Reasons behind your bloat

Feeling bloated and not sure why? There are some reasons why you feel stretched and uncomfortable that you may not even know about, which Robynne Chutkan M.D has divulged to Mind Body Green as part of her new book, The Bloat Cure: 101 Natural Solutions for Real and Lasting Relief.

Caffeine is a culprit, as its diuretic effect (increasing passing of urine) may cause you to feel hydrated, triggering a slower movement of food through your intestines that leads to backups and bloating.

On top of this, caffeine is known to overstimulate the digestive system, which may result in bloat-causing spasms and side effects like stomach ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

So while coffee or cola may help you flush out liquids, you may want to cut down or cut it out completely if you suffer from regular bloating! Go for caffeine-free options and cut down slowly to allow your body to adjust.

Cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower, along with beans, are all packed full of healthy elements such as fiber. However, there’s also raffinose – a starch that your body struggles to break down and digest properly. Combine this with the bacteria in your colon; the raffinose is fermented to form methane, a chemical compound that transpires as bloating.

You don’t need to stop eating these veggies completely, and there are ways to make eating them less painful. Lemon juice drizzled over the top will help stimulate the digestive enzymes, and you should always soak dried beans overnight before cooking them. Don’t pile them up too high either as although they’re good for you, too many will leave you feeling tight.

Keeping on the topic of food, a drunken meal at 11pm is no good for bloating as your stomach’s muscular contractions are not as active at night as they are during the day. So after filling up on calories and carbohydrates and lying down, your body won’t be able to use gravity to help transport things down south. Cue the bloat, and extra acid reflux.

The key to this is simple; eat your largest meal earlier in the day when your tummy is still active, then reduce to a smaller, lighter portion by dinnertime. A curfew will also help with snacking and stick to water after a certain time to help hydrate your body before bed.

Pensioners dance their way to improved health

Greek dancing has been found to have major health benefits for the older generation, a new study has found.

The over 70s were around when dance crazes like The Twist and The Jive exploded onto the scene, but most won’t have kept up with routines as they’ve grown older.

However, researchers at Aristotle University in Greece have studied pensioners who suffered from chronic heart disease and found those who took up traditional Greek dancing, can jump higher and walk faster than those who shun the moves.

Exercise physiologist Zacharias Vordos and his team looked at a test group of 40 Greek participants, with an average age of 73, who had all suffered from heart issues and hadn’t exercised in the past year. They were split into two groups; the first took part in a three month rehabilitation programme based on traditional Greek dancing while the second continued with no exercise. The Greek dancing sessions lasted for 40 to 65 minutes once a week.

At the start of the study the patients were tested on their ability to jump, leg muscle strength and walking ability. No differences were found between the two sub groups, but after three months the dancers were 10 per cent stronger than those who took no exercise, jumped 10 per cent higher, and were 6 per cent faster. Results showed the sedentary group demonstrated no change.

“The physical benefits of Greek dancing should give patients more independence in daily life by helping them to walk and climb stairs,” Zacharias said.

“It should also improve their coordination and reduce their risk of falling and being injured. It is possible that Greek dancing also gives cardiac benefit as demonstrated by Zumba fitness programmes with Latin music.”

The traditional dance was chosen because Greek dancing is an important part of weddings and other celebrations, and is popular among older people.

The study has been published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing.

Superfoods: The raw power of strawberries

Aside from longer days and warmer temperatures, strawberries are one of the first signs of spring. The season starts to peak in mid April and runs until late June. And while there’s no denying that the bright red berry is a popular fruit, not everyone realizes what a healthy punch they pack. We break down all you need to know about this humble and delicious superfood.

Strawberries, also known as Fragaria, are one of the popular berry fruits in the world and are grown primarily in the United States, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Italy, and Canada. There are over six hundred varieties of strawberry, all of which have the same characteristic heart-shaped, red flesh and seeded coat together with small, regal, leafy green caps and stems. Strawberries are not actually fruits as their seeds are on the outside, and they are actually a member of the rose (rosaceae) family. Wild strawberries have been popular since ancient Roman times and were used for a wide variety of medicinal purposes such as alleviating inflammation, fever and kidney stones.

Health benefits

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K as well as providing a good dose of fiber, folic acid, manganese and potassium. Studies have shown that their fiber and fructose content may help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing digestion and the fiber is thought to have a satiating effect. According to HealthLine, strawberries have a glymaemic index rating of 41, meaning they can satisfy your sweet tooth without negatively affecting your blood sugar levels. Further, the vibrant red color of strawberries is due to large amounts of anthocyanidin, which also means they contain powerful antioxidants and are thought to protect against inflammation, cancer and heart disease. They also contain malic acid which helps brighten and whiten tooth enamel. Another reason to eat these berries as a treat!

