Health Notes

Coping With Cold Sores

Cold sore stages icons

Q: I tend to get cold sores, which are painful, horrible to look at and make me feel low. Is there anything I can do to help prevent/treat them?

A: Cold sores are due to a virus called herpes simplex. Many people carry it and for some it results in cold sores. You won’t know you have it until/if you get one of these small fluid-filled blisters on your face, which then bursts and crusts over into an unsightly scab. Read More…

And So To Sleep

Face mask on green and pink background

As a practitioner of Ayurvedic medicine and co-founder of Pukka Herbs, Sebastian is big on the necessity of getting enough good shut-eye. ‘There are huge levels of stress in society and it’s a big issue for our health. The government lays down guidelines on diet and exercise but the vital third factor is sleep. When we sleep well we can digest our day and process our emotional experiences so we can cope.’ Read More…

How to Win the ‘Bug Wars’ and Transform Your Health

Avocados

Forget your genes, which you can’t influence, says cardiologist Dr Steven Gundry, and focus instead on the trillions of bacteria in your body, which you can recruit as your best health buddies from today on.

Some two decades back, eminent cardiologist and heart surgeon Dr Steven Gundry was obese. He suffered with daily migraines and, although only in his forties, he had such bad arthritis he wore braces on his knees to run. Despite the pain, he ran 30 miles a week, did a daily stint in the gym and ate what he‘d been taught was a healthy diet. Read More…

Supplements for Veganuary

Selection of veg in dirt on grey background

I’m 100 per cent in favour of plant-based diets but it’s indisputable that vegan diets – and some vegetarian ones – can lack essential nutrients including vitamin B12, omega-3 essential fatty acids, iodine, selenium, iron and also vitamin D (although most people, vegan or not, have sub-optimal levels during the winter).

The Vegan Society has a very useful ‘Nutrition Overview’ section here, with contributions from dietitians.

Cultures such as Indian Jains have consumed a completely vegetarian, non-animal diet for millennia, following their philosophy of non-violence. Jains also avoids root vegetables because of the potential for harming tiny creatures in the soil. It may seem very limited and boring but I had personal experience of this for some time with Jains’ friends and can vouch for its deliciousness and nutritional value. So it’s worth looking online for Jain blogs with recipes.

The Vegan Society offers its own VEG1 supplement. Alternatively, pharmacist Shabir Daya suggests taking BetterYou Vegan Health Daily Oral Spray, which has been formulated to deliver four essential nutrients (B12, D3, iodine and iron) straight into the blood stream, bypassing the gut where they might get lost. £14.95 for 25ml, dose four sprays daily.

Shabir also recommends taking an omega-3 supplement, but beware here as few plant sources provide an efficient means of converting their fatty acids into EPA and DHA, the key omega-3s. However echium seed oil gives vegans a source of Omega-3 that’s as efficient as fish oil. The product is called Echiomega by Igennus, £13.99 for 60 capsules, dose for adults and children over ten is 2-4 capsules daily.

Finally, a note for those who want to follow a gluten-free vegan diet. Many years ago, before I discovered I was sensitive to gluten, I became pretty ill following a vegan diet. Now there is much more knowledge about this problem and many more options, including recipes on BBC Good Food. We still eat a lot of veggie food so I’m off to try the lentil ragu with courgetti.

And the wonderful Jasmine Hemsley (jasminehemsley.com) has a whole section on Diving into Veganuary from last year. Winter Sunset Soup with ginger, cumin and rosemary, anyone?

Dear Readers

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Sadly, this is my last column in YOU after more years than I care to count. For family reasons, I am stepping down to have a break. But it’s not goodbye as I will still be contributing regularly to the magazine.

Over the years, your letters, cards, photos and emails have provided the inspiration for the huge range of topics I have delved into. You have trusted me with your concerns and, with the help of leading experts worldwide, I have aimed to respond with the advice I would want for my family and friends.

