Choose Health

beta glucanWe all know that it’s important for us to exercise. The government have even given out guidelines that specify exactly how much exercise we should all be doing.

However, deep down, we already know what the government is telling us. We know that the more regularly you exercise, the healthier you are, the more energy you have and the more resilient you are when it comes getting sick.

Yet, when work and family and one hundred other commitments get in the way it can be a lot more difficult to fit in exercise, or anything else for that matter. So, what can you do?

Apart from the obvious, (taking the stairs instead of the lift, getting off of the bus a stop earlier and even swapping the bus commute for a bike commute instead), there is another option. Choose to exercise.

It sounds ridiculous, but when you actually make time for exercise, regardless of all of your other commitments, it is actually proven to boost not only your health and well-being, but your happiness levels too.

By taking time out, and actually focusing on your health it will help you to de-stress and help you to get back to your own personal equilibrium.

By choosing to exercise you are not just saying that exercise is the most important thing that you can do, but you are giving yourself an opportunity to look after yourself, admit that your health is important and to promote self-care.

Self-care is important as whatever else goes on in your life that may hinder your progress, if you take on the responsibility for looking after yourself and making yourself feel good you will be able to make these good emotions last longer.

Obviously exercising and looking after yourself isn’t going to guarantee a lifetime of happiness, but it certainly helps. Sometimes looking after yourself is your bodies best defence.

Insomnia

beta glucanWhen you don’t get a good night’s sleep you can find yourself becoming irritable, rundown and generally ‘off’.

However, what if it was not just one night’s sleep that was missing?

What if, like 30% of the current population of the UK right now, you suffered from insomnia.

Insomnia, according to medical definitions can include anything from 7 days to three weeks of sleepless nights, or nights where sleep is continuously disturbed without the full sleep cycle being completed.

After this period, professionals usually start to recommend medication to help you to sleep.

Primarily this is because sleep is needed for your body to operate properly.

Without sleep, insomnia can lead to relationship breakdowns, emotional issues and the increased likelihood of illness.

When you look at the statistics, 30% doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you think that this applies to 1 in every 10 people that you meet, and that they haven’t slept properly in around three weeks, the seriousness of insomnia is apparent. However, there are some things that can help.

Before doctors give out medication, they usually try other things, and ask you to try other things too.

Some things are as simple as asking you to create a sort of bedtime ritual, so that you do the same thing every night before getting into bed.

This helps your brain to get ready for bed, the same as your body, and is a lot more effective than watching TV right before sleep and then expecting to fall into a deep slumber.

In fact, cutting out any TV/ computer/ phone use for an hour before bed is also recommended.

Sometimes our brain really does need to just switch off. Cognitive behavioural therapy may also be used to treat insomnia, to override whatever it is that is stopping you from sleeping.

Sleeping is an important function, and plays an important part in our bodies’ immune system.

The more sleep that we get, the healthier we are, and the more living we can actually do!

The Seafood Diet

beta glucanMany people swear by the seafood diet, and when we look over to countries that regularly consume fish (like Spain, Italy and France) it seems almost strange that we don’t eat more of it.

However, there is still some debate regarding the seafood diet and if it is safe due to the sheer amount of seafood that is involved.

It has even been recommended that pregnant women and young children should not be fed this diet because it may harm them.

But what exactly is the seafood diet and what does it involve?

The seafood diet is a week long diet where seafood is used as your main source of daily protein.

This does not mean that you cannot eat other food such as rice or vegetables, but it does mean eating fish at least once a day for a week and cutting out any unhealthy snacks.

This diet is popular with people that are very aware of their health as it is rich in omega -3, is lower in fat than other meats, it contains lots of B Vitamins and minerals, and of course is a huge source of protein.

When consumed as part of a healthy diet there is nothing wrong with the seafood diet.

However, the main reason that it is thought to be slightly dangerous for people, especially the young and the pregnant is the concerns regarding mercury.

When we humans have oil spills and dump toxic sludge into oceans and rivers we pollute them.

This pollution has an adverse affect on the fish that live in that area.

If the fish have ingested the pollution, they have also ingested mercury.

In high doses mercury is incredibly poisonous to humans and so even though fish usually contain small levels of it, eating lots of fish is looked upon as a bad idea.

Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with eating fish as part of a balanced diet!

Need An Energy Boost?

beta glucanFeeling drained and sluggish is a problem that everyone faces now and then, however it is also a problem that can be helped with a little diet change (and perhaps a little more sleep!).

Tiredness and sluggishness lends itself to bad eating habits.

When you are feeling drained the last thing that you want to be doing is cooking a homemade meal packed full of fruits and vegetables, with meat on the side and a fancy desert.

However, what we eat does have massive effect on how we feel and in turn our energy levels.

In addition, how often we eat can also play a huge part in how energetic we feel.

