Author Archives: Mel Watson

Body Talk 16/9/17

Are you struggling to lose weight from your stomach. Leading fitness specialists have been trying to get to the root of this common problem and have come up with a few answers.

It may be the result of over indulging in sugar, or white carbohydrates such as bread and pasta.

It could equally be the result of stress or sleep deprivation or even doing sit ups badly. Even seemingly innocent diet and exercise regimes such as excluding fat and intense bouts of exercise, could be keeping the fat in place rather than shifting it.

Weight loss experts have been trying to explain the reasons behind this. Stubborn fat around the tummy is probably the most common bodily bugbear for both men and women. Shifting it becomes even more important when you realise that fat sitting around your middle poses more health risks than fat that sits elsewhere. It has been linked to type 2 diabetes or heart problems.

Stress hormones play a major part in laying down fat across your middle. So if you have a large amount of stress in your life, try taking some time out and maybe taking up meditation, or some similar calming practise. Stress comes from many sources; work, finance and relationships to name a few. If you need help with emotional issues such as these it may be wise to seek counselling or to share your problems with a trusted friend to help ease the pressure.

So if you’re finding that dieting isn’t working for you, look towards other possible causes first, then you may find that the weight becomes easier to shift.

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Body Talk 9/9/17

Is it possible to be both fat and fit?

This is the latest debate in the medical world.  If you take a little exercise,eat reasonably healthily and avoid too much alcohol, your blood pressure is normal and you have no signs of any ill health, some researchers say that there is no need to worry. They feel that it is possible for some people to carry large amounts of fat yet still be healthy.

Other researchers say that of you are overweight you can still be putting your heart at risk, no matter how healthy you feel you are. They calculated that even if you are overweight and healthy your risk of contracting heart problems is still higher than it should be.

However,just to confuse matters,a US study found that being overweight was not a cause of premature death, but being underweight was! A Danish study also found that obese stroke patients were less likely to suffer subsequent strokes than their underweight counterparts, and a stroke was far less likely to kill them. Obesity also, is not necessarily connected with insulin resistance or a build up of fats in the arteries. A build up of fat around the internal organs is far more dangerous, and also a lot less visible. So an underweight person may have fatty deposits around the liver, whereas an overweight person could be fine.

Maybe the answer lies in genetics, but either way it would be good to find out your family history, which could be a good indication of how your body may be working on an inner level.

As always, there are a lot of factors involved and this new information isn’t carte blanche to binge.

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Body Talk 2/9/17

The latest piece of news that left me reeling, and  forced another rethink in terms of diet, was the emerging research that a low fat diet isn’t good for you!!  Apparently people who eat the least fat have the highest mortality rates. This challenges decades of dietary research which has been encouraging us to give up fat.

People with the lowest fat intake were found to be 23% more likely to die young. The scientists were saying instead to eat a high carb diet,including pasta and rice. However a high carb diet is also associated with higher mortality. These new findings add to the uncertainty about what constitutes a healthy diet. This debate is likely to continue for years to come.

The body needs fat, it provides much needed vitamins and minerals, and when you remove it, it hampers the body’s ability to function properly.

This isn’t to be taken too far though and there needs to be a balance so that your diet doesn’t consist wholly of fat and fatty foods which also isn’t healthy.  35% is the optimum, but problems start when people start to go below that level.

If you have ended up as confused as I am over this latest piece of news, I think it’s probably time to take a break from dieting, and come back to it in a month or two when there might be some better news!

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Body Talk 26/8/17

The vegetarian diet really could be a life saver.Plant based diets can actually lower cholesterol. Vegetarians have a higher intake of greens fruits and nuts, which means they have a lower intake of saturated fat. These foods are naturally rich in proteins and plant sterols all of which lower cholesterol.

High cholesterol is associated with coronary heart disease, strokes and vascular disease.

Eating more greens could be a good preventative measure for those who are concerned about their cardiovascular health, to address the problem before its too late.

