The fight back has begun

For many years, scientists were convinced that fat, especially saturated fat, was the biggest problem in our diets. ‘Fat-free’ and ‘low-fat’ products flooded the market, claiming a huge range of health benefits. The problem is, in order for manufacturers to decrease the fat content, they often have to increase the sugar content to maintain flavour.

However, recent research has exposed sugar as a far bigger player in the obesity epidemic than fat, which means that these so-called healthy foods are just as bad for us, if not worse.

Hidden Sugars

Hidden sugar in food. Image credit:

The obesity epidemic

Sadly, weight problems are starting younger and younger in the Western population. In England, one in 10 children is obese at the start of primary school and one in five is overweight. By the time they leave, this rises to one in five and one in three.

Of course, obesity is more than just looking fat and feeling unfit; it is a serious problem that can have a major impact on your health. Recent research by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, found causal links between obesity and as many as 36 cancers, and strong links to at least 11, including bowel and colon cancers. “If you are overweight, it causes lots of disruption to your hormonal and metabolic pathways,’ explained Dr Marc Gunter, who led the team.

The World health Organisation has described obesity as “one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century”. Simon Stevens of NHS England went even further, describing obesity as ‘the new smoking’.

The fight back

If you are trying to cut down on sugar, then the good news is that the fight back has begun. Now that sugar has been exposed by science as a problem in our food, many companies are working to reduce sugar levels.

Last December, Nestle announced that they had found a way to restructure sugar to dissolve more quickly, so it tastes sweeter and you need less. They say that this will ultimately allow them to reduce the sugar content of their chocolate by 40%, and have already announced a 10% reduction in sugar for KitKat, Aero and Yorkie bars.

Irn Bru makers, AG Barr have announced a cut in sugar content from 10g per 100ml to less than 5g, while Tesco have announced that they will reduce the sugar content of their own brand fizzy drinks by 5% per year.

It’s worth remembering that while these reductions are good news, these products are still high in processed sugars and you should try and avoid them completely if you can.

The ‘sugar tax’

Part of this industry action has been inspired by the Government’s ‘sugar tax’, a levy on soft drinks which will come into force in April next year. The tax will have two bands, one for drinks with between 5g and 8g per 100ml, and a higher rate for drinks above this level. It is estimated that the sugar tax will bring in £415m, which will go directly to schools for physical and mental health programmes, although the ultimate aim is to get drinks manufacturers to reduce their sugar and remove the need for such programmes in the first place.

The UK Government is not alone in legislating against sugary drinks. In France, they have gone one further, announcing a ban on ‘free refills’ or unlimited sugary drinks in restaurants, while a 10% tax on cola in Mexico reduced consumption by 6% in its first year. Unfortunately, an attempt to ban super-sized sugary drinks in New York was defeated in the courts on civil rights grounds!

Here to help

Reducing sugar in your own diet is a real challenge, but there is lots of help available to support you. Remember, you can check the sugar content of your food using the free Be Food Smart app from the NHS Change 4 Life website. You can also talk to your ARCH registered therapist for general diet and lifestyle support. Our members see hundreds of clients every year who are facing the same challenges as you are, so they know what you are up against.

In our next blog, we’ll take a look at how we became addicted to this ‘drug food’, and examine exactly why refined sugar is bad for the body.

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How many portions a day?

Fruit and veg

Recent research has suggested that we should be eating as many as ten portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Yet only last November, Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, was claiming that GPs should sometimes aim lower with their patients, starting at just two portions a day. Standing in the middle, Public Health England says that five-a-day is both affordable and achievable. So just how many portions should we be eating, and what exactly is a portion anyway?Fruit and veg

How many portions should I eat?

The simple answer is, the more portions of fruit and veg you can eat, the better. Dr Stokes-Lampard was making the point that for individuals and families who currently consume little or no fruit and veg, suggesting they aim for five portions a day is like suggesting a couch potato takes up marathon running.

The good news is that even small changes to your diet can make a big difference. Introducing just two and a half portions a day will significantly reduce your risk of serious diseases:

  • Reduced cancer risk by 4%
  • Reduced cardiovascular disease by 13%
  • Reduced heart disease by 16%
  • Reduced stroke by 18%

Two and a half portions a day will also reduce your overall risk of premature death by 15%. Not bad for an apple and just a few veggies with your main meal.

