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Healthy Lifestyle

Pulses Reduce Cholesterol

The cholesterol debate continues to roll on, with the use of statin medications continually on the rise. These medications have caused a divide within the medical profession. Many GP’s and cardiologists have questioned their use and effectiveness in preventing heart disease. The facts show that more people are prescribed statins than before, and this number growing. Many people are not able to tolerate side effects such as muscle pain and tiredness, which are fairly common with statins. Changes in diet and general lifestyle can make significant changes to cholesterol levels. Researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital have found that pulses like beans and lentils “significantly” reduce levels of LDL cholesterol, and therefore reduce the chances of cardiovascular disease. It is worth noting that LDL cholesterol, alongside HDL cholesterol is required for good health. The study was led by Dr. John Sievenpiper of the hospital’s Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre and was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The results of the study found that eating one serving (130 grams or ¾ cup) of pulses a day could lower LDL cholesterol by five per cent. According to Dr Sievenpiper, this translates into a 5 – 6 per cent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease. This study demonstrates a simple, effective and inexpensive way to reduce cholesterol levels, increase fibre intake and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. An added benefit is that pulses have a low glycemic index, as they breakdown slowly, and don’t raise blood sugar...

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Fibre Helps Asthma

A potential ground breaking treatment for asthma has been discovered by scientists from Switzerland. The treatment simply involves eating more fruit and vegetables. The study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, suggested a connection between the boost in processed food consumption and the increase in asthma rates over the last 30 years. The team of scientists from the University of Lausanne conducted tests on mice and the results found that those with high fibre diets were less likely to suffer with serious inflammatory respiratory symptoms. The team found that the extra soluble fibre, found in fruits and vegetables, was converted into short chain fatty acids, which have an anti-inflammatory action. Whilst adding more fruit and vegetables to the diet is an ideal way to get more fatty acids into the system, an omega 3 supplement would have a similar effect. For further information on the link between asthma and diet please read: Does fast food really increase the risk of Asthma? Can Vitamin D Reduce Asthma Symptoms? Vitamin C helps Childhood...

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Benefits of Dry January

We are now two weeks into dry January and we hope people taking part in this event are feeling the benefits of a booze-free few weeks.  As a gentle reminder and motivational boost here are a few benefits of an alcohol free January. Most of us see January is a perfect way to start the year in a healthy fashion. Giving up alcohol can help to lose weight and cut out excessive calories.  For example pint of beer contains on average 150 calories and a glass of wine contains 170 calories. Cutting these out automatically reduces the calorific intake and can help you start to the year without excessive extra calories. Excessive alcohol intake can cause dips in blood sugar levels which can lead to increased sugar cravings which can result in further weight gain. People generally eat fast foods and junk food after a night out drinking and this food does not get enough time to undergo proper digestion which needs to unwanted weight gain. One the main drawbacks of alcohol intake is the dreaded hangover, or “heavy head”, which can have a detrimental impact on work performance and can reduce energy levels and mental altertness. This resultant low enery can therefore impact on our levels of activity and this can lead to weight gain. Cutting out alcohol during January can result in increased energy levels, and help us to start the day with increased motivation which leads to improved mental performance. This can also have the knock-on effect of feeling more motivated to go out and exercise, which can help to reduce stress levels, reduce weight and help to maintain a healthy general lifestyle. Regular alcohol intake is also related to and can cause the low mood and depression staying off booze for a whole month can help to improve mood, not to mention improve energy levels. Many people suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) which is related to a lack of a lack of daylight. This condition naturally affects more people during autumn and winter months.  January can be a particularly bad month as the days are generally shorter. Cutting out alcohol during this month can help to maintain and improve mood levels. Alcohol is metabolised...

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Top Tips For Keeping Healthy This Year: Part 2

