Mend your ways

Round & About

The South Downs Way needs urgent fixing for future generations and you can help with a new initiative, writes Rachel Wakefield

It was my playground as a child, proudly states Andy Gattiker, about the South Downs Way (SDW). Now, he works as a SDW trail officer, for the National Trails, managing this natural asset, stretching from Winchester to Eastbourne through 160km of wild beauty – it is no easy task.

“Fifteen thousand pairs of boots, 10,000 bicycle tyres and 800 hooves travelling the length of the trail each year cause a lot of wear and tear! Our existing funding allows us to make most repairs but there are a number of projects which are too expensive to tackle using existing funds. Each year, as the erosion and mud gets worse, they get more damaged and much harder to fix.”

SDW is asking everyone who loves the trail to help raise £120,000 to mend broken sections of the trail. The ‘Mend Our Way’ campaign is being run by the South Downs National Park Trust, an independent charity working with the National Trails and British Mountaineering Council. Find out more  www.mendmountains.thebmc.co.uk.

—Old Winchester Hill is a scheduled ancient monument with an Iron Age Hill Fort, a Bronze Age cemetery and is also a National Nature Reserve. It’s one of the most iconic hills in the National Park. But the route up to it becomes a slippery kilometre of boot-churned mud every winter. Being inaccessible to machinery and vehicles makes it a great place to be (when it’s dry) but almost impossible to reach to fix. What is needed is £50,000 to scrape away the mud and replace the surface with stones.

Millpond Bottom, between Beacon Hill and Penn Hill, has some impressive scaring. Successive feet, wheels and hooves have more than doubled the width of the chalk track – putting nearby sensitive Scheduled Ancient Monuments at risk. What is needed is £15,000 to safely transport materials to the site, mend the trail and keep walkers on the straight and narrow.

— Hyden Lane near Butser Hill sits on top of the chalk ridge but suffers from a lack of drainage. As large puddles get trapped on the busy track. It will take £35,000 to fix 1.6km of the track and create a camber to help it drain.

Andy adds: “If we want people to care about our environment and feel some ownership and responsibility for it, then they need to fully experience it. It needs to be easy for people to get out and explore our fantastic National Park. That’s what the ‘Mend Our Way’ is really all about.”

Gluten-related disorders

Round & About

If you are presenting with any chronic health or wellbeing conditions that cannot be explained, then a professional assessment should be advised for the following disorders.

Gluten-related disorders (GRDs) are fundamentally caused by the inability of the body to properly digest gluten (the storage protein in grains), typically driven by imbalances in the bacterial species of the gut in combination with genetic predisposition. If identified, eliminate gluten from a diet permanently in order to repair the damage.

Coeliac disease (CD) is the autoimmune variant of GRDs where the immune system attacks and destroys the small intestine reducing the ability of the body to absorb nutrients. CD can be diagnosed using a combination of blood, genetic and physical assessments.

Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) are not an auto-immune disease, but is no less serious. This evidence is based upon results of a large study that reviewed 351,000 intestinal biopsies clearly showing that there was not only just as much inflammation detected with NCGS as with CD, but also that the increased risk of early mortality was 72% with NCGS compared to 39% with CD.

There is also a “new kid on the block” called non-coeliac wheat sensitivity (NCWS), where gluten is not necessarily the trigger, but instead significant immune system reactions are being triggered by other components of wheat. You can start to appreciate that both gluten and wheat can have serious implications on individuals that do not have CD but instead NCGS/NCWS.

Simply eliminating wheat or gluten, in your diet, before you have had a professional assessment is not advised.