The more the merrier

Naturally, the health benefits increase the more fruit and veg you eat. A recent study by Imperial College, London, combined data from 95 different studies, covering 2million people, and found that ten portions a day reduced the risk of serious diseases even further:

  • Reduced cancer risk by 13%
  • Reduced cardiovascular disease by 28%
  • Reduced heart disease by 24%
  • Reduced stroke by 33%

The study also showed that ten-a-day reduced your overall risk of premature death by 31%. The team estimated that if everyone ate ten-a-day worldwide, 7.8million premature deaths a year could be prevented.

What exactly is a portion?

A portion is quite a vague concept, so here is a quick guide:

  • A portion is classified as 80g, which is roughly a serving spoon full of veg or a single piece of fruit
  • Ideally, you need to have variety. Five apples does not count as five portions
  • It doesn’t have to be fresh; frozen fruit and veg have plenty of nutrients
  • It can be raw or cooked, the study found little difference
  • Beans and pulses count as a portion (though only one even if you have more than 80g)
  • Potatoes don’t count, but sweet potatoes do

You can find out more about what counts towards your portion count on the Live Well website from the NHS. The BBC also has a five-a-day quiz guide to see if you are reaching your five-a-day.

Why are fruit and vegetables so healthy?

Dr Dagfinn Aune, lead author of the research, thinks there are many factors involved, some of which we do not yet fully understand. “Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system,” she says. “The complex network of nutrients they hold also contain many antioxidants, which may reduce the DNA damage associated with cancer risk.”

Different fruits and vegetables were found to benefit different health risks, for example, apples, pears, leafy veg and cruciferous veg helped reduce cardiovascular risks, while coloured vegetables, such as peppers and carrots, were particularly effective against cancer.

How can you make the change?

ARCH therapists often come across clients who have a very poor diet when it comes to eating fruit and vegetables, and this does not help their digestion, leading to constipation and other issues. It is estimated that fewer than one in three people in the UK currently manage five-a-day.

If you have a low intake of fruit and veg, then you need to introduce changes gradually, so that you can adapt to your new shopping habits and meal plans, and your body can adapt to the new input. However, as the statistics above show, the sooner you start to make those changes, the better for your health and wellbeing.

You can find easy wins by swapping your snacks, changing from crisps or chocolate to an apple or a pear. You should also try to include at least one vegetable with every meal, even if it’s just peas with your fish and chips, and if a meal out is served with a side salad, don’t just leave it on the plate, tuck in.

As you progress, try to balance your intake of fruit and vegetables, and vary the types you eat. As discussed above, the different varieties have different benefits, so you should try to ‘eat the rainbow’.

Ten a day may seem a long way off right now, but if you keep making gradual changes, and keep focused on your goal, you’ll be surprised how much easier it will become. And remember, if you need inspiration just look back at the figures above – it’s no exaggeration to say that eating more fruit and veg could actually save your life.

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The power of poo!

poo power

As ARCH registered therapists, we have no problem with poo. Talking about it, washing it out of your colon and checking it as it passes along the tube, are all in a days work as we help thousands of people across the UK to deal with the symptoms of digestive problems and help thousands more to maintain a healthy digestive system.

But even we’re impressed with the lengths some people will go to with poo, from fueling buses to providing electricity for homes and businesses. Here are just a few of the projects around the world that are harnessing the power of poo.poo power

Poo powered sewerage plants

Northumbrian Water estimate that they have saved around £15million a year by recovering methane and carbon dioxide from the waste water and sewage that they were processing anyway. The company installed two advanced anaerobic digestion plants in their processing centres and collected the gasses released as microbes digested the waste. The conversion process takes around 35 days from flush to fuel, and they then used the gas to generate the electricity they needed to run the plants, and even had some gas left over to sell to the grid.

Following the success of the Northumbria project, other water companies, such as Severn Trent and Wessex, are now following suit, and it is estimated that if all the UK’s sewage plants used the technology, they could provide fuel for up to 350,000 homes.

