ITV’s Save Money Good Health tries to sort fact from fads so we know where to spend to get the best for our health and wellbeing.
Save Money Good Health joins a stable of shows like Save Money Good Food, Save Money Good Diet and Save Money Lose Weight, and I’m a kid in a candy store when it comes to anything with “Save Money” in the title.
Here’s what I’ve covered below:
- What’s The Best Value Treatment For Sweating?
- Are Fitness Supplements A Waste Of Money?
- What’s The Best Value Treatment For Insomnia?
- Are Alcohol Alternatives Worth It?
- Are Cholesterol-lowering Foods A Waste Of Money?
- Are Cold Tablets Worth Paying More For?
- Should We Buy Vitamins To Prevent Flu?
- Are Whitening Or Sensitive Toothpastes Worth The Cost?
- Which Toothbrushes Are Worth Paying More For?
- Do We Need Gadgets To Combat Stress?
- Is It (Financially) Possible To Eat 10 Portions Of Fruit & Veg A Day?
- Are Water Alternatives A Waste Of Money?
The segments below are from series two since my time machine only goes back so far, and I’ve split this post into two parts. Save Money Good Health is a variety show, so in one episode they might cover fitness supplements and vitamin D, and the next episode will be about everything from insomnia to colds and flu.
The mainstay each week is a segment about the best value diets pound for pound (£ for LB), so I’ve put that in part two to keep all those segments together. (This segment has gone on to have its own series Save Money Lose Weight, so I’ll recap that too). Join the mailing list to keep track of all this whammy of savings info.
Want more help saving big?
I’ve already recapped some other consumer savvy shows in my quest to share any info I can when it comes to value for money. Here are some of the other posts:
I wouldn’t have been able to buy my first house without saving a whopping deposit. Having television researchers remove half the decision making when it comes to purchases is fandabbydosy in my books (that’s a technical term, in the dictionary next to fantabulous and amazeballs).
I like to either give products the swerve entirely if they’re just a trend without value, or know where I can get the best quality at its cheapest if something is truly essential. That requires a bit of sorting fact from fiction though.
The show is presented by Dr Ranj Singh and Sian Williams. I’m not a doctor or medical professional, so the majority of the information below is advice from the programme’s experts. I’ve tried to make clear anything I’ve added and my source if it’s contrary to anything mentioned on the show, but I’m not trying to advise anyone medically. See your doctor for that! If any brands are reading this, none of the expert opinions on certain products are necessarily my own (so don’t sue me if they didn’t like your very overpriced product). On with the show!
What’s The Best Value Treatment For Sweating?
One of the presenters Dr Ranj Singh has hyperhydrosis so bad he’s even put panty liners in his armpits before. He can either Botox his pits, or use 72 hour antiperspirants. The latter supposedly save you money because you don’t need to reapply (but how do you not wash it off during the three days??)
Ranj tested the Botox option. Cosmetic dermatologist Dr Aleksander Godic would normally give 20-30 injections of Botox to each armpit to stop the nerves sending signals to the sweat glands. Only a few NHS centres do it, but there are lots of private centres.
Cost: £500 per session. These would be recommended by the dermatologist once or twice per year, plus £240 for a consultation.
The verdict: They shaved and applied numbing cream, but Ranj still found it so painful that he had to stop after three injections. It made him sweat ironically!
He tried again with a different brand and barely felt it, so they thought he had a reaction to the brand used last time. Second time around he found it life-changing. He had no patches after a few days and thought it was worth the hundreds. I think this was the clinic they used.
What if our budget is more in the 72 hour antiperspirant range though??
Product test: 72 hour antiperspirants
They got hairdressers to test these antiperspirants because they have to work closely with people (when we’re not in a pandemic).
The three products they tested were:
- Right Guard Extreme (£1)*
- Boots Compressed 72hour citron (£1.49)
- Biotherm Homme (£15.65)
They sprayed one armpit of each volunteer and sprayed nothing in the other.
Tip! Cosmetic Dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting explained that deodorants just mask odour either with a fragrance or antibacterial something. Antisperspirants however use zirconium or aluminium metal salts to block sweat ducts. Sprays don’t coat as well as a roll on or stick in her opinion.
So…this implies the best value ordinarily is an antiperspirant roll on or stick. If we buy aerosols then it literally tells us in the name that we’re paying for some air…I’d expect less product in an aerosol versus a roll on or stick.
