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How To Overcome A Lack Of Sleep

A lack of sleep leads to memory problems, inability to make plans, poor decision-making and a general brain fog.

Just ten minutes of mindfulness helps the mind and body recover from sleep deprivation, new research finds.

Failing to get 7-8 hours sleep per night is linked to memory problems, inability to make plans, poor decision-making and a general brain fog.

But mindfulness has a remarkable restorative effect.

Ten minutes of mindfulness during the day is enough to compensate for 44 minutes of lost sleep at night, the study of entrepreneurs found.

Here are some mindfulness exercises that are easy to fit into your day.

Dr Charles Murnieks, the study’s first author, said:

“You can’t replace sleep with mindfulness exercises, but they might help compensate and provide a degree of relief.

As little as 70 minutes a week, or 10 minutes a day, of mindfulness practice may have the same benefits as an extra 44 minutes of sleep a night.”

The study followed 105 entrepreneurs, 40% of whom were working 50 hours per week or more and sleeping less than six hours a night.

The results showed that entrepreneurs who engaged in more mindfulness were less exhausted.

A second study of a further 329 entrepreneurs also found that mindfulness could offset the damaging effects of sleep deprivation.

However, mindfulness only works in this context when people are low on sleep.

Some people are getting enough sleep, but still feel exhausted.

Dr Murnieks said:

“If you’re feeling stressed and not sleeping, you can compensate with mindfulness exercises to a point.

But when you’re not low on sleep, mindfulness doesn’t improve those feelings of exhaustion.”

Mindfulness helps to reduce stressors before they lead to exhaustion.

For entrepreneurs and others with long working hours, mindfulness can be beneficial.

Dr Murnieks said:

“There are times when you’re launching a new venture that you’re going to have to surge.

Mindfulness exercises may be one way to provide some relief during those tough stretches.”

The study was published in the Journal of Business Venturing (Murnieks et al., 2019).

January 6, 2021

About the author

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.

He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. 

source: PsyBlog

sleepless

9 Things Sleep Doctors Would Never Do At Night Before Going To Bed

Experts reveal which bedtime habits to avoid if you want to feel rested in the morning.

Getting quality sleep affects everything ― your mood, your weight, your immune system and so much more.
But for many people, logging a full night’s rest can be a challenge. Less than half of North American adults (49%) get the recommended seven to eight hours of shuteye, according to a Better Sleep Council survey from March. And just over half of respondents (52%) described their sleep quality as “poor” or “fair.”
What you do — and don’t do — leading up to bedtime matters; your evening routine can impact your sleep for better or for worse.
We asked sleep doctors what they avoid doing before crawling into their sheets. Of course, no one has perfect sleep habits — not even experts ― but here’s what they try to steer clear of:
1. They don’t watch the news.
“Even though nighttime might seem like the perfect time to catch up on the latest COVID-19 information or the presidential race, we should try to avoid things that can cause anxiety before bed. Unfortunately, nowadays the news is filled with things that can cause worry and other unwanted emotions that you definitely want to avoid if you are hoping to get a good night’s sleep. The news, in some ways, keeps people up late at night the same way that a horror movie can. Images and information regarding violence or fear stimulate your mind preventing you from having a smooth transition into sleep.” — Raj Dasgupta, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine
2. They avoid working in bed.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant proportion of our population is working from home these days, and as such, your home has become your office. You want to avoid at all costs working from your bed, however, as you want to maintain the relationship with the brain that the bed is only for two things — sleep and sex.
As you do more and more mentally stimulating activities in bed, the brain slowly develops a psychological association of the bed being a place to stay awake rather than sleep. This, in turn, can trigger people to develop sleep-onset insomnia. Your house is already your office, so during these difficult times, use the bed as your sanctuary — a place to relax, escape work and sleep.” ― Ruchir P. Patel, medical director of the Insomnia and Sleep Institute of Arizona
3. They don’t work out.
“Exercise in the morning or during the daytime can go a long way to helping improve insomnia symptoms at night, but exercise late in the day can be counterproductive. Many people try to exercise at night with the goal of ‘wearing themselves out,’ but are inadvertently making it harder for themselves to fall asleep.” ― Stacey Gunn, sleep medicine physician at the Insomnia and Sleep Institute of Arizona
If you watch to catch some Zzzs, avoid exercising too close to your bedtime.
4. They steer clear of tense conversations.
“Try your hardest to avoid a heated conversation with your significant other before bed. As the saying goes, never go to bed angry, or bad feelings will harden into resentment. There is research to support the idea that negative emotional memories are harder to reverse after a night’s sleep.
Plus, anger is a huge turn-off. If you do this repeatedly, it creates an unhealthy pattern, and destroys potential opportunities for sexual intimacy. Confrontations lead to a stress response, which is exactly opposite of what you want if you’re trying to fall asleep easily. It’s important to create a peaceful environment for you and your partner to have a good night’s sleep. Instead of fighting, maybe snuggle up together and watch ‘Love Actually,’ one of my personal favorites.” — Dasgupta
5. They absolutely do not consume caffeine.
“Avoid drinking any caffeinated drinks past 2 p.m. Caffeinated drinks —including coffee, soda, iced tea, pre-work out drinks or energy drinks — act as a stimulant. Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors — and adenosine [plays a role in] sleep homeostasis.” — Anupama Ramalingam, sleep medicine physician at the Insomnia and Sleep Institute of Arizona
6. They try to avoid drinking alcohol.