Biogas buses

In Bristol, they went even further with their poo power, with the launch of Britain’s first Bio Bus, appropriately on the number 2 bus route. The bus, powered by methane rich biogas, can travel 37 miles on just one person’s annual sewage and food waste. Bio-gas also helps the environment, producing 95% less carbon dioxide emissions than diesel fuel, eliminating around 44tonnes of CO2 per bus per year.

Sadly the project failed to get the government funding it needed to expand the service, and so the gas from Bristol’s waste now goes straight into the national gas grid. However, poo power has not gone from our roads, with no less than five new poo powered cars now available in the US and Norway running a fleet of poo powered buses as part of its bid to make its capital, Oslo, carbon neutral by 2050.

Human waste becomes water and power

With the United Nations estimating that the world’s human waste could provide enough power for 138million households, it was never going to be long before leading humanitarian, Bill Gates, got involved.

His foundation funded a sewage processing plant that not only produced gas for electricity generation, but also clean, safe drinking water. With 700,000 children a year dying from poor sanitation, clean water has never been so important.

The pilot project, in Senegal, used the Omni Processor to successfully treat the waste from up to 100,000 people, generating 250kw of power and 86,000 litres of clean drinking water per day. The Gates Foundation now has plans for several more units across Africa, each safely processing the waste of 200,000 people and providing clean drinking water for 35,000.

The most sustainable source

With growing pressure to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and cut greenhouse gas emissions, it’s good to know that there is a real alternative that will always be available in almost unlimited supply.

If the technology continues to spread, you could soon find your bathroom lights powered by your own bathroom visits.


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Sugar, sugar everywhere!

Over the festive season, we’ve all over-indulged in sugar. Let’s face it, it’s hard not to with sugar in sweets, chocolates, biscuits, Christmas cake and Christmas pud, fizzy drinks, mixers and liqueurs, plus all those processed treats on Auntie Barbara’s buffet.

Chances are, like most people, you’re starting the New Year aiming to cut back on the sugar in your diet, but unfortunately, that might not be as easy as you think.


Cutting out the obvious sugar

Some sugar is easy to see and easy to eliminate. A can of Coke, for example, has 30g of sugar – around a third your daily recommended maximum intake, and chocolate bars range from 40% sugar in dark chocolate, 50% in milk chocolate and 60% or more in white chocolate. Easy enough to see and so easy to avoid.

Counting the sugar in your tea and coffee might seem easy too, but it’s worth bearing in mind the difference between the official measure of a teaspoon, which weighs just 4g, and the actually weight of your favourite large teaspoon (you know the one I’m talking about), heaped to its mathematical maximum, which can weigh as much as 8g or more – which is twice as much.


The sugar you don’t see

However, avoiding the obvious sugar is only half the battle, because there is hidden sugar in so many of our day to day foods, even the ones we think are healthy.

For example, you’d think that tomato pasta sauce would be a healthy choice, full of natural tomatoey goodness. Yet last year, Dolmio were forced to recommend that their sauces should only be used as a once a week treat due to their high sugar and salt content. Most branded pasta sauce is around 7% sugar, which is two teaspoons per person in an average portion.

Half a can of baked beans has over 10g of sugar, tomato ketchup is almost a quarter sugar and even apparently healthy choices, like cranberry juice, can be as much as a third sugar. Even brown bread is usually around 5% sugar, which means that each slice has almost 2g and a sandwich has a whole spoonful. Add salad cream at 17.5% sugar, or spread some jam on your toast and it soon starts to add up.

Better breakfasts

One of the worst meals for hidden sugar is breakfast, with one study finding that many children are consuming their entire daily allowance of sugar in their cereal before school has even started. Frosties and Crunchy Nut Cornflakes are a huge 35% sugar, while ‘Honey Monster Puffs’ (you probably know them as the more honest Sugar Puffs) are 29%.

Even ‘healthy’ options like muesli can be surprisingly high. Original recipe Alpen is a whopping 22% sugar, which gives you almost 10g of sugar in their recommended 45g portion (and even more if you don’t measure so carefully), while the famous ‘diet’ cereal Special K is 12% sugar.

A couple of cups of tea or coffee with sugar, a bowl of muesli and a slice of toast and jam and you could be well over half of your daily allowance before you leave the house.

