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- Antibiotics: The Importance of Compliance and Antimicrobial Resistance
Antibiotics are an essential part of treatment for many infections and can save lives, but any time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and contribute to the development of antibiotics resistance. In U.S. doctors’ offices and emergency departments, at least 28% of antibiotic courses prescribed each year are unnecessary, which makes improving antibiotic prescribing and use a national priority. (1) Antibiotics are medicines that fight bacterial infections by either killing the bacteria or making it difficult for the bacteria to grow and multiply. (2) Antibiotics ONLY treat certain infections caused by bacteria, such as: Strep throat Whooping cough Urinary tract infection (UTI) Sepsis Antibiotics DO NOT work on viruses and some common bacterial infections, such as: Colds and runny noses Sore throats (except strep throat) Flu Chest colds such as bronchitis Sinus infections Some ear infections The Importance of Antibiotic Compliance It’s important to use antibiotics only when they are needed, and to use them properly. The misuse of antibiotics can be categorized as taking the wrong antibiotic, taking the wrong dose of an antibiotic, or taking an antibiotic for the wrong length of time. (2) When antibiotics are needed, the benefits usually outweigh the risks of side effects. It’s very important that you take the correct dose for the entire length that was prescribed by your doctor. One of the most common reasons for stopping antibiotic use prematurely is that patients feel better and think they no longer have to take their medication. Straying from the instructions on an antibiotic prescription not only can lead to a flare-up of the infection, but also to the development of resistance bacteria. Antimicrobial Resistance Antimicrobial resistances happens when germs like bacteria and fungi can defeat the antibiotics designed to kill them. That means they aren’t killed and continue to grow. It does not mean our body is resistant to antibiotics or antifungals. Resistant infections can be difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat. (3) Antimicrobial resistance is a naturally occurring process but is accelerated when the presence of antibiotics or antifungals pressure bacteria and fungi to adapt. Antibiotics and antifungals kill some germs that cause infections, but they also kill helpful germs that protect our body. The resistant germs then survive and multiply and have resistance traits in their DNA that can spread to other germs. (4) Resistant germs do not only affect you. Resistant germs can spread between people, animals, and the environment, and can cause deadly infections. Antimicrobial resistance has been found in every U.S. state. We all have a responsibility to act against antimicrobial resistance, including: (5) Prevent infections in the first place by: Keeping your hands clean Getting vaccinated Using antibiotics appropriately Recognizing signs and symptoms of infections Practicing healthy habits around animals Preparing food safely Staying healthy when traveling abroad Preventing STDs Improve antibiotic and antifungal use. Stop the spread of resistance when it does happen. Side Effects of Antibiotics Another common reason for stopping antibiotic use early is experiencing negative side effects. Common side effects of antibiotics include: (7) Digestive problems such as nausea, indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, loss of appetite, and stomach pain or cramping Fungal infection Yeast infections Drug interactions Sensitivity to the sun Staining of skin, nails, teeth, and bones A patient should always speak with their pharmacist about possible side effects and how best to take their antibiotics, as some are recommended to take with food to avoid possible digestive issues. If you experience any side effects, call your doctor right away to discuss possible alternative therapy. More rare and severe side effects could include anaphylaxis. Signs of anaphylaxis include: Rapid heartbeat Hives or a red, itchy rash Feelings of uneasiness and agitation Tingling sensations and dizziness Swelling of the face, mouth, and throat Rapid swelling of the lips Severe wheezing, coughing, or trouble breathing. Low blood pressure Fainting Seizures Anaphylaxis can be fatal without immediate emergency care. If you suspect anaphylaxis, call 911 immediately. (7) U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week is observed November 18-24, 2023. It is an annual one-week observance that raises awareness of the importance of proper antibiotic use to combat the threat of antimicrobial resistance. One of the main goals of Antibiotic Awareness Week is to share the key messages of antibiotics. Those key messages are: (8) Antibiotics can save lives. When a patient needs antibiotics, the benefits outweigh the risk of side effects. Antibiotics do NOT treat viruses such as colds, flu, RSV, and COVID-19. Antibiotics are only needed for treating certain bacterial infections, but even some bacterial infections get better without antibiotics. An antibiotic will not make you feel better if you have a virus. If an antibiotic is not needed, they won’t help you and the side effects could still cause harm. Taking antibiotics can contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance. If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk with your healthcare provider if you develop any side effects. Do your best to stay healthy and keep others healthy. This helps reduce antibiotic use and fights antimicrobial resistance. Antibiotics aren’t always the answer. As always, if you ever have any concerns about an antibiotic that was prescribed to you, talk to your trusted local pharmacist! Sources: 1. https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/index.html 2. https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/q-a.html 3. https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/about.html 4. https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/about/how-resistance-happens.html 5. https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/protect-yourself-family.html 6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4269991/#:~:text=Antimicrobial%20resistance%20results%20from%20inappropriate,required%20to%20prevent%20antimicrobial%20resistance. 7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322850#rare-side-effects 8. https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/week/toolkit.html
- Struggling With Mental Health? You’re Not Alone!
Many people around the world struggle with their mental health and although some individuals struggle more than others, resulting in a mental health disorder (1), it all ties into our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.(2) Our mental health affects the way we think, feel, act, make choices, and relate to others. Why Invest in Your Mental Health? Investing in your mental health does not just help your mental state, but it may also benefit your overall well-being. As an example, depression can increase the risk of physical health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.(2) Not only that, but there are many other benefits of taking care of our mental health such as (3) Improved mood Reduced anxiety Enhanced inner peace Clearer thinking Improved relationships Increased self-esteem According to Talkspace therapist Bisma Anwar, LMHC, “Our mental health is something that impacts our eating and sleeping habits … oftentimes we will feel the impact of [mental health] in other areas of our health as well.”(3) It is also important to note that your mental health can and will change over time and is dependent on many factors. Examples of ways your mental health can change over time include working longer hours than usual, caring for a relative, or experiencing economic hardship.(2) If we neglect our mental health it can lead to further complications, including mental illness, which in return can negatively impact our day-to-day lives. Mental illness can make you feel miserable, effecting your life at school, work, or your relationships. Who is at Risk? As we begin to understand what mental health and mental illnesses are, we need to understand the symptoms that can be present. A few examples of mental illness symptoms are:(1) Excessive fear or worry Extreme mood changes Detachment from reality Alcohol or drug abuse Hostility Suicidal thoughts or actions It is also common that symptoms may appear as physical problems including stomach pain, headaches, back pain, or other unexplained aches and pains.(1) These mental illness symptoms can develop at any time due to a variety of genetic and environmental factors like inherited traits, environmental exposures before birth (toxins, alcohol, or drugs while in the womb), and brain chemistry. Other risk factors include the following (1, 2, 3) A history of mental illness in blood relatives Stressful life situations A chronic condition Traumatic brain injury Traumatic experiences Excessive use of alcohol or recreational drugs Childhood abuse or neglect Few healthy relationships Previous mental illness Sometimes a person may not develop a mental health condition even if they had previously been exposed to these risk factors, while some people with no risk factors still develop a mental health condition.(4) How Common are Mental Health Issues? Mental illness is among the most common health concerns in the United States affecting more than 1 in 5 adults and over 1 in 5 youth (ages 13-18). Serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression affects about 1 in 25 adults.(2) There are more than 200 types of mental illnesses (2), however, according to Anwar, “Some of the most common mental health conditions include depression, anxiety, PTSD, psychotic disorders, and personality disorders.” A few other common mental health conditions include panic disorder, OCD, and eating disorders. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in the United States, affecting more than 40 million adults. Out of these 40 million, less than 37% actually seek treatment for their symptoms.