gut health

I’ve been doing some research and discovered that the state of our gut health has been linked to the severity of Covid symptoms.

Now, of course, may God protect us from this virus! But, also – it’s up to us to do what we can to look after ourselves.

Therefore, this post’s about the different ways you can protect yourself from Covid by supporting and strengthening your gut.

All guts have bacteria – but the trick is, to make sure that bacteria is a healthy one. How do we do that? Easily…

The best way to keep the good bacteria going is by maintaining a healthy digestive system and boosting your metabolism.

Below are a list of ways that we can boost our metabolisms.

gut health

Taking probiotics

Probiotics are found in loads of stuff… Here’s a list of foods/drinks that are enriched with the stuff!

🌟 Yogurt

🌟 Supplements (pill-form)

🌟 Actimel or Yakult

🌟 Kefir

🌟 Sauerkraut

🌟 Miso

🌟 Kombucha

🌟 Pickles

🌟 Cheese: specifically cheddar, mozzarella and gouda

I’ve gotta tell you – I’m ecstatic at finding out the health benefits of cheese! Cannot and will not live without it, and now – I have a reason.

Here’s more information on the types of foods which, when added to meal plans can benefit the gut.

And, now – for a list of ways to improve your metabolism…

gut health

Changing your lifestyle & diet

1) Increase the amount of protein in your meal-plan, where possible

2) Stay hydrated by drinking more water

3) Keep active

4) Drink green or oolong tea or black coffee

5) Try to literally spice up your meals 🌶

6) Sleep – catch some 💤 for 8 hours straight

7) Cook with coconut oil (instead of butter and cooking oil)

8) Don’t stress – a negative mental-health will have adverse affects

Of course, maintaining a balanced lifestyle and diet are key. Try to get a routine in place where you eat, sleep and get active each day.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

For years now I’ve had an inflammatory situation that affects both knees mainly… However, only recently I received a suspected Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnosis.

It’s tough, because I’d hoped that it was a sports injury which kept coming back (at least, that’s what I told myself!)

After countless MRIs – it’s safe to say it isn’t… With a sports injury, it’s not something that continues for years. They usually resolve themselves over time…

Time heals all wounds

But, seeing as mine kept coming back, there was reason to suggest an underlying factor was at play.

Honestly, I was reluctant to agree with any arthritis diagnosis for long time because: apart from the fluid in my knees (which fluctuates and moves around), I didn’t have any pains in other joints. (And, was too busy swimming in Denial, the best river Egypt has to offer 😭)

After my most recent flare-up, I thought I’d put this post together about a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis (or Osteoarthritis) in case it helps anyone at all.

I’ll start with tips on how to control it…

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

Listen to your rheumatologist when they give you a diagnosis

Consultants and rheumatologist alike, really listen to the experts. I know I’ve learned my lesson, albeit the hard way – accept that rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, and find a way to work with it. We think we know ourselves, but their qualifications paired with experience means they know better.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

Find a good physiotherapist

Finding a good physiotherapist after your rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis is everything. I prefer the gentler ones who use an ultrasound machine (which gets deep into the muscle tissue). I’ve quite literally limped into the clinic, only to walk almost normally back out.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

Taking the right vitamins & supplements

It’s vital that you boost up your vitamins and supplements intake after a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis. The most commonly known vitamins to take for this sort of condition are: A, C, and E, and vitamins D and K.

In terms of supplements, try: Q-10, Ginko biloba, MSM, Glucosamine and Chondroitin, Curcumin, Turmeric, and Fish oil. And of the teas: nettle is best.

FYI: I’m going to be testing out another one which I won’t mention just yet… My aim is to try it out and then give an honest review (backed up by studies I came across).

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

Changing my food habits after a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis

Admittedly, I consumed a lot of sugar and carbs, but very little dairy previously. This is not good for most conditions, least of all an auto-immune one.

After finding the correlation between food habits and flare-ups, I decided to cut down entirely on sugar, boost my dairy intake (although I still to this day can’t live without carbs).

Jesus is the bread of life

John 6:35-59 ✝️

There’s a meal-plan specifically formulated to combat RA which I’m going to try for a week and will circle back once completed.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

Start your day with some stretches, find some videos on YouTube

Since my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, I was recommended to do some stretches. I’m not going to lie – they kinda help me, but also don’t… What I mean is, the level of help is dependent on the stage of flare-up!

For example, if I’m in the peak stage of a flare-up, trying to copy the moves [when my leg feels like a Rottweiler is strapped to it] just isn’t going to work! I’m just not going to be able to lift it off the bed, or feel when/if the muscle is tensing.

