Never too old to exercise

Older runnersWe often think that as we get older we will inevitably have to accept that we will be limited by ill health, aches and pains. Whilst it is true that our bodies change we are often more able than we think. More and more people are taking up sport and exercise at a later age and are surprising themselves with what they can achieve.

In a recent study of 3500 people one in ten people, aged 64 on average, took up regular exercise. The effects on health and disability were amazing. People who started doing even moderate activity at least once a week were three times less likely to have developed a nasty illness or disability over the eight year study. Those that had always been active and stayed that way were seven times less likely to be ill.

Interestingly the study found that not only the expected illnesses were less likely in the active group but mental health was too. So heart disease, stroke and diabetes were less likely but also Alzheimer’s disease, depression and cognitive function overall was better. Although this study did not look at back pain or other bone and joint problems specifically other research has noted benefits here too.

So the message is clear – if you are active already – stay active. If you are inactive – get active.

The British Chiropractic Association has produced some simple exercises to improve strength and flexibility. The Straighten Up campaign is a series of easy exercises you can do at home in a few minutes. If you do these three to four times a week or ideally every day you will notice differences in you abilities in two weeks.

If you fancy something a bit more vigorous then running, tennis and cycling and swimming might be more your thing. These sports are wonderful for endurance and improving cardiovascular health. In fact anything that gets you heart pumping and gets you a bit out of breath is good. Golf is great but you might want to consider something more vigorous.

Karate recommended for older adults by Brighton chiropractorIf you want to try something a bit different then consider a martial art. Something like tai chi which you learn in small classes as well as doing at home can be fun. This works on balance and strength as well as flexibility. Even more vigorous martial arts like karate can be done until well into old age. It is all about being young of heart rather than limiting your options.

Go on – give something new a try. I took up karate a year ago and love it. It is marvelous for balance, strength and flexibility as well learning new things I never thought I could do. To learn more about a great local karate club in Brighton go here.

There are more tips here for staying active when you are older.

M. Hamer, K. L. Lavoie, S. L. Bacon. Taking up physical activity in later life and healthy ageing: the English longitudinal study of ageing. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2013; DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092993



An easy resolution – change what you eat for breakfast

PorridgeOver the holiday I bumped into a old acquaintance and I was shocked to see how old he had become in the few short years since I last saw him. Not only had he put on a lot of weight, but he was not taking care of his appearance and was complaining about lots of new aches and pains. Listening to many New Years resolutions over the last few days made me wonder how many of us will be saying exactly the same thing this time next year.

The decisions we make about our health now will determine how we look and feel in five or ten years time. Sometimes it is simply too much to change our smoking, eating and drinking habits as well is going to the gym three or four times a week all in a short space of time. When we have advertised our weight loss and fitness assessment programs and health and nutrition talks (videos here) they have only been modestly attended. It’s obvious that many of us want to make changes to our habits and lifestyle but are put off from the sheer enormity of the task. If this describes you, then I have a suggestion.

Change what you eat for breakfast

Sometimes big changes are too much but little change is relatively easy. Changing what you eat for breakfast is quite straightforward and can have a great impact on how you feel, your energy levels and your waistline. Little changes are one way to start make big ones say the scientists (more here)

Many breakfast foods are very rich in sugary carbohydrates which have a high glycaemic index (GI).  High GI foods only give you a short-term energy boost at the cost of feeling hungry mid-morning. If you can’t make it to lunchtime without a snack, then chances are you’re eating the wrong thing for breakfast. Not only do these foods sap your energy but are often very low in essential nutrients and contribute to weight gain. Typical breakfast cereals are often the worst culprits with white toast or croissant not much better.

The two main food groups that are great for breakfast are complex carbohydrates, such as porridge, and protein-based foods such as cheese, eggs, fish and meat. These food groups release their energy slowly throughout the morning keeping you going until lunchtime. They are packed full of essential nutrients especially if they haven’t been factory processed.

