Category Archives: Health

Are Aging & Innovation Compounding The Healthcare Shortage?

One of the most significant issues facing our healthcare system today is the shortage of providers, from primary care doctors to specialists and nurses. This would be hard enough, but the fact is that the shortage is likely being compounded by two problems outside the control of physicians and nurses: an aging population and the increased use of technology, which is creating a new and unexpected burden on practitioners.

Faced with these two interlocking concerns, how can the healthcare field provide patients with the care they need as the population ages and chronic disease rates rise? The most valuable changes are unlikely to come from the world of technology and more likely to call upon conventional strategies like better training and unionization, approaches that have served the industry for decades.

Technology Troubles

If you read the headlines in any major outlet, you’d most likely get the impression that health technology is transforming the field for the better. Telehealth delivers specialist care to remote areas, robotic surgery increases accuracy and improves outcomes, and electronic health records help doctors communicate. 

The reality, however, is not that simple. Among the issues that have emerged with increased digitization include a shift toward healthcare entrepreneurship; as skilled health and science professionals court their fortunes in app design and device development, they’re pulled away from traditional practice. Yes, some of their innovations are beneficial, but many of those working in health tech could do more good as doctors, nurses, or other direct support staff.

Another problem with the uptick in technology use in the healthcare industry can also be seen as an issue with the current insurance model. Taken together, the two have created a perfect storm of coding and documentation – so much so that providers just can’t keep up with it all. 

This includes the upcoding phenomenon, in which doctors and facilities code for a higher level of service to increase insurance payments, as well as the high level of documentation that insurance providers demand regardless of the level of services rendered. Research has shown that in order to both provide primary care and chronic disease management and complete all the documentation demanded of them, doctors would need an 18 to 20-hour workday.

Of course, once we introduce new technology into a system, there’s no going back. The only way to address this gap between how much time providers have and how much work they have to do is to add more ancillary professionals to the healthcare industry. Young people studying the health sciences need to be exposed to the full scope of allied health professions so that they understand just how many people go into making our medical system run and the diverse ways they can apply their skills to serve patients.

Staff Shortages And Discontent

The burdens of technology notwithstanding, our healthcare system is also suffering from a major staffing shortage, and one of the areas in which this shortage is most serious is among nurses. In the UK, the nursing shortage is so serious that there are plans to hire 5,000 nurses from abroad each year for at least the next 15 years to work for the NHS. Why do the nurses have to come from overseas? Because in both the UK and the US, nurses are underpaid relative to the skill and intensity of the labor they do. Typical UK migration restrictions would actual bar 40% of foreign nurses because they don’t meet income requirements.

Similar problems plague the United States’ healthcare system, but unlike in the UK, the lack of nationalized healthcare means there’s no established resolution for the staffing crisis. One simple change that would help close the gap, however, would be increased unionization. 

Across the country, nurses regularly attempt to unionize, but are thwarted by hospital systems that are prepared to hire union-busting groups rather than provide staff with greater protections. Underpaid, regularly facing workplace assault and injuries, and often forced to cover more patients than is deemed appropriate, nurses need the support of a union to keep themselves and their patients safe.

Gray Waves And Growing Disparities

Even with the emergence of telehealth services, a greater reliance on NPs and Pas, and other stopgap efforts, the US and the UK are facing two gray waves – an aging general population as well as aging physicians in certain specialties and regions, particularly rural primary care providers. These changes are driving greater health disparities among populations, and the stress of current patient loads are pushing more doctors into concierge medicine.

Taken together, new healthcare stresses are hard on providers but worse for patients who can’t access care at all. ERs and urgent care centers can bridge some of the gaps, but things will only get worse if we can’t increase the number of skilled professionals entering the medical and allied health fields.

Unfortunately, given the crisis cycle created by understaffing, the healthcare field may already have reached its tipping point, leaving a broken system and sick and vulnerable patients in its wake.

The Reliability of Home DNA Test Kits: Can You Trust Them for Health Not Ancestry?

Genetic genealogy is a burgeoning industry with millions of users signing up for these types of services. Companies like AncestryDNA and 23andMe are leaders in this field. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) houses a phalanx of data that defines every single individual. There are some 23 pairs of chromosomes and 3 billion+ letters of DNA. The overwhelming percentage of DNA (97%) features repetitive sections of coding and control regions. Even more surprising is the fact that a certain amount of DNA is irrelevant; the result of evolutionary processes that have rendered them redundant. 

