Men’s health week: Bupa’s online health clinic – don’t be shy, just ask away

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If the thought of going to see your doctor and discussing anything health-related leaves you in a cold sweat, dear male readers, get online and take advantage of Bupa’s live free men’s health clinics commencing Monday in support of Men’s Health Week, which runs June 13th-19th and aims to get more men accessing quality health information online. 

The clinic sessions give you the perfect opportunity to ask the health questions you have always wanted to know but may have been too afraid to ask.

Via Bupa’s Facebook and Twitter channels, for two hours each day, Monday to Friday, Bupa’s medical team will be on hand to answer any health questions which are concerning men or their partners, while offering free medical advice and support. Anonymous postings, confidential responses and direct messages are welcomed, so please don’t let bashfulness put you off.

Though each session focuses on a different area of men’s health, questions about ALL aspects of men’s health and wellbeing will be taken by the experts including leading GP’s, dietitians and physiotherapists.

Daily clinic topics and timings are: Monday 13th June – men’s fitness 12-2pm / Tuesday 14th June – men’s sexual health 12-2pm / Wednesday 15th June – men’s nutrition 6-8pm / Thursday 16th June – general men’s health 12-2pm and Friday 17th June men’s mental health 12-2pm.

With Bupa research revealing over a third of men do not do anything to check their health, do use this week to get online and delve into the masses of free expert advice and alleviate all those questions and concerns about your health.

I’d really love to hear your comments and receive the odd retweet too, big thanks if you can help…

Go bananas for a natural brain power boost

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Inspiration for this week’s blog post comes from Middlesbrough College and its excellent energy-boosting concentration-improving solution for A-Level and AS-level students – bananas.

Yes, the yellow fruit packed with potassium, is a superfood that can help to combat stress and boost brain power. As bananas are also a slow-releasing energy food, this makes them a perfect option for a mid-morning snack to help maintain productivity through the day. Having a banana for breakfast is also a great way to start you on the right track to 5-A-Day.

Students at Middlesbrough College are offered a banana and a bottle of water 30 minutes before exams begin. This was designed to ensure those skipping breakfast do not experience dips in concentration as a result of missing out on the first meal of the day.

The college believes bananas are the ideal antidote to exam fatigue, which can cause students to answer incorrectly as energy and concentration levels begin to drop midway through exams.

Director of A-Levels, Richard Ronksley says: “The theory behind it is not new, bananas have many health benefits. It’s a simple idea but we believe it will be beneficial to students and will hopefully have a positive impact on their exam results.”

Bananas are a great choice for all – potassium is an essential mineral that helps to maintain normal blood pressure and healthy heart function. Other banana benefits include: they are a great source of fibre, are low in salt and high in vitamin B6 making them an excellent mood food. Vitamin B6 can also be highly effective in controlling muscle spasms and strains naturally. Lastly, bananas are low in calories and are easy for your body to digest.

What’s not to love? Bananas rock. Spread the word…

Is your working lifestyle putting your health at risk?

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If you’re anything like me: sitting at your laptop and working away on features, transcriptions, research, paperwork and tons of emails is a key part of what you do. Yes, you can work in the garden or work remotely in a more picturesque backdrop, but there’s no getting away from that face-to-face technology time that is critical to the way you work. But, did you know, those long hours in front of your computer can soon stack up putting your health at serious risk?

Keep an eye on those weekly hours totting up as working from morning through to night has been linked with dementia. If, at the moment, you’re averaging around 55 hours per week, make some changes and reduce those hours down to 41 hours or less. Your poor overworked brain will be glad of this new respite.

Research from the British Chiropractic Association revealed that a third of us sit for more than ten hours per day, and worse still, half admitted to not even leaving their desk to have lunch. Similarly, previous research by the British Heart Foundation found that HALF of us spend most of our days immobile. Making just a few subtle changes can make such a difference. Getting a little lunchtime fresh air will not only perk you up but also increase concentration when you do return to your desk. With warmer weather all around us (well most days!) there is no excuse to hide inside.

A sobering thought to keep in the back of your mind at all times is: those who work 11 hours per day raise their risk of heart disease by up to 67 percent according to new research funded by the Medical Research Council.

