Millions of people around the world are experiencing high levels of stress during these very challenging times. For some of us, it can be debilitating and often damaging to our health. Stress is a significant factor in mental health problems including anxiety and depression. It is also linked to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia and digestive problems.
Stress is a normal part of human existence and nobody is immune to it. Therefore, it is important that we take care of our mental health and arm ourselves with the knowledge of how to recognise the onset of stress and also learn skills on how to cope with it when it arises.
Since April is officially National Stress Awareness Month, we thought we would share some helpful tips on how to reduce stress during these very difficult times.
1. Meditate— Since your immune system responds to both negative & positive thoughts, meditation creates a positive mental environment for the immune system to flourish. It also creates a deep state of rest that triggers the brain to release neurotransmitters that enhance feelings of wellbeing.
2. Breathe — Doing some slow, belly breathing can calm the mind, which in turn strengthens the immune system. When we slow down the breath, we calm the stress response that can weaken the immune system. Try counting to 4 or 5 with each inhalation and exhalation to slow down your breathing.
3. Sleep— Sleep has been known to boost T-cells which help us fight disease, especially viral diseases. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep.
4. Eat well – Eating a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables are vital for our immune system as the vitamins, antioxidants and micronutrients that they contain keep our cells healthy and support our immune system.
5. Get regular exercise — Exercise can contribute to overall good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do and do their job efficiently.
MS Awareness Week 2023 will run from April 24th to April 30th and it is observed globally every year. The aim of this week is to raise awareness of multiple sclerosis and bring together those who are living with the condition to share their stories.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance.Every day, people living with MS do whatever it takes to move their lives forward despite the challenges. By sharing their stories, we help people better understand life with MS and become inspired to do whatever it takes to change the world for people living with MS.
MS is unpredictable and different for everybody. Symptoms can come and go and change over time, and it’s difficult to know how your condition might progress. That’s why this #MSAwarenessWeek (from April 24th to April 30th) we’re shining a light on the uncertainty of living with the condition.
You can show your support by: Joining an event · Walk MS · Bike MS · Challenge Walk MS · Muckfest MS · DIY Fundraising .
For more information and learn more about how you can help, please visit: mssociety.org.uk
Its World Sleep Day!
Sleep plays a huge role in repairing and regenerating our bodies. So getting enough sleep is just as important to our bodies as a healthy diet and regular exercise. We tend to think of sleep as allowing our bodies to shut down but there are actually really important mental and physical processes that take place while we are sleeping. For example, our blood pressure regulates, our heart and blood vessels heal which lowers our risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure. Mentally, sleep helps our brain function properly when it comes to memory, learning, problem solving and decision-making and because it balances our hormones, it helps safeguard us against stress and depression.
So how much sleep do we need? Most adults need between six and nine hours every night. It is incredibly important that we make the effort to get quality sleep regularly to ensure optimum health.
Consider some of these simple tips to help you get a better nights rest.
1.) Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime. The backlit blue light displays of screens suppress melatonin production, which is the hormone, that helps you sleep.
2.) Exercise regular.Exercise improves the symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea and increases the amount of time you spend in the deep restorative stages of sleep.
3.) Avoid Caffeine, Nicotine and Alcohol before bed. The stimulating effects of these can have a major effect on your sleeping patterns.
4.)Practice Mindfulness. For a lot of us, lying in bed at night is where our mind begins to overrun bringing on worry and stress. There are some progressive relaxation techniques that you can do before bed that can help your mind from wondering and allow you to completely relax.
5.)Stick to a Sleep Schedule. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle
This month is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. It is a time where we globally raise our voices in solidarity in the fight against ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer’ is not a singular diagnosis, rather it is an umbrella term for a multitude of different types of cancer that affect the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the primary peritoneal cavity. Ovarian cancer is the most lethal of the female cancers for which there is no reliable screening test, and every women is at risk. With delays in diagnoses due to this lack of screening and because symptoms are often confused with other, less severe, illness, most women are diagnosed once the cancer has already spread, making it more difficult to treat.
Below are some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. These can also be symptoms of other, less serious, conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, ovarian cysts and polycystic ovary syndrome so if you’re experiencing them it doesn’t necessarily mean you have ovarian cancer.
Common Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer Include:
✳️Bloating – Increased abdominal size / persistent bloating that doesn’t go away
✳️Eating complications – Difficulty eating / feeling full quickly
✳️Pain – Pain in pelvic or abdomen area
✳️Urinary Symptoms – Urgent or frequent urination Occasionally, there can be other symptoms, such as:
✳️Changes in bowel habits
✳️Abnormal bleeding – Any post-menopausal bleeding should always be checked your primary health care provider or doctor.
✳️Unexplained weight loss
There is no routine, simple screening test to accurately detect ovarian cancer. Contrary to popular belief, cervical screening (i.e. Pap smear) will not detect ovarian cancer. Cervical screening is effective in early detection of cervical cancer, but it is not a test for ovarian cancer. That is why being aware of ovarian cancer and its symptoms are important.
