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A Carer’s Christmas

Carer's at Christmas

The festive season is approaching and many of us look forward to enjoying this time. But for those caring for a loved one, Christmas can add an extra layer of stress, on top of everything else they are contending with.

Whilst caring for my husband, I still loved Christmas time, but immediately after, I always fell ill. I then spent January recovering, which made caring even more difficult.

So with this in mind, here is some useful advice to help you enjoy the season as you continue to care, so as not find yourself completely exhausted by the end of it!

  1. Spend a few moments planning the next three weeks. What do you really have to do and what do you not have to do? For example, do you always make the Christmas cake? Why not buy in this year and save yourself the time and energy? Just by making a few simple choices, can help to relieve us of any unwanted stress.
  2. We can find ourselves writing Christmas cards into the night! I know I certainly have. Then there’s the expense, plus the thought of climate change and all those trees. Why not write just a handful of cards to your nearest and dearest, and send an email or text to friends, letting them know you will be donating a bit of money to charity instead of sending them a card?
  3. We want to say yes to all things! But if you are caring, you only have so much energy, plus limited time and money. So instead of trying to cram in and see everyone over the next few weeks, why not suggest meeting some folk in the New Year to spread it out? This will give you a bit more space and give you something to look forward to in January.
  4. All that Christmas shopping can leave anyone frazzled. If you don’t have a problem with shopping online, this can certainly take the pressure off, avoiding the crowds and shops. Also, you may get some better deals online, as well as having your gifts delivered to your door, without leaving the house.
  5. Listen to your body. If you’re already feeling exhausted, and you have planned to go out and see friends or family, let them know how you really feel. Take the time to rest and recoup. If you try to do too much, and become completely depleted, your immune system may become low, leaving you susceptible to picking up a bug. The last thing you or your loved one needs. We just can’t please everyone all of the time. I know. I’ve tried! Let others know how you feel and if they really care, they will understand.
  6. Enjoy the simple pleasures. I love the fairy lights going up in the living room and having the candles on. Why not invite friends and family over instead of going out for an evening? Even though you will then be hosting, it can still help to save money and the energy,or getting your loved one out to a destination in the winter months.

Finally, we want to make the most of this special time, because for many of us, we know we may only have limited time with our loved one. This is why caring can be so very difficult. So be kind to yourself, ensure you take regular breaks and rest, so that you can make the most and enjoy the festive season.

Blog post written by Sara Challice, Who Cares? How to care for yourself whilst caring for a loved one. Available from Hammersmith Health Books, April 2020. 

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How to Cope with Family Gatherings When No One Understands Your Illness

family dinner

The holiday season can be filled with moments of love and joy, but it also can be stressful for those of us living with chronic illness. This is especially true if your family doesn’t understand what you are going through day to day. If you are worried about managing the holiday season with your family this year, here are five do’s and don’ts to help you navigate family gatherings when feeling misunderstood.

  1. Let people know what to expect. If you don’t tell your loved ones what you need, they won’t be able to help give it to you. A close friend of mine keeps a live Google Document with a current health status, a list of foods she can eat, and a couple tips on how to best support her. Try making a guide like this of your own and share it with you family before you get together – more often than not, when people know how to support you, they will.
  2. When it comes to food, make something you know you’ll enjoy. One of the most challenging things about navigating the holiday season with a chronic illness is sorting out dietary restrictions. Before you get together with your family, spend some spoons on preparing a dish you know you can eat and will enjoy. This ensures that you aren’t left out of the family meal. If you aren’t able to make something for yourself, ask a friend to help you prepare before you connect with your family.
  3. Find an ally. Whether this is someone in or out of your family, find someone you can touch base with through the day. Family gatherings can induce anxiety for those of us battling illness and having a friend or ally checking in with you can make a real difference.
  4. Decide on a safe space to rest before you arrive. This is a big one. Make sure you have somewhere quiet and calming that you can retreat to. This might be a guest room, a study, even your car. If you have somewhere safe and comfortable to rest, you may have more stamina for the day.
  5. Try not to over-extend yourself. Family gatherings are exhausting even for able-bodied folks! Try not to give more of yourself than it is healthy to give. Does it make sense for you to come in before a meal and hang for an hour before going home? Do it! Even if they don’t understand your day to day life, most families want to love and support each other. By making choices that take care of YOU, you’ll be able to better invest in moments of positivity throughout the gathering.

