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Wednesday 11 December 2013

Acupuncture for your aches and pains

By Max Hopes

It’s certainly starting to feel like winter outside with the temperatures plummeting in recent weeks! The cold weather can have some unfortunate consequences for people with joint and muscle aches, with studies showing that sufferers of conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatic disease and muscular pain report a correlation between cold temperatures and days on which they feel more painful symptoms. Explanations could come from the fact that things such as blood flow to muscles and lubricating fluids within the joints are reduced by the cold - also when we feel cold we tighten everything up out of discomfort, which can lead to aches and pains worsening.
One way that we can treat these kinds of aches and pains at The Chandos Clinic is by using medical acupuncture. One of our osteopaths, Max Hopes, is trained in acupuncture and uses the method alongside conventional osteopathy. He finds that the two approaches complement each other perfectly, and a treatment session with him will often consist of a combination of the two – dependent on the suitability of the complaint and the preference of the patient.

What is acupuncture?

Fine needles are inserted into specific points that the practitioner identifies as relevant to the patient's condition based on a medical diagnosis.  At our clinic, this may be used in addition to a more 'standard' osteopathic treatment.
The number of needles used can range from just one, up to eight or ten, but this depends on the condition and the patient’s comfort. The amount of time that needles are left in place also varies; it can be from just a few seconds, up to about fifteen minutes.

Proven benefits

In recent years, more and more scientific evidence has come out in support of acupuncture and a number of benefits have been shown:

- Pain relief - Acupuncture can be very effective in the relief of pain by stimulating the release of natural painkillers such as endorphins and serotonin

- Nerve stimulation - Acupuncture has been proven to stimulate nerves around the area that the needles are placed.  This can add to the pain relieving effect as well as helping to restore 'normal' function in areas that are supplied by those nerves

- Promotion of blood flow - Studies have shown that acupuncture can be used to encourage greater blood supply to an injured site.  This is particularly useful for slow healing injuries as providing more blood to the region accelerates the healing process.

- Releasing tight muscles and 'trigger points' - These are tight 'knots' in muscles that can be a source of pain. Acupuncture is a highly effective and relatively pain-free method of releasing these points, which can make a huge difference for many patients.

What conditions can acupuncture treat?

Acupuncture is proven to be effective in many musculoskeletal conditions such as:
- Low back and neck pain
- Arthritic pain
- Joint and muscle injuries
- Tendon and ligament problems
- Headaches
- Trapped nerves

Does it hurt and is it safe?

Acupuncture is rarely painful as the needle is so fine that it penetrates the skin with ease, it doesn’t feel like having an injection! What you may experience is a slight dull ache or a twitch in the muscle. This is generally a good sign as it shows that the needle is having an effect.
Acupuncture is a safe treatment when administered by highly trained practitioners such as ours at The Chandos Clinic. Serious adverse events are almost unheard of, however occasionally patients may feel tired or faint with the use of needles.

Max works at the Chandos Clinic Tuesdays and alternate Fridays and Saturdays

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Meditation May Slow Progress of Alzheimers

Meditation in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) may slow progression to Alzheimer's disease (AD), new research suggests.

A small, randomized pilot study of adult patients with MCI showed that those who received mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) therapy for 8 weeks had a greater increase in functional connectivity between brain regions related to both MCI and AD than those who received usual care.

These regions included the posterior cingulate cortex, the bilateral medial prefrontal cortex, and the left hippocampus.

In addition, there was "a trend" toward less bilateral hippocampal volume atrophy in the patients who received MBSR compared with the usual-care group.

"This study suggests that an intervention with meditation and yoga may impact the areas of the brain that are most susceptible to developing dementia," lead author Rebecca Erwin Wells, MD, MPH, who was at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, at the time of the study.

Dr. Wells noted that although this was a small, preliminary study, she is "very excited" about the findings.

"MBSR is a relatively simple intervention, with very little downside, that may provide real promise for these individuals. If [it] can help delay the symptoms of cognitive decline even a little bit, it can contribute to improved quality of life," said Dr. Wells in a release.

For further information about this study, click here

Source: Medscape

Friday 8 November 2013

Even a little physical activity may prevent depression

Even low levels of physical activity may reduce the risk of developing depression in individuals of all ages, new research suggests.

In 25 of 30 large studies examined in the systematic review, which included participants between the ages of 11 and 100 years, a "negative risk" was found between baseline physical activity (PA) and the future development of depression.

In addition, this inverse association was found in all levels of PA ― including less than 2.5 hours of walking per week.

"It was a little surprising that 25 of the studies found this protective effect, and that's really promising," said lead author George Mammen, PhD candidate from the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education Department at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada.

"We also did quality assessments on each study, and the majority were of high methodologic quality, which adds weight to the findings," said Mammen.

He noted that the take-home message is that being active is important for more than just physical health.

"From a population health perspective, promoting PA may serve as a valuable mental health…strategy in reducing the risk of developing depression," write the investigators.

The study was published in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Previous studies have shown a link between exercise and decreasing symptoms in patients with depression. "However, with the high prevalence of depression worldwide and its burden on well-being and the healthcare system, intuitively, it would make more sense…to shift focus toward preventing the onset of depression," the investigators write.

