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6 common health questions answered by the experts FEATURED

6 common health questions answered by the experts

Menopause symptoms? Bloated tummy? Low mood? The experts are here to help answer your need to know health questions

Getting a GP appointment is stressful at the best of times so many health questions often go unasked and unanswered.

The Healthista team have collated a few of the most pressing health questions, concerns and queries that have popped into our inboxes, and asked a few experts we have been working with to answer them….

Health Question #1 How do I know if I am menopausal?    

‘Besides going to see your GP or Gynaecologist and getting an FSH (Follicle follicle-stimulating hormone test) hormone test, which is quite hard to diagnose as it can be different for every woman,’ says Dr Jo Bailey, menopause specialist Consultant Gynaecologist working with new vaginal health brand VJJ Health.

‘A good guide is also the age of a woman’s mother, as this tends to be of a similar age.

‘There is a collection of symptoms that can last for years, such as irregular periods, sleep disturbances, night sweats, mood swings,  joint pain, memory fog, and decreased libido, to name a few.

‘It’s best to go and talk to your Doctor and, ideally, a Menopause GP or arrange to see a gynaecologist.’ 

READ MORE: How to look after your Bone & Muscle Health during Menopause

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Health Question #2 What foods can I eat to help balance my hormones?  

‘Following an active and healthy lifestyle will ensure you maintain a normal weight and create the right environment for regular hormone production,’ explains Aimee Benbow, nutritionist for the ethical supplement brand Viridian and author of The Menopause Journal

‘A balanced, colourful, and nutrient-dense whole-food diet is needed to ensure the body has all the necessary nutrients, such as essential fatty acids, magnesium, and vitamin B6, for hormone production and balance.

‘Essential fatty acids, in particular omega 3 which has anti-inflammatory properties, is found in oily fish, as well as seeds and nuts. Green leafy vegetables are rich in magnesium, whereas Vitamin B6 is found in fish, animal sources and fortified cereals. 

High sugar in the diet can lead to increased inflammation

‘Aim to reduce intakes of salt and refined sugar from ultra processed foods as salt leads to increased fluid retention which in turn can increase blood pressure and exacerbate bloating in those who suffer with this as a symptom due to hormone imbalance.

‘High sugar in the diet can lead to increased inflammation, which is associated with worsening pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms; additionally, high sugar intake negatively impacts energy levels, in turn affecting mood.

‘It is also advised to reduce alcohol intake as high levels of alcohol consumption have been associated with hormonal irregularities. 

‘The little-known spice ‘saffron’ has a wealth of research behind it, specifically in relation to PMS and low mood relating to hormone imbalance – as little as 30mg daily of saffron extract has shown to improve common symptoms associated with PMS and food cravings.’ 

READ MORE: Do you have stress belly?

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Health Question #3 Why do I struggle to lose weight around my tummy?  

‘Stress can contribute to belly fat because of increased cortisol levels, the reason this accumulates in the belly is because it is close to the liver where it can be converted back to energy quickly if needed,’ says Rob Hobson, registered and sports nutritionist with sports brand Healthspan Elite, and author of new book Unprocess Your Life.

‘Some people, such as apple-shaped women, are predisposed to carry more weight around their middle.

‘Menopause also causes weight to carry around the middle, thickening waistlines, and this is because oestrogen drops, causing fat cells to enlarge as they attempt to produce more oestrogen – this fat accumulates around the middle as opposed to hips and thighs.

You can’t target fat loss by body area

‘Insulin resistance can also play a role as higher insulin levels in the blood promote fat storage.

‘Metabolic rate can also slow down with age as muscle mass decreases, so it is important to include weight-bearing exercise into your exercise regime.  

‘You can’t target fat loss by body area, so the same rule applies to anyone else trying to lose weight. A diet rich in plant foods high in fibre, including fruits such as apples and pears, vegetables, wholegrains, and legumes.

‘Fibre helps to fill you up and bulk out meals. Protein is also important for satiety so stick to lean proteins such as poultry, tofu, or fish. Healthy fats are important to help reduce inflammation in the body as well as keep you feeling full between meals. These fats include avocado, olive oil, oily fish, nuts, and seeds.’

Health Question #4 Why can’t I get a flat stomach through exercise?  

‘You can lose weight by just exercising, but ultimately, how defined you look is dependent on how good your nutrition is,’ explains London PT Will Duru.

‘Training abs won’t get you abs, but it’ll strengthen your core muscles if done correctly, but to see your six pack you’ll have to watch what you eat and be on a calorie deficit (intake less calories than you burn daily) – using apps like MyFitnessPal can help monitor this.

‘To build lean muscle overall, I would advise focusing on compound exercises using the barbell to do squats, deadlifts, shoulder press, and bent over row etc- keep the sets between 4 to 5 sets for each exercise and 8 to 12reps with progressive overload to build strength and muscle.’

READ MORE: 5 common health conditions that can affect your mood

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Health Question #5 Why do I suffer from low mood more often than my partner?  

‘There may be several reasons why you find yourself experiencing low mood,’ says Viridian Nutritionist Aimee Benbow. 

‘Hormonal imbalance leading to PMS symptoms, which include mood swings, are very common in women and it is estimated that up to 75 per cent of women experience PMS to some degree.

‘These mood swings occur due to the fluctuations in hormone levels just before your period, but the full menstrual cycle involves many changes in hormone levels throughout the cycle, which can impact our mood.  

‘Another cause of poor mood maybe due to a nutritional deficiency – nutrients such as magnesium and vitamin B6 have been researched in combination to aid low mood and depression.

‘Women with PMS have been shown to have low red blood cell magnesium content compared to women who do not have PMS.

‘Studies performed using the combination of magnesium and B6 found that, compared to placebo, there was a significant impact on PMS symptoms including cravings, water retention and anxiety.

the full menstrual cycle involves many changes in hormone levels throughout the cycle

‘Vitamin B6 has also been investigated in numerous studies for its benefits on mood and in particular depressive symptoms that are associated with PMS.

