Winter Wellness – My Survival Guide

winter wellness my survival guide

Winter Wellness – My Survival Guide.

Yes, the wintry and cold weather has started here in Blighty and some kind soul has shared their germs with me.  To be fair, I’m valiantly battling bugs where others have been pretty poorly with a persistent cough.

So, I felt inspired to write about winter wellness and share my own, personal survival guide.  Those little health helping hints to see me through the dark and cold days.

Mr P would tell you that it’s Stones Ginger Wine for him and okay we do have that in the cupboards, but that’s NOT what I’m talking about.

Here are some of things I suggest to keep bugs at bay AND wend your way through winter feeling more wonderful.

 

Take Vitamin D

We manufacture our Vitamin D from sunshine, mostly. And it’s now autumn/winter here in the UK and the Northern Hemisphere. So not much sunshine. There are very few food sources and they’re not enough to provide all we need anyway.  Vitamin D is found in oily fish (salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines), eggs and red meat. It’s added to some foods.

So everyone over the age of five years, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10mcg or 400 iU of Vitamin D as D3 in the Northern Hemisphere winter, according to the NHS website in the UK. It’s likely many people become low in Vitamin D or even deficient in winter.

Personally, I take Vitamin D 3 drops with added Vitamin K and at a higher dose of 1100iU on the guidance of the duo behind the book “The Health Delusion”.

Vitamin D is actually a HORMONE not a Vitamin, so plays a big role in that big old, complex system of triggers, messages and responses that IS the hormone system. And we ALL know how important it is to try to keep our hormones balanced.

Signs of deficiency include:-

  • trouble thinking clearly
  • bone pain, breaks and bone deformities
  • muscle weakness
  • unexplained fatigue

…so pretty general symptoms.

Levels can be tested by a simple blood test by your doctor, if you think you may at risk of low Vitamin D.

 

Hype Up The Hygiene

Come on peeps, wash your hands. Cover your mouth when you cough.  Sneeze into a tissue that you throw away. Immediately.

Sounds super simple,  but it’s the best way to stop the spread of germs.  It’s really, really key for winter wellness.

Wash your  hands regularly and in particular after using the toilet and before meals. Give them a wash after touching someone else’s phone or keyboard or door handles or kettle … you catch my drift.

Teach the kids too.

Get Manuka Honey

A good store cupboard staple. Manuka honey.

Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native manuka bush.

Honey has been used since ancient times to help lots of different conditions. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that researchers discovered honey’s has natural antibacterial qualities.

Honey protects against bacteria. Some honey also stimulates production of cells that can repair tissue damaged by infection. It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory.

But not all honey is the same.  Some kinds of honey are more potent than others.

I like mine on foods especially breakfast, in warm drinks or made into a warm drink with lemon and hot water with fresh ginger slices too if I have a sore throat or a cold.

Eat Well

Keep your immune system tippety top  by making sure you’re eating a healthy diet at least 80-90% of the time. For your body to fight infection, it needs to have enough protein, so enjoy wild fish, organic poultry and lean meat, legumes, quinoa, nuts and seeds and eggs. Take dairy in lesser amounts; it’s mucus forming, so not helpful if you have a phlegmy cough or a cold.

Make sure you have plenty of veggies, fruits, good fats from oily fish, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds too for maximum nutrition. And a variety of whole grains in moderation, especially if you’re managing weight.

Garlic and onions are known to have antibacterial and anti-viral properties.

Cut down the sugar as it’s been shown to reduce infection-fighting. Really.

Drink plenty of filtered water, fruit and herb teas to stay hydrated.

If you’re concerned that your diet is below par, you could supplement with Vitamin C and a good multi vitamin and mineral for winter wellness.  Check with your doctor or pharmacist first. Buy the best you can afford as cheap ones are made with cheap fillers and ingredients your body can’t easily absorb.

 Chicken Soup

Have Echinacea at Home

Echinacea is a good to have at home.  I buy a good quality tincture from a health store and take it as per instructions at the slightest sign of a sniffle AND when anyone near and dear is poorly.

Echinacea is a herb widely used to fight infections, especially colds and flu.  It’s generally easy to find and comes as a tincture, tablets or juice.

Always buy the best you can afford and avoid “standardised” herbs, as they are not the best quality.

Echinacea seems to activate chemicals in the body that reduce inflammation, which might reduce cold and flu symptoms.

Keep Exercising

It can be pretty tough to get motivated when it’s cold and dark,  I know.  I’d love to hibernate like a big, old bear, but I try not to.

The good news is  your body has to work overtime to get warm, so you can burn more energy when it’s a bit chilly.

If it’s too cold and dark outside, go to the gym, find an exercise class, visit  the local pool or do an exercise DVD in the comfort of your own home.

Find yourself a buddy to keep you motivated.

 

Take Homeopathic Aconite

Homeopaths believe that the remedy Aconite can help “nip things in the bud”.

Take it at the first sign of a tickle in the throat or a sniffle.

You can easily buy this online (I use Helios Pharmacy), on the High Street or at health stores.   Buy 30c strength and take up to 8 times daily.  If just may keep lurgy at bay.

There are other homeopathic remedies for supporting coughs, colds and flu. Always consult a qualified homeopath.

 

Get Plenty of Zeds

Regular sleep is really important for winter wellness. Don’t let yourself get run down if you want to stay fit and healthy. People who aren’t well rested are much more likely to get sick.

So no burning your candle at both ends, please. And if you need some help sleeping check out these tips.

If you do become ill, don’t be tempted to carry on regardless. Resting will help you heal quicker AND prevent further spread of germs.

Use Essential Oils

Get some essential oils into your life to help keep your immune system stronger and reduce the risk of the winter blues striking.

If you are pregnant, you will need to be careful which oils to use and should always check with a qualified aromatherapist before using them.

And never use them neat on the skin – only Lavender is suited for that.

Now, I’m no aromatherapist so I buy blends, mostly.

Organic Defence  blend is fab from Neals Yard and is aimed at warding off coughs and colds.   You can use it as an inhalation or in a diffuser or even use it to clean surfaces.

 

Or a great immune-boosting, winter wellness blend to use in a diffuser is 2 or 3 drops each of cinnamon, thyme, rosemary and lemon. You could also  sprinkle these oils onto a cotton hankie  and carry in a plastic bag in your handbag for when you need a quick lift during the day.

To give me a lift or boost of energy when I’m flagging I choose this little roll on aromatherapy blend.

 

Slather On Moisturiser

The needs of your skin changes with the weather and seasons.  You may need a heavier duty moisturiser in winter to prevent skin chapping and drying out.

I’m a sucker for Frankincense Nourishing Cream  and Frankincense Hydrating Cream for dry skin and fine lines and wrinkles.  Or even the more hard core Frankincense Intense.

Don’t forget your luscious lips either. Buy yourself a good, natural lip balm.

And finally your hands – make sure they stay soft and supple with a lovely hand cream. My addiction to Orange and Geranium is now legendary.

Hint, it’s almost Christmas Mr P *winks*

 

Get Some Natural Cough Syrup

I know some people that make their own cough mixtures and syrups. I’m not one of them.  I buy a good natural one.  At the moment I have a Potters  herbal one in the cupboard.

I am also going to buy some Eucalyptus Pastilles and Elderberry Throat Spray from Neals Yard, but I haven’t tried them, so can’t speak for them just yet.

 

Make Like The Danes

Wine by the Fire

Practice hygge – said “hue-gah”. It’s an art-form, a way of being. It’s basically about enjoying the everyday and making the little things in life special and memorable.  Kinda like mindfulness with knobs on.

It’s cold and dark a lot of the year for the Danes, so this attitude makes them one of the happiest nations on earth.

So get some fresh flowers and foliage from the garden, make a lovely cuppa in your fave china cup, light a candle and snuggle up. That’s hygge.

 

And I hope you thrive this winter, rather than just survive it.  With my own top tips for winter wellness.

Love, Kathy x

P.S blog contains affiliate links. I only recommend products, services and companies that I actually use and really love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Deal With Haywire Hair in Your 40s and 50s

 how-to-deal-with-haywire-hair-changes-in-your-40s-and-50s

How To Deal With Haywire Hair in Your 40s and 50s.

