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Obesity Awareness Week: What Causes Weight Gain and Obesity?

Posted Monday 13 January 2020 08:40 by in Weight loss by Harman Bhamra

Obesity is one of the most common health problems in the world and has been connected with numerous concerns, from high blood sugar to high blood pressure. Collectively, these related conditions are known as metabolic syndrome, and people with metabolic syndrome are more likely to develop heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Much research has been carried out over the last few decades into the causes of obesity and the different ways that it can be prevented and treated. In light of obesity awareness week, we are taking a look at what causes weight gain and obesity, and how you can overcome it.

What is the definition of obesity?

The definition of obesity refers to someone who is very overweight. Obesity is a common global problem, with one in four adults in the UK alone affected.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is the most widely used method to check if someone is overweight; it’s a measure of whether you’re at a healthy weight for your height. A BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a healthy weight, while 25 to 29.9 means you’re overweight.

If you have a BMI of between 30 and 39.9, you will be classed as obese. And, if you score over 40, you are considered to be severely obese. However, while BMI is useful in indicating whether you’re at a healthy weight, it’s important to note that it doesn’t take into account other factors such as muscle percentage.

With this in mind, a better measure of excess fat is waist size – men who are obese generally have a waist size of 40 inches or more, while obese women have a waist of 35 inches or more.

What causes weight gain?

Many people believe that those who are overweight simply don’t have the willpower to get healthy, but that isn’t true in the majority of cases. In fact, what causes obesity can vary from genetics right through to medical problems.

The following pointers are the main causes of weight gain, which can lead to obesity:

Genetics

Genetics play a huge role in obesity and children of obese parents are much more likely to become obese themselves. That’s not to say that obesity is completely predetermined and out of your control, as diet and exercise can still influence your individual weight. But genetic components do affect how susceptible you are to gaining, and holding on to, weight.

Medication

Pharmaceutical drugs like antidepressants and diabetes medication cite weight gain as one of the side effects. These medications don’t impact your willpower, but they do affect the functioning of your brain, which reduces your metabolic rate and increases your appetite.

Food Addiction

Fatty foods stimulate reward centres in the brain, leading to an addictive sensation. In fact, these foods have been compared to drugs like cocaine, alcohol and nicotine in terms of how addictive they are.

Addiction is complex and difficult for many people to overcome, as it alters the chemistry of the brain, making it hard to stop. People who are addicted to food lose control of their eating habits and become more likely to gain weight as a result.

Sugar

The impact sugar has on our health is not new news. One of the ways it harms us is by changing the hormones and biochemistry in our bodies, altering insulin resistance and increasing the chance of gaining weight.

Misinformation

A lack of understanding about health and nutrition is largely to blame for the levels of obesity around the world. From inaccurate information online to magazines and newspapers; many sources quickly become misinterpreted or taken out of context. Food companies also play a role in this, as do diet brands.

What is the best way to lose weight?

The best way to lose weight is by combining a few different lifestyle changes. Firstly, assess your diet and take note of the types of food you are eating; could you switch to healthier alternatives? Make sure you eat three meals a day too - many people believe that skipping breakfast will be beneficial to weight loss, but the opposite is true, and it means you miss out on the necessary nutrients to kickstart your day.

Getting more active is also key to successful weight loss; start walking more when possible or join a fitness class at your local gym.

To give your weight loss journey an extra boost, you can even take effective weight loss pills. Xenical weight loss pills aim to reduce the amount of fat absorbed during digestion. They are an effective weight loss treatment when used alongside a balanced diet and exercise regime, improving your cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and reducing levels of insulin.

Conclusion

Obesity is a global epidemic that poses a significant concern for the health of millions of people. Your weight loss journey will require a lot of determination, but by combining weight loss pills, meal planning and exercise, you’ll begin to notice significant differences to your body image. You’ll even benefit from reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other diseases.

Get in touch with our experts on 0208 123 0703 for more information regarding effective weight loss.

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Why Go Dry for January?

Posted Friday 10 January 2020 12:10 by in Express Pharmacy by Tim Deakin

Many of us choose to welcome the new year by abstaining from booze, but how beneficial is Dry January?

