Author Archives: Mel Watson

About Mel Watson

I have been with Phoenix FM since April 2007 - I came in to be interviewed about yoga just after the station launched in March, and enjoyed it so much that my own show - Body Talk - was born. On Body Talk I cover a different health topic every week and interview top healthcare profesionals including doctors, surgeons, healers, reflexologists and life coaches. I feel that all therapies have their place in today's world, and some of the more alternative methods can easily complement convential medicine. I have been a yoga and meditation teacher for over 20 years, am a qualified hypnotherapist, and I have also trained in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Emotional Freedom Technique, Reiki, Lucid Dreaming and Dream Therapy. I run regular classes at the Brentwood Centre as well as private one to one sessions. I've walked a spiritual path for most of my life and outside of radio and teaching I'm an Independent Celebrant. I officiate at Weddings, Naming Ceremonies, Spiritual Blessings and Funerals. You can find out more at www.blessmysoul.co.uk.

Body Talk 15/7/18

Dieting is more about the approach than the diet itself. It is about changing our mindset, shift your mind and shift the pounds.

Think about the diet you have chosen for yourself, if you are finding it particularly difficult to stick to it may not be the right one for you. What works for one person won’t work for eveyone. We all have different dietary habits and needs, so it is important to work out a diet that suits you.

Some of us might crave a cup of tea and a biscuit, whereas others might need pasta or other carbs. We often have habits that go back to our childhood and stopping those could be too much to handle. We may even have a fear of not having enough food which can spiral us into another emotional nightmare. Dieting is not as simple as it may seem.

We are constantly bombarded with messages from advertisers and scientists alike about what is good for us. Any diet is morelikely to work when you are ready for it, if you feel resentful then chances are it won’t work. You need to make yourself a priority.

Fasting is the most fashionable diet currently, but it can be damaging for the heart. There is an excess of fat disposal in the body which can be dangerous if you have an existing heart condition. This does level out after a few weeks though.

If in any doubt get your health checked out before embarking on any extreme diet plan.


Body Talk with special guest Helen Knox

My guest in the studio today was Helen Knox. Helen is a sexual health specialist,  she writes a monthly 5-6 page “column” for the main health magazine in the Eastern Caribbean, for Barbados’ Nation Corporation’s Better Health Magazine, which she started about 15 years ago!  She’s written 4 books and has an accredited training programme that she’s converting for e-learning at the moment; plus a very busy sexual health website – WillyWorries.com

Helen was very informative about sexual health issues, which don’t just affect the younger generation. With many older people divorcing or separating, and starting new relationships in their 40’s 50’s 60’s and 70’s plus, there is a whole new sector of society who need to be aware of the health risks of having a succession of different partners.

Although contraception may not be an issue for post menopausal ladies, there is still a need to use adequate protection. There is no such thing as being able to tell if your prospective partner is clean. Many different viruses can go undetected, but can easily be passed on by a carrier. Nobody is ever too old or too healthy to use a condom!

Helen’s two recent books, Sexplained One and Two, are a mine of information. If you have any concerns you can find just about anything in in them for both sexes. There are full colour pictures detailing various different STD’s, so if you are in any doubt you will certainly find an answer here. Both books are available to download, as well

This was a very informative interview and I’m hoping Helen will be able to join us again soon.


Body Talk 1/7/18

Migraines are the third most common complaint across the world. At least 3,000 headaches occur every day for every million of the population.That’s a lot of headaches.

Getting them is often a mystery and curing them is even more so. Migraines could be costing the UK economy around £3.3 billion every year.

There are a few things you can try at home to help keep them at bay, like stretching, keeping hydrated and taking magnesium supplements.

Understanding you headache is is important as there are different kinds, the most common being a tension headache which is tightness across the temples and the back of the head. These tend to be not as severe as the other types. They rarely cause nausea or stop people from doing normal daily activities, they are generally due to muscle tightness and can be due to poor posture, bad diet, eyestrstrain or driving.

