Middle-Aged Brits Are The Most Miserable People In The UK

unhappy_vh

Its been quite a week. What with England failing to make the final of the World Cup after being defeated by Croatia on Wednesday; the unexpected but much appreciated lengthy heatwave beginning to cool off; and the various political tussles that we’re not even going to touch on. It’s not surprising that some of us are feeling a little blue. If you’re aged between 45 and 59 years, this week might have hit you harder than most.

A new survey has revealed that middle-aged Brits are the most miserable, unfulfilled people in the UK. Health is the most common reason for unhappiness among this age group. Those who believe their health is bad are 14 times more likely to be unhappy than those in good health. However, being separated, divorced, unemployed or unhappy in their job and renting rather than owning their home can also play a role.

On the other end of the spectrum, students and those in early retirement are likely to be the most content and if you’re young, educated and married you might just be living your best life.

For the rest of us, here’s a few tips on how to boost your happiness levels…

Move more

Plenty of studies have proved that regular exercise not only improves our health, but also increases our endorphin (happy hormone) levels. This doesn’t mean you have to sign-up to a gruelling, sweaty spin class or hit the gym five times a week, instead find an activity you like and schedule it into your week where you can. Walking, running, swimming, you name it. It could even be a lifestyle change, such as walking to the train station rather than jumping on a bus, or walking up the stairs rather than taking the lift. As long as it raises your heart rate, you’re doing alright.

Look after your gut

Researchers are still exploring the impact our gut has on the rest of our body, but some studies have indicated a link between a healthy functioning gut and our emotional wellbeing. While any good quality probiotic should help promote good bacteria, Florassist Mood by Life Extensions has been specially formulated to help not only rebalance the bacteria in our gut, but also to improve the signalling between our gut and our nervous system.

Make a list

This is particularly useful if you’re feeling unhappy or unfulfilled at work. Making a list of what you like and don’t like, as well as where you’d like to be in the future can help give negative thoughts a constructive twist.

Take time out

For some this might be meditating or partaking in a yoga class, for others it’s binging on trashy TV or reading a book. Taking time for yourself doesn’t have to be virtuous, you just need to switch off from the tensions and dramas of day-to-day life and relax. We recommend investing in Soul Medicine’s Inner Smile Mist to set the tone. Admittedly, this is no mean feat if you have young children, but where possible having a little me-time and checking out can help you relax.

Have a clean-up

There’s the saying ‘tidy home, tidy mind’ and having a good deep clean of your home, desk or car could really help make space in your mind. If you need any more encouragement, it’s also been proven that you sleep better in a tidy bedroom.

How Supplements Became The Best Step In My Skincare Routine

spoon of fruit and vegetables

After my health issues a few years ago it became pretty obvious that what was happening on my skin had a lot to do with what was going on inside my body. In fact, how my skin changed was the first sign that something was wrong, although I did not realize this at the time. As my health deteriorated, my skin progressively got worse until I felt like I looked just as badly as I was feeling (which was pretty awful). The funny thing is, I remember being obsessed with fixing my skin and wasted so much time and money on products and treatments when what I needed to do was focus on my health – the root cause of my skin problems.

 

My discovery of how important supplements can be for the skin happened completely by accident. In order to avoid surgery to remove a large cyst I began researching alternative medicines and from there I learned about the different vitamins, minerals and herbal remedies that would help me naturally balance my hormones, support the digestive system and lower my stress levels. The supplements I began taking had nothing to do with the skin as far as I was concerned, but a very happy “side effect” I started to notice after a couple of months was that my skin was improving, all without having any kind of skincare routine.

 

That’s when I realized that for many of us skincare junkies out there, products can only do so much and to really care for our skin we need to look after our bodies as a whole. For me that included taking my supplements, but also eating well (things like sugar, dairy, meat and grains really upset my stomach), regular exercise, plenty of rest, less stress and more mindfulness. Basically, all the boring things we know we need to do, but often find it difficult to make time for these days. I ultimately made a complete lifestyle shift with my supplements at the centre of it all and the difference in how I felt and looked was like night and day.

 

Despite all this, once I was well enough to get back to my normal life I was quick to forget everything I had learned. Ridiculous, I know, but I think I rushed my recovery because I felt like I had wasted so much time being ill and I just wanted to move on from it all. It was a dark time for me and instead of seeing the things I had done to get well as a new way of life to stay that way, I saw them as a reminder of how sick I had been. Over the years I eventually stopped doing everything, even taking supplements. As a result, about six years later I am dealing with the same issue again, which brings me to my current round of supplement therapy.

 

I thought it was important to finally share my experiences with supplements and talk about my current journey because I know that in general most people are quite skeptical of them and I was too. Even after I had seen how well they had worked for me I still doubted if they had really had an effect. I wondered if they were just giving me “expensive pee”, but after tracking my health and skin with supplements alone, only using skincare products and just exercise and healthy eating, as well as different combinations of these things, I know that supplements make a difference for me and that they are worth trying.

