Thursday, November 28th, 2013
A reduction in temperature can result in a number of changes to the body.
Colds are much more frequent in the winter months. This could be linked to an increase in transmission of viruses, a reduction in our ability to protect ourselves (due to changes in mucus membranes) or an increased ability of viruses to survive in lower temperatures etc. Therefore, a healthy diet, which includes plenty of fruit and vegetables, is essential to help support the body’s own defences. However, changes in the diet can often see people shift towards a more starch based diet. Along with fruit and vegetables, protein is essential for helping to maintain the immune system. Such dietary changes can often result in weight gains too! Achieving a sufficient amount of vitamin D through the diet is vital also, as there is a reduction in daylight hours and exposure to the sun. Therefore, foods high in vitamin D should be consumed; including fish, eggs and fortified spreads and cereals.
The colder months see a change in the levels of certain hormones produced. Melatonin levels tend to increase, while serotonin levels decline. These hormones play a vital role in our energy levels, mood and our sleep. They are linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is more common in the winter months. This form of depression is more frequently observed in women.
There are associations with a drop in temperature and arthritic conditions, with changes in joint fluid thickness and reduced ability to stretch. We often become less mobile in the winter, which can impact on our guts, with reduced peristalsis. Changes in blood circulation with the cold can also result in reduced nail growth.
Getting adequate exercise and eating a sensible diet during the winter months will hopefully help to ease the burden these cold temperatures can exert on our bodies!
Monday, November 11th, 2013
We have seen some rather delectable moustaches so far this month!
A number of people have been growing their facial hair or doing other activities to support ‘Movember’ this month, in a bid to help raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues. Particular focus is often placed on prostate and testicular cancer, as well as mental health issues. Bowel health is another area men often find difficult to talk about with healthcare professionals.
Research suggests that men are less likely than women to seek help for health issues. Gender-specific studies suggest this may be a result of ‘traditional masculine behaviours’. This type of behaviour can result in long-term health issues and even potentially increase the risk of mortality. A lot of conditions, if found early enough, can be treatable.
Statistics from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) show that prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men in the UK, closely followed by colorectal cancer. http://www.wcrf-uk.org/
Symptoms of prostate cancer (taken from the cancerresearchuk.org website):
As men get older their prostate gland often enlarges. This is usually not due to cancer. It is a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia.
The symptoms of growths in the prostate are similar whether they are non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). The symptoms include
- Having to rush to the toilet to pass urine
- Difficulty passing urine
- Passing urine more often than usual, especially at night
- Pain when passing urine
- Blood in the urine or semen
The last two symptoms – pain and bleeding – are very rare in prostate cancer. They are more often a symptom of non-cancerous prostate conditions.
Other symptoms of prostate cancer:
Cancer of the prostate gland often grows slowly, especially in older men. Symptoms may be mild and occur over many years. Sometimes the first symptoms are from prostate cancer cells which have spread to your bones but this is not common. Cancer cells in the bone may cause pain in your
- Other bony areas
Cancer that has spread to other areas of the body is called metastatic or secondary prostate cancer.
Other symptoms that may occur are weight loss, particularly in elderly men, and difficulty getting an erection (where you haven’t had difficulty before).
For further information visit: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/type/prostate-cancer/about/prostate-cancer-symptoms
Symptoms of bowl cancer (taken from nhs.uk):
Early bowel cancer may have no symptoms and some symptoms of later bowel cancer can also occur in people with less serious medical problems, such as haemorrhoids (piles).
See your doctor if you notice any of the symptoms below.
The initial symptoms of bowel cancer include:
- blood in your stools (faeces) or bleeding from your rectum
- a change to your normal bowel habits that persists for more than three weeks, such as diarrhoea, constipation or passing stools more frequently than usual
- abdominal pain
- unexplained weight loss
As bowel cancer progresses, it can sometimes cause bleeding inside the bowel. Eventually, this can lead to your body not having enough red blood cells. This is known as anaemia.
Symptoms of anaemia include:
In some cases, bowel cancer can cause an obstruction in the bowel. Symptoms of a bowel obstruction include:
- a feeling of bloating, usually around the belly button
- abdominal pain
For further information visit: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-colon-rectum-or-bowel/Pages/Symptoms.aspx
We hope you take part in this invaluable public health awareness campaign in some way, weather it is raising money or having an open conversation with a male in your life about these issues discussed.
Monday, October 28th, 2013
Flatulence and wind are common symptoms experienced by most people. Such symptoms are related to gas in the gastrointestinal tract. The production of intestinal gas is a normal part of digestion. However, some people can experience excessive amounts, which can be uncomfortable and very embarrassing.
Diet and the colonic flora are typically linked to the type and amounts of gas produced. Intestinal bacteria produce gas. Experiencing the odd bout of wind is not uncommon. However, excessive amounts of gas may be related to a number of factors, such as: diets high in fermentable carbohydrates (i.e. pulses and bran), a change in diet (such as a sudden change to a high fibre diet), a change in the composition of the bowel flora, diarrhoea, constipation, IBS, malabsorption, bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine and lactose intolerance.
Be aware of any foods which may be linked to wind. A number of fruit and vegetables contain starches which are poorly digested. For example: beans, lentils, prunes, brussel sprouts, cabbage and onions.
Any changes in bowel habits warrant further investigation from a doctor and should not be ignored.
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
Food waste is a major issue in the UK. We throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year, of which, the majority could have been eaten!
In light of yesterdays news that Tesco’s generated almost 30,000 tonnes of food waste in the first six months of 2013, we wanted to highlight the work of Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and provide some simple suggestions to use up your ‘left-overs’.
WRAP’s work helps people recycle more and waste less, both at home and at work. The focus of this blog is their LOVE FOOD HATE WASTE campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the need to reduce food waste and provide simple steps to help us take action.
The most ‘wasted’ food group is fruit and vegetables – we throw away on average 26% of the fruit and vegetables that we purchase!
Fruit and vegetables are brilliant sources of vitamins and are high in fibre which can help keep your digestive system ‘healthy’.
Below are a few tips to help ensure we don’t waste our valuable fruit and vegetables, to find more hints and tips check out the LOVE FOOD HATE WASTE website: http://england.lovefoodhatewaste.com/
- Make a delicious fruit salad with your left over fruit, and take it to lunch the next day
- Store your left over vegetables from a few dinners, in the fridge (in a storage box), and then throw them into a delicious stir fry mid week
- Keep your bananas out of the fruit bowl – they make the other fruit ripen quickly!
Thursday, October 17th, 2013
This week is National Cholesterol Week. High levels of cholesterol are linked to heart disease and strokes. There are a number of risk factors linked to increased cholesterol levels, poor diet being one.
It is important to note that cholesterol is essential for human function, being vital for cells, hormones and the digestive system. Furthermore, while cholesterol is found in various foods such as eggs, prawns and kidneys, it is not the cholesterol in food that has such an impact on our blood cholesterol; it is the saturated fat from our diets that has the biggest impact.
Foods high in saturated fats include:
- butter, ghee, lard, cream
- cakes, biscuits and pastries
- coconut or palm oil
- fatty meats, including sausages.
Fibre (soluble) can help to lower cholesterol. Good sources include:
Exercise can also play an important role in keeping cholesterol levels in check.
For further details about National Cholesterol Week and to find out more information about this area visit: http://heartuk.org.uk/