Common Health Conditions: Where To Go For Advice and Information

I came across an article the other day discussing the ethics behind health bloggers; in particular, the dangers of non- experts giving advice and writing beyond their level of expertise. As a family lifestyle blogger, I have a health and wellbeing section, and cover this topic fairly regularly. 

It got me thinking, should bloggers shy away from covering certain topics? Perhaps just leave it all to the professionals? I think it largely depends on the context it is written. Of course, nobody should be claiming to be an expert if they are not, or offer advice that could potentially be harmful. I guess some subjects are therefore by nature more controversial than others. But I do think well written and responsible health blogs have their place, and can be a very valuable source of information.

For example, I often see on parenting groups new parents asking for health advice for their babies. Sometimes they are questions about rashes or temperatures; the kind of thing that it would be best to look up on NHS Direct or go to a pharmacy to establish whether it is safe to treat at home. But other things are questions that can easily be answered by other, more experienced, parents. Sensible, typical suggestions for dealing with a teething baby for example. Or little first aid tips like how to safely and easily remove a splinter. But if in any doubt whatsoever, it is always best to seek medical advice. Likewise, same applies when it comes to any other advice or health conditions for anyone of any age.

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It is comparitable to how people might ask friends or family for advice vs going to their GP. Of course, we don’t want to waste valuable NHS resources and professional’s time with things that are clearly fine to research ourselves or safe to treat at home, but if there is any doubt whatsoever then seek advice. Rule of thumb, in my opinion, is to treat blog posts and articles more like you are chatting to your friends rather than speaking to an expert!

Personally, whilst I try to ensure that my health posts are informative, of course I absolutely do not claim to be an expert and I make sure that I signpost people on where to go for further information, advice and support. I offer ‘common sense’ practical suggestions about living a healthy lifestyle and ideas to support wellbeing, but I am careful not to cross the line into specialist advice. It is important however to reflect on this sometimes though and make sure I am consciously taking responsibility for the impact of the words I write on my readers. 

Remember: if in doubt, seek expert medical advice. 

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Here are some essential sources for information and advice:

NHS Direct

The Independent Pharmacy

Mind (mental health)

Childrens Health

NHS children’s health section

www.healthforkids.co.uk (NHS site)

www.gosh.nhs.uk/children/about-your-condition

youngminds.org.uk (mental health)

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Healthy Eating Made Easy: Roasted Vegetable Couscous Recipe

Delicious and healthy roasted vegetable and couscous recipe. Ideal quick and easy, yet healthy, meal that will feed the whole family. Make mealtimes stress- free with this microwave recipe. Enjoy healthy, clean eating without hassle.

Healthy eating is important to me and I generally try to use raw ingredients if possible. But like most people, we are often under time constraints, so quick and easy recipes are a must! 

I was set the challenge to choose one of these fab microwave recipes to make and blog about it. So I picked this roasted vegetable couscous recipe because it is super healthy and almost vegan. (It does contain honey). As I have mentioned before, we are flexitarian, meaning we choose to eat mainly vegan food but we are also laid back about it too.

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Ingredients

  • 2 Bell Peppers
  • 100g Button Mushrooms
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 large Courgette 
  • 1 medium Carrot 
  • 1/2 Butternut Squash 
  • 2 Garlic Cloves 
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3 tsp Honey
  • 300 mls Vegetable Stock
  • 350g Couscous

The quantities given for the ingredients were more than enough to serve all three of us with a huge portion as a main meal. It would be enough for a family of 4 – 5 in fact probably!

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Recipe

Vegetable Preparation

• Deseed the peppers and cut them into bite size chunks.
• Finely chop the onions.
• Peel the carrot then slice them thinly.
• Slice the courgettes.
• Chop the butternut squash into bite size chunks.
• Crush the garlic cloves.

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Microwave Vegetables

• Place all of the prepared vegetables in a large casserole dish.
• Add a tiny amount of water.
• Cover and microwave on high for 5-7 mins.
• Drain and cool slightly.

