Save your skin in the sun

There’s a mixed message about the sun – the skin needs exposure to the sun to make that vital Vitamin D which is essential for healthy bones and teeth,  immune system and cognitive function – pretty important!  Yet we have been receiving a message for years that too much sun (and exposure to sunbeds) can cause skin cancer. View Skin Cancer Rates High in the UK.

For a great  natural range of sun care products go to Neals Yard Remedies – click here or on the ads on the right.

The problem starts when we are young and we think we’re invincible, and despite what they say, we still love a tan.  Children’s skin is more at risk than adults and it is from a young age that we need to be protected – so why not take a leaf out of the Australians’ book? The Slip, Slap, Slop campaign A very successful advertising campaign in Australia was Slip Slap Slop: • Slip on a T-shirt • Slap on a cap • Slop on the sunscreen!

Why the sun is good for us

No wonder people get fed up with conflicting messages but it is true that exposure to the sun without sunscreen enables the skin to manufacture Vitamin D. It is also a fact that many of us are deficient in Vitamin D, according to recent research. Vitamin D helps to maintain healthy bones and teeth, and regulates calcium and phosphorus levels which ensure good muscle function.  Read more in Vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sun.

This doesn’t therefore mean that spending hours in the sun without sunscreen is a good idea when it’s exceptionally hot. Good judgement helps most of us to know how much sun is enough depending on the temperature outside. But of course children cannot make this decision for themselves and are usually so busy playing that they don’t think about it. There are other reasons why too much sun isn’t that good for us – everyone has seen people who have tanned so much that their skin becomes tough, old and wrinkly. Also too much sun on a very hot day can bring on sunstroke which results in headaches, dehydration and sickness and can be dangerous.

Sunscreen yes – chemicals no! Once you become keen to avoid pesticides in your food, and start looking at cosmetics to see what they contain, you become aware of what’s in sun creams.  There are a range of different chemicals in them including  phthalates, PABA, BPA and parabens. There are also said to be chemicals in them that mimic or disrupt hormones and these can be in the ‘parfum’, a cocktail of chemicals or oxybenzone.

 

One of the worst chemicals is parabens which is usually found in well known brands of sun tan lotion. It appears in many different forms: methyl paraben, ethyl paraben, butyl paraben, propyl paraben, and propul paraben. Research studies found that propyl paraben has been found to decrease sperm production and traces of parabens have been found in human breast tissue. There are now plenty of healthier alternatives which are good for the skin, make it moist and also prevent sunburning. Given that it’s not a good idea to spend hours and hour in hot sun, these sunscreens are perfectly adequate. Parfum too is a strange term that covers a whole gamut of fragrance chemicals, the names of which are not listed. People with allergies often have a reaction to parfum. It’s perfectly possible to buy sunscreens that use natural ingredients up to about 46 F.  Some contain essential oils, several contain aloe vera. They smell great, they work and they keep your skin soft and protected, without allowing harsh chemicals into the bloodstream – particularly suitable for kids.

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Featured products
Aloe Vera Sun Lotion SPF25 Aloe Pura 200ml £11.99
Mineral Suncare Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Jason Natural 113g £10.57
Children’s Sun Lotion Lavender SPF 25 Green People 150ml £12.49
Hydrating After Sun Lotion Green People 200ml £10.99
Aloe Vera After Sun Aloe Pura 200ml £7.27
Use this code to get 5% discount from www.superfooduk.com:  HSoul1 

Lose weight – stand at work

Stand at your desk all day and you burn an extra 50 calories per hour, 52,000 calories a year and it’s the same as running 20 marathons!  You also can avoid back pain which is such a problem for computer users and boost your health.

Standing at work

 

 

 

 

 

The way to do this is to have a standing desk and leading companies have installed them.

Benefits of standing at work

  • Lowers blood pressure.
  • Decreases the risk of blood clots
  • Improves circulation.
  • Helps to shed pounds.
  • Improves and prevents back pain.