3. Diet (continued). Foods that can give you energy and help your circulation include fruit and vegetables, whole grains and goods oils such as olive oil, flax seed, fish oils and coconut oil. Incorporating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and lentils in your diet will also help you to lose some extra weight and benefit your immune system. Red meat and fats from fried and junk food also produce free radicals in our body. These free radicals have been linked with causing a number of diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. Cutting down on fizzy drinks is also a must in your new health plan. These drinks are full of sugar and regular intake can be harmful to general health. The sugar free versions of these drinks are actually more harmful, as the artificial sweeteners have been linked with a host of illnesses such as osteoporosis and digestive problems. Water has many health benefits. You should aim for 8 glasses a day (1-1.5 litres). It is important to remember that water is also present in fruit juices, salads and certain fruits. Fluid intake is a must for a healthy body. A good way to start you day is to have hot water with lemon and ginger. This healthy drink has the benefit of boosting immunity and stimulating your liver to kick start the detox process. 4. Health Supplements. You can easily include some health supplements as part of your daily routine to improve your immunity and general health.  The number one supplement that I would recommend is a good quality probiotic. This will provide you with essential good bacteria, which is required for a healthy digestive system. Probiotics also help to support and boost the immune system. You can take the probiotics throughout the winter months to aide digestion as well as help fight the winter bugs. Essential fatty acids from either fish oils or flax seed oil is another food supplement that will help your general health. These essential oils are required for a healthy cardiovascular system, brain function and they are excellent at reducing inflammation in the body. These fatty acids also help to maintain healthy joints. Antioxidants are required to “mop up” the free radicals that...

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Top Tips For Keeping Healthy in 2014: Part 1

Top Tips For Keeping Healthy in 2014: Part 1

This year is a great opportunity to make some beneficial changes to your health and wellbeing. With all the general doom and gloom surrounding us today it is vital that we take control in our general mental and physical health. The way the NHS is heading, it is more important than ever to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This has many obvious benefits both individually and globally. A simple and very effective way of improving your health is by modifying your diet and not over eating. Studies have shown that people who generally consume fewer calories live longer. The way we eat also has an impact on our health. Eating in a hurry or “on the go” can lead to indigestion and heartburn. The following tips can be used as a good basic start for your health. 1. Regular Exercise: this has so many health benefits both physically and emotionally. People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing depression.  If you are new to exercise, then start by walking. Even a 20min daily walk will make you feel healthier. Exercising has the added benefits of keeping your heart muscles strong, helping you lose weight, keep your cholesterol level down and making you feel more energetic. Incorporating some sort of weight bearing exercise, such as weight training, will help you burn more calories and keep your bones and joints healthy. If you have not trained with weights before, please train under the supervision of qualified personal trainer. Taking up a new sport is an excellent way of staying fit without the mental block of going to the gym or going for a run. Team sports are also a good way of socialising and makes exercising more fun. Martial arts such as Wing Chun and Tai Chi have the added benefit of providing a “work-out” for the mind as well as body. 2. De-Stress: Stress is one of the main culprits of ill health in the western world. With all the talk of recessions and lack of job security, it’s no wonder that we are now more stressed than ever. Stress has been linked with numerous illnesses such as heart disease, insomnia, migraines, stomach ulcers and depression. Stress...

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Tips to Start a Healthy New Year

Everyone makes New Year’s resolutions, and the majority of them are relating to their health. So here are our tips to start a healthy New Year: 1. Exercise: This has so many health benefits both physically and emotionally. People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing depression.  If you are new to exercise, then start by walking. Even a 20min daily walk will make you feel healthier. 2. De-Stress: Stress has been linked with numerous illnesses such as heart disease, insomnia, migraines, stomach ulcers and depression. Stress can be managed in many ways such as regular exercise, yoga, meditation or just taking some time out! 3. Diet: Eating the correct foods in the correct quantities is essential in your pursuit of a healthy start. Cut out or reduce your intake of red meat, fried foods, junk food, ready meals, and processed foods. Eating more vegetables and lentils in your diet will also help you to lose some extra weight and benefit your immune system. Water has many health benefits. You should aim for 1-1.5 litres a day. 4. Supplements. You can easily include some health supplements as part of your daily routine to improve your immunity and general health.  The number one supplement that I would recommend is a good quality probiotic. This will provide you with essential good bacteria, which is required for a healthy digestive system. Probiotics also help to support and boost the immune system. 5. Sleep. Good quality sleep is vital for your health. Insufficient sleep is linked to many conditions such as anxiety, panic attacks, depression, headaches and weight gain. Many people who have problems sleeping find it hard to switch off. This can be treated with including some sort of exercise into your daily routine, or finding some “time out” before you go to bed. Yoga and breathing exercises can also help you relax before bed.There are also some good herbal and homeopathic remedies that can be taken to help you get a natural healthy sleep. We hope you found our article on “tips to start a healthy new year” useful, please let us know by rating it...