Call Mark BSc (Hons) BA (Hons) mBANT CNHC on 0118 321 9533 or visit www.entirewellbeing.com

Hardeep and meaningful

Round & About

Peter Anderson catches up with Hardeep Singh Kohli ahead of his Alternative, Fact stand-up show which lands at Bordon’s Phoenix Theatre & Arts Centre

Q: Which came first for you; comedy or journalism..? And how did you discover satire?
“I grew up in the VCR generation which meant we recorded and rewatched comedy over and over again. I never dreamt that I’d one day be working in comedy. Comedy was my passion but journalism was going to be my job. Then I ended up going to law school and joining the BBC. I never ‘discovered’ satire because I don’t remember a time before it. Not The Nine O’Clock News, Yes Minister, Bill Hicks, The News Quiz, The New Statesman – satire was everywhere. And I was at school with Armando Iannuci…”

Q. Who were/are your inspirations?
“I would be nothing without Billy Connolly; I think there’s a generation or two of comics that feel the same. From the age of six I was listening to his records and singing his songs. The brilliant linguaphilia of The Two Ronnies, the sheer joyous nonsense of Eric Morecambe, the multi-talented wordsmithery of Victoria Wood… I continue to be inspired by comics such as Tez Ilyas who is both hugely warm and very funny. Katherine Ryan amazes me with her ability to be crushingly funny yet remain utterly adorable. I never tire of Kevin Bridges’ effortless excellence and I love the darkness of Romesh Ranganathan.”

Q. Do you prefer stand-up where you can get a response or satirical journalism where the response can be a little slower?
“Very good question. When I write I have the ability to delete, rewrite and change. I can go and make a cup of tea and reflect upon a thought. On stage you have one chance, one moment. You have to be able to read the room and feel the energy of the crowd. There is nothing that sharpens focus quite like that! Plus, you never see a reader throw down the paper in disagreement; you definitely see them get up and go!”

Q. Is there somewhere you would really love to perform your show?
“I’d love to play universities and colleges and tap into the energy of the next generation of thinkers and activists.”

Q. How do you relax?
“I love to cook and to eat. I find both – with the inclusion of excellent craft beer – the best way to be.”

Q. What is your writing method; can you discipline yourself to write for so long each day, or do you write as and when The Muse descends?
“I’m a paid writer; I have two deadlines a week so I have to be able to write on demand. The Muse will descend from time to time; I need to make more space for her in my life.”

Q. If you were stranded on a desert island, with two or three others – living, fictional or historical – who would you pick?
“Rosa Parks, My paternal grandfather who died before I was born and my daughter.”

Hardeep’s politically charged show Alternative, Fact is at The Phoenix Theatre & Arts Centre on Friday, 27th April. Tickets £12 – visit www.phoenixarts.co.uk to book.

Fighting Talk

Round & About

Comedian Lucy Porter brings her smash-hit Edinburgh Fringe show Choose Your Battles to various venues Peter Anderson catches up with her…

In Choose your Battles Lucy Porter, with the aid of the audience and a punchbag, works out when she should stick to her guns and fight and when she can use her disarming charm to defuse a situation. I caught up with her and, while ducking the boxing glove, asked her about her life and the tour.

Q. Is your current tour based purely on your life and experience, or observation as well?
“It’s a bit of a mixture. Most of the material comes from my own experience, but my audience are wonderful at coming up afterwards or emailing me and saying ‘that story you told reminded me of something awful my husband did…’ or ‘when my kids were little, I found this was a really useful tip…’ so I get a lot of helpful feedback that finds its way into the show.”

Q. Have your husband or children seen the show?
“Oh goodness, no! My whole act relies on the fact that my husband is looking after the kids while I’m out talking about them on stage. I don’t know what I’ll do when the children are old enough to see my act – I’ll have to change it and just talk about our cats.”

Q. How long does it take you to collate and write material for a show?
“It’s a never-ending process of writing, presenting stuff to the audience and then revising it. It’s 100% my favourite thing about live stand-up; the fact that no two shows are alike. The skeleton of this show was written for the Edinburgh festival in August last year, and some of my favourite bits have stayed in, but there’s always stuff that’s new this week, today, or even on the night.”

Q. As someone who prefers not to make a fuss, and carefully choose your battles would you like to have lived in 1717?
“Ooh, I hope you’re referring here to my play the Fair Intellectual Club, which was set in 1717 and concerned a group of young women who decided to set up a secret society for studying maths, physics, astronomy and all the other things that ‘nice girls’ weren’t supposed to concern themselves with. I hope I’d always have been a mouthy, opinionated and difficult woman like they were.”