This does not mean that snacking on crisps throughout the day will help to beat fatigue, but it does mean that eating little (healthy!) snacks often throughout the day can often leave you more energised than eating a huge meal at lunch and then feeling full and drowsy throughout the rest of the afternoon.

The top three foods that are amazing to snack on, and that will give you that energy boost you need to keep you going include the following:

Green Peppers

Green peppers are great for keeping you energised!

Just cut them up and pop them in your lunch box to snack on throughout the day.

Not only are they delicious, they are also high in iron.

Iron is one of the best minerals for preventing fatigue and can also be found in red meat and breakfast cereal. Yet another reason not to skip breakfast in the morning!

Scrambled Egg on Toast

If you have a little more time, this is perfect!

Combining dairy and carbohydrates in one meal, it is not only balanced but a high-energy afternoon snack!

Fruit

Particularly bananas.

They are a great pick-me up for afternoons where you just aren’t getting anything done.

You can even pop one in a sandwich for lunch instead of going out and spending lots of money on a shop-made one.

Delicious!

The Truth About Multivitamins

beta glucanIf you look in the kitchen cupboard or in the drawers, I’m sure that you’ll find at least one container of multivitamins.

Marketed at both men and women, multivitamins are a part of everyday life for most people.

This is particularly true as we are more aware of what we should be eating. So when we are unable to eat the portions of fruit and veg we think we should be eating, we think that multivitamins are a good substitute.

However, over the past couple of years there has been more and more press coverage regarding multivitamins and their level of efficiency, especially the headlines that declare all multivitamins a waste of time.

Unlike Beta Glucan, the effects of multivitamins have to be tracked via long-term usage to see any difference, and as such, it is generally harder to analyse their affect.

This is predominantly true as the levels of vitamins and minerals can vary on their own through a person’s diet.

This means that although there is some evidence that multivitamins do little to improve cardiovascular health and stop cardiovascular disease, it hasn’t yet been found if they make a difference to an individual’s overall health, particularly if they are taken in addition to a balanced diet.

It has however been proven that multivitamins do nothing to harm your health.

Via randomized control trials (RCT’s), scientists have found that even when people decided to take themselves off of multivitamins their health levels did not change dramatically.

This means that even though tests are inconclusive, taking multivitamins is not necessarily a bad thing.

If for example you know that you are eating badly, multivitamins may be used to increase your nutrient levels for that period of time.

However, if you consistently have a bad diet and are using multivitamins as a way of replacing the nutrients you should be getting from food, it probably won’t help much. When it comes to vitamins and minerals fresh is always best.

Dried Fruit – The Facts

beta glucanLet’s face it. Dried fruit is delicious and because it’s fruit it is a great alternative to crisps and chocolate.

However, despite the fact that it is an obvious alternative to the more conventional “unhealthy” foods, are the processes that it goes through to become dried foods destroying it’s goodness?

And, is dried fruit really as healthy for us as we think it is?

The facts:

 When fruit is “dried” it literally has all of the water removed from it.

This means that it is still the same fruit, but without the water content.

As with anything that has the water removed from it, when a fruit is dried it decreases enormously in size.

That one dried fruit however, is still in its contents the same as the bigger one.

This means that it still has the same amount of natural sugars and calories inside it.

However because the dried version of the fruit is smaller in size, our ability to eat more of them increases.

One reason for this is that our brains don’t compute the fact that it is the same fruit just without the water, and so we eat more of them to make up for the size of the initial fruit.

Yet, each dried fruit piece that we eat has the same nutritional value.

So, if we consume 20 dried fruit pieces it is the equivalent to eating 20 of that fruit, including all of its sugars and calories.

It is for this reason that people assume that dried fruit has added sugars.

However, the truth is that dried fruit really doesn’t need any sugars adding to it as it already contains enough natural sugars.

Yet if we take into consideration the fact that one piece of dried fruit (i.e an apricot) is equivalent to an actual apricot then all of the nutritional values should (in theory) be the same.

So, as long as you don’t eat too much dried fruit and get carried away, dried fruit isn’t a bad alternative to regular fruit, especially if you’re always on the go.

Sun Safety

beta glucanI have to admit. I am usually the first to suggest an outing when it is sunny outside. Even if it is freezing cold and the middle of winter, the sight of the sun makes me want to run over hills and take in the fresh air.

However, with summers in the UK heating up, it is important to take our health into consideration before running outside and bathing in the sun. The reasons for this are twofold.

Whilst you need the sun to provide you with Vitamin D, too much exposure to direct sunlight in one go can make you feel very ill very quickly.

Sunstroke is a very common occurrence in the summer as people forget to cover up, stay hydrated and keep out of the sun when it’s at its hottest.

These things are easy to remember when on holiday, but when you are just going about your everyday routine, it can be difficult to take these things into consideration.

It has been discussed and debated for years, but scientific evidence has linked levels of sun exposure to different types of skin cancer.

Nobody can ever stay out of the sun completely (and doing so would be incredibly unhealthy), however, taking the proper precautions such as wearing suntan lotion and covering up using light layers can help.