(3) It is important for those struggling with their mental health or mental illness to get the help they need. How Can I Get Help? Seeking help for your mental health early on can increase the chances of successful treatment, if necessary. Getting help for a mental illness or mental health is important for your overall health, but it can be difficult for some to reach out. If you are unsure if you should reach out for help, just know there are resources available all around you. 1. Self-Care The first step to helping your mental health is through self-care. Everyone’s self-care routine looks different, it is all about finding what you need and what brings you joy. Try these tips to get you started on your self-care journey:(5) Regular exercise. Find time in your day for a short walk to help boost your mood and improve your health. Just 30 minutes of physical activity a day is sufficient. Eat healthily and stay hydrated. Maintaining a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water can help your energy levels and your focus. Prioritize sleep. To make sure you’re getting enough sleep, try sticking to a schedule and reduce your blue light exposure before bedtime. Engage in relaxing activities. Relaxation or wellness programs and apps can help relax your mood. These could include meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises. Set goals and priorities. Prioritize things that need to get done now and hold off on things that can wait. Learning to say “no” can help you from taking on too much. At the end of the day, reflect on what you have accomplished rather than what you did not get done. Practice gratitude. Creating a list of things you are grateful for can help focus your mind on the positives. Stay connected. Talk with friends and family who can provide emotional support. 2. Professional Help If your self-care routine is not enough and you are experiencing long periods of distress such as difficulty sleeping, lack of appetite, difficulty concentrating, or loss of interest in your typical enjoyable things, seeking professional help is your next step. Talk to your health care provider about the symptoms you have been experiencing and they can refer you to a mental health professional if needed. If a mental illness goes untreated, it can get worse over time and lead to more serious problems. 3. Emergency Services If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or having suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately.(1, 5) Reach out to a close friend or loved one. Contact a minister or someone in your faith community. Call your mental health specialist or primary care provider. Contact a suicide hotline by calling or texting 988. Services are free, confidential, and available 24/7. Call 911 or your local emergency number. Unfortunately, mental health is often stigmatized in our society. However, the more people understand the importance of seeking help no matter how severe your situation is, the more we can work on de-stigmatizing mental health awareness. Everyone has their own struggles, but they should never have to go through it alone. Sources: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/symptoms-causes/syc-20374968 https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response#:~:text=It%20is%20an%20integral%20component,community%20and%20socio%2Deconomic%20development. https://www.talkspace.com/blog/why-is-mental-health-important/ https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/caring-for-your-mental-health
- Flu Vaccines: Everything You Need to Know
Flu season is almost here and let’s face it — no one has time for sniffles and coughs. Save yourself the time and suffering. You have the power to protect yourself and the ones you love from influenza and as your trusted health resource, we are here to help you do just that. Here is everything you need to know about getting vaccinated against the flu: How do flu vaccines work? Vaccines train our immune systems to create proteins called antibodies, which are responsible for fighting diseases in our bodies.¹ When we get the flu vaccine, our bodies are exposed to a version of the flu that has been already killed or weakened. This helps our immune system create antibodies to fight the flu without getting sick. Once the body processes the vaccine and produces antibodies, it also creates antibody-producing memory cells, which remain alive even after the flu is defeated. If the body is exposed again, the antibody response is faster and more effective than the first time around because the memory cells are ready to pump out antibodies in defense.¹ Getting vaccinated for the flu goes far beyond just protecting yourself. Vaccinations work at their best when we develop herd immunity. This is when many people within a community are vaccinated, lessening the flu’s spread and preventing people that are unable to vaccinate from getting sick.¹ The more people get vaccinated, the more we can keep our communities healthy. How effective are flu vaccines? Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu illness by up to 60%, however, how well the flu vaccines protect us against the flu varies from season to season. Protection not only varies depending on characteristics of the person getting vaccinated such as age and overall health.² The effectiveness of flu vaccines each year heavily depends on how well they match with the flu viruses spreading throughout the community.³ Flu viruses change quickly, meaning the vaccine created for last year’s virus may not protect you from the flu viruses this year. The more the flu vaccine matches circulating flu viruses, the better protection we have against getting the flu. If you still get sick even if you received a flu vaccine, flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the severity of the virus. For example, a 2021 study found that vaccinated adults hospitalized with the flu had a 26% lower risk of being admitted to intensive care units and a 31% lower risk of death compares to unvaccinated adults.² Who should get the flu vaccine? Annual flu vaccinations are recommended for everyone 6 months or older, but vaccinations are especially important for those at high risk for flu-related complications:⁴ Children ages 6 months – 2 years old Adults older than age 50 Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities People who are pregnant or plan to be pregnant People with weakened immune systems People who have chronic illnesses, such as asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, and diabetes People with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher While everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine, there are some rare exceptions:⁵ Children younger than 6 months of age are too young to get a flu shot. People with severe, life-threatening allergies to any ingredient in a flu vaccine (other than egg proteins) should not get that vaccine. This might include gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients. People who have had a severe allergic reaction to a dose of influenza vaccine should not get that flu vaccine again and might not be able to receive other influenza vaccines. If you have had a severe allergic reaction to an influenza vaccine in the past, it is important to talk with your healthcare provider to help determine whether vaccination is appropriate for you. When should you get your flu shot? In the United States, flu season is in the fall and winter. However, influenza viruses are still present and circulating year-round. Flu cases generally peak between December and February and sometimes linger as late as May. With this in mind, flu vaccination is ideal during September or October.⁴ Vaccinating sooner could lead to waning efficacy near the end of flu season in spring. However, don’t wait too long to get your flu shot either as it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body to fully protect against the flu.³ We highly encourage you to talk with our team or your healthcare provider about any additional questions or concerns you may have about flu vaccines. You have the power to protect yourself and the ones you love from influenza by getting your annual flu shot! Schedule your flu shot today! Sources: 1. https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/how-do-vaccines-work 2. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm 3. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/keyfacts.htm 4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/in-depth/flu-shots/art-20048000
- Myths About Medications
With so many available resources online now, misconceptions about medications are becoming more and more common. But taking medication can be an important part of your overall health, and having the correct information is extremely important to keep you safe and healthy. Here are some of the top myths about medications, and the facts that debunk these myths: Myth: You feel better, so you don’t need to take your medication. Fact: Your doctor prescribed you medication because you need it. If you stop taking your medication early, it can increase your chance of relapsing into the illness that medication is prescribed for. Especially with antibiotics, it’s tempting to stop taking them as soon as you feel better. But you need to take the full treatment to kill the disease-causing bacteria. If you stop taking it, it can also promote the spread of the antibiotic-resistant properties among harmful bacteria.1 If you are taking a maintenance medication, it’s very important you talk to your doctor or pharmacist before you change your medication regimen. Myth: Natural supplements are always a safe choice. Fact: “Natural” doesn’t always mean “safe.” Since the standards for supplements are not as strict, the amount of each ingredient can vary between products. If you’re interested in natural supplements, it’s important you still talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which ones are safe for you to use. Your pharmacist will be able to look at all your medications and be able to recommend which supplements will best fit into your regimen.2 Myth: If you’re really hurting, you can ignore the recommended dosage and take more pills. Fact: If you take more than the recommended dosage on the label, it can hurt you. Pharmaceutical companies and doctors work hard to develop the appropriate dose for every person. Taking your pills in any other