What Do Doctors Worry About?

Female doctor showing signs of worry and concern
Doctors are People Too!

The role of physicians is not without its challenges, and doctors often face many worries and concerns that can impact their work and personal lives. At times, people’s lives are in the hands of doctors and surgeons who are aware that one mistake could be a fatal one. But that’s not all that concerns medical professionals today.  In this essay, we will explore some of the most common worries that doctors face today.

Covid-19 Caused Anxiety Throughout the World

Girl tested for Covid 19
People line up to be tested for Covid at a clinic. Photo iStock

Although Covid is considered a past issue these days, there is no doubt the pandemic has caused worldwide anxiety, both for patients and physicians.

This infectious disease put an enormous strain on all healthcare systems, and doctors were at the forefront of dealing with this menace. They were tasked with diagnosing and treating patients, and providing care to the critically ill while trying to prevent the spread of the virus.

It was a mental and physical shock to many. One doctor from Elmhurst Hospital, the hospital that was inundated the most by the pandemic, said he used to see gurneys spread out into the streets because the facility just couldn’t house them all. Worse, he would witness scores of deaths daily, so even though physicians are more mentally equipped to manage patient deaths, there is no doubt that many physicians were emotionally and mentally affected when seeing so many people die in front of them daily.

In the United States and the world, the general concerns were that the physicians did not catch the disease and that personal protective equipment (PPE) and other resources were available for their patients, especially in the early period when Covid became a major concern.

As of this writing, the pandemic has subsided substantially, although not completely as there are still reports of people catching the disease, and there are those who suffer from long-covid, but for the most part, we can put this beyond us now; however, that doesn’t mean physicians do not have other things to worry about.

Physician Burnout

Doctor showing signs of stress
Physician burnout is real and many doctors are affected by it. Photo: iStock

Healthcare professionals often work long hours and deal with emotionally draining situations, such as caring for terminally ill patients or those with chronic illnesses. Burnout is a real concern and can lead to physical and mental exhaustion, decreased empathy for patients, and a decline in the quality of care provided.

The report also found that burnout is having a significant impact on physicians’ health and well-being. Nearly half (49%) of burned-out physicians said their issue has had a moderate or severe impact on their physical health, and 43% said it has had a moderate or severe impact on their mental health.

This condition is also leading to increased rates of physician turnover. Nearly one in three (32%) physicians said they are considering leaving their current job within the next year.

Medical Errors

Hands wiht pencils on top of paper on a deskMedical errors are another concern for doctors. Despite their best efforts, physicians can make mistakes that can have serious consequences for their patients. Medication errors, misdiagnoses, and surgical mistakes are just a few examples of errors that can occur. Doctors may worry about what impact this may have on their patient’s health and their professional reputation.

Although some cases are not the result of physician error and others may be frivolous, patient attorneys may proceed with a malpractice lawsuit anyway. In fact, there are, on average over 85,000 medical malpractice cases field in the United States each year.

Physicians who are legally notified for medical malpractice or who have been reported to OPMC (Office of Medical Conduct) should confer with an attorney for advice and possible legal defense if needed.

Summary

In conclusion, doctors face many worries and challenges in their work. Burnout, medical errors, as well as access to care, and healthcare policy changes are some of the major concerns.

These worries can impact their professional and personal lives and make it more difficult to provide the best possible care for their patients. We must recognize and address these concerns to support our healthcare providers and ensure that they can continue to provide high-quality care to those in need. By providing adequate resources, support, and policy changes, we can help alleviate some of the worries that doctors face and create a healthier and more equitable healthcare system for all.

 

Is Your Glass Half Empty or Half Full? A Discussion About Perception

Are You a Happy Person or Do You Worry?

Photo of a glass of water
Are you an optimist or a pessimist?  Photo: SMS©

A happy person tends to focus on the positive aspects of situations, maintains an optimistic outlook, and seeks joy in the present moment. They embrace gratitude, practice self-care, and find meaning in everyday experiences.

In contrast, a worried person is preoccupied with negative possibilities, tends to overthink and anticipate problems, and may struggle to find contentment. They dwell on uncertainties, magnify challenges, and may experience heightened anxiety. Many times, people who tend to worry a lot concentrate on unrealistic situations that will never materialize.

Many people who suffer from bipolar disease have these worries, but not to worry (pun intended). There are ways to overcome illogical concerns and view life more positively. This will not only serve to diminish your fears but also make you feel mentally healthy and subsequently, physically healthy as well.

In this year 2023, there is an abundance of ways to cope with worry and its corresponding emotions of stress and anxiety. Let’s get started.

The Stories

Fearful man with hands on his face.
Photo by MART PRODUCTION

 

Jack’s Letter

Jack got a letter from one of his credit card companies. It was a standard letter regarding updates on his privacy policies, but Jack got nervous thinking there was a problem with his credit card and ran to his phone to call them. 

What was Jack’s perception of this letter? No doubt it was a negative one, a half-empty glass outlook. 

Now, let’s look at another scenario.

Susan’s Voicemail

Happy womnan on phone
Image by Nebraska Department of Education from Pixabay

Susan received a voicemail from her doctor’s office after her visit there a few days earlier. The message was that they would like her to call them back. Susan didn’t think it was anything serious to worry about and when she called, they just needed to verify her insurance.

Is Susan a negative or positive thinker? No doubt she is thinking positively.

Let’s look at one more.

Marjorie’s Olive Oil

Marjorie needed olive oil, but she heard that the store might be out of it, so she called them first. The phone call went as follows:

Marjorie: “Hello, do you have olive oil or you don’t?”
Store: “Yes, we have it. The price is $9.99.”
Marjorie: “OK great. I will be there shortly.”

What caused Marjorie to say “or you don’t”? Is she a positive or negative thinker? 

Let’s take a deeper look at what positive and negative thoughts can do to us, or more expressional, is your glass half empty or half full?