 

Under pressure – computer hands

How much pressure are your hands under

  • 40 words a minute
    12,000 keys per hour
    96,000 keys per eight hour day
  • 8 ounces of force per key
    16-25 tons of force each day

One of the biggest causes of back pain is the use of computers and keyboards, and the above infographic shows you how much pressure your hands are under.  Sitting at a desk all day long, tapping on the keyboard and peering at a screen is not what our bodies were designed to do. As a result we can get tight and painful shoulders, RSI in the hand and wrist, carpal tunnel syndrome, and even arthritis in the hands.

The cost of RSIOne of the main problems is the way that people lean in to their screen to look at or read what’s on there, rounding the shoulders and putting pressure on the back. The best position is upright on a good chair that supports your back, with feet flat on the floor, and preferably the keyboard or laptop on a desk in front of you, not on your lap. It was designed for your lap, but your body wasn’t designed to cope with it!

Plenty of offices now provide standing desks, that can be at the right height for sitting, or enable you to have a choice of standing while you work, which is surprisingly good for your back and posture.

The Alexander Technique is a good discipline for understanding and being aware of how you put pressure on your back. A good teacher can work with you to show you how you are causing unnecessary strain.

Penclic Infographic-stereo typingAlso, you can try ergonomic products, such as a Back Friend on your chair which enables your back to be correctly positioned.

Or Penclic’s Mini Keyboard, either wireless or connected, which is said to prevent RSI. It’s small and can be easily moved around the desk to ensure that hands and wrists are more comfortable, and what’s a big boon is that the keys are light to touch so you don’t find yourself bashing down on them and putting pressure on fingers.

 

Quit smoking

SmokingMarch 9th is National No Smoking Day.

Since smoking in public places in the UK was banned,  it’s not uncommon to see huddles of workers outside their workplaces smoking in the street.  Isn’t it much easier to give up?

  • There are 10 million smokers in the UK, the majority of whom are young people.
  • Out of these 22 per cent are men and 17 per cent are women.
  • Two thirds of smokers took up the habit before the age of 18.
  • Every year 100,000 people in the UK die due to smoking related diseases.
  • One in seven 15 year olds smoke, with more girls smoking than boys.
  • Smoking related diseases cost the NHS £2.7 billion a year.
  • 80 per cent of deaths from lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchitis are directly attributable to smoking.

Progress over time

There are 12 million people in Britain who have already given up, but  21 per cent of the population still smoke.

In the past people weren’t aware that smoking was dangerous, and in the 1930s and 40s it was even considered glamorous. In 1948 82 per cent of British men smoked, and 41 per cent of women.

Smoking is the worst thing you can do for your health

  • 90% of lung cancer deaths are due to smoking.
  • 80% of bronchitis and emphesema deaths are due to smoking.
  • 1/3 of cancer deaths are due to smoking.

Positive health prospects

The body is very resilient and health benefits are quick to realise. According to ASH, the anti-smoking public health charity:

•20 minutes after quitting: blood pressure and pulse rate return to normal;
•Two hours later: nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in the blood reduce by half and oxygen levels return to normal ;
•24 hours: carbon monoxide eliminated from the body, lungs start to clear out mucus and other debris;
•48 hours: no nicotine left in the body;
•72 hours: breathing easier, bronchial tubes relax and energy levels increase
•2-12 weeks: improved circulation;
•3-9 months: coughs, wheezing and breathing problems improve as lung function increases by up to 10 per cent;
•One year: risk of heart attack halved;
•10 years: risk of lung cancer halved;
•15 years: risk of heart attack falls to level of a permanent non-smoker.

Around 70 per cent of adult smokers want to quit and 86 per cent have already tried but failed. The benefits are all too obvious, not just in health terms but also to the smokers’ wallet – a 20 a day smoker spends almost £1,700 every year on their habit.

The good news is there is plenty of help at hand. Anyone can go to an NHS Stop Smoking clinic by referral from a GP, midwife or pharmacist (Local Stop Smoking Services, 0800 169 0169). You get to talk to an adviser and may be offered nicotine replacement therapy or Zyban, a prescription drug.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy:

Published trials claim that using nicotine replacement therapy to quit smoking doubles your chances compared with plain and simple willpower.  You can see your doctor about NRT.

