Light therapy & SAD: Look on the Bright Side

Could Light Therapy help beat your winter blues?

While many look forward to the crisp and clear autumn and winter months, others find that they struggle through these months feeling tired and low. Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a form of depression that is brought on when levels of natural sunlight are reduced. Symptoms tend to begin as the days get shorter and winter draws in, only lifting completely during the summer months. A milder form of seasonal depression – often called sub-syndromal SAD (S-SAD) or simply ‘the winter blues’ – affects around 1 in 10 adults.

Bright Light Therapy
SAD is a form of depression that is brought on when levels of natural sunlight are reduced

I was interested to read a recent Swedish study that tested a treatment called ‘bright light therapy’ on individuals with SAD and with S-SAD (1). Bright light therapy is a treatment that involves exposure to a special light that mimics natural outdoor light.

The study tested the effects of the light therapy on 49 individuals who had been diagnosed with either SAD or S-SAD.

When the individuals began to experience winter depressive symptoms, some of the group were either given a 10-day course of bright light therapy, or were put onto a 3-week waiting list, after which they were given the 10-day treatment course. The group of people on the waiting list were used as the ‘control’ group for this study.

The study found that bright light therapy was linked to improvements in a number of symptoms. The researchers had conducted an earlier randomised clinical trial which found that bright light therapy did indeed have a positive effect on depressive mood in those with SAD and S-SAD (2). This new study, however, also measured the effects of bright light therapy on other symptoms, such as tiredness, fatigue, sleep problems and health-related quality of life. All of these symptoms had improved after the 10-day course of light therapy. Symptoms were then measured again, a month after the treatment had finished, and it was found that the symptom improvements had lasted.

The study suffers because, although a control group was used, strictly speaking there was no placebo group. If the second group had been exposed to a ‘placebo’ light rather than the therapeutic bright light, then this might have served as a better comparison group. The study is nevertheless very interesting because it indicates that light therapy can help not just depressive mood, but that it can bring about improvement in a number of symptoms including milder symptoms of depression and daytime sleepiness.

Despite the design flaw in the study, light therapy does appear to be a promising treatment for the ‘winter blues’. Systematic reviews have reported that light therapy represents an effective and well-tolerated treatment for SAD (3). A home light box may therefore be a wise investment for those who need a boost during these darker months. Using a light box for between 30 minutes to an hour in the morning is considered to be an effective approach, and the light should be at least 2500 lux to be beneficial. Some individuals also use a Sunrise Alarm Clock as well to help balance their circadian rhythm and ensure they wake naturally in the morning rather than to the sharp, shrill noise of a standard alarm clock. These Wake-Up Lights simulate the “sunrise” so the brain wakes gradually.

Seasonal affective disorder, or the milder ‘winter blues’ can mean months of misery for those affected. With an estimated 1 in 20 adults affected by SAD, and a further 1 in 10 suffering from its milder form S-SAD, it is certainly an approach worth considering.

Written by Nadia Mason

1. Rastad C, et al. Improvement in Fatigue, Sleepiness, and Health-Related Quality of Life with Bright Light Treatment in Persons with Seasonal Affective Disorder and Subsyndromal SAD. Depression Research and Treatment. 2011:543906
2. Rastad C, Ulfberg J, Lindberg P. Light room therapy effective in mild forms of seasonal affective disorder—a randomised controlled study. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2008. 108(3):291–296.
3. Lee T M, Chan C C. Dose-response relationship of phototherapy for seasonal affective disorder: a meta-analysis. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 2000. 99(5): 315-323

Disrupted Sleep - could it be making you fat?

Disrupted sleep – could it be making you fat?

New study: Disrupted sleep can increase ‘hunger hormones’

Disrupted sleep can increase ‘hunger hormones’ leading to unwanted weight gain, a new study suggests (1). The review, published recently in the Journal of Psychology, examines the various ways in which disrupted sleep and the associated problems cause increased food intake.

Disrupted Sleep and ‘Hunger Hormones’

Our experience of hunger is controlled by two hormones – leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is a hormone that tells our brain that we are feeling full, while ghrelin sends signals from our stomach to our brain to increase appetite.

Studies have found that a lack of sleep leads to an imbalance in leptin and ghrelin (2,3). Any imbalance in these hormones can spell trouble for appetite and cravings. The result is that we are left feeling hungrier than usual. This type of imbalance also means that we are less likely to feel ‘full’ after a good meal and more likely to experience cravings for sugar-laden foods.

Disrupted Sleep and Will-Power

The researchers pinpoint another mechanism that may link sleep and weight problems. “Disrupted sleep patterns may impact food intake of both adults and children via impairment of executive functions”. If you’ve ever blamed a lack of will-power for thwarted weight loss attempts, then it may be helpful to look at improving your sleep. It seems that disrupted sleep can impair the part of the brain that is responsible for ‘executive control’ and ‘impulse modulation’, and so can sabotage weight loss attempts by affecting healthy meal planning, impulse control and simple ‘will power’. (4).

