How to Tame a Mid-Life Belly

How to Tame a Mid-Life Belly

An increase in fat around the waistline during our 40's is common even if there has been no change in your diet or lifestyle and can lead you to feeling frustrated that your previously successful weight-loss tactics are no longer effective.

However the good news is that our bodies undergo changes in hormone levels, muscle mass, etc. that require us to rethink our relationship with our diet, lifestyle, exercise and levels of stress.

Why does this happen in women? 

Declining oestrogen levels require the body to look elsewhere for oestrogen – namely fat cells, which produce a weak form of oestrogen.
The body tries to create a reserve of oestrogen in fat cells – and this reserve is mainly around the middle. 

 

Oestrogen and Insulin

Declining levels of oestrogen also slow down metabolic rate and insulin resistance may occur.
 
Menopausal women respond differently to glucose (sugar) and are at greater risk of becoming insulin resistant – insulin is the hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy.
 
This can then cause weight gain and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
 
Low oestrogen levels have also been shown to be associated with low vitamin D levels, which can increase fat storage.
As a woman transitions through menopause, the adrenal glands take over from the ovaries to produce a little oestrogen – however, as the adrenals also produce stress hormones – if a woman is dealing with a lot of stress in her life, the adrenals will shift to “survival mode” and away from producing oestrogen.
 
This encourages the body to store fat, especially around the middle and puts the brakes on any weight loss tactics.

 

Why does this happen in men?

Testosterone plays an important role in maintaining a healthy weight by helping to build muscle, speed up metabolism and maintain insulin sensitivity.
 
However, as men hit their 40s and testosterone levels start to decline, this encourages the body to store fat, especially around the middle and is associated with a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Human Growth Hormone is another crucial hormone in men, which enters rapid decline as men enter their 40s causing a reduction in muscle mass.
Muscle tissue is the largest consumer of glucose (sugar) in the body, so the loss of muscle mass results in less glucose being used up and this excess is then converted into body fat and stored around the middle. 
The reduction in muscle mass also means that the body does not process carbohydrates efficiently, so eating too many sugary and starchy foods such as biscuits, cakes, sweets, pasta, potatoes, crisps etc triggers weight gain which is harder to shift.
Of course both men and women have these hormones in greater or lesser quantities and these levels also fluctuate based on gender and ethnicity.

The impact of poor sleep

High stress levels and disrupted sleep can add to the weight gain and insulin resistance.  

Research also shows that lack of sleep, will increase appetite and hunger hormones alter, making us more hungry and prone to cravings.

Loss of muscle mass

Muscle mass diminishes with age, whilst fat storage increases – losing muscle mass slows your metabolism, making it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight.
Low testosterone levels and poor thyroid function can also slow down metabolism, causing fatigue and making it harder to shift fat.

Here are our tips to help you tame unwanted weight gain:

  • Blood-sugar control is key (check out our book recommendations below to help you). Aim to reduce the amount of carbs you consume, especially rice, pasta, bread, cakes, alcohol and sugary foods. These peak sugar and encourage a sugar roller coaster.
  • Include protein with every meal and essential fatty acids (omega 3s).
  • Fasting overnight (12-14 hours) be aware of underlying health conditions that may mean fasting is not a safe option for you.
  • Regular and consistent exercise, especially resistance training to build muscle mass, resistance bands for example are portable and easy to use. Regular exercise snacks are better than weekly exercise bingeing!
  • Be aware of your stress levels as this will effect how your body metabolises food and nutrients,  daily de-stressing activities could be a 10 minute walk outside, 5 minutes of breathing, journalling, regular 2 minute cold showers.

 

Can Supplements help?

SAFFROSUN WITH B12– has been proven to promote restful sleep, balance the stress response and enhance energy levels.

 

Saffrosun with B12 

SAFFROSUN WITH MARINE MAGNESIUM - includes all the benefits of Saffron if your thyroid is sluggish, or are suffering from brain fog with added iodine,  vitamin D3 and will provide you with balanced energy.

 

Saffrosun with Marine Magnesium

 

Saffrosun with Marine Magnesium

BERGATONE – can help in your weight loss journey by binding to bad fats in the gut and prevent them being used in the body. Studies show that it can substantially reduce belly fat when taken for 3 months.

 

Bergatone

 

 

 

 

Books you may wish to read to support your weight loss journey:

MenuPause by Dr Anna Cabeca – gives 5 unique menu plans to break through menopause weight loss resistance

Glucose Revolution by Jessie Inchauspe – a great reference book on blood sugar control (check out @glucosegoddess on Instagram)

Upgrade your Muscle Recovery with Natruflex Turmeric

Upgrade your Muscle Recovery with Natruflex Turmeric

Whether you are a novice or competitive athlete, when you undertake any exercise, you want to take preventative measures to reduce muscle damage.  

