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World Book Day special offer: 75% off all our ebooks

World Book Day

To celebrate the joy of reading, we’re giving you the chance to download all of our ebooks with 75% off, for today only.

We have self help books on everything from chronic fatigue and invisible illnesses to vegan food and natural health. Our latest release, How To Feel Differently About Food was featured in Healthista, Women’s Fitness, Marie Claire and Rude Health. You can browse all our titles here or search the categories below.

Caring

Chronic Fatigue

Dieting and Weight Loss

Mental Health

Wellbeing and Illness Prevention

Just enter the following code at checkout to receive your 75% discount.

WORLDBOOKDAY17

To find out more about World Book Day and see how you can get involved visit www.worldbookday.com.

 

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Self Injury Awareness: Getting to know the ‘Self-Defeatist Gremlin’

Understanding ‘Self-Defeatist Syndrome’

A person whose head is bowed and whose eyes are heavy cannot look at the light.

Christine de Pizan

What I will term ‘self-defeatist syndrome’ is the uninvited Gremlin that moves into young minds, metaphorically speaking. The Gremlin is STRESS that leads to DISTRESS, an unruly tenant that is powerful, deceitful and controlling. Its ultimate goal is to take control of a teenager’s life in a destructive manner causing him/her to feel alone, depressed, angry, afraid, hopeless and anxious. The Gremlin’s goal is to isolate the teenager from family and friends, thus making itself even more powerful. It wants to make the teenager feel lonely and powerless, surrendering to the darkness, diminishing his/her light and self-esteem, distorting his/her belief system and sense of self.

The sense of self

The ‘self’ relates to our uniqueness and individuality, our thoughts, feelings, perceptions and sense of worth, and how we view ourselves. The self also relates to our sense of identity, our belief system and values.

A teenager with a healthy sense of self will:

  • feel confident and competent
  • feel a sense of belonging and acceptance
  • feel secure, safe and valued
  • have self-discipline and self-control
  • learn from and move on from mistakes with new awareness
  • value his/her strengths and accept his/her weaknesses
  • have a healthy set of core values

These are all the traits that the gremlin of self-defeatist syndrome despises and wants to eliminate. The Gremlin does not want the teenager to have a healthy sense of self; a healthy sense of self is its enemy. Its wish and desire is for the teenager to have a defeatist view of him/herself. In achieving this, the Gremlin has accomplished its objective and is actively compromising the wellbeing of teenagers, who are not strong enough to evict the Gremlin on their own.

The defeatist attitude

The ‘defeatist attitude’ refers to an attitude or view of oneself which is negative, pessimistic and unforgiving. A teenager with a defeatist view of him/herself will present with low self-esteem and a noticeable and ongoing lack of motivation, generally deriving little pleasure from life, with a distinct lack of belief in his/her abilities. This is a clear sign that the Gremlin has moved in and taken the teenager hostage. Teenagers in this situation will often use phrases like:

  • What’s the point?
  • It won’t work for me
  • They would all be better off without me
  • It’s just one thing after another
  • I couldn’t be bothered
  • I can’t manage this anymore
  • I am no good
  • No one cares about me
  • I can’t do it

Syndrome

A ‘syndrome’ refers to a combination of signs and symptoms that are indicative of a particular condition. A teenager in midst of self-defeatist syndrome will generally present with:

  • Low energy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Self-harming
  • Suicidal ideation (thinking)

Low energy

A teenager can experience low energy for a number of reasons. Adolescence is a period marked by a rapid increase in physical and emotional development. Puberty, hormonal changes and the soaring growth of bones and muscles can have a temporary effect on energy levels, causing many teenagers to feel fatigued from time to time; this is totally normal and to be expected. However, if low energy persists and negatively effects the quality of life of a teenager, a detailed and comprehensive medical investigation is warranted and strongly advised. A full medical investigation should uncover any organic reasons for fatigue and low energy; then, the right treatment can get a teenager’s energy levels back on track and prevent the onset of self-defeatist syndrome.