Disrupted Sleep and Emotional Eating

A third factor highlighted in the review is the role that sleep plays on emotional regulation, scientifically known as the limbic system. A pattern of disrupted sleep means we are more likely to see the ‘glass half empty’ – negative emotions are amplified and emotional challenges are more difficult to manage (5).

The result is comfort eating. We begin to reach for sugar-laden or stodgy foods – sweet and energy-dense foods to rebalance our levels of ‘happy hormones’ such as serotonin and endorphins.

Solutions for disrupted sleep

“Sleep should be actively considered in efforts to modify dietary behaviour,”, this new study concludes. In other words, if you are struggling with weight loss or sticking to a healthy eating programme, then addressing sleep problems is a good place to start.

Basic sleep hygiene is important. Try to go to bed and rise at the same times each day, and refrain from doing anything too stimulating – playing computer games, checking emails, heavy exercise – in the couple of hours before bed. Make sure that your bedroom is dark and kept at a comfortable temperature.

Magnesium, the ‘relaxing mineral’ has been found to relieve sleep problems. Taking 300mg magnesium before bed, or using a topical magnesium oil, can boost your levels in order to promote healthful sleep. Magnesium salts can also be added to bath water and will be absorbed through the skin.

L-theanine, a naturally occurring amino acid, plays a role in relaxation and has been seen to improve sleep quality in recent studies (6). L-theanine works by enhancing alpha-wave activity in the brain, resulting in a more relaxed state and reduced anxiety levels.

Valerian is a herbal supplement often used for promoting healthful sleep. Many individuals have found relief with herbal sleep formulas although more research needs to be done in this area.

Finally, tart cherry juice (such as CherryActive), has also performed well in initial placebo-controlled sleep studies, probably as a result of its anti-inflammatory properties and melatonin content. This type of cherry juice has been found to improve sleep parameters such as sleep quality, efficiency and total sleep time (7).


  1. Alyssa Lundahl and Timothy D Nelson (2015) Sleep and food intake: A multisystem review of mechanisms in children and adults. Journal of Health Psychology, 20(6):794-805
  2. Tatone F, Dubois L, Ramsay T, et al (2012) Sex differences in the association between sleep duration, diet and body mass index: A birth cohort study. Journal of Sleep Research 21(4): 448–460
  3. Burt J, Dube L, Thibault L, et al (2014) Sleep and eating in childhood: A potential behavioral mechanism underlying the relationship between poor sleep and obesity. Sleep Medicine Reviews 15(1): 71–75
  4. Beebe DW, Fallone G, Godiwala N, et al. (2008) Feasibility and behavioral effects of an at-home multi-night sleep restriction protocol for adolescents. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 49(9): 915–923
  5. Daniela T, Alessandro C, Giuseppe C, et al. (2010) Lack of sleep affects the evaluation of emotional stimuli. Brain Research Bulletin 82(1): 104–108
  6. Lyon MR et al (2011) The effects of L-theanine (Suntheanine®) on objective sleep quality in boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Altern Med Rev. 2011 Dec;16(4):348-54
  7. Wilfred RP et al (2010) Effects of a Tart Cherry Juice Beverage on the Sleep of Older Adults with Insomnia: A Pilot Study. J Food Med. 13(3):579-583

Wiley’s Finest: Super Fats!

EPA/DHA Counts!

Not all fats are the same, and it pays to know the difference.

After decades of demonising fats in the diet, the latest headlines report “fat is good for you!” But the devil is the detail and it matters which type of fat you choose to consume. There are good, bad and ugly fats in the diet and having the knowledge to make wise food choices can delay or even prevent, the onset of a myriad of diseases from head to toe and from cradle to grave.

Most people eat too much processed fat- found in hydrogenated margarines, convenience, fast and fried foods and in intensively reared animal products. These foods are eaten in abundance and overload the body with trans-fats and omega-6 fats. The historical harmful onus that has been planted on saturated fats from meat and dairy, being linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, is currently under question. Eminent researcher Hibbeln points out that the over consumption of vegetable oils rich in omega-6 may bear the blame.

Commercial vegetable oils such as soya, corn, groundnut, sunflower and all foods and margarines containing them are flooding our plates. These oils are abundant in omega-6, which converts to the biochemical AA* and triggers pain, blood clotting and inflammation if intakes become too high. Consequently, the population rely on COX inhibitors- such as aspirin and ibuprofen- drugs which block the conversion of AA to keep the blood thin and pain at bay. Furthermore, the polyunsaturated omega-6 fats are more prone to ‘rusting’ up in the blood stream than saturated fats, causing damage that leads to the buildup of arterial plaques.

Time for an Oil Change!

The focus here is to increase intakes of the healthful omega-3 fats, particularly EPA and DHA* which are found only in seafood. The specific chemical and physical nature of these marine oils bestow unique biological structure and function and are critically concentrated in the brain and eyes.

