5 easy ways to give yourself more energy

We all know what it feels like to be exhausted, lacking energy and lethargic, now here’s what to do about it!

Dr Emma Derbyshire shares her tips for boosting energy levels:

Care-free commute – many of us face at least an hour’s commute every day, often on public transport, with delays which do nothing for our mood or energy levels. But instead of focussing your energy on getting annoyed, use your commuting time to do something just for you. Read a book, practise mindfulness or meditation, listen to your favourite music or catch up on small admin tasks. You can’t control commuting woes, so just go with it.

Natural energy release – get up and dance, do star jumps or go for a walk and create some of those feel-good endorphins. You could also try a supplement such as Red Kooga’s Natural Energy Release, which works with the body to help increase alertness and vitality, boost energy and wellbeing and ward off fatigue.

Ditch the digital –  we are a nation addicted to our smartphones and laptops. But this digital dependency also impacts our energy levels. While we play with our phones, time ticks away and we become more sedentary. Seeing social media posts from others can also affect our moods. Try to allocate certain times during the day to check social media and emails instead of all the time.

Get moving – schedule in some movement time every day. It’s easy to get so involved in your work that three hours have gone past and you haven’t so much as stood up! We might think being in front of the screen hours on end makes us productive, but actually it makes us sluggish, while energy levels drop and productivity goes down. Get up from your desk, stretch, make a round of teas, talk to colleagues and get out for a walk at lunch – it will refresh you and leave you with more energy to tackle the afternoon!

What’s on your plate? – we all grew up with the phrase ‘you are what you eat’. And it’s true – we need to pay attention to foods which are going to give us sustainable energy and satisfy our body’s nutritional demands. Rather than just grabbing at food because we have a hunger to satisfy, nutrient-rich foods such as lean protein, oily fish, fruit and vegetables and complex carbohydrates (whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds) should be our go-to. They will help sustain our energy levels and see us through the day.


Popular diet myths exposed and debunked!

Dr Sally Norton, health and weight loss consultant surgeon, clears up some common misconceptions about the best ways to lose weight 

MYTH #1 Dieting is the best way to lose weight 

Research shows that when women, in particular, want to lose weight they turn to dieting. Unfortunately, research also shows that this is highly unlikely to lead to long-term weight-loss with over 85% of people regaining all of the weight they have lost, and more, by a year after the diet.

This can then lead to the misery of yo-yo dieting, which can be harmful for health and is no way to live your life. Instead, you are much better making a few changes to your lifestyle and eating habits that you can keep up for good.

MYTH #2 You need a good breakfast 

A recent study confirmed that whether you have a good breakfast or not makes no difference to weight loss. Everyone is different – you may be an early riser or a night-owl when it comes to sleep, so it is not surprising that your breakfast desires may be different, too. Listen to your body when it comes to eating – if you are having proper nutritious food, your body will tell you when it needs fuelling. If you focus on a bit of protein (as confirmed by other recent research) and avoid sugar and processed carbs then whether you have a quick snack or a feast for breakfast is entirely up to you!unnamed (60)

MYTH #3 You need to eat regular snacks throughout the day 

It is often said in dieting folklore that eating little and often stops you getting so hungry and encourages you to burn off more energy. However, I believe that our inner cavewoman would disagree. Our bodies weren’t built for constant snacking – particularly on the sort of food we eat nowadays. You are better off getting used to going without food for a few hours at a time – it helps you understand that you are often not eating from hunger, just from habit…and that “hunger” can be ignored for a while without us falling flat on the floor! Recent research backs up this view showing that women who ate 2 meals or 5 meals of the same calorie content, showed no difference in the amount of energy they burnt off. Interestingly, it also showed that eating more frequent meals produced more signs of inflammation in the body (and therefore may increase risk of disease) than eating less frequently.

MYTH #4 Exercise doesn’t really help weight loss unnamed (59)

Yes, in a very literal sense, exercise does not lead to weight loss – if you believe that all an hour of exercise does is burn off 200 calories worth of a 400 calorie doughnut.

But it isn’t black and white like that. Losing weight isn’t just about making sure that energy out is more than energy in…we are much more complex as human beings than that overly simplistic model!

The research abounds with studies showing that exercise can help weight loss in other ways. Exercise builds up muscle – which burns more energy in the longer term. If we are more muscular, we are more toned, have better posture and thus look slimmer. Looking good makes us feel better about ourselves – and if we feel fit and healthy we are more likely to make healthier choices – which promotes weight loss. Rather than a vicious cycle (like dieting!) it is a win-win situation!

