Lifestyle, Uncategorized

How to Take a Mental Health Day

mentalhealthday

How to Take a Mental Health Day

Sometimes, you just need a break. Some folks call this a “mental health day,” but I like to keep things in a positive light (and out of respect for those who do have legitimate mental health diseases), so let’s rename this concept a self care day. A day dedicated to you.
Regardless of what you call it, though, taking a timeout is pretty essential, and in today’s culture, we can easily overdo it. In general, downtime is looked upon as lazy, or not really necessary. Things are changing, but it’s up to us as individuals to know when we need a break, and to make space to take it. How to Take a Mental Health Day

Here’s a quick guide on how to take a self care day.
Clear Your Schedule, Un-apologetically
The main requirement of a self care day is to ditch the scheduled appointments. Frankly, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t mind a few less calendar appointments in their life.
If your appointments are with other people or recurring obligations, you don’t need to explain that you’re taking some self care time if you don’t feel it is helpful. In my opinion, if you’re just honest — sorry, something personal’s come up, I need to reschedule — then no harm, no foul.
I do mean clear everything possible; if you have children, find someone who can help you out.
Downshift
Now that you’ve cleared some space, downshift. A self care day is not “a day I catch up on errands and clean the house.” The laundry can wait. Weed the garden tomorrow. Do not wash the dishes in the sink unless you truly enjoy washing dishes. Nope. This is a day for you.
Start it out with activities specifically geared towards downshifting. Some examples/ideas to get you thinking: Something warm to drink, light some candles, run a hot bath, take a nap, stretch, meditate. What does slowing down mean to you?
Treat Yourself
I think the perfect self care day requires a little treat of some kind. Treating yourself means different things to different people, so do not think you need to be getting pedicures and eating dark chocolate. Choose things that really feel like a treat to you (think “guilty indulgences” without the guilt): pancakes, a walk, a swim in the pool, hug a tree, take an online yoga class.
Of course, if treating yourself feels like just reading in bed or laying on the couch and watching a fun movie on Netflix, so be it.
Pause to Reflect at the End of the Day
At the end of a self care day, I think it’s important to take a few moments to just reflect on the day and your experience. Perhaps you want to promise yourself that you will take a time out again when needed — maybe put it on the calendar now? Maybe you realized that one of your favorite treats you can be incorporated into you daily ritual instead. If nothing else, share some gratitude with yourself and give yourself a nice pat on the back for taking good care of yourself.

Remember: no matter how many responsibilities you have, your primary responsibility is to take care of YOU, so that you can show up fully to those other pieces in your life.
Please share with your family and loved ones.

Health and Wellness Associates
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Rx to Wellness, Uncategorized

Panic Attacks and Anxiety

panicattacks

Natural Remedies for Anxiety & Panic Attacks
Panic attacks can strike some of us more than most, but we all go through it sooner or later. Working to beat a deadline, pay a bill, especially in this economic recession paying attention to your mental health is important!
Some natural remedies for anxiety and panic attacks include supplements such as Omega-3 fatty acids and SAMe. You can also use techniques like meditation or yoga. These alternative techniques have already changed the lives of many of the 40 million Americans afflicted by anxiety and panic attacks, which needless to say can be very disruptive in your life.

What is a Panic Attack?
A panic attack is one type of anxiety order, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. In this day and age I think most of us have experienced this. People suffering from panic attacks don’t experience the type of anxiety everyone feels from time to time though, necessarily. People who have actual panic attacks are dealing with a mental illness. There are physical symptoms to panic attacks, and not just mental, these include high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, and chest pain which many experience as feeling like a heart attack. Some may even think they are dying; these attacks arrive suddenly and unpredictably.

