8 Great Home Remedies For A Sore Throat

Read time: 2 Minutes

With winter here, feeling a little bit under the weather is almost inevitable. For most of us a normal cold is easy to overcome with a few days of rest but during that time the symptoms can often drive you up the walls.

When you have a sore throat, it’s hard to think about anything else. The coughing, the pain and scratchy feeling are intolerable, making it difficult to even eat or sleep.

So if you’re struggling with a sore throat or trying to prevent the onset of one, here are some of the best home remedies around.

  1. Salt water

Mix a quarter of a teaspoon of salt into a cup of hot water and gargle it to neutralise acids, kill germs and get rid of that horrible burning sensation. Just remember not to swallow it.


  1. Lemon and water

Mix some lemon juice in water and gargle it or drink it. The acid in the lemon will help reduce the swollen tissue in your throat and kill the bacteria.

Best home remedies for sore throat - lemon and water

  1. Ginger, honey and lemon

This is one of the most powerful home remedies for cold and flu. Honey soothes the throat and has antibacterial properties too.

Ginger, honey and lemon

  1. Peppers and water

Hot sauce or peppers contain papsicum which fights inflammation and pain. Although it can burn a little, try gargle this solution to soothe your sore throat.

red peppers

  1. Turmeric and water

This is another great gargling solution. Turmeric is one of the most powerful spices, with many antioxidants and disease fighting properties. You can add ½ a teaspoon of turmeric and ½ a teaspoon of salt in the cup of water for a more effective remedy.

Turmeric and water

  1. Cloves

Try mixing ground or powdered cloves with some hot water to make a tea. Cloves have anti-inflammatory properties that can heal your throat.


  1. Green tea

Green tea is one of the healthiest things you can consume for disease fighting and building up your immune system. If you have a sore throat, drinking green tea will ease the pain and kill the bacteria that’s causing your sore throat.


  1. Apple cider vinegar

It’s not the most delicious treat but adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon of salt to some hot water will give your throat an acidic coating that germs won’t be able to survive. If you simply can’t muster the courage to swallow it, gargling it a few times throughout the day will help.

Apple cider vinegar

What are your best remedies for a sore throat? Let us know by using the hashtag #MyIrishLife on social media

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How To Use Mindfulness During Pregnancy

Read time: 4 Minutes

Pregnancy is a joyous time. That’s what all the baby books, websites and TV ads say, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. While pregnancy can be a period of pure excitement for many women, for others it can be incredibly overwhelming; as hormones and general life changes can cause feelings of dread.

In late 2016, a study by the Trinity College Department of Psychiatry found that one in six Irish women are at probable risk of depression during pregnancy – among the highest of the 34 other OECD countries.

This means that every year, there are around 11,000 or more Irish women struggling to deal with the emotional impact caused by their pregnancy.

Stress and negative mood during pregnancy can not only be an unpleasant experience but can be dangerous too. Professor Veronica O’Keane who lead the research also pointed to growing scientific evidence that women who suffer from depression while pregnant are at higher risk of pre-eclampsia, which raises blood pressure. It also increases their chances of giving birth prematurely or having a low-weight baby.

Using Mindfulness For Pre-Natal Stress, Anxiety or Depression

If you are feeling consistently down, emotional, teary or stressed during your pregnancy, you should always talk to your doctor. Pregnancy does not need to be a sad or overwhelming time. If you are overcome with negative emotions, talk to someone who can provide you with professional help or advice.


If you want to manage your feelings in another way, there is evidence to suggest that mindfulness could help.

Research published in the BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth Journal in 2017 indicated that mindfulness can be a coping tool for negative feelings. The pregnant women who carried out mindfulness practices had improved psychological functioning and showed greater childbirth self-efficacy. They also had lower post course depression symptoms.

How To Practice Mindfulness in Pregnancy

If you’re not particularly used to mindfulness then the concept of being mindful when you’re carrying a child might seem absurd. How are you supposed to slow down and live in the moment when you’re feeling exhausted and under the weather 24/7?

