Monthly Archives: July 2018

Supplements

Supplements For Travelling Abroad

Supplements You Should Take When Travelling Abroad

For many people summer also brings holiday time, time to rest, relax and regenerate. However, holidays can sometimes bring with them some unwanted issues.

The most common and most well-known holiday health problem is obviously the dreaded ‘holiday tummy’. Reactions to change in diet, water and issues with seafood and bacteria all have a role to play in this. The other most common problems are sunburn, and insect bites. On top of this we have an increased risk of ‘over-indulgence’. Apart from wrapping ourselves in cotton wool and cancelling all holiday plans to avoid these issues, there are some natural remedies which could be used to help prevent all these problems.

Avoiding Holiday Tummy

One of the key precautions would be to start taking a good, high strength probiotic before setting off and to carry on taking it whilst away. The bacteria which live in our gut are responsible for keeping the immune response healthy – helping to fight off infections. They also help to keep nasty, pathogenic bacteria under control and can stop them from causing havoc with our guts. Topping up our good bacteria whilst we are away can therefore help to stop tummy bugs in their tracks. For the best results ensure that the product you choose is heat stable and has proven colonisation – you need to be sure the supplements you buy are not going to die off in the heat, and that they will make it to your tummy intact. Important strains to look out for include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacteria lactis and Streptococcus thermophilus, as these may be particularly helpful in helping to prevent the development of diarrhoea. In terms of strength – the higher the bacterial count the better, aim for around 20-30 billion good guys per capsule for the best results.

Preventing Insect Bites

Adding Vitamin B1 to our daily holiday routine could also be helpful for those people who find themselves under attack from ‘biting beasties’. Used alongside an insect repellent, it is thought that taking vitamin B1 internally can help to make our skin smell less attractive to mosquitos. Not to panic – humans can’t detect the smell, but those biting bugs may well find us less attractive if we are taking 100mg B1 each day.

Dealing with ‘Over-Indulgence’

This will not be relevant to everyone, but for some the holidays are a time to relax and enjoy yourself. This combined with the heat can result in feeling lethargic. Therefore, holiday season is also the time to invest in some milk thistle. Milk Thistle has been used by herbalists for years to support the health of the liver.

Blog post provided by Natures Aid.

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Antioxidant

Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory. What’s the Difference?

Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory. What’s the Difference Between the Two?

Anti-inflammatory

Our body reacts to tissue injury or an invasion of pathogens or toxins, through a specific inflammatory response, which increases our immune activity to reduce their impact on us.

We need inflammation to help our body to protect itself against pathogens or injury. When our body undergoes an inflammatory response, there are 4 signs which show inflammation is occurring:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Heat

The immune cells stay activated until either the tissue has been repaired, or the pathogen has been removed. When this has been achieved, anti-inflammatory signals are sent out to stop the inflammation so that the body can return to its normal state and reduce the inflammation that has occurred, with the 4 signs that demonstrate inflammation going away.

This is known as acute inflammation, where the defence inflammatory state is shortly resolved. If the inflammatory state is not resolved and the site remains inflamed, this inflammation will begin to damage the tissue surrounding the site and then eventually the whole body.

Our immune cells, even in states where there is no injury or invasion, circulate through our body in case there is damage. Chronic inflammation is caused when whatever has induced the inflammation has not been removed(1).

So, we can see that we do need inflammation to help protect and repair any damaged tissue or to protect us from pathogens. However, being able to bring our body back to its normal state is also important, which is where we have the anti-inflammatory responses.

By consuming omega 3 fatty acids, we are able to produce an anti-inflammatory response which brings our body back to its normal state(2). Interestingly foods can have properties which are either pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory.

Pro-inflammatory foods include:

  • Sugar
  • Trans fats
  • High processed foods
  • Alcohol
  • Omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids are
    essential fatty acids which we can only obtain from our diet and are involved
    in the inflammatory process which helps to protect our body. However, it is
    important to maintain a balance with omega 3 fatty acids. You can read more about these essential fatty acids here.