Natural Remedies
You can treat panic attacks naturally by learning mind and body relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation, eating more omega-3 fatty acids, and also fights depression and anxiety, and you can try SAMe, a supplement that replaces what is lost as we age, which looks as the most promising natural remedy for panic attacks.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines, Walnuts and Flaxseed)
We’ve all been told (hopefully) that Omega-3 fatty acids are good for cardiovascular health. This natural remedy is also great for anxiety disorders. In fact in places of the world where people eat a lot of Omega-3 rich foods (such as fish), we find less anxiety orders and depression. Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids include Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines, Flaxseed, and Walnuts! Try adding one or more of them to your diet!
Meditation and Relaxation Techniques
It’s been proven that natural relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi, or meditation, will be of great benefit to anybody troubled by anxiety orders, and they will improve energy, concentration, and mood. By learning to calm and balance your mind and emotions your heartbeat will benefit and you will suffer from less panic attacks.
SAMe
SAMe is a long name, (S-adenosylmethionine) and what it is is a molecule within our bodies, but as we age, less is produced. In theory this can help treat depression holistically with very few side effects. A downside is that it is expensive and may interact badly with certain other medications. As always ask before taking anything.
Please share with family and loved ones.
Health and Wellness Asssociates
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Diets and Weight Loss, Foods, Uncategorized

Blueberry Apple Crisp

blueberry apple crumble

Who doesn’t love a Raw Blue Berry Apple Crisp with Coconut Vegan Whip Cream? You could even warm this up to 118 degrees or so and it would still be raw. Uber delicious HEALTHY whole food desserts for those cold winter nights. Enjoy! I am about to make this myself right now I’m so inspired!  I recommend all organic ingredients and gluten free. THIS is the best dessert ever! 

Ingredients

Crust:

1 cup almonds

1/2 cup walnuts

¼ cup medjool dates, pitted

½ cup unsweetened coconut

Filling:

3 medium apples, cored and coarsely chopped

3 cups blueberries

1/4 cup medjool dates

2 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp  ground ginger

Instructions

Crust:

In a food processor, pulse the ingredients until they form a coarse meal. Press half of the mixture into single serving ramekins.. Reserve the remaining crumble.

Filling:

In a food processor, blend one apple, 2 cups blueberries,  and the remaining ingredients until smooth. Add the two remaining apples in the food processor and pulse into small pieces. Add remaining blueberries and pulse just a moment to mix. Do not over blend – it’s best with small chunks of fruit. Pour the filling onto the prepared crust. Sprinkle the reserved crumble mixture on top.

Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.  It’s also very flavorful when warmed to release the flavors.

Even more special when topped with:

Vegan Whipped Cream:

Ingredients:

2- 14 oz cans organic coconut milk (or make your own coconut milk if you like!)

2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

Chill coconut milk for several hours or overnight.

Spoon out the thick creamy white part of the milk; set aside the watery remainder to enjoy in a smoothie or other recipe.

In a large bowl, whip the coconut cream on high until medium firm peaks form.

Use immediately.

**You may refrigerate this a few days, but it will lose its consistency and will need to be re-whipped.

Health and Disease, Rx to Wellness, Uncategorized

Popular Heartburn Drugs Linked to Chronic Kidney Disease

nexium

Popular Heartburn Drugs Linked to Chronic Kidney Disease

In a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers from John Hopkins University found that the drugs that treat acid reflux and heartburn (like Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium) may not be as safe as once thought. While most considered the drugs effective and relatively free from side effects, this new study shows two things: a large number of people taking the meds don’t actually need them and proton pump inhibitors (PPI) raise the risk of kidney disease from 20 to 50 percent. And those facts come on the heels of another study from last June done by Stanford University which found those medications contributed to a higher chance of heart attacks.

 

Researchers looked at the records of more than 10,000 people and found that the, “risk of the onset of chronic kidney disease was 20 to 50 percent higher in those who took the PPIs. No increased risk was seen in people who took a different class of heartburn drugs like Pepcid and Zantac, which work by blocking histamine production in the cells lining the stomach”(PPIs block the secretion of acid into the stomach).

