PHARMACY CORNER

Food for thought

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

We all know how important food is for our health. Eating a balanced diet can boost our energy, support our movement and maintain our vital systems. However, our relationship with food is complex and, for many, this relationship can become harmful – and even life-threatening.

In the U.S., more than 30 million people suffer from eating disorders and one person dies every 62 minutes as a direct result. These disorders affect people of all ages and genders and can have hugely detrimental consequences for the body and mind.

Eating disorders manifest in different ways. Anorexia (full name anorexia nervosa) is generally defined as the need to keep your weight as low as possible through extreme dieting and/or excessive exercise. Bulimia, in contrast, involves eating significant amounts of food but then vomiting or taking laxatives to prevent weight gain. Others suffer from Binge Eating Disorder (BED), in which they lose control of their eating and consume far more than their body needs, whilst others’ experiences do not fall into any of these categories at all.

These conditions, while psychological at root, have serious consequences for the body. When it doesn’t receive enough calories each day, the body begins to break down muscle to provide fuel, including the most important muscle – the heart. With less fuel to pump blood and fewer cells to pump with, blood pressure plummets, thus increasing the risk of heart failure. Overeating is equally damaging, as excess weight can lead to high blood pressure, which also damages the heart and increases the risk of stroke and heart failure.

The gastrointestinal system in particular, is affected, too, as starvation or bingeing interferes with the digestion of nutrients and often leads to constipation, bloating and, in more serious cases, the rupture of the stomach. Deprived of energy, the brain can also suffer critical damage.

So how can you tell if you, or someone in our lives, is suffering from an eating disorder? While we all try to shed (or gain) a few pounds from time to time, an eating disorder is a serious mental illness, resulting in a severe obsession with food. Tell-tale signs include constant anxiety about body size and shape, excessive exercise, strict food habits and restrictions, and/or severe mood swings. Physical symptoms such as dizziness, extreme weight loss or gain, digestive issues and, the slowing or ceasing of periods (for women and girls) are also key indicators.

As with many other mental illnesses, it can be difficult to recognise an eating disorder and know how to seek help. However, the sooner eating disorders are treated – the better. The longer the condition has to manifest, the harder it is to treat, and the more long term damage is inflicted on the body.

Treating eating disorders is a complex process, tailored to each individual. One or several mental health professionals provide therapy to address the psychological illness, while patients also work with a nutritional expert to help rebuild their diet, and other medical professionals who treat any physical symptoms that have arisen. Friends and family also play a key role, helping to provide emotional and practical support in helping patients return to both mental and physical health.

When recovering from an eating disorder, supplements can aid the body’s recovery. Potassium and zinc tablets like those made by Nature’s Bounty or Nature’s Truth can help reignite appetite and taste, while Vitamin B12 supplements such as Nature’s Bounty B-12 or B-Complex help address fatigue and anxiety. Relaxing products such as Olly Stress formula or few drops of Nature’s Truth or Aura Cacia Lavender Oil inhaled or in the bath can also help ease stress during this difficult time.

If you’re worried that you, or someone you know, is suffering from an eating disorder, please do seek medical advice as soon as possible. Your pharmacist or GP can help support you in either seeking help yourself or broaching the subject with your loved one. The important thing to remember is that no one is at fault: eating disorders are an illness like any other and there is no shame in needing help in order to recover.

For more information or for immediate advice, please contact the National Eating Disorders Association.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

The trouble with love

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

With Santa retired for the year, now comes the month of Cupid and his favourite celebration – Valentine’s Day. While this can be a romantic time of year for many, for those nursing a broken heart the red roses can be oh so prickly. Not only can the end of a relationship throw us into emotional turmoil, it can also wreak havoc with our health.

The term heartbreak often refers to the heavy, uncomfortable feeling in our chests that happens when we split up with a partner. It’s not uncommon for someone to say ‘my heart really hurts!’ And it’s true. A break-up often triggers the sympathetic part of the nervous system, sparking your ‘fight or flight’ response, but with no actual bodily threat to fight off, the body can then face a whole variety of painful symptoms.

