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Common Respiratory Disorders

Respiratory diseases can range from mild to severe and can even be life threatening if you’re not getting proper care. Many of these conditions will develop in childhood, while some respiratory-related illnesses do not develop until later in life. Below are some of the most common respiratory disorders that are diagnosed.

ASTHMA
One of the most (if not the most) common respiratory-related illnesses, asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the bronchi, caused by things such as allergens and other irritating substances. These irritants cause the lining in the trachea and bronchial tubes to become swollen, and sensitive tissues become aggravated. As a result, these tissues will then try to create mucus in effort to trap the aggravating irritants, which can result in wheezing as well as coughing.

COPD
COPD, also known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a condition that consists of two other correlating diseases: bronchitis and emphysema. These conditions obstruct airflow, which gets progressively worse as time goes on.

Smoking is responsible for as many as 90% of COPD cases, though it’s possible for non-smokers to develop COPD as well, as it can also be caused by things like air pollution and occupational pollutants. If you are a smoker with COPD, you should quit. You can find some tips on smoking cessation here.

Aside from quitting smoking, patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease will also require medications known as bronchodilators. Bronchodilators work by dilating the airways as well as decrease airway inflammation. Pulmonary rehabilitation n may also be beneficial.

BRONCHITIS AND EMPHYSEMA
As mentioned, bronchitis and emphysema often correlate with COPD. However, they can also develop on their own. It’s also not uncommon for someone with a common cold to also develop bronchitis.

When you have bronchitis, the bronchial passages mucous membranes become inflamed, resulting in a hacking, phlegmy cough. Other symptoms of bronchitis include fever and chills, as well as chest pain and shortness of breath. Typically, bronchitis will last for a few weeks, though it’s not uncommon for an acute flare-up to last as long as 6 weeks.

Using an inhaled bronchodilator as well as getting plenty of rest can help relieve symptoms. Emphysema is more of a chronic condition as it’s a progressive disease of the lungs where tissues that support the shape and function of the lungs become destroyed. Common symptoms of emphysema include shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing, and some individuals with emphysema may also find it difficult to exercise due to decreased air intake. Similar to bronchitis and COPD, patients with emphysema can also benefit from the use of a bronchodilator, steroids, and oxygen therapy.

Acne Awareness

Acne is a common skin condition that affects as many as 5.6 million Canadians. Among those cases, 80 to 90 percent are teenagers, while it also affects 20 to 30 percent of adults between the ages of 20 and 40. While acne is often referred to as “pimples”, it’s usually more complex than that. In fact, there are as many as three different subtypes and six different types of acne that one can be diagnosed with, including the following:

• Comedonal acne
• Inflammatory acne
• Cystic acne

• Whiteheads
• Blackheads
• Papules
• Pustules
• Nodules
• Cysts

Whiteheads: This type of acne falls under the subtype of comedonal acne, which is one of the most common forms to be diagnosed with. Comedonal acne occurs when excess oil and dirt becomes trapped underneath the hair follicles. Whiteheads will either appear on the skin as white or skin-coloured bumps that can be small or medium in size.

Blackheads: Similar to whiteheads, blackheads also form as a result of clogged hair follicles and can also appear to have a slight bump to them. Although unlike whiteheads, which are covered with skin, blackheads are open (which is what gives them their black or dark appearance.) Most people think that blackheads form as a result of dirt. However, this isn’t the case. Instead, they are formed as a result of oxidized melanin.

Papules: These, too, fall under the comedonal acne subtype. Papules develop as a result of excess dead skin cells in addition to oil clog the pores, and can accumulate pus resulting in skin-coloured, small bumps known as comedones which can potentially rupture and become inflamed.

Pustules: Pustules look like classic acne (appearing as red bumps) and will commonly develop as a result of papules becoming infected.

Nodules: Nodules are considered a more severe form of acne. Nodules will also form as a small bump (either skin-coloured or red in appearance), but they typically form deeper in the skin and will usually feel hard as well as be painful to the touch.

Cysts: Unlike the aforementioned forms of acne, which all usually appear as smaller bumps on the skin/face, cysts are much larger in appearance. Like nodules, cysts are also considered to be a more severe form of acne, and can also be extremely painful.