 

More from the article:

 

“JUST AS IT IS A FALLACY THAT PPIS ARE SAFE TO TAKE EVERY DAY FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME, SO IT IS ALSO A FALLACY THAT HEARTBURN IS CAUSED BY TOO MUCH STOMACH ACID, ACCORDING TO NOTED NATURAL HEALTH PRACTITIONER DR. JOSEPH MERCOLA. CONTRARY TO WHAT IS WIDELY BELIEVED, REFLUX IS CAUSED BY TOO LITTLE ACID. FURTHERMORE, TAKING DRUGS THAT SUPPRESS STOMACH ACID MERELY TREATS THE SYMPTOMS RATHER THAN ATTACKS THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM. IN FACT, THE MEDICATIONS ACTUALLY WORSEN THE CONDITION THAT PRODUCES THE SYMPTOMS, A RESULT THAT PERPETUATES THE PROBLEM. HE RECOMMENDS THAT PEOPLE WHO TAKE PPIS SHOULD GRADUALLY WEAN THEMSELVES OFF OF THEM INSTEAD OF STOPPING COLD TURKEY. AFTERWARDS, MERCOLA ADVISES TAKING NATURAL REMEDIES AND ADOPTING LIFESTYLE MODIFICATIONS.”

 

What many health practitioners have known for a long time is that it’s possible to treat heartburn naturally- and therefore- safely; some people use yellow mustard, many take apple cider vinegar (from the Mother is always best and either straight or in water), and still others have found success using a different type of salt, like a pink himalayan (if you use added salt in your food).

 

Some of those lifestyle modifications would be eating foods that help, rather than hurt and stress, your gut biome; fermented vegetables (kimchee/sauerkraut), kefir, and for those non-vegans, yogurt made from raw milk, are all great. And don’t be afraid to move your body! Exercise is good for you and will help. Then there are the more obvious things like smoking, caffeine and excessive alcohol.

 

Sadly, some kidney problems are irreversible and chronic kidney disease can result in kidney failure (which necessitates either dialysis or a transplant). Now, the research doesn’t prove PPIs cause chronic kidney disease but their findings should be considered serious enough to at least pay attention to and unless you really, really need them, you shouldn’t take them. In fact, it almost makes more sense to try alternative therapies first and use the PPIs as a last resort. Once you start to look at the issue, you really only have two options- treat your body better or take PPIs (and maybe play russian roulette with the outcome).

 

Please share with family and loved ones and call with all your healthcare concerns and for your personalized healthcare plan.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

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Foods, Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

creamy-carrot-and-sweet-potato-soup

Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

RECIPE

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
8 large carrots, roughly chopped

2 medium sweet potatoes, mashed
2 tablespoons dry cooking wine

6 cups vegetable stock (fresh or homemade)

Large handful of fresh chopped cilantro (coriander)

4 tablespoons creme fraiche (note: use low fat plain yoghurt as an alternative)

Directions

In a large pan heat the olive oil and add the sliced onions. Gently sautee for approximately 5 minutes until soft. Add the carrots and mashed sweet potatoes and cook for another 5 minutes (stirring often).

Now add the stock and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until carrots are tender and liquid has reduced. Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool. Place the soup mixture in a food processor or blender if you prefer a smooth soup, a little less if you prefer a chunkier texture. Place the soup back in the pan and gently heat again. Season with salt and pepper and serve garnished with a the fresh cilantro and a dollop of creme fraiche in each bowl.

Health benefits

-Carrots contain over 16 vitamins and minerals including vitamin A,B6,C and K and minerals manganese, copper and biotin. They contain powerful anti-oxidant properties and are known to assist a healthy cardiovascular system and even prevent cancer. Carrots are well known for their ability to improve vision due to their high content of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A upon consumption and is a strong preventer against cancer types, high blood pressure and forms of heart disease.

– Onions are also a great source of vitamins and minerals including vitamin B1,B6 and C and minerals manganese, biotin and phosphorus. Onions have anti-inflammatory properties that are great for supporting your immune system and protecting against disease. Onions belong to a family of vegetables called “Allium” which have been linked to the decrease of multiple types of cancer.