From a rudimentary perspective, most everyone understands that many genes are inherited. During the 1980s, biologists had discovered mutated genes that created faulty proteins, thereby helping the scientific community to understand the functionality of things like ALS and cystic fibrosis. Thanks to the dramatic advancements in technology, it is now possible to discern the genomes of scores of people at extremely low costs. Our access to data is ostensibly unlimited, and the scientific community has answers to the most pressing questions, including disease, human evolution, and inheritance. The profundity of this information is unparalleled, and its origins can be traced back to the Human Genome Project. We now know why we are what we are as individuals, and collectively as a species.

Technological Prowess Takes DNA Testing to the Mainstream

A quantum leap in technology has facilitated dramatic cost decreases in DNA testing, sequencing, and commercial viability. There are scores of DNA testing companies offering home DNA kits for health and ancestry. The alacrity with which new companies are surfacing is surprising, yet not unprecedented. Nowadays, all that is required is a vial of saliva or a blood sample for DNA sequencing. The accuracy of these DNA home test kits depends upon a variety of factors. Firstly, it’s imperative to ascertain whether the sequencing has been accurately conducted. Secondly, many false positives have been determined after the data was retested. A particular point is worth mentioning in this regard: DTC genetic tests target specific areas of the human genome, not the entire genome. Put differently, DNA testing companies do not all look at the same variant of the gene when specific elements are coded.

Genetics overall does not define anything specific; it is based on probabilities. In other words, it would be foolhardy to assume that a genetic test would indicate a predisposition towards a disease especially if it is not conducted in a clinical setting. Genetic experts routinely caution clients about the merits of interpretations of genetic tests, given that most of the data points towards generalities which cannot be taken as holy writ. While people with Parkinson’s may display certain characteristics, it doesn’t mean that everyone who has those characteristics in their genes will develop Parkinson’s. This is where the interpretation of genetic coding, and health-related matters becomes difficult.

It is safe to assume that the general profile of someone who is likely to have a heart attack may be that they are obese, have an unhealthy diet with lots of saturated fats, drink, smoke, and are sedentary. However, it doesn’t mean that somebody who checks all those traits, or most of them, will have heart attack. There are many fitness enthusiasts who don’t smoke, drink, or live unhealthy lifestyles who have sudden, fatal heart attacks. What geneticists, doctors, and lay people can agree on is that you certainly shouldn’t lead an unhealthy lifestyle if you want to avoid a heart attack. While you may have a genetic predisposition towards having a heart attack, your lifestyle choices are probably more important than what the test results indicate.

Are Home-Based DNA Test Kits for Health Accurate?

So, how do home DNA tests work? Customers simply purchase a home DNA kit from a company and provide a swab of cheek cells with a Q-tip or a blood sample by using a lancet. These samples are then safely and securely sealed and mailed off to the DNA testing company.  The rapid and widespread popularity of home-based DNA test kits for ancestry certainly adds an exciting element to the human genome. Less common is the use of home-based DNA test kits for health purposes. A great degree of caution is advised when using DNA testing for health purposes. Health experts are increasingly concerned about the way that results are being interpreted, and the number of false positives that are being generated. Having said that, tremendous progress is being made in this area, and provided that medical professionals are involved in the process, the accuracy of testing and interpretation of results could certainly merit attention.

Many people are now turning to DNA test kits for the purposes of detecting health issues. Health professionals have no reservations about recommending home-based DNA test kits for ancestry purposes, but they are a little reluctant to endorse them for health and wellness reasons. 23andMe was given the stamp of approval by the FDA (testing for BRCA1 & BRCA2 genes) in 2018.  The problem arises from the fact that error checking is problematic. Home-based DNA health-oriented test kits are susceptible to inaccurate readings and this could either downplay or overinflate the importance of a result. The interpretation can only be conducted by a clinical lab and doctors. Unfortunately, many home-based DNA test kits for health concerns do not examine a broad panel of possibilities – they are limited to specific areas which may not be sufficient, or appropriate for testing of a specific health concern.