When you are in love, the brain is bathed in happy hormones like dopamine and oxytocin. However, when heartbreak hits, these hormones plummet, replaced by stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. This reaction makes your muscles tense, ready to fight or run for your life, and when no action actually occurs it can cause headaches, a stiff neck and, yes, that heavy sensation in your chest.

These hormones also redirect blood from your digestive system, which is why heartbreak can often lead to a loss of appetite and nausea. In more drastic cases, some people suffer from diarrhoea or vomiting too, whilst others experience symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) such as painful cramping. It’s not uncommon to overeat either; living without someone you’re attached to can feel like a craving, one which people often try to satisfy with food.    

Stress hormones interfere with sleep too. Some people experience insomnia, whilst others, in contrast, can find they are sleeping too often, or finding it hard to concentrate or stay awake during the day time. Your mental health, of course, also takes a beating. A break-up can cause feelings of anxiety, low motivation and energy, and even depression.

The important thing to remember is that everything you’re feeling is completely normal and, even more importantly, it won’t last forever. These symptoms, while painful, only soften with time and it’s vital to care of yourself while you weather the storm.

Though you may not feel like it, maintaining a healthy diet will help get your digestive system back on track. Opt for foods that nourish your soul as well as your body – a little chocolate never hurt anyone! If you’re struggling to face food, try an antacid such as Tums, Ranitidine or Omeprazole or perhaps a product to combat IBS like Colpermin. If in doubt, ask your pharmacist – we’d be happy to choose just the thing to get your digestion ticking over nicely again.

You may be tempted to avoid the pain by keeping busy, but your body will thank you for taking the time to grieve and heal. Carve out opportunities for relaxation, whether that’s visiting family and friends or a little pampering time at home, and you will find your stress levels begin to decrease and your sleep improves. For those who need a little help dropping off, try a herbal extract like Chamomileor a Melatonin supplement or a sleep aid such as Zzzquil, Unisom or Sleep-Eze.

If you find that things aren’t improving – it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Everyone recovers at their own pace, and it’s perfectly normal to need help when experiencing such emotional upheaval. You can always talk to your pharmacist or GP if your symptoms, mental or physical, are proving too difficult to balance on your own.

In the meantime, try not to fear Valentine’s festivities. Celebrate with the people you love, whether that’s friends or family. Now’s the time to look after yourself.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

Alcohol: the risks and remedies

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

Tis the season to be jolly! For some this means stockings full of gifts, for others it means carolling, and – let’s be honest – for most of us it means indulging in our favourite tipple. And while there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a few festive drinks, it’s important that we’re careful not to damage our health in the process.

Alcohol can be enjoyed safely in small amounts, but when the drinks start to add up, it takes its toll on our bodies. Everyone tolerates different levels of alcohol – we all have that friend who seems to drink the bar dry and get up bright-eyed the next morning nonetheless. However, consuming more than four units, (such as two beers or glasses of wine) in one sitting is enough to trigger problematic symptoms in most people.

When you start drinking alcohol, it begins to affect the part of your brain associated with judgement and decisions, while also impairing your reaction time and coordination. These symptoms worsen the more you drink, impairing your speech and making you light headed and dizzy. After ten units, you are at risk of alcohol poisoning, which can result in confusion, vomiting, seizures, diarrhoea and, in some cases, unconsciousness.

This level of alcohol not only makes you vulnerable to accidents, but also significantly disrupts your sleep, leaving you in a far-from-festive state the next day. As your liver tries to expel the alcohol from your body as soon as possible, you become dehydrated, often leading to headaches, muscle cramps and nausea. 

There are, however, ways to avoid the dreaded hangover. Eating carbohydrates such as rice or pasta beforehand can slow your body’s absorption of alcohol. Fight the dehydration too by drinking a non-carbonated soft drink between each alcoholic beverage, and drinking at least a pint of water before bed.

If you do overindulge (it happens to the best of us) there are remedies available to help you feel human again. Mild painkillers such as Tylenol or Panadol or Advil can combat your headache, while antacids like Tums or Alka-Seltzer or Pepcid will help settle your stomach. Be careful to follow the package directions on the pain relievers – too much Tylenol can be harmful to the liver which has already been stressed by too much alcohol and the Advil can cause stomach upset if taken without food. Rehydrate as much as you can with water, soda water or, if you’re experiencing vomiting or diarrhoea, it may help to take a rehydration tablet like Nuun or sachet like DIoralyte. If you’re partial to a drink or two, make sure to stock up on some of these remedies before the celebrations kick off – just in case!