– Sweet potatoes contain vitamins A,B6 and C and minerals potassium, manganese andcopper. They have strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Sweet potatoes are low in fat and high in fibre, making it a healthy addition to any meal as they support healthy digestion. By selecting orange coloured sweet potatoes you will gain more vitamin A.

-You will find minerals calcium, potassium and magnesium in fresh coriander. Coriander also boasts antioxidant,anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties making it a powerful medicinal herb for treating many diseases and ailments.

 

Please share with family and loved ones, and call us with your healthcare concerns and personalized healthcare plan.

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived – Carrothers

312-972-WELL

Diets and Weight Loss, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Emotional Eating

emotioanleating

Emotional Eating
Eating habits and “The battle for the mind!”
The emotional process of eating Eating can be a highly emotional process. Food does more than just fill our stomachs. If you take more notice of what you are eating, why you are eating it and what you are feeling it may surprise you. While eating to satisfy hunger is a normal function, emotional eating can be a self defeating and destructive force in someone’s life.
Emotional eating is to eat for a reason other than hunger.
Emotional eating moods can include: stress, distress, depression, happiness, boredom, anxiety, sadness, agitation, avoidance, compulsion, tired, weak, sleepy, frustration, disappointment, adversity, failure.
University studies have been done do see what foods people eat to match what mood they are in. People tend to eat popcorn, pizza or steak when they are happy, ice cream, cookies and cake when they are sad, and potato chips when they are bored. Studies also show that depressed people tend to eat twice as much at a snack session than happy people, linking depression to obesity.
Comfort foods are eaten either to achieve a feeling or maintain a feeling. They can even be an addictive response providing endorphins and exogenous opioids to the brain.
Programed to eat with emotions We are programmed early in life to attach different emotions with different food. When a child is sad what do we give them? Cookies or candy? So the pattern for comfort through food is often set up early and re-enforced throughout life. We program our kids to respond to foods at an early age. Punishment can be equated to hunger when the punishment is forcing a child to miss a meal because of bad behavior. Rewards of sweets for good behavior can set up patterns for emotional eating also.
Five differences between emotional eating and normal hunger:
University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center web site:
1. Emotional hunger comes on suddenly; physical hunger occurs gradually.
2. When you are eating to fill a void that isn’t related to an empty stomach, you crave a specific food, such as pizza or ice cream, and only that food will meet your need. When you eat because you are actually hungry, you’re open to options.
3. Emotional hunger feels like it needs to be satisfied instantly with the food you crave; physical hunger can wait.
4. Even when you are full, if you’re eating to satisfy an emotional need, you’re more likely to keep eating. When you’re eating because you’re hungry, you’re more likely to stop when you’re full.
5. Emotional eating can leave behind feelings of guilt; eating when you are physically hungry does not.
According to the University of MD 75% of all overeating is due to emotions.
The brain connection to eating Your gut is densely lined with neuro-peptides and receptors that exchange emotional information. The pancreas alone releases 20 emotionally laden peptides. These emotionally charged peptides regulate assimilation and storage of nutrients. They also help transmit information about being full or hungry to the brain.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten interferes with leptin, which is a hormone that does several things in the body. Leptin signals the brain that the tummy is full; it signals fat cells to break up; and leptin also normalizes pain receptors in the spinal column. An imbalance in leptin levels alone can cause overeating, interfere with the fat burning process and actually cause fibromyalgia pain.
Fungi and bacteria reside in the colon and produce over 80% of the body’s neuro chemicals. Gut bacteria have been proven to influence everything you do. This would of course include emotional eating. The human body contains 10 times more bacteria than human cells and should maintain 90% good, friendly bacteria to function optimally. Bacteria and fungi control the environment of the body by slowing down digestion and rewarding or punishing you for things you eat.
Eating healthy tips
Eat when you are hungry and not when you are sad or angry. Never eat because of an emotional feeling you are trying to bury. This can make your food toxic and interfere with normal digestive function by speeding up or slowing down digestion. Emotional eating can cause your body to crave carbohydrates and saturated fats and lead to an inordinate storage of fats.
Toxic thoughts lead to toxic emotions, which lead to a toxic body!
Reduce carb intake, especially the refined carbs that are also called “comfort foods.” Comfort foods release feel-good neuro chemicals to the body and brain. However, this comfort is short-lived and ends up in a downward spiral. Carbs are also not good food for thinking. Refined carbs cause spikes and eventual shortfalls in blood glucose. Eat proteins and not refined carbs before a big test or when you really need to be sharp and alert. Carbs dull the thinking process and blanket the peptides we talked about earlier.
Neurological function begins with digestion!
Your thoughts can careen out of control without a good supply of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) which are found in abundance in fish, eggs, nuts and seeds. Chronic EFA deficiency is implicated in the growing prevalence of brain disorders (i.e. Tourettes, ADD/ADHD, autism, depression, hyperactivity, inattentiveness and other disorders), as well as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases.
When you feel hungry, try drinking some water to see if the sensation goes away. If it is indeed hunger, then you have a good start on your digestion with the water you just imbibed! Without water, your digestion is adversely affected and your brain cannot function properly.
Eat slow and relaxed. This will give you more time to chew the food, mix it with enzymes from the saliva and improve your overall digestion. When you eat slower the brain has more time to keep up with the peptide signals that tell you when you have eaten enough.
Establish new habits when the urge for comfort foods comes up. Do positive activities that organize the brain, like taking a brisk walk with the arms swinging, jumping jacks or bicycling. Doing complex math problem or spelling words backwards, counting backwards and skip-counting can help logics take control when you are emotional.
Eat like a king for breakfast, a prince for lunch and a pauper for supper.
It comes down to a battle for the mind. Eat for the purpose of supporting a healthy body and mind. Eating for emotional fulfillment leaves you where you started emotionally, and maybe a bit too full.
Please share with family and loved ones. Call for an appointment with us to discuss your personal healthcare plan.
Health and Wellness Associates
Archived – Stellpflug
312-972-WELL
Foods, Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Lemon Balm Tea