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Roasting the Vegetables

Pre-heat oven to 220ºC (based on convection oven – adjust for other types).

• Put the vegetables onto the oven tray.
• Chop the button mushrooms and mix them in with the vegetables.
• Add some olive oil.
• Season with salt, pepper and paprika.
• Place in the pre-heated oven on the lower shelf and cook for 25-30 minutes, shaking occasionally, until golden brown and soft.
• Stir through the honey and place back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

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Cooking the Couscous

• Mix the vegetable stock with boiling water.
• Pour 450 mls over the couscous initially then gradually add more boiling water if required.
• Stand for 10 minutes.
• Cover and microwave on medium until warm. (Approximately 5 minutes).

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Final Preparations

• Separate the couscous grains with a fork.
• Stir in the vegetable mix.
Serve and enjoy!

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The verdict…

I made a couple of simple, minor amendments to the original recipe but stuck to it for the main part. It was a fairly quick and easy recipe. Most importantly, it was absolutely delicious! Very filling, and so healthy too. I will definitely be making this one again!

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*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Top 5 Signs That You Need a New Mattress

Confused about whether you’re in need of a new mattress? It’s something that often gets forgotten for years at a time, and the signs that you may need a new one can be put down to your own health problems when in fact it is the surface you’re lying on for at least 6-8 hours per night.

Though the general rule is to change your mattress every few years, many people find themselves feeling unsure about the exact point at which they need to do so. Some may feel that changing their mattress isn’t really required unless it’s obviously damaged in some way.

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If you’re feeling unsure, below are the top 5 signs that it’s time seriously consider investing in a new single mattress or double mattress:

You’re sleeping badly

Since our bed is where we sleep every night, it’s natural that our mattress will have an effect on our sleep quality. Poor sleep can have an impact on our mood and energy levels for the whole of the next day.  If you find yourself tossing and turning more often than not, your mattress could very well be the cause of it.

Some people assume that bad sleep can only occur in older or damaged mattresses but this isn’t the case. If you have purchased a mattress that isn’t a good fit for your body type or sleeping position then it may be the reason you’re not getting a good night’s sleep. It doesn’t necessarily reflect on the quality or age of the mattress, it may just not be a good match for you.

Being well-rested is too important to not invest in. If you’re sleeping badly, it may just be time to start your hunt for the perfect mattress.

Your mattress looks or feels worn out

It’s important to monitor your mattress closely and regularly to check whether it is deteriorating in any way.  When you change your bed linen is a good time to do so. Inspect the mattress closely for any signs such as lumpiness or a sagging in the middle section.

If your mattress is quite clearly worn, it’s unlikely to offer you the support you need. It’s time to begin the search for a new one before it starts negatively impacting your sleep.

Your mattress is more than 5 years old

The general consensus is that you should look into investing in a new mattress every 5-8 years. An exact time can’t be given as this purely depends on the quality and durability of your current mattress. Some can even last up to 10 years, while others struggle to make it to the 5 year mark.

If your mattress is more than 5 years old, we’d suggest you start closely monitoring it to check for any possible decline. It won’t happen exactly on its 5th birthday, but you may start seeing wear and tear after this time.

You’re sleeping better in other beds

Many people don’t even know how great their sleep could be until they spend a divine night snoozing peacefully on a different bed and realise the importance of a mattress. Once you’ve had this experience it can be hard to go back. If this has happened to you, investigate how much it might cost the get the mattress that you had such an amazing night’s rest on.

You’re frequently waking up with aches and pains

Those of who are waking up stiff and sore more often than not need to look into getting a new mattress. Many people blame sitting in an office all, or a strenuous workout they may have done for their daily aches. You’d be surprised to find how often the mattress can be a cause of it.

This could because the structure of your mattress is in decline and it is not offering enough support. It could also be the case if your mattress is too firm or too soft for your specific needs. Either way, it definitely needs to be explored further as a new mattress may just offer you some much needed relief.

Visit Bed Mattress to view a high-quality range of luxury mattresses by Sloane & Sons. Pocket Sprung and Memory Foam mattresses are both available with free UK delivery and a 5 year guarantee. Find out more about the full collection on the website.