Negative Thinking

Man stressed and worried
Image by Sam Williams from Pixabay

A negative thinker is someone who tends to focus on the negative aspects of a situation or experience, rather than the positive. They have a mindset that tends to dwell on worst-case scenarios and assume the worst in any given situation. They often view problems as obstacles, rather than as opportunities for growth or learning.

Negative thinking is a pessimistic outlook, which can lead to a lack of motivation and a decreased ability to cope with stress and challenges. As a result, these individuals may struggle with increased anxiety and depression. Some people may go to the extreme and create a sense of hopelessness and despair.

These damaging thoughts can also have an impact on relationships, as they can lead to a general sense of cynicism. It is important to note that negative thinking is not the same as critical thinking, which involves evaluating situations and ideas thoughtfully and objectively. Rather, this type of pessimism involves a persistent focus on the bleakest aspects of a situation, often at the expense of the positive.

What Can a Negative Thinker Do to Off-Set Pessimism?

Two seniors holding hands on a park bench
Photo: Shopify Burst Free Images

Negative thinking can be a difficult habit to break, but it’s not impossible. Here are some strategies that may help address these thoughts:

      1. Socialize and we are not talking about Facebook. Go out and meet people. This can help you forget about your worries and allow you to concentrate on talking about things that you enjoy.
      2. Surround yourself with positive people: With the above said, make sure the people you are with are positive thinkers. If you hear someone talking about their constant problems, politely excuse yourself and find some other folks who would be of more benefit to you.
      3. Sports and exercise: No doubt these activities will make you feel good, both inside and out. Anything from basketball to volleyball to weightlifting will be beneficial to you.
      4. Identify negative thinking patterns: The first step in addressing bad thoughts is to become aware of them. Notice when negative thinking arises and try to identify the patterns or triggers that lead to them.
      5. Challenge the negative: Once you’ve identified these thought patterns, challenge them by asking yourself if they’re based on facts or assumptions. Try to reframe them into more positive and realistic ones.
      6. Practice gratitude: Focusing on what you’re grateful for can help shift your focus away from negative thoughts. Start a gratitude journal or make a habit of reflecting on what you’re thankful for each day.
      7. Practice meditation: Meditation can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings.
      8. Get a Pet: Studies have shown that pets, especially dogs and cats can help diminish your worries and reduce your stress.
      9. Seek professional help: If negative thinking is interfering with your daily life or causing significant distress, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy would be the best route. These are trained psychotherapists who can help provide additional support and guidance in addressing negative thought patterns. Additionally, you can visit a psychiatrist who can prescribe the proper medication for you that can help with your anxiety.

Positive Thinkers

People jumping for joy
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

A positive thinker is a person who tends to see the world and situations in a positive light and has a generally optimistic outlook on life. Positive thinkers focus on the positive aspects of a situation, rather than dwelling on the negative, and they look for opportunities and solutions rather than being overwhelmed by problems.

These are folks who see challenges as opportunities and maintain an optimistic outlook on situations. They are not unrealistic or naive, but rather they choose to view situations constructively.

Optimistic thinkers find the positive aspects of a situation, rather than dwelling on the negative. They can naturally manage their thoughts and choose to focus on the good, rather than the bad in many circumstances.

This type of mindset can have many benefits, including improved mental health, increased resilience, better coping skills, and a more fulfilling life. However, it’s important to note that being a positive thinker does not mean ignoring or denying problems, but rather approaching them with a positive and constructive mindset.

Conclusion

Silhouettes of people jumping for joy
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

When you see an issue arise, give it a quick thought – is this something I should worry about? If it is something that would normally make you feel uncomfortable, confront the situation immediately and try to resolve it, but if this is something that may not be of concern at all, make a mental note and then confront your feelings by telling yourself that this is NOT something to worry about.

Follow the suggestions above regarding off-setting pessimism. Try meditation and socialize with positive people. Get a pet. Additionally, there is cognitive behavioral therapy available as well as speaking to a psychiatrist who can prescribe medication if the need arises.

 

 

Celebrate National Pet Day: How to Show Your Furry Friend Some Extra Love

 

French Bulldog
Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

Every February 20th is National Pet Day and as a pet owner, you already know how important your furry friend is to you. Pets provide us with companionship, love, and loyalty that is unmatched. National Pet Day is a day dedicated to celebrating our beloved pets and showing them some extra love. 

In this article, we will share with you why we should celebrate National Pet Day, how to show your pet some extra love, fun activities to do with your pet, and pet health tips.

Why Celebrate National Pet Day?

Dog with food plate
Photo iStock. Credit Zontica

National Pet Day is a day to recognize the importance of pets in our lives and to appreciate the joy and happiness they bring. It also serves as a reminder of the responsibility we have as pet owners to care for our pets and provide them with the love and attention they deserve. Celebrating National Pet Day can help raise awareness of the importance of pet adoption, responsible pet ownership, and animal welfare.

How to Show Your Pet Some Extra Love

Pets are like family members, and they deserve to be treated with love and respect. Here are some ways to show your pet some extra love:

    • Spend quality time with your pet: Take your pet for a walk or play with them in the park. Spend time cuddling on the couch or give them a relaxing massage. Dogs love this!
    • Treat your pet: Buy a new toy, a special treat, or a new bed.
    • Give them extra attention: Talk to your pet and tell them how much you love them. Give them some extra belly rubs, ear scratches, or head pats.
    • Take your furry friend on an adventure: Go on a road trip, explore a new trail, or take your pet to the beach.
    • Make them feel special: Have a photoshoot with your pet, make them a homemade meal, or create a special space just for them.

Fun Activities 

National Pet Day is a great opportunity to try new activities. Here are some fun activities you can do with your pet on this special day:

    • Go for a hike: Take your pet on a hike and enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery. Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks for both you and your pet.
    • Have a picnic: Pack a picnic basket and enjoy a meal with your pet in the park.
    • Teach your pet a new trick: Spend some time teaching your pet a new trick or command.
    • Take your pet to a pet-friendly restaurant: Many restaurants allow pets on their outdoor patios. Treat your pet to a special meal while enjoying some quality time together.
    • Go on a bike ride: Take your pet on a bike ride in a pet carrier or on a leash.

