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Weight Loss


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.


Summer Activities to Promote Health and Wellbeing for All the Family

Posted Friday 15 July 2016 10:11 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

weight managementFinally, what seems to have felt like the longest and wettest few months, the sun is shining and it seems like summer is here. With your sunglasses on and sun cream lathered the great outdoors is beckoning. The summer holidays are a brilliant time to kick-start a healthy, active and outdoor lifestyle for you and the whole family. Below are a list of fun family summer activities to get the blood pumping and the kids exercising and having fun!

The average adult should get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. This can be broken down into as little as 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five times a week.

Depending on their age, children should also be active as much as possible each day. Toddlers able to walk should be encouraged to stay active for at least 3 hours a day, while older children should be involved in active play that increases their heart rate for at least 60 minutes every day. In both adults and children it is worth stressing that it is healthy to aim for significantly more than this daily minimum if at all possible.

In this article we will look at how the whole family can combine activities and build moderate exercise into a fun excursion so that exercise need not feel like a chore.

Cycling

There are so many things to do right on your doorstep that are healthy and active, all you need to do is get out there and experience it for yourselves. One of the best activities is always a bike ride. When the sun shows its face, simply get the kids off the sofa, grab them a helmet and their bike and head for the outdoors.

Cycling is a fantastic way to stay healthy because it is a low-impact aerobic activity. This means that it puts less strain on joints and ligaments than something like running. Cycling to work or to school is also cheaper and better for the environment than taking the car or bus.

When the weekend comes, a simple search online for the best cycling routes will reveal a whole host of options – many of which will be away from the dangers of road traffic. The Forestry Commission states that there are over 1100km of cycle trails to enjoy, so you should not be hard pressed to find a route that is suitable for your location and physical capabilities. Why not pack a picnic and make it a day of adventure for the whole family? Bike rides are one of the best ways to get your children active and having fun in the outdoors this summer and you can get involved too.

Swimming

Swimming is also one of the best activities to be enjoyed by the whole family. A low impact cardiovascular pastime, swimming can both strengthen muscles across the whole body and get the heart pounding. Swimming can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as strokes, heart disease and type 2 diabetes – not to mention weight gain.

On a sunny summer’s day do your research and you may even want to head for the seaside or find an outdoor pool near you. Just be conscious that open water swimming is very different from swimming in a pool, requiring swimmers to be more competent. Parents should always monitor children to ensure their safety at all times.

Racquet, bat and ball sports

Football, rugby, tennis, cricket and even rounders. All are a great way for the family to have fun and get the heart racing – not to mention getting the creative juices flowing. All you really need is a bit of open space, such as a sizeable garden, park or field.

Playing this type of sport not only gets the cardiovascular system working but it can also help children to develop their coordination and motor skills. Team games also teach important lessons about working together, sharing and communicating effectively. But best of all, a team sport can be a mood booster, releasing positive hormones that keep the mind and body healthy.

Want to talk to a pharmacist about improving health or weight management? Why not use our Live Chat facility now for fast, discreet advice?