There is always so much advice around about all the things we should be doing to keep ourselves healthy.
From eating the right food and taking vitamins, to moisturising our skin and doing exercise – it’s endless.
But what bits of advice are worth following, and which should just be ignored?
Well, we asked a group of doctors what recommendations and suggestions they make to their friends to find out the most important things – and it’s a real eye opener.
They shared their top tips, covering feet, teeth, nutrition, blood pressure, taking medication and varicose veins.
A previous version of this story contained advice on taking medications. Following conversations with the NHS, we have chosen to remove this and would advise anyone considering changing their medication to speak to their doctor first.
1. Blood pressure
If your doctor wants to prescribe medication to reduce blood pressure, ask for Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPM) where blood pressure is measured at intervals over 24 hours at home first, advises Professor Gareth Beevers, from Blood Pressure UK ( bloodpressureuk.org ).
This is the ‘gold standard’ of blood pressure measuring and gives far more accurate readings than a single measurement at the GP’s.
The next best option is to buy your own monitor (from £15-20) and check your blood pressure at regular intervals at home – writing down the results.
Make sure the machine is endorsed by the British and Irish Hypertension Society and ask your practice nurse or pharmacist for guidance on using it correctly.
Treat them like your face, says podiatrist Heena Patel ( heenapatelpodiatry.com ).
Invest in a rich foot moisturiser and use it every day. Cracked heels can be painful, and infections can enter the body through cracks in the feet, especially if you have diabetes.
And remember drinking water helps maintain the elasticity of the skin on the feet as well as your face.
Don’t replace amalgam fillings because you don’t like the look of them or because you worry about mercury, warns Sally Rayment, restorative dentist at the Implant Centre Hove ( Theimplantcentre.com ).
Replacing them can trigger problems if the nerve becomes compromised.
4. Varicose veins
‘Don’t ignore aching legs,’ warns Professor Mark Whiteley, Consultant Surgeon and Clinical Director of the Whiteley Clinic ( hewhiteleyclinic.co.uk ).
Around 30% of adults have varicose vein problems in their legs – but only half of them can see varicose veins on the surface.
The other half have ‘hidden varicose veins’ deeper beneath the skin which they aren’t aware of until they get aching legs, swollen ankles, phlebitis, eczema, red or brown stains on the ankles, or leg ulcers.
And no doctor or nurse can say you don’t have ‘hidden varicose veins’ until you have had a duplex ultrasound scan.
Try new foods, says Dr Anton Emmanuel, Consultant Gastroenterologist at University College Hospital and Medical Director for Guts UK ( gutscharity.org.uk ).
Some 60% of Brits eat the same foods every day. However healthy the foods, that’s not good for our gut.
The digestive system needs a range of food to absorb the wide variety of nutrients and minerals we need.
Don’t pay up to 10 times more for a pack of brand-name painkillers, says Sunil K. Kochhar, Consultant Pharmacist for dearpharmacist.info.
There’s the notion that named brand products are better or ‘you get what you pay for’. In fact, you’re usually paying more for the colour and style of packaging (though big brands do come in a choice of formulations).
All products, branded or generic, have to be manufactured by law to the same minimum standard.
If you (or a loved one) have the symptoms of an infection and feel worse than you have ever felt before, ask your GP or hospital doctor if it could be sepsis.
Or, if you’re at home, dial 999 and get to A&E. A difference of just one hour in receiving treatment can mean the difference between life and death.
Don’t run, advises Garry Trainer ( garrytrainer.com ). The human body is designed to walk – and to run occasionally when the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism kicks in. The compressive force and wear and tear on the lower spine and joints simply wears everything out faster.
To get your heart rate up, have intervals of building up from a fast walk to a light jog then a slow run and back again.
Ignore any claim on the front of the packet, says Health Coach, Olly Leicester ( ollyleicester.co.uk ). Phrases like ‘sugar-free’, ‘vegan’, ‘gluten-free’ only tell you what is NOT in the product, not what IS. The ingredients list on the back of the packet is what you need to read.
My mantra is, ‘If your food is wrong, medicine is of no use. If your food is right, medicine is of no need.’