Smart Fats – Seafood DHA and EPA

Seafood DHA and EPA are the gift of vision and award intelligence. The retina of the eye contains a higher level of DHA than any other tissue.

Research supports the role of the remarkable ‘Super Fats EPA and DHA’ to have beneficial effects in all parts of the body, especially in brain. Diets high in fish are strongly correlated with freedom from depression, postpartum depression, aggression, psychosis and cardiovascular disease. Further research supports childhood neurodevelopment including visual functions, learning ability, mood, despondency, anxiety, sleep and behavioural disorders.

Importantly, EPA converts to bioactive substances that reduce the the propensity of the blood to clot and curbs pain and inflammation, circumventing the need for drug therapy.
Some plant oils contain omega-3 ALA*, rich in flaxseed and hemp, with lower amounts in walnuts and pumpkin seeds.

Most diets are deficient in omega-3, since most people do not eat enough oily fish or flaxseeds.

Marine oils EPA and DHA are more biologically active that plant omega-3 ALA. Too much omega-6 blocks and overwhelms the health promoting aspects of omega-3, so it is a good idea to cut down the intake of omega-6s, whilst increasing the intake of omega-3s.

Fish Oil Supplements “The Professional’s Choice”

Wileys Making an educated choice about which omega-3 supplements you choose:
A favourite product is ‘Wiley’s Finest Peak Omega-3 Liquid’, which provides 2.150mg EPA/DHA per 5ml dose. Babi Chana BSc (HONS) BSc Nut.Med BANT. CHNC believes this product is the professional’s choice, since it gives a therapeutic amount of EPA/DHA to be effective and efficient to correct imbalances and deficiencies of dietary fat intakes.
Furthermore, Wiley’s Finest fresh fish oil is produced in Alaska from wild Pollock caught in US waters. The oil is then purified and gently concentrated up to 75% Omega-3 to make a mini softgel – 55% smaller than regular strength fish oil, yet with 30% more Omega – Wiley’s actually excel in sustainability, use recycled packaging and make biodiesel from the leftover fats…and it’s affordable!

*Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid.
Alphalinoleic Acid. Arachidonic Acid


Doctor’s Best: CoQ10

What is Coenzyme Q10?

Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like, fat soluble nutrient central to energy production at the cellular level, essential for generating metabolic energy in the form of ATP.

What is ATP?

ATP is the energy currency of every cell in the human body, it is necessary for not only exercise but for life. ATP is produced in the mitochondria, the power-house of cells, where Coenzymes Q10 plays its role.

CoQ10 levels and age

Unfortunately, CoQ10 levels decrease with age. A factor that may actually contribute to the aging process. It is believed that exhaustive, prolonged exercise may further deplete CoQ10 levels. Food content of CoQ10 can be very low, thus many healthcare providers recommend supplementing with Coenzyme Q10. Given CoQ10’s vital role in energy production, supplementation seems to be a wise decision for any athlete engaging in exhaustive exercise.

Clinical trials on Coenzyme Q10

Clinical trials have demonstrated Coenzyme Q10’s usefulness as an ergogenic aid, which are substances that benefit athletic performance. One study demonstrated that only 8 weeks of CoQ10 supplementation at 100mg showed performance improvement and fatigue reduction in repeated bouts of exercise compared to placebo (1).
Another study showed significant improvement in power production in elite, Olympic athletes after 6 weeks of supplementation (2).

In 2008, a clinical trial showed that CoQ 10 supplementation improved time to exhaustion for participants in only 2 weeks (3).

CoQ10 and Athletic Performance

CoQ 10’s use as an ergogenic aid extends beyond its direct improvement of performance markers, it also helps athletes deal with exercise-induced stress. Taking CoQ 10 before strenuous bouts of exercise has been shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammatory signaling, preventing further damages to the muscles (4).

Scientific References:

  1. Gökbel H, Gül I, Belviranl M, Okudan N. The effects of coenzyme Q10 supplementation on performance during repeated bouts of supramaximal exercise in sedentary men. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(1):97-102.
  2. Alf D, Schmidt ME, Siebrecht SC. Ubiquinol supplementation enhances peak power production in trained athletes: a double-blind, placebo controlled study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013;10:24.
  3. Cooke M, Iosia M, Buford T, et al. Effects of acute and 14-day coenzyme Q10 supplementation on exercise performance in both trained and untrained individuals. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008;5:8.
  4. Díaz-castro J, Guisado R, Kajarabille N, et al. Coenzyme Q(10) supplementation ameliorates inflammatory signaling and oxidative stress associated with strenuous exercise. Eur J Nutr. 2012;51(7):791-9.

Optibac Probiotics – travel with a happy and healthy digestive system

50% of travellers experience digestive issues when abroad. Don’t be one of them!

