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All posts by Dr. Briana Botsford

The Best Apps to Manage Stress

Stress is defined as any change. It can be a good change such as buying a new house, or a bad change like being let go from a job. Stress is always present in our lives and our stress hormone, cortisol, has an effect on our body. You can change the effect of stress on your body by improving the way you cope with changes in your life. There are many well researched ways to cope with stress including yoga, meditation, exercise and so on. If you don’t have time to hit the gym or yoga studio, or you’re not sure how to start meditating, here’s our list of the best apps to manage stress.

  1. Stop, Breathe, Think – this app is incredibly simple to use and it’s free! You can opt to enrol in a free learn to meditate course, or you can simply do a guided meditation, your choice of duration, once you’ve downloaded the app. If you’re feeling anxious, there’s a meditation for that. If you’re feeling angry, there’s a meditation for that. It will guide you through a series of questions and produce several options for guided meditations for you to try.
  2. The Five Minute Journal – you can buy a hard copy of this book, or you can download the app for your phone/tablet. This app is a great way to practice gratitude and positive affirmations. In the morning, it will ask you for 3 things you’re grateful for and 3 things that would make your day fantastic. In the evening, you can reflect on your day by entering 3 things that you felt went well and 1 thing you could’ve done better.
  3. Breathe+ – If learning to meditate sounds like a bit too much for you, but you’d consider practicing some deep breathing to manage your stress levels, this app is for you. You can use this app to slow down your breathing by setting the length of your inhales and exhales. The app has a simple graphic that changes with your inhale and exhale so that you know when to breathe. You can set any length of time from 1 minute up to practice your deep breathing.

Try one or all of the apps to help you manage the stress in your life. By meditating, journalling, or slowing down your breathing, you can have a measurable effect on your stress response. This could look like increased energy, improved sleep, fewer sensations of anxiety or worry and/or improved concentration. Let us know if you have a favourite app that you use to manage stress!

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Cold or Flu? What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between a cold or the flu?

The best way to break down the difference between a cold or flu is by symptom. The flu varies so much each year that it’s tough to really differentiate it from a simple cold, but there are a few key differences. A common misconception is that the flu effects the gastrointestinal tract causing nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. This is not the same as the seasonal flu, this is the stomach flu known in the medical community as gastroenteritis (infection of the GI system). Colds are usually caused by a variety of viruses, and they usually only impact the upper respiratory tract (nose, throat, upper lungs and/or ears). The flu is caused by the influenza virus and can impact your whole body. The flu is more dangerous for the elderly, pregnant women and very young children as these people have a lowered immune system compared to the general, healthy public.

FEVER

Flu: Usually at the onset of symptoms there will be a fever

Cold: Rarely present

CHILLS, BODY ACHES, PAIN

Flu: Can be severe and limit day-to-day functioning. Usually occurs prior to respiratory symptoms or during the fever phase of infection.

Cold: Not usually present

LOSS OF APPETITE

Flu: Sometimes. This is usually during the fever and body-aches stage of infection. It is due to the immune response. The body doesn’t want you to eat so that it can spend its energy fighting the infection instead of digesting your food.

Cold: Rarely, but it depends on the severity.

SORE THROAT / COUGH / RUNNY NOSE

Can be present in the flu and colds.

BOTTOM LINE

The most common symptoms that people suffer from when they have a cold or flu are the sore throat, cough and runny nose. These three symptoms are common to both colds and the flu. The flu has more of a whole-body effect than the common cold. Body aches, chills, fever, extreme fatigue or sleepiness are more often involved in the flu than in the common cold.

IF YOU’VE BEEN SICK for more than 10 days and your symptoms are not improving, it is important for you to see your Naturopathic Doctor to determine the cause of your infection and receive treatment.

