Mental health day

Round & About

health

Look after your emotional well-being and you’ll be looking after your mental health.

That’s the message from the Samaritans today (Thursday, 10th October), World Mental Health Day.

This year the World Health Organisation (WHO) has chosen the theme suicide prevention. Every 40 seconds, someone in the world takes their own life. The organisation is encouraging people to prepare to take “40 seconds of action” to help: improve awareness of the significance of suicide as a global public health problem; improve knowledge of what can be done to prevent suicide; reduce the stigma associated with suicide; and let people who are struggling know that they are not alone.

“Put simply, this is an opportunity to show you care,” said Chris Lindsay, director of Samaritans of Bracknell, Wokingham, Ascot & Districts. “Talking, rather than bottling things up, helps but sometimes, when we are worried about someone, we are not sure how to start the conversation,”

The website Samaritans.org offers “SHUSH” tips on how to be a good listener.

“We would like to get the message across that Samaritans can help people acquire the skills to look after their emotional health and look out for others, before they reach crisis point,” said Chris.

Samaritans offers free resources for schools and colleges to incorporate into their emotional health programmes.

The charity also offers Wellbeing in the Workplace. This is an online learning programme which brings Samaritans’ listening and wellbeing expertise into the workplace.

“It’s okay if you’re not an expert – just listening can help someone work through what’s on their mind. When people feel listened to, it can save a life,” said Chris.

Samaritans is available round the clock, every day of the year. The charity provides a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them. Call 116 123 (free to call) (UK), email [email protected], or visit www.samaritans.org for further details.

YoungMinds, the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health, is encouraging people to say #HelloYellow today and help raise funds for YoungMinds.

Whether you choose to go for a subtle splash of colour or really turn up the sunshine with head to toe yellow, join in to show young people they’re not alone with their mental health.

Find out more

Autumn walks

Round & About

health

Photo: National Trust – John Miller

Autumn casts a new light on familiar landscapes. When trees blaze with orange, red and gold, shady woodland is transformed into a dappled golden path. Nature’s last hurrah before the long sleep of winter, it feels rude not to enjoy the show.

I’m lucky enough to work for an organisation that loves and looks after woodlands. The National Trust cares for more than ten million trees across the country and last year we funded 38 different tree and woodland projects across the South East.

Everyone is welcome in the woods we look after. We want them to be loved, explored and enjoyed by as many people as possible. There are also things we can all do to help look after woodlands, such as taking our litter home, picking up after our dogs, not allowing them to chase wildlife or disturb nesting birds and keeping to the paths.

A mature oak tree has about 700,000 leaves, providing food for the tree and enough oxygen for 10 people for a year. As leaves start to die, the tree takes back reusable proteins and green chlorophyll, revealing the yellow and red pigments produced by sugars remaining in the leaf. The best and most long-lasting colours develop with warm, bright days and cold nights, slowing the transport of sugar from the leaf. Try to catch a falling leaf – it’s trickier than you think! A good way to identify wildlife is to look for nibbled nuts; an excellent high-protein food for fattening up before winter.

Here are some favourites in your local areas…

Surrey & West Sussex

Winkworth Arboretum, near Godalming, is the National Trust’s only arboretum. Enjoy a walk through the woods as the autumn explodes with colour while younger ones can clamber over the new tree adventure, complete with climbing wall, fireman’s pole, rope tunnel and ladders. Dogs welcome. Normal entry. Facilities & tea room.

Hatchlands Park at East Clandon, near Guildford, has a 4.5km circular walk which follows the edge of the park through woodland. Dogs welcome. Free parking. Facilities, café & shop.

Admire the colours over the Devil’s Punch Bowl on the Hidden Hindhead Trail, the lovely walk crosses the A3 and takes in some spectacular views. Dogs welocome. Car parking. Café and food kiosk & facilities.

Take in Dapdune Wharf to St Catherine’s on a River Wey walk at Guildford. This dog friendly route offers some spectacular views at the highest point of the walk before you descend to the valley bottom. Parking available.

Petworth boasts 700 acres to explore – but you don’t need to do them all in one day! Stroll round the Pleasure Grounds, enjoy a three-mile walk through the park or discover the ancient trees that dominate the skyline here. Parking, café and facilities. Dogs allowed off leads in deer park and on a lead in the Pleasure Grounds.