I have had the privilege of talking to health heroes, including doctors and scientists carrying out pioneering research, natural health experts exploring the potential of traditional medicine, and patients with life-limiting conditions who have found their own ways to live well. Read More…

In Case Of Emergencies

Black and white health case

With schools breaking up shortly, prep for holiday health with the St John Ambulance Universal Plus First Aid Kit – everything you need for common accidents, plus a first aid leaflet, £16.80 from stjohnsupplies.co.uk. And here are my tried and trusted products for trips near and far:

  • Derma E Hydrating Facial Wipes, £9 for 25: one-stop cleansing and softening wipes, based on plant ingredients; they’re plastic-free and 100 percent compostable with recyclable packaging. Also: Simply Gentle Organic Cotton Buds, £2.25 for 200, with biodegradable stems.
  • Compeed Blister Mix Plasters, £4.39: a must for sore heels, toes or corns. Available nationwide.
  • Sea-Band, £8.74 for a pack of two wristbands to help nausea and vomiting: position the band’s stud on an acupressure point on your inside wrist. For adults and children. Sea-Band Mama! Ginger Lozenges with Folic Acid, £4.60, may help to alleviate morning sickness.
  • Viridian Nutrition Travel Biotic, £24.95 for 30 capsules: contains a probiotic shown to prevent traveller’s diarrhoea and stomach upsets. Take one daily for five days before travelling then during your trip.
  • Dr Scurr’s Zinopin Long Haul, £24.50 for ten capsules (for each return flight): this natural supplement formulated by a consultant surgeon helps reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis and puffy ankles on flights over two hours.
  • De Mamiel Altitude Oil, £28 for 10ml: a blend of antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic herbs to help clear your head and protect your immune system on germ-friendly planes and public transport.
  • Fire Angel Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarm, £24.99: this portable device detects poisonous gas, which has no smell or taste. Inhaling CO can cause chronic ill health. High levels can be deadly, with deaths from faulty appliances recorded in hotels and rentals. (See nhs.uk for symptoms.)
  • Better You Magnesium Gel, £11.95: fast-acting gel for joint and muscle aches and pains or post-flight stiffness.
  • Terranova Avena Sativa & Tart Cherry, £16.80: natural remedy that may help jet lag, tension and insomnia.
  • iS Clinical Sheald Recovery Balm, £43 for 60ml: brilliant for sunburn – a father whose small son was very sunburnt was astonished at its almost instant calming and healing effect. (If you have nothing else, apply cold milk.)

Being ‘hangry’ – hungry and angry – is a real phenomenon, experts agree.
When blood sugar levels drop, you’re more likely to snap at people. Stress related hormones are released along with neuropeptide Y, a chemical that can make people more aggressive. Nutritionist Ian Marber (ianmarber.com) told me many years ago that blood sugar levels start to drop two to three hours after eating, which explained why I would feel faint, shaky and irritable if I didn’t refuel. Ever since then I always carry some nuts in my bag or – a new discovery – a Bounce Protein Energy Ball. These filling, gluten-free, vegetarian bites tide me over nicely. My favourites from the range of 12 are Cacao Mint and Almond, £2 each at Waitrose.


If footwear could win an Oscar, my colleague Rosalind and I would vote for FitFlops, the genius brand pioneered by entrepreneur Marcia Kilgore. Actress Uma Thurman loves them so much she has her own FitFlop Edit, #Forsuperwomen. Like millions of others, we are devotees of these brilliantly designed sandals, shoes and boots, which take you anywhere in style and (hallelujah!) comfort. I wore the Superchic Woven Ballerinas, £90, to a glam dinner and skipped home at the end. Rosalind’s vote goes to the ‘light and airy’ Lulu Mirror Cross Slide Sandals, £59.95. For trotting round town, we’re both wedded to our F-Sporty Uberknit Crystal Sneakers, £89.95 – lace-ups you can pull on. Your feet will thank you. fitflop.com