In summation, the ubiquity of home-based DNA test kits for health purposes shows tremendous promise. The technology is certainly available to deliver much more information than we ever thought possible. However, it is incumbent upon the user (customer) to correctly interpret the information with the services of a healthcare professional. Further, it is important to understand the scope of testing that is conducted, and areas that may be overlooked by the DNA testing companies. Many markers of diseases exist; this doesn’t mean that a person will develop the disease, nor does it mean that they have the disease, or a predisposition towards an illness or condition.

The complex relationship between addiction and overall health

Over the years, we have come to a much deeper level of understanding on many aspects of health, each new discovery and exploration providing us with more awareness and information all the time. There are still, even now, many avenues in and surrounding health that are still greatly misunderstood, one of them being addiction. We all know that the links between addiction and health are abundantly and undeniably clear, but the relationship between the two is what is more complex, and that is what is unique to each individual circumstance. Unpacking it all can take quite a lot of energy and time, but it is important to do so.

Addiction comes in many different shapes and sizes

There are many different faces of addiction. Sometimes, it is an addiction to sex, which should be carefully assessed, especially if it’s beginning to interfere with your life. Regardless, same day STD testing is available to those who engage in risky behavior such as not wearing protection.

For others, it is alcohol or drugs. There are many, many more forms of addiction. One could even argue that addiction has countless faces, all of which are unique in and of themselves. Regardless of which shape addiction takes, however, the point remains the same: addiction is a brutal disease, and it can affect anyone, anytime, anywhere, anyhow. Understanding addiction and how to combat it and help others battle it themselves is becoming more and more necessary all the time.

Addiction has a clear impact on health, but differs case by case

While the overall effects of addiction are literally the same physically in all affected individuals, it is the mental impact of addiction that has a different hold on each affected individual. Mental health is a highly individual component of overall health, just as physical health is. The key difference between the two aspects of overall health, however, is that addiction and its impact on the body is entirely literal, while the impact on mental health is literal in a more fluid way, if that makes sense.

Put it like this: one individual affected by drug abuse thinks one way, but another thinks entirely differently. So, their mental health is impacted differently when they experience addiction. That is not to say that they are not just as affected as one another, but rather that there is a much broader spectrum of how people experience and deal with addiction, than how their bodies physically handle the experience.

Addiction is treatable, but must be approached differently all the time

It is true that addiction is highly treatable, but the road to recovery differs for each individual. So, the approach to treatment must be bridged differently each time. The sharp approach that worked for one person will only drive the next affected individual further into their state of inner chaos. All in all, to find their way to a healthier state of mind, individuals affected by addiction must be willing and able to go in search of treatment. That is step one. If they are not ready to receive the assistance they need, they may very likely bounce back into their addiction. So, start there, and find a supportive environment that can help to tap into one’s own experience with addiction, and help them find their way out of the chaos.

6 Tips to be a Successful Personal Trainer

Though you love working out, becoming a personal trainer is a serious step up. It’s no longer about you; you’re giving life skills to other people who seek your guidance. That being said, it’s time to get serious and focus on being well-recognized in the field. If you want to become a successful personal trainer, follow these six tips. 

Stay educated

Once you get your basic certification, you may think you’re done studying, but this is just the beginning. As a personal trainer, you need to stay up-to-date on the latest fitness trends, scientific research, and certifications. Not all certification programs are the same. The CPT certification choices are different than other certifications. They’ll keep your mind sharp, and ahead in the field.

Think like a business owner

Yes, you’re a personal trainer who works at a gym, but you’re also running your own business. As a personal trainer, you need to decide how you wish to run your business and attract clients. Are you going to work full-time or part-time? Do personal training, group fitness training, or both? Figure out where and what you’d like to train, and the number of clients you can take on.

Keep clients coming

You may be happy with your set of clients, but if someone gets injured or doesn’t have time to work out, you lost business. Use marketing tools and referrals to attract potential clients, ensuring that you’ll always have steady business. By developing long-terms clients, you’ll have a stream of reliable income.

Build relationships with your clients

You’re not just a trainer; you’re someone who’s helping someone change their life. Focus on building relationships with your clients. Of course, you should focus on training, but your clients are looking for more than just someone to teach them how to squat. They want to enjoy working out and have fun while becoming fit and healthy.