More information

Visit the National Trust website for more information about any of these walks and those further afield

Autumn walks

Round & About

health

Photo: National Trust – John Miller

Autumn casts a new light on familiar landscapes. When trees blaze with orange, red and gold, shady woodland is transformed into a dappled golden path. Nature’s last hurrah before the long sleep of winter, it feels rude not to enjoy the show.

I’m lucky enough to work for an organisation that loves and looks after woodlands. The National Trust cares for more than ten million trees across the country and last year we funded 38 different tree and woodland projects across the South East.

Everyone is welcome in the woods we look after. We want them to be loved, explored and enjoyed by as many people as possible. There are also things we can all do to help look after woodlands, such as taking our litter home, picking up after our dogs, not allowing them to chase wildlife or disturb nesting birds and keeping to the paths.

A mature oak tree has about 700,000 leaves, providing food for the tree and enough oxygen for 10 people for a year. As leaves start to die, the tree takes back reusable proteins and green chlorophyll, revealing the yellow and red pigments produced by sugars remaining in the leaf. The best and most long-lasting colours develop with warm, bright days and cold nights, slowing the transport of sugar from the leaf. Try to catch a falling leaf – it’s trickier than you think! A good way to identify wildlife is to look for nibbled nuts; an excellent high-protein food for fattening up before winter.

Here are some favourites in your local areas…

Berks & Bucks

Hughenden, near High Wycombe, is a National Trust beech woodland with a German Forest of yew trees planted by Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Normal admission and there’s a café and facilities at Hughenden Manor.

Wendover Woods – Forestry England woods with cycling routes, fitness trail and new café. Free to visit (charge for parking).

Bradenham Woods, near High Wycombe, is a typical Chiltern woodland with valley view, cared for by National Trust. No charge. Café in Red Lion pub in the village.

Burnham Beeches, near Farnham Common, is a National Nature Reserve with walking and cycling trails, a visitor centre and café. Free to visit (charge for parking).

Cliveden, near Maidenhead – a National Trust beech woods with glorious green avenue, far-reaching views and routes down to the river. Normal entry. Facilities and café at Cliveden.

Basildon Park near Goring – National Trust woods with different walks and children’s play trail. Normal entry. Facilities and café at Basildon Park.

Swinley Forest, near Bracknell – Look-out Discovery Centre, walking cycling and Go Ape. An Iron Age hillfort surrounded by a mile-long ditch.

Sulham Woods, near Tilehurst – Mix of deciduous and coniferous woodland with lots of footpaths and far-reaching views of the Thames Valley. No charge, no facilities, walks online.

Bowdown woods near Thatcham – Woodland Trust dense ancient woodland. Waymarked wildlife walks. No charge, no facilities.

Greys Court near Henley – Chiltern beech woods on the estate. Short and long walks online. Normal admission. Café and facilities.

More information

Visit the National Trust website for more information about any of these walks and those further afield

Autumn walks

Round & About

health

Photo: National Trust – John Miller

Autumn casts a new light on familiar landscapes. When trees blaze with orange, red and gold, shady woodland is transformed into a dappled golden path. Nature’s last hurrah before the long sleep of winter, it feels rude not to enjoy the show.

I’m lucky enough to work for an organisation that loves and looks after woodlands. The National Trust cares for more than ten million trees across the country and last year we funded 38 different tree and woodland projects across the South East.

Everyone is welcome in the woods we look after. We want them to be loved, explored and enjoyed by as many people as possible. There are also things we can all do to help look after woodlands, such as taking our litter home, picking up after our dogs, not allowing them to chase wildlife or disturb nesting birds and keeping to the paths.

A mature oak tree has about 700,000 leaves, providing food for the tree and enough oxygen for 10 people for a year. As leaves start to die, the tree takes back reusable proteins and green chlorophyll, revealing the yellow and red pigments produced by sugars remaining in the leaf. The best and most long-lasting colours develop with warm, bright days and cold nights, slowing the transport of sugar from the leaf. Try to catch a falling leaf – it’s trickier than you think! A good way to identify wildlife is to look for nibbled nuts; an excellent high-protein food for fattening up before winter.

Here are some favourites in your local areas…

Oxfordshire

Badbury, near Faringdon is a beech woodland with great views of the Thames flood plain and Faringdon. Enjoy the remains of an iron age hill fort and natural play areas for children. Charge for parking. No facilities.

Wychwood Forest in Charlbury is part of the Cornbury Park Estate, the largest area of ancient woodland in Oxfordshire dating back to Neolithic times. No charge, no facilities.

