MakeWell - artichoke

Artichokes contain high levels of cynarin and silymarin - two compounds that have been shown to improve the overall health of the liver by stimulating bile flow (a process which helps to carry toxins from your liver out of your body).

Try this delicious Liver-Boosting Artichoke Smoothie to get your daily dose of artichoke!

 

Ingredients (makes 500ml)

  • 2 Artichokes (ideally fresh from the market and self-prepared but if this isn’t possible, jarred is fine)
  • 1 handful of dandelion (you can find these in organic stores or weekly markets)
  • 2-3 large leaves of green curly kale
  • 2-3 large leaves of green lettuce
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 slices of fresh, ripe pineapple
  • ½ an organic pear
  • 1 teaspoon of linseed oil
  • water to adjust texture

 

Method:

*If fresh artichokes are used: Remove the stems and wash your artichokes. Steam them in a steaming pot/bamboo steamer until soft and remove the hard outer leaves. Use the hearts for your liver boost smoothie. 

*If you use artichokes from the glass: Remove from the oil, thoroughly wash with water and leave to dry. 

 

Wash and dice the dandelion, green curly kale, lettuce and pineapple. Add all ingredients into a high quality blender. Adjust your smoothie’s texture with water and serve chilled. The smoothie will last in the fridge for approximately 2 days.

 

Featured image by  Julia Kuzenkov on Unsplash.

Make Well - detox

Everyone knows you need a healthy immune system in order to avoid getting sick. However, you might not realise that there are steps you can take to cleanse your body of harmful toxins, resulting in a stronger immune system that’s ready to take on any germs it comes across. Does detoxing boost the immune system? Yes, it does – and here are some ways it can benefit you.

What is a detox?

You’ve probably heard about a lot of ways to detox your body, but most of them are probably not healthy. Lots of diet companies promote weight-loss detox teas and pills because everyone wants a quick fix to boost their energy or lose weight. However, these products are not only often ineffective – they’re also generally unsafe. Likewise, the solution is not a fasting diet that requires you to consume liquids only, or one that makes you stick entirely to unappetising foods.

What you can do to detox is try out safer regimens that focus on naturally boosting the function of your liver (which works to remove toxins from your body) and your immune system. So, how long does it take to detox your body with these safer methods? You might be able to see results fairly quickly. Detoxes like intermittent fasting regimens or the addition of supplements can help you gain more energy and feel stronger within a short period of time. Plus, any time you focus on a cleaner, stronger system, you’ll notice the positive effects on your overall health.

 

Make Well - detox smoothie
Image by Jan Sedivy on Unsplash: Consuming healthier foods will help detox your system and boost your immunity.

Does detoxing help immune system functioning?

Detoxing can help immune system functioning in a number of ways, helping you to feel healthier in your body and avoid getting sick often. So if you’re wondering ‘How can I boost my immune system?’, here are some reasons why a detox can help.

1. Your diet will consist of more nutrient-rich foods.

Most detoxes focus on filling your diet with good-for-you foods. This typically means incorporating more fruits and veggies into your meals. Foods like artichokes, grapes, and blueberries (along with salmon, nuts, and olive oil) all work to boost liver function, which helps with a successful detox. Healthier foods are also filled with antioxidants, which can help your immune system stay strong and fight off harmful free radicals or infections.

2. There will be fewer toxins in your system.

The main goal of any detox is to cleanse your system of detrimental toxins. These can end up clogging your immune system and impair its function. Detoxing through clean eating or safe fasting techniques means your body can better flush out toxins through your waste, leading to increased immunity.

3. You won’t have as many unhealthy foods in your diet.

If you’re doing a true detox, you are basically unable to keep consuming unhealthy foods. You’ll have to cut out things like excess caffeine, alcohol, and foods high in sugar. The added sugar found in a lot of processed foods (like cookies, cereal, soft drinks, etc.) actually weakens your white blood cells so they’re less able to fight against bacteria and viruses. By stripping your diet of foods that bog down your system, you’ll be better able to support your immune system in its goal to keep your body safe from getting sick.

4. You can clear out your gut microbiome.

It’s difficult for your immune system to be strong when there are issues with your gut microbiome. In order to keep from getting sick, it’s necessary to consume prebiotic and probiotic foods, for the health of both your gut and your immune system. Many detox regimens focus on clearing out your digestive system, so cleansing your gut will also have the added benefit of boosting your immune system at the same time.

 

Make Well - detox gut health
Image by Alicia Petresec on Unsplash: Having a healthy gut means your immune system will be stronger too.

5. You can reduce inflammation in your body with healthy foods.

Chronic inflammation (present in many people with chronic medical issues) means that your immune system is constantly on overdrive. This can be exhausting to your system and cause a chain reaction of other negative effects in your body. Therefore, for better overall functioning, trying a detox that focuses on foods that reduce inflammation can be beneficial in a lot of ways. Try adding foods like nuts, salmon, berries, and avocado to help decrease inflammation and detox your system.

6. You can utilise supplements for cleansing and immunity.

Detoxes can also be accomplished by taking supplements that focus on purifying the system. Supplements like NAC support improved liver function to help with detoxification, and added Vitamin C boosts the immune system. These types of supplements can aid your whole system without you having to make any huge changes to your diet or lifestyle.

The answer to the question ‘Does detoxing boost immune function?’ is a clear yes. But before you start on any new diet or detox regimen, make sure to talk to your doctor or a licensed medical professional. This is especially crucial if you have any pre-existing conditions that might complicate going on a detox regimen. Otherwise, try making these changes for a safe detox plan, and you could see added benefits to your immune system as well.