Using data from the 7 studies that measured amounts of weekly PA participation, the researchers found that exercising more than 150 minutes per week was associated with a 19% to 27% decreased risk of developing depression.

Surprisingly, participating in less than 150 minutes per week of PA was associated with a 8% to 63% decreased depression risk compared with individuals who were sedentary. Still, the 63% decreased risk was found in one study of patients participating in 120 minutes of weekly PA.

The current guidelines for PA by adults, released by the Canadian Society for Exercise Psychology, recommend 150 weekly minutes of moderate to vigorous activity.

Two other studies assessed daily amounts of PA. One showed that 10 to 29 minutes a day of PA was associated with a risk ratio (RR) of 0.90 for depression onset, whereas 60 to 90 minutes of daily PA had an RR of 0.84, and more than 90 minutes of daily PA had an RR of 0.80.

The other study showed that participating in more than 30 minutes of daily PA reduced the odds of depression onset by 48%.

In addition, 3 of the 4 studies that examined walking status showed that it was protective against depression, with 2 suggesting that even low levels of walking decreased risk for depression by almost 60%.

Nine of the 11 studies that examined PA levels over time showed a significant association with depression onset, with 5 suggesting that reducing PA levels increased the risk for onset, and 4 suggesting that increasing or maintaining PA levels reduced the risk.

"The majority of [the studies] were of high methodologic quality, providing a solid indication that PA may prevent future depression," write the investigators.

They note that the evidence shows this indication even with low levels of PA.

"At the least, current guidelines for PA, established for physical health benefits, appear equally appropriate for preventing depression," they write, adding that individuals should maintain or increase their current activity levels to continue staving off the threat of depression development.

"And if you're not physically active, you should initiate the habit. This review shows promising evidence that the impact of being active goes far beyond the physical. Even just walking to the grocery store or walking to work for 20 minutes would be great," said Mammen.

Source: Medscape

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Can Watermelon Improve Exercise?

True to its name, watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is made up of greater than 90% water. Watermelon is low in calories (a 2-cup serving contains about 90 calories) and is regarded as a healthy food. Watermelon contains a high concentration of lycopene, a carotenoid that may have beneficial effects on cancer and cardiovascular disease risk.Watermelon is also high in vitamins A and C.

In addition, watermelon is a rare food source of citrulline, an amino acid that was first isolated in 1930 from watermelon. Citrulline is an antioxidant and is thought to allow watermelon to survive drought-related oxidative stress.

Citrulline is a precursor for arginine, which is involved in the formation of nitric oxide and creatine, and is a key constituent of the urea cycle, which detoxifies ammonia. The key interest of watermelon as an aid to exercise is based around this detoxifying effect which would improve muscle fatigue and recovery.

A group of researchers found that citrulline supplementation decreased time to exhaustion on a treadmill test. Interest in citrulline supplementation to enhance physical performance was sufficient to induce the Air Force to conduct a randomized, double-blind, cross-over study of citrulline malate (6 g/day). The researchers found no differences between citrulline and placebo in measures of respiration, lactate production, or time to exhaustion during incremental cycle ergometry.

Watermelon juice was tested in 7 athletes using cycle ergometry. Researchers compared the effect of watermelon juice (containing 1.17 g of citrulline), enriched watermelon juice (4.83 g of citrulline plus 1.17 g from watermelon), and placebo. Watermelon juice and watermelon juice enriched with citrulline similarly reduced perceived muscle soreness better than placebo, but no significant differences among any of the 3 treatments were observed in terms of lactate levels.

As the current research done has provided mixed results, more research is required to clarify the effect of watermelon or citrulline on exercise in general and muscle soreness in particular. Until such research is available, watermelon can be recommended as a healthy, low-calorie food for everyone except those with rare inborn disorders involving citrulline or arginine metabolism. If you are interested in trying watermelon to lessen muscle soreness after exercise, try exercising with and without eating watermelon and comparing the results.

Source: Medscape

Monday 21 October 2013

Reiki and Cancer - New Research

A survey involving adults receiving reiki through volunteer services at a cancer infusion centre indicates the therapy has ‘a broad range of symptomatic benefits, including improvements in common cancer-related symptoms.’

A total of 145 surveys were completed over a six-month periods, with 47 participants seen in the cancer infusion centre and 98 in other areas of the hospital. Adults taking part were asked to rate on a five-point scale perceived changes in pain, mood, sleep and appetite after receiving reiki.

The results showed 94 per cent of patients who accessed reiki at the cancer centre and 93 per cent who accessed reiki in other areas of the hospital, rated it as a positive experience, with symptomatic improvements similar for people accessing treatment in either context. Most notable were perceived improvements in relaxation, anxiety/worry and mood.
Responses were unaffected by previous exposure to reiki, massage or other touch therapies.

Source: Federation of Holistic Therapists

Monday 14 October 2013

Introducing Max Hopes, the newest member of our Osteopathy Team!

Max has completed a Master's in Osteopathy degree at the prestigious British School of Osteopathy. He also has an abundance of further training in areas such as acupuncture, management of sports injuries and treatment of headache disorders.

His focus is always to reach the root cause of a problem; in order to relieve symptoms, promote better function and prevent recurrence of the injury.

