Baby, give it up (for Lent) and benefit your waistline

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Today is the first day of Lent and over the next 40 days you can lose a few lbs just by going without a tasty treat or two.

It does take willpower and it’s best not to keep the treats you have a knee weakness for in sight, but you can do it.

Healthy Food Guide nutritional expert Juliette Kellow gives some great insight into the lbs you could lose just by ditching a daily treat for 40 days. Here’s just a few examples…

Ditch it: two chocolate digestive biscuits and lose: 2lb

Ditch it: small bar of chocolate (50g) and lose: 3lb

Ditch it: large packet of crisps (50g) and lose: 3lb

Ditch it: large glass of dry white wine (250ml) and lose: 2lb

Ditch it: can of cola (330ml) and lose: 1.5lb

I’m really going for it this Lent and cutting out all sweet things and crisps too. If a few lbs fall off too, even better. Who’s joining me?

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Why clenching your fists may boost your memory

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We all have days where our memory retention skills could do with a boost, whatever our age. US researchers feel the answer may lie (quite literally) in our own hands.

Scientists at the Montclair State University have found clenching the right hand for 90 seconds helps with memory formation, while the same movement in the left hand improves memory recall. In the experiment, 50 students were given a list of words to remember and found they performed better when using fist clenches. The researchers feel the fist clenching movements activate specific brain regions that are associated with memory processing. Further research will continue.

If you’re rubbish at remembering names or always forget at least one thing you want to pick up from the supermarket (like me), it’s certainly worth a try…

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Is your dairy intolerance self-diagnosed?

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If you answered yes to the above, you could be at risk of nutritional deficiency, warns Allergy UK.

New research from Alpro has revealed 44% of people that class themselves as dairy intolerant are relying on the internet and general guess work to self-diagnose. 72% of those suffering from dairy intolerance symptoms have removed all sources of dairy from their diet, the main source of calcium in the UK. A further 25% have cut out some dairy food groups. Gut problems including stomach pain, bloating and diarrhoea were cited as the most common reasons for cutting out dairy: eczema and nasal/sinus congestion were listed fourth and fifth.

Calcium is essential for the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth; it also regulates muscle contractions including the heartbeat. Calcium is particularly vital for women as low levels can increase your risk of osteoporosis. It’s found in foods including milk, cheese, butter, yoghurt, green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli and cabbage, dried fruits such as apricots, tofu and sesame seeds.  

Over half of the people surveyed felt there was not enough advice out there for dairy intolerance sufferers. They would like to see more information on calcium, recipes, suitable dairy swaps and ideas for eating out. A huge 75% said they would prefer to be diagnosed by a face-to-face consultation.

If you are concerned you may have symptoms that indicate dairy intolerance, Allergy UK advises: “to help identify whether a food is a cause of symptoms, a food/symptoms diary can help to identify a pattern. We would always recommend taking the diary to your GP or allergy specialist who can diagnose what may be causing the symptoms or refer you to a dietitian.”

Whether you are dairy intolerant or a dairy lover, make sure you maintain a good calcium intake in your diet…

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Men’s Health: Ask Your Pharmacist

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Male readers, this year’s Ask Your Pharmacist Week (5th-12th November) is all about you.

The aim is to help you feel more at ease walking into a pharmacy and chatting about your health and making better use of the free professional help that is available. Ask about anything that is concerning you, from health worries, information on medication side effects or insight on long-term medical conditions. You can also ask for tips and advice on general health and wellbeing such as boosting immunity, cutting down on smoking or improving sexual health.

Leicestershire-based Mistry’s Pharmacy also offers an online pharmacy facility which is used by people across the UK. Typical men’s health issues they advise on include product recommendations for sports injuries, muscle strains and enquiries on sexual health matters such as erectile dysfunction, which requires GP-prescribed medication.