•There is a wide variety of choice of NRT methods available on prescription including patches, gum, sprays, inhalers, tablets and lozenges.
•They all provide lower levels of nicotine than cigarettes which is absorbed into the bloodstream and is enough to relieve craving and withdrawal symptoms.
Available on prescription and over the counter at chemists.

Dispelling the illusion the Easyway

Boasting a 90 per cent success rate the Allen Carr Easyway method incorporates just one four and a half hour session with a trained therapist who:

•Dispels common misconceptions about smoking, such as its calming and confidence-boosting effects;
•Also included is a brief hypnotherapy session to reinforce the message.

Those people who give up smoking as a result of Allen Carr sessions claim that they come out of the session with a completely changed view about the habit, and the majority don’t revert to smoking.

For details of the nearest Allen Carr clinic contact: 0208 944 7761.  www.allencarr.com

Blocking the nicotine

For people who find that they don’t know what to do with their hands when they quit NicoBloc provides a chance to give up gradually.

Drops of NicoBloc are put on each cigarette where it solidifies and blocks the amount of tar and nicotine inhaled.

The gradual build-up starts with one drop in the first week, two drops the next week and so on.

Eventually there is so little nicotine being inhaled and taken into the blood stream that the desire for smoking diminishes.

Available from chemists.

Natural alternatives

It might be possible to get complementary therapies for quitting smoking on the NHS, at The Christie Hospital in Manchester, for instance where they use aromatherapy, reflexology, hypnotherapy and acupuncture as part of their smoking cessation programme.

Acupuncture can help

Acupuncture stimulates the body to release endorphins which help to induce a sense of calm and relaxation.

•Needles are usually placed in the ear during a session – this is often called auricular acupuncture.

•Sometimes one or more is left in to help people cope with cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

For acupuncturists in your area contact the British Acupuncture Council: 020 8735 0400, www.acupuncture.org.uk

Changing behaviour – Hypnosis and NLP

A study of 6,000 smokers found that hypnosis was three times as successful as nicotine replacement therapy in helping people to give up.

Sometimes available on the NHS but mostly you have to pay for these.  The combination of hypnosis and NLP is often used to help people quit smoking as hypnosis works on the sub-conscious mind, and NLP provides ways of changing behaviour on a conscious level.

National Register of Hypnotherapists and Psychotherapists: 01282 716839), www.general-hypnotherapy-register.com

More information on giving up smoking: http://www.smokefree.nhs.uk and www.ash.org.uk

 

Eat smart, not less App

NutracheckResearch* shows that keeping track of calories in a food diary can double weight loss because it makes you more aware of portion sizes and food choices. The Nutracheck App  keeps track of the calories for you.

Many people think that losing weight means eating less food. Not so if you choose wisely – it’s the type of food that’s the problem. By changing the proportions of what you put on your plate, you can still enjoy a good volume of food that will fill you up but without the high calorie count.

It’s all about energy density. Quite simply, ‘energy density’ refers to the amount of energy (or calories) per gram of food.

Lower energy density foods provide fewer calories per gram of food so you can eat more of them – it’s a good way to help control how much you eat, without going hungry. These foods often have a high water content, such as stews or soups; foods like pasta and rice that absorb water during cooking, and foods that are naturally high in water, such as fruit and vegetables.

Nutracheck is a super fast calorie counter and food diary service, delivered via an App and website, that makes tracking calories easy. Just set aside 10 minutes a day to record what you eat from over 180,000 foods and drinks in the database; photos of food are on the site to make it really easy to spot the exact product you ate. The App lets you scan a barcode and add a food in just 2 clicks.

There are no banned foods, so you’re free to choose the foods you want to eat while you lose weight at a steady and healthy rate of around 2lbs a week. It’s a fact that when we pay close attention to what we eat, we tend to eat less.

In contrast, high energy density foods tend to include foods that are high in fat and have a low water content, such as chocolate, cakes, biscuits, crisps, peanuts, butter and cheese. A very small amount has a high calorie count, which doesn’t fill you up – so it’s really easy to overindulge.

Download the App: search for ‘Nutracheck’ in the App Store or Google Play, by registering at Nutracheck.