If you choose porridge then try sweetening it with lower GI sweeteners such as maple syrup, stevia or xylitol. All are better for you than heavily refined sugar (sucrose). If you choose cheese, meat or eggs don’t be overly concerned about cholesterol as dietary input to raised cholesterol is minimal in spite of what were often told.

When you have made these changes to breakfast you might like to pick another change to make. Alternatively you might like to save it until next year.


For more information go to an excellent book by Gary Taubes called Why We Get Fat. This book is available at Sundial.

Image credit

Lose weight and get fit. No gym. No monthly fees. No Sweat.

Do you want to lose weight and get fit this year? Do you hate gyms and fad diets? Then have a look at our new Sundial fitness and weight loss program.

A personalised exercise routine and a diet plan prescribed by experts to do at home. Targeted for quick results. Like your own personal trainer without the cost.

How to lose weight and get fit

Losing weight and getting fit is easy if you follow a few simple rules. Calorie counting has been shown to have limited value in weight loss and staying slim. All sorts of fad diets have come and gone but the same basic rules still apply – it’s more about what you eat than how much you eat.

Did you know…

Slogging away on an exercise bike or pounding the streets jogging has limited value in losing weight. Studies have shown that with increased exercise your hunger increases and you eat more. Reducing your calories in this situation will lead to weight loss as you starve yourself but the weight will pile back on again as soon as you start eating normally.

New Sundial fitness and weight loss program.

You will have:-

  • a fitness assessment with our expert physio Quentin
  • personalised exercise programme to do at home
  • free diet and nutrition programme
  • free talk from our nutritionist Shirley
  • free reassessment a few weeks later

Fitness Assessment

First of all, we will ask about your goals for the program and to find what is right for you. We will then take you through an assessment based on those goals to identify the key areas to work on to get quick results. This may include tests for fitness, strength, endurance, flexibility and posture as well, as weight and BMI.

Personalised exercise program.

Based on the findings in the fitness assessment we will recommend a program of exercises to achieve your goals in the privacy of your own home. These will be simple, achievable and short. Depending on your level of fitness to start with the program may only last a few minutes a few times a week. You will start noticing improvements in your fitness, strength and flexibility within the first couple of weeks.

Diet and nutrition program.

We will give you a few simple rules to follow with a clear explanation of why this is the best diet to follow for you. You will not have to buy any special drinks or supplements, but simply eat as much nourishing, healthy food as you like, following our guidelines. This will be backed up with a talk followed by a question and answer session with our nutritionist Shirley.


A few weeks later we will reassess key areas of your fitness, BMI and diet and make recommendations to take you to the next level.

Trial offer fee £36

Limited time. Limited places available. Normally £80.

Call for an appointment.

How long you decide to follow the diet and exercises is up to you. We believe that once you see the results you will want to keep going by yourself. We will always be here to help you if you need more motivation, more variety in the exercises or want to change your goals. After all, there’s always the Brighton Marathon!

What’s a proven therapy for knee pain, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and many others?

Watch this fascinating video to find out.

Whilst our Brighton chiropractors and physiotherapists treat loads of bone and joint problems our effectiveness is often enhanced by the approach so brilliantly illustrated in this video by Dr Mike Evans. If your looking for a New Years resolution to improve your health there cannot be a better one than this.

Matthew meets Hollyoaks actress Gemma Merna

Matthew Bennett attended the launch of the new Mole & Skin Check Guidelines that have been developed jointly by the Melanoma Taskforce and the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) especially for health professionals and met Gemma Merna from Hollyoaks

The guidelines provide clear and simple information about the signs of skin cancer. As chiropractors we have an important role in noticing abnormal moles or changes in skin and advising patients to seek advice from their GPs. The guidelines have been developed by skin cancer charities, dermatologists, nurses, GPs and oncologists and are endorsed by professional associations representing the health and beauty industry.

Matthew was in Westminster on behalf British Chiropractic Association as he is Vice-president. He talked with MPs and the new president of BAD and impressed upon them the important role that chiropractors can play in the early detection of skin cancer.

