Apps to Help Lessen Anxiety and Stress

I have witnessed countless acts of kindness throughout this difficult time including wonderful trainers and gyms offering ways for us to keep physically active and motivated while staying home.

But along with taking care of our physical needs we must also nourish our mental self.

There are many strategies that we can employ.  One arena to play in are the many apps that have been developed for just this purpose.

There really are so many terrific apps available to help us strengthen and maintain our mental health but I want to highlight 3 that I use personally.

𝗠𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝗦𝗵𝗶𝗳𝘁

Developed by Anxiety Canada, Mind Shift is an app that is designed to help you cope with mild to moderate anxiety aiming to change how you think about anxiety.

It is based on proven scientific strategies helping you to engage in healthy thinking. You check in each day to track your anxiety and work with tools in the app.

This is a free app.

𝗖𝗮𝗹𝗺

In 2017 Calm was named iPhone App of the Year. Calm is a wonderful app for everyone including those experiencing stress and anxiety.  The App offers daily Calm sessions and guides you through meditations, sleep stories and breathing programs.

There is a free version and a paid version.

𝗚𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝘁𝘂𝗱𝗲 𝗛𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗝𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗹

Daily recording of gratitude has been shown to increase happiness and improve mood.

As the Gratitude Happiness Journal app description states:

the app was built out of a personal need to cope with anxiety & depression

This app offers unlimited journal entries and affirmations.

There is a Pro version but I have been using the free one and I love it!


RECIPE

Ashwagandha Milk Tea

(I have published this recipe before and have had many positive feedbacks from it)

Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) is an Ayurvedic adaptogenic herb.  An adaptogen helps to bring balance and stabiliziation. Ashwagandha is best known for its stress-lowering effects.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp Ashwagandha Powder
  • 1 date
  • 10 Goji Berries
  • 4-5 cardamom buds

Directions:

  1. Add milk, water, Ashwagandha powder, date and Goji Berries to a small saucepan and bring to a boil
  2. Once reduced to about half strain in to a teacup, add cardamon buds and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neutropenia: A Common Side Effect of Cancer

Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell and an extremely important part of our immune system as they help our body to fight infection.

Neutropenia is a condition where a person has an abnormally low concentration of neutrophils.

People who have neutropenia have a higher risk of getting serious infections because they do not have enough neutrophils to fight off invading and harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Cancer patients who are receiving treatment can be at risk of neutropenia. Neutrophils are made in the bone marrow and cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy can affect a patient’s bone health thus impacting neutrophil production. Neutropenia is also a common side effect in people with leukemia and can also be caused by solid tumour malignancies if they infiltrate the bone marrow.

Neutropenia is diagnosed by a routine complete blood count (CBC).

Symptoms of Neutropenia

The following are common signs of neutropenia:

  • A fever
  • Chills or sweating
  • Sore throat, sores in the mouth
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pain near the anus
  • Pain or burning when urinating, or urinating often
  • A cough or shortness of breath
  • Any redness, swelling, or pain (especially around a cut, wound, or catheter)
  • Unusual vaginal discharge or itching

Allopathic Management of Neutropenia

The treatment of neutropenia depends on its cause and severity. In some cases cancer treatment may be suspended until neutrophil count rises to an adequate level.

Patients may be given medication to help bone marrow regenerate new neutrophils.

And in cases where a disease has caused the drop in neutrophils, treatment of the disease will occur.

How Can You Support Your Immune System If You Are At Risk of Neutropenia?

Eat a healthy diet

  • Protein is the building block for the immune system. Foods such as eggs, quinoa and

       lean white meat are good sources

  • Zinc is a strong immune booster. Foods rich in zinc include pumpkin seeds, shellfish and

       beans

  • Omega‐3 fatty acids increase phagocyte activity. Phagocytes are white blood cells that

        consume bacteria. Foods include flax seeds, wild caught salmon and chia seeds

  • Folate increases neutrophil count. Foods high in folate include leafy green vegetables,

        beans, and lentils.

  • Stay well hydrated drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day

Wash your hands frequently

Washing your hands helps to prevent the spread of germs to your nose, eyes and mouth.  All entry points to your body

Stay away from large groups

You are at greater risk of infection when your immune system is compromised.  During this time avoid large groups to help reduce your risk of coming in to contact with potentially harmful germs

Get lots of sleep

Proper sleep is a key piece of a healthy immune system.  Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night

Neutropenia can be serious.  Be aware of the symptoms and contact your doctor if you begin to experience any of them.


References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4059501/

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

https://www.cancer.net/coping-with-cancer/physical-emotional-and-social-effects-cancer/managing-physical-side-effects/neutropenia

Chemotherapy, Radiation, Surgery Natural Strategies for Preparation & Dealing with Side Effects of Cancer Treatments by Cathy Biase BSc., RHN, CPCC

 

Integrative Approaches for Dealing with Chemo Brain

The frustration that stems from the mental cloudiness experienced by many cancer patients going through chemotherapy is no laughing matter.  And although many may try to make light of it, chemo brain, as it is commonly known, can be a cause of great concern when a decrease in mental sharpness leads to the inability to remember important things, learn new skills or finish tasks.  This negative impact on everyday life can also impart a great emotional hit alongside the practical issues.

It’s Not Just Chemo

Chemo brain to some extent is a misnomer.  In reality mental fog can be experienced by patients who are not going through chemotherapy treatments.  Other noted causes include:

  • The actual diagnosis of cancer can contribute to mental unclarity
  • Medications such as pain killers
  • Radiation treatments
  • Lack of Sleep/Fatigue

  • Poor nutrition
  • Low blood counts
  • The cancer itself
  • Age

Integrative Approaches to Dealing with Chemo Brain

The one positive of this condition is that in most cases it is temporary and can be managed with a few helpful tips.

