Good health’s not just for January, it’s for life!

Laura Dowling

Laura, Supervising Pharmacist Manager, Stillorgan

New year, new you! …. Screams every second Facebook post and magazine article that I have read over the past couple of weeks. The post-Christmas bulge and general feeling of guilt after a month (or more!) of over indulgence during the silly season generally encourages people to jump on the health bandwagon. Dry January, gym memberships and dieting can all contribute to a healthier lifestyle but a proper understanding of nutrition and portion sizes can lead to a healthier you for life.

Here at LloydsPharmacy we can help you to achieve your health goals with nutrition and exercise advice as well as taking regular measurements of your weight, waist circumference and upper arm. We can guide you through our eight week programme with enthusiasm and understanding. But our aim is to ultimately arm you with the tools that will help you to carry on with your new, healthy lifestyle for the months and years beyond our programme.

We will encourage you to set realistic goals when it comes to weight loss. Most calorie restrictive diets flounder after five weeks as calorie restriction in the long term is very unachievable. Life just tends to get in the way! Nights out, weddings and parties often end up with our patients falling off the weight loss wagon. Sometimes people just find it too difficult to get back on it again and they are plagued with feelings of guilt and self-loathing which in turn can lead to more overeating.

I always give my patients the following tips:

  • Meal planning and preparation with lots of vegetables, whole grains and lean meats is so important. It prevents you from overeating the wrong kids of foods when you are very hungry.
  • Experiment with new recipes: herbs and spices add delicious flavours to food, chickpeas are nourishing, very versatile, cheap and so easy to add to recipes.
  • Alcohol provides empty calories that does not satiate and often causes overeating, so limit your alcohol consumption.
  • Correct weight loss involves 80% diet and 20% exercise. Pounding away in the gym is of little benefit if your diet is not healthy and portion controlled.
  • Portion size is so important. The correct portion size for rice, pasta and potatoes is the cooked amount that would fit in the palm of your hand. This is considerably less than the large platefuls of pasta that we have become used to eating. You can bulk up your plate with fresh veggies and salads to satiate your appetite and fill your belly!
  • Increase your activity levels. Get your heart rate going and break a sweat! For some this can be as simple as a 20 minute brisk walk every day. You will achieve your weight loss goal quicker and healthier if you do this.
  • Focus on inches lost rather than kilograms/ pounds lost.

The ‘feel good’ factor of living a healthier life should not be underestimated.  A healthy lifestyle can lead to elevated mood, increased energy levels and libido. Clothes will fit you better and you will look much better too. The health benefits are numerous:  lower blood pressure, less likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, lower cholesterol, lower incidences of depression and anxiety… the list goes on.

Vitamin and mineral supplements can really help you to achieve your goals too, especially in the first few weeks of the program. They can boost your energy levels (Revive Active, Quinton Cell Nutrition, Oxylent), decrease your sugar cravings (Miss Fit Crave, Pharma Nord Chromium) and help to increase your overall feeling of wellbeing. A good Vitamin D supplement can also help with mood elevation as we definitely do not get enough sun in this dreary part of the world, especially during these cold and dark winter months.

I will end by reassuring you that everyone falls off the wagon at some stage. At LloydsPharmacy we are here to help you to get back up onto it. We don’t judge, we just offer sound advice and empathetic encouragement. Good luck!

Laura Dowling is the Supervising Pharmacist Manager at LloydsPharmacy in Stillorgan Shopping centre.  She is a health and wellbeing enthusiast and mum to three young boys.


What is ‘Change Your Health Direction’?

Lisa Walsh Headshot Corporate

Lisa Walsh
Life Coach and Training Specialist for LloydsPharmacy

Change Your Health Direction (CYHD) is a FREE 8-week programme offering you the opportunity to visit your local LloydsPharmacy, where one of our trained in-store coaches will speak with you on a weekly basis about your health goals. Our instore health advisory services include smoking control support, blood pressure and BMI checks, weight management diary, lifestyle and health coaching sessions. 

The New Year is a wonderful opportunity for us all to align our health goals and lifestyle habits to keep us on track with everyday healthy living and wellbeing practices. Rather than taking something away from your life as a resolution, I love to ‘take on’. This year I am taking on healthy habits that will improve my lifestyle and wellbeing.

So I am super excited to be part of the ‘Change Your Health Direction’ 8 week programme. What I adore about CYHD is that it gives me 8 weeks to monitor the healthy habits I wish to commit to with the support of a Health Coach in my local LloydsPharmacy and it’s for FREE! Yes, I can have a one-to one mini consultation session with the CYHD coach on a weekly basis all for free!

