Be tick aware this summer
If you like walking in long grass, heath and/ or woodland, be careful of ticks, which are rampant after a wet mild winter. Confirmed cases of Lyme disease – the most common bacterial infection spread to humans by infected ticks – have increased. Diagnosed early, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics; if left untreated, debilitating neurological problems and joint pain may develop years later. Symptoms, which appear up to six weeks after being bitten, may include a pink ‘bull’s eye’ rash around the bite, flu-like aches, fever and fatigue. Avoid ticks by wearing long trousers and tops, and using insect repellent. Never remove ticks with bare hands. For more information, go to www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk.
WATCH THE BIRDIE
I love delicious roast chicken (organic if possible) but if, like me, you wash it before cooking, please stop. The government’s Food Safety Week (16-22 June) campaign warns that washing increases the risk of spreading dangerous bugs such as campylobacter – the most common type of food poisoning in the UK – which may affect your health long term (more on www.food.gov.uk/chicken). The Food Standards Agency advises:
• Cover raw chicken and store it at the bottom of the fridge so juices cannot drip on to other foods.
• Don’t wash raw chicken: cooking will kill any bacteria present, including campylobacter, while washing chicken can spread germs by splashing.
• Thoroughly wash and clean utensils, chopping boards and surfaces used in preparation.
• Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after handling.
• Cook chicken thoroughly. Before you serve it, cut into the thickest part and check it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.
SHAKE OFF ACHES NATURALLY
Most of us have niggly chronic aches and pains. So we take a pill, maybe visit the doctor and just get on with it. But according to qualified osteopath Vicky Vlachonis, that approach rarely works long term. Her new book The Body Doesn’t Lie explains how to find the underlying psychological causes of chronic physical pain and let them go for good, as well as taking positive steps to change negative habits, e.g. poor diet, relationships, overwork and insomnia.
Vicky’s mind/body approach was born out of frustration at treating patients who came back week in, week out with the same problems. (A mother of two, Vicky now lives in Los Angeles but was formerly based in London where I was one of her patients.)
Her book guides readers through Vicky’s programme to ‘end chronic pain and become positively radiant’. She explains the science behind her suggestions and gives tips, such as foods to fight pain (olive oil, garlic, onions and oregano). I recommend it highly, but do read it through carefully before you begin.
• Sip a glass of lukewarm filtered water with the juice of half a lemon or lime to flush out toxins, help strengthen your immune system and support your liver.
• Practise the five Tibetan rites of rejuvenation – yoga-like poses that waken your body and increase flexibility, strength and balance. For more explanation, see Vicky’s book and vimeo.com.
• Repeat this brief breathing exercise three times: put your left hand on your tummy, take a deep breath in and out of your nose and let your stomach expand on the in breath and contract on the out breath.
• Dry skin-brush before you shower; it will increase your circulation, shed dead skin cells and stimulate faster lymphatic drainage. Work in circles from your feet upwards, always towards your heart.
• Massage your body with scented oils – try adding a few drops of lemon, lemongrass, grapefruit or peppermint essential oils to almond, grapeseed or coconut oil.
• Look forward to your day.
The Body Doesn’t Lie by Vicky Vlachonis, HarperOne/£16.99