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Understanding stress: Mental and Physical impact

April was the National Stress Awareness Month. Even though we are in May now, I want to share this article with you as in my opinion, stress is one of the biggest factors playing a huge role in our health. Read below how stress can influence our mental and physical health.

Stress is very powerful and can be indeed healthy in some ranges, however if it is constant and prolonged, it can be damaging and having negative impact on our bodies. But let’s talk about stress and look how exactly can affect us.

Stress can affect us in various ways, both mentally and physically. Here’s how it can impact the body:

Stress and our mental health

Stress can lead to feelings of anxiety, irritability, and mood swings. It can also impair concentration and memory, making it difficult to focus on tasks.

Stress and its physical effects on us

Stress triggers the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which prepare the body for fight or flight. While this response is helpful in short bursts, chronic stress can lead to long-term health issues such as:

  1. Cardiovascular Problems: Increased heart rate and blood pressure over time can contribute to heart disease.
  2. Digestive Issues: Stress can cause stomach aches, diarrhoea, or constipation, and may exacerbate conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  3. Weakened Immune System: Chronic stress can suppress the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections.
  4. Muscle Tension: Persistent stress can lead to muscle tension and pain, particularly in the neck, shoulders, and back.
  5. Sleep Disturbances: Stress can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or poor quality sleep.

Healthy tips on how to reduce stress and its negative impact on our mental and physical health

To support ourselves through nutrition during stressful times, you can consider the following tips:

  1. Eat a Balanced Diet: Focus on consuming a variety of nutrient-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These provide essential vitamins and minerals necessary for overall health and resilience to stress.
  2. Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can exacerbate stress symptoms, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  3. Limit Stimulants: While caffeine and sugar can provide a temporary energy boost, excessive consumption can worsen anxiety and disrupt sleep. Limit intake of caffeinated beverages and sugary snacks.
  4. Increase Intake of Stress-Busting Nutrients: Certain nutrients can help mitigate the effects of stress on the body. Consider incorporating foods rich in:
  5. Magnesium: Found in nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and whole grains, magnesium can help relax muscles and regulate mood.
  6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fatty fish like salmon, walnuts, and flaxseeds, omega-3s can reduce inflammation and promote brain health.
  7. Vitamin C: Found in citrus fruits, bell peppers, and strawberries, vitamin C supports the immune system and may help reduce cortisol levels.
  8. Practice Mindful Eating: Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, and try to eat slowly and without distractions. Mindful eating can help reduce stress and promote better digestion.
  9. Consider Herbal Remedies: Some herbs, such as chamomile, lavender, and ashwagandha, have been shown to have calming effects and may help alleviate stress when consumed as teas or supplements. However, consult with a healthcare professional before adding herbal remedies to your routine, especially if you have any existing health conditions or are taking medications.

By prioritising a nutritious diet and adopting healthy eating habits, you can better support your body’s ability to cope with stress and maintain overall well-being.

6 simple steps to enter lighter into the summer

Summer is coming and we are all looking so much to it. This is the time, in which we start caring about how we feel and how we look.

People’s common mistakes

Many people are making the mistakes to undergo different restrictive diets, which is very wrong in my opinion. These diets are very restrictive and unhealthy. Do you know why? Because they are not personalised and tailored to the individual body needs. They are general and we already know that one size does not fit all. Some people feel great, however some of them really struggle following these diets. That is why the results are not always positive.

Some people with specific health issues may even worsen their symptoms and health. That is why Nutritional therapy and holistic functional medicine approach is very powerful. They do not target only the symptom but they look at the whole body and how it functions.

Few simple changes for weight loss

There are many ways in which people can balance their weight if they go for a nutrition consultation, however there are few simple safe changes that everyone can do to achieve great results. These are the following suggestions:

  • Drink minimum of 8 glasses of water daily (add some fresh lemon juice if needed)
  • Reduce carbohydrate intake like sugary foods, cakes, breads, etc and replace with naturally sweet foods like fruit and vegetables, or even nasty free protein bar (which is still good choice)
  • Include protein at each meal. This will help with blood sugar balance and prevent blood glucose spikes and dips
  • Plan your meals and be aware of your portion sizes – include more fiber foods like vegetables
  • Walk 30 minutes to 1 hour (or more) every day
  • Go to bed at 10pm the latest. This can reduce your stress levels as well.

Why do we need stomach acid?

What is stomach acid?