Also, exercise, particularly in the cold, seems to increase the ‘fat-burning’ brown fat, which is found more commonly in people who keep a healthy weight.

There is also evidence that aerobic exercise reduces the risk of developing tummy fat and metabolic syndrome (diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease).

What’s more, just getting out in the fresh air makes most of us feel so much happier – not to mention giving us a top up of Vitamin D!

I won’t be hanging up my trainers, that’s for sure!

MYTH #5 We should be stocking up on low-fat foods to lose weight 

The myth that fat is bad has been particularly harmful to our health and waistline. Many fats are healthy in moderation – and yet we are bombarded with low-fat yoghurts, “slimming” ready-meals and processed spreads that are bulked up with sugar, salt or chemical nasties that provide little, if any, nutrition.

Butter, cheese, full-fat yoghurt and other dairy and animal fats are natural and seldom processed, unlike many low-fat alternatives. Coconut oil is another fat that has recently been enjoying popularity.

Of all of the diets that have been shown to help weight-loss, it is not the low-fat diet that wins out. In fact, the low-carb high-fat diet seems to be most successful – though long-term weight-loss is no better with this diet than with any others that can’t be made part of your day-to-day life.

You are therefore best off focusing on real food – that means avoiding anything processed wherever possible. By doing so you will automatically be reducing your refined carbs, eating natural fats and proteins, bulking up with fruit and veg – and dramatically cutting down on your sugar intake.

That is the best tip I can give for weight-loss that lasts!

For more health and weight loss tips from Dr Sally Norton, visit her website at 


What are sublingual supplements?

Water for Health shares the interesting backstory behind Frunutta, the Smaller Vitamin Company, whose sublingual tablets make it easier for those at risk of nutritional deficiencies, such as vegans, vegetarians and those with autism, to supplement their diets and stay healthy.

Many companies have an interesting backstory, and Frunutta – the Smaller Vitamin Company – is no different.

The story starts with Dr. Ali Alavi, Frunutta’s co-founder. The father to an autistic child, Dr. Alavi was understandably keen to nourish his son the best way he could. You see, nutritional deficiencies are all too common among children with autism due to abnormal eating behaviours and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Ensuring a healthy intake of nutrients is absolutely vital if proper physical and cognitive development is to be achieved. Whether it’s calcium to build bones and teeth, or iron to construct healthy blood, youngsters – and indeed adults – need these nutrients in appreciable amounts.Frunutta_VitD3_5000_1024x1024

When obtaining vitamins and minerals from food proved problematic, Dr. Alavi resorted to vitamin supplements – only to learn that his son was averse to swallowing tablets and capsules.

Though it greatly pained him to do so, Dr. Alavi was left with just one option: to inject his son with the important vitamins he required on a weekly basis. Intravenous vitamin therapy is entirely effective for correcting deficiencies, it should be said, but the process proved to be heart-wrenching for both father and son. There had to be a better way.

As Dr. Alavi investigated alternative methods, the seeds of Frunutta slowly began to bear fruit. He realised that sublingual vitamins would be cheaper and more convenient than going the intravenous route. Commonly used in hospital emergency rooms, sublingual tablets are placed under the tongue, where they quickly dissolve and enter the bloodstream.Frunutta Vitamin B12_1024x1024

Because they are not required to fight through the digestive tract and survive the harshly acidic conditions of the stomach, sublingual tablets are quite a bit smaller than traditional tablets. Take away the protective shellacs, added sugars, artificial colours, fillers and other ingredients and you’re left with – what else? – pure vitamin. Frunutta vitamins contain all of what you need and none of what you don’t.

Unlike the other methods, sublingual supplements went down a treat with Dr. Alavi’s son, and after teaming up with a small group of pioneering doctors and scientists, the Frunutta brand was born. Not only would sublingual vitamins and minerals help autistic children, but they would ensure adults avoided common nutritional deficiencies brought about by malabsorption.

Sublingual vitamins would also represent a handy alternative to tricky-to-swallow pills or capsules. After all, it can be a pain to gulp one or more daily vitamin tablets if you’re already using some form of medication. Factor in omega-3 capsules and any other natural supplement (glutathione, probiotics) and you could quite easily be consuming half a dozen pills per day; maybe more!