Q. You write both comedies and dramas. Is it easy to switch between the two?
“I never had any ambition to write drama, but as I’ve got older I’ve realised my life experience has gifted me some serious points to make. That said, even when I’m writing drama I can’t help playing for laughs sometimes. I hope never to have to take life, or myself, too seriously.”

Q. If you were stranded on a desert island, who would like to be stranded with?
“I love my own company and I need a holiday, so I’d be delighted to be on a desert island for at least a week. If I could be stranded with Dolly Parton and Paul McCartney, I could have the music and good company as well.”

Q. You are appearing at The West End Centre in Aldershot. What memories do you have of appearing there?
“The West End Centre is one of the nicest and most welcoming places I’ve ever encountered. Also, the people who run it have impeccable taste in music (and comedy too of course!).”

For more details visit www.lucyporter.co.uk

Food is the most powerful medicine

Round & About

We all know that the NHS is under considerable pressure. The cost of diabetes alone to the NHS is over £1.5 million per hour, says Diabetes UK. The conventional medical view on type 2 diabetes (T2D) is that this condition is irreversible and requires long-term medication to control.

T2D typically responds very well to specific dietary and lifestyle interventions. Working in collaboration with their GPs, I have seen, firsthand, clients come off/reduce their diabetic medications by making substantial changes to their diets and lifestyle.

I am therefore somewhat perplexed by the fanfare that has surrounded the results of a very recently published randomised controlled trial in The Lancet, that has concluded that after the participants focused on a weight loss programme for 12 months that ‘almost half achieved remission to a non-diabetic state and off antidiabetic drugs. Remission of type 2 diabetes is a practical target for primary care’. This is great news, but not new news. There is considerable existing evidence to suggest that calorie restriction (in particular carbohydrate restriction) is one of the most beneficial approaches to optimally managing diabetes, which, after all, is an intolerance to carbohydrate. Obviously any such intervention does need to be carefully managed by a suitably, qualified health care practitioner in conjunction with the client’s GP/medical consultants. The reality is that standardising this type of approach, has the potential to save the nation around £7 billion.

It is time to stop simply focussing on how much more money the NHS requires and really start thinking about reducing overall load on the system, by using well-managed dietary and lifestyle interventions that are supported by unbiased science. Food is one of the most powerful medicines known to human kind.

Call Mark BSc (Hons) BA (Hons) mBANT CNHC on 01183 219533 or visit www.entirewellbeing.com

Treating urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Round & About

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common, especially in women. It is estimated that one in five women will have a UTI at some point in their lifetime and once you have had one infection you are much more likely to have another. The standard medical treatment is with antibiotics. The problem with antibiotic treatment is that, while it will tend to work in the short term (and is often an essential treatment to avert a more serious infection of the kidneys), there is an increased risk of developing imbalances in the beneficial bacteria (microflora of the gut and urinary tract). Antibiotic resistance has also recently been described as a significant threat to our future health by Professor Dame Sally Davies – England’s Chief Medical Officer).  Microflora disturbance and growing antibiotic resistance mean UTIs often reoccur.

Thankfully numerous clinical studies indicate several natural substances work well to help prevent UTIs and there is also considerable evidence to suggest they can work very effectively even in acute infection scenarios, as long as the intervention is initiated as soon as an infection is suspected.

The best studied natural agent to help with UTIs is D-mannose (a simple sugar, from any good health store), which also helps with infections caused by E.coli bacteria(as is the case with the majority of UTIs). When however E.coli is not the cause, the use of D-mannose is unlikely to help. A number of other bacteria can cause UTIs; often it is possible to find out which bacteria are involved through testing.

Another reason to consider, if natural compounds such as D-mannose do not work, is biofilm issues. Biofilms surround a collection of bacteria that are attached to the body, effectively creating a shield that protects them from being attacked/controlled – this makes this type of infection very difficult to control. The key to breaking this cycle is to therefore disrupt the biofilm, which can be done using specialised enzymes.