Common organic reasons for low energy uncovered through a medical investigation in teenagers include:

  • Infection
  • Virus
  • Iron-deficiency anaemia
  • Low thyroid function
  • Vitamin B and C deficiencies
  • Allergies

Harder to diagnose, and more unusual in younger people, are underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) and pernicious anaemia/vitamin B12 deficiency.

If after a full medical investigation no organic causes for low energy and fatigue can be detected, then lifestyle needs to be further scrutinised and addressed as the Gremlin may be actively trying to move in.

Please share this blog to raise awareness of Self Injury Awareness Day (SIAD).

This blog has been adapted from Overcoming Self-harm and Suicidal Thoughts: A Practical Guide for the Adolescent Years by Liz Quish.

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Spotting the Signs of Emotional Eating

For many who are compulsively driven to eat for emotional reasons, not hunger, food has become a manifestation of self-loathing and a complex method of self-harming, or even a way of failing to thrive. These people crave food, avoid food, binge on food and obsess about food. Thinking about food fills their every waking moment. Food has become a way to celebrate and commiserate with themselves. In fact, it is their everything – except a natural way to sate hunger or be a source of healthy nourishment.

Typically, emotional eaters feel their appetite for food is out of their control and is counter to their heart’s desire to be slimmer than they are. They feel their inability to resist their food cravings proves how worthless they are as they trade their dreams of being slimmer for swallowing down foods they consider to be ‘bad’ or ‘forbidden’. They also often believe that the excess weight they carry is their own personal failing and visible proof for all to see that they are weak, inadequate or just plain greedy. The story they tell themselves continues with the common beliefs that if they were stronger, or had more will-power, or were simply just ‘better people’, then they would find it easy to manage their weight-versus-food-intake without the daily time-consuming over-thinking that they endure.

Every emotional eater has his or her own unique set of circumstances and history, but there are often similarities in thinking and in the belief system that defines each emotional eater. For instance, emotional eaters judge themselves harshly and their self-talk – the quiet voice that everyone hears within their own mind – is particularly critical and unforgiving. We also understand that emotional eaters can be triggered to binge eat when experiencing negative or challenging emotions, such as loneliness, sadness or anger.

Disordered thinking around food that emotional eaters may experience makes it particularly challenging to establish a nutritionally balanced way of eating that can be sustained for the long term. This is particularly true for those who are attempting to stabilise their weight after years, or possibly even decades, of yo-yo dieting.

Emotional eaters do not generally fare well following a type of diet that brings any of the following circumstances into play:

1. Diets that promote low-calorie eating to a level that induces hunger can quickly feel unendurable and trigger strong self-sabotaging behaviour.

2. Diets that rely on low-fat foods to restrict calorie consumption can increase the occurrence or severity of low moods, even to the risk of increasing the incidence of depression.

3. Diets that replace foods containing real sugars with chemical sweeteners can still spark compulsive sugar cravings and out-of-control bingeing.

4. Diets that replace meals with fake-foods, such as shakes, snack bars, instant soups or variations on this theme, often fail for emotional eaters when they are challenged with the inevitable reintroduction of real food.

5. Diets that promote or exclude whole groups of food, impose excessive or irrational rules or demand a specific cooking methodology can all help encourage unhelpful over-thinking about food that emotional eaters are already prone to. This includes the eating of only ‘free-from’ foods, including gluten-free (without a confirmed medical need), or following a strict macrobiotic diet, or eating only raw foods.

Do you obsessively follow all the latest healthy eating crazes, or recognise other symptoms of emotional eating? Read more from Sally Baker and Liz Hogon in their books How To Feel Differently About Food and 7 Steps to Stop Emotional Eating.

Sally Baker will be speaking at The Best You Expo at ExCel in London on 4th March 2017.