way than the recommended amount can do more harm than good. Taking more pills or more frequently than the label states can rob you of the medicine’s benefits and increase the risk of serious side effects. Also, it is very possible that an overdose can occur which can have dangerous or even life-threatening consequences. It’s important to read every label or talk to your pharmacist to be clear on your recommended dosage.2 Myth: Antibiotics are always the answer. Fact: Antibiotics can only treat bacterial infections such as strep throat, not infections caused by viruses such as acute respiratory infections. Taking antibiotics unnecessarily can cause antibiotics to lose its strength and ability to effectively treat bacterial infections going forward.3 Myth: Your healthcare providers don’t need to know what vitamins you take. Fact: Health care professionals should know every medication, prescribed or OTC, you take regularly so that they can warn you about potential interactions. Examples of vitamins with the potential for serious interactions include vitamins A and E, which increase the effects of anticoagulation and should therefore be closely monitored when taking warfarin, and magnesium, which can decrease antibiotic absorption and should be dosed separately by 2 hours before or 6 hours after taking an antibiotic.3 Myth: It doesn’t matter how you ingest the pill. Fact: Taking pills with any other liquid than water – particularly alcohol – can interfere with the manner in which the body absorbs the medication. Also, some medications must be taken with food, which others may have strange or dangerous interactions with certain foods.3 Talk with your pharmacist on drug administration instructions for proper absorption. Myth: It doesn’t matter where you store your medications. Fact: Some medications lose their effectiveness when they are exposed to hot, humid environments. Medications are almost always best stored in a dry place away from heat, direct light, or any source of dampness. If children are around, keep medicine containers out of reach. Some medicines have bright colors and shapes that children can mistake as candy. Managing medications can be complicated, especially if you are taking several. It’s important to understand your regimen, talk thoroughly with your pharmacist, keep up to date on refills, and take medications as prescribed. If you are unsure about any of the medications you are currently taking or plan on taking, it’s always a good idea to talk to your provider or pharmacist about it first. With proper administration and storage, your medication regimen should help you feel your very best! Sources 1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/antibiotics/art-20045720#:~:text=Taking%20antibiotics%20responsibly,to%20start%20treatment%20again%20later. 2. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/7-myths-medication-facts-behind/ 3. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/7-medication-myths-pharmacists-can-debunk 4. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/help-for-managing-multiple-medications
- Top 7 Chronic Diseases in America
It is likely that you or someone you know has suffered from some type of chronic disease. Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, stroke, or cancer, are more common than one might think and are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. (1) What is Chronic Disease? Chronic disease is defined as a condition that lasts 1 year or longer and requires ongoing medical attention, limits daily activities and living, or both. (2) They can affect any part of the body and may or may not be curable (4). In the United States, 6 in 10 adults have some type of chronic disease, and 4 in 10 adults have two or more chronic diseases. Some of the most common chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability and are the leading drivers of the nation’s $4.1 trillion in annual health care costs. (2) Many chronic diseases are caused by a short list of risk behaviors, but can also result from a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental, and behavioral factors. (3) Other risk factors include raised blood pressure, overweight/obesity, hyperglycemia, and hyperlipidemia. Here are some of the most common lifestyle risks: (1) Tobacco use & exposure to secondhand smoke (2): Using tobacco or being exposed to secondhand smoke increases your risk of poor health and chronic disease. Poor nutrition: Having a well-rounded diet and drinking plenty of water is key to keeping yourself healthy. Lack of physical activity: Staying active is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Excessive alcohol use: This includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, and using alcohol while pregnant. Most Common Chronic Diseases In the United States, chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability. Knowing the top offenders can help you understand if you may be at risk, allow time to get an early diagnosis, and start to manage the disease. Here are seven of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. Heart Disease This chronic disease includes many different heart conditions, the most common being heart attacks. Heart disease can affect any part of the heart and can result from a number of reasons. Although this disease is thought of typically only affecting men, it is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Cancer Cancer occurs when cells become damaged and begin to reproduce rapidly, creating a tumor that can spread to other parts of the body. It can affect any part of the body and comes in many forms. Chronic Lung Disease Also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), this covers a wide range of conditions affecting the lungs. Breathing becomes more difficult as the airflow to the lungs is restricted. Nearly 16 million Americans have some form of chronic lung disease. (4) Stroke A stroke occurs when blood is blocked from reaching the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. Affecting nearly 800,000 people each year, around 150,000 of them will die, making stroke the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. (4) Alzheimer’s Disease A disorder of the brain, Alzheimer’s disease is progressive and worsens over time. Patients generally only live an average of eight years after diagnosis, making this the sixth leading cause of death in the Unites States. (4) Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include memory loss, strange behavior, disorientation, poor judgement, and more. Diabetes This chronic disease happens when there is consistently too much glucose in the blood, resulting in high blood sugar levels which may lead to even more health issues. Type 1 diabetes is genetic and can be passed down to offspring, while type 2 diabetes is developed over time through poor diet, especially from consuming too much sugar. Chronic Kidney Disease When kidneys are damaged, they are unable to filter your blood correctly, leading to kidney disease. Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and urination frequency. If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, seek medical attention to check for indicators of chronic illness. (4) Prevention & Control Early identification of a chronic disease is crucial to ensure you get the maximum support. It is also important to follow these seven steps to help reduce the risk of chronic disease and manage current chronic diseases. (5) Managing your blood pressure. A major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other chronic conditions is having high blood pressure. Understanding what high blood pressure is, what it looks like, and how it can affect your body and heart will help you stay healthier and prevent you from a possible heart attack or stroke. Controlling your cholesterol. Having high cholesterol increases your risk for cardiovascular disease. Talk with one of our pharmacists about what high cholesterol is and what your cholesterol levels mean. We can give you tips on how to improve your levels. Reducing blood glucose levels. High levels of blood glucose can lead to diabetes. Gaining a better understanding of what raises your glucose levels, such as what foods you should or should not eat, can help manage your sugar intake. Watching what you eat is an important step towards eating healthier and living a healthy lifestyle. Getting active. About 80 percent of adults and adolescents in the United States do not get as much physical activity as they should. While it may be hard for some to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives, it is important to get at least 150 minutes per week. (5) Being physically active, even if it’s taking a short walk or doing yoga, can significantly improve your quality of life. Staying active can help with heart health, improve thinking skills, control weight, and boost energy levels. (6) Eat healthier. Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the best ways to prevent and manage chronic disease. Making simple changes to your diet, such as consuming less sodium and sugar, can help prevent high blood pressure and lower your glucose levels. Lose weight. Having a high body mass index can lead to increased risk of chronic disease. Taking steps to lose weight through diet and exercise can make a huge difference in your overall health, even if it is only a 5 percent weight loss. Stop smoking. Smoking cigarettes rapidly increases your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, which may lead to other chronic diseases. Many individuals turn to electronic cigarettes or vapes, but these often contain harmful chemicals. Chronic Diseases can be difficult to understand and manage, especially if you or a loved one was recently diagnosed. Living a healthy lifestyle and knowing the risks can be beneficial to understanding the condition and learning how to manage it. Sources: (1) https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/chronic-diseases.htm (2) https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about/index.htm (3) https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/noncommunicable-diseases (4) https://www.afcurgentcare.com/bridgeport/blog/the-top-7-most-common-chronic-diseases-in-the-us/ (5) https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/7-steps-patients-should-follow-reduce-manage-chronic-disease (6) https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise-and-chronic-disease/art-20046049