Wytham Woods in west Oxford is one of the most researched woods in the world, as it is owned by the University of Oxford. You need a permit to walk in the woods, but it’s free to apply online. No charge, no dogs or bikes.

Cowleaze Woods, near Watlington. Set high on the Chiltern escarpment, it has far-reaching views over the Oxford plain and lots of circular footpaths. No charge, no facilities.

Basildon Park near Goring – National Trust woods with different walks and children’s play trail. Normal entry. Facilities and café at Basildon Park.

Bowdown Woods near Thatcham – Woodland Trust dense ancient woodland. Waymarked wildlife walks. No charge, no facilities.

Greys Court near Henley – Chiltern beech woods on the estate. Short and long walks online. Normal entry. Café & facilities.

More information

Visit the National Trust website for more information about any of these walks and those further afield

Health clinic

Karen Neville

health

A new child health clinic has opened in Reading offering integrated services for families and children under five. 

Weekly well-baby clinics will be held, including advice sessions with the health visiting team, a self-weigh drop in service and  regular health checks by appointment. More services are planned to follow at the old Salvation Army building at the Castle Hill roundabout.

The health visiting service offers a universal programme to all families from ante-natal through to when the child reaches school age including assessments during the first 30 months of a child’s life.

Drop in well-baby clinics are also offered to families with children under five to receive support and advice on child health, growth and development.

The new central clinic in Anstey Road has been created as part of a wider review of the health visiting service across Reading.

Further changes are also planned for Southcote Community Hub, Sun Street Youth and Community Centre, Ranikhet Children’s Centre and Whitley Health Centre, Caversham Children’s Centre and Battle Library – check locally with those.

A duty health visitor telephone/email advice line will operate Monday to Friday. View the button below for a link to online resources.

Lead councillor for health, wellbeing and sport, Cllr Graeme Hoskin said: “The new Salvation Army child health centre will offer Well Baby Clinics alongside a host of other advice and support services for families in a convenient central Reading location.

“The review of the Health Visiting Service has focused on making the best use of limited resources and ensuring that those who need the service most have easy access to clinics either by foot or by public transport.

“The mandated five baby health checks will continue to be held in all our centres and the popular Duty Health Visitor phone line and email will also be available to families as well as support and advice on the Berkshire Healthcare website.”

Health walks

Round & About

health

Step out and step up your health and fitness with a good walk

Walking, we all do it everyday, but have you ever really thought about all the health benefits and how you can make it really count?

With Walking for Health, the Guildford walks programme, you can take part in a short free walk nearby to get active and stay active at a pace that suits you.

And as well as being active, it’s also a great way to explore what’s around you and make new friends while you walk, you don’t need any fancy equipment and unlike most things – it’s free!

To take part in one of the Guildford Walking for Health walks just pop along to the start point and one of the trained leaders can take your details then you can get involved in as many and as often as you like.

Walks currently take place every Monday in the Guildford area and are due to start on Tuesdays in Worplesdon and Thursdays in Shere. For more information about any of these contact Annelize Kidd on 07554 423010

Shalford area walks can be enjoyed on Wednesdays, contact Georgina Churchlow on 07714 821159

For walks in the Whitmoor Common area on Fridays, contact Roger Philo on 07905 282658

Volunteers are also needed to help the walks happen either as a walk leader or a back marker. If you are interested in helping with the walks, contact Annelize Kidd on 07554  423010

Or email any queries to [email protected]

If you still need convincing, it’s worth bearing these health benefits in mind:

– Help your heart and lungs work better

– Lower your blood pressure

– Keep your weight down

– Lighten your mood

– Keep your joints, muscles and bones strong

– Increase “good” cholesterol

The Walking for Health programme operates around the country helping people to lead healthier, more active lives. To find more walks near you or if you’re not in the Guildford area have a look at walkingforhealth.org.uk

Squirrel Sisters: nutty and nice

Round & About

health

We talk to Fulhamites Gracie and Sophie – aka Squirrel Sisters – about their mission to bring their vegan snack bar start-up to the masses.

Q. You’ve both lived in Fulham all your lives – why do you love it here?
“We were born in Richmond but we moved to south-west London after university. Fulham is amazing because it’s so central and well connected with that buzzy London attitude at the same time as having a lovely village feel to it. You get the best of both worlds in Fulham.”

