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Weight Loss


The Effects of Weight Gain Are More Than Skin Deep

Posted Wednesday 01 February 2017 09:24 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

It may be the end of a long January. But if you have been paying attention to your diet and exercise regime for the last month, there are plenty of reasons for you to keep up the good work. And none of them have anything to do with preparing for a beach body.

There are many factors that can contribute to weight gain. Whether it’s poor diet or just a sedentary lifestyle, millions of people in the UK now eat a little bit too much that’s not good for them and exercise a little too infrequently to keep the weight off.

Weight gain has become a huge issue nationally and, indeed, globally. According to research by the World Health Organisation, ‘At least one in three of the world's adult population is now overweight and almost one in 10 can be categorised as obese.’ And worryingly figures are even higher in the UK. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimate that one in four British adults is now obese – a figure much higher than many of our European counterparts.

It should be no real surprise to hear that obesity can have an extremely serious impact on health – including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and several forms of cancer. All of these issues can cause or contribute to premature death.

Yet, it isn’t just those people who are clinically obese whose health can be affected by lifestyle diseases. A poor relationship with nutrition and exercise can lead to a catalogue of health concerns that affect both the body and the mind. Let’s take a closer look at some of the symptoms that may be encountered with weight gain:

Mental health issues and depression:

Alongside the stresses placed on the body, weight gain can also have a major psychological impact. Those who are overweight often encounter low self-esteem, negative body image, anxiety and in some cases more serious mental health issues such as eating disorders and depression.

The role that diet plays in mental health is an obvious but under-recognised fact. At a basic level, maintaining a healthy balance of complex carbohydrates, fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals in the body can play a significant role in balancing mood and emotions. Conversely, erratic spikes in nutrients and particularly blood sugar can lead to mood swings and greater stress.

In the same vein, regular exercise can have a profound impact on mental health, helping to combat depression, anxiety, stress and low self-esteem, through the release of endorphins.

Joint pain:

Weight gain can also lead to joint pain, particularly on weight-baring joints like the knees and hips. In fact every extra pound of weight gained puts an extra four pound of pressure on to our knee joints. Which means that extra 5 pounds of holiday weight adds 20 pounds of weight to each knee. So it’s really no surprise bones and joints can suffer wear and tear overtime.

Indigestion and heartburn:

Recent studies have shown that those who gain weight dramatically increase their risk of heartburn. Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, occurs when the acidic stomach juices flow up into the oesophagus. This is thought to be caused by pressure in the stomach. While this can bring discomfort it can also increase the chances of something much more serious. If left untreated, it can lead to gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which increases the risk of esophageal cancer.

Infertility:

Obesity can have significant implications in terms of fertility, particularly for women. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), more than 70% of women who are infertile due to weight issues, would be able to successfully conceive without the aid of fertility treatments if they maintained a healthy weight. Excess fat is the main culprit here as fat cells help create the reproductive hormone, oestrogen. Too many fat cells, lead to an overload in sex hormones, which can disrupt ovulation.

Men who gain excess weight also experience hormonal changes that effect fertility — mainly a reduction in testosterone levels. There are also much higher rates of erectile dysfunction among obese men, making it more difficult for couples to conceive.

Maintaining a healthy BMI is the best way to avoid the health impacts caused by weight gain. Weight loss should always be achieved through healthy means. That means maintaining a balanced diet and exercising regularly.

For those who are carrying a lot of extra weight, there are also several medications available that can help you on your weight loss journey. Xenical, also known as Orlistat works well as part of a healthy weight loss strategy.

Want expert medical advice about safe and sustainable weight management? Why not contact our pharmacy team today on 0208 123 0703?


5 Health Benefits of Cutting Down on Alcohol

Posted Monday 19 September 2016 09:14 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

If you drink responsibly, reducing the amount of alcohol you consume may not have crossed your mind. But while small, frequent alcohol consumption may not carry serious health concerns, cutting down can still have significant health benefits.

1. Weight loss

For those who believe they enjoy a healthy balanced diet yet struggle to shift that troublesome weight around the middle, the answer could lie in the alcohol you consume. You may exercise regularly, but glasses of wine with dinner and drinks with friends at the weekend can mean that you are drinking a large number of calories. In fact, a single large glass of red wine can contain over 200 calories – more than enough to take you over your recommended daily calorie intake.

2. Higher energy and concentration levels

A glass of wine or a pint of beer can help you to feel more relaxed and loose. However, as a depressant, alcohol can also leave you feeling lethargic and sluggish if consumed at the wrong time or in larger quantities.

As we age, the effects of alcohol – including hangovers – can be more difficult to shake off. If you find that you’re still feeling the effects of Saturday night on Monday morning, it might be time to consider reducing your alcohol consumption. Even a couple of glasses of wine can impact on concentration, energy levels and mood.

3. Better skin

It is well known that alcohol can lead to dehydration. Many of the symptoms of a hangover are closely linked to the body’s reaction to this dehydration – headache, fatigue and, less commonly considered, dry skin.

