World No Tobacco Day!

We’re right at the end of May and as it goes in every year, it’s World No Tobacco Day! We here at Girl Boss stand in solidarity with The World Health Organisation (WHO), which, in a bid to drive and increase awareness on the harmful effects of the substance, observe today as a day of self-restraint from tobacco. 

It is reported that approximately 6 million people worldwide die due to tobacco and this is the number of people that the world loses each year. This is a huge number and a great cause for concern and whilst this speaks to the bigger issue of addiction, it is also understandable that the World Health Organisation, in 2008, called for a worldwide ban on the promotion, sponsorship and advertising of Tobacco. Their aim was to target advertising specifically directed at the youth as they dubbed their campaign “Tobacco-free youth”. Initially, back in 1987, when the World Health Organisation initiated the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), the goal was to encourage a 24 hour refrain from tobacco from its users with the hope that this step would encourage them to quit or motivate those trying to quit

Photo by Idy Tanndy

The World Health Organisation themes each World No Tobacco Day as a means to not only drive its deeply humanitarian message but to also highlight the industry’s attempt to derail the organisation’s work in creating awareness and pushing an initiative that makes it clear to all that tobacco is a life-threatening drug. In 2012, for example, the theme was “Tobacco Industry Interference”. Accompanying each annual theme are publicity materials such as brochures, fliers, press releases, websites and posters. The purpose of each theme is to also ensure that consumers are not misinformed and disillusioned about the effects of consuming tobacco.  World No Tobacco Day celebrations include the sharing and circulation of the latest research conducted on tobacco in order to keep people informed and as well challenge ‘anti-tobacco’ arguments circulating in the world

The theme of WNTD 2019 is “Tobacco and lung health”. This year the focus is on the numerous ways in which exposure to Tobacco affects the health of people’s lungs all over the world. Some of the related diseases that are highlighted include lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), tuberculosis, asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis and lower respiratory infections, amongst others. The reduction of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure is motivated as an effective measure in improving lung health. As part of this year’s campaign, The World No Tobacco Day 2019 campaign will conscientise the world on the implications of tobacco smoking and second-hand exposure and it’s danger to lung health, it will raise awareness on the global fatalities as a result of lung diseases including tuberculosis deaths, it will highlight the importance of not only achieving lung health but general health and well-being and recommend the actions that people all over the world can take in order to reduce the risks of tobacco in relation to lung health

It is important for us to take such global matters to heart and support calls for action. Overall health matters and whilst it may not seem like an easy feat to quit smoking tobacco, we support our brothers and sisters in putting their health first by joining in on this years’ World No Tobacco Day. For at least 24 hours, let us all try to steer clear of tobacco and protect ourselves from second hand smoking. And for those of us who can take it a step further, let us make it a ‘World No Tobacco Weekend’!

It is, admittedly, tough for the youth to not adopt smoking as a habit as most marketing is directed at them and it would seem that in whichever way they turn, even people they look up to have a cigarette in hand. What immediately comes to mind is the latest music video release by South Africa’s most loved and celebrated rapper, Kwesta. His song, ‘Khethile-khethile’ is just plain sweet as he tells the world that he has chosen his ‘forever’ and that there’s no turning back for him. The music video beautifully captures his wedding and now and again we see him either with a cigarette in hand or smoking it. Even as a non-smoker myself, I must admit that there’s a look of ‘cool’ associated with it. And perhaps that’s why most young people easily pick up on habits such as drinking and smoking; it’s associated with a lifestyle; celebrating, partying and generally having a good time. 

Photo by Helzio Pires Cupertine

But, for today and perhaps for the rest of the weekend (and dare I say, and for forever and a day), let us, especially as young people, take heed of the World Health Organisation’s World No Tobacco Day 2019 and put our health first and the health of the ones around us. Let us also thrive to encourage one another as we join in, in creating awareness over the destructiveness of tobacco. Let’s circulate the brochures, fliers, posters and press releases and share the information we come across on websites. The World Health Organisation also encourages that, “Parents and other members of the community should also take measures to promote their own health, and that of their children, by protecting them from the harms caused by tobacco.”

Let’s meet today with some excitement, positivity and zeal. Cheers to World No Tobacco Day! Or, if you like, World No Tobacco Weekend!

Spirulina Is Still The Rage!

