10 tips for overcoming fatigue

You can overcome fatigue. It’s easier than you think…

1. Drink at least 2 litres of water each day. Simple dehydration is a frequent cause of fatigue. It takes water to transport nutrients, to chew and digest food, to create blood, to move muscles, to breathe, to think!

2. Optimize the nutritional benefits from your diet. Make your diet work for you not against you. Remember to vary your grains (don’t over rely on wheat), include at least 7-8 green and orange vegetables, and at least three pieces of fruit a day.

3. Never skip breakfast. Eat a high-fibre wholegrain breakfast daily. What you eat for breakfast determines how you will feel for the rest of the day.

4. Decrease stimulants; i.e caffeine, alcohol, sugar. Try eliminating tea and coffee entirely for two weeks and notice the difference in your quality of sleep and energy levels.

5. Eliminate refined carbohydrates such as white bread, processed cereals, cakes and biscuits. These are empty foods and energy robbers. Eating these can frequently result in a mid-afternoon slump and shakiness.

6. Check for food allergies and sensitivities. Symptoms can include poor concentration, irritability, abdominal pain, headache, sinusitis, excessive thirst and dark circles under the eyes.

7. Obtain a minimum of seven hours sleep each night. If insomnia is a problem use appropriate nutrients, relaxing herbs and meditation to encourage restorative sleep.

8. Make a commitment to exercise 45 minutes per day, five days per week. Aerobic exercise increases levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine, noradrenalin and serotonin, all of which have a positive effect on mood and energy. Energy creates energy, where is yours coming from?

9. Reduce stress. If stress is a problem, additional nutritional supplements such as magnesium, the vitamin B group, vitamin C and herbal medicine may be temporarily necessary to protect against adrenal exhaustion.

10. Mental fatigue is exhausting. Slow down thinking, incessant mental chatter is exhausting! Find a meditation technique that works for you.

You’ll find many more ideas and information on overcoming fatigue in my book, “REVIVE, How to Overcome Fatigue Naturally”.

Your prostate

How much do you know about the inner workings of your prostate? Should you get yours checked?

The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. It produces some of the fluid that makes up semen. Prostate cancer affects one in 11 Australian men and is common in the over-65 age group. Around 3,000 Victorian men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. Many cases are not life threatening because the cancer may be slow growing and usually occurs in older men.

Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Difficulties starting and stopping urination
  • Pain or a burning sensation when passing urine
  • Urinating more often than usual, particularly at night
  • The feeling that the bladder can’t be fully emptied
  • Dribbling urine
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Pain during ejaculation

All of these symptoms can also be caused by conditions other than prostate cancer. You should discuss them with your doctor.

The cause is unknown

The exact causes of prostate cancer are unknown. However, the chance of getting prostate cancer increases:

As you get older, if you have a father or brother who had prostate cancer. The risk becomes greater if they were diagnosed at an early age.

Diagnosing prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is diagnosed using a number of tests, which may include:

PSA test – the prostate makes a protein called prostate specific antigen (PSA). Large quantities of PSA in the blood can indicate prostate cancer or other prostate problems.

Digital rectal examination – using a gloved finger in the back passage, the doctor feels for enlargement and irregularities of the prostate.

Biopsy -Six to 12 tissue samples are taken from the prostate and examined in a laboratory for the presence of cancer cells.

If prostate cancer is diagnosed, other tests may be needed to see if the cancer has spread to other areas of the body.

Treatment options

Treatment for prostate cancer depends on a range of factors, such as the man’s age, physical condition, the stage of his prostate cancer and his personal preference.

  • Watchful waiting – sometimes your doctor will advise that treatment is not needed. However, you will still need to be examined and have PSA tests regularly to monitor any changes.
  • Surgery – removal of the prostate is called a radical prostatectomy and will involve a six to 10 day stay in hospital. If the prostate can’t be removed, other surgery may be performed to remove blockages in the prostate to relieve urination problems. This operation is called transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP).
  • Radiotherapy – x-rays are used to target and destroy cancer cells. Treatment usually lasts a few weeks, although this depends on the cancer and the person’s general health
  • Brachytherapy – a radioactive implant is placed inside the prostate to target cancer cells. The implant may be temporary or permanent.
  • Hormone therapy – prostate cancer relies on the hormone testosterone for growth. Hormone therapy reduces testosterone levels and ‘starves’ the tumour, this is given with either medication or hormone injections. Sometimes surgical removal of the testicles (orchidectomy) is suggested which has the same effect.