Q. Tell us a bit more about how you went about starting the business…
“Health, wellness, food and how it makes us feel has always been a passion of ours so we started Squirrel Sisters as a blog in 2014. Our blog gained a large following quickly; people connected with our mission and the fact we are two normal girls with a busy lifestyle who want to enjoy life while feeling great.

“With a growing following on our blog we saw an opportunity to turn our blog into a business so after much planning and preparation we launched our snack bars in November 2015, which we already had the recipes for [Gracie used to make them for Sophie due to her gluten intolerance.]

“We wanted to prove that healthy could be delicious and exciting so set off on a mission to help people make better and healthier choices more often. We wanted to help others believe that in treating yourself you can treat your health.”

Q. You’re stocked in an impressive range of places! Have you found it hard to break into the supermarket giants?
“We are extremely proud of our distribution – after two and a half years you can now find our products in more than 1,000 stores across the UK including Waitrose (you can find our cacao brownie and cacao orange flavours stocked in the Waitrose by Parsons Green), Morrisons, Boots, Whole Foods (all our flavours are stocked in the Fulham Whole Foods), Planet Organic, Selfridges, Ocado, Amazon and hundreds of independent delis, cafes and supermarkets.

“Launching into supermarkets is a challenge for a small company, especially if you haven’t had investment. We have won several awards for our bars (including three Great Taste awards) and we have great branding so this really helped with breaking into the bigger supermarkets.”

Q. There are lots of small, independent shops and supermarkets around Fulham. Do you think these are important as well?
“So important! In our first year we focused on all the independents and created good sales case studies that we could show the big supermarkets to prove how popular our bars were. We always make a conscious effort to support the smaller independent stores.”

Q. Which healthy cafes or restaurants do you like to visit in Fulham?
“We love Little H (especially because they stock our bars) on New Kings Road [www.littlehlondon.com], Esquires Coffee (they do the best avocado on toast) just across the bridge in Putney, Megan’s by the Green on Parsons Green Lane and Boy’s N Berry on Fulham Road.”

Q. And what are your plans for the future?
“We have big plans for Squirrel Sisters – we are currently in the process of securing investment, which will really take us to the next level. We want Squirrel Sisters to be accessible to everyone. We want to be a global brand that is known for its real, honest and exciting approach to health.”

Q. Anything else to share with our readers?
“We recently published our first cookbook, Naturally Delicious Snacks & Treats, which is available in all good bookshops and online retailers including Waterstones and Amazon.”

Squirrel Sisters maple bacon popcorn

Recipe: bacon maple syrup

The ultimate sweet and savoury popcorn combo – you’ll make this again and again!

• 2 slices dry-cure smoked streaky (fatty) bacon
• A splash of olive oil
• 50g / 1 3⁄4 oz / 1⁄4 cup popcorn kernels
• 1 tbsp maple syrup
• 1⁄2 tsp sea salt flakes

Put the bacon in a non-stick frying pan (skillet) with a small splash of olive oil. Fry over high heat until crispy and golden all over, turning when needed so that it all browns evenly. Remove the bacon from the pan with tongs and leave to one side to cool.

Tip any fat left from the bacon into a large saucepan with a lid. Add the popcorn kernels and pop the lid on. Heat over high heat until you begin to hear pops. Keep cooking, shaking the pan frequently so that none stick and burn, until the popping subsides. Turn the heat off and leave it for another 30 seconds or so before removing the lid to make sure any late-popping kernels don’t fly out at you. Tip the popcorn into a bowl, discarding any un-popped kernels.

Once the bacon has cooled and hardened a little, put it into a food processor and blitz to a coarse powder.

Drizzle the maple syrup over the popcorn, stirring gently all the time so that it is evenly distributed. Sprinkle in the bacon powder and sea salt flakes, mix well and serve.

We have teamed up with Squirrel Sisters to offer a mixed box of bars and a cookbook to one lucky reader. Click here to enter

How toxic is your world?