Water helps the skin keep its elasticity, which keeps us looking fresh, youthful and awake. Too much alcohol, and the skin can dry out, lose its radiance and allow for things such as dark circles and fine lines to develop. Here’s a tip – try taking a photograph of yourself the morning after consuming a lot of alcohol, and then again after abstaining for a few weeks or months. See if you can spot a difference in the appearance of your skin.

4. Improved mood

Alcohol can have a marked effect on mood and the way our brain functions. Bouts of anxiety and even depression are not uncommon amongst drinkers. While those who drink in moderation may not experience the full extent of these problems, it is still possible that your alcohol consumption can cause you to be irritable and short tempered.

5. More restful sleep

Whilst drinking alcohol can make a lot of us very tired, the quality of sleep we receive after consuming alcohol has been shown to be worse than that received after not drinking at all. Studies have suggested that alcohol consumption before bed can cause us to skip the phase of sleep known as REM or rapid eye movement. This phase is an important cognitive function, playing a role in the consolidation of memories and the body’s control of certain hormones.

If you require further advice and guidance on how cutting down on alcohol can help you enjoy health benefits such as weight control, why not consult one of our experienced pharmacists?


How Cutting Down on Sugar Can Dramatically Improve Health

Posted Sunday 14 August 2016 19:57 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

sugar and weight problemsFor years, doctors and health and fitness experts told us that fat was the enemy. However, more recent research began to show that there was another evil at play. Over the past five years or so, medical professionals have sought to educate us about the dangers of sugar – which is now thought to be the more damaging factor in our health.

If you are among the thousands of people who now count the sugar content in your food as well as the fat, you will hopefully have seen the effects of good nutrition and sugar regulation. But for those who are yet to get their sugar intake under control, here’s what you can look forward to when you begin to tackle the issue.

You’ll sleep better

We’re all familiar with the inevitable crash that comes with a sugar high. Sugar-laden breakfasts such as cereal can leave you feeling sluggish during the day, meaning you end up having afternoon naps and being unable to sleep properly at night.

Reducing the amount of sugar in your diet can help to alleviate this, keeping us alert throughout the day and sleeping better at night. Reducing sugar in your breakfast is as simple as switching Nutella on toast to sugar-free peanut butter, or trying a bowl of porridge instead of cereal.

You’ll get more nutrients

Cutting down on added sugar is more than ditching sweets and fizzy drinks: added sugar is in everyday foods such as cooking sauces, cereals and snacks. If you cut out most of the added sugar from your diet, you’ll need to replace it with something else – which should mean more whole foods.

If you are swapping a jar of pasta sauce for a tin of tomatoes, and trading the frosted cornflakes for an omelette, you’re immediately consuming more vitamins and minerals. The best way to track what you eat is to cook more meals from scratch and don’t risk eating hidden sugars or other problem ingredients. By planning meals it is possible to maintain a more balanced diet and include the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy.

Your risk of type 2 diabetes will reduce

Research suggests that cutting down on sugar in the diet makes you three times less likely to die from a heart problem. This is because overloading your body with sugar results in a spike in a blood sugar. This demands that the body increases the amount of insulin it produces, which can in turn raise blood pressure. Maintaining more consistent blood sugar levels allows insulin production to be more steady, too. This is a crucial factor in avoiding type 2 diabetes.

Of course, type 2 diabetes has also been widely linked to weight problems. As one of the key factors in causing obesity, it is thought that reducing sugar and achieving weight loss as a result will directly reduce instances of type 2 diabetes.

Your skin will improve

An excessive sugar intake is known to cause inflammation and hormone fluctuation, both of which can result in acne. One study found that drinking a can of fizzy drink every day for three weeks increased inflammation levels by 87% - and many of us consume much more sugar than that each day.

Sugar is also linked to the premature ageing of the skin, as sugar in the bloodstream can combine with certain proteins and become damaging to collagen and elastin – these are the proteins that keep the skin looking firm. This is a natural process that happens as we age, but it has been suggested than an excess of sugar in the bloodstream can cause this process to happen at a faster rate.

Your mind may even get sharper

Studies performed on animals have suggested that sugar can inhibit memorisation and general learning, as a high consumption of sugar over time can hinder communication within the brain. One study found that rats who were fed a lot of sugar had limited brain activity compared to their sugar-free siblings. And experts believe that this trend in sugar intake is something that may also be true of humans.

If you’ve been experiencing a foggy mind as of late, perhaps you might want to reconsider that can of cola or bar of chocolate. Try and cut down on the amount of added sugar that you consume, even just for a week, and see if any of these problems relating to concentration, energy and fatigue improve.


4 Health Tips for Office Workers

Posted Wednesday 10 August 2016 20:26 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

weight lossThe Telegraph reported at the end of last month that contemporary working life, which often involves sitting for up to eight hours a day, is seriously detrimental to our health. So much so that workers should exercise for at least an hour a day to offset its effects.

An entire hour spent exercising may sound both daunting and unfeasible for many those with busy work lives. But with more and more studies showing that office work is a health hazard - weight problems, heart disease and type-2 diabetes are just a few of the issues related to sitting for too long - perhaps we should all take heed.

