Living With Covid? An article by Caroline Shaw


LIVING WITH COVID

During the past year most of us have experienced massive upheaval in the way we live. Not since the Second World War has humanity faced such radical impact on a global scale. A lot of what we take for granted has been removed or at the very least curtailed.

In the UK alone we have endured three lockdowns, varying in restrictions including; not being able to see friends or loved ones, travel to work, go into certain shops, restaurants, bars, theatres, cinemas, gyms, not being able to go on holiday, board a plane, even sometimes use public transport and through all of this the wearing of masks has become obligatory. 

Whether the Coronavirus was ‘man-made’ in a Wuhan lab, or accidentally transmitted from animal to man, makes no difference to its devastating toll. Official figures indicate nearly 4 million people have died so far worldwide from the virus. This figure is conservative at best as many governments downplay statistics and choose not to report, for instance, those people who have died at home rather than in hospital.

During this, all of us to some degree have experienced loss, whether it is the tragic loss of a loved one or the loss of work, finances, social events and other activities that form the fabric of our lives. We have been forced to re-shape the way we live. 

We have been required to take a massive break from the excesses of our fossil fuel driven society. It has shown us that we can cut down on our carbon spending. When ‘things return to normal’, will we just pick up where we left off, or can we change tack and find a different way to live with ourselves and our planet? Most of us are now questioning our values and re-assessing what really matters in our lives. I would suggest, one outcome, is a re-appreciation of how precious friends and loved ones are and in contrast how unnecessary are a lot of our material acquisitions.

If a cross section of how the virus has impacted us can be measured in my consulting room then I would surmise much good has come from it. Most people I am seeing present with very similar stories;

They say spending more time at home has not been easy and using food /drink in a compensatory way has led to weight gain. But this has been tempered by an increased awareness of the value of food. Many people have turned vegetarian or, at the very least, have cut down significantly on their meat and fish intake. Many people want to eat in a way that is more sustainable for the health of the planet. I have never before witnessed such an enormous shift in consciousness.

There is a real desire to be ‘healthy’ in the widest possible terms. Not just physically but emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Many people have enjoyed the simple contact with nature; walking, cycling, gardening etc as these forms of exercise were permitted during the harshest lockdown measures. This has resulted in a deeper understanding for and appreciation of nature.

Many clients have said they would rather increase their food shopping bill by £20 a week to enable them to buy more quality/organic food and cut back on other forms of spending such as clothes and alcohol. If this is a sample of what is happening nationwide then maybe we could be moving into a more conscious, sustainable future.

Of course the virus has brought the question of our health into sharp focus. We know Covid 19 is more likely to manifest in extreme ways in the elderly and those of us with underlying health conditions or/and compromised immune systems. But, we all can ‘catch’ the virus or unwittingly pass it on to others. As a result, all of us can benefit from keeping ourselves as healthy as we can.

Which comes back to how we take care of ourselves – we can do this by choosing/buying foods that nourish our digestive tract, boost positive flora, and consequently our immune system.

Our digestive system thrives best and creates the most life giving positive bacteria 

  • on a complex range of good quality foods including;

50 per cent vegetables/salad;  beetroot, carrot, fennel, broccoli, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, greens, cauliflower, asparagus, avocado, celeriac, peas, beans, lettuce, rocket, spinach, leeks, okra, cucumber etc

20 per cent protein; meat, chicken, fish, beans, pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds, soya, tofu, etc

15 per cent starch; spelt wheat, oats, potatoes, rice, rice noodles, buckwheat, bran, rye, etc

10 per cent fruit; apples, pears, berries, grapes, oranges, lemons, melons etc

5 per cent fats including, olive oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, non cow’s milk dairy fats, cheese, butter, yoghurt, coconut etc 

All the above, preferably organic, locally sourced, in season, or the best quality we can afford.

  • avoiding, fast/processed foods. Latest scientific research has shown the devastating impact fast foods has on children’s brains.