‘Supplementing with minerals like Magnesium could help to stabilise mood and alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety whilst also balancing fluid levels to ensure optimum hydration.

‘Vitamin B6 can help with symptoms including irritability and can be taken as a supplement or through the diet in foods like fish, poultry, potatoes, fruit, and fortified cereals. 

‘Sub-optimal Vitamin D levels have also been linked to poor cognitive function and low mood – ensuring good levels of sun exposure and supplementation during the winter months will prevent low levels of vitamin D and in turn positively impact mood.    

‘This could be down to a  number of factions. One could be a hormone imbalance, or it could be due to diet and a lack of vital nutrients in your diet which can cause low mood, even something as low as vitamin D can cause low mood.’  

READ MORE: Bloated stomach? 5 common causes of bloating and how to help

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Health Question #6 Can I develop lactose intolerance in later life?  

‘Yes, this is possible,’ says Healthspan Elite Nutritionist Rob Hobson.

‘Lactose intolerance occurs when your body is not producing enough lactase, which is the enzyme needed to digest lactose (the sugar found in milk and dairy products).

‘This can happen due to primary lactase deficiency, a genetically programmed gradual decrease in lactase production after childhood, leading to symptoms in adolescence or adulthood.

‘It can also result from secondary lactase deficiency, where illness, injury, or surgery involving the small intestine, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and gastroenteritis, reduces lactase production.

‘Certain ethnic and racial groups, including East Asian, West African, Arab, Jewish, Greek, and Italian, have higher rates of lactose intolerance.

‘Additionally, as people age, their digestive systems change, and lactase production naturally declines, contributing to lactose intolerance in older adults.’ 

4 delicious salad recipes your taste buds will love this summer FEATURED

4 delicious salad recipes your taste buds will love this summer

Healthista picks their 4 favourite salad recipes from new book Saladology. We are sure these recipes will be a flavour extravaganza for your taste buds this summer  

When you think of a ‘salad’, does a boring concoction of lettuce, cucumber and tomato come to mind or is that just me?

The trust this salads can be delicious, filling and full of flavour, and the best part they are super versatile.

Jack and Theo Kirwan, co-founders of acclaimed Dublin-based restaurants, Sprout, are devoted to showing just how full flavoured a salad can be.

Their first cookbook, Saladology, includes more than 100 exciting recipes, ranging from simple side salads, attention-grabbing vegetables, satisfying noodles, pasta, fish and meat dishes.

It’s a collection of ideas inspired by their favourite food experiences, reimagining what a salad can be – and always with an emphasis on delicious.

Here are 4 of Healthista’s favourite recipes from Saladology – we like peppers if you couldn’t tell…

Salad Recipe #1 Basil Orzo with Red Pepper and Pine Nuts

Orzo is like a cross between a long-grain rice and short-cut pasta, and its almost buttery texture works so well through a salad.

This tastes even better the next day, so make extra and have it for lunch during the week.

READ MORE: 6 healthy salad recipes that will actually fill you up

Basil Red Pepper Orzo salad recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 4 red peppers (ideally Romano, but any will work)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 50g (1¾oz) pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 250g (9oz) orzo pasta
  • 2 handfuls of rocket
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the basil dressing:
  • Large handful of basil (20g/¾oz)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to finish
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated or very finely chopped
  • Juice of ½ lemon, plus extra to serve
  • ½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
To serve:
  • A chunk of Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • Flaky sea salt
Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan, 425°F), Gas Mark 7.

2. Place the peppers in a low-sided roasting tray and drizzle with the olive oil, then season generously with salt. Roast for 20–25 minutes until the skins are blistered and charred slightly.

3. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts and fennel seeds in a small dry frying pan over a medium heat for 1 minute until lightly golden. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

4. Cook the orzo in a pan of salted boiling water for 8 minutes, or according to the packet instructions.

5. While the orzo is cooking, blitz all the dressing ingredients together in a blender, seasoning with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper, until smooth and bright green.

6. Once the orzo is cooked, drain and rinse under cold running water until completely cooled, then drain well and add it to a bowl.

7. Remove the peppers from the oven and set aside to cool a little, then pull off the tops and remove the seeds and all the skin, and slice the peppers into thin strips.

8. Pour the dressing over the orzo, then toss in the rocket and the roasted peppers.

9. Pile on to a serving plate and top with the toasted pine nuts and fennel seeds, shaved Parmesan, a squeeze of lemon juice, flaky sea salt, black pepper and a little extra virgin olive oil.

Salad Recipe #2 Butternut Squash with Walnut Pesto and Feta

I get most of my recipe ideas from past experiences or memories, and this one came from a butternut squash bruschetta with these flavours that I enjoyed years ago and it stuck with me.

The sweetness of the squash contrasts nicely with the tangy, spicy pesto and salty feta. It’s lovely for a warm winter salad, but could be baked into a pasta dish or bulked out with cannellini beans.

READ MORE: 8 healthy recipes for glowing skin

Butternut Squash Red Pesto salad recipe

Serves 2 to 4 (as a side)

Ingredients:
  • 1 butternut squash, about 1kg (2lb 4oz)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 100g (3½oz) feta cheese, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Chilli flakes, to serve
For the walnut pesto:
  • 75g (2¾oz) walnuts
  • ½ tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 15g (½oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Large handful of basil (about
  • 20g/¾oz), plus extra leaves to serve
  • 400g (14oz) sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 150ml (10 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 210°C (190°C fan, 410°F), Gas Mark 6½.

2. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds, then cut into chunky wedges. Place them on a baking tray, add the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and toss with your hands until well coated.

3. Roast for 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until golden, soft and the skin has crisped up slightly.

4. For the pesto, spread the walnuts and fennel seeds out on a separate baking tray, add to the oven with the squash and roast for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

5. Blend the toasted walnuts and fennel seeds with the garlic, Parmesan and basil in a food processor until it becomes the texture of breadcrumbs, then add the sun-dried tomatoes, wine vinegar and half (5 tablespoons) of the extra virgin olive oil and blend again until it forms a pesto retaining some consistency.