*Disclosure:This post is written in collaboration with Sloane & Sons.

8 Amazing Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is the main spice in curry and one of the most powerful herbs on the planet. For centuries, turmeric has been used as a medicine for relief and treatment of various diseases. The main reason behind its potential to improve our health is curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric. Although most of us know turmeric is healthy; sometimes we fail to realize all those amazing benefits it provides. This article will change that! Here are eight evidence-based benefits of turmeric and curcumin.

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1. Anti-inflammatory effects

Acute or short-term inflammation is good for your body because it helps fight pathogens and bad bacteria. However, chronic inflammation is a risk factor for numerous health conditions, but curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties. A study from the Alternative Medicine Review discovered that curcumin is an equally effective anti-inflammatory agent as medications used for this purpose, but without side effects. The compound uses a multifaceted approach to relieving inflammation, and one way of doing is through blocking NF-kB molecule which travels into the cells’ nuclei and activates genes related to inflammation.

2. Better memory

Beta-amyloid plaques in your brain and oxidative stress, free radicals, and inflammation are main reasons behind weak memory, particularly when it is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Thanks to the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and lipophilic action, turmeric improves cognitive functions, according to a research from the Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology. Additionally, evidence shows that turmeric improves memory and attention span due to its ability to relieve inflammation and improve blood flow. Bearing in mind that turmeric influences different processes that nudge the brain in a positive direction is poses as one of the most effective ways to improve memory naturally.

3. Arthritis relief

Arthritis is a common problem that refers to inflammation of joints. As you can imagine, this joint pain can negatively affect your overall quality of life. The Phytotherapy Research published results of the study which found that curcumin was more effective for rheumatoid arthritis patients than anti-inflammatory medications. Curcumin works to block inflammatory cytokines and enzymes that contribute to the onset or severity of joint inflammation. This explains why numerous dietary supplements for arthritis and joint pain include turmeric on the ingredient list.

4. Cancer prevention

Cancer is a severe disease indicated by the abnormal growth of cells. Evidence demonstrates that curcumin affects cancer growth, development, and spread at the molecular level. The activity of curcumin was reported against lymphoma, gastrointestinal cancers, genitourinary cancers, ovarian and breast cancers, lung cancer, melanoma, neurological cancers, and other types of this serious disease. Curcumin has an amazing potential to reduce the growth of new blood vessels in tumors (angiogenesis), metastasis, and it plays a role in the death of cancerous cells.

5. Depression management

Benefits of Curcumin also extend to treating depression as confirmed by multiple studies. In one study, scientists enrolled 60 patients with depression and divided them into different groups: one took Prozac, the second group was assigned to curcumin, while participants in the third group received a combination of Prozac and curcumin. Results of the study revealed that participants in curcumin group experienced similar benefits to those in Prozac category. Additionally, the third group which received a combination of Prozac and curcumin experienced most benefits.

6. Heart health

According to the WHO, heart disease is the biggest killer in the world. Reducing the risk of heart disease requires a healthy lifestyle and a well-balanced diet. Make sure your new and improved lifestyle contains turmeric as well. Evidence shows that curcumin can help reverse steps in the heart disease process. When it comes to heart disease, the main benefit of curcumin is its ability to improve the function of the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels. This is particularly useful if we bear in mind that dysfunction of endothelium prevents us from regulating blood pressure, blood clotting, and other factors that contribute to disease.

7. Anti-aging effects

Including turmeric into your lifestyle is one of the best anti-aging tips someone can give you. Why? That’s because it can improve quality and appearance of your skin in numerous ways including faster healing, correct oily skin, sun damage protection, skin cancer prevention, and treating chronic skin conditions due to anti-inflammatory properties.

Moreover, since curcumin has beneficial effects on heart health, brain health, arthritis, it is easy to conclude this compound improves longevity and helps you live longer and with better quality of life too.