But being mindful doesn’t have to mean sitting on a yoga mat in your garden, channelling mother earth. There are simple ways to introduce mindfulness to the everyday activities you do during pregnancy.

  1. Slow down

For those of us who thrive on being busy, slowing down can seem impossible as there’s so much to prepare for before the baby arrives. But pregnancy is the perfect excuse to take some ‘me time’ and turn it down a notch. Avoiding over-scheduling yourself will help you become calmer if you choose to embrace it.


  1. Sleep and body scan

You’re probably sick of people telling you to ‘enjoy your sleep now’ while you can but it’s advice worth taking. If you get into the practice of napping when you can, it will be able to practice the age old tip of sleeping when your baby sleeps.

If you’re having trouble switching off, try body scanning as you lie in bed. Starting with the top of your head, bring awareness to each part of your body, releasing any tension and breathing deeply as you move down to the tips of your toes. If you’re unsure of how body scanning works, there are plenty of YouTube videos to guide you through.

  1. Focus on what you can control

If you’re suffering from the world’s worst morning sickness or crippling Braxton Hicks, it’s almost impossible to think about anything other than the pain or how terrible you’re feeling. If you can, realise that it is temporary and not within your control. Think about the other parts of your physical health that are good and focus on those.

  1. Do yoga

There’s no better way to really delve into mindfulness than with yoga. And there are plenty of pregnancy yoga classes in Ireland that will teach you some great techniques, stretches and breathes that will help strengthen your mind and your body as the pregnancy progresses and for when you go into labour.


  1. Be present

Once you get past the 20 week mark, pregnancy soon starts feeling like a bit of a rush to the finish line. You have a bit of bump, you can feel the baby move and now you’re just dying to meet the little one. It then becomes very easy to start wishing the time away. This is especially true if your pregnancy is difficult or unenjoyable. But, if you can, try to find something in every day to relish and soak up. Downloading pregnancy apps that give you daily updates of your baby’s growth and progress can help you feel more present in the journey.

  1. Learn breathing exercises

Learning some deep breathing exercises can be an excellent coping mechanism in pregnancy. It helps slow your heart rate down and can take your mind off pain and discomfort. Breathing techniques can also be beneficial for the health of your baby as it improves the circulation of the blood and boosts the oxygen supplied to your body. It is also helpful for relaxation during labour.

If you are going to learn breathing techniques, it’s best to do it with a professional like a pregnancy yoga instructor as doing it wrong and taking in short sharp breaths can make you dizzy and lightheaded.

  1. Consider the small victories

When you compare yourself to other pregnant women, especially those in the media, you can put immense pressure on yourself to measure up to those who look perfect throughout or have the energy to go an exercise at seven months.

Instead of holding yourself to these unrealistic standards, celebrate your own small personal victories; like going for a walk or feeling up to meeting friends for lunch. Some days even getting out of bed will be worth patting yourself on the back for.


  1. Practice gratitude

The best way to embrace mindfulness to its fullest is to practice gratitude. Even on your worst days when you’re feeling sore and fed up, try to count three things every day that you’re grateful for. It might sometimes be as small as making it one day closer to the finish line.

Writing down your three things every morning will help you really think about them and will be nice to look back on as your pregnancy progresses.

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If you are feeling down during your pregnancy, you should always see a doctor. Here are some of the most common symptoms to look out for:

  • Feeling sad and tearful for no reason.
  • Finding it impossible to cheer up.
  • Anxiety, depressions, feelings of hopelessness.
  • Feeling moody, impatient and irritable.
  • Insomnia and trouble sleeping.
  • Feeling emotionally numb.
  • Avoiding social contact, isolating yourself.
  • Feeling suicidal.

Have you tried mindfulness during pregnancy? What are your thoughts? Let us know by using the hashtag #MyIrishLife

10 Best And Worst Foods For Your Blood Pressure

Read time: 4 Minutes

It affects 30-40% of all people in Ireland, 50% of those over the age of 45, around 4 out of every 5 men and 2 out of every 3 women.

Although high blood pressure affects so many of us, most of us probably even don’t realise we have it. Unless you suffer from problems with your kidneys, adrenal gland or thyroid or unless it runs in your family, there’s rarely a single cause of high blood pressure and it’s mostly symptomless.