6. Arrange the roasted squash and feta on a serving plate or platter, followed by a few generous dollops of the pesto, some extra basil and a sprinkle of chilli flakes to finish.

7. Store any remaining pesto in an airtight jar covered with the remaining 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to preserve it. It will last up to a week in the fridge.

Salad Recipe #3 A Sweet ‘Jammy’ Red Pepper Salad

The truth is that food is so simple and adaptable, and often the most basic of ingredients can be transformed into so much more.

Here, red onions and Romano peppers are sautéed together until jammy and saucy to make a simple midweek salad worthy of serving to an adoring lover. But these

peppers can be taken in many other directions – stirred through pasta, spooned over rice or even used as a base for a Spanish tortilla.

READ MORE: 3 healthy breakfast recipes that will keep you full till lunch

Balsamic Pepper Salad Recipe

Serves 4 (as a side)

Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 red onions, halved and finely sliced into half-moons
  • 2 red Romano peppers, cored, deseeded and sliced into rounds 1cm (½ inch) thick
  • Large handful of basil leaves
  • Large handful of rocket
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the balsamic dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
Method:

1. Pour the olive oil into a large frying pan over a medium-low heat, add the onions and peppers and toss to coat in the oil with a good pinch of salt. Fry, stirring regularly, for 15–20 minutes until the onions are caramelized and the peppers are jammy and soft.

2. To make the dressing, mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl along with a pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper.

3. Toss the basil with the rocket, then spread out across the base of a large serving plate and scatter the sautéed onions and peppers on top.

4. Generously pour the dressing across the dish and finish with a big grind of black pepper.

Salad Recipe #4 Piquillo Peppers, Goat’s Cheese and Crushed Pistachios

I love the little stuffed piquillo peppers you get in Spanish tapas bars. The inspiration for this salad came from a very delicious tapa I enjoyed in my favourite bar in Barcelona, El Xampanyet.

You can, of course, go to the trouble of roasting your own piquillo peppers, but jarred ones are equally delicious and make this salad very quick to prepare if you’re under time pressure. And, like all good Spanish dishes, this dish is best accompanied with bread.

READ MORE: 3 low carb dinner recipes that will actually fill you up

Piquillo Peppers Salad Recipes

Serves 4 (as a side)

Ingredients:
  • 150g (5½oz) soft goats’ cheese
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to finish
  • 230g (8oz) jarred piquillo peppers, the best quality you can find
  • Handful of dill, roughly chopped
  • 50g (1¾oz) shelled roasted salted pistachios, roughly crushed or chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Method:

1. Add the goats’ cheese to a small bowl with the extra virgin olive oil and give it a mix so that it loosens.

2. Drain the peppers from the jar and spread them out on a large serving platter.

3. Spoon the goats’ cheese on top of the peppers, then sprinkle over the dill and the crushed pistachios.

4. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper before serving.

 

Saladology Salad Recipes

Sprout & Co Saladology: Fresh Ideas for Delicious Salads by Theo Kirwan.

Published by Mitchell Beazley.

Photography: Matt Russell

Also available to purchase on Amazon

 

4 key ways how to look after your bone and muscle health during menopause FEATURED

How to look after your Bone & Muscle Health during Menopause

1 in 2 women over the age of 50 are said to be suffering from osteoporosis. Nutritionist Natalie Rouse reveals her 4 essential tips on maintaining bone and muscle health during menopause

Many women experience bone and muscle weakness during menopause, with a significant number reporting these issues as primary health concerns.

Indeed, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and 80 per cent of them are women, and according to the Royal Osteoporosis Society, approximately 3 million people in the UK have osteoporosis, with women are more commonly affected than men.

In fact, 1 in 2 women over the age of 50 are said to be suffering from bone fractures due to osteoporosis. 

approximately 3 million people in the UK have osteoporosis

These statistics highlight the importance of addressing bone and muscle health as women approach and go through menopause. 

Healthista spoke to Natalie Rouse, a registered nutritionist with over 22 years of experience. Natalie holds a First-Class Honours degree in Human Nutrition, a Master of Research, and is currently pursuing a PhD.

Natalie is also a qualified Exercise Physiologist with a background in sports and exercise science. Natalie’s expertise in nutrition and exercise provides valuable insights into maintaining bone and muscle health during menopause. 

READ MORE: 7 pain management methods for Osteoarthritis

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As oestrogen levels decline, so does bone density

How menopause affects our bones and mucsles

‘Many of us are aware that the menopause brings hormonal changes, in particular, a drop in oestrogen levels,’ explains Rouse.

‘Oestrogen is a powerful anti-inflammatory hormone that helps protect bone density and muscle mass. As oestrogen levels decline, so does bone density, and muscle mass decreases, a process compounded by the natural ageing process and dietary habits. Plus, during menopause our bodies stop synthesising nutrients as they should, and therefore replenishment is pretty poor.

‘However, hormonal changes aren’t the only reason, lifelong dietary habits, such as cutting out dairy or red meat, can exacerbate bone and muscle decline, and of course ageing naturally reduces bone density and muscle mass.’

 Signs of Osteoporosis and Muscle Weakness

Detecting early signs of osteoporosis can be challenging without medical screening (which they sometimes recommend to people who have had eating disorders), as symptoms often remain hidden until significant bone loss has occurred.

However, muscle weakness is more noticeable. From the age of 30, women lose about 1 per cent of muscle mass annually, a process accelerated by inactivity and poor diet. 

symptoms often remain hidden until significant bone loss has occurred

‘We don’t usually notice signs of bone and muscle weakness straight away as it’s progressive and happens over time’, says Rouse.

‘If you go through your 20’s fit and healthy and resilient to everything, you may hit your 30’s and 40’s you still feel fine, and then usually it becomes apparent after some sort of health consequence. So unfortunately it’s not something we always recognise until it’s too late’.

Indicators of Muscle Weakness: 
  • Decreased Strength: noticeable decline in muscle strength and endurance. 
  • Increased Fatigue: muscles tire quickly during everyday activities. 
  • Frailty: increased frailty and difficulty in maintaining physical activities. 