Featured image by Sarah Gualtieri on Unsplash

Make Well - fasting

Having access to the internet has made everybody an expert on the latest health crazes and trends. With the plethora of information available on how to eat right and practise self-care, it’s hard to wade through it all and know for sure what is factual and what is plain hype.

When it comes to fasting, one of the latest weight-loss crazes making the rounds, knowing whether or not it’s worth the hunger pangs is important. Fasting may be used for a variety of different health conditions, specifically detoxing the body of harmful chemicals and toxins. But can fasting help you detox, really? And is fasting safe? Let’s find out.

What is detoxing?

Detoxing is a bodily process that helps clear out toxins and other ‘bad’ chemicals that may be causing harm. Detoxification is done naturally through the liver, and if the liver is functioning properly, detoxing by other means may not be necessary at all.

The best bet when it comes to detoxing is practising healthy habits that will boost the natural function of the liver and immune system. If these are functioning correctly, toxins in the body will be filtered out the good old-fashioned way. The majority of promises or health claims made by online articles or companies aren’t backed by science and can detract from real methods of encouraging the body to detox on its own.

Can fasting help you detox?

Fasting is abstinence from eating foods of any kind for an extended period of time. Generally, fasting only lasts eight to twelve hours following a meal. However, a lot of people who have hopped on the fasting train for weight loss purposes tend to refrain from eating for at least 16 hours a day. This particular type of fast is called intermittent fasting. During intermittent fasting, there are eating periods and no-eating periods. It has been speculated that this type of fast helps speed up the metabolic process and encourage a healthy weight.

Other cycles included in the intermittent fasting category include the 5:2 diet (or eat-stop-eat fast), which involves choosing two days of the week to eat little to no food at all while eating regularly for the other five days; and the Warrior Diet, which consists of one large meal per day.

 

Make Well - detox
Image by Conger Design on Pixabay: During fasting, drinking only water is advised during off-eating periods.

 

Another type of fast that has become popular in the diet and fitness community is the macronutrient fast. This doesn’t involve abstaining from food altogether, but limiting or eating more of certain macronutrients. The macronutrients that are  tweaked in this fast are proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

It’s important to remember that fasts are not for everyone, and one should always discuss the best course of action for their own diet and fitness goals with their doctor prior to starting on a new fasting course.

Is fasting safe when detoxing?

Some of the promises many companies make when marketing detox supplements and fasting can be downright harmful to people, especially if they suffer from a chronic illness. Studies have shown that detoxing the body through fasting can be effective, but these studies have been small with insignificant results, and the claims are not yet backed by scientific fact.

Unfortunately, with so little information to back up health claims that fasting can lead to detoxification, participating in intermittent fasting or juicing cleanses can be dangerous without proper medical supervision. Several detox products have even been shown to make patients’ health worse because of their harmful ingredients. Products that encourage the evacuation of the intestines and gastrointestinal tract can lead to severe dehydration caused by diarrhoea, and the limiting of calories can lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Is fasting safe when you have a chronic illness?

Prior to starting any new diet or regime, patients should discuss their options, specific goals and current health issues with a medical care provider. Because no two bodies are alike, what works for one person may not work for another. This means that even if someone you know has had great success with fasting and detoxification, it does not mean it will have the same effect on you.

 

Image by Anhngoc1397 on Pixabay: Talking to your doctor prior to starting a fast or detox program is important, especially if you suffer from a chronic illness.

 

For those who suffer from chronic illnesses, proper immune function and the amount of nutrients consumed on any given day are incredibly important to overall health. Because of this, fasting may not be a good route towards detoxification, because it can actually exacerbate many symptoms including fatigue, headaches and gastrointestinal issues.

How to detox through fasting

Now that you’re aware of the risks and claimed health benefits, is fasting a good way to detox? Simply put, there is not enough information out there to claim that it is safe for everyone. The best way to detox is to improve liver function.

This can be done in a number of ways. Eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals while avoiding saturated fat and processed carbohydrates is the first step towards a healthy liver. Regular exercise will also encourage the healthy function of the body, along with the avoidance of alcohol. Alcohol damages the liver and can even lead to cirrhosis. Over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen have also been known to cause liver damage, so avoiding those unless completely necessary will help keep your liver healthy, happy and running at its best.

Featured image by Silviarita on Pixabay

Make Well - spring fatigue disorder

Most of us look forward to spring approaching. We can appreciate the new season as a time to slough off the winter blues or the malaise that often comes with colder weather. But there is a segment of the population that actually experiences the reverse: they associate spring with feeling extra run-down or listless. If you’re one of these people, you might dread spring and wish there was something you could do to feel more energised. So, here are some tips on how to boost your energy levels and fight back against spring fatigue.

What is spring fatigue disorder?

Spring fatigue disorder, also known as springtime lethargy, generally occurs between mid-March and mid-April for those living in the Northern Hemisphere. Symptoms include general tiredness (even with an adequate amount of sleep) and a lack of drive, along with possible physical effects of dizziness, headaches and aching joints.

If you have spring fatigue, you might also notice changes in your mood, such as feelings of depression and irritability. That’s why some in the medical community refer to the disorder as the ‘reverse seasonal affective disorder’. Instead of fatigue and lowered energy in the winter, spring fatigue disorder causes these symptoms to pop up during springtime. It has been noted that there has even been an increase in suicidal rates during springtime in some countries.

What causes spring fatigue?