Cholesterol is a fatty wax like substance that sticks to the cells in your body. Research has found that vegetarians have significantly lower cholesterol than meat eaters.

If cholesterol builds up in the arteries it restricts blood flow which could cause angina or even a heart attack. If blood flow to the brain is restricted it could cause a stroke, and it has also been linked to diabetes and high blood pressure.

Good cholesterol helps to clear the bad cholesterol from the body, working like a hoover to clear the arteries.

People are now becoming more aware of the importance of good nutrition, and the advice is to build your meals around plant based foods which do fit into every cultural template.

It’s never too late to change your diet, but the earlier you start the better it will be to maintain optimal health, in other words, avoiding the problems before they start.

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Body Talk 19/8/17

Taking care of your stomach or gut is very important to your overall health. Yes, that old saying is true, you are what you eat.

The usual signs that you’ve got some gut issues are bloating,cramps, constipation but someof the less recognisable signs are tiredness,brain fog and inabilty to focus.

It would also be beneficial to look at the medications that you are taking, aside from diet and exercise, as these can often affect the way your body absorbs nutrients.

So the signs of good gut health are regular bowel movements,you feel healthy and no foods seem to irritate your tummy.  Wellness itself is a very difficult thing to define.

Try not to eat when stressed as the bowel is very susceptible to emotion, as we know from that feeling of butterflies in our tummy.

The key to good gut health is to eat regular meals and time them well,make sure you get plenty of fibre and of course plenty of fruit and veg.

Exercise and move your body frequently, avoid sugar,fatty foods and refined white carbs such as rice and bread.  Try to consume both probiotics and prebiotics which both promote good gut health.

Avoid eating late in the evening and try to eat your biggest meal of the day before 3pm. Try tio eat your evening meal at least two hours before going to bed, and breakfast should be eaten around 8am to restore the blood sugar levels to normal.

Simple changes in your diet and lifestyle can reap huge rewards.

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Body Talk 12/8/17

According to latest research, regularly getting less than 8 hours sleep a night, can have the same long term effects as alcohol abuse.  For the body, sleep deprivation results in increased risk of obesity, heart attacks and strokes. Insomnia is now called the modern ill, as so many of the poulation are affected.  Apparently being awake fro more than 18 hours results in the same cognitive impairment as being drunk.  It’s so serious that driving when sleep deprived can be as dangerous as driving when drunk.

Researchers have found that people who get less than 6 hours of sleep a night can suffer many health issues. The odd night here and there isn’t a problem, but continual lack of sleep is.

Sleep plays an important role in regulating the hormones that influence hunger. Sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in appetite and result in weight gain.

Your brain becomes less stable the longer you remain awake, it becomes more difficult to focus on specific tasks.

Quite scarily, another piece of research has found that the brain can actually eat itself!  While we’re asleep, little cells like hoovers move around the brain, cleaning it and keeping it healthy. When we’re sleep deprived these little cells don’t work properly and become confused themselves and over clean, resulting in parts of the brain literally being eaten! I have to add that this has only been researched on mice so far, but it still seems a bit worrying.



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Body Talk 5/8/17

We all know that vegetables are good for you, but depending on how we cook them, or not, they can be even better for us. Important folates can be lost in the cooking process, and according to the experts some vegetables are best eaten raw.

Cooking tomatoes brreaks down their thick cell walls and releases the cancer fighting property of lycopene. Eating plenty of lycopene has been linked to a better ability to fight off cancer or to  prevent it. Cooking them has also been found to boost the amount of lycopene found in them.

Cooking mushrooms releases an agent within them that is thought to inhibit tumour growth. When asparagus is cooked, the amount of cancer fighting antioxidants increases too.

Pressure cooking or steaming vegetables is probably the healthiest way to cook them. If you saute them that can be surprisingly healthy too as many vitamins and nutrients in vegetables  are fat soluble, which means the body absorbs them better when there’s fat present.

