Friday, 24 January 2020

When should you avoid making decisions?? Let's take a look.

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Every day we have to make a multitude of decisions. A huge number of them we do without thinking; like when to blink, when to breathe, how to walk or talk or eat. Our body decides these without us having to make a conscious choice.

But we also are faced with situations and dilemmas that need out attention, and for us to make decisions that can life changing. How do stop ourselves making a poor choice? Is there a way we can improve our chances of making a better decision.  According to psychologists there are times when we should avoid making a decision.

Night time
It make perfect sense when you think about it. When you are tired, you are likely to be suffering from a state called "decision fatigue", which means you can actually struggle with even small choices.
For example, when you come home from work, you can sometimes find it difficult to decide what to eat, or even what to watch on the television. That is down to your brain feeling exhausted. You should definitely not be making important life choices at this time.

If you are angry
Again, this makes perfect sense. Anger can make you impulsive, afraid or even feel helpless.While you may, in the moment, believe the course of action you have decided on is absolutely correct, remember you can take it after you have cooled down. When you are calmer you can see things from all perspectives and may realise there are better options available. Being impulsive can sometimes be advantageous, but when making decisions that affect your daily life should be made only when you are calm and looking at all the options.

When hungry
I have done it myself. I have gone shopping and discovered at the check out that I have more food than I thought, or need, and have got mote unhealthy choices than I wanted. Those buy one get one free offers always look better when hungry. One of the main reasons for that is that we are hungry when we enter the shop, and this makes us impulsive, and less aware of the consequences. That goes the same when you are making all choices in your life.

Feeling lonely
I have lived on my own for many years> When I had some serious mental health issues I have to admit that loneliness and isolation was a factor, and it is recognised as one of the most challenging emotional states. It can lead you to feel a sense of longing and, at times, desperation for connection.
This can make you vulnerable. You may agree to help people you should not, or saying yes to things that will cost you emotionally - and possibly financially - just so you are liked.
I had that through my own depression. I openly admit I used illegal drugs to help my mood, and the people selling me them were clearly praying on my loneliness and vulnerability at the time.
If you are down, maybe talk things over with a trusted friend before taking action. Either way, please find some help. There is great intervention around. 

If you are ill / sick
This can be both physical or mental. How often have you wanted to do nothing when you are feeling rotten, but still have to make decisions. For us to make the best choice possible, we have to have mental clarity and that can only be achieved when you are firing on all cylinders.
Feeling exhausted, grumpy, or if experiencing pain disables your ability to be rational and often you can feel a lethargy and detachment about things you would usually be passionate about. Think about your physical health when making decisions.

Falling in love
I like to think we have all experienced that "honeymoon period" as they call it - that initial, all-consuming time when you begin to fall in love. Your brain is flooded with hormones Oxytocin and Serotonin, which are both responsible for bonding. They say you see the world through "rose-coloured spectacles", which means the decisions we make are not always realistic. How many celebrity weddings finish within a year because they have rushed into the relationship?
Wait until you feel more secure with a partner and have moved past this state before making any big decisions. The crash to reality can make you regret moving fast.

Drink/Drugs
Well, probably one of the most obvious ones. Even one glass of alcohol alters thinking, and impairs the area of the brain responsible for judgement. And drugs can give you a euphoric feeling when you feel invincible and that all decisions are good (even terrible ones)
You have read about people waking up in foreign cities after booking flights when they are drunk.
Very few of us can say they have not been a least tipsy. I joke with our service users that Luke could write a very embarrassing tell-all book about me. It only takes one glass of wine to get me tipsy. And I have already said that I took substances when I was in depression. I look back and cringe at some of the things I said and did, which all seemed perfectly reasonable at the time.
Having a clear head is essential if you want to achieve the best results in life.

Grieving
When you go through any serious loss (and this does not have to be a death) your brain secretes the stress hormones Cortisol and Adrenalin. This can lead you you to feel anxious and stressed, and sometimes more depressed than normal.
Loss can cause shock. You need to manage it. Allow others around to support you if you have to make decisions around this period. You need to be able to adjust to the new situation.
Have a "coming to terms" period, but also do not allow this to overwhelm you. You need to carry on with your life regardless.

