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

The Vitamin D Lowdown

Sonne

The Vitamin D Lowdown

  • Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, also categorised as a hormone. It is made by our bodies from cholesterol by the action of UVB from sunlight on our skin.
  • It helps to control the amount of calcium and phosphate in our bodies, which are needed for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.
  • In this country, most people should get enough UVB in the summer months if they get outside in the sun, but UVB dwindles to almost nothing from October to March.
  • Vitamin D3 (the type we need) is also found in oily fish (salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines), egg yolks, red meat, fat, liver and fortified foods such as some dairy products and breakfast cereals. While it is wise to eat these, we would have to consume huge amounts to get enough – thus the need for supplements.
  • So how much vitamin D do we need? The recommended supplementary amount of vitamin D3 from the age of one to 70 is 400 IU (10mcg) and 320-400 IU for babies.
  • However, many experts believe 1,000 IU or higher is more appropriate for adults.
  • For people with diagnosed vitamin D deficiency, the recommended maintenance therapy (after testing to ensure an optimal level has been reached) is 800 to 2,000 IU daily.
  • Pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends trying the Better You DLux 1,000 Spray, a sublingual spray that provides 100 doses of 1,000 IU.

Read More…

How To Settle A Sore Stomach

how-to-settle-a-sore-stomach-2-health-notes

When a friend had a bad bout of food poisoning with severe diarrhoea recently, I asked naturopath Ben Brown, technical director of Viridian Nutrition, for advice. He suggested she do the following:

  • Take an oral rehydration solution (available from chemists nationwide).
  • Avoid dairy food as transient lactose intolerance can develop and make diarrhoea worse.
  • Introduce a daily zinc supplement, containing around 20mg of elemental zinc. Try Solgar Zinc Picolinate (£9.91, victoriahealth.com).
  • Take 500mg of the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii, which has strong antimicrobial and anti-diarrheal activity, twice daily. Viridian Nutrition Travel Biotic (£20, victoriahealth.com) contains S. boulardii in a ginger-root base.
  • Sip strong black tea (the tannins help battle the infective bacteria and reduce inflammation), plus ginger tea if you feel nauseous. Eat grated or stewed apple with the peel on.

Read More…

Stress

a-mums-peace-of-mind-health-notes

However much we love the festive season, most of us feel a tad frazzled. Practising mindfulness in any form (eg, yoga) always helps. Here are my other tips for reducing festive-season stress.

  • Have a protein-filled breakfast. Eggs are perfect.
  • Consider a supplement such as Siberian ginseng, a powerful adaptogenic herb that helps combat fatigue. Try HealthAid Sibergin.
  • Eat every two to three hours to keep your blood sugar steady – three meals and two snacks a day.
  • Keep a little tin of almonds in your bag for on-the-go boosts.
  • Don’t dry out. Sip still water or herbal teas throughout the day.
  • Keep your feet happy with comfy footwear. We’re mad about the new, super-chic FitFlop Chelsea boots in snake-embossed leather, which feel as though you’re wearing sneakers.
  • Wind down in a warm bath with aromatherapy oils. Try Neom Organics Perfect Night’s Sleep Bath & Shower Drops.
  • Rest your brain with needlework. My favourite book this year is Kaffe Fassett’s Bold Blooms by Kaffe Fassett and Liza Prior Lucy with ideas for embroidery, tapestry, knitting, beading and much more.

A MUM’S PEACE OF MIND

Life is busy for mother of four Clemmie Hooper, 32. As well as daughters aged nine and six, Clemmie has ten-month-old twin girls with husband Simon. She has just finished her book on pregnancy and birth (How to Grow a Baby and Push it Out, which will be published by Vermilion in February next year); writes a blog about mothering (gasandairblog.com), and has more than 86,000 followers on Instagram (@mother_of_daughters). So when she was asked to trial Quility, a new mindfulness app, her first reaction was to say no.

‘I had tried practising mindfulness before and always found 20 more important things to do,’ says Clemmie. ‘But the idea of an app specifically targeted at mums persuaded me. I found it easy to use – much more convenient for me than a book – and very helpful.’

On the app, mindfulness expert Tessa Watt points out that the safety advice for parents on planes is to put on their own oxygen masks first. ‘As a mother, you are so programmed to look after everyone else that you sink to the bottom of the pile,’ says Clemmie. ‘I knew Tessa was right – you can’t pour from an empty cup.’

The Quility app is designed for brief gaps of time. ‘You only need to carve out five or ten minutes twice a day to give yourself breathing space,’ says Clemmie. ‘After taking the older children to school I practise mindfulness, mostly being aware of my breath and reconnecting with my body – noticing if I am so tense that my shoulders are pushed sky high, for instance.’

Clemmie’s dentist told her she was grinding her teeth at night. ‘I was anxious when I should be most relaxed,’ she says. Rather than checking emails in bed, Clemmie now turns off her phone notifications and ‘zones out’ with Quility.

‘Now, when everything is going pear-shaped – we’re out of milk, a child is drawing on the wall, everyone is kicking off – I don’t have the same knee-jerk reaction,’ she says. ‘I used to snap, shout, lose my temper – instead I pause for five seconds and breathe. The situation doesn’t change but I’m better at coping with it, so everyone is calmer.’

Leading up to Christmas, Clemmie’s resolution is to not cram in too much. ‘If Saturday is busy, we have a chilled Sunday,’ she says. ‘We are spending Christmas with my husband’s family and when his mother says, “Don’t bring anything except yourselves”, for the first time I will take her at her word.’