“Some people end up self-medicating with a nightcap, because it does help them to fall asleep more easily at the beginning of the night. But I recommend against it because it causes the sleep architecture to be disrupted later on, resulting in poor quality sleep. If I do have a drink in the evening, I try to separate it from bedtime, and give the alcohol a chance to clear out of my system before going to sleep.” ― Gunn

“Many people try to exercise at night with the goal of ‘wearing themselves out,’ but are inadvertently making it harder for themselves to fall asleep.”

7. They don’t use electronic devices (without a blue light filter).

“In sleep and circadian science, we use the term ‘zeitgeber’ — or ‘time giver’ — to describe environmental cues that help us entrain to a 24-hour cycle. Light is the most powerful zeitgeber that signals the brain to stay awake. Prolonged exposure to bright light around bedtime keeps us awake and reduces the amount of sleep we get. Exposure to light at night also suppresses the brain’s natural production of melatonin, a hormone that is released in response to darkness and helps us to fall asleep.” ― Anita Shelgikar, clinical associate professor of neurology and director of the sleep medicine fellowship at the University of Michigan
8. They also don’t keep the lights in their home turned up bright.
“I was reminded during a fishing trip to the Outer Banks [in North Carolina] with my nephews of the importance of avoiding artificial light before bedtime. We were forced to use propane lanterns on the island each night as there was no electricity available. Several of the parents on the fishing trip remarked that the darkness had improved their sleep so much that they might pitch the idea of ‘Lantern Tuesday’ to their spouses: A night each week dedicated to reducing light exposure and improving sleep sounds like a great idea to me!
Exposure to bright light suppresses melatonin secretion. Plus, alteration of the circadian rhythm (or the daily rhythmic sleep-wake cycle) by nocturnal light exposure may contribute to cardiovascular and metabolic disease. What sort of practical steps can one take to avoid bright light? Dim the lights in the home except for a few lamps several hours before bed.” — William J. Healy, assistant professor of medicine and director of sleep quality improvement at Augusta University.
9. They make sure they don’t spend a long time awake in bed.
“Many of our patients will give themselves a 10-hour sleep window but realistically are only asleep for six to eight hours. Please do not spend more time in bed than you really need. All the extra time in bed awake results in your brain starting to develop an association that the bed is a place to be awake and also sleep. But this, in turn, can result in disruption of your sleep drive and thus result in poor sleep efficiency and sleep quality.” — Patel
By  Kelsey Borresen      11/04/2020


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Should You Go Gluten-free? The Benefits Of A Gluten-free Diet

Ever wondered about the benefits of a gluten-free diet? We give what is a popular trend for some and a necessity for others, an evidence-based overview

Wondering about the benefits of gluten-free foods? And whether you should make a fairly big change to your diet? Gluten-free options are becoming more and more mainstream in restaurants and supermarkets, which is great news for people with coeliac disease and for those diagnosed with another form of gluten intolerance. But can going gluten-free benefit the rest of us?

