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Date added: 01-23-2013 January Blues

As we head towards the end of what often feels like the longest month of the year we can feel a little blue. The fun and excitement of Christmas has passed, the weather is horrible, the days are long (many of us go to work and come home in the dark) and payday seems an eternity away.

Sticking to a healthy varied diet and getting some exercise are great ways to combat the stress of the January blues. However, sometimes we all feel like we need a little boost and this is where sometimes supplements can be very useful. A good quality multi-vitamin may be all that is needed to help enhance general health and well being.

Another good 'mood booster' is St John's Wort which can be helpful to aid mild anxiety and low mood. This is a traditional herbal remedy and does not replace the need for formal medication in cases of more severe depression or anxiety.

Date added: 01-15-2013 For Your Eyes Only

You only get one pair of eyes so it pays to do everything you can to keep them healthy.

A varied diet full of lots of fresh fruit and vegetables will provide a wide variety of nutrients many of which will help maintain general health and also that of your eyes. Foods that are particularly good for eye health are those that contain lutein, zinc, vitamin C and vitamin E, and omega 3 fatty acids. Examples of these include oily fish like salmon and tuna, oranges, eggs, nuts, beans and green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach. 

If you cannot get all the nutrients you need from your diet we recommend trying a vision specific supplement like Visisoft Lutein which contains Lutein and Zeaxanthin, plus Bilberry and Grape Seed. Lutein and Zeaxanthin are antioxidants that are known to help protect the eyes against age related macular degeneration and also cataracts.

Other ways to protect your eye health include wearing sunglasses when outside in bright sunlight, looking away from your computer monitor periodically, protecting your eyes when working with hazardous chemicals or objects, having regular eye sight checks and even giving up smoking.

Date added: 01-02-2013 New Year New You!

We all have the very best of intentions at the start of a New Year (well, many of us do!!) and one of the most popular New Year's Resolutions we know is to lose weight and get fit. By eating less calories than your body is using up you will lose weight. But is it really that simple?

For most people, losing weight is not as easy as going on a 'diet' and sticking to it. There are numerous reasons why we fail at diets, the most common probably being too strict on yourself. When you restrict what you can eat and drink you set yourself up for failure as very quickly you find yourself craving the foods you are trying to avoid. We recommend you reduce consumption of 'bad' foods like crisps, cakes, biscuits, sweets and anything fried but at the same time you must allow some lee-way in order to aviod cravings which can all too easily lead to a binge!

In the course of our research we have come across a few supplements that may help your weight loss attempts. Firstly we have tried Pinnothin which is a natural apetite suppresant derived from pine nut oil. The active ingredient is Pinoleic acid and it works by stimulating hormone production in the small intestine. This hormone makes your body think you have eaten enough so you feel full more quickly and consequently eat less.

Another supplement often advertised as a weight loss aid is Acai. The Acai berry comes from Brazil and is a powerful antioxidant. It is thought to help metabolic function and has been used by many people to help them with their weight loss efforts. It is possible that simply by improving overall health (the Acai berry is often touted as a superfood) it is easier to maintain a more healthy diet and in turn lose weight.

Keeping up your best efforts beyond the first week of January is always going to be hard but a little bit of determination and perhaps some help from carefully chosen weight loss supplements you might find the journey a little bit easier!

Date added: 12-14-2012 UK population at risk of Vitamin D deficiency

BBC news has recently reported that the essential nutrient Vitamin D is lacking in many members of the UK population. Although there has not been a lot of research into this, pilot studies do suggest that Vitamin D deficiencies are becoming more common. In the last fifteen years there has been a massive increase in admissions into hospital of people with the bone disease rickets. This would certainly imply that Vitamin D levels are low in a lot of individuals.

The main source of Vitamin D is sunlight which makes it difficult to get the required daily amount even during the summer. Some foods such as mushrooms, eggs and oily fish do contain Vitamin D but food only contributes around 10% to the recommended daily amount.

A range of diseases have been linked to Vitamin D deficiency. Diabetes, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis and rickets have all been linked to low levels of Vitamin D. It is also often seen as a contributing factor in broken bones.

Supplements are recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding and children from 6 months up to age four. The chief medical officer advises supplements for children up to the age of five. The Healthy Start programme from the government gives vitamins to people on income support for free.

Those who are not entitled to free vitamin supplements may like to try Vitamin D from Just Vitamins which comes in three different strengths. Vitamin D can be stored by the body meaning a higher dose could be taken less often and have the same benefit as taking a tablet on a daily basis.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20710026

Date added: 11-05-2012 Vitamin B and Memory Loss

A research study has shown that a daily supplement of Vitamin B can reduce memory loss and help to protect against Alzheimer’s disease. The study showed that people taking the Vitamin had lower levels of a protein found in the brain that is known to increase the risk of dementia.