Written by Khanyisile Msebenzi

Every year or so there seems to emerge a new healthy trend or superfood. Spirulina was all the rage some 10 years ago and in my opinion should always be the rage and the one superfood supplement we should take as women in this age of busyness. By now we all know that our bodies don’t get enough nutrition, most of us overload our bodies with carbohydrates and take little other nutrients that our bodies need for optimal functioning. 
Spirulina is from the green and blue algae family and is a single-celled Cyanobacteria that grows both in salt and fresh water. It produces its energy from sunlight through photosynthesis. It is high in:

  • B Vitamins
  • Protein
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids

It is also anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, can reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, heart disease and anaemia. Spirulina also helps improve muscle endurance and faster muscle recovery.

As a young woman these are the reasons you should consider taking Spirulina daily:

  1. Improved concentration and brain function. By taking Spirulina every day blood flow to the brain is increased due to anti-inflammatory properties of spirulina and it’s high iron content.
  2. Spirulina improves memory function because it protects your cognitive systems and stimulates your brain and nervous system.
  3. Spirulina’s main ingredient is tryptophan, which is an amino acid the human body needs to produce serotonin and melatonin. Our bodies do not produce tryptophan on their own. Serotonin is the ‘happiness’ hormone, regulates our moods and stress. Melatonin regulates our sleeping patterns so we get good sleep. Tryptophan is important in preventing conditions such as insomnia, anxiety and depression. 
  4. Spirulina gives energy, especially if you work out, but even if you don’t, Spirulina gives you energy to go through the day at high energy absorbing more with your brain. The energy comes from the high chlorophyll and protein content in Spirulina. 
  5. Spirulina keeps you full for longer. Eating heavy meals especially between classes can be draining. We all know the itis that hits in the afternoon that takes forever to get through, those hours lost can never be recovered. Spirulina keeps you fuller for longer because of its high protein content.

Spirulina comes in mainly two forms, in tablet form and powder form. In my experience taking the tablet form is easier, the taste of the powder is different to anything I am used to and makes it difficult for me to swallow, but it is not horrible at all, just different. If you choose the powder option, try to include it in your daily smoothie to mask the taste.
Dischem and Clicks usually have good specials on Spirulina and it is affordable on a student budget, in my view, you can’t afford not to take this superfood if you want to live life at high energy. 


Keep Hydrated To Look Good & Improve Overall Productivity

By Khanyisile Msebenzi.

The adult human body is up to 60% water.  The brain is 73% water and lungs are about 83% water.  The skin is 64% water, and muscles and kidneys are 79% water.  Our bones are 31% water.

Without water our bodies will not function, we must consume minimum quantities of water per day for our body to function optimally, women need about 2.2 litres of water a day and men about 3 litres of water a day.  Water is vital for life.

  • Water itself is a nutrient, it is part of every cell, the building block for all our cells
  • Water metabolises and transports carbohydrates and proteins our body uses as food
  • Water flushes waste and toxins from our body through urine

The ability for water to dissolve and carry so many vitamins and nutrients makes it a life force for everything living. 

But in our busy lives we tend to drink less water than we should.  And yet we need water to energise the body, concentrate and be productive. We also need water to rest and sleep deeply.

Photo by Leo Moko

Here are ways to make sure your body stays hydrated:

  • If you work out, be sure to drink a big gulp of water every 10 – 20mins of exercise. 
  • Sip on sports drinks or coconut water during exercise longer than an hour to replace electrolytes in your body.
  • Fruits are good sources of water and electrolytes, watermelon is very hydrating and banana is high in electrolyte potassium.
  • Have a glass of water for every cup of coffee or sugary or alcoholic drink you take.
  • Carry a water bottle with you, add fruit like lemon or strawberry to add flavour naturally to your water.  Take a gulp of water every hour to stay hydrated without having to pee as much.  This ensures you stay hydrated in dehydrating environments like air-conditioned rooms.
Photo by Brendan Church

What are electrolytes and why do they matter?

Electrolytes are composed of sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and calcium.  These nutrients are critical for the health and functioning of our nerves and muscles.  Electrolytes are easily lost when we sweat or when we have a runny tummy or diarrhoea.