They tested the hairdressers with a not very scientific sniff test and more scientific blotting paper. All the products performed about the same, so for the price Right Guard Extreme was the best value. However, none of the volunteers said they would want to use a 72 hour antiperspirant. Still, cheaper than botox, eh?
Are Fitness Supplements A Waste Of Money?
1 in 15 of us complain of feeling tired constantly. To test whether paying to feel more energetic is worth it, they filmed a dude named Miles. This gym bunny was spending a small fortune on various boosts.
- Miles was drinking coffee in the morning and Lucozade to go running
- He also drank shakes and Red Bulls throughout the day
- He was also using whey protein supplements and a liquid vitamin supplement
Let’s break down the cost:
- Lucozade: £1.20 per day
- 2 cans of Red Bull: £1.19 each, or £2.39 per day
- Whey protein £900+ per year
- Natures Plus Source of Life Gold Liquid Vitamin Supplement £15.54 per bottle
What a mouthful! Literally! Miles thought he spent £100-150 per month, but it was closer to £200, or nearly £3k every year. The whey was his biggest expense.
Do gymgoers need fitness supplements?
Cost versus value: Miles felt he needed the supplements to help him workout three-four times per week because he had a stressful job.
He was getting caffeine from both the coffee and his energy drinks. The latter put him well over the recommended seven teaspoons of sugar for adults per day. One energy drink is more like five teaspoons by itself. A banana would be a much cheaper source of energy without the downsides.
A bodybuilder needs 120-130g of protein per day, and a “normal” man needs 55g. Miles was eating five meals per day with 30g protein in each meal AND adding the whey on top (76g per day extra!). This could lead to osteoporosis or kidney problems. That’s £900 saved there!
Then regards the liquid vitamin supplement, Ranj thought Miles was getting everything from his diet and that this was superfluous.
His morning coffee cost 18p per cup and was deemed to be the only part of his regime that had any value.
A year’s worth of coffee would cost him only £65.70. That’s a saving of around £2900!!!!!
Even training hard Miles didn’t need all these extras…So if we’re not as active and we’ve not been diagnosed with any deficiencies, we should get all the vitamins and energy we need from our daily food.
If you’re impartial to coffee shops because instant coffee doesn’t set your tastebuds alight, invest in a cafetiere to make coffee at home. I find Lidl and Aldi cheapest for ground coffee. Otherwise I’ve covered reusable drink cups and the best value coffee shop loyalty schemes in this post:
Do you use energy drinks or fitness supplements? What convinced you they were necessary? What would you save if you knocked them on the head? Let me know in the comments.
What’s The Best Value Treatment For Insomnia?
10 million of us take sedatives regularly, but these can affect mood in the long term to the extent of suicidal behaviour. (Also: there’s never a bad time to bring up suicide. Get in touch with anyone right now who might be vulnerable. Or if that’s you, reach out).
They got three volunteers to try different sleep aids.
Darcy is a midwife who does shift work. She tried Nytol at 12p per tablet. This contains Valerian, so it’s a herbal solution.
Fay tried Twinings sleep tea at 13p per cup.
Shannon tried changing her bedroom; they removed electricals and added blackout curtains.
Sian tried sleep yoga. This was £300 for 6 week online course, or £70 for a workshop.
How to upgrade your sleep environment
Shannon was also to have no alcohol two hours before bed, and had to keep the room cool. Wearing an eye mask and ear plugs was a £30 one off cost (This seemed steep to me – you can get eye masks for £1, plus you want to wash them regularly, so have more than one).
Shannon is a busy mum of two and usually watched TV to nod off with prosecco for a nightcap. Sophie Bostock PhD, a sleep expert from Oxford University, changed her environment instead. Television emits blue light and interferes with melatonin. Alcohol also stops deep sleep. They removed the television from her bedroom and boycotted the prosecco.
- After five days of Nytol Darcy found the week inconclusive overall
- Faye liked Twinings night time tea
- Shannon noticed an improvement from the new habits
- Sian found sleep yoga for 10-15 minutes before bed helpful…
Nighttime tea isn’t a scientifically proven remedy, but Faye managed to sleep all night without waking.
So…was Faye wasting her money on herbal tea or not?