Call Mark BSc (Hons) BA (Hons) mBANT CNHC on 01183 219533 or visit www.entirewellbeing.com

Some problems with coeliac disease

Round & About

Coeliac disease (CD) is not a minor ‘intolerance’ to gluten, it is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the small intestine, reducing the ability of the body to absorb nutrients from food. If left undetected, CD has the potential to cause significant long-term health complications. CD is one of the most common lifelong disorders in north America and Europe and only one in eight coeliacs are ever diagnosed. These are disturbing facts.

Diagnosis of CD currently requires a positive blood test and then subsequently the detection of damage to the small intestine via an endoscopy. The first problem is that less than 50% of coeliacs are presenting with the classical symptoms of diarrhoea and abdominal cramping. The majority of coeliacs are ‘silent’ in their presentation – no overt digestive symptoms but signs and symptoms including anaemia, osteoporosis, arthritis, neurological degradation, depression, fertility issues, migraines and chronic kidney disease. This is likely to have a significant impact on whether testing for CD is even considered.

The next potential issue is with the blood testing itself. The standard NHS test for CD is good if you are presenting with significant damage to the small intestine and your immune system is functioning properly. We know, however, that damage to the small intestine is gradual and can take years or even decades to manifest; the immune system is often underperforming and the markers measured for are not broad enough. This can lead to very high rates of false negative results (up to 70%), which is dangerous if you are told it is fine to consume gluten when in fact it is not! Remember you have to be eating gluten and not taking any steroid or immune-supressing medication for any blood test to have half a chance of picking up an issue.

Finally, it is possible to have positive blood markers for CD and no small intestine damage – ‘latent’ CD (over and above the fact that the biopsies can often miss ‘damaged’ areas of the small intestine). Is it any wonder CD is such a poorly diagnosed and managed condition?

Call Mark BSc (Hons) BA (Hons) mBANT CNHC on 01183 219533 or visit www.entirewellbeing.com

New heights

Round & About

As we fly into a new year, why not volunteer for your local air ambulance charity and make a difference locally?

A new year… have you made any resolutions? Well if yours included spending some time helping as a volunteer, then your local air ambulance would love to hear from you – and will give you some training as well.

Volunteers provide invaluable support to Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA) throughout the year, fulfilling many important and rewarding roles. From giving talks to local groups, to distributing donation pots, attending fundraising events and presenting two highly successful educational programmes, volunteers play a key role in the day to day activities of the charity.

HIOWAA is seeking to recruit a wide range of volunteers from across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and is keen to hear from anyone interested in volunteering, regardless of how much time they can give. They also recently launched a popular Volunteer Training Programme, offering volunteers training in areas including public speaking, first aid, health and safety, compliance and inter-personal skills.

In particular, HIOWAA is looking for volunteers to help present LifeLines, the charity’s newly launched educational programme for young people aged between 11 and 18. The volunteer role would suit anyone with teaching experience, or anyone comfortable presenting to groups of youngsters.

“Our volunteers playing a vital role in helping to keep the Air Ambulance flying and saving lives, says charity manager Sherie Williams Ellen. “They provide an essential link to our local communities and we simply could not manage without them. Our volunteers have busy lives and often have to fit volunteering around several other commitments. We are keen to hear from those who want to volunteer on a regular basis as well as those who can help out once or twice a year. Volunteering provides the perfect opportunity to support our life saving service and is also a great way to learn new skills and be a lot of fun.”

To find out more information on how you can help your local air ambulance, please visit www.hiowaa.org

How to deal with uninvited gas

Round & About

The digestive system is about 30ft in length from entrance to exit and consists of the following major sections in order from top down: the mouth, throat, stomach, small intestine (duodenum) and large intestine (colon).

As I have mentioned many times previously, the digestive tract is home to a complex community of bacteria  (approximately 100 trillion), which should not only be in balance for health and well being, but also should have the largest number of bacteria residing in the colon.

Sometimes, the small intestine gets overgrown with bacteria due to conditions such as low stomach acid, pancreatitis, diabetes, diverticulitis and coeliac disease. This is called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO. These bacterial overgrowths produce either hydrogen and/or methane gas.