Round & About

health

We live in a world that is literally awash with a concoction of untested chemicals. They are in soaps, detergents, cleaning products, furniture, cars, trains, planes, till receipts, plastics, paints, carpets, clothes, cosmetics, drinking water and food… and this is not an exhaustive list! Not only have about 80,000 chemicals been released into the environment since 1945, the majority have never been fully tested. Studies suggest you do not have to be exposed to a high dose to experience harmful effects. We are only now just beginning to see the results of this “experiment”…

Some have been classified as “hormone disruptors”, meaning they interfere with the intricate balance of hormones in humans and wildlife, potentially leading to developmental and reproductive problems. There is concern over the rising number of hormone-related disorders in both humans and wildlife and the results of recent scientific research include thyroid disease, hormonally driven cancers, early puberty, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The United Nations and the World Health Organisation have jointly published a report calling for more research to understand the link. It is unfortunately now impossible to escape being exposed to some extent to toxins, but you can dramatically reduce the total toxic load you are under, by making sensible lifestyle choices when it comes to what you eat, drink, wear and use. For example avoid consuming plastic bottled water (especially carbonated), filter your drinking and bathing water, eat organic foods, buy environmentally friendly/or make your own household detergents/dishwashing/cleaning and laundry products, stop using a fabric conditioner, think carefully about the use of garden chemicals/lawn treatments, use natural soaps/shampoos and reduce the use of personal care products and cosmetics/seek out natural alternatives. Consuming a nutrient-dense diet as well as directly supporting optimal liver and gut health are also key.

Call Mark BSc (Hons) BA (Hons) mBANT CNHC on 0118 321 9533 or visit www.entirewellbeing.com

Stomach acid is crucial for health

Round & About

health

Stomach acid is not a design flaw of the body (which is often how it is portrayed), but is, in fact, crucial for optimal health and wellbeing. Without appropriate levels of stomach acid, the whole digestive process starts off on the wrong foot. Proteins need to be broken down into their component parts (amino acids) for efficient absorption further down the digestive tract and stomach acid is essential for this process to happen efficiently. The efficient absorption of vitamin B12 and minerals is also dependent on sufficient levels of stomach acid. B12 is crucial for energy production, mental/nerve function and cardio-vascular health. Typical symptoms that might suggest less than optimal levels of stomach acid include bloating, cramping, gas/belching shortly after a meal, reflux/heartburn, parasitic and yeast infections, feeling tired after a meal, problems digesting animal protein, nausea, bad breath, skin problems, undigested food in stools, increased susceptibility to food poisoning, rectal itching, IBS, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, food sensitivities and weak fingernails. If you suspect that you might have suboptimal levels of stomach acid, the following actions may well help: consume ginger and sauerkraut, avoid drinking large amounts of fluid just before and after eating a meal, eat smaller meals, consume the largest meal of the day when you are the least stressed, chew your food thoroughly, sit down and take your time to eat and consider taking a ‘food state’ multi vitamin and mineral supplement, using digestive bitters (natural stomach acid stimulants) and the use of very specific stomach acid supplementation. Please note that if you are taking any medications or have any significant health concerns, it is essential that you work with a suitably qualified health practitioner/doctor before taking any supplementation. Call Mark BSc (Hons) BA (Hons) mBANT CNHC on 0118 321 9533 or visit www.entirewellbeing.com

Is a vegan diet healthy?

Round & About

health

Society considers a vegan diet a “healthy” lifestyle choice (both for humans and the environment). But is it? Some of the most severe and chronic health conditions I see are often connected to current or past veganism.

The science is convincing; vegans are far more likely to present with a number of key nutritional deficiencies compared to omnivores, particularly B12, omega 3 essential fats, choline and bioavailable forms of calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin A and D. Our cells require optimal nutrient levels to function. When cells malfunction, we develop disease.

Our digestive system closely resembles other predatory animals’ and is designed to break down animal protein with stomach acid. Herbivores do not produce stomach acid. Plants are difficult to break down, which is why herbivores have a special stomach (a rumen) containing significant quantities of bacteria whose sole purpose is to release nutrients. If you watch a cow eating, you’ll notice grass is regurgitated multiple times – “chewing the cud”. The human digestive system has very few bacteria in the stomach (stomach acid is very hostile to gut bacteria), with the vast majority residing in our version of a rumen, the colon (which is as far away from the stomach as possible) and located after the small intestine, the key part of the digestive system that absorbs nutrients (in herbivores the rumen is before the small intestine). We are designed to absorb the vast majority of our nutrients from foods broken down in the upper digestive systems (animal proteins/fats), with indigestible plant matter passed to the colon, where the gut bacteria get to work and produce a raft of essential metabolic by-products that we have discussed and confer considerable health benefits.

I’m not advocating we eat lots of animal protein; it should be the “garnish” with veg centre stage! I’m pointing out that abstaining from all animal protein is not “healthy”. A vegan diet is essentially a form of fasting.

Call Mark BSc (Hons) BA (Hons) mBANT CNHC on 0118 321 9533 or visit www.entirewellbeing.com