The key is to remember to do the stretches in the early stages, which, let’s be real, I’m too busy stressing out & crying over it to bother, at that point.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

Taking medication is important after a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis

Whether you’re taking Naproxen, Ibuprofen, Paracetamol along with your Methotrexate, they’re being prescribed for a reason. Take them, but if you feel unusual side-effects coming on, let your doctors know immediately. In which case, there are loads of other treatments you can try such as acupuncture or reflexology.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

Hot and cold compression

During the peak of a flare-up, only apply cold compression – as applying heat makes the blood rush to the inflammation, making the swelling worse.

Other than that, if you feel a flare-up coming on, try to prevent it by alternating between cold and hot compression. An ice pack and a heatpad work well.

Normal hot water bottles and ice packs burned my skin, so I’ve had to resort to a heatpad and teething ice moulds! 😂 Honestly, they’re golden.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

Wrapping up warm

Our joints are more sensitive in autumn winter months… So, keep your joints warm at all times.

Now for the coping part…

Keep a diary – note each flare-up from start to finish, even before to after if you can. From this, you should be able to see a pattern forming. Once you know, it could be easier to prevent in future.🤞

Accept it – there’s a lot of strength that comes from/with accepting something. No, you can’t change it, you just have to live with it and find a way to work around it.

Stay positive – a negative mindset won’t solve anything. It won’t take the pain away, nor cure it. Stay strong.

Don’t take anything for granted – honestly, the times before a flare-up are dynamite and I feel so, so blessed.

To be honest, I feel blessed either way – because this is a minor ailment in the grand scheme of things, but: it just feels so good when there’s no pain!

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Mental Health Services

Useful numbers for mental health support:

United kingdom 🇬🇧 116 123

United states 🇺🇸 1-800-273-8255

Canada 🇨🇦 1 800 456 4566

Ireland 🇮🇪 116 123

Philippines 🇵🇭 2919

Australia 🇦🇺 131 114

In light of the “Tier 4” – aka second full lockdown in the UK – I am back with a list of FREE apps providing mental health services to help manage mood, and suss out triggers before they spiral out of control into a full depressive/anxious episode.

I think mental health is just as important – if not more so – than physical health. Unfortunately, counselling is expensive, unlike physical health support, provided by the NHS.

(Yes, mental health support is offered by the NHS, but I can imagine that there are long waiting lists for this)

In a global pandemic, which is crushing the economy, less people are likely to afford seeking it privately.

So, I’ve scoured the App Store to bring you FREE apps that aim to support you through this pandemic, keeping you headstrong.

Mental Health Services

DISCLAIMER: Apps alone are not and should not be used as a replacement for actual therapy. Please arrange a doctors appointment, as only a mixture of medication, therapy and use of these apps below can successfully treat the problem.

Let’s dive in…

Apps that provide free mental health services

Mental Health Services

CBT Tools for Healthy Living, Self-Help Mood Diary

(FREE TO USE ON ANDROID)

This app offers users the opportunity to keep track of their moods by logging their information into a diary. As I explained above, this app is completely FREE and available on the Android Play store.

Downloaders of this app can monitor their moods and activities which could help to determine triggers for mental health blocks &/or emotional instability.

I think this app is vital for those who are looking to gain a better handle on their mental health, and to take back control. Yes, mental health is uncontrollable at the worst of times, but this app assists by allowing you to keep a record, which you can look back on in a bid to pinpoint triggers.

There are some great self-help tips to take advantage of on there also.

Mental Health Services

Side By Side by the Mind Charity

(FREE TO USE ON ANDROID & APPLE)

Okay, so lockdown is very isolating and depressing. For those who have tragically lost family members, friends and even jobs due to Covid, Christmas is going to be a very lonely time…

‘Side by Side’ is like that little light at the end of the tunnel. Although it’s not the same as face-to-face human interaction, this free app is a supportive virtual community brought to you by Mind Charity (one of the largest mental health charities in the UK).

Users can share their stories with the promise of being heard, whilst also listening to others’ stories. Users can bond over similar experiences, make friends and feel like they’re part of a community.

Best of all: it’s free to use.

Mental Health Services

MindShift

(FREE TO USE ON APPLE & ANDROID)

This is an anxiety-busting CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) app designed with young people in mind. Whether you’re a youth or young adult, this app has everything you need to get through the anxious phases we endure on a daily basis.