It’s the start of a brand new year, which means many of us have probably spent the last few weeks eating and drinking more than usual. To counteract this overindulgence, we often promise ourselves that we’re going to look after our health in January. And for many, this means Dry January.

Committing to Dry January means abstaining from alcohol for the first month of year, in an attempt to improve your health.

Alcohol consumption is an ongoing issue in the UK, with significant numbers of people regularly drinking to excess. In fact, 21% of UK adults drink more than 14 units per week, leading to over 337,800 hospital admissions per year. What’s worse, the UK also experiences more than 5,800 alcohol-specific deaths per year.[1]

But can Dry January help counteract the health concerns associated with alcohol? These are just some of the benefits involved.

The benefits of Dry January

Sleep better

Improving your sleep can help to significantly improve your overall health, as sleep impacts everything from mood and mental wellbeing to weight and cardiovascular health. In fact, research has shown that men with severe sleep apnoea are 58% more likely to develop congestive heart failure.[2]

Yet while we all know sleep is important, drinking too much can negatively impact your sleep quality significantly. For one thing, excessive drinking is widely associated with fatigue and persistent sluggishness. Indeed, alcohol accounts for at least 10% of all cases of chronic insomnia.[3]

As such, cutting down on drink in January can improve your sleep. Research from Alcohol Change UK reveals that 71% of people experienced better quality sleep when they cut out alcohol for a month, while 67% said they had more energy.[4]

Weight loss

Weight management is by far one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions and taking part in Dry January can help you achieve your goals.

Alcohol has a much higher calorie content than most people realise, containing seven calories per gram. This beats out both protein and carbohydrate (four calories per gram) and is only slightly less than fat (nine calories per gram).[5]

Abstaining from alcohol not only lowers your calorie intake, but can also give you the energy you need to move more and eat healthier. It’s no surprise that over half of Dry January participants (58%) report weight loss as a result of their efforts.[6]

Attitude adjustment

Although Dry January only lasts for a month, completing the challenge can lead to long-term changes in your relationship with alcohol. One study looked at the effects of Dry January on 857 participants, and found that 64% continued to drink less alcohol even six months after Dry January had finished.[7]

Committing to better health in 2020 doesn’t have to mean a choice between cutting out alcohol altogether or continuing with business as usual. Even cutting back a bit on your alcohol intake, rather than abstaining completely, can benefit your health in numerous ways. Consuming less alcohol is associated with better mood, higher concentration, clearer skin, higher energy levels, weight loss, better quality sleep and improved health all-round.[8]

Make 2020 the year your health flourishes with weight loss medication and so much more at Express Pharmacy. Speak to one of our expert pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet Live Chat service.

[1] NHS UK. Statistics on Alcohol, England 2019. 2019

[2] National Sleep Foundation. How Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Heart. 2018

[3] Harvard Health Publishing. Alcohol and fatigue: sedative effects of drinking can also initiate other physical responses in the body. 2017

[4] Alcohol Change UK. Dry January. 2019

[5] Tayie, FA. Beck, GL. Alcoholic beverage consumption contributes to caloric and moisture intakes and body weight status. Nutrition. 2016

[6] Alcohol Change UK. Dry January. 2019

[7] De Visser, RO. et al. Voluntary temporary abstinence from alcohol during “Dry January” and subsequent alcohol use. Health Psychology. 2016

[8] Drinkaware. Reasons for cutting down on alcohol. 2019

Comments

Mary Foster on Monday 20 January 2020 09:26

I have to congratulate you on a clear, well written article which has a proper set of references at the bottom.

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5 Common Symptoms of a Nicotine Addiction

Posted Friday 10 January 2020 09:07 by in Smoking Cessation by Harman Bhamra

Smoking addictions are incredibly common - the nicotine found in tobacco becomes highly addictive when smoked regularly.

While millions of people smoke globally, studies show that over 70% of smokers want to quit their addiction, but struggle to succeed. Read on to discover five of the most common symptoms of a nicotine addiction that you should be aware of, including ways to stop smoking if you wish to put an end to this health-damaging addiction.