Ideas for Celebrating National Pet Day at Home

Dog posing
Photo: ©SMS

If you prefer to celebrate National Pet Day at home, there are many ways to make it special.  Besides these ideas mentioned below, all you have to do is think out of the box. 

You know best what your pet enjoys most so make it so!

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

    • Have a movie night: Choose a movie that features animals and snuggle up with your pet on the couch. Yes, animals can see other animals on TV!
    • Make homemade treats: Bake some homemade treats for your pet and enjoy them together.
    • Create a photo album: Compile all your favorite photos of your pet and create a special photo album or scrapbook.
    • Have a game night: Play some games with your pet, such as fetch or hide and seek.
    • Take a nap together: Take a nap with your pet and enjoy some quality cuddle time.

Ways to Give Back 

National Pet Day is also a great time to give back to animals in need. Here are some ways to make a difference:

    • Volunteer at a local animal shelter: Help care for animals in need by volunteering at a local animal shelter or rescue organization.
    • Donate to an animal charity: Donate to an animal charity or organization that supports animal welfare.
    • Foster a pet: Consider fostering a pet in need of a home. This is a great way to help animals in need while waiting for their forever home.
    • Adopt a pet: If you have been considering adopting a pet, National Pet Day is a great day to take that step and give a pet a forever home.
    • Spread awareness: Share information about responsible pet ownership, animal welfare, and adoption on social media to help spread awareness.

Pet Health Tips 

This is also a good time to think about your pet’s health. Here are some tips to keep your pet healthy and happy:

    • Schedule a check-up: Schedule a check-up with your pet’s veterinarian to ensure they are healthy and up to date on all vaccinations.
    • Provide a healthy diet: Make sure your pet eats a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs.
    • Exercise regularly: Regular exercise is important for your pet’s physical and mental health. Make sure they are getting enough exercise each day.
    • Keep up with grooming: Regular grooming, such as brushing your pet’s fur and teeth, can help prevent health problems.
    • Keep them safe: Keep your pet safe by ensuring they are wearing identification tags, keeping them on a leash when outside, and protecting them from hazards such as toxic plants and chemicals.

Conclusion 

National Pet Day is a day to celebrate our beloved animals and show them some extra love. Whether you choose to spend the day exploring new adventures or simply cuddling on the couch, the most important thing is to show your pet how much you love and appreciate them.

Remember to also take this day to think about the importance of responsible pet ownership and animal welfare. By making a difference in the lives of animals in need, we can help ensure that all pets receive the love and care they deserve.

Understanding the Effects of Eating Bad Cheese

‍Decayed Cheese! Be Careful!

Illustration of rotten cheese
Photo by OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay

If you’re a cheese lover, you probably can’t resist trying out the different varieties from time to time. However, one concern is the possibility of eating cheese that has gone bad. 

In this article, we’ll be discussing the effects of eating cheese that has decayed. We’ll start with the most important factor – what to look for when cheese goes bad, and then we’ll go into detail about why this happens.

Detecting Decaying Cheese 

Moldy cheese wrapped in cling film in the refrigerator
This cheese has sure signs of mold despite it being in plastic cling wrap and kept cold in the refrigerator

This can be a bit tricky as it depends on the type of cheese, its age, and how it has been stored. However, here are a few general signs to look out for when determining whether cheese has gone rotten:

    1. Expiration Date: This is the first thing you should check and that starts at the grocery store. Avoid buying cheese that is close to its expiration date. Once it is home and in the fridge, periodically check the expiration date. If the cheese is a few days past its expiration date, it may not be safe to eat, and depending on how long past the date is, it may be best to throw it out.
    2. Appearance: Check the cheese for any signs of mold or discoloration. While some types, such as blue cheese, have mold in them as part of the aging process, other types should not have any visible mold. If the cheese appears slimy, discolored, or has a strange texture, it could be a sign of spoilage.
    3. Smell: Take a whiff. If it has a pungent, sour, or ammonia-like odor, it may be spoiled. Fresh cheese should have a mild and pleasant aroma.
    4. Taste: Give the cheese a taste. That means taste. Not eat! If it has a bitter or sour taste, it could be spoiled. If it has a sharp or overly tangy taste, it may have been over-aged.
    5. Texture: If the cheese has a mushy texture or appears to be separated, it could be spoiled. A hard cheese like cheddar or parmesan should not be soft or rubbery. 

If you are in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw it away. Eating spoiled cheese can cause foodborne illnesses and other health problems.

What Causes Cheese to Decay?

Cheese is a dairy product that is made by taking milk proteins and separating them from the whey (watery part). It is then aged for a certain period, depending on the variety of the cheese. Like any other food item, cheese can go bad if not handled properly. 

The main causes of decay are:

    • Contamination: Cheese can get infected by bacteria, mold, or other microorganisms. This can happen during the production process or due to improper storage conditions.
    • Improper Storage: Cheese should be stored at a specific temperature and humidity level to prevent it from spoiling. If the storage conditions are not optimal, cheese can go bad quickly.

The Dangers of Eating Bad Cheese

The severity of the effects depends on the type of cheese and the extent of spoilage. Here are some of the dangers:

Mild Effects  

Mild effects of eating bad cheese include an upset stomach, diarrhea, and nausea. These symptoms can occur due to the presence of harmful bacteria in the cheese.

Moderate Effects 

Moderate effects include fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. These symptoms can occur due to the presence of toxins produced by bacteria in the cheese.

Severe Effects  

Severe effects include kidney failure, meningitis, and sepsis. These symptoms can occur due to the presence of dangerous bacteria like Listeria or E.coli in the cheese.

What to Do If You’ve Eaten Cheese That Has Gone Bad

If you are experiencing symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Your doctor will be able to diagnose the problem and prescribe appropriate treatment.

Prevention Tips 

Preventing cheese from going bad starts with proper handling and storage. Here are some tips for avoiding bad cheese:

Store It Properly

Cheese should be stored at a specific temperature and humidity level. Check the label for proper storage.