8. Diabetes prevention and management

You’ve probably come across claims that turmeric can help you prevent or manage diabetes. Are they true? It turns out they are. A review of studies found that curcumin can decrease the level of glucose in blood and it can play a major role in diabetes prevention. Thanks to its role in stabilizing blood sugar levels, turmeric can also help people with diabetes manage their condition. Of course, if you already have diabetes, you should consult your doctor before taking turmeric.

Conclusion

Turmeric is the most potent herb in the world, and it is clear way – its active compound, curcumin, helps you improve overall health and quality of life. You can consume turmeric through curry or, as many people do, through dietary supplements.

References

http://www.jbc.org/content/270/42/24995.full

https://www.sciencealert.com/turmeric-can-improve-memory-and-attention-span-in-old-age-study-finds

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18462866

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2758121/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19233493

http://www.naturallivingideas.com/turmeric-for-skin/

Author Bio:

Sophie Addison is a popular blogger and skincare expert. She is very passionate about writing about skincare and beauty. She has posted articles on tips for fine lines and wrinkles, information about arthritis, improving memory and fitness routine. Apart from work she likes gardening and listening music. You can also contact her on Facebook, and Pinterest.

How To Create A Stress – Relieving Garden

Gardeners have long known that the garden – the outdoor space, the nature within it and exposure to fresh air – are elements that combine to combat stress. And there is the science to prove it. From a child to the elderly, from the vulnerable to hardworking parents, the garden can be a haven of peace and tranquillity, the perfect place to de-stress. No matter what the season, the garden has something to offer. But if your garden looks like a myriad of weeds and lacks colour and scent, the time has come to roll up your sleeves and start digging. Gardening is good for you and a pleasant garden is the perfect antidote to a stressful, modern life.

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The Science of Gardening

The garden is for everyone; the elderly can reconnect with memories as they garden, children can learn mathematical and scientific principles, parents and teenagers can relax, listening to the latest podcast or reading the latest best seller for example. Lounging around in a peaceful garden is good for you, and science agrees.

Use Your Senses

When it comes to creating a stress-relieving garden, design the experience around your senses:

Smell

Gardens, filled with fragrant blooms, certainly provide olfactory stimulation. Scents are subtle, not overpowering, and there are some that are known to help us relax and unfold away from stress. Lavender, for example, has long been added to bath products and sleeping remedies, in order to calm the whirling mind before sleep. Along with other fragrant blooms, plant them at the edge of flower beds so that as you walk around the garden, you knock the blooms, releasing the fragrance.

Taste

Growing vegetables is good for you in so many ways. Half an hour of digging and mulching sheds calories, as well as giving your body a workout. The vegetables you grow, free from pesticides and insecticides are good for you. Sitting under the pea vines and eating peas straight from the pod is the stuff of memories and there is nothing like the sweet taste of peas, freshly plucked from the plant. Plant vegetables and fruits with companion plants to get the best from nature.

Sight

What could be more mesmerising than watching a dancing, buzzing bee as it goes about its business, hopping from one fragrant bloom to another? What is more beautiful than seeing a garden full of colour, with insects scurrying about going on with their rituals? Instead of staring at a screen, why not stare at the garden? Allow yourself to drift away, gently swinging in a hammock in the trees or on a comfortable rattan day bed, and watch nature at its best – and marvel at the fact that all this is in your garden!

Touch

Textures are important too. For stress relief, there are many elements that combine together and yet, we give little thought to how touch affects the mind, body and soul. We know that human touch can be restful and reassuring. In effect, this is what you want to create in your multi-sensory garden. There are, of course, some experiences of touch we don’t want – such as the sting of a nettle – but there are other plants that are more conducive to being touched by the human hand. When was the last time you ran your fingertips through the dancing fronds of reeds or tall grasses? Or the soft, fragrant leaves of a geranium? Lambs Ears are a particular favourite of ours. The garden, with clever planting, can be a haven of stress relief, and touch is one sense that you shouldn’t ignore.