The main type of anti-inflammatory food that we have comes from omega 3 fatty acids and this includes from:

  • Oily fish
  • Walnuts
  • Algae
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds etc.

These contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and are what bring the body back to its normal state after inflammation.

Antioxidant

Antioxidants help to protect cells from damage which is caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and therefore free radicals. Both of these are unstable molecules which cause damage to cell structures. Inflammation within the body can lead to an increase in ROS. These ROS damage the surrounding tissues. At low levels ROS is a signalling molecule for cells, however when in high quantities it can lead to the progression of inflammatory diseases.

Antioxidants help to prevent damage to cells from ROS by neutralising them, preventing the oxidation of molecules. We have an antioxidant system within our body, but we can also get antioxidants from the foods we eat. If our antioxidant system is overwhelmed due to ROS and free radicals, it is known as oxidative stress(3).

What are Sources of Antioxidants?

As previously said, our body has its own antioxidant system which works to help maintain an oxidative balance. However, we can also get antioxidants from foods we eat which can help to protect our body from damage.

Vitamin E: is a fat-soluble vitamin and is made up of a number of compounds called tocopherols. The most potent and bioavailable is called alpha-tocopherol. These act as antioxidants, by preventing the production of ROS when fat undergoes oxidation. Vitamin E also helps to maintain healthy skin and eyes and helps the immune system.

Sources of vitamin E include:

  • Soya
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Wheatgerm
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Spinach

Vitamin C: is also called ascorbic acid and is a water-soluble vitamin. It is involved in the maintenance of both healthy skin and connective tissue and it helps with the absorption of iron in the small intestines. It is also an antioxidant that plays a role in the regeneration of other essential antioxidants, and also protecting again oxidative damage.

Sources of vitamin C include:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Blackcurrants

It is important to note that vitamin C is easily destroyed by light and heat, so it is best to store in a cool dark place and try and avoid cooking at high temperatures for long periods of time. You can also get all the vitamin C you need from a varied diet; due to it being a water-soluble vitamin (excess is not stored in the body). When consumed in excessive amounts as a supplement you will end up excreting the rest out as urine.

Phytochemicals: occur naturally in plants, including fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, beans, seeds and nuts. There are thousands of different phytochemicals that have been identified, and some of these have antioxidant properties, protecting our cells from oxidative damage. Carotenoids act as an antioxidant, and also gives food such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes, mangoes, peppers, oranges, and cantaloupes their yellow, orange and red colour. One carotenoid which you may have heard of is Beta-carotene which can be converted into vitamin A, or as an antioxidant. Polyphenols include red fruits like grapes, onions, coffees, spices, wine, curcumin, and lignins which are found in flax seeds. Flavonoids are found in chickpeas, soybeans, and almost all fruits and vegetables including parsley, blueberries, pomegranates, citrus fruits, kale, brussel sprouts, leeks, tea, cacao and broccoli. Allyl sulphides are also a phytochemical, found in onions, leeks and garlic which have antioxidant properties – so enjoy your garlicky food!

Selenium: is a mineral found within foods. It has been shown to help make sure the immune system is functioning properly, as well as working with an antioxidant enzyme which helps to prevent damage to cells and tissue.

Sources include:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Eggs

Other minerals that we need to include within our diet which help to assist antioxidant activity are copper, manganese, zinc and iron, which all are needed for antioxidant enzymes. Sources for each include:

Manganese:

  • Nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Tea
  • Bread
  • Cacao
  • Cereal
  • Green vegetables

Zinc:

  • Nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Meat
  • Dairy foods
  • Cereals

Iron:

  • Nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Meat
  • beans
  • Wholegrains
  • Fortified foods
  • Dark green leafy vegetables

Blog post provided by Lucy Bee.