‘These days we’re all far more sedentary, especially for those of us who sit at a desk in the office all day’, adds Rouse.

‘Combine this inactivity with what we are or are not eating and we simply aren’t doing enough to keep our muscles stimulated, and if we’re not stimulated enough, biologically we’re not going to be holding onto that muscle.’

READ MORE: 6 strength training benefits everyone should know about

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It’s never too late or too early to start weight bearing exercises
So what mechanisms can we use to help prevent bone and muscle weakness as we age and reach menopause?

#1 Weight-Bearing Exercises 

Weight-bearing exercises are crucial for maintaining bone density and muscle mass during menopause but also in general,’ explains Rouse.

‘Weight training is also beneficial for so many more things, such as helping to utilise blood glucose better (naturally our bodies don’t deal with glucose in the same way it used to when we hit Perimenopause), it helps to maintain bodyweight and decreases inflammation and stress, and it can even improve the health of our skin and hair.

‘Getting to the gym is a great option to begin using weights, and progressively move up the amount of weight in a controlled environment and with expert guidance, but for those who aren’t used to gyms, they can feel extremely daunting.

‘Trying to do more things and movements that your body isn’t use to is a great starting point

‘It’s never too late or too early to start weight bearing exercises, whenever you CAN start, then start.

‘Even beginning with lifting your arms up more than you usually would, if you’re not used to it, your arms will start to feel fatigued, it’s why some people notice tired arms when putting their hair up.

‘Trying to do more things and movements that your body isn’t use to is a great starting point.

‘Even Pilates can count as weight bearing exercises as you are using body weight and having to hold your body in a certain way that is putting strain on a muscle’.

Effective exercises include: 
  • Walking and Cycling: great cardiovascular exercises that also support bone health. 
  • Weight Training: essential for maintaining bone density and muscle mass. Start with light weights and gradually increase. 
  • Pilates: uses body weight to strengthen muscles and bones. 

These exercises stimulate bone formation and help retain muscle mass, which is essential for overall health during menopause. 

 

READ MORE: Weightlifting for women: PT reveals 6 benefits you need to know about

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#2 Include an abundance of essential nutrients to your diet

A balanced diet rich in essential nutrients supports bone and muscle health during menopause.

‘When it comes to bone health and preventing osteoporosis, the main nutrient discussed is calcium, however vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium and protein are equally essential,’ explains Rouse.

‘Indeed, European guidance for the diagnosis and management of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women recommends a daily intake of at least 1000 mg/day for calcium, 800 IU/day for vitamin D and 1 g/kg body weight of protein for all women aged over 50 years. 

‘Yoghurt is my favourite food to recommend, it’s full of many of the vitamins and minerals your bones and muscles need to stay supported. Also, if you’re a meat eater, you can get an essential amount of protein from quality meat and dairy. Vegetarians can also up their protein intake when eating certain legumes, beans and pulses.

‘Try to avoid refined sugars where possible, as these foods can be extremely inflammatory and can exasperate menopausal symptoms, especially if you are prone to hot flushes, arthritis and joint pain.’

Recommended foods to include in your diet: 
  • Dairy Products: yoghurt and cheese provide a whole food matrix of essential nutrients. 
  • Lean Meats and Legumes: rich in protein, crucial for muscle maintenance. 
  • Oily Fish, Nuts, and Seeds: contain omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and support cognitive health. 
  • Leafy Greens and Whole Grains: provide a variety of vitamins and minerals necessary for bone health. 

READ MORE: How can vegans get enough calcium?

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You can get an essential amount of protein from quality meat and dairy

‘During menopause we also need to be adding foods that contain phytoestrogens,’ explains Rouse.

‘Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring oestrogens found in plants, that bind with oestrogen receptors to help to reduce signs and symptoms of menopause, when our oestrogen begins to plummet.

‘Phytoestrogens can be found in nuts, seeds (flax seeds) and soya products such as tofu. You can buy medicinal products to boost your intake of phytoestrogens, but I suggest eating as many leafy greens as possible as well as nuts and seeds.’

Here’s an example of what nutritionist Natalie Rouse eats in a day:

  • Breakfast: eggs are fantastic or if I am in a rush I grab a full fat yoghurt (not the fat free versions) for protein, then I add some nuts and seeds or some Peachie Topping, and for a bit of sweetness I drizzle over some honey or jam.
  • Lunch: leafy green veggies and legumes with some protein (chicken or fish) and some carbohydrates for energy such as quinoa or wholegrain bread.
  • Dinner: similar to lunch I will opt for leafy green veggies and legumes (cooked or raw) with some protein (chicken, fish or eggs).
  • Drinks: plenty of water throughout the day and coffee – I am a huge coffee addict and the research looking into how coffee supports your microbiome is a win win for me.
  • Snacks: nuts and seeds, some fruit.

For a nutritious and tasty addition to your diet, try Peachie Topping, £12.50 . It’s a delicious way to incorporate nuts and seeds into your meals, offering a blend of 14 essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals that support bone and muscle health during menopause.  

 Use HEALTHISTA3 for 15% off a month’s supply of Peachie or use HEALTHISTA1 for 5% off one pack of Peachie. 

READ MORE: A Mediterranean diet is proven to ease these 5 menopause symptoms

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Helpful for those who have high blood pressure or are struggling to sleep well

#3 Intermittent Fasting (IF) can help manage symptoms

Intermittent fasting (IF) can be beneficial for managing menopause symptoms as it helps reduce inflammation, control blood pressure, and improve sleep quality.

‘Intermittent fasting is a useful tool that I think many tend to overthink and overcomplicate,’ says Rouse.

‘IF isn’t for everybody, some people wake up feeling absolutely ravenous, so eating breakfast as soon as they wake up is a must. Whereas others don’t feel hungry till later on – if this sounds like you, then I do recommend IF as it is a great tool in helping to reduce inflammation, and is also helpful for those who have high blood pressure or are struggling to sleep well.