Finding the hidden sugar

Sugar lurks in so many of our foods that it can be hard to keep track of it. It hides in the most unexpected places, such as supposedly healthy ‘low fat’ foods. What’s more, it disguises itself under a wide variety of names that don’t even sound like sugar, such as dextrose, fructose and agave. Women’s Health magazine found no less than 56 different names for sugar in the ingredients they checked.

Nutritional information is compulsory on food in the UK, so you can always check for the sugar content on the table provided, or to make life even easier, you can download the Be Food Smart app from the NHS Change 4 Life pages and simply scan the barcode to check the healthiness of your choices.


Lose sugar, gain taste

Cutting down on sugar won’t be easy, but it comes with its own rewards. Just like cutting down on salt, you’ll discover a whole new set of flavours and tastes that have previously been hidden by the sweetness. You’ll also start to lose weight and feel great.

In our next blog, we’ll take a look at how sugar is processed in your body, why we’re so addicted to it, and the role of sugar in the frightening rise in obesity and diabetes.



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Read yourself well – Reading Book List for 2017

Give the gift of good gut health this Christmas with our top ten recommended books on subjects close to our heart here at ARCH. From simple guides to the gut to inspiring stories of dramatic turn-arounds in health and wellbeing, from mindfulness to juicing, there’s something to help everyone to make a fresh start and take charge of their body and mind. So show how much you really care this Christmas by helping your friends and family to have a happy and healthy New Year.


  1. Gut: the inside story of our body’s most under-rated organ by Julia Enders

In her hugely entertaining Sunday Times bestseller, Julia Enders breaks the gut taboo, explaining how everything from bacteria to pooing positions play a vital role in good gut health.

Amazon Link.

  1. Good Gut Healing: the no-nonsense guide to bowel and digestive disorders by Kathryn Marsden

Kathryn offers a wide range of friendly, down-to-earth food based hints and tips on maintaining good gut health, with advice on which foods to choose, and which to avoid when faced with a wide range of digestive conditions.

Amazon Link.

3. 10% Human: How Your Body’s Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness by Alanna Collen

A fascinating tour de force of the microbiome, explaining how only one in ten of the cells in your body is really you and how you should learn to love the other 90% to maintain good health and wellbeing.

Amazon Link.

  1. Digestive Wellness: Strengthen the Immune System and Prevent Disease Through Healthy Digestion by Elizabeth Lipski

In the ‘definitive guide to healthy digestion’ you’ll learn practical solutions to all the common gastrointestinal disorders (and many other conditions) with expert guidance on the newest advances in testing and diagnosis, nutrition, and natural therapies.

Amazon Link.

  1. The Inside Story: how your colon holds the key to your wellbeing, and what you should do about it! by Linda Booth

Based on ARCH therapist Linda Booth’s professional journey treating thousands of patients, this book details the life-changing health and wellbeing effects of modern, naturopathic colonic hydrotherapy treatments and simple, natural supplements.

Amazon Link.

  1. An Introduction to a Colon Hydrotherapy Treatment – Answers to the questions you really want to ask by Katherine Brook-MacKenzie

Explaining everything you ever wanted to know about colon hydrotherapy, but were afraid to ask, ARCH therapist, Katherine Brook-MacKenzie, provides a plain and simple explanation, written in layman’s language, which will dispel your fears of this safe, simple and effective treatment.

Amazon Link.

  1. Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment and Your Life by Jon Kabat Zinn

A great starting point for learning about mindfulness in our eating and in our daily lives. Comes with a free CD with five guided meditations to help you slow down and discover wellbeing in your mind as well as in your body.

Amazon Link.

  1. Too Young to Grow Old by Anne-lise Miller

Another winner from a practicing colon hydrotherapist, Anne-lise challenges our belief that we must accept fading health as part of growing old, showing how we can feel fit and feel well however old we are.

Amazon Link.

    9.Reboot with Joe: Fully Charged / The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet by Joe Cross

Two practical books on the power of juicing and micronutrients, from the man behind the groundbreaking Fat, Sick and nearly Dead films that have inspired millions to take charge of their own health and wellbeing. (Watch the films here)

Amazon Link.

