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Understanding the Impact of Stress on Your Health

Posted Tuesday 27 June 2017 11:33 by Tim Deakin in Uncategorized


When it comes to managing the impact of stress on your health, it’s all about balance

We all know that feeling of having a lot on our plate. Whether it’s a hectic week at work, organising construction work at home or even just getting the kids from A to B on time, it is human nature that at one point or another our pulses begin to race and our mind runs at 100 miles per hour as we tackle the task at hand.

A burst of energy caused by a release of adrenaline is completely normal and actually helps us to function properly. However, too much or too little of this kind of stimulation can be bad for our health. Just as constant stress can have a long-term impact on our wellbeing, so too little motivation can cause our health to deteriorate.

Let’s take a closer look at that odd balance of productive stress.

What are the effects of stress?

It’s all too easy to label mental health issues as things that are “all in our head” and easily remedied. But this is far from the truth. The feeling of stress has a direct impact on the release of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline – powerful drugs that force the body into a higher state of agitation and alertness.

Too much stress

For a short period of time, stress hormones can help us to be more productive but too much of these hormones and we risk fatigue, insomnia and adrenal burnout. Over time, it is even thought that chronic stress can damage the brain, particularly in the hippocampus – the area of the brain responsible for memory.

Research has also shown that stress can cause problems within the central nervous system, digestive system and also on a cellular level, damaging the mitochondria that act as the energy factories of the body. The result of these problems can be chronic fatigue, a lowered immune system, an inability to detoxify or metabolise food properly, increased blood pressure, muscular pain and even impotence.

No stress

While too much stress can be harmful to your health, it’s also possible to suffer from not having enough motivation in your life. Living without any stress – or shall we call it drive – can leave you feeling listless and lethargic. Adrenaline and cortisol are important hormones that can be beneficial in short bursts. Without direction and a sense of energy you may not feel stress, but the hormone imbalance can quickly lead to depression.

This depression through inactivity will not only leave you in a poor mental state (one that is difficult to escape from) but will also have a knock on effect on your physical health. Low energy results in a lack of exercise and movement. Sitting for long periods of time has been closely related to conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Ironically, the lack of exercise means that the body does not release endorphins – the feel good drug which can improve mood and energy. It is for this reason that depression is often referred to as a vicious cycle.

What factors affect your stress?

The first step to dealing with stress is to identify the causes, whether they be external factors like work, children, relationships, family, your financial situation, or internal factors such as mental health conditions like anxiety.

Stress can be caused by many different aspects of your life, like your experience dealing with past stressful situations or the support network you have around you. Your physical environment can also play a part, as studies show that those who spend more time in clinical indoor spaces are more likely to find relaxation difficult.

What is the perfect stress level?

Your perfect stress level is the level of responsibility, desire and fear which motivates you without creating anxiety and worry. The right kind of stress is the kind that makes you feel inspired to work harder. It leaves you energised, focused, engaged and alert. The right stress can benefit your health by pushing your comfort zones, encouraging you to think and move more, and helping you learn new things. This kind of stress is the ideal balance between rest, recovery, and activity — so how do you find it?

Manage energy and rest to find your perfect stress level

Everybody deals with stress differently. For some, the smallest amount of stress can feel like too much whereas others are able to deal with high levels without feeling overwhelmed. There are a few tips we can all follow however to help us reach the perfect stress level.

For energy and motivation, it’s all about getting inspired for the future. Set goals that suit you and keep track of your progress. To-do lists are a useful tool for motivating yourself to complete at least one task a day. You should also never be afraid to seek motivation in other places, whether it’s from a loved one, a professional coach or a healthcare expert.

For those times when your stress levels feel too high, meditation can help your body relax, as well as massage and getting outdoors. However, there is no replacement for nutrition and exercise. How often you move your body and the stuff you choose to put into it play a huge part in your physical and mental responses to situations.

Think of your body like a car — in order to run at its best, it needs the right fuel and should be serviced regularly to keep everything in good working order. Focusing on your exercise regime and nutrition to maintain a healthy weight and balanced lifestyle is a great way to help keep dark thoughts at bay.

Need valuable health advice that’s fast and discreet? Why not contact the team here at Express Pharmacy? You can call us on 0208 123 0703 or use our handy Live Chat tool to speak to our fully qualified pharmacy team.

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6 Unusual Ways to Help You Get Fit for Summer

Posted Wednesday 21 June 2017 11:19 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

Get fit for summer

With summer comes the pressure to get fit. Your social media accounts will most likely be bursting with fad diet ideas and the best summer workouts for torching fat. Check the tabloids and you’ll also see celebrities with enviable figures lounging around on exotic beaches.