More research needs to be conducted to fully understand the disorder, but there are some theories. Many medical professionals believe hormone balance is at the root cause of spring fatigue. The theory is that our bodies automatically adjust hormone levels based on the amount of daylight we’re getting. During the winter months, our bodies produce more melatonin (also known as the ‘sleep hormone’). When spring occurs, more daylight triggers the body to produce more serotonin (the ‘happiness hormone’).

Longer days also mean that our bodies are releasing more endorphins, testosterone and oestrogen. These changes can result in the body feeling overworked – which leads to increased fatigue and tiredness. We also tend to be more active in general when the weather is nicer (no more winter hibernating!), so an increase in physical activity can make the body feel more worn out.

 

Make Well - spring fatigue
Image by Alisa Anton on Unsplash: Getting some sunshine can help boost your energy levels during springtime.

How do you combat spring fatigue disorder?

There are steps you can take to fight spring fatigue. The good news is that the typical period of time where spring fatigue takes place can be relatively short, so if you can hang in there, you might notice a drop in your symptoms as soon as summer arrives. However, there are things you can try in the meantime if you’re looking for a decrease in fatigue right away. Your main goal should be to fight fatigue by increasing your energy in a healthy way.

How can you boost energy levels naturally?

Instead of relying on unhealthy energy boosts (we’re looking at you, energy drinks and caffeine pills!), there are a number of ways you can increase your energy organically without causing harm to your system. Here are some lifestyle and diet tips you can try out during the spring months.

1. Spend more time outdoors.

It’s true that sunshine can actually make you feel like you have more energy. Spending time outside can increase serotonin and vitamin D levels, which can help you feel less depressed and more energised.

2. Take part in regular exercise.

Fitting a little physical activity into your day can make a huge difference in your energy levels (even if it’s just a quick walk or yoga practice). Exercise produces endorphins in your system; this essentially gives you a mini high every time you get your heart rate up.

3. Eat more fruits and veggies.

Eating things like bananas and leafy green vegetables can be an easy way to boost your energy. Fruits and veggies provide lots of healthy vitamins and minerals, so you can easily fuel your body and boost your immune system at the same time.

4. Choose healthier snack options.

Instead of grabbing sugary or fattening snacks, healthier options such as almonds, yogurt, hummus, etc. provide your system with the protein and fibre it needs to feel continually energised throughout the day.

 

Make Well - healthy diet
Image by Brooke Lark on Unsplash: Eating a healthy diet can naturally increase your energy and fight fatigue.

5. Stay hydrated.

Drinking plenty of water is another way to boost your energy. Dehydration is one of the main reasons people feel tired during the day, so fill up on H2O if you want to have a steady amount of energy all day.

6. Get enough sleep.

Even if your spring fatigue doesn’t seem to be affected by extra sleep, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re not skimping on your sleep. Get a minimum of 8 hours per night so that your body has enough time to recoup and function at an optimal level.

7. Skip sugary treats.

Sure, they taste good, but sugary snacks or desserts will only end up giving you a temporary fix. Despite an initial boost of energy from the sugar, you’ll eventually experience a crash – and you’ll end up right back where you started: with no energy.

8. Limit caffeine.

Although it might seem like caffeine is the answer to your problems, too much of it can also cause your system to crash once the caffeine is out of your system. It’s fine to have a cup of coffee or green tea, but keep your intake fairly low to avoid caffeine overload. Drinking too much caffeine can cause issues with your sleep as well, which is the last thing you need if you’re already feeling tired and rundown.

Spring fatigue can be frustrating when all you want to do is enjoy the sunshine and warm weather. Try out the tips listed above to boost your energy and fight spring fatigue until it’s time for summer.

Featured image by Alexandru Tudorache on Unsplash

Make Well - Lyme disease and allergies

Lyme disease is an illness caused by the Borrelia bacteria. The bacteria gets into the bloodstream via tick bite and can spread to all areas of the body, especially if treatment is delayed. Lyme disease is called ‘The Great Imitator’ because its symptoms can mimic countless other diseases. Due to this, Lyme disease wasn’t documented until the late 1900s, but fossils dating back 15 million years have tested positive for the bacteria.

Lyme disease presents with different symptoms depending on the severity. In acute Lyme disease, flu-like symptoms will occur and a bullseye-shaped rash will be often present at the bite site. If treated at this stage, it’s unlikely that the bacteria will progress throughout the body; antibiotic treatment is generally effective in eliminating the bacteria and preventing chronic issues.

In chronic Lyme disease, however, symptoms become more pronounced and severe, and can include neurological problems such as memory and concentration issues; muscle and joint aches; chronic fatigue; and widespread pain. Treatment for chronic Lyme also involves antibiotics, but the bacteria tends to be more resistant at this stage, and people suffering from chronic Lyme can experience lasting symptoms even after treatment.

In late-stage Lyme disease, symptoms can take as long as three years to present and can include confusion, arthritis, tingling in the hands and feet, and chronic fatigue. Late-stage Lyme disease can cause permanent nerve damage and is difficult to recover from, even with treatment.

Can Lyme disease cause food allergies?

As it wreaks havoc on the body, Lyme disease may even favour the development of allergies or other health issues such as leaky gut syndrome, a condition in which gaps form in the lining of the intestines, giving bacteria and toxins the ability to pass through from the digestive tract into the bloodstream.

When this happens, the blood vessels in the intestines become broken. This gives partially digested food the opportunity to get into the bloodstream as well as the aforementioned bacteria and toxins. When this happens, the body reacts as if the food is a threat and triggers antibody production, often leading to food sensitivities and allergies.

What is Mast Cell Activation Syndrome?

