Stress and the Immune System

anxious

THE IMPACT THAT STRESS AND ANXIOUS FEELINGS HAVE ON THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

immune booster
strengthen immune system

Many of us would like to feel a little happier, especially in this currently stressful world of Covid-19.  Isolating at home during the Covid 19 pandemic can be one of several stressors that can result in psychological stress, which can in turn lead to a compromised immune system. This can reduce your immunity to viral infections. Reduced immunity is one of the physical symptoms of anxiety that can affect your health and wellbeing.

LAUGHING TO BOOST A WEAK IMMUNE SYSTEM

happier
joy meaning

One of the best ways of reducing anxious feelings and stress-related issues is to try laughing more often.  Laughing out loud can be an effective way of combating feelings of being socially anxious, especially if you are staying at home during the crisis of Covid-19.  

It has often been said that laughing is the best medicine and it’s true that laughter can directly improve your feeling of wellness and even make you happier at home. You don’t need to be the joker, laughing all the time, but to be happy and to relieve stress symptoms, you need to make laughing out loud a regular part of your day.

WHAT IS STRESS?

We experience stress when demands are placed upon us, but we fear we do not have the resources to cope.  Stress is an internal reaction that can be caused by either physical or emotional pressure. Stress can result in an uncomfortable, anxious feeling that can even cause overwhelming distress.  Such feelings are often described as anxiety disorder or strain. It occurs in circumstances of environmental pain and suffering.  

When feeling highly anxious about possible events, whether real or imagined, a symptom of such anxiety may be its effect on the immune system.

Psychological stress can result in one being socially anxious when going out.  (Social anxiety is the fear of being judged by others).

Overwhelming Psychological stress can result in physical symptoms of anxiety that can affect not only the immune system but your overall health and wellbeing.  

If you are feeling highly anxious about having to stay home alone, it may be that you need to destress, and this might include an online chat with a professional at a health and wellness centre.

EFFECTS OF STRESS

When you are highly anxious, stress affects the body and particularly the immune system. Whether it be a psychological stress, an environmental stress, or even or a physical stress signifying danger, your automatic response mechanism reacts immediately with the “fight-or-flight” reaction.

Stress can be related to your own internal perceptions of an outside force. Stressors or environmental situations, that may impact on your health and wellbeing, cause you not only distress, but to become highly anxious.  When you are regularly in a heightened state of stress, your health and wellbeing is compromised, and you may be at a much higher risk of stroke or heart attack.

SIGNS OF STRESS

When you experience significant stress… either physical, emotional, or psychological stress, your nervous system reacts and causes the adrenal glands to respond suddenly to the stressors, putting a huge strain on your heart.

When the nervous system frequently reacts to stressors, it puts continuous strain on the heart and blood vessels.  When frequent chronic stress is experienced from stressors, this also puts extra strain and stress on your digestive system. So, your heart, your blood vessels and your immune system are all affected. Even children can suffer from childhood anxiety and distress which can compound and develop into chronic stress in adult life.

If you have experienced childhood anxiety, work stress, or chronic stress or feelings of being socially anxious all these stress-related issues have a negative impact on your immune system.

STRESS SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of anxiety and stress

A certain amount of stress in daily situations is normal and can be a good thing, but……

if you are experiencing the following symptoms, you may be experiencing overwhelming stress which may be detrimental to your health and wellbeing …….

These are the warning signs of stress

  • Memory and cognitive problems
  • Feelings of depression or excessive anxiety
  • Lacking clear thinking
  • Anxious feelings or distress
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Digestive problems
  • Problems sleeping
  • Reproductive system issues
  • Feelings of isolation and being lonely

CAUSES OF STRESS

OUTSIDE INFLUENCES THAT CAN AFFECT YOUR STRESS LEVELS …

  • Marriage or partner breakdowns
  • Shifting house
  • Financial difficulties
  • Loss of employment
  • Having a new baby
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Custody battles
  • Overwhelmed with work
  • Change of school, uni. or work
  • Facing a deadline, or exam
  • A death of a family member
  • A major health issue or crisis
  • Hospitalisation
  • A major accident
  • An impending retirement

STRESS MANAGEMENT

We all experience stress and resulting anxiety differently.