Intermittent fasting (IF) can be beneficial for managing menopause symptoms as it helps reduce inflammation

‘A simple approach I like to recommend, is to stop eating by 7:30PM at dinnertime and resume eating with breakfast around 9 AM. This means you are sleeping through the majority of your fasting window. 

‘During your ‘eating window’ focus on eating a whole food diet with a few treats here and there’.

#4 Sleep is king

‘For so many years, sleep was never the main focus when it came to health and wellbeing,’ says Rouse.

‘Thankfully now, people are starting to realise the true health benefits of getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

‘Sleep helps to reset so many different things, from our satiety hormones (leptin and ghrelin), to reducing stress and supporting neurological functions – all of which are crucial during menopause when sleep disturbances are common not thanks to those dreaded night sweats’.

7 environmentally friendly product swaps you didn't know you needed FEATURED

7 environmentally friendly product swaps you didn’t know you needed

8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every day, with kitchen products being a top offender. Healthista finds 7 environmentally friendly kitchen swaps the environment will thank you for

Currently, 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are estimated to be polluting our oceans – that’s 46,000 pieces of plastic for every square mile.

That amount of plastic would fill up almost 500 football fields.

Plastic environmentally friendly world oceans day

This Saturday (8th June) is World Ocean’s Day – celebrated as a reminder of how paramount our seas are to life on Earth and to increase public interest in the protection of our oceans.

oceans cover more than 70 per cent of the planet

In fact, oceans cover more than 70 per cent of the planet, produce at least 50 per cent of the world’s oxygen and absorb around 30 per cent of carbon dioxide produced by humans.

Not only that, World Ocean’s Day serves to remind us of the detrimental impact and danger single-use plastics place upon our oceans.

In 2021, to mark the importance of World Ocean’s day, SEA LIFE centres across the UK and Ireland filled empty habitats with plastic waste to demonstrate the reality of what lies within our waters.

With more than eight million metric tons of plastic dumped into our oceans each year, a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation predicts that by 2050, plastic in the oceans will outweigh fish.

sealife plastic in the ocean world oceans day environmentally friendly kitchen swaps
SEA LIFE wanted to create these shocking displays to remind people of the harsh reality of ocean pollution.

So, how can we help and do our part for the environment? What environmentally friendly plastic swaps can we make to protect our oceans?

It’s easy to leave plastic waste issues to big companies and the government, but individually we can help protect our oceans from plastics.

There are many sustainable swaps you can introduce at home in order to help reduce plastic waste. That’s why Healthista has found seven environmentally friendly swaps for your kitchen you may not have thought of…

Swap #1 Easily breakable Tupperware for sturdy, high performance Tupperware

Over 2 million tonnes of plastic packaging are used in the UK each year.

This includes supermarket food packaging, but also Tupperware, such as flimsy containers that are used for take away foods. Although these are often reusable, they aren’t robust and are easily broken after just a few uses and when not recycled properly, can make its way into our oceans.

B!pod Dro!d is a high performance vacuum container that not only keeps food fresher for longer, but is also specially designed to be a forever reusable container that can be stored in the fridge and freezer. It is also microwave and dishwasher friendly as well as BPA free.

Not only is the B!pod a way of reducing the amount of plastic in our oceans but it’s also a genius device in reducing food waste. Indeed, in the UK alone it’s reported that 9.5 million tonnes of food is wasted each year!

The high-performance vacuum device uses innovative technology to keep food fresher for up to five times longer than traditional storage containers – an anti-ageing device for food one could say.

But how does it work? Simply place your food in the container, connect the vacuum and press the button to start. In just 30 seconds the Dro!d will remove up to 95 per cent of the oxygen molecules from the container, which stops the food oxidation process, helping the food to last longer.

READ MORE: What these health experts eat for breakfast

bipod environmentally friendly container food

Swap #2 One use Surface Spray Bottles for reusable and refillable spray bottles

Did you know that in the UK alone we throw away a whopping 468 million spray bottles each year?

Smol products offer easy zero-waste solutions with no extra effort required with Smol’s surface sprays in particular helping to get rid of single-use plastics.

READ MORE: 17 summer essentials we can’t live without

smol spray bottles environmentally friendly

In fact, you can save 25 plastic spray bottles from going into landfill every year by taking this easy hassle-free step.

When you buy the starter pack you are provided with three bottles for life and three tablets. The tablets are uniquely formulated tablets that dissolve in warm water to fill up the reusable sprays in order to stop single-use plastics.

In the UK alone we throw away 468 million spray bottles each year

So instead of throwing away your plastic spray bottles and collating more and more plastic for landfill, you can start saving the planet by investing in these reusable Smol bottles. They are toxic-free and still deliver superb results for spotless surfaces in your kitchen.

All you have to do is buy the refills and keep reusing and refilling your spray bottles.

Swap #3 Taxi Dishwasher Tablets for eco-friendly ones

You may think your dishwasher tablets aren’t affecting the environment, yet even this simple task of washing your dishes is having an impact on our planet.

Dishwasher tablets contain a toxic monomer (vinyl acetate) that is extremely harmful to aquatic life.

It may seem hard to get excited about dishwasher tablets, but Smol has designed tablets that are 100 per cent plastic-free, vegan and cruelty-free – wowzers.

All their packaging is recyclable, eco-friendly and made from Forest Stewardship Council approved sustainable materials.

So instead of the usual big plastic washing tablet boxes (that take up all that room in your kitchen cupboard), they are housed in slim recyclable cardboard boxes.

Dishwasher tablets contain a toxic monomer (vinyl acetate) that is extremely harmful to aquatic life

Not only that, Smol dishwasher tablets are 50 per cent cheaper than leading brands and deliver directly to your home via your letterbox.

Aside from being environmentally friendly they also work to deliver oh-so-clean dishes, with each tablet containing rinse-aid, salt and even glass protector as an all-in-one package.

Their great performance led the brand to be voted Best All-Round Dishwasher Tablet 2020 from BBC Good Food.