Mast cells are a defence mechanism in the body against pathogens, alerting the body to allergens and helping heal wounds. Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) occurs when the immune system is heavily compromised. It causes the immune function to become overactive to certain stimuli, leading to the body to ‘think’ that it is allergic to these things without an actual allergy being present.

Patients with MCAS may feel like they have developed new allergies to certain foods, chemicals, and other substances, as their mast cells become much more active and trigger an anti-inflammatory response even when one isn’t required. MCAS symptoms range from mild to severe, and tend to present in the same way as Lyme disease symptoms. They include fatigue, brain fog, chronic pain, and muscle and joint aches. Other symptoms include food sensitivities, gastrointestinal issues, degenerative disc disease, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and heart palpitations.

 

Make Well - cells
Image by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash: When mast cells become overactive, it can lead to the body perceiving food as a pathogen.

Specific food allergies caused by Lyme disease

Because Lyme disease can trigger MCAS, it can also lead to the body becoming sensitive to certain things. One example is sulfur, which is found in eggs, onions, garlic and some cruciferous vegetables. Other foods that can trigger an MCAS reaction in Lyme disease patients include oxalates (found in spinach, swiss chard, potatoes); salicylates (found in herbs and vegetables); gluten products (found in grains such as wheat, rye, spelt); histamines (found in fermented foods, citrus fruits and vegetables); and other food products containing MSG or preservatives.

While not everyone who suffers from Lyme disease will develop these food sensitivities, it’s important to note that Lyme patients are at far more risk of developing MCAS due to their already weakened immune systems.

Does Lyme disease make you allergic to red meat?

In Lyme patients experiencing MCAS, a meat ‘allergy’ can develop among other sensitivities. Alpha-gal, a carbohydrate molecule that occurs in red meat, often triggers an allergic response in those with Lyme disease when it enters the bloodstream and the immune system doesn’t recognise it, treating it as a threat.

When this occurs, symptoms such as rashes, upset stomach, swelling, anaphylaxis and hives may occur shortly after consumption of red meat. Other digestive issues that can occur in those with Lyme disease or an insensitivity to the alpha-gal molecule include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, heartburn and blood in the stool.

Currently, there is no cure for allergies caused by Lyme disease, nor the symptoms of Lyme disease that occur following treatment of the Borrelia bacteria.

 

Make Well - red meat allergy
Image by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash: A red meat allergy can be developed in those who suffer from Lyme disease. 

How to combat Lyme disease-induced allergies

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Lyme disease. Antibiotic treatment may rid the body of the bacteria, but MCAS and other chronic ailments can still be present for years following treatment. When it comes to food allergies that are triggered by Lyme disease, the best course of action is to avoid those particular foods altogether.

Strengthening the immune system can also help patients recover from MCAS and the allergic reactions it causes. This can be done through healthy diet, exercise, and supplementing with vitamins and minerals that aid in the overall healthy function of the body.  Another majorly important factor is to listen closely to your body and monitor any diet-related symptoms that may appear. Keeping a food diary of ingredients and symptoms might make it easier to identify patterns or sensitivities and to temporarily eliminate the foods causing them.

Featured image by Brittany Colette on Unsplash

The latest coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19, has been dominating the news cycles since it first surfaced in December, 2019. At the time of writing, COVID-19 has infected just over 110,000 people around the globe, with roughly 3800 people dying from the disease. However, the mortality rate of the illness is very low, and the majority of people who have contracted COVID-19 have experienced only mild to moderate symptoms and have made a full recovery.

Nonetheless, if you’re feeling worried, read on for some further information and a list of suggested lifestyle changes that will protect you from coronavirus.

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus refers to a group of respiratory illnesses, which includes previously spread conditions such as SARS and MERS. The latest strain, COVID-19, is in the same family and has never been documented before now. The virus comes from animals, specifically bats, and it has been estimated that COVID-19 originated in a food market in Wuhan, China.

The virus is spread through respiratory droplets in the air caused by coughing or sneezing, prolonged personal contact with someone who is infected, and touching a person or object infected with the virus and then touching the eyes, mouth or nose.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Since COVID-19 affects the nose, throat and lungs, it is categorised as a respiratory illness. Symptoms include an unrelenting cough, fever, and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. The symptoms can be mild or severe, but if difficulty breathing is present, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately, as this can be a symptom of developed pneumonia.

The symptoms that present in COVID-19 patients are strikingly similar to those suffering from influenza or the common cold. Because of this, it’s difficult to tell whether a person is suffering from COVID-19 or just the seasonal flu. Testing centres have been set up across the UK to help speed up the testing process and decrease the spread of infection throughout hospitals.

How to protect yourself from the coronavirus

In an outbreak situation, it’s often hard to decipher how much protection is required. The front line of protection against COVID-19 is hand-washing and sanitising, much like with the seasonal flu. This should be done throughout the day, especially if you are out in public areas, handling money, shaking hands with others or riding public transit.

Avoidance of large crowds and gatherings, including sporting events, concerts, crowded shopping malls and other places where masses tend to gather, will greatly decrease the chance of contracting the virus, especially in countries where the spread of infection is somewhat controlled. If coming into contact with a person who appears ill, you should maintain a distance of three metres and wash or sanitise hands immediately after contact.

 

Make Well - hand washing
Image by CDC on Unsplash: Practicing good hand-washing techniques will significantly decrease your risk of contracting COVID-19.

Lifestyle changes that will protect you from coronavirus

Along with the tips above, leading a healthy lifestyle will greatly decrease the chances of contracting COVID-19. This includes getting regular sleep. Sleep is an important part of the body’s repair system, and getting 8–10 hours of good sleep a night will ensure that those processes are running smoothly.

