Category Archives: Health and Fitness

The Importance of Regular Health Checks From the Age of 40+

If you are over 40 it is definitely time for a health MOT. I cannot stress enough the importance of having regular medical check ups. Go visit your GP and discuss all the tests available. It is better to be safe than sorry. Early cancer diagnosis for example can improve your chances of survival. You must also learn to listen to your body, paying attention to the warning signs. We all know our bodies. If something feels amiss go to see your doctor straight away. It is also equally important to lead a healthy lifestyle eating well with regular exercise. A sedentary lifestyle sets you up for disease. Here below are medical tests for both women and men.

Medical tests for women

Regular blood tests are important to check cholesterol levels, hormones making sure they are not out of balance and to check if you are pre menopausal. After the menopause a women is more prone to heart attacks and strokes so regular blood tests are essential. From a blood test you can check your CA 125 which is the marker for ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer so early detection is important especially if there is a history of cancer in your family. A blood test can also check kidney and liver function.

A smear test and pelvic exam are very important especially if you are sexually active.

Checking your blood pressure is also important. High blood pressure can lead to all sorts of problems affecting your kidneys, brain, lungs and blood vessels.

Blood sugar levels are also important to check as elevated levels of glucose in the blood can lead to diabetes.

Mammograms are necessary for checking breast cancer.

Bone density exam is useful to detect osteoporosis which is more common in women than men.

Medical tests for men

While women are prone to heart attacks and strokes after menopause a man can be prone to a heart attack from the age of 35. Regular blood tests checking for cholesterol and triglycerides are essential. Elevated levels can lead to heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. I would get a blood test every 3 months and get a full profile checking liver and kidney function, and sugar levels.

As men grow older it becomes very important to check their prostate. From your blood test you can check your PSA which is the maker for your prostate. Elevated levels could indicate a problem with your prostate or cancer. Like with ovarian cancer for women if you have a family history of prostate cancer then regular tests are a must.

Men should also get their testosterone levels checked which can be done via a blood or saliva test. Low levels of testosterone can lead to weight gain, erectile dysfunction, fatigue and other problems.

The NHS offers a health check which is worth asking your GP about. If you have any further questions do not hesitate to contact me. I hope the above has helped.

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How to Become a Morning Person

“Early to bed and early to rise , makes a man healthy,wealthy and wise.” Benjamin Franklin. I totally agree. Studies show that people who wake up early in the morning are not only more productive but also successful as they tend to set higher goals, be more persistent and plan for the future. For me I find that my energy levels are so much better if I go to bed early. I wake up refreshed ready to plan my day. I usually wake up at 5.30 – 6 am every morning and by 9am I would have had breakfast, answered emails, prepared lunch for my husband, worked out and planned my day. Of course if you are a night owl it does not mean you are doomed to failure. I understand that some people may have night jobs. I also understand that we are all different and not everyone will be a morning person. No one shoe fits all. No point getting up at 6am if you go to bed at 1am. You will be mentally and physically exhausted. Here below are a few tips to help those who would like to become early birdies.

Go to bed at the same time every night

You need to set a suitable time for you to go to bed each night. As mentioned before no point staying up into the early hours of the morning expecting to get up early. You need to establish how many hours sleep you need per night. Personally I need 6 good hours of sleep. Others will need maybe 8. Once you have established how many hours you need then set a time and try to go to bed at that time every night. If you are someone that is used to going to bed late this may take some adjusting and it will not be easy and the next tip could help you.

Wake up at the same time every morning

If you start to follow a pattern you will find that your body will automatically adjust and you will begin to feel tired at night and wake up at the same time. No matter what time I go to bed I always wake up at 6am. This is what my body is used to. If you are a night owl as mentioned above waking up early in the morning may help in getting you to bed early as you will be pretty exhausted.

Avoid triggers that will keep you awake 

If you want to train yourself to go to bed early you will have to switch off. This means no social media before bedtime. Try a hot bath  and reading a book ( not a kindle ). You need to stay away from any computer or phone screens. No technology at all, not even TV at least one hour before bed. It is important that your room stays absolutely dark in order to get a good nights sleep.