Acne Do’s and Don’ts

One of the most common things people will do when they develop “pimples” or acne is pop them, and this is actually one of the worst things you can do and is something that should be avoided all together. When you pop a pimple, you could spread pus and infected bacteria to surrounding pores, creating an even worse problem. It can also result in delayed healing time, as well as acne scarring.

To prevent acne breakouts from occurring, keep your skin clean by washing your face twice a day using a mild cleanser. Harsh cleaners and soaps should be avoided as they can trigger breakouts. Things like stress and certain foods have also been known to trigger acne, so it may also benefit you to keep a journal and write down any triggers you’re aware of and share that with your doctor.

Acne and Self-Esteem

Regardless of the type of acne you have, it can significantly impact one’s body image and self-esteem, leaving one feeling embarrassed, unattractive, and lacking in confidence. It can also cause individuals to want to socially isolate themselves from others out of fear of how they might be perceived. This type of social isolation can ultimately lead to social phobia, resulting in one becoming house-bound, and may even lead to anxiety or depression. If you have acne and it is having a considerable effect on your ability to socialize with others or carry out your normal day to day routine, it’s important that you be open and honest with your physician about how you’re feeling.

The next step is to find treatment, which is usually done through being referred to a skin specialist known as a dermatologist. Once you find a treatment plan that is best suited for you, and once you begin to notice results, your self-esteem will ultimately improve. You may also find it beneficial to join an online support group, but always be wary of any that offer medical advice, and if you’re not sure if the advice you’re reading is accurate then you should first check with your physician and/or dermatologist.

Common Health Concerns for Women

Women and men share a lot of the same health issues, but they also share their own gender-specific health problems, too, due to the differences in male and female anatomy which go well beyond their reproductive and skeletal systems. For example, heart health. While both men and women should strive to keep their hearts as healthy as possible (by getting regular exercise and cutting out high-carb, high-calorie foods), studies have proven that women tend to be at less of a risk of suffering a heart attack compared to men. In fact, women often suffer their first heart attack 10 years later than men do. However, research has also suggested that the likelihood of a woman dying from a heart attack is much lower than that of a man. Things like stroke, hypertension, diabetes, hair loss, acne, and osteoporosis also all affect men and women differently. But what about all of the other health problems that affect women specifically?

Aside from the aforementioned conditions above, health issues that are specific to women include certain gynaecological disorders, disorders related to infertility and pregnancy, as well as certain cancers – such as ovarian and cervical.

When it comes to gynaecological health, one of the biggest issues women deal with is menstrual irregularity. This may include absent periods – either not developing a period or when your period stops for at least 3 months (also known as amenorrhea), or having periods that occur more than 35 days apart from each other (known as oligomenorrhea.) Alternatively, women can also develop heavy or excessive bleeding during their menstrual periods (known as menorrhagia), prolonged bleeding (that lasts for more than 8 days), as well as painful periods including cramping (known as dysmenorrhea.) There are many reasons why a woman might develop menstrual irregularity. It could be the result of a thyroid disorder, uncontrolled diabetes, excessive physical activity, certain medications (especially ones used to treat epilepsy or mental health problems, such as anti-depressants), and even age can play a factor. Common pregnancy and infertility issues include uterine fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, uterine fibroids, as well as loss of pregnancy (miscarriage or still birth), preterm labour, problems with prenatal care, and breastfeeding. If you’re having any of the problems mentioned here or have concerns, it’s important that you make your family physician and/or OBGYN aware.

Less common conditions that also specifically affect females include both Rett and Turner syndromes. Rett syndrome, a genetic neurological and developmental disorder that affects the brain, typically occurs in infants; and while it may appear as though the infant is growing and developing as normal during the early stages of their life, they eventually stop developing and lose skills as they get older – usually beginning around 6 months. An infant with Rett syndrome may have problems with coordination and the use of their muscles that are responsible for controlling movement, as well as problems with communication, and may also have decreased intellectual ability and even develop seizures. With Turner syndrome, a female is either partially or completely missing an X chromosome. Symptoms of Turner syndrome vary from person to person, but it will commonly alter a female’s appearance and can also lead to infertility and heart problems.

