Most people I know have moments when they think, ‘Stop the world, I need to get off…’ Six years ago, high-powered businesswoman Veroniek Vermeulen was so disturbed that ‘corporate life was leading [her] rather than vice versa’ that she took a sabbatical and travelled to Nepal to seek inner peace.
En route to learning meditation at a monastery, however, Veroniek got diverted by paragliding. By a twist of fate, the helicopter pilot who took her up the mountain was a Buddhist who taught her the basic principle of meditation – a simple breathing exercise. ‘So meditation got me anyway,’ she chuckles.
For the first time, Veroniek felt that she truly experienced being in the present and feeling happy within herself. ‘It wasn’t to do with things such as a new dress or a promotion. I just felt happy.’ The next three years passed in a bewildering parallel life where global business was interspersed with visits to different monasteries to learn more about meditation. ‘I would come back feeling amazing, but within weeks the glow had gone.’ Read More…
Q: As the evenings draw in and it’s dark when I get up, I notice that my energy levels dip and I want to eat more – usually carbs, which is unlike me – and sleep more. Does this mean that I have seasonal depression? If so, what can I do about it?
A: Full-blown seasonal depression affects eight per cent of people in the UK during winter, according to the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA, sada.org.uk). Unlike other forms of depression, ‘people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) tend to sleep more, eat more and gain weight’, explains Dr Norman Rosenthal (normanrosenthal.com), the psychiatrist who first described and named SAD in the 1980s. Read More…
As the strength of sunlight fades, boost your vitamin D levels with a supplement. This essential hormone is synthesised in the skin by UV light but many of us have low levels, particularly during winter. Vitamin D is vital for strong bones and teeth, as well as influencing many other functions, including immunity and mood. Choose a product with vitamin D3, such as Better You DLux 1000 Spray.
GETTING TO SLEEP
If you go to sleep easily but tend to wake in the early hours, don’t fret. Bi-or poly-phasic sleep – sleeping in chunks, in other words – was the norm until the advent of electric light. According to neuroscientist Professor Gaby Badre, ‘Sleep is a cyclic phenomenon and waking during the night is natural, although we are not always aware of it. In fact, four to five hours of continuous sleep in the first part of the night covers our need for deep sleep. But to feel refreshed – with enough REM sleep (the dream period) – we generally need seven to eight hours in total. The essential point is the amount of sleep we have over 24 hours.’
You can add shorter chunks when you go back to sleep in the early hours and by napping after lunch. ‘We have a natural dip in alertness between 1pm and 4pm. But don’t nap for longer than 20 minutes,’ he counsels, to avoid feeling groggy afterwards. Read More…
Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that are known to help digestion and a host of other concerns. Studies now indicate that specific species of probiotics may help elevate mood, enhance our immune system, protect the heart and are even known to protect our teeth and gums.
The specific make-up of these probiotic bacteria in the gut is determined by your genetics, eating and drinking habits and other lifestyle factors such as stress. These beneficial bacteria in the gut release lactic acid which inhibits pathogens from thriving in the gut and thus preventing infections.
Scientists have also discovered that complex interactions between these bacteria are responsible for the optimal function of the immune system. Our bodies secrete an antibody called immunoglobulin A, IgA, which is normally found around the membranes lining the nose and the upper respiratory tract. It is this antibody that acts as a first line of defence against bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, as we age, levels of IgA decline making many of us susceptible to bacteria and viruses. Read More…
3 of the Best Immune-System Boosters
Pharmacist Shabir Daya suggests supplements to ward off colds and flu:
- Health Insurance Plus Tablets by Lamberts Healthcare, £16.70 for 125 small tablets; dose two daily for adults and children aged 16 and upwards. Provides essential micronutrients including magnesium, high potency B vitamins and three times the RDA of vitamin C.
- U-Cubes Children’s Multivitamin and Mineral Gummies by Solgar Vitamins, £12.99 for 60 gummies; dose two to four daily depending on age. Based on tapioca and pectin, they are free of dairy, yeast, artificial flavours and preservatives.
- For Daily Immunity by Optibac Probiotics, £11.29 for 30 capsules; dose one daily for adults and children aged four and upwards. With several types of ‘good’ gut bacteria, plus vitamin C and natural plant extracts.
Research shows a daily 800mg dose of chondroitin sulphate (CS), a natural compound, is as effective for improving pain and function in knee osteoarthritis as Celebrex, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory. Since Celebrex has potential side effects – some serious – researchers suggest CS should be considered a first-line treatment. Pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends Natures Aid Chondroitin from a marine source (£15.95 for 90 tablets). Take two daily with food. Read More…