For the majority of people, the only way to know if you suffer from high blood pressure is to get it measured by your doctor. It’s recommended that you get your blood pressure taken at least every five years or more frequently if you’re overweight, a smoker or drink alcohol regularly.

What is high blood pressure?

All of us have blood pressure – it’s the work your heart has to do to pump blood around the body. If you have high blood pressure (also known as hypertension), this means your heart has to work harder.

Generally, a blood pressure reading of 120/80 is normal and a reading of 140/90 is considered high.

Dangers of high blood pressure

High blood pressure is one of the main risk factors of heart disease and stroke – two of the primary causes of death in Ireland.

Worst foods for blood pressure - salt

How to treat high blood pressure

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor will give you the best advice on how to manage it and will tell you if you require medication to control it.

To aid things further, there are certain measures you can take with your diet to ensure you’re not consuming anything that may heighten things.

Generally the advice is to minimise your salt intake, as sodium works on your kidneys and makes your body hold on to more water. This excess of water raises your blood pressure and puts extra strain on your kidneys, arteries and your heart.

But binning your salt shaker won’t solve the problem – you also need to consider the foods in your diet and ingredients in your cupboard that contain too much sodium.

When it comes to high blood pressure, you’ll often hear the term ‘DASH diet’. This stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension and consists of foods that are low in sodium but high in powerful minerals like potassium, magnesium and calcium which can counter the impact of salt in the body.

If you’re new to the ‘DASH diet’ or aren’t sure which foods will affect your blood pressure, here are the best and worst foods for hypertension

Best Foods For Your Blood Pressure


Bananas are one of the most potassium-rich foods you can eat, with up to 12% of your recommended daily intake. Potassium is great for those with high blood pressure as it counterbalances the effects of salt on blood pressure. Bananas also contain good levels of calcium and magnesium.


Sweet potatoes

Often cited as a ‘superfood’ sweet potatoes are rich in potassium and magnesium and are high in fibre. You can use them to make a great alternative to chips.


Avocados are another great potassium rich food. Studies have also revealed its abilities to reduce cholesterol and fat in the body and control inflammatory stress.

avocado toasts


Some research has shown dark chocolate’s ability to reduce high blood pressure, as it has relatively high levels of magnesium. Magnesium is thought to help blood pressure by enabling the body to regulate blood flow. Research by the University of Hertfordshire in early 2017 revealed that in many cases people with higher than average blood pressure often have a magnesium deficiency.


When we think of heart health in general, we don’t tend to think of eggs as they’re commonly associated with high cholesterol. However, it is thought that for most people, the cholesterol consumed in eggs, does not affect the body’s own cholesterol levels. In fact, they’re believed to be good for your heart and your blood pressure – specifically egg whites. Although more research is still to be done, initial studies on rats found that when they were fed a protein found in egg whites, they experienced a significant drop in blood pressure.

Worst foods for your blood pressure

Canned soup

When it comes to high blood pressure, it’s advised to avoid canned or pre-packaged foods as they will often contain higher levels of salt to preserve the ingredients. Although canned soup can seem like a good cost effective meal, they are often very high in sodium.


Pickles are another high sodium food. Anything that is preserved usually contains a high level of salt as salt prevents decay and keeps the food edible for longer. The longer a food is in a jar or can of preserving liquid, the more salt it will absorb.

Pickles are rich in sodium

Tomato sauces

Whether it’s canned tomatoes, tomato pasta sauces or tomato juice – many pre-made tomato based products will be high in salt. As tomato products form the heart of many of our favourite dishes, you can cut the sodium by making your own sauces with fresh tomatoes, olive oil and herbs.


Although many of us feel we need coffee to just function and get through the day, your daily cup (or cups) could be detrimental to your blood pressure as it causes a temporary spike. This is true of all caffeinated products including energy drinks and even tea.