So when does drinking become a problem? It’s very easy to turn to alcohol during the holidays when emotions are running high. However, while the initial effects may make you feel good, alcohol is actually a depressant that disrupts the balance of chemicals and process in the brain and influences our moods and emotions. This can cause sadness, confusion and often aggression – not feelings we want to crop up at the Christmas party!

If you’re worried that you or someone you know may be abusing or becoming dependent on alcohol, it’s important to seek help as soon as you can. Signs range from irritability and mood swings to problems at work or in personal relationships. Your pharmacist or GP will be happy to offer advice on any alcohol problem, big or small, and help you take the first steps towards recovery. The festive season can be stressful and it’s important to be kind to yourself – and your body. Raise a glass by all means, but be aware of your own limits in order to have a happy holiday season this year.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

Funny Bones

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

While many of us take great care of our skin, our muscles, our minds – few realise how important it is to care for our bones, at all stages if life. Your skeleton provides the whole structure of your body, protecting your vital organs and anchoring muscles where they need to be, and there is a lot we can do to keep our bones strong and healthy.

From the moment you’re born, your bones are constantly changing: new bone is made and old bone is broken down. Until the age of thirty, your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old, causing your bone mass to increase. As you get older however, you begin to lose more than you gain, and your bone mass slowly decreases over time. 

That said, there is much we can do along the way to improve our bone mass – starting with our calcium intake. Research shows that calcium deficiency leads to diminished bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures. However, you can boost your calcium levels by eating a wide range of foods including dairy products, almonds, green vegetables such as broccoli and kale, and soy products like tofu. Supplements such as Caltrate, Viactiv and Nature’s Bounty (or Nature’s Truth) Calcium tablets can be used if and when your diet may be insufficient. 

Vitamin D is also needed to allow calcium be absorbed. You can increase your vitamin D intake with food such as oily fish like salmon and tuna, as well as mushrooms, eggs and fortified foods like cereal. Sunlight contributes to the production of Vitamin D too, so do try to get out and about when the sun decides to shine!

Lesser known, but equally important, Vitamin K2, particularly MK-4 and MK-7, supports bone health by modifying osteocalcin, a protein involved in bone formation. You can find MK-4 in liver and eggs, while Mk-7 is found in fermented food like cheese, miso and sauerkraut – as well as supplements such as Smarty Pants Organics vitamins. There are formulas specific for men, women, pregnancy, kids and toddlers. There are also a wealth of combined supplements available like Rainbow Light, Centrum and One-A-Day, which combine nutrients and vitamins to give your bones everything they need in one quick and easy capsule.

Bones are made from 50% protein so it’s good to make sure foods such as meat, dairy, beans and pulses form a good proportion of your diet – especially as you get older. Studies have shown that in postmenopausal women, higher protein intake is linked to a lower risk of forearm fractures and significantly higher bone density in the hip, spine and total body. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, and climbing stairs, have great benefits too: people who are physically active have a much lower risk of bones problems.

Those with low bone density may be suffering from osteoporosis, a health condition that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break. If you are concerned about osteoporosis, do speak to your GP as soon as possible. In addition to lifestyle options, there are also medications that can strengthen bones and reduce the risk of fractures, and your GP can give advice on the best treatment for you. If you have any questions about bone health, your GP or indeed your pharmacist will be happy to help.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

 

Back to school: A lesson in child health

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

It’s that time of year again! With autumn comes the start of the school year and, though exciting, this can also be an anxious time for many parents. While it’s natural to be nervous about your child’s wellbeing, there’s plenty you can do to help them stay fit and healthy, so they can get the most out of their education.

One of the areas parents have a big impact is nutrition. A healthy, varied diet can help your child’s energy levels, concentration and mood, starting with a nutritious breakfast. Protein-rich foods such as porridge or a smoothie can provide your child with energy throughout the morning, and stave off hunger pangs until lunchtime. Packed lunches are also a chance to get creative with food and introduce new things to your child’s diet. However, remember to check ingredients, especially on pre-packaged foods like crisps, sandwich fillings or even cereal bars. Many contain much more fat and sugar than you’d think, which can lead to hyperactivity or sluggishness – as well as more serious health problems down the road.      

