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5 ways owning a pet can benefit your health

Friday 1 September 2017

Animals have a long history of supporting humans, from Guide Dogs for the Blind to Medical Detection Dogs. Everyone can benefit from owning a pet and my life has changed a lot since I got my dog Coco. Introducing our Shih Tzu to the family has honestly been the best move my partner and I have ever made.

A study by the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International revealed that pet ownership could save the NHS up to £2.45billion a year through reducing the number of visits to a doctor, taking into account the influence of pet ownership on human mental and physical health, illness prevention and wellbeing. Staggering!
According to research from AXA PPP healthcare, 56% of Brits say that taking time to relax, or ‘me time’, impacts their ability to deal with life’s setbacks.  
“Taking care of and spending time with a pet is a great way to give yourself some headspace to deal with life’s setbacks and challenges,” explains Eugene Farrell, mental health expert at AXA PPP healthcare. “Walking your dog – or even borrowing one from a neighbour or local animal rescue centre – can do wonders for your wellbeing as it combines moderate exercise with taking a break from work or household chores and getting some fresh air. Similarly, caring for other types of pets can help us take time out of our busy schedules which can help us gain perspective and recharge our batteries.”

Sitting next to or playing with a pet relaxes and calms the mind, helping to give pet owners some much needed ‘me time’ to improve their mood and overall health.
Google Trends research by the healthcare provider reveals a 296% increase between March 2007 and March 2017 for the term ‘how to relax’, in the UK.
Here are the 5 top reasons why living with pets is good for our minds and bodies:
1.    Unconditional love. However bad your day’s been, you’ll have someone who depends on you to shower you with affection. The emotional bond between owner and pet can be as intense as that in many human relationships and may have similar psychological benefits. My partner works shifts which means I spend many evenings alone, having Coco there with me certainly eases the feeling of loneliness.
2.    Routine. The responsibilities that come with owning a pet can give your day purpose, reward and a sense of achievement. Regular routines and rituals are said to help forge discipline, help energy management and support mental space. The Dogs Trust also highlights that a good routine is vital for your dog’s wellbeing too. Coco barks and scratches at my bedroom door if I sleep past 8am so no lazing around for me anymore - Coco needs constant attention.
3.    Lower risk of heart disease. Owning a pet can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. It may be that dog owners naturally do more exercise, but pets also play a role in providing social support, encouraging you to stick with a new habit or adopting a healthy behaviour. Owning a cat has also been associated with a reduced rate of dying from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke, due to the stress-relieving effects of animal companionship.
4.    Socialising. Pets can act as a social icebreaker between strangers, or as a catalyst for social interaction. Research suggests that dog walkers experience significantly higher social capital (interactions and relationships) than non-dog walkers. If you want to enjoy some company with a dog but don't want all the responsibility that comes with it why not volunteer to walk a dog with your local shelter? For those based in South Wales visit this Cardiff Dogs Home page for more information.
5.    Boost to mental wellbeing. Studies have found that dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets and ownership can reduce stress and anxiety levels. Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.

Sugar and its many guises

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Think you know how to work out if the foods you’re buying have any added sugar – and how much they contain? Think again. Sugar comes in many forms, but not to fear – you just need a little help in deciphering those sneaky sugar guises…

When shopping, it’s important to remember to read the labels on any processed foods you buy (even savoury ones that you might not realise contain sugar at all!) and you’ll be surprised how often sugar, in any of its forms, pops up. It’s no wonder that so many of us are addicted to the stuff – it seems to be everywhere we look, even where we least expect it! 

But food producers are clever you see… They have to list their ingredients in quantity order – but by dividing up ‘sugar’ into lots of different names, and into lots of smaller quantities, they are able to hide them lower down on the list. So, that snack you think contains a little sugar, could well have much more of the sweet stuff than the ‘sugar’ labelled – but it’s sneaked in, in many of its many other names and forms. So familiarise yourself with sugar’s many guises, and don’t be duped!

Take note: High-Fructose Corn Syrup has a particularly bad name, with many scientists linking it to diabetes and obesity. Some people believe High Fructose Corn Syrup is banned in the UK, but in fact, it can still be found, and is often labelled as Glucose-Fructose Syrup, so beware!

