Diane Leopard discusses inspiring photo project on UK Health Radio

Diane Leopard 3.jpgFHT Fellow Diane Leopard was recently interviewed for UK Health Radio to discuss a photography project she has launched to raise cancer awareness and help support those affected.

Interviewed by UK Health Radio’s Jenni Russell for the Her Health and Happiness show, Diane told her how she had purchased a camera with prize money from winning an FHT Excellence Award in 2015.

She then joined an adult education class to learn how to use the camera and was required to complete a final project about ‘a journey’. Diane decided to use this opportunity to reflect on her own personal cancer journey, by taking outdoor photographs that were symbolic of the different stages of her cancer journey and the emotions she had experienced.

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Diagnosis – This picture of Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland represents how Diane felt when the consultant told her that she had breast cancer. In the foreground of this picture you can see people going about life as normal while Diane’s life came tumbling down.

After presenting the project to her classmates, Diane was overwhelmed by the response and felt compelled to expand the project, first taking it into a local hospice and Pink Sisters, a breast cancer support group. Diane has since given a talk at a Stoke-on-Trent FHT Local Group meeting and has spoken to hospice staff on several occasions about the emotional impact of cancer and how they can help to support clients/patients.

In the interview Diane goes on to talk about her journey with cancer, how her life became uncertain after a diagnosis, and discusses the meaning behind each photo.

Speaking about the project, Diane says, “As a complementary therapist working with cancer patients I thought I understood cancer but nothing had prepared me for the emotional impact of a diagnosis. Since then I have taken a series of nature photographs to represent the emotional impact of cancer called ‘Focus on Emotions’. This represents not only my story but also emotions and feelings that have been shared by many other cancer patients all with different stories to tell and my family.  The images are natural, unedited other than the occasional crop and not staged.  They are often everyday scenes for example sunrise, sunset, flowers, beaches things most of us have experienced.  During the presentation I explain at little bit about each image and why I chose it. I then let the  audience have a few moments to reflect on what the image means to them.

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Tunnel of treatment, this is a poisonous laburnum arch with purple allium flowers standing tall and strong below. The laburnum represents chemotherapy and the allium are the medical staff who care for patients during treatment. The light at the end is where everyone hopes to be after treatment. Taken at the Dorothy Clive Gardens.

“I deliver the talk and exhibition to health care professionals, cancer patients, work colleagues and the general public. I want people to understand the devastating emotional impact cancer has on lives.  If people can have an insight to our emotions I am convinced that cancer patients will have an improved quality of treatment and recovery.  Cancer changes lives but that’s not always a bad thing.  I now see the beauty that surrounds us all yet many of us take for granted.

“The response from health care professionals, cancer patients and the public has been amazing, it has resonated with so many people.  Comments have included: – ‘that is one of the best presentations I have ever heard’ and ‘thank you, you’ve helped me to understand what my father must have gone through’.

“By looking at these images people seem to able to relate to their own emotions which may be cancer related or relate to other difficult life experiences such as bereavement, divorce and life changing illnesses.”

Listen to the full interview here

In addition, Diane has also published guest blogs on the project, highlighting her work on various websites, including Baba Baboon and Ticking Off Breast Cancer.

Protein reduces the risk of frailty in older women

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Adequate intake of protein is associated with a reduced risk of frailty and prefrailty in older women, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital. Adequate protein intake was defined as at least 1.1 g per kg of body weight. The findings were published in European Journal of Nutrition.

Frailty is a multidimensional condition common in older adults, and those affected are at an elevated risk of dependence and mobility loss, fall, fracture, multimorbidity and mortality. Evidence shows a strong link between frailty and malnutrition, and protein may be the most important nutrient at play, mostly through its effect on muscle health. The Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (2012) suggest protein intake of 1.1-1.3 g per kg of body weight as adequate for preserving physical capacity in older adults. However, there is a paucity of data regarding the association of protein intake with frailty. The newly published study examined associations between protein intake and protein sources with frailty status in older women.

Participants were 440 women aged 65-72 years enrolled in the Osteoporosis Risk Factor and Prevention–Fracture Prevention Study. Their protein intake in g per kg of body weight was calculated using a three-day food record at baseline in 2003-2004. At the three-year follow-up in 2006-2007, frailty phenotype was defined as the presence of three or more, and prefrailty as the presence of one or two of the following criteria: low grip strength, low walking speed, low physical activity, exhaustion (defined using a low life satisfaction score), and weight loss of more than five per cent.

The study shows that getting the recommended amount of dietary protein was associated with a lower risk of frailty and prefrailty in older women. Moreover, the consumption of animal protein was associated with a lower likelihood of frailty. The recommended protein intake (1.1-1.3 g per kg of body weight) for an older person weighing 70 kg corresponds to a minimum intake of 77 g of protein. To illustrate, the protein content of a chicken breast per portion is 25 g, one boiled egg 6 g, and two slices of whole grain bread 6 g.

‘The public health recommendation is to eat an optimal diet with an adequate intake of protein. Adequate protein intake is important for muscle health and, according to the new results, may also prevent frailty. However, further research is still required in this area,’ Senior Lecturer Arja Erkkilä from the University of Eastern Finland concludes.

Source

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Insomnia and loneliness may be reduced with physical education

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Physical education classes in school could reduce insomnia and feelings of loneliness in children, according to a study.

The above findings  were from a gender analysis of the impact of physical education on the mental health of schoolchildren in Brazil, published online by the open access journal, SSM – Population Health.

