Health notes: Stop thrush taking over your life, the low-yeast, low-sugar diet and deodorant for teens

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How can I prevent candida taking over?

Q: I have thrush quite often and also tend to get wind and a bloated stomach. My dietician says I should go on a Fodmap regime. Can you explain what it is, how it works and if there are any alternatives?

A: The Fodmap diet originated in Australia and involves restricting certain foods (see below) that are highly fermentable in the large intestine. ‘This is supposed to reduce digestive symptoms that are common with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) including bloating, flatulence, cramping and diarrhoea,’ explains nutritionist Marilyn Glenville (marilynglenville.com).

But the Fodmap diet does not restrict sugar or aspartame (artificial sweetener). Many nutritional experts advise patients with your symptoms to avoid sugar in any form until they recover.

Your symptoms suggest that the problem is caused by candida, a yeast that occurs naturally on the skin, in the mouth, vagina and digestive system. In a healthy body, candida in the digestive system is kept under control by the levels of good bacteria and the immune system. But if the good ‘bugs’ are reduced by antibiotics, the contraceptive pill, HRT or stress, the single-celled yeast can grow roots, which can pierce the walls of the gut and invade the bloodstream, causing a yeast infection known as candidiasis.

Symptoms of candidiasis include persistent vaginal thrush, bloating and flatulence, craving for sugar and bread, getting tipsy on a little alcohol, brain fog, athlete’s foot and fungal toe as well as food sensitivities. You can test for candida by doing a candida antibody test (£140.40, from naturalhealthpractice.com).

A low-yeast, low-sugar diet (see below) would be much better for you than the Fodmap diet. You could also try NHP Advanced Probiotic Support (£29.98 for 60 capsules) and eliminate the candida overgrowth by using natural remedies such as oregano (Oregano Complex by Biocare, £23.86 for 60 capsules).

The Fodmap diet restricts the following foods: Fermentable Oligosaccharides, eg, lentils, kidney beans, broccoli, and wheat Disaccharides, eg, milk, soft cheeses and yoghurtMonosaccharides, eg, apples, pears, honey and fruit juicesAnd Polyols, eg, Xylitol and stone fruits

The low-yeast, low-sugar dietAvoid sugar and foods containing sugar (eg, cakes, jam and biscuits), foods containing yeast (bread, yeast extracts and pizzas), refined grains (white flour, white rice and fermented products including alcohol, vinegar and soy sauce), peanuts, malted foods and drinks, fruit juices, fruit and dried fruit, dairy products (except those below), and regular tea and coffee.Choose Fish, eggs, tofu, live organic natural yoghurt, butter, vegetables, herbal teas, yeast-free soda bread, nuts and seeds, soya milk and pulses. Stick to apples and pears for fruit, and only eat crispbreads that are yeast-, malt- and sugar-free.

 

Keep It Kind deodorant keeps teenage sweat at bay

Keep cool, no sweat!

Our 14-year-old deodorant-obsessed tester has given a resounding thumbs-up to the new lightly fragranced Missy spray deodorant by Keep It Kind, specially formulated for girls aged 11 plus. ‘She dances three times a week and it keeps her fragrant and dry throughout the two-hour sessions,’ her mother reports. Free from aluminium, parabens, alcohol and suitable for vegans, the Keep It Kind range promises 24-hour protection against whiffy bacteria and is suitable for all skin types. It’s available nationwide and from boots.com, £3.29 for 150ml.

Give yourself a youth boost

On Saturday 11 May and Sunday 12 May, the first Anti-Ageing Health & Beauty Show takes place at London Olympia. I will be there on both days with Jo Fairley, my co-author on The Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible, and we very much hope that you will come and see the show and say hello to us. There will be lots of other experts on everything from skincare and diet to cosmetic procedures and fitness – the works! There is a special offer for YOU readers who book within the next three weeks. From today until 14 April, you’ll pay just £10 for a standard ticket, saving £5 each, and £65 for a VIP ticket, saving £20 (the VIP ticket includes a glass of champagne, access to the VIP Retreat Lounge, an exclusive beauty treatment and a goody bag worth more than £90). Book on the website anti-ageingshow.com/tickets, or tel: 0844 858 6764, using the offer code GLOW.

Email your questions to s.stacey@you.co.uk

All products mentioned, unless otherwise specified, are available by mail order from Victoria Health, tel: 0800 3898 195; victoriahealth.com


Health Notes: How to ease travel sickness, Cataracts in young people and stopping smoking for good

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Hello sunshine!

Cataracts affect much younger people nowadays due to UV damage. One glamorous tip is always to wear big sunglasses with wide arms on bright days – and ensure children do, too.

Cataracts affects younger and younger people

  How to ease travel sickness

Q: My 13-year-old granddaughter suffers badly from travel sickness when flying. What can be done to prevent it?

A: About two thirds of us suffer nausea, vomiting and dizziness, even cold sweats, at some point when travelling. The symptoms are probably caused by conflicting messages to your brain from your inner ear, which senses movement, while your eyes report you are sitting still.

There are several practical things you can do:

Choose a window seat near the front of the plane or beside a wing. There is less motion in these areas and she can focus on the horizon when there is light. 

She should not read but listen to music or an audiobook with her eyes closed (a thick mask helps, eg, Bucky Sleep Mask, £16.95, from amazon.co.uk). 

Focus the fan above the seat on her face to increase the airflow around her.

Avoid fatty, rich, salty, spicy or acidic foods. Choose plain yoghurt, cereal, crackers and bread. Eat a few hours before takeoff and have frequent snacks in flight. Sip lots of water or herbal tea, eg, camomile or peppermint.

Nasa astronauts used to take ginger into space. Pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends Lamberts Ginger Capsules (£9.14 for 60, from victoriahealth.com): take one on the day of the flight. She can also suck ginger sweets or sip ginger ale.

Ask the stewardess for a cut lemon to sniff if she feels nauseous. 

Sea-bands may be helpful. These acupressure wrist bands press on a relevant point on the inner wrist (£8.25 for two bands, from victoriahealth.com).

For a combination of helpful homeopathic remedies, try Nelsons Travella (£5.10 for 72 tablets, from nelsonspharmacy.com).

  Natural ways to stop smoking

The click-to-quit guide to stopping smoking

No one ever said stopping smoking was easy, however much you know the health risks. But our 44-year-old tester Matthew, who smoked ten to 20 a day since the age of 15, found the Quit Smoking in 7 Days programme developed by hypnotherapist Tim Smale worked for him. Here’s his report…

‘This step-by-step programme uses online interactive cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnotherapy streamed on to a computer or mobile device. Each day, you get 20 minutes of video content plus a 20-minute relaxation session. You need to schedule a week when you can really commit to 40 minutes a day and stick to the timing. I wanted to feel more in control of myself. I resented the money I spent and it was getting harder to hide it from our children.

‘I was also shocked to learn how many harmful chemicals there are in cigarettes – including weedkiller. ‘On day one, Tim Smale asked me to examine the reasons I started smoking. At 15 it was peer pressure, trying to look cool and older. As Tim points out, these reasons no longer apply! Now I smoked mainly out of habit, when I was stressed and/or having a drink. I used to tell myself I needed a cigarette but of course that wasn’t true.

There are more than 7,000 chemicals in cigarettes: 250 are known to be harmful, at least 69 can cause cancer.

