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Winter Wellness | Creating Health This Winter

BOOSTING IMMUNE FUNCTION

With the arrival of winter the resistance of the body to 'unwanted invaders' can significantly decrease for a whole range of reasons. Often as a result of rapid changes in the weather, along with significant fluctuations in the temperature, but also lifestyle factors.  Fatigue, lack of sleep, bad diet and excessive alcohol, places extra stress on the body and makes it harder to maintain a healthy mind and body through the winter season. When we make small changes and take care of our immune system we see significant improvements in our health and wellbeing, making us less susceptible to viruses, bacteria and the inevitable variable weather and dark winter days! If we are starting to feel fatigued, it is our bodies way of letting us know it's time to take action to increase our resilience and resistance to diseases; this is the time to begin changing our daily habits for the better!


The strength of our immune system is particularly effected by our daily life habits as well as, irregular and inadequate nutritional habits. When your daily diet is not rich in nutrients, it does not provide your body with the many nutrients required to fight off infection. In a health inducing winter diet we should concentrate on the super foods, vegetables and fruit.

  Consume foods rich in vitamins and minerals!

Richest Sources of Vitamin C

Your diet should be rich in vitamin C. It will give you a natural protection, seal the blood vessels and help prevent viruses and bacteria entering your body. 

• Parsley • Wild rose • Peppers • Currants • Citrus fruits

Selenium and Zinc

In addition to vitamin C, it is worth consuming foods rich in selenium and zinc. These minerals are known for being powerful natural antioxidants, fighting against invading organisms and harmful free radicals. Excellent sources of zinc and selenium are wholesome grains and nuts.

Consume Foods Rich in Omega-3

Be sure to consume foods rich in omega -3 , which stimulate the production of white blood cells and eliminate harmful bacteria . Sea fish like tuna and salmon are rich in unsaturated fatty acids.

SUNSHINE • FRESH AIR • PHYSICAL ACTIVITY & EXERCISE

Get into the sun whenever there are sunny days. The sun's rays stimulate the body to produce vitamin D and help relax us. Good physical condition goes hand in hand with a balanced diet. Keep moving, preferably in the fresh air! In this way we increase the efficiency of the entire body, forcing all systems to work in harmony and makes us more resilient to life stressors. 

REST • RELAXATION • SLEEP

Weakened immunity is often the result of overwork and insufficient daily rest. Take care of the appropriate length of sleep - that’s when your body repairs and regenerates.

HYDRATION

Maintaining adequate hydration is essential for our health, especially during the winter months, as we live in central heated homes and offices. Aim to drink at least half a litre of pure water daily whether you prefer warm or cold water, interspersed with other beverages such as tea and coffee - it will help maintain hydration and cleanse your body.

AVOID HIGHLY PROCESSED FOODS

Limit your intake of white bread, sugar, refined oils, fatty dairy products, sweets, salty snacks, caffeine and alcohol.

FOODS TO ADD

Add to your menu natural yogurts, seafood, ginger, and whole-grain products.

10 STEPS TO WINTER PROOF YOUR SKIN

1. USE SUNSCREEN

When it comes to sunshine, even in the winter, the advice is: use antioxidant vitamins together with reflecting sunscreens such as titanium dioxide and low does organic sunscreens. These can all be found in our Environ® RAD SPF 15. Retinyl palmitate (vitamin A) is found in all our Environ® AVST Moisturisers in high doses and give the equivalent of SPF 20 and cannot be washed or sweated off as you slowly build up to maximum levels through the AVST 1 - 5 step-up system. Always remember that the effects of winter sun (UVA only, which accelerates ageing) are often not taken into consideration in the same way as summer sun (UVA and UVB which causes burning). So, to ensure great protection for your skin in the wintertime make sure that you apply Environ® RAD or Jane Iredale® PurePressed® Base Mineral Foundation to moisturised skin.

2. FEED SKIN FROM WITHIN

From a skin health perspective, it's just as important to feed the skin orally with the correct nutrients as well as topically with the right skincare programme. This two phase approach will ensure your skin is nourished from the inside and outside. As a minimum, Advanced Nutrition Programme® Skin Complete helps to mirror topical skincare. Additional supplementation with Skin Omegas, which contain great levels of omega 3 and 6 will provide essential fatty acids to feed the skin with the 'good oils' needed to 'waterproof' skin cell membranes and keep skin hydrated. So important especially in the winter months when we live in centrally heated environments and also exposed to the harsh colder weather too.