Scientists analysed data from more than 40,000 ninth grade (14-15-year-old) children from 3,160 schools across Brazil. The children were asked to complete a questionnaire, which included questions on whether they attend physical education classes, feel lonely and have difficulty sleeping.

The results showed that physical education reduced loneliness and insomnia in both boys and girls, but had a greater effect on boys. It has what the researchers call ‘a protective effect on mental health’.

Access the full study

 

Six ways aromatherapy can help everyday ailments

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Aromatherapy involves the therapeutic use of plant essential oils, which enter the body via our lungs through inhalation, or the skin, if applied in a massage blend or other product.

A recent survey* by the FHT revealed that aromatherapy is one of the top three complementary therapies requested by the public in the UK. This week, as aromatherapists celebrate Aromatherapy Awareness Week (10-16 June 2019), we look at six different ways this therapy can be used to help manage some common complaints that affect our overall health and wellbeing.

1. Sleep aid
Poor sleep affects as many as a third of us and in recent years, it has been linked to various health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and mental health problems. Clary sage and marjoram both have sedative qualities, which can help promote sleep, while lavender, chamomile and neroli are calming and soothing oils, which are great for relieving anxiety, if this is the underlying problem. Where depression is linked to poor sleep, an uplifting oil, like bergamot, could be beneficial.

2. A natural boost
Many of us can be left feeling physically or mentally drained after a particularly busy period or demanding life event. There are lots of essential oils that can give us a much-needed boost including pine, which reduces fatigue, and citrus oils such as orange, lemon and grapefruit, which are all uplifting and can help stimulate the mind and aid concentration. Rosemary and peppermint are said to be excellent for memory and mental performance, while basil can help bring clarity.

3. Skin support
Aromatherapy can help a wide range of skin problems. For mature skin, cicatrisant or ‘skin healing’ essential oils are ideal, as these promote cell regeneration and are good for scars and blemishes. Examples include frankincense, palmarosa, carrot seed, rose, lavender and German chamomile. For best results, these are often added to a carrier oil suited for mature skin, such as rosehip seed oil, which can help reduce wrinkles and fine lines and is particularly good for dry or damaged skin.

4. Soul soother
Left unchecked, stress and anxiety can take a huge toll on our health and wellbeing. Research shows that lavender can help calm the nervous system; lower blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature; and change brain waves to a more relaxed state. Neroli, often referred to as the ‘rescue remedy’ of essential oils, is also great for helping to ease anxiety and stress, along with bergamot, which is traditionally used in Italian folk medicine to relieve tension and anxiety.

5. Menopause ally
While the menopause is a natural stage in life’s journey, many women experience unpleasant symptoms that can affect their overall quality of life. Geranium, clary sage and rose can help balance and regulate the hormones, while other essential oils are useful for addressing more specific issues. For example, cypress and peppermint can alleviate hot flushes and sweating, while oils like grapefruit, neroli, bergamot and jasmine can help to ease feelings of depression.

6. Nausea knock-back
Nausea is an unpleasant symptom that can be triggered by a variety of things including digestive problems, certain medications (eg. anaesthetics), motion sickness, headaches and pregnancy. For digestive-related nausea, fennel seed or lemon essential oil might be useful. Recent studies have also shown that inhaling lavender, ginger, peppermint or rose essential oils can help reduce nausea in patients experiencing nausea and vomiting after surgery.

Important safety notes…

  • Aromatherapy should be used alongside standard medical care and not as an alternative.
  • If you are currently receiving care from a doctor, consultant, midwife or other health professional, let them know you intend to have aromatherapy treatments / use essential oils.
  • Essential oils are very powerful and if used incorrectly, can be detrimental to your health. Never ingest (swallow) essential oils or apply them to the skin neat (undiluted). Various cautions also apply for babies, children, the elderly, during pregnancy, prior to sun exposure, when taking certain medications, and for some medical conditions.
  • Seek advice from a professional aromatherapist before using essential oils. To find a registered, qualified and insured aromatherapist you can trust, visit www.fht.org.uk

 

Downloadable resources for Aromatherapy Awareness week

To help promote aromatherapy this week, FHT members can access downloadable resources, such as leaflets, posters, and social media images and banners, from fht.org.uk/membersarea

Massage may help with restless legs syndrome

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Massage with olive oil could provide benefits to people with restless legs syndrome, according to a brand new study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine.

Scientists sought to evaluate the short-term effects of massage with olive oil in reducing the severity of uremic restless legs syndrome (RLS). They conducted a double-blind placebo-controlled trial with 60 participants with RLS, who were divided into olive oil and placebo groups.

Participants in the olive oil group received a massage with olive oil twice a week, while those in the placebo group received a massage with liquid paraffin. Using the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group rating scale, the severity of RLS was evaluated at the beginning of the study and a week after the final treatment.

The decline in total RLS severity was found to be more significant in the olive oil group when compared to the placebo. Therefore, short-term application of massage with olive oil could be effective in reducing RLS severity. However, scientists call for further studies to validate these findings.

Read the study abstract here

Spread joy this June

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Action for Happiness, a charity dedicated to creating more happiness in the world, has launched its latest calendar of daily suggested actions designed to encourage us to live better lives.

Joyful June aims to help people experience more positive emotions and enjoyment in life and is available to download in 14 different languages in both PDF and JPG formats.

Suggested actions for this month include the following:

  • Reframe a worry and try to find a positive way to respond
  • Ask someone what brings them joy and listen to their answer
  • Go outside and find the joy in doing something active
  • Make a list of favourite memories you feel grateful for
  • Be kind to you. Treat yourself the way you would treat a friend.

Download the Joyful June calendar here