- Combating 7 of the Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies
For most, having a healthy lifestyle is a top priority. Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly are often the first things people think of when looking to make positive lifestyle changes. However, many people who are active and eat well can still be missing out on certain nutrients without realizing it. Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion While we take prescription medications to improve health, many medications (prescription and over-the-counter) can also deplete the body of essential vitamins, minerals, and enzymes the body needs to function optimally. This depletion in nutrients is more specifically a result of drug-nutrient interactions that influence food intake, nutrient digestion, absorption, distribution, metabolism, and much more.¹ Some medications interfere with the absorption of nutrients, others lead to increased excretion of nutrients, and some block the body’s production of certain nutrients. The list goes on. Eventually, these nutritional deficiencies can become significant and cause severe side effects, especially when the medications are taken for long periods as nutrient deficiencies tend to develop gradually over time.² How to Avoid Dug-Induced Nutrient Depletion With America’s increasing reliance on prescription medications (50% of adults regularly take one prescription medication and 20% take three or more), avoiding nutrient depletion can be difficult, but it’s possible.¹ The best way to avoid drug induced nutrient depletion is to talk with your pharmacist. Be honest about what side effects you are experiencing and ask them to review which nutrients might be depleted by your regimen. Consult with your doctor or pharmacist about what supplements may be right for you, or if your regimen can be modified to reduce your risk. Common Nutrient Deficiencies and How to Avoid Them To make up for nutrient deficiencies, there are many over-the-counter vitamin and supplements options (click here to shop our online supplement shop) — so many that it can be hard to figure out which ones could benefit you. Choosing the vitamins and supplements that are right for your body and lifestyle can be overwhelming, but educating yourself on the nutrient effects from your current medication regimen and learning about the most common nutrient supplement options and their properties can help to alleviate this stress. 1. Iron Iron is crucial for growth and development, increased energy, better brain function, and healthy red blood cells.³ If you typically incorporate red meats in your diet, you should get enough iron. However, the amount of iron you need may increase during times of rapid growth and development, like puberty and pregnancy.³ Vegetarians and vegans may also need more iron if they are not incorporating plant-based iron-rich foods like white beans, lentils, spinach, kidney beans, and nuts.⁴ 2. Vitamin D Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which is vital for our bone health. But don’t we get Vitamin D from the sun? Yes, we do, however, more than 40 percent of Americans don’t spend enough time in the sun each day to achieve this. Vitamin D intake is also diminished by wearing sunscreen, taking anticonvulsants, and it is not commonly found in food.³ Consult your doctor or pharmacist today about whether you should add a Vitamin D supplement to your daily regimen. 3. Vitamin B12 A B-complex vitamin is made up of eight different B vitamins, most notably vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 creates and sustains your energy supply by breaking down foods and identifying the micronutrients your body needs. Vegans and vegetarians are most susceptible to vitamin B-12 deficiency because many B vitamins are found in animal products.³ Vitamin B-12 deficiency is prevalent in those that have metabolic abnormalities like type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients. Additionally, B-12 deficiency is also associated with gestational diabetes.⁴ If you are at risk, consult with your doctor of pharmacist about incorporating a B-12 supplement and/or modifying your diet to include more B-12 rich foods. 4. Calcium Calcium is a mineral necessary for fortifying bones and teeth. As individuals age, their bone density decreases, making supplement with calcium crucial for bone health. However, more than 40 percent of the U.S. population does not consume enough calcium in their diet.³ If your diet is not rich in dairy, broccoli, nuts, and beans, it is recommended to incorporate a calcium supplement in your daily regimen. Note: For patients that take corticosteroids long-term for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, calcium supplementation is crucial and highly recommended.⁴ 5. CoQ10 Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant and heart support nutrient that your body uses to promote cell growth and maintenance. It is found in meat, fish, and nuts, but not in enough quantity to significantly increase CoQ10 levels in your body. Studies have shown that supplementing with CoQ10 may be beneficial in restoring optimal levels of energy, reducing oxidative damage, and improving heart function. Most people have enough CoQ10 naturally, but it is often depleted in those who take medication to support healthy cholesterol level.⁵ If you are taking prescription cholesterol medication, talk to your pharmacist about nutrient depletion and the benefits of adding a CoQ10 supplement to your daily routine. 6. Magnesium Magnesium is essential for bone health and energy production as it regulates the nervous system, eases sleep problems, balances blood sugar, and makes proteins in the body. Magnesium is in many foods, but these foods may not be part of your regular diet. To get more magnesium into your system without a supplement, try eating more: ³ Artichokes Beans Brown rice Nuts Pumpkin Soybeans Spinach Tofu Magnesium deficiency has been associated with increased cardiovascular risk, such as hypertension, stroke, and heart attack.⁴ If you are not getting magnesium in your regular diet, consider consulting with your doctor and/or pharmacist about taking a magnesium supplement. 7. Zinc Zinc is a major player in supporting the immune system. The average American diet is not rich in zinc, so adding a zinc supplement can compensate for this and help boost your body’s ability to fight off infections and heal wounds.⁴ In addition to adding a Zinc supplement to your regimen, you can also incorporate more zinc rich foods in your diet: Spinach Brown rice Grass-fed beef Pumpkin Seeds Patients should never begin taking a supplement to address nutrient depletion before talking with their pharmacist or physician. Some supplements may reduce the effectiveness of certain medications and may not be recommended based on the medications a patient is taking. With the help of your local community pharmacy team, you can break the cycle of nutrient depletion and get the most benefit out of your medication regimen. Sources https://nutritionreview.org/2016/12/practical-guide-avoiding-drug-induced-nutrient-depletion/ https://www.naturalawakeningsnj.com/2013/06/28/226398/drug-induced-nutrient-depletion-beware-of-medications-that-rob-your-body-of-vital-nutrients https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/best-vitamins-to-take-daily https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/druginduced-nutrient-depletions-what-pharmacists-need-to-know https://www.webmd.com/diet/supplement-guide-coenzymeq10-coq10#1
- Women’s Health: Hormones 101
What are Hormones? ¹ Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers that travel in your bloodstream to tissues or organs. Endocrine glands, which are a special group of cells, make your hormones. The major endocrine glands are pituitary, thymus, thyroid, adrenal, and pancreas. Additionally, women produce hormones in their ovaries. Hormones are very powerful and affect many different aspects of your life, including: Growth and development Metabolism Sexual function Reproduction Mood Too much or too little of a certain hormone, also known as hormone imbalance, can seriously disrupt the way your body functions. Signs of Hormonal Imbalance ² The symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women can vary depending on which gland is affected. The more common symptoms include: Mood swings Constipation or diarrhea Irregular menstrual cycle Infertility Abdomen or back pain during menstruation Low sex drive Insomnia Unexplained weight gain or loss Brittle bones Excessive hair growth Rashes or acne Causes of Hormonal Imbalance There are many medical conditions that can affect hormone production including, but not limited to – diabetes, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, Addison’s disease, Cushing’s syndrome, hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, and certain cancers.