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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How will Saffrosun help me?
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.
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.
It is recommended to consult your Pharmacist or GP before taking any new supplement to make sure it is suitable for you, do call us on 01483 685 630.
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.
"It's estimated that up to 1 in every 3 people in the UK has early stages of Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease"
When our fat cells can’t cope anymore with storing fat – the liver takes the burden and becomes the “overflow” storage organ for fat. This sets the stage for a vicious cycle and metabolic dysfunction.
As the fats in blood increase, gene function in the liver is inhibited causing more fat to be dumped there. At the same time, levels of leptin are increased – causing a corresponding fall in the fat-burning hormone known as adiponectin. Low adiponectin levels lead to insulin resistance in the liver – which then causes blood sugar to rise – and this sugar is then converted to more fat.
Early symptoms of NAFLD (Non Fatty Liver Disease) may be mild:
- Extreme Fatigue
- Discomfort in upper right abdomen
- Difficulty losing weight
Losing weight can help to slowly unclog the liver, reduce the amount of stored fat, thereby speeding up the metabolism as well as to help to reduce blood sugar, harmful LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Dietary suggestions to unclog the liver and support its optimal function:
- A Mediterranean diet (vegetables, fruits, antioxidant spices and herbs, whole grains, oily fish, nuts and olive oil) have been shown to benefit liver health.
Liver nourishing foods include : cruciferous veg (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, broccoli, rocket (arugula), watercress)
Bitter foods: rocket, radicchio, dandelion greens
- Practising some intermittent fasting can also help un-clog the liver, even if you can only manage a 12 hour overnight fast, as it allows the body to rest and regenerate.
- Ensure you are eating enough protein. If you are not consuming enough protein this can impair your liver’s ability to carry out it’s detoxifying and metabolic functions.
- Drink plenty of pure water to help flush out excess toxins.
The great news is that we can support our hard working liver with specific nutrients which have been supported by scientific research:
- AGED GARLIC can help shift unwanted fat from being dumped in the liver.
- VITAMIN D deficiencies are linked to NAFLD (Non Alcohol Fatty Liver Disease) : Vitamin D deficiency leads to the release of pro-inflammatory agents that can contribute to fatty liver disease
- BERGAMOT & ARTICHOKE EXTRACTS - Bergamot fruit extract has been shown to lower blood sugar, reduce inflammation, improve blood vessel activity and artichoke boosts your production of bile.
Insulin resistance causes fat storage
Insulin is known as “the fat storer” hormone and is strongly influenced by carbohydrate intake and overconsumption of food, causing a detrimental increase in your blood sugar.
When insulin resistance occurs, sugar can’t get into your cells the way it normally would and the result is that this sugar gets stored as fat.
How can you reduce insulin resistance?
- Diet (Mediterranean diet, intermittent fasting)
- Increased physical activity such as HIT
- Supplement regularly with Metabolic Gold
How can Metabolic Gold help with insulin resistance?
Metabolic Gold is a unique, safe and effective natural supplement that contains the highest strength bergamot fruit extract and artichoke leaf extract to improve sugar metabolism, balance blood sugar and reduce insulin resistance.
Poor metabolic health affects one in four UK adults in the UK and is the leading cause of an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
The risk factors for poor metabolic health are:
- high sugar levels
- Insulin resistance
- abnormal cholesterol levels
- excess fat around the waistline
- fatty liver
- elevated blood pressure
Most of the conditions associated with metabolic health don't have obvious signs or symptoms and require a blood test to determine (such as cholesterol levels). However, a large waist circumference is something that you would visibly notice and if your sugar levels are high, you might notice the signs and symptoms of diabetes — such as increased thirst and urination, fatigue, and blurred vision.
Preventing or reversing poor metabolic health
The risk factors listed above are all modifiable with adopting a healthy lifestyle which should include:
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, whole grains (brown rice), proteins (pulses such as lentil) and avoiding over processed and refined foods such as microwave meals and sugary treats is key.
- Exercising regularly. Undertaking a minimum of 30 mins of physical activity a day 5 days a week.
- Cutting back on alcohol and smoking can be a really effective way to improve your metabolic health, boost your energy, lose weight and save money.
How can Metabolic Gold help?
Metabolic Gold contains Bergamot fruit extract and Artichoke leaf extract. It is the perfect blend of naturally sourced, high strength ingredients that work together synergistically to help reduce sugar levels, improve insulin resistance, balance cholesterol, reduce fat around the waistline and improve fatty liver.