The study conducted at Oxford University over a two year period had 250 participants who were given either a Vitamin B supplement or a placebo. All the individuals in the study already suffered from mild memory loss. The individuals who had been given the supplement appeared to be better with certain mental tasks such as planning, organisation and remembering information.

Over a million people in the UK are thought to suffer from age related memory loss (simple things like forgetting what you entered a room for, or where you put your glasses) which is also known as ‘mild cognitive impairment’. Of these people it is thought that around half will go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia within five years.

Vitamin B has been shown to keep levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the body at an optimum level. It has also been shown that people with a higher level of homocysteine are at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and have a faster rate of brain shrinkage. It is not fully known how a reduction of homocysteine levels slows Alzheimer’s and brain shrinkage but it is apparent that increasing Vitamin B intake works to bring levels of this amino acid down.

A healthy diet and lifestyle are helpful in keeping levels of homocysteine down. However, this is not always possible and this is where the use of a Vitamin B supplement may be beneficial.

Date added: 10-06-2012 10 commonsense tips to maintain a healthy weight
  1.  Make simple dietary changes to avoid some of the worst offending foods, such as foods with a high sugar content and white breads and grains.
  2. Eat foods which are in as natural a state as possible. Natural foods which are high in sugar are also usually high in fibre as well, that processing can often remove these benefits.
  3. Try adding extra spices, rather than fatty oils or salt. Doing this can give you a double win as many spices have huge health benefits in their own right.
  4. Take breakfast literally. This is the most important meal of the day, and it should mean the end of a fasting period, which should ideally start 12 hours beforehand. This is another reason why it is always wise to eat your evening meal as early as you can.
  5. Stick to healthy portion sizes, and fill yourself up on healthy fresh vegetables.
  6. Treat the latest dietary trends with caution! Restrictive diets should only be used in consultation with your doctor, and they should only be used for short periods at a time. In the long run, restricting calorie intake can mean that you miss out on essential nutrition. These diets can also be counter-productive if you just end up snacking on top, or if they end up slowing down your metabolism, thus making it easier to put on weight.
  7. Look out for foods which are rich in easily digestible fibres and which also have a low glycaemic index (GI). Enjoy larger portions of vegetables and salads and consider using healthier oils such as flaxseed oil.
  8. Think about which nutritional supplements might be beneficial to maintain optimum digestive health.
  9. Good dietary habits need to be supplemented with a healthy exercise regime. Find something that you really love doing and that you can do for at least 30 minutes for at least three times each week. Some people prefer sociable exercise activities that they can enjoy with others, whereas some people just prefer to go for a run. It doesn't really matter how you do it, as long as you enjoy it enough to keep the routine going.

10.  Finally, even with a healthy diet and a reasonable exercise regime, many of us still struggle to maintain healthy energy levels. Sometimes this can be because it is difficult to find enough time to do the right exercise. Why not consider substituting some of your car journeys for walking or cycling? It is always easier to burn off calories when you are also going somewhere you need to be.

Date added: 08-18-2012 Diabetes – the hidden risk

According to the most recent government figures, just over 60% of adults in the UK are classified as overweight, with nearly a quarter now being defined as obese, using the body mass index scale.

One of the biggest challenges facing healthcare professionals is that obesity is becoming such a big problem that it has, in effect, been "normalised". This means that instead of it being a problem which gets worse and then gets corrected because people take action to improve their lifestyles, rising levels of obesity are just becoming more and more accepted, reducing the incentive to change dietary habits.

This means that there is a huge hidden risk from people who are overweight at present, but not yet feeling the consequences of their condition. Although the incidence of type II diabetes has doubled in the UK in the last three decades, diabetes is still a ticking time bomb, which is projected to double again by 2025. It is predicted that by this date, one in every 15 UK citizens will have diabetes. Treating diabetes and its related conditions already costs the NHS around £10 billion per year, which represents a whopping 10% of the overall NHS budget!

For people who are trying to take responsibility for own health, diabetes presents two separate challenges – firstly, can you maintain a healthy lifestyle in the first place to avoid becoming diabetic? Secondly, if you are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with diabetes, what steps can you take to manage your condition?

The answer to both of these questions is broadly the same – maintain a healthy weight, eat sensibly, don't smoke, keep alcohol consumption to a minimum, exercise regularly and limit stress factors. However, the progression of diabetes can often feel like a slippery slope – the need to pay careful attention to blood sugar levels can make it much harder to maintain a steady diet once diagnosed, and another symptom of diabetes is that you can often feel lethargic, making it a great deal harder to exercise.

