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What Is Brain Fog And How You Can Beat It

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Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten why we've you went in there in the first place?

Maybe you’ve fleetingly stopped in your tracks, grasping to remember your own name for a microsecond?

There’s a name for this unsettling mental phenomenon: 'brain fog'. 

Symptoms of so-called 'brain fog' include forgetfulness, poor concentration, inability to focus and lack of mental clarity, all of which can strike without warning.

It’s worth noting that although ‘Brain fog’ can be attributed to age-related decline and a host of illnesses, it can also strike anyone at any age - even as early as your late teens.

So why do we have ‘brain fog’ and how can we beat it? 

For starters, your brain works hard 24/7, even while you're asleep. It requires a constant supply of fuel, which comes from the foods you eat. Eating high-quality foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress or the 'free radicals' produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells.

No surprises here, but eating too much sugar and refined carbs can have a negative effect. Thankfully, eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help.

Shifting from a diet high in processed foods, carbs, and sugars to whole, fresh foods like salmon and spinach could make a huge difference to your mental clarity. Foods rich in antioxidants - like blueberries, dark chocolate, and artichokes - can also help boost mental function (yes you heard right, DARK CHOCOLATE).  

Besides diet, ‘brain fog’ can also be stimulated by alcohol and caffeine. In 2015, scientists from Duke University warned that binge drinking as a teenager, before the brain is fully developed, causes long-lasting changes to the regions of the brain that control learning and memory.

Numerous studies have also suggested that even moderate adult drinkers risk significant shrinkage in key parts of the brain. In July, the University of Oxford and University College found that people who have a drink or two every night from middle age are more likely to experience a steep decline in brain power by their 70s. 

Caffeine is a stimulant known to improve mental alertness. But the problem with caffeine is that the energy it gives us is short-lived. Drinking too much can lead to insomnia, headaches and dehydration - and as a result, can impair your mental function.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists says the best way to give up caffeine is to gradually stop having all caffeine drinks (this includes coffee, tea and cola drinks) over a three-week period. Try to stay off caffeine completely for a month to see if you feel less mentally fatigued without it – your brain will thank you for it in the long run.

The final way to beat ‘brain fog’? Sleeping for at least seven to eight hours each night helps to boost your brain performance. Another reason to put good quality shut-eye front and centre in your daily routine. Zzzzzzzz.

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Why Vitamin D is an Asthma Sufferer's Best Friend

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Asthma sufferers have another reason to breathe a sigh of relief.

A new study has revealed that Vitamin D – the common supplement found in most chemists and supermarkets – could help slash the risk of asthma attacks.

Scientists at the British Lacet Respiratory Medicine foundation discovered that taking Vitamin D halved the risk of severe asthma attacks requiring medical attention.

The trusty Vitamin D capsule is thought to have a 2-pronged approach for asthma sufferers by minimising harmful inflammation in the airways and boosting the immune system’s response to respiratory viruses.

However, it is important to note the study was conducted on a test group of adults suffering from mild to moderate asthma; children did not partake in the study.

Asthma is a long-term lung condition and claims over 400 lives per year in Australia, so the latest findings are certainly encouraging for chronic asthma sufferers.

If you are an asthma sufferer, it is important to take your usual medication - as prescribed by your doctor or GP - rather than replace with vitamin D capsules entirely.

Some added benefits of taking Vitamin D include regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and facilitating normal immune system function.

What’s not to love about D?

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5 Symptoms You Don't Want to Ignore

As we get older, we start to notice some unusual things going on with our bodies. From loss of taste to ringing ears (and hair growing in places it shouldn't be) our bodies are always changing. In a fast-paced world, it can be easy to ignore these niggling changes.

However, some of these oddities could be a warning sign of more serious medical issues. Here are 5 symptoms you should never ignore and why.

 

Symptom # 1 - Ringing In Ears

Ringing in ears could be associated with earwax build-up, head and neck tumours or problems in the jaw.

Alternatively, it could signify Tinnutus - depending on the type of ringing sound heard.

Tinnitus is the perception of hearing noises or ringing in the ear when no external sound is present. Tinnitus symptoms include hearing phantom noises in your ears and experiencing buzzing, ringing, hissing, roaring or clicking noises.

Tinnitus is actually a pretty common problem, affecting about one in five people. It isn't a condition itself, but rather a symptom of other underlying conditions that are associated with age-related hearing loss, injury in the inner ear, earwax buildup or blockage, or sometimes a symptom of allergies.

If ringing in the ears lasts longer than a week, go see your doctor.

