Detoxing and Boosting Your Energy Levels in the New Year
Angela Loftus is a registered Nutritional Therapist and focuses on the links between good nutrition, lifestyle factors and overall wellbeing. Read her tips on how to detox and boost flagging energy levels in the New Year.
The festive season can be a fun yet exhausting time. The combination of late nights, overindulging in food and alcohol can really knock your health and energy levels right off course. It’s important to be aware of what we can do to boost your energy levels by ensuring optimal detoxification and this January is a great time to start!
Keeping detoxification at the forefront of your mind will help you be ready for everything that 2016 brings.
Signs of compromised detoxification include:
- flagging energy levels
- mood swings and irritability
- brain fog
- digestive and/or skin complaints
Optimising your health by choosing detoxifying foods and making healthy lifestyle choices may be just what you need after the indulgent festive season! Read more
Dealing with allergies over Christmas
Christmas is nearly here! Although most people will be looking forward to mince pies, log fires and a glass of fizz, allergies can make it more difficult to enjoy. Here are some helpful tips on how to manage you or your child’s allergies, so that you can stuck into Christmas with everyone else.
Christmas Tree Syndrome
Although the name sounds comical, Christmas Tree Syndrome is a real illness that can really put a downer on your Christmas celebrations. It’s a respiratory condition caused by mould spores that thrive in the damp conditions evergreen trees grow in. Once brought inside, a warm house and central heating give the perfect environment for these spores to multiply.
During the festive season, people are more likely to keep doors and windows closed and have large groups of people in the house. This, coupled with small children and pets brushing against the tree, can spread spores to other rooms. Even wreaths or live foliage can produce a similar effect.
Reactions to the spores vary but can include coughing, wheezing, sore itchy eyes, a runny nose and laboured breezing. To minimise the amount of spores you come into contact with, always wash down your tree before bringing it inside. It can help to leave bringing in the tree until the last minute too – having it inside your house for over two weeks creates the perfect breeding ground and can give you the strongest reaction. If you chose an artificial tree, wash it down before using and again before packing it away for next year. Read more
Food Intolerance vs Allergy
A food intolerance is a digestive imbalance whereby the gut flora (the friendly bacteria that reside in the intestines) have been compromised. An intolerance can cause mild discomfort and take a while to manifest, appearing hours or days later.
An allergy is a powerful and fairly immediate immune response to an allergen. The allergen is usually harmless, it is the immune response that causes damage to the body.
Food intolerances (acquired immune reactions) and food allergies (generic immune reactions) are common sources of inflammation that spread from the gut to the rest of the body. The detox systems become overwhelmed when the small intestine has a reaction to the absorbed food. Symptoms can range from mild such as a running nose and itchy eyes to anaphylaxis which can be fatal.
Examples of allergens:
Chemicals/ detergents/ perfumes/ soaps
Pollen Read more
Organic Foods: A Mainstream Alternative
Organic produce used to be available only in select health food shops filled with strange and unpronounceable products. Nowadays though, it’s much more mainstream, thanks to people wanting to maintain a healthy diet. Many organic farm shops have sprung up thanks to government grants, and supermarkets now stock multiple organic brands.
There is much debate between scientists and health experts about the benefits of organic produce, if it’s kinder to the environment and whether it is worth the higher prices. Here, we look at the evidence.
What Makes Organic Food So Special?
‘Organic’ is the label given to food created using certain farming and production methods. Crops are grown without the use of conventional pesticides, with an emphasis on caring for the land – crop rotation is used to make the most of natural fertilisers and ensure soil quality is maintained.1 Organic animals are reared on organic feed without growth hormones or antibiotics, usually with access to outdoor land for grazing.2
The overall aim of organic farming is to encourage soil and water conservation whilst reducing the environmental impact of pollution.3 Read more
Know Your Numbers! Week: Alerting People to the Dangers of High Blood Pressure
The 14th – 20th September is Know Your Numbers! Week, an awareness campaign run by Blood Pressure UK to highlight the importance of knowing your blood pressure numbers. This means you can ensure they stay at a healthy level1. Blood pressure is measured in ‘millimetres of mercury’ (mmHg) and every reading takes two measures: the first is your systolic level, which is the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats. The second is your diastolic pressure, which is the lowest level your pressure reaches as your heart relaxes
As part of the initiative, hundreds of organisations, including pharmacies, workplaces, GP surgeries, hospitals, leisure centres, supermarkets and health clubs, sign up to be Pressure Stations. They are then able to provide free blood pressure tests, plus information about how to lower your blood pressure and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.1
The Know Your Numbers! campaign is the UK’s biggest blood pressure testing event. It’s on its fourteenth year and aims to highlight that in the time it takes to boil a kettle, you could have taken a blood pressure reading which might save your life. A shocking 16 million people in the UK suffer from high blood pressure, which is the biggest risk factor for stroke and heart attacks, yet 63% do not know their blood pressure numbers.1.1
Gastric Bypass Surgery
Carol after surgery
Food writer Carol Bowen Ball has over 35 years experience in the food arena, and since her own weight loss surgery in 2009 she has turned her hand to bariatric cookery. Here she discusses her journey and gives her tips for managing your diet after surgery.
A Life of Diets
“One glimpse at my before and after photos shows something of my staggering weight-loss. However what they don’t tell you is how I did it. For over the years, I had yo-yoed my way through countless diets, some sensible, some crazy, and lost the same pounds over and over again. I became something of a diet ‘expert’ by nature of the fact that I had tried them all! But here’s the spoiler – they all ultimately failed because, for every pound I lost, I then gained back again and sometimes with some additional ones for company. So why did this one last? The answer lies in the procedure and tool that I used.