This blog is adapted from How To Feel Differently About Food by Sally Baker and Liz Hogon.

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Invisible Illness: recognising the symptoms of Pernicious Anaemia

Invisible Illness: recognising the symptoms of Pernicious Anaemia

Pernicious Anaemia (PA) is an invisible illness caused by deficiency in vitamin B12 owing to problems absorbing it from food.

Everyone is different and sufferers of pernicious anaemia will experience the symptoms of the condition to varying degrees. Some patients will have all of the symptoms listed below while others will recognise only a few. This list has been compiled over a number of years and shows what a wide range of symptoms there can be. There are two problems with this wide range. First, many of the symptoms listed below are associated with other medical conditions, which often leads to confusion with other invisible illness and misdiagnosis. Secondly, because there are so many symptoms associated with pernicious anaemia, it makes it difficult for doctors to identify the symptoms specific to the disease – thus making an early diagnosis even less certain.

Common general symptoms of Pernicious Anaemia

  • Shortness of breath – ‘the sighs’
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Poor concentration
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Confusion (‘handbag in the fridge syndrome’)
  • Nominal aphasia (forgetting the names of objects)
  • Unaccountable and sudden bouts of diarrhoea, often following a spell of constipation
  • Clumsiness/lack of coordination
  • Brittle, flaky nails; dry skin anywhere on body
  • Mood swings, ‘tear jags’, heightened emotions
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Even though patient is exhausted, is unable to sleep
  • Waking up still tired, even after many hours’ sleep

Neurological symptoms of Pernicious Anaemia

  • Balance problems
  • Dizzy/faint
  • ‘Shoulder bumps’ – frequently bumping into or falling against walls
  • General unsteadiness, especially when showering and dressing
  • Inability to stand up with eyes closed or in the dark
  • Vertigo – inability to cope with heights, linked to the need for a visual reference as compensation for damage to the brain’s balance mechanism
  • Numbness/tingling – especially in hands, arms, legs, feet
  • Burning sensation in legs and feet – Grierson-Gopalan syndrome
  • Tinnitus – ringing/screeching/howling in the ear or ear
  • Neuropathic pain/fibromyalgia – often on only one side of the body
  • Irritability/frustration/impatience; desire for isolation, quiet and peace; aversion to bright lights and crowded spaces

Skin problems associated with Pernicious Anaemia

  • Hair loss – can range from moderate to sever; premature greying of hair
  • Psoriasis/eczema/acne
  • Rosacea – reddening of the skin around the nose and cheeks
  • Vitiligo – white patches that develop on the skin

Other medical problems associated with Pernicious Anaemia

  • Poor digestion
  • Arrhythmia – irregular, fast or slow heartbeat

Autoimmune conditions associated with Pernicious Anaemia

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Hypo- or hyper-thyroidism – almost exclusively among females
  • Coeliac disease – sensitivity to wheat and/or wheat products
  • Myasthenia gravis – weak muscles leading to problems swallowing, chewing and opening eye(s)
  • Psoriatic arthritis

Vitamin B12 deficiency can be detected with a blood test, and if this deficiency is then determined not to be caused by diet it may be a clue that Pernicious Anaemia is the underlying invisible illness.

To learn more about Pernicious Anaemia diagnosis and treatment read What you need to know about Pernicious Anaemia and Vitamin B12 Deficiency by Martyn Hooper, founder of The Pernicious Anaemia Society.

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Is it ‘just’ indigestion?

Indigestion is that uncomfortable feeling most of us have experienced at some point in the upper abdomen or lower part of the chest – usually after eating or drinking (but not always). The official medical definition is upper abdominal discomfort or pain that may be described as a burning sensation, heaviness or an ache. It is often related to eating and may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea, fullness in the upper abdomen or belching. It’s usually worse if you lie down directly after eating a heavy meal.