Other things that can be done to help avoid infection include drinking lots of fluids to avoid dehydration, including water, green teas and herbal teas. Exercise will also increase immune and metabolic function in the body, so getting at least 30 minutes daily will help in the defence against infection.

Diet changes to protect you from coronavirus

The foods you eat will be the first line of defence for your immune system when it comes to warding and fighting off the COVID-19 infection. Ensuring that your body is running at its most optimal level will help drive the immune response. Eating a diet rich in vitamins and minerals will give the body what it needs to fight off the virus and will make recovery that much easier.

Vitamin C has been known to help boost the immune system and offers antioxidants that the body can use to help fight off infection. Foods that have a high vitamin C content include bell peppers, black currants, citrus fruits, berries (including strawberries, blueberries and blackberries), and broccoli. Other vitamins that have been known to help the immune system and prevent inflammation include vitamins A and D. Vitamin D also has the ability to kill germs and decrease both the length and severity of flu symptoms.  Other minerals that should be consumed include foods high in zinc (such as lean red meat, shellfish and legumes) and foods high in selenium (such as lean white meats and Brazil nuts).

Supplements to help boost immune system function

If your diet cannot be fulfilled with all the vitamins and nutrients necessary to keep the immune system functioning at its most optimal level, supplementation is recommended. Taking a daily multivitamin will help to ensure the body receives all its vitamins and nutrients, and for those with compromised immune systems, adding in a separate dose of Vitamin C, B vitamins and zinc will also help encourage immune function.

 

Make Well - supplements
Image by Kayla Maurais on Unsplash: Supplements that help to boost immune function are a great addition in the fight against coronavirus.

 

Make Well offers supplementation products that are designed to help keep the immune system in tip-top shape for extra protection against illness. In particular, Make Well’s CPN and MITO products have been created with the immune system in mind.

Featured image by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Since January, the news has been hyper-focused on one thing: COVID-19. The viral infection is a new disease in the coronavirus family – a large group of diseases that differ from strain to strain. COVID-19 is also referred to as the novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV.

The first documented instance of COVID-19 occurred in late December of 2019; the virus then spread rapidly across China. Since then, documented cases have been reported in many countries throughout the world. Doctors and researchers believe that the disease originated in bats and was spread to humans at a food market in Wuhan, China.

With so much information (both true and false) circulating about COVID-19, it’s important to know the facts and how to protect yourself from the coronavirus – particularly if you already have chronic health problems. Here is how to prepare for the coronavirus if you’re chronically ill.

What are the facts about COVID-19?

At the time of writing, there were just over 110,000 confirmed cases of the disease across the globe. Of these cases, just over 3,800 people have died from complications of the disease, with the majority of those cases being in China. Italy and Iran have been hit the second hardest, with just under 600 deaths combined.

Considering these numbers, the risk of death may sound high, but it’s actually quite low: between 3–4%. The other 96–97% of those infected will recover, with around 80% experiencing only mild flu-like symptoms. Projections of the spread of the disease have been utilised to help health officials plan for containment, and the numbers vary according to different statistics and projections used.

What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?

Considering the outbreak occurred during flu season, it can be hard to distinguish between COVID-19 and influenza due to the similarity of both conditions’ symptoms. In cases of COVID-19, symptoms include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, but the most severe repercussion of the virus include pneumonia, kidney failure and, in rare cases, death.

To put this in perspective, the influenza virus causes symptoms such as fever, chills, sore throat, cough, runny or blocked nose, muscle and body aches, fatigue and headaches. Symptoms for the flu tend to appear within four days of infection, but with COVID-19, the onset of symptoms can take anywhere from two to 10 days.

 

Make Well - cough
Image by nastya_gepp on Pixabay: What are the symptoms of the coronavirus? They can range from mild to severe and include an unrelenting cough.

How to prepare for the coronavirus if you’re immunocompromised

As with many viral infections, it is assumed that COVID-19 is more of a threat to the elderly, and those who have weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses. Unlike the flu, COVID-19 doesn't seem to be affecting young children. While it's good news that our youth don't seem to be in danger, they could pose a threat to those who have a higher-risk of developing more severe symptoms by being asymptomatic of the virus and passing it onto others. If you have a compromised immune system, the thought of contracting COVID-19 might be causing some worry - rest assured, there are ways to protect yourself from the virus and strengthen your immune system besides the measures recommended by the WHO like washing your hands and not touching your face. For the latest guidelines and information please refer to your government's or the WHO's website."

To help build up the immune system as much as possible, it’s important to follow a healthy diet full of the proper amounts of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Foods that contain high amounts of vitamin C will help boost the immune system, including peppers, thyme, kiwifruit, broccoli and black currants. Other foods to include in an immune-boosting diet include those high in zinc, such as lean red meat, shellfish and nuts; foods high in selenium, such as brazil nuts.

In addition to a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water and herbal teas, and undertaking daily exercise are all steps that can be taken to improve the immune system.

How to protect yourself from the coronavirus

With the confirmed cases of COVID-19 growing, it’s important to know what steps to take to protect yourself from the virus. In recent weeks, panic levels have been rising because of the rate of infection; subsequently, stores have been selling out of common items such as soap, hand sanitiser and protective face masks. But is stocking up on these items really necessary?

The overuse of hand sanitisers can sometimes exacerbate the spread of viruses such as COVID-19, so it’s important to keep your hands clean, but not go overboard. The most important times to wash your hands are following interaction with the general public, including handling money, touching public door handles, and shaking hands. Avoid touching your face prior to hand washing, and if possible, avoid large public gatherings. If you do come into contact with someone who is ill, staying at least three metres away from them is the best way to avoid contracting the virus. Remember that the risk of contracting COVID-19 outside of hotspot areas is low.