² Aside from having a medical condition, there are other factors that could be causing a hormonal imbalance in your body, including: ³ Chronic stress Poor diet and nutrition High percentage of body fat Toxins, pollutants, herbicides, and pesticides Severe allergic reactions Misuse of anabolic steroid medications Certain medications Puberty Menstruation Pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding Menopause Treating Hormonal Imbalance If you are experiencing new or persistent symptoms that you believe may be caused by hormonal imbalance, it is important to talk to a healthcare provider. Your doctor may evaluate you by blood testing, imaging, or urine testing, depending on what condition they believe is causing your symptoms. There are medical treatment options for women with hormone imbalances, including: birth control medications, hormone replacement medications, anti-androgen medications, vaginal estrogen, clomiphene and letrozole, assisted reproductive technology, metformin, and levothyroxine. ³ There are also natural supplements commonly used to reduce symptoms of hormonal imbalances. Before taking any natural or herbal treatment, it is important to check with your pharmacist to ensure safety and avoid negative interaction with any other medications you are currently taking. If you believe you’re experiencing hormonal imbalance and would like to make some lifestyle changes to help reduce symptoms, there are some steps you can take to help, including: ² Maintaining a moderate body weight Eating a nutritious and balanced diet Exercising regularly Practicing good personal hygiene Reducing and managing stress Practicing meditation Limiting sugary foods and refined carbohydrates Avoiding packaged foods Restricting the use of cleaning products that contain toxic chemicals In addition to eating a nutritious and balanced diet, it may be beneficial to also shop organic for certain foods, such as those foods found on the “Dirty Dozen” list which are foods that are most affected by pesticides. The EWG analyzed 46 items, and found that the following 12 fruits and vegetables were most contaminated with pesticides: ⁴ Strawberries Spinach Kale, collard, and mustard greens Peaches Pears Nectarines Apples Grapes Bell and hot peppers Cherries Blueberries Green beans Most women will experience periods of hormonal imbalance in their lifetime. Imbalances are common during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, and aging. But if you experience continual, irregular hormonal imbalances, especially those symptoms that cause pain or discomfort, it is important to talk to a trusted healthcare provider about the symptoms you experience and the best treatment plan. To learn more about our hormone services, click here! Sources https://medlineplus.gov/hormones.html https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321486#symptoms https://www.baptisthealth.com/care-services/conditions-treatments/hormonal-imbalance#:~:text=Medical%20conditions%20that%20can%20cause,primary%20ovarian%20insufficiency%20(POI). https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php
- Your Immunization Questions—Answered
Immunizations: They help keep us healthy and protect us from contracting preventable diseases. However, many people don’t know what how vaccines work or why they should get vaccinated. We’ll answer the most common immunization questions to help you understand the science behind vaccinations and the importance of staying up to date. What Are Immunizations? According to the CDC, immunizations are “a process by which a person becomes protected against a disease through vaccination.” (1) These are typically administered through shots but can be in the form of a pill or nasal spray. Immunization prevents anywhere from 3.5 to 5 million deaths each year from life-threatening diseases such as cervical cancer, COVID-19, pneumonia, measles, mumps, yellow fever, hepatitis B, and much more (2). How Do Immunizations Work? Vaccinations work by exposing your immune system to a safe version of a disease in the form of: (3) A protein or sugar from a pathogen A dead or inactivated form of a pathogen A modified toxin from a pathogen A live but weakened form pathogen The versions of a disease used in vaccinations cannot give you the disease you are being vaccinated for. The most common side effects of a vaccination are mild, such as pain, swelling, or redness where the shot was given. Some people may experience a low fever or fatigue. Vaccines teach the immune system to recognize and eliminate harmful microbes if you are ever exposed to the real disease. (3). Vaccinations give your body a head start making antigens for pathogens. allowing the immune system to react faster if it encounters the actual disease in the future. Why Should I get Vaccinated? Getting vaccinated has many benefits. Here are some to consider: (3) They help prevent diseases that can be life-threatening. They also help prevent future complications that may result from contracting those preventable diseases. Vaccines are thoroughly investigated and researched before being presented to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval. Then, they are carefully reviewed before being recommended to the public. Once approved they are continually monitored for safety. Some vaccines can help prevent infections that cause cancer, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B. They can help save you time and money by reducing the number of sick days you would have to take from work or school and help avoid unnecessary medical bills. They can sometimes eliminate the disease entirely. For example, the smallpox vaccine eradicated smallpox. Vaccines are highly effective. Some vaccinations can lower the risk of infection by 40-60% while others are as effective as 97%. (3) Getting vaccinated helps protect yourself and avoid spreading preventable diseases to other people, especially those close to you. Certain people are unable to get vaccinated due to age restrictions, weakened immune systems, or other serious health conditions. Vaccination side effects are often mild and typically go away on their own within a few days. If you are planning to travel, send your children to school, or get a new job, you may be required to have certain vaccinations. For example, students, military personnel, and residents of rehabilitation or care centers are required to be vaccinated against diseases that spread in close quarters. Who Needs What Vaccines and When? From infancy to late adulthood, the timeline below shows the CDC’s recommended vaccination order. (3) As you can see, many childhood vaccines are administered in groups or series. This might mean that if you are in the process of getting your children vaccinated, it might seem like they are receiving a lot of shots all at once. It is important to note that this is necessary in order to protect your child from potential illness or complications, as delaying a child’s vaccinations can do more harm than good. If you missed a childhood vaccine, you might be able to get them as an adult depending on the vaccine. (3) Even as adults we need to get certain vaccinations. Some adulthood vaccinations include the shingles vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine, your yearly flu vaccine, tetanus boosters, and the COVID-19 vaccine. It is also possible to receive boosters for many vaccines based on your sexual activity, health history, personal hobbies, and other factors. (3) If you plan on traveling, it is also a good idea to make sure you are up to date on your vaccines and double check which vaccines are required for where you are traveling to. You can always check the CDC’s destination pages for travel health information. (7) Here is a quick list of possible vaccinations you may need before you travel: (5) COVID-19 Chickenpox Cholera Flu Hepatitis A & B Japanese encephalitis MMR Meningococcal Pneumococcal Polio Rabies Shingles Tdap Typhoid Yellow fever Will I Have to Pay? Most health insurance plans cover vaccines at little to no cost to you. However, if your insurance does not cover vaccines, or you are without insurance, there are alternatives that you may qualify for. These include community health organizations, Vaccines for Children Program (8), and state health departments. (3) If you do have insurance, here is a list of immunizations that are typically covered depending on your insurance provider. (7) Hepatitis A & B Herpes Zoster (shingles vaccine) Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Influenza (flu) Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) Meningococcal Pneumococcal Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap) Varicella Be sure to check with your insurance provider to see what vaccines are covered under your plan. You can also schedule a Medicare Review with us to find out what you have covered and determine which Medicare plan is right for you. No matter what stage of life you are in, it is important to stay up to date on your immunizations to ensure you are protecting yourself and those around you. If you have any additional questions about how vaccines work, vaccine effectiveness, or scheduling an immunization appointment, contact your doctor or pharmacist. Sources (1) https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/imz-basics.htm (2) https://www.who.int/health-topics/vaccines-and-immunization#tab=tab_1 (3) https://www.healthline.com/health/vaccinations (4) https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/reasons-to-vaccinate.html (5) https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/travel-vaccines (6) https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/pay-for-vaccines.html (7) https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list (8) https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/vfc/index.html
- Become a Healthier You with Better Sleep
We all love getting a good night’s rest, but have you considered sleep as an essential factor in your physical and mental health? While sleep is vital for a person’s well-being, many of us struggle to fall asleep when our head hits the pillow or wake up without getting any quality sleep. This struggle can leave us feeling tired during the day. Sleep deficiency (lack of quality sleep) can lead to physical and mental health problems; chronic health issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity; and interfere with daily functions.¹ Not only is better sleep crucial to avoid sleep deficiency and many of its negative effects, but also your brain performance, mood, overall health, and quality of life will greatly benefit from getting better-quality sleep. Tips for Better Sleep Implement a Consistent Sleep Schedule Better sleep over time comes down to consistency, so the first step to getting better sleep is getting accustomed to a regular sleep schedule. Go with a schedule that works with your biological clock and allows for enough sleep time. Start taking control of your sleep by trying these better sleep tips: Wake up at the same time every day. Yes, even on the weekends. Being consistent reinforces the body’s sleep-wake cycle, and waking up at different times every day will throw off that cycle.² Make sure that your chosen wake-up time is achievable. Our biological clock shifts over our lifetime, so older adults are more likely to wake up early while teenagers tend to fall asleep and sleep in later due to a delayed sleep-wake rhythm. Choose a wake-up time that works with your individual biological clock.