Optimal stomach acid is needed to break down and absorb the nutrients from the food we eat. Stomach acid is secreted by the cells in the stomach wall. We need stomach acid top break down proteins and enhance nutrient absorption. It is also needed for activation of pancreatic juices. Gastric acid plays role as a defender against ingested microbes and pathogens. There are factors that can increase or decrease our gastric juices. Protein, fat, caffeine, milk, chewing gum can increase it for example. Ageing, some drugs such as antacids, autoimmune gastritis, chronic stress, H. Pylori infection and vitamin deficiencies can decrease it.

Signs of low stomach acid

  • bloating, belching and flatulence
  • feeling of fullness after meal
  • constipation
  • diarrhoea
  • iron deficiency
  • nausea after taking supplements
  • smelly stools

If you are regularly experiencing one or more of those symptoms, it isn’t normal! Left untreated, low stomach acid can lead to inability of the stomach to break down the food properly. This can cause condition called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth SIBO. This is a health condition, where bacteria proliferate in the small intestine and cause symptoms.

Reduced gastric acid could also lead compromised levels of the vitamin B12, which is very important vitamin for the entire body.

How to test stomach acid levels?

There is one very cheap test to do at home, if you wanted to find out your stomach acid levels. This is called “burp test”. You put 1/2 tea spoon of bicarbonate soda in 100ml first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Drink it and if you burp in the first or second minute, it means your gastric acid levels are good. This is a good indicator of where we are at. I do often ask my clients to take the test so we know how much support is needed. Of course, everything is individual. Depending on the symptoms, we prioritise and work on the specific part of the body, supporting entire organism.

Nutrients to optimise stomach acid

Apple cider vinegar before each meal is great for this purpose. Bitter herbs and foods can help to activate stomach acids. Zn and B6 are very important nutrients for production of gastric juices. I would also recommend some betaine hydrochloride and pepsin supplements in some cases. Eating own and light meals is also highly recommended.

As I always say, please check with your health professional before you start any diet or program, or give me a quick call/message. I would be more than happy to help.

Love

Ani

Weight loss natural approaches

Are you struggling with weight gain? It is very common problem that I face with my clients. Being overweight or obese can have such a negative impact on the quality of life and general feeling of wellbeing. Some people just get on with it, however most of the people are trying to find permanent solution of this problem. Some are using drugs to reduce their appetite and others are trying different diets but unfortunately with yo yo effect in the end. This is not the solution of this health condition.

My approach to weight loss

I am using easy and natural approaches to help my clients achieve their health goals and balance their weight. How does that work? My main goal is always to start with their eating habits and lifestyle. This is not an easy field as changing someone’s eating habits takes time and requires patience. However, this is the most sustainable approach with great results in the end of the program.

I look at what they eat and drink, their activity levels, current symptoms that might contribute to their weight gain and stress response. There are other factors that might be affecting their weight gain, which I find out during our consultations.

Key factors contributing to weight gain

  • blood sugar imbalance – common conditions like Diabetes
  • poor diet – junk foods, take aways, high sugar intake, processed foods, etc
  • Dehydration – consumption of fizzy drinks, energisers, artificial juices
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • lack of exercise and low activity levels
  • high levels of stress

General tips for weight reduction

  • Increase fiber – fiber is very important in this journey. It plays a huge role in digestive system, hormonal balance and entire body. It makes you full, reduces appetite, can regulate blood sugar levels and gives you feeling of fullness. This is how you feel full quicker. Fiber rich foods are whole grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, salads, legumes.
  • Include adequate amount of protein at each meal – protein plays role in satiety similar to fiber. Having protein at each meal can reduce your need for snacking and brings you to the next meal without snacks in between. Protein rich foods are meat, dairy, legumes, nuts, eggs, tofu, fish, seeds.
  • Keep up water intake – water is essential for all bodily processes. 8 glasses of water are the minimum amount of daily water intake for average person.
  • Do not overeat and pay attention to the portion sizes. This is important aspect of this journey. We should all stop eating when we are around 80% full.
  • Avoiding late dinners. This is not only weight loss program requirement but it is a brilliant advice for general gut health. Your body needs to rest and regenerate for the next day. Dinners later than 6pm-7pm can negatively impact the quality of sleep as well.

Supplements for weight loss

There are few supplements that can contribute in weight loss journey, however this could be hard to choose on your own. the reason why is everyone’s circumstances are different and what helps one does not mean can help others. It is always recommended to work with a nutritionist to find out what is the best approach for your weight loss journey, and of course what kind of supplements can fit your health condition.