The small intestine has the surface area of a tennis court and is crucial to the efficient absorption of nutrients from the diet. SIBO disrupts the ability of the small intestine to efficiently absorb nutrients (the bacteria end up competing for the nutrients that the body is trying to absorb) often resulting in a broad range of micronutrient deficiencies (including iron, calcium, and vitamins B12, A, D, E and K) and symptoms including nausea, bloating, vomiting, diarrhoea, malnutrition, weight loss, joint pain, fatigue, acne, eczema, asthma, depression and rosacea.

SIBO is typically treated with antibiotics. Research suggests, however that certain herbal and lifestyle interventions are just as effective at treating SIBO.

In clinic, a multifactorial approach delivers the best results. This typically involves a combination of changing how much and how often you eat, what you are eating, adding in certain strains of probiotics, targeted supplementation, the use of herbs and essential oils and managing stress levels using techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga, tai chi or deep breathing.

Call Mark BSc (Hons) BA (Hons) mBANT CNHC on 01183 219533 or visit www.entirewellbeing.com

Digging deep

Round & About

Peter Anderson chats to history buff and television star Sir Tony Robinson.

Q. What sparked your interest in history; was it Baldric as Blackadder went through the centuries?!
“It goes back to when I was a child and my dad told me of his time in World War II. He was posted to Scotland, met up with some Canadian soldiers and spent the war touring in a Canadian dance band. That made me think of him as a child learning what his father had done, and his father before him – the continuum of history.”

Q. Of all the stories of folklore, why do you think King Arthur has lasted so well?
“The Dark Ages are shrouded in mystery, but the stories of King Arthur held a romantic appeal. They were also seized upon by the Norman Kings keen to use their lineage from King Arthur to legitimise their claim to the throne. They sought to publicise all the stories that came out regarding King Arthur’s time.”

Q. What’s the significance of Round Tables?
“The Round Tables were a common item at tournaments as everyone could be equal in standing and speak. There is an example at York where guests sat in niches around the table and stepped forward to speak. But the best thing to compare is the corporate boxes around modern-day sports grounds like Wembley, where a lot of networking can be conducted alongside the sport or entertainment.”

Q. Did your time with the experts on Time Team,
including Jonathan, prepare you for this next event?
“Jonathan impressed me when he appeared on Time Team, and we have been friends ever since. He is an archaeologist, but specialises in standing archaeology, a lot of the work in Time Team was looking at holes in the ground and assessing what had been there; his expertise is looking at buildings still standing. He can look at a building and then guide you through clues he has spotted to all the various phases of construction within it. It is a remarkable skill.”

Q. Do you have a favourite period of history and would you fancy travelling back to it?
“I think Ellen Degeneres was right when she said now is the best time. There are so many things we take for granted now that were not available. However, from a point of intellectual curiosity I would love to go back to the time of King Alfred I. I find it so intriguing that someone could go from a small kingdom in the South West of England and in the space of a couple of years take on the invading Vikings, beat them and have the leader of the Vikings paraded through the streets wearing white and converting to Christianity. I would so love to find out how he achieved it.”

Q. Is there anything from history you’d still like to do a programme or talk on?
“So many! But the main one would be a programme that shows wars were not won so much by fighting on the battlefield but by organisation, the ability to move troops and equipment quickly, to supply them. I was lucky enough to film out in the middle of the Sahara Desert, in the middle of nowhere, the shifting sands had cleared to reveal a metalled road thrown up quickly by the Germans in World War II to move equipment. Now taken back and covered by the desert sands…”

Q. Who would be your perfect dinner party guests?
“King Alfred, Archbishop Asser, Oliver Cromwell, Sir Francis Walsingham, William and Robert Cecil. We are a little light on the ladies, so I think Eleanor of Aquitaine; rumour has it she was the one who was running the country.”

Q. Is there anything we could learn today from the Age of Chivalry?
“Definitely: the Chivalric Code held people together in times of crisis. It was a code of politeness, being honourable, with honesty and courtesy.”