“No matter how trivial or embarrassing your concern, pharmacy teams are well-trained to offer confidential advice,” says Sanjay, one of the pharmacist’s at Mistry’s. “Pharmacists are very approachable and can guide you through any problem you may have, ensuring you leave with the right advice or product you need. There is no need to suffer alone – it’s imperative to get professional advice as soon as possible, don’t let a nagging problem get worse.”

Go on, just ask…

 

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Five ways to tackle your energy slumps

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2.16pm is the most common time for us to experience energy slumps according to research – at this time we are most likely to feel drained and unable to concentrate.

Find out how to beat your energy slumps.

1. Eat more protein – this provides our bodies with long-lasting energy and avoids blood sugar drops that can negatively affect our alertness. Tuck into: oatcakes, wholegrains, lean meat, low-fat dairy options and nuts at lunchtime.

2. Have a mid-afternoon snack – beware that energy boosts from sugar snacks wear off quickly. Opt for fresh fruit, dried fruit or nuts instead as these are a longer-lasting source of energy. If you’re desperate for a chocolate fix – have a couple of squares of good-for-you dark chocolate. I also recently tried a new juice-based organic energy drink, Scheckter’s Organic Energy Lite. It’s made from all natural and organic ingredients and was a perfect pick-me-up from a big energy slump after an early start.

3. Don’t skip meals – having long gaps between meals can cause blood sugar levels to drop – try and eat something every 2-3 hours.

4. Drink water – keep a filled bottle of water on your desk so you’re more likely to have a drink regularly. Water can help you to feel less sleepy and also boosts concentration.

5. Get outside at lunchtime – the fresh air will perk you up and help to improve your concentration when you return to work.

Top tips to burn off Christmas calories

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We consume around 7,000 calories on Christmas Day alone as we gorge on a fine feast of foods, drinks and snacks throughout the day and into the night. Not to mention the excess eating, snacking and boozing that happens over the festive season as a whole.

But, fear not. If you want to avoid piling on the festive pounds, help is at hand from York Fitness on how to burn off those extra calories…

One mince pie contains 185 calories – minus additions such as brandy butter or cream, of course. The solution – 15 minutes of press-ups 

Two glasses of your favourite vino contains around 185 calories. The solution – 20 minutes of continuous lifting of kettlebell weights

Did you know just SIX Quality Street or Roses chocolates contain 268 calories – yikes! The solution – 18 minutes of moderate skipping

For the non-vegetarians reading this blog, five mini pigs in blankets equals 375 calories. The solution – get on your exercise bike for 35 minutes

One slice of your mum’s special Christmas cake contains 249 calories. The solution – run or jog on a treadmill or outside at 12kph for 23 minutes

One handful of nuts is equal to 256 calories. To counteract this – work your punchbag for 28 minutes – continuously

Merry Christmas to all my blog readers…

 

 

 

Get outdoors, laugh and sing to beat winter blues

Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity, is urging us to get outside to guard against winter blues and to improve mental health.

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Many of us feel a dip in mood as the days get darker and research shows this is largely due to a reduction in sunlight. Our internal patterns of sleep, appetite, sex drive, temperature, mood and activity all rely on natural light cycles. As daylight hours diminish to just eight in December, the winter blues can be something that affects us all. You may feel low, eat and sleep more or feel less inclined to get out and socialise or even go to work.

Getting outdoors, or ecotherapy, increases our exposure to sunlight and can positively impact on our mood. Research shows outdoor exercise can be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety.

Exercise, laughter and music all stimulate and boost endorphins, the feelgood chemicals in our bodies that help to lift our mood. Make a point of spending time with those who make you smile. Or pop on a quality tune and sing-along gleefully. It is also important to eat well.

“By simply getting outdoors, we can all help ourselves in strengthening mental resilience,” says Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind. “Whether going for a lengthy bike ride, a quick jog around the local park or just time pottering in the garden, I encourage everyone to step outside and find something they enjoy this winter.”

Mind has developed a super information and ideas site to coax people outdoors this winter. Use the Ecominds activity picker to conjure up some truly inspiring, fun and unusual suggestions…