I will mention a few of them here, that have been proven to have a positive impact on the weight loss: L-carnitine, Magnesium, 5HTP, Chromium.

Control blood sugar levels naturally

blood sugar

Let’s start from the simple explanation of the function of the blood glucose in the human body. Do you know what happens in your body when the sugar enters your blood stream? Why do you need sugar? Where do we get it from?

What is the blood sugar?

Blood glucose is the main source of energy for the human body. Your body converts the sugar molecules into energy, so that way your body and brain can perform their functions. The blood glucose is carried and transported to every single cell in your body via your blood. In fact, the food you eat is the main source of your body glucose. That is the reason why having well balanced healthy diet is a huge factor in managing blood sugar levels, specially in obese, overweight, pre-diabetes and diabetes people.

Key negative factors, affecting blood sugar levels

There are many factors affecting blood sugar levels in a negative way. I will mention few of them:

  • Poor diet. This includes ready meals, high sugar and carbohydrate diet, low protein, low fiber, fizzy drinks, processed and pre-packed foods, full of artificial colourings and sweeteners, alcohol, cigarettes. All of these foods are highly inflammatory. They increase the oxidative stress and the inflammatory markers and processes within the body. Hence, they do not have any positive effect on the blood sugar levels.
  • Lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle. Your body needs to be active. Activity plays a huge role in maintaining optimal wellness. Being active and exercising regularly can help and improve your blood glucose levels at optimum ranges.
  • Elevated stress in the daily life. High stress levels can lead to many unpleasant health conditions and diseases. It can naturally increase cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone of your body, and hence your blood glucose levels increase.
  • Dehydration. Hydration is such important factor for the human body. If you do not drink enough water, your blood gets sticky. That means the proteins, nutrients and substances that your blood transports can slow down the processes within the body and lead to some imbalances. You may notice you have headache, constipation, pain around your kidneys, etc. Even more, your liver and kidneys need water to get rid of the waste substances, that your body does not need. This will optimise all bodily functions and support entire body.

Factors, affecting blood glucose levels in a positive way

Very little simple steps could improve dramatically blood glucose levels and maintain it at optimal ranges.

  • Increasing water intake. Drinking of approximately 8 glasses of filtered water daily is very good tool to keep your hydration up and provide a healthy environment for your bodily cells to function.
  • Including 3 regular meals and add low glycemic foods. What is low glycemic food? These foods do not give a quick rise to your blood sugar levels. These are whole grains, vegetables, legumes-beans, lentils, chickpeas, brown/wild rice, good fats, nuts, seeds, proteins. In that way your body can maintain normal blood sugar levels up to the next meal time.
  • Walking and exercising regularly is an easy step to follow. Maybe start from 6000 steps per day and gradually aim for 10000 steps.

Best supplements for blood sugar regulation

  • Chromium. This mineral is one of the most popular in this field. It can naturally support blood glucose levels.
  • ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid). It can improve glucose control with long term intake.
  • Magnesium. Amazing supplement, which our bodies so much need for so many functions in the body.

Remember always check with your nutritionist regarding any food or supplement changes, you may want to make. They will be able to support and provide you with the best nutritional plan, because one size does not fit all. This is how nutritional therapy work. Functional medicine approaches the whole person not the symptom.

Achieving good sleep habits

Sleep is an essential tool to keep your body at optimal health and wellbeing. Having regular quality sleep at daily life is a must nowadays. Sleep is very important for the entire body. Sleep is restarting all bodily systems. It is recharging our bodies, preparing us for the next day adventures of the life. You can notice the difference when you have had a good quality sleep and when you have not had a proper sleep. You are probably feeling tired with low energy, you might have cravings(blood sugar imbalance), headaches. This is because sleep affects primarily your nervous system, then endocrine and the rest of the body. Your mood might be affected as well. The homeostasis (balance), which your body is constantly trying to achieve is out of balance, in those days. That is why it is extremely vital to know how we can improve our quality of sleep via different techniques.

How can we improve our quality of sleep?

There are many tips on how to improve quality of sleep, however there are not suitable for everyone life’s on a daily basis. I will focus on some very simple techniques, which will hopefully be easy to follow and implement in your routine.