lemonbalmtea

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm tea has been called the “Elixir of Life” due to its incredible anti-viral, anti-bacterial, digestive, and sedative properties. Incredibly, it also has high levels of antioxidants which substantially increases its ability to heal and work effectively. Lemon Balm contains a compound called terpene which has the ability to help relieve anxiety, stress, hypertension, depression, high blood pressure, muscle spasms, heart palpitations, tension headaches, circulatory issues, and cognitive disorders such as Attention Deficit Disorder and Alzheimer’s Disease. 
Lemon Balm also benefits chronic gastrointestinal disorders including indigestion, IBS, colitis, and acid reflux. Lemon Balm has the ability to promote a healthy, balanced immune system and endocrine system, which is highly beneficial for autoimmune disorders such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Adrenal Fatigue, Multiple Sclerosis, and Vertigo. It is also useful in treating insomnia, sleep disturbances, and jittery nerves, allowing for a more relaxed body and better quality sleep. 
The polyphenol tannins contained in Lemon Balm give it its anti-viral properties making it particularly helpful in healing colds, flu, bronchitis and any viral infections. Topically, Lemon Balm can be applied as a cream to help heal and provide relief for cold sores and shingles as well as cuts and wounds. Essentially, Lemon Balm is a heal-all herb and has rightfully earned its reputation as the “Elixir of Life”. 
As a delicious and refreshing drink, Lemon Balm tea can be added to your weekly health regime for a wide range of healing benefits. Fresh or dried herb can be steeped in hot water for a minimum of ten minutes and sweetened with raw honey, if desired.
Feel Free to share with family and loved ones, and always call us with your healthcare needs.
Health and Wellness Associates
Archived
Carrothers – MM
312-972-WELL
Foods, Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Banana Apple Oatmeal ( Grain Free )

bananaappleoatmeal

Banana Apple Oatmeal

 

Oatmeal is one of the most common and popular breakfast choices for Americans. It’s comforting, filling and delicious.