 

Make Well - face mask
Image by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash: If you do happen to contract COVID-19, wearing a face mask can help decrease the spread of the virus.  

Steps to take after COVID-19 infection

If you do fall ill, it’s important to follow all protocols set in place to help contain the spread of the virus. Each country’s policy may be different. In the UK, swab tests have been set up in hospital car park areas for quick and effective testing. Avoiding the public by staying indoors while ill will help keep the virus contained. If travelling outside, avoid contact with other people, cover your cough or sneezes with your elbow, and wash hands thoroughly and as often as possible.

If you are caring for someone with coronavirus, whether it be a family member or as part of your profession, wearing a mask and gloves is the first and most important protection. Avoiding physical contact with both the patient and other people will ensure that you don’t contract the virus and help contain the spread of the disease. Patients suffering from chronic illnesses should consult with their doctor if they suspect they have contracted the virus.

Featured image by Qimono on Pixabay

Make Well - psychological conditions

As Lyme disease continues to affect more and more people every year, researchers are beginning to look more closely at the correlation between Lyme disease and psychological disorders. The connection seems like it could be twofold: Lyme bacteria can potentially cause neurological symptoms that mimic psychological ones, and Lyme disease can also cause mental health symptoms because of its life-altering and debilitating nature. Here’s a breakdown of the correlation between Lyme disease and psychological conditions.

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is the result of a bite from a tick that’s a carrier of Lyme bacteria (also known as Borrelia burgdorferi). It was first studied in the 70s, when a town of people in Lyme, Connecticut in the U.S. began exhibiting symptoms. More research has been done over the ensuing decades, leading to what we now know about Lyme as an infectious disease. Symptoms can include:

  • A red, bullseye rash (typically at the site of the tick bite)
  • Joint and/or muscle pain
  • Extreme tiredness and fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms (including headaches, fever, chills, malaise)
  • Changes in mood and appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping

Because these symptoms can mimic a myriad of other medical conditions, it can be difficult for patients to get an appropriate diagnosis. However, when diagnosed early after the tick bite occurs (usually within a few weeks to a month), acute Lyme disease can be effectively treated with antibiotics. When the condition is not diagnosed and/or goes untreated for a long period of time, individuals can develop chronic Lyme disease, where they can experience much more severe symptoms that negatively affect more systems in the body.

Stronger courses of antibiotics might be an option for some, but this won’t resolve symptoms in every patient. There are also people who simply don’t respond to antibiotic treatment; researchers are still trying to discover why this occurs for patients in what is considered late-stage Lyme disease.

 

Make Well - sleep
Image by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash: Lyme disease patients can experience a variety of different physical and emotional symptoms.

How is the nervous system affected by Lyme disease?

The nervous system is affected by Lyme disease because the bacteria can spread throughout the body (including in the brain). Neurological symptoms can include:

  • Memory impairment or memory loss
  • Cognitive difficulties (such as slowed processing of information)
  • Visual/spatial processing impairment
  • Issues with attention and executive functioning
  • Neuralgia or neuropathic pain
  • Cranial nerve disorders (such as facial palsy, double vision, hearing loss, etc.)

These symptoms can make it seem like a person is suffering from a variety of different disorders, including Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Bell’s palsy and ALS/MND. Some cognitive issues might also suggest signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia to medical professionals.

Can Lyme disease mimic certain psychological disorders?

Aside from physical symptoms, Lyme can also manifest as emotional diagnoses, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Mood swings (that can mimic bipolar disorder)
  • Episodes of rage
  • Psychosis (marked with hallucinations or delusions)
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviours

Some scientists believe these emotional symptoms are the sign of inflammation in the brain caused by the Lyme bacteria. More research needs to be done to definitively state whether these symptoms are specifically caused by Lyme or just coexist alongside the condition.

 

Make Well - depression
Image by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash: Individuals with Lyme disease can find themselves suffering from depression.

Can Lyme disease cause mental health issues?

Aside from the fact that Lyme might be causing organic emotional symptoms, there’s also a chance that Lyme disease is linked to co-existing psychological disorders. This is because Lyme disease is often a chronic condition that can create many challenges for a person. Having to suffer from physical symptoms (that are often painful and unbearable) is enough to create depression or anxiety in a person’s daily life. Add to that the stress from possible disruptions to work or family life because of the condition, and it’s easy to see why patients can experience significant mental distress.

If you’re wondering “Can Lyme disease cause severe anxiety or depression?”, the answer is yes. People with a Lyme diagnosis can experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety and insomnia, among a host of other emotional symptoms. Individuals with Lyme might also struggle with worsened depression symptoms in winter (also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD) or eating disorders because of the impact Lyme disease has on appetite and weight.

What can be used to relieve or lessen psychological disorders associated with Lyme?

Although dealing with psychological disorders can be challenging, there are steps that Lyme patients can take to care for themselves and their emotional health. Here are a few suggestions:

Therapy

Seeing a licensed therapist or psychologist can be lifesaving. Having the chance to get professional help in developing better coping skills, or even just having someone to talk to, can be immensely valuable.

Medication

Although medication might not always be necessary, for some people it can assist with boosting mood, lessening anxiety, or improving sleep – all of which can be helpful when someone is trying to maintain a normal level of functioning.

Support groups

Attending a support group for Lyme disease or mental health issues can allow a person to feel less alone in their struggle and connect them to people who are dealing with the same things they are.

