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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Coeliac Disease Awareness Week 9th to 15th May

coeliac

The second week in May is coeliac disease awareness week, but what exactly is coeliac disease, how is it treated and how can colonics help you with the symptoms?

What is coeliac disease?

coeliac

Image credit: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/top-10-tips-gluten-free-diet

Contrary to popular belief, coeliac disease is not an allergy to wheat or a food intolerance. It is an auto-immune condition. The immune system wrongly identifies one of the components of gluten, a protein called gliadin, as a threat to the body and attacks it, causing inflammation of the small intestine.

This inflammation prevents the surface of the intestine from absorbing nutrients in the usual way, as the fine filaments, or villi, that line the gut are flattened by the swelling, reducing the surface area.

What are the symptoms of coeliac disease?

Because the intestine is not able to absorb nutrients properly, coeliac disease can lead to a range of symptoms, including diarrhoea, bloating, flatulence and abdominal pain. The lack of absorption can also lead to malnutrition and anaemia, which will leave you feeling tired and lack luster, and can lead to unexplained weight loss.

How common is coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease is surprisingly common, affecting as many as 1 in 100 people in the UK. Often, however, milder forms of the disease go undiagnosed, or are dismissed under the catch-all diagnosis of IBS.

It is important to identify coeliac disease early, as long term exposure can result in damage to the small intestine and has even been associated with bowel cancer. If you think you may have coeliac disease, you should ask your GP for a blood test as soon as possible.

What causes coeliac disease?

The exact causes are not fully understood, but you are more likely to have the coeliac disease if you have a close relative who has the condition. You are also more likely to have the disease if you had a digestive infection, such as rotavirus, as a small child.

It is thought that the risk of coeliac disease may be increased if you introduce gluten into your baby’s diet too early, before the age of three months, especially if you are not breast feeding at the time.

Can coeliac disease be cured?

There is no known cure for coeliac disease, however, following a gluten free diet will usually reduce and eventually eliminate the symptoms. Following a gluten free diet will usually lead to a significant improvement within just a few weeks, although it can take as long as two years for your small intestine to recover from the damage caused by the disease.

A gluten free diet

Following a gluten free diet is not as easy as it sounds. You may not think that you consume that much wheat, barley or rye, but these grains are found in a wide range of common foods, including:

 

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Cakes
  • Biscuits
  • Pies
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Sauces and gravy
  • Ready meals
  • Beer

 
When you are initially diagnosed, you will usually be referred to a dietician to help you to work out a balanced diet that is gluten free. There are also numerous support groups across the country, coordinated by Coeliac UK. Once diagnosed with coeliac disease, you will have to remain on a gluten free diet for the rest of your life.

How colonics can help

Colonics cannot cure coeliac disease, but the treatment can help to ease symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating and painful wind. Once you have been diagnosed, colonics can support you through the first few weeks until your symptoms ease as a result of your dietary changes, and can continue to support you as your gut recovers.

In the longer term, even the most careful coeliac sufferer will occasionally consume gluten by mistake, and it can take just a small amount to trigger a return of your symptoms. Your local ARCH therapist is always available to help when this happens, easing your symptoms until you re-establish your proper eating regime.

 

 

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When a right angle is the wrong angle #pootaboo

If you are heading off to far flung places on your holidays this year, then you may come across squat toilets, which amount to not much more than a hole in the floor. We so-called advanced Westerners tend to frown on these facilities as ‘backward’ and ‘unhealthy’, but in fact, studies show that as humans, we are meant to squat when we empty our bowels. Our bodies are designed that way.

We’ve been squatting for centuries

Humans squatted to poo for centuries before the W.C. was invented, and most small children will still instinctively squat until they are taught otherwise.

The toilet, with its upright seating position and right angles at the knees and hips, is a relatively modern invention. What’s more, it may be at least partly responsible for many of the modern bowel problems that ARCH therapists see every day in our clinics.

Why should we squat not sit?

The end of the colon joins the rectum at what is called the anorectal angle. This is a bend in the passageway, held in place by a muscle called the puborectalis muscle, which helps us to stay in control of our bowel movements.

When we sit down to use the toilet, this muscle relaxes a little, but a significant anorectal angle is still maintained and the muscle still pulls on the passageway. That’s why we feel we have to push or strain to evacuate our bowels.

When we squat, however, the puborectalis muscle relaxes almost completely, leaving the anorectal angle virtually straight, with no pressure on the passageway. This creates a wide and clear route for the waste to pass through.

Why change now?

It’s strange to think that you have been doing something as fundamental as pooing the wrong way all your life, but it is never too late to change. Learning to squat when you go to the loo can help you to clear out your bowels far more effectively, and can help with a number of functional bowel problems.

