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Protein-Packed Foods

Protein – also known as a macronutrient – is one of the most important parts of a healthy diet, as well as an important component of the cells in our body. Did you know your hair and nails are made of protein? Not only does the body require protein to help build and repair tissues, but it also builds enzymes, hormones, and other chemicals found in the body, and is essential in building bones and muscles, cartilage and skin, and even the blood.

When it comes to getting protein from the foods we eat, the Dietary Reference Intake recommends getting approximately 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (or 0.36 grams per pound.) On average, sedentary men require approximately 56 grams of protein per day, while women require around 46 grams per day. As for finding foods that are high in protein, it’s important to make sure you’re consuming the right kinds of foods in order to reap all of the benefits.

Examples of high-protein foods include:

• White-meat poultry (such as chicken, pork tenderloin and turkey)
• Seafood (such as tuna, halibut and salmon)
• Dairy products (such as milk, cheese and Greek yogurt)
• Eggs
• Soy
• Lean beef
Nuts (such as peanuts, cashews and almonds)
• Beans (such as green beans)
• Whole grains (such as quinoa)

So just how much protein do some of these foods have?

• 1 large egg contains as much as 6 grams of protein
• Nuts contain as much as 6 grams of proteins per ounce
• White-meat poultry, like skinless chicken, contains up to 53 grams
• Dairy products, like Greek Yogurt, contains as much as 17 grams

There are many different ways in which you can incorporate these protein-rich foods into healthy meals, too. For example, chicken and lean beef can be paired with steamed vegetables, and eating vegetables also comes with many additional health benefits, such as promoting healthy eyes and skin; while eggs and dairy products can be incorporated into breakfasts. For example, by making an omelette, or by mixing oatmeal with a bit of milk or yogurt (depending on your own personal preference.)

If you don’t have time to make a meal or are stuck on ideas, your next best option may be to have a meal replacement drink or eat a protein bar. However, it’s important that you read the ingredients prior to consumption, as some of these bars can be quite high in sugar and other ingredients you might want to avoid. You should also make sure that the bar you choose contains a minimum of at least 6 grams of protein.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12, a water-soluble vitamin, has many different benefits. It can improve your mood, improve your heart health, increase your energy levels, promote healthy skin and hair, help with digestion, and can even boost your mood. It also helps the CNS (central nervous system) by maintaining the health of nerve cells, as well as forms the cell’s myelin sheath, which is the protective covering of the nerves. If your levels of vitamin B12 are low, you can experience a decline in some (or many) of the things mentioned above.

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

With a Vitamin B12 deficiency, you may experience some of the following symptoms: Loss of appetite, diarrhea, gas, pale or yellow skin (also known as jaundice), heart palpitations, shortness of breath, numbness or tingling of the hands, legs and/or feet, joint pain, poor memory, lack of concentration, changes in mood, vision loss, light-headedness, dizziness, and weakness. However, the most common complaint in those deficient in vitamin B12 is fatigue. As a result, vitamin B12 can sometimes be hard to diagnose simply by looking at a patient, as fatigue can be the result of many other underlying medical conditions – such as chronic fatigue. It’s also not uncommon to feel increased levels of tiredness if you’re coming down with a cold or the flu.

Who’s Most At Risk?

Anyone can develop a deficiency in vitamin B12, but it’s much more common in elderly patients as they have impaired digestion and produce much less stomach acid, which is required to convert B12 correctly.

How is Vitamin B12 Deficiency Diagnosed?

If Dr. Ali Ghahary suspects a patient may be deficient in vitamin B12 based on their symptoms, he will usually send that patient for a blood test to check their B12 levels. The specific blood test that is done is known as a methylmalonic acid test. If your methylmalonic acid levels are high, it may be indicative of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Alternatively, some patients may experience symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency but their blood tests could still come back normal.