Leaning on friends and family

Getting support from loved ones can help a patient feel more supported and better equipped to take on challenges in their day-to-day lives.

Meditation or mindfulness exercises

The calming practice of meditation or mindfulness can work to alleviate some emotional symptoms, as well as helping Lyme disease patients cope with physical manifestations of their condition.

Physical activity

Engaging in some light exercise (especially something like yoga or tai chi) can help patients feel better both physically and emotionally.

Overall, the most important thing a Lyme patient can do to help along their healing is to practise self-care. This can be something as simple as taking a walk or a nap, or getting together with a loved one.

There is a definite correlation between Lyme disease and psychological disorders. More research needs to be done to clear up whether Lyme is causing specific conditions to occur, or whether they are simply occurring alongside Lyme. No matter what, Lyme patients experiencing any emotional symptoms should alert their doctor to anything they’re noticing, and then try to focus on what they can do to take care of themselves while the symptoms persist.

Featured image by Wokandapix on Pixabay

Make Well - histamine sensitivity

Histamines are naturally occurring chemicals that the body uses to get rid of certain allergens. When the body detects an allergy trigger, the defence system activates; that’s why, when a person is allergic to something, they often sneeze, break out in hives, get itchy, or suffer from watery and itchy eyes.

These symptoms may seem like a bad thing, but they’re actually caused by the histamines doing their job to get the allergen out of your system. They are released throughout the body and attach themselves to receptors, thus triggering a pesky allergic reaction. This reaction is what saves your body from allergens that can cause serious issues.

What is a histamine sensitivity?

Although histamines are generally good for the body, too much of a good thing can be detrimental to overall health. In this case, the increased release or ingestion of histamines when allergens aren’t present, can lead to what feels like an allergic reaction but isn’t.

Histamine sensitivity is rare and affects less than 2% of the population, but that number could be higher as it can easily mimic food allergies and gastrointestinal issues. How the body breaks down histamines is the difference between a good defence response and a histamine sensitivity.

What causes a histamine sensitivity?

Histamines are found naturally in the body, but also in a lot of food and drinks. When they are ingested, the body goes through a process to inhibit the absorption of the histamines in the gut. The enzyme diamine oxidase is responsible for the breakdown of the histamines, but some things can interfere with that process, which leads to too many histamines getting absorbed by the body.

Prescription drugs are one of the biggest culprits in encouraging the absorption of histamines that leads to an intolerance. Certain antidepressants, NSAIDS, heart medications, antibiotics, and pain medications can all play a part in histamine sensitivity. Other factors include alcohol consumption, injuries to the gut lining, vitamin deficiencies, chronic stress, and liver disease.

 

Make Well - histamine
Image by Nastya Gepp on Pixabay: Allergic reactions are designed to help the body defend itself against harmful allergens that enter the body.

What foods are high in histamines?

Histamines can be found in everyday foods that you may not even realise you eat on a regular basis. These include:

  1. Pickled or canned foods such as sauerkraut
  2. Matured cheeses such as cheddar, gouda and gruyere
  3. Smoked meats such as salami, ham and sausages
  4. Shellfish and fish
  5. Nuts
  6. Ready-to-eat meals
  7. Beans such as chickpeas and soybeans
  8. Chocolates and other cocoa-based foods
  9. Vinegar
  10. Salty and sweet foods that have artificial colouring and preservatives

A further differentiation needs to be made between foods with a high histamine content such as fish, meat and fermented products (exogenous histamine), and foods that trigger the release of the body’s own histamine (endogenous histamine). These so-called histamine liberators include certain berries such as strawberries, as well as products based on cocoa.

Foods that can help histamine sensitivity

Battling a histamine sensitivity can be hard, but it is achievable with the right diet. Eating foods that are low in histamine amounts, or inhibit the release of histamines, is the best way to battle a histamine intolerance.

Foods with low histamines include non-citrus fruits, fresh meat and fish, eggs, grains that don’t have gluten such as rice and quinoa, fresh vegetables, olive oil, and coconut and almond milk. Antihistamine foods include hot peppers (because of the capsaicin), tea, raw honey, and foods containing flavonoids. Certain supplements can also help inhibit histamine intolerance, including vitamin C, quercetin and omega 3.

 

Make Well - fruit
Image by Silviarita on Pixabay: Non-citrus fruits are a great food to incorporate into your diet if you suffer from a histamine sensitivity.

Histamine sensitivity and Lyme disease

Lyme disease can come with a wide array of different medical conditions if it is left untreated for a long period of time. This post-Lyme disease syndrome can leave the person suffering with chronic health issues and lasting nerve damage. In the case of histamine sensitivity, a disorder called mast cell activation syndrome can occur.

Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) is a co-infection that occurs in patients with Lyme disease because the Borrelia bacteria that causes Lyme disease can lead to allergic reaction symptoms. When the mast cells are dysfunctional, inflammation is caused throughout the entire body. The symptoms of MCAS and Lyme disease are also eerily similar, making proper diagnosis difficult.

How to follow a histamine sensitivity diet

Following a histamine sensitivity diet might be a challenge at first if your regular diet is usually full of high-histamine foods. The best way to keep track of a diet with low histamines is by journaling the effects of your diet in your day-to-day life. This will help you figure out which foods trigger inflammation in the body.

Removing all foods with high histamine levels at first will encourage your body to get back to a healthy level of histamine production. Once this happens, you can reintroduce certain items, one at a time, to see how the body reacts. It’s a start-from-scratch approach and can take some time, but it will help you avoid eliminating all foods with high histamines from your diet.

