Don’t suffer in silence!

Our experts offer their top tips for tackling some of the most embarrassing health problems

From body odour to bad breath, some health issues just make us cringe with embarrassment. But no matter how red-faced you may feel, no persistent health problem should be ignored. Here we speak to the experts to find out their top tips for helping with some of the most embarrassing health issues the natural way.

Piles

“Haemorrhoids, or ‘piles’ are something that many of my patients have had at some point in their life,” says Michaella Mazzoni, a registered nutritional therapist who works in various clinics across Edinburgh and remotely via video (Michaellamazzoninutrition.com). “Most commonly, they occur during pregnancy or with chronic constipation Although suppositories are helpful, as always it is better to support the driver of the problem as well as the problem itself. In this case, that would be ensuring regular bowel movements. You can do this by including lots of soluble fibre in the diet; sources like flaxseed, fruit (pears, prunes and plums) and vegetables (leafy greens) are a great source of fibre. Additionally, eating at regular intervals and drinking two litres of water throughout the day helps to keep the bowels regular. Magnesium citrate, psyllium husks and zinc are helpful supplements to support bowel movements when chronic constipation is a problem.”

Thrush

“Thrush is caused by candida albicans and most women will experience an infection at some point in their lives,” explains Lucy Peel, a naturopath who practises from Neal’s Yard therapy rooms in Bath (www.naturopathyforhealth.co.uk). “It can cause itching, soreness and redness and a lumpy white vaginal discharge. For some women it can also cause painful sex. If you are getting recurrent infections, it is important to visit a health professional such as your GP for a more thorough diagnosis. Top tips for a vaginal candida infection include washing underwear on high heat and pre-rinsing them with a grapefruit seed extract before putting them in the wash with other clothes. Don’t wear very tight jeans or tight underwear such as slimming pants/tights. Stick to natural cotton underwear during an infection. Make sure to use protection when having sex to avoid any risk of passing it back and forth between you and your partner while you deal with the infection. Avoid eating refined and sugary foods such as biscuits and cakes, and switch simple carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, white pasta) to wholegrain versions.”

Stick to apples and berries as your two portions of daily fruit. Lastly, try taking a probiotic with lactobacillus strains which have been researched to help maintain the health of the vaginal flora, and saccharomyces boullardi which has been researched to have an antagonistic effect on candida in the body.”

Body odour

“Body odour can feel very embarrassing and make social situations tricky,” says Michaella. “Fortunately, there is a large scope to support body odour. For many people, wearing synthetic fabrics can bring on body odour. Dehydration and an overworked liver can also contribute to foul smells. Supporting the liver with citrus fruit and bitter greens like rocket, watercress and radish is a good place to start. Body odour can sometimes be brought on by a change in gut bacteria – this can happen after antibiotic use, chronic stress or a diet high in sugar. A high strength (30 billion or more) probiotic with the LAB4 blend of ‘good bacteria’ can help to rebalance the microbiome.”

Vaginal dryness

“Vaginal dryness is an inflammation of the vagina that causes the shrinking and thinning of the vagina,” explains Ati Balding, the Luna Hive’s wellbeing therapist. “It is caused by hormonal changes specifically the drop-in sex hormones progesterone, oestrogen, testosterone and DHEA. The gut’s microbiome changes at this time so a daily probiotic may help to balance the flora. If you have been prescribed medication, consider taking a vaginal probiotic which will introduce good bacteria back into the vagina. Avoid endocrine-disrupting body products and foods such as caffeine and sugary food. Eat a clean, non-processed diet with lots of good fats. Vitamin E has been shown to improve skin texture and increase blood supply to the vaginal wall. It can be taken orally and can be found at most health food stores. Water-based lubricants provide moisture and plump the vaginal tissues.”

Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

“If you have recurring UTIs, food and supplements may help to reduce the frequency and likelihood of them recurring (with the guidance of a health professional),” says Julie Hancox a registered nutritional therapist with the Luna Hive (www.thelunahive.com). “But do remember that they are bacterial infections and, as such, you must see your GP and follow their advice in order to prevent potential kidney damage.” In order to help reduce the frequency of UTIs, Julie recommends boosting your immune system and improving your level of beneficial bacteria to create a better balance of bacteria in the urinary tract. Foods that help to boost the good bacteria include full fat, natural live yoghurt or kefir. Julie adds: “Eat whole foods such vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, eggs, complex carbohydrates such as oats, brown rice, wholemeal bread and quinoa. Whole foods feed the beneficial bacteria and also help to provide plenty of nutrients to boost your immune system. Avoid sugary foods, processed foods and simple carbs and drink around two litres of water per day. Supplements which may help to reduce the recurrence of UTIs include cranberry extract, D-mannose, buchu, uva ursi and probiotic strains specifically to reduce the recurrence of UTIs and promote vaginal health. However, supplements should always be recommended by health professionals as they may not suit everyone and may interact with medications.”

Bad breath

“Poor dental hygiene, tooth infections or gum disease can cause bad breath, and it can also be a symptom if you are having problems with your tonsils or sinuses,” says Lucy. “Having an imbalance of healthy gut bacteria, a lack of digestive juices in the stomach and small intestine and a liver that is struggling to detox are also possible reasons for having bad breath. Top tips include checking in with your dentist or hygienist for a thorough check up to rule out any gum disease or tooth infection. Also check in with your GP to rule out any underlying issues with sinuses or tonsils or even an H.pylori infection in the stomach. Take a good broad spectrum probiotic twice a day to help with digestive balance. Have enough fibre in your diet to support your gut bacteria, so switch to wholegrains, eating at least five servings of vegetables such as leeks, cabbage and broccoli a day. Try mindful eating, making sure you don’t eat when you are stressed or in a hurry, and chew your food thoroughly before swallowing, all of which will give your digestive juices a chance to get flowing.”

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