Teach them realistic workouts

Not everyone has the time or desire to run 20km and then do a HIIT work out. Be realistic with your clients, and give them tools they’ll be able to use on their own when you’re not training them. That way, they’ll continue to see results when they’re on holiday, for example. Though you’re training them, show them what they can do on their own as well.  If you want to change their life, give them long-term tools so they can do it.

Be passionate about training

The key to being a successful personal trainer is truly enjoying training other people. It’s a very social job, so if you’re someone who doesn’t like to talk, then think twice about being a personal trainer. If you want to be a successful trainer, make sure you’re passionate about it. 

Becoming a successful trainer shouldn’t be hard if you love training and socializing with people. Follow these tips, and you’ll become the best of the best.

Brain Fog: What it Is and How to Combat It

Do you ever find yourself in a condition where you can’t think clearly? Everything just feels slow, clunky, and hazy?

You may be experiencing a phenomenon commonly referred to as brain fog. Knowing ways to deal with it could help you overcome recurring bouts of impaired cognitive functioning.

What is Brain Fog?

Brain fog isn’t an official medical condition. You won’t ever see a doctor diagnose a patient with it. There are probably no scientific papers on the source of brain fog and how it’s dangerous for our health and well-being.

Yet common sense tells everyone, including doctors and researchers, that brain fog is a real phenomenon. Whether we’ve recognized it or not, we’ve all experienced brain fog at some point.

It’s a type of cognitive dysfunction that involves such symptoms as:

  • Memory lapses
  • Lack of mental clarity
  • Poor concentration
  • Inability to focus
  • Overarching sense of confusion

Brain fog is best described as a condition of mental fatigue. In severe cases, people are unable to perform work-related tasks, schoolwork, or other essential duties.

Brain fog typically comes and goes, but it can settle for hours or days at a time. It’s believed to be caused by a combination of stress, lack of sleep, hormonal changes, diet, medications, and underlying medical conditions.

How to Prevent Brain Fog

Despite not being an orthodox medical diagnosis, brain fog can be avoided through smart and healthy decision-making. Here are some ideas, suggestions, and theories about how to prevent it.

  • Disconnect From Digital Devices

How much time do you think you spend in front of a screen each day? Make sure you include your phone, computer, tablet, and TV.

If you guessed six hours, you’re probably wrong. Nine hours? That may not even be close.

Try 12 hours per day. When you recall that the average person is awake for only 18 hours roughly, that means we are spending 66 percent of our waking hours staring one screen or another.

The problem is that staring at a screen typically requires very little mental aptitude or cognitive processing. Immersed in a universe of bright lights and flashy graphics, the brain doesn’t have to think.

It glazes over and kicks into autopilot. Then it may have trouble switching gears when it comes time to think and process information at a meaningful level.

So the first piece of advice is to disconnect from digital devices. Start by reducing 12 hours to 11. Then shoot for eight hours a day. Getting your daily screen time below six hours should be the goal.

  • Get More Exercise

What will you do with all of this new time? You could get some exercise. Not only is a workout good for your physical health, but it has a profoundly positive effect on your mental health.

Studies have shown the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory have greater volume in people who exercise compared with those who don’t. In other words, physical exercise enhances your cognitive abilities.

Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical exercise every day.

  • Work Out Your Brain

Spend time directly exercising your brain, too. The brain’s plasticity enables it to adapt and change over time. If you engage in mental exercise, you’ll find that your brain becomes less susceptible to brain fog.

Here are some ideas:

  • Teach yourself a new language
  • Write short stories by hand
  • Do crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and other brain challenges
  • Read books regularly

You don’t have to do all these things every day to improve your brain. Just make sure you regularly pursue habits that stretch your brain and empower you to process new and challenging information.

  • Improve Your Diet

There’s a strong correlation between gut health and brain health. Improving your diet can have a direct and positive impact on your ability to focus.

In addition to cutting out unhealthy foods that are high in saturated fats and refined sugars, you should integrate healthy nutrients into your daily food intake. If you find that you can’t get all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you need from food, try taking natural supplements such as fish oil, B-vitamins, phosphatidylserine, ginkgo biloba, ashwagandha, bacopa monnieri, L-theanine, and other nootropics.

  • Get More Sleep

Our fast-paced society disdains sleep and preaches the virtue of working hard for long hours throughout the day. Given the presences of so many distractions that compete for our attention, sleep too easily gets shoved to the back burner.