Traveller’s Diarrhoea is the most frequently experienced health disorder experienced by those travelling abroad[1]. Research suggest that pathogenic bacteria are responsible for 85% of all cases of Traveller’s Diarrhoea[3], with E. coli being the most common offender[4,5]. Despite it being a generally minor condition, it can ruin your holiday. Statistics reveal that 20% of sufferers are confined to bed for a day, and 33% need to stop their activities[2].

Of course some destinations are higher risk than others and are generally the more exotic locations such as Egypt, India, and Mexico.

So what is the best natural approach to Traveller’s Diarrhoea?

Much research shows the potential for probiotics to be a natural preventative. Studies suggest that probiotics, a.k.a. friendly bacteria, can help to strengthen the gut’s protective barrier against pathogenic bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella. A review of the research on this (meta-analysis) found that 85% of cases of Traveller’s Diarrhoea were prevented by probiotics[7].

How can taking bacteria avoid a bacterial infection?

Well as with other issues with gut health, having enough of the relevant strain of bacteria will help fight the unwanted pathogenic bacteria. It has been found that a combination of B. longum Rosell-175, Lactobacillus rhamnosus Rosell-11, Saccharomyces boulardii and L. acidophilus Rosell-52 have been shown to be effective in preventing infection with E. coli[8]. Other trials also show that Saccharomyces boulardii may be especially helpful in cases of Traveller’s Diarrhoea due to its unique ability to actually bind to unwanted, pathogenic bacteria and then help excrete them, as well as its documented ability to alleviate diarrhoea during an infection [9,10,11,12].

L. acidophilus Rosell-52 & L. rhamnosus Rosell-11 have also been shown to help prevent infection by less common pathogens including: P. aeruginosa, Klebsiella, and Staphylococcus [13,14].

So all in all these bacteria can be of huge help staying happy and healthy when travelling. Nutritional Therapist, Joanna Lutyens from OptiBac Probiotics says ‘ Your digestive system may be under siege when travelling abroad, both from an intake of foods which your body is not used to, as well as a whole new range of bacteria. It is therefore really important to look after your digestive health when travelling. Taking a probiotic specifically designed to support your gut health in this situation may really help prevent discomfort or illness. Of course there are other things you can do to avoid getting the dreaded Delhi Belly. Tips include avoiding unpeeled fruit and vegetables, avoid tap water even when brushing your teeth, wash your hands regularly, avoid ice cubes and stay hydrated.’


  1. Bradley AC, 2007.
  2. World Tourism Organisation. Tourism highlights. 2008. Available at
  3. Black RE. Epidemiology of travellers’ diarrhoea and relative importance of various pathogens. Rec. Infect. Dis. 1990: 12 (suppl 1): S73-S79
  4. Jiang ZD; Mathewson JJ, Ericsson CD, Svennerholm AM, Pulido C, DUPont HL. Characterisation of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli strains in patients with traveller’s diarrhoea acquired in Guadalajara, Mexico, 1992-1997. J Infect Dis. 2000;181:779-82
  5. Adachi JA, Jiang ZD, Mathewson JJ, Verenkar MP, Thompson S, Martinez-Sandoval F, et al. Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli as a major etiologic agent in traveller’s diarrhoea in 3 regions of the world. Clin Infect Dis. 2001;32:1706-9.
  6. Centres for disease control and prevention –
  7. McFarland MV, Meta-analysis of probiotics for the prevention of traveller’s diarrhoea. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. 2007; 5: 97-105.
  8. Bisson JF. (ETAP), H. Durand (Institut Rosell- Lallemand), Effects of Different Probiotic Formulations on the Traveller’s Diarrhoea Model in Rats. Submitted.
  9. Kirchhelle, A. et al. Treatment of persistent diarrhoea with S. boulardii in returning travellers. Results of a prospective study. Fortschy. Med. 1996, 114:136-140
  10. Kollaritsch, H. et al. Prevention of traveler’s diarrhoea with Saccharomyces boulardii. Results of a placebo controlled double blind study. Fortschr. Med. 1993, 111:152-156.
  11. Kurugol Z., Koturoglu G. Effects of Saccharomyces boulardii in children with acute diarrhoea. Acta pediatr 2005; 94;44-7.
  12. Htwe K; et al. Effect of Saccharomyces boulardii in the Treatment of Acute Watery Diarrhoea in Myanmar Children: A Randomized Controlled Study. Am. J. Top. Med. Hyg. 2008; 78(2):214-216
  13. Tlaskal P, Lactobacillus acidophilus in the treatment of children with gastrointestinal tract illnesses. 1995, Cesko-Slovenska Pediatrie, 51 :615-619.
  14. Wasowska, K. Prevention and eradication of intestinal dysbacteriosis in infants and children. unpublished results 1997

Spiezia Organics Facial Ritual

A five step guide to feeling fabulous!

Follow these five simple steps to achieve beautiful healthy skin the natural way. These 100% organic products, made only from natural ingredients are a joy to use and will last for ages – a little of each product goes a long way.