Sugar tips by Dr Sally Norton.  UK Health Expert.  NHS Weight Loss Surgeon and founder of www.vavistalife.com

Healthy(ish) Gift Guide

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Do you struggle with gift ideas for your loved ones who spend most of their time out running or prepping for their clean eating lifestyle? These gifts can help the people in your life meet their fitness goals or ring in the New Year with a healthier lifestyle.

Elemis Aching Muscle Super Soak - £26.95 - This is great for aches and pains after a good workout. it has energising and warming extracts of Birch, Juniper, Clove, Alpine Lavender, Wild Thyme and Blue Chamomile, combined with Mineral-rich Sea Salt, ease tired muscles and recharge the body.

Bathtub Sloe Gin - 31DOVER.com £24.95 - If your loved one has been working hard all year and being super strict with their diet a little tipple over Christmas might be just thing thing they would like as reward. This one looks great,  just like an old apothecary medicine bottle – brown paper and string and wax sealed by hand. If you fancy 10% off this or anything on 31DOVER.COM use the code 31GEM 

Retro Space Snack Box - £8 - A perfect stocking filler for all those prepped vegetables to snack on and lean meals.

Fitbit Flex - £79.99 - If you've set aside a big budget for gift or if you are getting a gift for a very special friend this Fitbitis great and tracks steps, distance, calories burned, active minutes and sleep.

Itsu the Cookbook: 100 Low-Calorie Eat Beautiful Recipes for Health & Happiness - £4.99 - This would make a great secret santa present. Every dish provides fewer than 300 calories per serving, takes fewer than 30 minutes to master and contains minimal amounts of saturated fat.

Focus 200 In-Ear Headphones  - £24.99 - Once in place, the earbuds are 'locked' and won't wrangle free and are sweat proof- even in the most intense workouts.
Dark chocolate Santa - Christmas is time to indulge but you can enjoy these ones and know that the dark chocolate is an antioxidant and convince yourself that they are practically a super food ;)
What are you hoping for this Christmas? Have you got any tips on giving gifts to those who like to live a healthy lifestyle?

Feel Good, Be Good, Do Good - Yogi Tea giveaway

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Today's post is a giveaway kindly provided by Discount Supplements, specialists in Online Sports Supplements.  I'm a huge tea fan and would love to drink it all myself but one lucky reader will win the following:
  1. Yogi Positive Energy Tea Cranberry Hibiscus: An uplifting and invigorating tea infused with Green Mate, Guarana & Assam Black
  2. Yogi Detox Tea with Lemon; a tangy detox tea infused with the flavours of Bitter Dandelion, Sweet Liquorice & Spicy Ginger
  3. Yogi Women’s Tea; a balancing tea with a blend of Ginger, Orange Peel, Angelica Root & Ayurvedic Spices
  4. Yogi Bedtime Tea; a calming and organic tea infused with Chamomile, Lavender, Nutmeg & Valerian Root 

Each box contains 17 teabags and the winner gets a complete set!

Yogi Tea have been specialising in organic herbal tea since 1960 and are experts in creating flavoured healthy tea. Their story began when Yogi Bhajan, a teacher of holistic living, started teaching yoga in the West. He shared with his students the wisdom and knowledge of healthy living and the beneficial properties of herbs that he had mastered in India, all while serving a comforting and aromatic spiced tea they affectionately named “Yogi Tea.” Included in the recipe were five traditional Ayurvedic spices: cardamom seed, cinnamon bark, clove bud, ginger root and black pepper. When blended and brewed, these delicious and aromatic spices leave you feeling vibrant and alive, while supporting overall well-being. Intrigued by the complex flavor and inherent health benefits of this unique combination of spices, it wasn’t long before several of the yogi’s students were inspired to brew their own “Yogi Tea.” In 1984, this grassroots endeavor blossomed into the Yogi Tea Company. Packages of the dried spices began to appear in natural foods stores throughout Southern California and in Europe. By 1986, Yogi Tea was distributed nationwide in three flavors. As demand increased, the spices were more finely ground, packaged and sealed into individual tea bags.

If you fancy winning some of these delicious teas just leave a comment below with some contact details like and email address or a twitter handle and a winner will be picked at random on Tuesday 22nd September Good luck!