Along with his research and development team, Dr. Alavi built Frunutta from the ground up in the United States, intending to offer the benefits his son had experienced to as many as he could reach. Surely there was a market out there for vitamins devoid of preservatives, hydrogenated oils, PCBs, talc, sugar? Surely intravenous wasn’t the only option for those wishing to cut the digestive system out of the picture?

As it turned out, the surgeon was correct: sublingual supplements have grown in popularity in recent years, and the Frunutta range is now available in the UK exclusively from Water for Health. Eight supplements are available in total, including a high-strength sublingual vitamin D3, sublingual vitamin B12 and sublingual vitamin C.

Vitamin D3, which plays a key role in immune, skeletal and cardiovascular health, is especially important to supplement during the autumn and winter months. However, those who don’t get enough sun throughout the year are also likely to be deficient. The National Institute for Healthcare and Excellence reckons one in five adults (and one in six kids) may have low vitamin D status.

Frunutta’s sublingual Vitamin D3 provides a generous dose of 5,000 i.u. per tablet, identical to the daily amount advised by the Vitamin D Council (for adults). The same organisation recommend that infants receive 1,000 i.u. per day, and children 1,000 i.u. per 25 lbs of body weight. Helpfully, Frunutta have a second strength of supplement for youngsters which contains a 1,000 i.u. dosage.

Vitamin B12, meanwhile, is an important supplement for vegetarians and vegans, since plants neither make nor require the nutrient. The best dietary sources of B12 – which is needed for the nervous system, the brain and the immune system – are in the carnivore’s palate: foods such as meat, fish, poultry, milk, eggs and cheese.

As a consequence, those who favour a plant-based diet must rely on fortified foods, supplements or a combination of both. Frunutta’s sublingual Vitamin B12 is methylcobalamin, the most bioavailable and readily absorbed form, and each quick-absorbing tablet provides a generous 1,000 mcg dosage.

Whatever deficiency you’re trying to avoid, Frunutta’s “just vitamin” policy helps them stand out from the crowd. If you’re keen to avoid the artificial ingredients which too often creep into the diet, or if you just want to benefit from the quick absorption of sublingual tablets, give them a try.


Revealed: The perfect time to drink your coffee

Research into the nation’s coffee drinking habits has revealed that the UK is crazy about caffeine, with people drinking an average of three cups per day. Yet when it comes to drinking your first coffee of the day, it turns out that 82% of people have been doing it all wrong.

The research by bed and sleep specialist Time 4 Sleep looked into the amount of coffee people in the UK are consuming, how it can impact sleep and the time we tend to drink our first cuppa of the day.

According to health expert Dr Sarah Brewer, your first cup of the day should be no earlier than 10am. Despite this advice, the average time for people to have their first morning cup is at 8:30am.

UK spending on hot drinks is on the rise. According to recent research, in 2017 the average amount we spent on coffee, tea and cocoa in the UK was around £3.5 billion, the highest it’s ever been.

Another study found the value of coffee imported to the UK in 2017 was around £801 million, in comparison to just £267,649 ten years previously (in 2007).

Time 4 Sleep worked with Dr Brewer to find out when we really should be drinking coffee during the day for it not to affect your bedtime routine and have created an online tool that tells you when to drink your last cup of coffee of the day.

“The perfect time to have a cup of coffee is an individual thing and depends partly on the genes you have inherited, your lifestyle and your biorhythms, ” says Dr Brewer. “It’s never a good idea to reach for the coffee pot immediately after waking. Between 8am and 9am your body is naturally flooded with cortisol – a stress hormone that has an alerting effect and mobilises energy after your overnight fast.

“Your blood cortisol levels are highest between half an hour and two hours after waking and when your cortisol is peaking, it’s the worst time to drink coffee because caffeine mimics the stress response and causes your cortisol levels to rise even further. This disturbs your biorhythms and induces a caffeine intolerance so it is less effective later in the day.”

The perfect coffee schedule – as recommended by Dr Brewer – has been revealed below:

10:00am – first cup of the day

By now, your cortisol levels have fallen and you need an energy boost. Your genes dictate how quickly you absorb and break down coffee. Most people absorb caffeine quickly, and after drinking a cup of coffee, your blood level reaches maximum concentration almost exactly half an hour later. The length of time caffeine stays in your body varies widely, with the time taken for blood levels to fall by half varying 2 hours, 40 minutes to as long as nearly 10 hours.