 

Currently I am focusing on reducing inflammation, repairing my gut and balancing my hormones. As I have said many times, I believe inflammation is the root cause of pretty much every issue with the body and skin and in my experience it affects and is linked to my digestive and reproductive health. I am also working on improving cellular waste/toxin removal, which I hope will help my issue resolve itself without any surgical intervention. As for my skin, the biggest concerns I am trying to address are dullness, hyperpigmentation and inflammation, which the supplements I am taking have already begun to help with.

 

Even though supplements are very personal and it’s important to tailor them to your own specific needs and issues, there are a few that I think pretty much everyone could benefit from for overall health and good skin. The main supplement that I have felt and seen the most improvement from are digestive enzymes/probiotics. These are the staples in my supplement regime and sort of form the basis for general good health because without proper gut function you’ll likely not be able to absorb and reap the full benefits of any vitamins you take, as well as the food you are eating. Not only that, more and more research and studies are coming out that show just how important it is to look after our gut and many issues, especially with the skin, could be a result of conditions like leaky gut (Shabir has written about that more here) or gut bacteria related food sensitivities. 

 

Once you have taken care of your gut you can move on to tackling specific issues and even when it comes to the skin there is pretty much a supplement for everything. If inflammation (internal and/or external) or acne (especially cystic) is a chronic issue for you then try Omega 3. It has worked really well for me over the years and helped reduce the size and frequency of the cystic acne I was getting the first time I was ill. Another good supplement for the skin is zinc, which helped my blemishes heal quicker by improving wound healing and boosting my immune system.

 

If like me pigmentation or dullness is an issue then check out Glutathione, which not only works to reduce melanin production, but also supports the liver and kidneys (also great for the skin). If you find that your skin is affected by your menstrual cycle then try Agnus Castus, which has worked wonders for me and many of my female family members and friends. Stress management is also extremely important for your skin and overall health. If you find you frequently suffer from feeling anxious, low mood or mood swings then something like Rhiodola Rosea can help reduce the levels of cortisol in the body. This hormone affects how we respond to stress, but it also impacts our skin, which is why we often get blemishes during stressful times.

 

All these supplements have been written about extensively on here by the extremely knowledgeable and incredibly helpful Shabir and I encourage you to read up on any issue you are having because it’s likely you will find a way to deal with them through supplement therapy like I did. As many of you will know, I found my way to Victoria Health thanks to googling alternative ways to help with my cyst and the supplements I bought as a result of reading Shabir’s articles were why I was able to get well without conventional medicine or surgery.

 

I know that taking supplements probably seems less exciting and more of a hassle than using a face mask or getting a facial, but for me (and I am sure many of you), what is happening on my skin is just a symptom of something else going on in my body. Skincare products can help a lot, but only to a point and what I have found is that by taking a 360 approach to my health and including supplements as part of my skincare routine my skin is way more calm and balanced, even when I barely use anything on it like I have been for the past few weeks.

 

Of course, like everything (but especially all things beauty/skin related) supplements are extremely personal and there is no one magic pill that will cure everything, nor is there one perfect regime that will work for everyone. It’s all about what your body needs and the right combination and dosage to get the best results. Even so, I truly believe that if you are dealing with persistent health or skin issues then supplements could be worth investing in over an expensive serum or “miracle” cream.

 

Being that this is a health and wellness platform, I know a vast majority of VH readers are dedicated supplement users, but if you are a newbie then there are some guidelines that can help. First and foremost, there are many factors that go in to what supplements to take (age, sex, lifestyle, medication, allergies, contradictions etc), so it is very important that you do as much research as possible and consult your doctor. Shabir has written thousands of articles and those are a great place to start. The first time I discovered them I was reading until the sun came up and it was the first time I felt truly empowered in my illness.

 

Next, like skincare it’s all about finding what works for you and that also includes how the supplements will be administered. I have found that I pretty much hate the feeling of swallowing pills or capsules and have now focused on liquid/spray supplements from brands like Biocare, BetterYou and LivOn Labs in my regime. By doing this I now actually enjoy taking my supplements and again like with skincare products, great ingredients can only work if you actually use them. 

 

Not only that, in the same way that you have to stay consistent with your skincare products to see the best results, the same goes for your supplements. I usually start to feel a difference within a month (what my period is like is generally a good indicator) and see results around the 10-12 week mark. I would also recommend starting slowly (just like you wouldn’t start using too many products at once) and documenting how you feel day-to-day.. Right now I am taking all the supplements mentioned and a few more that I will explain in more detail on my blog to share my journey.

 

For some of you simple changes like switching to a non-drying cleanser, or incorporating a retinol product will be all you need to see a difference in your skin, but for others the issues are more than skin deep and need to be addressed from the inside out. Sometimes our skin can act like a mirror reflecting what’s going on internally and if you find that you have the same recurring issues or can never quite get a handle on your skin then incorporating supplements could be the best step your skincare routine has been missing out on.