For more information on women’s health, click here.

Increasing Energy and Productivity at Work

While some people might dread going to work, for others it can allow them to feel productive and as if they’re making positive contributions not just toward the company they work for and their fellow employers, but to society as well. However, work can, at times, be both stressful and exhausting – whether from long work hours, trying to meet deadlines, or just the commute to and from the job – which means there is a potential risk of developing mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, along with a decrease in energy levels and feeling “burnt out,” so to speak. The feeling of mental exhaustion and fatigue can take a detrimental toll – not only on one’s work performance (including frequent absenteeism), but within their personal life as well. Below are some tips on how to keep you feeling mentally healthy and energized on the job.

For some, staying energized at work is as simple as drinking a few cups of coffee. In fact, some people cannot even go without coffee to start their day – let alone get through it – and there are many pros and cons associated with this caffeinated beverage. So just how does coffee work? When we perform certain activities, such as thinking, a product called adenosine is produced which slows down the activity in our brain. When we drink coffee, it binds to the adenosine receptors, which prevents our brain activity from slowing down and reduces fatigue. Along with increasing energy, a recent study has also shown that coffee consumption can be of benefit to the heart, and it is even being studied for its potential benefits in battling certain progressive diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.

But coffee isn’t the only beverage you should be consuming while on the job. Water is just as important (if not more) too, and HealthLink BC suggests drinking at least six to eight 8 fl oz (250 mL) glasses each day – and it’s something that you can usually have with you at all times; if not on your desk, then in your office lunch room. Water plays a crucial role in many different bodily functions, including digestion, absorption, as well as maintenance and regulation of body temperature, and is even a great substitute for high-calorie beverages – especially if you’re looking to lose weight. When you don’t drink enough water, you could develop dehydration. Signs of dehydration include fatigue, nausea, dizziness, dry mouth, and dry eyes. In most cases, dehydration can be cured by drinking water. However, in severe cases it may need to be treated in hospital where you are given fluids intravenously. This is often the case for individuals who develop conditions such as the stomach flu and experience frequent vomiting.

Another way you can improve your energy level at work is by paying attention to your posture at your desk. Also note that the longer you sit, the more fatigued you are likely to feel. If you’re able, try using a standing desk rather than a desk that requires you to sit at a chair for hours on end. This can not only decrease fatigue and help improve your posture but can also improve your circulation. If you are going to be in a sitting position, try to keep your joints (such as hips, knees and ankles) slightly open, make sure your knee joints are at or below the hip joints, as well as ankle joints kept in front of the knees. You can find more helpful tips on good body position by visiting the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website at CCOHS.ca.

You should also take breaks. Getting up from your desk mid-afternoon and stretching, or even just doing a small bit of movement, can help the body recharge and increase stamina. If you’re able, take a short 10-minute walk around the block, as this will also promote brain health and increase energy levels too.

Foods That Can Help Heal the Body

The human body can suffer all sorts of damage both internally and externally – from gut problems (such as GERD) to skin issues (such as sun burn or eczema) and other problems that arise from poor lifestyle habits (such as smoking and lack of exercise.) There are certain things you can do in effort to mitigate many of the health problems you experience, including adding some specific healthy foods to your diet while eliminating others.

If you’re someone who eats a lot of junk food (i.e. candy, fried or processed foods) then you put yourself at an increased risk of inflammation, which can contribute to pain. If inflammation is an issue that you have been dealing with, you can help counteract it by adding more foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, such as salmon, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Other foods that are great as part of an anti-inflammatory diet include green, leafy vegetables, and cooking with things like garlic, onions and olive oil can also be quite beneficial in reducing inflammation in your body.