Vitamins are crucial for a child’s development. Vitamin C is particularly important in developing and maintaining children’s immune systems during school terms. With bugs and viruses spreading through the classroom, it’s a good idea to stock up on key sources of Vitamin C such as oranges, tomatoes and broccoli. Vitamin A is also important for the ongoing development of children’s eyes and sight, and this can be found in carrots, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals.  

In addition to a healthy diet, experts recommend children take vitamin supplements to ensure they’re getting everything they need. Try products designed with children in mind such as Olly Kid’s Multi + Probiotics, Smarty Pants Prebiotic/probiotic combinations and organic vegetarian multivitamin supplements and Haliborange Omega-3 for kids. Your pharmacist can advise you on what might work best.

Sleep is just as important for your child’s health as diet and exercise. It’s recommended that children get at least eight to ten hours sleep a night, to help them wake up ready for school the next day. However, as we all know, this is easier said than done. You can help your child get the sleep they need by developing a consistent evening routine that allows your child to wind down before bed. Experts suggest turning off the television two hours before bed, as screen time can impact levels of the hormone melatonin, a crucial regulator of the sleep cycle. Night time drinks can also help, such as a warm glass of milk, which can bring on drowsiness through the melatonin in it.

Schoolwork can take its toll on your child’s eyes, especially if they’re not used to a lot of reading. Experts advise parents to get their child’s sight tested if they show any signs of difficulty, such as squinting, tilting their head, or holding devices or books too closely to their face. If you have any concerns, do speak to your GP, pharmacist or optician. It may be as simple as adding eye drops or an eye bath to their routine, such as Optrex Eye Wash or Dops which are cooing and refreshing and since it is non-medicinal, it can be used as often as needed.

And of course – don’t forget the dreaded head lice outbreaks, spread through head to head contact during playtime, sports and sleepovers. Be sure to tackle it as soon as possible, first with a shampoo such as Rid, Nix and Lyclear, followed by a wet comb. You need to do this several times after the outbreak – as unhatched eggs may survive the initial attack. Most importantly, take the time to build a strong relationship with your child’s school. That way, you can make them aware of everything they need to know, from medical conditions to food allergies, and they can keep you up to date too. In the meantime, if you have any serious concern about your child’s health, your pharmacist and GP are always here to help.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

 

Caring for new mothers

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

August is not only the hottest month of the year – it’s also Breastfeeding Month, a time for discussing new babies and how best to help them flourish. This year, however, we want to focus on the heroic new mothers, and the ways they can take care of themselves during the postpartum period.

The first months with your new baby are quite the adventure, and for many it can be an overwhelming time. In addition to recovering from pregnancy and childbirth, you’re also experiencing a wealth of new physical and emotional changes. Whether or not you choose to breastfeed, your body is undergoing immense upheaval and it’s important to take steps to look after yourself as well as your lovely new baby.

One of the most significant challenges facing new parents is the lack of sleep, and most new moms will be incredibly exhausted. The important thing is to remember that this is normal and to do what you can to ease the strain.

A tried and tested method is to make sure you take the chance to sleep when the baby sleeps, even if it’s just a few hours here and there to close your eyes. For others, the disruption to your sleeping cycle can make it hard to relax when you do have the chance. Many find hot baths are a good way of easing stress, while others look to herbal remedies like chamomile teas (Traditional Medicines, Stash and other brands), capsules, such as valerian root (Nature’s Bounty Valerian or Kalms) or lavender products such as Nature’s Truth Lavender Oil in the bath or Traditional Medicines Lavender & Chamomile tea.* Equally – be kind to yourself. Allow your partner, family and/or friends to help with things like housework, so you can focus on caring for yourself and your new arrival.

Nutrition is also a great way of aiding sleep, maintaining energy levels and helping you recover from pregnancy and childbirth. It can be hard to pay attention to food, but eating a balanced, healthy diet could make all the difference.