There are lots of different claims around the wellness community which state that giving up gluten reduces bloating, improves mood and even helps fight acne. But is there any real evidence to back up these claims and prove that it’s not just anecdotal? We’re not doctors, but we take a closer look…

SHOULD YOU GO GLUTEN-FREE?
In a word, maybe. To be more precise, even if you don’t have any diagnosed gluten intolerance, you may find that reducing your gluten intake (without necessarily going completely gluten-free) may help you with a whole range of health concerns.

The jury is still out on why exactly this may be, but the most likely explanation actually hasn’t got much to do with gluten itself and it’s more to do with the fact that high gluten intake typically goes hand-in-hand with a diet high in processed foods, sugar, and saturated fats.

Think of it this way: if excess weight, bloating, and fatigue are your concerns, then it’s likely that your gluten intake comes in the form of highly processed white bread high in sugar. People who go gluten-free tend to replace whole meals consisting of processed foods with healthier options high in vegetables and fibre, and that’s what contributes to weight loss and improves wellbeing.

There is some evidence, however, that wheat is an unusual food that our bodies may not have quite evolved to process, despite humans consuming wheat for millennia. Gluten contains proteins that the human digestive tract cannot digest fully, lacking the enzymes to do so. Moreover, recent studies have found that gluten has such a complex biological structure that it’s very difficult to pinpoint which compound may be contributing to a sensitivity in an individual person.

If you have ongoing digestive issues, especially IBS, you may find it beneficial to cut out gluten at least for some time and see if there is an improvement. If you don’t want to cut out bread completely, try eating less of it and switching to sourdough. It’s not gluten free, but the way it’s made at least partially breaks down the gluten in the flour, making it low in gluten content. Many people report that switching to sourdough bread helps with digestive issues.

Finally, will going gluten-free help you get rid of acne? There is no reliable scientific link between the two; however, if your acne is due to an autoimmune health condition or is related to digestive problems (a telltale sign is if you get breakouts on your forehead), then you should again consider significantly reducing your gluten intake.

BY ANNA COTTRELL

 

bread

Are You Brain-Fogged From Bread?

If you are fuzzy-headed after a sandwich, you may have gluten intolerance.

In my twenties, I once fell asleep at noon after eating a bagel, though there was no reason to be tired. I’d often be fuzzy-headed after a meal.

“Brain-fog” is a common sign of celiac, an auto-immune reaction, and of other kinds of sensitivity to gluten, a protein in wheat and rye.

Claire Baker, who now works for the advocacy group, Beyond Celiac, was afflicted with “brain fog” before she received her own celiac diagnosis. She was a program director at another major nonprofit and the fuzziness was affecting her productivity. “I thought there was something terribly wrong with me — couldn’t concentrate. I had no idea the problem was related to my diet, and no clue that it could be a symptom of an undiagnosed disease,” she told me.

In a new survey of patients with either celiac or gluten sensitivity, more than 70 percent said they had trouble concentrating after eating gluten. Nearly 60 percent of celiac patients (and nearly 70 percent of those with gluten sensitivity) said they became groggy. About a fifth said the symptoms showed up within a half-hour to an hour, but similar portions experienced the symptoms within the next four hours, or between one and two days later. The symptoms typically lasted a day or more.

So if you’re having trouble at work after your bagel or muffin breakfast and your sandwich at lunch, experiment with eating other foods that don’t contain gluten.

Food intolerances can also make you anxious and are linked to headaches and depression.

If you find that you can link your symptoms to gluten, don’t just go gluten-free on your own. You should get tested for celiac, a serious illness that requires monitoring. Even if you don’t have celiac, you may need help figuring out your diet. Many people get some improvement when they cut out gluten but find that other foods bother them as well. You might need to be extra careful with traditional “gassy” foods like beans and dairy.

If gluten triggers an inflammatory response, it can affect any system in your body — from your skin, to your nerves, to your brain.