After the Christmas eating, TV watching and couch cuddling, I am ready to increase my exercise levels again, monitor my immune system, care for my skin more and focus on eating a balanced nutritious diet.  The first step is to meet with my LloydsPharmacy Health Coach and set realistic achievable goals. I can’t wait to ‘take on’ the CYHD programme.

Small changes can make a big difference. Whatever change you choose to ‘take on’ your LloydsPharmacy Health Coach is there to support you as you introduce healthier habits into your lifestyle.

Happy New Year to you all and best of luck with whatever you choose to “take on” for 2018.


Top Tips For Runners—beginners, marathoners, and everyone in between!

Last Thursday I donned my brand new Asics trainers and headed out to the Blanchardstown indoor arena with over 100 other runners to meet and run with the gorgeous Paula Radcliffe. My goodness she really is a superstar. Lovely and open, she posed beside each and every one of us would-be marathon runners for a picture and seemed very happy to do so.  She then answered our questions in an informal Q&A session bestowing upon us her in depth knowledge of the sport that is endurance running.

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Her main take home points were:

  • Quality not quantity running- obviously putting in the miles is important but what is more important is varying the route, surface and pace at which you run.
  • Eating very soon after a long run is a must- prepare a meal before you go out for your run so that you just have to reheat it. Paula said she always eats within 5 minutes of returning home from a run. She advises not to forget to include protein in this meal for muscle recovery- even if this only involves a handful of nuts.
  • Ice baths are great for reducing inflammation in the limbs after a run and allow the muscles and joints to recover much quicker. Paula said that at the height of her training she would get into an ice bath as soon as possible after a run with a nice cup of hot tea!

Paula has had ongoing problems with arthritis in her foot for many years but since she started taking Revive Active Joint Complex she has felt a considerable reduction in the pain that this causes her.

I myself have run long distances on and off over many years. I tend to pick it up a bit more during the spring and summer months and retire my trainers to the wardrobe during the winter due to the shorter daylight hours. I do try to muster a 10k every couple of weeks though as I absolutely adore the freedom of running.  The endorphins that flood my body after a long run are like no other exercise. I also practice yoga to keep my ligaments and muscles long, lean and strong and swim for cardio. I find that both of these activities compliment my running, particularly yoga as one definitely needs a weight bearing exercise (says Queen Paula!) and yoga provides me with this. I also take Revive Active everyday as it gives me the energy that I need to work, be a Mum and do the occasional 5k run with Paula Radcliffe!

It is very important if you are a newbie to running that you take it easy at first and build your distances up gradually. There is no point over doing it at the start as you are highly likely to injure yourself. Start with one, two then three kilometer distances every couple of days. You will be surprised how quickly your stamina and fitness will build (the downside of this of course is that your fitness reduces quickly too if you miss a couple of weeks-you have been warned!) Make sure you get plenty of sleep. A nap in the middle of the day is ideal, but you would probably not be considered an ideal employee if you were doing this regularly! Of course you also need to fuel your body with the right nutrients- a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat is perfect. A high quality Vitamin and Mineral supplement can only compliment this. Finally, enjoy it! Running can help you to look AND feel great. It’s the perfect exercise for your mind, body and soul!

Written by Laura Dowling, Pharmacist in LloydsPharmacy Stillorgan S.C

Supporting Irish National Breastfeeding Week – Planning to Breastfeed?

If you are planning to breastfeed your baby, you are providing nature’s own immunisation protecting baby against a wide variety of illness and conditions. It’s designed perfectly to meet your baby’s every need. It’s ready when baby needs it at the perfect temperature and comes neatly packaged with no need to sterilise!

Your breastmilk contains essential enzymes, hormones and immunoglobulins vital for your baby’s normal growth, development and good health. And despite decades of research by formula companies, science still cannot replicate the wonders of your own breastmilk.

Breastfeeding is the ideal start for your baby. The goodness of breastfeeding will last you both a lifetime, it’s probably one of the single most important things you can do for you and your baby’s health. Breastmilk gives your baby all the food and drink they need for the first six months of life, and continues to be an important part of their diet, as other foods are given, for up to two years of age and beyond.

(Source: The benefits of Breastfeeding: a DOH initiative.)


While breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your baby, it is a skill that you and your baby develop over the first days and weeks.  One way to help you prepare is to go to breastfeeding classes held by lactation consultants and midwives.  Ensure that you pack your hospital bag with Multi Mam Compresses to relieve soreness immediately and help prevent the occurrence of mastitis.  Also have Multi Mam Lanolin and Balm to help condition your nipples to prevent soreness and irritation.

multi mam group image

Your must do’s to avoid catching the FLU!