READ MORE: Dry or sensitive skin? 5 tried & tested menopause skincare heroes

Smol dishwasher tablets environmentally friendly

Swap #4 Disposable Dish Brushes for reusable ones

Plastic dish brushes are often made of a type of plastic which is difficult to recycle, with the majority of places not accepting them for recycling.

Do you have a dish brush? The majority of households do use a dish brush to wash their dishes, yet how many of us recognise the impact of these small kitchen objects?

An easy swap to make, Earthbits’s wooden dish brushes are made from wood and plant fibres. So far, they have saved 6,079 dish-washing brushes from ending up in landfill.

The wooden brushes are 100 per cent natural, organic, biodegradable and recyclable. While also being plastic-free, vegan friendly and cruelty-free.

they have saved 6,079 dish-washing brushes from ending up in landfill

Their packaging too is environmentally friendly, 100 per cent plastic-free and recyclable, using recycled or reused cardboard boxes and recycled or recyclable paper and tape.

They also do their job with unique brush heads to allow you to get into all crevasses of your dishes!

READ MORE: 12 easy ways to cut back on plastic

earth bits brushes environmentally friendly

Swap #5 One use fridge and freezer bags for Polybags (aka resealable plastic bags)

Used to help organise your fridge and freezer and to pack up your meals, Polybags aka resealable food bags, are a staple around most homes.

It takes many years for these to decompose while releasing toxic substances into soil when the plastic bags perish under sunlight. Plus, when they are burnt they release a toxic substance into the air, adding to pollution.

Each year more than 8 million tons of plastic bottles end up in our sea each year

That’s why Stasher came up with a solution – reusable silicone bags.

These extremely functional Stasher bags are microwave safe, dishwasher safe, freezer friendly and oven strong, being able to withstand heat up to 400°F.

They actually work better and look better than plastic polybags and have changed the way people cook, save and store.

READ MORE: 11 travel essentials you didn’t even know you needed

stasher bags environmentally friendly

You may be thinking that recycling facilities don’t accept silicone – but Stasher bags don’t go to landfill.

They have teamed up with TerraCycle so your bags can be recycled into entirely new products such as a playground.

In the UK so far, Stasher has sold enough bags to remove around 50 million single-use bags from entering the waste stream.

Swap #6 Swap disposable Kitchen Sponges for reusable and washable kitchen sponges

Did you know that kitchen sponges are one of the biggest culprits for plastic pollution?

With their sponges being made from organic fabrics that are fully compostable, EarthsBits has already saved 2,208 plastic sponges from ending up in landfill.

One side is made of a hessian fabric, perfect for scrubbing away dirt, while the other is organic cotton, suitable for delicate surfaces.

Also, the internal lining is bamboo, renowned for its antibacterial properties. So not only are they eco-friendly but radically functional too.

They come in fun colourful distinctive designs to make becoming plastic-free fun and stylish.

READ MORE: 6 easy ways to spring clean and create new habits that will stick

earthbits scrubber sponge environmentally friendly

Swap #7 Water bottles for Water Filter Jugs

Each year more than 8 million tons of plastic bottles end up in our sea.

Plastic bottles feature in the majority of shops and homes, despite being one of the most well-known causes of plastic pollution.

Each year more than 8 million tons of plastic bottles end up in our sea each year

That’s why Aqua Optima produces a high-quality range of water filter jugs, chillers and filters. With all the water filters being 100 per cent recyclable in order to tackle single-use plastics.

The Aqua Optima water filter jugs reduce impurities from tap water while retaining beneficial minerals and trace elements. The Evolve+ water filter has a unique 5-step fast flow filtration system to deliver purer water.

READ MORE: 5 reasons you keep getting a UTI – including your sex position

water filter jug environmentally friendly

 

5 common health conditions that can affect your mood FEATURED

5 common health conditions that can affect your mood

Feeling moody, anxious or depressed? Healthista takes a look at 5 common health conditions that could be affecting your mood

Did you know that certain health conditions can affect your mood and even induce mental health issues such as anxiety and depression?

A recent study (BMJ, 2023) found that people with mental health issues are twice as likely to have an underlying physical condition. Indeed, research by Mental Health UK also shows that if you suffer from mental health problems you’re more likely to also have a physical health condition.

certain health conditions can affect your mood and even induce mental health issues

So, if you’re experiencing mood swings or other psychological issues, and you’ve tried therapy or medication, but nothing works, it’s important to check if there’s anything else going that could be going on with your physical health. 

#1 Hypothyroid (Underachieve Thyroid)

The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones and helps to regulate many body functions including metabolism, hormones, energy, sleep and digestion. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) is the most common thyroid disorder (affects 2 per cent of the population – with 10 times as many women as men). 

It occurs when there is too little thyroxine which causes the body to to slow down. Physical symptoms may include weight gain, dry skin, brittle or thinning hair, tiredness, lack of energy, poor circulation, irregular periods, heavy menstrual flow, infertility, feeling cold, muscle cramps, puffy face, constipation, goitre (swelling in the neck), daytime drowsiness. 

Emotional symptoms: 

An underactive thyroid can make you feel lethargic and depressed. You may also experience mood swings, weepiness, brain fog, poor memory and find it hard to concentrate. 

In a recent meta-analysis (Cureus, 2022) it was shown that people with undiagnosed and untreated hypothyroidism were at increased risk of developing depression. 

What you can do…

Ask your GP for a blood test – the initial screening is to measure Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels. 

The standard treatment is to take daily thyroxine tablets.  Sometimes, symptoms suggest an underactive thyroid, but TSH levels come back borderline (at the higher end of the normal range) or even normal.  If that’s the case, ask your GP for a referral to an endocrinologist for further tests.  

To support thyroid health, eat leafy greens, vegetables and fruit, organic meat and fish

Self-help tactics also help. Stress affects the adrenal glands, when these become exhausted, this can trigger a thyroid disorder, because the two systems are interlinked. So, reducing stress can help.

To support thyroid health, eat leafy greens, vegetables and fruit, organic meat and fish – eg: lamb, chicken, turkey (these contain the amino acid tyrosine).  The thyroid needs tyrosine as it combines with iodine to be converted into thyroid hormones.