Many people, facing challenging situations, thrive on the adrenalin rush whereas others melt with anxiety and are overwhelmed with anxious feelings, resulting in sleepless nights and psychological stress and strain.

These unexpected emotions caused by sudden stress can be tremendously debilitating. When a person experiences one, two or more of these stress related situations all at the same time, this could lead to major chronic stress, depression, serious health, and wellbeing issues, all affecting your immune system.

It’s always wise to seek a professional’s advice if you find yourself suffering with overwhelming stress and anxiety, whether it be from external stress causes or from emotional or psychological stressors.

HOW DOES STRESS AFFECT THE IMMUNE SYSTEM?

Whether it be psychological stress, work stress, exam stress or just feeling stressed and depressed, studies have shown that your immune system function will be affected to some degree.

Depending on the severity of the stress the responses to stress vary somewhat. Many changes to behaviours can occur, putting stress on the immune system. Such examples might be influences to sleeping patterns or increased alcohol use, changes to diet, a precondition to health and wellbeing issues.

For a healthy immune system, it is particularly important that the body has an adequate amount of the varying types of immune cells. Studies have shown that differing degrees of stress and stressors can play a damaging role in the capacity of the immune system to function normally.

Studies have shown that in some cases of increased levels of stress, there were changes to a person’s immunity because of their age, precondition health issues plus other issues such as bereavement and trauma. This chronic stress made them more vulnerable to a significant decrease in T cell response and the killer cell cytotoxicity, when subjected to infections and viruses.

Stress shifts the balance of the immune response and opens it up to becoming a weak immune system. Psychological stress, acute stressors, anxious thoughts and thinking patterns of behaviour weaken a person’s health and wellbeing and it eventually takes its toll on your immunity.

A healthy immune system subsequently becomes a compromised immune system and is more susceptible to infections, virus, and other health issues.

3 WAYS TO BEST DEAL WITH…

THE SYMPTOMS OF STRESS,

ANXIETY AND

THE STRESSORS IN YOUR LIFE…


1 LAUGHTER AS STRESS RELIEF

LAUGHTER IMPROVES HEALTH AND WELLBEING

There are many ways to relieve stress but laughing is the best medicine to destress and unwind. When we are with friends, family and with kids, laughing is a great way to relieve stress and anxious feelings.

Laughing is the best medicine for not only releasing stress but laughing has the power to help overcome and heal any anxious thoughts and feelings.

LAUGHTER AND HEALING

The experience of laughing and being a happier person releases endorphins in the brain allowing you to better cope with pain and anxious feelings. This allows the body to heal itself. These naturally produced endorphins affect the nervous system when laughter occurs and allows the body to better cope with pain, whether it be from psychological stress or other stressors that put strain on your everyday health and wellbeing.

Laughing with friends can reduce anxiety about health, giving you a better feeling of self-worth and wellness.

LAUGHTER AS EXERCISE

The body needs regular physical exercise and a good belly laugh exercises many muscles, A good dose of laughter is healthy as laughing is the best medicine to relieve stress and anxious feelings while reinvigorating the body. There is nothing better than laughter to soothe the mind, body, and spirit. Laughter is often regarded as a stress release, just the same as physical exercise.

Laughing is an anxiety reducing exercise. So, watch a funny movie when you can.  Laughter benefits your health and wellbeing and can consequently improve your immune system.

LAUGHTER AND HAPPINESS

Laughing is a great way to destress and allow highly anxious feelings to subside for a moment and allow you to be or feel much happier.  Laughing out loud at a joke or comedy show releases tension and stress.

Laughter not only helps to relieve stress but helps you to feel a much happier person. Laughter boosts not only your mood but enhances your emotional health and wellbeing, while helping protect your immune system from the effects of stress.

Join a laughing group

Perhaps join a laughing group. These groups are specifically set up to destress the body from stressed or depressed feelings. It helps socially anxious people to cope better while in a small group and is a way of meeting new friends.

These groups have found that laughing improves a person’s health and wellbeing and people feel much happier within themselves. Laughing with others strengthens a person’s resilience to stress.

Laughing, as when someone tells a joke, is releasing stress and boosting your happiness level.