If you have signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, speak to your doctor. The pathway to diagnosis includes:
Transvaginal or pelvic ultrasound
CA-125 blood test
Are you looking to make some changes towards a healthier you? Than National Nutrition Month is the perfect time to do it! This month focuses on the importance of healthy eating, making informed food choices & creating long lasting fitness goals.
Research shows that starting slow & making small changes is the most successful long-term strategy for healthy changes. Here are just a few habits you can start with:
🥚Eat breakfast – Have a nutritious breakfast to give your body the energy it needs to take on the day.
🍎Make 1/2 your plate Fruits & Veggies –Fruits & Veggies are filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants & dietary fibre, which is essential for optimum health.
🍽️ Watch Portion Sizes – Eating too much or too little of any of the major food groups can be bad for your health so it important to be conscious of portion sizes.
💧Drink Plenty of Water – Drinking enough water is crucial for the functionality of every system in our body. Experts recommend eight 8-ounce glasses per day.
🏃Be Active -As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day
🐟Eat Fish twice a week – Aim for at least 2 portions of fish every week, 1 of which should be an oily fish such as salmon or mackerel.
⏳Eat Slowly – The benefits of eating slowly include better digestion, better hydration, easier weight loss & greater satisfaction with our meals.
🍳 Cook from home – Studies show that people who regularly eat home-cooked meals made with fresh ingredients tend to be healthier as they consume less sugar & processed foods, which can result in more energy & better health.
🥗Choose Nutrient Dense Foods – Consume foods high in vitamins, minerals, fibre & antioxidants, which are not only good for your health but also low in calories. They include brightly coloured fruits & veggies, fortified & fibre rich grains, & lean meats, beans, & nuts.
🍬Reduce Added Sugars – Many people consume more sugar than they realize. It’s important to be aware of your sugar intake because added sugars contribute zero nutrients & added calories. Too much sugar can also lead to extra pounds & can contribute to chronic illness.
Love and health are intertwined in surprising ways. Humans are naturally wired for connection, & when we cultivate good relationships, the rewards are immense. In celebration of Valentine’s day, we thought we would share 5 surprising benefits that LOVE can actually have on your health!
❤️ Love boosts your Mood:
Falling in love, getting married & maintaining healthy relationships, as well as friendships, have been shown to reduce the feelings of isolation and depression while simultaneously increasing the sense of belonging and happiness.
❤️ Love can ease Anxiety:
Studies show that the feeling of loneliness can stimulate anxiety. In fact, MRI scans have shown that those who are involved in stable, long-term relationships & friendships had greater activity and activation in the part of the brain that is responsible for the reward/pleasure response and less activation in the area of the brain associated with anxiety.
❤️Love is a Stress Buster:
Lasting love is consistently linked to lower levels of stress. In one 2003 study, published in the journal Behavioural Medicine, couples who held hands for 10 minutes then hugged for 20 seconds were shown to have healthier reactions to subsequent stress tests, compared to those who hadn’t had any physical contact.
❤️ Love can make you take better care of yourself:
When we are part of a loving relationship, friendship or family, we are often encouraged by those who love us to seek medical advice when me may not want to. We are also often encouraged to seek support when we are going through hard times and even encouraged to live a healthier lifestyle when we might not otherwise do so.
❤️ May increase life expectancy:
Research suggests that married people in particular but those also involved in healthy social relationships typically live longer. Experts attribute this phenomenon to factors like reduced stress, and in romantic relationships a partner often gives up bad habits, for example heavy drinking or smoking in support of the relationship. As a result, healthy habits may increase longevity.
Happy Valentine’s Day friends. May it be filled with love and health ❤️
It’s National Self Check Month! As we get older, the more we tend to worry about our health. But undergoing routine health checks can drastically improve the outcome of some age related diseases. Early diagnosis helps save lives as it provides treatment options at the earliest possible stage & often before the disease starts to spread.
It is not just cancer screenings that are important to our health. There are many other health screenings that are just as important such as cholesterol, blood pressure & routine health checks.
Prevention is always better than a cure. Here are 8 tests that could literally save your life.
✳️Bowel / Colon Cancer Screening– Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK. More than 90% of bowel cancers can be successfully treated if detected early.
✳️Breast Screenings– More than 90% of women diagnosed with breast cancer at the earliest stage survive their disease for at least 5 years compared to around the 15% for women diagnosed at the most advanced stage.
✳️Cervical Screening-Cervical screening is a method of preventing cancer by detecting abnormalities& precancerous cells in the cervix. If left untreated, these abnormalities could lead to cervical cancer.
✳️Skin Checks– Keeping an eye on moles is essential for spotting the early signs of skin cancer.
✳️AAA screening- The aorta is the main blood vessel in the body. It pumps blood from the heart around the body. If a swelling in the aorta is left to get bigger it could burst, causing life threatening bleeds inside the stomach.
✳️Cholesterol Checks–High levels of cholesterol can build up in the arteries, which increase your risk of heart attack, cardiovascular diseases or stroke.
✳️Prostate Check– Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men. If there are any causes for concern such as an increased need to urinate, straining or not feeling emptied after urinating. Men can be offered a PSA blood test.
