Category Archives: Healthy Living

Antioxidants vs Free Radicals

We all know that oxygen is essential for all life…

But did you know that, as well as being an absolute necessity for our survival, its use in the body can also result in the production of certain unwanted by-products? They are known as oxidants. Some of these oxidants will act as free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage DNA and cell structure. They cause harm because they are constantly trying to stabilise themselves by attempting to ‘steal’ electrons from nearby molecules. This, in turn, damages those molecules and makes them unstable too, causing them to also seek out other electrons in order to become stable again. And so, a vicious circle is created.

Free radicals are produced as a result of both internal (endogenous) and external (exogenous) factors. Endogenous free radicals are produced as a result of normal biological processes, like aerobic respiration, metabolism and inflammation. In contrast, exogenous free radicals are produced as a result of environmental factors, like:

  • pollution,
  • sunlight,
  • stress,
  • UV rays,
  • poor diet,
  • alcohol intake,
  • smoking,
  • strenuous exercise
  • and X-rays.

Unfortunately, in our modern age, filled with ever-present pollutants and toxins, both in the environment and in the foods we eat, the levels of free radicals within our bodies are higher than they have ever been before. It is impossible to avoid damage from free radicals, and our body’s own defences against it are not foolproof.

When the levels of free radicals within our bodies exceed the protective capabilities of those defences, it results in a phenomenon known as “oxidative stress” which means that the defence system is no longer able to readily detoxify or to repair the occurring damage.

As the time goes on, cell parts which have become damaged by process of oxidation accumulate, contributing to the toxic load of the body as well as speeding up the processes of ageing and causing a further stress on the immune system.

Our bodies are really amazing in terms of being capable to run many complex processes which keep us healthy and in a harmonious balance. One of the main keys to staying healthy revolves around providing our bodies with as much nutritional support as we can, in order to fuel our natural defences. Our primary line of defence against free radicals are antioxidants – substances that help counteract the damaging effects of oxidation in tissue.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, polyphenols and other phyto-chemicals), as well as enzymes (proteins in the body that assist in chemical reactions). While it is not entirely clear how antioxidants work, their most important characteristic in terms of supporting the body against free radicals is that they are stable with or without the extra electron, so they can help to stop the chain reaction (or the vicious circle) referred to above. These beneficial compounds are present in many natural, whole foods (such as fruit and vegetables).

In many cases, it is possible to identify antioxidant-rich sources through their distinctively bright colours. For instance:

  • the deep red of cherries;
  • the deep purple of beetroot;
  • the bright orange of carrots;
  • the yellow of turmeric;
  • and the blue-purple of blueberries, blackberries and grapes.

Vitamin C and vitamin E are two of the most potent antioxidants found in nature, present in high levels in foods such as parsley, rosehips, elderberries, blackcurrants, citrus fruits, broccoli, nuts and whole grains (like oatmeal, rye, barley). Foods that have exceptionally high levels of antioxidants are often referred to as “superfoods” or “superfruits”, for that reason. The most common examples of those are: green tea, acai berries and wheatgrass.

How to support the level of antioxidants within your body?

Our bodies produce metabolic enzymes that are extremely effective antioxidants but their capability of sufficient production drops dramatically in our twenties. Likewise, if we are adding to the free radical production though our lifestyles, it is a good idea to support the antioxidant levels through external (dietary) sources.

Antioxidant foods
Eating a balanced diet, rich in a variety of seasonal (preferably organic) fruits, vegetables, green leafy plants and whole grains, is one of the best ways to support your body’s antioxidant levels.

However, if you feel that you need additional support due to your life and health circumstances, a more concentrated intake, or a more convenient and reliable source, food-based antioxidant supplements can be the perfect solution.

You can find plenty of antioxidant options to suit your lifestyle and healthcare needs in our eBay shop.

Antibiotics vs Gut

Good health begins with balance in the body.

Friendly Bowel Bacteria
Did you know that there are twenty times more bacteria than living cells inside our bodies?

Having the right kinds of bacteria (often “friendly bacteria”), in appropriate quantities, is essential for virtually everything from healthy digestion and nutrient absorption, to immunity and defence against infections. It’s no wonder that more and more people say that health starts within your gut- it really does!

What can disrupt gut flora?