Every family is different, and every illness experience is different – some are shaped by more toxic support relationships than others. But if you can communicate clear expectations, find support where and when you need it most, and be able to take yourself out of the situation when you need to – you’ll be able to manage your next family gathering with grace, positivity, and strength.

Blog post written by Allie Cashel, expert patient featured in the book Lyme Disease, medical myopia and the hidden global pandemic. Available from Hammersmith Health Books. 

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Are you One of the Billion Migraine Sufferers?

woman-migraine

There are one billion people in the world like me (and most likely like you too, since you are reading this blog): people who suffer from migraine. Although you already knew it was so common, you still probably feel (as I do!) that you are the only person in the world who suffers this much, and in a way no-one else can understand.

This is called the paradox of living with chronic pain disease. It is so much easier with flu: during the flu season most people around you are also sneezing, coughing and moaning, at workplaces or at home in bed. It helps to know that you are not alone. It makes suffering tolerable. When ill, you may enjoy being pampered by healthy family members. You may even update your Instagram with a photo of you on a couch in front of the TV with a blanket and a bowl of chicken soup. Post #sickasapuppy and empathetic faces, thumbs and hearts will fill the screen.

During migraine attack, there is no-one but you and the pain inside your head. The excruciating pain grabs all your attention, unplugs your power cords, shoots you with a taser, holds you to ransom. It allows no people in sight. Pillow adjustments by the loving spouse make no difference. Selfies do not even cross your mind. The only thing you care about is to get rid of the pain. You count the minutes.

Migraine is one of the most severe and disabling neuropathic pains one can experience. That is a solid fact. When, where and how migraine affects people varies considerably between people, and also within each individual. A billion people means several billion variations of migraine attacks. Not every attack is identical, nor are the triggers always the same. The pain-free periods between the attacks also differ. For the lucky ones, it is 24 months; for the unlucky ones, it is 24 hours.

A billion people is a massive peer group. That said, it is still only you who knows your migraine and only you can find the best ways to live a good and meaningful life with this disease. Despite this disease.

You don’t have to figure out everything by yourself, though. So much scientific evidence, and understanding of good practices, has emerged during recent years on effective ways to treat migraine attacks – as well as prolong pain-free periods – that all the tools you need for your own toolbox are already out there. You just need some easily digestible information, some perseverance, some help from skillful healthcare professionals…  and some support from the billion peers, of course.

Written by Dr. Helena Miranda, pain physician, chronic pain sufferer (including migraine), and author of the new book Rethinking Pain – How to live well with chronic pain.

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Celebrating the Healing Power of Garlic

The healing power of garlic

19th April marks National Garlic Day. To celebrate, we thought we would take some time to acknowledge the healing power of this versatile plant. Below is an excerpt from Nature Cures, a book by NH Hawes.

Garlic (Allium Sativa)

Native to central Asia, garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world and has been grown for over 5000 years. Ancient Egyptians appear to have been the first to cultivate this plant and it had an important role in their culture. It was revered and placed in the tombs of Pharoahs and also given to the slaves that built the Pyramids too enhance their endurance and strength.

The garlic bulb is a natural antibiotic, antimicrobial, antifungal, cleanser and antioxidant and aids the body’s natural ability to resist disease. Garlic has been used for expelling intestinal worms and parasites from ancient times by the Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Hindus and Babylonians. It is a natural anthelmintic and is especially useful against giardia, leishmania, plasmodium roundworms and trypanosomes.

Tips on Using Garlic

  • Always add crushed or chopped garlic at the end of cooking a meal to retain the powerful properties that prolonged heat can destroy
  • Never store garlic in oil at room temperature as this provides the perfect conditions for producing botulism, regardless of whether the garlic is fresh or has been roasted.
  • Garlic should be avoided by persons diagnosed with lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus)

Ailments Garlic Can Help to Treat and Protect Against

  • Anaemia
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Bacterial infections
  • Bronchitis
  • Cancer
  • Colds
  • Colitis
  • Colon Cancer
  • Diarrhea
  • Digestive disorders
  • Fever
  • Food poisoning
  • Herpes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Influenza
  • Liver disorders
  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Parasites and worms
  • Poor circulation
  • Prostate disorders
  • Renal cancer
  • Toothache
  • Tumours
  • Whooping cough
  • And many more…

To learn more about garlic and other natural food remedies, check out Nature Cures by NH Hawes.