Use Proper Handling Techniques

Always use clean utensils and cutting boards. Keep your hands clean and avoid touching the cheese, as this can introduce bacteria and other microorganisms.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts on the Importance of Food Safety

In conclusion, eating bad cheese can have serious consequences on your health. Always take proper precautions when handling and storing cheese to avoid spoilage.

If you suspect that you’ve eaten bad cheese, seek medical attention immediately. Remember to always check the expiration date, store cheese properly, and use proper handling techniques. By following these tips, you can enjoy your favorite cheese without worrying about the dangers of eating bad cheese.

Always prioritize your health by taking food safety seriously. Be cautious about the cheese you buy and how you handle it. If you experience any symptoms of food poisoning, seek medical attention immediately.

 

What is Listeria?

Bacterial culture plate with chicken meat at the background
Listeria bacterial culture plate with chicken meat in the background. Photo: iStock

Listeria Introduction 

Food poisoning can occur in many ways. Mainly, it comes from eating bad food, such as rotten cheese. Listeria is one of these food poisoning illnesses.

In this blog post, we will answer the questions you may have about this disease and provide information on how to protect yourself.

So What is Listeria?

It is a bacterial infection that can cause serious illness, especially in pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. 

Where Does It Come From?

The bacteria can be found in soil, water, and certain animals, and can be present in food, especially if it is not handled or cooked properly. When a person ingests Listeria, it can cause a serious infection known as Listeriosis.

How Does Listeria Affect Your Health?

The symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the infection. Some people may not experience any symptoms, while others may develop severe health issues within a few days of ingesting the bacteria.

The symptoms can be flu-like, such as fever, muscle aches, and diarrhea. In severe cases, it can cause meningitis, sepsis, or even death. 

Who is at Risk of Getting the Disease?

Pregnant woman putting up hand against eating deli meat sandwici
Avoiding foods that are more susceptible to Listeria while pregnant is important. Photo: iStock

While anyone can become infected with the disease, certain groups of people are at higher risk. As mentioned, pregnant women, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to the disease.

Specifically, pregnant women are ten times more likely to be infected with the illness than the general population. This is because the immune system is naturally weakened during pregnancy, making it harder to fight off infections and it can cause miscarriages, stillbirth or severe illness in newborns.

Older adults and people with weakened immune systems are also more susceptible to Listeriosis because their bodies may not be able to fight off the infection as effectively.

How Listeria is Diagnosed and Treated

If you suspect that you may have been infected with Listeria, it is important to seek medical attention right away. A doctor can perform a blood test or spinal fluid test to diagnose Listeriosis.

If you are diagnosed with the disease, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary to provide supportive care and prevent complications.

Preventing Infections Through Proper Food Handling

Man washing his hands with sanitizer
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

One of the most effective ways to prevent this type of food poisoning is through proper handling. This means washing your hands and utensils regularly, cooking food to the appropriate temperature, and storing food properly.

It is also important to avoid certain high-risk foods, such as those mentioned below. These foods are more likely to be contaminated with bacteria, especially if not handled right, and should be avoided, especially by pregnant women and other high-risk individuals.

Foods That Are Commonly Associated with Listeria

The bacteria can be found in a variety of foods, but certain foods are more commonly associated with Listeria outbreaks. These include, but are not limited to:

      • Deli meats and hot dogs.
      • Smoked seafood.
      • Unpasteurized dairy products.
      • Soft cheeses, such as feta, brie, and camembert.
      • Raw sprouts.
      • Prepared salads, such as chicken or egg salad.

Outbreaks and Recalls

Listeria outbreaks can occur when contaminated food is distributed and consumed by large numbers of people. In recent years, there have been several high-profile outbreaks, including one in 2011 that was linked to cantaloupe and resulted in 33 deaths.

Last month, a 10-state outbreak of Listeria occurred. Although the number of people who contracted the disease is low, it is still a serious matter. The ages range from 47 to 88 years old and are in the states of Arkansas, California, Colorado, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Washington.

And what appears to be a separate incident, but occurred in the same month was a recall of food products that may have been contaminated with Listeria resulting from a test by the Fresh Ideation Food Group LLC in Baltimore.

It is important to stay informed about these recalls and to avoid consuming any recalled products.

Importance of Food Safety Regulations

Food safety regulations are in place to protect consumers from harmful bacteria. These regulations set standards for food handling, processing and distribution to ensure that food is safe to eat.

Conclusion 

Listeria is a harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness, especially in high-risk individuals such as pregnant women and older adults. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and diarrhea, and the infection can be diagnosed through blood or spinal fluid tests.

Preventing these infections is possible through proper food handling and avoiding high-risk foods. It is also important to stay informed about Listeria outbreaks and recalls to avoid consuming contaminated products.

We encourage everyone to be mindful of food safety and to take steps to protect themselves and their families from harmful bacteria such as Listeria.

 

Unlocking the Power of Punkin Seeds: The Surprising Health Benefits of This Superfood

Pumpkin Seed and Pumpkins
Photo: iStock

Who would have thought that the little, orange-shaped seeds we call “pumpkin seeds” could be so powerful? Not only are pumpkin seeds delicious, but they provide an abundance of essential nutrients and health benefits. Studies show that these tiny grains of plant life can help to improve digestion, reduce inflammation, and even aid in weight loss.

Being packed with essential vitamins and minerals, to containing powerful antioxidants, pumpkin seeds are truly a superfood! 

Nutritional Profile 

About 25-30% of pumpkin seed weight is protein. They are also a good source of dietary fiber and iron, which is great for your blood flow. They also contain zinc, which helps to strengthen the immune system, and are rich in vitamins thiamin, folate, and vitamins A, B, and E. Additionally, they are high in beneficial fatty acids, such as linoleic, oleic, and palmitic acids.

Illustration of the parts of a neuron
Cell Structure. BruceBlaus / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

If that is not enough, these plant wonders are a great source of antioxidants, reducing inflammation and protecting against cell damage and disease, and they contain magnesium and potassium. Two minerals that are important for healthy muscle and nerve function.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

Here is a breakdown of the benefits that pumpkin seeds can offer you.

