Archive for the ‘Winter Health’ Category

In the News: Home made hot juice helps beat colds

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Traditional hot drinks for a cold really do help fight colds and flu, according to research by experts at Cardiff University’s Common Cold Centre and published in the journal Rhinology.


The study, which is believed to be the first scientific research of its kind, proved that a steaming hot cup of fruit juice not only tastes nice but actually helps to reduce the symptoms of colds and flu. The researchers studied the effects of either a hot or room temperature apple and blackcurrant (both high in immune boosting vitamin C) drink on 30 volunteers with cold symptoms. Those who sipped the hot drink found that it improved air flow through the nose and raised body temperature producing a feeling of well being as well as immediate and sustained relief from symptoms of a runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chillness and fatigue.


In addition to a hot fruit juice, another simple and cheap remedy to stop the sniffles is elderberry.  Elderberry juice can act as a remedy for coughs, cold infections, bronchitis and fever. Scientific tests have proven that elderflowers have anti-inflammatory properties and confirmed that elder can be beneficial for treating symptoms of flu. (You can also get good elderberry supplements to boost the immune system – see the Resources Page).

Foods that fight the winter blues

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

If your mood is dark and your temper short – just like the days at this time of year – increasing your intake of the following foods may help boost your mood.


Grapefruit: Great for boosting liver function and easing depressing. The more toxins your liver is exposed to the more easily its detoxification systems are overloaded. If the liver is sluggish, excessive amounts of toxins find their way into the blood stream and can affect the function of the brain causing unpleasant and erratic mood changes, a general feeling of depression, `foggy brain’ and an impaired ability to concentrate or remember things.


Artichoke:  This vegetable is liver protective and also has a bile-producing, and bile moving effect on the liver. When bile lingers in the liver, it irritates the tissue, creating inflammation and decreasing the ability of the liver to carry out its function so you are more likely to feel tired and depressed.


Watermelon: Studies indicate that red-pigmented, lycopene-rich foods—such as tomatoes, papaya, and watermelon—improve liver health and a healthy liver is essential for detoxification and physical, emotional and mental health and wellbeing.


Sunflower seeds: Minerals are essential for the growth and functioning of the brain. Selenium (high in seafood and seaweed) has been shown to improve mood significantly. Other sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, tuna, and whole-grain cereals.


Oily fish/flax seeds: Fatty acids regulate memory and mood. The brain is made of 60% fatty acids. The omega 3 types (DHA and EPA) are essential to the optimum performance of your brain. Omegas are found in oily fish, for example: mackerel, tuna, herring, salmon and sardines, as well as other foods such as avocado, olives, raw nuts and seeds, and their cold pressed oils. All these foods contain good mood stimulants and it has been discovered that levels of depression can been improved by introducing these healthy fats to your diet. Omega 3 types are also excellent intelligence and memory boosters. If you don’t eat fish try some hemp or flax seeds instead.  (See the Resources Page for a high strength Omega 3 fish oil.)


Lentils: Excellent source of B vitamins and folate. Folate deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of depression and deficiency in B vitamins increases the risk of anxiety, insomnia and mood swings.


Water: The body deteriorates rapidly without water and dehydration is a common cause of tiredness, poor concentration and reduced alertness. So ensure you get your recommended eight glasses a day!

Ask Marilyn: what can I do about worse PMS symptoms in the winter?

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

Q: My PMS always gets worse in the winter and I find it really hard to get up in the mornings. Why is this? What can I do about it?

A: Many women find that their symptoms of PMS get worse when the nights are longer and darker. This lack of warmth and light seems to make things worse because when you are exposed to plenty of bright light your body starts to produce serotonin which wakes you up and makes you feel more energetic and alert. Without enough serotonin you can end up feeling depressed and irritable, with food cravings and problems sleeping. Sounds a lot like PMS, doesn’t it?

It’s clear that too little serotonin and not enough light can play a part in PMS or make symptoms worse. Change in appetite, insomnia, reduced energy, weight gain, problems concentrating and fatigue are symptoms of both PMS and low serotonin levels so if you are suffering from any of these symptoms you need to light up your life. This is crucial if your PMS gets worse in the winter or if you suffer from depression. By boosting your serotonin levels, your mood will be boosted and you will have more energy in the morning to leap out of bed.

To increase your serotonin production make sure you are exposed to either full-spectrum light from the sun or a bright white light for at least 15 minutes during the morning. Light has a direct effect on your brain, helping to set your body clock for sleep and waking. The incandescent lights you may have in your lamps are not good enough and you should try to walk outdoors – even if the sun isn’t out. Don’t wear sunglasses as your eyes need to be exposed to natural light. If you think you need something more you could buy an alarm clock that is also a bedside lamp so when you set it to wake up at 6.30 am it gradually turns up the light intensity starting about 20 minutes before you need to get up – simulating what dawn does. If this doesn’t wake you first the alarm goes off at your wake up time. You may also want to consider getting a special light box that can provide full-spectrum.  The light is measured in units called lux, and a typical light box provides 10,000 lux. Daylight is around 5,000 lux and it takes around 2,500 lux to have a therapeutic effect on your internal clock. You can do light therapy yourself as long as you don’t over do it and follow the instructions on the box to the letter – but it is always best to check with your doctor first for advice.