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Exercise for a Healthy Pension

Exercise for a Healthy Pension

It’s never too late to start exercising….that’s a fact! Taking up exercise in your 60’s can still help to prevent major illnesses. These are the findings of a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine which followed 3,500 healthy people at the age of retirement. The eight year study found that those who exercised three times were more likely to remain healthy than their non active peers. The results found that exercise cut the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. A fifth of the participants were classified as healthy eight years after the study. This group was mainly full of people who regularly exercised and exercise “newbies”. Dr Mark Hamer, from University College London said, “The take-home message really is to keep moving when you are elderly. It’s [a] cliche, but it’s a case of use it or lose it. You do lose the benefits if you don’t remain active.” Doireann Maddock, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This shows us that even if you don’t become active until later in life your health will benefit. However, there’s no need to wait until retirement to get started. Adults should try to be active daily and aim for 150 minutes of activities that get you breathing harder and feeling warmer each week. “Every 10 minutes counts, so even hopping off the bus a couple of stops early or taking a brisk walk on your lunch break will help.” The article A Workout a Day Helps Keep the Doctor Away reports on another large study highlighting the benefits of exercise on maintaining good health and preventing illness. We hope our health article “exercise for a healthy pension” has helped you. Please let us know by rating it above....

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5:2 Fasting diet – It’s not just for weight loss

5:2 Fasting diet – It’s not just for weight loss

The 5:2 fasting diet is nothing new, but the mechanism of how this can benefit us has not always been clear, but new research has found that fasting diets may help people with diabetes and heart disease. The added benefit is weight loss. The diet is based on eating little or no food a few days a week, and has been found to be as beneficial as exercise or surgery for heart disease.  The fasting diet has also been found to improve blood pressure and research has indicated that it may even reverse type 2 diabetes. James Brown from Aston University led a team of researchers that evaluated various approaches to intermittent fasting in medical literature. They specifically looked for the effects of fasting on the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Intermittent fasting involves alternating fasting or restricted calorie days, alternating with normal diet days. The fasting days can either be on alternate days or a few days each week.  Research has found that intermittent fasting days have been found to be more effective than calorie counting to lose weight. Clinical trials have found that 5:2 fasting can reduce inflammation and blood pressure. Fasting has also been found to improve sugar and fat levels in circulation. This diet is thought to be as effective as bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery), and it also improves pancreatic function. These findings are certainly not ground breaking or new. Intermittent fasting has been known to result in weight loss and reduce the incidence of diabetes in lab animals since the 1940’s. Recent studies have found that restricting calorie intake could reverse type 2 diabetes. “Intermittent fasting might achieve much of the benefit seen with bariatric surgery, but without the costs, restriction on numbers and risks associated with surgery,” according to lead author, James Brown. “Whether intermittent fasting can be used as a tool to prevent diabetes in those individuals at high risk or to prevent progression in those recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes remains a tantalising notion and we are currently in preparation for clinical trials to assess the effectiveness of this form of lifestyle intervention in various patient groups.” Animal studies have found that intermittent fasting has similar effects...

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Tips for planning a healthy diet

There is so much advice these days about how to eat healthy, but here are our top tips for planning a healthy diet for you and your family: A healthy breakfast can jumpstart your metabolism, and eating small, healthy meals throughout the day (rather than the standard three large meals) keeps your energy up and your metabolism going. Every change you make to improve your diet matters. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy to have a healthy diet.  The long term goal is to feel good, have more energy and reduce the risk of cancer and disease. Don’t let your missteps derail you—every healthy food choice you make counts. Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart.  Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of different colour vegetables) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking.  As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet. Avoid fruit juices, which can contain up to 10 teaspoons of sugar per cup. These can be diluted with water.Canned fruit is often in sugary syrup, and dried fruit, while an excellent source of fibre, can be high in calories. Avoid fried veggies and those with dressings or sauces, as these generally contain too much unhealthy fat and calories. Listen to your body. Ask yourself if you are really hungry, or have a glass of water to see if you are thirsty instead of hungry. During a meal, stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly. 50-60% of the population is gluten sensitive or intolerant. I suggest trying an elimination diet where you eliminate all forms of gluten, seeds, and nuts from the diet. This allows one to easily begin to identify any  offending food because after the seven days is over, you begin introducing any potential offender one...