‘Until the final session, you can smoke normally, but Tim asks you to hold the cigarette in the other hand and to do nothing else – no TV, reading, drinking, etc. This turns a subconscious habit into a conscious action at the forefront of your mind.

‘The first six sessions prepare you for a 30-minute hypnosis session on day seven, when Tim instructs your brain to ignore triggers and reminds you how much better you will feel as a nonsmoker and how proud you will be of yourself. I felt quite relieved and good about myself immediately.

‘Two months on, I haven’t lapsed once and feel confident that the addiction has gone. I have survived nights in the pub without wanting to smoke and only think about it occasionally. You can repeat the hypnosis session if you need to but so far I haven’t.’

The Quit Smoking in 7 Days programme costs £129, from quitsmokingin7days.co.uk

  Book of the week: Camping by the Waterside (Adlard Coles, £12.99*)

Easter weekend always feels like the start of spring. And what better place for mind, body and spirit than being by water, surfing, yachting swimming or trekking? This guide by award-winning journalist Stephen Neale to the best UK and Ireland campsites will inspire even die-hard non-campers and is perfect for families.

Email your questions to s.stacey@you.co.uk

Pictures: Corbis/Wonwoo Lee.

Always consult your doctor if you have a medical problem



Health notes: No laughing matter, go with the grain and website of the week

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Pelvic Floor Secrets, Jenni Russell

This is no laughing matter…

I’m in my late 30s and have two children. I am beginning to have ‘accidents’. It’s occasional – mostly when I exercise or laugh – but I am terrified it will get worse. What can I do?

Between 30 and 40 per cent of women in their 30s wet themselves when they sneeze, cough, exercise, laugh or dance, but hardly anyone talks about it, according to Jenni Russell, personal trainer and expert in pelvic floor conditioning (jennirussell.com). ‘Incontinence is not only embarrassing – I know from my clients that it also affects their emotional state, body image and sexuality,’ she says.

This medical condition has a range of possible causes, including being overweight, carrying more than one child or having a low-lying pregnancy, trauma in labour, surgery, menopause and age, or prolapsed organs. ‘Many women think it is a normal consequence of childbirth or ageing, but it does not have to be,’ she says.

The best treatment is exercise. A focused exercise programme can start to reverse the symptoms in six weeks, depending on the severity of the condition. You need to work on your core, bottom, abs and thighs, as Jenni details in her new book Pelvic Floor Secrets (Filament Publishing, £15.99). A strong pelvic floor can greatly improve your quality of life.

‘You won’t need to worry about leaking, the potential of incontinence pads and possibly serious medical conditions such as a prolapsed bladder, bowel or womb, and you will benefit from a better sex life,’ explains Jenni.

Simple lifestyle shifts also help. Avoid caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, chocolate, colas), citrus fruits and spicy foods, which irritate the bladder, and alcohol, which acts as a diuretic.

Lose weight if you are overweight. Sip plenty of still water through the day and eat a high-fibre diet with plenty of vegetables and fruit (and spelt, see right) to ensure you are not constipated: constipation can weaken the pelvic floor over time.

  Thomasina Miers

Go with the GrainWheat doesn’t suit me (I puff up and feel sluggish) but I love spelt, an ancient grain that is naturally low in gluten and high in nutrients.

So I am delighted to tell you about Great British Spelt Recipes, a new online resource (greatbritishspeltrecipes.com) launched by Sharpham Park, purveyors of organic spelt flour, pearled spelt and spelt cereals, with Bowel Cancer UK.

A high-fibre diet is important in preventing bowel cancer and spelt is a great source of dietary fibre. The delicious recipes – from bread to cakes to risotto (my favourite) and many more – come from such star foodies as Thomasina Miers (above), Heston Blumenthal and Yotam Ottolenghi. (NB Spelt is not suitable for diagnosed coeliacs.)

  Website of the Week babeswithbabies.com

Website of the Week babeswithbabies.comWorking-mum colleagues love this website for its gorgeous, reasonably priced maternity clothes, including lovely undies and swimwear. Babes with Babies was set up in 2006 by mother-of-two and diplomat’s wife Sophie Devonshire in response to her own need for elegant but practical clothes, both for pregnancy and breastfeeding. It also offers accessories and presents for mums-to-be, and delivers worldwide.

 

3 of the best - silver-y products

3 of the best - silver-y products

SilvaFresh Antibacterial Toothpaste With pure homeopathic antibacterial silver, this soothing mild mint toothpaste, which is SLS-free, has been shown to help eliminate bacteria responsible for tooth decay, gum disease, tartar build-up and bad breath. Brush at least twice daily. £8.95 for 3oz, from Victoria Health, tel: 0800 3898 195, victoriahealth.com.

Silver Sense healing bedclothes Silver is calming and naturally anti-microbial for eczema and other itchy skin conditions. This range (suitable from birth to eight years) offers pyjamas, sleepsuits and bedding made from knitted cotton yarn blended with silver fibres. Our tester found them especially useful when her eight-year-old had eczema and chickenpox: ‘The loose-fitting PJs soothed the itching from both.’ Pyjamas, from £39, from silversense.co.uk.

Elastoplast Aqua Protect Silver Healing I swear by this range of plasters, which have a wound pad containing antiseptic silver designed to prevent infection. I find they help wounds to heal faster too. £2.55 for ten waterproof strips, from boots.com.

 

Email your questions to s.stacey@you.co.uk

Always consult your doctor if you have a medical problem




Health Notes: Delicious gluten free food, the life span of suncream and give your wardrobe a workout

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Free from and fabulous

At least one in every 100 people suffers from the serious autoimmune condition coeliac disease

At least one in every 100 people suffers from the serious autoimmune condition coeliac disease and must eliminate gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, from their diet as it damages the lining of the small intestine (coeliac.org.uk).

A significant number of coeliacs are also intolerant of lactose, a type of sugar mainly found in milk and dairy products. Add to this a range of other food allergies and sensitivities and an estimated 17 per cent of us are discovering that we feel better if we avoid some common food ingredients, mainly gluten and dairy products.

Of course, that restricts what you can eat and  drink, but take heart! The FreeFrom Food Awards will be announced this Tuesday, giving details of all sorts of comestibles rigorously trialled by a panel of judges recruited by Foods Matter, the leading allergy and intolerance website (foodsmatter.com).

‘The awards were designed to shout about new foods for people with coeliac disease and food allergies,’ explains Foods Matter founder Michelle Berriedale-Johnson. ‘But as more people experiment with “free from” products for food sensitivities and as a general health measure, the number of foods on offer has rocketed.’

Short-listed delicacies include Freedom Deli gluten-free Tuna Melt Panini, Afia’s gluten-free Spicy Mix Vegetable Samosa, Cornito Sea Waves gluten-free Corn and Potato Pasta, and Vivesoy Cappuccino Soy Milk. For the full short list, and the final winners (from Wednesday morning), visit freefromfoodawards.co.uk.

Should I use last year’s suncream?

How long do suncreams last?

I have several half-finished tubes from last year but don’t want to risk getting burnt.