Cluster headaches are typically occur in groups or cycles, and can come on quite suddenly. They generally affect men more than women and can cause watery eyes, nasal congestion and restlessness. Researchers have found a link between high melatonin and cortisol levels, whoch would indicate high levels of stress.

Then there are migraines characterised by a severe throbbing pain at the front or sides of the head. Other symptoms are nausea, sensitivity to light and stars across your eyes. Due to the severity they can stop you from performing normal activities. They can make you sensitive to light and noise, flickering light and temperature changres. Allergies can also trigger an attack, along with emotional stress and tiredness or poor posture. Nutrient deficiencies, dehydration hormonal triggers and foods like red wine, fish, chicken, beans or aspartame, along with many others.

Long term use of medications can bring on side effects, and isn’t good for the liver. A new bioresonance test can help identify the root cause of the headache. It has been shown to be almost as effective as a blood test.  Many people have been shown to have low magnesium levels, which is a muscle relaxant, as are lavender and peppermint oil. So it may be worth a trip to the local health store before reaching for the tablets.

 

 


Body Talk 24/6/18

When it comes to the common cold we all suffer in differing ways, from the almost deadly man flu to light sniffles. Scientists have been working on a cure for mamy years, but is it possible?

They feel they may be coming close, but there are so many different varieties of cold, and it mutates so quickly, that no sooner is a cure identified than it changes once again.

It is believed that a cure could be found within the next ten years.

The most common variety is rhinovirus, which affects about 50% of the population. Children will get 5 – 10 colds per year and adults 3-5. There are over 160 different strains, so it is difficult to make a one size fits all cure. There have been cures found for some of these strains, but no sooner is it cured than it mutates into something else.

So until that day comes we may have to stick to more traditional methods of coping. Most of us will suffer colds, very few of us escape and it is estimated that there are around 2 million colds in London each year!

One of the easiest ways to catch a cold is by someone sneezing.That sneeze can travel upto 90 mph, and is breathed in by all around. So do remember to cover your nose when yousneeze!


Body Talk 17/6/18

Scientists have finally done some positive research into the benefits of taking herbs and have found that there can be many benefits such as feeling calm, sleeping better and feeling more positive. They do this by increasing or reducing nerve cell activity. Botanical brain balms contain a range of ingredients with different remedies.Traditional plant medicines have a long legacy of safe use, having been taken for thousands of years.

Chilli oil is a very effective skin oil for aches and pains. It has been shown to reduce post shingles pain and back pain. It contains cayenne papper which knocks out receptors in the brain which induce pain.

If your memory is beginning to fail it may well be that you need to use a little lemon balm and sage to boost those little grey cells. Sage has been found to enhance memory and alertness and has also been found to be helfpful with Alzheimers.

White Willow is used for gout, sciatica and fevers as it contains aspirin, and has been found to be effective in studies for lower back pain. In some cases it has been shown to be as good if not more effective than aspirin, and doesn’t cause internal bleeding which can happen with aspirin.

Sage and lemon balm have been proven to improve recall, and you can use sage as a good antibiotic spray too on work surfaces.


Body Talk 10/6/18

Sometimes our diets go a bit too far, and we can get hooked . Eating disorders affect about 30 million Americans , and are mental illnesses, characterised by severe disruption to eating patterns. Full recovery is possible but it takes a long time. The causes can be many and varied; trauma, loss, illness, genetics are just a few, but whatever the cause it is sderious and often overlooked in today’s diet based culture.

The most imporytant action that a person can take on the road to recovery is to stop dieting. Food restriction and binging and purging are all too common in this disorder, so any kind of food regime is to be abandoned, and instead the focus turns to the reasons for the actions, and building self esteem.

It’s necessary to address the factors that maintain the disorders. It might include monitoring food intake and avoiding eating socially. It’s important to find different strategies around food and eating behaviours.

Continued concern for weight and shape is a safety behaviour that might indicate relapse, and asking about your size and shape and continually checking in the mirror.