³ Get enough sleep. The recommended amount of sleep is 7-8 hours per night, but some individuals may need at least 9 hours of sleep every night. Allow for that time in your sleep schedule by going to bed early enough to still wake up at your chosen wake-up time.⁴ Ease into your target sleep schedule. If you are making larger changes to your sleep schedule, make small adjustments over time. This will help your sleep schedule be more sustainable in the long run. Create the Optimal Sleep Environment Even though you might be able to go to sleep in a bright and loud room, it doesn’t mean you should. Creating the right sleeping environment is crucial to getting quality rest. To fall asleep faster and stay asleep all night, it is important to focus on making your bedroom space comfortable and remove distractions. Keep your room cool, dark, and quiet. No one finds it easy to get a good night’s rest when it’s too warm or when light is still peeking through the window. Turn down the temperature and invest in some room-darkening shades. Keep noise to a minimum to avoid unwanted disturbances once you’ve fallen asleep. When noise is inevitable (or you find that you can’t fall asleep if it’s too quiet), try using a fan, white noise machine, earplugs, or even headphones.⁵ Keep the bed a sleep-only zone. Our brains associate activities with where they occur. If you tend to watch television or work from bed, sleep can become hard to achieve in that space. Keep the bed separate from other daily activities to keep it a restful environment—that includes putting the electronic devices away when it is time for bed. Promote relaxation before bed. Stress is inevitable and it’s really good at keeping us up at night. Try to check stress at the bedroom door by resolving any stress or worries you have before bedtime. If it can’t be resolved before bed, write it down for tomorrow so you don’t keep thinking about it. Before bed, try engaging in activities you find relaxing: read a book, listen to soothing music, take a hot bath, or maybe journal about your day. Develop Healthy Eating Habits Developing healthy sleep habits isn’t just about sleep itself. Your diet leading up to bedtime can heavily influence how long it takes you to fall asleep and the quality of your sleep. Keep it light at night. Avoid eating large meals before bedtime. Falling asleep can be difficult if your body is still digesting a big meal, especially high-protein meals since protein takes longer to digest. Eating too late can also bring heart burn and acid reflux to bed with you, especially if you are eating spicy foods. This can lead to discomfort and a hard time falling asleep. Try to also limit fluids in the evening to avoid making unwanted trips to the bathroom overnight. Be careful of hidden caffeine sources. While it is more obvious to not consume energy drinks and coffee before bed, there are other sources of caffeine that are less obvious and will leave you laying awake at night. Avoid snacking on chocolate and ice cream or sipping on non-cola sodas and decaffeinated coffee. Yes, contrary to its name, decaffeinated coffee often contains caffeine.⁶ Skip the alcohol for a better night’s sleep. While alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, the alcohol wearing off can wake you up in the middle of important stages of sleep, damaging your quality of sleep. In addition, alcohol can worsen sleep apnea symptoms and increase chances of sleep walking and sleep talking.⁶ Develop Healthy Habits During the Day Incorporating a few small habits into your everyday daytime routine can help ensure a better night’s sleep each and every night. Avoid daytime naps. Keep naps short (no more than one hour) to avoid interfering with your nighttime sleep.⁵ Incorporate physical activity. Physical activity promotes better sleep by helping us fall asleep faster and alleviating daytime sleepiness. Avoid exercising too close to bedtime though as it can give you an extra boost of energy and leave you lying awake.³ Get some light! Our internal clocks are regulated by our exposure to light, so it is important to expose ourselves to daylight early in the day. Add a better sleep supplement to your vitamin regimen. We recommend melatonin to facilitate sleep and glycine to support sleep quality. Shop our selection of supplements today! 👉 https://shop.briargroverx.com/wcs/shop/en/124 No one likes lying awake at night and waking up exhausted. Incorporate these tips to promote better sleep habits and stay well rested! Sources: ¹ https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/sleep-deprivation ² https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html ³ https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/resources/your-guide-healthy-sleep ⁴ https://sleepeducation.org/healthy-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits/ ⁵ https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379 ⁶ https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/better-sleep-3-simple-diet-tweaks
- Blood Pressure and the Importance of Knowing Your Numbers.
What is Blood Pressure? When your heart pumps blood through your arteries, the blood puts pressure on the artery walls which is what is known as blood pressure. Arteries then carry the blood from your heart throughout your body.1 Blood pressure does fluctuate throughout the day, but having unusual high or low blood pressure can negatively affect your health in the long run which is why it’s important to know and understand your blood pressure numbers. What do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean? Blood pressure is measured using two numbers: Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats Diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats The numbers are then read with the systolic number over the diastolic number, or written as systolic/diastolic mmHg. For example, if your systolic blood pressure is 120 and your diastolic blood pressure is 80 it would be written as 120/80 mmHg.1 The only way to know what your blood pressure numbers are is to get your blood pressure tested with a blood pressure monitor. Knowing and understanding your results is key to controlling unusual high blood pressure. Blood Pressure Categories The chart and information below is provided form the American Heart Association and explains the different categories of blood pressure numbers.2 Normal: Blood pressure is considered in the normal category when the numbers are less than 120/80 mmHg. Elevated: Blood pressure is considered elevated when readings consistently range from 120-129 systolic and less than 80 mmHg diastolic. If you fall in this category, you are likely to develop high blood pressure if no steps are taken to control the condition. Hypertension Stage 1: This stage is when blood pressure consistently ranges from 130-139 systolic over 80 mmHg diastolic. At this stage, you will likely be advised to make some lifestyle changes and may be prescribed blood pressure medication. Hypertension Stage 2: This stage is when blood pressure consistently ranges at 140/90 mmHg or higher. At this stage, you will likely be prescribed blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes. Hypertensive Crisis: The hypertensive crisis requires medical attention. If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mmHg, you could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis and should contact your doctor immediately. If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are also experiencing symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision or difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call 911. What Number is More Important? Typically, the systolic blood pressure number is given more attention due to it being a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over the age of 50. However, an elevation of either number may be used to make a high blood pressure diagnosis.2 What Causes High Blood Pressure? High blood pressure typically develops over time. One may develop high blood pressure due to reasons like unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, obesity, or alcohol and tobacco use. Blood pressure can also be caused by genetics and family history, so it’s important to let your doctor know if high blood pressure runs in your family.3 What Problems does High Blood Pressure Cause? High Blood Pressure can damage your health in many ways, especially if it’s left untreated. It can hurt important organs like your heart, brain, kidney, and eyes.1 Heart Attack and Heart Disease: High blood pressure can damage your arteries by making them less elastic which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart. Stroke and Brain Problems: High blood pressure can also block the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain, or cause those arteries to burst, which causes a stroke. Brain cells die during a stroke because they do not get enough oxygen which can then cause disabilities in speech, movement, and other basic activities. A stroke can also be deadly. Kidney Disease: Adults with diabetes, high blood pressure, or both have a higher risk of developing kidney disease which is when the kidneys are damaged and cannot filter blood as well as they should.4 What Can You Do to Prevent or Manage High Blood Pressure? Many people can manage to keep their blood pressure in a healthy range by making some positive lifestyle changes, such as: Getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week Avoid tobacco use Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet which limits sodium (salt) and alcohol Keeping a healthy weight Managing stress in a healthy way In addition to making these changes, some people with high blood pressure may need to take medications to manage their blood pressure.1 And as always, talk to your pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns regarding blood pressure medications or managing your blood pressure numbers. Questions about your blood pressure medications? Talk with our team today! Sources https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/about.htm#whatdo https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/risk_factors.htm https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease/basics.html
- When the Weather Outside is Frightful…Stay Fit and Stay Safe!