Beauty Benefits of being Hydrated:

  • Plump skin, when you are dehydrated your skin loses water and elasticity and wrinkles set in easier, hydrated skin is less prone to wrinkling.  Hydration slows the ageing process.
  • Hydrated and moisturized skin starts from the inside, if you suffer from constant dry, flaky skin, it is likely that you are dehydrated, remember skin is 64% water.  If you are dehydrated your skin will also be dehydrated no matter what you apply on it topically.
  • Keeping hydrated gives you clearer facial skin.  When the body is dehydrated it sends messages to the skin’s oil glands to produce oil as a defence mechanism.  When skin is hydrated it produces less oil and acne is less aggravated.
  • When skin is dehydrated it looks dull and stores toxins, which lead to occurrence of patches of irritation and inflammation on the skin.  Keep the body and skin hydrated for glowing skin.
  • It’s the same for hair, hydration and moisturisation of hair starts from the inside.  With our coily, curly, kinky hair, which is naturally dry, it is important to start hydration from the inside.
Photo by Rawpixel

Fun Fact:

There is a difference between hydrating products and moisturising products for your skin.  Hydrating products are water-based and increase water content in your skin to give it a plumper, fuller appearance.  Moisturising products may also be water-based but most likely formulated containing heavier oils to prevent water evaporating from your skin.

The connection between water and sleep

The body needs sleep and rest as much as it needs exercise or water.  We are able to exercise more and feel stronger and lighter when we have rested well.

  • Hydrate evenly throughout the day to avoid feeling dehydrated and thirsty before you sleep as drinking a lot of water before bed will cause you to wake up multiple times at night disturbing your sleep and quality of rest.
  • Our bodies do not only rest in sleep, they repair and rebuild, and the body needs water to repair and rebuild.  Muscles are rebuilt in our sleep so we can train better the next day.
  • Our body requires all kinds of hormones to function optimally; hormones are generated by the body when it gets adequate sleep and hydration.
  • Our concentration is better when we are rested and hydrated, the brain is 73% water.
Photo by Gary Butterfield

5 Easy (But Healthy) Things To Do With Your Overripe Bananas

By Khanyisile Msebenzi

Every few weeks I walk into the grocery store and load up on fruits and veggies because I really do want to eat more healthy.  I want to be the girl that reaches for nuts and raisins instead of chocolate.  Or the girl that reaches for a banana instead of wine gums. 

Now I really do love bananas but I always seem to run out of time to eat them! Every few weeks I get that familiar smell of sweet banana that is overripe, and I don’t particularly enjoy eating overripe bananas yet I prefer my bananas to be ripe.  Now you can see the slippery slope there, as I wait for my bananas to ripen the next day they are overripe, especially if it’s a bunch of bananas.

It irks me each time I throw out my overripe bananas because it really is a waste, but the same time I don’t feel good giving them away to the security guards at my complex gate simply because I don’t like giving away food that I wouldn’t eat.

So I looked into what I can do with my overripe bananas, and here are 5 things to do with overripe bananas that you may want to try too:

  1. Using overripe bananas in my smoothie has been the best thing to my smoothie life.  Since I started trying to eat one raw meal a day, I prefer a smoothie to a salad, adding an overripe banana makes the flavour of the smoothie sweeter and more rounder.  I actually previously stayed away from smoothies with banana from fastfood outlets because I didn’t like tasting the not-so-ripe banana. An overripe banana makes for an amazing and filling smoothie.
Photo by Element5 Digital

2. Banana facial mask, there are many different recipes on how to make facial masks with banana, you can choose according to your needs.  The one thing they all have in common is that the banana must be ripe.  I tried the mask for dry skin because the banana fruit has so many health benefits for skin, including moisturising effect, anti-ageing effects, and anti inflammatory properties due to them being rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Potassium, B-Vitamins, Lectin, Amino Acids and Zinc!  My skin felt smooth and moisturized after my skin exfoliating banana DIY mask. Here is a simple yet effective recipe: 1 banana + 1 spoon of honey + 1 spoon of lemon juice + 1 teaspoon brown sugar

3. I used the cool peels of the banana to reduce puffy eyes after I went to bed crying after watching Queen Sugar, I woke up with puffy eyes.  I didn’t have cucumber in the fridge so I tried a banana peel.  It worked like a charm, although I felt I had to really press the peels to my eyes, which had me worried I would aggravate my already puffy eyes, but it worked.  I would still choose cucumber though, smells and feels better.