  1. May I Be Frank by Frank Ferrante

“What happens when Tony Soprano meets Deepak Chopra” this book charts 54 years old Frank’s amazing and inspiring journey from obesity and drug addiction to vibrant health and happiness through finally taking responsibility for his own health and wellbeing.

Amazon Link.


We hope you enjoy the reading list! If you have read a great book leave the link in the comments below!


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Self care to stay well this winter – part 2

Last month, we looked at ways you can improve your diet to help you stay fit and well this winter, boosting your immune system to help you fight off those winter colds.

Winter bluesThis month, we’re taking a look at other ways to stay healthy and avoid the winter blues. There’s plenty you can do to enhance your wellbeing, from simple steps to changes in habit. Heres’ our top ten tips to give your body a welcome winter boost:

  1. Drink plenty of fluids – you might not feel the need to drink as much water as you do in the summer, but your body, and your gut, still needs you to stay hydrated. Try herbal teas as a soothing alternative to coffee, or try juicing as a great way to stay hydrated and make sure you get all the vitamins and minerals your immune system needs, all in one tasty glassful.
  2. But don’t drink too much – try and take it easy at all those festive parties. It’s great to let your hair down, but too much alcohol can wreak havoc with your digestive system. Look out for our next blog about the effects of alcohol on your gut.
  3. Exercise – it’s not as easy, or as tempting, to head to the gym or take part in sports in the cold, grey winter months, but your body will thank you for it. Regular exercise will stop you feeling sluggish, boosting your energy and filling you with feel good endorphins
  4. Get outside – a good bracing walk on a cold crisp day will not only break the stir-crazy confines of your home or office, it will also make you feel great and really boost your immune system. The world can be beautiful in the autumn and winter so don’t get stuck inside; get out and explore!
  5. Open a window – even if you can’t get out into the fresh air, it’s worthwhile letting the fresh air in. Opening a window may sound like a crazy thing to do when it’s cold, but stale, artificially heated indoor air is a breeding ground for bugs. Ventilating, even for a few minutes a day, can make a huge difference.
  6. Hibernate – the longer winter nights are a great time to get to bed early and top up your sleep. Experts says that while we get an average of just 6½ hours a night, adults should get 7-9 hours. So snuggle down in your lovely warm bed and catch some zeds. An early night will cut your heating bills too!
  7. Calm down – studies have shown that stress can inhibit your immune system, so don’t let all that festive hassle get to you. Think about what Christmas really means to you and don’t get caught up in the crazy commercial mayhem of expectation and overspending. Stay in control of your life, your finances and your family, and you’ll stay in control of your health too.
  8. Wash your hands – nasty bugs are everywhere in the winter months, but you can cut your chances of catching something by washing your hands regularly or keeping a bottle of hand sanitiser in your bag or briefcase. It’s a great habit to get into, and a minute or two here and there can save you a whole week of feeling lousy.
  9. Get a flu jab – the NHS recommends a flu jab if you are over 65, you are pregnant, you suffer from certain medical conditions, or you care for someone else whose welfare is at risk if you fall ill. You can arrange this for free via your GP. If you are not in one of these at risks groups, you may not need a flu jab, but you can opt to have one just in case if you want. They are available for just a few pounds at your local pharmacy.
  10. Book a colonic – as colon hydrotherapists, we often see the boost to health and wellbeing that our clients get from having a colonic. It can give you a real sense of energy and avoid that stuffy, stuck winter feeling that can quickly bring you down. Colonics are also a great antidote if you have overdone things at the office party, or over eaten at those endless Christmas dinners.

Your local ARCH registered therapist will be happy to help you to stay healthy this winter, with practical advice and a refreshing treatment. Find your nearest ARCH therapist here and book your winter boost today.


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Booze and poos! What alcohol does to your digestive system!

As we enter the party season, it’s worth taking a quick look at the way in which alcohol affects your digestive system, and some of the steps you can take to reduce those effects.

Anyone who’s ever had a few too many at the office party will be familiar with the morning after feeling. More often than not, this involves rather unpleasant diarrhoea, but it can also lead to constipation too. But why does booze affect our poos in this way?

