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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Mindful Eating

One of the biggest aspects of self-care is what we eat, and it’s also one of the most complex. The diet industry is a multi-million pound business, and the food industry, particularly processed food, is tens if not hundreds of times bigger again. What’s more, the advice we are given seems to change every week, as fat, then sugar, then additives, then something else, are singled out as being ‘the problem’.

With so many competing theories and so much conflicting advice, it can be hard to know where to start. When I talked about writing this blog, I was advised by a colleague that ‘whatever you say you’ll ruffle someone’s feathers’. Yet at the end of the day, we all know, instinctively, what is good for us and what isn’t, we’ve just become so detached from our eating that we no longer notice.

Eat mindfully

Image Credit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Stop eating on autopilot

We shop unconsciously, putting the same old stuff in our trolley week after week, falling for the bright packaging, the two-for-one offers and the comfort foods. We buy popcorn and sweets at the cinema, even when we’re sure we’re going to be distracted by the film. We eat unconsciously, all day long, having breakfast on the run, eating lunch al-desko and having our tea in front of the TV. We end up sleep walking our way through the day, paying little or no attention to what we are putting in our mouths.

We have lost our appreciation for the colours, textures and tastes of our food. Yet aiming to eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables is one of the simplest ways to start your move towards a healthier diet. We’ve also lost our appreciation of the natural tastes of foods, without added sugar or salt, or artificial chemicals.

Listen to your body

The worst part is that when you eat unconsciously, you stop listening to your body. We all know how we’ll feel if we have a late cup of coffee, or a second glass of wine, yet few of us take the time to develop the same understanding of our body’s reaction to food. However, these messages are still there if we choose to hear them.

Often, as colon hydrotherapists, we come across clients who have a reaction to food that is clear and obvious to us, such as bloating or constipation, but they have simply never made the connection. Many ARCH therapists now offer Lorisian Food Intolerance Testing, which can specifically identify the foods that cause digestive problems, and time after time their clients are surprised by the results.

Eat mindfully

So how can you stop all these bad habits and move yourself into a healthier way of eating? You simply have to pay attention and be mindful.

Stop before you get to the supermarket checkout and ask yourself if you really want all of the junk food, high fat and high salt snack and pre-prepared meals. Once you get it home, it’s so much harder to resist, so take it out now.

Now look again and see if you have the right ingredients to cook mindfully, really engaging with the food you eat to change your relationship with food. Just taking the time to prepare our food mindfully, paying attention to how the ingredients look, smell and feel, can give us a whole new appreciation of what we are eating; an appreciation you just don’t get when you open a jar or re-heat a ready meal.

Once it’s cooked, try to find time to really appreciate the food you eat. Sit at the table rather than the couch, and put your cutlery down between mouthfuls, so you can chew your food an enjoy the textures and flavours. It takes 20 minutes for the ‘full’ message to reach your brain from your stomach, so if you bolt your food, you’ll generally eat more than you need to. Focus on each mouthful and you’ll find you need less of them to really satisfy you.

Every little helps

I know what you are thinking right now: my life is way too busy to find time for all of this. But it really isn’t. It takes just a few minutes more to concentrate on your food and eat mindfully, than it does to just shovel it in without thinking. Yet those few minutes can make a huge difference to your diet and lifestyle, and ultimately to your health.

Try it; you have nothing to lose but your digestive problems!

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Take Care of Yourself – Easy steps to self-care

Easy steps to self-care

In our last blog, we talked about the idea of self-care, and how we all need to take responsibility for our own health, both in what we eat and what we do. Today we’re going to take a closer look at the second of these factors – our daily exercise.

What exercise?

For many of us, stuck in offices from morning till night, the idea of exercise can seem so far out of our reach that we dismiss it altogether. The government recommendation of 150 minutes of exercise per week is all well and good, but who has two and a half hours to spare? Between the morning and evening commute, the mountain of work we have to get through, and everything we still need to do when we get home, there just doesn’t seem to be time left for exercising.

However, fitting a little exercise into your daily routine is a lot easier than you think. Just take a look at this video, featuring a typical office worker aiming to cover 10,000 steps a day, and you’ll see how easy it can be.

Why 10,000 steps?10,000 steps health rountine

The NHS goal of 10,000 steps is generally accepted as a good target to aim for (in Japan it is 8,000 -10,000, and in the US, the President’s Challenge is 8,500). Studies show that the older we get, the less we walk, with 65% of college students achieving 10,000 steps a day, compared to just 21% of 25-75 year olds and 12% of 48-69 year olds.