He works with all manner of musculoskeletal ailments including back and neck pain, joint and muscle injuries, headaches and sports injuries.

Max's prior experience includes working at clinics in Wiltshire and London, and at Brentford Football Club.

Max will be working at the clinic on Tuesdays Fridays and Saturdays.

Monday 7 October 2013

Statins linked with Depression

A recent review of medical research dating back to the 1970’s has found clear links between the use of statin drugs to lower cholesterol and the development of depression.
Previous research has shown that chronic depletion of cholesterol interferes with the release of serotonin in the brain.  Serotonin is a neurotransmitter carrying nerve impulses between brain cells, enabling them to communicate and keeping our moods stable and balanced.  Cholesterol is a building block for cell membranes, keeping the membrane fluid, flexible and able to release chemicals such as serotonin.  When cholesterol is depleted, the membranes cannot function properly and serotonin is not released.
Statins are one of the biggest selling drugs in history, with over 5 million people taking them in the UK alone.  Side effects are common and include nausea, upset stomach, headaches, muscle pains, memory problems and depression.  The drugs work by inhibiting cholesterol production in the liver but this has the knock on effect of disrupting cell membrane function, hormone pathways and neurotransmitter production.

A safer, natural approach for managing elevated cholesterol levels is to look at the eliminatory pathways, in particular, the bowel.  If excess cholesterol is not passed from the body via the stools it can be re-absorbed and re-circulated round to the liver. Plant sterols are plant compounds that bind to excess waste cholesterol in the bowel and make sure it leaves the body.  To complement their actions, lecithin can be used to support liver function and naturally regulate fat metabolism.

 Another terrible side effect of statins is their blocking of not only cholesterol production in the liver, but also Co-Enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) manufacture.  CoQ10 is a vital nutrient used to make cellular energy and is particularly important for cardiovascular health.  The great irony of statin use is that CoQ10 itself can regulate cholesterol levels and also provide antioxidant protection to the cholesterol circulating in our bloodstream!
As the many damaging side effects of statin drugs become more and more apparent it makes sense to consider the natural holistic approaches to maintaining heart health and cholesterol balance.  This can be safely achieved with the combination of lecithin, plant sterols and CoQ10.

Further reading
You H. et al (2013) The relationship between statins and depression: a review of the literature Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy 14(11):1467-76
Shrivastava S et al (2010) Chronic cholesterol depletion using statin impairs the function and dynamics of human serotonin receptors Biochemistry 49(26):5426-35
CoQ10 Reduces Cholesterol

Source: Medscape

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Autumn Warmer

By Bronwyn Ward

The leaves are falling and everywhere there are shades of orange and red. This time of year is a good time to be eating foods with this colour too. Eat plenty of pumpkin, squash, sweet potato and carrots. They are all in season, and so good for fortifying against the autumn chill.

Brony’s Autumn Spiced Soup – makes a big pot, freezes well!
1 small squash or pumpkin, cubed
2 sweet potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, cubed
1-2 red onions, sliced
3-4 cloves crushed fresh garlic
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 ½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1 cup red lentils
5 cups vegetable stock or water
1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
½ cup cream
Good pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh coriander to serve

In your largest most lovely saucepan, gently fry the onion in a little butter or olive oil. Add the garlic, chilli, ginger and spices. Add a little water if needed to stop them sticking. 
Add the Squash, carrot and sweet potatoes and sauté until tender. Add lentils and stock or water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30-40 mins until the lentils and vegetables are tender. Blitz with a food processor or wand till thick.
Add seasoning, sugar, cream, fresh tomatoes and peas. Simmer gently for a few minutes to warm through and serve with a sprinkle of fresh coriander. 

Monday 23 September 2013

Is it nearly time for the Autumn dig?

By Barbara Moulang

This year I’m determined (unlike other years) to dig over my allotment before the first frost.  I say this every year and never manage it – busy life, work, kids.  But what a bonus if I do it before the winter.  The frost will break up the clods of earth making them easier to crumble in the spring, the frost and birds will kill off lots of bugs, I can dig before the soil is waterlogged, I can dig before the April showers (or snow!) and plant earlier, maybe removing more bindweed on the way. 

With the sad news of the death of Seamus Heaney, revisiting some poems from years ago,  `Digging’ a famous one and much loved has prompted me to write about one of my least favourite activities – slowly and surprisingly becoming easier and less hard work as I get older.  I haven’t hobbled to the door of a colleague with post diggers back for a couple of years now, although my allotment neighbours will still find me lying on my back hugging my knees for a few minutes when the deep roots of perennial weeds have got the better of me.

I don’t think I’m particularly strong and I’m quite small, but over the years I have found ways to counter the pain I used suffer after only half an hour’s digging.  I love my spade (a hand-me-down, with a thin sharp blade worn down from years of gravelly soil) but have also found another tool, a `chillington hoe’ very useful, providing a very different digging action and saving my back from the same relentless repetitive movements all the time.

So here are some of my tips for less back pain after digging.  I can’t guarantee you won’t be in any pain at all but if you follow some of this advice it might help.  Of course if you are in any continual discomfort it goes without saying that an osteopath at the Chandos Clinic can give you specific help and advice.