Speeding throughAlcohol and your gut

Alcohol will increase the speed at which everything moves through your digestive tract, all the way from your stomach to your colon. This means that your stomach will empty too quickly into the small intestine, and the digestive waste will move too fast through the large intestine for all of the water to be reabsorbed. Add in the fact that you are probably consuming more fluid than normal when you’re out drinking, and it’s easy to see how your stools can become loose and watery. This rapid movement of the digestive tract can also have the unpleasant side effect of making your need for the loo feel very sudden and urgent.

Please note that while diarrhoea the day after drinking is common, if this persists for more than 48 hours, you should seek medical attention.

If your stomach empties too quickly, it can release undigested carbs into your small intestines, which could feed the unwelcome mircrobes and cause an imbalance in your gut flora. This isn’t a problem for the occasional party, but it can become an issue for regular drinkers, causing a condition called SIBO or small intestine bacterial overgrowth.

Drying up

For some people, alcohol can have the opposite effect, drying up the stools and causing constipation. Even though you are drinking more than usual, alcohol is a diuretic, so you will actually produce more urine than you are taking in in fluid, leaving you dehydrated. This excessive urination can also cause the loss of essential electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, which are needed to retain fluid, both in the body and in your stools. This is why you wake up with a dry mouth and a killer thirst, even when you have drunk several pints the night before.


Sometimes, it may not be the alcohol that is causing the problems at all; you may simply be intolerant or allergic to the non-alcohol components of your drinks. The gluten within the wheat and barley used to make beer is a common culprit, as are the tannins in grape skins. If you feel that your gut is reacting disproportionately to the amount you are drinking, it may be worth having a food intolerance test. Many ARCH registered therapists now offer Lorisian Food Intolerance testing at their clinics.

Similarly, if you already have problems with your gut, such as IBS, then alcohol can often irritate this, causing your symptoms to get much worse. So if you often get an extreme gut reaction to alcohol, then you should talk to your doctor, as this may be an indicator of an underlying digestive health issue.

Preventing problems

There are several steps you can take to avoid the gut problems associated with alcohol, without spoiling the Christmas party. Here are some top tips:

  • Make sure that you are well hydrated in advance of your night out by drinking plenty of water, preferably mineral water.
  • Drink this on an empty stomach if you can, to maximize absorption.
  • Interspace your alcoholic drinks with water through the evening, both to stay hydrated and cut down your overall consumption.
  • Eat something before you start drinking. A full stomach will absorb less alcohol, and is also less likely to empty prematurely.
  • Add salt to your meal to help maintain your electrolyte balance.

However you plan on celebrating, we wish you a very merry Christmas from everyone at ARCH. Cheers!





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Self-care to stay well this winter – Part 1

As the days grow shorter and the temperature drops, it’s easy to become complacent about our health. We exercise less, we eat more comfort foods and we trap ourselves indoors, in artificially heated rooms, full of other people’s germs. No wonder people think that winter colds and flu are inevitable.Winter self care tips

But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little self-care, you can get through the winter feeling healthy, fit and full of life. In part one of this series, we’ll take a look at how you can eat yourself well this winter, with the right balance of vitamins, minerals and herbs.

Eat well

Now that the summer salad season is over, it’s easy to get drawn into eating starchy comfort foods to make you feel better about the rotten weather. Yet your immune system needs healthy, nutritious foods more than ever in the winter months. Vegetable soups and stews are a great way to still get your five a day, and just one orange gives you a whole day’s worth of vitamin C.

Chances are you’ll want something warm inside you before you head out on a cold morning, but that doesn’t have to be a fry-up or a bacon butty. A bowl of porridge will not only give you a warm and tasty start to the day, it’s also full of fibre that will keep you feeling full and avoid the mid-morning munchies. Just remember to use fresh and dried fruit to sweeten your bowl, rather than piles of refined sugar.

