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There Are 10 Steps to Avoiding Festive Weight Gain, According to Research

Posted Wednesday 18 December 2019 11:55 by in Weight loss by Tim Deakin

The study by the Universities of Birmingham and Loughborough advises 10 golden rules

In the UK, obesity is an ongoing issue. The NHS reports that 29% of UK adults are classified as obese, a rise from 26% from 2016. What’s more, in the last year there have been 10,660 hospital admissions in the UK for which obesity was a directly attributable factor.[1]

However, despite being a concern all year round, it seems that weight gain is particularly prevalent during the festive season. One study concluded that weight gain occurs more frequently in November and December. They cited several reasons for this, including denser foods, bigger portions, social gatherings and less physical activity during the winter.[2]

But one study claims to have established the necessary steps to help prevent weight loss over the festive season. Let’s take a closer look at this research, as well as its findings.

The study

Researchers from the University of Birmingham and Loughborough University were supported by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) to carry out a ‘Winter Weight Watch Study’. This was designed as a trial to help participants avoid gaining weight over the festive season.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal, and was carried out in 2016 and 2017. 272 participants were split into two groups: an intervention group who were given tips on diet and exercise over Christmas, and a comparison group who weren’t.

The results show that, on average, participants in the comparison group gained weight over Christmas while those in the intervention group did not. In fact, by the end of the study the intervention group weighed an average of 0.49kg less than the comparison group.[3]

10 top tips for avoiding festive weight gain

As part of the study, the intervention group were provided with 10 top tips for avoiding weight gain. These were adapted from Lally et al’s 2008 tips, published in the International Journal of Obesity.[4]

These are the tips they were given:

1. Stick to your meal routine: Try to eat at roughly the same times every day.

2. Choose reduced fat: Choose low fat spreads, dressings and condiments.

3. Walk off the weight: Aim for 10,000 steps every day.

4. Pack a healthy snack: Choose fruit or low-calorie yoghurts as a snack.

5. Learn the labels: Check the fat and sugar on food labels while shopping.

6. Be cautious with portions: Think twice before second helpings.

7. Get on your feet: stand for at least 10 minutes every hour.

8. Think about your drinks: Check the sugar content of drinks and limit your alcohol intake.

9. Slow down while eating: Eat at the table and actively enjoy your food.

10. Don’t forget your 5 a day: Aim for five pieces of fruit and veg a day.

Controlling your weight over the festive season

Many of these tips revolve around one thing: moderation. By watching your diet and engaging in regular exercise throughout the festive season, you can avoid the regular trap of gaining weight over Christmas.

And this can lead to more benefits than just helping with weight loss. Bupa reports that exercise can help to stimulate muscles, bones and joints, keep organs healthy and improve symptoms of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.[5]

Find safe and effective weight loss medication right here at Express Pharmacy. Speak to one of our pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] NHS UK. Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, England, 2019

[2] Díaz-Zavala, RG. et al. Effect of the Holiday Season on Weight Gain: A Narrative Review. Journal of Obesity. 2017

[3] Mason et al. Effectiveness of a brief behavioural intervention to prevent weight gain over the Christmas holiday period: randomised controlled trial. The British Medical Journal. 2018

[4] Lally, P. et al. Healthy habits: efficacy of simple advice on weight control based on a habit-formation model. International Journal of Obesity. 2008

[5] Bupa. Benefits of Exercise. 2019

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Why Are Some of Your Favourite Food and Drinks Causing Your Acid Reflux?

Posted Tuesday 10 December 2019 09:53 by in Acid Reflux by Tim Deakin

To some of us, heartburn can feel unavoidable, but the things you eat and drink can play a significant role in the severity of your symptoms

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, otherwise known as GORD or – more commonly – acid reflux and heartburn, is a common condition in the UK. In fact, it’s estimated by charity Guts that 25% of all UK adults are living with regular heartburn.[1]

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a significant connection between the severity of your acid reflux and the food and drink you consume. Some of your favourite foods and beverages could be contributing to your symptoms. Here are some of the most common culprits.