Hearing

And the final sense, hearing. At the end of the day, give yourself 20 minutes to enjoy the peace and quiet of the garden. Lie on the rattan day bed or sit in the bistro chair, close your eyes and train your ears to focus on the sounds of nature and not those of man-made origin. Block out the sounds of car engines and trains, or the dull roar of planes overhead, and instead listen for the rustling of the leaves on the trees and the grasses as the wind gently moves their fronds. Listen to the birds, their calls to one another and the buzz of an insect as it whizzes past you. Listen to the gentle movement of water as it tumbles and frolics down the waterfall. The garden, no matter how big or small, is a truly wondrous place, where stress simply peels away.

Rattan Direct is an online retailer, specialising in high-quality rattan furniture. Hard wearing and robust, rattan is a perfect material for outdoor furniture and with a growing choice for the modern consumer, any garden can quickly become a stress-free haven.

*Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with Rattan Direct.

Online Therapy: What is it and Why Choose it?

Why Choose Online Therapy?

Everyone is so busy nowadays. Not only does this cause stress, but it also makes it difficult to find a therapist when you need one. And many of us do need one sometimes. It can be tough to find time to choose a therapist and arrange sessions that do not clash with an already busy daily schedule. It can therefore seem less daunting – and so much quicker and easier – to do all that online. Convenience matters; it is somewhat counterproductive if therapy just becomes another stressor.

What is Online Therapy?

Many people are still confused about what online therapy is. Online therapy is simple. You can talk to a therapist online through FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangouts. Also, you have the option to text message or chat online with your therapist instead if you do not want to do a face to face session. You can also email or visit an online support group to talk to others with similar issues. Even if you don’t have internet access you can do therapy on the phone.

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The Pros and Cons of Online Therapy

There are pros and cons of everything, of course. Nothing is perfect. Here are the pros:

  • Convenience – You do not have to leave your home to see a therapist.
  • Less expensive – Many sites advertise their prices up front and some are covered by insurance.
  • More comfortable – You can actually lay in bed in your pajamas if you want to. And for those people who are not comfortable talking face to face, this is definitely for you!
  • More privacy – Some people do not feel comfortable going into a therapist’s office. The stigma of mental health disorders is still a big deal for some, unfortunately. Or maybe you just generally find attending formal appointments too stressful. But you do not have to worry about that with online therapy.

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And here are the downsides of online therapy:

  • Insurance – Until online therapy becomes more popular, it is often only available privately and is difficult to get insurance coverage. However, this is starting to change and some insurance companies are now covering online therapy.
  • Lack of personal touch – Some people need that face-to-face contact of seeing a therapist in person. It is actually therapeutic to some patients with depression to venture out of the house to see a therapist. However, for the initial session, online therapy may encourage those people who do not want to leave the house to get help.

    There are lots of benefits to online therapy and it is a great choice for many. However, if it is not your cup of tea, find a therapist nearby and go see them.

    *Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

    Depression: A Closer Look At Mental Health 

    Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world and affects 350 million people worldwide. What Are the Symptoms of Depression?
    There are different types of depression with various symptoms but the most common include feeling sad, hopeless, and depressed for longer than two weeks, difficulty concentrating, feeling guilty or worthless, lack of energy or extreme fatigue, change in sleep pattern (sleeping too little or too much), lack of appetite, weight loss or gain, losing interest in activities you usually enjoy,
    or thoughts of harming yourself. There is no definite cause of depression but there are many theories and risk factors. There are many ways to treat depression, from medical to holistic. 

    ​What Is ‘Wrong’ with Me?

    Do you sometimes feel like something is missing in your life? Maybe you have lost interest in the activities that you used to love, such as biking or swimming. Are you feeling more tired than usual? You may be suffering from clinical depression. Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world and affects 350 million people worldwide. In the United States, over 16 million adults have had at least one major depressive episode. That is close to 7% of all the adults in the United States.

    Who Is Most Affected by Depression?

    Although anyone can get depression at any age, and any gender, women are more than twice as likely to become depressed. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the age group that is most affected is between 12 and 25 years of age. However, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports a higher incidence of depression in adults from 40 to 59 years old. This discrepancy may be due to fluctuating amounts of reports from different years. Either way, anyone can have depression, no matter how old you are. 