Essential winter vitamins

To make sure your body has everything it needs to stay healthy this winter, you need to make sure you are getting enough of the essential vitamins. Here’s what they do and where you’ll find them:

  • Vitamin A – helps to support your immune system to fight infections. It is found in cheese, eggs, oily fish, milk and yoghurt
  • Vitamin C – contrary to popular belief, vitamin C will not prevent colds and flu, but it can shorten the length of your cold and reduce the severity of symptoms. Your body cannot store vitamin C so you need to make sure you eat enough every day in citrus fruit, red and green peppers, berries, broccoli, spuds and even your Christmas dinner sprouts!
  • Vitamin D – not only supports your immune system, but also keeps your bones strong and healthy to protect you when you slip on the ice. In the summer months, most people get all the vitamin D you need from sunlight, but in winter you need to top up through things like liver, red meats, oily fish and egg yolks.
  • Vitamin E – boosts your circulation, keeping your hands and feet warm, and keeps your skin moist in windy weather and dry, artificial heated rooms. You’ll find it in nuts, seeds and cereal products.

Essential winter minerals

As well as vitamins, your body also needs minerals to stay healthy and beat the winter blues. These include:

  • Zinc – boosts circulation and supports your immunity. It can be found in a wide variety of foods, from bread to dairy products.
  • Magnesium – stops you feeling down and sluggish when the dark days arrive. It can be found in green leafy vegetables, whole grains and nuts.
  • Iron – lack of iron will also leave you with a lack of energy in the winter months, so make sure you get enough. Good sources of iron include red meat, seafood and green vegetables.

Healthy herbs

A number of herbs have been identified and scientifically proven to boost winter health. These include:

  • Echinacea – a 2007 review of 14 studies reported that echinacea cuts your cold risk by 58% and shortens a cold by a day and a half.
  • Ginkgo – more than 400 scientific studies have shown that ginkgo boosts circulation which will help you to keep warm in winter.
  • Horseradish – is said to relieve congestion and ease a cough.
  • Garlic – is an all round winter winner, boosting circulation, supporting a healthy heart and strengthening your immune system.
  • Elderberry – clinical studies have found that elderberry extract reduces the severity and duration of flu symptoms

Talk to your therapist

Remember, your local ARCH registered therapist is always on hand to give you a boost in the winter months, especially when you have overdone it with the festive food and drink. Many ARCH registered therapists will also be able to recommend pro-biotics to give your immune system a real boost in the fight against colds and flu.

You don’t have to wait for a new you in the New Year; you can get a fresh start right now, so book your winter boost today.

Watch out for part two of this series, packed with practical ways to stay healthy this winter, from getting more sleep to avoiding seasonal stress.



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Taking the time to spot the signs. The warning signs of bowel cancer.

We’ve talked a lot recently about the concept of self-care – the idea that our health is our own responsibility. This has been brought into sharp focus recently by the findings of a study by University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which showed that GPs sometimes miss the early warning signs of bowel cancer. You can read the full study here.

What did they find?Bowel Cancer symptoms

The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, reported that important early warning signs of bowel cancer had been previously missed by GPs in as many as one in five emergency admissions.

This is a major problem because emergency admissions do not fare as well as other bowel cancer patients. If bowel cancer is not diagnosed until emergency admission, then treatment will not be started early enough, when it has a greater chance of success.

The study looked at over 1600 bowel cancer patients across 200 GP practices. It found that 17.5% of colon cancer emergency admissions, and 23% of rectal cancer emergency admissions, had visited their GP with so-called ‘red flag’ symptoms in the year leading up to their emergency diagnosis.

What are the ‘red flag’ symptoms?

The red flag symptoms include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Altered bowel habits
  • Anaemia (colon cancer)

Unfortunately, these symptoms can also be the result of a wide range of other problems, such as piles for rectal bleeding, stomach bugs for diarrhoea or wind for abdominal pain. Add in the pressures on GPs, with just a few minutes to spend with each patient, and it’s easy to see how these ‘red flag’ symptoms can slip through the net.

What can you do to self-care?

With GPs overstretched, we all have a role to play in looking after ourselves when it comes to bowel cancer. First and foremost, if you experience any of the red flag symptoms, you should talk to your GP as soon as possible, and keep talking to them for as long as your symptoms persist. It is better to be persistent than to be one of the 23% whose cancer was missed.

You can also make sure you take advantage of the free screening that is offered. According to Cancer Research UK, there are 110 new cases of bowel cancer diagnosed every day, making it the third most common cancer in both men and women. However, there is a marked increase in diagnosis over the age of 64, with 58% of these cancers diagnosed in the over 70s. If you fall into this age group, then you will be invited to take a simple bowel cancer screening test every two years. By simply returning the test, you can add an extra safety net to catch one of the main bowel cancer symptoms.