 

 

 

This recipe for oatmeal skips the grains altogether which is an added plus for those looking to avoid them. Instead delicious sweet fruit is used to mimic the consistency and comfort of oatmeal, with the added bonus of a ton of healing properties from the fruit.

 

 

 

This is a quick and easy to make recipe perfect for both adults and children. This recipe is enough for one adult as a light breakfast or as a snack. You can double or even triple the recipe if you like if you are hungry. And with an oatmeal as nourishing like this, you can enjoy it any time of day!

 

 

Banana Apple Oatmeal (Grain Free)

 

Ingredients:

2 ripe bananas

1 apple

A pinch of cinnamon

A handful of raisins

Optional: dried wild blueberries, cranberries, or chopped almonds/walnuts

 

 

Preparation:

  1. Place the bananas, apple, and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until chunky and creamy.

 

  1. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and top with raisins, cinnamon and/or chopped apples. You can also add fresh berries, chopped pears or any other fruit of choice.

 

Please feel free to share this with family and friends, and to call us with your concerns

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

Carrothers – MM

312-972-WELL

Foods, Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Healing Broth

Healing broth

Healing Broth

 

Healing Broth is a powerful mineral-rich liquid that carries the essence of vitally nutritious vegetables, herbs, & spices in a way that is easy for the body to digest, assimilate, and utilize. You will find this recipe as comforting as it is nourishing. The ingredients of this simple recipe help to provide tremendous healing benefits to both the body and soul.

 

Carrots help to lower blood pressure, reduce edema, relax muscles, steady nerves, and balance cognitive function. Onions & garlic have powerful antiviral & antibiotic properties and can help eliminate heavy metals and parasites from the body.

 

Parsley & shiitake mushrooms contain an excellent bioavailable form of iron which helps to keep your blood strong and prevent anemia and are also rich in zinc which is highly beneficial for treating viral issues and strengthening the immune system. Ginger & turmeric root helps reduce inflammation and improve liver function and aids in keeps your hair growing strong and skin healthy and vibrant.

 

This incredibly healing broth can be made in advance & stored in the fridge. Simply heat up only what you need and place in a thermal mug for warm sipping throughout the day. This broth has the miraculous ability to be both healing, cleansing, and nourishing all at the same time and is a wonderful addition to any health regime.

 

Healing Broth

 

Ingredients

4 carrots, chopped or 1 sweet potato, cubed

2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped

2  onions, sliced

1 cup parsley, finely chopped

1 cup of shiitake mushrooms, fresh or dried

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 bulb of garlic (about 6-8 cloves), minced

1 inch of fresh ginger root

1 inch of fresh turmeric root

8 cups of water

Optional: Chili peppers or red pepper flakes

 

Preparation

Place all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a gentle boil. Turn heat down to low and allow to simmer for about an hour. Strain and sip for a mineral rich, healing and restorative broth.

 

Please feel free to share this with family and loved ones.  And as always call us if you have any questions.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

Carrothers – MM

312-972-WELL

Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Smoking and 5 Other Things You Should Do to Get an Ulcer

ulcer
Human stomach ulcer, illustration

Smoking and 5 Other Things You Should Do To Get An Ulcer

 

Six Things To Avoid Getting An Ulcer.

 

In the United States, more than six million Americans are diagnosed with ulcers, otherwise known as peptic ulcer disease (PUD), each year. Ulcers are the formation of painful, open sores, which develop in the lining of the stomach or at the first section of the small intestine, called the duodenum. Ulcers can have severe health consequences if left untreated. However, by knowing the risk factors that lead to ulcers, you can learn ways to minimize your chances of developing peptic ulcer disease.