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Five Questions with Richard Shaw, author of Conquer Type 2 Diabetes

CRAB & RADISH STACK (VARIATION) PAGE 83

Type-2 diabetes doesn’t have to be a lifelong condition; for many people, especially those who have been recently diagnosed, it’s possible to reverse the symptoms of this malignant disease.  But how can that be done? Inspired by results obtained from research done at Newcastle University, Richard Shaw decided to try and kick the disease by following a carefully structured, low-carb, whole-food diet and starting a modest exercise regime. Conquer Type 2 Diabetes describes what he did to lose 31 kilos and all his diabetes signs (high blood sugar, high cholesterol, high blood pressure) and symptoms. We caught up with Richard to ask him a few questions about his new book and his amazing recovery. 

What was the inspiration behind your book?

When I started this I really wanted to talk to someone who’d managed to put their own T2D into remission: not a doctor, not a dietician, not a medical professional but someone who had had first-hand experience of doing it for themselves.  I couldn’t find anything that really told me what it was like from the patient’s point-of-view, so I thought it might be worth writing my own. Plus, because I like food so much, I really wanted to write some decent recipes to make the point that it’s not all about bland salads, tasteless soups and intermittent fasting.

CRAB & RADISH STACK (VARIATION) PAGE 83
Richard’s book is full of amazing recipes, like this crab and radish stack.

What was the most challenging part of writing the book?

It can be tough to write a book and hold down a full-time job.  I did it by getting up every morning at 4am, writing for 2 hours and going back to bed for a while before heading into work. I wrote it as I went through the process and there was a part of me that worried that if it didn’t work it might all be a bit of a wasted effort.  In hindsight, I think writing the book probably gave me motivation to keep going and made me even more determined to see it through.

What has been the most satisfying part of the writing process?

I’ve collaborated with other writers on books about food and cooking in the past so, to be honest, it was amazing to finally produce something that had my name on the cover. And even a slim book like this goes through so many versions, eventually having your editor tell you one day that it’s finally done is an enormous relief. I also took huge satisfaction from my GP agreeing to write the foreword, she was incredibly generous with her comments.

FRENCH OMELETTE WITH GRUYERE
French omelette

Did anything surprise you while writing Conquer Type 2 Diabetes? 

I spoke to dozens of other people as I was writing it and I was surprised to find so many people attempting to come off the meds and resume a normal life.  Putting T2D into remission is a very active and passionate grass-roots movement but it hasn’t really translated into mainstream medicine yet.  By and large much of the medical profession is treating this disease in exactly the same way, as it was 30 or 40 years ago, with lame public health advice, generic exhortations to adopt a healthier lifestyle and by prescribing a raft of meds that treat the symptoms rather than the underlying cause.  So finding other people doing exactly the same thing all over the world provided enormous encouragement to keep going.

What sort of people would benefit most by reading your book?

Professor Roy Taylor’s work from the DiRECT trials tells us that the earlier we attempt put T2D into remission after diagnosis the greater the chances of success. And for many people this doesn’t have to be a ‘forever’ diagnosis, – something I took at face value for several years. It’s a story for people who want to take a shot at reversing their condition and testimony that (if addressed soon enough) it may not have to be a lifelong, meds-dependant, progressive illness. And if someone who’s as hopeless at exercise as me, who likes food as much as I do and who’s as much of a slacker as I am can do it, then so can many others.

For more information about Richard’s new book,  go to  his website here,  or join the conversation on Facebook.

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Q&A with Alex Wu, author of A User’s Manual for the Human Body

Alex Wu’s new book, A User’s Manual for the Human Body is a transformative guide to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The book shows how Traditional Chinese Medicines differ from Western medicine and what that means in practice. It also illustrates how we can help our bodies to heal themselves and thereby achieve a longer, healthier life. Here, Alex answers a few questions about his lifestyle, which is the basis for his book.

