Archive for the ‘Healthy Living’ Category

In the News: Lose weight and reduce your cancer risk

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Carrying excess weight has often been linked with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, and now recent research has confirmed the link with cancer. Scientists believe that thousands of lives could be saved from cancer each year if people simply lost some weight.

The World Cancer Research Fund study found that being overweight is linked to around 19,000 deaths from the disease each year – deaths that could have been prevented if these people had just been at a healthy weight. Researchers involved in the study believe that people could avoid getting cancer if they managed to maintain a body mass index (BMI) of between 19 and 25. The cancers that could be prevented include breast, bowel, oesophagus, kidney, pancreas, endometrium and gall bladder.


The cancer research fund is advising people to aim to be as lean as possible without becoming underweight. It stresses that after quitting smoking, a healthy weight is the most important thing a person can do for cancer prevention. The scientists believe that about a third of the most common cancers could be prevented if people ate healthily, were physically active and maintained a healthy weight.


This study comes one month after research revealing that a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables has also been shown to significantly reduce the risk of cancer. Other studies have shown that a daily portion of mushrooms and a handful of walnuts were shown to help reduce breast cancer risk by up to a third; eating oily fish rich in omega 3 was shown to prevent prostate cancer and eating broccoli can prevent stomach cancer.

Marilyn’s top 20 tips for a naturally healthy summer

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

The longer and warmer days give everyone a great opportunity to get outside more and enjoy a much-needed shot of healthy boosting fresh air and sunshine. Take advantage of the fine weather and enjoy walks or regular light exercise, such as gardening. It will help shrink your waistline, improve your stamina and flexibility, and boost your mood and your heart health.

As long as you watch the heat and your fluid intake, you can enjoy summer in good health. But just because you’re less likely to go down with a cold or flu at this time of year, it doesn’t mean that summer doesn’t carry with it a number of other health risks, such as allergies. Food poisoning and food-borne illnesses are another common cause of summer infections and illness. Warmer weather, which makes bacteria multiply faster, and the increased number of picnics and barbeques in the summer all help to contribute to a rise in cases of food poisoning during this time of year.


Staying healthy during the summer months requires more than just putting on the sunscreen, drinking lots of water and eating the right foods. Although these measures are all very important, there are a number of other things that can help you and your family stay happy, cool and naturally healthy during the summer season.


Your healthy summer guide


Get outside: This sounds fairly obvious but it’s surprising how many people don’t actually get outside when the weather is warm. Desk bound jobs, busy schedules and fear of sun cancer can all keep people indoors, but it really is important to make sure you go outside every day – sunlight has a mood-boosting effect because it triggers the brain to produce serotonin (the happy hormone), while suppressing melatonin (the sleep inducing hormone). Just 15 minutes a day will dramatically improve your mood.


Wear sunscreen, but not all the time: Skin cancer is a concern so you are advised to wear sunscreen, but it shouldn’t get to the point that your skin in never exposed to the sun without sunscreen. So be sensible and wear sunscreen when you are out most of the time and especially at the hottest part of the day (noon to 3pm), but there needs to be at least 15 minutes a day when your skin is not covered in sunscreen. The sunscreen will block the manufacture of vitamin D through the skin. This nutrient is important not only for bone health, as it helps with the absorption of calcium, but also for breast cancer, heart disease and anti-ageing. You can just have your arms exposed if you want to protect your face. And when you buy sunscreens try to buy the ones that are as natural as possible, because what you put on your skin is going to be absorbed into your body (and of course this applies to children as well). There are a number of good makes of sunscreen available – to see some of the different choices go to and click on Natural Lifestyle Products.


Take your gym workout outside: If possible do some exercise outside. Grab a yoga mat to practice some poses or do some light gardening and brisk walking. You are not only boosting your fitness but you’re also boosting your mood – daylight is a natural anti-depressant.


Hang your washing outside: Make the most of the lovely weather and get your washing blowing on the line. Not only is this more eco-friendly but it will leave your washing smelling fresher and perfectly aired.


Drink lots of water: Your body needs plenty of water to prevent dehydration during the summer months. Take bottles of filtered water with you if you’re going out for any length of time. Remember, infants and toddlers can become dehydrated much more easily than adults, so be sure they get lots of liquids.