10,000 steps – or five miles – a day may seem a daunting target, but it is easier than you think. The good news is that in your daily life you will already clock up around 4,000 steps just moving around your home or office, going to the loo and making a brew.

Taking more steps

To hit the 10,000 step target, you only need to add an extra 6,000 steps, either by taking one long walk, or by altering your daily routine in lots of smaller ways.

You don’t need to invest in a fancy FitBit or smartwatch to measure your steps; you can pick up a simple pedometer that can clip to your belt for just a few pounds.

You’ll take around 100 steps per minute when you’re walking, so walking the last ten minutes of your journey to and from work will give you 2,000 of your 6,000 extra steps straight away. You can also add steps by:

  • taking the stairs instead of the lift
  • walking the school run (or at least the last part of it)
  • parking further from the door at the supermarket
  • shopping locally
  • taking a walk at lunchtime

Getting a dog is a great way to increase your steps, as you have no choice in going for a walk, whatever the weather. Try downloading your favourite podcasts to listen to while you walk, or better still, find a friend to walk and talk with. You’ll find the time, and the steps, fly by.

Walking and digestion

The postprandial stroll is sadly something of a bygone age, yet a short walk after a meal has been shown to have many benefits. Studies have shown that a postprandial walk speeds up the digestive system, moving food more quickly through the system. It has also been shown to improve blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. A 15minute walk after meals was shown to be more beneficial for blood sugar levels than a 45 minute walk earlier in the day.

So not only will an after dinner walk help towards your 10,000 step goal, it will also help your blood and your digestion too.

Where do I start?

Obviously, if you are very sedentary, you cannot expect to suddenly walk 10,000 steps a day. You need to build up slowly, and consult your doctor for advice. Many people find that swimming pools are a good place to start exercising, as the water supports your weight and makes it easier for your muscles and joints to get used to moving again.

Remember, even if you only manage 7,000 steps, then you have probably made 3,000 more steps than you normally would, which is still progress. Try aiming for 7,250 the next day and ease your step count up gradually.

It is important to remember that much of your effort will be wasted if you reward your walking with a sugary snack. 10,000 steps represent 400 calories, which can be wiped out in one go by a chocolate bar and a can of cola.

Self care starts here

You don’t need an expensive gym membership or fancy sports equipment to walk more, you just need a good pair of shoes or trainers and a little imagination. So get yourself a pedometer and step out to better health today.

Read more about the NHS 10,000 step challenge, read about the science of steps in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

 

 

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Take care of yourself

Since 1948, Britain has enjoyed free health care at the point of delivery thanks to the NHS, a unique system in the modern world. There’s no doubt that this has led to huge improvements in the nations health, including a much lower infant mortality rate at the start of life and a much longer life expectancy at the end. Despite the constant bad press, we have all come to rely on the NHS more than we care to admit.take care of yourself

And therein lies the problem. With free healthcare available on tap, far too many of us have abdicated responsibility for our own health. We don’t consider our diet and lifestyle enough, because we assume there will always be someone there to pick up the pieces when it all goes wrong. We see our health as the responsibility of our GP or our local hospital, when in fact the responsibility lies firmly with us.

Your body is a temple?

It’s fair to say that for most of us, our body is not a temple, not by a long way. But it is important to remember that your body is where you live, and it’s the only home you will ever get.
Just think about that for a moment…

If you knew that your house was the only place you’d ever have to live in, you would look after it and maintain it properly, keeping it clean and tidy, makings sure the water keeps running and the drains stay clear. Yet how many of us look after our bodies with the same diligence and care?

If you block your drains at home by putting the wrong thing in, once you’d unblocked it, you certainly wouldn’t put the same thing down the drain again. Yet many of us keep putting the wrong things into our bodies time and time again, knowing they will cause problems like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, because we assume that the NHS will sort out the problems.

Your health is your responsibility

The point is that we are all responsible for our own health, and we all need to take that responsibility more seriously than we do. GPs and hospital consultants can help when things go wrong, but it is ultimately your body that heals itself in the end, even after cancer treatment. But you have to give it all the help it needs to heal and stay well through nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes. That’s you – not your doctor or your diet club, but you yourself.

Here to help

Complementary therapies, like colonics, are just that; a way of complementing your own self-care. It’s not about how good your therapist is, or how many certificates they have on the wall, it is about you, and how you incorporate your treatment into the way you look after yourself.