The highlight of the afternoon was a photo opportunity with Hollyoaks actress, Gemma Merna. She is the celebrity face of the campaign having had a skin cancer scare a while ago. She is popular with the younger target group the information is aimed at.

For more information about skin caner and how to protect yourself go to

Hayfever? Simple, effective and natural help

If you have hayfever you probably know all about the symptoms:- runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing. You probably also know that it is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen. Up to 1 in 5 of us will suffer from hayfever at some time. Other microscopic particles like house dust or dander from animals can cause a similar allergic reaction to hayfever.

The histamine connection

When you get a whiff of pollen up your nose or into the eyes your body reacts if you have an allergy to that particle and produces anti-bodies which in turn produce histamine which cause the typical inflammation, redness, swelling and irritation. It is the histamine that causes the sypmtoms of hayfever. If you can reduce histamine you can reduce hayfever.

Treatment for hayfever

Although the medical treatment for hayfever is anti-histamines there are things you can do without taking drugs which may have side effects like drowsiness. For instance HayMax is an effective organic, natural and simple to use pollen barrier balm that is applied to the base of the nose to reduce pollen entering the body.

Omega 3 oils found in oily fish and supplements such as Pure Bio’s EPA/DHA reduce inflammation and may help. Vitamin E (800 iu a day) has been shown to help reduce hayfever symptoms.

You can lower the overall levels of histamine in your body by reducing the histamine containing foods in your diet.

What is Histamine?

Histamine is made by the human body and by bacterial degradation from the amino acid histadine.  Therefore many ripened foods like cheese, wine, beer, sauerkraut and smoked meats may have very high amounts of histamine and the amount of histamine can be an indicator of the quality of the production process.

Very large amounts of histamine may be a sign of decay.  For example, fresh or immediately frozen fish hardly contains any histamine.  On the other hand, older or stale fish, which has been bacterially contaminated or just stored too long may contain extremely high amounts of histamine.  Fresh cheese or cottage cheese, which has only ripened for a few days also has remarkably less histamine than older types of cheese.

Also, slightly contaminated yeast cultures (like those being used in the production of beer and wine) favour the production of histamine. All this explains the huge variances in the histamine content of various foods.

In our body, any excess of histamine – from the body’s own production or by an increased content of histamine in foods – is normally rapidly metabolized by the enzyme diaminoxidase (DAO).  When this enzyme is deficient, a great variety of intolerance reactions may occur, depending upon the amount of histamine present.

If you are very sensitive you may experience symptoms from extremely small amounts of histamine.  In addition, alcohol and certain drugs may block DAO and thereby worsen the symptoms. Histamine is resistant to cold and heat and therefore cannot be destroyed by cooking (including microwave), baking, grilling or deep freezing. If you think you are sensitive to histamine you should consider reducing high histamine foods eg:-

  • Sausages and ham: all smoked animal products are high in histamine and should be avoided.
  • Fish: Deep frozen fish is usually well tolerated; tinned fish or fish which has only been cooled (not frozen) may be a problem.  Seafood may contain extremely high amounts of histamine depending upon how fresh they are.
  • Cheese: Fresh cheeses like cottage cheese, quark etc should be well tolerated.  Also small amounts of soft cheese should not cause problems.
  • Alcohol: May cause problems for most histamine sensitive people as most types not only contain large amounts of histamine but because alcohol also blocks the DAO.
  • Chocolate: Contains substances similar to histamine which may also trigger headaches and migraines and should therefore be avoided or greatly reduced.
  • Sparkling wine has the highest contents of histamine, beer the lowest and is therefore usually tolerated in small amounts by most histamine sensitive patients.

Industrially produced wines like those from Australia, USA and South Africa are often showing lower histamine levels than traditionally produced or home-made types of wine. The histamine content of various wines and sparkling wines differs so greatly however, that we recommend to avoid these types of alcohol as much as possible or stick to those types which have been well tolerated before.  The histamine content is also dependent upon vintage and vineyard.