Portion sizes

A cup of sliced strawberries contains only 53 calories and around 3.3 grams of fiber. However, Britain’s NHS recommends one portion should consist of around seven strawberries.

How to select and store

Choose berries that are firm, plump, and unblemished. Look for those that have a shiny, deep red color and bright green caps attached. Once picked, strawberries do not ripen further so avoid those that are dull, or have green or yellow patches. Wash and handle them with care and bring to room temperature before serving.

Safety

It may come as a surprise to learn that strawberries are a common allergen. The NHS advises that if you have allergies to birch pollen, you are more likely to develop a secondary food allergy to strawberries. Most common symptoms are experienced in the mouth and throat – tingling, itching, watery eyes and runny nose. If you are concerned about food allergies consult your doctor before consuming.

Diet for a year to keep weight off

According to new research, dieting for 12 months is the key to keeping weight off for good.

Danish scientists claim that ditching bad eating habits for a year could trigger long-term chemical changes in your body, which will make it more difficult to gain pounds once the dieting stops.

Experts put 20 obese people on an exacting diet for 12 months, after which they noted participants were producing more of the hormone that suppresses appetite after eating. This left them feeling fuller for longer, and they were able to keep the weight they lost – around an eighth of their overall mass – off.

“It’s very difficult to fight the hunger,” Signe Sorensen Torekov, from the University of Copenhagen, said, according to The Times newspaper.

“It’s like a drug you’re fighting against. This would have been an excellent mechanism 50 years ago, but the problem now is that we have so much food available that we can eat all the time.

“We were able to show that you shouldn’t give up. If you’re able to keep your weight down for a year, then it shifts and it becomes easier.”

Another study conducted around the same time found that overweight people react differently to real food and inedible images of goods displayed on a computer screen than those at a normal weight. In this experiment, overweight and lean volunteers made similar choices when provided with food options in image form. However, when they were offered an all-you-can-eat buffet of real food, overweight people were more likely to go for calorie heavy, unhealthy items.

“There’s a clear difference between hypothetical food choices that overweight people make and the food they actually eat,” Lead researcher Dr Nenad Medic, from Cambridge University, concluded.

“Even though they know that some foods are less healthy than others and say they wouldn’t necessarily choose them, when they are faced with the foods, it’s a different matter.”

Perfect your pink lip

While the red lip has reigned supreme, the hot pink lip is back for summer 2016, with everyone from Diane Kruger to Nicki Minaj making a statement with the bubblegum pink shade.

If red screams glamour, hot pink adds the promise of fun to your look and it works particularly well skin tones ranging from pale to dark.

Here are our top tips for making a statement with the perfect pink.

Check your undertone

Your shade of pink should go with your undertones. If you’re cool toned, look for a shade that’s got blue or purple undertones, like NYX’s Shocking Pink. For fair skin NARS Lipstick in Schiap is a semi matte lippy perfectly suited for this complexion. For warm toned skin, go with orange undertones like NARS Carthage or violet pinks like Laura Mercier Paint Wash Liquid Lip Color in Fuchsia Mauve.

Mint condition

Use a lip scrub to exfoliate like Bliss FabuLips Sugar Scrub to remove dry or dead skin from your pout before applying lip color. Or create a simple formula mixing brown sugar and honey, or olive oil for a homemade solution. Always keep lips hydrated while you’re not wearing lipstick with a moisturizing balm.

Use a lip liner

Lip liner can be incredibly flattering when applied properly. Make sure it’s super sharp so it subtly defines your mouth. It also makes a huge difference in your lipstick’s staying power if you line the whole lip then apply lipstick. Mac Candy Yum Yum is an amazing, almost fluorescent, matte pink which has a matching lip liner.

Go matte

Unless they’re sheer, glossy pink lips can look a bit too ’80s, so go for modern matte finishes like MAC’s All Fired Up, and Maybelline’s Color Sensational Pink Punch. Bobbi Brown’s Hot is a creamy shade, while Charlotte Tilbury’s Amazing Grace is a muted pink which will look amazing with a flush of matching blush.

Color me bold

Pick your color according to your mood. Go for a hot pink like Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte Shine Lipstick 06 Pink In Devotion or Christian Louboutin’s Pluminette when you need a little extra confidence to face the world or switch to a barely there pink lip gloss like Dior Addict Ultra-Gloss in Paradise Cruise or Bobbi Brown’s barely there Ballet Pink for a youthful carefree look.