The delicate balance of healthy gut flora can be disrupted by a range of circumstances, which may include:

  • excess alcohol consumption,
  • diet high in sugar,
  • poor digestion,
  • stress,
  • exposure to toxins and environmental pollutants.
  • antibiotics

For the purposes of this article, we will look in more detail at one of the most common causes of the imbalance of bacterial flora within the gut – the long-term or frequent use of antibiotics.

How do antibiotics affect the digestive tract?

In present times, antibiotics have been arguably prescribed and used far more than they should have been and, a result, antibiotic resistance is, unfortunately, now a fairly common problem.

Antibiotic Resistance
Antibiotic resistance is a type of drug resistance where a pathogenic microorganism is able to survive exposure to an antibiotic.

If that wasn’t enough, one of the most notable effects of antibiotics is their negative impact on the digestive system and the fine balance of gut flora since antibiotics destroy both good and bad bacteria within our bodies, with no differentiation between them.

Antibiotics work by either killing bacteria or by preventing bacteria from growing – which great news in terms of ‘bad’, pathogenic bacteria, but really bad news in terms of our ‘good’ bacteria, which help to keep us healthy!

It is somewhat ironic, when you consider that people start taking antibiotics in the first place because they are ill, often not realising that the medicine is destroying one of their bodies primary lines of natural defence.

The most important part of our Immune System resides in the gut, where Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (special antibody-producing cells) works hard to prevent unwanted micro-organisms (such as bacteria or viruses) from entering our body.

I’m not completely dissing antibiotics, they do have a very significant role to play and can certainly be highly effective in resolving bacterial infections but there should be a time and a place for them, when there is no other, less drastic and more natural alternative at hand. It is so important to use antibiotics sensibly and to support your levels of beneficial bacteria both during and after antibiotic treatment, in order to ensure that they won’t cause any longer term damage. This can be done through a specialised detox treatment which can deal with any residual after-effects whilst helping your body to regain the optimal balance.

If your levels of good bacteria fall, you provide opportunistic ‘nasties’ (like bacteria, parasites and yeasts) with an excellent environment in which to thrive and spread. An overgrowth of harmful gut flora (called dysbiosis) increases gut toxicity and can result in a number of unpleasant symptoms and conditions, which may include:

  • bloating
  • constipation
  • diarrhoea
  • abdominal pains after eating
  • wind
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Leaky Gut Syndrome
  • and Candida overgrowth

This is one of the main reasons why antibiotic programmes often result in thrush (an infection caused by overgrowth of Candida which is an opportunistic yeast).

Digestive Problems after antibiotic treatment
Research has shown that the damage done to the digestive tract by antibiotics can last for far longer than was previously thought.

Stanford University researchers in America analysed the levels of friendly bacteria in 3 healthy adult women both before and after each of two cycles on the antibiotic Cipro. Following the first cycle, they found that the drug had altered the population of the subjects’ friendly gut bacteria significantly, perhaps even permanently. Following the second cycle, six months later, they discovered that the effect was exponentially greater. As such, antibiotics should never be used as a regular “quick fix” for minor problems and, wherever possible, long courses should be avoided. Where a course of antibiotics is really unavoidable, you may consider a detox therapy or support your levels of friendly bacteria through diet and probiotic supplements, at the very least.

Cultures around the World have observed the health-supporting effects of fermented foods (often referred to as “probiotic foods”) which are often include as a regular part of their diet. These foods include kefir, sauerkraut, miso, tofu and tempeh, to name just a few.

Introducing these foods in your diet on a daily basis is a really good way to promote healthy intestinal flora. However, it is worth noting that most of these foods do not contain strains of bacteria that can actually colonise the digestive tract. Instead, they do good work for a week or two and then pass through. Supplementing with strains of good bacteria that are capable of colonising the digestive tract (such as L. acidophilus, L. salivarius, B. infantis, B. bifidum, B. brevis and B. longum) is arguably a far more effective and powerful means of supporting healthy levels of gut flora for the long term.

Dandelion… weed or a valuable herb?

I can’t believe it’s May already; the Spring has come to greet us in a full swing and with it came a mass of flowers. I’m sat here looking at my garden and see the grass speckled with white daisies and yellow dandelions. I can’t help but wonder… why do we consider these amazing plants as weeds when every single part of them can be used to benefit our health?

What are the benefits of Dandelions?

  • Immune system support
  • Increased metabolism
  • Increased production of bile and digestive enzymes
  • Detox
  • Liver function support

As I mentioned above, every single part of Dandelion has medicinal properties which are closely related to the time of year and stage of the plant development.