During exercise the two leading causes of muscle damage are inflammation and oxidative stress.

The natural bioactive polyphenols of the spice turmeric called curcuminoids have been shown to counteract both inflammation and oxidative stress caused by exercise.

Exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) leads to the onset of an inflammatory response that is associated with a decrease in the ability to generate muscle strength, decreased range of motion, localised swelling, delayed onset muscle soreness and increased muscle proteins in the blood (such as creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase and myoglobin).

Inflammatory responses are always linked to oxidative stress and both are directly involved in EIMD.

The Science Bit

A 2020 review showed that supplementing with turmeric extract at a dose between 150mg – 1500mg per day before and during exercise and up to 72 hrs post exercise improved performance by reducing exercise-induced muscle damage and reducing inflammation caused by physical activity. Read PubMed Article 

Another review showed that participants who supplemented with a turmeric extract demonstrated reduced inflammation and oxidative stress, decreased pain and muscle damage, superior recovery and muscle performance and improved gastrointestinal function. The review concluded that curcumin supplementation appears to be safe and beneficial for sport and exercise in humans. Read Review

Natruflex Turmeric 

Our supplement Natruflex Turmeric contains 800mg turmeric extract (curcuminoids) per 2 capsules.

It is combined with black pepper for better absorption and naturally sourced marine magnesium, which further supports nerve function.

Taking curcumin is much gentler on the body than taking non steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, which can cause adverse effects such as heartburn and stomach ulcers.

 

 

If you’re looking to further enhance your stamina and exercise performance:

  • Try adding 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds to your daily diet. These tiny seeds are super packed with protein, omega 3 and omega 6 oils, calcium, iron, zinc and rich in antioxidants. When mixed with water and allowed to soak, these seeds release a form of gelled water that hydrates more slowly and effectively than just drinking liquid alone.

The Aztecs so treasured chia that they used to gift it to their king in homage and Aztec runners used to chew on the seeds as they went into battle. 

Chris McDougall’s book “Born to Run” describes how the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyons – known to be ultra-runners, running hundreds of miles without rest and enjoying every mile of it, fuelled themselves with a beverage containing chia seeds called Iskiate’ and you can add a Natruflex Turmeric opened capsule an you have the perfect natural drink for recovery and fuel.

 

Natruflex Turmeric

 

The benefits of Prebiotics and Probiotics

The benefits of Prebiotics and Probiotics

The health benefits of prebiotics and probiotics
How to lose weight naturally

How to lose weight naturally

Accumulation of belly fat is something that can creep up over the years and catch us by surprise. It is suggested that on average adults gain ~1.5kg annually and never shed that weight. Why is that?

The answer is often our lifestyle. Reducing calorie intake and supporting gut health by increasing your vegetable intake will support weight loss but shifting belly fat can be more troublesome. Coupled with this is the effect this fat is having internally - on our blood vessels and heart for example.

One of the biggest culprits driving stubborn belly fat is sugar intake

Hidden sugars in many foods and drinks will increase the accumulation of fat in the tissues and blood vessels. Look at the sugar contents of many cereals, breads, fizzy drinks etc and try to cut them out completely. Every improvement you make by increasing exercise or supplementing can be completely counteracted by your sugary intakes.

Bergatone

One clinically tested solution for bad fats is Bergatone, a natural food supplement made from Italian bergamot fruits. Studies have shown that 3 capsules daily, 30 minutes before food for a period of 4 months can help manage weight and cholesterol alongside a healthy eating and exercise routine. How does it do this? Each tablet is packed full of active ‘power house’ polyphenols at 35% effective strength. These polyphenols bind to bad fats from our diets in our gut and tissues. They also help to balance cholesterol in the liver. Double whammy!


Black Garlic

When it comes to protecting our heart we can further help by supplementing our diet with daily Aged Black Garlic. This has been shown to help relax our blood vessels, allowing for more efficient circulation of blood to our tissues. How does it do this?...Our Black Garlic is selected due to its naturally high concentrations of the chemical allicin. A six month aging and fermentation process converts allicin to active S-allyl cysteine (S-AC). This high strength, premium grade S-AC provides the protection for our cardiovascular system. Aged Black Garlic and Bergatone are a perfect combination, working in harmony with each other on separate cardiovascular systems.