2 EXERCISE TO RELIEVE STRESS

It’s always a good idea to regularly schedule an exercise program because it allows the body to destress from daily work stress tensions or any unforeseen stressors that may affect your health and wellbeing.

Exercise is an excellent remedy for stress symptoms.

Benefits of exercise on your health and wellbeing

Exercise not only stimulates movement in the muscles and joints, but it pumps good blood flow to the heart, lungs, and blood vessels around the body, while filling the lungs with oxygen.

If you’re out of shape, stuck behind a desk all day, or feeling stressed and depressed, exercise (even indoors) will not only activate, but boost your brain’s production of the feel-good endorphin.

These endorphins are important for strengthening the immune system and your overall health and wellbeing while building a much happier person and a better sense of self.

So, set a goal to exercise more, engage in walking, yoga, or more physical exercise as this helps alleviate stress and anxious feelings.

Get up out of the chair or from in front of the TV and start walking. Buy a bike (or exercise bike) and ride with a friend. If possible, join a walking group, meet new friends, and explore the outdoors and you will soon feel happier.

To relieve stress in cold weather or if you don’t like walking outdoors, join the local shopping centre walking group who walk safely around inside. 30 minutes of low impact exercise will strengthen your muscles and joints and provide a boost to your immune system and your mood, while strengthening your health and wellbeing.

Exercise helps you become a much happier person

  • + Exercising Regularly Strengthens Your Health and Wellbeing
    • It’s an excellent remedy for stress symptoms. Walking, running, jogging all destress the body from stress related issues. Deep breathing increases better oxygen flow to the lungs and heart and strengthens the immune system function.
  • + Exercise Improves Your Mood
    • Join a dance class, exercising while meeting new people improves your mood and you will be a much happier person.
  • + Exercise Increases Your Energy Levels
    • It helps you to cope with the stressors in your life. Your immunity will improve, and you will feel happier.
  • + Exercise Helps You Sleep Better
    • Most people need 8 hours per night of good quality sleep to cope with the day’s events. Exercise increases your deep sleep and your quality of health and wellbeing improves.

3 BUILD STRONG SOCIAL BONDS

Socialising helps to relieve stress.

There is huge value in socialising for stress reduction. Socialising strengthens your immune system and those who do appear to have increased longevity. A strong engaged social network of happy, laughing friends not only improves your health and wellbeing, it supports your brain health, lowers your blood pressure and wards off any symptoms of anxiety or stress related issues.

Socialising and increased laughter greatly decreases stress while helping you to feel much happier at home. Having good social connections where you can perhaps all be laughing out loud strengthens your immune system are and is a great ways to become happier in life.

It’s important to surround yourself with positive people who promote laughter that you can feel relaxed with, while having a lot of fun.

To relieve stress, set about increasing your endorphin levels. Meet with friends or family on a regular basis as connecting with others, laughing, having fun, or watching a funny movie together is a great way to engage in lots of laughter and destress.

Meeting with friends on a regular basis for coffee or lunch will aid in helping you feel happier.

If you have any of the signs of stress, symptoms of anxiety, or feel stressed or depressed, and you feel your health and wellbeing may have affected your immune system in some way, it’s important to seek advice from a professional health provider and get a health check.

Read More About Boosting Your Immune System


BOOSTING YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

immune system

Your immune system is the body’s first line of defence when it comes up against harmful pathogens.  A low immune system means that your body is more susceptible to germs such as bacteria, air-borne viruses and to coming into contact with other infected people.

HEALTHY WAYS TO STRENGTHEN YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM.

Your immune system can be affected by such factors as your physical health, mental stress, and smoking.  If your diet lacks healthy nutrition, your mental health will also suffer and put more stress on your immune system.

If you have a compromised immune system or a low immune system, your health is at high risk. This is because an immune deficiency allows pathogens to take a strong hold… to invade and attack different organs of the body.

BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM…

by EATING HEALTHY FOOD

Not eating healthy food plays havoc on a weak immune system, whereby disease can greatly affect, not only your physical health, but your mental health as well.

A healthy well-balanced diet each day will not only strengthen a low immune system but keep the immune system strong and healthy. It has the potential to fight off any impending disease or pathogens as it creates a strong barrier.  