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Basic Rules of Strength Training (Part 2)

Rule 3: Develop Core Strength. The arms and legs are only as strong as the trunk. A poorly developed trunk is a week support for hard-working limbs. Strength training programs should first strengthen the core muscle before focusing on the arms and legs “Core muscles act as shock absorbers during jumps, rebounds, or plyometrics exercises; stabilise the body; and represent a link, or transmitter, between the legs and arms. Weak core muscles fail in these essential roles, limiting the trainer’s ability to perform. Most of these muscles seem to be dominated by slow twitch muscle fibres because of their supporting role to the arms and legs. They contract constantly, but not necessarily dynamically, to create a solid base of support for the actions of other muscle groups of the body. Many people complain of low back problems yet do little to correct them. The best protection against low back problems is well developed back and abdominal muscles. The abdominal and back muscles surround the core area of the body with a tight and powerful support structure of muscle bundles running in different directions. The rectus abdominis runs vertically and pulls the trunk forward when the legs are fixed, as in sit-ups, to maintain good posture. If the abdominal muscles are poorly developed, the hips tilt forward and lordosis, or swayback, develops at the lumbar area of the spine. The internal and external obliques help the rectus abdominis bend the trunk forward and perform all twisting, lateral bending, and trunk-rotating motions. The trunk acts as the transmitter and supporter of most arm and leg actions. The vertebral column also plays and essential role as a shock absorber during landing and take-off type actions. Excessive, uneven stress on the spine or sudden movement in an unfavourable position may lead to back problems. Sitting produces greater disc pressure than standing; the less stress occurs when the body is prone (such as during bench presses). Rule 4: Develop the Stabilisers. Prime movers work moreefficiently with strong stabiliser, or fixator, muscles. Stabilisers contract,primarily isometrically, to immobilise a limb so that another part of the bodycan act. A weak stabiliser inhibits the contraction capacity of the primemovers. Improperly developed stabilisers may hamper the activity of...

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Basic Rules of Strength Training (Part 1)

Basic Rules of Strength Training (Part 1)

Rule 1: Develop Joint Flexibility Most strength training exercises use the full range of motion of major joints, especially the knees, ankles, and hips. Good joint flexibility prevents strain and pain around the knees, elbows, and other joints. The way to develop joint flexibility is to ensure that adequate stretching exercises are performed on training days Rule 2: Development of Ligament and Tendon Strength Strength of the muscle improves faster than tendon and ligament strength. Overlooking the overall strengthening of the ligaments is the main cause of injury. Most injuries are not in the muscle but in the ligaments. Tendons and ligaments grow stronger through anatomical adaptation to training. Progressively increasing the load used in training improves the visco-dynamic movements and allows them to better accommodate high tensile loads such as dynamic movements, plyometrics and maximum strength training. The primary function of a tendon is to connect muscles to a bone. Tendons also transmit force from muscle to the bones so that movement can occur. The stronger the tendon is the greater is its capacity to store elastic energy. Tendons and ligaments are trainable. Their material and structural properties change as a result of training, increasing their thickness, strength and stiffness by up to...

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Broccoli – A superfood full of vitamins

Broccoli – A superfood full of vitamins

Broccoli has numerous health benefits and is often named as one of the superfoods. This “superfood” should form part of the staple diet for many of us. Broccoli is full of nutritious vitamins, fibre and has powerful antioxidant properties. It is widely available throughout the year, and is very often grown locally. Broccoli is very versatile, as it can be steamed, fried, baked or boiled. To get most of the health benefits, it should not be over cooked as most of the nutrients are destroyed. The following health benefits highlight how this simple green vegetable can help you maintain good general health and vitality. Like many green leafy vegetables, Broccoli is a rich source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is of course essential for a healthy immune system and cardiovascular system. Vitamin C also helps the body to absorb iron from the diet. Broccoli has strong antioxidant properties. This vegetable contains selenium, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin (which help’s to keep our eyes healthy). Antioxidants play an important role in neutralising the effect of harmful free radicals which have been linked with numerous illnesses and diseases. This leafy green vegetable is a very good source of dietary fibre, which can help reduce cholesterol levels. Broccoli has a strong anti-inflammatory action, which can help to reduce the intensity of allergies. This vegetable also contains quercetin, which has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Quercetin supplements are often given for the treatment of hay fever. It can help to regulate and balance blood sugar levels. Broccoli is a natural source of chromium, which helps to regulate insulin and blood sugar. This amazing green vegetable is an excellent source of calcium. It has been reported that broccoli contains as much calcium as whole milk. Calcium is important for bone health and can help to prevent osteoporosis. Broccoli, like other green leafy vegetables, is a rich source of vitamin K. Recent studies have found that vitamin K can help to strengthen bones. Broccoli can help to support the immune system, through its antiviral and antibacterial properties. This vegetable is also a dietary source of glucosinolates and isothiocyanates. These nutrients can help to stimulate to detoxification process and remove toxins from the body. Broccoli...

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