Warm up before you start with some simple stretches – gardening is heavy exercise.
Buy a spade with a small blade, then you won’t be tempted to lift heavy spadefuls of earth.
For the same reasons dig smaller chunks at a time.
Try a chillington hoe for a different digging action and posture.
Alternate digging with other chores so you’re not doing the same thing for hours.
Dig over in the autumn so the frost can help to break up the soil.
Stand up from digging often to make sure your back still feels comfortable.
Try the `no dig’ method if you don’t have too much of a perennial weed problem.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Too much Coffee Linked to Premature Deaths in Younger People

Drinking more than four cups of coffee per day does more than increase the risk of the jitters, a new study from America suggests. Researchers report that heavy coffee consumption, defined as more than 28 cups of coffee per week, is associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality among men.
For men and women 55 years of age and younger, the association between heavy coffee consumption and all-cause mortality is more pronounced.
In this latest study, which is published online August 15, 2013 in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, lead investigator Dr Junxiu Liu (University of South Carolina, Columbia) and colleagues assessed the data from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. The retrospective analysis included 43 727 participants followed for a median of 17 years, during which time 2512 deaths occurred.

Despite the limitations of the study, Lavie told heartwire , "it certainly looks like people who report intakes of low amounts of coffee are not getting significant harm, and that's up to about 28 cups a week, which is a decent amount of coffee." He pointed out that a cup of coffee as measured is an 8-oz cup, and not the supersized 20-ounce cups typical of Starbucks and other coffee chains.
In a multivariate analysis, men who drank more than 28 cups of coffee had a statistically significant 21% increased risk of all-cause mortality. In women, the risk was not statistically significant. In men younger than 55 years of age, drinking more than 28 cups per week was associated with a 56% increased risk of death compared with non-drinkers. In younger women, such heavy consumption increased the risk of death 113% compared with those who did not drink coffee.
For people who like coffee, including himself, Lavie said the study suggests coffee is relatively safe if people limit themselves to less than four cups of coffee per day. For those who consume more, Lavie said the research is not intended to scare anyone, but it can't hurt for people to think about the association.
"Honestly, for myself, I could easily go some days having a sixth cup of coffee, but this is leading me now to try to limit myself to the third, and maybe occasionally have the fourth," said Lavie. "Most days now I'm sticking with two or three cups. And honestly, for most people, it's a habit. There's something to the first or second cup, but if you're drinking it all day long it's really just a habit. And if you have a signal for increased mortality, and you know about that, it might make people think or stop after the third cup."

 Source: www.medscape.com

Monday 9 September 2013

Censorship of Complementary and Alternative Medicine

The ASA is stopping complimentary therapists from advertising. They have censored us from even mentioning any medical condition on our websites and will not acknowledge benefit for more than a handful of conditions ignoring NHS, NICE and World Health Organisation Evidence. They have also 'banned' patient testimonials. This is unacceptable censorship and a serious threat to natural medicine which has helped millions worldwide. 

Why this is important

The Advertising Standards Authority has since March 2011 been using complaints from a small number of anti-CAM lobbyists to heavily restrict information on the websites of complementary and alternative medical therapists. 
 The ASA guidelines for therapists amount to censorship as they do not accept divided medical evidence or the 2000 year historical use of therapies such as acupuncture. The ASA insist on placebo controlled RCTs published in peer reviewed journals and no split in medical opinion. This leads to extreme bias against CAM which does not have the resources and due to its holistic approach, placebo controlled trials e.g. for acupuncture may not be suitable. The ASA subjectively assess evidence, present a limited view of submitted evidence to the council, and ignore WHO and NICE guidelines. This is a huge threat to patient choice and the freedom of information available on the internet. 

Please sign and share the petition below and keep us working for you!!


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Thank you

Monday 2 September 2013

10 Health Benefits Of Rooibos Tea

Rooibos tea comes from South Africa and can be a good alternative to normal tea. It does have a slightly different taste  to standard black tea but it is great to know that it genuinely doing your bodies a lot of good.  The health benefits of rooibos tea are quite extraordinary – why not give it a try

1. Caffeine free – The rooibos plant grows naturally without any caffeine.  This is important, as it means it does not need to undergo a chemical process to remove the caffeine.  It also means that anyone can drink it, including those who do not want to drink caffeine such as children & pregnant women.  The other key benefit of no caffeine is that rooibos tea can be drunk in unrestricted amounts, in fact, the average South African will consume 5-6 cups per day.

2. Contains powerful antioxidants – Rooibos tea contains a huge array of antioxidants, which help to protect the body in a number of ways.  Two polyphenol antioxidants called aspalathin and nothofagin are found in high concentrations in rooibos tea.  These antioxidants protect the body by fighting free radicals.  These are unstable cells, which attack healthy cells in order to stabilise themselves.  The polyphenols also have anti-inflammatory properties and can safeguard against heart disease.

3. Prevents against some cancers – Some studies have demonstrated a link between consumption of rooibos tea and a reduction of cancer-causing chemicals.  This is because of the high level of dominant antioxidants, some of which have anti-mutagenic properties.  This means that they defend cells & DNA against damage and inhibit them from developing into cancer.

4. High mineral content – One of the key health benefits of rooibos tea is that it contains several minerals that are vital to health.  These include: magnesium – essential for the nervous system, calcium & manganese – essential for strong teeth and bones, zinc – important for metabolism and iron – critical for helping blood & muscles distribute oxygen.