Other names for indigestion include dyspepsia and acid reflux or heartburn. It is basically an inflammation of the gullet (oesophagus) – the long pipe that runs from the mouth to the stomach. Indigestion is so common most people will have experienced it at some time and it’s usually more of a fleeting inconvenience than a major health problem. Most people don’t see their doctor about it and either grin and bear it or simply treat it themselves with remedies they can buy over the counter from a chemist. Only a quarter of people who suffer indigestion see their GP about their symptoms and about 10 per cent of these consultations will be referred for further investigations.

Indigestion is rarely a symptom of a serious underlying medical condition (but if you are worried check out our list of reasons for an urgent referral, below). In people who have an endoscopy to investigate their indigestion, 30 per cent will have no abnormal findings and 10 to 17 per cent will have oesophagitis (inflammation of the oesophagus) and the rest will have gastric or duodenal ulcers, gastritis, duodenitis (inflammation of the duodenum) or hiatus hernias, according to the British Society of Gastroenterology.

But, having said that, we’re not saying indigestion can’t still affect your quality of life and be a pain to deal with. If you’re one of the unfortunate ones who suffer from recurrent severe bouts of indigestion, Chapter 8 in What’s Up With Your Gut may help you get to the root of what’s causing your symptoms, help you find some long term relief and enable you to enjoy your food again.

Symptom Checker

If you have one or more of the following symptoms, you may have one of the conditions discussed in this blog.

  • Burning sensation, fullness, heaviness or ache in upper abdomen or lower chest
  • Burning, griping pain in the abdomen, lower gut and back
  • Sharp, persistent pain at the top of the stomach or above ribs on right
  • Bitter taste in the mouth
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Belching and burping
  • Lump in your throat
  • Tickly cough

What causes indigestion?

Diet

Most people associate indigestion with overdoing it, with a big meal, sometimes with a high fat or spice content – creamy curry sauces and dishes containing chilli for instance. You might also notice that particular foods can trigger your symptoms, including curries, fatty foods, citrus fruits, bananas and cucumbers – it’s very individual though. Sometimes however, it can be down to something simple such as eating too fast or too close to bedtime. Drinking too much alcohol, or caffeine in coffee, tea and chocolate may have a similar effect.

Drug side effects

There are many other causes of indigestion and sometimes the cause isn’t so obvious. These other causes include the side effects of drugs, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) taken to relieve the pain of arthritis (such as ibuprofen and aspirin) and nitrates prescribed for angina for instance.

Acid reflux or GORD

A major cause of recurring indigestion is acid reflux, or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), which is caused by the sphincter in the oesophagus failing to close and prevent

large amounts of stomach contents, including acid, moving back up from the stomach and causing irritation and inflammation in the oesophagus. The inside of the oesophagus has a protective lining but it can become irritated and inflamed by stomach acid. If the lining becomes ulcerated by the stomach acid, it causes a condition called oesophagitis. Sometimes stomach acid can escape back up from the stomach to the oesophagus due to gastric and duodenal ulcers (known collectively as peptic ulcers), which are sores which develop in the lining of the stomach or duodenum. Peptic ulcers can be caused by a bacterial infection called Helicobacter pylori.

Another cause of GORD is hiatus hernia – where part of the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm (the sheet of muscle between the abdomen and the chest, needed for breathing), partially blocking refluxed stomach acid in the oesophagus. Being overweight or obese (including weight gain due to pregnancy) will make it more likely you’ll suffer from acid reflux – obesity causes more pressure in the abdomen which forces acid back up into the gullet. This is also true if you are constipated or wearing clothes with a tight waistband. Chemicals in cigarette smoke can also relax the ring of muscle that divides the stomach from the oesophagus and make it easier for stomach acid to escape back into the gullet, causing acid reflux/heartburn symptoms. Stress and anxiety are also believed to play a part in indigestion, as is increasing age.

If you have some of the ‘alarm bell’ symptoms described below you should be considered for urgent endoscopy referral rather than taking any prolonged treatments which may mask the symptoms of a more serious illness.