The answer is probably about 12 months, according to Dr Susan Mayou, consultant dermatologist at London’s Cadogan Clinic. ‘Look at the expiry date on the bottom of the container,’ she advises.Few of us apply sufficient product to achieve the SPF (sun protection factor) on the label, she adds. Choose a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB water-resistant sunscreen, at least SPF15, and spread it evenly over your whole body, not forgetting ears, back, knees and feet.You need about two teaspoonfuls for head, arms and neck, and two tablespoonfuls to cover your whole body, while wearing a swimming costume, according to Cancer Research UK’s Sunsmart campaign (sunsmart.org.uk). Will last year's suncream suffice?

Website of the Week: elevateeducation.com

About now, exam-taking teens and their parents tend to be getting pretty stressed about revision. One mother recommends this website, set up by a young Australian ‘who wanted to work out how top students did it’. As well as offering workshops in schools, led by cool young presenters who really connect with the students, the website offers advice in articles including ‘Attention, study and the Facebook effect’. PS There are useful tips for all home workers.

Fashion forward Gladda fitflops

Wardrobe workout

It’s not often this page features fashion advice, but since my colleagues on the fashion desk have become born-again FitFlop fans (the features desk have been devoted, as I have, for years), I thought you would enjoy their tips.

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This genius footwear range is built with a Microwobbleboard midsole which can boost the activation of certain leg muscles, diffuse pressure underfoot and absorb shock, helping to protect joints.

• Junior fashion editor Sinead O’Connell raves that the black leather Shuvs, £90, are ‘extremely comfy, great for running around town in… The classic style works well with grey skinny jeans, white shirt and navy blazer, or a simple Cos shift dress and thick grey tights’.

• Senior fashion assistant Philippa Bloom went for the ‘fab’ Gladda (pictured right), £120, declaring, ‘I’m very happy to have such fashion-forward sandals: I’ll team them with cute shorts.’

• Features editor Rosalind Lowe declares ‘my comfy and cool-looking Summas [£80] have two adjustable straps with buckles, which are perfect for people like me with wide feet and a high instep.’

• Our 78-year-old with dodgy knees declares her leather Super T Sneakers, £90, ‘brilliant’ and the opposite of frumpy.

• Our male tester loves his Lewis Suede, £100, which (importantly for him) look ‘smart casual and emphatically not like orthopaedic shoes’.

For more information and to buy, visit fitflop.co.uk

Email your questions to s.stacey@you.co.uk



Health notes: Emma Forbes reveals her health history, the truth about hand sanitisers and uncommunicative children

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Have a girls’ night in for a good cause

Here’s a heartwarming idea: this coming Friday, invite your girlfriends round for A Really Good Night In and donate what you would have spent on going out to Macmillan Cancer Support. Give each other a manicure, eat something delicious, catch up on gossip and support this fantastic charity.

More details on macmillan.org.uk.

  My health: Emma Forbes, 47, TV presenter and lifestyle blogger

Emma Forbes

I was diagnosed with endometriosis in my early 30s when my husband [banker Graham Clempson, left] and I wanted to start a family. A scan revealed a cyst on my right ovary. I had never heard of endometriosis, where the cells that line the womb migrate to other parts of the body and cause pain, inflammation, the formation of scar tissue and sometimes ovarian cysts [further information from endometriosis-uk.org].

Endometriosis affects more than 1.5 million women in the UK but it’s difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic IBS, pelvic inflammatory disorder and lower-stomach ache.

I had a laparoscopy to remove the cyst but one specialist told me that I may never have children. We were lucky to have Lily, now 17, and Sam, 14, after the adhesions were lasered away enabling me to get pregnant before they grew back.

Acupuncture, diet and supplements helped, as did staying on the pill as it limits the production of oestrogen, which encourages endometriosis to grow. And 12 years ago, I had my right ovary removed and haven’t suffered since.

When I was 37 weeks pregnant with Lily, she was the wrong way round. I was told I’d have to have a caesarean, so I had acupuncture with moxibustion, a traditional Chinese medicine therapy, and lay watching my stomach as she turned round. I have facial acupuncture now with the wonderful Annee de Mamiel [demamiel.com].

One of the side effects of endometriosis is depression and I had postnatal depression after both children. I was always so bright and bubbly and suddenly I felt overwhelmed and exhausted. Acupuncture was very beneficial and I also used homeopathy.

I am an ambassador for Wellbeing of Women, a charity that funds research into women’s health [wellbeingofwomen.org.uk]. Now Bhs has asked me to choose my four favourite dresses [Emma models a cocktail dress, right], sales of which will raise money for research into endometriosis. Emma Forbes Loves, in aid of Wellbeing of Women, launches at selected Bhs stores and at bhs.co.uk on 29 April

TALKING POINT

Several grandparents have emailed asking where they can find support for grandchildren with communication problems. Often they are not doing well in school and don’t make friends easily. The charity I Can runs a helpline, tel: 020 7843 2544, ican.org.uk

Soft touch hand sanitisers

A SOFTER TOUCH

Doctors have often rejected hand sanitisers (advising a scrub with soap and water), partly because they have been so drying that they caused cracks in the skin, posing a significant risk of infection. A new natural product, Renouve Anti-Ageing Hand Sanitizer, overcomes this problem. According to Jo Fairley, my co-author of the Beauty Bible books and website, who spends a lot of time on trains, planes and buses, ‘the serum texture of this gorgeously packaged product is so wonderfully softening and nourishing that I use it diligently. It claims to kill 99 per cent of bugs and I haven’t had so much as a sniffle since it landed in my handbag several months ago.’ Priced £22, from Victoria Health, tel: 0800 3898 195, victoriahealth.com.

Email your questions to s.stacey@you.co.uk



Health Notes: Alzheimer's need to know, preventing dry eyes and ridding yourself of rosacea

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Is Alzheimer's disease the same as dementia?

Q: My grandma has been diagnosed with dementia but it is not Alzheimer’s disease. I am confused as I thought they were the same?

A: There are several types of dementia (much on our minds because of Mrs Thatcher), including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), vascular dementia, frontal lobe dementia, and dementia with Lewy bodies. Not everyone has all the symptoms of one particular type – some people are diagnosed as having mixed dementia – and they affect individuals to different degrees and progress at different rates. I suggest you ask your grandma’s doctor if there is a specific diagnosis in her case.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. It is thought to be due to plaques and tangles in the brain causing brain cells to die faster than they would in normal ageing. The first signs are usually forgetting recent events, repetition, confusing things or getting lost. People may also become depressed and/or irritable, and lose interest in doing things. Eventually they may need help with everyday tasks.

Vascular dementia, the second most common, happens when there is any interruption in the supply of blood and oxygen to the brain, as with strokes. People with high blood pressure, heart problems, high blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) are more at risk so it is important to identify and treat these conditions quickly.

Frontal lobe dementia may not provoke memory problems in early stages. It can cause dramatic personality change, eg, from quiet and unassuming to loud and aggressive.

Lewy bodies are abnormal proteins in the nerve cells of the brain. As well as the symptoms of AD, Lewy bodies dementia can trigger hallucinations, and cause problems with balance and walking. This condition is sensitive to neuroleptic (often called antipsychotic) drugs, which are prescribed for other dementias but can lead to severe side effects, even death, in Lewy bodies dementia.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is not dementia. This diagnosis is given for mild memory problems, when someone is, for instance, becoming forgetful and has difficulty concentrating. MCI does not necessarily lead to dementia.