Talk to your ARCH registered therapist

While ARCH therapists do not claim to be doctors or cancer specialists, they do have a lot more time than your GP to talk about your symptoms, and to spot those red flags that the study shows are sometimes missed. What’s more, your ARCH registered therapist will perform a digital rectal exam as part of their initial consultation, before your treatment, which can identify any abnormalities in the rectum.

Your colonic consultation in no way replaces a visit to your GP, but again it adds an extra safety net when it comes to spotting bowel cancer symptoms. Many of our members have had cases where they have referred clients to their GP, based on their symptoms and their own examination, resulting in an early, and potentially lifesaving diagnosis.

Take responsibility

If you have any of the red flag symptoms, it is important to get yourself checked out as soon as possible, because the earlier cancer treatment starts, the better the chances of success. Beating Bowel Cancer has a helpline, manned by nurses, who can answer any questions you have. Just call 020 8973 0011 during office hours. Alternatively, you can speak to a nurse at Cancer Research UK, free on 0808 800 4040.




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Changing our relationship with food

In our last blog, we talked about eating mindfully and being aware of what we are putting in our mouths, instead of rushing our meals at our desks or in front of the TV.

However, simply being aware of what you are eating is only half the battle when it comes to self-care. We also need to address the complex relationship that we have with our food.

Emotional eating

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An emotive bond

From when we are first fed as a crying baby, we develop an emotional relationship with food that has nothing to do with its nutritional value. We grow up associating food with comfort, family time, reward and a whole bunch of other emotions, to the point where the food itself becomes largely insignificant.

From birthday cake and high fat buffets at parties, to treating the kids to McDonalds, we attach all kinds of good associations to our food. We reward ourselves for a hard week’s work with a full English breakfast at the weekend or a Chinese takeaway on a Friday night.

The problem is that these associations blur our thinking when it comes to choosing healthy options. As colon hydrotherapists, we often see clients who know that the food they’re eating isn’t good for their digestive health, but they simply can’t get past the emotional bond that draws them to it.

The food police

All too often, our reaction is to label foods as ‘bad’ and make ourselves feel guilty when we eat them. Many diet clubs and plans label foods as ‘sins’ or have a traffic light system to warn you of the dangers. The trouble is that this stands in such stark contrast with the ‘good’ feelings we have from our emotional relationship with food, and we end up feeling conflicted and ultimately doomed to fail.

The problem is that making something ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’ only makes us want it even more. Just look at the original food ‘intervention’, when Adam and Eve were told not to eat the apple. That didn’t work, and that was God talking, so what chance do we mere mortals have of staying away from the ‘bad’ stuff?

Knowing it is half the battle

As juice guru, Joe Cross, explains, we all need to go easy on ourselves every once in a while and spend some time in the fun part of town – as long as we understand that this is what we are doing. This starts with conscious, mindful eating, where we pay attention to what we eat, why we’re eating it and how it makes us feel, both emotionally and physically.

When you really pay attention, you’ll find that most ‘feel good’ foods, like cake or pizza, will give you a high at the time, but that doesn’t last. If you listen to your body, what you are usually left with is a heavy, bloated feeling, as well as a few extra pounds that will make you feel even more tired and unhealthy.

If you eat this kind of food all the time, you may not even notice these feelings, it will just be a way of life. However, as soon as you stop, and start eating a healthier, more balanced diet, those feelings will become really obvious to you whenever you go back. The stronger your connection with your body, the weaker your emotional connection to food becomes, the less easily it will be able to lead you astray.

Develop a new relationship

We all need to develop a new relationship to our food; one that understands the good that nutritious, natural food does for our bodies, and the harm that excessive fat, salt and sugar can cause.

Once you learn to appreciate how good healthy options make you feel, you’ll find yourself buying them in the supermarket and ordering them in restaurants, not because you think you ought to, but because you want to, because they taste great and make you feel fantastic.

At that point, your new relationship with food has begun, and you can start to look forward to a healthier future…

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