Great for Weight Loss

Woman showing how much fat she lost
Photo: Pixaby

The high protein and fiber content of these natural seeds can help to promote fullness and reduce hunger and cravings. Additionally, the healthy fats found can help to keep you feeling satisfied longer. 

Improved Digestion

They are a good source of dietary fiber, which can help to promote healthy digestion and prevent constipation. Magnesium helps to relax the muscles of the digestive tract, which can help to reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Additionally, healthy fats can lubricate the digestive system and reduce inflammation.

Reduces Inflammation

The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body. High levels of polyunsaturated fats can reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Additionally, they can help to reduce pain associated with arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

Improves Heart Health

Pumpkin seeds contain healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants, all of which can help to keep your heart strong. Healthy fats help to reduce cholesterol levels, while fiber helps to keep blood sugar levels steady. 

How to Add Pumpkin Seeds to Your Diet

      • Snack on them raw: They are a great snack on their own and can be eaten raw or roasted for a delicious crunchy snack.
      • Add them to salads: Puy them into salads for a nutritious and delicious crunch.
      • Sprinkle them on top of yogurt: The crunchy texture and nutty flavor are a great combination.
      • Use them in baking: Punkin seeds can be added to a variety of baked goods, from muffins to granola bars.
      • Add them to smoothies: Add them to smoothies for an extra boost of nutrition.

Recipes 

Pumpkin seeds are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some delicious recipes that make use of pumpkin seeds.

      • Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: A simple and tasty snack. Simply toss the seeds in olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake them in the oven.
      • Pumpkin Seed Pesto: This is a great way to add a nutty flavor to any dish. Simply blend them with olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, and lemon juice for a delicious pesto sauce.
      • Granola Bars:  Simply combine them with rolled oats, honey, and nuts for a nutritious treat.
      • Porridge: Add them to your favorite porridge recipe for an extra boost of nutrition.
      • Hummus: Hummus on its own is nutritious. Now add the seeds for a delicious and nutritious dip. Simply blend chickpeas, tahini, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, and garlic for a flavorful dip.

Conclusion

Pumpkin seeds are a delicious superfood that is packed with essential nutrients and health benefits. They are a great source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

They can help to improve digestion, reduce inflammation, promote weight loss, and improve heart health. So, what are you waiting for? Unlock the power of pumpkin seeds and enjoy all the health benefits they have to offer!

 

Exploring the Amazing Life Cycle of Bees: The Incredible Journey

Bees flying around Coke cans
Photo: ©Paul E. Picaso

You can find bees almost anywhere, especially in the summer. Such was the case when this author was sitting on a picnic bench and was amazed to notice a bee fly down on the table, preparing a worm for its dinner.

The worm, ten times smaller than the bee, struggled for its life to try to get out of the bee’s grip. Moved its body and head up toward the bee’s claws and tried to bite them but to no avail.

The fascinating part was that this insect worked so meticulously, with no care in the world for the worm. It is what makes these insects the flawless creatures of nature that they are.

A Testament to Nature

Close-up of a swarm of honey bees in a flowering rapeseed field
Close-up of a swarm of honey bees in a flowering rapeseed field. Photo: iStock

Related to the wasp family, bees are an incredible species, and their voyage through life is truly remarkable. From the moment they hatch from their egg, they begin a journey of development, ultimately culminating in the production of honey and the continuation of their species. 

Along the way, they travel through a myriad of stages, each one more fascinating than the other. From larva to nymph, to adult, bees are incredibly hard-working and resilient, and their life cycle is a testament to their tenacity and determination. 

Join us as we examine each stage, from the moment of their birth until the end of their lives, bees have a story that can be an inspiration to us all.

Egg and Larva Stages

Honeycomb with assortment of bees on top
Closeup of bees on honeycomb. Photo iStock – DiyanaDimitrova

The first stage begins with the egg. A female bee, known as the queen, will lay the eggs in the cells of a honeycomb that she has built. The eggs are then fertilized by male bees known as drones. The eggs will incubate for three days before hatching into larvae. 

The larva stage is the second stage of a bee’s life cycle. During this stage, the larvae are fed by the worker bees, who secrete a special food called “royal jelly“.

This jelly is rich in nutrients and helps the larvae grow and develop. During this stage, the larvae will molt several times, growing larger and more mature with each molt. After about five days, the larvae will form a cocoon and enter the pupa stage.

The Pupa Stage

During this stage, the bee is in a state of suspended animation. The pupa will remain in its cocoon until it is mature enough to emerge as an adult bee. This stage usually takes about 11 days, and during this time the bee’s body undergoes a complete transformation, from larva to adult.

Nymph and Adult Stages

Once the bee has emerged from its cocoon, it enters the nymph stage. During this stage, the bee is still developing and maturing. The bee will begin to take on the characteristics of its species, such as coloration and size. The nymph stage usually lasts between 10 and 12 days before the bee is ready to enter the adult stage.

The adult stage is the final stage of a bee’s life cycle. During this stage, the bee will begin to produce honey and help to maintain the hive. The adult bee will also mate with other bees, which will help to ensure the survival of the hive. The adult bee will typically live for about four to six weeks.

The Role of the Queen Bee

Close up of bee on flower
Photo: iStock nechaev-kon

The queen bee is the most important member of the hive. She is responsible for laying the eggs that will eventually become the worker bees, drones, and future queens. The queen is larger than the other bees, and she has a special gland that produces a chemical called “queen substance” which helps to keep the hive in order. She is also the only bee in the hive that can mate with the drones.

The Worker Bee’s Role in the Hive

The worker bee is the most common type of bee in the hive. They are responsible for many tasks, such as building the hive, collecting nectar, and producing honey. They also help to maintain the hive by grooming the queen and the larvae, and by defending the hive against predators. Worker bees typically live for about six weeks.