Make to-do lists more manageable and try not to set crazy targets to meet each day. Learn to go a little easier on yourself and your mind, heart and body will really thank you for it.

Seven tips to combat hayfever naturally

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Hayfever is a common seasonal allergy that causes discomfort and disruption to one in four people. As peak season is about to start as we move into May, I’ve delved into my previous features research on allergies to put together some handy tips to help you naturally combat your body against hayfever.

1. Quercetin is a natural antihistamine found in a number of food sources such as apples, green and black tea, plus red onion and garlic. The latter two must be eaten raw for maximum effect. 

2. Allicin – garlic has the added boost of its active ingredient allicin and is very effective in easing hayfever, asthma and related allergies.

3. Bromelain is an enzyme found naturally in yummy fresh pineapple that acts quickly to interrupt inflammatory responses and alleviate symptoms quickly.

4. Avoid trigger foods – nutritional expert Jenny Logan advises reducing histamine-rich foods in your diet such as cheese, coffee, red wine, chocolate and beer as they can all aggravate the histamine response and worsen hayfever symptoms.

5. Nettle – drink nettle tea or eat nettle soup to help with clearing catarrh and phlegm.

6. Flower aid – chamomile and elderflower both share a number of anti-allergic properties to help with irritation. Elderflower is anti-catarrhal and helps to dry mucus from inflamed nasal passages, while helping to ease congestion in the head and lungs. Chamomile helps to reduce allergies, anxiety and aids sleep. It can also help to boost the immune system with regular consumption.

Quick relief for itchy eyes: place chilled chamomile teabags onto the eyes to reduce soreness and itching.

7. Acupuncture can also be useful in helping to reduce hayfever symptoms as regular acupuncture sessions can help to stimulate the body’s own healing response.

And from personal try and buy experience, I have found HayMax, the all-natural drug-free pollen barrier balm very effective. Feel free to share any additional natural tips that work for you…

Are you a lunch break skipper?

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I must confess I’m not great at taking daily lunch breaks. I’ll usually stop to grab something from the kitchen, occasionally I’ll even be super organised and prepare it the night before, then usually I’ll hot foot it back upstairs to return to my laptop screen and what I was doing.

The trouble with taking this approach on a regular basis is: it’s bad for your health and your waistline.

Research from Bristol University reveals how eating at your screen can lead to you eating twice as much as the day continues. The reason for this is, not too dissimilar from why it’s bad to eat your dinner in front of the TV too; the distraction of focusing on the screen makes you eat more.

When you decide not to take a break to eat your lunch and choose to cram in eating around reading emails or watching a soap repeat for 30 minutes, your tummy does not realise when it’s pleasantly full. Instead, you continue to feel a little peckish and will be prone to snacking in the afternoon. On this front, I’m guilty as charged, as I’m currently eating a biscuit while typing this.

My next week resolution starting Monday is to start taking a lunch break every day…who’s with me?

 

Let’s talk body image – Body Gossip campaign

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In today’s post I wanted to highlight the fantastic campaign Body Gossip which hopes to raise awareness of the body image issues affecting today’s society and promote the message of self-acceptance.

One of the celebrities getting behind the campaign is Big Brother starlet and model Nikki Grahame whose lifelong battle with anorexia was the subject of her excellent book Dying To Be Thin, which Nikki wrote to help raise awareness of anorexia and to give hope to sufferers of the illness that leading a happy and healthy life is possible.

The campaign provides a platform for the public and celebrities to unite and speak out about the body issues affecting us, and hopes to discourage finger-pointing, as eating disorders can happen to anybody at anytime. The site contains some thought-provoking videos, expert advice, your views on body image and real-life stories including 31-year-old Amy’s story.

Delve in and join the debate…

Sleep – how do I get more?

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Image courtesy of The Sleep Council

New research from the Mental Health Foundation has revealed the huge impact poor sleep can have on our health and happiness. As a sleep addict who becomes unbearable after just a couple of nights of disrupted sleep, my heart goes out to those who regularly face bouts of insomnia.

