About Sarah Stacey

Sarah Stacey is the Health Editor of the Mail on Sunday YOU magazine and is co-author (with Jo Fairley) of the world’s bestselling series of beauty books, The Beauty Bible. She edits, with Jo Fairley, the accompanying website, www.beautybible.com

Posts by Sarah Stacey

Bodytox Detox Foot Patches

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Recently, I rediscovered Bodytox Detox Foot Patches, which you apply at night. Come the morning, I peeled them off, shuddered at the dark waste on each pad, then marvelled at how well I’d slept and how rested and toned my face looked. Your feet are the foundation of your body, according to Chinese medicine, with 60 acupuncture points and some 7,000 nerve endings. The patches combine wood vinegar, mugwort extract, chitosan (an ingredient from crustacean shells) and tourmaline (a semiprecious mineral), which claim to draw out toxins from your body. £12.99 for six. Read More…

Turmeric Daily Oral Spray

Turmeric spices

There is a growing body of scientific evidence for the health benefits of turmeric, the golden Asian spice whose active compound is called curcumin. Its main action is damping inflammation, which underlies many diseases from arthritis and tendonitis to skin problems and even some forms of cancer. Many people choose to take a daily turmeric supplement as well as cooking with it. Ensuring that turmeric is well absorbed by the gut has always been a problem, but a new Turmeric Daily Oral Spray from Better You (£17.95 for 25ml) goes directly into the bloodstream via the soft tissue of the mouth.

Beware of getting it on your fingers, though: I coloured my keyboard bright orange.


PLUG IN, PEDAL AWAY

When Olympic Gold-winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton holidayed in California with her mother, they hired bikes, but Pauline, 69, had no problem keeping pace with her daughter. She even overtook her because they were riding electric bikes (with motors), which helped Pauline keep up a steady speed even on hills. ‘Riding an e-bike felt a bit naughty for the first five minutes,’ says Victoria. ‘But then I thought, “I am not competing or training any longer, so cycling is something just to enjoy.” E-bikes are brilliant!’

Victoria had so much fun that she was inspired to design an e-bike with Halfords – the Pendleton Somerby, an electric version of Victoria’s bestselling Somerby model. Despite the extra boost, you still get the health benefits of cycling because you have to put in some effort: the power kicks in only when you pedal (going up to a max speed of 15.5mph – the legal limit).

The Pendleton Somerby has a three-power motor so you can choose how much help you want on steep bits, plus eight gears. ‘It’s like having a helping hand pushing you up the hills,’ says Victoria. Our YOU tester found that she still got a workout – she happily switched off the motor on flat stretches – but the e-bike meant she wasn’t put off attempting journeys with hills.

As Victoria says, the e-bike encourages people to explore further afield and to try journeys they wouldn’t normally do, ‘It makes you feel fitter than you are – like you are floating along.’ One charge of the battery (under the luggage rack) will last 40-50 miles depending on the terrain.

Already hugely popular in Germany and the Netherlands, e-bikes are becoming increasingly fashionable in the UK . About one in 25 adult bikes sold is now an e-bike, according to Halfords. Benefits include being able to move away from junctions swiftly (helping prevent cyclists getting swamped by traffic). Plus, if you cycle to work, you can arrive feeling fresh and minus the sweat of a regular bike commute.

As Victoria points out, perhaps the loveliest benefit of this technology is how inclusive it is: with e-bikes, people of different abilities and age ranges can all cycle together. ‘I love going cycling with my mum, and with an e-bike, she doesn’t have to worry about holding me up. It’s a great way for anyone to build fitness and confidence.’ Pendleton Somerby Electric Bike in white/blue, £750 (this qualifies for the cycle to work scheme), from halfords.com.


WEBSITE OF THE WEEK
bestbeginnings.co.uk

During pregnancy and as new mothers, up to one in five women develop mental health problems, ranging from low mood to psychosis. Shamingly, in almost half the UK, they have no access to specialist maternal mental health services. Best Beginnings offers vital support and information for parents and families between preconception and the child’s third birthday. The huge range of resources includes Baby Buddy, a free app for parents-to-be, which spans pregnancy and the first six months, and the Small Wonders programme for families with sick or premature babies. Do sit down with a cup of tea and explore the website: there is so much I can only skim the surface here.

Hay Fever Helpers

hay fever helpers health notes

Lifeplan Botanicals Wild Hayflower. Pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends this mixture of meadow grasses and flowers, which can help trigger your body to fight the pollens you may encounter.

HayMax pure balm. This organic drug-free balm, made with beeswax and seed oils, is applied to the base of the nose and round the eyes to form a barrier to allergens. The range includes HayMax Kids and HayMax Aloe Vera for sore noses.

Eyelergy eye drops. Single-dose, preservative-free droppers deliver a light gel to help eliminate allergens and dust from eyes, relieve itchiness and form a barrier against allergens. For adults and children, suitable for contact lens wearers.