There have been many studies into the negative effects of fast food, one of the most famous being the documentary Super Size Me. More recently, Richard Stevenson, a researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, carried out an experiment on 105 young healthy volunteers. One group lived exclusively on junk food for eight days while the other maintained their normal healthy eating habits. What he discovered was that the group eating fast food group developed negative effects including aggression, depression, stress and even certain parts of their brains to shrink.

  • balancing our lives to reduce stress levels. 

The impact of stress on our health and immune system cannot be underestimated. Stress is caused by fear. Fear releases adrenaline to help us respond to possible threats. But if we always feel under some sort of stress/pressure it may be the pre-cursor  to IBS, SIBO, constipation, allergies, psoriasis and other auto immune diseases, where our bodies start to over-react to the smallest triggers.  Stress can be counteracted by trying to establish a healthy ratio between work/rest and play, by exercise, meditation, accepting a more simple lifestyle and examining and releasing the cause of our deepest fears. 

  • removing toxicity. 

The lockdown months may have contributed to overeating or indulgences of one sort or another which may have led to a build up of toxicity in the digestive system. This in turn could have impacted negatively our intestines, stomach, liver and kidneys, resulting in symptoms such as bloating, energy depletion, even depression. The best and quickest way to help reverse these autointoxication signs is to embark on a combination of colon hydrotherapy treatments together with a cleansing diet. Your practitioner can advise on this and also add appropriate implants and probiotic infusions where necessary.

CHHC provides an extensive range of wonderful treatments that can help us achieve and maintain our health, balance and vitality. Sadly, the virus, with its endless capacity to mutate and replicate, will not be going away any time soon. It’s a question of all of us keeping our immunity strong, observing, ‘codes of conduct’ and taking the vaccine as and when necessary. Hopefully, at the very least, we can keep on top of it.

Looking forward to seeing you at CHHC and wishing everyone a good summer.

Caroline Shaw

Coronavirus. A Longer View.

Throughout 2020 as the pandemic took such a strong hold on all our lives, the focus was, quite rightly, on reducing hospitalisations and the death toll . Now in 2021, we seem to have turned the corner with the successful roll-out of the vaccine and the unprecedented restrictions on our lifestyles and economy.
We now face many questions and choices going forward on a wide range of issues both personal and society-wide. There are also many health impacts which remain ranging from social anxiety, depression and the myriad of post-covid symptoms.
Post-Covid. Long covid.
Long covid or post covid are terms describing people who have suffered symptoms of unwellness for up to 6 weeks or longer. Post-covid is a serious problem which has dramatically debilitated sufferers for many months and now, for some, over a year. Even those who had relatively mild disease in the first place can go on to develop severe post-covid symptoms. Also, post-covid has not exclusively targeted the old or those with underlying conditions who have made up the large part of the deaths. As many as 10% of 18-49 year olds have reported long covid symptoms.
Many of the common symptoms sufferers are experiencing are the same as other post-viral syndromes or M.E. which have become increasingly recognised over the last 20 years. The most common being debilitating exhaustion and muscle pain. Long Covid also commonly causes reduced breathing capacity as well as many and various other symptoms which have been reported less commonly.
A lot of research and work is now going into trying to successfully shorten the post-covid experience and help a full recovery. Data is being collected and science is learning to recognise the patterns and syndromes consistent with long covid. So far, there is no magic bullet to help suffers recover, but many approaches that can help.
At CHHC, we are proud to be part of this process. As a practitioner of acupuncture, I have worked with a number of patients and have been encouraged by the results. In particular, helping to restore energy levels, breathing capacity, sleep patterns and improvements in mood and motivation.
Why acupuncture helps
Acupuncture works deeply on an energetic level. It has the unique ability to stimulate natural healing by balancing the vital functions of the body and the mind, (rather like finely tuning a complex engine will increase it’s power and efficiency.)  It also induces relaxation and enhances sleep quality, thus enabling the body to restore itself to health more quickly and completely.
“I started having acupuncture last November, to treat my ongoing Long Covid symptoms of exhaustion, pain and extensive breathing difficulties. I contacted Covid19 last April. 
Within a couple of weeks my condition began to stabilise. Since then I have continually improved and am laying down really solid foundations for improved stamina, less pain and much improved respiratory health. 
Eric’s extensive knowledge, care and experience has definitely sped up my recovery. 
I cannot recommend him highly enough.   M.C.”
If you want to chat more about acupuncture and long-covid, Eric would be happy to talk. Just get in touch with us to arrange a call. Or to book an appointment, use our online booking service or call on 01242 584140.