This compromises health in more ways than one. If you want to combat brain fog, you should aim to get at least seven or eight hours of sleep on a nightly basis.

Set a consistent bedtime and wake-up hour. This will enable you to develop a proper rhythm of rest and rejuvenation, and as a result, you’ll function better at both the physical and cognitive levels.

Live Healthy, Be Happy

Brain fog is typically a sign of other underlying physical and mental health issues. So if you address your brain fog head-on, you’ll also tackle other health issues.

As a result, you should find yourself living a happier and healthier life.

Why digitalisation in healthcare and pharmaceuticals is necessary

In the digital era that we now live and breathe in, technological advancement and rapid digitalisation are constants, as common as the shoes on our feet or the smartphones in our bags and pockets. The western world is positively immersed in it all, and it only continues to grow and expand as time goes on. Every aspect of modern life, every industry has been, and continues to be, digitally and otherwise technologically transformed. Even, as it turns out, healthcare and pharmaceuticals. There is an interest in digitising healthcare and pharmaceuticals that has been steadily rising in recent years, and it is an interest that continues to surge even now. It will likely surge for a long time coming, if not always from here on out, and that is nothing but a positive.

The world that we now know and love is one that is paved with good intentions and digital foundations, and it goes without saying that moving forward with it in every capacity demands an acceptance of a digitalised future as we go forward. In healthcare and pharmaceuticals, that means being willing and able to adapt to automation and other innovative intricacies that make the industry better, stronger. Today, technological disruption has well and truly found the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry, but why is it so important, so necessary, that this happens?

The awareness that healthcare and pharmaceuticals is a pillar industry

Every successful industry today is important and special in its own way, but healthcare and pharmaceuticals is a pillar industry because it quite literally saves and preserves lives. In the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry, there is a massive emphasis placed on giving patients the best care and overall experience possible (as there should be). It is a somewhat renowned fact that healthcare and pharmaceuticals can be a time-consuming experience for people, but thanks to digitalisation and technological enhancement, every facet of the industry is getting bolder, better, faster, stronger. And it is only just beginning.

Bringing digitalisation and technological advancement into the industry

Healthcare has always relied on data to an extent, but now the disruption of rapid digitalisation and technological advancement is more prolific than ever. From the websites that offer health products, supplements, and vitamins (think the health and wellness companies that offer products like Fatburner, for example), to the patient records going live on blockchain-secured systems, and every technological innovation in between, digitalisation and technological impact are transforming healthcare and pharmaceuticals from the inside out, in all the best and brightest of ways.

Why digitising the industry is so important moving forward

At the end of the day, healthcare and pharmaceuticals is a global industry that carries the health and wellbeing of our species on its back. Modernising this field through digital and technological means is important moving forward because it is these ideals that allow for a more convenient, efficient, reliable, and strong industry as we move further into the digital era. With technological impact, we can be more confident in the healthcare and pharmaceuticals industry that surrounds us, because technological advancement and rapid digitalisation are less susceptible to error that human innovation a lot of the time. This is a whole new frontier in healthcare and pharmaceuticals, and it is exciting, to say the least.

Understanding the links between alcoholism and bad hygiene

Having a strong handle on one’s personal hygiene is something that we should all strive to ensure is an active and consistent priority of ours. There are different circumstances and instances in all our lives that have a different effect on our hygiene. It might sound strange, but it is true. One such circumstance is alcoholism. This is a lifestyle habit that not only wreaks havoc on one’s body internally, but also externally, including their hygiene.

Of course, there are so many other contributing factors to the state of one’s personal hygiene, including showering or bathing habits, using deodorant, healthy diet, and even geographical climate (to name a few key examples). When it comes to alcoholism, there is a steady fall from hygienic grace, and it tends to happen throughout the course of the addiction worsening. So, we must understand alcoholism and its effect on personal hygiene to get a crystal clear visual of the big picture.

Does alcohol genuinely impact one’s personal hygiene?

First of all, is alcohol detox necessary? And is there really any concrete links between alcoholism and bad hygiene? Well, the answer can be found in one foul swoop. That answer is that yes, an alcohol detox is necessary for addicted individuals, not only for their returned health and wellness, but for the replenishment of their personal hygiene. Many individuals who are impacted by alcohol addiction themselves face its perils with little to no understanding of just how deeply it impacts their entire lives. This is how the problem looms.