A HEALTHY DIET WITH NUTRIENT-RICH FOOD…

PROTECTS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

Three quarters of your immune system resides within the gut. This is why it’s important that you eat healthy nutrient-rich foods, along with probiotics for immune system boosting.

Eating healthy food, full of nutrition, helps the body’s first line of defence against the likelihood of chronic disease developing.  Eating a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables, as well as natural Greek yogurt containing probiotics for immune system building, allows the healthy gut flora to flourish. The digestive system absorbs the essential nutrients in food and transports them into the bloodstream, thereby strengthening the immune system and gives the body immunity to bacteria that maybe harmful.  

Quick fixes don’t happen overnight and eating an orange or two now and then won’t prevent a cold or the flu from developing. Most people are chronically lacking in many of the important vitamins and minerals the body requires for a healthy diet. However, you can boost a low immune system by paying close attention to your diet choices. Having nutrient-rich healthy meals builds a healthy immune system.

A healthy immune system requires a variety of nutrients

IMMUNE BOOSTER NUTRIENTS

Vitamin C

Found in citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges as well as tomatoes, red bell peppers, broccoli, and berries.

Vitamin E.

Vitamin E is found in broccoli and spinach, some seeds, and almonds.  Both Vitamin E and C help fight infection due to their powerful antioxidant benefits.

Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is found in eggs, and fatty, oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and tuna.

Vitamin A.

Found in colourful carotenoids such as sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, and cantaloupe. These foods containing Vitamin A have antioxidants with strengthening benefits to the immune system to helps fight against infections.

Folic acid.

Folic acid is found in green leafy vegetables, beans, and peas.

Iron.

Iron is found in lean poultry, turkey, red meats, fish, and seafood.

Zinc.

Zinc is found in crab, lean poultry and meat, chickpeas, and yogurt.

Selenium

Selenium is an important antioxidant for maintaining a strong immune system.  Eating selenium-rich foods is one of the best ways to boost the immune system.

Selenium is an important mineral which plays an active role in turning on the immune system cells and protecting them from any damage, while helping eliminate infections and pathogens.  The amounts of selenium in different foods varies depending on how rich the soil is in selenium, where it is grown, the amounts of water availability, pH levels and whether pesticides are present.

Selenium is found in foods such as Brazil nuts, salmon, sardines, tuna, halibut, some grains, brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat breads, sunflower seeds. baked beans, some nuts, mushrooms, milk and yogurt and spinach, all with varying amounts.  Mushrooms and broccoli may also help slow cancer cell invasion.

PROBIOTICS FOR IMMUNE SYSTEM BOOSTING

Probiotics are active bacteria, often referred to as good gut flora. They create a barrier defence mechanism whereby they fight and protect against diseases that may harm the immune system.

Probiotics not only assist digestion but detoxify your system, allowing healthy absorption of essential nutrients to be far more efficient.  One of the main organs in the body is your liver and it relies heavily on healthy gut flora to enable it to detoxify and remove any toxins.  Filtering out pathogens enables the body to recover from illness or stress more quickly.

Replenishing the body’s gut with probiotics each day helps the liver to function properly by removing any toxins, as it relies on healthy gut flora. Probiotics also promote active energy levels that are essential for maintaining a strong immune system.

Probiotics not only promote a healthy immune system but have a direct effect on your mood and general wellbeing.  When you have an imbalance of good gut flora in your system, bad gut bacteria can take over, causing major gut bacteria problems to exacerbate.

Taking medications or foods containing preservatives or eating foods exposed to pesticides can destroy any good flora, which can further deplete a low immune system and result in a compromised immune system.

PROBIOTIC FOODS

A healthy immune system relies on a healthy gut flora.  Therefore, feeding your gut with active live bacterial cultures promotes immune support.

Immune system probiotic foods are one of the best ways to not only strengthen but maintain a strong immune system.  Natural Greek style yogurt augments your natural immune system and has greater propensity for improving your overall health and wellbeing.

When buying probiotic yogurt and foods, select your food carefully and pay close attention to the label. Select refrigerated foods, those containing “active live cultures” raw and unpasteurised.  Avoid others, as your immune system will not receive the necessary benefits.