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    What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

    There are different types of depression with various symptoms, but the most common include:

    • Feeling sad, hopeless, and depressed for longer than two weeks

    • Difficulty concentrating

    • Feeling guilty or worthless

    • Lack of energy or extreme fatigue

    • Change in sleep pattern (sleeping too little or too much)

    • Lack of appetite

    • Weight loss or gain

    • Losing interest in activities you usually enjoy

    • Thoughts of harming yourself

    Causes of Depression

    There is no definite cause of depression but there are many theories and risk factors. Some of these include:

    • Imbalance of brain chemicals

    • Hormones

    • Genetics

    • Previous mental health condition

    • Environmental such as extreme poverty, abuse, and neglect

    • Alcohol or drug abuse

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    How to Treat Depression

    There are many ways to treat depression, from medical to holistic. The most common way to treat depression is with antidepressant medication, such as Prozac, Wellbutrin, or Zoloft. These medications may take one or two weeks to take full effect, but just knowing that you are doing something to help can make you feel better. Psychotherapy is another common treatment for depression that is effective. Also, research shows that exercise is good for depression because it raises the dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin levels in the brain.

    Talk Therapy

    Talking about what you are feeling is one of the best ways to help yourself feel better. Some people prefer to talk to a psychiatrist, friend, or family member. However, others are more comfortable opening up to strangers in support groups. One thing that has become really popular recently is online therapy. It is extremely convenient to be able to just go online and talk to someone on Facetime, Google Hangouts, or Skype without having to leave your home. This is perfect for those of us who are so busy taking care of the kids, household, and everything else. Some websites offer thousands of licensed therapists who are available 24 hours a day. Go online and check it out. You can start feeling better today.

    *Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

    5 Ways Gardens Benefit Your Health 

    Although most gardeners have long known it, the science confirms it – gardening is good for your health!

    And so with scientific data on our side, the time has come to reveal what an hour or two, or a whole afternoon, does to your health; physical, mental and emotional.

    rattan direct garden benefits

    Gardening reduces stress and anxiety

    It’s probably a combination of fresh air, enjoying the sun when it shines and also caring for tender plants and shrubs that make gardening such a great antidote to modern life. Stressful jobs, full social lives and everything we have to deal with can lead to blood pressure rising and a state of stress settling in.

    Whilst a little stress may be a good thing, too much has a negative impact on the body; both our physical and mental health. Depression is also an ailment that society is no longer treating as taboo, and studies have also shown that gardening can be part of the solution to managing depression.

    The solution is clear for all to see; spending a little time in the garden; either weeding, planting new plants or simply mowing the lawn, will help to lower stress and anxiety levels and benefit your mental health.

    Decreases risk of diabetes and heart disease

    Who’d have thought it?! Spending time in the garden being active is part of the solution to keeping heart attacks and diabetes at bay.

    Of course, keen gardeners have known for some time that gardening can be heavy work. Just think of all the weight you sometimes shift about; the digging and forking over the allotment, the hoeing, the plants and the weeding. Even a brisk mow of the lawn can work up a sweat once a week. Keeping your cardiac system in great shape and your weight in check is done by a variety of means but the best exercise is one that leaves you slightly out of breath and raises your pulse rate a little – and heaving heavy sacks of compost, mowing the lawn, cutting the hedges and so on can all do that!

    This point also ties in with the previous point of lowering stress and anxiety too, which is a common cause of heart attacks. Physical and mental health are linked so taking care of your overall wellbeing is essential.

    It makes you happy!

    There is increasing evidence that the amount spent outside directly correlates with several health and behavioural problems. This is why many specialist schools and educational settings that deal with emotional and behavioural difficulties in children are spending more time out of the classroom, and enjoying settings such as Forest Schools and the like. Of course, it is not the only answer to dealing with behavioural difficulties, depression and feeling fed up but it goes a long way to lift your mood and spirits.