Shape Shifting: Why is belly fat harder to move after 40?

Shape shifting is a real thing as we age.No longer is the weight going onto your legs and bum, but more and more it’s morphing onto your abdomen, and becoming a belly where you didn’t previously have one.

Welcome to the perimenopause and beyond!

The massive hormonal shifts of the perimenopause can affect us in many ways, from our moods to our temperature, our shape and our quality of life, However, the good news is that there are lots of steps that you can take to limit the symptoms.

Sex hormones and belly fat

Progesterone is normally the first sex hormone to start declining. This can cause all sorts of changes, including migraines, hot flushes, dryness, hair loss, anxiety and increased belly fat.

Our oestrogen levels can start to go haywire too. Oestrogen tends to encourage fat to be deposited on our hips and thighs to begin, but as this hormone declines too, the pattern changes to more of a male-type pattern of belly fat. However, there are two other crucial hormones which relate to weight gain, and these are insulin and cortisol, both of which have a huge impact upon our changing shape.

Blood sugar, stress and belly fat

During perimenopause many women become ‘insulin-resistant.’ This basically means that your cells aren’t as sensitive to the signals from insulin and no longer allow insulin to take glucose out of your blood and into your cells to be used for energy. Too much sugar builds up in your blood and this can cause havoc with your other hormones and contribute to weight gain.

Cortisol release is triggered by stress. It increases blood sugar levels to give us energy for the stress we are facing. Of course, this used to be running away from a man-eating lion, but now it’s more likely to be because of a red traffic light or a moody teenager! One bout of stress can take 8 hours to get your hormone levels back to normal. So, if we are bouncing from one stress to another, then they may stay permanently high all day.

And if we’re not running away from that lion to use up that energy, then guess what? It will all be laid as fat around your middle!

What can we do to reduce blood sugar imbalance and that unwanted belly fat?

1. Cut down on sugar and refined carbohydrates. I know you’ve heard it before, but watching our sugar and refined carb intake at this age is more important than ever. Try to cut out white foods like white bread, pasta and rice, and replace them with wholegrain varieties instead, but also limit the amount you have of each of these foods.

2. Eat protein and healthy fats with every meal. Women often struggle to get enough protein and healthy fats into their diet. Both protein and fats not only keep you full for longer but also help to slow down the release of glucose from carbs into the blood.

3. Cut down on alcohol. Alcohol sadly is not our friend and especially so when we hit perimenopause. Alcohol affects blood sugar and as we age, plus which we become less able to detoxify it, which explains those worsening hangovers.

4. Focus on reducing your stress. The connection between stress and weight gain is very real. There are so many ways we can do this but some of them include making sure we take time for ourselves each day – whether it be a walk in the fresh air, 15 minutes of yoga, or perhaps meditation or journaling.

5. Track your cycle. This doesn’t mean just track when your period starts and finishes, but your daily symptoms throughout the cycle. This can be eye-opening for many women and can help you to identify patterns. It can also be super helpful for planning activities. There are many apps that can make this easy for you, too. Once you have a better understanding of what is going on and understand the options available to restore balance, then perimenopause and menopause can become enjoyable phases in a woman’s life – and they really should be. For more support and nutritional advice, then click here to take the first steps with a FREE Better Health Chat with Marianne Andrews, Nutritional Therapist.

Tier 4 Update – Clinic Open/Studio Closed

Due to the new restrictions, our studio has had to close to Yoga, Pilates, Qi Gong and Tai Chi. We continue to be open for most treatments. If you have an appointment, please ring the buzzer to the left of the door and your practitioner will collect you. You can contact us via email info@chhc.co.uk or you can book appointments online. We will let you know when we are fully open again. 