Keep eyes simple

To make a statement with your pink lip keep eye make-up simple for maximum impact and modernity. A full face will look too Barbie-like so make a statement with a bright lip like Estee Lauder’s Pure Color in Pink Ambition, groomed eyebrows, eye-brightening concealer and a few coats of mascara.

Can you really die from a broken heart?

New research suggests dealing with the loss of a loved one really could break your heart.

We are bombarded by old wives’ tales about people who never recover after the death of their true love, but now it seems that bereaved individuals are at a greater risk of developing an irregular heartbeat for a year after the loss. This condition is known as atrial fibrillation and can heighten the chances of having a stroke or heart failure, with certain individuals more than 40 per cent more likely to develop this than someone who hasn’t experienced such grief.

Researchers in Denmark examined data from 89,000 people diagnosed with atrial fibrillation between 1995 and 2014. This was then compared to health records collected from 886,000 healthy people. They discovered that 17,478 people who had been diagnosed with the condition had also lost a partner.

The risk was greater when the death of a partner had been unexpected, while people aged under 60 and dealing with bereavement were more than twice as likely to develop atrial fibrillation.

The study, which was published in U.K. medical journal Open Heart, determined that greatest risk was evident eight to 14 days after the death of a loved one.

“The loss of a partner is considered one of the most severely stressful life events and is likely to affect most people, independently of coping mechanisms,” the scientists, from Aarhus University, wrote in the report.

“In this large population-based study, the severely stressful life event of losing a partner was associated with a transiently increased risk of atrial fibrillation, which lasted for about one year.

Researchers added that the risk was especially high for those who were young and those who lost a relatively healthy partner.

Experts are calling for those dealing with bereavement to be monitored by their GP to see if symptoms develop.

Humble walnut may keep health issues at bay

Regularly snacking on walnuts cuts artery-clogging cholesterol, a study has found.

At a conference in San Diego, California, researchers from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and Loma Linda University presented the results of their study into the effects of walnut consumption.

In a clinical trial, the researchers asked more than 700 healthy adults to add either a handful of walnuts to their daily diets or to follow their normal diet without eating nuts.

After one year both groups had similar results for weight gain, triglycerides and HDL (or good) cholesterol, but those eating walnuts experienced significant LDL (or bad) cholesterol reductions compared to the nut-free control group.

The research shows the well-known cholesterol-lowering effect of eating walnuts works equally well in the elderly, even in the long term, the authors reported.

“Given walnuts are a high-energy food, a prevailing concern has been that their long-term consumption might be associated with weight gain,” said study author Dr. Emilio Ros. “It’s encouraging to see that eating walnuts may benefit this particular population.”

Researchers hope to also confirm the positive effects of walnuts on other age-related health concerns such as macular degeneration and cognitive decline.

Other walnut studies presented at the conference, funded in part by the California Walnut Commission, suggested the omega-3 fatty acid-rich nut may also benefit gut health and help to reduce inflammation.

Walnuts are high in healthy fat, low in carbohydrates and a good source of protein, fiber and potassium. But it’s still important to remember portion control, especially for people on weight loss programmes, and a suggested serving of walnuts is about 14 halves, which adds up to 180 calories.

All that glitters is rose gold

Shimmering gold and silver shades are great makeup bag staples but with spring just around the corner, it’s time to take your metallic game to a new level and try the season’s hottest shade – rose gold. With its ability to bridge the gap between paler winter complexions and sun-kissed summer skin, rose gold is the perfect transitional hue to invest in right now.

For a seamless glimmer, dust Urban Decay Eyeshadow in tint Midnight Cowboy across the lids or for a subtler effect Nars’ Soft Touch Shadow pencil, in smoky rose quartz shade Iraklion, can be traced along the lash lines or lightly dotted in the corner of the eyes as a highlight. Laura Geller Eye Dew Cream Shadow Crayon in Rose Gold is also a great option for those wanting a sheer wash of creamy color.

Yellow gold makeup often has a lot of green undertones, which aren’t always flattering. However, rose gold strikes a balance between warm and cool undertones which means it works on most skin tones. For a pretty blush, try bareMinerals’ READY blush in nude pink shade The One. Or give Benefit Cosmetics’ High Beam liquid highlighter a whirl, use the satiny-pink liquid to add an ethereal glow that can be used over makeup or underneath for subtle luminescence.