5. Improves circulation – One of the many potent antioxidants in rooibos tea is called Chysoeriol.  It can improve circulation by preventing the activity of the enzyme that triggers cardiovascular disease.  Drinking rooibos tea also lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.

6. Relieves stomach complaints – As rooibos tea contains high levels of flavonoids, especially one called quercetin, it has the ability to relieve numerous abdominal ailments such as cramps, diahorrea and indigestion.  This is because the flavonoids help to reduce spasm, inflammation and allergies.  It has also been widely stated that the health benefits of rooibos tea extend to alleviating colic in babies.  As it is totally caffeine free, it is perfectly safe for them to drink rooibos tea.

7. Aids absorption of iron – Unlike most black teas, which prevent the body from absorbing iron effectively because of the tannins they contain, rooibos tea supports the body in absorbing iron.  This is because rooibos tea contains less than half the tannins of black tea.

8. Can relieve skin conditions – A more recent discovery of the benefits of rooibos tea is that it can help you to look more beautiful!  Rooibos tea contains phenyl pyretic acid, which can help to improve acne, psoriasis and eczema.  You can apply a freshly brewed and cooled tea bag to the affected areas and it will soothe and heal any inflammation.

9. Can protect against Parkinsons/Alzheimers disease – drinking rooibos tea regularly can protect against a process known as lipid peridoxation.  This is where free radicals damage brain cells and nerve tissue.  If this is prolonged, it can lead eventually to progressive and deteriorating brain disease, such as Alzheimers.  Laboratory tests on rats showed little difference in brain function from a group of older rats given rooibos tea to the brains of newborn rats.

10. Encourages restful sleep – One of the many health benefits of rooibos tea is that it can be drunk as often as you wish and at any time of day.  Many people choose to drink it before bedtime as it can help with insomnia.  Due to its high mineral content and lack of caffeine, it helps people to feel calm and relaxed.

Thursday 29 August 2013

Junk food in pregnancy and mental disorders in Children?

Research, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, looked at data on mothers' diets during pregnancy from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort study.

This study consists of data from over 23,000 mothers – and also looked at their children's diets at both 18 months and 3 years of age.
The researchers from Deakin University in Australia, alongside the researchers from Norway, analysed this data to look at the effects of specific dietary intakes and their potential effects.

They concluded that mothers who eat ‘junk food’ – like sweetened drinks, salty foods and refined cereals - while pregnant are more likely to have children with mental health problems (e.g. aggression and tantrums).

Lead researcher, Felice Jacka explained;
"It is becoming even more clear that diet matters to mental health right across the age spectrum.
“These new findings suggest that unhealthy and 'junk' foods may have an impact on the risk for mental health problems in children, and they add to the growing body of evidence on the impact of unhealthy diets on the risk for depression, anxiety and even dementia.

"The changes to our food systems, including the shift to more high-energy, low nutrition foods developed and marketed by the processed food industry, have led to a massive increase in obesity-related illnesses right across the globe." 

Thursday 15 August 2013

Coconut water: Nature's sports drink?

By Bronwyn Ward

There is a lot of hype around this ‘super hydrating’ beverage. It has sponsors from Hollywood and claims to be nature’s alternative to sports drinks.

Coconut water is found in the cavity of the fresh coconut and is not like the full fat coconut milk or oil. It boasts five key electrolytes: calcium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Making it ideal for re-hydration and restoring essential salts after exercise.  It does have a distinct taste and not everyone likes it. It can however be very refreshing and a pleasant change from water or sugary sports drinks.

There are many claims and counterclaims to the effectiveness of this drink. Recent research shows that it can out-perform both water and energy drinks for hydration over short bouts of activity. It also proved more tolerable meaning it was less likely to cause stomach upsets and nausea after exercise.

However, the low sugar content of this drink does mean that for longer periods of exercise (cycling, marathon running) it does not provide enough carbohydrate to keep you on form. Also the sodium content proved  insufficient for those who excessively sweat during long bouts of exercise.

So what to do? If you are worried about what’s in your sports drink than this does seem a good natural alternative. Be sure for long bouts of activity though to have something with you to eat such as salty nuts or a cheese sandwich (often favoured by Tour De France riders). With the jury still out on coconut water, but some positive research behind it, why not try and see if it’s for you?

Tuesday 6 August 2013

BBQ Corn Cobs

By Bronwyn Ward

A great treat at summer parties and BBQs. Easy to prepare and take along as a veggie offering. Sweet corn is high in digestion-friendly fibre and provides around 10% of your daily folate, thiamine, phosphorus, vitamin C and magnesium requirements.

In a large freezer bag put:

1-2 Tbsp melted butter

1-2 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce

Pinch of sea salt

4 Corn cobs

Tie up bag and mix everything around in marinade. Keep in the fridge until ready to cook on BBQ grill or griddle pan at home.

Monday 5 August 2013

Turmeric Spice Rub

By Bronwyn ward

A treat for the taste buds this week using the joint-loving spice turmeric as featured in our previous blog. To enhance the effects, try having a pudding of fresh pineapple marinated in coconut sugar and finely chopped fresh mint with some Greek yogurt. Pineapple contains an enzyme called Bromelain which is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Enjoy!