In a recent trial of 60 patients who were overweight and had high cholesterol, subjects were treated with a combination of bergamot extract and artichoke leaf extract for 2 months and compared to a group that received a placebo for the same amount of time. The results showed a significant decrease in total and LDL cholesterol as well as a significant reduction in waist circumference.
When combined with lifestyle efforts focusing on diet, exercise, sleep and stress, the combination of bergamot fruit and artichoke leaf extracts can provide significant health benefits.
We recommend this supplement is taken for at least 3-4 months at a dose of one capsule twice a day after food
Introducing our new formula containing pharmaceutical strength bergamot and artichoke extracts. Metabolic Gold has been over two years in research and developement.
Bergamot may sound familiar as the peel of this unique citrus fruit is used for teas, perfumes and essential oils.
However, we only utilise the fruit sourced from trees found in the coastal areas of Calabria, Southern Italy as it's unique combination of five polyphenol bioactives reduce the levels of unhealthy fats in a similar manner to statin medications, without the side effects.
Bergamot fruit polyphenols have been scientifically proven to improve levels of good cholesterol, reduce inflammation and improve blood vessel elasticity.
Bergamot fruit extract
Bergamot polyphenols improve the way fats are processed in the liver thereby balancing cholesterol and protecting cardiovascular health.
Artichoke leaf extract
It boosts your liver’s production of bile. Bile is a natural compound that digests and uses fats so they don’t accumulate in your liver or in your body.
How do you take Metabolic Gold?
A randomized placebo-controlled study with 60 overweight adults showed that supplementing with 600mg bergamot and 100mg artichoke leaf resulted in a reduction in LDL cholesterol, significant reduction in waist circumference and visceral adipose tissue in 2 months – even in participants who did not follow a low-calorie diet.
Concerned about side effects?
The natural formulation of Metabolic Gold means that you can take it alongside most medications, however we recommend that you take a few minutes to call us, or write to us and get some friendly pharmacist advice if you have any questions about your current regime.
"Metabolic Gold is effective because of the botanical sources, strength of the bioactives, scientific research and pharmaceutical quality of the formulation. The unique combination of the artichoke plus bergamot extracts will help so many people who have a sluggish metabolism, fatty liver alongside problems of sugar and cholesterol balance."
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?
Oestrogen and Insulin
Why does this happen in men?
The impact of poor sleep
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
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 CALM– has been proven to promote restful sleep, balance the stress response and enhance energy levels.
SAFFROSUN ENERGY - 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.
METABOLIC GOLD – 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.
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)
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
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.
It turns out that we really are ‘the sum total of our experiences.’ Had I known then the impact of many of my decisions, I may have made changes earlier, but it turns out that we must live life to truly understand it.
I was definitely living life. Perceived invincibility provided me with the tunnel vision which enabled me to dash from one task to another, ticking off one more achievement, adventure and accolade.
Of course you can’t sustain this symphonic level of intensity without topping up the tank with quick access fuel, mine came in the form of sugar- packets of delicious sweets and finely baked biscuits.
I also gradually began to neglect my regular exercise regimen in exchange for a membership in the weekend warrior club. Gut irritation and a little extra weight accumulated, but, as far as I was concerned, I felt normal for a 40-something professional.
‘That’ evening, the one that irreversibly shook up my life, Thursday 3 December, I found myself staring eternity squarely in the face. I had returned home from work with my two girls. It had been a stressful day capped by a suitably heated, hard-hitting quarrel that left me trembling.
I did not generally consider my life stressful, and yet I knew that I ran at a pretty high-octane pace. But that was OK, because, despite warnings from others, I was, or believed I was, bulletproof.
I wore my intensity like a shiny badge of honour. On that evening, however, the engine said ‘no more’; you can’t drive even the most brilliantly engineered sports cars at 5000 RPM indefinitely.
It took my mum, who spotted me bent over, clutching my chest, rubbing my arms on FaceTime and my daughter's subsequent fear-filled plea to get help for me to make the medical call. Reluctantly, in a haze of pain, I did make the call. In minutes an ambulance was there.
Pride masking the danger, I couldn’t help, but feel that all this commotion was quite unnecessary. The seasoned paramedics quickly assessed my traumatised frame, blood pressure surging through my veins like a blocked firehose. They looked me straight in the eyes, piercing my vanity, and said, “We are taking you to hospital. Now.”