  • Magnesium bath salts – this is very relaxing technique. Having a bath with Magnesium salts twice per week, would not only improve your sleep quality, but could also reduce your stress levels in general. If you do not have a bath, you can do foot or hand baths (depending on what part of your body needs support).
  • Limiting your electro-magnetic radiation exposure at night. Generally speaking this includes phones, laptops, electric devices and all modern technologies. I am not saying do not use them or avoid them, but you could try and set up a routine, in which at certain time in the evening, you would stay away from it until you go to bed. This could help your brain to restart and have some proper rest.
  • Avoiding late dinners. This is not only nervous system support but it is for the entire body. Digestive, hormonal and mental health. Having late and heavy dinners would not let you have a proper restful night. Maybe try to have your dinner not later than 7pm, so your body has enough time to digest and process the food until you go to bed.
  • Avoiding alcohol, caffeine and stimulants is another important aspect of this topic. They all stimulate our bodies and we know that it could affect our sleep. Preparing your body for sleep should not be hard, but opposite. It is natural process of the human nature and we can only support it in the simple ways we know.
  • Magnesium supplements – this is one of the best minerals I could recommend. It may improve and support your sleep quality, stress levels, energy levels and entire body.

Nutritious brain foods

brain foods

We know what is good and what is bad for your body. It is not maybe in details but we know that fresh, whole foods, seasonal fruit and vegetables, grass fed, free range quality proteins are the best choices we can make. Today, while I was reading one of my favourite magazines, I have come across something interesting. That is why I wanted to share this information here with you. Today topic is food for your brain. What kind of food does your brain need? You know as we age, many of our bodily functions decline. It is not only organs, it is about hormones as well. Our cells ability to thrive and perform their functions is getting more and more difficult. For that reason, what we need to do is to look after our bodies, hormones, our own cells and the entire body. The brain is an area where we do not do much in general. For example, we exercise to get a better body shape, so we can build confidence and feel better with the outcome. However, we do not focus much on the brain activity, which is not less important than the rest of the body.

Foods feeding your brain

There are so many foods beneficial for brain, but I will go with specific type of groups today, called polyphenols. Their fruit group includes blueberries, blackcurrants, elderberries, strawberries, raspberries. In two words the berry group fruit. The vegetable groups are mushrooms, onions, shallot, spinach, green leafy vegetables, artichokes. From the nuts and seeds group, these are linseeds, almonds, walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts. Raw cocoa, coffee, green tea and dark chocolate are the best drink choices. I would also say that glass of red wine would also be a good alcohol option, which could play a positive effect on the brain function. All of these foods can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia diseases, improve memory and concentration. This will also help with mood and positive response to stressful situations in life.

Tips on how to manage diabetes in a holistic way!

Let’s start with what is diabetes? Diabetes is a health condition where your blood sugar level is out of balance. This means your pancreas is not functioning at optimal level. There are different types of diabetes. I will only mention the most common ones. Type 1 and type 2 Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which your Pancreas cannot produce insulin. So, the sugar molecules circulate your blood stream and it cannot enter into the cells. For that reason, people with type 1 Diabetes need to take insulin externally. In type 2 diabetes, the scenario is a bit different. Your pancreas produce insulin, but the cells do not have insulin sensitivity to open their doors (receptors) for the sugar to enter. Diet, food and lifestyle have a strong impact on managing both types. Let’s have a look how.

How to manage Diabetes with food and diet?

People don’t often realise how important food is for our health. Diabetes is a very common disease, in which food plays a huge role for its management. I have a few suggestions for you and if you try to introduce few of them, you could see the difference in your blood sugar response, not long after you start. Even small changes can have an impact on the blood sugar management. For example swapping white bread with wholemeal, white rice with wild or brown rice, white pasta with brown pasta. Nevertheless, cutting out of a processed carbohydrates and sugars, including more fiber like fresh fruit and vegetables. Replacing white potatoes with sweet potatoes or celeriac, would be an easy step to take in the beginning. Legumes such as lentils, beans and chickpeas are full of fiber, protein and are low glycemic, which plays a positive role on your blood sugar levels. It does not give you an immediate spike or blood sugar dip. Including protein at each meal is a key factor to regulate an imbalanced blood glucose levels. Another important aspect of the Diabetes diet is the good fat, such as seeds, nuts, omega3.

Lifestyle and Diabetes

Lifestyle and activity level is very important aspect in managing Diabetes health condition. Regular walks and exercises are the best natural way to not only improve this health condition but to support general health and feeling of wellbeing. Another factor is the stress. Stress can have such a negative impact on your body. It can affect all bodily systems at the same time. Reducing the levels of stress in your daily life, can be a game changer for any health condition.

