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Health & Beauty | Ask The Experts

By Nathan Coker
In Featured Slider
Jan 6th, 2023

Meredith McKinnie interviews Northeast Louisiana health and beauty experts to answer readers’ questions.


Now that I’m 40, it’s much harder to lose weight. What can I do?
When clients complain about weight loss over 40, I think first about the thyroid, particularly in this area. I ask clients when they last had a thyroid panel and/or lipid panel. You must request these tests through your primary care physician, and it is simple lab work that can tell us dieticians what you should be eating for your body type. At this age, body knowledge becomes super important, as everyone needs something different. Any eating regimen should be tailored to your specific needs, and with these results, dieticians can customize a diet just for you. Everyone needs something different.

Are there any must-do’s for healthy living? Do I need to take a probiotic?
Yes, a probiotic boosts your immune system, decreases inflammation and allergies. I take mine in the morning, but some take them at night so it doesn’t interact with other medication. Make sure to get your doctor’s approval.

Do cold showers work?
Gradually easing into a cold shower is beneficial but not quite noticeable until 14 days of consistent, working up to 5 minutes. These can also decrease inflammation. The cold temperature lowers the core temperature of your body which triggers the burning of brown fat(deep fat that everyone wants gone).

What about red light therapy?
Red light therapy is known for stimulating the collagen production in your skin. Many women do it because they want to decrease the fine lines in the face. It can also increase blood circulation which helps heal wounds.

Should I be taking zinc?
Most people do not need an extra zinc supplement if they’re taking a multivitamin. Most get enough with meat or fortified cereals. Zinc increases your immune system. Some people take too much zinc.

Do I need more Vitamin C?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, so you can’t excrete through your urine. So watch out for taking too much Vitamin C because you can develop toxicity, which can result in blurred vision. Another thought, we may see more low Vitamin D levels because we put SPF in everything. If you’re not getting at least 20 minutes of sunlight, you might need a Vitamin D supplement.

Should I sweat it out in a sauna?
Sauna is known to decrease blood pressure and reduce joint stiffness. If you have a respiratory issue, make sure you add water, people with respiratory issues do better in a steam room.

Owner of Lemon Balm Salon

Why is my hair so thin and brittle? What can we do to promote hair health?

Some people just have thinner hair that has a tendency to be damaged easier. I always ask people, are you experiencing an amount of thinness, brittleness, hair problems you haven’t been dealing with your whole life? If it’s newly-noticed damage or thinning, it can definitely be health related. Many people don’t realize how our hair depends upon our overall health. Hormonal issues, medication, diet, stress, all those things that we don’t think about, can impact hair health. Pregnancy is another important factor.
To promote hair health, first get the opinion of a hair care professional. Professional products, those recommended to you by a hair care professional and purchased through a hair care professional or online, help immensely. Trust hair care professionals. If they say, “I don’t think you should color or style your hair,” then listen. They know what they’re talking about. If you are using other products, stay away from those with sulfates and phthalates because they are harsh on your hair and strip too much of your natural oils, leaving hair dry and brittle. One of the easiest changes is to avoid overwashing. If you wash immediately when you see oil, it’s probably too soon. I would suggest washing every 3-5 days, perhaps once a week if you have thick hair. Just like everything else in our bodies, your scalp knows what to produce for your hair. We should be training our scalp to get less oily by going longer between washes to get that natural production of oily which is the best treatment for your hair. Plus, when we wash, we typically dry and style our hair, adding unnecessary heat and product damage making the problem worse. If you don’t overwash, poor hair health is usually a result of hormonal changes or thyroid issues.


What are the best products and services to get rid of melasma?
Melasma is a chronic, often recurring skin condition that occurs most commonly in women as blotchy dark discoloration on the face, especially on the forehead, cheeks, and upper lip. Estrogen, ultraviolet sun exposure and inflammation trigger melanocytes in the skin to produce excess pigment. While there is no cure for melasma, skin care products with antioxidants, hydroquinone and TXA can help treat and suppress this hyperpigmentation. In my dermatology practice (Hopkins Dermatology), we provide an advanced laser procedure known as “ Green Toning’’ to break up and remove the unwanted pigment while protecting the normal pigment, so this is safe for all skin types. A combination treatment and maintenance plan with daily use of sunscreen and antioxidants works best for long term improvement.