Spiezia facial cleanser Gently massage a pea size amount in circular movements onto the face. Start around the mouth and jaw line and work up over the forehead to the scalp line. Leave to absorb into the skin for 2-3 minutes. This is a good time to put the kettle on and have an organic tea!


Spiezia Floral Skin Toner Shake the bottle to blend the essential oils and floral waters. Apply toner to some cotton wool and gently remove the facial cleanser using upward sweeping motions. Alternatively, apply to a damp muslin flannel and press over the face for a revitalising effect.


Spiezia Rose & Vanilla Face Oil For a lighter treatment. Pour a very small amount of oil into your hand and allow to warm. Clasp the fingers together under the chin and draw the fingers outwards to the angle of the jaw bone. Stroke up the face towards the forehead to apply. Then, using a series of light circular movements with the finger tips, gently massage into the skin, beginning at the base of the neck and finishing at the forehead. Allow the oil to completely absorb into the skin before applying make-up.


Spiezia Intensive Moisturiser For a deeper, hydrating treatment. Take a pea sized amount and warm between the fingers. Clasp the fingers together under the chin and draw the fingers outwards to the angle of the jaw bone. Stroke up the face towards the forehead. Then, using a series of light circular movements with the finger tips, gently massage into the skin, beginning at the base of the neck and finishing at the forehead. Allow the moisturiser to completely soak into the skin before applying make-up.


Spiezia Rose & Chamomile Face Scrub Apply a small amount to the fingertips and, working from the neck up, slowly circle the fingertips all over the face to encourage gentle exfoliation for a minute or two. Softly brush the residue away with finger tips or gently remove with a warm damp cloth.


Optibac: Children and probiotics

There’s a lot of buzz about the benefits of bacteria in the media, particularly for children, but this can be a confusing issue for many people. Why would you ever want to give your child bacteria to improve their health? Aren’t bacteria bad for us, causing infections and stomach upsets?

The simple answer is No! Not all bacteria are bad; in fact mounting evidence suggests that starting out with a healthy balance of friendly flora in their intestines could help to improve your child’s health and actually reduce the risk of infections and other health conditions as they grow up. Even better, having plenty of good gut flora (bacteria) is being linked to good long-term health.

So how do these microscopic microflora help to improve your child’s health?

It may seem weird, but the average human being is a home to literally trillions of bacteria who live all over our bodies, but most plentifully in the moist, warm areas in our intestines. Symbiotic, or ‘friendly’ bacteria are those that live in harmony with our bodies – we provide them with a home and food to eat, and they in turn offer us a host of health benefits.

Though we are typically born without any bacteria in residence, they begin to colonise in our bodies within a few days of birth. The first bacterial settlers are passed on to babies by their mother as they pass down the birth canal during a normal vaginal delivery.

These tiny passengers have been shown to have many positive effects in the body ; they work with the immune system helping to modulate immune responses, reducing the risk of allergies and protecting against infections and viruses. They help to improve digestive function, alleviating diarrhoea or constipation and helping to improve metabolism and nutrient absorption.

Studies have indicated that numerous health benefits may be seen in children who were given probiotic supplements, including a reduction in childhood illnesses and allergic symptoms such as eczema.

If children take on beneficial bacteria during birth, why are probiotic supplements necessary?

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need to give supplements, but many factors can affect the integrity of a child’s gut flora. If the mother’s intestinal flora is compromised in any way, then the bacteria passed on to a baby may be unbalanced from the start. Vaginal infections during pregnancy, antibiotics, poor diet and even stress can all impact the delicate populations of probiotic bacteria in our intestines.

Additionally, those babies delivered by Caesarian section will not have the benefit of bacteria from mum, and often suffer from digestive problems or allergies such as eczema as a result. Any antibiotics given to your baby or child will kill off good as well as bad bacteria, and consequently can negatively affect their populations of friendly flora.

Why use supplements?

Isn’t it enough just to give your child yoghurt every day?
It’s true that fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir and sauerkraut have formed an important part of the human diet in most cultures for hundreds of years, and it’s still a good idea for most people to include these as part of a healthy diet.

But it’s often difficult to ascertain the levels of bacteria present in fermented foods; which species are present and how viable they are once consumed. Many of the bacteria found in fermented foods are typically ‘transient’, meaning that they have beneficial effects as they pass through the digestive system, but can’t be guaranteed to become resident in the intestines and restore the balance of flora present.

The bacterial strains used in OptiBac Probiotics products undergo stringent tests that guarantee they will adhere to the intestinal wall, and form new colonies, meaning that they’re likely to offer longer-lasting health beneifits.

So where do we find these so-called ‘friendly bacteria?’ in a supplement form?

The good news is that the folk at OptiBac Probiotics have made it very easy for you to add probiotic bacteria into your child’s daily healthcare regime.

They offer a specific product designed to be taken by children from 0-12 years, which comes in a powder neatly packaged in a handy sachet form. Unlike many other similar products, the sachets do not require refrigeration and are easy to add to a little water, milk or yoghurt.