Make your belly happy by adding a little of the rub to meat, fish or tofu

6 Tablespoons curry powder
3 Tablespoons coarse sea salt
4 Tablespoons crushed chillies
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1 Tablespoon dried mint
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons ground ginger

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container out of direct sunlight for up to 6 months.

Monday 22 July 2013

Are Probiotics good for you?

By Bronwyn Ward

Probiotics are bacteria that are either the same as or similar to microorganisms found naturally in the human body. Also referred to as "good bacteria," probiotics are found in oral products, such as dietary supplements and yogurt. There is conflicting evidence demonstrating the benefits of taking probiotics. Here are some positive results:

Probiotics May Help Prevent Antibiotic-Related Diarrhoea
A review published May 31, 2013, in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that probiotics are safe and effective for preventing Clostridium difficile–associated diarrhoea (CDAD) in children and adults taking antibiotics. In 23 trials examined, enrolling a total of 4213 participants, probiotic use was associated with a significant 64% reduction in risk. On the basis of the overall evidence, the reviewers had moderate confidence in this large relative risk reduction. "Although probiotics are clearly superior to placebo or no treatment for preventing CDAD, further head-to-head trials are warranted to distinguish optimal strains and dosages," the review authors conclude.

Probiotics During Pregnancy May Ward Off Eczema, Food Allergy
In research reported in the October 18, 2012, issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, infants whose mothers took probiotics during pregnancy and while breast-feeding were less likely to develop eczema. The mothers all had a history of allergy, so their children were at high risk. About 30% of infants whose mothers took probiotics developed eczema compared with 79% of infants whose mothers did not. However, the study found no difference in the incidence of other allergies at age 2 years, including milk, wheat, soy, and dog and cat dander. And in a separate review published online April 17, 2013, the authors write, "Twenty-three randomized, placebo-controlled intervention studies regarding the clinical effect of probiotic supplementation on development of [food] allergy and eczema in particular have been published. Around 60% of the studies show a favourable effect decreasing the risk of eczema during the first years of life. The remaining studies fail to show an effect." 

Probiotics Affect Brain Activity
A new study in the June 2013 issue of Gastroenterology provides the first evidence in humans that probiotics in the diet can modulate brain activity. In a proof-of-concept study using functional MRI, researchers found that women who regularly consumed probiotic-containing yogurt showed altered activity of brain regions that control central processing of emotion and sensation.

Allergic Rhinitis Eased by Antihistamine + Probiotic
In other allergy research, supplementing the antihistamine levocetirizine with the probiotic Lactobacillus johnsonii EM1 effectively alleviated the symptoms of perennial allergic rhinitis in a group of Taiwanese children, according to a study published in the July 2012 issue of the International Journal of Paediatric Otorhinolaryngology. The study was somewhat small, with just 62 children. In addition, the "open-label design makes it difficult to compare the clinical response between the 2 treatment groups, but any bias may have been decreased by using the crossover method," the researchers write. Another issue to be resolved is whether the benefit will extend beyond 12 weeks.

Article and research provided by Medscape

Thursday 18 July 2013

Spice up your joints

By Xavier Decup

For those with joints pain, arthritis, arthrosis or digestive problems, you may want to try adding turmeric to your diet. The turmeric is a small ginger-like root we often use in powdered for, most commonly in curries. It has a distinctive bright yellow colour. It has been used by lots of civilisations for medicinal treatment over the centuries. The principal component is curcumin which is a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. Traditionally it is used to stimulate digestion and protect the digestive system, liver, bowels and stomach.

New research has shown that turmeric could protect and help the liver against inflammatory disease like chronic hepatitis for example (However people who have gall bladder problems or gall stones must avoid it). Researchers are also trying to measure how turmeric is involved in protecting the body against some cancers.

Scientists are interested in curcumin because of its anti-inflammatory role. Some trials have shown that taking turmeric or curcumin may be beneficial for patients who suffer from joints pain such as arthritis and arthrosis. It enhances the functioning of the cell membrane and decreases the formation of inflammatory molecules. Added to an anti-inflammatory drugs, it could reduce their side-effects and help to protect the stomach. There are some who need to check with their GP before including turmeric in their diet. This includes diabetics and those taking anti-coagulants or anti-acid stomach medications. So why not try including it in a good diet, exercise and good posture to help maintain joints and ease digestive troubles.

Monday 8 July 2013

Sunshine Medicine

by Gosia Gray

Summer time means for most of us holidays and lots of time outdoors in the sun. Unfortunately, this year we have not been so lucky with the weather.  Hopefully, summer will arrive eventually.  During these months of long days we can enjoy eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. We will store the vitamins and minerals from these foods in our bodies, where they will ultimately help our immune system through the long winter months. We must also remember to drink plenty of water so as not to become dehydrated.

 The sun also plays a big role in the formation and absorption of vitamins.  Most of the vitamin D in our body is created by a chemical reaction that starts with sunlight exposure to the skin. This is essential for the absorption of calcium from food to ensure healthy bones and teeth.  Traces of Vitamin D are also found in egg yolks, butter and cod liver oil. Insufficient vitamin D has been linked to depression. So, enjoy your summer and don’t forget to eat plenty of those fresh summer fruits.

