Author Archives: Mel Watson

Body Talk 12/11/17

Have you been a victim of fad dieting? There are so many diets, and all of them claim to have the ability to make you lose weight.

This isn’t a new problem, since the beginning of time it seems, we have been trying our best to shed those extra pounds. Thousands of years and we still don’t seem to have the answer.

The lengths that some people will go to to get their desired figure is amazing. In 1028 when William the Conqueror was born people were still waging their own inner battle with food. He was healthy for most of his life but as he got older the pounds started to pile on, so he tried a a liquid diet, which consisted of mostly alcohol. He lost enough weight to start riding his horse again but a riding accident lead to an untimely death, maybe that was connected with his liquid diet.

In 1558, another liquid alcohol diet emerged that claimed it could make you live longer. This diet consisted of 12 ounces of food and 14 ounces of wine. Rumor has it that its inventor lived to 102, but that’s not one I would recommend.

In the 1960’s the drinking man’s diet was introduced. This consisted of manly foods like steak and fish and as much alcohol as desired. There are no testimonials that this worked, surprisingly.

Lord Byron, accredited his healthy weight to vinegar and water. This is still around today as the cider vinegar diet, apparently 3 teaspoons of cider vinegar before each meal will curb your food cravings.

These are just some of the more unusual diets that I’ve come across, there are many more I’m sure. The key to dieting, I believe, is finding what works for you, and making it about not just diet but lifestyle.

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Body Talk 5/11/17

Do you suffer with brain fog? The sense of confusion, like walking into a room and forgetting why you’re there. It’s more common than you think and there could be some very simple reasons why it is happening. Other symptoms are forgetfulness or an inability to focus. Doctors say it can happen to anyone at any age.

Your diet or a vitamin deficiency could be to blame. Stress or lack of sleep could also be contributing factors. Your brain works hard 24 hours a day and it needs fuel to keep it going, so you should be eating a healthy diet. Food allergies can contribute to the symptoms. Eating an anti inflammatory diet could help. Foods rich in antioxidants like blueberries are good too.

Because chronic inflammation is linked to brain fog and also a lack of b vitamins and vitamin c; vitamin b12 and folates are important for normal brain functioning.

Alcohol and caffeine can also mess with our brains. Binge drinking as a teenager before the brain is developed can have long lasting effects on the adult brain.

Caffeine is a stimulant known to improve mental alertness but too much can lead to insomnia which in turn will impair mental function. You may find that giving up caffeine gives you a headache, that’s due to the toxins leaving your body, so you may want to gradually wean off it.

Not sleeping enough has been linked to a host of health conditions. Most experts say that seven to eight hours a night is best, and that means not sleeping in at the weekends too, regular sleep patterns are vital to the optimum functioning of the brain.  If you suffer from disrupted sleep it may help to use ear plugs or an eye mask to block out noise or light.

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Body Talk 29/10/17

What are the ingredients in the food that you are eating? The saying goes that you are what you eat, but do you know what it is that you are actually eating?

By looking at the list of ingredients on the packaging, it isn’t always easy to work out what the manufacturer means. Would you still be eating the same foods if you knew how much sugar, salt and fat they contained!

Tomato ketchup may seem healthy, but nearly a quarter of it is sugar, whilst it may be low in salt and approximately three quarters tomatoes, that is a lot of sugar to be consuming, especially if you are a ketchup lover.

Crisps we know are bad for us, but maybe you’re not aware just how bad. Kettle chips market themselves as being more wholesome, if that is possible with a crisp, but they are nearly a third fat from sunflower oil. At least sunflower oil is better for your cholesterol levels, however do try to use them as a treat rather than every day.

Dark soy sauce may seem innocuous, but at 15% salt and 25% sugar, it could seriously be taking a toll on your health. 25% sugar is the same amount as in a bottle of squash, and whilst you are obviously not drinking it like squash it is nevertheless something to be used in moderation.

Heinz beans are not as innocent either at 0.6% salt , 4.7% sugar and just 51% beans, that’s only half, the rest is tomatoes and flavorings.

The light version of Flora spread is an amazing 65% water! That’s why it’s light. I’m not a chef but surely getting the ordinary version and watering it down would be more cost effective.

Do check the ingredients for what you are actually getting for your money, and it is true, some of the unbranded supermarket versions do offer less expensive and sometimes healthier options.


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Body Talk 22/10/17

The Victorians really did have some strange ideas about health and what was good for you. So strange that it’s a wonder any body survived.

It wasn’t unusual for cocaine to be used as pain relief or for women to place weasel testicles in their bosom as a contraceptive! I think it may have worked better for the weasel population than humans.

Cocaine was widely used during routine surgery, and was used for piles and toothache, and marketed for children too. Coca cola also contained an estimated 9 milligrams of cocaine per glass, because it’s inventor wanted to make the world a happier place.

Then there was the tapeworm diet, which worked on the basis that you could eat all you want because the tapeworms inside you would eat all the food. The tapeworms usually arrived dead in the post which was probably just as well as all sorts of other problems could be created by eating them alive. Tapeworms can grow to 30 feet long!