To ensure that really helpful species of bacteria are passed on to their babies, we also recommend that mums-to-be take ‘For babies & children’ during the final trimester of pregnancy.

Breast-feeding mums can continue to take the product as evidence suggests that the bacteria continues to be passed on to baby via breast milk, or the product can be given directly to infants from birth.

Bifidobacteria infantis has been identified as one of the early settlers in a healthy child’s gut, which is why it is included in ‘For babies & children’ which is gluten-free and suitable for those with lactose intolerance.

So the question is not why would you give your child probiotic bacteria, but given the evidence supporting their use, why wouldn’t you?

Kerry Beeson BSc (Nut. Med.) BANT CNHC
Nutritional Therapist


Sun Safe: Natural Solutions for a Healthy Holiday

Make sure you’re Sun Safe

Sun Safe and Sun FunIt’s holiday season and many of us are looking forward to a hard-earned break. Whether you’re a sun-worshiper, an adventurer or a culture vulture, the summer holiday is one of the key events in our annual calendar. That’s why looking after our health on holiday is especially important. Read on for natural ways to protect yourself against the most common holiday health problems and being sun safe.

Tummy bugs

Traveller’s diarrhoea is the most common health problem related to travelling abroad. Between 10% and 20% of holiday makers travelling to southern Europe or the Caribbean will have their holidays spoiled with episodes of food poisoning. Those travelling to areas such as Asia, the Middle East and Latin America should be particularly cautious as more than 20% will fall ill with traveller’s diarrhoea [1].

The best way to avoid food poisoning abroad is to be extra careful about food hygiene measures. Use bottles or sterilised water if local tap water is unsafe, and avoid ice in drinks. Avoid buffet food that has been left out at room temperature for extended periods – remember hot food should be piping hot and thoroughly cooked, cold food should be cold, and choose fruits and vegetables that you can peel yourself. Dressings such as mayonnaise and ketchup are commonly linked with food poisoning, so try using single-serve sealed packages.

A sensible way of protecting against food poisoning is to take a probiotic supplement while travelling. Probiotics bolster the intestinal lining’s protective barrier, making it difficult for infections to take hold. Well-studies strains include L. acidophilus, B. bifidum and L. bulgaricus.
Some probiotics actually secrete antimicrobial substances that protect the body from infection. The probiotic L. Reuterei works in this way, and studies have found it to be particularly effective in preventing gastrointestinal infections and diarrhoea in children [2].

Jet Lag

For those travelling further afield, jet lag can spoil the early days of a long haul holiday, and can leave you feeling tired rather than revitalised on your return.
Jet lag symptoms are made worse by dehydration, so drink plenty of water during your flight, and avoid caffeine and alcohol. Natural treatments for jet lag include melatonin, a hormone involved in the sleep-wake cycle. Food sources of melatonin include goji berries, almonds and raspberries. However, a natural source of melatonin is the Montmorency cherry (used in the CherryActive range. Studies suggest cherry juice appears to raise melatonin levels and to have a positive effect on the sleep cycle [3]. The anti-inflammatory properties of tart cherry juice may also enhance this effect by reducing inflammatory cytokines [4].

Sun Safe ProtectionSunshine

Most of us are aware of sensible sun protection measures, such as covering up, wearing sun-cream and limiting sun exposure. In addition, taking a small amount of the lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomatoes, for a few weeks before travelling can also protect skin against sun damage [5]. Just 16mg lycopene has been found to protect against sun damage. This amount can be found is around 3 tablespoons of tomato paste. Other good sources are watermelon, grapefruit and sweet red peppers – all helping to keep you sun safe.

Not taken our advice on being sun safe? One of the best natural treatments for sun burn is topical aloe vera. This leafy plant grows abundantly in hot countries, and has anti-inflammatory properties. Simply break open a leaf and apply the soothing inner gel. Another helpful topical treatment is cider vinegar, which reduces pain, itching and inflammation. Try adding a cupful to your bathwater. Remember the best way to avoid sun burn is to be sun safe in the first place. Whenever and wherever you’re travelling to – have fun!


  1. National Travel Health Network and Centre. Traveller’s Diarrhoea. 06/02/2014. Visited 10th May 2015.
  2. Rosemarie De Weirdt (2012) Glycerol Supplementation Enhances L. reuteri’s Protective Effect against S. Typhimurium Colonization in a 3-D Model of Colonic Epithelium. PLoS ONE, 7 (5): e37116
  3. Howatson et al (2010) Effect of tart cherry juice on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. Eur J Nutr 51(8):909-16
  4. Opp MR (2004) Cytokines and sleep: the first hundred years. Brain Behav Immun. 18(4):295-297.
  5. Rizwan et al (2011) Tomato paste rich in lycopene protects against cutaneous photodamage in humans in vivo: a randomized controlled trial. Br J Dermatol 164(1):154-62.