2pm – an afternoon pick-me-up

Your circadian rhythms cause another cortisol peak around lunch time, with a second, smaller peak between 11:30am and 1:30pm. This is partly driven by low blood sugar levels and your need for a meal. By 2pm your cortisol levels are falling again, and the alerting effect of your first cup of coffee has worn off. 2pm is the perfect time for that second cup of coffee to set you up for the afternoon.

5pm – consider a final hit of coffee

A third, much smaller rise in cortisol peaks late in the afternoon, around 5:30pm to 6pm. If you feel like you’re flagging at 5pm, you could have a third cup of coffee if you metabolise caffeine quickly, so that it won’t interfere with sleep. If you metabolise caffeine slowly, then having it late in the afternoon may keep you tossing and turning at night.

When it comes to your sleeping pattern, caffeine can have a significant impact on your ability to fall asleep.

“Caffeine is the most widely consumed stimulant in the world and mainly works via adenosine receptors in the brain,” says Dr Brewer. “This produces an alerting effect by increasing the release of some brain chemicals. Caffeine increases focus and reduces the perception of fatigue. By blocking adenosine receptors, it prevents the relaxing responses produced by adenosine and interferes with your ability to wind down and sleep.”

With expert advice warning that coffee can have a significant impact on people’s sleeping patterns, Time 4 Sleep found out the length of time it takes for people in the UK fall asleep at night. The research revealed that a third (34%) of people take 30 minutes to an hour to fall asleep each night, but 16% said it takes them around one to two hours to nod off each night.

To help you work out the perfect time to drink your final coffee of the day, based on the time you go to bed, visit the Time 4 Sleep website and input your bedtime details.

For 5 great ways to start the day, pick up a copy of the June/July issue of Holistic Scotland Magazine.


Fasting diets reduce important risk factor for cardiovascular disease

Fasting diets (based on intermittent energy restriction) clear fat from the blood faster after eating meals than daily calorie restriction diets – therefore reducing an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

That’s according to a report in the British Journal of Nutrition (BJN) following the first study of its kind in which the University of Surrey examined the impact of the 5:2 diet on the body’s ability to metabolise – as well as clear – fat and glucose after a meal.

Researchers compared it to the effects of weight loss achieved by a more conventional daily calorie restriction diet, whereas previous studies have predominantly focused on blood risk markers taken in the fasted state, which only tends to be overnight.

During the study, overweight participants were assigned to either the 5:2 diet or a daily calorie restriction diet and were required to lose five per cent of their weight.

Those on the 5:2 diet ate normally for five days and for their two fasting days consumed 600 calories, using LighterLife Fast Foodpacks, while those on the daily diet were advised to eat 600 calories less per day than their estimated requirements for weight maintenance (in the study women ate approx. 1400 calories, men ate approx. 1900 calories/day).

Under the expert guidance of the team, those on the 5:2 diet achieved 5 per cent weight-loss in 59 days compared to those on the daily calorie restriction diet who achieved their goal in 73 days.

27 participants completed the study, with approximately 20 per cent of participants in both groups dropping out because they either could not tolerate the diet or were unable to attain their 5 per cent weight-loss target.

According to the BJN, researchers found that participants who followed the 5:2 diet cleared the fat (triglyceride) from a meal given to them more efficiently than those who undertook the daily diet.

Although there were no differences in post meal glucose handling, researchers were surprised to find variations between the diets in c-peptide (a marker of insulin secretion from the pancreas) following the meal, the significance of which will need further investigation.

The study also found a greater reduction in systolic blood pressure (the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats) in participants on the 5:2 diet.

Systolic blood pressure was reduced by 9% of following the 5:2, compared to a small 2% increase among those on the daily diet.

A reduction in systolic blood pressure reduces pressure on arteries, potentially lessening incidences of heart attacks and strokes.

Dr Rona Antoni, Research Fellow in Nutritional Metabolism at the University of Surrey, said: “As seen in this study, some of our participants struggled to tolerate the 5:2 diet, which suggests that this approach is not suited to everybody; ultimately the key to dieting success is finding an approach you can sustain long term.

“But for those who do well and are able stick to the 5:2 diet, it could potentially have a beneficial impact on some important risk markers for cardiovascular disease, in some cases more so than daily dieting.

“However, we need further studies to confirm our findings, to understand the underlying mechanisms and to improve the tolerability of the 5:2 diet.”