If you are worried about the dangers of a sedentary life spent behind a desk, take a look at our four simple health tips that don’t even require a gym membership.

1.Cycle to work

Ditching the daily commute by car, bus or train and turning to a bike is great for two reasons – not only is it a healthy and environmentally friendly solution, it also helps to make exercise an unavoidable part of your daily routine. In fact, if your workplace is a 30-minute cycle away from your home, then you’ll have completed your entire day’s worth of exercise just by travelling to and from work.

For those who live in Central London or other urban areas suffering from heavy congestion, cycling can often be a faster route to work than motorized transport.

2.Walk to work

Of course, cycling to work isn’t always possible. For those who don’t own a bike or are concerned about taking to the roads, keeping to the pavement may be a more appealing option. If cycling isn’t for you, walking to work is another way of getting in some exercise – and reducing your carbon footprint.

Slipping on some comfortable shoes (you can keep your smart ones in your bag) and walking briskly to and from work also counts as part of your hour of exercise. Not only that, but walking can also be a lot less stressful than driving or taking the train – without road rage, traffic jams and packed trains, you’ll soon be feeling better inside and out.

3.Walk at work

Maybe you live too far away from your workplace to turn your commute into an opportunity for exercise. Fear not, because your workplace can actually double up as a gym. As you probably already know, taking frequent short breaks whilst you’re working is advisable – at least five minutes for every hour is recommended. Use this time to walk up and down some stairs or go outside so that your muscles are moving frequently throughout the day. Try and get up out of your chair as often as you can; even standing for a little while as you take a phone call, for example, can help to combat the effects of sitting down for too long.

4.Break it up

The modern working lifestyle means that the vast majority of our waking hours are now spent seated. Whether it’s eating, commuting or working in front of a computer, exercise can be hard to come by. And with millions of people working longer and later, there can be little spare time for making the gym.

If you struggle to make space for a two-hour cardio session, why not aim for more frequent but shorter bite-sized chunks of exercise. Try waking up half an hour earlier in the morning and taking a 15 minute jog; then take a brisk stroll for 15 minutes during your lunch hour; finally, a 30 minute exercise video before your evening meal can round things off nicely.

However you prefer to exercise, at the very least you should ensure that you set targets and form a routine that you can maintain week after week.


The Dangers of Screen Time on the Body and Mind

Posted Thursday 28 July 2016 20:57 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

screen addictionAre you constantly checking your phone? Staring at a screen for the majority of your day as part of your work, recreation or both? Do you constantly find yourself checking social media, instant messaging and emailing others? Then have you ever considered the serious impact that this screen time might have on your health and wellbeing?

Many doctors and researchers have been able to prove that overloading on screen time is a very real problem in the Western world and is greatly affecting both adults’ and children’s health. Although it is not currently recognised as a clinical addiction, many health professionals also believe that there are a large number of people in society who now suffer from screen addiction.

So much of today’s environment relies on electronics. People are dependent on them with many barely able to leave them behind. Whether it is a phone, computer, tablet or even a TV, these screens are having a genuine impact on our health – and that of our children.

Let us take a closer look at some of the implications of spending hours in front of a screen.

Screen time on the body

There is a simple correlation between the increasing number of hours that both adults and children spend sat in front of a computer screen, mobile device or games console, and a deterioration in physical health. Whether at work or at home in one’s bedroom, screen time can be linked to weight gain and the subsequent threat of heart attacks, strokes, type-2 diabetes and increased blood pressure.

Another factor that should not be overlooked is the musculoskeletal impact of long hours in an office chair. Screen addictions and enforced time in front of a computer can lead to neck, shoulder and lower back issues caused through poor posture and seating that does nothing to relieve pressure.

Among children, the decrease in time spent playing outdoors not only prevents the normal development of the cardiovascular system, but can also impact on muscle and bone development. While adults certainly feel the effects of less time on their feet, the physical and cognitive development of children is thought to rely on the varied nature of outdoor activities – hence the reason it has become such a worry among medical experts.

Screen time on the brain

The concerns about stimulation on the brain have not yet been proven beyond doubt. However, research among screen addicts and heavy users does suggest that too long spent in front of a digital device can result in grey matter shrinkage, a reduction in white matter’s ability to communicate and a reduction in cognitive performance.

Cognitive issues are thought to be exacerbated by the impact of screen time on sleep. The blue light from digital devices is proven to play a role in keeping us awake when viewed just before bedtime. If ample time is not given to allow the brain to wind down, screen addicts and heavy screen users can suffer from insomnia and other forms of sleep deprivation.

Sleep is well known to play a crucial role in cognitive function – helping to consolidate memories, facilitate mental agility and avoid long-term problems such as Alzheimer’s disease. Sleep also has a role to play in hormone control – hormones that typically moderate appetite, weight and stress.

Addiction on the eyes

As part of July’s “Eye Injury Prevention Month”, digital screens have come under particular scrutiny. In decades gone by, parents around the world may have erroneously told their children that too much TV time would make their eyes go square. Yet, there is something to be said for the eye strain caused by backlit screens. Too much time in front of a screen can damage the retina and ultimately lead to loss of eye sight in serious cases.