Any kind of dementia is hard to cope with, for the person and carers. Dementia UK supports Admiral Nurses – specialist mental health nurses who provide practical and emotional help to families affected by dementia. Admiral Nursing Direct is a helpline for anyone with questions or concerns: call 0845 257 9406 or email direct@dementiauk.org.

  A wheely good deal

Scooters aren't just for kids

The new Flex blue scooter

Lots of children seem to prefer scooters to bikes nowadays, but it’s often a pain for parents who have to dash along behind, and yell ‘STOP-P-P!’ as they hurtle towards the kerb.

Now parents can scoot alongside with the new grown-up version of the Micro Scooter, the Micro-Flex (pictured). Our tester loves hers for trips with the kids to the park, shops and the school run. ‘It folds down so it’s also easy for the bus and knocks ten minutes off my commute time,’ she reports.

It has bigger wheels than previous versions and a flexible deck, which are great for bumpy pavements and less slippery in the wet. It costs £144.95 with free delivery, from micro-scooters.co.uk.

 

Bye-bye dry eyes

The Eye Doctor microwaveable eye mask, filled with natural grains, soothes our dry, red, irritated eyes after a day at the screen. It is an approved medical device for the symptoms of inflammation, styes, cysts and blepharitis. £19.95, from victoriahealth.com, with washable cover, adjustable strap and storage pouch.

  Give rosacea the red card

Rosacea be gone

Our tester with rosacea reports that Jane Iredale Glow Time Full Coverage Mineral BB Cream SPF25 (£39.95, in five shades) is ‘a great multitasker, giving sun protection (important for rosacea sufferers) and good coverage in a base of soothing plant extracts. I chose a slightly yellow tint to neutralise my rosy patches. You only need a little – too much can look mask-like.’ She used it over Jane Iredale Smooth Affair Facial Primer & Brightener (£35), ‘which gave my skin a gorgeous radiance’. Buy online at feelunique.com; for retail stockists, visit janeiredale.co.uk.

Email your questions to s.stacey@you.co.uk



Health Notes: Karren Brady on life after a stroke, relief for kids from chicken pox and relieving facial tension

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Karren Brady

Why Karren supports life after stroke

As vice-chairman of West Ham United, Karren Brady (right), 44, is a legend in footie circles. What’s less well-known is that she has recently become the patron of the Stroke Association’s annual Life After Stroke Awards, which celebrate the achievements of stroke survivors and their carers. 

Although Karren has not suffered a stroke, in 2006 she discovered she had a cerebral (brain) aneurysm, which put her at high risk of a brain haemorrhage or stroke. The aneurysm was revealed in a routine MRI scan, part of a comprehensive medical screening at the Preventicum Clinic in West London.

‘An aneurysm is a swelling in the wall of an artery. A cerebral aneurysm occurs on one of the small blood vessels supplying the brain with oxygen,’ comments Dr Garry Savin, now the medical director of Preventicum. ‘Cerebral aneurysms can develop over time without any symptoms. If an aneurysm ruptures, it causes a bleed or haemorrhage. This can lead to a stroke and in severe cases can be fatal.’

Karren, then 36, was told she needed to see a specialist immediately. ‘It was a miracle I had managed to survive the physical strain of giving birth to my children Sophia and Paolo [now 16 and 14].’

She was given two alternatives: open brain surgery, where the surgeon places a clip over the aneurysm to seal it, or coiling, where after the precise size, shape and location of the swelling is mapped, a fine catheter is inserted through an artery in the groin and fed up to the brain so tiny metal coils can be dropped into the aneurysm to seal it off from the inside.

Karren opted for coiling, which took five and a half hours of surgery. Now she has regular brain scans. ‘My doctor says the results are as good as they could be. The swelling on the artery has sealed up. But being faced with this made me realise how lucky I am.

‘I’m still at high risk and I know how frightening the condition can be. The Stroke Association is doing great work supporting people affected by it.’

The Stroke Association, tel: 0303 303 3100, stroke.org.uk. Preventicum UK Ltd London Centre of Preventive Medicine, tel: 020 7605 6900, preventicum.co.uk.

  Kiddy balm soothes itchy chicken pox scabs

On-the-spot-relief

Spring is peak time for chicken pox (nhs.uk/conditions). Although a mild and common childhood illness, the spots can be very itchy. Pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends PoxClin Cool Mousse (£10.80), which promises fast relief from itching, helps to prevent scars and promotes healing.

Or try all-natural multipurpose Kiddy Balm (£4.05), which one mum reports calmed her three-year-old: ‘For the first time in three nights he slept through without scratching and crying.’ Both from Victoria Health, tel: 0800 3898 195, victoriahealth.com.

  Doggie approved Lily's breakfast crunch

Pedigree woofage

Black labradors Juno and Glue, my canine testers, approve enthusiastically of new Lily’s Kitchen Breakfast Crunch, which offers a vet-approved natural mix that includes chicken and turkey, oats, bananas, apples, salmon oil, probiotic yoghurt and flaxseed. £7.99 for 800g, from Waitrose, organic food shops and lilyskitchen.co.uk.

 

AND RELAX…We store tension in our faces, particularly our jaws, which can be painful and ageing. Simply massaging your face and scalp with your fingertips helps relax muscles and dispel tension. Work in circles over your head from hairline to nape. Then stroke some facial oil (such as Argan Organics Regeneration Anti-Ageing Face Serum, £15.99, from Victoria Health, see above) on your face, working upwards, and see your rosy relaxed reflection beam back at you in the mirror.

Achy jaw? Tension in your face?

Email your questions to s.stacey@you.co.ukPictures: WOMAN AND HOME/LIZ MCAULAY/IPC + SYNDICATION, aLAMY. always consult your doctor if you have a medical problem




Gwyneth Paltrow's novel way to beat PMS; plus the best parenting advice app, and coping with loss of vision

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Food can  be an effective way of treating PMS and other everyday ailments, says award-winning chef and nutritionist Gurpareet Bains, whose fans include Goldie Hawn and Gwyneth Paltrow

When you have PMS symptoms such as tiredness, low mood, headaches and cramping, eating usually involves grabbing the sort of carb- and/or caffeine-laden goodies that give you a fleeting comfort hit but can often make you feel worse.

Food can, however, be an effective way of treating PMS and other everyday ailments, says award-winning chef and nutritionist Gurpareet Bains, whose fans include Goldie Hawn and Gwyneth Paltrow. The answer is to use spices and herbs in abundance, as he explains in his book Indian Superspices, which offers recipes to help with PMS, colds, hangovers, allergies and insomnia.

The recipes are described as ‘lab-inspired’ because the beneficial effects of the ingredients have been verified by research. For example, fennel: in a study of girls with severe period pain, 80 per cent of those taking fennel experienced complete pain relief, compared with 73 per cent of those taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

My colleague Victoria, who suffers from PMS, trialled Bains’s soothing salmon and juniper berry curry which is made with anti-inflammatory spices such as fennel, juniper berries, chilli, coriander and cumin, as well as his ‘no-more-headache baked beans’ flavoured with nigella, which has analgesic properties.

‘Both recipes were simple and quick, and the whole family enjoyed them,’ she reports. ‘They felt light, clean and also energising [a property of cumin].’

I like Bains’s recipe for turkey with blueberries, cinnamon and fennel, which is designed to regulate blood sugar levels and so help with any hormonal flurry.