Spicy foods

Spicy foods are considered to be among the most common heartburn triggers, due to the fact that many of them contain a compound called capsaicin, which is thought to slow the rate of digestion. Because of this, food sits in the stomach for longer, which increases the risk of heartburn.

Studies have revealed the risks of consuming spicy foods for heartburn sufferers. One Australian study found that consuming foods rich in chilli powder decreased the rate of digestion.[2]

High-fat foods

Like spicy foods, fatty foods have been shown to increase the likelihood of acid reflux symptoms occurring, but in a very different way.

Fatty foods can relax the lower oesophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to escape from the stomach into the oesophagus and cause acid reflux.[3]

What’s more, foods that are high in fat can also encourage the release of the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK). This has also been shown to relax the lower oesophageal sphincter and cause acid reflux.[4]

Citrus juice

Although it is not entirely clear how it occurs, multiple studies have shown that citrus juices like orange juice and grapefruit juice can act as a trigger for heartburn symptoms.

For example, one Korean study found that 67% of 382 of heartburn sufferers experienced worse symptoms after drinking orange juice.[5] In another study, 73% of people suffered acid reflux after drinking citrus juice.[6]

Alcohol

It’s December, which means many of us will be enjoying more than our average intake of alcohol over the coming weeks. However, for acid reflux sufferers, this can spell increased symptoms.

Like fatty foods, alcohol has been shown to relax the lower oesophageal symptoms, which can trigger heartburn. [7] But as well as this, studies have shown that drinking significant quantities of wine and beer can actually increase the amount of stomach acid in your body, making heartburn more likely to occur.[8]

Coffee

Research into the relationship between coffee and acid reflux is largely ongoing, with some studies concluding that there is no link between the two factors, while others suggest that coffee can be a trigger.

For example, one 1980 study found that, like alcohol and fatty foods, coffee can potentially relax the lower oesophageal sphincter and make acid reflux more likely to occur.[9]

When it comes to drinking coffee, it really depends on your own personal experience. If you find that you can enjoy coffee without experiencing heartburn, there’s no reason to avoid it completely.

Changing your dietary habits can help to tackle your acid reflux symptoms. You can also invest in safe and effective acid reflux medication, available here at Express Pharmacy. Contact one of our pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or using our discreet live chat service.

[1] Guts UK. Heartburn and Acid Reflux. 2019

[2] Horowitz, M. et al. The effect of chilli on gastrointestinal transit. Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology. 1992

[3] Holloway, RH. et al. Effect of intraduodenal fat on lower oesophageal sphincter function and gastro-oesophageal reflux. Gut. 1997

[4] Ledeboer, M. et al. Effect of cholecystokinin on lower oesophageal sphincter pressure and transient lower oesophageal sphincter relaxations in humans. Gut. 1995

[5] Kim, YK. et al. The relationship between the popular beverages in Korea and reported postprandial heartburn. Korean Journal of Gastroenterology. 2010

[6] Feldman, M. et al. Relationships between the acidity and osmolality of popular beverages and reported postprandial heartburn. Gastroenterology. 1995

[7] Chen, SH. et al. Is alcohol consumption associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease? Journal of Zhejiang University, Science. 2010

[8] Chari, S. et al. Alcohol and gastric acid secretion in humans. Gut. 1993

[9] Thomas, FB. et al. Inhibitory effect of coffee on lower oesophageal sphincter pressure. Gastroenterology. 1980

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Why Can Unwanted Facial Hair Appear for the First Time in Later Life?

Posted Wednesday 27 November 2019 09:51 by in Acid Reflux by Tim Deakin

Unwanted facial hair can deliver a knock to your confidence, but understanding more about the condition can give you the tools to tackle it effectively

A significant number of women live with unwanted facial hair every day. But although many women have experienced the condition, it still isn’t often talked about. Overcoming the embarrassment surrounding unwanted facial hair is key to understanding the condition and ultimately treating it.

Excessive hair growth in women is otherwise known as hirsutism. This is defined by the appearance of thick, dark hair on their face, neck, chest, tummy, lower back, thighs or buttocks.[1] But for some women, facial hair only becomes an issue as they get older. Let’s take a closer look at the relationship between unwanted facial hair and age.

What causes unwanted facial hair?