3. AVOID EXFOLIATION

Extensive exfoliation makes the skin thinner, more vulnerable, drier and while may present a brighter fresher appearance for a few days, then deteriorates, prompting a vicious circle of more exfoliation. The solution is to stop, allow the skin cells to mature properly, use Advanced Nutrition Programme® Skin Vit A+ and Skin Omegas+ to promote a healthy horny layer that will protect the skin, retain moisture and eventually present beautiful skin.

4. CLEANSE CORRECTLY

Interestingly, whether you have dry or oily skin, oil based cleansers make a good first step in the cleansing process. They effectively remove pollutants, make-up and debris from the skin to decongest, without the stripping action, that ultimately dries skin out, making it more vulnerable and sensitive. Oil will cut through grime giving the skin a really effective cleanse. Environ® AVST Cleansing Lotion, Sebuwash or C-quence Cleanser are all great cleansing options.

5. APPLY A REPAIR AND PROTECT ATTITUDE

Effective skincare treatment begins from within, so an effective mix of antioxidants and Vitamin A both orally and topically is recommended. Vitamin A is the single most important molecule to keep skin healthy and repair damage as it determines how your skin cells repair and develop. Advanced Nutrition Programme® Skin Complete provides both Skin Antioxidant and Skin Vit A+ which used in partnership with a personalised Environ® Skincare programme will give the skin protection and regeneration.

6. BOOSTING RESULTS

Regular maintenance and assessment! To achieve a boost in your skin results it is always useful to add additional active ingredients such as peptides to further stimulate collagen and elastin production. Also by adding Vitamin C Plus orally and topically we can reduce redness and even out skin tone as well as acting as a powerful antioxidant. Other great ingredients include asiatic, mandelic and lactic acid which work together to release natural growth factors in the skin helping to tighten and smooth photo-damaged skins; these can be found in Environ®'s Avance DFP 312™. Don’t forget regular courses of Environ® Facial Treatments will supercharge your home-care routine, seriously enhance your skincare results!

7. STEP UP...

Not a hard rule but one to manage carefully. It's very important to have professional advice to manage the progressively higher concentrations of vitamin A and other active ingredients in your skincare regime. This will ensure the protection and maintenance of a smooth, even-toned, and healthy skin and prevent signs of ageing, pigmentation, problem skin and scarring.

8. TAKE ALL THINGS IN MODERATION

The Party Season is now in full swing; full of fizz, choccies, late nights and too much rich, sticky food! Sleep is also unlikely to be high on the agenda. So, extra vitamin C during this period (inside and out) and Colostrum-C will help to boost immunity. Post party clever weapons include using Jane Iredale Enlighten Concealer to cover dark circles and faking a healthy glow over pale lacklustre skin with Jane Iredale Bronzers!

9. BELIEVE EXERCISE IS THERAPEUTIC

Regular exercise reduces inflammation, helps regulate and stimulate skin-significant hormones and prevents free-radical damage. When you exercise, the tiny arteries in your skin open up, allowing more blood to reach the skin’s surface and deliver nutrients that repair damage from the sun and environmental pollutants. So to improve your skin, start moving, vigorously and watch your skin glow!

10. BELIEVE IN YOUR SKIN POTENTIAL

We all need a confidence boost and some inspiration! So we're here to help! Why not refresh your skincare regime and try an Environ® Treatment Facial as a special treat or a makeover with Jane Iredale Mineral Cosmetics and learn some new tips and tricks to create an even more beautiful you!

SOOTHING STRESS

From the moment we wake up, to the moment we fall asleep, life can be stressful! If you're struggling to cope with the daily pressures of work, family, childcare, endless emails plus lack of sleep etcetera, etcetera.... You're not alone!! According to new research, one in four workers admit to taking time off work due to stress and a quarter of us are feeling the weight of modern life more than ever... So what can we do about it? Well, when we are feeling overwhelmed and just a little stressed out, it can be a BIG challenge to take a step back and regain some perspective! So when it comes to applying the phrase 'Don't Sweat the Small Stuff', here are 10 simple steps that can help REDUCE some of life's daily pressures. Applying just one of these changes consistently to our daily routine, can make a huge difference in our ability to cope with overload, manage our lives more effectively and ultimately bring more joy and fulfilment by restoring balance to our (increasingly) busy lives.