The Role of the Drone Bee

The drone bee is a male bee whose primary role is to mate with the queen. Unlike worker bees, drones do not have a stinger and they do not produce honey. They typically live for about five weeks and then die shortly after mating with the queen.

The Life Span of a Bee

The lifespan of a bee varies depending on the type of bee. Queen bees usually live for about two to three years. Worker bees typically live for about six weeks, and drones usually live for about five weeks.

How Bees Create Honey 

Bees make honey by collecting nectar from flowers and then processing it within their hives, called pollination. This process involves several steps:

    1. Foraging: Worker bees fly from flower to flower collecting nectar using their long proboscis. They store the nectar in their “honey stomach” and return to the hive.
    2. Processing: When the worker bees return, they regurgitate the nectar into the mouths of other worker bees. These bees then add enzymes to the nectar which break down the complex sugars into simpler sugars such as glucose and fructose.
    3. Evaporation: The bees then spread the processed nectar on the honeycomb to dry. They use their wings to fan the nectar and evaporate the excess water, which concentrates the sugar.
    4. Ripening: Once the nectar has been evaporated to the desired consistency, the bees will seal the cells of the honeycomb with wax. This seals in moisture and protects the honey from contamination.
    5. Maturing: Over time, the enzymes in the honey will continue to break down the remaining sugars and convert them into glucose and fructose. The final product is the sweet, thick, golden substance that we know as honey.

The honey produced by bees is a valuable food source for the hive and provides the colony with energy and nutrients throughout the year. Bees are remarkable creatures and the process of making honey is just one example of their impressive abilities.

The Benefits of Beekeeping

Beekeeping is a great way to help the environment and promote the health of our planet. Bees are essential for pollinating plants, and without them, many plants would not be able to reproduce. Additionally, beekeeping can be a great source of income, as honey is a valuable commodity. Finally, it can be a great hobby and can be very rewarding to watch the bees grow and thrive.

Bees are Not Without Their Predators

Pair of Merops birds feeding on bees
Pair of Merops birds feeding on bees. Photo: Wikipedia Public Domain by Chiswick Chap

The most notorious bee predators are birds, such as the Greater Honeyguide, Honey Buzzard, and Shrikes, but we can’t leave out the crab spider and praying mantis.

In the animal kingdom, it’s the honey badger, part of the mammal family that bees need to keep an eye on.

Conclusion

Bees are remarkable creatures. From the moment they hatch from their egg to the moment they create honey, bees are incredibly hard-working and resilient.

Bees are part of nature’s ecosystems and there is no doubt that without them, there would be a disruption in Earth’s biosphere. How much of a change is debatable, but understanding their life cycle is essential to understanding their role in our environment and why they are so important. 

 

What Is Serotonin and How Does It Affect Your Mental Health?

Colorful illustration of the brain
Photo: iStock

Overview

Before we proceed to discuss the benefits of serotonin, let us review the tasks of neurotransmitters. Simply stated, information from one cell will send information to the next cell by jumping across a synapse (the gap between cells).

If you are unfamiliar with this process, our article on brain cells will help clear up any confusion you may have, but keep in mind that neurotransmitters don’t only function in the brain. 

This article will discuss what serotonin is, how it works, and ways to naturally increase its levels, and we will explore how certain medications can be used to treat serotonin-related disorders. 

By understanding the effects of serotonin, we can help maintain a sound mind and body. So let’s begin.

What is Serotonin?

This is an important chemical found throughout the human body. It is produced in the brain, gastrointestinal tract, and kidneys. It plays a key role in the regulation of mood, appetite, sleep, memory, and learning, and in so doing, it is often coined the “happy hormone”. 

With that said, any serotonin deficiency can have a major impact on your health, especially, your mental health. Once in the synapse, neurotransmitters connect the chemical with receptors on the neighboring cell. This communication between neurons is what allows us to think, feel, and act.

How Does It Work?

Serotonin is produced by a chemical reaction between amino acids and enzymes. Once it is produced, it is stored in specialized cells called vesicles. The serotonin travels out of the vesicles and across the synapse to neighboring neurons and as mentioned, the neurons that serotonin affects are responsible for mood, appetite, sleep, and thinking. Therefore, any changes in serotonin levels can lead to changes in these functions. 

How Does Serotonin Affect Your Mental Health?

Silhouettes of people jumping for joy
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

A person’s cognitive health is affected by many factors. These include genetics, past traumas, relationships, current health, and daily habits. Let’s take a closer look at serotonin’s effect on these functions:

    • Mood: Mood is often the first thing to be affected when serotonin levels start to drop. If its levels drop too low, they may result in a condition known as serotonin deficiency. A serotonin deficiency is often associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety.
    • Appetite: Serotonin helps regulate appetite by triggering the sensation of fullness. Therefore, increased serotonin levels can result in a lower appetite. A serotonin deficiency, on the other hand, can result in increased appetite.
    • Sleep: A serotonin deficiency can result in insomnia and a serotonin excess can result in hypersomnia (excessive sleep).
    • Thinking: Serotonin is associated with focus and concentration. Moreover, it is also associated with positive or negative moods depending on the situation. A deficiency can result in poor focus and a lack of concentration. This can negatively affect daily tasks that require a higher level of mental focus.

How to Naturally Increase Your Serotonin levels

Two Men Exercising on Mat
Photo: graphic stock

Given that serotonin is so important to mental health, taking steps to increase its levels can have a significant impact on your health. Some ways to naturally increase serotonin levels include:

    • Getting enough sleep: Sleep is essential for serotonin production. Any decrease in sleep can reduce its production and any increase in sleep can increase serotonin.
    • Eating a healthy diet: A healthy diet is rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, which are required to produce serotonin. A diet that is rich in these nutrients can help to naturally increase serotonin levels. 
    • Practicing a healthy lifestyle: Regular exercise, meditation, yoga, and other forms of relaxation are known to help increase serotonin levels. 

What Foods Help Maintain a Healthy Serotonin Level?