Reasons for an urgent referral

NICE advises that:

  • people with an upper abdominal mass require urgent referral for endoscopic investigation (an appointment within two weeks) [National Collaborating Centre for Cancer, 2015].
  • urgent direct access upper gastrointestinal endoscopy should be performed within two weeks to assess for stomach cancer in people with dysphagia (swallowing problems) or aged 55 and over with weight loss and any of the following: upper abdominal pain, reflux, dyspepsia.
  • referral for non-urgent direct access upper gastrointestinal endoscopy should be considered to assess for stomach cancer in people with haematemesis (vomiting blood) and in people aged 55 or over with treatment-resistant dyspepsia, upper abdominal pain with low haemoglobin levels, or raised platelet count with any of the following: nausea, vomiting, weight loss, reflux, dyspepsia, upper abdominal pain; or nausea or vomiting with any of the following: weight loss, reflux, dyspepsia, upper abdominal pain [National Collaborating Centre for Cancer, 2015].

If you’re struggling with indigestion don’t panic, but don’t let it ruin your life. If you have any doubts at all about whether your indigestion might be something more serious, visit your doctor and tell them ALL the symptoms.

What’s Up With Your Gut is available now as paperback and ebook.

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CFS/ME – Vicious circles and multitasking

As co-admin of Dr Myhill’s Facebook groups, I often see members asking what the single most important intervention in a person’s recovery from CFS/ME has been. I totally understand the reasoning behind this question – having limited funds where should attention be directed first to achieve the best results? Where does one find the most bang for one’s buck!

Dr Myhill instinctively takes this approach too, preferring her patients to do the ‘easy’ cheaper things first because these interventions are often enough on their own to elicit recovery. So, correcting sleep, doing the right diet and taking nutritional supplements are right at the top of the list. This is laid out in her CFS/ME checklist.

However, for some this is not enough and it is then that we must face the complexity of our intricate biological system with its many feedback loops and synergistic effects.

I am a mathematician and so the assumption is that I like linear arguments progressing from one irrefutable logic step to another, and so on, until we arrive at the ‘answer’! In my case, nothing could be further from the truth. For example, when first introduced to James Watt’s centrifugal governor, I was fascinated. This governor is essentially a continuous feedback system that controls the rate of a steam engine so as to maintain a near-constant speed, irrespective of the load or fuel-supply conditions. The constant speed of the engine achieved in this way is the mechanical equivalent of a well-functioning biological system. I enjoyed learning about these feedback systems but never had a chance to study the many biological examples because aged 12, I chose Latin and Ancient Greek over Biology for my school options.

However, life, and more specifically CFS, has forced me to become more acquainted with these biological systems because I am one of those for whom the ‘easy’ cheaper things have not fully worked.

As laid out in much more detail in Dr Myhill’s upcoming and fully revised book, Diagnosing and Treating CFS/ME – It’s mitochondria, not hypochondria and in Sustainable Medicine, there are many vicious circles in CFS/ME and these make the recovery process so much harder.

For example, if mitochondria go slow then the heart, being a muscle and so dependent on good mitochondrial function, will also go slow. The heart delivers fuel and oxygen to all cells in the body and so, if fuel and oxygen delivery is impaired then this too further impairs mitochondrial function. This can be seen below:

cfs-myhill-mitonchondria-vicious-circle

As further illustration, magnesium is of central importance for mitochondria. Having low levels of magnesium inside cells and mitochondria is a symptom of CFS but also a cause of it. This is because 40 per cent of resting energy simply powers the ion pumps for sodium/ potassium (Na/K) and calcium/magnesium (Ca/Mg) across cell membranes. When energy supply is diminished, as in mitochondrial dysfunction, there is insufficient energy to fire these pumps, and so magnesium cannot be drawn into the cells for oxidative phosphorylation to work. If there is insufficient energy to drag magnesium into cells, then there is a further diminishing of energy delivery, because of the lack of magnesium, and hence we have another vicious circle.