Treating Vitamin B12 Deficiency

There are three different ways in which you can increase your vitamin B12 levels:

  1. By consuming a B12-specific diet (poultry, fish, meats, eggs and milk contain the most vitamin B12 out of any other foods.)
  2. Taking a multivitamin/supplement.
  3. Seeing your physician for weekly vitamin B12 injections.

 

To determine the best course of action, speak with your physician to come up with a plan best suited for you and your health needs.

How the Body Reacts to Stress

We’ve all experienced stress in our lives at some point or another. It can be triggered by a wide variety of things – for example, being stuck in traffic, having to meet a deadline for work, studying or writing examples for school, job loss, bad grades, financial obligations and other demands, moving, divorce, chronic illness, death, as well as traumatic events such as natural disasters, theft, or sexual assault. Stress can also be triggered by underlying emotional problems such as low self-esteem and depression. Regardless of whatever it is that triggers your stress, we can all agree that it’s not fun to deal with. Depending on the individual, stress can be acute (short term), episodic (frequent), or chronic (long-term.)

When it comes to relieving stress, it is important for patients to first be able to recognize when they’re stressed. Stress can be such a common, frequent occurrence for some, to the point where they spend so much time in that heightened state that they’ll sometimes lose the ability to differentiate between when they’re feeling stressed out and when they aren’t, which is why it’s important to take a step back and pay attention to the warning signs by listening to your body. If you’re happy and relaxed, you’re more likely to be smiling or laughing. When you’re stressed, however, your eyes may feel heavy, and your muscles may be tense – which can include a clenched jaw, hands, and even abdominal cramping. If you’re stressed you may also notice that you have shallow breathing. These are all clues that you may be under stress.

Next, you need to pay attention to how you respond to stress. Internally, our stress response is known as the “fight or flight” response. During a “fight or flight” response, your heart pumps faster, muscles constrict, pulse races, blood pressure increases, and your immune system drains. However, externally, we often react to stress in two different ways – an overexcited stress response or an under-excited stress response. During an overexcited stress response you may feel agitated, angry, or overly emotional; while an underexcited stress response cam include feelings of hopelessness, and you may even become withdrawn. If you experience an overexcited stress response, you’ll react better to finding activities that are quiet and keep you calm. If you experience an underexcited stress response, you’ll benefit from finding activities that keep you energized and are stimulating.

Finding relief from stress often involves different sensory techniques such as sight, smell, touch, taste, movement and sound. Explore nature by going to your favourite park or beach, look at a favourite photo, light a scented candle, drink a warm cup of tea, write in a journal, join a dance group. It’s all about finding something you enjoy that will lift your spirits. If you’re having trouble coming up with something, sometimes observing how others handle their stress can also help a great deal, and you may even benefit from joining a local support group. Having people to talk to who know exactly that you’re dealing with can make you feel less alone, and you may even make new friends as a result.

If you do happen to experience stress on a frequent basis, this is something that you also need to bring up to your family physician. He or she will be able to provide you with additional resources in your community, and possibly other stress-relieving techniques not mentioned here, as well as make necessary referrals to outpatient therapy with a psychologist or psychiatrist.

The Sugar Epidemic: Sugar Addiction

Not only does sugar taste good, it feels good too. It’s on-par with addictions to pharmaceutical drugs, caffeine, and alcohol – and its totally legal. – MOT MAG, ‘The “Added Sugar” Pandemic – Pure, White, And Deadly’

Whenever you eat something that is sweet, the hippocampus (a horseshoe-shaped structure with a band of nerve fibres that connects the hippocampal structures in the left and right hemispheres of the brain) enables you to remember the taste. This then results in the formation of habits, causing you to want to reach for that sweet treat over and over again. This sets off a domino-like effect and causes your dopamine levels to rise. Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter and hormone that plays a role in many different bodily functions, including movement, memory, motivation and pleasurable reward. Which is why, when you consume sugar, the brain thinks of it as a reward. If you consume a lot of it, you’re only fortifying that reward, which can ultimately make it a difficult habit to break.