Common Symptoms of a Nicotine Addiction

There are many tell-tale signs of a nicotine addiction, but the clearest indicator will come from how often you reach for a cigarette. If the cravings are always too strong to ignore, then the addiction is more prevalent. The most common symptoms of an addiction are as follows:

Weight Gain

Many people who suffer from a nicotine addiction find themselves gaining a little bit of weight. Nicotine actually triggers the release of glucose in the muscles and liver which alters your insulin response. As a result, you suffer from a drop in blood sugars when away from a cigarette, resulting in the need to replace energy stores with food.

Irritability and Anger

Stress is a common sign of nicotine withdrawal in people who are addicted. This is triggered by the strong dysregulation of the endocrine and central nervous systems. This dysregulation leads to changes in your mood which can make you angry and irritable when you’ve not had a cigarette. This is an incredibly vicious cycle as smokers begin to believe that they need a nicotine rush to stay calm.

Smoking Even When Unwell

If you’re tempted to light up a cigarette even when you’re sick, there’s a strong chance you’re addicted. This is especially the case in people who still insist on maintaining their habit, even with serious conditions such as cancers or heart problems.

Cravings

Anyone who has smoked will know just how difficult it can be to fight the cravings for a cigarette. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t smoke and are desperate to have a cigarette, it’s a strong indication that you’re very addicted to the nicotine. The longer you can go without needing to light up, the milder your addiction is.

Avoiding Activities That Will Halt Smoking

Many places, such as hospitals, schools and cinemas, are no-smoking zones. If you are avoiding activities with friends or family on the grounds that you know you won’t be able to smoke there, your addiction is taking over.

What Happens When You Stop Smoking?

Nicotine addictions are detrimental to your health, but hard to escape. What happens when you stop smoking? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

When you decide to stop smoking, the cravings for cigarettes come in waves – they can be incredibly intense at first, but then will gradually pass and fade. The body has an amazing ability to heal itself, and it actually happens sooner than you think - just as long as you persevere.

Within 20 minutes, your body has already started the process of healing itself. Your circulation begins to improve, and your blood pressure and pulse return to normal. After eight hours of no nicotine in your system, you have half the amount of nicotine and carbon monoxide in your bloodstream. However, you may also be experiencing intense cravings by this stage.

At 12 hours, your carbon monoxide levels in the body have returned to normal and your heart will be able to perform better as a result. Smokers who smoke a packet of cigarettes a day are twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack as a non-smoker, but by 24 hours without nicotine, the chances of this have lowered.

At 48 hours, your sense of smell and taste are improving, and your body is detoxing the chemicals in your lungs and bloodstream. At this point, you will no doubt be experiencing headaches, dizziness and irritability as your body cleans itself up. This is the toughest time in the quitting stage but sticking with it is vital for success.

By the end of day three, your energy levels will rise and your ability to breathe will be clearer. Between two weeks and three months, you’ll make huge strides and will find you can exercise for longer and breathe more freely. Cravings are still common at this stage, but the intensity will have started to calm down, making it easier to control. From here until the one year mark and beyond, your health continues to improve and your risk of diseases and health concerns drop dramatically.

Check out our guide on the timeline of smoking withdrawal for more information.

Ways to Stop Smoking

If you’re wondering how to stop smoking, we’ve compiled some tips to help you get on the road to recovery. There are many strategies you can choose, from using prescribed stop smoking tablets to specialised chewing gum. Here are the top picks that most smokers find useful.

Use Champix tablets

Champix tablets are one of the most popular medications used to quit smoking. They’re simple to consume and can successfully fight addiction in as little as 12 weeks. There are many benefits which come from using Champix tablets - they help to reduce cravings and eventually win you back a higher quality life. They also help to reduce stress and irritability, as well as alleviating headaches and other addiction-related symptoms; making it easier to keep on track.

Keep yourself busy

Finding a distraction is a great way to reduce your need for nicotine, as often cigarettes are used out of habit. If you can go for a walk, play a game with family or chat to a friend when you feel a craving coming on, you’ll distract yourself enough to let it pass.

Make a list of reasons to quit smoking

When you’re struggling to stay on track, remind yourself of the benefits of quitting and the reasons why you wanted to in the first place. Write down your top five reasons why you want to stop smoking and refer to it every time you have an urge to smoke.