If you’re a smoker, you are likely aware of just how much damage you are doing to the body – especially your lungs. While smoking can be a tough habit to break, there are some helpful tips that you can find online about smoking cessation. Your family physician may also be able to give you some information on smoking cessation, including support groups, as well as potentially recommend medication. In general, the function of our lungs will also decline as we age, but according to a study done by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, that decline was found to be much slower in individuals who ate tomatoes every day. This is because tomatoes contain an antioxidant known as lycopene, which is known to help reduce cellular damage that is caused by different harmful environmental factors, including cigarette smoke. Tomatoes can be easily incorporated into your everyday meals, from pasta sauce to sandwiches, salads, and more.

While fatigue can potentially be the result of other health issues, many of us suffer from it due to long hours at work, school, etc. There are also certain foods that have been known to contribute to fatigue, such as pasta (due to carbohydrates, which can cause a rise in blood sugar levels followed by a crash in insulin levels), and, surprisingly, certain fruits like cherries and bananas. Cherries, for example, are a natural source of melatonin which is helpful for sleep; while bananas are high in magnesium, which also aids sleep. If you’re looking for a boost of energy, caffeine is one way to get it – however, certain foods such as beans, lemons, and eggs can also provide the body with extra fuel.

Experiencing body aches and pains? Nuts, such as almonds, may provide you with relief. They contain arginine, which is an amino acid that promotes the synthesis of collagen and helps the muscles to recover. Cottage cheese is also a great source of casein protein, which digests slowly and can help restore the muscles as you sleep. If sore muscles are something you’re dealing with, it’s recommended that you stay away from refined carbohydrates (such as sugar) as well as avoid drinking alcohol, as it can actually contribute to pain and even increase your risk of injury.

To keep your brain healthy and happy, things like blueberries, turmeric, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, oranges and green tea can all be helpful – and even dark chocolate (but in moderation, of course.)

Health Tips for the Upcoming Fall Season

As we gear up for flu season (which typically begins in November and lasts through February/March), it’s not a bad idea to get the flu shot a bit early. Typically, many clinics and pharmacies around Vancouver and surrounding areas will offer the flu shot as early as October. If you are high-risk (such as a senior over the age of 65, have a previously diagnosed chronic illness, have a weakened immune system or are pregnant), I recommend getting the flu shot. It is also recommended for children under the age of 5. There are many types of flu strains and it is a highly contagious illness, so it’s always a good idea to protect yourself against it. To avoid influenza, always practice good hygiene habits such as regular hand washing, keeping your mouth and nose covered when coughing, and avoiding contact with others who are sick. It’s also important to note that the COVID-19 vaccines do not protect against influenza – but still just as important to get that vaccine as well.

Along with the fall also comes gloomier weather – this means more clouds and rain than sunshine. As a result, we’ll be spending more time indoors than out, which means our intake of Vitamin D will be decreased. To ensure you’re getting enough Vitamin D, I recommends taking a Vitamin D supplement. Taking Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption, and it also boosts your immune system and your mood.

Daylight savings also occurs in the fall. On November 6th, we’ll be turning our clocks behind an hour. This means that there will be longer periods of darkness, and as a result you will be getting some extra sleep. However, some people often have trouble with daylight savings as it can make them feel as though their sleep pattern has been significantly disrupted. Despite getting that extra hour of sleep, it’s still important to go to bed at a decent time and make sure you’re getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night so you’re feeling well-rested the next day. You can learn more about the importance of sleep by watching my  ‘Vitamin Sleep’ series on YouTube.

You may also notice a change in your skin during the colder fall months, and even into winter. Cooler temperatures can cause skin to become pale, dry and flaky, so it is important to keep your skin moisturized. You can also still wear a sunscreen. If you have sensitive skin, your family physician or dermatologist will be able to recommend something to you.

Staying active is also important. With the change in weather during the fall months, you may be less inclined to want to exercise outdoors. However, there are still ways that you can keep fit at home. If you don’t have exercise equipment, doing stretches and yoga are great ways to stay physically active. Many community centres also have drop-in sessions available and some even offer free fitness classes.

Also remember to keep eating healthy. In-season vegetables broccoli, squash, kale, cabbage, and other dark, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and romaine lettuce.

To find out where you can get your flu vaccine, visit www.immunizebc.ca.