Staying active in the winter can be difficult, but it’s often easy to come up with excuses to not exercise — there’s snow on the ground, it’s too wet to run, you don’t have a gym membership. Luckily, there is so much you can do in the winter months to stay active besides running or going to a gym. Whether your winter has rain, snow, or sunshine in the forecast, here are some ideas for different workouts and physical activities that you can do during the winter, along with some great safety tips! Indoor Activities When there’s snow on the ground and the wind is blowing so hard it knocks you over or you feel the chill through your bones, physical activity might not even cross your mind. Don’t let the brisk weather discourage you! There are many different activities that you can do indoors to stay active when you can’t bear the cold. Bodyweight Exercises No equipment needed for these! Not everyone has access to a gym or has free weights in their home, which is why bodyweight exercises are so handy. All you need is — you guessed it — your body! Doing simple exercises like squats, pushups, lunges, or burpees can keep you active and get your heart rate up. If you want to add a little extra challenge, try out some resistance bands. These are great for when you want to challenge yourself and build more muscle without having to worry about heavy weights. Yoga, Pilates, and Barre Yoga is a great way to unwind after a stressful day, or it’s a great way to get your day started. It’s not just for stretching either – you can get your heart pumping with indoor yoga just like you can with a run (but with less risk of slipping on an icy sidewalk). It’s an ideal indoor exercise to focus on cardio, strength, and flexibility. With options from beginner to advanced, there is something out there that everyone can enjoy. Pilates is similar to yoga in the sense that it builds strength and flexibility. This is often used to help strengthen the core and build stability and flexibility. It also prioritizes quality over quantity; instead of doing repeated moves, each movement focuses on the breath and precision of the exercise, which helps you become more stable. The stability isn’t just physical — it can improve your mental balance, too! Barre is a more intense version of yoga and Pilates. This focuses on small, targeted movements with high repetitions and light weights or resistance bands to create low-impact, high-intensity movements. It is a full-body workout that you can modify or enhance practically any way you’d like to make it easier or more of a challenge. Boxing and Kickboxing Got an old punching bag in your garage or basement? Now’s a great time to put it to use. If you don’t have a bag, you can still go through the motions and get a good workout in. Throw some punches, work on your dodging skills and movements, and gain experience. The trick here is to focus on technique; if you aren’t sure exactly what movements to do, go online! There are lots and lots of videos available to walk you through the steps. If you’ve got a local boxing studio, you could also sign up for in-person lessons. Tai Chi This low impact exercise originated from ancient China and has become very popular over the years. It may just look like slow-motion martial arts, but it is so much more. These slow, intricate movements and deep breathing techniques help you clear your head by reducing stress and anxiety, and work to improve your balance. Until you try it, you may not realize how hard it can be to go slow. Outdoor Activities Don’t want to be cooped up all day inside? Want some fresh air? When the temperature is safe and bearable, there are many different ways you can remain physically active outside! Since winter is often the time when you don’t get enough of a lot of needed vitamins and minerals, exercising outdoors can have the added benefit of soaking up some Vitamin D. You can also check out our line of vitamins here that we offer to help give you that extra boost if you aren’t thrilled with the idea of outdoor winter activities. Walking, Jogging, or Running Taking a brisk walk, or a short jog or run around the neighborhood can keep you on your toes while also allowing you to experience the beauty of winter close-up. Some people love doing these cardio activities year-round, which is great! If you are living in an area that doesn’t get snow during the winter, it can still be great for you to do these activities. Grab a friend and get going! Shoveling Snow Although this may not sound like the most enjoyable thing to do...as anyone who lives in a snowy climate knows, it’s sort of a necessity. Whether you grab a shovel or a snow blower, this is a great chance to get some physical activity in. Since you already have to do it, you might as well have fun with it! If you have kids, throwing shoveled snow into a pile gives a great opportunity for the kiddos to have some outdoor time, too by making a snow fort, tunnels, or creating a snowman. Ice Skating This is such a fun activity to do during the winter and is perfect for the whole family. Many ice rinks offer walkers or guides for inexperienced skaters to use to help them get around the rink without worrying about falling. This is perfect for little ones or anyone in the family who has minimal ice-skating experience. Snowboarding, Skiing, and Sledding Snowboarding and skiing are great for those seeking a thrilling outdoor winter experience and both are great for burning calories! So, while you are having fun, you are also getting in a workout. Sledding is the perfect opportunity to get friends and family together. There are lots of different options for sledding, from hill size and location to the type of sled you use, that everyone will enjoy. It’s great for getting active and having fun! Safety Tips Since winter weather can be dangerous, there are some precautions you should take into consideration before heading outside. Even if you are opting for an indoor activity, it’s important to understand the safest way to exercise. Monitor the Weather If you plan on doing an outdoor activity during the winter, make sure you keep an eye on the weather. This is important so you can figure out what to wear on your outdoor adventure. It’s also helpful in planning ahead for what activities you plan on doing and for how long. Make sure you are aware of slick roads or sidewalks before going for a jog and be sure you are wearing the proper attire, including your shoes. Stay Warm Ensuring you have the proper gear to head outside during the winter is crucial. Snow pants, coat, hat and gloves are a must with the option for multiple layers. The best way to layer is to start with a moisture-wicking fabric (much like those used in sportswear), then add a layer of fleece and finally a thin waterproof layer. Hypothermia is no joke and can have serious consequences. Keep an eye out for these symptoms to help identify if someone is becoming hypothermic. Lack of coordination Mental confusion Slowed reactions Slurred speech Cold feet and hands Shivering Sleepiness Stay Hydrated Just like during the summer, it is very important to stay hydrated – especially when you are exercising. Whether you are working out inside or hitting the slopes outside, you should have water with you to keep you hydrated and energized to keep going. Stretching Before and after any physical activity, it’s important to stretch to make sure your muscles are warmed up. It’s especially important during the winter so your muscles don’t cramp anytime during or after your workout is complete. Dynamic stretching is best to do before your workout. These types of stretches are used to get your body moving and ready for your workout. Some examples include high knees, jumping jacks, walking lunges, and leg swings. Then there’s static stretching, which is best for after your workout is complete. These stretches are still-standing movements to really focus on getting your muscles a nice cool down. Hamstring stretches, ab stretches, triceps stretches, and quad stretches are just a few examples of these post-workout cool down moves. With these great activity ideas and safety tips, you’re ready to take on your winter fitness journey. Get up and get going, and don’t forget to have fun! Sources: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/getting-active/how-to-stay-active-in-cold-weather https://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-living-photos/ways-to-stay-active-in-the-winter.aspx https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-stay-active-outside-when-the-weather-gets-colder/ https://greatist.com/fitness/20-awesome-indoor-workouts-try-winters-over https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/features/stay-active-this-winter/index.html
- 3 Tips for Manage Stress During the Holidays
