Essential health resolutions from the experts

01 January 2017

Christmas time is when most of us over indulge with abandon, throw caution to the wind and leave calorie and unit counting until the New Year. We drink, we stress, we party and we use the excuse of long dark nights and the need for relaxation and recovery to sit still for long periods of time.

So what should you do in January to try and reverse the damage? The experts from Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital have given a few of their own tips for New Year resolutions.

Liver love this New Year

Mr Raaj Praseedom is a consultant Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary and transplant surgeon (a liver specialist) at Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital. He explains:

“Liver disease is caused by poor diet, weight gain and alcohol consumption. It used to be rare but I am seeing more and more people in Cambridgeshire suffering.”

Here are his tips for a healthier New Year:
• no more binge eating and drinking - do you know what that does to your liver? Moderation is best
• sitting for too long is bad for your liver as well as other vital organs – get active
• ‘Dry January’ is a good idea, if not dry January then try to have a least one dry week in the month or, at the very least, three consecutive days in the week

“I don’t believe that people understand that by the time they feel the symptoms of liver disease and are actively diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, it is irreversible. It is crucial that people look after themselves and do not let their livers get to this stage.

Stress busting

Cris Kellet, Physiotherapy Manager at Progress Health explains:

“We often don’t acknowledge it but Christmas can be a stressful time for many. The shopping, cooking, entertaining, work Christmas parties make some of us anxious. Stress is unavoidable but how can we limit its consequences now Christmas is over?

• move more – movement eases built-up muscle tension occurring when we are stressed; preferably move outside and get some fresh air.
• limit screens and replace with friendly faces – social interaction can reduce stress. Make sure you have a person who is a “stable base”.
• limit caffeinated drinks
• consider what you are getting stressed about – is it really a fight or flight situation?

In the Bleak Midwinter - don't forget vitamin D

Dr Nevianna Tomson, consultant dermatologist from Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital explains about how more than 1 in 5 people have a low level of Vitamin D , and some reports estimate the level of vitamin D insufficiency to be as high as 70%:

“We need vitamin D to help our bodies absorb calcium and phosphorus from our diet as these are important for healthy bones and teeth.

“The main source of vitamin D is sun exposure but our skin isn't able to make vitamin D from October to March, as the sunlight hasn't got enough UVB radiation. Though we get vit D from our body's stores, built up during the summer, and food sources, it is not possible to get all the vit D your body needs from your diet alone. So here are a couple of tips:
• consider vitamin D supplements in the winter to top up your levels. Your doctor can check vitamin D levels and prescribe supplements
• take care - vitamin D from supplements could build up to high levels so don’t take too much.
• if you go away for winter sun – top up your vitamin D with 5-10 mins a day exposure, but use a high factor sun screen if out for longer.

Let the bowels recover

Dr Stephen Middleton, is a consultant gastroenterologist and expert in inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome. He states:

“Christmas is often a time of excess and we often eat foods which in large quantities are prone to aggravate irritable bowel syndrome and cause abdominal bloating which can be uncomfortable:

• give your digestive system time to recover
• think quality not quantity this New Year – go for things in moderation

“Recent research has discovered that many patients develop low blood sugars between meals because their stomach tends to empty a little faster than it should. They can also experience bloating and diarrhoea. The low blood sugars mean that they may feel nauseated on occasions and get very tired. This condition is known as "Middleton syndrome". The symptoms are made worse by eating very sweet foods containing a lot of sugar and if you are prone to these symptoms Christmas may have been a time when they were particularly bad:

• eat small and often, a so called "grazing diet"
• avoid very sweet fluids such as sweet fizzy drinks which contain a lot of sugar”.

Time to get moving

Spinal specialist physiotherapist James Noble, from Progress Health, told us:

“According to the World Health Organisation , physical inactivity probably kills as many people worldwide as smoking and results in more deaths than obesity”.

For the New Year, try the following:
• when sitting down to watch television, break it up with trips into other rooms
• stand whenever you have the chance, for example when on the phone in the office
• try walking with your family or work colleagues rather than gathering on the sofa or meeting in a conference room
• over the winter - enjoy the cold air on your face so when you get back home you can sit on your sofa, safe in the knowledge that you have taken control of your physical and mental wellbeing.

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