Photo of foods rich in Serotonin
Some foods for good mood, brain, and happiness. Photo: iStock

Before we list some foods that are rich in serotonin, let us define tryptophan. This is an amino acid that plays a significant role in the production of serotonin and it is important to note that tryptophan cannot be produced naturally in the body. So with that said, let’s take a look at what foods contain this amino acid.

      • Salmon. This healthy fish has been mentioned numerous times on our website. And why? Because of all the nutrients it contains, which includes tryptophan.
      • Eggs: Another all-around healthy nutrient. In addition to all the other benefits eggs have, they are also rich in tryptophan.
      • Green Leafy Vegetables: Any veggies of this type, such as spinach contain a good source of tryptophan.
      • Pineapples: Eat them when they are fresh because they lose their serotonin levels as the ripening wears off.
      • Nuts: All of our favorite nuts contain tryptophan.
      • Tofu and Soy: Soy products are known to be significant in getting tryptophan to increase serotonin production in the body.

One note: Foods that are high in protein, such as salmon and eggs may compromise the serotonin boost even though they contain tryptophan, but if you add carbohydrates (carbs) to your meal, this can help keep tryptophan in the bloodstream.

Some healthy carb foods are brown rice, sweet potatoes, corn, bananas, and apples.

What Medications Can Be Used to Treat Serotonin-Related Disorders

pills in human hand
Photo: Graphic Stock

Some of the most common serotonin-related disorders include depression, anxiety, insomnia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. While some serotonin-related disorders can be readily managed with lifestyle changes, others may require the assistance of certain medications. 

Antidepressants are the most commonly used meds to treat serotonin-related disorders. They are helpful because they increase the serotonin level, but they may also have a negative impact on other neurotransmitters. As a result, it is important to speak to your medical provider before taking any medications on your own.

Takeaways for Better Mental Health Management

Mental health is a cyclical process that is affected by many factors. These include daily habits, current health, genetics, and past traumas. Given the impact of these factors, it is important to take care of ourselves and manage our health more effectively. 

One of the best ways to do this is by understanding serotonin and its effects. When serotonin levels are too low, a person can experience a serotonin deficiency, which can result in several mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, poor sleep, and poor focus.

Fortunately, there are several ways to naturally increase serotonin levels. These include getting enough sleep, eating the right foods, practicing a healthy lifestyle, and discussing with a medical professional. 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Benefits, Sources and More

Illustration of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Source: Free Images

Overview

How many of us have heard our parents say “Eat your fish! It is brain food!”? Well, even if you were a spiteful kid and didn’t listen, take note – they are right! 

Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (a covalent bond that contains four electrons in the outer shell of the atom). They are found in sunflower, flaxseed oils, as well as fish and walnuts, which are essential nutrients that play a vital role in the functioning of the human body, especially the brain, but your body cannot make these fatty acids. To nourish your body with these important ingredients, you need to eat the proper foods that contain them.

This guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about Omega 3 fatty acids, including their benefits, sources, recommended daily intake, and more. You will learn why they are essential for optimal health and how to incorporate them into your diet. 

With this information, you can make sure you are getting the most out of these nutrients and living a healthier life. Let’s get started!

Starting at the Beginning – What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Plate of uncooked salmon
Image by Piotr Eliasz from Pixabay

As mentioned, these are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) found in certain plants and marine animals.

They are considered essential nutrients for humans because the body is unable to produce most of them and consequently, we must get them from the food we eat. 

There are three types of Omega 3 fatty acids: 

      • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): ALA is found in plants, and is the only type of Omega 3 fatty acid that can be produced by the human body. However, the human body can only convert a very small percentage of ALA into EPA and DHA. 
      • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): Found in fish and fish oils 
      • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): Also found in fish and is an important nutrient for normal brain function in adults. Additionally and even more essential is that DHA plays a significant role in the development of the brain of infants. Experts have repeatedly stated that consumption of DHA in your diet will improve your learning ability, and lack of it has been related to a deficiency in learning.

Plant sources are mostly ALA (Alpha-lipoic acid) – A naturally occurring compound, but very little is converted into EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid)Therefore, it is important to consume more ALA foods that convert into EPA and DHA.  

Benefits 

Omega 3 fatty acids are an essential part of the function of the cell receptors. They have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke and may help control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis,

Besides improved brain health, these healthy fats have additional benefits that include improved heart health, possible reduced cancer risks, and other conditions such as mood and reduced inflammation. Let’s take a look at each of these benefits in more detail.

      • Improved heart health: Helps to reduce triglycerides, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. These three factors are important for heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease.
      • Improved mood: Helps to reduce the risk of depression and promote feelings of happiness, and as mentioned, they help to promote brain health and may assist in improving symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 
      • Reduces risk of dementia: Helps to reduce the risk of developing conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia. They also help to improve symptoms associated with depression, ADHD, and anxiety
      • Reduced inflammation: Omega 3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation throughout the body, which can lead to reduced risk of diseases like arthritis. 
      • Other benefits: Helps to reduce blood sugar and blood pressure, improves skin health, and promotes weight loss.

Sources 

Package of Flax Seeds
Seeds such as Flax and Chia can be found in any major grocery store. Photo: ©SMS

Flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, fish, marine algae, and fish are some of the main sources of Omega 3 fatty acids.

Let’s take a look at the different sources of Omega 3 fatty acids and their benefits.

      • Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds are a great source of ALA, which can be converted into EPA and DHA. The seeds are also rich in fiber and have a nutty taste and texture. They can be added to salads, baked goods, or other dishes. 
      • Chia seeds: This is a great source of ALA and fiber. They can be mixed into yogurt or added to salads. 
      • Walnuts: Walnuts are a great source of ALA and also provide some protein and healthy fats. They can be added to salads or eaten as a snack.
      • Fish: Fish is the best source of EPA and DHA and can be eaten regularly. Fish is also a great source of protein as well. 
      • Marine algae: Marine alga is a good source of EPA and DHA, but it is much less common than fish. It can be consumed as a powder or in capsules. Marine algae are also rich in other minerals.

