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
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…
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…
Q. Our four-year-old daughter has spent four nights in hospital with pneumonia. She is taking a seven-day course of antibiotics with Calpol. What can we give her to build up her resistance?
A. When she finishes the antibiotics, pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends taking the herb astragalus to strengthen her immune system and fight infections. Try Eclectic Kids Astragalus Alcohol Free Tincture for Kids (£12). She should take a weight-related dose as directed three times daily for one month. Do not use astragalus if she has a temperature. Read More…
A friend who suffered from episodes of cold, numb or tingling hands and feet due to Raynaud’s syndrome says a Tibetan herbal medicine, Padma Circosan, has given significant relief. Raynaud’s is triggered by cold temperatures (sufferers should wear warm gloves and socks, especially during cold weather) and also by stress and anxiety.
The condition occurs because blood vessels go into temporary spasm, which blocks blood flow. Padma Circosan has a UK Traditional Herbal Registration Certificate (£16.95). Read More…
Q. My daughter appears to be suffering from premenstrual syndrome (PMS), is there a test she could take and would the herb agnus castus be appropriate to try?
A. According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (rcog.org.uk), ‘Forty per cent of women experience PMS symptoms. Of those, five to eight per cent suffer severely. PMS encompasses psychological sympyoms such as depression, anxiety and irritability, with physical symptoms typically bloatedness and mastalgia [breast pain].’ Read More…
Q. I tripped recently and tore a layer of skin off both my knees. I realised that I didn’t know the protocol for dealing with this small but painful injury. What should I do next time?
A. Most cuts and grazes are minor and can easily be treated at home, according to NHS Choices (nhs.uk). Here is a guide:
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Stop any bleeding Apply pressure using a clean, dry, absorbent material (eg, a flannel, hanky or piece of bandage) for several minutes. If the cut is on your hand or arm, raise it above your head; if to a lower limb, lie down and raise the affected area above the level of your heart.
Clean the wound under running tap water (if you are abroad, ensure it is drinking quality). Don’t use antiseptic as it may damage the skin and slow healing. If there are any residual fragments of grit, remove them with tweezers.
Pat the area dry with a clean towel and apply a sterile adhesive dressing, eg, a plaster (waterproof plasters mean you can take a shower). Change the dressing daily if possible.
Encourage faster healing with a specific product such as Sheald Recovery Balm (£43), which can be applied to open wounds.
Go to your GP or minor injuries unit if you think your wound is, or could become, infected. Go to your nearest A&E if you cannot stop the bleeding or if the wound is large – particularly if it is on your face or the palm of your hand. Check with NHS 111 if you need further medical advice.