You’ve also likely heard of the term “sugar high” (or “sugar rush”) and “sugar low.” For example, when you eat a candy bar, you might notice an increase in your energy level. This is because the sugar found in that candy bar – known as a simple carbohydrate – quickly turns into glucose in your blood stream, resulting in a spike in your blood sugar levels. However, your body also needs to move glucose out of the bloodstream and into your cells. In order to do this, your pancreas will create a hormone known as insulin. However, this can cause your blood sugar level to suddenly drop. As a result of this rapid change, you may wind up feeling fatigued and shaky, and want to reach for more sweets to regain that “sugar high” feeling.

It’s also important to warn of foods that may not necessarily look sweet but contain starch. These foods include things like French fries, bagels, bread, crackers, pasta and potato chips. These foods are known as complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs get broken down into simple sugars, which can also cause a sudden rise and crash of your blood sugar level, so beware when consuming these foods as well.

When it comes to breaking the sugar habit, people will often try to quit sugar cold turkey – also known as a sugar detox. But does this actually work? Certain sugar detoxes urge individuals to avoid all types of sweets – including things like candy bars, pastries, and even dairy and refined grains – in effort to purge sugar from your system. However, this is considered somewhat drastic. Detoxes such as this also usually only work for the short-term, rather than having any long-term effects, and it’s not uncommon to fall back into old habits.

If you want to reduce sugar from your diet and beat sugar addiction, there are much easier and healthier ways to go about it.

First, avoid temptation. Don’t stock your cupboards or refrigerator with things like cookies, candy or other high-sugar foods. When grocery shopping, it’s also important to watch out for hidden sugars in foods. Examples of hidden or added sugars include things like fruit juice concentrate, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup, barley malt, malt syrup, brown rice syrup, and date syrup.

Replacing sugary foods with protein is one of the best ways to stabilize your blood sugar levels. – RUNTASTIC, ‘How to Stop Sugar Cravings’

Secondly, make sure you eat breakfast. Breakfast is considered one of the most important meals of the day and can help ward off cravings. When you don’t eat breakfast, you’re more likely to want to grab quick (and oftentimes unhealthy) snacks throughout the day. One helpful tip to help prevent your blood sugar from spiking: Add some high-protein foods into your breakfast meals (lunch and dinner, too!) Examples include eggs, nuts, low-fat yogurt, lean chicken and beans.

You can also re-train your brain to not want as much sugar as it thinks it does. To do this – and for it to actually work – I suggest cutting out one sweet food from your diet each week. You could start by putting less (or no) sugar in your coffee or pass on dessert after that dinner-time meal. By taking these small steps, you will eventually find yourself craving sugar less and less. It’s also important to note that you can still get that sweet flavour from different sources – such as fresh fruit. Some of the best low-sugar fruits include watermelon, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, kiwi and grapefruit (while fruits like mangoes, grapes and cherries are all higher in sugar.)

I also cannot stress enough the importance of exercise. Aside from its already-known health benefits, studies have shown exercise can actually decrease your appetite by reducing the level or hormone that drives hunger. You can learn more about this here.

Related Article: ‘The Sugar Pandemic: Sugar History’

Health Benefits of Staying Hydrated

Water isn’t just something you drink to quench your thirst and prevent dehydration – it has many more benefits than that. Drinking water also keeps us healthy in many ways people may not even realize, which is why it’s important to drink at least 8 glasses a day (and have a water-filled bottle on hand with you if you are out, at school, or at work.)

1. It’s good for the digestive system.
When you don’t drink enough water, you can develop digestion problems – including an increase in stomach acid, which can ultimately increase your risk of developing things like stomach ulcers and heartburn, as well as constipation. In order for the bowels to work as they should and for digestive problems to be prevented or less problematic, it’s important to drink water.