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Rebecca, Pharmacist Castletroy

It’s that time of year again, kids are gone back to school, the days are becoming colder, the evenings shorter and we’ve the winter season of illnesses ahead. Whether it’s the (slightly suspicious) man-flu or the extremely more serious swine and bird flu’s seen in recent years, nobody wants to contract the flu, whatever strains are in circulation. So what exactly is flu and can we do anything to avoid it?

Flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus that affects all age groups. Flu symptoms can range in severity from mild/moderate to severe and even fatal. They can include sudden fever, chills, cough, headache, tiredness, aching muscles and joint pain, sore throat, vomiting and diarrhoea, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping. For most, it leads to 3-4 days miserable in bed and up to a further week recovering. Unfortunately some more at-risk patients can develop bacterial chest infection complications leading to pneumonia that can occasionally be fatal. Between 200 to 500 people, mainly elderly, die from the flu and flu-related illnesses in Ireland each year.

How can we avoid it or reduce the spread of it?

  1. Get ourselves vaccinated every year in our local pharmacy or GP surgery (keep reading for more on this).
  2. Wash our hands vigorously for 15 seconds with soap and warm water or alcohol based hand cleaners.
  3. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze ideally using a disposable tissue.
  4. Avoid close contact especially in crowded public places or wear a mask!
  5. Get regular exercise. Research has shown that those who exercise 4 to 5 times per week are less likely to contract the flu.

The flu virus changes and mutates rapidly and so, a new version of the flu vaccine is offered in Ireland every year. Each version normally protects against the three strains of flu predicted to be most prevalent in the forthcoming winter season. The HSE and Healthcare professionals urge people in at-risk groups to get vaccinated each year. This includes:

  •  people aged 65 and older
  •  patients with long-term medical conditions a such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes, liver, kidney or neurological disease
  •  people with a body mass index (BMI) over 40
  •  those with an impaired immune system due to disease or medication including all cancer patients
  •  pregnant women at any stage in pregnancy
  •  those residing in nursing homes and other long stay institutions
  •  health care workers and carers
  •  people with regular close contact with poultry, water fowl or pigs.

The vaccine works by stimulating our immune system to produce antibodies to the flu virus. If exposed to the flu, these antibodies attack the virus. Because it takes time for our immune system to produce these antibodies, it is generally two weeks before the vaccine starts to work. The vaccine cannot cause the flu as it contains killed or inactivated viruses. The most common side effects of the vaccine are mild and can include soreness, redness or swelling where the injection was given. Headache, fever, aches and tiredness may occur.

The vaccine is free to all those in the at-risk groups. The consultation by the pharmacist or doctor is free for those with a medical card or GP visit card. Pharmacists and doctors charge a consultation fee to those without a medical or GP visit card.

Many LloydsPharmacies up and down the country from Donegal to Cork offer the flu vaccination to anyone over the age of 18 wishing to avail of it. Please phone or call in to your local LloydsPharmacy for any information on the flu vaccine or to make an appointment in a participating store to be vaccinated by one of our expert LloydsPharmacy Pharmacists.

The ins and outs of Ireland’s 2 most prolific STIs

With 6 out of 10 Irish people admitting they have never had a sexual health check-up, LetsGetChecked convenient and confidential sexual health testing service is available through LloydsPharmacy Ireland to provide you with greater access to getting tested.  Due to our hesitation in getting tested, below you will find more information on two of Ireland’s most prolific STIs, Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea, symptoms, and why you need to get tested!


Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs in Ireland and according to LetsGetChecked Medical Director, Dr Dominic Rowley, chlamydia is rapidly on the rise. It is incredibly easy to transmit and can be transmitted through oral, anal and vaginal sex; as well as by skin to skin contact.

Chlamydia is often referred to as the “silent STI” as it often does not cause any symptoms whatsoever, which increases the chances of it spreading to a new sexual partner. The lack of symptoms can often lead to a false sense of security and lead to complications if the infection is not detected. Symptoms for chlamydia are different for men and women, for men symptoms can be painful urination, unusual discharge, pain in the testicles, or anal discharge.

For women, it is important to know that 80% of women infected with chlamydia experience no symptoms at all. The only way to know for sure if they are infected is to get tested. However, if they do experience symptoms, these are some symptoms are painful urination, cloudy urine, abnormal vaginal discharge, abnormal bleeding during intercourse or between periods, and pain during sex.