It’s a good idea to plan quick and simple meals that pack in the nutrients your body needs. Fruits and vegetables are key, alongside whole grains and lean proteins, such as fish and beans. If you’re struggling to get the nutrients in, a multi-vitamin such as your prenatal vitamin (Sanatogen, Materna etc.) or Pregnacare New Mum as well as other supplements like iron (Ferrograd and Spatone), calcium (Caltrate or Calcium Citrate) and magnesium (Nature’s Truth Triple Magnesium Complex) can also help improve both energy levels and your sleep cycle.* Fluids are equally essential, especially for breastfeeding moms, and it’s helpful to have plenty of drinking water around the house for as and when you need it.

It’s also crucial you take time to check-in with your mood. The majority of moms experience ‘baby blues’ in some capacity, such as crying, mood swings or anxiety. However, if you or someone you know develops more severe symptoms, such as feelings of isolation, despair or confusion, it is vital that you speak to your GP. Postpartum depression impacts more than 10% of all new moms, but it is easily treated with the right medical support.

New babies are wonderful – and hard work. All moms are different and do the best they can in their individual situations. If you have any questions or concerns about yourself or another new mom, the pharmacy or your GP is the best place to start.

*Breastfeeding moms should always check with a doctor before ingesting herbal remedies or supplements

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

Come Fly With Me

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

All across Bermuda, there’s excitement in the air. Bags are being packed, flights are being booked, out-office-emails are ready to roll – yes, it’s finally time for your summer vacation!

Alongside your passport, your swimsuit and your summer reads, you need to make sure your body has everything it needs too. Whether you’re heading across the globe, or staying closer to home, it’s important to be prepared.

Different countries and climates require different preparation so make sure you do your research and plan ahead. For many destinations, you will need specific vaccinations to protect you from tropical diseases. Those travelling to very hot areas of the world such as Asia or South America, for example, will need Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid and Diphtheria vaccinations, and additional shots for diseases like rabies or cholera if you’re visiting certain regions. Vaccinations don’t come cheap, so it’s important to factor the cost into your holiday budget.

The best thing to do is see your pharmacist or travel nurse at least six-eight weeks before you’re due to travel, to find out exactly what vaccinations you need.

Foreign environments can put the body under stress, even if you’ve had all the required vaccinations, so it’s always good to give your health a boost before you go. Make sure you’re topped up on your vitamins and minerals, both through a varied, nutritious diet and with supplements such as Centrum and Rainbow Light   where needed. You can also help ready your immune system for a different climate with natural remedies like Echinacea and Goldenseal by Nature’s Bounty or Nature’s Truth. High in antioxidants, Echinacea can be taken in tablets or teas, and is known to reduce inflammation, boost your immunity and soothe feelings of anxiety that can arise when travelling long-distance.

Busy packing your suitcase? You should also consider what you’ll need once you arrive at your destination. Allergies can turn any holiday sour if you’re not fully equipped. For instance, many people suffer from sun allergies such as rashes or itchiness when they encounter stronger sunlight than they’re used to, so it’s helpful to have a sun cream of SPF 30 or more on hand, such as Raw Elements, Blue Lizard and Neutrogena or even a sun screen specifically developed for sensitive skin such as Raw Elements and Think Baby.

Insects can also play havoc with your skin while you’re away, especially those pesky mosquitoes we’re all so familiar with. It’s Fight the Bite month in Bermuda this month and it’s just as important to keep yourself safe from insects and the diseases they spread while you’re away. Prevention is key, and with insect repellents for your skin, Off, Cutter or Badger Sunblock + Repellent, and your bedroom – essential oils like peppermint and citronella are fantastic natural repellents and they smell nice too! –  You can help keep mosquitoes and other pests at bay. However, anyone can get caught out. With the right vaccines, there’s no need to panic, but it’s good to have a handy bottle (or tube) of Hydrocortisone, Benadryl or Anthisan creams in your case to sooth those irritating bites and get back to enjoying your holiday.

Still a bit unsure? Speak to your pharmacist or GP. We can talk you through everything you and your family need to stay healthy on holiday, from the best sun cream to accessing medical services abroad. By preparing in advance, you can head off on vacation with peace of mind and get straight to the important business of relaxing and enjoying yourself. Trust me, you deserve it.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

 

How are you today?