According to the Indian journal of Dermatology, hirsutism affects as many as one in 10 women, and can run in families. Women of South Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean descent are also more likely to develop the condition.[2]

There are also several underlying conditions which are associated with unwanted facial hair. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common, accounting for as much as 75% of all hirsutism cases.[3] This can also result in other symptoms like acne and weight gain.

Certain medications can also result in unwanted facial hair. In rare cases, it may be the result of a tumour.

Unwanted facial hair and hormones

No matter what lies behind your unwanted facial hair, the cause is almost always hormonal. Whether it’s a condition like PCOS or a particular medication, the reason that facial hair occurs is due to the change in hormones brought on by these factors, rather than the factors themselves.

Most commonly, unwanted facial hair is caused by an increase in hormones called androgens, or the fact that your body is more sensitive to these hormones.

In fact, during the diagnosis process for hirsutism, your doctor will likely complete blood tests in order to measure your hormone levels.[4]

Hormonal shifts occur during the menopause, but this is often different to hirsutism

Like PCOS and medication, the menopause is just another factor which can alter your balance of hormones. This means that, for some women, facial hair can occur for the first time in later life.

However, the facial hair that some women experience as they age, particularly after the menopause, is different from the coarse hair associated with hirsutism. This hair is commonly finer.[5]

The kind of facial hair which might appear during the menopause is determined by the way your hormones have changed. In simple terms, higher oestrogen levels result in finer, softer, lighter hair, while more testosterone leads to heavier hair. During the menopause, oestrogen levels often diminish but testosterone levels may not.[6] This means that, even if unwanted facial hair has never been an issue before, it can appear during or after the menopause.

Tackling unwanted facial hair

Unless it is a sign of an underlying tumour or growth, excess facial hair is rarely dangerous to your health. So if It doesn’t bother you, you aren’t obliged to treat it at all. However, many women wish to do something about their unwanted facial hair. Thankfully, there are plenty of options available, including laser treatment, electrolysis and topical creams.

Studies have shown that using topical creams like Vaniqa is an effective way to successfully remove unwanted facial hair, especially when combined with other kinds of treatment such as lasers.[7]

Get safe and effective hair removal treatment like Vaniqa right here at Express Pharmacy. Contact our team of pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet online Live Chat system.

[1] NHS UK. Excessive hair growth (hirsutism).2019

[2] Sachdeva, S. Hirsutism: Evaluation and Treatment. Indian Journal of Dermatology. 2010

[3] Bode, D. et al. Hirsutism in Women. American Family Physician. 2012

[4] British Skin Foundation. Hirsutism. 2016

[5] NHS UK. Excessive hair growth (hirsutism). 2019

[6] Perry, S. Menopause and new facial hair: oh, pluck this… Gennev. 2018

[7] Shapiro, J. and Lui, H. Treatments for unwanted facial hair. Skin Therapy Letter. 2005

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Make Movember Matter: Why Men Need to Open Up About Their Health

Posted Monday 11 November 2019 09:38 by in Express Pharmacy by Tim Deakin

Men’s health continues to be a significant issue around the world. Globally, men die an average of six years younger than women, for largely preventable reasons.[1]

Men are more likely to smoke, eat too much salt, eat too much red meat, not eat enough fruit and vegetables and drink to dangerous levels. What’s more, men are twice as likely to develop liver disease. 67% of men are overweight or obese, and 20% of men die before the age of 65.[2]

Because of this, initiatives like Movember have become increasingly important to men’s health.

The importance of Movember

Over the years, Movember has become an increasingly popular movement intent on improving the health and wellbeing of men. Movember addresses key male health concerns, including:

- Prostate cancer

- Testicular cancer

- Mental health

- Suicide prevention[3]

The movement encourages men to talk, ask for help, listen to others, act and check in, in light of statistics like this: 75% of suicides in the United Kingdom are men. Every minute around the world, a man dies by suicide.[4]

Research shows that men remain reluctant to share their health concerns

A clear problem in helping to tackle these issues is that men are significantly less likely to address their health concerns than women. In fact, men are around a quarter as likely as women to see a doctor over a one-year period, half as likely over a two-year period, and three times less likely over 5 years.[5]

Almost six out of 10 men (59%) say there are factors which stop them visiting the doctor, with 31% saying they only go to the doctor if they are extremely sick. A further 10% say they are scared of visiting their GP in case they learn that something is wrong with them.[6]

Health concerns among men are more common than you might think

It’s more important than ever that men feel able to discuss their health openly and without judgement, as there are still many conditions impacting the health of thousands of men every year.