Alex Wu
Alex Wu, author of A User’s Manual for the Human Body

Can you describe your current lifestyle? How many hours per night do you sleep?

I am 66 years old so my regime might not be the same as people in different age groups. I sleep at 10pm and I wake up normally around 6am. I do the pericardium massage when I wake up in the morning and at night time, I practice the bladder meridian massage (Both the hair combing and back massage). I do the gallbladder massage (leg) after dinner. I try to walk at least an hour a day during the day time and I pay attention to the amount of clothes that I wear to avoid getting a cold.

Describe your diet. What do you eat? Are there any foods that you avoid?

There is no specific food that I eat or avoid but the general rule is I try to eat as little processed food as possible. To avoid cold energy, I do not eat anything raw except for fruits. The fruits that I eat are the ones that are in season.

What exercise do you do?

I exercise mainly through walking and I practice Tai-Chi occasionally.

What was your life like before you started practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine? What aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine that was most impactful?

Before I was ill, I worked well over 60 hours a week under high pressure. I was an investment banker in China back in the 1990s. I wouldn’t say that my regime was changed because of TCM but rather TCM concepts let me understand what type of harm this regime was causing to my body. I quit my job and it changed everything.

In your book, you talk about the Qi and the TCM concept of blood. How would you explain that to a Western audience?

An analogy I often use when describing qi to those who do not have a deep cultural understanding of the concept is that the body is a battery. Blood is the equivalent of the battery’s capacity and qi is the amount of energy currently stored in the battery. It would logically follow that the amount of qi you can have is limited by the amount of blood you have. This relationship between blood and qi is important if we are to understand how to improve our health. Because the quantity of qi a person can have is determined by the amount of blood the person has, the focus of healthy living should be to increase the amount of blood in the body.

To learn more about A User’s Manual for the Human Body, watch Alex Wu’s explanation video on YouTube here and here.

You can purchase the book from Hammersmith Health Books. The paperback is now on special offer for £9.99 and the ebook is £5.99.

A User's Manual for the Human Body

 

 

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease: The invisible illness

Inflammatory-Bowel-Disease-The-Invisible-Illness

What is inflammatory bowel disease?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term for diseases which cause either whole or part of the digestive tract to become sore and inflamed. It commonly starts in younger people aged 10 to 40, although younger and older people may be affected too. The two most common types of IBD are Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC); the symptoms for both can be similar but with some distinguishing characteristics. In the 19th and 20th Centuries prevalence of IBD increased with industrialisation and the highest rates in the world are still in developed countries such as the UK, Canada, the USA and Western Europe – although cases are now increasing in China and India.
Crohn’s disease may affect the whole digestive tract from your mouth to your anus; ulcerative colitis affects only the colon. Crohn’s disease can be more serious as it not only affects the lining of the gut but can also extend deeper into the wall of the bowel and this sometimes results in severe complications. Both can be extremely painful and debilitating, leading to weight loss and fatigue, and have a great impact on your quality of life, affecting your ability to digest food and absorb nutrients from it, as well as the frequent trips to the toilet.

Why is IBD increasing?

Studies in the UK have found that the number of children affected by IBD has risen by 15%; in Scotland the number of childhood cases has risen by 76% since 1995, according to research by the University of Edinburgh. Experts are also worried because the average age of onset of symptoms is now much earlier in childhood rather than late teens/early 20s because, as I said before, the symptoms are more severe in childhood.
Although scientists have identified a genetic basis for IBD by pinpointing many different genes, especially the variants in a gene called NOD2 in Crohn’s disease – and a positive family history remains the strongest risk factor for IBD4 – genes are clearly not the whole story. Experts refer to IBD ‘as a complex genetic disorder that is influenced by environmental risk factors’. Certain genes may give you a susceptibility to IBD, but the prevailing theory is that IBD is caused by a combination of genes and exposure to environmental risk factors. It’s the interaction between these environmental risk factors and your normal (nonharmful) gut flora that is believed to lead to an increased immune response which results in chronic inflammation.

What are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease compared to ulcerative colitis?

The short answer is that many of the symptoms overlap (around 10% of IBD sufferers have a mixture of both and this is called indeterminate colitis). There are some key distinguishing characteristics your doctors will be able to tease out – see the table below.