Get yourself a good alarm and don’t press snooze

If you are new to getting up early you may want to invest in a good alarm. One that will be very loud so you cannot miss it. Do not hit the snooze button, you want to be awake not fall back asleep. I suggest getting out of bed and jumping straight in the shower to fully wake up.

To do lists

This is a great way to plan your day, writing down all you wish to do during your hectic day. Writing a to do list is a fantastic way to start your morning. It brings order and great satisfaction as you tick off what you have done.

Do not nap

As tempting as it may be to have a little nap in the afternoon, don’t. By not having a nap you will be more tired in the evening and able to go to bed at your usual time.

Exercise

Working out is good both physically and mentally. I would say that the best time to work out would be in the morning. It puts you in a good mood and by exercising early morning you get it out of the way. Also the more active and productive you are during the day the more likely you are to sleep well.

I hope the above tips have helped to make you become a morning person.

 

 

 

 

Coffee: Friend or Foe?

The whole world loves to drink coffee. Everyone is looking for their caffeine fix to get them through their busy day. I must be one of the very few that hates the taste of coffee. I have always been more of a tea drinker. So is coffee really that bad for you? There are so many articles out their stating that coffee is either good for your health or it is the absolute evil. Personally I believe that moderation is key. 1-2 cups a day won’t kill you however too much coffee can cause side effects.

Caffeine is a stimulant and most people will sit at their desks all day working or studying drinking coffee to keep them alert, sharp and focused. While coffee does make you more alert one must also remember that overdosing yourself with coffee can also cause anxiety, heart palpitations and may give you the shakes. When I used to study I used to drink lots of tea and at one point I felt quite anxious and had to stop.

Drinking too much coffee increases cortisol which is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands which is released in response to a person being afraid or stressed. In a ‘fight or flight’ situation in the old days the cortisol would be utilised as the person either fought or ran for their lives.  Today we sit at our desk drinking coffee to keep going producing more cortisol and not exercising to get rid of it. Cortisol levels are high in the mornings and lower at night. It regulates blood pressure, helps the body to utilise glucose for energy. It sends a message to the liver to release stored glycogen to fuel the muscles and the brain. However too much stored in the body can result in weight gain, depression, mental illness, impaired memory and brain function.

Too much caffeine can dehydrate both the body and skin giving a dull complexion. It is therefore important to always drink plenty of water through out the day and hydrate before your cup of coffee.  Also it is best to drink coffee black with no sugar or milk as this decreases calories and makes it healthier.

Coffee contains a group of compounds called polyphenols that are antioxidants  that reduce the risk of strokes,heart attacks and lower blood pressure. However as mentioned before you should not consume more than 1-2 cups a day.

I hope you have found the above tips useful.

 

 

Why Your Desk Job Is Slowly Killing You

Most people including myself have an office job and we tend to spend many hours a day, a week sitting at our desks answering emails, conference calls and attending endless meetings. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to an early death. According to a recent study if you spend more than 4 hours  sitting down whether at your desk or on a couch, you are more prone to an early death and diseases like diabetes, heart attacks, blood clots and strokes. Endless hours sitting in front of a computer can also affect your eye sight, posture and brain.

Exercising every day may not be enough

Exercise is good for both the body and mind. However running every morning or going to the gym may not be enough if you end up hours sitting at your desk, driving to work where you are sitting in your car or commuting sitting on the tube or bus.

What to do when at the office

Get moving. Ideally every 30 minutes you should get up and have a walk or a stretch. Do calf raises which are great for circulation. when you are sitting at your desk try rotating your ankles. Take a break to go and get some fresh air to refresh your brain. After lunch is a good time to go for a stroll.

Try to stand more at your desk as opposed to sitting. You can stand while you are checking emails on your computer or your phone.

Try walking and talking when answering calls or on a conference call. By being active as much as possible you are burning calories.

Posture is so important to prevent neck and back pain. So make sure to sit up right at your desk. No slouching. A strong core is the secret to a strong back so try to work your core when you next work out.

Long hours sitting at your desk can lead to stress so it is important that you do take regular breaks when you are feeling tired.