1. Exercise With Friends

We already know that fitness is good for our outlook (as well as our bodies) and exercising produces the 'feel-good' endorphins. But, research is showing, doing it with friends really amps-up the benefits. A good training session can be a great way to switch off from whatever’s stressing you out, but working out  and spending quality time with friends and other like-minded people, means you can also have a laugh, in an environment where you're getting fitter and healthier.

2. Go Green

Green tea is an excellent mood booster. Why? It contains some caffeine, which gives you a bit of a lift, but also contains the amino acid theanine. This clever nutrient can have a relaxing effect and may help to relieve anxiety and mental stress, potentially by increasing your levels of serotonin, dopamine (responsible for reward and pleasure), and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA, which has a relaxant effect).

3. Put Things Into Perspective

Challenges at work, with finances, relationships and parenthood and perceived lack of time to do-it-all, can play a huge role in the development of stress, and it is very important to recognise that there is nothing in your life that it more important than your health and wellbeing, including your mental and emotional health. This is precisely why it needs safeguarding. When you feel the symptoms of stress beginning, simply STOP and take a STEP-BACK. It's so important to get your priorities in order. Learning to say no, when you feel overwhelmed is a good start, as it helps to give you a sense of control over your life. It can also help to make lists of what is or is not a priority to you in the present and to tackle the priority tasks first. Remember we can only do one thing at a time, and nobody expects you to 'eat all the cookie in one bite - take it one bite at a time'! It is invigorating and empowering when you can take a step-back and regain control of your life!

4. Balance Stress with Pilates and Yoga

If you feel like your shoulders have permanently taken up residence by your ears, then help de-stress yourself and re-energise your body with Pilates or Yoga. Both these forms of exercise will increase your flexibility and improve posture, by unravelling and lengthening the spine, stretching out your limbs, strengthening your core muscles and deepening your breathing to release tension and induce a sense of calm. An excellent antidote to both mental and physical stress.

5. Eat an avocado

Avocados are a great food choice! They are packed with magnesium, which is well known for it's role in over 300 different physiological processes in the body. It is particularly important in energy production and helps to calm the nervous system. So add an avocado to your salads and enjoy the many benefits!

6. Chill with a chuckle

Having a laugh is one of the best remedies for stress because it triggers healthy physiological changes in our body. Many research studies show that laughter boosts our energy, decreases stress hormones thereby improving immunity and diminishing pain. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins in the brain, the natural feel-good chemicals that make us happier and more relaxed. This instantly off-sets our stress - So go-ahead and have a good chuckle!!

7. Grab some sleep

Quality sleep is essential for wellbeing and happiness, as not sleeping enough may lead to feeling stressed, angry, sad and mentally exhausted. Sleep is a significant part of living a healthy lifestyle, and many of us simply do not get enough. Stress and sleep are related: if we don’t get enough sleep we can find it harder to adapt to challenging situations, and when we can’t cope as efficiently with stress it can be harder to have a good nights rest. Many of us experience feelings of pressure, tension, and nervousness especially after a busy and stressful day and these feelings can feel more prominent at bedtime. Magnesium is known as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’ and is needed to relax our muscles and nerves, which helps us to fall into a peaceful sleep. To ensure you’re getting enough magnesium try and include plenty of magnesium-rich foods in your diet such as, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, fish and leafy green vegetables. Sufficient sleep is also a hugely effective tool to combat overload!

8. Reduce tension with fish

Astonishingly 18% of our brain is made up of Omega-3s, however, we don’t produce this fatty acid in the body, so we have to find sources from the food we eat. Try to eat oily fish at least twice a week or snack on chia seeds. Fatty acids are great ‘brain’ food and can help to fight mood swings, too.

9. Comfort yourself with dark chocolate

Good news! The excuse you’ve never needed for chocolate consumption is here. Chocolate contains several substances that may improve mood. These include phenylethylamine, which can act as a brain neurotransmitter and affect your mood and induce feelings of pleasure. Chocolate also contains, that 'magic' nutrient, magnesium, needed for the production of serotonin, the primary hormone responsible for good mood. Eating any food that you enjoy also stimulates endorphin release, which makes you feel good. Don’t over-indulge in comfort foods though, especially very sugary or high-GI foods, as this will only make you feel worse later on as your blood sugar level drops – and can also lead to weight gain, obviously! So  a little of what you fancy, really does do you a lot of good - allow yourself an occasional treat...but be mindful and don't over indulge....!