Between 2014 and 2016, there were 2,364 new cases of testicular cancer in the UK, and 64 deaths as a result of the condition.[7] What’s more, in the UK more than 47,500 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, which equates to 129 men every day. 11,500 men die every year as a direct result of prostate cancer. This is equal to one man every 45 minutes.[8]

And it isn’t just life-threatening conditions like cancer that impact men’s health. Conditions like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation are more common than many people realise, yet a significant number of men suffering from these conditions feel too embarrassed to address them with a doctor. Premature ejaculation occurs in anywhere between 4 and 39% of men.[9]

Find safe, effective and discreet medication here at Express Pharmacy

Men should never feel too embarrassed to seek the medical help they need, be it for their physical or mental wellbeing. However, safe and effective medication for a range of men’s health concerns is available at Express Pharmacy. These include erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and hair loss.

Speak to one of our pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] Movember UK. Men’s Health. 2019

[2] Men’s Health Forum. Statistics: The key data on men’s health. 2014

[3] Movember UK. What We Stand For. 2019

[4] Movember UK. Mental Health. 2019

[5] Mahalik, JR. Dagirmanjian, FRB. Working Men’s Constructions of Visiting the Doctor. American Journal of Men’s Health. 2018

[6] Landro, L. Why Men Won’t Go to the Doctor, and How to Change That. The Wall Street Journal. 2019

[7] Cancer Research UK. Testicular cancer statistics. 2017

[8] Prostate Cancer UK. About prostate cancer. 2019

[9] McMahon, CG. Premature ejaculation. Indian Journal of Urology. 2007

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TIMELINE: What Happens When You Quit Smoking?

Posted Wednesday 06 November 2019 11:01 by in Smoking Cessation by Tim Deakin

Despite a significant drop in the number of smokers since the implementation of the 2007 ban, there are still more than 9 million active smokers in Britain. This equates to around 15% of all UK adults.[1]

A large number of these people are individuals who have smoked for years and are finding it hard to kick the habit, rather than new smokers. As such, smoking among 18 to 24-year-olds has fallen faster than in older age groups.[2]

Finding the motivation to quit can be difficult for existing smokers, which is why it’s important to know exactly how and when your health will improve once you make the decision to quit. We’re going to take a look at the impact stopping smoking can have over time, from 20 minutes to 20 years.

What impact does smoking have on your body?

Smoking has a huge impact on your health. In fact, it is the most common preventable cause of death and disease in the UK, where nearly 80,000 people die every year due to smoking-related causes.[3]

On average, smoking reduces your life expectancy by 10 years, and after the age of 40 every year you continue to smoke cuts your life expectancy by a further three months. Smoking impacts the health of many parts of your body, including your lungs, heart, brain, arteries and senses.

Some of the issues associated with smoking include:

- Cardiovascular disease

- Stroke

- Respiratory disease

- Blood clots

- Fertility issues

- Cancer, including cancer of the bladder, blood, cervix, colon, kidney, larynx, liver, lung, oesophagus, pancreas, stomach, tongue, throat and trachea, among others.[4]

Why do we smoke?

There’s a reason why people find it so hard to quit smoking. Inhaling cigarette smoke regularly makes alterations to your brain. This means that, once you quit, your brain has to relearn a way of doing things without relying on regular nicotine hits.

Nicotine alters the balance of two chemicals in the brain: dopamine and noradrenaline. When the levels of these chemicals change, so too do your mood and concentration levels, which smokers often find to be a positive experience.[5]

A nicotine rush produces these pleasurable feelings instantly, and the more you smoke the more your brain becomes used to these nicotine ‘hits’. This creates a vicious cycle, as you then have to smoke more to get the same effect.

What happens when you quit?