After Work

Try to walk as much as possible. Take the longer route to the bus stop or tube or get off a stop earlier. If you have been siting at your desk all day the last thing you should do is spend hours on the couch.  Always keep moving.

Healthy eating

Do not eat junk food. If you are sitting all day at your desk you need to fuel your body and mind with the correct nutrients to keep your brain alert and improve your circulation. Drink regular green juices, smoothies and plenty of water. Never skip breakfast as this will give you energy and make it a nutritious breakfast by eating porridge or eggs on toast with avocado.

Include ginger, garlic and cayenne pepper in your cooking which are good for circulation. Eat oily fish rich in omega 3 like wild salmon and sardines and you could also take a fish oil supplement.

Limit your salt intake as salt will harden your arteries and arteries need to be elastic.  Too much salt in your diet can also lead to high blood pressure.

I hope you have found the above tips useful. If you require a bespoke nutritional and lifestyle plan please email me.

Stress and the Digestive System

We have all suffered from stress at some point in our lives whether due to exams, work, a bereavement, an illness, children, divorce, financial troubles or other. Most of us when under stress instead of finding ways to relax tend to have more coffee, fizzy drinks and sweets to keep us going. When you are stressed the digestive system tends to shut down and you are not assimilating any nutrients. Therefore it is best to eat very light small meals through out the day.

Coffee, cortisol and stress

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands which is released in response to a person being afraid or stressed. In a ‘fight or flight’ situation in the old days the cortisol would be utilised as the person either fought or ran for their lives. Nowadays unfortunately we seem to be more and more stressed and cortisol is not utilised and too much remains in the body. Today we sit at our desk drinking coffee to keep going producing more cortisol and not exercising to get rid of it. Cortisol levels are high in the mornings and lower at night. It regulates blood pressure, helps the body to utilise glucose for energy. It sends a message to the liver to release stored glycogen to fuel the muscles and the brain. However too much stored in the body can result in weight gain, depression, mental illness, impaired memory and brain function. This is why too much coffee when stressed is not a good idea.

Juicing

Juicing is good for quick absorption of nutrients. It takes 15 minutes for the nutrients from a juice to hit the blood stream. This is very good in people that have digestive issues, are suffering  from an illness and their digestion is compromised. It is also good for people that are stressed as stress places a strain on the digestive system.  Juicing is also good as it includes raw foods packed full of enzymes that are lost during cooking. Juicing places less of a strain on the liver. Ideally fruit and vegetable juices should not be mixed together. Apples and carrots are the exception. Since a juice is very quick in hitting the blood stream it is important not to use too much fruit as this can cause a spike in sugar levels. Vegetable juices are best for people suffering from blood sugar problems. Fruit juices are high in sugar and can also cause weight gain as juicing removes the fibre.

Removing the fibre is what makes juices easier to be absorbed as your digestive system does not have to work hard to absorb the nutrients. Also in a juice you can pack larger quantities of vegetables than you would be able to eat. This means you are able to get more nutrients from a glass of juice.

Foods not to eat and foods to eat

Red meat should be avoided as it is hard to digest. Avoid all stimulants such as coffee, alcohol and all fizzy drinks. These will put pressure on the adrenal glands. Reduce your intake of refined white carbohydrates like white pasta, bread and all cakes and biscuits. Stay away from all dairy. No rich sauces.

Cook everything fresh from scratch. No ready made meals. You want to eat foods that are easier to digest like soups, sweet potatoes mashed, steamed fish and vegetables. Include more ginger, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, dandelion greens, broccoli, bananas, tofu, quinoa, millet, spelt, lentils, chickpeas, hemp, pumpkin, sunflower, flax and chia seeds, oily fish like wild salmon and sardines. Try to eat everything baked, grilled or steamed. If you are particularly stressed I would recommend smoothies, juices and soups as these are probably the best foods when highly stressed.

Include more super foods into your diet like wheatgrass shots, barley grass and spirulina. Wheatgrass shots should be taken on their own. barley grass and spirulina you can add to smoothies.

I hope the above has helped. If you would like a bespoke nutritional and lifestyle plan please email me or purchase my online initial consultation.

Eating on a Budget

Healthy food does not have to be expensive. While it is true that organic costs more you can still eat well without breaking the bank. It all depends on the choices you make and what you buy.