Indian Superspices, £7.20 for the Kindle edition, from amazon.co.uk

Turkey with blueberries, cinnamon and fennel

200g ∙ 7oz blueberries20g ∙ ¾ oz fresh chopped coriander plus extra to garnish4 garlic cloves finely chopped2 tbsp grated (peeled) fresh root ginger2 tsp ground cinnamon2 tsp fennel seeds1 tsp chilli powder½ tsp turmeric salt to taste500g ∙ 1lb 2oz low-fat greek yoghurt500g ∙ 1lb 2oz skinless boneless turkey breast fillets cut into bite-size pieces1 tsp garam masalapilau rice to serveIn a food processor, blend the blueberries, coriander, garlic, ginger, ground cinnamon, fennel seeds, chilli powder, turmeric, salt and yoghurt to make a purée. Set aside.Place the turkey in a deep pan and slowly pour in the yoghurt mixture. Bring to a simmer over a low heat, then simmer, uncovered, for ten minutes, stirring from time to time. Mix through the garam masala.Garnish with the extra chopped coriander and serve  with pilau rice.Recipe taken from bbc.co.uk

  Take uv action: The UVA in sunlight can trigger a photosensitivity reaction to some antibiotics, diuretics, oral contraceptives and diabetic medicines where the skin becomes red, itchy and inflamed even if you apply sunscreen. Professor Nick Lowe of London's Cranley Clinic (drnicklowe.com) advises anyone experiencing this reaction to discuss the situation with their GP and, if possible, take their medication in the evening (apart from diuretics) so levels are less during the day.

App of the week

The Essential Parent Company’s Baby Care: ‘This free app gives you instant access to expert advice,’ says our mummy reviewer Lucy. ‘It offers 20 short videos on topics including sleeping, feeding, general care and first aid. You can buy more in-depth videos for just 69p each, or buy a bundle from £1.49. The New Baby bundle, for example, has 17 practical guides including umbilical cord care and how often to feed.’ Find the app on essentialparent.com.

Email your questions to s.stacey@you.co.uk


Bamboo rayon muslins for premature babies, barre-based pilates, courtesy of actress Sarah Parish

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Soft as a baby’s…

Mimi Swandoodle muslins

Premature babies at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, and Queen’s and King George’s Hospitals, Essex, are snug in super-soft bamboo rayon, which is ideal for their sensitive skin. The special care baby units are using Mini Swandoodle muslins by Cuski. Premature babies are prone to posseting and vomiting and placing these antibacterial moisture-wicking cloths under their heads avoids the need for frequent bedding changes. These multitaskers are great for all babies, serving as winding cloths, bibs and breastfeeding covers. A pack of four costs £19.99, from cuskishop.co.uk. Free p&p for YOU readers: enter the code YOU2 at the checkout.

My health: Sarah Parish, 44, Actress

Sarah Parish loves the toning effect at Barretoned

I never go on the scales: doing the right exercise and eating good food is the key to being in great shape.

I fell in love with barre exercise classes in Vancouver, when my husband [actor James Murray] was filming there in 2011. It was so different from the gym and it worked muscles I didn’t know I had.

I was at the age where everything drops a few inches. The barre exercises are fantastically toning for trouble spots – bingo wings, bottom, waist, tummy and tops of thighs – giving you the lifting and firming you never get on a treadmill.

I was quite a busty girl and hated it. In Canada, I dropped three cup sizes, and one dress size.

There was nothing like barre exercise in England. I found two teachers via the internet and we created our own barre workout called BarreToned. Now we have opened a studio in West London.

BarreToned is actually more like pilates than ballet. The aim is to tone your body, giving you a long, lean look with graceful posture. It’s low impact and good for joints. But you need to do three to five classes a week to change your shape, and to work until you practically shake with the burn.

Eating well is vital too. If you live on sugar, burgers and chips, nothing will change. I have green tea and porridge for breakfast, a quinoa salad for lunch and nuts and fruit for a snack. In the evening I have fish with lots of veggies. We don’t eat rice or pasta after 5pm. And I drink lots of water.

I take omega-3 supplements and vitamin C. I get slightly anaemic so I also take a Spatone iron supplement.

Happiness is having time to potter at home. I feed our ducks and chickens, and bath our three-year-old daughter Nell.

BarreToned, tel: 020 7229 8668, barretoned.com

Try Jane Iredale mineral make-up for a glowing complexion

Skin saviour

Jane Iredale, founder of the eponymous mineral make-up range, tells me she has seen good results on the faces and bodies of acne- and rosacea-prone adults with a course of Skin Accumax (£39.95, victoriahealth.com). This supplement contains vitamins A, C and E

and a nutrient complex found in broccoli.

Is there a natural treatment for hives?

Q My daughter suffers with hives – red lumps over her body – when she overheats. Her doctor prescribed an antihistamine, which takes out the itch but not the lumps.

A I used to get similar weals from monosodium glutamate, which is often added to Chinese and Thai foods. If she doesn’t suffer from any food sensitivity, pharmacist Shabir Daya advises that she uses Stinging Nettle Extract by Swanson, £14.95 for 120 capsules, from Victoria Health, victoriahealth.com. Nettles are excellent at detoxifying the bloodstream, inhibit the formation of histamine and have an anti-inflammatory effect, he adds.

Email your questions to s.stacey@you.co.uk



Derek Lawrenson: Why I tip Ian Poulter to cause a storm in the majors

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No play in Hawaii for the first three days of the first tournament of the year - and the world’s best golfer says he might stay at home when his sport re-enters the Olympics at Rio 2016.

It has not exactly been the cheeriest start to the new year, has it? Let’s look forward instead to what promises to be another bountiful campaign with five wishes for the new season.

1. Ian Poulter sticks to his new year resolution...

Over the Christmas period, Poults entertained us on Twitter with photos of everything from cutting the turkey to the inside of his son’s mouth. Three days of the new season was all it took for him to pick a fight with the  commentator he loves to hate, Johnny Miller (see Quote of the Week).

Fresh: Ryder Cup hero Poulter will play just three tournaments before the Masters at Augusta

But the tweet that raised my spirits was the one revealing his early-season schedule, with only three tournaments between now and Augusta. Some players have to play a lot to be ready for the Masters. Poulter plays at his best when he is fresh. Don’t let anyone talk you into lucrative trips abroad, Poults. This can be your year in the majors.

2. No mid-season blues for Rory...

Love was in the air and it was duly cited for Rory McIlroy going missing between May and July last year. But this is also a period when the big events are played on tight venues that don’t fit Rory’s eye, like Sawgrass and Wentworth, and US Open set-ups such as Olympic last year and Merion in June.

It can’t be easy reining your instincts when you are the game’s most extravagant shotmaker, but let’s hope the value of experience starts to come to the fore and he shows us what he has learned.

Champion: McIlroy won the 2012 PGA Championship in South Carolina

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

'Johnny Miller - why don’t you come interview me live and say that stuff straight to my face?’ 

You can always rely on the television commentator Miller to shoot from the lip and, when he is the target, Ian Poulter to react accordingly.

Miller thought that Poulter, who was being buffeted by high winds, was taking too long over a putt.

The Englishman certainly did not take too long to respond to the accusations.