‘That’ evening marked the beginning of a myriad of changes. Naturally, and most significantly was that of my health, but also, running neatly alongside, compelling me, almost without choice, was my desire to capture the goodness in life around me.
Being in hospital forced me to slow down and rest, my senses sharpened and my eyes opened to the subtleties in the world around me, to things I had not previously noticed before.
I became acutely aware of nuances in conversation, of the sacrifices of those around me and of the delicacy of relationships. I was also painfully cognizant, in increasing measure, of the compounding effects of the bad choices I had made for my body- sugar addiction, stress, exercise withdrawal and sleep deprivation.
Buckminster Fuller once said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” So, that is what I did (and am doing), engineering a new, more tantalising model for life.
My diet, for instance, has been transformed. The once glutinous intake has been replaced with cleaner foods, nutrition straight from the earth and, perhaps more importantly, I expunged sweets.
Implored by the immediacy of the situation, I also instilled radical changes to my work routine and introduced regular, gentler exercises in the great outdoors. The list goes on, but I feel that, if indeed we are ‘the sum total of our experiences,’ I have been gifted a lifeline with which to significantly alter the outcome of my time here on earth. And, I must say, my heart feels good, very good indeed.
NOTE FROM THE NAKED PHARMACY
Jeff Schmidt is the Author/illustrator of the bestselling book:
HEART ATTACK- Finding hope, joy and inspiration through adversity.
The number of vegans has been growing rapidly over recent years and the concept of vegetarianism is not new dating back as early as 500 BC, first mentioned by Pythagoras.
In Great Britain, the number of vegans is estimated to have quadrupled between 2014 and 2019.
Novak Djokovic, Venus and Serena Williams, Lewis Hamilton, Mike Tyson, Martina Navratilova, David Haye are great examples that veganism offers one the potential to not only be healthy, but also for elite athletes to thrive.
Some key nutrients vegans should be aware of
Although there are health benefits to a vegan lifestyle, it is also important to recognise that, as with any diet, if not appropriately planned then it is easy to become nutritionally deficient as there are certain nutrients that are not available from plants.
Below are some of the 2 key nutrients that vegans need to be aware of to avoid deficiencies or imbalances.
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient, which does not originate in plants, but from bacteria.
In fact, B12 supplements are (for the most part) also given to farm animals, meaning even those on non-vegan diets are supplementing, but indirectly.
Symptoms of B12 deficiency may include:
- A pale yellow tinge to your skin
- A sore and red tongue (glossitis)
- Mouth ulcers
- Pins and needles (paraesthesia)
- Disturbed vision
- Unexplained sadness
- A decline in your mental abilities, such as memory, understanding and judgement
Due to B12 not being readily present in a vegan diet it’s recommended to supplement this, especially for strict vegans.
Two tablets daily of our Saffrosun Calm offers 100% of the Nutritional Reference Value (NRV).
Vitamin D is the “sunshine vitamin”, and although it is possible to obtain this through certain plant foods such as mushrooms, in general it is not broadly consumed on a vegan diet.
In fact, the NHS advises that "everyone (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the autumn and winter” [Source ].
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency may include:
- Not sleeping well
- Bone pain or achiness
- Feelings of sadness
- Hair loss
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Getting sick more easily
Again, it is good practice to use a supplement to ensure you are getting the recommend intake of Vitamin D, particularly in colder seasons with having less sun exposure. One capsule of our Pure Organic Vitamin D offers 200% of the NRV, and one capsule of our Vitamin D3 contains 100% NRV.
Probiotics promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, and studies suggest that taking probiotics are linked to a range of health benefits. These include benefits for gut function, immune function, respiratory tract infections, and duration of illness.
Although vegans generally consume a diet rich in fibre, which is a key gut nutrient and it is possible to acquire probiotics from plant-based sources such as fermented foods (e.g. sourdough bread and tempeh), vegans don’t consume the most common probiotic rich foods such as yogurt and kefir.
Our Gut Love supplement contains 21 probiotics and prebiotics, and 19 billion good bacteria to support overall gut health including one probiotic which originates from soil.
The Naked Pharmacy Supplements
All of The Naked Pharmacy’s own brand of supplements are entirely vegan and contain natural ingredients, meaning higher absorption and bioavailability than synthetic supplements.