Unconditional permission to eat is the exact opposite of an eating disorder. Food rules prompted study participants to over indulge.The freedom to eat when needed is an important part of trust and self care.

You have to learn to trust yourself and to respond to the signals that your body gives you.

 

 


Body Talk 3/6/18

Arthritis and asthma medication reduces the effects of Parkinson’s and is paving the way for new research. People who took this medication were found to suffer 20% less tremors.

It is possible that Parkinsons may be triggered by an over active immune system which the drugs work to reduce. Researchers are currently investigating people who have been newly diagnosed and hopefully those results willl be available soon. In addition research is also being carried out on a cocktail of medication which will assist the brain to repair itself, which will also be of use to patients who have suffered a stroke and also those who may be susceptible to Alzheimers.

It has also been reported in various studies that it is very bad for you if you don’t get the right amount of sleep, and, rather alarmingly, it has been found that the brain actually starts to eat itself if it doesn’t get that sleep healing time!

If you don’t get enough sleep your body goes into overdrive and certain of your brain cells start to eat each other, which may be why sleep is more important as you get older and those who don’t sleep well are more likely to report dementia onset and Alzheimers.

Women who sleep too much or too little had a 70% greater chance of having a stroke. The optimum amount of sleep has now been set at 7 hours. Prevention is better than cure, so make sure you get a good night’s sleep.

 


Body Talk 27/5/18

Insomnia is a very difficult subject to come to tems with, but unfortunately is all too common these days. There are a host of theories as to why it should happen; medical, nutritional and psychological. All of them have their benefits,there is no one answer to this ever growing problem.

There is also an increased risk of death, according to new research.A long term sleep study revealed chronic insomnia sufferers are more likely to die of any cause. The researchers found that lack of sleep can actually induce other severe health conditions.

The usual route is to take prescription medicines, but they can have many side effects including insomnia, which is rather ironic, and depression.

There are other things that you can do, more natural alternatives. Melatonin is a natural hormone which regulates the body clock, slow release melatonin was found to be a safe and effective treatment for more elderly sufferers.

L-tryptophan which is found in chocolate, oats, turkey and peanuts can also help to improve sleep quality. 5HTP a related compound, is also a promising treatment.

You coiud have low magnesium levels, especially if you suffer from restless leg syndrome. Vitamin B12 levels are also a possible cause if they are too low.

There are also many plant based remedies that have been linked to aiding sleep. Valerian, which is now a top selling naturalsleep aid. Hops, lemon balm, passionflower and chamomile are also useful too.

 


Body Talk 20/5/18

500,000 people in the Uk are apparently suffering from Coeliac Disease without even knowing it. It’s a disease where the body attacks itself, sending out antibodies to attack cells which it believes are harmful. Their body triggers an immune response to gluten in the gut and the immune system sends out responses which aren’t all tummy related.

It can often be misdiagnosed, which means that many are suffering. It can be that children miss days of school,adults miss days of work;  it can trigger depression, and, in terms of ongoing health, it can have a huge impact on life.

It isn’t all doom and gloom though, the symptoms can be reversed by cutting gluten out of the diet. Although it’s a problem that affects the gut, symptoms can be varied. Gastrointestinal problems are common, nausea, diarhoea and constipation can be wrongly linked to IBS.

Mouth ulcers can also be linked, and can be a symptom of a generally run down immune system.

Tiredness is almost an everyday symptom,but can also be linked to gluten intolerance.

Skin rashes can also be a problem, a rash like dermatitis can appear on the elbows and knees, and can be easily tested.

Anaemia can occur too, as can deficiencies in B vitamins.

Neurological problems can become apparent too. Co-ordination, balance and speech can be affected.

So there are a surprising range of symptoms that can be connected to Coeliac disease, if you feel that you can identify with these things then it may be time to visit your doctor and get tested,or try your own experimentation and try leaving gluten out of your diet and see if you can identify any changes as a result.