But all is not lost! We have at least two things in our favour – we now understand these vicious circles, and so can ‘break’ them, and many of the nutritional interventions we use can ‘multi-task’.

So, considering the two examples above, we can ‘break’ those vicious circles and so restore mitochondrial function by using Dr Myhill’s standard mitochondrial package of supplements, and by supplementing with magnesium we can further support the ion pump:

  • Coenzyme Q10 as ubiquinol – 200 milligrams
  • Vitamin B3 as niacinamide – 500-1500 milligrams – slow release
  • Acetyl-L-carnitine – 1-2 grams
  • D-ribose – up to15 grams
  • Vitamin B12 – 5 milligrams sublingually or ideally B12 by injection
  • Magnesium – ½ ml 50% magnesium sulphate, ideally, or 300mg orally

So, what of this multi-tasking then? Many interventions multi-task. High-dose vitamin B12 may be used to improve mitochondrial function, for detoxing via the methylation cycle, as an antioxidant and for its anti-inflammatory properties by damping down the pro-inflammatory fire of the NO/ON/OO cycle. This makes correcting multiple co-existent problems that much ‘easier’!

And then we have a ‘lovely’ example which I came to learn through both my own experience and also very many questions on Dr Myhill’s Facebook groups, essentially asking the same thing:

Why is it that when I have a sudden energy dip, I also feel weepy and emotionally fragile, weepy beyond what I would expect to feel?

Well, here is one way of looking at it – ATP is not only the energy molecule but also a neurotransmitter – to be precise, a co-transmitter. Other neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, GABA and acetylcholine, will not work unless they are accompanied by a molecule of ATP. So, if ATP levels fall precipitously low, then one feels dreadfully fatigued [ATP as the energy molecule] and simultaneously one feels very low emotionally [ATP as co-transmitter]. To mitigate this ‘double whammy’ effect, I carry a bottle of water with D-Ribose dissolved in it and this works as a great ‘rescue remedy’ for when I experience these sudden ATP dips.

So, I suppose what I am saying is that CFS/ME sufferers should try the ‘easy’ things first but that if these don’t work out for you, then don’t despair. We know the circles that must be broken and we have some great helpers, like Vitamin B12 and D-Ribose, which can multi-task and solve more than one problem at once! Never ever give up!

Craig Robinson first met Sarah in 2001, as a patient for the treatment of his CFS, and since then they have developed a professional working relationship, where he helps with the maintenance of www.drmyhill.co.uk, the moderating of Dr Myhill’s Facebook groups and other ad hoc projects, as well as with the editing and writing of her books.

A fully revised and expanded 2nd Edition of Dr Myhill’s book Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: it’s mitochondria, not hypochondria will be published in January 2017.

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Discussing dementia with Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health

Since I began working with a national dementia charity nine years ago there have been many improvements to the level of support that people living with dementia (by which I mean both those with a diagnosis and their families and carers) receive. It is now rare for me to meet someone who has struggled for months to get a diagnosis. More GPs are aware of the signs and symptoms and people are more likely to be referred for memory assessment. When I met Jeremy Hunt he explained that he had been campaigning for earlier diagnosis knowing that this can make it easier for people to get the help and support they need. We discussed what still needed to be done for those affected by dementia.

It seems to me that the most important thing now is to get society in general to accept those with dementia and to keep them integrated in the company they know and enjoy. Day centres, Dementia cafés and other specialist services like musical memory groups all serve a useful function and are popular -until recently I ran a very well attended and popular dementia café myself – but our real aim should be to make it possible for people with dementia to continue to go to the social groups, clubs and events which were part of their life before diagnosis.