3. One more blooming Rose headline...

Yes, we’re sick of the same puns regarding the golfer whose name is a sub-editor’s dream. But I think we’d cope if we saw one along the lines of: ‘Rose in full bloom wins the Masters’.

Justin Rose has looked forward to seasons in the past believing it would be his year in the majors, only for that great bully expectation to rough him up. Following his Ryder Cup heroics and all-round progress, this should be the one where he can look expectation in the eye.

4. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club allow women to become members...

When the Ashes Test at Lord’s was held the same week as The Open in 2009, it was a source of grievance. This year, we might be glad that there is a clash to help with the burial of bad news. How embarrassing that even  the green jackets of Augusta welcomed two women members before the R&A, the game’s  governing body.

Now the showpiece occasion, run by the all-male R&A, will be staged at  all-male Muirfield, and you can see the headlines from here. Any chance of the R&A stemming the torrent of anti-golf sentiment (deserved this time) by following Augusta’s lead? Yes, I know: not so much a wish as a fantasy.

5. The real Luke Donald shows up at majors; and luckless Lee enjoys fortune at last...

Luke Donald and Lee Westwood carry a heavy burden into the majors as the two best players not to have won one - and it shows. 

One winds himself up so much he can’t perform; the other has done nearly everything right so often but can’t get over the finishing line.

Blank: Westwood (left) and Donald are both yet to win a major

Neither can be faulted for work ethic or desire. Indeed, those qualities might be part of the problem for the pair - they want to win too much. 

Let’s hope Donald can learn to relax and cope as adeptly as he did when charged with the responsibility of leading Europe’s challenge on the last day of the Ryder Cup; and Westwood finally enjoys one of his good weeks on and around the greens.

 

Paradise Lost

Yes, I appreciate that it was heart-wrenching for those who had put in the hard graft as high winds battered Maui and made play impossible for three days of the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

But, basking in the glow of our blessedly mild January weekend, golly, it was hard to suppress a smirk. There we were, a wind-free round on the links, followed by a beer on the patio.

Meanwhile, in ‘paradise’, the flags were bent sideways. Life plays some deliciously mischievous tricks, doesn’t it?

Wind: The weather played havoc with the Tournament of Champions event

  More... Why don't you say that to my face! Poulter lets rip at Miller as storm blows Tournament of Champions off course Rain stops play again! Hawaii weather ruins day two at Hyundai Tournament




Don't insult Paul McGinley by recalling Colin Montgomerie for Ryder Cup at Gleneagles - Derek Lawrenson

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Surely history can't be about to repeat itself in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday evening. Surely the siren call won't go out for Colin Montgomerie to be Ryder Cup captain once more.

Four years ago it was an inspired move. The dithering of first choice Jose Maria Olazabal had created a vacuum and eloquent Swede Henrik Stenson duly filled it by saying to his fellow Tournament Players’ Committee members, who decide on the post: ‘Why not Monty?’

Now it is Darren Clarke in Ollie’s shoes. Like the Spaniard he is plagued by the nagging feeling he could still make one more team as a player.

Outstanding candidate: Paul McGinley has a big supporter in new Nike superstar Rory McIlroy (bottom left), but the committee may still hand Colin Montgomerie (bottom right) a second crack at the Americans

Two months ago, he was being urged by fellow committee members to stand and believed the captaincy was his if he wanted it. But what point is a skipper spending two years feeling: ‘What if?’

The other outstanding candidate, Paul McGinley, is filled with no such doubts. It would be a grievous insult to the Irishman to turn the clock back to Monty. There’s no vacuum this time.

Yet the whispers at the opening tournament in South Africa last week were loud enough for two members of the last team to sound the alarm.

    More from Derek Lawrenson...   DEREK LAWRENSON: Plucky Pepperell is well worth his salt after stellar show at Wentworth 27/05/13   World of Golf: Proof that the Rory rumour mill can drive any journalist mad... 20/05/13   Derek Lawrenson: Taming Sawgrass was a major sign Tiger is ready to add to his dynasty 13/05/13   DEREK LAWRENSON: Rock provides firm base for developing future English talent 06/05/13   DEREK LAWRENSON: Guan is a marvel at just 14... but shouldn't he be in school? 29/04/13   Derek Lawrenson: Just when the Ryder Cup heroes seemed to have gone missing... McDowell scrambles back to his best form 23/04/13   DEREK LAWRENSON: Scott told us he'd birdie the last... and he did! First Australian winner of Masters gives us a genuine Augusta fairytale 15/04/13   DEREK LAWRENSON: Will another outsider put Augusta's star names in the shade? 08/04/13   DEREK LAWRENSON: Major rethink sees Poulter joining rusty Rory in Texas 01/04/13   VIEW FULL ARCHIVE  

‘Hope committee don’t feel they have to match up our capt to Tom Watson — shouldn’t influence our decision,’ tweeted Paul Lawrie, while world No 1 and McGinley’s No 1 fan, Rory McIlroy, added: ‘RC captaincy should be a one-time thing...would love to play under McGinley in ’14.’

McGinley’s biggest problem has always been that he doesn’t fit the profile of a home captain. Since  Bernard Gallacher lost to Tom Watson in 1993, they’ve all been crowd pleasers who thrived on home support and the emotion of the occasion: in order, Seve Ballesteros, Sam Torrance, Ian Woosnam and Colin Montgomerie.

The reason why Clarke was odds-on favourite is he sits well in such company. If Clarke is ruling himself out, you can see why those committee members of such persuasion would pine for Monty on home soil at Gleneagles next year.

However, as Lawrie implicitly points out, it would be a ludicrous over-reaction to Watson’s appointment as US captain.

First man on the phone to the European Tour hierarchy after that incredible announcement last month was Sandy Lyle. What a shame Sandy was never so interested when it was his time. Now that time has come and gone.

In McGinley, Europe have a man who is the right age at 46 and has the passion and intelligence  to break the captaincy mould. Spend time in his company and it  is not hard to see why so many  of the Medinah miracle workers have thrown their weight behind him.

Sure, he doesn’t live with Watson in terms of charisma. Who does? But he would make up for it where it really counts — in the team room.

Quote of the week

‘You’d have to think a star has been born here. If you study his game, there are just no flaws’

For once, nobody could blame US television commentator Johnny Miller for going overboard. America’s latest wonder boy Russell Henley (right), making his US Tour debut in Hawaii, finished with five successive birdies in the Sony Open on Sunday to make it played one, won one. Sensational, by any sporting standard.

Welcome to the new world tour

You will be familiar with the cries of anguish regarding some of the weaker events on the European Tour now so many of the best players are based in America.

What you might not know is that similar howls of dismay emanate from the sponsors of equivalent events on the US Tour.

Over the past four years we’ve seen a dramatic shift in the playing schedules of the top golfers to the extent they now all gather in pretty much the same places. Some 20 years on from when Greg Norman suggested a world tour, we’ve practically now got one in all but name.

Leading lights: Tiger Woods (right) and McIlroy should meet plenty of times on tour this year

Take Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, the two biggest draws in the game. They will each play 22 or 23 events this year. Ten years ago, the top American and top European would probably have met in direct competition on no more than seven or eight occasions.

By my reckoning, Abu Dhabi this week will be the first of no fewer than 17 or 18 tournaments where these two will congregate this season.

It is not just McIlroy and Woods either. There will be 15 events this year where at least nine of the world’s top 10 will play.