 

Below are the most common risk factors for developing peptic ulcer disease. [1]

 

H pylori Infection

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacterial infection found in the digestive tract that has been closely associated with developing ulcers. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, it is estimated that 30-40% of the U.S.

 

population is infected with H. pylori, but most do not even know it. [3] This unawareness is because the infection often remains dormant, or quiet, without any symptoms. Over time, H. pylori bacteria can damage the lining of the stomach and duodenum, exposing it to acid and digestive juices, which increases the risk of developing an ulcer. If a person is found to have H. pylori present in the digestive tract, antibiotics can be prescribed to treat the infection. Unfortunately, most infections are silent so many people do not learn they are infected until they develop an ulcer.

 

It isn’t that clear yet as to how H. pylori is spread, but intake of contaminated food or water and close contact with an infected person are believed to be the means of transmission.

 

Therefore, it is crucial for food handlers at home and in restaurants to practice good hygiene. Proper hand washing is still the best way to prevent the spread of H.pylori, if you have been diagnosed.

 

 

Long-Term Use of NSAIDs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to relieve pain and inflammation associated with a variety of conditions.

 

When NSAIDs are taken on a daily basis they can damage the mucosal lining of the stomach or duodenum because they inhibit the production of prostaglandin, a substance that protects and keeps the stomach lining healthy. Without prostaglandin, the stomach lining is exposed to the harmful effects of stomach acids. According to the American Journal of Gastroenterology as many as 25% of chronic NSAID users will develop an ulcer. The risk increases when NSAID use is combined with H. pylori infection.  [1]

 

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD is a condition where stomach contents back up to the esophagus. When this occurs, the acidic stomach juices can cause severe irritation in both the esophagus and upper stomach. Over time the acid can break down the lining of the esophagus and cause ulcers.

 

Personal History of Tobacco Use

As if smoking wasn’t bad enough already, it can increase the risk of developing ulcers. While smoking is not found to increase acid production, it has been found to increase the risk of H. pylori infection. The harmful chemicals in cigarettes reduce the protective factors in the stomach and provide an environment conducive for H. pylori to flourish. Smoking also affects the circulation to the digestive lining which can delay healing and cause ulcers to recur.

 

Stressful Lifestyle

 

Stress is often associated with ulcers. It does not directly cause peptic ulcer disease, but it is considered a contributing factor. In a recent study, it was determined that stress really does have a role in ulcers. It is thought that through possible mechanisms of increased acid, increased bad habit coping skills (smoking), and poor sleep hygiene all make stress a risk factor. [5]

 

Personal or Family History of Ulcers

Anyone who has previously been diagnosed with an ulcer is at increased risk for developing another one in the future. Studies have also shown that if you have a family history of ulcers your chances could be increased to develop one yourself. [2, 3, 4]

 

Although peptic ulcer disease is very common, you can lower your chances of ending up with an ulcer by taking some simple precautions.  I always tell my patients to do what they probably have been told their whole lives; wash your hands, don’t smoke and don’t stress out so much. Then all you have to do is keep the NSAID use down and treat any GERD if it starts. Remember, if you have any symptoms of an ulcer talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

 

References

 

Gastrointestinal ulcers, role of aspirin, and clinical outcomes: pathobiology, diagnosis, and treatment., Cryer B, Mahaffey KW.;  J Multidiscip Healthc. 2014 Mar 3;7:137-46. doi: 10.2147/JMDH.S54324. eCollection 2014

Ulcers; Kenneth Brown MD; http://kennethbrownmd.com/

Peptic Ulcer Disease, American College of Gastroenterology;http://patients.gi.org/topics/peptic-ulcer-disease/

Peptic Ulcer Disease, WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-peptic-ulcer-disease

Psychological stress increases risk for peptic ulcer, regardless of Helicobacter pylori infection or use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Levenstein S, Clin Gastro Hep. 2015 Mar;13