WHAT IS MINDFULNESS

It is the ability to be fully in the present moment, aware of where we are and what we are doing, but not overreacting or being overwhelmed by what is going on around us.

Practising mindfulness starts with focusing on your breath going in and out of your nostrils, then absorbing the sensations of your body and environment.

Research shows that people who practise mindfulness are calmer, more aware of their thoughts and feelings, able to focus and manage their emotions better.

The Danger Of Painkillers

natural-products-for-pain-relief-health-notes

Q. Like most people, I take an over-the-counter painkiller for aches and pains. Now, recent headlines say that these can cause a heart attack. Can you clarify this and suggest any safe alternatives?

A. Warnings about these painkillers are not new. In 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that taking common, widely available non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen (both available without prescription), increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. They may also raise blood pressure and cause heart failure.

The warning followed the revelation that Vioxx, a prescription NSAID, had caused 140,000 heart attacks in the US over five years. It was withdrawn in 2004. NSAIDs were first launched over a century ago and most of them were registered at a time when there were few requirements for safety documentation. However, since the Vioxx scandal, there has been much more research, which showed that the risk is linked to all NSAIDs. Read More…

Cold Sores

november-6th-health-notes

TWO OF THE BEST LIP BALMS TO HELP PREVENT COLD SORES

  • Lysine Lip Therape with Monolaurin (£8): A natural, nourishing treatment for dry lips with two antiviral agents (l-lysine, an amino acid, and monolaurin, from coconut) to help prevent and treat cold sores, which are caused by the Herpes simplex virus.
  • Prevasore Everyday Lip Therapy (£6.95, prevasore.co.uk): A medicated product based on white, soft paraffin to keep lips hydrated and provide a barrier against the wintry environment that can reactivate a dormant cold sore virus. It also encourages faster healing if you do get one.

Q. I have just been prescribed a course of antibiotics for the stomach infection Helicobacter pylori. This is my fifth course in 16 years and they make me feel poorly each time. Should I keep taking them and is there any alternative that would help?

A. About 40 per cent of people in the UK have Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that lives in the sticky lining of the stomach, according to Core, the digestive disorders foundation. A helpful leaflet, Information About Helicobacter Pylori, is available on their website (corecharity.org.uk).

In most of those affected, Helicobacter pylori causes no problems, but about 15 per cent will develop a gastric or duodenal ulcer. These tend to cause indigestion or, occasionally, lead to a more serious condition as they can bleed or even burst. There is also a very slightly increased risk of stomach cancer.

Doctors agree that all patients with Helicobacter pylori should have antibiotic treatment if they have, or ever have had, an ulcer. However, if you do not have an ulcer (which you do not clarify), many doctors believe it is not worth the potential disadvantages of taking an antibiotic (see box, below).

Research published in the British Medical Journal in 2015 states that ‘the efficacy of standard treatment for Helicobacter pylori has decreased’, which may be the reason you still suffer from it. One option is to take a probiotic. The same study showed that ten to 14 days of probiotic supplemented treatment was one of the most effective regimes.

Other published research shows that Protexin Bio-Kult Multi-Strain Probiotic, taken with standard treatment for Helicobacter pylori, helps to increase eradication rates of the bacterium to more than 90 per cent in children aged three to 14.

Probiotics may also help with the side effects of antibiotics. This is particularly the case with broad spectrum ones such as those used to treat Helicobacter pylori, which cause diarrhoea, vomiting and tummy upsets in about one in four people. This is because antibiotics also damage the stomach’s good bacteria, according to Dr Ashton Harper, specialist medical advisor to Protexin. This may prevent patients from finishing the course and thus getting rid of the harmful bacteria. It may also lead to the rise of antibiotic resistance.


TOP UP YOUR ANTIBIOTIC AWARENESS

Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats facing us today. Antibiotics are vital medicines for treating bacterial infections, as well as a key part of routine treatments from basic operations and childbirth to chemotherapy and organ transplants.

But the more we use them, the more likely bacteria will become resistant to them. This is happening at an alarming rate as antibiotics are over-prescribed and also because – when they are necessary – patients do not take them exactly as directed.

We can all help by not badgering our doctors for antibiotics – they will not work against colds and flu, for instance, which are caused by viruses, as are most coughs and sore throats. If we do need them, we should take the whole course as prescribed.

European Antibiotic Awareness Day is on 18 November. For more information, visit nhs.uk/arc.


BOOK OF THE WEEK
Calmer Easier Happier Screen Time by Noël Janis-Norton

Several parents recommend this guide to stopping children from becoming too absorbed in the digital world. One mother said the most helpful part of the book was having guidelines for conducting the inevitable battles over the hours her children spend glued to different devices, which helped her to start limiting their screen time and managing it more positively.

 

Restore Your Inner Balance Post Cancer

restore-your-inner-balance-post-cancer

Q: I was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago, had chemo- and radiotherapy and have been on tamoxifen since. I don’t feel well and struggle with my weight going up and down. Can you suggest a good diet that is not too restrictive?

A: A number of women at your stage of recovery have the same problems (and some men, as 350 to 400 are diagnosed with breast cancer annually in the UK ). Firstly, I suggest reading Karen Hockney’s Breathing Out, which covers her journey through illness and recovery and the approaches that helped her, including nutrition advice. Read More…