We tend to harvest dandelion root in Autumn, leaves and green buds in early Spring (before the flowering period), and flowers and stalks in late Spring/ Summer.

dandelion-4119846_1920.jpg

Seeing as most of the dandelions in my garden are in the full bloom, I am going to focus on how we can use that to our advantage.

So… what can we do with flowering dandelions?

You can pick them, wash and separate the flowers from stalks. Now we have 2 ingredients which we can use in multiple ways, some of which I described below:

14 day Dandelion stalk treatment

Slowly chewing on 5 fresh dandelion stalks each day can help with:

  • Liver and gallbladder problems and pain- especially if it extends up your back under your right shoulder
  • Gallstones- it can help to stimulate the gallbladder and liver function in order to dissolve any gallstones
  • Pancreas problems- it can aid in enzyme production
  • Diabetes – you can eat up to 10 stalks a day in order to help with regulation of sugar levels
  • Stomach problems- it increases production of gastric juices as well as cleansing of any leftover material
  • Skin problems- especially if they involve spots, rashes and itching
  • Physical and mental fatigue, especially if it includes feelings of sadness and melancholy
  • Gout, rheumatism
  • Eyesight problems

You can mix the ‘milk’ from the stalks with distilled water in order to soothe irritated eyes, eczema and go over any ‘liver spots’ or other skin discolorations.

What can you do with the ‘leftover’ flowers?

Many, many things! Dandelion flowers are very beneficial in supporting our immune system and liver function. You can use them in salads (but soak them in salty water for 30 minutes beforehand in order to get rid of the bitter taste), use them to make tea, syrup, oil infusion or a tincture.

Dandelion Tea:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of dandelion flowers
  • 2 cups of water

Simmer for 20 minutes before straining and serving. You can drink 1 cup of dandelion tea twice a day.

Dandelion tea is very beneficial for women and can help with:

  • Irregular or scanty periods
  • Inflammation of ovaries or fallopian tubes

Dandelion syrup:

Ingredients:

  • 350-400 dandelion flowers
  • 1litre of water
  • 1 lemon
  • 1kg of sugar (you can use coconut sugar, honey, etc)

Wash the flowers throughouly and add to the cold water. Bring them to boil and add sliced lemon (if you can’t find organic lemon, peel the skin) and continue to boil for another 15 minutes. Leave to cool and sit overnight.

The next day strain all of the flowers with lemon and add sugar to the liquid. Slowly bring everything to boil between 1-2hrs, checking the consistency. Pour the boiling liquid into jars, lid them and cover over with a blanket for approx 30mins.

Dandelion syrup is especially beneficial in:

  • Strengthening immune system
  • Aiding recovery in cold & flu
  • Easing coughs and sore throats

Dandelion Oil:

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of dandelion flowers
  • 1cup oilive oil

Wash and dry dandelion flowers then put them in a jar and fill to the top with olive oil. Put the jar in a pan filled with water and slowly heat it up over 1-2hrs. Leave to cool before straining the flowers.

You can use dandelion oil externally in:

  • Rheumatic pains
  • Muscle pains
  • Skin problems


Please note: avoid using dandelions found in parks, on sides of the road, fields and anywhere where you don’t know if they have been sprayed with chemicals. Remember to leave some for our bees, they rely on dandelions as one of their first sources of food before other flowers begin to bloom .

The truth about Acne

Did you know that acne is the most common of all skin problems, affecting as much as 80% of the population?

Acne is an umbrella-term for different types of eruptions arising from a similar origin which can be divided into two groups:acne

  1. Noninflammatory acne- which includes blackheads and whiteheads
  2. Inflammatory acne (where we can see pustules, nodules and cysts) which is very often linked to the infection by propionibacterium acnes.

How does acne appear?

It’s a mix of sex hormones and genetic predisposition! Acne usually makes its first appearance during puberty when the body gets stimulated by testosterone to start producing increased amounts of sebum. Sebum is an oil-like substance excreted by sebaceous glands found inside the skin’s follicles, which main role is lubrication of the skin and hair.

Testosterone is also responsible for accelerated production or keratin which forms a thickened, protective surface layer of skin.

Let’s sum it all up:  as the production of sebum and keratin can become excessive during puberty, it is not difficult for the follicles to become clogged and, Voila!, we end up with blackheads or whiteheads! Add some Propionibacterium acnes to the trapped mix and we finish with additional redness and swelling!