10. Limit the caffeine

It seems you can have too much of a good thing. Especially when it comes to tea and coffee. Caffeine is a stimulant which prompts the body to release stress hormones which making you feel more stressed and jittery than you should be. Because caffeine acts like a drug, it wouldn’t be advisable to stop suddenly and go ‘cold turkey’ because you could experience quite dramatic withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea, tiredness, muscle cramps and depression, so to minimise these effects, try cutting down gradually, substituting some of your usual drinks for healthier alternatives. It’s much better to cut down slowly over a few weeks. Begin by alternating your coffee or tea with herbal teas or grain coffees or even warm water; and try not to drink caffeinated drinks after 4pm in the afternoon. Also be mindful of decaffeinated coffee as well because if contains other stimulants (theobromine and theophylline), which are not removed when the coffee is decaffeinated.

THE FACTS ABOUT SAD

SYMPTOMS OF SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER

WINTER SAD • Overeating • Unexplained weight gain • Sleeping more than usual • Depression

Seasonal Affective Disorder was first systemised and reported as a condition in the early 1980's, by Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D, after he recognised the symptoms of low mood in himself during the winter months. SAD is characterised by depressive symptoms in the darker, colder months and can include eating and drinking more, fatigue, malaise, decreased desire to interact and lowered sex drive. Sufferers often find difficulty getting out of bed and lowered mood and motivation. 

Possible Causes

Theories behind the causes of SAD include: 

• A reduction in serotonin production which is possibly related to light exposure

• Lowered vitamin D levels which are due to lowered sun exposure

• Increased melatonin levels, which increase at night and during periods of darkness. 

It is also theorised that the decreased sex drive and other symptoms may have been survival driven, as it was less favourable to reproduce at this time, as well as some of the symptoms either driving people to consume more calories or slowing them down to slow down calorie burning.

Genetic Factors

Genetic factors clearly play a role with over 20% of people who get SAD also being bi-polar in nature. Less frequency is noted in Iceland and Japan, but this maybe due to higher fish consumption which supports serotonin levels. 

What Can We Do To Help?

As SAD is associated with characteristics of the winter months, counteracting these would seem a sensible place to start. 

• Light therapy with bright lumen lights has been shown to quickly improve symptoms. 

• Resolving vitamin D insufficiency also can bring some individuals relief.

• Supporting serotonin production is an essential part of managing SAD. Serotonin can be supported nutritionally which is generally recommended as nutritional interventions have fewer side effects or withdrawal patterns. Examples might include taking magnesium and serotonin supporting nutrients at night or during the day when symptoms are intense. 5HTP, a serotonin pre-cursor is also very effective. NB. This can’t be used with St John’s wort or other SSRI’s as they prevent the breakdown in serotonin which can cause other mania to develop.

• Doing as much as you can to stay happy will also obviously help. 

• Try to avoid excessive partying which is tempting to nullify the feelings of depression. 

• Alcohol is a known depressant, so moderation and periods of detox are essential during the winters months.

• Exercise is probably the best form of habit to adopt to help prevent and elevate depression. This also offers part of the solution to seasonal weight gain. Some theorists have suggested the lifetime weight gain we generally suffer from as humans occurs around periods of excess like Christmas, Easter and thanksgiving. Our ability to store fat under these conditions is made worse with the additional alcohol and lack of movement. Most people lose some weight after these times but it tends to be only half what they’ve gained. The average gain at Christmas is 4lb and the average loss in January is only 2lb. If you can build in some longer walks, some higher intensity gym or home body weight circuits you can really make room for occasional excesses. Taking the time to prime the muscles insulin receptors, drain some of the glycogen in anticipation of re-loading, means less spill over and storage of fat when we are munching on mince pies and a glass of whisky or two. Some studies show SAD sufferers have higher insulin production in relation to carb feeding, this means the feel good serotonin carb effect is reversed faster, leading to more cravings and more carbs being consumed. Keeping serotonin and brain chemistry happy with supplementation can help you avoid these terrible feelings of craving. 

Insulin Stablising:

• Eating protein and vegetables before any carbohydrates.

• Taking a good multivitamin with zinc, b-vitamins and chromium.

• Using botanicals like cinnamon and berberine (golden seal)

For serotonin: 

• 5HTP, St John’s Wort (on it’s own). 

• Omega-3 oils can help with stress and low grade depressive symptoms.

For cravings:

• Inositol

• Glycine

• Glutamine

• Valarian

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

To have a chat about making positive changes to your health and wellbeing, or to book an appointment please contact our clinic on: 01484 454845 or email: reception@ninatorina.com.