Author Archives: Mel Watson

Body Talk 22/4/18

Bright electric light in the evenings can suppress melatonin production in young children, which basically interrupts the circadian rhythm,or sleep wake cycle, which can result in poor quality sleep, and possibly other serious problems in the future. Although this research was done with fluorescent lighting, the researchers said it would also apply to the use of mobile phones, tablets etc, late into the evening.

Excess evening light is part of the light pollution problem that many of us experience these days,which can also be from things like street lighting too. One of the causes of depression can be linked to excess exposure to light, another being social isolation, and these could be the reasons that so many more teenagers are suffering with mental health issues.

Migraine affects approximately one in seven people,but a new self injected drug could be the answer for millions of sufferers. This drug blocks pain signals in the brain, and a test group halved their number of headaches. 25 million days are lost each year in this country due to migraines. There has been no real advancement in this area for more than 20 years, so this drug could be the start of changes in this area.

Back pain is also very common but many patients are wrongly prescribed painkillers or told to rest when a few simple stretches and gentle exercise could be the answer, this is more effective than painkillers,which can induce various different reactions, including gastric problems.So check out a therapeutic yoga or pilates class to help ease out your back and maybe even stop the pain naturally.


Body Talk 15/4/18

Exercise is not just good for us,but for future generations too. Research has proved that parents who exercise are more likely to have children with improved abilities to learn.

It can apparently change DNA to the extent that it can enhance decision making and take in new information more easily, but it has only so far been tested on mice, but nevertheless it’s a good reason to get down to the gym! This research follows hot on the heels of another study that claimed dancing can boost your intelligence. People have to learn steps and stay in time to the beat which means they cannot lose concentration, so if the gym doesn’t seem appealing, then join your local dance class.

It has also been suggested that exercise such as walking and running could delay the onset of dementia. Being active several times a week keeps the parts of the brain associated with memory active as well.

Exercise can be seen as a maintenance programme for the brain.

An interesting fact, discovered recently, is that eating cheese three times per week could prevent men from developing osteoporosis. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work the same for women, who are more susceptible to this condition.

Another alarming fact is that tinned tuna contains 100 times more zinc than is safe for us. It’s to do with the canning process and the lining of the tin which is used for its anti-microbial properties and so prolongs shelf life. This is absorbed into the fish, and could be bad for the gut.



Body Talk 1/4/18

Dementia and Alzheimers are now the leading cause of death in the UK. 850,00 people are living with dementia in the UK and that figure is expected to grow in the next 20 years. It is estimated that the global number of dementia deaths will increase by about 40% by 2030.

The good news is that there has been plenty of research into these diseases and how they can be curtailed or prevented by simple lifestyle changes.

The brain needs glucose to function, and so sugar is needed in our diets, but too much is damaging as we know. A far healthier option are the natural sugars of honey and maple syrup. Sweets cookies and cakes,contain a lot of sugar, but not the valuable glucose that is needed by the brain. In general, it is important that your diet contains a wide variety of nutrients, living on take aways is not an option,and eat organic when you can.

High quality dark chocolate is low in sugar and rich in antioxidants, and a small glass of red wine is recommended too.

Brain cells strengthen themselves when they are hungry, so diets, like the 5:2 are very good.

The people who live the longest and healthiest lives, consume less meat, and are active. The mediterranean diet is the best. Olive oil is very good, also being high in antioxidants.

Good diet and plenty of exercise are as always, the keys to good health as we age.





Body Talk 25/3/18

38% of us aren’t getting enough sleep according to recent research, which is incredibly high. Women aged 35 to 44 are the worst affected. Out of 14 countries surveyed, we in the UK were found to be the worst sleepers!

People have been using food and herbs for centuries to help them get to sleep. Everything from cups of milk to camomile tea, but what actually works?

Green, black or white tea have been found to be very calming. They contain an amino acid which can enhance sleep and reduce anxiety. A supplement has also been found to help younger boys with ADHD too. Camomile tea has long been associated with calming and soothing,but it does indeed contain chemicals that do induce sleep, so the old wives tales are correct. In fact it has also been shown to be beneficial to breathe in the scent of camomile, in the form of an essential oil.

Cinnamon nourishes the nervous system by calming the blood sugar levels, which is important because if you find yourself waking in the early hours of the morning it could be due to blood sugar spikes, which wake you up as they drop.

Ginger relaxes the stomach and is soothing for the body in general, and has a calming effect for people suffering with anxiety.

Liquorice has long been used by herbalists as a treatment for depression and anxiety, it is a tonic for the adrenal glands, as is passionfruit.

If you are experiencing difficulty sleeping it would be well worth experimenting with these remedies. They are easy to find in supermarkets, and at worst won’t make any difference, and at best could change your sleep patterns for ever!


Body Talk 18/3/17

Can falling in love make you fat? Well,new research is proving that it does. Cosy nights in watching the tv and snacking all evening is piling on the pounds. Being in a settled relationship really does increase the likelihood of weight gain. Couples weigh more than single people, despite adopting a healthier lifestyle, exercising more and eating better.

Researchers put this down to the fact that you don’t need to be as careful over your appearance when you have already attracted your partner. When couples have children in the household, they will then eat the children’s leftovers too, which all contributes to weight gain.

Date nights and romantic dinners are also to blame, we are now going out to eat more often than ever before and it is a very sociable and fun activity.

For couples in long term relationships, food plays a big part. It tends to be the longer you’ve been together, the more food will be consumed. The food does tend to be healthy though, with more fruit and vegetables being consumed.