These usually have lemon balm or hops in them and can vary wildly in cost. They said Super Elixir is nearly £50 for a posh looking caddy with valerian in it (I think they mean Elle Macpherson’s Sleep Welle tea? Her Super Elixir is meant to do the opposite…)
Expert Dr Sue Bailey from London Met agreed valerian does usually aid sleep. She makes her own herbal sleep teas by growing her own ingredients. So it would be cheaper to grow lemon balm etc, yourself!
Otherwise Shannon’s upgraded sleep routine was probably the best value as it involved changing habits rather than a recurring cost.
See the taste tests in the link above for when a cheap bottle of prosecco is better value (i.e. when we don’t use it to knock us out!)
Are Alcohol Alternatives Worth It?
88% of us will pay more for something we believe is healthier. They taste tested low calorie cider, prosecco and lager to see if anyone thought they were worth paying more for.
Here were the drinks they tested:
Kopparberg Light; 33 calories per 100ml…and 40% cheaper for the light version! Cider is high in sugar usually at 42 calories per 100ml for normal Kopparberg. The light drink uses artificial sweeteners, but the alcohol amount is the same.
Skinny Prosecco; 66 calories per 100ml. Prosecco has less sugar than cider despite the higher calories per 100ml. Ranj and Sian thought this tasted like ordinary prosecco (72 cals per 100ml). It’s triple the price though for only a few teaspoons of sugar difference per litre.
Skinny Lager; 22 calories per 100ml. Stella Artois has 40 calories per 100ml and they cost about the same. Ranj and Sian also thought these tasted similar.
Surely Kopparberg Light wins for being cheaper than the original?
Unlike other shows that rank their taste tests, this is more to give ideas for swaps depending on whether we prioritise price or sugar/calories.
Are Chloresterol-lowering Foods A Waste Of Money?
You can be young and still have high cholesterol block your arteries. This substance is similar to fat/wax. LDL is bad cholesterol and is linked to full fat dairy and fatty meats. So who needs to buy cholesterol-lowering foods?
- The show said you don’t need Benecol unless you know you have high cholesterol
- Other products like Flora Pro Active and Asda’s special yogurts also use plant sterols to reduce cholesterol
- Flora costs far more and you have to eat them regularly to get an effect
- Beta glucan in oats also traps bad cholesterol (although it’s not a plant sterol)
- Nuts, fruits, beans and pulses also lower cholesterol
The oats were the cheapest option if you know you have high cholesterol and normal oats will do. See this page for the cheapest ways to buy these:
Are Cold Tablets Worth Paying More For?
First, own brand medicines are sometimes identical to branded products, so don’t pay more just for a logo. If the product licence number on the own brand packaging matches a branded product then it’s the same medicine, but in a different box.
Otherwise here’s what you need to know about paying extra:
- The caffeine in certain cold tablets is usually less than you’d get from a cup of coffee or tea
- Powders are more effectively absorbed than tablets
They found Wilko were cheapest, then Morrisons, then Tesco.
But…Ranj says a paracetemol and a cup of coffee/tea is even cheaper. They just don’t have phenylnephrine in them which is meant to help unblock noses.
Looks like Miles’ 18p cup of coffee in the fitness supplements segment above is doing double duty…
Should We Buy Vitamins To Prevent Flu?
D’ya know what happens if we take more vitamins then we need? Those excess vitamins get weed out. This tip came up in my recap of Supershoppers too where they spoke to various peeps who were paying out for added vitamin drinks without realising what happens if we drink more vitamins than we need.Yup, you could be literally peeing your money away.
Vitamin D is the only vitamin that has decent research suggesting it helps your immune system, plus there’s evidence that we don’t get enough vitamin D in the winter. Any other vitamins you should be able to get through your diet. Most of us don’t need a supplement unless we’ve been told we have a vitamin deficiency by a doctor.
So stock up on vitamin D, and say hello to a fruit or a vegetable more than once a day instead! I find vitamin D cheapest from Savers.
Are Whitening Or Sensitive Toothpastes Worth The Cost?
Harley St cosmetic dentist Dr Adam Thorne said all you really need in toothpaste is fluoride for our enamel. This means any own brand toothpaste will do. Aldi and Lidl’s was 59p for 125ml last time I checked.
Dr Thorne says whitening toothpastes might remove stains, but won’t make your teeth white. Hydrate silic, or small amounts of hydrogen peroxide should be on the ingredients for them to remove stains. A dentist can use 6% peroxide, but over the counter(OTC) products can only use 0.1%.