Protect your eyes: There are more eye injuries reported in the summer months than in any other time of year, presumably because we are outside more. So wear sunglasses to keep them safe from the number one cause of eye damage or irritation: the sun’s UV rays.


Wear appropriate shoes: If you’re doing a lot of walking, or other outdoor sports activities, skip those stylish summer sandals or, worse still, flip flops. Avoid blisters and sprains by choosing a good pair of walking shoes. Wear them with comfortable, cotton socks.


Grow your own: If you have a garden, take advantage of the fine weather and plant up your own vegetable plot. All of your favourite fruits and vegetables can be grown in a small patch of your garden with minimal effort. Don’t forget to plant some herbs as well to add flavour to your meals.


Love your hair: Most of us know how drying the sun’s rays can be to our skin and are diligent about using moisturisers, but not so many of us consider what they may be doing to our hair. To avoid dry-looking, out of condition hair, invest in a good conditioner to give your hair much need moisture (and remember to get the most natural products available). And while we are on the subject of hair care, forget any lengthy hair routines and abandon the hairdryer – just wash and let your hair dry naturally. 


Set your alarm half an hour earlier: Take the time to linger over your breakfast. At any time of the year breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it kick starts your metabolism (or fat burning – which is good news if you need to lose weight) and sets you up for the day. Summer fruits, oat cereal and organic live plain yogurt are all perfect – take them outside and eat them while enjoying the early morning sunshine. Make the most of the seasonal fruits that are available – strawberries will be at their best for an antioxidant boost.


Lavender pure essential oil: If mosquitoes have been feasting on you keep a bottle of lavender essential oil on hand. It can be soothing and effective when applied directly to affected areas.


Sand body scrub: If you’re heading to the beach, sand is an effective body scrub, just grab handfuls of it and slough over your body to give you softer skin without the cost.


De-clutter and clean: Devote part of a day to de-cluttering and cleaning your house. A tidy house will instantly give your mood a boost. If there isn’t time for a full clean, be sure to get windows sparkling clear to let in as much mood-boosting sunlight as possible. Avoid using chemical window sprays. Instead, make a great all-purpose natural window cleaner by combining 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent, and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake to blend.


Think fresh tasty foods: This summer you could effortlessly lose weight thanks to the abundance of crisp salads that are more readily available than in the winter months. Forget hearty, comfort foods and think fresh, tasty and light instead. Keep your energy levels high by limiting your intake of energy draining saturated fat and sugar (found in ready meals, red meat, sweets, cakes, pastries, crisps, chips, refined and processed foods and junk food) and focus on whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, oily fish, nuts and seeds. If you’re craving a choc ice or sugar-packed ice lolly why not try freezing a banana? Just peel it, pop a stick in the end and put in the freezer for a tasty treat!


Leave the car behind: Walk everywhere that you can. Leave the car behind as much as possible so you can really enjoy the lovely weather – not only will you burn some extra calories you’ll also reduce your carbon footprint.


Take care of your teeth: The only thing most of us want to look white on our holidays is our teeth, so keep brushing and flossing regularly. If your teeth are stained, forget expensive and chemical-filled treatments and go for the natural approach instead. Fruits and vegetables with high fibre content, such as apples, celery and carrots, combine with your saliva and act as natural stain removers.


Use natural deodorants: As the temperature rises, so does the risk of sweating. Probably best to avoid chemical deodorants and antiperspirants until the link between their use and an increased risk of breast cancer has been examined further. Use natural deodorants instead (see the Resources Page).


Limit alcohol: The odd glass of red wine now and again is fine, but excessive alcohol consumption is especially damaging to your health in the summer months when people are more likely to reach for a cool alcoholic drink when they’re thirsty instead of a glass of water. Alcohol is dehydrating and does not quench thirst. It also depletes the body of vital nutrients – nutrients you need to stay healthy and happy all summer and all year long.


Be sure to travel healthily: Just because you’re going on holiday does not mean you need to abandon healthy eating and regular exercise. In fact, you’ll enjoy yourself far more if you stick to some kind of exercise routine and ensure that the food you are eating is as healthy as possible and don’t go too mad on the sugar-laden desserts. 