2. It’s good for our kidneys.
Water is what helps our kidneys remove waste from our blood through urine, as well as helps blood travel to and deliver essential nutrients to our kidneys. When you don’t drink enough water and become dehydrated, it’s much more difficult for the kidneys to go through this process. Essentially, our kidneys are what regulate fluid in the body. When you don’t drink enough water, you can develop a wide range of problems including urinary tract infections, as well as kidney problems, including kidney stones, which can lead to kidney damage if not treated properly.

3. It can help prevent hangovers.
While one should never drink alcohol in excess, it’s not uncommon to experience hangovers after consuming alcohol – which can include symptoms such as headaches, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, dizziness or light-headedness, shakiness, or thirst. These symptoms can develop after consuming alcohol because, when you drink it, the body will eventually start to lack fluid and you will pass less urine as a result, leading to lack of electrolytes in the body and dehydration. By drinking water, you can help increase the body’s hydration and reduce the symptoms of a hangover.

4. It’s good for the skin.
If you happen to have dry skin, one of the reasons why could be due to lack of water. This is because when the skin doesn’t get enough water, it starts to lose its elasticity and will start to look and feel parched. By drinking just two cups of water each and every day, you can increase the skin’s blood flow and you should start to notice an improvement in the skin’s appearance. When your skin is dehydrated, it is more prone to developing problems – including, as mentioned, dryness, in addition to fine lines, wrinkles, skin sagginess, and acne.

5. It helps regulate body temperature.
When we are exposed to warm environments or become warm as a result of exercise or illness, such fever caused by the flu, we sweat. Sweating is the way in which the body will try to cool itself down and prevent itself from overheating. To assist in regulating our body temperature, drinking water is important as it also has the ability to expel excess heat from the body. This is why it’s important to drink water before and after working out, as well as when you are ill.

6. It aids weight loss.
If you’re looking to lose weight, two things are important: What you eat, and how much exercise you get. Combined, getting regular exercise and having a diet can help you lose a significant amount of weight. However, drinking plenty of water before, during and after meals can help create that feeling of fullness and reduce your want to snack in-between meals, which can also help assist in weight loss.

Common Summer Health Hazards

Warmer weather can be a nice break from all the rain we’re used to getting in Vancouver, but there are also certain hazards that come along with the summer and heat. Find out what some of those are below, along with what precautions you should take to protect yourself.

Dehydration
Staying hydrated is important. Not just during the summer months, but all the time. Drinking water not only keeps you hydrated and helps regulate body temperature, but it also increases energy levels and helps with muscle performance. Unfortunately, summer is a season where it’s not uncommon for physicians to see patients presenting with symptoms of dehydration – usually due to a combination of staying in the heat for prolonged periods of time while not drinking enough water. Symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, dizziness, confusion, nausea, dry mouth, irritability, and extreme thirst. Seniors and children are much more susceptible to becoming dehydrated, so make sure you have plenty of water on hand.

Sunburn
An estimated 80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in Canada each year, and your risk of developing skin cancer doubles if you’ve had just 5 sunburns. While it might sound hard to believe, it’s true. This is one of the many reasons why physicians warn about the dangers of ultraviolet rays – whether it’s from direct sunlight or the use of tanning beds. If you’re going to be outdoors, you need to take precautions to protect your skin. I recommend wearing an SPF 30, as it will block at least 97% of UVB radiation. In addition, you should also wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your scalp, as well as sunglasses to protect your eyes. Sunburns can be severe, so if you do have one and need to find relief, taking a cold bath can help alleviate some of the pain. Finding a gentle moisturizer that contains aloe vera can also be soothing to the skin. You can also get relief by taking over-the-counter medication, such as ibuprofen, to help with the discomfort as well as reduce inflammation.