Sensitive toothpastes should have potassium nitrate in them. This blocks off the tubes inside your teeth. Our teeth are like eggs; if the shell has been eroded then the dentine underneath will be revealed like an egg white (the yolk is the nerve). Dentine is made up of tubes and when they’re exposed you feel sensitivity.
Don’t rinse after brushing because the toothpaste will keep working. Cheese neutralises high acid/sugar foods, so having a bit of cheese after them can prevent some of the damage from these foods.
So…look for the key ingredients and mind acidic/sugary foods. Unless we have sensitive teeth, all a toothpaste needs ultimately is fluoride.
Over the counter whitening products are not the best value as only professional whitening will make a significant difference. Apparently ultra white teeth went out of fashion in 2015, so these days it’s all about a bit of white with composite bonding unless you want to look like Britney Spears circa 2006. I bet Adam sees a fair share of patients trying to undo a diet of cigarettes and red wine…
I wonder how many people who say they can’t afford professional whitening spend the same amount in a year on over the counter products that don’t do very much?
Which Toothbrushes Are Worth Paying More For?
The short answer from dentist Ben Atkins was: any toothbrush will do! (Sensing a recurring theme here regards basic dental care…)
Most of us just don’t use them properly (it’s meant to go in our mouth, right?) Ben said a manual toothbrush should be changed every three months and we should all be brushing for two minutes. (I guess this means if you invest in a powered toothbrush, you should be prepared to pay to replace the heads every three months also).
Electric toothbrushes can cost £300+. They asked Ben to compared the following pricey toothbrushes:
Philips Diamondclean £360
Oral-B Pro 600 £49.99
I’ve always wanted a mouth like diamonds! If his patients have a Phillips Diamondclean, Ben gets an email to say they’ve cleaned their teeth. (So that’s a £360 email thread).
Ben said the Phillips will have the same motor in their most basic brush, but there will be different settings for your gums etc. He said when it comes to young’uns, rather than spending so much, just get an app that tells you whether the kids brushed for two minutes.
Do We Need Gadgets To Combat Stress?
Sian played with the Human Charger for jet lag and SAD. This light therapy device has lights in the earbuds, so in theory the light is hitting your brain via the ear canal.
Our eyes normally filter light, but we don’t need to look at daylight to feel the benefits in winter. Each cycle lasts 12 minutes and it can be used four times per day.
Heart Math acts a bit like an ECG. It tells you your heart activity so you can measure your stress. (Then you need to do something about it!)
Muse is a headband that turns your brainwaves into sound and reminds the wearer to breath deeply. Like Health Math it doesn’t fix the stress. It’s a way to train yourself to recognise your body.
Neil Shah, the founder of the Stress Management Society said you can’t manage stress if you don’t know what’s causing it, usually something past, present, or future. Therefore he thought listening to your own body is the best thing.
However, he was considering a trial of the Human Charger for the manufacturer and thought it could boost energy levels. These prices are stressing me out, so I’ll just listen to my body real hard, thank you…
We’re nearly at the end, as this segment appeared in Save Money Good Health episode six…If you’ve found this post useful, join the mailing list at the bottom of this page for plenty more where this came from. I’m giving away a bonus ebook to newsletter subscribers at the moment too.
Is It (Financially) Possible To Eat 10 Portions Of Fruit & Veg Per Day?
New research suggests we should be eating 10 A Day, rather than 5 A Day of fruit and veg as the NHS currently recommends. Ranj attempted to eat 10 portions, or 800g of fruit and veg per day since he doesn’t usually manage five. He was even using his oven to store wine before the experiment…
The following all equal one portion:
- Two kiwi
- A few broccoli spears
Day 1. Ranj made beans and sweetcorn on sweet potato with beetroot and lettuce for 51p. He spent £1.88 on 10 portions for the day.
Day 2. Ranj got dinner at an event and there was hardly any veg or fruit available. He ate more for breakfast and lunch instead. This only works obviously if you know in advance that you won’t be catered for.
Day 3. Ranj resorted to filling an omelette with vegetables.
Three days was only a short attempt, and so I don’t think this gives a true picture of what food to make and how to do it as cheaply as possible. I expect the recipe index I’m building to help with this. Ranj said it took a lot of planning and he had to be careful of portion sizes overall.
