Category Archives: Hot Topics

Are E-cigarettes a healthy way to quit smoking for Stoptober?

With New Legislation to Reduce Second-hand Smoke, Could E-cigarettes be the Best Way to Quit?

From the beginning of October, a new law comes into effect that bans adults from smoking in a vehicle whilst children under the age of 18 are present. Warnings or fines will be handed out at police discretion to both the driver and anyone else smoking in the car.

smoking in the carThese regulations come after new research shows an estimated 40% of children are exposed to second-hand smoke, with smoking in cars found to be particularly hazardous due to the enclosed space.1

Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke, which can cause respiratory tract infections, asthma and wheezing plus other more serious conditions like cancer.1

It’s also Stoptober this month – a Public Health England initiative that challenges the general public to give up smoking for 28 days during October, with the idea being that you are then 5 times more likely to quit permanently. Stoptober packs are available online and there’s lots of advice and motivation to keep you on track.

With the new law and Stoptober coming along together, has there ever been a better time to quit? Read more

Can Yoga Help Cancer Patients as a Complementary Therapy?

Can Yoga Help Cancer? This Charity Says ‘Yes’

Executive Director Sue

Executive Director Sue

Yoga is a form of gentle exercise that incorporates stretching postures and breathing techniques to improve your mental wellbeing, flexibility and physical health. The practice started in India at least 5,000 years ago and has evolved into a popular pastime.

Sue De Cesare is Executive Director of the cancer care charity, Yes To Life, which offers numerous yoga workshops for cancer patients.

“Yes to Life is the UK’s integrative cancer care charity. We provide support, information and financial assistance to those with cancer seeking to pursue approaches that are currently unavailable on the NHS. By integrative we mean using the best of orthodox, complementary and alternative medicine combined, so more people have the best chance of reclaiming their health. We aim to change attitudes based on evidence and the personal experiences of thousands of people we have been able to help since the charity started 10 years ago.

“We also run a series of workshops and seminars which are open to members of the public and practitioners who are keen to understand more about the options available for people with cancer.” Read more

Are Sulphites Found In Wine Leading to Higher Intolerances?

Sulphites: A Growing Intolerance

wine bottlesCharlotte Palmer is a food specialist who coaches individuals on how to improve their overall health, soothe food allergies and rebalance digestive issues through healthy eating. Here she discusses sulphites found in wine and how to sooth sulphite allergies.

Sulphites is an inclusive term for sulphur dioxide (S02). SO2 is a preservative widely used in winemaking (and much of the food industry) because of its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. SO2 plays an important role in preventing oxidation and maintaining a wine’s freshness. Although only a portion of SO2 added to wine will be effective as an antioxidant. The rest will combine with other elements in the wine and cease to be useful.

All wines contain sulphur dioxide in various forms, collectively known as sulphites. Even in completely unsulphured wine it is present at concentrations of up to ten milligrams per litre. Commercially made wines can contain from ten to twenty times that amount. Read more

Organic Food: What Is It and Should You Be Buying It?

Organic Foods: A Mainstream Alternative

Farmer harvesting organic vegetablesOrganic 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

High Blood Pressure: Advice for Know Your Numbers Week

Know Your Numbers! Week: Alerting People to the Dangers of High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure testingThe 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
between beats.11

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

Read more

Starting School: Help your Autistic Child on their First Day

How To Help Your Child When They Start School

child with abacus
Starting school can be a stressful time for any child, but the combination of a change in routine, new sensory experiences and a lack of understanding from others can make the day overwhelming for a child with autism.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects how the brain develops, which means children with the condition have trouble with communication and social interaction. Intellectual disability, motor coordination difficulties, repetitive behaviours and physical health issues such as sleep disturbances are often associated with ASD.1 However, at the other end of the spectrum there are people with average to high IQs who excel in music, maths or art. This includes those with Asperger’s syndrome.2

There are a number of things you can do to help minimise the stress for your child, encourage a good relationship with the school and to ensure your little one has the support they need.

Creating a Good Relationship with the School

It’s really important to build a strong relationship with the school to ensure your child receives the best support possible. Every child is different, so everything should be tailored to their individual needs and personality.

Your child’s class teacher and SENCO (Special Educational needs Co-ordinator)3 are important people to talk to as they will have most contact with your child at school. Book regular meetings with them to discuss any problems and suggest solutions, and give them a profile of your child before their first day.

Read more

How to Manage Your Diet After Gastric Bypass Surgery

Gastric Bypass Surgery

Carol after 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

An Endometriosis sufferer’s fight to raise awareness

Endometriosis – An Uncommonly Recognised Condition

Aleks campaigning to raise awareness

Aleks campaigning to raise awareness

Aleks Wells from Newbury, Berkshire suffers from a little known disease called endometriosis.

“I have endometriosis. It’s unlikely that you know what it is; despite the estimated one in 10 women potentially suffering from it, the awareness of the disease is still very low. And yet it’s had the most profound effect on my life.”

A Long and Difficult Diagnosis

Diagnosis can take years and can involve pelvic examinations and scans.

“Women with endometriosis grow endometrium – the tissue that normally lines the uterus and is designed to bleed during the monthly cycle – outside of it. When it happens, the blood can’t escape the body in the form of a period and is trapped inside the abdominal cavity. The resulting irritation and inflammation can lead to ovarian endometrial cysts as large as 15 cm in diameter and in advanced stages, adhesions where fibrous tissue causes internal organs to stick together. All that is potentially extremely painful. All that invisible. All that potentially harmful to the effective working of the female reproductive system.

“I was diagnosed with endometriosis in June 2014, after years of painful periods. 12 years after a misdiagnosis with “potentially, maybe” Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome; the doctor “couldn’t be sure”. 10 years after a correct diagnosis which was only ‘by the way’ and whose significance I didn’t understand. Throughout that time, the doctors repeatedly dismissed my painful periods and told me to simply “get on with it”. Mine is not an isolated case. A correct diagnosis can take years and even the NHS website warns about the difficulties caused by the nature of the symptoms.” Read more