Give your manicure the Midas touch with rich rose gold metallic polish such as China Glaze’s Meet Me In The Mirage or Nails inc Chelsea Square Nail polish, a full cover glitter polish, that works well on an accent nail. If you’re looking for a minimal look, Essie Nail Polish in color All Tied Up is a rustic bronze lacquer with golden shimmer that complements all skin tones as well as being office appropriate.

For those who can’t get enough of this luxe metallic, there are several ways to use rose gold to make your lips stand out. Steer clear of products that are too much shimmer in the formula and can draw attention to chapped lips and instead look for lipsticks that have a rose gold fleck or a rose brown tone like Charlotte Tilbury’s K.I.S.S.I.N.G in shade Stoned Rose. To glam it up for the evening, use a rose gold highlighter like the Stila All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer to accentuate the Cupid’s bow.

Can you spot the early signs of bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the United Kingdom, with around 40,000 new cases detected every year. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential for helping people survive the cancer – and that means making sure people are aware of the symptoms so they can identify them and seek help. As April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, here’s a breakdown of the symptoms of the disease.

What is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer is also called colorectal cancer and includes large bowel cancer (colon cancer) and cancer of the back passage (rectal cancer).

What are the symptoms?

While the survival rate of this form of cancer is higher than others, bowel cancer shares symptoms with many other common health ailments and thus can be missed. Alarmingly, the deadly disease is often mistaken for hemorrhoids, also known as piles. Health experts advise that the main symptoms of bowel cancer are blood in the stools (feces) and changes in bowel habit – such as more frequent, looser stools – and abdominal pain. Symptoms of bowel cancer can also include bleeding from the bottom and unexplained weight loss and abdominal pain. A persistent change in bowel habits including constipation and diarrhea and unexplained tiredness, dizziness or breathlessness can also be a warning sign of the deadly disease – however subtle they may be.

Who’s at risk?

While it’s not known exactly what causes bowel cancer, but there are a number of things that can increase your risk. The NHS advises that people aged over 60, those who eat a diet high in red meat, people who are overweight or obese, smokers or those who have a family history of the disease should be vigilant. However younger people can also be affected, so don’t shrug the cancer form off as an older person’s disease.

What is the screening process?

Bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive bowel cancer. However, this drops significantly as the disease develops. Taking part in bowel cancer screening is the best way to get diagnosed early, with a test offered called a “flexible sigmoidoscopy” used to look for any polyps or growths that could be cancerous, and in some cases they will take a biopsy or remove them.

Experts urge that you seek advice from your doctor if you note any symptoms or if your body does not respond to the treatment prescribed.

Spring clean detox methods that actually work

Now spring has officially sprung it’s time to give our bodies a cleansing overhaul.

Whether you want to shed those excess pounds gained indulging in comfort foods over the winter, or simply put a little spring in your step, there’s a detox method that can work for you.

What to eat for Spring

It’s often as simple as making the right choices about what to eat and key to this is choosing seasonal fresh produce packed with natural nutrient goodness.

A top tip is to look for the season’s best asparagus, cherries, and artichokes from your local market, all of which help boost the bodies liver function to help you detox naturally.

Similarly eliminating processed foods containing refined carbohydrates and sugars can let you feel energized and less bloated.

Why not try the popular Elimination Diet?

While it’s difficult to eliminate all foods, it’s proven that by cutting out allergy triggering foods such as sugar, alcohol, gluten, dairy and soy milk, caffeine, and factory-farmed meat for a few weeks, then slowly reintroducing them into your diet, can help you uncover any negative hidden effects.

If you suffer from common illnesses it is helpful to note down if changing your diet has elevated your symptoms of conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), fatigue, acid reflux or eczema which are all associated with excessive dairy, gluten and caffeine consumption.

What to drink

Staying properly hydrated is essential to aiding concentration and maintaining healthy organ function. It also plays an important role in eliminating free-radical waste essential for a good detox.

More than half your body weight is made up of water, but we often don’t get enough, leading to headaches, water retention, fatigue or lightheadedness.

By swapping calorie rich coffees and fizzy drinks for water you can also cut out empty calories and help eliminate bloating.

To ensure you get your recommended two liters a day why not:

– Keep a bottle of water by your desk at work.

– If you find water too boring, try adding slices of fresh lemon or lime.

– Or swap plain water for herbal teas or vegetable juices which have the added benefit of being rich in anti-oxidants.

– Make sure to drink water before you eat, as thirst is often confused with hunger.