FERMENTED FOODS

Raw, unpasteurised milk cheese develops its natural bacteria when placed in a special cool environment where live cultures can begin the fermentation process.  Fermentation takes varying times with differing cheeses, but all the probiotic goodness is preserved.

When you are eating these wonderfully aged, fermented cheeses, your immune system gets a huge boost of healthy probiotics. There are a wide variety of milk cheeses available these days in speciality stores and supermarkets.  There are many hard cheeses as well as soft delicate cheese to indulge yourself, such as delicious goat’s cheese that will not only tantalise your taste buds but enhance your immune system.

Fermented foods provide the greatest benefits to the immune system and it’s for this reason you should eat them every day.  Fermentation preserves food for longer and has long been used throughout the world.  It’s an excellent way of sealing in the goodness, whilst still enabling us to eat these foods out of season at a later date.  Some of these foods need to be kept in the fridge so that your immune system gets the greatest benefit.

Select probiotic foods carefully by always reading the labels… make it a habit.  Check for hidden extras, as your immune system will only get the greatest benefit from fully fermented probiotic foods.

There is a wide range of fermented probiotic foods available.  Here are a few you might like to try first.

+ Yogurt, sour cream, and buttermilk fermented, beets, carrots

+ Milk cheese as well as goat’s cheese

+ Fermented, beets, carrots, sauerkraut

+ Fermented relishes, pickles, ginger, jams, and chutney.

Sauerkraut, Cheese, Fermented Vinegar, Fermented Cucumber

Many of these popular foods can be easily added to an array of so many other healthy foods to make a delicious meal, full of immune system boosting, nutrient-rich foods.

THE IMMUNE SYSTEM AND MENTAL HEALTH

A healthy immune system creates a buffer for stress and quickly restores you back to health.  It allows stress levels to ease while it strengthens your mental health.

THE IMMUNE SYSTEM AND GENERAL HEALTH

The bottom line is that eating lots of good nutrition-based healthy foods with fermented probiotics improves your overall health and wellness.  If you have been taking antibiotics, probiotics will counteract any negative effects very quickly and restore and strengthen your immune system.

Read more about maintaining Good Health

Avoiding the Winter Blues

seasonal depression

Beating Sad Winter Blues Feelings

In winter, the wind blows, bringing with it rain and often cold and snowy weather.  When it’s windy, cold, raining or perhaps even snowing outside, our mood can lower significantly.  

Avoid the winter blues

Along with these seasonal depression feelings, our physical energy levels can also decrease dramatically.  This seasonal disorder, or winter depression can take a huge toll on our winter health and wellbeing, and we need to look for different ways of staying healthy in winter.

SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder

The medical term for the winter blues is Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD). 

One of the most common causes of seasonal depression is wintertime when many of us suffer from the seasonal disorder, perhaps better known as cold winter depression or winter blues.

Sad Winter
Seasonal Depression

So, what is the best way of beating sad feelings in wintertime?

TIPS FOR AVOIDING THE WINTER BLUES or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

There are many different reasons why people suffer with seasonal depression or the wintertime blues syndrome.  Those who are affected with the clinical version of seasonal depression, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), are affected much more severely.  People who feel they may be suffering from SAD, should consult a medical professional.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in most cases is created by seasonal changes, usually commencing in the fall, and continuing through winter into late spring or perhaps early summer.  Signs of SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder are… lower energy, feeling moody and depressed, feelings of unworthiness, troublesome thoughts and having trouble sleeping, diet and weight changes, and perhaps jittery, anxious feelings.  On some days you may feel OK but when these seasonal depression sad winter blues are much more frequent and don’t seem normal, it’s time to book an appointment with your doctor.  

7 TIPS ON HOW TO AVOID THE WINTER BLUES

overcome the winter blues

1 INCREASE VITAMIN D INTAKE

Vitamin D is important for improving winter health. Vitamin D helps maintain the body’s blood sugar levels and is vital for immune system boosting.  You may have a greater risk of seasonal depression if you mostly stay indoors during the colder months.  Sunlight plays an important role in helping the body absorb vitamin D and avoiding the winter blues, as it plays a key role in regulating our mood.

Health Wealth and Happiness
beating the winter blues

Therefore, to avoid the seasonal depression, winter blues symptoms, take advantage of the sun when it is shining.  Get outside and increase your exposure to sunlight as this will improve your winter health.