Food Poisoning
That summer picnic or BBQ may actually be a breeding ground for bacteria. In order to avoid food poisoning at your next picnic or BBQ, you should always make sure any meat or poultry you plan on grilling is thoroughly thawed and prepared (such as marinated) prior to leaving home. You should also make sure all produce is washed thoroughly before eating it. You should also pack your cooler correctly. It’s important to keep any thawed, raw foods separate from foods that are already cooked or don’t require cooking. Coolers should contain plenty of ice packs and be a temperature of no higher than 40°F. Before and after handling food, make sure your hands are washed thoroughly. Foods should also be kept out of direct sunlight and shouldn’t be left out sitting for more than 2 hours. If the outside temperature is 90°F or above, then foods shouldn’t be left out for longer than 1 hour. And, as always, make sure foods (especially meat, poultry and seafood) are cooked thoroughly before consumption. Symptoms of food poisoning can include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and can sometimes be severe and may require medical intervention.

Insect Bites and Stings
Bites and stings are another common occurrence around summertime. Especially mosquito bites and bee stings. For some, bites and stings can be more of a painful nuisance, but for others they may be life-threatening as it’s possible to develop an allergic reaction as a result of a bite or sting. While they’re not 100% preventable, there are certain steps you can take in effort to try and avoid being bitten or stung, such as avoiding wearing perfumes, light-coloured clothing, and guard sugary foods or beverages (such as soda.) Pain, tenderness and itching can all occur as a result of a bite or a sting. However, if you develop hives or swelling across large areas of your body, notice swelling of the face or tongue, or develop a tight chest or have trouble breathing, you should seek medical attention immediately.

UVA and UVB Rays

With plenty of sunshine in the forecast for British Columbia, now is an important time to remind everyone about the benefits of wearing an SPF and why not wearing one could be detrimental to your skin and your health.

For example, skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancers amongst Canadians, often due to prolonged exposure to sunlight (both natural and artificial, such as tanning beds) as a result of failing to take the necessary precautions to keep the skin protected.

In order to understand how SPF works, you should also be aware of the difference between UV rays – such as UVA and UVB rays.

UVA rays

UVA rays can cause damage to the skin year-round and are what cause the skin to become tanned, though they can also cause things like premature aging (such as wrinkling), immune system suppression, and yes, even cancer (melanoma.)

UVA rays can penetrate through windows and clouds, which also means it’s possible for them to penetrate through the thickest layer of the skin known as the dermis.

UVB rays

UVB rays can burn the superficial layer of the skin, causing things like sunburn, pigmentation and discolouration, and also play a key role in the development of skin cancer. While anyone is at risk of damage to the skin and even skin cancer, children tend to be much more susceptible as they have more sensitive skin than adults.

One of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to wearing as SPF is that they think they only need it when it is hot and sunny outside. However, even on cooler, cloudier days and even during the winter, an SPF should be worn – every day, all day and night.

There are also various types of SPF creams on the market. For example, some may work immediately but will need to be reapplied often and won’t offer as much UVA protection compared to others. Other SPFs can be irritating and may take several minutes to be active. It’s all about finding what feels best on your skin.

To help you choose the right SPF it’s also a good idea to have an idea of how much time you think you can spend in the sun without getting burned (this is the definition of Sun Protection Factor.) For example, if you’re someone who can only spend 10 minutes in the sun before getting burned then using something like an SPF 20 will keep your skin protected for up to 200 minutes. The type of SPF you choose also depends on other contributing factors such as the time of day as well as exposure to things like wind and water.

Managing Stress and Anxiety

Stress is something that affects thousands of Canadians every day. When we become stressed or anxious, the nervous system releases chemicals that send alarm signals throughout the body, which then trigger an instinctive response known as “fight or flight.” When that fight or flight response is triggered, it means the brain perceives something as a threat. How you choose to handle that stress and anxiety, however, is crucial to your well-being, as if left unmanaged, it can lead to more severe mental health problems, such as depression.