Anxiety wears many hats and has many faces, it comes in many different forms – sometimes we’re even unable to recognise it. Well, you can rest assured it can be treated with the right help. Starting with this app.

MindShift is a great stress-reliever, and a teacher of relaxation. It’s also packed with insightful tips to help us develop more helpful ways of thinking.

Sometimes, all we need is a list of strategies that we can re-visit at a later date, which will help us overcome our anxieties. A list of these are as follows:

  1. exam anxiety
  2. perfectionism
  3. social anxiety
  4. performance/work-related anxiety
  5. worry
  6. panic
  7. conflict

Rest in the assurance that if you’re suffering from any of the above, MindShift is the one for you.

Again: this is FREE to download onto your smartphone.

Mental Health Services

Mood Tools

(FREE TO USE ON ANDROID)

This app is great for monitoring our mood like all others before and after it, but one thing I also love about it is that users can test themselves by taking the PHQ-9 Depression questionnaire. This is the same or similar to the ones given out in counselling sessions. Although we hate taking them at the time, there’s no denying that they help in showing our progress.

I also love this app because it has a video section, pre-loaded with plenty of content of anything from mood-lifting to guided meditations and enlightening TED talks.

As with many other apps out there (many of which are listed in this blog), this app has a thought diary, manual activity tracking (help with identifying triggers), information on self-help – but also a Safety Plan – support with suicide prevention.

Mental Health Services

SAM Self-help for Anxiety Management

(FREE TO USE ON APPLE & ANDROID)

SAM helps to understand and manage anxiety better.

You’ll learn how to better pinpoint causes of your anxiety, whilst also discovering new self-help exercises that you can practice offline.

Social Cloud is a private and confidential social-media forum where you can anonymously discuss your mental health journey with others, in a safe space.

SAM is an app that was developed as a result of a project run by the research team of Bristol’s UWE.

Mental Health Services

Silvercloud

(FREE TO USE ON APPLE & ANDROID)

Silvercloud is brilliant too in its own right. This app offers an array of supportive and interactive programmes, whilst giving out free tools and practices we can implement to solve our behavioural health issues.

I know we shouldn’t do it, but I always have a favourite, and this app is mine.

There is a programme for everything on this app… Anything from:

  1. well-being
  2. life balance
  3. time management
  4. communication skills
  5. goal setting, relationship & communication management
  6. anger management
  7. stress management
  8. relaxing and sleep management
Mental Health Services

Happier

(FREE TO USE ON APPLE)

Introducing the app which is best at helping us live in the present. If you’re like me, and are stuck in the future (or like others can get stuck in the past), this app is the one for you.

This app has its fair share of motivational quotes that keep us going. Also, I absolutely love the Gratitude Journal feature on there. Record all the happy moments, and look back on them whenever you want.

This app is packed with mini-courses you can take to find the joy in today. An added bonus of this app is that you can sync it with your smartwatch to keep track of your fitness, as a healthy body helps lead to a healthy mind.

There’s also quizzes we can take to help calm ourselves, along with guided mediations. It’s an amazing app. If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod, I recommend downloading it.

Mental Health Services

Daylio

(FREE TO USE ON APPLE & ANDROID)

Another one of my favourite apps, this is a private diary app that enables you to keep a record of your moods without having to write anything. Emojis and adjectives help to say it better than words.

This app is great because you can also add note etc and keep an old school diary.

The calendar feature lets you look back on a specific day to when you wasn’t feeling too good (or the ones you were). The format of this app is said to help understand our habits better. Keep up-to-date on your activities and create patterns that will help us to become more productive.

Mental Health Services

Catch It

(FREE TO USE ON APPLE & ANDROID)

This app is brought to you by the universities of Manchester and Liverpool. Like many other apps featured in this blog post, this app works as an ongoing diary. It’s helpful to note things down if you want to better understand our moods.

I like this app because it illustrates some key principles of psychology approaches to mental health and wellbeing, specifically CBT.

Free apps that provide mental health services for eating disorders

Mental Health Services


Stay Alive

(FREE TO USE ON APPLE & ANDROID)

Suicidal prevention app that is packed with a wide range of useful information to help keep us safe, preventing suicide.

Suicidal thoughts are not easy to deal with, and this app helps you combat them. This app is also beneficial for those who sadly know someone who may be at risk of suicidal thoughts.

You may not know this, but there are study finding that link a low mental health with eating disorders.

If you’re suffering from an eating disorder, that’s probably down to underlying issues that are going on in your mental health system.

Below are a couple of free apps you can download to support you on your journey to curing your eating disorder.