What can I do about these dark age spots on my hands?
Dark spots on the hands are caused by long term sun exposure and genetics. Daily use of sunscreen and avoiding UV exposure, especially through the car window, can help prevent these unwanted dark spots. For those who already have these visible signs of aging and UV damage, I offer treatment with a combination of skin lightening products such as Neova DNA repair complex and my own EX:Correct wipes along with IPL laser treatments or laser resurfacing to erase these unwanted dark spots for both men and women.


What do you know about clean beauty products?
By clean beauty products, I assume we’re talking about organic products. It’s important to know that organic is a buzzword in marketing and often isn’t accurate. The drawback on truly organic product lines is that the shelf life is so short, sometimes only 3 months. Here at Spa Nouvelle, I often suggest the Jane Iredale line to clients who prefer natural products, which can be found locally with Dr. Saidi Sowma at Derma MediQ.

You must do your research on clean beauty products, and it can be overwhelming. There are so many product lines out there. I would suggest you start by arranging a consultation with an aesthetician. When I do consults, I want to understand your skin type to suggest the best products for you. You may think you are one skin type, but it can change over time. Hormonal shifts can take our skin from dry to oily or vice versa. If you travel, just using a different water can result in a breakout, as can weather changes. Drinking water is imperative as it flushes the system. Maintaining a relationship with a dermatologist and/or aesthetician is the key to long term skin care results.

Avid Home Cook

What are some healthy, local, on-the-go options for breakfast and lunch?
For breakfast, I typically make stuff at home, sometimes the day before. Egg bites are a personal favorite. I start by putting sauteed veggies in a muffin pan and then pouring scrambled eggs over the veggies. I bake for about 15-20, and then I have little quiches that are great reheated or even cold – convenient to grab on-the-go. Egg bites are a great way to use leftover dinner stuff – meat, veggies, etc. Since it’s already cooked, you can just throw it in some egg bites or a frittata. It feels like a “new” meal, and then you don’t waste anything.

Sometimes, I will also eat half an avocado for the healthy fats. Avocados help keep me feeling full. Another recent obsession is jammy eggs (Google it!). They’re not quite hard boiled eggs which I will mix with tomato or avocado and keep in the fridge.

For lunch I love packing a salad in a jar, especially when I travel. I take a mason jar, pour my dressing in the bottom, then layer in my veggies that won’t get soggy (avocado, cucumber, olive) and then top with leafy greens. I also prefer some type of crunch – either sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. I frequently grab those pouches with tuna or salmon and mix it in to the salad. The salmon in olive oil packet is a personal favorite.

If you’d rather grab some local healthy options, Fiesta Nutrition on 18th Street in Monroe has multiple options, as does Newks in Monroe and For His Temple in West Monroe. Staying conscious of what you eat and playing with textures is key to keeping healthy food interesting and satisfying.

Owner of INFIT Gym

I want to start running but don’t know where to start.
Do you have any advice on local running groups?

Typically when I hear people say they want to start running, it’s because they’ve never run consistently before. The key is to start slow and set small, realistic goals to avoid getting injured. That goal might be a 5K race or to lose a few pounds. Plan to run only a couple of days a week and the rest. Rest is just as important as running. And by rest, I mean active recovery, taking a walk or stretching or practicing yoga on off days. Focus on less intensive activity on rest days, moving without running. Also, start by learning the basics, like how to stretch beforehand or how to breathe correctly while running. You can find tutorial videos on YouTube.

Although they’re typically willing to help beginners, running groups are usually populated by more experienced runners. So, if you’re just starting out, maybe find a partner and try a jog/walk combo – run one minute and walk for two minutes for 20-30 minutes total. Check how you feel over the next couple of days. Perhaps your body can take on more, or perhaps you should pull back a little. Once you can run 2-3 miles without stopping, then try reaching out to a running group.


What can I do about sagging jowls?
Here at The Louisiana Center for Women’s Health, we use filler in different areas, like the cheeks, to help with a lift along the jawline. We offer some products from Skinceuticals and ZO to help with lifting the skin. We also offer fraction laser skin resurfacing which addresses sagging jowls. Some other services that we don’t offer but can be found locally are radiofrequency microneedling and threads.