Monday 1 July 2013

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? That is the question

By Giles Cleghorn

MMR Vaccination has raised its head again this year with the out brake of measles in Swansea.  The quagmire of facts verses fiction is very difficult to navigate.

Most people seem to hang their attention on Dr Andrew Wakefield as the cause of the low up take of MMR. As I was active in clinical work in London in the 1990’s I would like to remind people that Dr Wakefield was published in Lancet in 1998. The suspicion and fear around the MMR vaccination started in 1989-91 when parents began to report that their children have been allegedly damaged by the MMR vaccination. Up take of the MMR declined form 1990 onwards.

 Dr Wakefield’s research was very limited. He was struck off not for the research content but because he gathered his data unethically. He also made claims that his research showed conclusively that MMR was a causative agent in autistic children.  The medical community states categorically that there is no scientific evidence for MMR to be considered a causation in autistic children.

Personally in the last 15 years I have heard no claims from parents that their children have become autistic as a result of MMR. I wonder if the vaccines that were withdrawn might coincide with the rate of decrease of autism being diagnosed in the UK? Two MMR vaccinations were withdrawn from the market in the UK in 1992 due to concerns about their safety.  The Japanese government also withdrew all MMR in the wake of the public alarm in 1993 five years before the Lancet report that caused Andrew Wakefield to be struck of the medical register. According to Wikipedia, the Japanese withdrew the vaccine due to it causing cases of aseptic meningitis, not a connection to the increase of diagnosis of autism in the childhood population in Japan.  Japan did see a rise in autistic diagnosis from 1990 peaking in 1995. If you consider your peak inoculations are in 1990, then your peak diagnosis of any consequential autism will be diagnosed three to five years after the peak inoculations. Just a coincidence?

We cannot be sure and possibly never know if there has been a cover up or indeed that it may have been public misinterpretation of the facts. I am lead to conclude that MMR is said to be safe but to reduce risk and maximise protection one might consider single vaccinations of measles and rubella (mercury free). These are now available in the UK as a way if managing the minefield of mixed opinions. 

Monday 17 June 2013

Healthy Chocolatey Truffles for Kids Lunchboxes

By Bronwyn Ward

This one is for Jane, and all the other mums fighting to get your kids to enjoy slightly healthier treats at lunchtime

Chocolatey Truffles

In a food processor I put:

1/2 cup mixed seeds

1/3 ground almonds

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

BLITZZZZZ then add:

1 big handful of dates

1/4 cup tahini or nut butter

Blitz again add a little water until sticky dough.

Roll into balls with wet hands and dust with cocoa or 

coconut. Keep in the fridge up to 4 weeks (no chance they'll last that long though!!).

Nutritional Note: Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of protein and calcium, keeping small bellies fuller for longer. Cocoa has natural antioxidants and mood lifting properties for happy faces, enjoy :-)

Monday 10 June 2013

Gluten-free and tasty

By Bronwyn Ward

A great idea I came across recently for a gluten - free wraps. Great for lunches or with my super healthy 'refried' beans (recipe below)

Cauliflower Tortillas


1 medium head of cauliflower (inc. stalks)
3 eggs OR 4 egg whites


1. Preheat oven to 190C.
2. Use a food processor, blender, or hand grater to grate the cauliflower into a crumb-like texture
3. Microwave the cauliflower for 5 minutes, stirring a little halfway through. If you don’t want to use a microwave, Put the grated cauliflower to a pan and add 1/4 cup of water. Cover the pan and steam over medium-high heat for about 8-10 minutes. Just make sure to stir half-way through to avoid the cauliflower from burning. Keep in mind that you will have a bit more water to squeeze out.
4. Place the now-cooked cauliflower in a teatowel over a sieve and squeeze. Make sure to drain as much excess water as possible.. there is surprisingly A LOT of water in cauliflower
5. Mix the drained cauliflower and eggs until smooth
6. Place the mixture on parchment lined oven trays in circles at about 1/4” thick.
7. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip. Bake for another 5-7 minutes. This is important to dry out the tortilla
8. Move the tortillas to cooling rack to cool, so the bottom does not become soggy.

Easy and Healthy 'refried' beans


1 tin black beans
1 tin kidney beans
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 carrots, diced 
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
1 dried chipottle chilli (optional)
2 tbs tomato ketchup
1 Tbsp tomato puree
Tabasco sauce to taste
Salt and pepper
4 cups water


In a large saucepan add carrots, onion, garlic, beans, chilli, cumin and water. Simmer uncovered for 20 mins, add more water in drying out.
2. Add ketchup, tomato paste, tabasco and seasoning. Simmer further 10 mins, you should have a thick 'soup' consistency, add a little more water as needed.
3. With a hand blender or food processor, pulse the mix, leaving a few chunky bits. 
4. Check seasoning serve with cauliflower tortillas and salad.

Monday 3 June 2013

Tasty Treats

By Bronwyn Ward

This week I though I'd share a new recipe for some lovely little biscuit things. Kind of like a little stodgy brownie. They are free from refined sugar, oil and gluten. Super easy and very decadent. 