How to enjoy great sleep, naturally

How to enjoy great sleep, naturally

I only appreciated the full value of sleep after my son was born and we experienced regular interrupted nights. After a few weeks my mind started playing tricks and my wife would often find items in our food cupboards which were obviously not supposed to be there!

It took us several months to resolve my son’s regular wake up calls - we mixed bananas with his formula which sustained nutrition beyond 2 hours. By that time, I felt I was functioning at 30% of my usual capacity. However, I then found it difficult to restore my sleep pattern back to the pre-parenthood 7-8 hours. My body and its sleep hormones had adapted to the new regime.

Sleep research demonstrates how long term sleep problems impact health. The health impact data for sleep problems is a wake up call in itself! Long term effects include a decline in cognitive function, increase in mental health problems, chronic fatigue, and lack of concentration / irritability.

Every person is unique. However, the National Sleep Foundation guidelines advise that healthy adults should sleep, on average, between seven and nine hours a night.


How to reset the sleep pattern with natural solutions.

Sleep disturbances can be caused mainly by lifestyle, environmental and health factors.

Understanding and treating the primary cause, should usually resolve the issue and improve the quality of sleep.


Diet

    I concluded from this experience, that I should never underestimate the power of food or drink to affect my health including sleep. To reset my system, I cut out all products containing caffeine and sugar for 2 weeks and then reintroduced them carefully avoiding caffeine in the afternoon or evenings. I love a glass of red wine in the evenings but I noticed even one glass affected the quality of my sleep making me wake up during the night so I reduced my week day alcohol intake too.


    Smoking

      I’m not a smoker but the data shows that nicotine is a brain stimulant so, while it is advisable to quit smoking altogether, it is important to avoid smoking just before bedtime.


      Lifestyle

        Daily exercise is fundamental for physical and psychological health; however, exercising just before bedtime will increase the body’s adrenaline production and raise body temperature, making it more difficult to switch off. So, exercise earlier in the day and try to avoid more intense exercise 2 hours before bedtime if possible.

        The influence of daylight on the body’s sleep hormone melatonin is well documented. Exercising in daylight helps to restore melatonin levels in the evening. However, a glance at a mobile phone or laptop screen at night will quickly reduce the levels of this sleep hormone. Even opening a fridge door at night can have a negative effect.


        Physical Health

          Problems such as headaches, migraines or chronic pain will stop you from getting a good night sleep. Speak to your GP or Pharmacist about the appropriate medication or natural remedy to treat the relevant symptoms in order to resolve the issue.

          Stress and mental health problems like anxiety and depression contribute to a high percentage of sleep difficulties. In this case, a combined approach of psychological support, lifestyle changes and use of medication/natural remedies, tailored to the severity of symptoms, is often very helpful and can restore emotional balance and promote restful sleep. Also, relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, mindfulness can help you to relax and unwind.

          Furthermore, sleep difficulties can be related to hormone imbalances; fluctuations in the levels of testosterone, thyroxin, cortisol, progesterone and melatonin (sleep hormone) can all disturb your sleep pattern.

          The production of melatonin naturally increases especially with evening darkness and it is a central part of the body’s sleep-wake cycle. The levels of melatonin are very important to induce and maintain sleep. Synthetic melatonin can be taken for the relief from short term sleep disturbances and can help adjust the body's internal clock. Consult your GP before starting melatonin therapy which is available on NHS prescription.


          Environment

            The bedroom should be somewhere that we associate with sleep. It is better to remove distractions from your bedroom and watch TV, play computer games and eat in another room. This will allow you to relax and unwind.

            Also the ‘blue light’ generated by computers, phones and tablets displays suppresses the production of melatonin, hence causing sleep disruption. It is recommended not using these devices at least two hours before you go to sleep in order to reduce the impact on the quality of your night rest.

            Other common factors that can affect sleep are light, temperature and noise. You should be able to control the intensity of light and noise in the room by using blackout curtains/ eye mask and ear plugs respectively. The temperature of the room is also very important; feeling too cold or hot can disrupt your sleep so always make sure you work out the best sleep environment for you. Keeping a sleep diary can be useful to record the conditions that helped you get a good night sleep.


            How can Nature help?


            At the Naked Pharmacy we believe in a holistic approach to health.

            While addressing the root cause of sleep difficulties should be the first point of action, the use of natural remedies can support the process leading to a better quality and quantity of sleep.


            Saffrosun with Marine Minerals

            Saffrosun with Marine Minerals helps to reduce tiredness, fatigue, improve sleep and maintain emotional balance. Saffron has been shown to have neuro-protective effects. It balances the production of serotonin (happy hormone) in the gut which constantly signals to the brain, via the vagus nerve, your state of well-being.