Chlamydia is very simple and easy to treat. The treatment is a once off course of antibiotics. If the infection is a more complex, for example, if a woman has pelvic pain or if the infection is found in the throat or the anal region, a more extensive course of antibiotics may be required.

Chlamydia diagnosis relies upon a laboratory test, all of LetsGetChecked sexual health tests are designed to test for chlamydia.


Gonorrhoea is a STI that can infect both men and women, which causes infections in the genitals, rectum, and throat. Gonorrhoea is spread by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the STI. As with most STIs, it is incredibly easy to transmit and often presents no symptoms in women and men.

Some men show these symptoms, a burning sensation when urinating, a white/green discharge from the penis, or painful or swollen testicles. Most women who have gonorrhoea do not have any symptoms. Even when a woman has symptoms, they are often mild and can be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. If left untreated, gonorrhoea can develop into serious complications in women, such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and long-term pelvic pain. Symptoms for women to look out for include pain when urinating, increased vaginal discharge, and vaginal bleeding between periods.

Gonorrhoea can easily be treated when detected; however, it is important that you take all of your prescribed medication. To test for gonorrhoea you can purchase any of the LetsGetChecked sexual health tests from LloydsPharmacy Ireland or you can visit your local clinic.


How to Practice Safe Sex?

There are many things you can do to reduce your risk of contracting an STI, safer sex is all about protecting yourself and your partners from STIs. STIs are extremely infectious, anybody who has oral, anal, or vaginal sex, or genital skin-to-skin contact with another person can get an STI.

First, as many STIs present no symptoms, it is important to go for regular tests. We recommend that you should get tested every time you enter and leave a new sexual relationship. Condoms are still considered one of the best ways to practice safe sex. When worn correctly, a condom is extremely effective in preventing the transmission of STIs. The wonderful thing about condoms is that they are cheap, and are readily available.

STIs can be easily transmitted through the sharing of sex toys, sterilising toys after each use and using condoms with them will result in safer sex for you. Open communication between yourself and your partner will assess your risk of STIs, when was the last time either of you were tested?

LetsGetChecked sexual health tests are available in LloydsPharmacy Ireland and your results are available within 2-5 working days from when your sample is received in the laboratory. Visit to purchase your convenient and confidential at-home test today.

Trying for a Baby? – How you can give you and your partner the best chance to conceive.

If you and your partner are in good health, you will improve your chances of getting pregnant and of having a healthy pregnancy.  You can also help yourselves by taking fertility supplements.

76% of Irish women who are trying to conceive believe taking a fertility supplement can help them conceive*.

What factors can affect the chance of having a baby?

Medical issues

Medical issues such as diabetes, asthma and being overweight can affect your pregnancy.

Diet and Exercise

Being overweight – For women if your body mass index (BMI) is between 20 and 25 you have a healthy weight.  Women whose BMI is more than 30 or under 19 may find their fertility levels suffer.  If a men’s BMI is more than 30, his fertility may be lower than normal.

It is important to be active for general feeling of wellness.  Being active and fitter helps with stamina and ability to cope with the ups and downs of everyday life.

Alcohol and smoking

Excessive alcohol drinking may affect the quality of a man’s sperm and smoking may reduce fertility in women.

Age can be a factor

For women, the most fertile period is in their mid –twenties and fertility starts to decrease after the age of 35.

For men, sperm is strongest in their mid-twenties and starts to decrease after the age of 40.

The importance of taking a good quality fertility supplement with the right ingredients and dosage levels.

While it is so important to do the best you can by eating well and exercising moderately, you can also help yourself and your partner by taking a high quality fertility supplement when trying for a baby.   It is very difficult, in today’s environment to get all the nutrients we need from food.

Indeed, the latest research amongst Irish women trying for a baby show that 76% of them believe in the importance of taking a nutritional supplement to aid conception*.

PROCEIVE is the new Irish Fertility Supplement specially made for men and women who wish to have a baby. It contains 33 nutrients, vitamins and minerals, at high quality dosage levels.  Each nutrient performs a role in maximising the quality of the eggs (for women) and the quality of the sperm (for men).

proceive range

Talk to your LloydsPharmacy teams – we are trained extensively in the value of nutrition and can give you helpful advice, recommend the correct fertility supplement to take in a safe, discreet and caring manner.

Don’t miss our Fabulous Pharmacist Laura Dowling who will be part of a panel discussing Fertility on Ireland AM on Monday 24th July at 9.20am.

*Source Mummy Pages July 2017/