Ulcerative colitis (just affects the colon) Crohn’s disease (can affect the whole gut)
Bloody diarrhoea and colicky abdominal pain, usually before passing a stool Abdominal pain and diarrhoea (sometimes with blood, pus or mucus). Pain is caused when food or faeces build up after eating in an area of the intestine damaged/ narrowed by inflammation
Some of or the whole colon is inflamed/ ulcerated, but other parts of the gut are usually unaffected Patches of the gut are inflamed and ulcers may develop but there are sections that are unaffected. It mainly affects the terminal ileum (the last part of the small intestine). Sometimes Crohn’s only affects the colon
Only affects the lining of the gut Inflammation may be confined to the bowel wall but can sometimes cause deep ulcers which also penetrate deeper through the muscle layers of the bowel wall causing fistulas (an abnormal connection between one area of the body and another). Often these are around the anus. Other complications include scarring and narrowing of the intestines, sometimes leading to blockages
Inflammation is usually continuous from the rectum Inflammation often skips segments of bowel which appear normal
 
Weight loss from inflammation

Weight loss from inflammation and reduced absorption
Tiredness and fatigue (anaemia is common) Tiredness and severe fatigue (anaemia and other deficiencies occur)
Feeling feverish Sometimes fever and night sweats can be caused by abscesses or collections of inflammation
Inflammation can involve the joints, skin, liver and eyes and cause mouth ulcers Inflammatory symptoms are similar to those of UC and may spread to other parts of the body causing mouth ulcers, red eyes, painful joints and rashes

Sources: Core charity and Crohn’s & Colitis UK

More about Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease affects around one in 1,000 people and in about one in five cases if you have Crohn’s disease you will have a family member who is also affected.

As discussed in the table above, Crohn’s disease may affect any part of the gut but most commonly causes inflammation in one particular area called the terminal ileum – this is the last section of the small intestine. The first part of the colon, called the caecum and the next, the ascending colon, are often involved. In many people only the colon is affected. Inflammation sometimes skips a segment of gut which is normal, rather than being continuous. Only a few people with Crohn’s will have involvement of the stomach or the upper intestine.
Mild forms of Crohn’s result in patches of inflammation – these look similar to mouth ulcers. In moderate to severe cases the intestine is damaged, and becomes thickened so it blocks the passage of digested food, causing cramp-like pain. Deep ulcers can also penetrate the bowel wall causing infection or even an abscess; this often happens around the anus. It is called a fistula when an inflammatory connection goes through the skin surface, the vagina, the bladder or another part of the bowel. When inflamed tissue heals, scar tissue may form, posing a further risk of blockages in the bowel.

More about ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is the medical name for when tiny ulcers form on the surface of the lining of the large intestine. It mainly affects the rectum and lower colon, but may affect the whole of the colon. It’s more common than Crohn’s disease, affecting an estimated one in 420 people. It seems to be more common in white people of European descent, particularly among Ashkenazi Jews who originated from Eastern Europe and Russia. It affects non-smokers and ex-smokers more than smokers, although doctors say the risks of smoking still far outweigh the possible benefits so do not take this as a licence to smoke! Men and women are affected by UC in equal numbers.

There are three types of ulcerative colitis:

  • Proctitis. This is where only the rectum is inflamed. Fresh blood in the stools is the main symptom, plus an urgent need for the loo (‘urgency’) and perhaps a feeling that you have not completely emptied your bowels. You may have normal stools, diarrhoea or constipation.
  • Left sided. This is inflammation that starts at the rectum and continues up the left side of the large intestine (the sigmoid and descending colon). Symptoms include passing diarrhoea with blood and pain on the left side of the abdomen, plus an urge to pass a stool even when your bowel is empty.
  • Total colitis. This is sometimes called pan colitis and is when the entire colon is affected to some extent. It causes very frequent bouts of diarrhoea, severe painful stomach cramps, weight loss and often fever and generalised illness.