Conclusion

Nicotine is an addictive substance and quitting is never easy. But with the right support and a great mindset, you can overcome your addiction to smoking, as many others have in the past. Whether it’s keeping busy, using prescription medication (which can be through purchased through Express Pharmacy) to ease your cravings or setting goals, quitting smoking is achievable for anyone.

Here at Express Pharmacy, our pharmaceutical experts are passionate about getting you on the road to a healthier life. Be sure to take a look at our stop smoking products or get in touch on 0208 123 0703.

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The Top 6 Healthiest New Year's Resolutions

Posted Wednesday 08 January 2020 17:48 by in Smoking Cessation by Harman Bhamra

When the New Year rolls around, the majority of us enter into a state of reflection, picking apart how we can better ourselves over the coming months. But while resolutions are fun to make, they can be challenging to maintain, resulting in most of us failing to keep them up for the entire year.

Studies suggest that a third of us aim to try harder in at least one area of our lives in January, and while intentions are good for the first few weeks, they inevitably get forgotten about as life gets in the way and enthusiasm wanes.

However, if there’s one area of your life that you should make an effort to improve, it’s your health.

From gaining a more positive body image to reducing the risk of potential health problems, numerous benefits come with prioritising your health. The following six resolutions are some of the healthiest ones you can make, meaning sticking to them will bring you incredible benefits.

The healthiest New Year's Resolutions

1. Lose Weight

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. It seems that many of us feel unhappy with our weight and resolve to shift the excess pounds after Christmas.

This is all fine and well, but losing weight takes effort and determination, so it can be difficult to commit to in the long-term. Weight loss is not a resolution that you can see overnight success from, and this reason alone is why so many people lose the motivation to shed some pounds.

There are various routes you can take when it comes to losing weight, from keeping a food journal to stay on top of progress, to taking prescription weight loss pills. You’ll likely find that a mixture of the best weight loss pills, exercise, and diet will be the perfect recipe for weight loss success.

2. Keep in Touch with Friends and Family

The New Year is the perfect time to reconnect with friends and family, which, in turn, is great for your health.

Research shows that people who have a strong bond with people in their lives live longer than those who don’t. The reason behind this is that a lack of social relationships and sense of loneliness can lead on to more serious problems like alcohol abuse, smoking and obesity.

With so many apps and technological devices on hand, it’s never been easier to keep in touch with people or rekindle a forgotten relationship. Send off some text messages or emails to loved ones and follow them up with an in-person visit – you’ll instantly feel better, and you’ll make someone else’s day in the process too.

3. Quit Smoking

Smoking increases the chance of having a stroke by as much as 50%, and it has also been linked to countless health concerns, from cancers to coronary heart disease.

If you are looking to stop smoking in the New Year, there are plenty of methods you can use to help make the transition easier. One of the most popular prescription medications used for quitting smoking is Champix; 45% of users manage to quit smoking after just 12 weeks of taking it.

4. Lower Your Stress Levels

A bit of pressure in life can be good for us, but when your stress levels increase too often, it can be incredibly detrimental to your health.

Chronic stress is prevalent in today’s fast-paced society, but it’s been linked to numerous health concerns including heart disease, obesity, insomnia and depression. Many factors in our lives can make us stressed, from long hours at work to a lack of sleep and poor diet.

Stress is inevitable in short bouts and can even give us a boost of adrenaline in certain situations, but this doesn’t mean you should disregard the importance of relaxation and a good night’s sleep. In the New Year, try to take time out of your schedule to spend time with loved ones, catch up on sleep and do relaxing activities such as reading or yoga.

5. Reduce Your Alcohol Intake

The festive period is a prime time to slip out of healthy routine and indulge in alcohol and food. Once over, many of us make the resolution to cut back on the amount of alcohol we drink.

Drinking alcohol to excess can impact the brain’s neurotransmitters, heightening the risk of several mental health problems, including depression, memory loss and seizures. Alcohol is also detrimental to our physical health, from weight gain and liver problems to heart disease and hypertension. Are the health consequences really worth it?

Make it one of your health-related New Year goals to cut back on alcohol to improve your health - and bank balance.

6. Get More Sleep

We’re always being told that a good night’s rest is healthy for us, but do you know just how beneficial to our health it really is?