Igennus MindCare® : Lift your mood

Lift your mood with optimum nutrition MindCare cover woman iStock_000016416086XXXLarge - Copy

Nutrition can have a huge impact on mood, by providing the brain with the right building blocks for the structure of the brain, as well as supporting production of mood-enhancing brain chemical messengers such as serotonin. The brain requires an array of vitamins and minerals to support cell structure and enzyme processes, so it’s no surprise that nutrition has such a strong effect on mood.

For this reason, Igennus have formulated four targeted MindCare® supplements offering all-in-1 advanced brain nutrition to transform how you feel.

Key nutrients for enhancing mood

Omega-3 EPA and DHA

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are possibly the most well known and beneficial nutrients for supporting brain function and mood. A diet naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids from seafood effectively boosts mood and also correlates with reduced levels of bipolar disorder, helping to stabilise mood. (1)

A deficiency of omega-3 can result in an imbalance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, resulting in excess inflammation in the body. Low levels of omega-3 EPA not only induces a state of inflammation in the brain, but can also lead to destruction of serotonin (2), the chemical messenger in the brain responsible for giving us feelings of happiness. It is not surprising, then, that a state of chronic inflammation coupled with imbalanced omega fatty acids is associated with depression. (3,4)

It is important to note that not all omega-3 fatty acids are equal as they have very different roles in the brain: to improve your mood you should concentrate on the active omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. EPA, in particular, plays a key role in controlling inflammation in the brain, protecting against damage and promoting transmission of messages in the brain, helping us to feel balanced and happy. Omega-3 DHA is required for structure of the brain due to its presence in cell membranes.

In an ideal world, we would all be eating plenty of oily fish, but this is certainly not the case. If oily fish is not regularly consumed in the diet, a concentrated EPA and DHA supplement may help to boost mood.

When it comes to choosing a fish oil, concentration and dose will determine how effective they are for supporting mood. A standard fish oil capsule, for example, only provides 30% of the active ingredients EPA and DHA, whereas ideally you want at least 70% concentration EPA and DHA to achieve full benefits of a therapeutic dose.

A supplement providing EPA and DHA at a ratio of 2:1, or over 60% EPA, is considered ideal for depression, as these levels have been shown to significantly reduce depressive symptoms. (5;6) For general mood support, look for a supplement providing at least 400mg EPA and 250mg DHA.


Low mood is often a side effect of too much stress on the body, both mentally and physically; correct nutrition can help your body deal with stress efficiently, so look seriously at your diet. Antioxidants are found in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and have the ability to mop up damaging free radicals, thereby protecting the brain against oxidative damage. Concentrate on vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium for their powerful antioxidant effects and ability to recycle other antioxidants in the body.

B vitamins

B vitamins are essential for the functioning of many enzyme processes in the body, particularly those required to produce brain chemical messengers. Feed your enzymes with B vitamins, particularly B6, and your production of serotonin may be improved, helping you to feel happier. Requirements for B vitamins are also increased when you are stressed as the body will be using up significant amounts. If stress is associated with your low mood, B vitamins may be very effective at helping to lift you out of it. B vitamin supplements have been shown to significantly improve dejected mood, reducing stress. (7)

Vitamin D3

We have all heard of SAD (seasonal affective disorder), or at least we can empathise with those who suffer from mild depression during the gloomy winter months. As we get most of our vitamin D from skin exposure to the sun, it is no surprise that vitamin D deficiency is associated with low mood and depression, with lowest vitamin D levels correlating with severe depression. (8) Consider supplementing with vitamin D, particularly in the months October to March.


If your nutrition is generally spot on, and your brain is functioning clearly, to really lift your mood, you could also try adding a 5-HTP supplement to your regime. 5-HTP converts directly to serotonin in the body, helping to boost your mood. A dose of 100mg is ideal for its effects.

  1. Noaghiul S, Hibbeln JR. Cross-national comparisons of seafood consumption and rates of bipolar disorders. Am J Psychiatry 2003 Dec; 160(12):2222-7.
  2. Wichers MC, Maes M. The role of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) in the pathophysiology of interferon-alpha-induced depression. J Psychiatry Neurosci 2004 Jan; 29(1):11-7.
  3. Conklin SM, Manuck SB, Yao JK, Flory JD, Hibbeln JR, Muldoon MF. High omega-6 and low omega-3 fatty acids are associated with depressive symptoms and neuroticism. Psychosom Med 2007 Dec; 69(9):932-4.
  4. Pottala JV, Talley JA, Churchill SW, Lynch DA, von SC, Harris WS. Red blood cell fatty acids are associated with depression in a case-control study of adolescents. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2012 Apr; 86(4-5):161-5.
  5. Rondanelli M, Giacosa A, Opizzi A, Pelucchi C, La VC, Montorfano G, et al. Effect of omega-3 fatty acids supplementation on depressive symptoms and on health-related quality of life in the treatment of elderly women with depression: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial. J Am Coll Nutr 2010 Feb; 29(1):55-64.
  6. Sublette ME, Ellis SP, Geant AL, Mann JJ. Meta-analysis of the effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in clinical trials in depression. J Clin Psychiatry 2011 Dec; 72(12):1577-84.
  7. Stough C, Scholey A, Lloyd J, Spong J, Myers S, Downey LA. The effect of 90 day administration of a high dose vitamin B-complex on work stress. Hum Psychopharmacol 2011 Oct; 26(7):470-6.
  8. Milaneschi Y, Hoogendijk W, Lips P, Heijboer AC, Schoevers R, van Hemert AM, et al. The association between low vitamin D and depressive disorders. Mol Psychiatry 2014 Apr; 19(4):444-51.