Some things are already being done. In many places, in Britain there is a huge campaign to make businesses, shops, and public areas ‘dementia friendly’.  The ‘Dementia friends’ campaign by Alzheimer’s Society has also had a big impact in terms of making people generally aware of the difficulties experienced by those with dementia trying to function in everyday life. These are all good initiatives. But acceptance is the key. The above initiatives make people aware of dementia and they may make people more willing to help when they see someone having difficulties but do they make people with dementia more accepted?

Dementia is a problem for all of society but this is still little recognised. Most public places are now ‘accessible’ in terms of physical disability with level paths, ramps for wheeled access, better signage, bigger parking spaces and so on. We should now consider making changes to improve accessibility for those with the cognitive disability. Such changes might include material factors such as better street signs, clear demarcation of different areas and well defined entrances and exits but they should also include the vital human factor. People with dementia need support from other humans. Assistive technology can be helpful in a limited way but social interaction is what slows the slide into helplessness. Just as the public have been educated to recognise the rights and needs of those with a physical disability, so the rights and needs of those with a cognitive disability need now to be addressed in our neighbourhoods and our public places and by all of us in our local communities.

Mary Jordan is an expert in dementia care and works for a national dementia charity. Her books The Essential Carer’s Guide to Dementia and The Essential Guide to Avoiding Dementia offer invaluable insights into the condition and how to care for those with the condition.

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UK Blog Awards 2017 Health & Fitness Mixer

library

Hammersmith Health Books are proud to be sponsoring the Health and Social Care category at the 2017 UK Blog Awards. Last week we threw an event with Action PR to celebrate our partnership with the UK Blog Awards and the fantastic entries to the brand new Sport and Fitness category. We met some very inspirational people who have chosen to share their health journeys through the medium of blogging. It was lovely to see new friendships form as people were able to put faces to those who they had previously only known by their blog names. It was also announced that the stunning Chessie King, who inspires her many Instagram followers with her sunny attitude and her dedication to health and fitness, will be hosting the UK Blog Awards.

In keeping with the theme of the Awards, which will be ‘blog heroes’, Action PR sourced an array of weird and wonderful fancy dress outfits. Throwing themselves into the spirit in true superhero style, the bloggers embraced the theme and posed for photos. With a giftcard up for grabs (generously donated by Active in Style), our very own Director Georgina Bentliff was tasked with judging the snaps and awarding the prize to the best one. The winner went to the delightful Patricia, whose battle with ME and record breaking rowing success was a truly humbling journey to follow, documented on her blog, Girl on the River.

The event was catered by the wonderful Mr Prempy’s, who provided raw vegan cakes, from chocolate ganache to beetroot and passion fruit. Bloggers and judges mingled, cake and prosecco in hand, with some feeling distinctly merry by the end of the evening. We went home armed with Action PR chocolate bars, healthy takes on traditional Mars and Snickers bars, full of raw cacao and other delicious ingredients.

Hopefully there weren’t too many sore heads the next morning! Thank you to Action PR for a wonderful mixer and a great opportunity to meet some fantastic bloggers and influencers in the health and fitness space.

Are you a #bloghero? Don’t forget to enter your blog the The UK Blog Awards 2017.

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UK Blog Awards for Health & Social Care

The UK Blog Awards 2016 are now open for nominations, and we’re hugely pleased to announce that Hammersmith Health Books will be sponsoring the Health & Social Care category.

We love the variety and quality of blogs on all aspects of health and caring in the UK, and the UK Blog Awards are a fantastic opportunity to give much needed recognition to the blogs that mean the most to their readers. We’re so excited to be involved!

Nominated blogs pass a public vote round before the final awards are decided by specialist judging panels for each category. This year, our founder and director Georgina Bentliff will be on the Health & Social Care judging panel.

All short listed blogs will gain exposure and reach new audiences, as well as having the chance to connect with more brands.