HMHB says:
Healthy Minds, Healthy Bods links everything to Mind-Set, and this naturally has a massive affect on your choices and actions. All of us at HMHB have gone through some kind of mental health issue that has affected us, more than once. I am sure we will continue to battle our way. But recognising when you need to take time and review any situation that arises, so make you the best possible decision, is paramount. And that comes down a lot to a healthy lifestyle with exercise, routine and good nutrition.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Poor sleep can lead to health conditions

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Sleep - the bane of the life of many people. It can lead to frustration, angry moods, lethargy, and make it difficult to concentrate on matters.

A new study has now warned that poor sleepers are more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. This who struggle to sleep are said to be up to 18% more at risk.

Researchers spent a decade keeping tabs on more than 487,000 people with an average age of 51 who had no history of stroke or heart disease. They were asked if they had any of three insomnia symptoms - trouble falling or staying asleep, waking up too early, or poor focus during the day due to poor sleep.  Participants who had all three turned out to be 18% more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than those with no symptoms. For those with just one symptom the risk was between 7% and 13%.

The study by the Beijing University was published in the journal Neurology. Study Leader Doctor Liming, Li said: "These results suggest if we can target people who are having trouble sleeping with behavioural therapies, it is possible we could reduce cases of Stroke, Heart Attack and other diseases later down the line."  He added "the link between insomnia symptoms and these diseases were even stronger in younger adults and people who did not have high blood pressure at the start of the study, so future research should look especially at early detection and interventions aimed at these groups.

Exercise to combat depression

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As people who follow Healthy Minds, Healthy Bods know, as well as those who read the blogs and look at our social media, we are mentor led. We have all had some experience of the debilitating effects of poor mental health.

But one of our focuses around supporting those around mental health is demonstrating how good nutrition, a healthy routine, and plenty of exercise can make a difference.

Well, a new study (and, let's be honest, there have been plenty on the subject) says that just half an hour of daily exercise helps to keep depression at bay. In fact, activities such as aerobics, dance, gym workouts and yoga protected against the blues.

A person's risk of suffering a new episode of depression fell by 17 per cent for every four hours of exercise they did each week. It means those classed as a "couch potato" could slash their risk by a sixth simply by being active for thirty minutes every day.

The team from Harvard University, led by Doctor Karmel Choi, analysed data on nearly 8000 patients, and published their work in the journal Depression and Anxiety. They said the findings applied to people who were at increased risk of suffering depression.
"Our findings strongly suggest that genes are not destiny and that being physically active has the potential to neutralise the added risk of future episodes in individuals who are genetically vulnerable."

Apparently, regular physical activity triggers the release of feel-good hormones and will take people's minds off their worries.  NHS guidelines suggest all adults should get at least one hundred and fifty minutes of exercise every week.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Can work make you go bald?? Study results here.

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Most people like their hair. We will spend a long time styling it, making sure it is presentable, and even paying good money to keep it in good trim.

However, a new study has said that working long hours doubles men's chances of going bald. Men who toiled for more than 52 hours a week lost all of their hair twice as fast as those who spent under 40 hours at work.  The researchers think that spending too much time at work, and not long enough relaxing at home, triggers our stress hormones. They then prevent growth patterns of hair follicles on the scalp.  Previous studies have shown that stress can cause the immune system to attack hair follicles.

This latest research, performed by the Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul, involving 13391 men aged between 20 and 59 over four years, was the first to look at the effect of working hours on hair loss.

It concluded: "the results demonstrate long working hours are significantly associated with increased development of alopecia in male workers. Limitation of working hours in order to prevent alopecia development may be more necessary for younger workers, such as those in their 20s and 30s, at which hair loss symptoms start to appear."