Chocolate and Cashew Biscuits

1 drained tin of chic peas
1/4 cup honey, agave or coconut sugar
1/2 cup cashew butter (or peanut butter)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 pinch of palt
90g (half a cup) dark chocolate, broken into small pieces

Pre-heat oven to 175C.

In a food processor whizz up all ingredients except for the chocolate (ensure that the mix is really smooth and not lumpy)

Add the chocolate bits and pulse a few times to mix. The mixture will be soft and sticky.

Make small 1 1/2 inch balls with wet hand to prevent sticking. Place onto a parchment lined baking tray. Press down a little to flatten.

Bake for 10 - 15 min till slightly golden. Leave to cool completely before moving. 

Makes around 14. 


  • Instead of chocolate try adding chopped dates or stem ginger....or best of all, make a batch of each :-)
  • you need grain-free baking powder, you can use 1 part cream of tartar + 1 part baking soda + 2 parts arrowroot.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Skip The Gym

By Bronwyn Ward

The weather is finally warming up and along with the joy of showing some skin can come the dread of showing some wobbly bits. This is due to the extended cold weather and subsequent biscuit eating season. It’s the time when your long forgotten New Year’s resolution to join the gym rears its ugly head again as well as the associated guilt. The answer is simple … skip going to the gym, don’t do it to yourself.

There are some people in this world who genuinely enjoy going to the gym, the fluorescent lighting, the blasting awful music, the testosterone mingled with sweat in the air. I say go for it if it’s your thing, but I also believe there are many out there like me who would rather not. If you hate the gym, don’t go.

There are so many other ways (a lot of them free) to get the exercise you need to lose weight / tone up / be healthy. What is going to work for you is what you enjoy doing. If you don’t like exercise, find something that distracts you from the fact that you’re exercising. Here are a few ideas:

Get Arty
Walking with a camera for an hour to take photos gets your creative juices flowing and you’ll soon be forgetting that you’re actually doing yourself some good. Especially as often the best pictures are to be found at the top of hills/stairs/monuments etc.

Yoga can be as much about relaxation and meditation as it is about physical exercise. Finding a good teacher is key though, shop around and try a few different styles until you find one that suits you. Yoga builds muscle tone and core strength as well as improving posture and lowering stress levels.

Go to the pub
Going for a pub lunch on Sunday? Why not take a long walk there and earn that pint. You’ll feel great and enjoy your lunch so much more for doing it.

Challenge a mate
Studies have shown that you are more likely to lose weight with a friend than on your own. If you have a friend who’s also looking to get more active, that could be a big help. Why not try a couples sport like badminton or tennis you can both play together (and be rubbish at together) and have a laugh as well as learning a new skill. Who knows, you may even get serious about it.

Do something for charity
If your own guilt about exercise is insufficient to get you off the couch, sign up for a charity walk or run. With a potential cure for cancer and a large wad of of money from all your friends and family hanging over your head, you’ll simply have to get to it!

Monday 29 April 2013

Mediterranean Diet Tied to Hot Flashes

This article is from the Medscape website, by Genevra Pittman
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Apr 24 - Women who eat diets high in fruit, certain vegetables, pasta and red wine are less likely to have hot flashes and night sweats during menopause, a new study from Australia suggests.
Researchers who followed nearly 6,000 women over nine years found that those who ate a lot of strawberries, pineapple and melon and most closely followed a Mediterranean-style diet were about 20% less likely to report those common symptoms.
At the same time, menopausal women who ate high-sugar, high-fat diets were 23% more likely to experience hot flashes and night sweats during the study.
The study can't prove certain foods prevent or trigger hot flashes, researchers said. And it's one of the first to tie general dietary patterns - not just certain supplements - to menopause-related symptoms.
"The study is well done, but I wouldn't get so excited about it, especially because we don't know why," said Dr. Teresa Fung, a nutrition researcher at Simmons College in Boston. "We don't know the biologic mechanisms behind it."
Researchers surveyed 6,040 women, age 50 to 55, about what foods they ate and how often as well as if they smoked, drank or exercised. All of those women went through natural menopause.
At the start of the study, 58% of participants reported having hot flashes, night sweats or both. At that point and over the next nine years, women who ate fruit and the components of a Mediterranean diet - in this case garlic, salad greens, pasta and red wine - reported fewer hot flashes, after accounting for their other lifestyle habits.
However, vegetables in general, as well as meat and dairy, were not associated with either a higher or lower chance of having menopausal symptoms, said Gerrie-Cor Herber-Gast and Gita Mishra from the University of Queensland in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in a paper online April 3rd.
It's possible that low-fat, high-fiber diets may help stabilize estrogen levels and ease hot flashes and night sweats, Herber-Gast and Mishra speculated. Or, eating a Mediterranean-style diet may keep blood sugar within the optimum range, which could also lower a woman's chance of bothersome symptoms, they said.
"We don't really have enough studies to make a blanket recommendation yet," Dr. Fung, who wasn't involved in the new research, told Reuters Health.
However, she added, "We don't necessarily need to know why (this may work) before we do it, especially for something that's healthy to begin with."
Dr. Fung said because of all the changes - both physical and psychological - that happen during menopause, it may already be a natural time for women to think about improving their diet and general health.
Am J Clin Nutrition 2013.