And finally, don’t let your summer get spoiled by food poisoning: The likelihood of stomach upsets is higher in the summer when more of us enjoy picnics and barbeques, so be sure to read the information on food safety in the good hygiene feature in this issue. A tip I give my patients in the clinic if I know they’re travelling is to take with them a good probiotic that doesn’t need refrigerating and also a supplement containing grapefruit seed extract to help prevent ‘traveller’s tummy’. (See the Resources Page for information on BioKult and Biocidin Forte.)

How to eat healthily on a budget

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

The key to planning and creating healthy meals on a limited budget is good forward planning and solid nutritional knowledge. The following tips will help you see that healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive. Here’s how to eat healthily on a budget:

1) Always do a shopping list: It’s dangerous to go food shopping without a shopping list in hand. Shopping without a sense of what you need – and don’t need – opens you up to all manner of temptation, and most of those tempting foods are not nutritious. In addition, picking up all those extra items can easily blow your food budget and leave you without the funds to plan those healthy, nutritious meals. A good trick is to keep a note pad near the kitchen table or refrigerator. Having the notepad within easy reach makes it easy to keep track of the foods you need to stock up on.


2) Never shop when you’re hungry: The old advice to never shop when you are hungry is definitely true. Shopping when you’re hungry is a sure way to give into temptation, bust the food budget, and stock up on all the wrong foods.


3) Replace meat with pulses: Eating less meat and more beans and lentils is a good way to save money on your food budget, while still getting the protein you and your family need and cutting down on the saturated fat you and your family don’t need. Try experimenting with some vegetarian recipes for interesting ways to use these non-meat alternatives.


4) Stock up on staples: One trick is to keep the refrigerator and the pantry well stocked with staple foods. Essential staple foods, such as wholemeal flour, rice, and pasta, are frequently put on sale at major groceries. Stocking up on these essentials when prices are low is a great way to stretch any food budget. Keeping a good supply of staples on hand will avoid unnecessary trips to the shops and also avoid the need to buy such products when they are not on sale. So when staples, such as bread, flour, peanut butter etc, are on sale – be sure to stock up.


5) Stock up on fruits and veggies: Fruit and vegetables (excluding exotic/ imported ones) are surprisingly cheap. An average banana costs 20p (less than most bars of chocolate/crisps from the vending machine) and provides more in the way of nourishment for fewer calories. Choose fresh fruit and vegetables that in season, not only are they cheaper they will also be most flavoursome and at their best; but don’t limit yourself to that as you don’t want to end up eating a restricted diet. Farmer’s markets also tend to be cheaper than supermarkets.


6) Cruise the frozen food aisle: When it comes to fruit and vegetables one way to get your five a day and to save the pennies is to buy frozen versions. In fact, in some cases, buying frozen fruits and vegetables may be a more nutritionally sound option as foods such as peas, sweetcorn and broccoli are typically frozen within a few hours of picking, which preserves the vitamin C and B vitamins – so they may have even more than fresh versions.


7) Not everything that is canned is bad for you: That’s right! Not all canned foods are bad. As long as you make sure there is no added sugar, additives and preservatives. Tomatoes may also have a higher nutritional value when canned as the canning process, which heats contents to a higher temperature, makes certain nutrients (such as heart protecting lycopene – red pigment in tomatoes) easier for your body to absorb. You can also get beans like kidney beans in cans. 


8) Keep things simple: Baked beans (no added sugar ones) on wholegrain toast or a baked potato may not sound like a main meal but they are full of protein and fibre, as well as bone-building calcium and energy-boosting iron. And even if you don’t have a garden you can still gown your own herbs, as well as parsley, chives, beansprouts and tomatoes, in pots. Adding herbs to a meal really boosts the nutritional value and adds plenty of flavour to simple dishes.


10) Don’t forget to treat yourself: Even if you are counting the pennies you still need to treat yourself once in a while. Food is an easy way to comfort yourself, but you don’t need to go for unhealthy options like a bar of chocolate or packet of crisps. Grill a banana and pour some real maple syrup over it or bake an eating apple stuffed with raisins and walnuts. And instead of expensive coffees from expensive coffee chains treat yourself to the flavonoid nutrients in tea, which protect your heart and also help you feel relaxed and comforted.


Next month: Buying organic food on a budget