Other skin concerns include burning and peeling (which don’t look great in holiday snaps!) and premature aging.

So before you run outside, or decide to skip the suntan lotion this holiday and replace it with an oil instead, remember that you’re body is what keeps you going and that you need to look after it to help it work as well as it can.

Besides, nobody wants to look like a lobster in their summer albums, do they?

Pre Holiday Health Boosts

holidayMany of us will fly to a far-flung destination this summer. However, when we are getting into ‘holiday mode’ and forgetting the 9-5 routine, health considerations seem to just fly away.

Now, we have already covered how to stop yourself from getting sick whilst you are on holiday, but did you know that there are also things that you can do before you go away to ensure that you have a fantastic trip?

These things are simple changes that you can make pre-holiday to make sure that your health is not affected whilst away, either through late nights and unhealthy food that lowers the power of your immune system, or the flights and the micro-bacteria that may be present on food tables and arm rests.

Eat Healthily

If you know that you will be ditching the usual 5 portions of fruit and vegetables whilst away, for chips and burgers then make sure that you eat healthily beforehand. This does not include a pre-holiday diet. To help achieve a stronger immune system before you fly, you need to eat a balanced diet. Cutting out major food groups before you fly may help you ditch a couple of pounds, but it will do nothing to strengthen your immunity.

Get Enough Sleep

Whilst away, time ceases to become an issue. Usually this is a good thing. It helps us to re-navigate our natural body clocks and whilst we are relaxed and chilled in the day, our nights become longer too. However, lack of sleep can lower your immunity, and going on holiday exhausted will only exasperate the problem. Not only that, but it will take you longer to un-wind and enjoy your holiday.

Try Taking Our Beta Glucan 500

 Beta Glucan 500 activates your immune system, helping it to work at its optimal level. Due to this, your body is more ready to fight off infections before you even know that you have them.

What tips do you have for pre-holiday preparations?

Staying Healthy When Travelling Abroad

travellingTravelling abroad is the one thing that people look forward to the most in the summer however, with all the excitement it is easy to forget health considerations which can lead to upset stomachs, sunstroke and more, leaving you with unpleasant memories instead of the relaxing fun ones we all want to bring back home.

Fortunately there are precautions that we can take that will save us from a nightmare holiday and that will insure that the stories that are brought back will leave everybody green with envy.

If you can, order your drinks without ice.

We know that most beach holidays are hot and you want to cool yourself down as quickly as possible by guzzling large amounts of liquid with ice, but in some countries tap water isn’t considered clean enough to drink, particularly if you are used to drinking bottled water.

In some restaurants and bars however, they use tap water to make the ice as the locals are used to it, but if you drink it you may be at risk of an upset stomach.

Following this,

Stick to bottled water: For the same reasons as above, if you are not 100% certain that the water that you are drinking is clean, or if you are used to drinking bottled water, it is best to stick to what you know and avoid any illness or complications.

Make sure that you cover up to avoid sunstroke or heat exhaustion: The sun is amazing, particularly when you spend all of your time in an office, but it can also be the downfall of a great holiday. By wearing suntan lotion and popping on a hat, you can save yourself from awful burns and pealing to high temperatures, headaches and more.

Be prepared: Make sure that you go prepared. Bring painkillers, anti histamines, plasters and any medication that you may already be on so that if the worst does happen, you can be prepared and don’t have to go through the agony of getting a doctor and using up all of your travel insurance money.

The Use of Meditation & Diet to Destress

destressStress can be caused by a number of things, from work pressures to your home life, and, unfortunately it can manifest itself in a very physical way from migraines to other muscle pains.

When stress starts to take its toll physically as well as mentally however, this is the point at which most people visit the doctor.

Yet, before taking medication and deciding that that this is the course of action that you are most happy with, perhaps it is worth taking into consideration some more natural relievers such as meditation or even changes in diet.

For most people meditation is not there first thought when they are stressed. It can seem incredibly time consuming and very odd, particularly if nobody around you really talks about it or even seems to know about it.

However, the main way that meditation can help relieve stress is through the fact that it clears your mind.

By allowing yourself time to sit in the peace and quiet and be still, to let it be ok not to worry about looming deadlines or all of the things you have to do tomorrow it can help you to regain focus and if done before bed can help you get a good nights sleep.

The same goes for diet. Needless to say, diets with a high caffeine intake are not particularly helpful when it comes to stress.

This is because the caffeine can affect your body by speeding up your heart rate and even make you feel more anxious. What is more, diets with a high artificial sugar intake can produce similar affects.

By cutting down on the caffeine and artificial sugars you can therefore help reduce anxiety and stress levels to help you feel better and more productive.

Of course, if the effects of stress are more longer term then it may be worth seeing your GP, and even stocking up on some Beta Glucan to help repair your immune system afterwards as high levels of stress often reduces the immune systems ability to stay on top of illnesses making you feel worse.