When the sun is shining, get outside, take advantage of it and increase your exposure to sunlight.

For warding off the seasonal depression, increase your dietary intake of vitamin D-rich foods plus those with high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids such as oily fish… salmon, tuna, mackerel and cod fish.  Cod liver oil is an excellent source of vitamin D, especially for staying healthy in winter.

Eggs are another good source of Vitamin D to ward off the winter blues.  Most of the vitamins and proteins are found in the yolk of the egg.  Eggs are very nutritious and a great winter health food for beating sad feelings or seasonal depression.  Buying eggs labelled “free range eggs” or “direct from the farm” is a good policy, as these are far better quality eggs.

2 EXERCISE

Staying active during the winter months especially outside during daylight hours will help brush off the winter blues.  Get your gumboots on, go for a 30-minute walk taking in the fresh air.  This will not only help you sleep better, but improve your seasonal depression symptoms and contribute to staying healthy in winter.

keeping yourself fit

One of the best ways to combat the wintertime blues is to exercise indoors.  A light-weight training program, step exercises on the stairs, joining an online dance or exercise class will all keep you active during winter.  Whilst staying healthy in winter people, may even find that their seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may diminish as they increase exercise.

Have fun in the snow

Joining a shopping centre walking group is another great way of staying healthy in winter, while meeting new friends and mixing with others, as well as staving off the winter blues.

3 EAT WARM WINTER FOODS.

We know that getting out into the sunshine is one of the best sources of Vitamin D for beating sad winter blues, but so too is eating a pot full of steamy hot winter health foods.   Hot-pots full of healthy broths made from chicken, fish or beef, and packed with healthy nutritious vegetables are a good way to ward off the winter blues.

winter soup

Staying healthy in winter is one of the best ways of combating the onset of seasonal depression mood feelings.  There is nothing better on a cold dreary day to fight off the winter blues than a delicious healthy root vegetable spicy soup to warm your soul… or a slow-cooked chicken and vegetable soup to diminish the winter blues.

Hot-pots can be enjoyed by the fire in winter with the family while playing games, reading or watching a funny movie.  It’s a great way of improving winter health and also beating sad, seasonal depression.

4 POSITIVE THINKING.

We know that What We Think Greatly Affects Our Mood

When the annual seasonal depression plagues our mind with unhelpful, unhealthy thoughts, or unhealthy behaviours arise, it’s time to deal with the winter blues with some winter health strategies.

Mentally staying healthy in winter requires swapping any winter depression thoughts or sad winter blues for positive thinking strategies.  Immediately exchanging any seasonal depression thinking from sad winter thoughts to positive ones, greatly enhances the possibilities for staying healthy in winter.

Focusing on motivating affirmative action helps in beating sad or negative thinking pattens.

These brain training exercises focus on the positives… Look for the positives in everything

When unhelpful, unhealthy thoughts or behaviours arise, the brain needs to build strong neural networks that send positive information and thought patterns.  Our cognitive function has the ability to process factual information, not ideas based on imagination or hearsay rumour.  Positive thoughts, thinking and reason need to be in line with what is and not on what is not and may never be.  Here are three positive thought strategies…

5 LAUGHTER (The Best Medicine).

We all need to laugh more.  Watch a funny movie and laugh your head off.  There’s nothing like a good belly laugh to subdue sad seasonal winter blues.  Invite friends over and laugh about fun times. This is a great way of staying healthy in winter and good therapy for sad seasonal depression.

The old saying is true, “laughter is the best medicine”.  Laughter stimulates the brain processes as it triggers emotional and physical changes in the body.  Laughter can relieve stress, tension and reduce the winter blues.  Laughter boosts your mood and strengthens the immune system while it helps alleviate winter depression anxieties.

6 REGULAR SLEEP ROUTINE

It’s always tempting, when it’s cold, snowing or there are cloudy skies outside, to sleep at odd hours.  Staying up late or getting up late in the morning can upset your internal sleeping clock and may contribute to the winter blues.

Sleep away the Winter Blues

To lessen your winter blues, it’s always best to stick to a regular sleep routine.  It will greatly enhance your mood and reduce any seasonal blues.  It will take a few days to adjust your internal alarm clock, but in the long run, it may help ward off sad seasonal affective disorder as well as improve your general winter health.