Human fat was believed to have healing properties. Mans grease was used for wound healing, pain relief, gout  and an aphrodisiac. It could even be used in cosmetics,particularly good for smallpox scars.

Radioactive water was considered good for you too. A special piece of equipment called a revigator was designed to keep  by your bed so you could have a constant supply of radioactive water.

Mercury was used to cure depression, flu and constipation, and for childrens’ teething powders.

Heroin was named as it  made users feel mighty or heroic, and could help clear the complexion and regulate the bowels, and could help people who had become addicted to morphine.

Thank goodness for modern medicine!



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Body Talk 15/10/17

Fitness gurus and nutritionists have now been talking about the 8 hour diet or 16:2. It basically means that you eat for eight hours a day and fast for the other 16. No, it isn’t an excuse to eat as much as you can in eight hours, for those times set aside for eating, you do so with thought and with your health in mind,but not counting calories.So there are no forbidden foods as such, but you are encouraged to eat more healthily.

Those who follow it, eat breakfast at 10am, lunch at 2pm and dinner at 6pm, then nothing until  10am the next day. This is achievable, as you have specific mealtimes, allowing plenty of time for your body to digest each one, then giving your body a complete break overnight, hopefully kick starting it into fat burning mode.

By practising intermittent fasting you give your body and gut a chance to digest, rest and heal. It can also increase the speed of cell recycling and regeneration, which means we get sick less and experience less pain. It can also lower cancer risk.

If you eat whole foods you won’t feel hungry, eat good wholesome foods that will make you feel full.

We live in a world obsessed with snacks,so it can be difficult at first, but we are reliably told that after two weeks,you will be experiencing the benefits.

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Body Talk 7/10/17

The latest diet to make the headlines is advocating just one meal a day. This approach may not suit everyone though, as any kind of fasting does place a gentle stress on the body.

The British Dietetic Association warns people that they may feel hungry on this diet and also may mean that they would be lacking in vital nutrients. On the other hand, the diet offers an easier time without the need for too much food preparation or juicing etc.

Followers of this one meal a day plan should listen to their instincts and eat when they are hungry and make sure they are getting all of the nutrients their body needs.

This shouldn’t be used as an excuse to binge on that one meal, although research suggests that if you fast but don’t necessarily reduce your calorie intake, you can still lose weight. They also aren’t sure as yet how or why this should be.

The inventor of this diet, Dr Van Tulleken, lost 6 stone! He starts his day with a couple of cups of black coffee, then fasts all day and waits till evening before having a large and satisfying meal, without worrying about calorie counting.  That way he goes to bed feeling full and contented.

This doesn’t mean that you can binge on pizza and ice cream, but if you stick to healthy eating principles with the occasional treat, you’ll be fine.




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Body Talk 1/10/17

Scientists have now discovered that the onset of dementia can be detected by a simple smelling test.That’s correct smelling! It seems to be the sense that is affected the most, several years before the start of the disease. If detected it could be possible to reverse the symptoms.

This research discovered that the worse the sense of smell, the more likely dementia was to develop in old age.

Peppermint, fish, orange, rose and leather were the smells that were used. They can be used as an early warning system and take it as time to maybe change diet and lifestyle to protect your health into old age.

Dementia can go unnoticed for an incredible 20 years as the body goes into a slow decline. Five years after the test participants started to be monitored, all of those who had no sense of smell were all displaying signs of dementia, and nearly all of those who only provided one or two correct answers also had those same signs.

This simple test could provide a quick and inexpensive way to identify those who are already at high risk. Of all human senses, smell is the most undervalued and underappreciated until it’s gone. Other senses may also play a part in dementia detection, but it seems the olfactory sense could be the most important.

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Body Talk 23/9/17

What keeps your body alive? How does it know to do what it does to keep you healthy?

Keeping your core body temperature stable is vital to our survival. It needs to stay at 37.5 C. Even at rest your body generates enough energy to run a light bulb. If you get up to a sprint and you’re extremely fit, you’ll have enough energy to boil a kettle. We obviously need to shed that heat, otherwise you would literally boil yourself, so our bodies have a very efficient way of keeping us cool which is sweating. If you prevent yourself from sweating you could die quite quickly.

We grow more in the first few months of our life than at any other time. We grow 30cm in the first year. If you continued growing at that rate, you’d end up about 10 feet tall by the age of 10!

The more energy your brain demands, the less your body grows, so in childhood the brain demands a huge amount of energy which slows down body growth.

For the past few decades science believed that our short term memories were formed first, then after a period of time they are transferred deeper into the brain to become long term memories. Research is now finding that both short and long term memories are imprinted at exactly the same time. It takes about two weeks for a long term memory to be formed and the short term memory to fade.

There is no prime age for a human being either. Peak physical performance could be viewed as being in your twenties, but now we are seeing competitive sports people performing outstandingly well into their forties. The brain,however,performs better when it is younger.

It may well be many years before we fully understand how and why all of these systems function, one thing is for sure though, good diet and plenty of exercise will definitely preserve our good health well into our older years.

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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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