New year tips to kick start your health

Even if you don’t have real resolutions most of us see the New Year as a new start in life, when we’re going to get fit, go to the gym, lose weight, eat and drink less, exercise more, work harder…..Try these tips for a good start to the year:

 1. Drink water for more energy Cut down on tea, coffee, and colas as they contain caffeine which is a stimulant that gives a quick fix followed by a slump, and opt for water instead – eight glasses a day is recommended to flush out the toxins – and try peppermint, fruity or dandelion herbal teas instead of your normal hot drink.

2. Get plenty of zzz After partying over Christmas and New Year when the days are short and dull it’s a tiring time, but the body needs sleep to heal itself and be fit enough to fight off all the circulating winter bugs, so try to aim for seven or eight hours a night.

3. Binge on fruit and veggies

They are the healthiest thing you can eat because they are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which fight free radicals that cause cell damage, cancer and heart disease – avoid pesticides by choosing organic and try home-made soups and fresh juices.

4. Shedding those extra pounds

Don’t give up eating because you’ve overdone it but eat healthily – three meals a day and regular snacks of nuts, seeds and fruit with plenty of fruit, vegetables, rice, pasta, and pulses like lentils and cut out or reduce bread, sugary and processed foods.

5. Up your vitamin intake

Pollution, smoking, stress and alcohol all wipe out nutrients in the body, so take a good multivitamin/mineral supplement to make sure you’re not deficient in any of them. Taking Vitamin C as well helps to prevent colds and flu, reduce stress levels, ensure healthy skin and turns food into much-needed energy in the body.

6. Exercise boosts your energy

Even though you might be feeling sluggish the more exercise you do the more energetic you feel, so check out the gym or try Yoga and Pilates classes for good stretching exercise, or simply add a 20 minute walk to your daily routine to keep trim and healthy.

7. Remember to relax

Stress is the scourge of 21st Century living and too much leads to illness, so try to give yourself half an hour a day to relax – even if you’ve got kids or a hectic job – take a long aromatic bath, listen to music, read a book or learn to meditate.

8. Hide the chocolate

If you’ve eaten too much over the festive season try to keep it out of reach from Monday to Friday at least and have some on the weekends if you can’t give up altogether. Too much sugar causes blood sugar levels to fluctuate giving highs and lows so try to reduce intake of sweets to a minimum and see if you feel better.

9. Make this the year to give up smoking and start now!

There are so many ways to quit smoking from patches to pills that the doctor can give you or for something different you can try acupuncture, hypnotherapy or have a go at the charity Quit’s email support:

10. Have a herbal boost

Herbal remedies can give you much needed support at this time of year – Echinacea enables the immune system to fight infection and stave off colds, Milk Thistle protects the liver if you’ve over-indulged this year, and Siberian Ginseng is energising and helps you to focus. (Check with a doctor if you are taking other medication or are pregnant).  Charcoal is really good at removing toxins from the body.

To purchase any of these products including  A. Vogel Echinaforce Echinacea, 50ml, £10.45 go to and put in the code HSoul1 for a 5% discount.

Quit smoking

SmokingWednesday, March 14th is National No Smoking Day.  Whether it’s a New Year’s resolution or this day it gives an incentive to cut it out.  Smoking is SO expensive these days, plus Smoking Kills.

Smoking Statistics

  • There are 9 million smokers in the UK, the majority of whom are young people.
  • That means that 19 per cent of smokers are men and 15 per cent are women.
  • Two thirds of smokers took up the habit before the age of 18.
  • Every year 96,000 people in the UK die due to smoking related diseases.  Half of all smokers will die because of their habit.
  • One in seven 15 year olds smoke, with more girls smoking than boys.
  • Smoking related diseases cost the NHS £2 billion a year.
  • 80 per cent of deaths from lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchitis are directly attributable to smoking.

However, some progress has been made over the years –

 In 1948 82 per cent of British men smoked, and 41 per cent of women.

There are more people in the UK who used to smoke than those who currently maintain the habit. But the good news is that the body recovers reasonably quickly if you are young enough.


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.

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,

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),

More information on giving up smoking: and


Healthy ageing

 Eating healthily and regular exercise can protect the body against ageing.In 1840 people lived until 45 and now it’s around 90, but living longer is not always welcome as 10 to 20 years at the end of life are often spent in ill health and pain.

In 2005 there were 1.2 million over 85s in the UK, and no doubt the figure is higher now.There are more people over 65 than there are under 16 but they suffer from a wide range of serious health issues including:

• Diabetes
• Heart disease
• Cancer
• Arthritis
• Obesity
• Dementia
• Disability
• Reduced bone density leading to fractures
• Eye problems

Some 50 per cent of adults claim to be in pain and in the 75+ age group, 60 per cent are in chronic pain and this pain is musculo-skeletal but it is not always arthritis. Being seriously overweight adversely affects all the joints of the body, but particularly the knees.

Healthy nutrition slows down ageing

At a recent British Nutrition Foundation Conference it was claimed that good nutrition defends the body against the ageing process. People who live the longest are those who:

• Do not smoke
• Consume plenty of fruit and vegetables (Vitamin C)
• Have a moderate alcohol intake
• Are physically active

Smoking the worst culprit

The reason for many health problems of all kinds that is cited again and again is smoking which plays a huge role in cancer, heart disease, infertility, poor eyesight, bad circulation, dementia, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, or painful joints is smoking.

Women smoking 20 cigarettes a day have a five fold risk of a heart attack, and
a four fold high risk of a stroke compared to a non smoker. The good news is that:

• If you give up smoking in your 30s you add 10 years on to your life expectancy
• Even if you quit at 60 you add three years.