    This doesn’t mean you have to work when you are in the garden, either. Why not take half an hour to sit, listen to the sounds of nature around you, the birds sing, admire the flowers, the buzzing bees and other insects that you probably haven’t noticed until now? You could invest in rattan garden furniture, sit back and spend some time in your own green space, no matter how big or small it is, and disconnect from your busy life. Try it for half an hour and see what it feels like.

    A tool to stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s?

    It has been noted that Alzheimer’s and dementia are the two biggest health issues that will impact on our nation in the coming years. Slowly, the science and medical world are peeling back the layers of these people-robbing illnesses, extending our understanding of both issues. The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that various physical activities cut the risk of developing Alzheimer’s in half – and one of the activities that was recognised was gardening. For those suffering from dementia, it has been found that garden-centred therapy is one of the most powerful in reaching and connecting with people.

    It helps you sleep better

    Finally, maybe it is something to do with all the activity, the fresh air and the mental stimulation of being immersed in nature, plus the reduced stress and anxiety, but being proactive in your garden helps you sleep better. And of course good night sleep is essential for health and wellbeing too!

    Gardening is not just about pretty flowers and tasty vegetables. It is an opportunity to enjoy being outdoors, switch off from modern life and enjoy everything that nature has to offer. Along with their customers, Rattan Direct have long known that the garden has magical powers to relax and de-stress the human mind, body and soul. And now the science concurs.

    *Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

    A Look into The Middle East Water Shortage

    Currently, the whole world is facing possible future water shortages. However, the water demand in the Middle East has soared greatly along with the rise in population and urbanisation. The geographic distribution of the water resources across the Middle East is highly uneven, which is also a concern. Over 80% of the region is desert and receives little or no rainfall at all. Recent occurrences of erratic rainfall and then prolonged drought periods have added a whole new dimension to the problem, most likely because of climate change.

    The demand for fresh water in the Middle East has continued to increase at a rapid pace. In order to deal with fresh water management challenges in this region, we should try and bring a balance to both water supply and demand.

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    Ground water supplies

    Lots of areas in the Middle East have a higher water demand compared to the natural recharge of groundwater reservoirs. Ground water quality has also deteriorated due to an influx of saline water from laterally surrounding areas, excessive use of fertilisers and local sewage.

    With many countries approaching the limit of water resource development and others reeling under severe supply shortages, the problem of water scarcity is turning into a crisis. Industry experts are of the opinion that policy reforms are required to address demand issues, while addressing supply problems require practicing integrated water resource management.

    Wastewater recycling

    From an economic and environmental standpoint, wastewater reclamation and reuse makes good sense. It can reduce or eliminate health and environmental hazards associated with effluent discharges. At the same time, it generates an alternative resource and thereby prevents immediate investment in costly water supply schemes (storage, transfer or desalination plants).

    Many private sector residential projects and townships too have set-up wastewater treatment plants, in some cases even with tertiary treatment. At the same time, to address the issue of low demand for treated wastewater, several alternative uses are being considered. Jordan and Tunisia’s experience in wastewater reuse suggests application of treated sewage effluent (TSE) for agriculture, forestry and ground water recharge.

    Besides this, in the last few years the water demand for non drinking applications such as landscaping, golf courses, district cooling, construction work, etc… has gone up significantly, thereby providing alternative avenues for wastewater reuse. Initiatives are required on behalf of the local authorities to bring in the necessary changes in regulation, redraft guidelines and open up these areas for use of reclaimed wastewater.

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    Supply and demand

    Over the last five decades, supply augmentation has been the central approach to deal with water scarcity. Countries with considerable surface water resources, such as Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Morocco have focused on building water conveyance and storage structures.

    Jordan’s Disi water conveyance project involves a 325-km pipeline being built through the Jordanian desert to Abu Alanda and Dabuk reservoirs. While in the present context, the importance of measures for water demand management and wastewater reclamation and reuse cannot be understated, these may not be sufficient to plug the demand-supply gap. Although  Jordan has wastewater reuse rates as high as 80%, they have adopted highly efficient irrigation technologies (drip irrigation). Jordan’s Disi water conveyance project is one such attempt.