The holiday season is just around the corner, which means you may be more stressed than usual. This may put you in a not-so-cheery mood and can cause others around you to become stressed as well. Lucky for you, we have some tips and trick about how to manage your stress for the holidays! First things first, understand that you stress is common and that’s okay! Some stress is important for your body to function; we call this “eustress.” This is the type of stress that comes upon us during an exciting moment or during something new; without this, our well-being can actually suffer. Eustress helps keep us motivated and goal-oriented, and it gives us a good feeling about life. During the holidays you may feel this eustress when you spend time with loved ones, are opening gifts, or possibly even during holiday traveling. Just know that what you are feeling in that moment is exactly what you should be and is an important part of keeping yourself healthy. On the flip side, “distress” is the kind of stress that we want to try to avoid. Distress often leaves you feeling overwhelmed, uneasy, and can sometimes make you either lash out or even shut down. Nobody wants to feel that way, especially during the holidays. So, in an effort to fill your holidays with only the good stress, here are some tips on how to cope with stress and better manage your stress levels! 1. Avoid Stress Triggers In order to avoid triggers that cause distress, you have to first identify those triggers; learning your body’s signals of stress is important, too. If you know what causes you stress and how to recognize when it’s affecting you, you can take steps to control your environment and avoid further triggers. Some of the most common triggers around the holidays especially are smoking and alcohol. Celebrations often come with social drinking, and many people turn to smoking to try to deal with stress (spoiler: not a great stress reliever in reality). For people recovering from an addiction, trying to quit currently, or even just trying to cut back on how much alcohol or cigarettes they consume, being in a situation where others are drinking or smoking can be a trigger on its own. If you know there is likely going to be a trigger for you at a gathering but still want to attend, prepare some healthier options to divert your attention. If you are avoiding alcohol, bring a non-alcoholic drink like sparkling water or grape juice. If you are worried about picking up a cigarette again, bring a pack of gum to chew instead and keep a drink on hand to pick up instead. Letting your friends and family at the gathering know ahead of time that you are avoiding these products can help, too – others can cut back on what they use around you and avoid offering you something when you don’t want that temptation. If you aren’t feeling up to a gathering with those triggers around – or if you are stressed out by other factors, like a big crowd – consider organizing a virtual holiday with your loved ones. Another way to avoid any triggers is to opt-in for a virtual holiday with your family and loved ones. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, online gathering has been popular; just because we aren’t at the height of the pandemic anymore doesn’t mean you can’t still use those options. Set up a call via Skype, Zoom, or Facetime so you can still celebrate with loved ones without having to deal with the social stressors. 2. Prioritize Your Health Holidays are often a time to indulge a bit, but it can be difficult to avoid over-indulging. For anyone trying to lose weight or manage health concerns like cholesterol levels, the amount of food and the lack of exercise around the holidays can make the celebration stressful. Luckily, there are ways to manage stress in a way that prioritizes your health. If you are trying to watch how much food, especially the unhealthy options, you eat, being mindful while you’re filling your plate is important. Even though all the foods are yummy, make sure you don’t load up your plate mindlessly as you go down the line. Instead, try to balance your plate with more fruits and vegetables instead of just meat and carbs. Limiting the amount of alcohol and sugary drinks you consume can help cut out empty calories, too. If you know you are a snacker, try to pick a chair that’s an arm’s length or two away from the goodie table – out of reach, out of mind! And if you aren’t sure that there will be a whole lot of healthier options at your celebration, you can always bring your own; nuts, fruits, veggies, and even popcorn can satisfy those snacking cravings while keeping you energized. Though diet is a big struggle at the holidays, it’s not the only one; keeping your body up and moving can be difficult, between long car rides and all that relaxation time. Some small changes can help you stay active and leave you feeling better physically and mentally. Watching the kids open gifts? Try standing up instead of sitting on the couch. Having a social gathering with family? Walk around the room and visit with more than one group to keep you active. Wanting to watch your favorite show? Try a short simple workout while you are watching to keep your mind and body engaged – jumping jacks, squats, or lunges are great in-place options. Kids want to go outside to play? Join in! There are many ways you can stay physically active this holiday and all it takes is a little bit of drive and motivation to keep you going. Even while indulging, it’s important to stick to some routine to help manage stress and your overall health. That especially includes following any medication regimen you are on. If you know you are prone to forgetting to take dose or have a hard time keeping track, talk to our team about options for making that routine management easier! We can also help you keep you up to date on immunizations, an important part of your healthcare during the holidays. We’ve all brought home a cold from a holiday gathering at some point – make sure you don’t bring something home you could have prevented by getting your vaccine ahead of time. 3. Set Reasonable Expectations Everyone loves their holiday traditions, but those routines sometimes change with time and other obligations. As kids get older, the family grows and maybe moves away, or even as your financial situation shifts, it’s important to prepare yourself for things to change. You can cause undue distress for yourself by expecting everything to stay the exact same, and that distress can spill over and affect your loved ones. Leading up to your celebrations, set time aside to talk to those you will be seeing and make sure you’re all comfortable with the plans. Traditions can still be honored with small changes to make everyone have a bit less stress around the celebration. For example, if you have always hosted but it really stresses you out to have such a long to-do list, maybe offer to travel to someone else’s house that wants to host. Dividing up the work of planning and cooking can lower everyone’s stress, too. Talk through where you’re going, what to bring, and how long people will be staying while you plan so nobody is carrying more burden than they can handle. Make sure you are communicating the guest list, too – many families have tension between members, and knowing who you are going to see (or if you want to skip to avoid a fight) is an important part of lowering day-of stress. Plan for the financial part of the holidays, too! Money is tight for many especially this year, making celebrations and gift-buying difficult. To help ease your financial stress, create a realistic holiday budget that is easy to follow. Calculate how much you want to spend for each person, travel expenses, or any other holiday-related expenses and write it down. Once you create this list, look it over and determine if that is a reasonable cost and adjust if needed. Creating gift boundaries is another great way to help ease financial stress. For example, discuss the number of gifts and the price range with your significant other or family before buying gifts. Setting a dollar limit for each person and reducing the number of gifts can help you save more money. Make this a discussion with your family so that everyone feels like they are part of the discussion and has more buy-in with the changes to tradition. If someone insists on spending more on gifts that what you are comfortable, consider suggesting a fund for education or supplies needed throughout the next year or a donation to an organization you love. Even with the best plans set and boundaries firmed up, holidays are still bound to come with stress. Following these tips can help you lower the bad stress so you can enjoy the good anticipation of the festivities. Remember that our team is here to support you in any goals you have to better your health. We aren’t here to just fill your scripts – we are a shoulder to lean on, a sounding board, and a great resource for options to better manage your health, including stress levels. The holiday season is especially magical when you are surrounded by those you love and aren’t too stressed to enjoy it! Sources: https://www.augustinerecovery.com/holiday-triggers/ https://www.ahchealthenews.com/2022/11/22/prioritize-your-health-this-holiday-season/ https://www.neamb.com/personal-finance/how-to-manage-holiday-expectations-without-guilt https://www.healthline.com/health/eustress