This extract was taken from What’s Up with your Gut? By Jo Waters and Professor Julian Waters

 

 

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Prevent and Cure Diabetes – The blood-sugar roller coaster

The blood-sugar rollercoaster

Sugar is extremely damaging to the body for many reasons. It is damaging to the body in high levels, it is damaging to the body in low levels, and the swinging of levels between the two is additionally damaging because of the hormonal response to those rapid changes. I call this the blood-sugar rollercoaster – it is often described as a ‘hypoglycaemic tendency’ (‘hypo’ meaning ‘below’, from the Greek) – but it is the whole rollercoaster that causes metabolic havoc – not just the dips. If we constantly eat carbohydrate foods, this is a rollercoaster which just keeps on going, and along with the metabolic havoc, there are associated mood swings which mirror the ride. These emotions are very similar to those documented by Barry Ritholtz, in his financial writings on the rollercoaster ride experienced by investors in risky stocks. People who are regularly feeling these emotions, and in particular are experiencing them cyclically, are most likely already on the blood-sugar rollercoaster: Returning to the medical case in point, in metabolic syndrome and diabetes any or all of the following problems can result. In each case, a description of the problem is followed by symptoms and diseases that may result from that problem, thereby giving clues as to whether this may be an issue in a particular individual.

The financial rollercoaster ride

The blood-sugar rollercoaster

The blood-sugar rollercoaster, as I explained earlier, is my name for the process of rapidly rising levels of blood sugar prompting a release of insulin and the ‘happy’ brain neurotransmitters followed by rapidly falling levels of blood sugar causing a release of adrenaline. This combined effect switches on addiction. Wobbly blood sugar levels are highly damaging because of their hormonal effects. These hormonal effects I suspect relate to the rate at which levels of sugar rise and fall in the bloodstream. As we lose control of our blood sugar, then eating a high-carbohydrate snack or meal will cause blood sugar levels to spike, and as blood sugar levels make this rapid rise there is an outpouring of insulin in order to protect the body from this dangerous (but addictive) sugar spike. Insulin brings the blood sugar level down by shunting it into fat. However, if this occurs quickly, then blood sugar levels fall precipitously and that results in an outpouring of adrenaline. Adrenaline is responsible for all the symptoms that we call ‘hypoglycaemia’.

Hypoglycaemia comes from the Greek words ‘hypo’ meaning low, ‘gly’ meaning sugar and ‘aemia’ meaning blood, and hence has a literal meaning of ‘low sugar blood’.

However, the term hypoglycaemia I suspect is a misnomer that relates to at least two issues. Firstly, adrenaline is released in response to poor fuel delivery (lack of sugar and/or ketones in the bloodstream). This means that, in the keto-adapted, the adrenaline symptoms do not arise because these people can switch into fat burning mode. Secondly, in those who cannot make this switch, it is not just the absolute level of blood sugar that causes the symptoms but also the rate of change; this means that often people who complain of hypoglycaemia wil d their blood sugar level is normal from a ‘snapshot’ blood-sugar test result. What they need is a ‘video’ of their blood sugar level changing over time to make the diagnosis. Consequences of the rollercoaster spikes in insulin and adrenaline include the following:

a.) High levels of insulin put us into a metabolic state of laying down fat, and prevent fat burning – this is the major problem of
metabolic inflexibility. It is almost impossible to lose weight when insulin levels are high. Furthermore this effect can be sustained for hours.

b.) High levels of adrenaline make us anxious, irritable and sleepless. This adrenaline release is a major cause of high blood pressure. Indeed, it astonishes me that doctors appear completely unaware of this link so that hypertension is described as ‘essential’ (of unknown cause) or ‘idiopathic’ (again, of unknown cause). They may accurately describe it as due to ‘stress’, but fail to realise the cause of this stress is actually nutritional stress due to loss of control of blood sugar levels.

Sugar has immediate effects on the brain, by various mechanisms, and this is partly responsible for why sugar is so addictive. For people who have lost control of their blood sugar, in the very short term, a carbohydrate rush, or ‘hit’, will have a calming effect which allows them to concentrate. Inspector Morse used the carbohydrate hit of a pint of beer to solve his murder mysteries – but ended up diabetic and died prematurely. Falstaff too found that alcohol had an inspirational effect.