Possible side effects of treatment

The side effects of treatment can be distressing. You should talk through options and concerns with your doctor before making a choice. Typical side effects include:

  • Surgery – many men will have temporary urinary incontinence (loss of bladder control). Almost all men will have a change to their sexual function and most men will have erectile dysfunction (impotence).
  • Radiotherapy – A small number of men will have bowel problems. Between 40 and 80 per cent of men who have radiotherapy will experience erectile dysfunction (impotence).
  • Brachytherapy – erectile dysfunction (impotence) and bowel problems can occur. Some men may experience painful urination and irritation of the bladder for several months after therapy. Urinary incontinence is not usually a problem.
  • Hormone therapy – side effects may include erectile dysfunction (impotence), tiredness, hot flushes and loss of sex drive.

Consult your doctor if you feel you have one or more of the above symptoms.

For more information on your prostate click here.

Weight and stroke prediction

A new study from Germany suggests that stomach size and other markers of abdominal fat may be a better predictor of stroke than body mass index (BMI).

Previous studies have already suggested that waist circumference is a better predictor of cardiovascular risk than body mass index (BMI), and Dr.Winter from the University of Heidelberg in Germany and colleagues wanted to see if this was the case for cerebrovascular events such as stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA). TIA is commonly called mini stroke, where there is a temporary interruption to the blood supply to a part of the brain, and is often a precursor to a stroke, which is a permanent disruption to blood supply in a part of the brain.

For the case control study, Winter and colleagues enrolled 379 adults with stroke and/or TIA and matched them with 758 controls of the same age and sex. 79 per cent (301 members) of the stroke/TIA group had previously had a stroke, 10 per cent (37) had previous bleeding in the brain, and 11 per cent had already suffered a TIA. The stroke/TIA group had an average age of 67 and comprised 141 women and 238 men.

The researchers used various methods to calculate obesity in their test subjects, including BMI, waist to hip ratio, waist circumference and waist to height ratio (these last three being what they called markers of abdominal  fat). They then analysed the links between these measures and stroke or TIA risk.

The results showed that:
While there was a positive strong link between BMI and cerebrovascular risk, it became non-significant when the researchers took out risk factors like physical inactivity, smoking, blood pressure, and diabetes.

Markers of abdominal fat were strongly linked to risk of stroke/TIA, regardless of the other risk factors. Participants with bigger waists (more than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women) had 4 times the risk of developing a stroke or TIA compared to those with more typical waist sizes. Also, participants with the largest waist-to-hip ratio had nearly 8 times the risk of developing a stroke or TIA.

“Markers of abdominal adiposity showed a significant association with risk of stroke/TIA, independent of other vascular risk factors. Waist circumference and related ratios can better predict cerebrovascular events than BMI.” said Dr.Winter.

According to a report in WebMD, Dr Tobias Back, the senior author of the study, who is based at Saxon Hospital Arnsdorf in Dresden, has warned that people should keep and eye on their waistline. While gaining too much weight has health risks of it’s own , they should abdominal weight gain is even more dangerous.

The researchers noticed that there were more physically active people in the healthy group than in the stroke group. They also strongly encourage adding essential fatty acids to one’s diet such as olive oil and fish to lower stroke risk.

Dr.Back said that as well as considering a patient’s whole vascular risk profile, doctors should use waistline measures such as the waist to hip ratio as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) to monitor stroke risk.

The WHO estimates that about 17 million people a year die of cardiovascular diseases, particularly heart attack and strokes. A great number of these can be attributed to tobacco smoking, which increases the risk two or three-fold, while physical inactivity and poor diet are other main risk factors.

The study was the work of lead author Dr Yaroslav Winter from the University of Heidelberg and other colleagues based there and at other research and clinical centres in Germany, and is published online before print on August 14th in the journal Stroke.

(Source: Stroke: World Health Organization: August 2008)