Recovery Record

(FREE TO USE ON APPLE & ANDROID)

Recovery from eating disorders isn’t easy, but you sure as heck don’t need to do it alone. This app covers o& supports rehabilitation from all types of eating disorders, whether it’s anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, obsessive eating, or compulsive eating disorders.

Keep track of your meals by keeping a record, and note down your thoughts and feelings. Set up notifications to be alerted of encouragement &/or affirmation messages and meditation images.

There’s a feature which lets you set up a meal plan, and an option to set up an alarm that alerts you.

Choose a treatment team, and share your recovery record with them, so they can support you, better understanding your behavioural trends and triggers.

This app is more like a community, you will be able to connect with hundreds / thousands of people who are also on a journey of recovery from eating disorders.

Mental health services

Rise Up +

(FREE TO USE ON APPLE & ANDROID)

Rise Up + Recover is a great app for those who struggle with body image. I’ve tried pretty much all the diets and can’t seem to stick to them, so this has helped me over the years.

Similar to Recovery Record, you can log your meals, set up notifications for motivational quotes and set custom reminders. This app also offers users of the app professional treatment and support available nearby.

Coronavirus

Another post about Coronavirus and the last that I will write…

So, right now, it’s tough. I’m not the first, nor the last person that will remind you of this. I mean, it’s the hardest thing to escape. The whole world is gripped by this pandemic. The whole world is at its feet, life as we know it has ground to a halt.

The purpose of this post is to take the shine away from the three biggest problems and highlight the millions of little blessings. It’s human nature to focus on our problems as opposed to the solutions… But, now it’s more important than ever to stop.

Research shows that a weak mental health has detrimental effects to our immune system. Of course, we need a high immune system to function and beat/prevent this virus.

Let’s start being grateful for the little blessings that [in the grand scheme of things] outweigh the three of our biggest problems… The world is being forced to acclimatise to a new way of living, so we might as well change our way of thinking!

Three problems we face because of Coronavirus

  1. Coronavirus fear of catching & spreading it.
  2. Being restricted from the outside world – bad mental health and/or being in a domestically toxic household.
  3. Not seeing our loved ones in person.

And now for a list of all the things we have to be thankful and grateful for, everyday blessings we forget to focus on or even take for granted…

Three things to be grateful for since Coronavirus

  1. Good health. We ourselves are not suffering from the complications of Coronavirus.
  2. Healthcare. First world countries have the best healthcare. The NHS in England is doing an amazing job all things considered… Also, it’s still possible for us to contact our GP and pharmacy via phone, or have things delivered to our home address.
  3. Waking up every morning. Think of all those not making it through the night, not just because of Coronavirus, but every other disease and/or natural causes.
  4. Breathing!? The people who are sadly and tragically suffering from the worst strain of Coronavirus and/or pneumonia can’t even do this unaided…
  5. A roof over our heads. Homelessness isn’t eradicated because of this virus… There are still people out there with no home.
  6. Food on the table. People in third world countries are suffering from hunger as well as Coronavirus. Our supermarkets might be limited, but there is still stock. It’s still possible for us to get the basics of what we need.
  7. Our jobs – even if furloughed. We can work from home or if not (in case of furlough) there is still money coming in. There are people out there that are sadly jobless.
  8. Technology. We live in a time when we can FaceTime our loved ones, and this helps us feel less alone.
  9. Home gardens/balconies. There are people out there that don’t have a garden at home and can’t enjoy the summer weather that the UK has been getting.
  10. Avoidance of natural disasters. Speaking of the weather, do you know how lucky we are not to be in a country that is being torn to shreds by bushfires, earthquakes, typhoons or hurricanes?
  11. Avoidance of war. Do you know how lucky we are to not be in a war-torn country while all this is going on?
  12. Having self-isolation buddies/housemates. There are people out there that are self-isolating alone, have nobody to speak to and watch TV or eat at the dining table with.
  13. Saving finances. We are all saving so much by not having to travel and get lunch at work. Also, any holidays, festivals or gigs we booked are being refunded or converted to credits to re-book at a later date.
  14. The ability to soul search. Now is the best time to do some soul-searching and self-discovery. There are no distractions.
  15. The ability to go out for walks to clear our heads. Most countries that experienced lockdown were locked in their houses, weren’t even allowed out for an hour or exercise. They had to carry an official note to say “leaving to pick up prescription / doctor appointment / buy items required from shopping list” or risk imprisonment or a serious fine.
  16. The free time. We have so much time on our hands to watch that boxset, read that book, study that course (more on this later), learn to cook, learn to clean, make more memories with those we live with but don’t see because of other commitments.
  17. Studying. The Open University is offering FREE courses to study anything from Maths, Science and English to Psychology, Languages and Finance in the comfort of your own home – online – at your own pace. Go find your calling!
  18. Free to do what we want, when we want (indoors). The saddest part of lockdown is that there are people out there who used to use the outdoors as an escape from indoor domestic violence. Do you know how lucky we are to be in a safe home where we are not made to feel victim?
  19. This is just temporary. This isn’t permanent. We will be reunited with our loved ones.