Dr Bessam Farjo - founder of the Farjo Hair Institute in London - said: "the stress caused by working long hours is likely to be a process that gets worse over time. While more research is necessary, it makes sense for their to be a correlation."

The most common type of hair loss is Androgenetic Alopecia (male pattern baldness). It affects about one in three men in their 30s, and nearly half in their 40s. Other causes of hair loss include genetics, stress, infection, an imbalance of androgen hormones, blood circulation disorders, nutritional imbalance, and substance (drug) abuse.

Are Statins always good for you? Research here.

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According to Wikipedia:

"Statins, also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, are a class of lipid-lowering medications that reduce illness and mortality in those who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease. They are the most common cholesterol-lowering drugs"

And the British Heart Foundations says:

"Statins are a type of medication used to lower the level of cholesterol in the blood and protect the insides of the artery walls.  High levels of cholesterol can lead to fatty deposits building up in your arteries which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and can lead to angina, heart attacks and stroke."

For our blog:
Statins can clearly do a good job. And for people who really need them they are vital towards their overall health. However, new research is saying they are overprescribed. And, in fact, the benefits for most people with no history of cardiovascular disease are "marginal at best". The researchers, from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, who produced their study in the British Medical Journal, also pointed to studies linking statins to an increased risk of muscle problems, diabetes, and haemorrhagic stroke.
Astonishingly, around 12 million Brits - one in three of people over the age 30 - qualify for these drugs under NHS guidelines. Although they say the cost is around 4p a day, that still adds up to a very large amount of cash. Doctors consider quite a few factors when prescribing these pills - and they can include age, ethnicity and smoking status.

Professor Susan Smith says that high risk patients could slash their ten-year risk of cardiovascular disease from 38 per cent to 29 per cent with statins. But a low-risk patient may only see their odds fall from an already small 1.4 per cent to 0.8 per cent. They argue that this small difference may not justify tasking a daily pill.
Apparently, in 2016, European guidelines recommended that more people be given statins. They found, due to this information, that over 50s in Ireland eligible for statins increased from 8 per cent to an incredible 61 per cent.  Yes, there were clear benefits for some but "serious questions remain about statins' benefit and acceptability for primary prevention, particularly in patients at low risk of cardiovascular disease.  Statins, in this context, may be an example of low-value care (having little benefit and potential to cause harm) in these patients and, in some cases, represent a waste of resources."

It should be pointed out that the Royal College of GPs, said it had previously voiced concerns about lowering the threshold of availability to statins. They added: "GPs are highly trained to prescribe and will only do so if they think it is in the best interests of the patient."

Doctors issued more than 96 million NHS prescriptions for statins in England last year. 

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

We look at various Teas and their health benefits

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We have touched on teas in various blog entries before. So we thought we would look at different types available and see what they can do for you.  It does make interesting reading. Like many foods and drinks, it does come down to taste in the end. Variety is the spice of life, but does it make you healthy?

Black Tea
This is the sort of tea that is used to make a "builder's brew" and is essentially just a fermented green tea with milk.
Black tea contains caffeine to kick-start your brain in the morning, but also stress-relieving chemicals that counter the jitteriness that caffeine can cause.
One chemical in tea - L-theanine - has been found to increase alpha waves (the brain-signalling patterns that are also seen after meditation and yoga). This is one reason the kettle on is as good for a relaxing break as a morning boost.

Peppermint Tea
As well as being a refreshing, cooling breath-freshener, peppermint has digestive benefits.  It relaxes muscles in the gut, which has the knock on effect of reducing cramping, pain and bloating, making it the ideal after-dinner drink.
The menthol smell in the tea can help to clear your nose when inhaled, as well as reduce muscle tension and pain to ease a headache.

Green Tea
In many people's books, this is the healthiest tea of all. It shares all the benefits of the black tea above, with some of very high levels of antioxidants, and it is these molecules, known as Catechins, that are thought to provide most of the health benefits of green tea.
People who drink green tea on a regular basis tend to live longer, healthier lives, and regular green tea consumption has been found to lower incidence of heart disease, improve blood sugar levels and cholesterol, and reduce the risk of dementia.  Some people believe this is also down to lifestyle made by green tea drinkers.

