesterol levels, I cannot say the same if the Egusi soup is doused with an overload of palm oil and fatty-meat is eaten with reckless abandon. (lol)

The purpose of this article is not to prescribe Egusi as a means of reducing blood cholesterol. The information is for educational use and simply aimed at doing away with the myth surrounding Egusi and cholesterol. If you do have health concerns relating to blood cholesterol this might be due to a number of factors which are beyond the scope of this post, please do consult your health care practitioner.

In my next post I will be sharing an Egusi soup recipe for your pleasure so watch this space. 🙂

I do hope you have found this post useful and that you will now be able to enjoy your Egusi soup in 2015 without fear of cholesterol.

References

Weingärtner O, Böhm M, Laufs U. Controversial role of plant sterol esters in the management of hypercholesterolaemia. European Heart Journal2009;30(4):404-409. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehn580.

O Oluba, O Adeyemi, G Ojieh, I Isiosio. Fatty Acid Composition Of Citrullus Lanatus (Egusi Melon) Oil And Its Effect On Serum Lipids And Some Serum Enzymes. The Internet Journal of Cardiovascular Research. 2007 Volume 5 Number 2.