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

How are you today? We’re asked this question all the time, but sometimes it’s hard to give an honest answer – especially when we’re not feeling our best.

Approximately one in four people experience problems with mental health every year. Contemporary life places burdens on us all, from family issues to financial problems, and these concerns can lead to stress, anxiety and depression. Though most of us know what do when our bodies aren’t working properly, worryingly few of us take action when it’s our mental health at stake.

Our bodies and minds do not work independently of each other. If we’re experiencing anxiety or low mood this can have an adverse effect on our physical health and lead to a greater risk of certain illnesses or conditions. Similarly, if we’re ill or injured, that can impact our mental health too.

However, there are many things we can do to help our bodies and minds work together. Exercise is known for its positive physical benefits, but it’s also proven to be a great way to improve symptoms of depression or anxiety. Whether you favour yoga, running, or simply a short walk, exercise encourages the release of chemicals called endorphins, which increase mental alertness, energy levels and positive mood. It also helps to improve your sleep cycle, helping you wake up refreshed and ready to face the day.

A healthy balanced diet not only keeps you feeling strong and energetic – it can also help manage and even prevent numerous mental conditions. B vitamins are particularly important. Found in whole grains, meat, green leafy vegetables and more, B vitamins play a key role in producing important chemicals in the brain. Vitamin B12, for instance, helps to maintain the healthy production of serotonin, which balances mood and improves sleep. Older people, vegetarians and vegans, and those with celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, may be deficient in Vitamin B12 and could benefit from a supplement such as Nature’s Bounty B Complex + B-12 or Vitamin B-12 on its own in strengths from 500mcg to 5000mcg. B-12 is also an ingredient in the multivitamin supplements like Centrum, One-A-Day and Rainbow Light.

That said, issues like depression and anxiety can affect anyone at any time, even the fittest of us all, and there is no shame in seeking help. If you’re unsure what to do, the pharmacy can be a great place to start. Pharmacists can talk through your symptoms and advise on the next steps to take. They can also suggest a range of options that may help you.

In addition to nutritional supplements such as Vitamin B12, herbal remedies can be very useful. St John’s Wort by Nature’s Bounty, (Hypericum perforatum), is a botanical compound known to help depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), mild anxiety and sleep problems. Valerian root can also be helpful. Usually taken before bed to help with sleep, it can also be used during the day to manage symptoms of anxiety or stress. Valerian can be found on its own in the vitamin section Nature’s Bounty) and also in Kalms – a supplement that is great for sleeplessness, stress and anxiety.

Many women find their mental health can suffer the week before their period. Evening Primrose Oil which is also in the vitamin section by Nature’s Bounty is a great way to balance your pre-menstrual hormones, helping to alleviate sadness and irritability – as well as other unpleasant symptoms such as breast pain and bloating.    

Of course, if you are having mental health difficulties, you should always consult your doctor. However serious your symptoms, they can advise on the best course of action, whether that is a lifestyle change or a prescribed medication. Sometimes it just helps to talk through your experiences. Similarly, if you are worried about a colleague, friend or loved one, your doctor can offer advice on how you can encourage them to seek help themselves. In the meantime, be sure to ask how they’re feeling. You never know if they might need someone to talk to.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

 

Here comes the sun

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

Summer’s finally here! Whether it’s beaches, barbecues or just spending a bit more time outdoors, there’s something for everyone to look forward to. But summer is not only good for the soul – it’s also great for your health.

As the summer draws in, so does the sunshine. In the months of April, May and June the hours of sunshine begin to increase, peaking in July, and with the sunlight comes a variety of incredible health benefits.

The main advantages come from Vitamin D, which is synthesised by the body when our skin is exposed to sunlight. As the weather improves and we spend more time outside, our Vitamin D levels rise due to this increased exposure.

Vitamin D is crucial for the development and maintenance of your bones and teeth. It helps the absorption of calcium from the intestines, ensures correct renewal of bone tissue, and maintains phosphorus levels in the blood – all of which contribute to strong, healthy bones. This can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and aid the treatment of the condition.

Vitamin D is also known to have a positive effect on the immune system, the brain and the nervous system. Building up a healthy supply of Vitamin D during the summer can therefore stand you in good stead come the winter months, helping you ward off viruses like cold and flu.