Drinking alcohol in moderation (one drink per day or less) is not thought to increase your blood pressure, but overindulging and consuming large amounts can be dangerous and lead to long-term blood pressure increases. Heavy drinkers who want to lower their blood pressure are advised to cut their drinking back gradually as going cold turkey can lead to severe blood pressure increases for a few days.

Effects of alcohol consumption on blood pressure - couple drinking


Although the foods on this list are generally considered to impact blood pressure (either improving or negatively impacting it), a good diet needs to work in combination with regular exercise and a generally healthy lifestyle to improve your blood pressure.

Before making any changes to your diet, you should always seek professional, medical advice and, if you’re unsure of your blood pressure, there’s no better time to make that appointment and get it checked.

Are you surprised by any foods on this list? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #MyIrishLife

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Do You Really Need To Go Gluten Free? Is It Actually Good For You?

Read time: 5 Minutes

There’s no denying that going gluten free is one of the most popular health trends of recent years. Celebrities endorse it, there are gluten free cookbooks on the shelves and the gluten free aisles of supermarkets are getting bigger by the day.

According to research from Kantar, the UK Free From market is valued at £740m and grew by 27% in the last year. Within this, the Gluten Free market accounts for nearly 60% of the category and is valued at £438 million, increasing by 36% over 2015.

The benefits of going gluten free are claimed to be endless; from weight loss to aiding digestive issues. But is going gluten free actually good for you?

 What exactly is gluten?

Gluten is a mixture of two proteins (glutenin and gliadin) present in cereal grains and is responsible for the elasticity in dough. Wheat is the most popular gluten-containing grain.

Why go gluten free?

People with digestive issues and disorders such as celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten. It’s an autoimmune disorder, where the body treats gluten like a foreign threat to the system. The immune system retaliates by attacking the gluten, but also the lining of the gut.

Do You Really Need To Go Gluten Free?

Celiac is thought to affect 1% of the population and the most common symptoms are bloating, digestive discomfort, abdominal pain, constipation, headaches, skin rashes and tissue damage in the small intestines.

There are also other people who have non celiac gluten sensitivity or a wheat intolerance who may benefit from a gluten free diet.

If only 1% of the population have celiac disease, why are so many people going gluten free?

Some health experts argue that gluten is harmful to most people and is not necessary in our diets. Some people who suffer from digestive issues assume that gluten is causing their pain and discomfort and will eliminate it from their diets as a result.

And, as most gluten free options are found in the health food aisles, there’s a general belief that these foods are better for you.

In addition, many celebrities and influencers endorse going gluten free, which has raised much greater awareness of the diet and established it as a trend.

However, despite the popularity, there is very little evidence to support the theory that going gluten free is beneficial to your health, if you do not have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance.


Is gluten free harmful if you don’t have celiac, a sensitivity or intolerance to gluten?

There is also very little evidence to suggest that going gluten free can be harmful for those who do not need to do so for medical reasons. But, that said, if you remove anything from your diet you risk nutritional deficiencies.

Some medical professionals argue that cutting gluten out of your diet can leave you lacking in many nutrients, such as iron, as going gluten free often means accepting an entirely new, restrictive diet.

While gluten itself doesn’t offer any nutritional benefits, many of the grains which contain gluten do.  And, as gluten is contained in a very wide variety of foods, eliminating gluten can restrict your food options which may be harmful to your health.

How do I tell if I need to go gluten free?

Always seek advice from your doctor before eliminating anything from your diet and embarking on a gluten free lifestyle.

If you’re suffering from digestive issues and suspect it may be to do with your gluten intake first, talk to your doctor first and get tested for celiac, wheat intolerance or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Gluten is present in cereal grains

Can I try going gluten free?

The bottom line is that gluten isn’t proven to be inherently bad but gluten free foods and a gluten free diet are also not proven to be inherently healthy.

If you embark on a gluten-free diet you may indeed note positive health benefits. It is likely that you will experience weight loss, as foods high in gluten tend to also be high in calories and sugars.

However, if you are going to make any significant change to your diet, you should not only carry out extensive research from reputable sources but also, always get advice from a professional.

What is your opinion on going gluten free? Let us know by using the hashtag #MyIrishLife on social media or by leaving a comment below.

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