For those with repeated difficulties sleeping, this deficit can lead to weight gain, erratic moodswings, energy deficiency, and as the MHF’s report reveals, it can also cause relationship difficulties. If problems persist long-term, sleep deprivation can lead to health problems including diabetes, clinical depression, anxiety, immune deficiency and heart disease.

I’d like to share a feature I wrote last year with comment from sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan on the secrets of natural sleep which includes many tips on improving your sleep quota. At the time I spoke with Nerina, I was sleeping poorly for several weeks due to a horrid chest infection (such is the life of an asthmatic) and by following just a couple of Nerina’s suggestions I was sleeping better in no time.

Main things to consider are: always eat breakfast, watch your caffeine intake after 2pm, look at your nightly routine and incorporate more movement and exercise in your life to improve sleep.

For anyone struggling with sleep, I’d love to hear how you get on using some of the tips.

Are we putting looking good before our health?

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New research from Benenden Healthcare Society has unveiled a worrying trend among us ladies – four in ten UK women are more concerned about their looks than the state of their health.

The study of women aged 18-65 found that quite a few of us are more than happy to spend money on instant products which give the impression of health rather than buying products which are essential for a healthy lifestyle such as healthy foods, supplements, vitamins and gym/fitness activities.

Around 19% of responders confessed to crash dieting, eight in ten would be happy to continue with their unhealthy ways if they received a compliment, one in five would do anything to fit into a size eight pair of jeans – and worse still – one in 20 women confessed to laxative use as a helping hand to ease into tight-fitting clothes.

Staggeringly 93% agreed that Britain is an unhealthy nation, so why are some of us continuing to take health risks just to look good? It’s utter madness.

Are we getting too fixated on cheats to looking good rather than being savvy with our lifestyles? I’d love to hear your comments on this one ladies…

 

January detoxing – is giving up doing us any good?

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If January is THE month of detox for you and it all started out with high hopes and big restrictions which are now becoming a real struggle to keep up – new research reveals failing your detox resolutions might just do you more good than you think.

The reasoning behind these claims is all down to the food and drink we tend to cut out which can in fact be just what our bodies need. Research from Nescafe reveals how tea, coffee, red wine and chocolate all featured highly on the list of most popular items to give up. Yet, when these food and drink items are consumed in moderation, they all are excellent sources of antioxidants which are fab for protecting the body’s cells from day-to-day damage. Coffee and dark chocolate are two of the highest antioxidant-rich sources.

Healthy eating is all about balance – if you fancy a cuppa or a bite of chocolate, just do it! You’ll feel all the better for being a little kinder to yourself. What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments on this…

Note: Image courtesy of Image Loft/Matalan

 

 

 

Breast Cancer Care 5-Mile Challenge – Newcastle – can you help?

Breast Cancer Care is looking for media volunteers taking part in the Newcastle event to share their stories and become case studies for the local and national press. If you can help please contact Sheryl Plant at Breast Cancer Care – Sheryl would also like to hear from anyone who has had an experience with breast cancer or have found one of the Breast Cancer Care services helpful. 

The 5-Mile Challenge event takes place at Newcastle Exhibition Park on Sunday 20th March and participants are encouraged to walk, run or jog five miles to raise vital funds for the health charity.

The route starts and finishes in Exhibition Park and the charity are aiming to raise £100,000 to help support the 46,000 people in the UK who are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. 

The challenge is open to all ages and abilities and the route is pram, buggy and wheelchair-friendly – great fun for family, friends and neighbours too.

If you are still to sign up – visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk/5mile and quote Newcastle6 when you register to be entered into a free prize draw.

Making even a small donation can make a big difference to someone who has received the devastating news that they have breast cancer.

* £2 pays for a headscarf set, helping to boost the confidence of someone who has lost their hair as a result of cancer treatment

* £10 pays to provide a comprehensive easy-to-understand information pack for someone newly diagnosed with breast cancer.

* £23 pays for a call to the BCC helpline for information on any aspect of diagnosis and treatment as well as confidential and sensitive support. Conversations can often last more than an hour as the caller is given as much time as they need to talk.

 For more information on Breast Cancer Care please visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk