We are bombarded with messages about drinking more fluids – but is it really essential?
The water content of our body equates to between 50% and 65%. The NHS recommend we should drink six to eight glasses of water a day to keep our bodies topped up and hydrated, but sadly most of us don’t drink enough, and we are leaving ourselves dehydrated, out of energy and prone to gaining weight.
However new research November 2022 from the University of Aberdeen “shows the recommended water intake of eight glasses (around two litres) a day seldom matches our actual needs, and in many situations, is too high.” “Because water contents of foods vary so much, working out the exact required drinking water is difficult. For a typical person in the US or Europe, probably more than half of the 3.6 litres of water comes from food, which means that the amount needed to be drunk is around 1.5 to 1.8 litres day. For a woman in her twenties, it is probably about 1.3 to 1.4 litres per day. Older people will generally require less than this, while hot climates, being pregnant or breast-feeding and greater physical activity will increase it”
How much water do you need to drink a day?
The NHS Eatwell guide recommends that our water intake should be around six to eight glasses of water a day. As well as water, low fat milk, sugar-free drinks – including tea and coffee – all count towards this amount. If you are using tea and coffee within your daily allowance, consider using decaffeinated drinks, as it’s a healthier option.
Why do we need to drink water?
“Your body is nearly two thirds water and so it is really important that you consume enough fluid to stay hydrated and healthy,” says the British Nutrition Foundation. “If you don’t get enough fluid you may feel tired, get headaches and not perform at your best.” A study into how well children performed in a visual attention test showed that those who did not drink water beforehand achieved a lower score than those who did.
Water is more than just a quick drink to quench your thirst, it has many amazing health benefits that most of us are missing out on.
It will boost your metabolism
Research published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism found that drinking water can boost your resting energy exposure, with some research finding increases of as much as 30% just 10 minutes after drinking. While the reasons for this boost are not fully understood, some researchers believe it could be due to the extra energy used in warming the water up to body temperature as it passes through your digestive system.
Does drinking water help you lose weight?
Drinking water does not cause you to lose weight. However, it will keep you hydrated and it might help you to snack less, thirst can sometimes be mistaken for hunger. For positive wellbeing and health water is essential.
It will help you focus
Your brain is made up of around 85% of water, so having a good level of water intake will help with focus, concentration and decision-making – great for finally finishing off that tricky Sudoku!
The link between water and cognitive performance has been the central point of research for a number of years. A recent study by the University of East London and the University of Westminster found that drinking just 300ml of water can boost attention by up to 25%.
It won’t rot your teeth
No sugar means no tooth decay. Unlike sugary soft drinks (and even fruit juice), drinking water won’t lead to a build-up of plaque on your teeth that could lead to tooth decay and even gum disease.
It’s good for your skin
Since your body is made up of mostly water, keeping yourself hydrated will leave your skin feeling hydrated and looking younger (Source: Skin Research and Technology Journal). While drinking more water won’t prevent wrinkles from developing, the increased water intake of a fully hydrated person means the skin will be firmer and more elastic, improving the appearance of wrinkles and reducing some of the visible effects of ageing.
Is there anyone who should take special measures to drink more?
Some people need to make a concerted effort to ensure they’re drinking enough, such as the elderly, who may not have noticed that they’re becoming dehydrated. Babies and infants can quickly become dehydrated during illness or in intense heat due to their low body weight.
How much water should you drink when pregnant?
Pregnant or breastfeeding women need to ensure they’re drinking at sufficient levels, as do people who’ve had an illness resulting in vomiting or diarrhoea, or with other conditions such as a bladder infection. If the weather is particularly hot or you’ve been sweating a lot after exercise or manual work then your water and liquid requirement will increase too.
Is drinking too much water bad for you?
Yes. Drinking too much water can lead to a condition called hyponatraemia (also known as water intoxications), which can be fatal. Those who drink too much can develop the condition when their blood sodium levels fall too low. This can happen, for example, when athletes drink very large quantities of water after endurance sport, without replacing the sodium lost through perspiration.
By Patrick Holford
Life is a balancing act between making energy by combusting glucose or ketones with oxygen, which generates ‘oxidant’ exhaust fumes that harm the body. Skin goes crinkly and age spots develop – all due to oxidation. That’s what makes apples go brown, leaves change colour and iron rust. In the end, we lose, which is why all oxygen-based life forms have a finite life – and why your brain and body inevitably age.
However, you can not only add years to your life, but also life to your years, by improving your intake of antioxidants and polyphenols found in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices.
A study in Finland and Sweden which compared those with a ‘healthy’ versus ‘unhealthy’ diet in mid-life for future risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia 14 years later. Those who ate the ‘healthiest’ diet had an 86-90% decreased risk of developing dementia and a 90-92% decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Some of the benefits come from low-sugar diets, diets high in omega-3 and B vitamins and some from foods high in antioxidants and polyphenols – which we will focus on here.
Your best bet is probably to both eat a diet with a broad spectrum of antioxidants and also supplement them. The older you are the more you are likely to need. Key antioxidants are:
- Vitamin A, C and E – associated with reducing Alzheimer’s risk
- Lipoic acid (7) – protects the memory-friendly neurotransmitter acetycholine and dampens down brain oxidation and inflammation)
- Glutathione (8) or N-acetyl Cysteine (NAC)(9) – protects the brain and improves methylation thus having potential in dementia prevention.
- Co-enzyme Q10 – protects the mitochondria in the brain from oxidative stress (10)
- Resveratrol – resveratrol has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties and prevent hippocampal brain damage. (11)
So, what do you need to eat and drink to preserve your memory and protect your brain? Basically, eat a Mediterranean style ‘rainbow coloured’ diet. A Mediterranean diet has more fish, less meat and dairy, more olive oil, fruit and vegetables including tomatoes, legumes (beans and lentils), whole grain cereals than a standard western diet. It also includes small quantities of red wine. There are variations of this kind of diet, called the MIND diet and the DASH diet, but the core components are the same and as researchers drill down we are learning what to eat and drink to keep your mind sharp and brain young, and how much.
|Disrupted sleep is very dangerous. Whether it’s a tough time with worry and stress, workload – or even good things, like celebrations – not falling into a deep sleep causes more than just a tired afternoon the next day.|
Sleep disruption is associated with increased sympathetic nervous system activity and causes pro-inflammatory responses.
Even short-term consequences of sleep disruption can include increased stress response, somatic pain, reduced quality of life, emotional distress and mood disorders, and cognitive, memory and performance deficits.
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Reset your circadian rhythm to drift off to sleep
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Boost your body’s ability to purge harmful toxins
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Because health means everything.
SPF Factors Explained
It needn’t be a sweltering day to feel the full force of the sunshine. Even in overcast conditions, sunlight remains extremely strong, penetrating clouds and even glass.And with that sunlight, come plentiful supplies of UV rays. These can covertly and very gradually damage the skin, cause wrinkles, and increase the chance of developing skin cancer, especially if skin is over-exposed and under-protected.
While we won’t be suggesting you avoid the sun completely or give up that golden tan, you can minimise the risk of sun damage by getting to know what’s on your sun cream bottle, and what that means for your sun protection. Take a look at our top tips below about what SPF means, how SPF works, and how often you should apply sun cream.
Understanding your sunscreen bottle What does the SPF number mean?
SPF stands for sun protection factor which acts as a yardstick for the length of time the sun’s UV radiation will take to burn your skin versus if you were unprotected. For example, an SPF 30 sun cream should take you 30 times longer to burn than if you were wearing no sun cream, as it allows around 3% of UVB rays to reach your skin. Likewise, SPF 50 would take 50 times longer to make you burn and allows around just 2% of UVB rays through. This only applies, of course, if you are applying sun lotion as directed on the bottle and reapplying as instructed.
What does UVA and UVB mean?
Beyond what SPF means, your sun lotion bottle provides much more vital info about its sun protection level, including the differences between UVA and UVB. UVA (ultraviolet A) penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB and has a longer-lasting effect. These types of rays are closely linked with skin cancer and premature ageing, such as wrinkles, leathery skin, and sun spots. UVB (ultraviolet B) has shorter wavelengths than UVA and is more commonly displayed on sun cream bottles; it is also the main cause of sunburn and is linked with some skin cancers.
Where is the expiry date on sun cream?
Not had a chance to buy new sunscreen this summer? Are you wondering how long sun cream lasts as you’re looking to apply last year’s bottle? To know when suncream expires, all you need to do is look out for the symbol that looks like an open jar on the sunscreen bottle. This has a number inside that tells you how long the product should be used after it has been opened. For example, if you see “12M” in the open jar, then the sun cream should be used within 12 months of cracking it open. After that time, the sun cream becomes ineffective – no matter how high the sun protection factor is. As such, try to remember when you last opened it and, if you know you used it last year, it’s time to buy a fresh one.
How often should I apply sun cream and how much should I be wearing?
While many dermatologists will recommend wearing sun cream everyday to provide constant sun protection (yes, even during the winter), during summer, when the sun is at its hottest, you should consider reapplying sun lotion every two hours. If you are out and about during the hottest point of the day, have sensitive skin, go swimming, or sweat a lot, you may need to increase the frequency. As for how much sun cream you should apply, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 35ml (around seven teaspoons) for all over body coverage. This amount of sun cream should cover a teaspoon on the head and neck, one teaspoon on each arm, each leg, your front, and your back. Generally, we don’t apply enough sun cream to our bodies which means, while we think we’re doing everything we can to protect our skin, we could be greatly reducing our level of sun protection. If in doubt, apply more, not less.
What SPF should I use?
It goes without saying that, for maximum sun protection, a higher SPF is advised. .The decision comes down to what you know about your skin. Are you prone to burning at the first sight of sun? Is your skin pale? Have you any skin conditions? If you know your skin has a low tolerance to sun exposure, it is always better to be over-cautious with sun protection and opt for a higher SPF, even if it is cloudy. Other than sun protection factor, what else should you be looking for on your sunscreen bottle? Water-resistant sun creams are most effective as they are able to wick away sweat, rain, and swimming water. Sprays don’t always play well with windy weather and tanning oils – which develop a deeper tan through attracting more UVB rays – will deepen your chance of burning. Also don’t forget to consult the UVA and UVB ratings on the bottle when choosing between sun creams: they should say ‘high’ or ‘very high’ or provide a star rating of 4 or more (the higher the rating, the better)
Money concerns can place a strain on your mental health, and vice versa. Here are 7 tips to help you cope with financial stress.
In recent years, we have become more aware of the importance of looking after our mental health. And we have seen the negative impact events such as the pandemic have had. A survey conducted last year by mental health charity Mind, found that around a third of adults and young people said their mental health had significantly worsened since March 2020.
This added pressure has meant that more people are feeling anxious about their financial futures. Kerry McLeod, Head of Information Content at Mind explains the link between mental health and financial stress. “Poor mental health can make earning and managing money harder and worrying about money can make your mental health worse. It can start to feel like a vicious cycle.
“Certain situations might trigger feelings of anxiety and panic, like opening envelopes. Money problems can affect your social life and relationships too, and they can make you feel lonely or isolated, if you can’t afford to do the things you want to.”
While sorting things out might feel overwhelming, she advises, “learning how mental health and money are connected might help if you’re struggling. Try taking things one step at a time.”
1. Ask for help
If you’re struggling because of money issues and related anxiety, talking to someone can be of great benefit – a loved one, a health professional like your GP, or an advice service such as the Government’s Money Helper service. Advice services can offer some help with next steps, such as any financial assistance you may be entitled to.
2. Spot the signs of financial stress
It’s important to manage financial stress, as leaving it unchecked can impact your health. Too much stress can lead to sleep problems, anxiety and depression. Physical symptoms, such as headaches and high blood pressure, or even unhealthy coping methods such as heavy drinking, which will likely make things feel worse. Try to manage your stress with free, regular exercise. Techniques such as mindfulness and healthy eating will also help. If you are concerned about your mental or physical health, talk to your GP.
3. Check your finances
It’s easy to lose track of what you’re spending. Note down all your outgoings and work out what you spend your money on, weekly or monthly. Try free, easy-to-use apps and tools such as Money Helper.
4. Get organised
Having all your financial information (bank accounts, bills etc) in one place can help reduce money-related stress. Also, schedule a regular time to deal with money tasks and plan a relaxing (and stress-busting) activity afterwards such as a walk or run.
5. Know your money and mood patterns
Keep a diary of your spending and your mood. Are there certain times when you’re more likely to spend money, which aspects of dealing with money make your mental health worse? Understanding your relationship with money could help you plan ahead for difficult times.
6. Take control
Make a plan to help ease your financial stress. Deleting apps and not saving your card details on websites can stop the temptation of impulse purchases. Hand over your cards to someone you trust or avoid debit/credit card payments by taking out a set amount of cash every day or week.
7. Get help with debts
Reduce your anxiety related to debt by talking to a free professional debt advice organization such as Citizens Advice. You may be able to get a break from paying debt interest under a Government scheme.
Remember that being afraid to open bills or check your bank account will only store up future problems and may potentially cause even more stress. It’s important to know that there are many people in the same situation, and that by asking for help, you are taking a positive first step to improving both your financial and mental health.
1. LIGHTS OUT BY 10:00 P.M
During sleep you produce a hormone that affects brain function and mood as well as physical endurance and immunity
You can increase your production of this hormone by a factor of fivefold depending on when you go to sleep.
Peak hours for producing this hormone are between 10:00 p.m. and midnight.
2. PULL THE SHADES AND SLEEP IN A DARK BEDROOM
Darkness triggers the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone released by the pineal gland. It helps your body know when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake up.
3. TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER AT LEAST NINETY MINUTES BEFORE YOUR HEAD HITS THE PILLOW
The light emitted from LED screens (TVs, computers, smartphones, and video games) produce what’s called blue light. Blue light is interpreted by the brain as daylight. Exposure to high levels of blue light close to bedtime can suppress the production of melatonin.
4. FEEL THE SUNSHINE WHENEVER POSSIBLE DURING THE DAY
The more sun exposure you get during the day, the greater the melatonin
you’ll produce at night.
5. TAKE A WARM BATH RIGHT BEFORE BED
Believe it or not, taking a warm bath actually cools your core body temperature once you’re out of the tub, which allows you to get a deeper nights sleep.
6. SIP A CUP OF WARM MILK BEFORE BED
Warm milk has certain peptides that help lower cortisol (the stress hormone) and support sound sleep.
7. TAKE SHORT NAPS
Don’t nap for more than twenty minutes and don’t take your nap later than mid afternoon, or this may interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night.
8. SLEEP WITH YOUR HEAD TO THE EAST OR SOUTH
Sleeping with the top of the head facing in the southern direction, especially if you have health issues, is very beneficial. These recommendations don’t change in the Southern Hemisphere.
9. AVOID SLEEPING PILLS
Sleeping pills may reduce sleep-onset time and increase hours slept, but they don’t produce deep sleep. That’s why so many
people report having a “hangover” or feeling like a “zombie” the next day. Instead try a herbal remedy
10. GIVE THANKS FOR ALL THE GREAT THINGS THAT HAPPENED THAT DAY
Instead of counting sheep, try counting your blessings.
The menopause isn’t a health ‘problem’ or illness as such. It is a natural process that happens to almost all women as they age.
The menopause does, however, cause a wide range of symptoms that can be challenging and uncomfortable. Mood swings, depression, vaginal dryness, low sex drive, hot flushes and sleep problems are all common symptoms. As well as directly impacting those assigned female at birth going through the menopause, some symptoms like mood swings and behaviour changes can affect the people close to them too.