ARCH therapists don’t pretend to have a magic solution to all your digestive problems, but they can help you to find some answers for yourself. They can help you think about factors like diet and lifestyle and find ways to take better care of yourself by taking responsibility for your own health.

Remember, your body is amazing, but it is the only one you will ever get, so you need to look after it. Over the next few blogs, we’ll be suggesting some ways in which you can care for yourself better, from introducing a little extra exercise, to small but important changes to your diet. So if you’d like to take better care of your body, watch this space.
To find out more about self-care, and how colonics can help, talk to your local ARCH therapist today. You can find a therapist near you by clicking here.

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Just what the doctor ordered?

There is no denying that prescription drugs have had a positive effect on our health down the years, controlling infections, reducing pain and easing the symptoms of long term, or chronic, conditions. However, as anyone who has ever read the long sheet of warnings will know, most prescription medicines come with side effects.

ARCH registered therapists help people every day who are suffering from the effects that prescription medication has had on their digestive system, causing symptoms such as constipation, bloating and diarrhoea. But why does this happen, and what can you do about it? Let’s take a look at the three main groups of medicines that appear to cause the most problems; pain killers, antibiotics and Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) such as lansoprazole.

Prescription drugs

Painkillers

Simple painkillers, such as paracetemol, have few side effects when taken as directed for short periods, and should not affect your digestion. However, more powerful painkillers, especially those which are opiate based, can have a significant effect. Opiate based painkillers include drugs like tramadol, dihydrocodine and cocodamol, and the higher the opiate content, the greater the side effects will be.

Opiates slow down bowel function, reducing the muscle waves, or peristalsis, which move your food along the gut. This can result in constipation, delayed digestion, bloating and incomplete evacuation – a group of symptoms grouped under the heading of Opiod-induced bowel dysfunction or OIBD. One study showed that as many as a third of patients on opiods either don’t take their medication as directed, or quit the treatment altogether, to avoid these symptoms.
If you are suffering from constipation, or any of the other symptoms of OIBD, your local ARCH registered colon hydrotherapist is there to help. A colonic will empty and cleanse the gut to clear constipation and wind, leaving you feeling cleaner, more comfortable and more in control.

Antibiotics

Most GPs will prescribe a broad spectrum antibiotic to tackle an infection. The problem here is that while this will kill off the bacteria causing the illness, it will also kill of many of the ‘good’ bacteria you need in your digestive system, disrupting your bowel habits.

It can take the microbe levels in your bowel up to a year to recover from a course of strong antibiotics. ARCH members often see people who are experiencing bowel problems many months after antibiotic treatment, and who haven’t made the connection between the two.

If you ill enough to need antibiotics then you may not be well enough to have a colonic at the time. However, once your course has finished, your therapist can help to restore the natural balance of your gut bacteria by cleaning out the gut, removing the dead bacteria that have been killed by the antibiotics, creating a level playing field in which good bacteria can thrive. Many of our members will also be able to help speed up the recolonisation process by offering you tablets containing good bacteria, called probiotics.

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)

Far too many people in the UK are taking PPIs on a long term basis to treat the symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn, with no less than 53 million PPI prescriptions written in 2014 alone. PPIs, such as omeprazole and lansoprazole, work by reducing the amount of acid produced by the stomach, so there is less chance of it leaking out into the oesophagus and causing discomfort. Patients taking PPIs on a long term basis can have stomach acid levels as low as 10% of normal.

The problem is that this acid is there for a reason, and forms the first line of defence against the bacteria that cause digestive infections, such as salmonella, campylobacter, E Coli and C diff. A lack of stomach acid, caused by PPIs, significantly weakens this defence and leaves the gut wide open to infections.

Stomach acid also plays an important role in the digestive process, breaking down dietary fibres so that the enzymes in the small intestine can extract nutrition from your food. Without enough acid, the digestive process will not work as well as it should.
Colon hydrotherapy can help in both these cases, helping to clear away bacterial infections by cleansing the colon, and promoting effective digestion by toning the muscles of the bowel wall.

Keep taking the tablets!

It is important to note that ARCH is not suggesting that anyone should stop taking the medication prescribed by their GP, even if they are experiencing side effects. If you have any concerns about your medication or its side effects, you should speak to your GP as soon as possible, and you should never stop taking medicines you have been given without seeking advice first.

However, it is good to know that help is at hand if you are experiencing problems. ARCH therapists are side effect specialists and can help relieve constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and wind quickly and easily, working with your medication to get you back to your best as soon as possible.
To find your local ARCH registered therapist, click here.