References
1. Arulselvan et al., 2016
2. Calder, 2006
3. Rahal et al., 2014

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sleep

Sleepless Summer Nights: 5 tips for a good night’s sleep

The current heat wave is leaving many of us sleep deprived, as more than sixty two per cent of adults in the UK struggle to sleep in warm weather. In order to get a good night’s sleep, it is essential for our body’s temperature to drop at night by one degree. This becomes difficult during the warm nights in summer, leaving many people struggling to get to sleep and stay asleep. Read on for five ways to improve sleep naturally.

1. Tart cherry juice

The body needs darkness in order to make the sleep hormone melatonin. The long and light summer days cause melatonin levels to drop, meaning that many of us begin to suffer with sleep problems. Boosting levels of melatonin naturally can help to alleviate this problem.

One of the best ways to boost melatonin levels is to drink tart cherry juice. A recent study found that drinking just 30mls of cherry juice each day is effective in boosting melatonin levels. Adults who drank the cherry juice had more than 25 minutes more sleep each night compared to those who drank a placebo drink, and they also woke less often through the night.

2. Boost your Magnesium levels

Magnesium deficiency is common among adults. It is abundant in leafy greens, and lacking in processed foods, meaning that the typical UK diet often falls short. Magnesium is required for the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep and relaxation. For this reason, magnesium supplementation can be helpful in supporting good quality sleep, especially in those who find it hard to ‘switch off’ at night.

Studies have found magnesium to be effective in improving sleep, while increasing melatonin levels and reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol (2). Those who find difficultly sleeping may wish to try supplementing 300mg of a well-absorbed form of magnesium, such as magnesium citrate or magnesium taurate.

3. Try supplementing Lemon Balm and Theanine

Lemon balm is a plant from the mint family, which has been used for centuries to soothe the stomach, reduce anxiety and promote calm. More recent studies have found that lemon balm aids restful sleep by boosting levels of circulating GABA, the brain’s ‘calming’ nurotransmitter.

A pilot study found that lemon balm, at a dose of 600mg for 15 days, resolved insomnia for 85 per cent of participants (3). Hopefully the promising results of this study will pave the way for larger studies in this area.

Combining lemon balm with theanine is thought to be particularly beneficial in promoting healthy sleep. While theanine does not have lemon balm’s sedative effect, it works to boost the brain’s production of alpha waves. These brain waves are linked to deep relaxation. They reduce levels of physical and mental stress, and lower levels of anxiety (4).

4. Eat to Sleep

To encourage good quality sleep, try eating a high-protein, low GI snack, such as natural yoghurt with berries or some almond butter on rye, a couple of hours before bed. This can provide the L-tryptophan needed by the brain to produce the sleep hormone.

While, protein-rich snacks can help, sugary foods will have the opposite effect. These will raise your blood sugar and delay sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low, you may wake up and be unable to fall back asleep.

Alcohol also robs the body of good quality sleep. While a chilled glass of wine might seem tempting on a hot evening, alcohol actually prevents the body from falling into the deeper stages of sleep, where the body does most of its healing.

5. Lower your Core Temperature

Good sleep is strongly linked to core body temperature. In order to get to sleep, your body needs its internal temperature to drop by around one degree. Losing heat actually helps to bring on restful sleep at night. Unfortunately this can be difficult during the summer, when hot days lead to uncomfortable, warm nights.

To combat uncomfortably hot summer nights, a cool bath can encourage a drop in core temperature, bringing on restful sleep. Try adding some Epsom bath salts to boost the effect. Ventilate the bedroom well before bedtime to reduce the room temperature, and keep a cooling water mist spray by the bed for a quick cool down.

References
1. Howatson G et al (2010) Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. Eur J Nutr 51:8 pp909-916
2. Abbasis B et al (2012) The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci 17:12 pp1161-9
3. Cases J et al (2011) Pilot trial of Melissa officinalis L. leaf extract in the treatment of volunteers suffering from mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances. Med J Nutr Met 4:3, pp211-8
4. Kimura, K. (2007). L-theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biological psychology, 71(1): 39-45.

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