The effects of quitting smoking start to appear in as little as 20 minutes after smoking your last cigarette. By the time you have stopped smoking for a few weeks or months, you’ll notice significant benefits to your health and wellbeing. Meanwhile, successfully quitting for years can dramatically reduce your risk of serious health concerns.[6]

After 20 minutes: Your pulse rate returns to normal. Blood pressure begins to drop and circulation starts to improve.

After 8 hours: Nicotine levels and carbon monoxide levels in the blood drop by more than half. Oxygen levels also return to normal.[7]

After 48 hours: Carbon monoxide is eliminated entirely from the body, and your lungs start to clear out mucus. Other debris is also cleared from the lungs. Nicotine has left the body. Your sense of smell and taste will improve.

After 72 hours: Breathing becomes easier and bronchial tubes begin to relax. Energy levels increase. You may also experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms including moodiness, irritability, headaches and cravings. This is the period where most people feel the greatest urge to smoke again.[8]

After 1-3 months: Circulation continues to improve over the first few months after quitting. In as little as a month, your lung function starts to improve and you may notice less coughing and shortness of breath. You might also experience a renewed ability for cardiovascular activities like running and jumping.

After 9 months: By this point, the lungs have healed significantly. Cilia – hair-like structures within the lungs – have recovered and will help push mucus out of the lungs to fight infections.

After 1 year: Your risk of coronary heart disease has dropped to about half of that of a person who is still smoking. This will continue to drop past the one-year point.

After 5 years: The body has healed enough for arteries and blood vessels to widen again. Smoking causes the arteries and blood vessels to narrow, increasing your likelihood of blood clots.[9] Because of this, five years of not smoking can significantly reduce your risk of stroke. Over the next 10 years, this risk will drop even lower.

After 10 years: Your risk of developing lung cancer has dropped to that of a non-smoker.[10] Your chances of developing mouth, throat or pancreatic cancer have also been significantly reduced.

After 15 years: Your risk of a heart attack is now at the same level as that of a person who has never smoked. Similarly, the risk of developing pancreatic cancer is also the same as that of a non-smoker.

After 20 years: After successfully quitting for two decades, your risk of death from smoking-related causes like lung disease and cancer will have dropped to the same rate as a person who has never smoked in their life.

How to quit successfully

Quitting means something different to everyone. For some people, smoking alternatives like vaping offer the best chance of success. In fact, more than three and a half million people in the UK currently use vapes.[11]

For others, nicotine patches help to reduce cravings and improve their chance of quitting, while some people look to support groups and programmes to help keep their willpower in check.

Even simple lifestyle changes can make a significant difference when it comes to stopping smoking. Factors like regular exercise, keeping your hands busy, drink and diet changes, making non-smoking friends and maintaining realistic expectations can all help to improve your chances of quitting.[12]

For many people, safe and effective smoking cessation medication is the most effective way to quit smoking for good. Research shows that drug treatment like Champix can improve the success of quitting several fold.[13]

Effective smoking cessation medication like Champix is available here at Express Pharmacy. Get in touch with one of our pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or using our online Live Chat service.

[1] Cancer Research UK. Tobacco statistics. 2018

[2] Public Health England. Turning the tide on tobacco: Smoking in England hits a new low. 2018

[3] Bobak, A. PhD. Effects of smoking. Bupa UK. 2018

[4] Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. 2017

[5] NHS UK. Why is smoking addictive? 2018

[6] NHS UK. 10 health benefits of stopping smoking. 2018

[7] NHS UK. Quitting is the best thing you’ll ever do. 2017

[8] Cancer Research UK. Smokers underestimate nicotine cravings. 2008

[9] Heart.org. Understand Your Risk for Excessive Blood Clotting. 2019

[10] NHS UK. Quitting is the best thing you’ll ever do. 2017

[11] Stubley, P. Vaping ‘linked to 200 health problems in the UK including pneumonia’. The Independent. 2019

[12] NHS UK. 10 self-help tips to stop smoking. 2018

[13] Heydari, G. FallahTafti, S. Quit smoking with Champix: Parallel, randomised clinical trial of efficacy for the first time in Iran. European Respiratory Journal. 2012

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