It can play a role in more serious health problems too. Research shows that Vitamin D can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and severe asthma, and is also thought to help those managing diabetes to regulate their insulin levels.

However, it’s not just Vitamin D levels that improve during the summer. Greater exposure to sunlight can increase the release of a hormone called serotonin, which helps to maintain a balanced mood, a healthy appetite and a regular sleep cycle. When you’re out and about in the sunshine, the resulting increase in serotonin can help you feel calm, focussed and ready to tackle the day.

Ever noticed you or someone close to you experiences more sadness or lethargy during the winter months? This can be because of the reduced sunlight and the lowers levels of serotonin, a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you’re worried about your mental health or that of a loved-one, it’s always a good idea to check in with your GP – at any time of year.

And let’s not forget, sunlight has its risks too, especially in the hot climate we enjoy here in Bermuda. To ensure that you’re keeping yourself safe from sun damage, it’s important to apply sun protection products like Sol Rx, Blue Lizard, Coppertone, Aveeno and others throughout the day. It’s also essential that you stay hydrated when spending a lot of time in the heat, so be sure to drink plenty of water. The best advice is to plan ahead – when heading out for a day in the sun, make sure you’re prepared. Of course, not everyone loves the sun. If you’re struggling to get enough Vitamin D then taking a supplement such as Nature’s Bounty or Nature Made Vitamin D or a good multivitamin tablet (or gummy) that contains at least 800 IU (50mcg) of vitamin D can make all the difference. Meanwhile, visit your pharmacist or GP if you have any concerns about your health. We’re here to help – come rain or shine.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

 

How to Keep Your Gut Happy and Healthy

By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

This month is both Nutrition Month and Colorectal Cancer Month, which made us think that now would be a good time to check in with our digestive health.

The Bermuda National Tumour Registry reported that colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer in Bermuda. It typically affects those over the age of 50 years old and lifestyle factors that may increase your risk of getting it include obesity, inactivity, smoking, heavy drinking and certain diets. While studies are still being done to ascertain what specifically are the dietary factors that increase the risk of colorectal cancer, the consensus seems to be that diets that are high in red and processed meats are particularly dangerous.

So, what makes a healthy diet for your digestive system? As we’ve discussed before, a well-balanced diet is the best diet. There are certain things, though, that are particularly valuable for your digestion. The king of these is fibre.

Fibre provides bulk, reducing the risk of constipation and helping to keep you regular. In addition to keeping things moving, fibre can also help lower cholesterol levels and keep blood sugar in check. It is also sometimes credited with keeping you fuller for longer, so you’re less inclined to snack.

You can get more fibre into your diet by eating foods rich in it, such as chickpeas, artichokes, bananas, oats and nuts and seeds, such as almonds and pumpkin seeds.  If you are struggling to get all of the fibre you need, though, there are a number of excellent fibre supplements, including Metamucil and Benefiber. These can be dissolved into water and drunk or taken in pill form.  You can also find Psyllium husk which can be incorporated into smoothies etc. to increase the fibre content.

Fibre is also important as a vital food source for the friendly bacteria in our guts. These good bacteria help us to combat bad microorganisms in digestive, supporting our immune systems and keeping the intestines healthy. 

These foods are high in beneficial probiotics – kimchi, pickled beets, apple cider vinegar, yogurt, pickles, and sauerkraut.

Foods rich in probiotics, including yoghurts and fermented foods are widely believed to be beneficial to our gut flora by supplementing and enriching them. Examples of healthful foods that you can stock up on in Lindo’s include sauerkraut, miso, kimchi and, of course, live yoghurts.

If you are struggling to balance your diet, then it might be worth considering taking some supplements. In addition to the aforementioned fibre supplements, there are multivitamins such as Phillips’ Colon Health Probiotic Capsules and Culturelle, which can ensure that you’re getting all of the nutrients your gut needs.

A healthy digestive system won’t just reduce your chance of colorectal cancer, it can offer a huge range of benefits from helping to maintain a healthy weight to improving your skin. Ensuring that everything is working properly will also give you peace of mind and a sense of wellness. If you have any questions or concerns about your digestive health, or want to find out more about dietary supplements, reach out to your pharmacist who will be happy to help.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.