I have a Love/Hate Relationship with my hair. I’ve had many hair changes over the years.

 

My Love/Hate Relationship With My Hair

I loved the blonde Shirley Temple curls of my toddling phase. Super cute.

I hated the hacked and short cut that my Mother inflicted on me, driven by the need to save money. I accept that totally. I was a child of 70s Britain, power cuts and the three day week.

That haircut lasted many years.  I longed for pigtails. A ponytail. Ringlets.  Or an elfin face  for my pixie cut rather the square freckled face I was blessed with. I wished it was straight instead of sticking up. I looked like a continual bad case of bed head.

I loved my bleached and backcombed “goth-y” fright phase. At the time, anyway.

I loved my curls in the 80s when the poodle perm was in.

I hated my curls when straighteners became de rigeur. I straightened my locks to within an inch of their life. This trend lasted years – that’s years of taming the curls.

For about the last year, I’ve embraced the curls.

If I’m honest, mostly because I think it’s kinda Bull Twang to deny who I am. I am much more comfortable in my own skin …the gift of growing (b)older.  That’s no judgement on anyone with hair straighteners. No judgement on hair changes that you choose.  I’d be a big old hypocrite. I still get highlights to lift the mouse brown.

Embracing the curls has saved an awful lot of time and effort.

But then I started to notice my hair changes…and NOT in a good way.

 

MY Hair Changes In My 40s

My hair is fine but there’s loads of it. It’s whispy and gets frizzy in humidity and drizzle rain.

It’s mouse brown with (artificial) highlights of sun kissed caramel. From foils …to avoid the dye being spread all over my scalp and risk more chemicals than necessary going into my skin.  It’s coloured every 3 months and no more.

I have a few “glitter highlights” (greys) to cover but not that many to be honest. I’m 49 as I type this. I take after my Dad.

It’s always been quite soft…until recently. I noticed hair changes.

It was tangly when wet – just at one side. Go figure. Can’t blame bed head.

I bought a detangling brush as recommended by my gorgeous hairdresser Nik. I bought some pretty natural detangler on his recommendation.

Made no difference.

Instead, more and more hair got tangly.  And seemed more coarse. Every time I washed and combed more was breaking off or being pulled out, no matter how gentle I was. Grrrrrrrrr.

So I stopped washing every day and now wash a few times a week.  I can’t bear the amount of hair in my brush.

But more than that, I started to PANIC. Loads of hair  in my brush. My hair is thinning … falling out.  Chuff off Menopause!  I started to stress.

I am menopausal and menopause can cause dryness to skin and hair.  Another symptom can be hair loss.  Hair loss can be caused by sensitivity to male hormones or an imbalance leading to too many male hormones. And yes, women have male hormones too.

I asked Mr P is he thought my hair was falling out. He said No. I actually asked my hairdresser – he says no as well, but agreed the texture is changing and it’s very, VERY tangly.

I’m still worried.  I want keep my hair plentiful and in good condition. I want to keep my “crowing glory” er em glorious.

So what have I done?

Here are my tips.

 

Dealing With Haywire Hair in Your 40s and 50s

1. Eat a healthy, hormone helping diet with plenty of vegetables and fruit, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, pulses, fish, eggs and a little poultry and meat. Buy organic, unsprayed, free range, unprocessed. Make sure you include good fats like oily fish, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds, coconut oil and avocado. Choose eggs, liver, yeast, salmon, cheese, avocado, raspberries and cauliflower for the biotin (one of the B vitamins), which helps with hair growth and condition.  Drink plenty of good fluids – filtered water, fruit and herb teas, coconut water.

2. Use gentle hair products free from sodium laurel sulphate and other nasties. Natural and organic products with natural plant oils really help condition hair. (I usually favour Neals Yard and Faith in Nature). Maybe choose products with essential oils too. Rosemary and Ylang Ylang are stimulating. Lavender and Tea Tree fight dandruff and dry scalp. Chemical treatments can also be very damaging and dyes and tints contain potentially toxic chemicals.

You can use a tiny smidgen of coconut oil on your hair too. Rub a little in your hands and use as a defrizzer and natural conditioner.