To contain as many nutrients as possible, vegetables should be cooked for as little time as possible. Boiling them for too long can cause nutrients to leak out into the water.
Members of the brassica family, including, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage should never be cooked if you want to get the best out of them. These vegetables are the best of all, as they contain powerful cancer fighting nutrients,but are probably the ones that are least likely to be eaten raw.

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Body Talk 29/7/17

Instead of looking at the many different types of diets available and opting for the latest most fashionable one on offer, it may be time to think about what we’re eating to suit our age and our lifestyle. As we age our bodies have different needs according to the different phases we are going through. The type of food we eat in our twenties may not be suitable for us in our fifties and vice versa which may explain why our tastes change as we age.

In our twenties we are very active and use up the most calories, so we can get away with eating more, but we do need to make sure that the foods we are eating are wholesome and nutrient rich,s o it isn’t an opportunity to binge on junk foods. The food we eat at this age and the way we treat our body is laying the foundations for when we are older.

By the time we are in our thirties,if we haven’t already completed our family,this is the time to think about fertility issues and keeping your body rich in tip top condition, definitely cutting out junk foods, smoking and drinking, all of which can take their toll on fertility, and this applies to both sexes.

By our forties we can be suffering from the effects of stress from families, finances and other issues. To keep stress at its minimum try increasing the magnesium in your diet from green leafy vegetables and taking up meditation or something equally relaxing to keep anxiety levels low.

In our fifties is when heart health becomes most importan.This is the time when we need to make sure we are getting plenty of regular exercise and eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Taking a collagen supplement coukd be helpful against those signs of aging too.

By our sixties we start to think about our bone strength. Both calcium and vitamin D are important at this time,from dairy products and vegetables. Weight bearing exercise is also very helpful.

As we come into our seventies, muscle strength can become a problem, so staying active and keeping mobile is very important and keeping your diet good by eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

If you folllow these guidelines you’ll stay fit and healthy well into your eighties, nineties and beyond.




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Body Talk 22/7/17

Have you ever considered thatbyour diet may be making youill? Well I’m sure we’ve all thought that at some stage, but do you suffer with a hangover, even though you’ve not consumed any alcohol? If the answer is yes then it may be that you are suffering from a food hangover. Yes new research has proved that this actually happens.

The after effects can be fogginess, iritability,tearfulness and depression, just like the after effects of a night on the booze!

Foods that are high fat, high sugar and starch are to blame. If you eat one or all of these in a day and you find yourself a little worse for wear the next day, most of us would put it down to a tummy bug or similar virus, but we could be misdiagnosing what is going on. When we say it must have been something I ate, that’s true enough but for a different reason.

Our busy lives mean we’re often under stress, which also has a damaging effect on our digestive process and makes symptoms such as bloating, lethargy and brain fog more likely.

 Maybe you crave something sugary and that sets you right back in this negative cycle once
again, only giving you some temporary relief.
If  you want to get back onntrack, try a detox for a day or two, then start to include more fresh
fruit and veg in your diet, and once again the Meditteranean diet is the one to go for. Avoid
processed foods and opt for fresh.
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Body Talk 16/7/16

New research has now revealed both the fittest and the laziest countries. Smart phone data from more than 700,000 people has been collected by scientists to show just how active we all are.

The people of Hing Kong can be proud to know that they are officially the fittest walking and avaerage of 6,880 steps each day, about 3 and a half miles. The people of Indonesia are on the other end of the scale and are the laziest, walking just 3,513 steps per day. By comparison we in the UK manage 5,444 (just less than 3 miles) steps per day, placing us 12th in a very long list of countries, so I guess that means we don’t fare too badly in the fitness stakes.  The US manage just 4,774 steps.

This study is 1,000 times larger than any previous study done of this nature. The average number of daily steps taken worldwide was 4,961, or 2 and a half miles. Canada,Australis and New Zealand also fell below that average.

This data will help to tackle fitness and obesity levels in each country. Strangely, the average number of steps taken had little to do with obesity levels Sweden has one of the biggest gaps between active and inactive people but has one of the lowest rates of obesity.

Interesting findings though, gathered from the Argus App,which is an ongoing study.

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