As with any dietary routine, a range of different supplements are available which can help you to maintain the best nutritional balance.

Date added: 07-17-2012 Portion sizes – finding the right balance

When it comes to nutrition advice, so much attention goes on identifying which foods to avoid and which foods to consume in abundance that little attention is given to the idea that most foods can be a reasonable part of a balanced diet, as long as portion sizes are kept under control.

Throughout the 20th century, the mechanisation of so many industrial processes, together with dependency on an ever increasing array of labour saving devices and on the car for movement meant that the average number of calories required continued to decline steadily. Meanwhile, in an on-going bid to outdo each other and follow American trends, restaurants have slowly increased portion sizes, even if the amount of calories needed has been declining.

This problem of portion sizes is then exacerbated by snacks coming in ever larger bags, and the all-pervasive buy one get one free offers. The latest trend for Las Vegas style international all-you-can-eat buffets just makes the situation even worse for anyone who doesn't exercise moderation.

The right portion size varies from one person to the next and it might also vary according to your dietary goals, but good advice would be to stick to 100 g portions of meat fish and other proteins, and to limit yourself to 2 or three portions of this per day. Portion sizes of starchy foods such as bread, rice and potatoes should be around half the size of proteins, but this is balanced out by recommendations that you could eat twice as many of these portions. Be careful to limit yourself to around 30g of cheese per day and a single 150 ml portion of yoghurt.

Another pitfall to watch out for is that when you are making sandwiches or toast, or when you are cooking, oils cooking fats and spreads can all contain a huge amount of fat, especially saturated fats which are typically found in high doses in butter. You should avoid having any more than two 15g portions of these fats each day.

 

Whilst portion size advice can give you lots of ideas about what to avoid, it is also important to make sure that you include plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet. However even these can still contain high levels of sugars, especially if you are buying fruit juices and smoothies, which have already been partially processed. Take extreme caution when buying any so-called "fruit juice drink", as opposed to drinks which are just labelled as juice. These drinks can contain huge amounts of extra added sugar, whilst often having far lower fruit content when compared with juices on their own.

Despite the best of our intentions, many of us don't manage to get the nutrition our bodies need, so it can often be beneficial to supplement your diet with multivitamins or other tablets to make up this deficiency.

Date added: 07-07-2012 The importance of breakfast

It might seem obvious to many people, but the word breakfast does quite literally mean to break your fast following a long night sleep. A common misconception is that if you don't feel particularly hungry and you need to rush off to work, then skipping breakfast is one way to lose weight.

The reality is that skipping breakfast often then leads to unhealthy mid-morning snacks, followed by a convenience lunch which is high in fats, sugar and salt. There isn't necessarily any need to 'break your fast' as soon as you get up, but nutritionists usually advise you to make sure you have eaten breakfast by 10:30.

Advice on just what exactly you should or shouldn't eat for breakfast is as varied as the breakfast foods themselves, and some diets include considerably more calories for breakfast than others, on the basis that you then have all day to burn them off. The old adage about eating breakfast like a king (or queen of course) and dinner like a pauper remains as true today as ever.

There is also little benefit in deliberately trying to squeeze out carbohydrates from your breakfast routine, as these can provide a vital energy stimulus to get you going in the morning. However, even amongst carbohydrates, there are huge variations in how the energy is released. Foods with a low glycaemic index (GI) tend to release their energy a lot more slowly, and these are more likely to help maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day.

Whilst breakfast is undoubtedly the most important meal of the day, getting into a healthy breakfast routine can also give you an opportunity to make sure you take your regular dosage of any supplements which might boost your overall health levels, including a simple multivitamin combination. Getting up those vital extra few minutes earlier might also give you an opportunity to try out a more healthy way of getting to work. Can you find the time to walk to work, or even just to walk to the station or to a different bus stop? Many people have morning commutes of 3 miles or less, and this is an ideal distance for cycling to work. This might even be quicker, especially if your workplace has secure cycle parking, and it will almost certainly save you money as well is making you feel a lot better.

Date added: 06-25-2012 Possible link between high protein diets and heart attacks.

Researchers based at the University of Athens in Greece have found that women who follow low carbohydate/high protein diets like the Atkins plan are at greater risk of suffering heart attacks or strokes later in life.

A 15 year study carried out on 43,400 women aged 30-49 has shown that the ones that followed a low carbohydrate/high protein diet were 28% greater risk from suffering a heart attack or stroke.

For overall good health it is suggested that we should follow a diet that is low in fat and contains a mixture of food groups. Lean proteins, wholegrain carbohydrates, low fat dairy products and plenty of fruit and vegetables are the best choice for anyone wanting to follow a healthy eating plan.