Amidst all of this, how do you know what’s best for your health?

We take a look at the evidence behind some simple, safe ways to get healthy for summer.

More often than not, extreme diets do our bodies more harm than good. All too many of them deny your body vital nutrient and they certainly don’t provide long term results when it comes to fitness and weight loss. One of the key things to remember is that drastic diets are not sustainable and it is easy to put weight back on quickly once you come off your strict regime.

The best advice is always to build a plan that is well balanced and sustainable to improve long-term health. But it’s not all about calorie counting on packages. There are many other factors that you could be taking into account.

Let’s take a closer look.

Switching off your screens can lower your calorie intake

One study on children’s health found that youngsters who limited their TV and computer time consumed an average of three hundred fewer calories a day. Similarly, other studies across the age range have shown that eating without distraction gives you a better memory of what you’ve eaten, helping you feel fuller for longer. This means that watching TV, playing tablet games or using your phone whilst eating can leave you feeling unsatisfied with your meal and craving more food. Try to stop and think about what you’re eating.

Embracing spicy foods helps burn fat

A study published in the American Society of Microbiology found that mice being fed a high fat diet alongside a chilli pepper compound had less body fat than those who did not take the compound. This compound was capsaicin.

Capsaicin is the compound that gives chilli peppers their heat, but it can also help speed up your metabolism. Another study found that participants receiving capsaicin supplements after every meal burned between 100 and 200 more calories a day, and continued to burn fat for several hours longer after every meal.

Aim to include a broader range of spicy foods in your diets, as this can help your body burn off excess fat. The other good thing about spicy foods? They can make you feel fuller quicker.

However, it is worth bearing in mind that overloading on spice can have a number of drawbacks – such as giving you heartburn and even dulling your taste buds. So, as with everything in life: moderation is the key.

Getting enough sleep gives you energy and will power

Sleep is a big contributor to your overall physical and mental health, but it can also help keep you fit too. Not only does obtaining 8+ hours of sleep every night give you more energy to be more active when you’re awake, but studies have also shown that sleep can help you burn more fat and make you feel less hungry throughout the day.

One recent study by the Cognitive Neuroscience Society even found that sleep deprivation increases our perception of food odours, making snacking harder to resist. This is because sleep deprivation increases activity in the areas of the brain linked to olfaction, meaning our nose knows when we’re tired and makes food smells more appetizing as a result.

Changing your coffee habits increases your metabolism

A study last year found that drinking 3 to 4 cups of coffee a day can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes due to the presence of chlorogenic acids and caffeine. These ingredients boost metabolic rate which can help with managing weight. Of course, if your caffeine hit of choice is a milky mocha topped off with whipped cream and dusted chocolate, you’re unlikely to be losing any weight as a result.

Take a couple of weeks to try switching to black coffee or herbal tea whenever you feel a caffeine craving. After a while, you may find your once beloved mocha a little too sweet for your tastes.

Follow the rule of ¾’s gives you a healthier plate

Sadly, 75% of Brits don’t get their five a day, but the rule of ¾’s can help.

When dishing out your meals, try to see your plate as a pie chart. The rule of ¾’s is the idea that 75 per cent of your portion should be made up of vegetables, whilst meat and carbs should make up the final 25 per cent.

The average plate uses meat as the main component of a meal, but this rule lets veg be the star of the show and helps you see meat as a treat. Aim for the carbs you choose to be healthy ones, like sweet potato, brown rice or grains. And get creative and exotic in your choice of vegetables so you don’t get sick of the same combinations every day.

Tried everything and need a little medical assistance?

For those who struggle to lose weight through traditional means, Express Pharmacy stocks Xenical – a prescription medication that can help with weight loss. Xenical prevents the body from absorbing the fat from food within the digestive system.

Xenical is one of the few weight loss products on the market that has been clinically proven to be both safe and effective. As with any medication, you should only ever take a weight-loss drug after a consultation with a trained medical professional.

Contact our experienced pharmacists today for a consultation to find out if Xenical is suitable for you. Start Consultation

Contact Express Pharmacy today. Our live chat service lets you get the answers you need discreetly from the comfort of your own home.

Related Products: Xenical

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June 12th Marks the Beginning of Men’s Health Week 2017

Posted Tuesday 06 June 2017 16:51 by Tim Deakin in Weight loss

Men’s Health Week takes place every year, so what it’s all about and why is it so important?

One in five men die before the age of 65. Men’s Health Week aims to increase awareness for men’s wellbeing and encourage men to live healthier, more active lifestyles in order to fight this statistic and improve the lives of men all over the world.