Selenium is also important for thyroid health. Avoid soya foods (which block iodine absorption), white carbohydrates, gluten and sugar, as these cause inflammation that may inhibit thyroid function.   

Try: Viridian Thyroid Complex, £24.45 for 60 capsules – contains iodine, selenium and B vitamins, is ethical and pure supplement with no fillers or nasties.   

READ MORE: Thyroid problems? These 4 natural fixes are proven to help

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#2 Hyperthyroid (Overactive Thyroid)

Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) is where the thyroid gland produces too many thyroid hormones. This causes the whole system to speed up.  This condition is 10 times more common in women than men and typically starts between 20 to 40 years of age.

Symptoms may include high blood pressure, weight loss, hair loss, increased bowel movements, irregular periods, increased sweating, trembling, muscle weakness, palpitations, trembling, goitre

Emotional Symptoms: 

May include anxiety, restlessness, nervousness, irritability, panic attacks and mood swings.

In a recent study (Cureus, 2023) it was shown that hyperthyroidism can manifest with anxiety-like symptoms, mimicking mental health issues such as generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). 

What you can do…

Ask your GP to arrange tests. You may be prescribed anti-thyroid medication to bring thyroxine levels down.  

Stress may a contributory factor, so, practicing relaxation techniques – eg: breathwork, meditation, can be helpful. Regular exercise and spending time in nature is also beneficial.

Dietary and lifestyle changes can also be beneficial. Try to eat a healthy, wholefood, unprocessed diet and avoid iodine and sugar rich foods. Several studies suggest there may be a link between poor thyroid function and gluten intolerance in some people. 

READ MORE: 5 natural ways to boost your immune system

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#3 Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome

This is lingering fatigue that may occur after a viral infection (e.g., flu, and even the common cold). Post-viral fatigue can last a few weeks to a few months.  

Typical physical symptoms may include debilitating fatigue, muscle weakness, headaches, general malaise, dizziness, night sweats, weight loss, cough, and earache. 

Emotional Symptoms: 

A meta-analysis (Neural Regeneration Research, 2015) suggests that viral infection may trigger neuroinflammation in the brain that affects the central nervous system (CNS). This can lead to psychological symptoms including depression, low mood, irritability, anxiety, poor memory and lack of concentration.

Inflammation can affect the activity of anxiety related brain regions

In a recent review (Translational Psychiatry, 2023) it was shown that elevated inflammation can trigger mood disorders. Inflammation can affect the activity of anxiety related brain regions, including the amygdala and this can lead to emotional problems.  

What you can do…

There is no specific treatment, and most sufferers gradually get better with rest. Strengthening your immune system can help to speed up recovery. The immune system is your body’s defence against bacteria, viruses, fungi and other infections and pathogens. When the immune system is weak infections tend to linger.

Try these tactics to boost immunity: 

  • Ginseng – studies have shown that ginseng stimulates the immune system, increases energy levels, calms the central nervous system and nourishes the adrenals. Try: Viridian High Potency Adaptogen Complex, £33.40 for 90 capsules. Contains Siberian ginseng, damiana leaf, Chinese red ginseng and yerba mate.
  • Avoid processed foods.  
  • Eat coloured fruit and vegetables – eg: red, yellow peppers, carrots, green vegetables – all of which are rich in health boosting anti-oxidants. 
  • Take a daily vitamin C supplement – studies show that vitamin C plays an important role in supporting immunity. Try: Healthspan Vitamin C Sustained Release Vitamin C, 90 tablets, £9.99
  • Take a supplement – Try: The Naked Pharmacy Olive Leaf, 60 capsules, £21.00 extract Capsules with Elenolic Acid is the highest-concentrated ELA supplement currently available plus in addition, organic Moringa leaf is added as a prebiotic to help promote gut health. The Naked Pharmacy is a supplement brand that offers expert advice with pharmacists on hand to answer any queries.    

READ MORE: Do you have PCOS? This gynaecologist has help

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#4 Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS affects about 1 in 10 women in the UK. With PCOS the ovaries become enlarged and contain many fluid filled sacs (follicles) that surround the eggs. You do not actually have cysts though.

PCOS occurs as a result of abnormal levels of hormones in the body, including high levels of insulin, which controls blood sugar. When insulin levels are too high, this causes your body to produce too many male hormones (androgens), including testosterone.

With PCOS the ovaries become enlarged and contain many fluid filled sacs

Symptoms may include: irregular periods, or no periods at all, stubborn weight gain, thinning hair, unwanted hair (eg: on the face and chest) and acne.

PCOS can also cause fertility problems.

Emotional Symptoms: 

Women with PCOS are more likely to experience anxiety and depression.

In a recent meta-analysis (Medecina 2021) it was shown that women with PCOS were six times more likely to develop moderate to severe anxiety, and four times more likely to develop depression than healthy women.

A number of studies suggest that high levels of stress are at the root of increased mood problems. Stress is also associated with some of the physical symptoms of PCOS.

A recent review (Journal of Controversies in Obstetrics, Gynecology and Pediatrics, 2023) shows that PCOS is also associated with a higher risk of eating disorders.  

What you can do…

Ask for a referral to an endocrinologist. Treatment options vary depending on symptoms.  Making lifestyle changes can also make a significant difference in helping to manage symptoms.  

being overweight exacerbates symptoms

Lose weight – women who have PCOS put weight on more easily. But, being overweight exacerbates symptoms and research shows that a weight loss of even 5 per cent can lead to significant improvements in PCOS.   

Eat a Mediterranean Keto Diet – in a recent study (Journal of Translational Medicine, 2020) it was shown a Mediterranean keto diet can be beneficial in managing PCOS, as it helps to improve hormone levels, insulin sensitivity and reduce body fat. 

Foods to eat include: healthy fats (eg: olive oil and fish), vegetables and leafy greens. Avoid: carbohydrates, sugar, red meat and processed foods. 