3. Don’t brush and tease at wet hair – you run the risk of breaking and splitting hair. Overheating with hairdryers, straighteners etc can also be very damaging.

4. Massage your scalp to encourage hair growth. And it feels sooooo gooooood!

5. If your diet may be lacking, choose a short course (3 months) of a good supplement that contains Vitamins C, E, B Vitamins and Biotin. Buy the best supplement you can afford – cheaper ones contain fillers and the nutrients are often much harder to extract and use by your body.

I just bought Viridian Beauty Oil and Viridian Ultimate Beauty Supplement. They’re organic and good quality and Viridian make a charitable donation for every product sold.

6. Choose a good style.  Not just one that flatters your face shape, but one that plays to the texture and amount of hair you have. Nik created me a much better style to stop me running my fingers through my long bangs to keep it from my eyes – this will  save more breakage and improve the condition.  A new hairstyle is GOOD hair changes. Hurrah.

7. Don’t Stress. Stress is bad for our health. It causes our body systems, functions and processes to go haywire. It causes imbalance. It also affects us on the outside, often seen on our skin and hair.  Remove the sources of stress from your life or reduce the impact with coping strategies like meditation, yoga, exercise, massage, journalling and more.

8. Speak to a doctor. Hair loss can also be triggered by some health issues like low thyroid function. So go and get tests and advice.

The lesson for me is just LOVE your hair. No more Love/Hate here. Just love. With my 8 top tips.

Let me know how my tips work for you.

Love, Kathy x

Natural Sun Protection – Stay Sunkissed Safely

Natural Sun Protection

Natural Sun Protection – Stay Sunkissed Safely

*sings* The sun has got his hat on, hip hip hip hooray!

Have you? Got your hat on, that is?

I know *rolls eyes* …there’s all that stuff about slapping on sunscreen and wearing a hat to avoid skin cancers.  You’ve heard it ALL before.  Or have you?

Just HOW savvy are you on sunshine and how to stay safe in the sun?

Here’s the lowdown on natural skin protection …AND I’m going to start with some CONTROVERSY! Read on …

 

Go Outside With No Sunscreen (BRIEFLY)

Say what? You thought this was a piece about natural sun protection!

YES, I really mean that. NO sunscreen …briefly. It’s good for hormones.

Yup.  Vitamin D is a hormone, not a vitamin.  We know that now.  There is so much more to learn about this hormone and there is much more research going into it now.

We do know that sources of Vitamin D in food – fatty fish, fish liver oils and some in eggs, cheese and ox liver –  aren’t enough to keep our levels topped up.

The main source is sunshine. Our skin makes Vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunshine.

So, whats a girl to do?

Experts recommend going out, exposing one third of your body (easy tiger!) to sunshine for about 10 minutes without sunscreen.  BUT avoid the hottest parts of the day 11am-3pm.

Then put on your sunscreen to protect your skin.

For children, you should reduce the sun exposure time down to a few minutes.  It’s not recommended that small babies are exposed to strong sunlight.  If in doubt, ask your doctor or take a look at the UK NHS guidance.

Don’t stay out in the sun too long. Never allow your sun to get red and burn – you’re damaging it.

Choose Safer Sunscreen

For the past few years, I’ve been searching for a sunscreen that provides natural sun protection and isn’t full of toxic nasties or hormone disruptors.

I just read yet another article  which recommended avoiding oxybenzone (hormone disruptor) and octocrylene and avobenzone (linked to allergy) and also homosalate (hormone disruptor).

Look out for harmful parabens, phthalates and artificial fragrance too.

Safer choices contain minerals zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Check out the back of the bottles you have lurking in the cupboards, ladies.

I’ve ordered some g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s sun care products from my fave Neals Yard Remedies. *  Squeeeee.

Apply Your Sunscreen Properly

I know some of you will think I’m teaching my Granny to suck eggs, but if it helps one person it’ll be worth the rest of my lovely readers rolling their eyes and sighing… loudly.

Apply your natural skin protection sunscreen in a thick enough layer.  Apply it everywhere exposed to sunshine and to reapply regularly …especially if it’s likely to get washed off or rubbed off on a towel or clothes.

Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses are not just a fashion accessory. Although there are some pretty cools ones, huh?

They protect your delicate peepers from the fierce rays of the sun.   If you don’t wear sunglasses, you’re putting yourself at higher risk of eye damage.

Eye damage can lead to condition like cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. Not to mention skin cancer around the eye area, which is a common site.

Eat To Boost Skin’s Natural Defences

I mean eat lots of veggies and fruit. They are full of antioxidants to help protect from sun exposure and other modern life risks.

Veggies and fruits that are yellow, orange and red in colour are particularly helpful.

If you’re a Salad Dodger you could choose a good quality (you get what you pay for) supplement with Vitamins A, C and E.
And my final tip for staying safe and happy in the sun?

Be Prepared

Be like the Girl Scout and be prepared.  Think natural sun protection.

Make sure you take suitable clothes to cover up during the hottest part of the day, which might include a jaunty hat?

Take plenty of water (avoiding BPA plastic bottles which are hormone harmers) to keep you hydrated.

Oh and a book to relax and unwind…don’t forget the good book.

 

Enjoy the sunshine.

Love, Kathy x

*P.S. Article contains affiliate link.

5 Natural Ways To Beat Bloating

5 Natural Ways To Beat Bloating

 

 

5 Natural Ways To Beat Bloating.

Do you sometimes look like you’re hiding an inflatable up your jumper?   Forget the phrase “muffin top” – yours looks like a 3 tier wedding cake!

Suffer bloating?

That uncomfortable and embarrassing problem where your tummy swells to a MASSIVE size?

It can be fluid retention. It can be digestive problems, like windypops or constipation.

Whatever the cause, it sucks.

Let’s look at common symptoms and ways to beat bloating.

 

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms include:-

  • Your clothes become tight
  • Your tummy feels rock hard (or it can still feel soft)
  • You’re constipated.
  • You get gurgling, rumbling, belching and gas.   It can be so loud, it’s cringe-worthy.
  • Other parts of your body are also swollen – ankles, feet etc.  And usually pre-period. That’s often due to fluid retention.

If that sounds all too familiar, what can you do to beat bloating?

 

Conventional Ways to Beat Bloating

Your Doctor will give different advice depending on the cause.

And do see your Doctor if you suffer regular bloating.  In rare cases, it’s a  sign of a more serious problem, so don’t be a doctor dodger.

If the issue is pre-period water retention, a doctor might suggest reducing salt intake.  Or even prescribe diuretic drugs i.e. they eliminate fluid.

If bloating is caused by digestive problems, they’ll advise you on keeping your poop mechanism in tip top condition.

 

5 Natural Ways To Beat Bloating

Remove Wheat Products From Your Diet

Wheat is difficult to digest even if you’re not allergic to wheat i.e. suffer coeliac disease.  It can cause bloating.

Try removing wheat and wheat products from your diet for 4 weeks and see if that makes a difference.  Replace wheat with brown rice and other grains like quinoa and buckwheat.

For diet advice for a diagnosed condition, see a dietician or nutritional therapist.  I follow The Digestion Detective for free guidance on digestion and bloating.

Regulate Salt Intake

If your issue is fluid retention, review your salt intake.

Some women in my clinic get pre-period cravings for crisps, nuts and other salty snacks.  These can make the issue worse.  Eat plenty of leafy green veggies to boost potassium and balance out sodium.

Be aware of hidden sodium like monosodium glutamate in Chinese dishes and takeaways.

Drink Water

Drinking plain, filtered or spring water can help reduce bloating and improve tummy transit.   Avoid fizzy water as it can make you even windier.

Take Regular Gentle Exercise

If bloating is caused by sluggish digestion, regular, gentle exercise can help. Try walking or yoga and pilates can help relieve bloating and wind.

Try Complementary Therapies

Choose something that you will enjoy to support you to beat bloating.  In my own clinic, I use homeopathy, Tissue Salts and herbal tinctures to support clients with minor digestive trouble or water retention.  As well as recommending a healthy and hormone friendly diet.

 

If you give any of these a go, let me know how you get on trying to beat bloating.

Love, Kathy x