RIO’S REACH-OUT THERAPY

When Rio Ferdinand’s wife Rebecca died from breast cancer in May 2015, aged just 34, he was left a single parent to three children under ten. The footballer’s immediate thoughts focused on ‘all the basic stuff – sorting out the funeral, what to do  with the children, the school run, making sure everyone was all right. You don’t really look at yourself.’

It wasn’t until the winter, when he started talking to his old friend Jamie Moralee, that Rio realised it was hard bottling things up: ‘You get angry, you get upset, you get emotional, you get depressed and it isn’t good for you or the network of people around you.’

Rio and Jamie recall that first conversation in a short film for Heads Together (headstogether.org.uk), the mental health campaign founded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry that aims to get people talking about their feelings. Outlining the campaign’s vision for 2017, the Duchess said: ‘The challenge that so many people have is not knowing how to take that first step of reaching out to another person for help. Fear, reticence or a sense of not wanting to burden another means that people suffer in silence – allowing the problem to grow larger and larger.’

That’s when having another person listening can make all the difference. Jamie wanted to talk to Rio about his loss ‘from day one, but I didn’t know the right timing. It was six months after Rebecca’s passing that I plucked up the courage to say, “How are you?” and mention some memories of Rebecca and what a fantastic lady she was.’ That got the two old friends talking and ‘we ended up crying our eyes out on the beach’.

For Rio, ‘Talking about feelings was a release. In these situations, you need to get your feelings out. It’s like a cleanse and it doesn’t just help you, it helps all the people close to you to feel more comfortable.’

Rio and Jamie’s dialogue is part of an online series of films for Heads Together, showing conversations between people from all walks of life. Another features two NHS ambulance workers, Dan and Rich. Dan attended a call that affected him severely: ‘It was the worst thing I had ever seen.’ The experience triggered vivid flashbacks and Dan began ‘smoking, drinking and not sleeping – and getting into a deeper hole day by day.

I didn’t know what to do to get out of it.’ Eventually, he texted his colleague Rich and they started talking. Rich confesses he was worried about what to say to someone going through a crisis: ‘It was nerve-racking, but I kept thinking it was nowhere near as bad as what Dan was going through.’ Dan also had misgivings: ‘I thought it was going to be one of the most difficult things I would ever do but, actually, it was just a conversation between two friends.’

Mental health charity Mind (mind.org.uk) has a useful section on helping others on its website, under Information and Support. Calm, the campaign against living miserably (thecalmzone.net, helpline: 0800 585 858, open 5pm to midnight), offers help to people who are worried about someone they know feeling suicidal. Both charities are part of the Heads Together coalition.


OPTIBAC PROBIOTICS

A 24-year-old reader with recurrent bloating and digestive problems reports that using Optibac Probiotics has significantly reduced the problem. The range includes Optibac Probiotics For Every Day.

The Hearty Diet

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Every year nearly 160,000 people in England and Wales die of heart-related problems, according to the British Heart Foundation.

Recently, large-scale research published in the US (jamanetwork.com) looked at the association between dietary factors and mortality from heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, known collectively as cardiometabolic disease (CMD) Read More…

The Dangers of Visceral Fat

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Q) I am a fit 50-something, but my GP says I have excess visceral fat. What is it and what can I do about it?

A) Unlike the blobby, more benign subcutaneous fat just under your skin, visceral fat is stored deeply, wrapping itself around the heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas and even creeping through muscles. ‘Visceral fat is the dangerous kind, caused by a high carbohydrate diet and sedentary behaviour,’ says Professor David Haslam of the National Obesity Forum.

‘Subcutaneous fat on the thighs, hips and stomach may create mechanical problems such as arthritis of the hips and knees, but doesn’t tend to cause metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, breast and colorectal cancer or Alzheimer’s disease,’ he explains. ‘Visceral fat pumps toxic chemicals called adipocytokines into the bloodstream. These create chronic low-grade inflammation and disrupt healthy metabolism [the way your body works to create energy and keep you functioning].’ Visceral fat may also affect your mood.

Unlike subcutaneous fat, you cannot see visceral fat. However, Harvard University notes that overweight or obese people are likely to have excess visceral fat, as it makes up about ten per cent of total body fat. Read More…

Foods To Lift Your Mood

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Neuroscientist and leadership coach Dr Tara Swart, who is conducting a year-long study on mental resilience among selected staff and guests at London’s Corinthia Hotel, emphasises the information superhighway between your gut and mood. Around 90 per cent of the body’s serotonin, the mood-balancing neurotransmitter, is found in the gut. So, as mental health charity Mind (mind.org.uk) suggests, eating food to balance gut bacteria (eg, live yoghurt, fruit, vegetables and whole grains) is vital. Research has also shown that people who took a probiotic supplement for a month experienced fewer negative thoughts. Pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends Florassist Mood, which contains two probiotic strains shown to influence gut-nervous system signalling, with positive effects on mood. Read More…