From improving your mood to lowering stress levels, sleep is incredibly important for our physical and mental health. Lack of sleep increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, weight gain and high blood pressure, as well as making it more difficult to strengthen memories which is a process known as memory consolidation.

When you regularly get a poor night’s sleep, your mind is foggy, you struggle to cope with daily stresses effectively, and your immune system suffers. So, next year, make it one of your goals to go to bed early and get a good night’s rest.

Become a healthier version of yourself in the New Year

These top six New Year’s resolutions are great for many reasons, but the main point to take away is the fact that they’re all achievable. With help from a few small tweaks to your daily routine, you will be on the road to a better, healthier version of yourself.

For more information regarding effective stop smoking and weight loss treatments, get in touch with our pharmacists today on 0208 123 0703.

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The Most Important Meal of the Day: Can Oatmeal in the Morning Cure Acid Reflux?

Posted Friday 27 December 2019 09:22 by in Acid Reflux by Tim Deakin

Acid reflux can easily put a dampener on your festivities, but certain foods could make a significant difference

Acid reflux is a condition which impacts huge numbers of people across the UK and around the world. In fact, it is estimated that anywhere between 10 and 20% of the UK population suffer from regular incidents of acid reflux.[1]

But what you eat can determine the severity of your symptoms. From oatmeal to onions, we’re going to take a look at some of the foods that can commonly impact the condition, for better or worse.

What is acid reflux?

When stomach acid travels up towards the throat, it can create an unpleasant burning sensation, resulting in both heartburn and acid reflux. This can leave a nasty taste and can even cause pain. When acid reflux occurs frequently, it is known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, or GORD.[2]

There are several factors which make acid reflux more likely to occur, including certain foods, smoking, heavy alcohol use, pregnancy, smoking and genetics.[3]

Can oatmeal reduce acid reflux symptoms?

We all know that breakfast in the most important meal of the day, but for acid reflux sufferers it can be even more vital. Healthy breakfast options like oatmeal and porridge have been shown to help relieve the symptoms associated with acid reflux, including the unpleasant taste and burning pain.

Oatmeal is a whole grain and therefore is high in fibre, which promotes healthy digestion and movement. What’s more, oatmeal can help to absorb acid in the stomach and reduce symptoms of acid reflux.

Oatmeal is also high in selenium, which can help to coat and protect the oesophagus from painful acids.[4]

Foods to help your acid reflux

There are many foods out there which are thought to act as triggers for heartburn and acid reflux symptoms, increasing your discomfort. These include:

- Spicy foods like curries

- Citrus fruits and juices

- Garlic and onions

- Mint

- Caffeine

- Fried foods with high levels of fat[5]

However, other foods are thought to help reduce your symptoms of acid reflux, rather than aggravating them.

Fresh, cool, creamy and mild foods can help ease the intensity and frequency of your acid reflux. Switch up your diet to include higher quantities of foods like fresh tomato, cucumber, basil, low-fat yoghurts, eggs, fruit and nuts, wholegrain bread and lunchtime salads with chicken or beans.[6]

Treating acid reflux

Changing your dietary habits can be a helpful way of managing your acid reflux symptoms, but there are also other things you can do alongside these changes, such as seeking out safe and effective acid reflux medication.

Omeprazole is one such treatment; the generic alternative to branded medications like Losec and Prilosec. In clinical trials, Omeprazole has been found to be significantly effective in relieving acid reflux symptoms in chronic sufferers.[7]

You can find safe and effective acid reflux medication right here at Express Pharmacy. Get in touch with one of our expert pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] Dent, J. et al. Epidemiology of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: a systematic review. British Medical Journal. 2005

[2] NHS UK. Heartburn and acid reflux. 2018

[3] SCOPE. Dyspepsia and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: investigation and management of dyspepsia, symptoms suggestive of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, or both. National Institute of Clinical Excellence. 2012

[4] National Institute of Health. Selenium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2019

[5] Rennie. Heartburn triggers. 2016

[6] Harvard Health Publishing. What to eat when you have chronic heartburn. Harvard University. 2019

[7] Richter, JE. et al. Efficacy of omeprazole for the treatment of symptomatic acid reflux disease without esophagitis. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2000

Tags: Acid Reflux

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