Best Fish for Omega 3

Salmon on a plate
Photo: Graphic Stock

Researchers have said that the following are your best sources of omega-3 fatty acids:

      • Salmon
      • light tuna
      • Sardines
      • Cod
      • Atlantic mackerel
      • Herring
      • Trout

Recommended Daily Intake 

The recommended daily intake (RDI) of Omega 3 fatty acids varies between different age groups. The RDI of Omega 3 fatty acids for infants is 0.5 grams, while it is 1.5 grams for adults. 

The RDI increases with age, which is important to remember. It is also important to note that these RDIs are based on ALA, not EPA or DHA. Although the RDIs are based on ALA, it is important to get enough EPA and DHA in the diet to promote health. 

Let’s take a look at how much Omega 3 fatty acids each age group should consume.

    • Infants: 0.5 grams
    • Babies are not able to consume fish, which is the best source of EPA and DHA. Breast milk contains some Omega-3 fatty acids, but it is important to supplement with additional Omega-3 fatty acids. Talk to your doctor about the best infant formula and infant formulas with added Omega 3. – Children: 1.5 grams
    • Children are growing and their brains are developing. It is important to ensure that children consume enough Omega 3 fatty acids to promote proper brain health. Fish is the best source of EPA and DHA and can be eaten regularly.
    • Teenagers and adults: 5 grams – As we get older, we are less able to convert ALA into EPA and DHA. It is important to get enough EPA and DHA in the diet, especially as we age. It is also important to eat a healthy and balanced diet during this time to ensure that the body gets everything it needs.
    • Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 6 grams – It is important to get enough Omega 3 fatty acids when pregnant and breastfeeding to ensure proper brain development in the baby. Fish is the best source of EPA and DHA and should be eaten regularly.

How to Incorporate Omega 3 Fatty Acids Into Your Diet

It can’t be emphasized enough that the best way to get these fatty acids is to eat more fish and marine algae. 

      • Eat more fish – Fish is the best source of EPA and DHA and can be eaten regularly. You can also eat other marine animals like shellfish, but it is best to limit these.
      • Eat more plant-based sources – Flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are great sources of ALA. You can add them to salads, baked goods, or add them to yogurt. – Eat more marine algae 
      • Marine algae is the best source of EPA and DHA. It can be consumed as a powder or in capsules. 
      • Take fish oil supplements. Fish oil supplements can be taken regularly to get the recommended daily intake of Omega 3 fatty acids.

Potential Risks

The main risk is consuming too much fish and not getting enough nutrients from other food sources. It is important to get nutrients from other foods to avoid an imbalance in the diet. Another potential risk is consuming too many marine algae and not consuming enough other nutrients. 

All in all, consuming too much Omega 3 fatty acids is not likely to cause any serious side effects. It is important to consume the recommended daily intake to get the benefits associated with them. Besides, marine algae are rich in minerals and vitamins, so it is unlikely to cause any side effects. Fish oil supplements, on the other hand, are not as rich in nutrients, so it is important to get enough nutrients from other sources to avoid an imbalance in the diet.

Supplements

If you are having trouble incorporating enough Omega 3 fatty acids into your diet, supplements can be a great option. 

 

Surprising Health Benefits of Pickles!

A fork in a pickle
Photo: Unsplash

Pickles might make a great addition to your burgers and sandwiches, but did you know that they could also benefit your health? Whether you are a fan of sweet pickles, dill pickles, or even pickled vegetables, these crunchy delights can add more than add flavor to your meals. 

Pickles are a great source of probiotics (good bacteria) and have various other health benefits that you may not have known about. From helping to improve digestion to fighting off inflammation, pickles can be a nutritious and delicious snack in your diet. 

Read on to find out more about the surprising health benefits of pickles that you need to know about.

What are Pickles?

Pickles are food made by the process of fermentation (the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria). They can be made from many different types of vegetables, but the most common are cucumbers, cabbage, carrots, onions, and peppers. 

They can be either sweet or sour and are often eaten on their own as a snack, as a side to a meal, or as a topping for burgers and sandwiches. You can make your own pickles at home or buy them from a store where you can get different varieties like dill, kosher, and garlic. They can be either a sweet or sour side dish that has been made by adding vinegar and some spices to the vegetables.

Nutritional Value 

This veggie is a great side dish that is high in fiber and low in calories, making it not only a tasty option but a healthy one too. A 100-gram serving of pickles provides around 10% of your daily fiber requirement and is rich in vitamins and minerals.

Health Benefits 

Improved Digestion with Probiotics

Pickles are beneficial for digestive health. Eating them can help improve your digestion and has even been used to treat diarrhea and constipation.

Source of Vitamin K

This vitamin is commonly found in cabbage. It plays an important role in blood clotting and has even been linked to reduced risk of certain cancers, and plays an important role in blood clotting.

May Help Reduce the Risk of Diabetes

Eating pickles has been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes, and researchers believe that the probiotics found in pickles are responsible for this effect. They have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which is beneficial for those who are at risk of developing diabetes. 

May Help Lower Blood Pressure

Blood Cells
Photo: Big Stock

The probiotics in pickles have been shown to reduce blood pressure, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

May Help Fight Inflammation

Scientists believe that the probiotics found in pickles are responsible for this effect. Probiotics have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which has many health benefits including helping to relieve joint pain caused by arthritis.

How to Include Pickles in Your Diet

Even though they are healthy, you need to keep in mind that they are still a high-sodium food, so you should not overindulge in them. You should aim to eat pickles as part of a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fiber, and vitamins. 

Eating pickles with your sandwich or burger is a great way to add flavor and is a healthy option for those on a low-carb diet. You should aim to eat pickles as part of a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fiber, and vitamins. Eating them with your sandwich or burger is a great way to add flavor and is a healthy option for those who are on a low-carb diet. 

Conclusion

Pickles are a delicious and healthy snack that you can enjoy as part of a healthy diet. These crunchy delights are not only a great addition to your sandwiches and burgers, they are also high in fiber and provide many health benefits. Pickles are a great source of probiotics, are low in calories, and contain many vitamins and minerals.