COVID Lockdown 2 – Clinic remains open for some practitioners/studio closed

Update: 5th November 2020. We are now only able open for certain therapies as detailed within the Government Guidelines.

These are:

Acupuncture, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Colonic Hydrotherapy, Foot Care and Osteopathy.

Our Studio and Reception will be closed until 2nd December 2020. Appointments can be made or changed online or via email info@chhc.co.uk.

We look forward to welcoming everyone back as soon as possible.
Wishing you all well and stay safe.

What Is Taiji? – New Class Starting March 2020

What is Taiji?

Taiji  is an exercise and training system for the body and mind, one that is presented in terms of a medical model, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the same one used in Acupuncture.

As a ‘physical movement form’ each posture flows into the next pattern without pause, ensuring that the entire body is in a constant motion,  rhythm and process of transformation. This is ideal for developing  suppleness and flexibility, being sure-footed and highly co-ordinated. It builds increased stamina and muscle strength.

Taiji  also cultivates qualities of mindfulness and is often described as ‘meditation in motion’.  It is practiced through a purposeful spirit with calm, clear intentions guiding the continuity of each movement in a focused way. People also report  that Taiji promotes a certain serenity as it moves moment to moment, softly, slowly and smoothly, embodying a series of graceful expressions. 

This gentle nature is married to more stimulating phases and invigorating techniques that develop over time. As fitness builds with regular practice the movements begin to refine, deepen and cultivate a greater degree of strength, in keeping with Taiji Chuan’s origins as a ‘Soft’ Martial Art. An earlier proto-form was known as ‘Cotton Boxing’.

The movements become ‘Taiji’  when grace and power work in unison, through a harmonised interplay of ‘forces’. This is because the actions  represent the cyclic movements found in Nature…..yielding phases that gather in and root naturally lead to recoiling actions that spring forth, branching out and blossoming gestures that reach fruition in turn overflow and sink once again. These natural movements of Life are entirely resonant with the working of our own body-mind process.

There is a time, a place, a proportion to the whole form of movement. The patterns and order echo the procession of seasonal changes and processes. So at the heart of Taiji lies a natural rhythm, dance like, encouraging a continuous unfolding. Taiji is one continual movement.

That means the movements  are never forced, there is no need to strain; the muscles are lengthened rather than tensed, the joints are opened rather than locked, and connective tissues are coiled through twisting rather than rigidly stretched out.

In concert these factors help create a deep massaging through the whole body to nourish and invigorate the vital substances.

The Taiji Classic texts say Taiji is  practiced for longevity and its associated health benefits. I teach according to the principles of TCM where Chinese physicians might prescribe Qi Gong or Taiji as a special type of ‘exercise medicine’ to augment other traditional treatments such as Acupuncture and Herbs.

Taiji promotes a free flow of circulation, where the vital substances of Qi, Blood & Essence can distribute their rejuvenating properties through the entire network of organs, vessels and channels. An understanding which gives rise to the notion that Taiji is an ‘Internal’ martial art -with an emphasis on intention to ‘marshal’, guide and organise specific patterns of movement through the whole body.

Who can do it

Taiji is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. It may be especially suitable as an older adult who otherwise may not exercise. If in doubt consult your doctor beforehand for their recommendation.

What do i need

Taiji is inexpensive and requires no special equipment. You can practice anywhere,  indoors or outside. You can do Taiji alone, in groups or practice in a class.

Wear loose, comfortable clothing that doesn’t restrict your range of motion and flat-soled flexible shoes/trainers.

The Teacher

Jeff Docherty is a professional member of the ‘Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine’

 He is qualified and insured as an Acupuncturist, Shiatsu practitioner, Meditation teacher, Taiji-Qi Gong teacher.

 

Background

Jeffs experience in Traditional Medicines began from his time living as a Yogi in Buddhist Monasteries in Sri Lanka and India, where he was introduced to Traditional Practice in the Tibetan enclave of McCleod Ganj, 1992. He was treated and inspired by renowned Buddhist monk, Traditional Medicine practitioner, and former personal physician to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Yeshi Dhonden.