Lemon and Ginger Tea
This is such a classic combination, and also tastes delicious. This warming home remedy is linked to helping to treat colds and flu.
As well as producing Vitamin C to boost the immune system ginger is good for digestion - it helps to relax gut muscles and is also great for reducing nausea.  It soothes inflamed skin in the throat during coughs and colds, and is helpful to reduce pain after over-exercising.

Earl Grey Tea
Yes, it does feel a little posh to drink this, and it is a desired taste different to normal tea - but that is only because if is just black tea with some added Bergamot.  Like other citrus plants, bergamot can help you relax.
A study using aromatherapy with bergamot essential oil found that it reduced heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety in a group.

Chamomile
Widely used in family settings to calm restlessness, reduce anxiety and improve sleep, this tea has also been used to ease digestive complaints linked to nervous conditions.
Scientists have found that one cup of chamomile tea at bedtime can help with the quality of sleep and even reduce depression. They also found that people who regularly drank it for more than 30 years had a reduced risk of thyroid disease.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Natural foods with a feel-good kick

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Additive-laced foods are designed to give us that pleasure feeling from their combination of fats, sweetness and added flavours. But more natural alternatives can have a similar effect, and are better in the long run.  Let's take a look at a few suggestions from a qualified nutritionist.

Dark Chocolate
University College London experts say eating this helps us feel good, and not just because we see it as a naughty-but-nice treat.  Dark Chocolate contains psychoactive ingredients that give us a sense of euphoria, as well as phenylethylamine, which affects nerves and regulates mood, according to the UCL work in the journal Depression and Anxiety.
The study also showed those who regularly ate a small amount (yes, we are not talking a whole whopping bar) of dark chocolate has 70 per cent lower odds of reporting depressive symptoms compared with those who ate none. Eating milk or white chocolate did not affect the odds at all. Chocolate can be high in calories so be careful.

Overnight Nutty Oats
It is common knowledge that porridge is good for you. Oats are packed with soluble fibre that helps to slow digestion, and therefore can help you feel fuller for longer. By keeping blood sugar levels steady in the hours after eating breakfast (sugary cereals will have your sugar levels spiking), we are also more liable to feel emotionally stable and less likely to reach for high calories snacks during the morning - such as biscuits and cakes. You can even prepare your oats overnight in the fridge with milk.
It can also be fun adding fruits or nuts to your porridge. This can improve vitamin and mineral intake, a vital component to help with metabolism. This can help combat tiredness, stress and low mood, and instead help you focus and concentrate better.

Greek Yoghurt
Creamy and rich-textured, many foods like this feel good in our mouths providing an instant sense of pleasure when we eat them.  Rather than relying on sugar, fat and calorie-rich puddings for this high, creamy Greek Yoghurt can do the job instead.
A 100g serving of Greek Yoghurt gives you around 130-140 calories and, importantly, around a quarter of our daily iodine. This mineral is crucial in keeping our thyroid glands working properly,m and a lack of it can contribute to feeling exhausted and low.
Greek Yoghurt is also packed with probiotics. These are microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast, They normally live in your intestines, and having good microorganisms helps keep you healthy. The bad kind can affect your immune system.

A nice cup of tea
Oh Yes. How many of us like to put our feet up with a steaming mug of tea (and maybe a treat biscuit to dunk)?  They report that drinking tea is as hydrating as water, which means that regular cuppas throughout the day can help maintain fluid levels.. Remaining hydrated is vital to keeping our good moods.
Tea also gives us a host of plant chemicals. Scientists publishing their work in the journal Phytomedicine discovered that regularly drinking green tea in particular helps to reduce anxiety and improve memory and attention.

HMHB says:
Nobody is saying you cannot have sweet treats. But do think about the number you have and the effect it can be having on the insides of your body. There are alternatives that are just as tasty, but far better for your overall health.