If you’ve ever had a deadline to meet for school or work, have gone on a first date, or don’t know what you’re going to cook for a large dinner party you’re hosting, then you know exactly how stress and anxiety might feel. Along with work and school stressors, sometimes even the most positive of events can cause one to feel stressed or anxious – such as the birth of a baby or planning a wedding. Certain physical environments, such as unsafe living conditions, noise and traffic can also cause stress and anxiety.

Women are more likely to be affected by stress and anxiety than men. For women, the most common stressors include time constraints and family matters, while men say they feel more stressed and anxious with work and financial matters. Older adults are also at a much higher risk of struggling with stress and anxiety due to changes with their health. Levels of stress and anxiety are also at an increased high in today’s youth with having to balance school, activities, and friendships.

Along with affecting your mood, stress and anxiety can also impact the body. For example, you can develop muscle tension and pain, rapid heartbeat, upset stomach, diarrhea, fatigue and headaches. It’s also not uncommon for people dealing with extreme stress and anxiety to turn to alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and abuse drugs.

Because stress and anxiety affect everyone differently, it’s important to be able to identify triggers and find ways to cope. Sometimes coping with stress and anxiety can be as simple as writing down what you’re feeling stressed or anxious about, including writing a list of goals and solutions. Self-care, such as yoga and meditation can also help relax the mind. Other times, you may simply need to vent. For children and teens, many schools offer free counselling services. There are also private counselling services available throughout British Columbia, while your physician can also refer you to a psychiatrist.

Are You Getting Enough Vitamins & Minerals?

Vitamins and minerals are considered essential nutrients as they play a key role in maintaining your health – physically and mentally. Without them, you’re at risk of developing a number of health complications. In order to help you have a better understanding of just how important vitamins and minerals are, I’ll break down the different types as well as which ones are required in order to help you achieve optimal health.

There are 13 essential vitamins: Vitamin A, C, D, E, K, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B7 (biotin), B6, B12 (cyanocobalamin) and B9. Vitamins are grouped into two different categories: Fat-soluble vitamins, which are absorbed more easily by dietary fat and bind to the stomach for later use; and Water-soluble vitamins, which are absorbed directly by the cells in the body. Each of the vitamins listed have their own special function…

Vitamin A helps to form and maintain healthy bones, teeth, skin, soft tissue and mucus membranes. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that not only boosts the immune system, but also promotes healthy teeth, in addition to wound healing, the maintenance of healthy tissue, as well as helps with iron absorption. Vitamin D, commonly referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” is a vitamin that is naturally made within our bodes when we have been exposed to the sun. Vitamin D also helps with calcium absorption. Vitamin E is an antioxidant and helps the body form red blood cells. Vitamin K isn’t necessarily considered an essential vitamin, but it helps the blood coagulate. Some studies have also suggested it can be important for bone health. Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, changes consumed carbohydrates into energy, and also plays an essential role in promoting healthy nerve cells and heart function. Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, works together with some of the other B vitamins and promotes body growth in addiction to the production of red blood cells. Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, has cholesterol-lowering effects when taken at higher doses, and also helps to maintain the skin as well as promote healthy nerves. Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, plays a role in the production of hormones and cholesterol, and it is also essential for metabolizing our food. Vitamin B7, also known as biotin, is also essential for metabolism, hormones and cholesterol. Vitamin B6 helps maintain brain function and form red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is another vitamin that is important for metabolism; in addition, it also helps to form red blood cells and maintain the central nervous system (CNS). Lastly, Vitamin B9, which consists of folic acid, and has many health benefits including preventing aging, preventing cancer, preventing heart attacks, aiding fertility, and maintaining good mental health.

There is also a wide range of essential minerals that the body needs. These include but are not limited to calcium (which is needed to form strong bones and teeth), iron (which helps carry oxygen from the lungs to the cells in your body), potassium (which controls the electrical activity of the heart as well as helps build proteins), magnesium (which supports nerve and muscle function, as well as boosts immunity), and other trace minerals.

Vitamins and minerals can be found in many different food sources. In some cases, patients may be deficient in certain vitamins and/or minerals and will require a supplement.