I reckon it’s achievable and frozen fruit and veg keeps the cost down. Again see the 100+ Best Value Food Ingredients page under the Bear Resources section. I’ve also covered whether we should eat 5 A Day vs 7 A Day or 10 A Day according to nutritionists in the Save Money Good Food series.
Are Water Alternatives A Waste Of Money?
Nutritionist Ian Marber taste tested various brands and gave his professional opinion on whether they’re worth paying more for.
Here’s what he tried:
Vita Coco coconut water £1.33/250ml…Ian said it won’t improve our overall wellbeing. (Unless you’ve attached your life happiness to coconut water, I guess).
Bamboo Water £1.99 per 250ml. This claims to be antiageing and has minerals like calcium…Ian thought it tasted like bathwater (not sure how he knows that…) More importantly, he said we should be getting minerals from our normal diet.
Tapped birch water £1.80 per 250ml. This has some nutrients…Ian said buy it for the flavour, not for it’s nutritional benefit though.
See Ian’s Twitter for #nutribollocks where he regularly busts nutrition myths.
There’s nothing wrong with buying any of these, especially if you struggle to stay hydrated otherwise and food and drink is one of your spending priorities. Buy them because you like the taste though and not in place of other nutrition, or in the belief that they’re going to turn you into Captain America or something…
Should we pay more for bottled water?
What about other fancy waters like Voss and Smart Water? Water scientist Dr Vanessa Speight said Voss (£2.86/1l) from Norway is priced this way for 3 reasons:
- It’s packaged in heavy glass (i.e. this is expensive to ship)
- It’s collected at the source in the mountains
- It has a particular mineral content, so some may prefer the taste
But she said it’s still water at the end of the day! You can get water in glass at home… Turn on a tap… Fill up a glass… Voila!
Smart water is 98p/1l from Northumberland, but it won’t make you smarter. “Vapour distilled” is a process that removes contaminants and then the makers replace any lost minerals. The amount of minerals you absorb is negligible, so the only reason to buy a water would be for the taste.
However, putting water in the fridge overnight without a lid makes the chlorine evaporate and improves the taste.
So…tap water in the fridge it is then! Are you spending a lot on soft drinks and bottled water? Why not hold a taste test at home? Get someone to put your shop bought water in a glass and refrigerated tap water in a glass. Have a drink of each without knowing which is which and see if you can tell the difference. If not, then you could save a gallon.
Save Money Good Health?
How can we save money AND have good health?
This is what I took on board at the end of the series:
- A 72 hour antiperspirant controls sweat for a lot less than the price of Botox
- If we’re getting enough protein, vitamins, and energy from our diet then we don’t need energy drinks and supplements
- The cheapest way to get a better night’s sleep in the long term is to make our bedroom more sleep-friendly
- Not all low calorie alcohols are more expensive (or very different) from their standard equivalent
- We don’t need to pay more for cholesterol-lowering foods if we don’t have high cholesterol
- A paracetemol and a cup of coffee costs less than most cold tablets for similar benefits
- There are key ingredients to look for when buying special toothpastes, but only a dentist can make teeth as white as snow
- Your dentist probably doesn’t care if you spend half your rent on a super duper toothbrush
- Gadgets to fix stress cost a small bomb and are mainly a way of recognising stress
- It’s possible to fit in 10 portions of fruit and veg a day without blowing a grocery budget
- Water alternatives earn their price because of their taste, but try putting tap water in the fridge
What are your spending priorities?
This series also really reinforced what I was already thinking: it’s not more expensive to live well. We can have a big savings goal like saving for a house without sacrificing our health. Some of our “health spending” might even do us harm if we’re overdosing on certain vitamins, or getting into debt over a certain lifestyle without any real added benefit.
So would any of these change your spending habits? Or were you thinking about buying anything featured on the show? Which tips were the most useful? Let me know in the comments!
As I mentioned at the start, every week the only recurring Save Money Good Health segment is about the best value diets pound for pound (£ for LB). I’ve recapped all of those segments in part two. (If there’s no link then join the mailing list to find out when that gets posted. Join the mailing list anyway if you want to save!).
I’ll do a recap of Save Money Good Health 2019 (series three) and any series after that. (I suspect coronavirus may have interfered with any plans to film Save Money Good Health 2020). I’m also continuing to recap Save Money Good Food and the rest of the franchise. Stay tuned!
*Prices were taken from the show and so were correct at time of filming. I have seen the same pricing since, but obviously brands can change their price at any time. Always check before buying.