One man I’ll call Tony had trouble with compulsive twitches and tics for years. The neurologists he saw couldn’t find a clear cause. One said, “This is the way God made you.”

He also was prone to becoming enraged at small irritations — for example, a dinner companion eating with her mouth open.

Both the tics and the irritability dropped dramatically when he cut gluten out of his diet.

Your primary care doctor may dismiss your interest in gluten — after all, it’s clear that “going gluten-free” has become fashionable.

Not everyone who goes gluten-free really needs to.

But you might. 

Truly cutting gluten from your diet requires attention — you need to read labels on any packaged food and ask lots of questions in restaurants. Any Chinese restaurant meal with soy sauce contains gluten.

To motivate yourself, do your best to steer completely clear and then, perhaps on the weekend, you might try a portion of a bagel. (Bagels contain more gluten than other flour products). If you experience a clear reaction, it’s time to get checked for celiac and get more advice from a doctor who takes this complaint seriously.

Temma Ehrenfeld is a New York-based science writer, and former assistant editor at Newsweek.
 
Jun 21, 2018


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Probiotic Use is a Link Between Brain Fogginess, Severe Bloating

Probiotic use can result in a significant accumulation of bacteria in the small intestine that can result in disorienting brain fogginess as well as rapid, significant belly bloating, investigators report.

In a published study of 30 patients, the 22 who reported problems like confusion and difficulty concentrating, in addition to their gas and bloating, were all taking probiotics, some several varieties.

When investigators looked further, they found large colonies of bacteria breeding in the patients’ small intestines, and high levels of D-lactic acid being produced by the bacteria lactobacillus’ fermentation of sugars in their food, says Dr. Satish S.C. Rao, director of neurogastroenterology/motility and the Digestive Health Clinical Research Center at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

D-lactic acid is known to be temporarily toxic to brain cells, interfering with cognition, thinking and sense of time. They found some patients had two to three times the normal amount of D-lactic acid in their blood. Some said their brain fogginess – which lasted from a half hour to many hours after eating – was so severe that they had to quit their jobs.

The report in the journal Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology appears to be the first time the connection has been made between brain fogginess, bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, high levels of D-lactic acid in the gut and probiotic use, Rao says.

“What we now know is that probiotic bacteria have the unique capacity to break down sugar and produce D-lactic acid. So if you inadvertently colonize your small bowel with probiotic bacteria, then you have set the stage for potentially developing lactic acidosis and brain fogginess,” Rao says.

While probiotics can be beneficial in some scenarios, like helping a patient restore his gut bacteria after taking antibiotics, the investigators advised caution against its excessive and indiscriminate use.

“Probiotics should be treated as a drug, not as a food supplement,” Rao says, noting that many individuals self-prescribe the live bacteria, which are considered good for digestion and overall health.

Others have implicated probiotics in the production of D-lactic acid – and brain fogginess – in patients with a short bowel so their small intestine does not function properly, and in newborns fed formula containing the popular product. Short bowel syndrome results in a lot of undigested carbohydrates that are known to cause small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, and the high levels of D-lactic acid. Severe liver and kidney problems can produce similar problems.

Whether there was also a connection when the gut is intact was an unknown. “This is the first inroad,” says Rao.

All patients experiencing brain fogginess took probiotics and SIBO was more common in the brain fogginess group as well, 68 percent compared to 28 percent, respectively. Patients with brain fogginess also had a higher prevalence of D-lactic acidosis, 77 versus 25 percent, respectively.

When brain-foggy patients stopped taking probiotics and took a course of antibiotics, their brain fogginess resolved.

Movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract was slow in one third of the brain foggy patients and one fourth of the other group. Slower passage, as well as things like obesity surgery, can increase the chance of bacterial buildup, or SIBO.

“Now that we can identify the problem, we can treat it,” Rao says. Diagnosis includes breath, urine and blood tests to detect lactic acid, and an endoscopy that enables examination of fluid from the small intestines so the specific bacteria can be determined and the best antibiotics selected for treatment.

