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Advice: MOT your body; Do you feel like you're running on empty and need a tune-up? Why not let our health experts assess your lifestyle and fitness levels and give you some good sound advice. Susan, left, did just that.

Name Susan Oakley Age 21 Weight 8st 13lb Height 5ft 8in Job Management student

Medical history Susan had glandular fever in 1995. Since then, she's suffered from bloating, nausea, anxiety and depression, especially in the winter.

Lifestyle notes Susan has toast and tea for breakfast, crisps mid-morning and a cheese and salad sandwich at lunch. In the afternoon she snacks on nuts and chocolate and dinner is a pasta dish with salad. Susan rarely drinks alcohol and smokes 15 cigarettes a day. She doesn't exercise.

anxiety

Susan gets anxious easily. She should indulge in an aromatherapy massage to improve health and emotional well-being. Kava kava is a good herbal remedy for anxiety and will induce relaxation while keeping Susan alert.

vitamins & minerals

Using the BEST system, which uses the body's energy levels to identify vitamin and mineral imbalances, Goldshield found Susan was lacking Vitamin B6, which elevates mood, and the mineral chromium, which controls blood sugar. Low levels of these could be causing Susan's depression and taking a B complex supplement will help. Wholewheat bread is a good source of chromium.

digestion

Susan feels nauseous if she skips meals or overeats. The BEST analysis showed she was intolerant to yeast, which she should cut out for six weeks (along with sugar, which feeds yeast). Yeast intolerance can lead to an overgrowth of candida bacteria, causing bloating, depression and nausea - all of which Susan suffers from. Grated ginger in warm water will reduce nausea and improve digestion.

depression

Susan suffers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This occurs when a lack of sunlight affects the biochemistry of the brain causing depression and low energy levels. She should take brisk 20-minute walks every day. Exercise releases the feel-good hormone endorphin and elevates mood.

fat

At 9.3%, Susan's body fat is too low for her height. It should be 18%. She can increase it by eating six meals a day with lots of carbohydrates (potatoes, rice or pasta). Fat insulates the body, holds fat-soluble vitamins and is needed for energy.

fitness & flexibility

Susan managed 22 sit-ups and 29 press-ups. Her aerobic capacity was poor and her heart was racing at 91bpm after the workout, indicating anxiety and poor fitness. She needs to follow a regular exercise programme. In the peak flow test, her lungs expelled air to 82% of their capacity. This is an average score and can be improved by exercise and giving up smoking.

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY

Susan needs to make some radical changes to her diet as almost everything she eats is aggravating her problems. She should eat more fresh fruit and vegetables as well as hormone-balancing foods, such as sweet potatoes and soya products. The most direct way that food influences mood is via its effect on blood sugar. By cutting out refined foods (white pasta, bread, rice) and opting for unrefined wholegrains, such as brown rice and noodles, Susan can regulate her blood sugar and balance her moods. She should take the supplement DLPA which combines DL-Phenylalanine to elevate mood and Vitamins B and C which are often lost during times of stress. Avoiding coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, chocolate and cola will reduce Susan's anxiety as stimulants can encourage heart palpitations and hyperventilating.

SUSAN'S REACTION

`It's such a relief to find out why I was feeling sick all the time. I've cut down on the foods I'm intolerant to and feel 100% better for it. I'm trying to get my fat percentage up by eating lots of carbs and intend to go swimming when the weather warms up. Low body fat is probably half the reason why I get so cold and miserable during winter, so I'm on the right track now!'

THE EXPERTS

Susan's health and lifestyle MOT was carried out by Allison Maxwell at Goldshield Health Centre, London (020- 7255 2030). Her fitness levels were assessed by personal training company Up & Running (020-7380 0443) at Holmes Place Gym (020-7388 5511).
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 11, 2000
Words:654
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