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Summer Sugar Recovery

During the summer months Edmonton’s festival scene comes to life. Between KDays and Folk Fest it seems like there is something happening every weekend. All of these events have lots of food and a variety of beverages. It can be fun to treat yourself to some sugary treats or refreshing cocktails, but sometimes our indulgence can go a little too far.  Sometimes too many sugary treats can lead to gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhea or constipation. Sometimes they simply cause decreased energy or difficulty maintaining a healthy diet. If you overdid it on the weekend and you’re feeling groggy, having digestive problems, or just struggling to get back into your routine, here are some tips to get you on track when you need some summer sugar recovery.

Summer Sugar Recovery Tips:

  1. Hydrate – If you had one too many sugary summer patio beverages, you need to make sure you rehydrate yourself. Drink 2 cups of water minimum between each meal to rehydrate your body. If your energy is low, it can be tempting to reach for coffee or energy drinks to give you a pick-me-up. Resist the urge and stick with water or iced, unsweetened herbal or green tea to get more water into your body.
  2. Fibre – If you’re not feeling hungry, blend up some fruits and veggies into a smoothie. This will deliver nutrients and fibre to help clean out your digestive tract. Fibre also feeds the good bacteria that live in your digestive tract. When you eat sugary foods or drink lots of alcohol, you alter this gut bacteria. Your gut bacteria can impact your digestion, hormones and even your brain function.
  3. Exercise – Go for a walk, run, bike ride, go to yoga or hit the gym. Make sure you’re hydrated prior to starting your sweat session, as you don’t want to dehydrate yourself further. Getting some exercise in can help boost your mood, metabolism, and energy.
  4. Rest – If you missed out on sleep due to a weekend away or late night out, you need to recover. Get into bed 30minutes earlier and remove all electronic distractions (TV, phone, iPad etc). Read a book or do some deep breathing.

If you’re still feeling rotten a week after you overindulged, there may be something else going on in your body that requires further assessment. Try these tips for summer sugar recovery first, then consider finding out if there’s an additional cause for your symptoms. 

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Helping Depression with Vitamins

To help your depression improve, we need to determine the cause. If there is a nutrient missing, we need to determine which one is at play. Certain vitamins like B12 and B6 play a role in helping our brain produce chemicals that regulate our mood and energy. Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in anyone with digestive complaints such as heartburn, gas or bloating. Vitamin B12 is also depleted by certain medications. Vitamin B5 can be important in cases of high stress, while Vitamin B6 is important in patients with menstrual concerns.

When these vitamins are combined and used in MicroVitamin Therapy patients often feel a boost in their sense of well being as well as energy immediately. B12 can help boost energy and reduce depression while B6 helps produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine that can help set our bodies natural clock as well as regulate our mood. Vitamin B6 can also impact your hormones and B5 helps to cope with stress. In people who consume a lot of alcohol, Vitamin B1 can also be useful.

It is important to consult with a health care provider before adding supplements into your routine, especially if you are currently taking medications. During a visit at Green Apple, we would determine the best combination of vitamins for you based on your unique needs.

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Feeling down? Nutritional Causes of Depression.

Life has it’s ups and downs. It’s normal to feel great joy if you were to win the lottery, or by contrast, feel down when life just doesn’t go our way. Having these range of emotions is healthy and natural. The trouble can start when we don’t come out of “the dumps” and we start to feel down all the time.

Some of the symptoms of depression are; Fatigue, feeling of hopelessness or guilt, insomnia, loss of interest in activities or hobbies, decreased sex drive, general aches and pains or change in eating habits.

Depression can be caused by a variety of factors including stressful life events. Often an event can trigger an episode of depression if the fundamental foundations of brain health are lacking. Thought processes and errors in thinking can lead to difficult emotions. Sometimes these thought errors can occur due to chemical imbalances in the brain. To help balance the brain chemicals and relieve depression, we need to ensure the nutritional foundations of mental health are there.

A healthy diet is important, but sometimes it’s not enough. When we design our specific individualized treatment plans we determine which nutrients you need most to improve your mental health and help resolve depression.

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