 

These Supplements Could Make You Live Longer

Triphala

It’s rare for a week to go by without probiotics hitting the headlines. Over the past few years they have been championed for boosting the levels of good bacteria in your gut. And, a well-balanced, healthy gut as been linked to a stronger immune system, higher energy levels and better skin. More recently, a study has gone one step further and suggested that combining probiotics and an Indian herb could help you help you live longer. Read More…

Why Your Diet Could Be Affecting Your Sleep

grated beetroot

As we lie awake at night with a million thoughts running round in our heads, it’s easy to blame our busy minds for stopping us sleeping. On the surface that might be the case, but of course many things influence how we sleep from the natural such as daylight – to what time we switched off our screens that evening. In truth, there is still much mystery surrounding the science of good sleep and the brain, but one of the most interesting areas of research at the moment is how the gut biome (the vast community of bacteria, fungi and yeasts which populate our digestive tract) could be a big influencer on quality and quantity of shut eye.

We already know that the gut biome affects the hormones which control our appetite, and now a recent study by scientists at University of Colorado suggests that prebiotics (a particular type of fibre which encourages the growth of good bacteria in the gut) can promote Non Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep, which is restful and restorative as well as helping to increase Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep after being exposed to a stressor. While the researchers say more studies are needed, this seems to indicate that regular intake of prebiotics could be helpful in supporting sleep patterns after periods of stress.

Gut biome aside, most of us are aware that what we eat affects how we sleep through experience – think of that old saying about cheese and nightmares. There’s some truth in that since heavy, fatty foods are more difficult for the body to process, therefore eating them late at night is not a good idea. Makes sense when we consider that good sleep relies on the release of a complex cascade of chemicals and hormones, and that eating well and allowing the body to absorb proper nutrients provides the brain with what it needs for this to happen.

Various studies suggest eating at a time when we’d naturally be sleeping could have adverse effects on weight and metabolic health and it’s all inter-connected via our circadian rhythm.  Our circadian rhythms are what keep our body clock running on time, which in turn keeps all of our bodily functions running on schedule — such as falling asleep at night, waking up in the morning, feeling hungry when we need energy and metabolising the food we eat. What, when and how we eat can help regulate this roughly 24-hour cycle our body follows each day.

Looking at things from a wider perspective often brings us back to ancient holistic wisdom. For example, in the yogic system of Ayurveda it’s believed that digestive fire – known as Agni – is at its most powerful when the sun is highest in the sky, therefore the best time to eat your biggest meal is around midday. And yet how many of us eat our main meal in the evening? This was always my habit – after all, going out for dinner is one of the most enjoyable ways we socialise these days. But, coming in late at night from eating a large meal would inevitably keep me awake, and even if I hadn’t drunk anything, I’d feel like I had a hangover next morning.

Having swapped timings in favour of main meal at lunch or more often brunch, I’ve found eating light in the evening to be a catalyst for better digestion and sleep. That’s not to say I never go out for a big dinner in the evening – it’s just I make it the exception rather than the rule. As always, it comes down to balance, and here are some suggestions for subtly adjusting eating habits in favour of good sleep.

  • Introduce prebiotic foods into your diet. These include lentils, chickpeas and hummus, butter beans, globe artichoke, leeks – all of which are a source of the particular type of fibre which encourages the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
  • Re-think meal timings considering dim light melatonin onset (DLMO) which is when the body winds down in preparation for sleep and starts producing the sleep hormone melatonin. For most of us, our DLMO usually begins around 8pm so it would be good to time eating before then. Or, allow two hours between eating and bedtime to allow time to unwind and digest.
  • Ayurvedic thinking suggests warm, liquid foods are the most easily digested in the evening. So for example, lentil dahl, which tastes great when made with leek; root vegetable soups or stews including lentils or chick peas; sweet basmati rice pudding made with dairy or non dairy milk with cardamom, grated ginger and dates.
  • Keep in mind it’s not great to go to bed hungry, considering that our bodies use energy at night when it goes into repair mode. Rather than reaching for typical midnight snacks (crisps, chocolate etc) try hot milk. At one of the best retreats I’ve stayed in in India they brought a pre-bed small cup of locally sourced organic milk, heated with a little saffron. To my surprise, it was the most satiating, satisfying sleep-inducing thing – not to mention delicious.

How To Combat Stressed Out Skin

stress

A whopping 82 percent of Brits feel stressed out at least once during a typical week. While a new study by the University of Queensland might recommend taking a five day break from social media, a lot of us believe most of our stress is  work-related rather than Facebook-induced. According to AXA, three in five Brits take business calls outside of working hours, while more than half check their emails. This ‘always on’ culture is pushing more and more of us to the limit. Read More…

Factors Which Compromise Your Gut Health

shabir-jan-18-gut

The health of your gut depends upon the balance between the beneficial bacteria and the pathogens that reside within the gut, as well as the permeability of the lining of the intestinal tract. When these beneficial bacteria are at reduced levels or the lining of the gut is inflamed, your body is at risk from gastrointestinal concerns and disease.

Numerous factors play a role in compromising the microbiome within the gut, some of which may be unavoidable from time to time and include: Read More…