Health

The Hearty Diet

the-hearty-diet-health-notes

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…

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.

Foods To Lift Your Mood

foods-to-lift-your-mood-health-notes

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…

High Blood Pressure

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High blood pressure is a common concern as we begin to age. The term ‘silent killer’ describes high blood pressure well because unless you know what the symptoms of high blood pressure are, you would not necessarily know that you actually have high blood pressure. Medically high blood pressure is known as hypertension and it is a serious concern which leads to thousands of deaths every year from heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. Yet most of us do not get our blood pressure monitored frequently until the disease sets in or worse when a complication arises.

Blood pressure readings

Knowing your blood pressure reading is important regardless of how you feel physically and this should be carried out frequently in order to ascertain whether you suffer from this or not. Blood pressure is simply the force of your blood flow pounding against the arteries. The higher the pressure, the greater the chance of damaging the arteries leading to complications. Read More…

The Benefits of Vitamin D

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Despite all the press about this vitamin, most of us have chosen to ignore the findings and hope we have sufficient levels in the bloodstream. The vitamin in question is of course Vitamin D3 and most of us are still not getting sufficient levels of this important vitamin in our bloodstream. According to the Department of Health, as much as 25% of the population is deficient in this vitamin! In reality, scientists estimate that this figure is actually low and could be nearer 60% or higher.

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is not strictly a vitamin. A vitamin is a compound that cannot be produced by the body and since vitamin D is produced in the skin as a result of exposure to sunlight, this is why vitamin D is more accurately described as a hormone. Although we are capable of producing vitamin D, we rarely manufacture sufficient levels due to the latitude we live in and the fact that we constantly being told to wear sunscreens which of course block sunlight. Small amounts of vitamin D is found in fortified foods including milk, cereals, oily fish and juices but this amount is too small to make any significant difference. In fact it is estimated that we would need to drink 20 glasses of milk everyday to maintain optimal levels of vitamin D! Read More…