On returning to the UK Jeff began studying TCM in the form of Qi Gong & Shiatsu with Chris Jarmey, well known author and teacher.  Whilst continuing with Buddhist meditation retreats in the Theravadin and Tibetan traditions in the UK, and with further study to become an Acupuncturist.

Jeff learned Sun style Taiji from 1996 with Dave Martin, Head of European operations and honoured student of Sun Jian Yun, the Founders daughter.

Jeff was asked to teach Taiji by Dave after he retired from teaching classes at Cannon Park, Coventry.

Jeff began teaching Qi Gong & Taiji in 2003 and has since worked with NHS projects, Stroud and Gloucester Colleges, a Hospice, Mental Health groups, in ‘deprived areas’, supported housing and currently runs twelve weekly classes locally.

 Jeff is currently planning to start teaching classes at Cheltenham Holistic Health Centre from Spring 2020. Please contact the centre directly on 01242 584140 or email info@chhc.co.uk to register your interest. 

UPDATE: A class will be starting on Tuesdays from 17th March 2020, 1.15-2.15pm. Cost £90 for a 10 week course. This will be a closed class to ensure everyone learns at the same rate.

Trial class will be running on 3rd March 2020, 1.15-2.15pm.

Christmas Survival Guide

CHRISTMAS survival guide

THE FUNDAMENTALS: It’s that party season again! How can you have a great time without either depriving yourself or putting on lots of weight? This Christmas Survival Guide will give you some ideas for what to avoid and what fabulous healthy and delicious choices you can make so that you look good and feel healthy in January.

  1. Don’t try to diet over the festive period. Set a maintenance goal instead. This is more realistic and much more achievable. This will give you the freedom to enjoy yourself without the feelings of deprivation or the pressure to rebel…!
  2. Take low GL dishes with you to parties. There are some fab recipes in the Holford Low GL cookbook that everyone can enjoy.
  3. Make the effort to continue with your exercise programme. If your usual classes aren’t running, choose other options instead e.g. brisk walks with friends and family.
  4. Make good alcohol choices. Avoid creamy or sweet drinks. Try to drink with food as this will reduce the impact of the sugars on your blood stream.
  5. Be gentle with yourself. If you do happen to overindulge, enjoy whatever you are indulging in and then get back on track afterwards.
  6. Normal routine tends to go out of the window over Christmas. However, make sure you don’t forget about yourself and still take the time to plan your food. That way, you will still have the right choices in the house and it will be much easier for you to succeed. At a point where we don’t want to eat the wrong things it is a shame to fail just because that is all we have to hand. This is so easy to avoid just by giving it a few minutes thought and preparation. Give yourself the best chance of succeeding!
  7. Don’t go to a party hungry. If you do, you will be getting and reacting to your body’s urges for sugar.
  8. Drink plenty of water. This will encourage you not to overeat and will also improve how you feel the next day!
  9. Watch your portion sizes – particularly fast release carbohydrates and fats
  10. Have Fun!!

If you feel that you need support with sticking to a healthy diet then Marianne Andrews, our Nutritional Therapist, works with women who are fed up with feeling a shadow of the person they used to know and love. In January she is offering personalised programmes that can help support you on that road to hormonal balance and being in control of your weight.  Click here to book in for a free 20 minute chat.

 

 

Healthier Mince Pies – Recipe!

Healthier mince pies – courtesy of Marianne Andrews, our Nutritional Therapist. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Makes 25

For the filling

1 large apple, like Braeburn, Gala

75g raisins

75g golden sultanas

75g currants

65g dried, unsweetened cranberries

60g other dried fruit (sour cherries, blueberries, mango, apricots – dried but unsweetened)

Zest and juice of an orange

50g coconut palm sugar [or 2 tsp Stevia if you’d rather]

4 tbsp organic butter, cubed

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground ginger

For the pastry

150g ground almonds

75g coconut flour

1 tbsp coconut palm sugar

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp sea salt

zest of an orange

115g butter, frozen. Plus a little extra for greasing

1 egg, lightly whisked

METHOD

Making the filling

Add all of the ingredients above (other than the brandy, if using) into a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir

When the butter is fully melted, turn the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often.