The Key Factors to Having a Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is critical in the maintenance of our health, including keeping a healthy weight and reducing the risk of other conditions and diseases. When it comes to keeping your diet as healthy as possible, there are some important key factors that I recommend everyone take into consideration, and they are:

• Eat an array of different foods • 
• Focus on incorporating more fruits and vegetables • 
• Include moderate amounts of healthy oils and fats • 
• Decrease salt and sugar intake •

While a healthy diet should consist of plenty of fruits and vegetables, it’s important that these aren’t the only foods you eat. In addition to fruits and vegetables, a healthy, well-balanced diet should consist of a variety of healthy foods, including whole grains, legumes (such as beans and lentils), and foods that come from animal sources (for example, meat, fish, and dairy – i.e. milk and eggs.) When your diet is diverse and healthy, your body is obtaining the appropriate amounts of essential nutrients that it needs in order to fully function. You’re also less likely to become sick of certain foods the more diversity your diet has. Furthermore, healthy diets are also important for the growth and development of children, and it also helps seniors to be healthier and lead lives that are more active than they would if they weren’t getting enough healthy foods in their systems.

Back to fruits and vegetables for a moment, though. While you can consume ones that are cooked, try to avoid overcooking them as this can cause them to lose important vitamins and therefore lose their nutritional value. If possible, it’s instead recommended that people try to eat vegetables that are raw, and fruit that is fresh as opposed to ones that are canned or high in sugar. If you’re going to eat canned fruits or vegetables, make sure they don’t have any added salt or sugar. Fruit and vegetables are sources of essential vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants, and plant protein. By having a diet high in fruits and vegetables, you will have a lower risk of developing things like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even cancer.

It’s also important to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats. Trans fats and saturated fats (i.e. butter, coconut and palm oils), for example, should be avoided. They are commonly found in fast food, fried food, and foods that are baked. Instead, aim for unsaturated vegetable oils such as olive oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, or soy. Certain meats are also higher in fats than others. White meat, for example, is recommended as it is lower in fats compared to red meat. However, there are certain instances where you may need to consume more red meat than not. For example, red meat is a good source of iron for someone who is iron deficient. You should also limit or avoid your intake of processed meat, such as deli meats, as they are also higher in unhealthy fats. Consuming too much fat, especially if they’re the wrong kinds, can result in a higher risk of developing heart disease and suffering a stroke.

Salt and sugar should also be limited. Many foods, such as those that are processed, tend to be quite high in both ingredients, so it’s always a good idea to pay attention to the nutritional labels on the foods you buy before purchase and consumption as this will let you know exactly how much sugar and/or salt you’re getting. Certain condiments, such as soy sauce, which is commonly used for cooking, is also high in salt and sodium. While the body needs a certain amount of sodium, too much can become harmful to your health – and, believe it or not, sodium is actually something that one can become addicted to over time. Fruit juices and sodas are also usually high in sugar, as are those fancy drinks you get at your local coffee shop, so intake of these should be limited as well.

Behavioural Disorders in Children

Behavioural and other types of mental health disorders don’t just affect adults. They can affect children, too. A child having the odd temper tantrum here and there, or having the inability to sit still doesn’t necessarily constitute as a behavioural disorder. However, when this type of conduct becomes persistent or worsens over time, then it may be something that needs to be addressed to determine whether or not any type of medical intervention is needed. While it’s uncommon for a child to receive a diagnosis of a behavioural disorder before the age of 5, they may begin to display certain symptoms.

The most common behavioural disorders that affect children include anxiety disorders, depression, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), bipolar disorder, as well as learning and conduct disorders.