✳️Blood Pressure Check– High blood pressure can put you at risk for multiple conditions such as heart failure, stroke, heart attack, kidney disease This is a common test that is incredibly important and could even save your life.
Its National Heart Month! Did you know that the most important thing you can do to look after your heart is to have a healthy lifestyle? Making just small changes in your habits can make a huge difference to the health of your heart.
Here are 6 simple Healthy Heart Tips:
1.)Exercise – Physical Activity is great for heart health. Aim for a minimum of at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity for 5 or more days a week. If exercise isn’t your thing, just keep it simple, try walking for 30minutes a day or find an activity that you really enjoy that gets you up and moving.
2.)Eat Healthy & Maintain a Healthy Weight – Maintaining a healthy weight is key in controlling your blood pressure and lowering your risk for heart disease. A diet low in saturated fats and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can lower your risk of heart disease by 73 percent. Make sure to eat a balanced diet with a wide range of nutritious foods to ensure that you are getting all the vitamins and minerals that you need.
3.)Get enough Sleep –A good nights sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet. Poor sleep has immediate negative effects on your body. Aim for 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
4.) Don’t smoke – Smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases which include heart disease and stroke. Smoking is one of the top controllable risk factors for heart disease.
5.)Manage Stress – Stress raises the blood pressure which has an immediate effect on your heart. Try to manage your stress levels by using some relaxation techniques such as meditating, yoga, or gentle breathing exercises.
6.) Keep your blood pressure in check – High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke and a major factor for around half of all heart disease and strokes. Therefore, it is very important to get your blood pressure checked regularly by your GP and if its persistently high, it needs to be controlled.
♥️A healthy heart is a healthy you!♥️
Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is an opportunity to raise awareness on the risks of cervical cancer, and help women and people with cervixes learn about how to reduce these risks and prevent the illness. Cervical cancer is cancer affecting the cervix. This is the entrance to the womb, located inside the vagina. It mainly affects sexually active women aged between 30-45, though any woman can suffer from it.
It’s mainly caused by certain types of HPV (or human papillomavirus.) This is a very common sexually transmitted disease—in fact, at least half of all sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their life. This doesn’t mean every woman with HPV will develop cervical cancer, though.
Here are some of the main symptoms of cervical cancer:
✅ Vaginal bleeding that’s unusual for you – including bleeding during or after sex, between your periods or after the menopause or having heavier periods than usual
✅ Changes to your vaginal discharge
✅ Pain during sex
✅ Pain in your lower back, between your hip bones (pelvis), or in your lower tummy
If you have another condition like fibroids or endometriosis, you may get symptoms like these regularly. It is important to be checked by a GP if your symptoms change, get worse, or do not feel normal for you.
What is a cervical cancer screening?
During a cervical screening (or smear test), a small sample of cells is taken from the cervix to test for HPV. The test itself usually takes less than 5 minutes, making the whole appointment around 10 minutes long. The screening is usually carried out by a female nurse or doctor.
Before starting, they should explain what will happen during the test and answer any questions you have.
Its National Love Your Liver Awareness Month! Our liver is an absolute powerhouse of an organ and is responsible for over 500 functions of the body. Amongst its many important roles, the liver filters, cleanses and breakdowns everything that passes through our body. Quite simply, it is our body’s natural detoxifier. When the liver becomes overwhelmed with toxins, its natural working cycle slows down. This happens when our body becomes overloaded with things such as alcohol, drugs, processed and fatty foods and chemicals (such as pesticides left on produce).⠀⠀
The good news is, there are lifestyle habits you can make that will keep your liver healthy and help stimulate its natural ability to expel toxins from the body. ⠀⠀
Here are 2 simple steps to improve your liver health:⠀⠀
⚡Drink less than 14 units of alcohol ⠀⠀
⚡Eat a healthy diet & exercise more. ⠀⠀
Here are 8 powerful foods to eat to keep your liver healthy:⠀⠀
1. Citrus Fruits: Fruits like grapefruit, oranges & lemons all boost the liver’s cleansing ability as citrus fruits help the liver to produce the detoxifying enzymes that flush out pollutants.⠀⠀
2. Cruciferous Vegetables: Such as broccoli, cauliflower & kale as they contain glucosinolate, which helps the liver to produce detoxifying enzymes. They also contain sulfur compounds that aid with liver health. ⠀⠀
3. Beetroot: Beets assist with increasing oxygen by cleansing the blood, & can break down toxic wastes to help them be excreted quicker. ⠀⠀
4. Turmeric: The compounds in Turmeric have been found to improve liver function & reduce the levels of toxicity in the body by stimulating the lymphatic system & removing toxins efficiently. ⠀⠀
5. Walnuts: Walnuts are high in the amino acid arginine & assist the liver in detoxifying ammonia.⠀⠀
6. Garlic: Garlic is packed with sulphur, which activates liver enzymes that help your body flush out toxins. ⠀⠀
7. Avocado: Avocado’s are rich in glutathione. It’s function is to protect cells against oxidation & to help the liver rid itself of toxins. ⠀⠀
8. Apples: Apples have high levels of pectin, which helps the body facilitate the process of cleansing and releasing toxins from the liver.