How and why does this happen?

The fact is that when an individual becomes addicted to alcohol, they gradually begin to prioritise their addiction over all other aspects of their life. This includes, of course, their personal hygiene. Showering and maintaining all other external hygiene standards becomes less important, because the addiction starts to take on a life of its own – a life that is fundamentally hinged on knowing where the next drink is going to come from, and caring about little (or nothing) else.

What can be done to encourage a healthier lifestyle?

Individuals who are addicted to alcohol generally let their addiction overpower every other instance in their life, to the point where all else becomes irrelevant and unimportant – even the things that once mattered more than anything to them. The personal hygiene issue is one of the most prominent in all the world when it comes to individuals directly impacted by alcoholism, and it becomes all-encompassing in all the worst ways. So, encouraging a healthier lifestyle in those battling through these issues is at first daunting, but ultimately necessary if there is to be any hope going forward.

Ways of doing this are inviting the individual out and getting ready together (often seeing other people take care of themselves flips the switch in they themselves) or encouraging them to seek out a treatment centre (where personal hygiene will be dealt with accordingly and sensitively), or any other manner of approaches to dealing with the issue head on. Support and understanding can be the ultimate bridge to recovery from these types of issues. It truly can – and often does – make a world of difference, and on an ongoing basis, at that.

Four Great Reasons to Drink Tea Instead of Coffee

The health industry is growing in 2019 – and we’re starting to see new diets and trends developing, from the keto diet to intermittent fasting. Another health trend we’re only starting to understand is the benefits of tea.

Caffeine is the best addiction. No, really – although the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal can certainly be nasty, putting its victims through nasty headaches and mood swings, there’s really no reason to ever stop. Caffeine has been shown to be a proven mood booster, making you feel good and energized at the same time. It can help to improve focus and memory and boost awareness while helping to get rid of grogginess, making it a favorite of early morning workers and late night studyholics alike. Drinks and foods with caffeine also tend to contain other beneficial compounds like antioxidants that are good for more than just your grades or end of quarter performance reviews. But not all caffeinated drinks are created equal. Although coffee is universally beloved because of its high caffeine content, it turns out that tea is actually better for you in more ways than one.

It’s Good for Your Brain

In addition to its other benefits, tea – and green tea specifically – has been found to contain a compound called EGCG, which has been shown in controlled studies to counteract the negative health effects associated with bad diets. This includes weight gain and diabetes, but several kinds of mental decline have also been linked to an unhealthy eating regimen, including Alzheimers, which some have nicknamed “Type 3 diabetes” due to its dietary causes.

It’s Good for Your Body

Tea and coffee certainly both contain caffeine, but the methods of preparation differ significantly. Tea absorbs caffeine from leaves via seeping, wherein the high temperatures allow chemicals from the plant leaves to enter the water. Coffee, on the other hand, absorbs chemicals from ground beans, usually through a porous paper or metal filter. The difference may seem miniscule but the fine fain of coffee grounds makes for a much thicker final product and that means more work for your kidneys, which can develop stones if they process too much sedimentary liquid and not enough water, a much higher risk for coffee than tea.

No Acrylamide

Another risk associated with coffee is acrylamide, a chemical compound associated with an increased risk of cancer that presents itself as a result of the roasting process that coffee beans undergo before they are ground up to become powder. There are other foods that can produce acrylamide as a result of overcooking, but it’s easier to avoid french fries than coffee. Because tea leaves aren’t roasted, there’s no risk of producing acrylamide simply by boiling the dried leaves.

More Varieties

Many varieties of tea contain caffeine, but many also do not, and tea drinkers have a much wider variety to choose from. There are teas that are good for waking up, teas that are good for sleeping, teas that are good for promotive healthy digestive function, and a whole range of other teas in different flavors and with different functions

6 Ways to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

When it comes to sleep, many of us don’t realize how important a good night’s sleep really is. But, in reality, it can be more important than exercising and a healthy diet. Poor sleep does much more than make you cranky. As research shows, it affects your hormones, brain function, physical performance, and aids in weight gain. If you want a better night’s sleep, then here are six things you should do.