 


Body Talk 13/5/18

Love conquers all, so they say, but could being in love be bad for you?

You could be addicted to your partner in the same way as you can be addicted to drugs, food or alcohol! There are different signs that will tell if you are addicted to your partner. When the thrill of new love dies down, and the addiction sets in.

If you have to be with your partner constantly, this could be un unhealthy sign. If you annoy your friends to the extent that you have to be with them whatever the event, and it is invading your and their lives.

If you are regularly skipping work to see your partner, things could be getting out of control.

Maybe you are constantly buying presents for your partner or getting into debt because of them.

Time spent together should be enjoyable, if you don’t have other people or things in your life,things can become a little strained.
You may feel anxious when they’re not around, like when you go to bed at night,, or when you’re at work.

You should be able to enjoy time alone with your friends, and so should they, and if you can’t stop texting them while you’re out, that relationship may be unhealthy.

If you bump into their ex and get angry,if you pick fights about petty things, and if you feel  ecstatic when you’re together and miserable when they’re apart all could be signs of addiction.

If the housework doesn’t get done and if you were used to be spending time with friends and family and now you never see them, it could be time to have a rethink.

Set boundaries and start to love yourself first, and don’t be afraid to seek professional help. If you have an addictive personality, it is easy to become addicted to anything at all. Watch out for the signs.


Body Talk 6/5/18

Omega 3’s are essential fats that our bodies can’t make themselves,but are crucial for our heart and overall health. You can find them in flaxseeds and oily fish, poultry, omega 9 are found in cashews. Omega 7 can be found in salmon and anchovies, olive oil and macadamia.

News is just emerging as well that Sea Buckthorn is also a rich source of Omega 7.  The nutrients found in Sea Buckthorn oil is essential for the health of the mucus membranes, whose function is to keep our eyes, skin, mouth and intimate areas well lubricated.

They also have anti inflammatory effects, and could help to stave off hayfever. It’s great for vegetarians and vegans who don’t eat fish oil.

It can help with dry eyes which affect about 30% of the population.

It is great for the skin as it helps with the production of collagen,and can help with psoriasis and eczema, and mouth ulcers.

It can alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth and aid the production of saliva.

A diet rich in oily fish and green beans could help delay the menopause,but those who eat pasta and white rice and other refined carbohydrates could speed it up. Research has found that the natural age for menopause is 51, but those who ate green beans, peas, oily fish grapes and poultry delayed it for about a year, whereas those who were eating the refined carbohydrates started a year earlier.

So try to avoid, pasta, white rice, white bread, cakes and biscuits, not just for the menopause but for your health in general.


Body Talk 20/4/18

What effect is social media having on us all?

The older generation often worry about it’s effect on young people, but it is also taking its toll on those of us who aren’t so young!

It can cause anxiety and depression in the upper age groups too. Research has found that those aged 30-40 could be suffering more than we realise, and could be making that mid-life crisis worse. They are more likely to report problems with mental health, while those aged 18-29 are more likely to suffer no harm as they have grown up with it as a normal part of everyday life.

After 30 people are more likely to dwell on their life and compare to others in terms of what they have achieved and how successful they seem to be.

In their desire to validate accomplishments, they compare themselves to their peers, and, of course, the posts always look great, which may not be a true reflection of reality, but to those on the outside looking in, it can make them feel as though they don’t measure up.

The research found that 22% of those over 30 were receiving treatment for depression, but this wasn’t the case for those under 30. It may be because the younger generation stay in contact and don’t notice the changes so much, whereas the older generation are suddenly making contact with people after many years and can often be surprised by the difference in the lives of their peers.

Also the under 30’s are much more comfortable with sharing their innermost thoughts and problems online, and so have a built in support system.

Facebook in particular has been in the media a lot recently, and not in a good way, however, it has to be said that if used in a positive way it can be helpful to connect with groups and individuals who can enhance your life too. It all depends on the way you use it!


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.