            At The Naked Pharmacy, we ensure that all of our supplements are made with effective strength bioactives and are scientifically supported by clinical trials. You can read more about our research here.


            Marine Magnesium

            Pure Marine Magnesium is a natural remedy which helps to support optimum nerve and muscle function, while promoting relaxation. It is sourced from sea algae and is one of the seven essential minerals we need for our bodies to function healthily. Magnesium helps relax muscles and induce sleep.

            You can read more about clinical trials on the effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia here.


            Avena Sativa

            The medicinal herb Avena Sativa has been shown to promote restful sleep and relaxation. This plant contains natural compounds which are both sedative and soothing to the brain and nervous system; hence it is very helpful in resolving sleep disturbances.


            Other plants

            Other medicinal plants that can improve sleep quality are: Valerian root, Lavender, Chamomile and Passiflora.

            Valerian root and Passiflora are among the most commonly used herbal ingredients to induce sleep. Several studies have shown their efficacy in improving sleep quality. You can read more about the research here and here.

            It is recommended to consult your Pharmacist or GP before taking any new supplement to make sure it is suitable for you.


            Final thoughts


            After the birth of my son I realised why sleep is a vital component of overall health and well-being to help my body repair and re-set, ready for a new day. Taking a step by step approach to treat my sleep disturbance eventually resolved the issue. Eventually, I realised that my pre-bed routines and environment had a significant influence on the quality of my sleep. Small, incremental changes made a big difference.

            Natural remedies proved effective for me and still form part of my approach, whenever I am troubled with poor sleep. At The Naked Pharmacy, we are always very happy when we help solve customer sleep problems because we know how much this will improve overall health and happiness.

            Manage Menopause Naturally

            Manage Menopause Naturally

            Manage Menopause Naturally
            Saffron — Balance Your Mood

            Saffron — Balance Your Mood

            Saffron — The Natural Way to Balance Your Mood
            Bergamot - Small, Simple, Strong

            Bergamot - Small, Simple, Strong

            Bergamot - Small, Simple, Strong
            Saffrosun — How it Works

            Saffrosun — How it Works

            Saffron — How it Works
            What is Burnout & How to Avoid It

            What is Burnout & How to Avoid It

            Maintaining Emotional Balance
            How to Manage & Reduce Stress

            How to Manage & Reduce Stress

            8 Top Tips
            The Gut & Allergy Connection

            The Gut & Allergy Connection

            When spring arrives, many of us struggle with hay fever. Itchy eyes and throat, sneezing, congestion and coughing are all symptoms of this common pollen allergy.

            In Naturopathic medicine, we always aim to correct the underlying cause of health issues rather than focus entirely on symptoms. With allergies, we look at the health of the gut, as well as the immune system itself, to find the underlying cause.

            The Gut Connection

            In Naturopathy, the root cause of most health conditions can be traced back to how well we're digesting and absorbing our food. It's very common for people to have problems with 'leaky gut', where the lining of the intestines has become damaged, allowing larger food particles into the bloodstream which wouldn't normally be there. The immune system initiates a response when it notices something unusual, and repeats this time and again every time we eat problem foods. Eventually, this can lead to an overactive immune system. This may be part of the reason why we can suddenly develop allergies, including hay fever.

            Healing a leaky gut properly usually involves identifying and temporarily avoiding problem foods whilst taking medicine to heal the intestinal lining at the same time. Usually, this would be done under the supervision of a Naturopath, Medical Herbalist, or Nutritional Therapist, but there are some self-help measures you can take too. Here are a few ideas:

            1. Try completely avoiding all dairy foods for a few weeks. These are known to aggravate catarrh conditions, and there are so many dairy-free alternatives nowadays it's actually quite easy.
            2. Get plenty of antioxidants from your diet by 'eating a rainbow' every day. That's at least one fruit or veg from every colour of the rainbow, plus 'black' fruit and vegetables like blueberries and aubergine.
            3. This 2016 study found that Turmeric extract was highly effective in treating hay fever, so our high strength turmeric extract - Natruflex will help. Take one capsule daily.
            4. Taking Black Garlic will help kill off any unfriendly fungi or bacteria in the gut which can also impact upon your digestion.
            5. Rhinodoron Nasal Spray contains aloe vera which acts as a natural barrier to prevent pollen attaching to the membranes of the nose and throat.

            All of these products can be safely taken alongside antihistamines, but if you have any questions, please get in touch here and we'll be happy to help you.