On a global scale, ADHD affects 5% of children. Symptoms of ADHD can manifest in a number of different ways. A child may be abnormally active, will not be able to relax, will have trouble controlling impulses or making important decisions, talk a lot, and fidget. Boys are more than two times as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls, and they are also much more likely to exhibit the aforementioned classic symptoms, whereas females with ADHD may also experience other symptoms such as daydreaming and being overemotional. When it comes to treating ADHD, health professionals will usually recommend behavioural therapy or medication (such as central nervous system stimulants.) However, it’s not uncommon for these treatment methods to be combined.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a common disruptive behavioural disorder. Children with this disorder are often irritable. They will also have frequent angry outbursts and disobedience directed towards people in authority, such as parents and teachers. Those outbursts may also be targeted towards their siblings and classmates. A child or teenager with a conduct disorder may also exhibit these same behaviours, though in a much more severe manner. For example, they may be excessively cruel and aggressive towards people and/or animals, have a lack of empathy, lie frequently, as well as engage in other types of violent or criminal behaviour such as vandalism, breaking and entering into homes, and arson.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is usually diagnosed in early childhood, with warning signs showing anywhere between 12 and 18 months. These warning signs include both verbal and non-verbal communication problems, such as a delay in spoken language or repetitive use of language, trouble relating to others, the inability to express or recognize emotions, restricted or repetitive behaviour, and sensory issues. As there is no cure for ASD, treatment is instead geared toward reducing symptoms through the use of medication and behavioural therapy.

Bipolar disorder, which is common in adults, can also affect children. A child that diagnosed with bipolar disorder can experience manic episodes (such as unrealistically high self-esteem, increase in energy, a decreased need for sleep, and rapid thinking and/or talking), severe mood swings, intense feelings of anger or rage, as well as depressive episodes which can also include changes in eating habits, low energy, and fatigue. A child with bipolar disorder will usually be prescribed medication (such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or anti-psychotic drugs), as well as need to attend therapy with a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist.

A child with a learning disorder may have trouble understanding or following certain instructions, have trouble retaining information, lack organization and coordination, have trouble reading, as well as have difficulty with certain tasks. There are a variety of learning disorders that a child can be diagnosed with, such as dyslexia (trouble with reading), dyscalculia (trouble with math), and dysgraphia (trouble with writing.) These types of learning disorders can have a significant impact on a child’s mood, leaving them feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. If it is suspect that a child may have a learning disorder, they will be evaluated by a healthcare professional. If a learning disorder is confirmed, the child can benefit greatly from attending special education classes. The child’s school, along with parents and healthcare professionals, will often work together to find programs that are best suited to the child’s learning abilities and needs moving forward.

Stress and Gender

Both men and women experience stress, though it’s the latter that tends to take the biggest hit from it, according to research. In addition, women are also two to three times more likely to experience other mental health related problems, such as major depression, anxiety disorders, and even suicide attempts. As for why stress itself affects more women than men, there are many contributing factors.

Compared to men, women tend to have higher fluctuations and imbalances in their hormones, which can cause a rise in stress level. These hormonal fluctuations and imbalances are common during puberty, menstruation, as well as pregnancy, though there are other external factors that can also play a role, including underlying medical conditions (particularly if they happen to involve the endocrine system) as well as taking certain medications. That being said, stress in and of itself can also wreak havoc on the hormones without there having to be anything medically wrong with you. If you are otherwise healthy, then the only way you can really balance your hormones is to eradicate stress from your life. The sooner you reduce your stress level, the happier your hormones will be. When you’re stressed, your cortisol levels will be higher than usual, and this could potentially lead to a decrease in the production of sex hormones, cause an imbalance with your blood sugar levels, as well as slow down your thyroid function. The more stressed you are, the more difficult it will also be for your body to produce the feel-good hormone known as serotonin. So, in order to balance your hormones, it is crucial that you minimize stress.

Women also live longer than men, thus making them predisposed to different problems with their mental health, including loneliness and bereavement, declining physical health, and more. Long-term stress can also have other long-term health effects. It can double a woman’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, in addition to putting you at risk of developing heart problems, bowel problems (such as IBS – also known as irritable bowel syndrome), weight gain and obesity, issues with pregnancy (including having trouble getting pregnant), headaches and migraines.

To prevent the long-term health effects of stress, there are certain things that you can try to help reduce your stress level and ultimately improve your mood, emotions and cognition – and these can be effective in both women and men.

First, there are two important things the brain needs to reenergize itself: Rest and motivation. Overexerting yourself, for example, can cause fatigue. So can staring at computer and television screens for an extended period of time, which can also affect the brain even if you don’t realize it. Whatever it is that’s causing you to feel tired, take a break from it and either rest the eyes, or find something that makes you happy. It can be anything from partaking in a fun activity, to reading inspiring quotes that motivate the brain to feel happy. Some also find meditation to be a useful tool in combating stress, as it allows the mind to relax but be fully present at the same time.