Always buy seasonal produce

Eating what is in season is always cheaper. All produce that is imported  will be more expensive.

Local markets

Markets are cheaper than supermarkets so it is definitely worth going. Try to go at the weekend so you can do your shopping for the week.

You don’t have to always go organic with fruit and vegetables

Organic is always best when it comes to fruit and vegetables however it is important to eat your greens so if you cannot afford to buy organic it is ok. You can wash your vegetables with bicarbonate of soda or white vinegar, this helps to really wash them well. You can also have a look at the dirty dozen. This is a list that comes out every year and it highlights the fruit and vegetables that are higher in pesticides. So you may think about only buying organic from that list.

Buy frozen

Frozen fruit and vegetables are by far cheaper than fresh and are still packed full of nutrients so you can stock up your freezer. I often buy frozen peas and broccoli for soups and berries for my smoothies.

Fish and Meat

Fish and meat will be more expensive so you could think about limiting these to once or twice a week. I will stress that when it comes to meat it must always be organic. I can never stress this enough. All non organic meat is injected with hormones and antibiotics. Cheapest meat is chicken and the cheapest fish is salmon.

Cheaper options

Oats, brown rice, beans, lentils, chickpeas and eggs are all cheap and good for you. I always have porridge in winter with fruit and in the warmer months I will put the oats in my smoothie. You can substitute meat and fish for plant based protein like beans.

Buy in bulk

You can buy large bags of oats and nuts online. I do a lot of my shopping online at amazon. You can pretty much find anything and it is much cheaper.

You do not have to buy superfoods

If you cannot afford to buy superfoods it is not the end of the world. Maybe start with just one but honestly the most important thing is that you include plenty of greens in your diet. Just by increasing your intake of vegetables is good.

Cook in large batches

You can cook large quantities of foods like soups and curries and freeze them so you have plenty for the weeks ahead.

Plan ahead

It is useful to sit down and plan your meals for the week so you can plan your food shopping.

Take advantage of sale offers

When you see your favourite foods on sale take advantage and stock up so you have plenty to last you for a while.

I hope that you have found the above advice helpful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons You May Not Be Losing Weight

You are doing everything you can to lose weight, going to the gym regularly and eating healthy but still no results. As we age our metabolism tends to slow down and we  will often make mistakes. Here below are a few tips to help.

Not drinking enough water

Drinking water is important to remove all the toxins. You should aim to drink at least 2 litres a day. Dehydration not only will lead to feeling tired but as the liver is overloaded with toxins that are not being flushed out it will become sluggish causing your metabolism to slow down. A healthy liver equals a fast metabolism. Not drinking enough water can also cause water retention on your stomach and legs. Always carry a bottle of water with you and sip it slowly through out the day.

Hypothyroidism  (under active thyroid)

An under active thyroid will cause unexpected weight gain. You are doing everything right and you notice that you are putting on weight instead of losing it. Hypothyroidism means your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms will include constantly feeling tired, depressed and weight gain. A simple blood test can determine if you suffer from hypothyroidism. If you suspect this could be the case make an appointment to see your GP.

Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes  in both men and women can cause unwanted weight gain. Too much oestrogen for example can cause fat gain, bloating, water retention and can also lead to hormonal cancers. Pre menopause and menopause can reek havoc with hormones. This is why from the age of 40 it is extremely important to have regular check ups and blood tests checking your hormones. I would suggest a blood test every three months.

Drinking too much coffee

Most of us enjoy a cup or two of coffee a day, but too much and it can cause the pounds to pile up increasing fat stored in your abdomen. Drinking excess amounts of coffee increases cortisol levels in the body that result in weight gain. This does not mean that you shouldn’t drink coffee. It means that you should not drink more than 1-2 cups a day.

Sitting at your desk all day

You workout every day for about and hour and then you spend endless hours sitting at your desk probably consuming one cup of coffee after the other. Sitting for long hours will increase your chances of weight gain. If you do have an office job it is important that you get up often and move around.

I hope the above helped. If you need more advice or are looking to improve your health and would like a bespoke nutritional plan email me.