Now for some shocking news; apparently recycled toilet water is healthier that tap water, and volunteers even preferred the flavour of the toilet water! Amid fears of a global water shortage, marketing is aiming to promote the benefits of recycled sewage water. Recycled water is safe to drink as all harmful components are flushed out before they reach the drinking supply.  I think it might take a while before we are all ok with that concept!


Body Talk 4/3/18

Intermittent fasting diets have become popular in recent years, and now research has shown that it can improve endurance. Fasting of any kind is going to shed the pounds, but it can have other benefits too.

When paired with moderate aerobic exercise, intermittent fasting may improve endurance. It could be that the average person could benefit by being able to do activities like running or cycling for 20 to 30 minutes longer.

It means that body fat is being burned instead of sugar, or other foods which may have been eaten,and stored body fat is a more efficient energy source.

The 5:2 diets and the Warrior diet are viable ways of losing weight, and researchers are now saying that this kind of diet puts the body into hunter gatherer mode, the way we used to live thousands of years ago, when eating three meals a day wasn’t an option.

Lead researchers have told us that through evolutionary processes the brain may work at its best with intermittent fasting, and it may also be beneficial to health issues like diabetes.

Intermittent dietary energy restriction can enhance the beneficial effects of aerobic exercise on endurance performance.

More research is needed to examine the effectiveness of these findings, but it is looking very positive.

Body Talk 25/2/18

Antidepressants are the latest thing to be hitting the news headlines. Latest research has concluded that they do work, and more people should be taking them. The study included 120,000 people, and the researchers said that only one in 6 people are receiving the correct medication for their condition and that antidepressants are the answer for depression and not enough people are getting access to them.

Poor access to medication would not be acceptable if it were for other treatments like diabetes, and so they researched 21 different antidepressants and monitored the effects. The study found that some were more effective than others, but all were more effective than a placebo.

They found that those suffering from loss of self worth, tiredness and stress would all benefit from treatment. This clearly shows that these drugs do help in lifting mood, despite the fact that we already prescribe more antidepressants in this country than in most other countries.

Antidepressants have traditionally received a bad press but this research does prove that they are effective in the management of depression.

Personally, I do feel that other pastimes which relieve stress and help to settle the mind could also be useful. Mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, massage and many other natural therapies have also been proven to help with the relief of depression.

Ultimately, we are fortunate to have the ability to choose and also to monitor how each of these things may work for us as individuals, so make sure you continually assess treatments that you are receiving.

Body Talk 11/2/18

When it comes to showering,most people will either have one first thing in the morning or last thing at night. But which is correct? Some experts say that a shower in the evening aids sleep, whereas others say a morning shower is best to kick start the day.

Both have their pros and cons. An evening shower washes off the dirt and sweat of the day, which gives you a better sleep and better skin. By the end of the day your body is covered in all sorts of allergens which can irritate the skin. If nothing else you should be cleaning your face to cleanse off all the excess oils and prevent spots or acne from developing.

Showers help to regulate the body’s temperature, and can work as a stress reliever too, regulating the adrenal glands. Skin regenerates at night and you will shed lots of dead skin cells, which is why it’s important to wash your face before bedtime, giving the new skin cells a chance to flourish. However,that is also a good case for showering in the morning, to get rid of all the dead skin.

A morning shower can help you, if you’re feeling stressed, to be a little more creative. Your cognitive processes relax,renew and regenerate. For men, warm water can soften the skin and help with shaving.

Don’t shower too much either, as it can dry out the skin and deplete your body of its natural lubricants.

So there is no conclusive evidence which is best, so maybe a mixture of the two to find out which works best for you.

Body Talk 4/2/18

Is fat good for you? It’s being seen as a much more healthy option theses days. For many years skimmed or semi skimmed milk has been viewed as better for you, but it seems now that full fat milk may be good for your heart.

It boosts levels of good cholesterol in the bloodstream,and bad cholesterol wasn’t increased. Other studies have also shown that full fat dairy is linked to lower levels of diabetes. Their findings add weight to the idea that full fat milk is no worse than low fat and may even be better for you.

Volunteers who ate low fat or full fat cheese over a three week test period were found to have no change in their cholesterol levels. We have been told by the experts to opt for low fat dairy, and that has blossomed into a multi million pound industry, but it seems that we may not be reaping the benefits we were told to expect.

What will lower your cholesterol is a plant based diet. If we eat more grains,fruit and nuts,we will have less saturated fat intake.Vegetarians were found to have less cholesterol than meat eaters.

So maybe what we take from this is that a vegetarian diet is the best option, and then we can include full fat dairy, which seems to be beneficial, contrary to the message we have been given over the years.

Body Talk 28/1/18

Are you getting enough sleep.7 to 9 hours of sleep allows the body to regenerate itself and could be the best form of attack when it comes to the latest flu virus that’s doing the rounds.

Many people are dying from flu related causes, and lack of sleep can make the flu vaccine less effective and is related to heart problems too. The National Sleep Foundation recommend 9 to 11 hours of sleep for children aged 6 to 13, and 8 to 10 hours for teenagers and 8 hours of sleep for 18 and over.

There are four different stages of sleep,the first one is when we’re just dropping off and it can be easy to wake up again. The other stages are light sleep, deep sleep and rapid eye movement sleep.

Deep sleep which starts around 35 minutes after falling asleep is when the immune system regroups itself and regenerates its immune responses. Sleep deprivation therefore can weaken the immune system.

Sleep deprivation can have the same impact on the system as stress. When a sleep deprived person gets a flu shot only half the antibodies will develop. With more deep sleep you can stave off viruses, and the general medical opinion is that we would all be healthier in general.

Health officials are urging everyone to wash their hands and stay away from others with germs, but it would also appear to be equally as important to get enough sleep.