Normally there is not much D-lactic acid made in the small intestines, but probiotic use appears to change that. SIBO, which was present in most with brain fogginess, can cause bacteria to go into a feeding frenzy that ferments sugars resulting in production of uncomfortable things like hydrogen gas and methane that explain the bloating.

probiotics

Probiotics added to that feeding frenzy the bacterium lactobacillus, which produces D-lactic acid as it breaks down sugars, The acid get absorbed in the blood and can reach the brain.

All those with brain fogginess, SIBO and/or D-lactic acidosis, were given antibiotics that targeted their bacterial population and asked to discontinue probiotics. Those without SIBO were asked to halt probiotics and stop eating yogurt, which is considered one of the best sources of probiotics. Those with SIBO and D-lactic acidosis but no brain fogginess also took antibiotics.

Following treatment, 70 percent of patients reported significant improvement in their symptoms and 85 percent said their brain fogginess was gone. Those without brain fogginess but with SIBO and high levels of D-lactic acid reported significant improvement in symptoms like bloating and cramping within three months.

Abdominal pain was the most common symptom in both groups and before treatment, six of those with brain fogginess reported a tremendous increase in their abdominal size within just a few minutes of eating.

All patients received extensive examination of their gastrointestinal tract, including a motility test, to rule out other potential causes of their symptoms. They filled out questionnaires about symptoms like abdominal pain, belching and gas and answered questions about related issues like antibiotic and probiotic use as well as food fads and yogurt consumption.

They were given carbohydrates followed by extensive metabolic testing looking at the impact on things like blood glucose and insulin levels. Levels of D-lactic acid and L-lactate acid, which results from our muscles’ use of glucose as energy and can cause muscle cramps, also were measured.

Probiotic use may be particularly problematic for patients who have known problems with motility, as well as those taking opioids and proton pump inhibitors, which reduce stomach acid secretion and so the natural destruction of excessive bacteria.

Probiotics are supposed to work in the colon and not the small intestines or stomach, Rao says, so motility issues can result in problems with probiotic bacteria reaching the proper place. A wide variety of problems, from conditions like diabetes to drugs like antidepressants and minerals like iron, can slow movement and increase the possibility that probiotics will remain too long in the upper gut where they can cause harm, he says.

Probiotics definitely can help, for example, people who have gastroenteritis, or stomach flu, or are left with diarrhea and other problems after antibiotics wipe out their natural gut bacteria, Rao says.

“In those situations, we want to build up their bacterial flora so probiotics are ideal,” he says.

Rao’s pursuit of a possible connection between probiotics, brain fogginess and bloating started with a memorable patient who developed significant amounts of both problems within a minute of eating.

“It happened right in front of our eyes,” Rao says of the dramatic abdominal distention. They knew the woman had diabetes, which can slow motility. When they looked in the blood and urine at a variety of metabolic compounds, they found the high levels of D-lactic acid and soon learned the patient used probiotics and regularly ate yogurt.

Next steps include additional studies in which the investigators better quantify and characterize the brain fogginess reported by patients and following patients for longer periods to ensure their problems remain resolved. Some patients in the current study required a couple of rounds of antibiotics, Rao notes.

Good food sources of probiotics include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and dark chocolate, which are generally safe because of the small amounts of bacteria present, Rao says.

The 19-foot long small intestine has been a bit of an understudied organ, likely in part because it’s hard to visualize via the mouth or anus, Rao says. “I think the small bowel can be a source of huge mystery,” Rao says.

Your helpful gut bacteria, or microbiome, which are essential to things like a well-functioning immune system and general health, are largely in the large intestine and colon.

 

Story Source:
Materials provided by Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.
Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
August 6, 2018
 
Journal Reference:
Satish S. C. Rao, Abdul Rehman, Siegfried Yu, Nicole Martinez de Andino.
Brain fogginess, gas and bloating: a link between SIBO, probiotics and metabolic acidosis.
Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology, 2018; 9 (6) DOI: 10.1038/s41424-018-0030-7


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The 10 Best Meals to Eat When You Feel Your Worst

Hippocrates had it right when he said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” When your body feels out of whack, certain foods can help set you back on the right track.
By Rachael Schultz

When you have a headache

Eat: Moroccan lentil soup made with spices like turmeric and cinnamon. “This meal is free of potential headache triggers like dairy, cured meat, nuts, and chocolate. Plus, it also doesn’t require chewing, which can aggravate a headache,” says Cynthia Sass, RD, author of Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches With Pulses — The New Superfood. The soup also delivers a good dose of protein, anti-inflammatory spices, and magnesium—which helps relax blood vessels to ease headaches. You can also try these other home remedies to soothe headaches.

