Natural health: Ageing hands and hiatus hernia

Megan Sheppard gives advice on how to protect your hands from age spots and what to do to prepare for hiatus hernia surgery.

Q. I have taken great care of my skin over the years but there is no denying that my hands are those of an older woman. 

The age spots in particular are a bother. Is there anything I can do to make my hands look more youthful?

A. Most of us are well aware that we need to protect our faces (and bodies) from sun damage, but all too often we neglect to use sunscreen on our hands and feet. 

While age spots on the hands and face are partially due to sun exposure, the condition of our liver also plays an important role — hence the term liver spots.

I swear by milk thistle, also known as St Mary’s thistle (Silybum marianum), for liver health. 

Not only does it help protect the liver, it also works to heal and repair damage to this important organ of detoxification. 

Milk thistle works by increasing cell regeneration in the liver, boosting the production of glutathione (crucial to liver function), reducing inflammatory compounds in the liver (leukotrienes), and warding off free radical damage. 

It also stimulates bile flow, which aids digestive function.

Tinctures are typically considered to be more effective when it comes to addressing liver health, although I have had great success with milk thistle in capsule and tincture form when it comes to improving liver function. 

If you choose the capsules, you will need around 200mg taken three times daily; for the tincture, take three doses of 2-5ml each in a small glass of warm water during the day.

Along with sunscreen on the backs of your hands and milk thistle supplementation, a healthy diet is also helpful.

Antioxidant-rich foods are wonderful for your liver and skin — plenty of organic raw fruits and vegetables, including dark berries and leafy greens.

Hydration is key, plus avoiding highly processed, fatty, and sugary foods, alcohol, and other obvious toxins through your diet and skincare.

Vitamins A, C, E, and selenium are all great antioxidants, and essential fatty acids are a must when it comes to keeping your skin supple and glowing for longer.

Q. My husband has hiatus hernia, and the doctor has told him he needs to lose weight before the surgery to repair it. Please can you advise as to what he should be doing to prepare?

A. Hiatus hernia is a result of the stomach pushing upwards through the diaphragm, so that a bulge appears where a part of the stomach has extended into the chest. 

This can cause, or worsen existing, reflux and heartburn/ indigestion. 

A hiatal hernia often causes considerable pain in the chest area, but is usually confirmed through X-ray diagnosis.

The extra weight that your husband is carrying will be a factor in the development of the hernia, and as the doctor has indicated, plays a significant role in the successful treatment of this problem.

Diet is very important where hiatal hernia is concerned — red meat, processed foods, fatty and fried foods, creamy and dairy-rich foods should all be avoided in favour of steamed, boiled, poached, slow-cooked, or grilled whole foods.

Food combining can also help to ease symptoms — following the basic rule of eating melons alone, fruit on an empty stomach, and avoiding eating protein and carbohydrates at the same meal. 

Vegetables, salads, and leafy greens can (and should) be eaten at every meal.

Your husband will need to take care to chew his food thoroughly until it is a paste before swallowing, and eat smaller meals. 

It is important not to take in too much liquid with meals. 

Choosing foods that are unlikely to trigger inflammation is key, as is supplementing with soothing herbs such as slippery elm bark, aloe vera juice, and marshmallow root.

Gentle exercise, such as 30 minutes walking daily (even dividing this further into three, 10-minute walks after meals), will make a difference. 

I would advise against more vigorous exercise, such as jogging or running, as this is likely to make matters worse.


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