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New Bowel Cancer Screening Test

Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer, claiming a life every 30 minutes. Yet almost half of those invited to take a free bowel cancer screening test at home simply don’t bother to return the test, despite the fact that in more than 90% of cases, early detection leads to effective treatment.

Cancer cells detected early

Image source: http://ow.ly/oMmx301wLNJ

In an effort to improve these response levels, the government is introducing a brand new bowel cancer screening test across England, which has been shown to improve responses by at least 7% overall, and much more in ‘hard to reach groups, such as men, who typically have a much lower response rate.

How does bowel cancer screening work?

Bowel cancer can have no symptoms in the early stages, so screening is very important if the cancer is to be detected early enough for successful treatment. Screening works by detecting very small amounts of blood in your poo, which are a sign that you have a bleed somewhere in your bowels. There is usually not enough blood to be seen by the naked eye, but it can be detected in the lab.

Bowel cancer screening kits are sent out every two years to everyone aged between 60 and 74. The test comes in the post and includes full instructions for completing it in the privacy of your own home. Once you have taken the samples needed, you simply post it back for analysis. There’s no clinic to attend, no doctor to see and so there’s no embarrassment involved in taking the test.

It is important to remember that there are many causes of blood in the faeces, so a positive test does not automatically mean you have cancer. However, it does mean that you should have further tests. Typically, this will involve an investigation of your bowel using a camera, called a colonoscopy.

So what’s new?

The existing test, called the guaiac-based faecal occult blood test, or gFOBt, requires you to take two samples from your stools on three different days, and it is thought that this complexity may be one of the factors in the low uptake rate. The new test, called the faecal immunochemical test, or FIT, requires just one stool sample, making it much easier to complete.

Not only is the new test easier to do, it also delivers better results from lower levels of blood in the stool. Cancer detection rates doubled in the test groups, with advanced adenoma detection increasing five fold.

When does the new test start?

The government has recently approved the new test for use in England, and it is hoped that the rest of the UK will soon follow suit. The UK National Screening Committee is ‘keen to see this new, improved kit fully available as soon as possible’.

While the new FIT may be easier, the importance of completing either bowel cancer screening test cannot be overstated. Of course, no one enjoys taking a stool sample, but whether you need to do it just once, with the new FIT, or three times with the old style gFOBt, that few minutes of unpleasantness could save your life.

So when your test arrives in the post, ask yourself this simple question: would you rather be amongst the 90% who are diagnosed early and treated successfully, or be one of the 16,000 people who die from bowel cancer every year?

 Source: https://healthmedia.blog.gov.uk/2016/06/07/new-bowel-screening-test-to-save-hundreds-of-lives/
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TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF – World Digestive Health Day

Sunday 29th May is World Digestive Health Day and this year’s theme is ‘Your Diet and Gut Health’.World Digestive Health Day

It’s a theme that raises some interesting questions about exactly who is responsible for our health, and to what extent our health is in our own hands. After all, you are what you eat, as the saying goes, and many digestive complaints, such as IBS, can be traced directly back to the effects of diet and lifestyle.

Sadly, in the era of modern medicine, we are all too quick to abdicate responsibility for our health and wellbeing, assuming there will be a pill that will make us better, however badly we treat our bodies. For many of us, it has become the NHS’s responsibility to look after our health, not our own.

While this is fine as far as it goes, it does encourage a lazy attitude towards diet and lifestyle, making us feel that it is ok to have conditions like high blood pressure and heartburn, as long as we take the right tablets. As the anti-biotic crisis clearly shows, this attitude is simply not sustainable in the long term.

Take responsibility

Ironically, despite the widespread dependence on the ‘medical model’, most people would prefer not to take medication for their conditions if there was another way. And of course, in many cases, there is just that. By simply taking responsibility for our own health, through sensible changes in diet and lifestyle, we can ‘self care’ and live happier, healthier lives without the pills.

You can manage a wide range of digestive complaints, like IBS, yourself (although of course, diseases like IBD do require medical treatment). What’s more, there are a wide range of complementary therapists, such as ARCH registered colon hydrotherapists, who are on hand to give you all the help and support you need to make positive changes in your life.

Empowering Change

Your local ARCH therapist can empower you to make the changes you need to take control, not only of your gut health, but also of your wellbeing as a whole. As well as a good clear out to rebalance your gut, they can offer you personally tailored diet and lifestyle advice, from what and when to eat, to managing stress in your day to day life.