When you have sinus pressure

Eat: anything spicy—the heat in chili peppers can help clear up types of sinus inflammation, according to research from the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center.

When you have a sore throat

Eat: soup made with a hot, thin broth (either vegetable- or chicken-stock base), with garlic, herbs, and vegetables; plus hot green tea with honey. For starters, both hot liquids will help drain congestion, Sass explains. “The garlic is anti-inflammatory and immune-supporting, the veggies provide nutrients for healing, and honey has been shown to help ease the pain from a sore throat,” she adds. These sore throat gargles are another trick to feel better.

When you have nausea

Eat: bananas, steamed brown rice, applesauce, and ginger tea, Sass suggests. Each of these foods is easy to keep down and tends to soothe the digestive system. Opt for tea bags with real ginger in it (like Yogi Ginger or Tazo Green Ginger) or better yet, steep some of the herb fresh in hot water. A University of Rochester study found that as little as a quarter of a teaspoon of ginger cut nausea by 40 percent in queasy chemotherapy patients.

When you have fatigue

Eat: There isn’t a one-size-fits-all remedy for this one, since the fix largely depends on the cause of fatigue. Your best bet? A leafy green salad topped with chopped vegetables and grilled salmon to give a boost of vitamins, minerals, and omega 3s, which will in turn increase your energy. Be sure to hydrate, since dehydration alone is enough to slow your energy down, says nutritionist and health coach Emily Littlefield, founder of Emily’s Powerfoods Living. If the fatigue is from a lack of sleep, avoid caffeine. “It may seem counterintuitive, but the temporary Band-Aid of coffee or an energy drink will only provide a brief false sense of energy, usually followed by even more intense fatigue, then trouble sleeping, which perpetuates the cycle,” Sass explains.

Black Tea Linked to Lower Diabetes Risk

When you have menstrual cramps

Drink: a pot of hot ginger tea with a little honey and lemon. “Ginger root is soothing and calming and has been used for healing stomach pain for centuries,” says Littlefield. A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that ginger was just as effective in relieving menstrual cramp pain as ibuprofen (whoa!). Plus, proper hydration can help reduce tension in certain muscles that contribute to menstrual cramping. These unusual period cramp remedies are also worth a try.

When you have constipation

Eat: oatmeal topped with a fiber-rich fruit and a mug of hot water with lemon. The goal here is to get your stool moving. “The fiber from the oats and fruit helps to soften stool,” Sass explains. “The drink will help stimulate your digestive muscles to contract and move waste through.” Here are other natural cures for constipation.

When you have diarrhea

Drink: a sports drink or Pedialyte, to start, Sass suggests. “The top goal is replacing fluids and electrolytes while diarrhea is active,” she says. Once it stops, continue to rehydrate, but start eating foods that are easy to digest, like bananas and brown rice. If you eat your usual fare, it can overstimulate digestive muscles or trigger unwanted inflammation or irritation, she adds. You can also soothe your stomach with these diarrhea home remedies.

When you have brain fog

Eat: two eggs any style; a whole-grain, low-sugar waffle (like Vans); and cup of black coffee. Countless studies have found that caffeine improves both alertness and attention. Between eggs and the waffle, you’ll score the perfect balance of fat, protein, and healthy carbohydrates to help avoid blood sugar dips that make you feel foggy.

When you have stress

Drink: a combo of chamomile and mint herbal teas. Refill indefinitely until you feel the hot drink calm your nervous system, Littlefield suggests. Avoid anything high in trans fats or in sugar, which a study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found can exacerbate other health problems that accompany stress, such as oxidative damage and the accumulation of abdominal fat, which can make you feel even worse than you already do.

source: www.rd.com