Look after your health with an app

Since the smartphone revolution began, new apps have been hitting the market in ever-increasing numbers. No longer just about gaming, social networking or finding a nearby restaurant, these days there are apps designed specifically with health in mind.

Best health apps

Pic: AFP/Getty

However, a recent US report suggested many apps that claimed to recognise or treat medical problems were less than reliable, and where your health is concerned, it pays to go with a well-known brand, or at least one recommended by the medical community. We check out five that can help.

Wellnote by Dr Darzi
Developed by Professor Ara Darzi and a team of doctors from Imperial College Healthcare London, Wellnote is designed to help manage your healthcare needs.

This free iPhone app allows users to enter their medical history, problems, allergies and test results - information that could be useful in an emergency - set alerts to remind patients to take medication, and keep health appointments. It also allows you to find your nearest healthcare provider, as well as see ratings from other users as to the care and service they received. Those with long-term conditions can even use the app to record and monitor blood pressure and blood sugar levels, the results of which can be sent to their healthcare provider.

Endorsed by the NHS, there is also a database of information, including videos and health news from NHS Choices.

Big White Wall
This app from the award-winning online mental health service is designed to enable people to access expert help and support for mental wellbeing. Featuring talk therapy, either in groups or one-to-one, guided group support, trained online counsellors and live therapy via text, audio or video, as well as plenty of useful information on how to improve your mental wellbeing and get through tough times. A great resource for those suffering with stress or depression, for whatever reason.

Unfortunately it is not free, and users must subscribe to the website for £24 a month, but GPs are increasingly prescribing the app where NHS counselling isn't routinely available.

Quit App
Forming part of the NHS Smoke Free resources, the Quit Smoking app offers daily support and tips on controlling those cravings, and keeps a record of how long you've been smoke free. Including a direct line to the NHS Stop Smoking helpline and links to local services and support for those keen to give up, you'll get added motivation by way of the 'Calculate the Cost' tool, which keep count of exactly how much money you've saved. Sadly only currently available on the iPhone, but it is free.

BHF Healthy Recipe Finder
Coming direct from the British Heart Foundation, you can be sure the Healthy Heart Recipe Finder is giving good advice on healthy eating options.

Developed to help those with high cholesterol, blood pressure or diabetes manage their diet correctly, the app features more than 100 heart healthy recipes from around the world, with new ones regularly added, as well as a shopping list feature so that you don't forget something at the supermarket. All the recipes have been checked by BHF dieticians, and the app is free on both Android and iOS.

For anyone just looking to improve their general health, eat well and lose a bit of weight, MyFitnessPal (free on iPhone and Android) is the app to download. Because it includes the calorie content of almost 3 million foods, it's easy to keep track of your daily intake, and you can even scan barcodes while you're in the supermarket to help you stay away from those tempting treats that might ruin your diet.

Plus, you get fitness features that include a wide range of exercises and the ability to create a custom workout based on your particular problem areas or weight loss goal.

Which health apps would you recommend? Leave your comments below...