19 whole reasons to be grateful that I can think of… Three problems. Now do you see? Shift that thinking to change your life.

Final words on Coronavirus

Of course, there are some really awful drawbacks to lockdown that should never be ignored. Mental health and.. If you are victim of domestic violence, please visit:

UK: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/

Scotland: https://sdafmh.org.uk/

Wales: https://www.welshwomensaid.org.uk/

You are not alone.

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Covid-19

In a change to my usual blog posts, I wanted to write one relevant to the current situaton.

It’s a very challenging time to say the least, but I’m here to hopefully offer some advice.

What we know about COVID-19

It’s a respiratory-system attacking virus that thrives on low immune systems. The older and/or weaker your immune and respiratory systems are, the higher risk you are of contracting the more severe symptoms.

Although there is no cure or tablet to take for preventing COVID-19, there are some supplements that we can take to support our immune system.

Boosting our immune & respiratory systems against Covid-19

We’re all asking the same questions… How do we boost our immune and respiratory systems?

Vitamins. Exercise. Sleep. Essential Oils. Limiting exposure to the outside world, taking protective measure when needed.

Vitamins to take protect against Covid-19

Vitamin C – found in fruits and vegetables. In the US, some doctors treated COVID-19 patients with 1500mg Vitamin C dissolving tablets. Why? Well, Vitamin C is vital for boosting the immune system.

Here’s a news story that backs this claim

Vitamin D – can found in sunlight and supplements/spray form. Vitamin D is very important for the immune system. Flu and colds are at their weakest in summer… Why? Well, the sun is out. And, the sun is the best and main source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements are vital during the winter and autumn months, as they keep flues and colds at bay.

Here’s an article that supports this point

Omega 3, 6, 9 – you can get Omega 3, 6, 9 from fish and Cod Liver Oil. Beware: Cod Liver Oil capsules tend to lead to a reflux, which brings the fish oil back up… Gross!

For more information on taking fish oil supplements during this Coronavirus pandemic, click here

Zinc – found in fish, some vegetables, beans/pulses, seeds and some nuts. It supports the growth and development of healthy immune cells. The healthier the immune cells, the better the likelihood of beating or preventing this virus.

Find out more about the benefits of zinc by clicking here

Vitamin B Complex – Vitamin B helps the body make new red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. It also helps keep the immune system strong. Biotin is essential for healthy hair, nails, and nerve function.

More information on Vitamin B Complex

Vitamin E – a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight off infection. Foods rich in vitamin E include nuts, seeds and spinach.

Read all about vitamin E

Vitamin A – new research suggests that vitamin A helps the immune system ‘forget’ past infections, supports to build immunity, and leads to a more tolerant immune system lessening likelihood of infection.

Vitamin A – the benefits

All these supplements, although not proven to cure or prevent coronavirus itself have been proven to increase and strengthen the immune system. According to what we know, a strong immune system is what we need to fight this virus. It’s a no-brainer really…

Other ways to protect against Covid-19

Covid-19

Exercise

Do a home video, or go out for a walk/run… Move more where and when possible.

Covid-19

Sleep

Sleep for eight hours, and sleep deeply. Having problems doing this? Spraying lavender oil on pillows before sleeping helps. Also, practice sleep hygiene.

covid-19

Essential Oils

Essential Oils? Oregano oil and doTERRA Onguard.

Having regular steam baths help. Infusing essential oils into a steam bath (bowl of boiling water), stand with head over it, placing a towel over your head as you inhale helps to support, clear the respiratory system, cleansing it of any blockages.

Covid-19

Limit going outside

Don’t go out for picnics or to celebrate 420. Go out for walks or to get food. But, wear gloves and masks while out, to protect yourself.

Please stay safe, stay well and stay blessed. Special thanks to those at the front-line from retail employees who stack our supermarket shelves, to the medics that treat us and delivery people that deliver our parcels. Without them, it’d be much, much worse.

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