That is great if you’re on the list, of course. But you can see why there are so many sponsors not just in Europe but America as well who feel on the outside looking in.

  More... McIlroy joins sport's high earners as he pens £150m sponsorship deal with Nike Dude, is that your real hair? Woods mocks new stablemate McIlroy in comedy advert to launch Rory's £150m deal with Nike Montgomerie eyes dream return to Ryder Cup captaincy over McGinley and Clarke Masterful! Oosthuizen claims 'shot of the year' gong for April's Augusta albatross





Is gold headed for anarchy over club rules? - Derek Lawrenson

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Bellyache: Mark King says putters like Adam Scott's are here to stay

Is the Royal and Ancient sport headed for revolution and anarchy? It’s the only conclusion to be drawn if the feelings of the executive director of one of the most influential club manufacturers are widely felt.

Fed up with all the restrictions that prevent his company from  making drivers that propel the ball 600 yards, and the proposed ban that would effectively be the death knell for long putters, the long putter-using CEO has got his own solution: let’s get rid of the rule makers instead.

‘What needs to happen is the industry needs to come together without the USGA. Leave them out,’ said Mark King, head of TaylorMade.

The USGA is the United States Golf Association, the governing body in America for more than a century. Presumably, King would also leave out the Royal and Ancient, who lay down the rules for the rest of the world.

Now we all have our own opinions about golf’s ludicrously complex rules book (there, I have just given you mine). And, as I know from my bulging email file, the proposed neutering of the effectiveness  of the belly putter is causing  any amount of golfers a good deal of angst.

Here's an idea: King (centre) has suggested getting rid of the rulemakers

      More from Derek Lawrenson...   DEREK LAWRENSON: Plucky Pepperell is well worth his salt after stellar show at Wentworth 27/05/13   World of Golf: Proof that the Rory rumour mill can drive any journalist mad... 20/05/13   Derek Lawrenson: Taming Sawgrass was a major sign Tiger is ready to add to his dynasty 13/05/13   DEREK LAWRENSON: Rock provides firm base for developing future English talent 06/05/13   DEREK LAWRENSON: Guan is a marvel at just 14... but shouldn't he be in school? 29/04/13   Derek Lawrenson: Just when the Ryder Cup heroes seemed to have gone missing... McDowell scrambles back to his best form 23/04/13   DEREK LAWRENSON: Scott told us he'd birdie the last... and he did! First Australian winner of Masters gives us a genuine Augusta fairytale 15/04/13   DEREK LAWRENSON: Will another outsider put Augusta's star names in the shade? 08/04/13   DEREK LAWRENSON: Major rethink sees Poulter joining rusty Rory in Texas 01/04/13   VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

But would King’s world really be a better one than life under the reigning monarchs? King says he doesn’t care what the USGA do — his company are going to continue to make long putters regardless, and he is going to continue to use one whether they’re banned or not.

When it comes to club golf, he says: ‘We need to tell golfers you can play with a 15-inch hole, with 20 clubs in your bag, winter rules, taking a gimme and saying that’s cool. It’s fine. Enjoy it.’

Enjoy it? Does that sound like a better game to you? Isn’t the pleasure for millions precisely the fact it is such a difficult game to master? Whatever happened to the old belief that golf was the sport that ‘you never had under your thumb, and you never play a round that couldn’t have been better’?

King said: ‘Here’s a prediction — the USGA will be a nonentity within 10 years, they will be a non-factor because they are choosing to be on the outside and no-one is signing up for what they represent. The industry is going to move away from them and pass them. They’re obsolete.’

Revolution it seems to be, then. The first one ever led by a King.

  Tiger at Torrey is quite a story

Seven titles on the biggest tour in world golf and a victory in a major championship would represent a fabulous career for the vast majority of tournament professionals.

It adds up to a better career than the 1996 Open champion Tom Lehman managed, for example, so it’s pretty good company to keep.

It is also, would you believe, what Tiger Woods has managed on a single course, as he opened  his account for the season by wrapping up victory No 75 on the US Tour with a four-shot win in the delayed finish to the Farmers Insurance Open last night.

Favourite places: Tiger Woods has frequently excelled at Torrey Pines

Seven of those wins have come at fabled Torrey Pines, not far from where  he grew up and learned to play the game. It was also the scene  of his unforgettable 2008 US Open triumph — his last one to date — which also had a Monday finish when he outlasted Rocco Mediate in a 19-hole play-off despite suffering from a broken leg and ruptured cruciate ligament.

‘I could take out of my life everything except my experiences at St Andrews and I would still  have a rich, full life,’ the great American amateur Bobby Jones once said. Tiger must feel the same way about Torrey.

  Quote of the week

‘An enormous weight has been lifted off my shoulders with this win. I’ve seen a few mates pick up trophies on tour and it feels such an honour to join them. Now I feel like I can go on and win more.’

The general acclaim that followed Englishman Chris Wood’s maiden European Tour win in Qatar on Saturday is testament not only to a genuine talent but a genuine man. Let’s hope the 25-year-old Bristolian makes good on his promise and continues to train on.

Hailed: Chris Wood was praised as a player and as a man

  Colin watch

The friends of Colin Montgomerie might want to circle the second week in June 2020 and keep him under careful watch. That’s the week the US Open will return to Winged Foot for the first time since 2006, when the Scot threw away the most golden opportunity imaginable to end  his career with a major,  double-bogeying the last when  even a bogey would have earned him a play-off. To borrow from Doug Sanders, there must be days when he goes 15 minutes without thinking about it.

  More... Tiger hits top form to build six-shot lead at Torrey Pines but finish delayed by fog Wood holds his nerve at the last to beat Garcia and lift Qatar Masters trophy




Vijay Singh saga shows golf needs to send message over drugs - Derek Lawrenson

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Complacency is the enemy within that lurks in every sport. In golf it takes the form of an attitude towards drug taking that snuggles up alarmingly close to apathy.

How many times do we hear the mantra: where are the drugs that will help make you a better golfer? Through the generations when the model for the perfect golf swing was based around balance and tempo, the dismissiveness was understandable.

Can the same be said today? Now, when virtually every player in the world’s top 50 has embraced the culture of the gym and body shapes are changing before our eyes in search of more swing speed, the mantra smacks not only of naivety but foolishness.

Pleading ignorance: Vijay Singh confessed to using a spray containing a banned substance

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And so we come to the unfortunate case of Vijay Singh, who went in search of muscle growth and an aid to recovery from his many injuries and stumbled upon a spray that appears to contain IGF-1, a banned performance-enhancing drug.

Leave aside the bleakly comic aspect of it being known as deer antler spray and Singh’s comments owning up to using it that were so damning they were his best defence in his abject plea that he acted in ignorance.

This was ignorance on an industrial scale. The US Tour have been sending out warnings for two years that players should not use the spray.

Still complacency raises its ugly head. Tom Pernice, a former member of the US Tour policy board, thinks Singh should be let off with a warning. In Dubai last week, Mark O’Meara thought a two-month suspension would be about right.

Assuming that deer antler spray really does contain IGF-1 — the US Tour will complete their testing this week — what ought to happen next is neither of those things. Both would send out completely the wrong message.