Acne Vulgaris is the most common type of acne which usually appears in teenagers as a result of increased testosterone levels (as explained above). As boys produce higher amounts of male sex hormones than girls, they are much more likely to suffer breakouts. Since everyone’s body chemistry differs, not every person is bound to develop acne. This is where genetic predispositions very often have a major role to play.

Post puberty, people can suffer recurring flare-ups of acne throughout their lives which are most often linked hormonal changes initiated by menses, menopause and hormonal contraception in case of women and steroid treatment in men.

Standard treatment of acne most often includes:

  • Antibiotics- which prolonged use can have a negative impact on liver, kidneys and the digestive system
  • vitamin A supplements- which are safe when taken as prescribed but could lead to liver damage and birth defects if taken in vast amounts or during pregnancy
  • Acctuane- a prescription drug which has been linked to miscarriages and birth defects

Homeopathy offers completely safe and side effects-free treatment of all types of acne. Some of the most common homeopathic remedies for acne include, but are not limited to:

  • Antimonium Crudum
  • Calcarea Sulphurica
  • Kalium Bromatum
  • Pulsatilla
  • Silicea
  • Sulphur
  • Thuja

Homeopathic remedies are chosen on the basis of the full scope of symptoms associated with acne, not only on its medical diagnosis. There are different types of eruptions, affecting different parts of the body and having a variable impact on those affected. Taking all this into consideration, it is no wonder that each case of acne will require a unique and individualised approach of treatment.

Would you like to know how our treatment could help with your skin problems? We offer FEE 15 minute introductory consultations, contact us on 07913 902 229 to book your slot.

Endometriosis

Seeing as we are in the middle of the Endometriosis Awareness Week (4-10 March 2019), I felt compelled to write a little bit about this painful condition.

For those of you who are fortunate enough not to belong to the 10% of women who suffer from it, I’m going to include a brief introduction.

So… what is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is considered as a potentially chronic condition. It happens when the inner lining of your uterus (endometrium) starts growing outside of its bounds. It can spread to the fallopian tubes and ovaries, grow its way into the peritoneum, bladder, bowels and even go as far as lungs!

The cells which are lining the uterus are responding to fluctuations in the levels of oestrogen, building themselves up when it’s at its peak and dying off when it drops lower- that’s when we experience the menstrual flow.

The problem occurs when the cells creating the lining spread and then break down in places which don’t enable for them to become expelled as they normally would during the monthly period. Because of that, the pooling blood needs to be reabsorbed back by the surrounding tissue which is a much slower process.

Since we experience rise and fall in hormonal levels every month, the endometrial ‘implants’ can become increasingly bigger, even turning into scar tissue which can bind internal organs together.

Why does it happen? Nobody really knows… but Endometriosis has been linked to hereditary tendencies as well as exposure to chlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and dioxin, so there is a potential element of toxic exposure and its buildup within the body.

What are the symptoms of endometriosis?

In short: PAIN. Depending on the areas affected by endometriosis, it can include:

  • Pain and bleeding during bowel movements
  • Pain and bleeding during urination
  • Pain in abdominal area
  • Pain in lower back
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pain during menstruation- when the endometrium is breaking off causing pooling of blood in the affected cavities
  • Pain during first 2 weeks of the cycle- when the endometrium is building up

As well as:

  • Nausea, diarrhea or constipation
  • Formation of blood-filled cysts, most commonly on the ovaries
  • Problems becoming pregnant- 30-40% of infertility cases are due to endometriosis

What are your options if have been diagnosed with Endometriosis?

Standard medical treatment involves symptom management and revolves around the use of:

  • painkillers, such as codeine, paracetamol and ibuprofen
  • synthetic hormone therapy, which puts women in a state of artificial menopause
  • surgery, used to remove adhesions

They are not your only options.

If you would like to address the Endometriosis instead of just managing its symptoms, you could treat it with homeopathy.

Homeopathy is a natural, non-toxic and side-effects free system of medicine which works by bringing your body and its functions back to balance to enable you live a life which is not restricted by pain and discomfort. Homeopathy doesn’t have any contraindications and so can be used on its own or as an addition to any treatment you are currently undertaking.

Did you know that we offer a FREE 15 minute introductory consultation to see how our treatment could help you?

You can send us a message or call us on 07913 902 229 to book your slot.

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