Photo by Julia Kouzenkov

4. To ensure that my caloric intake is not compromised, I made banana muffins for my treat instead of indulging in cakes from Woolies.  I didn’t use any fats or butters in making the muffins and I replaced sugar with xylitol and I have my perfect guilt-free sweet treat.  I Googled the recipe, there are plenty of recipes to make low calorie banana muffins or cake.  I don’t like baking, nor do I like cooking but I will definitely be making this treat over and over.  I am thinking in future I could add other sweet fruits like berries to the banana, and make banana and berry muffins, yum!

Photo by Naomi Villason

5. The last way I am using my overripe bananas is to make banana toast spread.  I am a vegetarian working towards being a vegan but I am struggling to cut out cheese and milk.  As a lazy cook, sandwiches are my quick fix, when I’m not in the mood for peanut butter, I go for cheese.  I tried a banana spread and I am sold, it was delicious, just the right kind of sweet and tasted good whether cool or warm.  But I only like it on toast not on fresh bread.  I just mash banana and apply, but you could add other things like a syrup of your choice or cinnamon or vanilla extract, the preference will be yours.

I am currently exploring with making banana peel compost. I will report how that goes in due course. I am trying to get a small veggie garden going, I need to at least get spinach from my own garden.

Suffering from Severe Acne? Ask your Dr about Accutane.

Puberty, some of us were just never ready for what was about to hit us. During this growth stage we notice changes start to take place. There is literally no way that one can prepare for what is about to happen. With puberty we develop and experience our menstrual cycle, this means that our bodies are ready to reproduce, with this comes hormones, mainly estrogen and progesterone. While bacteria (P. acnes) and inflammation are usually the two main reasons behind the formation of pimples, hormones can also influence acne. Dr. Bowe says: “when a woman’s androgen receptors are particularly sensitive, these hormones can trigger excess oil production and cause skin cells to become sticky, leading to clogged pores and breakouts”.

There are ways that you can tell if your acne is hormonal, such as breakouts that usually occur in lower areas of your face, along your jaw-line, or if the acne flares up during your period. This type of acne can be treated with a specific birth control such as (Yaz/Yasmin). You can get a 6-month prescription from your local GP; consult about side effects, which are minimal. However, if your acne is more severe than the conditions mentioned above, then consult your local dermatologist and ask about Accutane.

What is Accutane?

Accutane is a generic version of Roaccutane. It is much more cost effect and they both have the same active ingredient Isotretinoin. This medication is primarily used on patients who suffer from extreme acne cases, and is sometimes used to prevent some skin cancers. It is also known to be a form of vitamin A.

Benefits of Accutane:

Your doctor will always advise as to how long you need to do the treatment for and the dosage. I found that the 10mg and 20mg dosage worked very well on my skin and I could witness the result almost instantly. Well, perhaps after two weeks. Accutane not only successfully removes all active pimples or acne prone areas, but also any visible blemishes. The ultimate result is clear, renewed smooth skin, especially your facial skin. The treatments targets clogged pores, drying them out and abstracting excess oils.

Dangers/side effects of Accutane:

This treatment is harmful to anybody who is child bearing, it will cause serious birth defects. It is also advised that you do not fall pregnant during this treatment. If you are sexually active, request a hormonal birth control, there is more than just the pill. There are many other side affects associated with this treatment; here are some that I experienced on the surface:

  • Chapped lips
  • Extremely dry skin (worse during winter season)
  • Peeling Skin
  • Eczema
  • Skin irritation
  • Itching
  • Less tolerance of the sun (always apply sunscreen but just avoid complete exposure)
  • Dry/watery Eyes
  • Less tolerance for brightness

Oh, I was later diagnosed by my ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) with blepharitis, this is basically an incurable eye disease that clogs the oil glands. I lived 6 months of my life thinking I had an incurable eye disease, when it was just an unknown side effect of Accutane.

Then there are some internal side effects, such as:

  • Joint pain
  • Drowsiness
  • Back pain
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in fingernails (colour)
  • Depression
  • Impaired night vision

… And much more, I personally never experienced these side effects, but they have been reported as common.

What to Avoid:

  • Avoid taking vitamin A supplements when on this treatment
  • Do not donate blood
  • Avoid using wax as hair remover
  • Avoid exposure to sunlight

The treatment will differ from one person to another depending on many factors. The side effects can be gruesome at times, but the results easily outweigh the side effects. Make sure you stay hydrated and do not overdose. I’m personally satisfied with results and I would easily recommend it to anyone who is suffering from severe acne to consult your local dermatologist. It’s time for your skin to glow!