“Many will know this simply as weight-loss surgery and relate to it via celebrity stories of weight-loss with gastric bands. Mine was a little more complex and radical because it was gastric bypass surgery and involved re-routing of my gastric tract and reducing my stomach to one the size of an egg, and is irreversible. I was therefore able to lose weight by two proven methods; restriction with a reduced sized-stomach (which means I can’t eat as much); and reduced food absorption (my digestive system has been shortened so that whatever I eat isn’t fully absorbed). In a nutshell this means I have been able to lose about 100 lbs in weight, and more importantly for me, sustain it for almost 6 years. There are other surgeries such as lap band, gastric sleeve, gastric balloon, and even more invasive such as duodenal switch, available for patients and surgeons to consider in consultation together that work in similar ways.” Read more
The ID band company provides a range of medical ID bands to asthma patients to help protect asthmatics during attacks and increase medical response speeds. However, we are also interested in equipping you with knowledge that can help you alleviate your suffering and cope better with asthma attacks when they do happen.
There is growing evidence suggesting the efficacy of meditation in health care and the field of stress management (Chiesa and Seretti, 2009) and some potency to enhance positive feelings (Chang et al., 2004) increase pain tolerance, and reduce anxiety (Wachholtz and Pargament, 2005).
The diaphragm is a muscle located horizontally between the chest cavity and stomach cavity. Learning to utilise this muscle can optimise the amount of oxygen drawn into your lungs and strengthen your respiratory system. Breathing exercises such as “diaphragmatic” breathing, can result in fewer asthma symptoms and a better quality of life according to the NHS.
Transformational Breath is a breathing technique that combines meditation and diaphragmatic breathing in one practice. The benefits this practice can provide for asthma sufferers as a complementary treatment cannot be overstated. That’s why we’ve invited Ronica Joshi, Founder of MindBodyFeelGood and a Certified Transformational Breath Facilitator to help explain its benefits to you.
4 Paws for Ability: Training Assistance Dogs for Children with Health Conditions
It’s American National Pet Month all of June which aims to promote responsible pet ownership and increase awareness of the important role service animals can play in society.
Many animals are being trained to help their human owners who have disabilities or health conditions. Medical assistance or service dogs are a great example of this. They can be trained to aid a wide variety of issues and the number of organisations devoted to training and donating them is on the rise globally.
4 Paws for Ability is a non-profit organisation who train and place assistance dogs with children who have a range of health conditions and disabilities. They train dogs for children with autism, diabetes, food allergies, mobility issues, FASD, hearing and guide dogs plus multipurpose dogs for those who suffer from multiple issues. They have recently introduced a Veteran Assistance dogs section to their business too.
When Karen, founder of 4 Paws for Ability, was turned down numerous times by assistance dog agencies for being ‘too disabled’, she vowed to start her own service that didn’t judge applicants on the severity of their disability or their age. She saw a gap in the market for assistance dogs for children that were granted public access, that were trained to help specific health conditions and that could be given to any child, regardless of age. Read more
Preparing for Parenthood with Your Pet
Some say that looking after a pet can prepare you for parenthood, by helping you adjust to the responsibility of caring for another living thing and honing your parenting skills. Although nothing can make you fully ready to welcome a child into your life, with a pet you will experience similar obstacles and learning curves to better prepare you for becoming a parent.
A Lifestyle Change
The biggest challenge of having a child is getting your head around how much they will change your life. One minute it’s just you and then all of a sudden there’s someone new who your life revolves around. This situation is similar to getting a pet – you will need to adapt your lifestyle and establish a new daily routine to fit in with their needs. Feeding, exercising, grooming, playing and bedtime all have set times, giving your day structure. Learning to adjust your life to look after your pet will help lessen the shock of when a child comes into the picture.
Rachel Khan from London found her life changed drastically after getting her two rescue Labradors. Now expecting her first child, she’s found that taking care of her dogs has been great practice to prepare her for motherhood.
Rachel walking her dogs
Rachel is soon to go on maternity leave from her busy work life as Head of VM UK and Ireland for Calvin Klein. She’s looking forward to being able to spend more time with her dogs and reflects on how she and her husband Omar have adapted to them.
“I guess the most obvious change is that our lives already revolve around another living thing – I think that’s a shock to non-pet people. I think that you have to be a bit selfless to have a pet and put it first, so that’s good preparation for a new born baby.”
Rachel told us that her rescue dog Don has regular temper tantrums so she’ll be well equipped to deal with those embarrassing moments in the supermarket when her infant throws his toys out of the pram.
Dog Lover dies from Type 1 Diabetes
Retired care worker Richard Black, 68, had been fighting Type 1 diabetes for over 20 years but sadly succumbed to the disease in February this year. His close friend Lucy Simmons spoke to us about his passion for dogs and his charity work with Help Pozega Dogs
A Caring Man
Lucy met Richard six years ago and they’d been friends ever since.
“He was a customer at the little cafe where I work. It’s a small and friendly place so we got to know Richard by chatting every time he came in for tea. The cafe owner and I knew he was diabetic and wanted to make sure he was looking after himself, so we always made sure he had something to eat and drink.
“Some days we could see that he wasn’t feeling well and we would sit with him until he felt better. A day or two after he would bring us a little gift each and tell us that we always looked after him so he wanted to say thank you.
“He was so thoughtful, always worrying about everyone else and never himself. He was constantly having to deal with infections in his legs caused by small cuts or scratches – when his sugar levels were too high he collapsed, often hurting himself. He was receiving treatment at the clinic but he never once complained. I wish he’d talked to us more about what he was going through but I think he didn’t want to worry us. Instead he used to make light of the situation by making jokes.”