‘It ascends me into the brain, dries me there all the foolish and dull and crudy vapours which environ it, makes it apprehensive, quick, forgetive, full of nimble, fiery, and delectable shapes, which delivered o’er to the voice, the tongue, which is the birth, becomes excellent wit.’  Act IV scene iii of Henry IV, Part 2 William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

Any parent will report how their child’s behaviour changes abruptly with a sugar hit and, much more noticeably, when blood sugar dives and they become irritable and moody. My daughters were often tired and irritable when they came in from school – it was not until supper that their normal good humour and energy were restored.

Problems with sugar – hyperglycaemia

Symptoms of blood sugar rising rapidly (due to the sugar hit and insulin) Diseases of blood sugar rising rapidly (due to the sugar hit and insulin)
Brain function improves – better concentration, feel calm, relief from depression.
Satiety
Triglycerides in the blood are high as insulin shunts excessive sugar into fat. 
Obesity and Inability to lose weight. (It is important to recognise that obesity is not the cause of diabetes but may be a symptom of metabolic syndrome – indeed, many people with normal weight have metabolic syndrome and diabetes.)

Problems with sugar – the rollercoaster

Symptoms of blood sugar falling rapidly (due to adrenaline release) Diseases of blood sugar falling rapidly (due to adrenaline release)
Acute anxiety and low mood.
Panic attacks.
Insomnia.
Shaking.
Palpitations.
Fearfulness.
Hunger and intense desire to eat.
Weakness.
High blood pressure.
 
Chronic high blood pressure.
Premenstrual tension.
Chronic anxiety.
Depression.
Eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia). Obsessive compulsive disorders.
Increased tendency to addiction – caffeine, chocolate, nicotine, cannabis, ‘social highs’, gambling, sexual perversions, exercise.

You will again see the similarities between the mood changes here and those noted by Barry Ritholtz in his financial writings on the rollercoaster ride experienced by investors in risky stocks.

This extract was taken from Prevent and Cure Diabetes: Delicious Diets, Not Dangerous Drugs by Dr Sarah Myhill.

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The reasons behind Male Anorexia

The reasons behind male anorexia

Although the risk of anorexia nervosa is higher in females, boys and men are not immune. Interestingly, atypical eating disorders, such as ‘selective eating’ (very limited food choices) are more common in boys than girls before puberty. These are often related to developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders, or to severe anxiety. However, very few of these eating problems develop into anorexia nervosa after puberty.

About 10% of people with anorexia known to health services are male. On the other hand, large community-based epidemiological studies have recently shown that as many as 30% of participants reporting a lifetime history of anorexia were male, but only a minority sought treatment. Eating disorders are associated with women and this may be an impediment to seeking treatment for men. John Prescott’s disclosure of his bulimia could be a typical example of this situation.

However, even if as many as 30% of sufferers were male, the imbalance towards the female sex is most extreme amongst psychiatric disorders. Interestingly, there is some evidence that homosexuality/bisexuality is a specific risk factor for eating disorders (particularly bulimia) in males. According to a recent study, attending a gay recreational group is significantly related to eating disorder prevalence in gay and bisexual men. The reason for the higher prevalence in non-heterosexual males is unknown at present. In some cases, the drive for weight loss may be an expression of the rejection of male sexuality, such as in men with gender identity disorders.

The motivation for initial weight loss is usually different for men than for women. Preoccupation with a muscular but ‘fat-free’ body is more common, sometimes resulting in excessive exercise and steroid abuse. This is consistent with male sexual attractiveness, but paradoxically, these strategies damage normal sexual functioning. Biologically, abnormally low weight does not allow muscle building, not just because of lack of nutrients, but also because testosterone levels fall during starvation. The low testosterone does not just affect libido and sexual performance, but also the body’s ability to build muscles. Steroids illicitly used for muscle building also interfere with normal sex hormone production, and can be harmful in the long run.

Illicit substance misuse has also been associated with anorexia in males, for a number of reasons. Firstly, amphetamines, heroin and cocaine all reduce appetite. Secondly, some underlying personality traits may present a risk for both conditions.

Research on anorexia in boys and men is limited. This is mainly because only a small proportion of clinic populations are male, so it is very difficult to recruit sufficient numbers of male participants into studies. Furthermore, the majority of research studies concerning anorexia nervosa exclude male patients from recruitment or the analysis in an attempt to keep the methodology simple. The Minnesota Semi-Starvation study, which will be discussed later, included only male participants. Hence, this study has provided invaluable information about the consequences of self-induced starvation in males.