    Water is the source of life and the most precious of commodities. You can help by giving to a water charity that gives access to water sanitation and saves lives. One of the biggest challenges that face areas suffering from poverty, famine or drought is the lack of access to clean water for drinking and sanitation purposes. Water is fundamental to life yet even today millions of people, particularly those living in third world countries, have little to no access to it.

    *Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. 

    Top Tips For Hair Care

    I will be the first to admit that my hair is not in the best condition it could be. I am a busy mum and too often it just gets scraped back into a ponytail and ignored. However, I have been thinking about various (natural, if possible) ways to care for hair and thought I would share some top tips with you all…

    General Healthy Hair Tips
    First things first; don’t overwash it! Hair benefits from producing its own natural oils to keep it healthy. Some people even opt to ditch the shampoo completely and let their hair do its own magic! Even if this approach isn’t for you, Wellness Mama has a useful recipe for making your own natural shampoo and Eco Fluffy Mama has written a handy post about DIY natural dry shampoo too. Also, try to minimise the use of products and appliances. We all know that heat and too much styling damages hair. Keep your hair as natural as possible!

    Treatments/ Conditioners
    There are lots of natural treatments that work well to generally keep hair naturally looking and feeling its best too. Here are some favourites…

    Coconut oil is my personal go to method. I find it works equally effectively on both mine and Squiggle’s hair, even though we have very different types of hair. This is also the preferred method of Hollie from Thrifty Mum to keep her hair beautifully soft and healthy.

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    Thrifty Mum after her coconut oil treatment.

    Apple cider vinegar is also brilliant; it is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory, it is a natural exfoliator and it is packed with nutrients too. Pretty impressive! Coconuts and Kettlebells has written a post with more detailed information. This is a favourite method of Daisies and Pie.

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    Daisies and Pie after apple cider vinegar rinse.

    Jade from Raw Childhood uses the ‘Curly Curl Method‘ so doesn’t use shampoo and only uses approved conditioners without drying alcohols, silicones etc… She uses olive oil protein treatment for her hair, which leaves it naturally glossy and tangle free.

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    Raw Childhood post olive oil protein treatment.

    Banana gets mixed reviews; some people swear by it whilst others find it messy and hard to remove. I think it depends on hair type somewhat, so proceed with caution! Using over-ripe bananas that are thoroughly blended and strained, preferably mixed with oil, is my best advice. 

    Dry Hair/ Flaky Scalp
    The natural treatments named above also effectively combat dry hair or a flaky scalp. Any of them can help, so find the method that works best for your hair.

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    Squiggle’s previously dry curls post coconut oil treatment.

    Hair Loss
    Hair loss is sometimes caused by having a dry flaky scalp, hence the importance of the above tips. Of course there are also various other reasons for hair loss too; including stress, hormone changes or imbalances, vitamin deficiency, autoimmune issues, and other medical reasons (including cancer treatment for example). Or sometimes it is simply in your genes! But whatever the reason, hair loss can affect a person’s confidence and self- esteem.

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    Hair loss

    Whilst in some cases hair loss is only temporary and/ or can be rectified by addressing the underlying issue, for example through proper nutrition in the case of vitamin deficiency, in other cases this may be more difficult to tackle. If it is not just a temporary issue, and other methods have failed, then there are also potentially other options to consider; such as hair transplants in extreme cases, or Advanced Tricho Pigmentation Treatment. This is especially worth considering if it is really affecting the person but they are not at the stage of hair loss where a transplant is an option, or if they cannot have one for whatever reason. 

    I firmly believe that beauty comes from within and we don’t need to change our appearance to feel good. But I also think that if something is making someone feel stressed or miserable, and bringing them down, then doing something about it is a positive thing. It can really help that person’s overall wellbeing! 

    What are your top tips for healthy hair? Tell me in comments!

    Now I am off to take my own advice on general good hair care… 

    *Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Harley Street Hair Clinic.