Cut the blue light

Though most of us are on our phones before bed, your phone is doing more harm than good. Nighttime light exposure impacts your circadian rhythm, making your brain believe it’s daytime. When this happens, your brain reduces the production of melatonin, which is responsible for relaxing your body. If you’re going to use a device at night, block blue light. If you watch tv before bed, turn it off two hours before sleeping.

Stay away from liquids before bed

Many people have their sleep disrupted because they wake up to use the bathroom. Nocturia is an actual medical term for excessive urination during the night. And it really affects your sleep quality. Avoid drinking large amounts of liquid before bed. Yes, hydration is important So you can drink fluids, but 1-2 hours before going to sleep.

No late-night coffees

During the day, coffee can give you the boost you need; enhancing your energy and focus. But if you’re drinking coffee late in the day, this could negatively affect your sleep. Caffeine stays in your body for up to 8 hours. So, if you’re drinking coffee or any caffeinated drinks after 4 p.m., you need to stop.

Sleep consistently

Our bodies are in sync with nature. Meaning, our circadian rhythm is aligned with sunrise and sunset. It’s crucial you maintain a regular sleep cycle; waking up and going to bed at the same times each time. Though weekends may be your time to let loose, try to maintain your sleep cycle through the weekends as well.

Get the right mattress and pillow

Sometimes we get the best night’s sleep in a hotel. And that’s because the quality of their beds is usually quite good. A poor-quality bed does more than keep you up all night. The wrong bed can also increase lower back pain. So, it’s important to upgrade your bedding every 5-8 years. You don’t need to buy the best mattress brand to get good sleep, but you do need one which focuses on quality.

Exercise daily

If you’re struggling with falling asleep at night, exercise could be a simple solution. To this day, exercise is one of the best ways to improve your sleep. Not only does it reduce symptoms of insomnia, but exercise also gets you a deep sleep. That being said, you shouldn’t exercise before bed. Exercising late at night can have the opposite effect of what you want.

When it comes to health, sleep is a major factor. If you want to improve your sleep, try out the tips above.

The intrinsic links between diet and physical health

When it comes to understanding our health, it is fair to say that we all have a much stronger grasp on everything health-related than we did twenty years ago. Now an ever-growing body of research, all things health and wellness are covered on the daily. When it comes to supporting and promoting our physical health, the most commonly discussed contributing factor is nearly always diet. A healthy diet has a significant impact on one’s physical health. We all know this. However, many people struggle to stick to healthy diets. The modern individual lives a busy life, and so it can be difficult to stick to a routine that demands attention to detail and planning. So, here are three ways to ensure that a healthy diet becomes a healthy lifestyle, and not a chore.

Bring the exotic in to spice up the ordinary

One of the most common complaints people have about healthy approaches to food is that they feel they often lack flavour. Not anymore. People are incorporating all types of healthy foods and liquids into their diets these days. From your standard fruits and vegetables, to the more exotic, unfamiliar herbs like Shatavari, people are using all kinds of foods, herbs, and spices to bring new life to a meal that is generally quite bland. Chicken and vegetables can easily turn into Moroccan chicken with spicy grilled vegetables (to name one example).

Shop the outer ring of the supermarket…

Or better yet, go to a farmers’ market. A healthy diet is easy to uphold when you remove temptation. In the supermarket, for example, the fresh, healthy produce is generally stocked in the outer ring (i.e. the surrounding aisles). All the processed nasties are stocked in the centre aisles. If you restrict your shopping as much as possible to that outer ring, you leave with yummy healthy foods in your shopping trolley, and not unhealthy temptations. And in the farmers’ market, all produce is generally fresh, clean, organic, and healthy to boot. What is not to love? It might take some extra time to do the food shop for the week in this way, but your physical health and your body will thank you.

Keep healthy snacks as staples in the kitchen

When we get hungry, we often grab for what is closest and easiest to prepare. This is where it gets difficult for a lot of people when trying to stick to a healthy diet, because they often do not think ahead enough to have healthy snacks ready for on-the-go movement and hangry moments. So, keep the fridge and kitchen cupboards stocked with healthy snacks, and you cannot go wrong. Whether it is containers of nuts, corn thins, fruit salad, or pre-cut veggie sticks (to name a few easy options), healthy snacks are delicious, nutritious, and do not come with the side of guilt or unnecessary fats or sugars. Of course, everything in moderation, but it pays to stick to a predominantly-healthy diet.