The game desperately needs to be brought to its senses on drugs and the US Tour have it within their scope to set a precedent and an example. They have to apply at least a one-year suspension.Sad for the sport, yes, and sad for Singh too, for the story of the man who came from Fiji of all places and won three majors is one of golf’s best.

But it’s time to get serious. Time to end the complacency.

Quote of the week

‘Golf takes too long to play. Five hour-plus rounds are incompatible with life in modern society, where there are many alternative sports and forms of entertainment.’

Fine words by Glen Nager, president of the US Golf Association but, as ever, what’s the betting it will be followed by weasel-like actions? Will fields be cut to a maximum of 120 players? Will one-stroke penalties be applied to persistent slow play culprits? Apply those two things and you would cut 60 minutes off rounds but will it happen? Not a chance.

Dubai needs star power

Once the crown jewel of the Middle East swing, it was sad to see the Dubai Desert Classic short on star power last week and, as a consequence, short on spectators. Happily, the word is they will put  that right next year for the tournament’s 25th anniversary.

I understand negotiations with team Tiger are close to a successful conclusion, while there’s every hope they will entice Rory McIlroy  as well, since their objective is to attract every former champion. 

Clearly the appearance fees they saved this time will be spent on  a mammoth splurge next year.

Sky's the limit: The Dubai Desert Classic organisers are hoping to tempt Rory and Tiger to play next year

So close! Phil Mickelson watches his birdie putt roll towards the cup... but the ball somehow stayed out

Ever-popular Phil still thrills in 60s

Like Arnold Palmer before him, Phil Mickelson is going to have people following him around at places like the Masters when he is deep into his dotage.

They’re going to remember the great entertainer of his generation, the legend of Phil the thrill and the shots he produced that left them open-mouthed. In short, they’re going to remember weeks like the one just past, and victory No 41 on the US Tour in the Phoenix Open.

If you haven’t seen it yet, do watch the video of Mickelson’s bid for a first-round 59 with a putt that horseshoed round the hole - CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE AMAZING CLIP.

All the drama of sport, let alone golf, is contained in Mickelson’s reaction and that of his long-time caddie ‘Bones’ Mackay, spread-eagled on the green in disbelief.

If you want to know just why Mickelson is so popular, the clue is right there. Combine that with his willingness to sign autographs all hours God sends and the sort of immaculate sportsmanship we saw in defeat by Justin Rose at the Ryder Cup, and no wonder so many of us were glad to see him put a poor year behind him with four rounds in the 60s to return to the world’s top 10 where he belongs.

A week that began on  Monday with victory for Tiger  Woods had ended with one for Phil. Talk about seven days to remember for American golf.

  More... VIDEO: Caddy race at Phoenix Open cranks up the volume at loudest hole in golf Mickelson back in world's top 10 after second lowest score ever on the PGA Tour Eight years of pain for Gallacher ended with stunning Dubai triumph over Sterne VIDEO: Mickelson 'mortified' after birdie putt for magical 59 horseshoes out




Brandt Snedeker inspired by Luke Donald's blueprint for success - Derek Lawrenson's World of Golf

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Luke Donald can be permitted a wry smile as he returns to the game this week after a three-month winter break.

The Englishman lost two years of his career believing he had to think big and hit the ball like Dustin Johnson.

Now he’s back to discover that the best player in the world on current form got to the mountain top by trying to be like . . . well, Luke Donald actually.

On form: Brandt Snedeker won the Pebble Beach pro-am after two second-place PGA Tour finishes in a row

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‘Luke became the No 1 player by picking his way around a golf course, learning what his strengths are and what he needed to focus on,’ said American Brandt Snedeker, who followed up two second-place finishes in successive weeks behind Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson with a victory of his own at the Pebble Beach pro-am on Sunday.

‘He gave us the blueprint and it really inspired me.’

Indeed, Snedeker is so like Donald it is not so much his blueprint he copied but his DNA.

Let’s see: a man who is not long off the tee but a brilliant putter who learns to win in his 30s after starting a family that gives him an added perspective on the game. Sound familiar?

Let’s hope Snedeker goes on to do a little inspiring of his own.

For what’s not to like about a man who won $11million at  the FedEx Cup last year, has already added another $3m this year and yet still drives round in a six-year-old car with a torn-off wing mirror?

Instead, the 32-year-old is using much of his new-found wealth to fund children’s charities back home in Tennessee.

And so a week dominated by the stench of the Vijay Singh affair and his bid to change his body shape by illegal means had ended with a win for the most normal top-class professional golfer you could ever wish to meet.

That’s what you call an antidote.

Example: Snedeker is using Luke Donald's blueprint for success

Lucrative: The 32-year-old American won $11million at the FedEx Cup last year

It means that at the top of the world rankings we now have  the most intriguing fourball imaginable. On one side, Rory and Tiger, and good luck trying to copy them.

But on the other, there’s Luke and Brandt, leapfrogging any number of flashier talents with their work ethic and reminding us there’s still no greater gift out there than being able to putt.

 

The sternest of challenges

Irishman Shane Lowry will find himself a heavy underdog if, as expected, his first-round opponent in the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona next week proves to be world No 1 and management stablemate Rory McIlroy.

But for inspiration when it comes to the improbable he need reflect on nothing more than the remarkable sequence of events that earned him his place. For Lowry to be last man in the 64-man field it needed Australian Jason Day and American Patrick Reed to both birdie the  par-five 18th hole at Pebble Beach on Sunday. Day did so easily enough but when Reed hooked his ball off the tee, Lowry’s chances were both literally and metaphorically on the rocks.

Challenge: Irishman Shane Lowry (above) could be drawn against World No 1 Rory McIlroy in Arizona

Reed, however, was somehow able to play a 100-yard recovery shot on to the fairway, from where he struck his approach to 11 feet and rolled in the putt. It earned him a share of seventh spot with the Swede Freddie Jacobson, who had to finish seventh on his own to move ahead of Lowry in the world rankings. Instead it was Lowry who claimed that precious last matchplay spot by - wait for it - two ten-thousandths of a world ranking point. The luck of the Irish, indeed.

  QUOTE OF THE WEEK‘Once again, scoring on the European Tour is incredible — Richard Sterne wins Joburg Open by seven at -27!! Thank Christ I’m not playing any more.’

Englishman Gary Evans, in typically colourful terms, reacts to another eye-opening win. Sterne, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and, oh yes, the godfather himself, Ernie Els. What a year this promises to be for South African golf — and what style it will all be achieved with as well, for you won’t find five more elegant technicians.

Ko’s just a knockout teen queen

Given the way she has KO'd all the great names in the women's game to rack up three professional victories at the age of just 15, has there ever been a more appropriately named golfer than the remarkable New Zealander Lydia Ko?

I used to think Michelle Wie coming within a stroke of making the halfway cut in a men's US Tour event at the age of 14 was top of my list of things by teens you see once in a lifetime. But a victory by Ko in her native land on Sunday to make it three wins in three different countries on three different tours at such a tender age?

Let's hope she doesn't suffer in years to come from the 'too much too young' syndrome that plainly afflicted Wie.

Talent: Lydia Ko has won three professional tournaments at just 15 years of age

  More... Snedeker goes fourth as McIlroy continues to rule the roost in top 10 world rankings Teenage golfer Ko claims third tournament win in Christchurch, and breaks records in the process Sterne hits record score to claim victory in Johannesburg over favourite Schwartzel