If you have cause to stay up late one evening, try to keep getting up at the same regular time each morning.  A regular sleeping routine is one of the keys to beating sad, wintertime blues.  Why not make it a habit to read for a while before your regular bedtime?

7 SET GOALS FOR THE FUTURE

When it’s cold and miserable weather outside, it’s the perfect time for setting goals and planning for the future.  It’s always a good idea to write down your goals and plans for the future.  It helps you focus on the future.  

Staying healthy in winter, by keeping your mind active and setting goals, making plans or writing a book, helps to keep your brain active.  Focusing on idea creation is one of the best ways to combat any winter blues.

Setting goals keeps you focused on the end result and helps in beating sad, winter depression. Everyone needs goals that motivate the mind, taking the attention off any sad, anxious feelings that may result from seasonal depression or winter blues.  Setting goals takes your mind off troublesome thoughtsthat may plague you and helps you achieve something that you may have always wanted to do.  

Writing down your goals helps cement your dreams and future aspirations into possible outcomes.  The more you plan and think about your goals, daily or monthly, the more likely you will turn your dreams into reality.

A Dream Written Down

Disclaimer:

The above comments are not intended as medical advice and should not be taken as such.  If you feel you may be suffering from clinical depression, you should seek professional medical advice.

Read more about Maintaining Good Health

Gut Health

Gut Health

How is your gut feeling?

Our inner microbiome (gut) affects our total wellbeing, from hunger pangs to chronic illnesses, stress and sadness.

It is now well known that gut health is crucial to our overall wellbeing. It is also connected to everything that happens in our bodies. The trillions of bacteria that live in our gut affect our health, our mood and our weight.  In a way these microbes work together to form what can be regarded as an extra internal organ and play a huge role in our health.

“Your gut is the centre of your being – it digests and assimilates nutrients from the food you eat”, says wellness expert Robyn Youkilis

healthy gut

Health and Happiness

Most of your immune system actually resides in your gut and the gut plays an important role in your mood. Robyn had discovered in her practice as a health coach, that healing the gut resolved many of her clients’ health issues, even the most stubborn.

Poor gut health can lead to digestive issues, such as abdominal pain, bloating, reflux and flatulence and other complaints. including fatigue, joint pain, headaches and even skin problems.  Robyn says depression, anxiety, mood swings, irritability and poor concentration are now also being linked to the gut’s microbiome.  Other more serious illnesses and chronic illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and even cancer have been linked to an imbalanced microbiome .

Mental connection

The gut has also even been referred to as a “second brain” because it contains millions of neurones which are sensitive to emotion.  Our brain and our gut are, in fact, connected by an extensive network of neurones, chemicals and hormones that constantly provide feedback to and from the brain.  These signals carry information about how hungry we are, stress, sadness or even anger. Have you ever felt a sinking feeling in your gut when something happens that you were dreading? That’s the brain – gut connection in action. The emotion is triggering a reaction in your gut.

The connection can be a two-way street as tummy troubles will impact on our mood and happiness. Serotonin is responsible for good mood and it is estimated that 90% of your serotonin is made in your digestive track and production of this important chemical is reliant on health gut bacteria.

Weight Control

Research suggest that gut bacteria can alter the way that our bodies store fat as well as our response to hormones, making us feel hungry or full. Contrary to popular option, it’s not what your eat, or the number of calories you consume, that’s important, but how your body is using what you eat. You might be eating nutritious whole foods most of the time but still feel foggy, uninspired and generally less than your sparkling best. This is probably because your gut is not in good shape… not properly absorbing all the vitamins and nutrients from your food. This means that your cells don’t have the fuel they need to carry out their role in absorbing and assimilating nutrients from your food.

Sources of gut-friendly nutrients

Sauerkraut (fermented food)

Spinach

Lettuce

Silver beet

Collards

Mustard greens

Kimchi

By Liz McGrath

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MAINTAINING A HEALTHY BRAIN

Boost brain function

The secret to boosting your brain power

As we age, many of us may think that our mental ability must necessarily decline. But new evidence shows that this is not neccesarily the case.