Healthy, Natural Ways to Find Pain Relief

Thousands of Canadians suffer from pain every day. Pain can be acute and a result of something like a scraped knee, sprained or broken bone, which will get better over time, or can be chronic and much more severe – such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, migraines, or other pain disorders. Regardless of the cause, the goal is to find relief. Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen are typically the go-to medications of choice when it comes to those that are seeking pain relief. However, too much of these medications over a prolonged period of time can lead to other health complications such as kidney and liver problems, ulcers, and more. In addition, opioids are also problematic when it comes to pain relief, as they are not meant to be used long-term. Prolonged use of opioids can result in the body becoming dependent on the drug, in addition to the drug itself becoming less successful in treating the pain, therefore requiring more which can then lead to addiction. As a result, physicians work diligently to warn patients about the dangers of long-term use of opioids, and are instead helping patients find healthier ways to help relieve pain.

When it comes to chronic pain, it is generally broken down into two categories: Nociceptive or Neuropathic. Nociceptive pain is the result of damage being done to body tissue, and is usually described as an aching, sharp or throbbing pain; whereas Neuropathic pain occurs when there has been damage done to the nerves. Chronic pain can affect any area of the body, and it can so debilitating to the point where it may affect your ability to carry out your day to day activities, in addition to requiring you to take time off school or work, as well as affect your ability to socialize and keep personal relationships. Because pain can be so complex, finding relief is often a matter of trial and error. While doctors won’t shy away from prescribing patients medications when it is absolutely necessary, sometimes introducing certain changes in lifestyle can also be beneficial – such as engaging in regular, low-impact physical activity, healthy eating, and reducing stress – as part of their pain management plan.

Aside from medication and breaking certain unhealthy habits, finding relief from pain might actually be right under your fingertips through certain items you already own. For example, if you suffer from body aches or sprains/other related injuries, applying a cold compress to the affected area(s) for 10 minutes at a time can be significantly effective. Cold not only has an anesthetizing effect, but it can also reduce swelling and inflammation, as well as temporarily reduces nerve activity which results in a reduced level of pain. Alternatively, heat (from a heating pad or warm towel) can also reduce things like painful muscle spasms and joint stiffness. However, heat should not be applied to an injury for at least 48 hours. When applying heat directly to the skin, you should also make sure it’s not too hot so that you can avoid burning the skin. Certain essential oils are also great, natural ways of finding pain relief – especially lavender and peppermint oils. If the cause of your pain is due to underlying inflammation, lavender can help relieve this thanks to its analgesic properties. Similarly, peppermint oil can also treat pain caused by inflammation as well as a variety of other ailments including nausea and vomiting. The great thing about essential oils is that they can be used in many different ways. You can find relief by placing a few drops in your bathwater or shower (inhaling oil-infused steam can not only relieve pain, but is also found to be quite soothing and can even help with sleep), or gently massaging the oil directly onto the areas of your body that you find affected by pain. You can also relieve muscle and joint pain by soaking in an epsom salt bath for approximately 20 minutes. Epsom salt has been used as natural pain reliever for many, many decades as it contains exceptional anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also not uncommon to find certain brands of epsom salt infused with essential oils like the ones already mentioned.

Sometimes finding pain relief can also be a matter of simply opening up your cupboards, fridge, or taking a trip to the local grocery or fruit and vegetable store. Ginger is one of the most natural and healthiest remedies when it comes to not just treating pain and inflammation, but a wide range of other ailments such as nausea, indigestion, and high cholesterol…and it can even reduce the risk of things like heart disease and cancer. While raw ginger is the best and most effective way to go, ginger also comes in tea and candy form – though beware of the sugar! Adding a teaspoon of powdered cinnamon to your tea or to a glass of warm water and honey can also help to relieve pain and improve your overall health. Green, leafy vegetables (spinach or kale) or fruits (cherries) are also some of the top foods that can fight pain and inflammation.