Symptom # 2 - Losing Taste & Smell

Losing your sense of taste could be associated with Alzheimer's disease, nasal and sinus problems, nutritional deficiencies, head injury or even as a result of certain medications.

At birth, you have about 10,000 taste buds, but after age 50, you may start to lose them. Some loss of taste and even smell is common in older adults, especially after age 60.

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 200,000 people visit a doctor each year for problems with their ability to taste or smell.

Scientists believe that up to 15 percent of adults might have a taste or smell problem, but many don't seek a doctor's help.

It's best to see your doctor if you experience losing your sense of taste and/or smell.

Symptom # 3 - Blue-ish Fingernails

Ick! Blue nails are a sign you're not getting enough oxygen to your fingertips, a condition known as cyanosis.

Having blue-ish fingernails could be associated with pulmonary obstruction, emphysema or lung disease.

If your nails are persistently blue, go see your doctor and ask to have your blood and oxygenation levels checked.

If the hue of blue is darker than a tinge, go see your doctor as soon as possible.

Symptom # 4 - Small Dots In The Eye

Ever looked into the mirror and saw small dots in your eyes? 

Your eyes are similar in nature to skin. Like skin, the eyes can get marked. These mars are called choroidal nevi.

Although the name sounds complicated, a choroidal nevus is merely a freckle in the eye. Choroidal nevi are usually harmless: in most cases, they can only be seen by an eye doctor.

Your doctor will likely monitor any freckle and alert you if it changes in colour, size or shape.

If you notice that the dots change shape, this could be associated with a melanoma and should be monitored by a doctor immediately.

Symptom # 5 - Excessive Female Facial Hair

Hirsutism is a medical condition most commonly caused by an imbalance of sex hormones, specifically excess male hormones called androgens.

One of the most common causes is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition affecting women of reproductive age.

The condition results in excessive amounts of dark, coarse hair on body areas where men typically grow hair - the face, chest and back.

The amount of body hair you have is largely determined by your genetic makeup.

This morning, I spoke about these 5 symptoms on The Today Show Australia. Check out my YouTube channel for more health hacks!

These 5 Triggers Could Cause Your Migraine Attack

We still don't understand what causes migraine. All we can do is be aware of our triggers and try to avoid them.

Science still can't accurately explain what causes migraine. Researchers now believe that migraine is a neurological disorder involving nerve pathways and brain chemicals. 

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, before puberty boys are statistically more likely to experience migraine than girls, however between the age of 10 and 40 women are three times more likely to experience migraine than men, which is attributed to hormonal fluctuation. 

If this is the case for you, you may need to be aware of what triggers your migraines. It helps to keep track of your migraines in a diary. Unlike headache, those that suffer migraines report an 'aura' - from seeing fuzzy spots to faint headache-like symptoms - that is apparent for anything between a day and a few hours before the migraine hits.

If you know you are in the 'migraine zone', avoid any of the following potential triggers:


TIP # 1 - Eating (Or Not Eating):

It may come as a surprise that eating certain foods and/or fasting for long periods of time without food are migraine triggers. A 2008 Brazillian study found that most patients experiencing regular migraines reported having at least one trigger that was food-related.

Common foods that were identified as migraine triggers contained tyramine or phenylethylamine, which are two amino acids found in chocolate, aged or fermented cheese (including all the delicious stinky blue cheeses), salami, soy foods, nuts and vinegar (both red and white).

Unsurprisingly, alcohol was cited to be a high trigger substance. Interestingly, red wine was a trigger among women but not men. Red wine triggered migraine in just eight percent of men, but among women the number jumped to 22 percent. White wine was associated with migraine in just 10.5 percent of patients.

Before you abstain from vino and stinky cheese for life, the study uncovered the number one source of diet-related migraine triggers to be fasting. Skipping meals is not recommended for a number of health reasons; however, if you are experiencing regular migraines and regularly skip meals in the name of 'dieting', it's time to go back to at least 3 balanced meals a day with interval snacking on fresh foods. Your body - and your head - will thank you for it.

 

TIP # 2 - Stress

This one shouldn't come as a huge surprise. A dramatic increase or decrease in physical or psychological stress is a major migraine trigger.

A recent study from Denmark discovered a majority of migraine patients reported that stress was linked to the onset of migraine attacks. Other researchers have reported that between 50 and 80 percent of migraine patients say stress triggers their migraine headaches.
Some patients experienced migraine in the aftermath of a stressful event, while others experienced a new attack in the midst of a stressful event.