The movement aims to do this with the help of thousands of participants. By signing up to regular updates, using free resources to carry out events and activities, sharing images on social media and using hashtags you can boost awareness for this important cause.

Last year, Men’s Health Week focussed on stress relief. The year before, the topic was healthy living and in 2014 it was work and health. So what is this year’s focus?

This year’s Men’s Health Week is all about belly fat

For 2017, Men’s Health Week focuses on belly fat. Although women are by no means immune to abdominal fat, it is a fact that many more men carry an unhealthy amount of weight around their middle. The importance of keeping abdominal fat to a minimum extends far beyond the aesthetics of wanting a washboard stomach, as belly fat has significant implications for our broader health.

Abdominal fact consists of two forms of fat: subcutaneous fat, which sits just below the skin; and visceral fat, which surrounds organs such as the pancreas, liver and intestines. Although it is often the subcutaneous fat that we consider to stand in the way of achieving the perfect physique, it is visceral that is by far the most dangerous for our health and wellbeing. This is because visceral fat interacts with our vital organs and changes the way that the body operates – inhibiting circulation, causing inflammation and creating a hormone imbalance in the body, among other things.

Over time, large amounts of visceral belly fat can increase your risk of serious conditions like sleep apnoea, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer and even premature death.

So how much fat is too much?

It’s time to get measuring

You can check to see whether you’re carrying a high-risk level of belly fat by measuring your waist with a tape measure at the belly button (simply relying on your trouser size is not an accurate enough measurement.)

Waists below 37 inches (or 94cm) are generally in the low-risk category, whereas anything above this means you’re at an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and erectile dysfunction. If your waist is over 40 inches (or 102 cm), you are considered to have a significant risk of contracting one of these diseases.

It is worth noting that to get an accurate calculation of deep-lying visceral fat, an MRI scan is necessary. But measuring fat in this basic way can at least help men to benchmark their current state of health as a starting point to make improvements.

Why is Men’s Health Week so important?

The time to talk about men’s health is long overdue. Men are infamously bad at doing anything to address symptoms or seek treatment, choosing instead to ignore problems and keep them to themselves.

Studies have found that over a two-year period, men are half as likely to visit the doctor as women. What’s more, they are three times as likely to go five years without a visit and twice as likely to have never contacted a doctor as an adult.

The reasons for this seem to be a mixture of different factors, including feeling ‘too busy’ to seek medical advice, feeling embarrassed about intimate tests and being scared about receiving unpleasant results. But remaining in the dark about your health can have disastrous consequences.

Men, on average, die earlier than women. They’re also more likely to die from eight out of the top ten fatal diseases and are more likely to smoke, drink and live generally unhealthy lifestyles.

So, men, what should you do?

Get involved in Men’s Health Week by downloading resources, educating yourself and sharing messages on social media. You can even plan events, and don’t forget to get that tape measure out and check your belly fat level.

If you’re worried you might be carrying too much weight around this region, make the effort to implement some key lifestyle changes. Eating healthier, moving more and cutting down on alcohol could be enough to see significant health improvements. And, of course, never be afraid to seek medical expertise.

For further information, advice and guidance on weight management or related symptoms such as erectile dysfunction, why not speak confidentially to one of our trained pharmacists using our Live Chat facility.

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The Important Factors That Can Affect Jet Lag

Posted Friday 02 June 2017 11:40 by Tim Deakin in Jet Lag

If you have ever flown long distance, the chances are that you will have experienced jet lag to some degree. Jet lag occurs when our bodies have to rapidly adjust to a new day and night schedule, throwing our circadian rhythms out of balance and leading to feelings of exhaustion, restlessness, nausea and dizziness. It’s not pleasant, and can put a dampener on the start of your holiday, so what can you do to try and lessen your symptoms?

Unfortunately, there is no outright cure for jet lag. But there are several things you can do to ease the problem and stop a change in time zone from ruining your break.

Moving on the plane makes a difference

When on a long haul flight, your best bet is to sleep as much as you can. However, many of us find it difficult to sleep effectively on uncomfortable plane seats.

So if you’re not sleeping, the next best thing to do is get up and move around as regularly as possible. Moving around the plane — or even just doing a few simple stretches every now and then — will help keep you mentally and physically active and prevent blood clots by keeping your blood pumping. It will also help you sleep better later on, as you’ll feel less restless.

Natural light has an impact

Natural light plays a big part in your circadian rhythm. Studies have shown that bathing yourself is natural light is one of the most effective ways of combating jet lag as it encourages our release of serotonin — the hormone which provides us with energy. Once you arrive at your destination, take a short walk and indulge in a little sunlight before attempting to sleep. This will help your body get used to its new schedule.