Sun Chlorella: How to cope with the snooze you lose

Sleep trouble? Could Sun Chlorella help?

Most people will experience problems sleeping at some point in their life and it is thought that around a third of Brits suffer with chronic insomnia.

Many things can contribute to a sleepless night – stress, diet, environment and lifestyle factors – but when we do find ourselves tossing and turning into the small hours of the night, it can be all too tempting to reach for the sleeping pills – but a report published by a leading mental health charity suggested that Britain has become a nation of ‘sleeping pill addicts’.

Reduce your risk of becoming addicted to these pills and try something natural instead, such as Sun Chlorella. Research from across the globe has suggested that some whole foods may improve sleep quality by up to 42% . So before you pop those prescription pills, take a look at these tips from Sun Chlorella Holistic Nutritionist Nikki Hillis who has shared some of her favourite foods to help you achieve a longer, deeper sleep.

Sun Chl  1. Chlorella

It might seem bizarre but an algae supplement such as Sun Chlorella® is rich in chlorophyll that contains high amounts of B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, tryptophan and omega 3 fatty acids, all essential nutrients for quality sleep.

A recent study by Oxford University showed that the participants on a course of daily supplements of omega-3 had nearly one hour more sleep and seven fewer waking episodes per night compared with the participants taking the placebo.

Furthermore, the tryptophan found in chlorella is a sleep-enhancing amino acid used by the brain to produce neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin that help you relax and go to sleep. While young people have the highest melatonin levels, production of this hormone wanes as we age. Calcium and magnesium relax the body and B vitamins are essential for stress relief.

nuts2. Nuts and Seeds

Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds and sesame seeds are rich in magnesium and calcium – two minerals that help promote sleep. Walnuts are also a good source of tryptophan. The unsaturated fats found in nuts improve your serotonin levels, and the protein in the nuts help maintain a stable blood sugar level to prevent you waking in the night. 100 grams of sesame seeds boasts over 1000 micrograms of tryptophan. The same amount of chia seeds have over 700 mgs of tryptophan, while pumpkin seeds have almost 600 mg.

3. Herbal teas (such as Chamomile, Passionflower, Valerian, Lavender, Lemongrass)

Valerian is one of the most common sleep remedies for insomnia. Numerous studies have found that valerian improves deep sleep, speed of falling asleep, and overall quality of sleep. Lemongrass’ calming properties have been long revered to ward off nightmares while chamomile tea is used regularly worldwide for insomnia, irritability, and restlessness.

kiwi 4. Kiwi Fruit

Research suggests that eating kiwi fruit may have significant benefits for sleep due to its high antioxidant and serotonin levels. Researchers at Taiwan’s Taipei Medical University studied the effects of kiwi consumption on sleep and found that eating kiwi on a daily basis was linked to substantial improvements to both sleep quality and sleep quantity. After 4 weeks of kiwi consumption, researchers found that the amount of time it takes to fall asleep after going to bed decreased by 35.4%, the amount of time spent in periods of wakefulness after initially falling asleep fell 28.9% and the total time spent asleep among the volunteers increased by 13.4%.

5. Honey

Honey promotes a truly deep and restorative sleep. If you take a teaspoon or two of honey before bed, you’ll be re-stocking your liver with glycogen so that your brain doesn’t activate a stress response, which often occurs when glycogen is low. Honey also contributes to the release of melatonin in the brain, as it leads to a slight spike in insulin levels and the release of tryptophan in the brain.

Sun Chlorella 'A' 6. Sun Chlorella Sound Asleep Smoothie
Smoothies are a popular and satisfying breakfast but we rarely associate them with bedtime. Here, Sun Chlorella Holistic Nutritionist – Nikki Hillis – shares her ‘Sound Asleep, Sun Chlorella Smoothie’ packed with tasty ingredients to help you nod off and enjoy a restful kip.

  • 1 pineapple
  • 1 frozen banana
  • ½ cup uncooked oats
  • 2 cups kale
  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 1 sachet of Sun Chlorella®
  • Bee pollen to sprinkle on top (optional)
  • Cinnamon

Blend all ingredients in a blender and sprinkle with bee pollen and cinnamon.