Supplements and Diabetes

I will mention few safe supplements, which could possibly help and improve Diabetes, however you should always check your nutritionist before you start any supplements or make any other nutritional changes. Magnesium is one of my favourite supplement. It plays hundreds of functions within the human body. It has been researched that Diabetes patients have a lack of this mineral. There are different forms of Magnesium. This is why you should check with your health care provider which one of them is the best form for you. Another good supplement for Diabetes is Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA). It has been proven to increase cells insulin sensitivity. Please be advised and always tell your Nutritionist if you are taking any medically prescribed drugs, so they can check drug-nutrient interactions.

Thyroid gland

Thyroid glands

Thyroid gland is a small gland in the neck, in front of the trachea. It has butterfly shape. Thyroid gland is part of the human endocrine system. It produces hormones that regulate body’s metabolism, takes part in the growth and development of the body. When thyroid gland does not function properly at optimal levels, this could lead to two conditions. When your thyroid gland produces hormones in excess, this could lead to a condition, called hyperthyroidism. When your thyroid gland produces less hormones, this could lead to hypothyroidism. Both conditions are serious and need to be discussed with your health care provider.

Who is at risk of having abnormal thyroid gland function?

Thyroid gland dysfunction can affect anyone, infants, teenagers, men, women ant any age. One of the risk factors is having a family history of thyroid dysfunction. Other factors could be a presence of any other autoimmune condition, medications, menopause, low or high intake of the mineral iodine.

Risk factor could also be person exposed and tested positive to a viruses, such as EBV. This is very common picture and many of the patients pest positive in such conditions.

What nutrients does thyroid gland need to function properly?

Thyroid gland need optimal levels of the following nutrients: iodine, selenium, zinc, iron and few more vitamins and minerals to function at optimal levels. Vitamins and minerals are not the only factors affecting this endocrine gland. Stress, diet, lifestyle and person’s activity levels are also taking part in this process.

What might be the symptoms with low thyroid function?

Well, if we know that thyroid gland is maintaining our body’s metabolism, hence it is close to the mind that this condition will slow down the body’s metabolism. Symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, low energy, cold extremities, constipation, loosing part of the eyebrows are one of the common ones.

What symptoms to look if we suspect high thyroid function?

It would be the opposite the above condition. The heart rate would be high, increased metabolism, feeling hot, sweating, loosing weight, irritability, high energy, mood changes, diarrhoea.

It is always good to listen to your body. The symptoms you might be experiencing, can actually tell you that there might be something wrong within your body. That is why, I would always say speak to your nutritional therapist or health care provider about your health. It is always easier to fix something, if it has not grown and progressed to a bigger health issue.

FIBER

Let’s talk a little bit about FIBER today! Fiber is one of the most important nutrient in a balanced healthy diet and lifestyle. What is fiber?

There are two types of fiber – soluble and non-soluble fiber. The soluble fiber type dissolves in water and the second one does not. The first type of fiber can be metabolised and can feed good bacteria in the human digestive tract. The largest amount of bacteria normally live in our large intestine. It is the same with other live organisms, the good bacterias also need to be fed to survive and perform their functions in the human bodies.

How much fiber shall I consume?

How much fiber should we consume to maintain a healthy functioning digestive tract? It is recommended approximately 30 gram daily consumption of fiber.

Fiber is not only beneficial for our digestive tract. This important nutrient is good for cardio-vascular system and endocrine systems as well. Fiber can help balance blood sugar levels and be a perfect add on to a healthy diet plan for people with blood sugar imbalance or diabetes.

Fiber and constipation

Fiber and constipation? Yes, that is correct. Fiber can reduce constipation and reduce constipation. The reason why is that fiber softens the stools, ease and improve bowel movement habits. On top of that helps eliminate toxins from the gut and improve elimination processes in the human body.

What are the high fiber foods?

High fiber foods are very easy to top up to your diet. It is just simply because fiber is found in all vegetables, fruit, whole foods, nuts and seeds, legumes, grains, etc. even, having a few fist size portions of vegetables daily on your meals, including couple of fruit for a snack, could easily bring you to the optimal levels of your daily fiber intake.

adding more vegetables to the meals you are having during the day, including couple of spoons of seeds, adding a handful of nuts and a fruit for a snack, is an easy and simple guide to optimise your digestive tract health and optimal wellbeing.

However, as always I would say discuss and get advice from you health professional person as there are conditions, where fiber must be eliminated and kept at minimum levels in treating certain health conditions.

Stay healthy and positive

Love from me