A final key factor of a low-histamine diet is food hygiene end freshness. Exogenous histamine builds up in foods that spoil easily. Make sure you use clean knives and cutting boards when preparing your meals. Do not keep meals warm or re-heat – always cook fresh. Make sure that (mainly animal-derived) ingredients are extremely fresh, and to minimise the exogenous histamine formed over the storage time, do not store these ingredients at home for longer than one day.

Featured image by Cenczi on Pixabay

Make Well - ginger

Lyme disease is renowned for having a confusing set of disparate symptoms, especially in its chronic form. One of the most debilitating of these is arthritis. Unfortunately for Lyme patients, arthritis (or pain and aches in the joints) is an extremely generalised symptom suggestive of many different conditions. As Lyme is usually far down the list of potential disorders, misdiagnosis rates surrounding the condition are high.

However, it is still possible to treat Lyme arthritis independently of the disease itself. Ideally, the overriding infection will also be tended to with antibiotics, but for those patients looking to relieve themselves of the chronic pain Lyme arthritis brings, there are a few natural herbs, spices and compounds that might just do the trick. Join us as we take a look at five natural remedies that help relieve pain caused by Lyme arthritis.

 

Make Well - peppermint oil
Image by silviarita on Pixabay: What helps joint pain from Lyme disease? A number of herbs and substances are thought to reduce inflammation.

A Brief History of Lyme

Lyme was discovered in 1975 in Connecticut, USA. It is a tick-borne illness that spreads exclusively through the bite of ticks. The causative bacteria, present in the tick’s saliva, is Borrelia burgdorferi. In the U.S., the deer tick or black-legged tick is the carrier, while in Europe it’s the castor bean tick. Despite being thought of as a primarily North American disease, Lyme cases are rising each year, with the disorder on the cusp of becoming a certified pandemic. It is present in the majority of countries in Europe, as well as every mainland state the U.S.

Even though it’s presenting in such large numbers, Lyme is still awash with controversy. Most of this controversy centres on the chronic form of the disease, which is still not recognised as legitimate by the majority of medical circles.

Acute Vs. Chronic

Lyme presents in two distinct forms, which are so different that they might as well be separate diseases. Acute Lyme occurs soon after the initial tick bite and manifests as flu-like symptoms. A distinctive bullseye rash, indicative of Lyme, may also appear at the site of the bite. At this stage, Lyme is treated solely with antibiotics. However, if it’s mistaken for the flu and left to clear up on its own, it will evolve into the chronic form of Lyme, which is much harder to treat.

As the infection spreads further and deeper into the body, the range of potential symptoms increases dramatically. Chronic Lyme is extremely challenging to diagnose because of this range of diverse and generalised symptoms, leading to many misdiagnosed cases.

What Causes Lyme Arthritis?

One of the most prevalent and debilitating symptoms of chronic Lyme is pain in the joints, which is sometimes called Lyme arthritis. As the infection continues, the immune system becomes hyperactive when faced with a pathogen it can’t eradicate. The result is chronic inflammation and fatigue.

These are not caused directly by the overriding Lyme infection, but by the body’s response to it. Because of this, these symptoms cannot be cured with antibiotics. They require an anti-inflammatory approach, supported by the use of supplements and nutritional adjustments. Make Well is one company that provides those all natural-supplements.

What Are Some Effective Natural Remedies for Pain Relief?

Fortunately, if you’re suffering from chronic Lyme arthritis, there are a few different natural ingredients that can help ease your pain. Remember to check in with your doctor before taking any supplement, spice or herb on a regular basis. When it comes down to what herb is good for joint pain, here are some of the best, along with some other natural remedies for pain relief.

 

1. Boswellia serrata (Indian Frankincense)

The active components of Boswellia serrata are Boswellic acids. These have anti-inflammatory and anti-pain (analgesic) properties, and may also help prevent cartilage loss and slow down the autoimmune process. As the autoimmune function is the cause of this particular subset of Lyme symptoms, slowing its aggressive inflammation can help ease symptoms all over the body.

2. Turmeric

Turmeric continues to be a staple of ancient Chinese medicine. It works by utilising the chemical curcumin, which reduces inflammation by blocking causative cytokines and enzymes. Various clinical trials have demonstrated long-term improvement in pain relief thanks to a turmeric supplement.

 

Make Well - turmeric
Image by stevepb from Pixabay: What helps joint pain naturally? Turmeric is one option, which has been a staple of Chinese medicine for decades.

3. Ginger

Ginger is actually a root, but it has long been promoted for its anti-inflammatory properties, with effects similar to ibuprofen. Ginger is also thought to be anti-cancerial and antioxidant. Numerous active ingredients are present in ginger, including terpenes and oleoresin, as well as volatile oils. This makes it a powerful ingredient in the fight against chronic Lyme arthritis, as well as other symptoms caused by a long-term Lyme infection.

4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish or Algae Oil)

Omega-3 fatty acids are well known for their health properties. Many nutritional guides recommend upping our intake of these hugely beneficial ingredients. They can also help specifically with inflammation. Omega-3s work by blocking inflammatory cytokines and prostaglandins. Once consumed, they are converted by the body into anti-inflammatory chemicals known as resolvins. The fatty acids EPA and DHA have been extensively studied for arthritis and numerous other arthritic conditions, and have been found to be effective.

5. External (Topical) Applications

Topical application of certain plant-based oils may help to relieve painful joints. Many essential oils and plant extracts show anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving abilities when applied directly on the skin. One possible combination is peppermint, rosemary and eucalyptus oil. Another commonly known option for joint pain is cabbage wraps. These can also easily be prepared and applied at home with normal household equipment.

Featured image by congerdesign on Pixabay