If you are experiencing stress, gentle physical exercise like Hatha Yoga or pilates is a great way to let off some steam. Practicing mindfulness or mediation twice a day - 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes before bed - is another way of helping your mind and body to effectively 'switch off'. If symptoms persist, see your GP.

 

TIP # 3 - Lack of Sleep or Jet Lag

Insufficient sleep is one of the most common factors linked to migraine attacks. Conversely, excessive sleep is a frequently reported trigger as well.

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder associated with chronic migraine. Chronic migraine patients who suffer from insomnia are also at increased risk for anxiety or depression.
Jet lag and extreme changes in your work schedule can also be linked to the onset of migraine. Discover my jet lag travel hacks here.

The good news is, many patients report that sleep often relieves their migraine headaches. Make your boudoir a place you want to spend time. Invest in a comfortable memory-foam latex pillow. Dim the lights 2 hours before bedtime. For more sleep hacks, read this.

 

TIP # 4 - Highly Caffeinated Beverages

Uh oh. Your morning coffee (or 3) has a high chance of triggering migraine.  Coffee isn't the only culprit - watch out for excessive consumption of tea, soft drinks and energy drinks where caffeine levels are surprisingly high. Equally, some researchers have noted that caffeine withdrawal may also trigger a headache. 

Keep in mind that many over-the-counter headache preparations contain significant amounts of caffeine. One recent study concluded that a drug combining acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine was better at relieving the symptoms of migraine headache than ibuprofen alone.

If you need a warm cup of goodness to start each day, try substituting coffee for warm water with lemon. The vitamin C in fresh lemon is a fantastic and effective natural energy boost that also doubles as a detoxifier. For a caffeine-free-kick with an abundance of benefits, try a numeric latte.

 

TIP # 5 - Dehydration

Dehydration has also been suggested as a possible migraine trigger. Failure to drink enough water has been linked to the onset of headache.

A small survey of migraine sufferers revealed that “insufficient fluid intake” was linked to headache onset in about 40 percent of responders.

There are loads more trips and tricks on how to stay hydrated here. For starters, try to drink 3 glasses of water in the morning (warm with lemon is the most quickly absorbed - and great for your digestion). Then, try to drink another glass before and after each meal throughout the day. Your head (and the rest of your body) will thank you for it.
 

References

Armstrong, L.E., Ganio, M.S., Casa, D.J., Lee, E.C., McDermott, B.P., Klau, J.F., et al. (2012, February). Mild dehydration affects mood in healthy young women. The Journal of Nutrition, 142(2), 382-8. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.142000. Epub 2011, December 21. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from
http://jn.nutrition.org/content/142/2/382.long

Baad-Hansen, L., Cairns, B., Ernberg, M., Svensson P. (2010, January). Effect of systemic monosodium glutamate (MSG) on headache and pericranial muscle sensitivity. Cephalalgia, 30(1):68-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2982.2009.01881.x. Retrieved April 29, 2014, from
http://cep.sagepub.com/content/30/1/68.long
 

What are Peptides and How Do They Work?

There has been a great deal of discussion in the media around the use of peptides. In my clinic, I am asked several times a day by patients whether they can have them. The interesting thing about peptides is that most people who ask for them think of them as simply the latest in the ever-growing market of quick-fix magic potions. When asked by patients and friends for peptides - and other weight-augmenting substances - I always ask (and you should ask yourself): What do you want to achieve? Read on to learn more about putting some 'pep' in your step...

WHAT ARE PEPTIDES?

Before looking at whether peptides are right for you, let’s look at what they are. Put simply, they are small proteins made up of fewer than 50 amino acids. In the world of health and fitness, peptides are used and recommended for increased energy, burning fat, building muscle and improving athletic ability.  If you think ofa hormone as a tree made up of many protein branches and even more peptide twigs it’s easy to see how a hormone can have many side-effects if used wrongly.  Peptides on the other hand are much smaller and have been designed to stimulate specific receptors for growth hormone so you can attempt to tailor your results.  So essentially they can be used for muscle gain or weight loss and a range of other things.

When we eat carbohydrates or sugars, our blood sugar levels increase. The pancreas senses this and is stimulated by the rise in blood sugar to release insulin. This insulin then triggers the body to transport the digested sugar into cells from our bloodstream. The bane for many of us with less-than-ideal metabolisms is that this sugar is then converted into fat and transported to problem areas such as the stomach, love handles and our butt for storage. Normally our body prefers to use fat for fuel, but with so many of us having a high sugar and carbohydrate intake it becomes very easy for our bodies to simply use this sugar for fuel and keep turning the excess into fat and storing it. This makes it very hard to burn that bootie.