Whilst you cannot prevent the menopause, the good news is that there are several ways to manage and treat symptoms. Some people will benefit from hospital treatments, prescribed medication, or mental health support. Whilst for others, simple lifestyle changes could be enough to support their mood and improve any physical discomfort. It’s important to remember that the menopause affects people in different ways – it’s not a one-size fits all approach!
Some women won’t need medical treatment, but making some simple lifestyle changes can help manage milder symptoms before they get worse…
Adjusting lifestyle factors can help…
Speaking to other people who are also going through, or have recently experienced the menopause themselves, can provide a great source of comfort and reassurance. Whilst everybody’s symptoms are different and the impact on their lifestyles will vary, knowing that you’re not alone and that symptoms don’t last forever can make a huge difference.
Eat a healthy diet
Lower oestrogen levels can increase the risk of heart disease as well as osteoporosis (a disease that weakens the bones, increasing the risk of sudden fracture*). Reducing saturated fats and salt will help keep blood pressure lower, and eating calcium-rich foods like leafy greens, milk and low-fat yoghurts can help maintain stronger bones. Vitamin D from oily fish and eggs improves bone health too.
Minimising alcohol, processed sugar and caffeine can help improve heart health and reduce the likelihood of low mood or mood swings too.
Exercise and keep fit
Regular movement, in addition to exercise, can help to manage feelings of anxiety and stress. Plus, weight bearing exercises in particular can improve bone health and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis, which is a risk associated with the menopause. Keeping up a consistent routine, especially during the dark winter months, isn’t always easy!
Lack of sleep can be detrimental to your physical and mental health. Feeling irritable, depressed, forgetting things and making mistakes are all symptoms of being over-tired.
Cutting down on caffeine, especially after a certain time of the day, can help you to achieve a better night’s sleep. Try switching your phone off at a certain time or avoiding screens before bed. Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature and consider lighter bedding if you’re experiencing hot flushes. Avoid eating large meals or consuming alcohol close to bedtime and avoid napping during the day if you can. Making these changes will improve your sleep quality.
Over the counter medication such as melatonin can also help. But it’s best to speak to your GP if you feel you’re unable to manage your sleep problems. Read our blog ‘how to get a good nights sleep’ for more hints and tips on improving your quality of sleep.
A new year always brings a flurry of resolutions to lead a healthier lifestyle. Over 300,000 people tried the Dry January challenge in 2023, and many reported that they felt healthier at the end of it.
Sustained consumption of alcohol can lead to higher risk factors for cancer, heart disease, liver disease and strokes. It can also cause accidents, alcohol poisoning and sleep problems, among other issues.
While the UK’s chief medical officers stated in 2016 that no level of regular drinking is considered completely safe in relation to some cancers, reducing alcohol intake is always a good resolution.
1. Identify how much you’re drinking
The NHS recommends that to keep the health risks low, you should drink no more than 14 units per week, spread across at least three days. There are some online calculators that help to convert drinks into units, but a general rule of thumb is a can of lager, beer or cider is 2.7 units, a standard glass of wine is 2.1 units, and a shot of spirits is between 1.0 and 1.4 units.
2. Ride the wave of the new year
Whether it’s hitting the gym, trying to eat more plant-based foods or drinking less alcohol, use the motivation of a new year to power the changes you want to make to your lifestyle.
3. Make small changes first
If you don’t want to cut out all alcohol, restrict your drinking to certain days of the week or only at the weekend. By making small changes, you’ll find them easier to keep up.
4. Don’t do it alone
Tell friends and family what you’re doing so that they can encourage you and rearrange plans to make it easier for you to avoid alcohol when spending time with them.
5. Try 0% options
Alcohol-free or low alcohol alternatives to beer, wine and spirits are becoming more popular and have improved in quality and taste. Between 2016 and 2021, total sales nearly doubled in the UK and there are new options.