Just like a colonic clears out your bowels, squatting to go to the toilet can also clear you out, easing such problems as bloating, wind, and most importantly, really helping with one of our most common problems, constipation.

Easing constipation can in turn help to ease pressure on existing haemhorroids (piles), as well as preventing new ones from occurring. Reduced straining can also help prevent the kind of problems with your pelvic floor muscles that can lead to continence problems and prolapses. It is even thought that a full and thorough evacuation of the bowel may help prevent diseases such as colon cancer and diverticulitis.

A step in the right direction

Getting started with squatting is easier than you think. There are a number of ‘health steps’ on the market that slip easily and discreetly around the base of your loo, ready to pull out when you need them. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Squatty Potty, which found notoriety last year with its distinctly odd promo video, which has been watched over 20million times. The Squatt Loo Stool is another popular step.

Your ARCH therapist is always happy to help you to regain and maintain bowel health, so talk to them about the benefits of squatting at your next appointment. You can find a therapist near you quickly and easily via our website directory.

And remember, if you want the best for your bowels, don’t just sit there, squat there.

 

Posted in Colonic Hydrotherapy, Health Advice Tagged with: , , ,

Food For Thought – Increase Your Fibre Intake

Fibre - Increase your intake

In July last year, the government’s independent Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition published wide ranging new guidelines on diet and health. These included a recommendation that people should increase their fibre intake to around 30g a day, from the current UK average of just 18g. But what exactly is fibre, what does it do in our bodies, and why do we need it?

What is fibre?Fibre - Increase your intake

Fibre comes from plant based foods, and is essentially the cellulose ‘wrapper’ in which plant nutrients are stored. You can only get fibre from plants, nuts, pulses and seeds and there is no fibre in meat, fish or dairy products.

Fibre comes in two types: soluble fibre, which is found in oats, barley and rye, root vegetables and fruits, and insoluble fibre, which is found in beans and pulses as well as fruit and vegetables. Soluble fibre can be digested by the guts, whereas insoluble fibre will simply pass through your system.

What does fibre do?

Fibre has no direct nutritional value. For example, bran, one of the most well known fibre sources, is nothing more than the outer casing of cereal grains.  However, soluble fibre does feed the gut bacteria, encouraging a healthy microbiome, while insoluble fibre is an important bulking agent for your body’s waste.

Fibre has also been liked with a number of health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease, strokes and diabetes, and even preventing certain cancers, including colorectal cancers.

Fibre also plays an important role in health digestion, performing many key functions in the digestive process:

  • Hydration – soluble fibre carries water through the gut, preventing constipation from hard dry stools
  • Feeding – soluble fibre feeds the gut bacteria
  • Cleaning – insoluble fibre cleans the gut as it passes through keeping the gut wall healthy
  • Packaging – insoluble fibre is essential to package our digestive waste in a way that makes it safe to pass
  • Thickening – insoluble fibre makes the stools thicker and easier to pass, preventing diarrhoea
  • Strengthening – insoluble fibre bulks out stools giving the gut muscles something to push against, keeping them strong and healthy

How to increase your fibre intake safely

Before you set out to achieve the new government target of 30g of fibre per day, there are two things you need to consider. Firstly, it is important to remember that diversity is as important as quantity. Different gut microbes feed on different types of fibre, so if you go heavy on one source of fibre, you risk upsetting the delicate balance in your large intestine. It’s much better to eat a mix of soluble and insoluble fibre, from a variety of sources, to encourage a healthy, balanced gut.

Secondly, you need to ease yourself into your new higher fibre routine. Remember, your gut microbes are ready and waiting to ferment and digest any soluble fibre you put in, so if you suddenly increase your intake, you could end up feeling bloated, with stomach cramps, and will almost certainly experience an altered bowel habit as either diarrhoea or constipation.

The best strategy is to gradually increase your fibre intake from a variety of sources, introducing them into all your meals and snacks through the day, rather than going fibre crazy with your main meal. This will give your digestive system time to adapt to small regular increases. It is also important to drink plenty of water as you increase your dietary fibre, as fibre will absorb water from your system.

There is lots of advice available online about the kind of foods you should eat to increase your fibre intake, and how you can incorporate these foods into your diet at different meals. The British Nutrition Foundation is a good place to start.

Kick off with a colonic

If you’re serious about starting a high fibre diet, then you should consider a colonic to give you a kick start. Colonics offer similar benefits to fibre in cleaning the gut, hydrating the body and exercising the muscles in the gut wall. A colonic can also help to rebalance the gut bacteria, clearing away any existing imbalance and creating a level playing field in which your new, fibre-fed good bacteria can thrive.

Talk to your local ARCH registered therapist today for a range of diet and lifestyle support as well as a kick start colonic. Click here to find your nearest therapist.

Posted in Benefits, Health Advice Tagged with: , ,