You also need to pay attention to your diet. Sugar, for example, is something that should be cut from your diet. As mentioned earlier, when you’re stressed out, the body releases more cortisol – and, when you eat sugar, cortisol is also released which is what ultimately causes your blood sugar levels to spike. This can lead to you having even more unhealthy food cravings, trouble with sleep, and a decreased immune response. Rapidly fluctuation blood sugar levels can also cause you to feel more stressed and anxious. If you’re thinking of drinking a glass of wine after a long day, you might want to reconsider, as alcohol can increase the production of hormones which can also contribute to increased stress and anxiety, in addition to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Alternatively, if you’re wanting to stay awake and alert, then coffee is the most common go-to. However, too much caffeine can overstimulate the nervous system which can also cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure and cause you to develop an increase in feelings of stress and anxiety. If you can, try cutting back on the amount of caffeine you drink – or switch to decaffeinated coffee.

How Food Can Impact the Mind

If you have ever heard the term “stress eating,” then you should know it’s not just something that was made up. In fact, the mind plays a pretty significant role when it comes to the way we perceive food and the thought process behind eating, as hunger is partially controlled by part of your brain known as the hypothalamus; and while the research surrounding food and things like stress and depression is still considered to be somewhat inconclusive, there are still suggestions that there may be strong links.

As mentioned, hunger is controlled by the hypothalamus. This is the part of the brain that regulates everything from body temperature to sleep cycles, and other autonomic nervous system functions. In addition, hunger is also controlled by certain hormone levels in the body, blood glucose levels, and how empty the stomach and intestines are. When you feel hungry, this is the sensation you have when your brain is telling you that your stomach is empty, and you want/need to eat. When you’re no longer hungry, this is your stomach sending a signal to your brain that it is full. This is also a sensation that is controlled by hypothalamus. It’s also possible for the hypothalamus to malfunction. When this occurs, you can develop a wide range of health problems and symptoms including thyroid problems, headaches, weight loss, as well as have a poor appetite.

Along with improving our physical health, the foods we eat can also provide us with more energy, clear that feeling of “brain fog”, and ultimately improve our moods. Therefore, having a healthy diet isn’t just important for the body, but it can be equally as important for the mind as well.

First and foremost, you shouldn’t skip meals. Breakfast being one of the most important meals of the day isn’t just a myth, as it’s the meal that actually helps get us through our day. One study conducted by the Food Research and Action Center found a correlation between performance at school and breakfast among children. Those who didn’t eat breakfast before class were found to be more likely to have trouble learning, as well as have behavioural problems, while those who ate breakfast on a regular basis had less behavioural issues and an easier time learning new things, as well as improved grades. They also had an increase in their ability to focus in addition to their energy levels; while a Swiss study found that individuals who ate breakfasts rich in protein (which contain amino acids that help regulate thoughts and feelings) also had higher cognitive performance compared to those who either didn’t eat breakfast or ate a breakfast that was higher in carbohydrates.

Fruits and vegetables are also important to include as part of your healthy eating plan as they are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre – all of which we need to not only help keep us in good physical health, but mentally healthy as well. By incorporating a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables in your diet, you’ll be getting a variety of the most important nutrients that you need regularly. Fats are also something the brain needs. Healthy fats, such as omega-3’s and omega-6’s to be more specific. Healthy fats can be found in things like poultry fish, nuts, seeds, milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, as well as olive and sunflower oils.

Something people also often forget to consider when it comes to keeping the mind clear is how important hydration is. When you aren’t getting enough fluid intake, you can become dehydrated which can lead to poor concentration, so I recommend drinking at least 6 to 8 glasses of fluid (water, in particular) per day to keep your hydration levels where they need to be. If you’re after a quick boost of energy, then another beverage you can try is coffee. However, keep in mind that coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant, and drinking too much of it could potentially leave you feeling anxious or even disrupt your ability to sleep.