Severity can depend on the direction you fly

The seriousness of your jet lag often changes depending in which direction you fly. Travelling eastward makes jet lag worse, because travelling in this direction causes you to lose hours in your day, making it harder for your body to catch up with itself. It’s much more difficult to adjust to losing hours than gaining them, so if you’re travelling east this summer take extra care with your sleep health.

Dehydration plays a part

Dehydration leads to many of the same symptoms as jet lag, such as fatigue, nausea, headaches and dizziness. This means that being both dehydrated and jet lagged can make your condition even worse.

Regular hits of cold glasses of water are a good way of keeping unnecessary symptoms at bay, and will also help you feel more alert. Not to mention, all those extra bathroom visits will force you to be more active on your flight!

Drinking does more harm than good

There is a myth that having a few drinks on a long haul flight will help you avoid symptoms of jet lag. Unfortunately, this is not true. In fact, the opposite is typically the case. Alcohol might help you fall asleep faster, but it’s also guaranteed to lower the quality of the sleep you are getting. This will make you feel more tired and more irritable, as well as increasing your risk of dehydration and therefore extra, unwanted symptoms.

Caffeine can help beat it

A cup of coffee can actually improve your symptoms of jet lag, but only when used in the right circumstances.

If you’re travelling west then a cup of coffee at the right point in your journey may help you stay awake for longer by providing you with an extra burst of energy.

However, drinking coffee when you’ve lost time could prove disastrous as you should be aiming to relax your body in preparation for sleep. Travelling east? Avoid caffeine.

Use Circadin

At Express Pharmacy, we stock Circadin, a prescription only medication containing Melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body and is used to help treat the symptoms of jet lag. Find out more here.

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Coming Clean About Digestive Health

Posted Friday 26 May 2017 11:38 by Tim Deakin in Acid Reflux

In honour of World Digestive Health Day, we’re looking at the importance of digestive health to our overall wellbeing, and the conditions that are associated with digestive concerns

The World Gastroenterology Organisation has named 29th May 2017 as World Digestive Health Day. With that in mind, there’s no better time to explore the importance of our digestive health – an important factor in our general health.

A useful way to do this is to ask the question: Why is our digestive health so important? And also: What conditions are linked to poor digestive health?

Let’s look at some of the common conditions associated with poor digestive health, letting you know what you can do to avoid and treat them.

Why is digestive health so important?

70% of our body’s immune system lives in our digestive tract. This means that if something isn’t right with our digestion, then our overall health is compromised as a result. Digestion is the entire process from consuming food to excreting waste. It’s responsible for the nutrients our body absorbs, making it not only necessary for our overall health, but for our survival.

In order to maintain a healthy digestion process, we need to make sure our diet consists of all the necessary food groups in the correct quantities. This means carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, healthy fats and sugars and fibre, which is key for keeping the digestive process moving. We also need to drink plenty of water and be active, even just by making the effort to walk for fifteen minutes a day.

What conditions are associated with poor digestive health?

There are a huge number of conditions which either result from or cause poor digestive health. We’ve explored two of the most common digestive symptoms which can occur.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is extremely common. In fact, up to 20% of the UK population suffer from it in some form. It’s a condition that affects the large intestine, and most often results in symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, diarrhoea and constipation.

IBS is a chronic condition, and it’s unclear exactly what causes it. Most sufferers learn to manage their symptoms through lifestyle and dietary changes, and by managing stress levels. Anti-diarrhoeal or anti-constipation medication can help, and it’s also advisable to cut gluten and high-gas products like carbonated drinks from your diet.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is otherwise known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), and is caused by stomach acid rising up into the oesophagus, causing an unpleasant and sometimes painful acidic sensation. This is usually the result of a weakened lower oesophageal sphincter muscle. One of the main symptoms of GERD is heartburn, which feels just as the name suggests: a hot, tight (often painful) discomfort in the centre of the chest.

You can manage and avoid GERD by sleeping smart; elevating your head, neck and upper back with pillows and allowing gravity to do its job with the acid in your stomach. You can also maintain a healthy weight (as being overweight increases your chances of experiencing acid reflux and heartburn) and cut fatty, greasy or full dairy products from your diet.

Acid reflux and heartburn can also be treated with the help of prescription medication designed to cool and neutralize the acid in your stomach and throat with an antacid-based formula.

Gaining an understanding of your health concerns is the first step to treating them effectively, so don’t hesitate to get the professional guidance you need to ease your worries.

Express Pharmacy provides an easy to navigate and discreet service, and we provide patients with a handy Live Chat tool so that they can ask any questions that are troubling them, no matter how sensitive.

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