ARCH therapists have far longer to listen to you than your GP has during your 7 minute appointment, so we can delve deeper and help you to identify where things are going wrong and what changes need to be made. And unlike your doctor, your therapist will be there to support you through these changes, giving you all the advice and encouragement you need, and helping you to feel great about the new you.

Start now!

Sadly, many people wait until their deteriorating health gives them a sobering wake up call before they make the changes they need to their diet and lifestyle, but you don’t have to let things get that far. You can choose to start looking after yourself right now, today, taking responsibility for your health and caring for your complaints yourself in the choices you make every day.

So don’t wait until the New Year to resolve to change; make World Digestive Health Day the day you start taking care of your digestive health, with the help of your local ARCH therapist. Find your nearest therapist here and get started right now.

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World Inflammatory Bowel Disease Day – Thursday 19th May

Thursday 19th May is World IBD Day. But what is IBD? How does it differ from IBS? And what are the treatment options available?World IBD Day

What is IBD?

IBD stands for inflammatory Bowel Disease. This is an umbrella term for a group of auto-immune conditions that can occur throughout the digestive system. IBD is a physical problem, which affects the lining of the gut wall, as opposed to IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, which is a functional problem.

There are two main types of IBD:

  • Ulcerative colitis – which is confined to the rectum and colon
  • Crohn’s disease – which can occur anywhere along the digestive tract (although it is most often found close to the junction of the small and large intestine)

How common is IBD?

There are estimated to be around 300,000 people in the UK with IBD, with around 1 in every 250 people affected, split roughly equally between ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. It is slightly more common in women, white Europeans and people of Jewish decent. 20% of IBD sufferers have a close family member with the condition.

What causes IBD?

The causes of IBD are unknown, although it is thought to be either an auto-immune condition, where the body’s defences attack its own tissue, or an over-reaction to naturally occurring bacteria in the gut. IBD is rare in the poorest communities in the world, suggesting that the sanitised Western environment does not expose us to enough germs to learn healthy immune responses.

What are the symptoms of IBD?

The symptoms of IBD can be inconvenient, embarrassing and exhausting and include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Blood in the stools
  • Weight loss
  • Anaemia

Fortunately, these symptoms only occur during flare-ups, with weeks or even months of remission in between where the bowel functions normally.

How is IBD diagnosed?

Following blood tests for inflammatory markers, IBD will normally be confirmed by a direct examination of the lining of the gut. This can be done using:

  • Colonoscopy – in which a camera is inserted via the rectum to examine the colon up to the point where it meets the small bowel (used mainly for ulcerative colitis, but may show Crohn’s disease)
  • Gastroscopy – in which a camera is inserted via the throat to examine the upper digestive system and small intestine
  • Capsule endoscopy – in which a small camera is swallowed allowing the whole of the digestive system to be examined

How is IBD treated?

There is no cure for either of the main forms of IBD, and treatment focuses on bringing the symptoms into remission and then retaining that remission for as long as possible.

Treatments include anti-inflammatories, steroids and immunosuppressants, along with cutting edge biological treatments that target the proteins involved in the inflammation. The initial dosage is reduced to a smaller maintenance dose once remission is achieved.

Surgery for IBD

One in five people with ulcerative colitis and three out of four people with Crohn’s will need surgery, either to remove a blockage, repair a perforation or to remove damaged parts of the digestive tract. Surgery for ulcerative colitis normally involves the removal of the colon, which will prevent the disease returning. Surgery for Crohn’s usually involves the removal of just a short length of bowel but the disease always returns.

Surgery can also be used to rest the gut by forming a temporary stoma on the skin surface while the gut recovers, then reconnecting it again at a later date.

Living with IBD

Living with IBD is tough, especially during flare-ups. However, there are steps you can take to improve your health, such as:

  • Low residue diet – to reduce the strain on your gut
  • Eating a little and often – to reduce the volume of food in your gut
  • Drinking plenty of water – to avoid dehydration due to diarrhoea
  • Taking supplements – to avoid aneamia and low vitamin levels

There are lots of support groups who can help you manage your condition, such as the Crohn’s and Colitis UK and the Ileostomy & Internal Pouch Support Group.

Can colonics help?

Unfortunately not. Since IBD weakens the bowel wall, the condition is contra-indicated for colonics. That means that your therapist will not perform the treatment if your consultation leads them to suspect you may have IBD.

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