Take the saucepan off the heat and stir through a Tablespoon of brandy, and decant into sterilized glass jars.

Leave to cool with the lid slightly ajar, then secure tightly and store until you’re ready to use.

Making the pastry

Put the ground almonds and coconut flour in a bowl with the sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir in the orange zest.

Grate the frozen butter into the flour and mix together with your fingers till a crumb forms.

Stir in the egg and bring together with your hands to form a dough. Divide the dough in half, wrap each in film and place in the fridge for 1 hour (or overnight).

Pre heat the oven to 175˚C. Grease the moulds of a muffin pan with a little butter.

Remove the dough from the fridge and place between 2 sheets of baking/ greaseproof paper. Roll with a rolling pin to flatten out the dough till it is pie-crust thin.

Using a cookie cutter (or an upturned jam jar – needs to be about 8cm diameter) cut out 25 circles and lightly press into the muffin pan moulds. The pastry can be tricky to work with as there is no gluten holding it together. Be patient. If the pastry splits just push it back together with your fingers and use any pastry scraps to fix it up.

Fill up each pie mould with a heaped teaspoon of the mincemeat. Using the remainder of the dough cut out 25 stars to top each pie.  Bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Leave to cool in the tins, before gently easing them out. Don’t be tempted to remove from the tin when they come out of the oven. They WILL fall apart!

 

 

Are You In Perimenopause?

The peri-menopause can be one of the trickiest times for women to get their head around. One minute you’re 30, full of energy to do all the things you want in your life.

Yes, there may be challenges but none of them seem unmanageable. Life – especially when you look back – seemed pretty great. All of a sudden it seems life and age have snuck up on you. You’re just not quite the same person you used to be. You notice you get tired more easily, some days you’re literally dragging yourself through the day, you’ve lost your get up and go for no reason, the weight you used to be able to lose in the run-up to an important event stays stubbornly in place no matter what you try, and you can’t seem to shift that foggy feeling in your brain. But it can’t be the menopause, right? You’re too young…

The menopause actually refers to a time when you haven’t had a single period for at least a year. The run-up to it can last for years and it’s called the peri-menopause. Think of it as the menopause transition. It can take eight to ten years! Women typically start to experience it in their 40s – and often the most obvious signs are that your periods go a little crazy – though for some it can even start in their 30s.

In the peri-menopause, levels of one of the main female sex hormones, oestrogen, rises and falls unevenly. The length of time between periods may be longer or shorter, your flow may be light to really heavy and with worse PMS than ever before, and you may even skip some periods – before they come back with a vengeance.

You might also experience some of the symptoms traditionally associated with the menopause, like night sweats, hot flushes, sleep problems, mood swings, more UTIs like cystitis and vaginal dryness. Around this time, you might begin to notice that weight loss becomes trickier and your digestion gets a little shaky.

The way some talk about the perimenopause, you’d think it was a disease. There’s no need to go to your doctor to get an official diagnosis – although it’s definitely worth booking and appointment, if you notice any of these specific symptoms, as they can point to other problems and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Fibroids are something very common at this time.

  • spotting after your period
  • blood clots during your period
  • bleeding after sex
  • periods that are muchlonger or much shorter than normal

If you are really struggling with your energy levels, it’s also worth getting your thyroid checked, if it hasn’t already been because perimenopausal and menopausal women are at greater risk of thyroid dysfunction. Added to this, thyroid symptoms can mimic menopausal symptoms. The ovaries, uterus, adrenal glands and the brain require adequate thyroid hormones to function.

Whatever your specific symptoms are, a tailored nutrition plan can really help. I know you could Google ‘diet for perimenopause’, but the truth is the answer lies not in fixing yourself symptom by symptom. In the human body everythingis connected in ways you might not imagine. Looking at the whole of you rather than individual complaints is the way forward.

Marianne Andrews, our Nutritional Therapist, is offering free 20 minute calls to discuss your needs.  You can book here or call us at the clinic 01242 584140 to book.