Many older people think that by regularly completing crosswords or sudoku, they will enhance their brain power. However, this is probably not true.  At best, it will do no more than improve their ability to do crosswords and sudoku.  Unfortunately, there is very little evidence that these activities, along with the myriad of phone apps available to improve brain function, achieve anything at all.

Improving Brain Function

According to Melbourne neuroscientist Dr Jared Cooney Horvath, the secret to keeping your brain fresh is continuing to do something unpredictable.  Recent research has shown that keeping your brain functioning well is not about repeating the same activities over and over, rather it is about undertaking new thinking patterns.  Dr Horvath maintains that there are twelve scientific principles controlling the way that we learn and remember. He says that the idea that we can use tools to boost brain function is not supported by current evidence. In actual fact, there is very little that is known about ways that we can help our brains to function better.

If we understand the way that our brain works, we will have a better chance of adopting habits and behaviours that will benefit us to the extent that we can develop a “super-efficient” brain.  As we learn, the brain starts to develop an automatic prediction mechanism. The secret is “you have to keep doing something unpredictable”.  

Learn Something New

Many people, after they retire, will start doing cross-words and playing golf and and may become very good at these activities, simply by virtue of repetition and practice.  However, if they were to take up something new, such as learning an instrument or another language or playing a new sport or even doing something outlandish, the brain will respond and new thought patterns will develop, thus improving brain function.

The conclusion is that any decline in normal brain function is not inevitable as we age.  In fact, if any decline occurs, it is most likely not due to any biological process, but rather sociological effects.

So, the bottom line, according to Dr Horvath, is… “force yourself to engage in something new and once you get good at it, do something new again”.  If you have never done a crossword, it will help your brain by starting to do them.  But once you get good at it, learn to do something else, such as a cryptic crossword or solitaire.  Keep on stretching your brain to function outside of its comfort zone.

In essence, the secret to keeping the brain fresh is continual learning.  If you want a well-functioning brain, you need to feed it new skills all the time.

THREE WAYS TO BOOST BRAIN POWER

1 Follow the Mediterranean Diet

We have long known that exercise, sleep and stress management are all essential for our brain to function at its optimum. But in addition to these three things, we can improve our brain health when we eat a Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean diet helps improve our short term or working memory.

In essence, the Mediterranean diet consists of eating lots of fruits and vegetables, along with fish, nuts and salads topped off with olive oils.  Diets based on these foods have been shown to greatly improve vascular and brain health. These foods can make up a very healthy lunch or dinner with olives, spinach, goat’s cheese, tomatoes, fish, nuts and extra virgin olive oil.

2 Learn Something New

Learning an instrument or learning a new language can help improve our intellectual skills. As well as this, new sensory and motor skills can greatly boost the brain function. Reading about new things also increases our vocabulary and working memory

3 Go out and connect with Nature

Time spent exploring the countryside is time well spent. Go for drives and explore nature. Meditate in nature, relax and have a picnic.  Appreciate nature… the sea, the countryside or bush land.  Being outdoors gets you out and walking, breathing fresh air.  This all broadens your perspective of the world at large around you and your appreciation of nature… bird life and animals.  So slow down, get off the computer or phone and take a picnic and explore nature. Not only will you improve your brain function, you will feel more connected with the outdoors, the people you meet and you will feel more relaxed and calm.

Read more about maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

The Answer to Obesity

A Healthy Body
Getting fit

We recently returned from a driving tour visiting the cities, towns and villages of France. 

In all of our time in that country we saw not one person who could be described as overweight.

On our return to Australia, the contrast was staggering.  By comparison we live in the land of the obese!  Why is it so?

Looking After Your Body

“If you owned a million-dollar racehorse, how would you feed it?  Would you make sure it gets adequate exercise and proper nutrition?  Would you make sure it gets just the right amount of food to perform at its peak?  Would you make sure it didn’t get too stressed so that it remained happy?  You can do the same for yourself.” – Sally Asher

Losing It in France by Sally Asher

Sally Asher has also written “The French seem to break every rule of modern diets and remain effortlessly thin. In other countries, the more obsessed we are with thinness and dieting, the fatter we become.”

Anyone who is desperate to get back to a naturally slim body size should throw away all the diet books and just read this one.