Medical complications are more common in men than women during starvation. However, a recent study in Sweden showed that the long-term recovery rate of men hospitalised for anorexia was good. The same research group has also shown that the outcome of eating disorders in females has improved in Sweden (in contrast to many other countries). These findings may be true only for the Swedish populations, due to the effective screening programmes and early intervention in this country’s highly developed and equitable healthcare system. Finnish researchers also found better outcome for males in terms of weight restoration, but additional psychological problems were common.

 

This extract was taken from Anorexia Nervosa by Dr Agnes Ayton.

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Psoriasis: Natural Remedies

Natural remedies for Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder that affects 1% to 3% of the world’s population. It is characterised by periodic flare-ups of well-defined red patches covered by a silvery, flaky scale on the skin and the scalp. There are several variations of psoriasis, but the most common type is chronic plaque psoriasis. The exact cause is unknown, but it is believed that a combination of several factors contributes to the development of this disease. In a normally functioning immune system, white blood cells produce antibodies to foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. These white blood cells also produce chemicals that aid in healing and fighting infective agents. With psoriasis, though, special white blood cells called T-cells become overactive; they attack the skin and set off a cascade of events that make the skin cells multiply so fast they start to stack up on the surface of the skin. Normal skin cells form, mature and then are sloughed off every 30 days, but in plaque psoriasis the skin goes through this whole process in three to six days.

DAMAGE
Sometimes an injury to the skin can cause the formation of a psoriasis patch. This is known as the Koebner phenomenon, and it can occur in other skin diseases, such as eczema and lichen planus. It can take two to six weeks for a psoriasis lesion to develop after an injury. Types of damage that can trigger a flare include: abrasion – even mild abrasions; increased friction from clothing or skin rubbing against skin in folds, such as armpits or under breasts; sunburn; viral rashes; drug rashes and weather damage.

DIET
Alcohol, sugar, coffee, fatty meats, refined processed foods, additives and deficiencies in minerals and phytonutrients can induce attacks of psoriasis.

DRUGS THAT CAN INDUCE OR WORSEN PSORIASIS

  • Chloroquine – used to treat or prevent malaria.
  • ACE inhibitors – angiotens in converting enzyme inhibitors, used to treat high blood pressure. Examples include fosinopril, captopril, and lisinopril.
  • Beta-blockers – used to treat high blood pressure. Examples include metoprolol tartrate (Lopressor) and atenolol (Tenormin).
  • Lithium – used to treat bipolar disorder.
  • Indocin – an anti-inflammatory medication used to treat a variety of conditions, including gout and arthritis.

INFECTIONS
Infections caused by bacteria or viruses can cause a psoriasis flare. Streptococcal infections that cause tonsillitis, or strep throat, tooth abscesses, cellulitis, and impetigo, can cause a flare of guttate psoriasis in children. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) does not increase the frequency of psoriasis, but it does increase the severity of the disease.

PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS
This has long been understood as a trigger for psoriasis flares, but scientists are still unclear about exactly how this occurs. Studies do show that not only can a sudden, stressful event trigger a rash to worsen; the daily struggles of life can also trigger a flare. In addition, one study showed that people who were categorised as ‘high worriers’ were almost two times less likely to respond to treatment compared to ‘low worriers’.

WEATHER
Weather is a strong factor in triggering psoriasis. Exposure to direct sunlight, which usually occurs in the warmer months, often improves the rash. On the other hand, cold, short days seen in the winter months can trigger the rash to worsen.

NATURE CURES FOR PSORIASIS
Raw juice therapy can effectively improve psoriasis. The best organic natural foods to juice are: apricot, beetroot, carrot, celery, cucumber, grapes, lemon, spinach and tomato.

EXTERNAL REMEDIES FOR PSORIASIS
The following can be used as external remedies for psoriasis: burdock root, Chinese rhubarb root, egg white (beaten to fluffy stage), mango, oats, parsley, pine needle tea bath and tamanu oil.

 

This extract was taken from Nature Cures by Nat Hawes. Check out her website at http://www.naturecures.co.uk/about.html