HOW DO PEPTIDES WORK?

Peptides work on different areas of the body with some stimulating the pituitary gland to naturally release more hormones, including Human Growth Hormone (HGH), to make more of the same. HGH and the peptides that stimulate it help to stop our bodies using the readily available sugar floating around and instead make our bodies burn more stored fat while at the same time limiting more fat being made. The results of this can be great, especially when coupled with good dietary habits and exercise. You will have more energy (gained from using the fat) and also see the results of normal daily activities burning even more off your problem areas.

HANG ABOUT! SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. DO I NEED TO GO TO THE GYM IF I'M USING PEPTIDES?

Compared to steroids and testosterone, with their large potential for fast benefits and potential side effects, these are not magic beans that will turn you into a ripped mega-buff guy overnight. Peptides are more of a medium burn for those of us that know that the body we want is one of lifestyle enhancement and that the hours at the gym are necessary.

Most people, when asked what they think a peptide is, simply don’t care. They’re results-driven, and it doesn’t matter to them that their method might be madness. Peptides are not some genie that leaps out of a newly rubbed lamp, ready and waiting to know exactly your heart’s desire, even if you can’t say what that is. Like most things in life, in order to be able to achieve what you want, you must be able to articulate it. Simply saying you want to look better is not going to cut it and can have serious harmful consequences.

HOW DO I KNOW IF PEPTIDES ARE FOR ME?

When asking what you want to put in your body, you must always ask whether the benefits outweigh the side effects. Like any substance that you know nothing about, they should not be bought online from unregistered suppliers or borrowed from a friend and then injected (yes, most peptides need to be injected) or consumed. Peptides can have great - but potentially serious - side effects and you should have a chat to a doctor before even considering their use. Many people are making a lot of money from selling what you want, so always remember to ask what it does, how long to take it, how to take it and what side effects it has so that you have realistic expectations of what it can do for you. While peptides can help you to burn fat while working, eating, talking and even sleeping, they must be combined with other lifestyle factors over several months to see the best results.

The Lowdown on Vitamin Infusions

YOU MIGHT HAVE HEARD ABOUT VITAMIN INFUSIONS ON THE GRAPEVINE AND THOUGHT, 'WHAT THE HECK IS THAT?', 'DOES IT REPLACE FOOD' or 'DO I STILL NEED TO TAKE VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS AFTER HAVING ONE'?

READ ON TO LEARN MORE ABOUT VITAMIN INFUSIONS AND WHETHER IT COULD BE SOMETHING TO DISCUSS WITH YOUR DOCTOR.

WHAT IS A VITAMIN INFUSION?

Vitamin infusions for the most part are a great addition to an already healthy life-style where you’re already getting good nutrients.

For some people - especially those with poor nutrition or in other disease states – vitamin infusions can have hugely beneficial qualities.

As we know when we take things orally, many nutrients are not absorbed completely. Vitamin infusions are essentially giving your body a high dose of good vitamins that don’t depend on you bodies ability to absorb.

Many of the vitamins used are found in many foods we consume - or should be consuming regularly.  It’s important to note that you should always consult your doctor about any kind of therapies to make sure it is right for you and to ensure that your practitioners are appropriately experienced and qualified.

I ALREADY TAKE VITAMINS - SO WHY DO I NEED THIS TREATMENT?

Vitamin infusions allow us to have higher doses of many vitamins in our circulation for a short time period, than we would otherwise be able to absorb.

This is extremely important in disease states where there is a large amount of clinical data supporting the use of high dose vitamin IV infusions for a variety of disease states, including cancer, burns, septic shock, thiamine deficiency, Rickets and Vitamin D deficiency to name a few.

For those of us who are well this is a great way to try to either prevent or end that cold that just won’t go away or I have it regularly before I travel to prevent getting sick.

WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM VITAMIN INFUSIONS AND WHAT RESULTS CAN BE EXPECTED?

Anyone feeling run-down or tired will benefit from an IV vitamin infusion.  If you always get sick when starting a holiday, vitamin infusions can help a lot.  People with chronic fatigue and many other diseases can also benefit from a vitamin infusion, in consultation with their doctor.

Whilst there have been no large population studies around the use of IV vitamins for skin benefits, there is large amounts of anecdotal advice that suggests vitamin infusions can help with brightening complexions and strengthening skin, nails and hair.

POST-TREATMENT, WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO KEEP THE BENEFITS GOING?

It is best to drink a couple of litres of water both before and after the treatment - and of course to continue your normal healthy diet.