READ MORE: Weight gain? IBS? Nutritionist reveals why your cortisol levels may be to blame

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#5 Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is the most common disorder of the digestive system that affects up to one third of the UK population, according to Guts UK (gutcharity.org.uk). Typical symptoms may include constipation and diarrhoea, abdominal pain, wind, bloating, tiredness and nausea.

It’s not known exactly what causes IBS, but, research suggests that factors such as stress, certain foods, erratic eating and post bacterial infection (eg: food poisoning) can imbalance the gut microbiome (bacteria) making symptoms worse.   

Emotional Symptoms: 

People with IBS are at increased risk of anxiety and depression. Indeed, in a recent meta-analysis (Nature Reviews Gastoenterology & Hepatolgy, 2023) it was shown that IBS sufferers are three times as likely to develop these conditions.

The study also found that bipolar disorder, eating disorders and suicide attempts were significantly higher amongst people with IBS

A new study by the University of Missouri School of Medicine, US, also shows a link between IBS and mental health issues. The study (on over 1.2 million IBS patients) found that 38 per cent had anxiety, and more than 27 per cent had depression.

The study also found that bipolar disorder, eating disorders and suicide attempts were significantly higher amongst people with IBS. The research suggests this may be down to a dysfunction of the ‘gut-brain’ axis. 

‘The gut and the brain are in constant communication,’ says Nutritional Therapist, Jeannette Hyde.

‘The gut-brain axis is connected by millions of nerves which transmit messages in both directions. There is also communication via chemicals, called neurotransmitters (eg: serotonin).

‘So, for example, if you’re feeling anxious and stressed, the brain sends a message to the gut, slowing down digestion, making IBS symptoms worse. The bacteria in the gut also produce chemical reactions which are transmitted to the brain (via the vagus nerve) and this can affect mood.’

What you can do…

Hyde offers the following to tips to deal with IBS: 

  • Eat at least 30 different types of colourful, plant foods (eg: vegetables, fruit, nuts, pulses) every week – this will help to repopulate your gut with beneficial bacteria.
  • Keep a food diary – keep track of foods that cause symptoms.  
  • Know your triggers – eg: stress, certain foods 
  • Avoid highly processed food – additives, sweeteners, sugars. 
  • Eat prebiotic foods – eg: Jerusalem artichoke, bananas, garlic, onion, leeks, celery, chicory root, these encourage good bacteria to thrive. 
  • Eat probiotic foods – eg: kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, these introduce beneficial bacteria into your gut. Try: Healthspan new Triple Action Biotic,  a 3 in 1, with pre, pro and post-digestive support, 60 capsules £24.99 
  • Exercise regularly – to get rid of stress chemicals. 
  • Practice techniques to calm your mind – eg: breathwork, mindfulness.  
Hair loss - the 'fall out' of Ozempic This new treatment can help FEATURED

Hair loss – the ‘fall out’ of Ozempic? This new treatment can help

Leading hair doctor launches CALECIM hair restoration to address growing numbers of patients reporting increase hair loss from Ozempic use 

In midlife hair quality changes, shock hair shedding often occurs but with many of us now taking Ozempic, this midlife challenge is being exacerbated.

Leading hair expert Dr Munir has reported an increase in women siting sudden hair loss which they are linking to Ozempic use. With this in mind Munir has turned to CALECIM known in doctor circles for its unique ability to stop hair loss with its high-tech cocktail of growth factors that supercharge hair growth. 

its lesser-known side effect of inducing hair loss and scalp inflammation poses a significant issue

His new treatment CALECIM Hair Restoration treatment effectively targets the acute hair shedding caused it seems by taking this popular weight-loss drug.

While the drug’s popularity stems from its efficacy in triggering weight-loss, its lesser-known side effect of inducing hair loss and scalp inflammation poses a significant issue. This is due to Ozempic disrupting your body’s natural hormone balance, redirecting resources away from hair follicles and leading them to a state of rest. 

A reduced calorie intake can lead to deficiencies in key vitamins and minerals essential for healthy hair. Known as telogen effluvium, this condition is a response to stress or sudden changes in your body. Without prompt intervention, it could lead to significant or permanent hair loss. 

READ MORE: Why is my hair falling out? 5 causes of hair loss and exactly what to do

hair loss calecim hair restoration

Hair loss treatment

Dr Munir has seen that he can improve this type of shock shedding with CALECIM® Professional Advanced Hair System, as it intelligently harnesses the power of dynamic stem-cell signalling technology.

The ground-breaking phenomenon occurs when stem cell extracts are successfully able to send ‘cellular messages’ to the hair follicle cells, stimulating growth and creating a healthier environment for thicker, glossier, and more resilient hair to grow. 

‘I am a fan of CALECIM® as the product contains growth factors, which are able to trigger your own stem cells within the hair follicle,’ explains Dr Munir Somji. 

‘The cellular messaging is taken from umbilical stem cell extract, the lead ingredient in CALECIM®, which sends signals to your own stem cells to decrease anti-inflammatory cues and accelerate follicle cell growth. 

‘This allows me to truly offer transformative results for my clients which can promote new hair growth and minimise scalp inflammation’. 

For all of those who are suffering from Ozempic hair loss or midlife hair loss I could not recommended anything more

Many respected doctors have been duly impressed by the clinically validated results that see a 24 per cent increase in the growth of hair follicle cells and a 30x reduction in inflammatory signals within the hair follicle (a leading contributor to hair cell follicle death).

It has been clinically proven that stem cell-derived growth factors are able to re-invigorate dormant and sluggish hair follicles such as those seen while taking Ozempic. 

After personally seeing Munir for this groundbreaking treatment and being committed to using CALECIM Professional at home over a six-week I can safely say my hair is significantly stronger, thicker and healthier.

My scalp has also benefited from using CALECIM which results from the anti-inflammatory benefits this intelligent product has.

For all of those who are suffering from Ozempic hair loss or midlife hair loss I could not recommended anything more – the price tag is £315 but hair loss is emotional and this is a luxury that will stay firmly in my beauty cabinet. 

Calecim Professional | Advanced Hair System | £315 | Available here.   

Dr Munir Somji | DrMediSpa Clinic | Found here.