Get Good Quality Sleep and Enough of It

Lack of enough good quality sleep can be a contributing factor for brain fog.

Here are some tips to encourage a good night sleep:

  1. Maintain a consistent bedtime routine
  2. Turn all electronics off 1 hour before bedtime
  3. Sleep in cool room
  4. Sleep in darkness
  5. If you must have electronics in your room, keep them 2 feet away from your bed

Amp Up Your Nutrition

Incorporating a whole foods diet with key nutrients is an important step in dealing with brain fog. Goods fats need to be included in your daily diet and can be found in foods such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, walnuts and cold water fish like salmon.

Choline and inositol are important nutrients for brain health. Choline can be found in foods such as eggs, beans, flax seeds and pistachios. Foods rich in inositol include beans and cantaloupe.

Vitamins B1 (thiamin) and B12 (cobalamin) are important vitamins to include in your diet.

Food sources of B1 include eggs, salmon, asparagus, kale, cauliflower sunflower seeds, beans, lentils and brown rice.

B12 is readily available in meat and shellfish. If avoiding animal products, supplementing with B12 in the form of methylcobalamin should be considered.

Exercise

Exercise overall has many health benefits.

For brain fog, regular exercise can help to keep stress and anxiety in check and encourage a more restful sleep.

And a few other tips

From a life style perspective incorporating strategies in to your daily routine such as making lists, noting activities in to a calendar, setting reminders and challenging yourself with word puzzles and brain games can be very helpful for improving brain function.

For those who like online challenges, one of my favourite sites for brain games is BrainHQ

 


References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chemo-brain/symptoms-causes/syc-20351060

https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/changes-in-mood-or-thinking/chemo-brain.html

Chemotherapy, Radiation, Surgery
Natural Strategies for Preparation
and
Dealing with Side Effects of Cancer Treatments

 

 

 

 

Baked Salmon with Coconut Aminos Marinade

Let’s address the elephant in the post here shall we.  What are Coconut Aminos?

Coconut Aminos are a  yummy sauce made from coconut sap.   The sauce is dark, rich and salty. It is gluten free and is a great replacement for soy sauce.

Unbeknownst to many is the fact that, unless otherwise stated, soy sauce is made with wheat.  The wheat is roasted and fermented with the soy to achieve the familiar soy sauce taste that we know and love.

Coconut Aminos don’t offer a powerhouse of nutritional content but if you are trying to maintain a gluten free diet they are the way to go when you need an alternative to soy sauce in your recipes.

The salmon recipe below is a family favourite of ours.  It is not only simple, it is also a great way to introduce Coconut Aminos in to your diet if they are a new addition to your pantry.

Baked Salmon with Coconut Aminos Marinade

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • ½ kg salmon fillets
  • 1/3 cup real maple syrup
  • 4 Tbsp Coconut Aminos
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp.ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Mix the maple syrup, Coconut Aminos, garlic and pepper together in a small bowl
  3. Place salmon fillets in to a dish, cover with the marinade and refrigerate 30 minutes – 1 hour
  4. Transfer salmon fillets to a baking dish lined with parchment paper, saving the marinade, and bake the salmon until it is cooked through, approximately 15 minutes
  5. Pour the saved marinade into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  6. Reduce to 1/4 cup.
  7. When the salmon is done place it on a serving tray and drizzle the glaze over top of it.

Serve immediately.

For simple sides that really complement the salmon try serving this dish with roasted asparagus and wild rice.

Enjoy!

 

Try this Yummy Kombucha Cocktail!

Want a delicious holiday drink?

Try this yummy Kombucha cocktail!

Fermented foods boost our immune system, help to strengthen our bones, support weight loss and promote nutrient absorption.

Kombucha is a fermented beverage that has been enjoyed for many, many years.  It is most commonly made with black tea and sugar.  The fermenting is done with a colony of bacteria and yeast called a ‘Scoby’.

As with other fermented foods, Kombucha is high in antioxidants and it packs a punch of health benefits for the gut being rich in probiotics.

Kombucha has been studied for its anti-cancer properties.  The tea polyphenols and antioxidants found in Kombucha were shown in these studies to prevent the growth and spread of cancerous cells.

You can learn more about the benefits of fermented foods in my blog ‘5 Reasons to Use Fermented Foods in Your Cancer Fighting Diet”

Fermented foods are not a common staple for many people so the versatility of Kombucha makes it the perfect fermented food to start with.fermented foods

Health up your guests over the holidays and give this recipe a try!

Kombucha Cocktail

Makes 8 Servings

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cups Kombucha (either homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (about 3-4 oranges)
  • 1 cup frozen cherries* (about 16-20 cherries) (raspberries or strawberries can also be used)
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or raw honey
  • Dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds and orange wedges for garnish
  • Sparkling or regular white wine (optional)

Directions:

  • Juice the oranges and place in  blender.
  • Add the cherries, the ginger, nutmeg and maple syrup.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Pour into a bowl or pitcher. Add the kombucha and stir.
  • Chill for at least an hour.
  • When ready to serve pour into wine glasses. (If you are adding sparkling wine do this now)
  • Add a few dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds (or both) and an orange wedge to each glass.

*Option: make extra kombucha cocktail and use it to make some ice cubes and add one to each glass

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18979556

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S221052391200044X