The UK Blog Awards were created in 2014 to recognise true viral style and creative excellence across 16 UK industries, as well as awarding two sub-categories: Best Storyteller and Most Innovative award. The awards are more than an event, but a digital outreach platform that connects blogs with brands. There will also be Blog of the Year Award, sponsored by Odeon, giving winners from each category the chance to win extra prestige in the blogging community.

We’ve also teamed up with Action PR to co-host a blogger event in London where hopeful award winners can learn more about what the judges will be looking for, and network with brands and other bloggers. There’ll be a selection of our books available for bloggers to take away and read on health issues from chronic fatigue to irritable bowel syndrome, dementia care to vegan food, and everything in between.

If you’d like to follow some of our authors’ blogs check out:

Max Tuck, The Raw Food Scientist, author of Love Your Bones and The Whole Body Solution

Martyn Hooper, Chair of the Pernicious Anaemia Society, author of Pernicious Anaemia – The Forgotten Disease, Living with Pernicious Anaemia, and What You Need to Know About Pernicious Anaemia

Jenna Farmer, A Balanced Belly, book on IBS and IBD coming soon.

Dr Megan Arroll, psychologist and author of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Navigating Your Way to Health

For more info on the awards and how to enter click here, and browse all our health and social care titles here.

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How to work out what’s wrong with your bowel

Apart from the red flag symptoms listed in the previous blog, where do you start when trying to work out what’s up with your gut?

You can help yourself and your doctor by:

Keeping a diary of your symptoms.

It helps your doctor make a diagnosis if you can be specific about how long you’ve had your symptoms, what they are, what seems to trigger them or whether they are present all the time, and how much weight you have lost. Keeping a diary of your gut symptoms will help you remember and give your doctor valuable information. One gastroenterologist has told how increasingly patients will photograph or video their bloated stomachs on their mobile phones to document their symptoms.

Not being embarrassed.

People literally die of embarrassment because they can’t get their heads round describing their stools/piles/diarrhoea to their doctors. Get over it. If you don’t like describing what your poo looks like ask your doctor if you can point it out on the Bristol Stool Chart.

Mentioning any family history of gut disease to your doctor.

Some complaints do have a genetic basis so it will be another piece in the jigsaw for your doctor if you can supply details of conditions such as bowel cancer or inflammatory bowel diseases in your immediate family. (Volunteer this if they don’t ask you first.)

Not cutting out food groups on a hunch.

If you do have an autoimmune condition, such as coeliac disease, where the body reacts to gluten and causes bowel symptoms, it’s important you don’t cut out any foods you suspect are to blame, such as bread or breakfast cereals, until your condition has been fully investigated. This is because you may need a gut biopsy to confirm your diagnosis (the villi – fingerlike projections in the gut which absorb nutrients – will be damaged and shrunken if you have coeliac disease) and if you have stopped eating gluten they may have returned to normal, giving a false negative diagnosis.

Being persistent.

If your doctor has told you to eat more bran to help with constipation and your symptoms are getting worse, go back and tell him or her. Whilst eating more fibre helps in a lot of cases of constipation, in up to 30 per cent of cases it doesn’t. (The cause could be slow transit in the gut, in which case too much fibre will make it worse!)

Not self-medicating for the long term.

Obviously it’s fine to buy over-the-counter remedies if your gut problems are short term, but if you are relying on laxatives, antacids or anti-diarrhoea medication in the long term it’s advisable to see a doctor and find out the underlying cause.

Finding reliable sources of information.

There are an awful lot of ‘snake oil’ salesmen out there on the internet, peddling dodgy cures or extreme diets with no good science to recommend them. Charities are good sources of accurate information about managing your condition and their online resources are written in a reader-friendly consumer style. Don’t forget organisations such as NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) produce guideline summaries on the management of health conditions written especially for patients, setting out clearly what investigations and treatments are recommended.

For more information and advice on how to manage difficult bowel symptoms and improve gut health problems such as IBS and IBD, read What’s Up With Your Gut, out now.